ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military classified Pakistan's top spy agency as a terrorist support entity in 2007 and used association with it as a justification to detain prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, according to leaked documents published on Sunday that are sure to further alienate Pakistan.
One document (link.reuters.com/tyn29r), given to The New York Times, say detainees who associated with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate "may have provided support to al-Qaida or the Taliban, or engaged in hostilities against US or Coalition forces."
The ISI, along with al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah and Iranian intelligence, are among 32 groups on the list of "associated forces," which also includes Egypt's Islamic Jihad, headed by al Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The document defines an "associate force" as "militant forces and organizations with which al-Qaida, the al-Qaida network, or the Taliban has an established working, supportive, or beneficiary relationship for the achievement of common goals."
The ISI said it had no comment.
The "JTF-GTMO Matrix of Threat Indicators for Enemy Combatants" likely dates from 2007 according to its classification code, and is part of a trove of 759 files on detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. military prison in Cuba.
The secret documents were obtained by WikiLeaks and date from between 2002 and 2009, but they were made available to The New York Times from a separate source, the paper said.
They reveal that most of the 172 remaining prisoners have been rated as a "high risk" of posing a threat to the United States and its allies if released without adequate rehabilitation and supervision, the newspaper said.
The documents also show about a third of the 600 detainees already sent to other countries were also designated "high risk" before they were freed or passed to the custody of other governments, the Times said in its report late on Sunday.
The dossiers, prepared under the Bush administration, also show the seat-of-the-pants intelligence gathering in war zones that led to the incarcerations of innocent men for years in cases of mistaken identity or simple misfortune, the Times said.
The documents are largely silent about the use of the harsh interrogation tactics at Guantanamo that drew global condemnation, the newspaper reported.
The Times also said an Obama administration task force set up in January 2009 had reviewed the assessments and, in some cases, come to different conclusions. "Thus... the documents published by The Times may not represent the government's current views of detainees at Guantanamo."
WikiLeaks previously released classified Pentagon reports on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and 250,000 State Department cables. Bradley Manning, a 23-year-old U.S. soldier accused of leaking secret documents to WikiLeaks has been detained since May of last year.
Last week, the Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Pakistani media that the ISI had a "longstanding" relationship with the Haqqani Network which is allied to al Qaeda.
"Haqqani is supporting, funding, training fighters that are killing Americans and killing coalition partners. And I have a sacred obligation to do all I can to make sure that doesn't happen," Mullen told Pakistan's daily Dawn newspaper.
"So that's at the core -- it's not the only thing -- but that's at the core that I think is the most difficult part of the relationship," Mullen said.
Pakistan's powerful ISI has long been suspected of maintaining ties to the Haqqani network, cultivated during the 1980s when Jalaluddin Haqqani was a feared battlefield commander against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
U.S.-Pakistan ties have been strained this year by the case of CIA contractor Raymond Davis, who shot dead two Pakistanis in Lahore on January 27, as well as by tensions in Pakistan over U.S. drone strikes that have fanned anti-American sentiment.
Editing by Andrew Marshall