A guide to this website: what’s here, and how to find it

5.5.08

The Guantanamo FilesThis site developed as an offshoot from my book The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison. Published by Pluto Press in November 2007, The Guantánamo Files is the first book to tell the stories of all the men imprisoned without charge or trial in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and is based, largely, on a detailed analysis of over 8,000 pages of documents relating to the prisoners, which were released by the Pentagon, following a successful lawsuit by the Associated Press, in spring 2006.

The articles on this site (over 200 at the time of writing) provide a detailed analysis of developments at Guantánamo — and in other fields relating to the “War on Terror” — since I completed the final edit of The Guantánamo Files in May 2007. I began, in the absence of any interest from the mainstream media, by covering the story of Abdul Rahman al-Amri, a Saudi who died in Guantánamo at the end of May, and soon found enthusiastic hosts for my work at various US websites, including CounterPunch, the Huffington Post, Antiwar.com and AlterNet, and at the website of the British human rights group Cageprisoners. In recent months, I have also written for the Guardian and the New York Times.

This site is a WordPress blog — brilliantly customized in April 2008 by web designer Josh King-Farlow, who developed a theme for my particular needs, which, appropriately enough, is called “Hack.” As such, it consists of a sequence of posts, published chronologically, and is also fully navigable — as a database, essentially — through the “Search” facility at the top right of every page.

The articles (posts) are also searchable via “Categories,” in the right-hand column, and it’s here that I thought it might be wise to provide some details about the most significant themes of the last year for new visitors, and others who are not as drenched in Guantánamo-related knowledge as I am. It’s my hope that they are dealt with in more detail here than anywhere else in the media, and that my site will function as a “One-Stop Shop” for all Guantánamo-related issues.

Prisoners released from Guantánamo

Since May 2007, 115 prisoners have been released from Guantánamo. 56 of these are Saudis, whose stories — unreported elsewhere in the media — can be found under Saudis in Guantánamo. Other categories include Afghans in Guantánamo (37 since May 2007, although all were subsequently transferred to a US-run wing of a prison in Kabul, where most are still held), and a smattering of others: Bahrainis, Jordanians, Libyans, Mauritanians, Moroccans, Sudanese and Yemenis. Along the way, as with all other posts, links should take you to other relevant articles, both inside the site and on external websites.

British residents in Guantánamo

Also included is extensive coverage of the stories of the British residents in Guantánamo, who were abandoned for many years after nine British citizens were repatriated in 20054 and 2005. Three of these men — Omar Deghayes, Jamil El-Banna and Abdulnour Sameur — were released in December 2007 (although Omar and Jamil then had to overcome a cruel and ill-advised extradition request from the Spanish government), but three others remain: Saudi-born Shaker Aamer, a long-term hunger striker and a fearless opponent of injustice; Ahmed Belbacha, originally from Algeria, who has been cleared for release, but fears repatriation because of a risk that he will be tortured; and Binyam Mohamed, from Ethiopia, who was tortured for over two years in Morocco and in a secret prison in Afghanistan run by the CIA.

Hunger strikes, torture, rendition and secret prisons

The stories of these three men touch on other significant themes: Hunger strikes in Guantánamo looks not only at Shaker’s story, but also at the stories of other prisoners, including, in particular, al-Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj, who was finally released in May 2008; Return to torture looks at other cleared prisoners who face the risk of torture or have, indeed, been subjected to ill-treatment on their repatriation, including the Tunisians in Guantánamo and one of the Libyans; and the categories American torture and Extraordinary rendition and secret prisons contain a series of articles relating not only to Binyam Mohamed’s experiences, but also to those of many others, including the “high-value detainees” mentioned below, who, amongst other “enhanced interrogation techniques,” were subjected to the reviled torture technique known as waterboarding, while held in secret CIA-run prisons.

Noticeably, attempts to return foreign nationals to countries where they face the risk of torture have not been practiced exclusively by the administration of George W. Bush. The British government is also involved, and this, and other international crimes dreamt up in Downing Street and Whitehall, can be found under the categories Belmarsh, control orders and deportations and Diego Garcia. The thorny issue of the repatriation of foreign nationals from Guantánamo — or rather, attempts find third countries to accept them — is also dealt with under the category Asylum in Europe, and one important strand of this story concerns the Uyghurs in Guantánamo.

Guantánamo’s corrupt tribunals

A particular focus of the last year has been on the tribunals at Guantánamo — the Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) — which were charged with evaluating the status of the prisoners as “enemy combatants” without rights. Last June, a former official in the CSRT process, Stephen Abraham, issued an explosive statement demolishing the validity of the process, which had a knock-on effect on the Supreme Court, and this thread can be followed at Guantánamo whistleblowers, Guantánamo tribunals and Guantánamo and US Supreme Court. Prisoners who were particularly affected by this systematic miscarriage of justice include Adel Hamad (released in December 2007), and Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi, who is still held, and who has, moreover, been subjected to Medical Abuse at Guantánamo. Related to this theme are Guantánamo suicides, Conditions at Guantánamo, and the story of Abdul Razzaq Hekmati, an innocent man, who died of cancer in December, which I reported for the New York Times.

Guantánamo’s corrupt trials

Another significant thread has involved the Military Commissions at Guantánamo, a system of trials for “terror suspects” that was dreamt up by Vice President Dick Cheney and his advisers in November 2001. As illegitimate as the tribunals, the Commissions have, over the years, been condemned by the Supreme Court, by military defense lawyers, and by a host of experts both at home and abroad, and they have failed to secure a single clear victory after more than six years. This thread can be followed at Military Commissions, and also through some of the prisoners’ individual stories, including David Hicks, Omar Khadr, Salim Hamdan and Mohamed Jawad. Children at the time of their capture, the stories of Omar and Mohamed Jawad are also included in the category Children in Guantánamo.

Recently, other prisoners — “high-value detainees” who were held for many years in secret CIA prisons, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, as well as Mohammed al-Qahtani, who, notoriously, was tortured in Guantánamo — have been put forward for trial by Military Commission in connection with the 9/11 attacks, although it remains uncertain how any of these trials will be able to proceed smoothly, when they are all haunted by the specter of torture. Another “high-value detainee” of particular interest is Abu Zubaydah (whose alleged status has been disputed by the FBI), and another, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, was recently charged in connection with other terror attacks in 1998 and 2000.

US enemy combatants

Also hopefully of interest — as they should be of paramount importance to US citizens — are stories about the US enemy combatants held without charge or trial on the US mainland, or prosecuted in dubious trials, of which the most notable cases are those of Jose Padilla and Ali al-Marri.

The Guantánamo Files

And finally, articles related to The Guantánamo Files (events, interviews, reviews, and TV and radio appearances) can be found by scrolling down the “Categories” list. They also include posts relating to extra chapters of the book, which can be found, along with links to my books, biographical information and links to other sites of interest, in the left-hand column.

I hope this helps you to find your way around my site. If you like what you see, you can subscribe to the RSS feed (also on the left-hand column) and receive future articles in your inbox. I’m also delighted to receive constructive comments.

Andy Worthington
London
May 2008

Note: See here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.

One Response

  1. aishah41902 says...

    I just stumbled upon your site today. Wow. Great work.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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