Gitmo Manual Leaked

A 2003 “Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures” manual has been leaked to the Internet. This is the same manual that the ACLU has unsuccessfully sued the government to get a copy of. Others can debate the legality of some of the procedures; I’m interested in comments about the security.

See, for example, this quote on page 27.3:

(b) Upon arrival will enter the gate by entering the number (1998) in the combination lock

(c) Proceed to the junction box with the number (7012-83) Breaker Box and open the boc. The number for the lock on the breaker box is (224).

Posted on November 20, 2007 at 6:49 AM39 Comments


JOhn November 20, 2007 7:50 AM

Those are easy to remember numbers. 1998 is a year, and 2+2=4. At the Pheonix nuclear reactor they liked to use patterns. 2,6,8,4 (diamond shape on pad) or 9,7,1,3 (square).

Anonymous November 20, 2007 8:24 AM

You see this kind of security awareness whereever ppl dont feel directly responsible for the security. Happens very often in large organizations where responsibilities aren’t clear due to a fuzzy understanding of security (=bad education).

Roger Lipscombe November 20, 2007 8:52 AM

It turns out (I didn’t know this before) that you can type lat/lon coordinates into Google Maps, and it figures it out.

So, type 19.903,-75.101 into the search box and hit the button.


bzelbob November 20, 2007 9:39 AM

I, for one, am much more concerned about holding detainees with no access at all than I am about the code numbers used on the locks. And remember, these are ‘suspected’ terrorists, not proven criminals.

Not a single person there, to my knowledge, had been proven guilty of a crime in a civilian or military court when they were disappeared into this prison. This is a blatant violation of both human rights and international law, not to mention U.S. law if any of these people are U.S. citizens.

If we’re going to talk about security related issues, let’s keep the big picture in mind.

bzelbob November 20, 2007 9:48 AM

Okay, sorry, didn’t see Bruce’s desire for the non-legal aspects! mea culpa…

(Off to go find some keys left in the lock…)

JOhn November 20, 2007 9:51 AM

What I got from the topic is that the ACLU did not not have a need for lock combinations. So, good that they did not get them.

TS November 20, 2007 9:53 AM

You have to ask how big is the “power substation”. Is it just a fenced in area with a couple of circuit breaker boxes attached to a couple of telephone poles? In which case, an armed guard might be overkill since there are plenty of armed soldiers around anyway, and anyone in the fenced area would be easy to spot.

The SOP says the NCO is to go to a breaker box and flip the switch. This seems relatively low-tech to me, so I assume that it’s not a really big substation that controls power everywhere, otherwise there would be staff there to handle the power cutoff.

So I suppose the locked gate and locked box is good enough.

MikeA November 20, 2007 10:12 AM

@Nathan: Where are they going to go if they escape?

Just about anywhere would be preferable to gitmo, but more to the point, I suspect there is enough “The enemy of my enemy…” feeling in Cuba for them to get home if they want.

G.I. Joe November 20, 2007 10:14 AM

not leaked, released intentionally. sections missing / substantially differs from actual document.

Andrew November 20, 2007 10:14 AM

How does the big picture affect the security issues?

Dramatically. Among other issues, most professions have ethical rules governing their participation in lawful as opposed to illegal activity.

It’s fairly rare that detailed SOP for intensive maximum-security custody is available. So this has educational value beyond documenting a massive violation of Constitutional law and defiance of hundreds of years of case law and precedent.

ArmedBlog November 20, 2007 10:16 AM

Actually a lot of people there have been proven guilty of crimes in a military court – stop listening to liberal pundits and read the news instead.

But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the prison is a good idea.

ArmedBlog November 20, 2007 10:23 AM

I should have clarified. The fact that many have been convicted of a crime doesn’t mean that it is OK to indefinitely detain the others that may be innocent.

Trichinosis USA November 20, 2007 10:32 AM

How is it a good thing that people who are not necessarily military combatants are being judged according to military law?

The only reason it’s being done that way is to allow the Executive to completely circumvent the Judiciary and the Legislative branches which ordain and enact civilian law.

Stop believing everything you are told by the mainstream media news, which is currently run by five Bush-friendly corporations, and dare to listen to the liberal pundits. Hear the rest of the story some people don’t want you to hear.

j-doe November 20, 2007 10:36 AM

Imagine a home with a strong deadbolt lock on the door to the outside, and a privacy lock on the bathroom that can be opened with a butter knife.

Is that bad security? You can take that second piece, the privacy lock, and point out that it’s not very secure. But in the overall security context, does it create a problem?

I haven’t read the whole document, and I don’t feel that I’d be competent to evaluate it if I did.

But my reaction as someone who isn’t a security expert (ie., someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about) is that from a big picture POV, Guantanamo seems to be pretty secure. As far as I know, no one has escaped (although I don’t know that they’d tell us if someone did). The security is layered, and if a prisoner got through one door or fence, there would be many more to beat.

Presumably there’s heavy surveillance — if a prisoner knew that door code, and was able to cross through the door, they’d most likely be detected. And presumably there are armed men everywhere, and prisoners wear clothes that make them easy to spot.

Eventually they’d have to cross through a heavily guarded border with Cuba or go out into the ocean.

I know we’re supposed to just talk about the security here. But my strong feelings about this prison make that difficult for me, and they tend to cloud my take on security issues.

I come to this predisposed to think that if you get tossed into gitmo, you’re down in a hole and you’re not getting out unless they let you out. I come to it predisposed to think that it’s a pretty bad place.

So maybe that prevents me from seeing weaknesses for what they are. But I have to think that if you’re in there, the control they have over you is nearly total.

inquisitiveNoob November 20, 2007 11:02 AM

Following John’s comment above, I wonder whether it would make any sense to purposefully include in government documents some small bits of “security related” information (such as the combination of the locks in the gate or the breaker box) in order to make the denial of FOIA requests easier to substantiate.

Andrew November 20, 2007 11:07 AM

From a security perspective, the main value is in showing how a Military Police unit conducts layered security in a mixed environment, ranging from traffic control points through contractors, interpreters and medical up to the SCIF, interrogation cells and detainee blocks. A lot of this has to be read in the context of prior MP training, “upgrading” them from military medium security to an ad hoc ultra-max facility.

The mail handling section is interesting.

A detainee’s mailing address (at the time):

Detainee XXXXXX (Alpha Numeric Code)
Camp Delta
Washington D.C. 20355

Also the mass casualty response is quite revealing:

“Military casualties will be transferred before detainees with the same triage priority.”

I thought these detainees were critical intelligence assets? The reverse order would make more sense.

“All detainees will be treated humanely and consistent with the principles of the Geneva Conventions.” -> in Chapter 28, “Public Affairs” [only]

Tim November 20, 2007 11:16 AM

Can you imagine any characters from the Matrix saying `any wrong combinations triggers the BOMB’?

How much do we want to trust this leak? Insofar as the numbers are a year and a pattern, it tells us they’re not particularly subtle. OTOH if there’s someone standing nearby with a rifle aimed at your backside while you stand there in geek sweat-shirt poking random buttons at the thing because it’s out of date, it’s hardly a major issue.

somedude November 20, 2007 12:09 PM

Those are not the coordinates for Camp Delta. That is Camp America. Camp Delta is farther east. It looks like a star.

somedude November 20, 2007 12:13 PM

lol @ Tim.

Considering civilians can’t get on the base at all, except with special authorization, and then beyond that, you can’t get anywhere near the prison without explicit authorization.

Antimedia November 20, 2007 12:22 PM

@Andrew “It’s fairly rare that detailed SOP for intensive maximum-security custody is available. So this has educational value beyond documenting a massive violation of Constitutional law and defiance of hundreds of years of case law and precedent.”

Please spare us the hyperbole. You haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. There has been no violation of the Constitution or defiance of hundreds of years….blah, blah, blah.

Please read the Geneva Conventions regarding prisoners of war as well as the case law regarding prisoners of war before spouting such ignorant tripe.

Fred November 20, 2007 1:27 PM

Interestingly, doesn’t have directions.

We could not calculate driving directions between Washington DC and +19° 54′ 10.80″, -75° 6′ 3.60″ (19.903000, -75.101000).

dob November 20, 2007 1:31 PM

Please spare us the hyperbole. You haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. There has been no violation of the Constitution or defiance of hundreds of years….blah, blah, blah.

The right of prisoners to hear and contest the charges against them are upheld by both the Constitution and centuries of jurisprudence going back to the Magna Carta, as far as the English are concerned. The prisoners held at Guantanamo have yet to enjoy these rights.

As far as the security implications of these revelations, I’d say it’s that the US military doesn’t have good procedures for managing security credentials.

mwenge November 20, 2007 1:48 PM

See section 4-20 for the perils of copy/paste when writing this sort of thing up:

“During this time the following conditions will apply:

(1) Restricted contact: No ICRC or Chaplain Contact;
(2) No books or mail priveleges
(3) MREs for all meals
(4) Basic comfort items only:
(a) ISO Mat
(b) One Blanket
(g) Camp Rules
(h) No Torah, yarmulke, tallit”

Shurely shome mishtake, mein Kommandant?

(interesting historical twist: the soon-to-die inmates of the Nazi Lagers were known as musulmanner! Ah the irony, I’m sure they’re savouring it in Gitmo as we speak.)

Henning Makholm November 20, 2007 3:48 PM

I’m struck by the friendly, casual tone of the take-down request that the bottom of the page. Makes me wonder whether the notice (and, by extension, who knows what else) is a hoax.

Or perhaps the subtext is something like: “The rules say that we have to ask you nicely before we escalate to the next level. However, we know you wouldn’t dream of removing this just because The Man tells you to, and you know that we know that our sounding formidable and threatening would not impress you. So we won’t waste mental energy on trying. Just doing our respective jobs, and all that. Ho hum.”

However, this would betray more intelligence and mental flexibility than is usually available to large bureaucracies, so I’m tending towards hoax.

Finite November 20, 2007 4:41 PM

The Nov 14 2007 email at the bottom of the page is hilarious! First, the polite tone of their request: “Information with the FOUO label is not approved for release to the public. It can be made available through a Freedom Of Information Act request through official channels. Is it possible to have the document removed from your site? Thank you.”

But then, check out the dude’s signature:

Mr. Daniel Quinn Jr
Information Security Manager
“Woe unto the statesman who makes war without a reason that will still be valid when the war is over…” Otto von Bismark

Imho that is a truly awesome sigquote for someone in Mr. Daniel Quinn Jr.’s line of work.

Gweihir November 20, 2007 11:59 PM

What can I say? Another instance of people thinking that security is a ritual, not something that needs to be understood.

I guess there is just a lot of persons around that are fundamentally incapable of understanding what security is about.

Dungetit November 21, 2007 5:56 AM

What’s with everyone posting coordinates? I’ve entered them in Google maps. I see barracks. So?
What’s your point?

Dungetit November 21, 2007 8:54 AM

Please do so, but not here.
You must be very well informed, I don’t know how they are treated, except from the occasional scandal. Source for your claim?

Coincidental Query November 21, 2007 10:16 AM


Though offtopic, what I find to be coincidental is that the request from Mr. Quinn states:

“…Information with the FOUO label is not approved for release to the public. It can be made available through a Freedom Of Information Act request through official channels…”

However, the DoD has fervently denied all such FOIA requests by the ACLU since 2003.

With an on-topic query, taking the security layering into account, would this still be considered a brittle failure of the security model? After all, wouldn’t a new SoP have to be crafted with changed sections regarding the codes?

Amry January 28, 2008 4:40 PM

“Non US citizen prisoners of war have no constitutional rights so stop making that argument.”

So that makes it okay to abuse them for years on an end?

Since the Constitution is the “supreme law of the land”, and that the Constitution does not apply to them, therefore in that same vein does this mean any US laws is non-applicable to non-citizens?

I’m hardly one to be cheerleading for extremists of any stripe, religion or ideology, but behaving like the “terrorists” you’re supposed to be protecting us from isn’t exactly inspire confidence. We can squabble about how to punish the guilty, but the main point of contention is to separate the TNT-happy terrorists and Mr. Goatherder who just happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

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