WikiLeaks works like it sounds: In the same way that Wikipedia invites people from all over to contribute to an encyclopedia of knowledge, WikiLeaks invites people to contribute to a repository of secret documents.
In theory, Wikipedia is a bit crazy; it's astonishing that it works at all. WikiLeaks, meanwhile, sounds like a perfect use of the Internet -- and though it's less than a year old, it's recently been amassing a pretty good track record.
Last month, the site posted the 2003 version of "Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures," a manual for officers guarding detainees at the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The manual, which was unclassified but not public, revealed specific details concerning the military's treatment of prisoners, including instructions on how guards should isolate detainees, use dogs to intimidate them, and how to frustrate the Red Cross's attempts to gain access to them.
Now, WikiLeaks has posted the 2004 edition of the camp's operating manual. By comparing the 2003 version to the new 2004 version, WikiLeaks staff and attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights prepared a detailed analysis of how the military altered its practices at the camp in response to growing alarm over the prison.
For instance, the new version adds a section on Camp 4, a medium-security area that the 2004 manual says will aid intelligence-gathering by giving prisoners "increased privileges and opportunities for social interaction thereby increasing the desire of other detainees to be in Camp 4."
Guards at Camp 4, the document notes, must have "excellent public relations (PR) skills."
Why? Because Camp 4 also happened to be the area that the media was allowed to visit.
Other areas of the prison were far rougher. The manual outlines how prisoners are to be treated when they enter the prison, going over a four-week "Behavior Managment Plan" that's designed to "enhance and exploit the disorientation and disorganization felt by a newly arrived detainee in the interrogation process." The plan consists of isolation during which the prisoner will not be permitted access to the Red Cross or to chaplains.
The WikiLeaks staff also details how the military heavily euphemized the manual between 2003 and 2004: Instances of the phrase "hunger strike" were changed to "voluntary total fasting," and "suicide" is replaced with "self-harm."
There is also a new section that contains advice to personnel assigned to make videos of camp operations. Borrowing language from an online crime scene video guide, the manual tells officers to "Think like an editor as you shoot! Let technique master technology; don't let technology become your master. The best equipment in the world will never replace creativity and reasoning."