Jason Leopold: How Did An Al-Qaeda Magazine Get Into Guantanamo? That’s A Secret, Pentagon Says

An edition of Inspire magazine, produced and published by an arm of al-Qaeda, was discovered at Guantanamo, prompting a strict, new legal mail review policy for detainees and their attorneys. Pentagon officials told Truthout that details of their probe into how the magazine made its way to the detention facility will not be made public. Photo: Wikipedia

This report was originally published on Truthout.

The Pentagon won’t release any details of an investigation initiated by the commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility revolving around the discovery of “contraband” at the prison, which included a magazine produced by an offshoot of al-Qaeda based in Yemen.

Late last year, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale told Truthout the prison facility’s new commander, Rear Adm. David B. Woods, “directed that a security search be undertaken of detainee cells and materials in Camp 7,” which houses high-value prisoners.

Breasseale did not disclose what prompted the “security search” or whether any materials were seized from the camp. But during the military commission hearing last December for high-value detainee Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, Navy Cmdr. Andrea Lockhart testified, “material … was getting [into Guantanamo], like Inspire magazine, that should not have been getting in.” Lockhart suggested lawyers defending Guantanamo detainees were responsible.

Inspire magazine was a slick English-language glossy edited by Samir Khan, a Pakistani US citizen who was killed in a drone strike in Yemen last September along with al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki, another US citizen who the US government placed on a targeted assassination list.

Lockhart is a member of the Pentagon’s prosecution team. She was testifying about the reasons Woods had implemented a new order that directed a team of former government lawyers, translators and law enforcement officials under contract to the Pentagon to review privileged attorney-client communications. The policy applies to about 30 or so detainees charged with war crimes and other prisoners who will likely be prosecuted before military commissions.

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Neither Lockhart nor Woods, who was named commander of the prison last August, disclosed additional details about the discovery of the al-Qaeda magazine, such as whether it was found in a detainee’s cell or who was responsible for bringing it onto the grounds of the prison.

Breasseale, who characterized the magazine as “contraband,” told Truthout Wednesday that Woods investigated the circumstances involving “contraband getting into or around” Guantanamo.

The details of Woods’ probe, however, will remain secret, Breasseale said.

Woods “made clear he has no intention of releasing” the findings of the investigation, Breasseale said. “It gets to the heart of how we do business.”

Breasseale would not say when the investigation was launched or whether it included the discovery of Inspire magazine. Additionally, he did not respond to claims leveled by attorneys representing detainees in habeas corpus proceedings that interrogators were likely responsible for bringing incendiary material onto the prison grounds.

“We won’t get into the contents of the investigation,” Breasseale said.

Last month, Brent Mickum, an attorney who represents high-value detainee Abu Zubaydah in habeas corpus proceedings, told Truthout, “the idea that an attorney would take into Guantanamo a periodical or a document that he or she knew to be proscribed is outrageous,”

“No attorney in the 600 or so I have interacted with over the years would ever do such a thing,” said Mickum, who holds a top-secret security clearance and is bound by a separate protective order involving legal mail. “No attorney would take the chance of jeopardizing the arduous steps they had to go through to obtain security clearance so prisoners could be represented by defense counsel and risk it by bringing in Inspire magazine. The only way such a magazine or document would get to a prisoner is through an interrogator who was trying to reward him for providing intelligence.”

But Maj. Michelle Coghill, a spokeswoman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO,) told Truthout Thursday that while she could not “discuss any details associated with specific contraband items…I can state that Joint Task Force personnel did not attempt to introduce specific contraband items into our detention facilities.”

Coghill also would not disclose further details about the Woods’ investigation involving “contraband,” which she said he has “fully investigated.”

“In keeping with our security practices and the commander’s commitment to provide for the security of the detainees as well as the guard force, JTF-GTMO will not discuss any details associated with specific contraband items,” Coghill said.

That position undercuts a promise the Pentagon made to be more transparent about the military commissions. Indeed, a tagline on the Department of Defense’s new military commission web site unveiled last year boasts, “Fairness, Transparency, Justice.”

In hopes of gaining additional insight into the matter, Truthout filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Pentagon to obtain a wide range of documents pertaining to the events that led up to Woods’ legal mail review policy as well as details about the investigation into the discovery of Inspire magazine and other “contraband.”

Meanwhile, military defense attorneys who have objected to Woods’ order and have since stopped sending mail to their clients are still awaiting Chief Military Commissions Judge James Pohl to issue an opinion as to how the review of legal mail will be handled going forward.

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3 Responses for “Jason Leopold: How Did An Al-Qaeda Magazine Get Into Guantanamo? That’s A Secret, Pentagon Says”

  1. arcticredriver says:

    I suspect this story is less mysterious and less threatening than it is being portrayed. Lieutenant Commander gave a press briefing where she said the same as she did in her testimony. The key word is “LIKE”. She testified material LIKE inspire magazine is making its way into Guantanamo.

    As you reported on January 20th, Admiral Woods, the new commandant called Michael Schwartz, one of the military defense attorneys into his office, demanding to know if he had smuggled in a four page pamphlet produced by a Kuwaiti human rights group that called for the release of his client and the other remaining Kuwaiti captive.

    You reported that the pamphlet had a picture on its front page of the statue of liberty wearing the orange boilersuit non-compliant captives are made to wear. I suggest that this pamphlet is the only contraband that was found at Guantanamo. I suggest that Woods, Breassealle and Lockhart are either too ill-informed or too deceitful to recognize the difference between a document legitimately prepared by a human rights group, advocating the completely legitimate suggestion the Kuwaitis be released, and a jihadist document advocating hate crimes and terrorism.

    So far as I can tell, although it is being widely reported that camp authorities stated Inspire magazine had been found at the camp, camp authorities never went that far, and, every time they have spoken about this contraband, they have only said document LIKE inspire were found.

    I don’t understand why the Kuwaitis shouldn’t be allowed to view a copy of this human rights pamphlet. I think they are entitled to know that negotations around their release or repatriation are under way. I think they are entitled to voice their opinions about repatriation.

    However, if for the sake of argument the human rights pamphlet really does violate the rules, I suggest it is either not a threat to camp security at all, or hardly a threat.

    How could it be a threat? Maybe they think men on the brink of madness due to long and unjust detention might snap after reading a document sympathetic to their case?

  2. I appreciate your insightful analysis, arcticredriver. This is great. On the matter of the Inspire magazine, however, I took Lockhart’s testimony to mean that an issue of Inspire was in fact discovered at Guantanamo. Here full testimony regarding this was, She said, “And there was material that was getting in, like Inspire magazine, that should not have been getting in.” Here’s a link to the transcript of her testimony which begins on P. 43:

    The use of the word “LIKE,” to me, by Lockhart was used speciifically in this way demonstrate that Inspire got in. If the words “getting in” followed “Inspire magazine,” so her testimony would have been, “material like Inspire magazine was getting in..,.” then I think it would have had the meaning you cited.

    Still, with that said, I am going to ask DOD again to clarify her testimony.

  3. Will says:

    This sounds like a CIA operation. Just to see if they can infiltrate ~ the CIA is a constant Disaster Happening paid for by the Taxpayer this is Job Security.
    Recently reminded of this Egomaniacle organization, the Central Intelligence Agency, one of they’re acts in the past of trying to one upsmanship another Country, in this case Russia, and manipulating /undermining a culture or a faux movement to make American culture better than Russian culture in the 1950’s. Abstract Expressionism was a CIA operation ~ it’s all just a fucking game of rank ‘n power ~ the CIA could easily have inserted contraband into Guantanamo …kind of an ultimate test of CIA skills.
    i cannot imagine the stress those men are in, doing detention for life. And this charade over a Middle East mag ~ me think’th they protest too much ~ you can almost smell a smoke screen with this OughtOOO ContraBand, Why a magzine sheeeeess? they should have planted a Gun inside! anyway it seems like what they are trying to equate this ‘document’ with is a Gun.
    The distressing part is that our high school buds and brothers are the ones perpetrating these bombastic nightares… Amerikans are crushing americans.

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