How Wikileaks vindicated our counterterror strategy

The WikiLeaks files reveal that those detainees who could not be held on sufficient evidence were released or transferred to other countries. Among those who were judged not likely to be threats, and released, a sizable number returned to the cause they had claimed to disavow, including a man who, post-Guantanamo, served as deputy leader of al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen; a senior Taliban commander; a propagandist for al-Qaeda’s online magazine; and multiple suicide bombers.

The classified papers give texture to terrorist plots that heretofore have been unknown to the public. They document al-Qaeda’s flurry of activity in the months after Sept. 11 to try to launch another, more vicious attack. One al-Qaeda commander vowed to detonate a nuclear bomb in America if bin Laden was captured or killed. Khalid Sheik Mohammed promised a “nuclear hellstorm.” The documents confirm al-Qaeda’s nuclear aspirations and attempts to purchase uranium. They chronicle a series of plots involving chemical and biological agents: cyanide released through air-conditioning systems in public buildings; natural gas ignited in rented apartments; and a radiological “dirty” bomb detonated in an urban center.

The documents should also disprove some myths that have dogged Guantanamo and the reputations of those who honorably serve there. The classified record, for example, confirms that three detainees who died in 2006 were suicides — not, as some have irresponsibly alleged, victims of brutal interrogations.