WASHINGTON Classified U.S. military documents released by WikiLeaks that give intelligence assessments of Guantanamo prisoners will not affect any of their cases, Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday.
"I certainly deplore the leaks," Holder told reporters after news organizations on Sunday disclosed details from the documents on nearly all of the terrorism suspects who have been held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Holder said releasing the documents was harmful in a number of ways, including hurting U.S. relations with some U.S. allies. But he said he does not see any impact on the cases to be tried.
Holder announced earlier this month that the self-professed mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four co-conspirators would be tried in a military tribunal at Guantanamo, where they are currently being held.
He said Congress made it impossible to try the suspects in a regular U.S. court in New York, as Holder had wanted.
"We pushed hard. Congress has made a determination," Holder said, adding that the Obama administration had to accept the decision in December when Congress blocked funding for prosecuting any Guantanamo prisoners in U.S. courts.
Holder said his decision to shift the September 11 defendants back to military tribunals will not have any impact on prosecuting future terrorism cases in U.S. courts.
Besides the defendants accused in the September 11 attacks, a number of other Guantanamo prisoners are expected to be tried in military tribunals.
The documents made available by WikiLeaks were largely silent about the use of the harsh interrogation tactics at Guantanamo that have drawn widespread condemnation and have created problems in prosecuting some cases.
Holder said the administration could not release its assessments of the Guantanamo prisoners because they were partly based on a wide range of sources, some classified, and to take that out would give incomplete information.
But lawyers for the Guantanamo prisoners will likely use the WikiLeaks documents to defend their clients.
The Justice Department under Holder has launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks over previously leaked U.S. military documents about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and 250,000 State Department cables.
In other comments, Holder said he could not say whether al Qaeda was plotting any special attacks to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks. "The harsh reality is they are plotting every day," he said.
(Editing by Deborah Charles)