On October 22, I was delighted to be interviewed again by Linda Olson-Osterlund on the progressive radio station KBOO FM in Portland, Oregon. The 30-minute interview is available online here, and in it Linda and I discussed, at length, the “reassignment” of Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, the legal adviser to the Convening Authority responsible for overseeing the Military Commissions at Guantánamo (the “terror trials” conceived by Vice President Dick Cheney and his close advisers in November 2001), after three government-appointed judges ruled that he had demonstrated pro-prosecution bias. More on this case is available here and here.
We also talked about the case of the Uyghurs, the wrongly imprisoned Chinese Muslims at Guantánamo, who are currently engaged in a struggle to secure their freedom in the United States, as no other country can be found that will accept them, and then moved on to the resignation of Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, a former prosecutor in the Military Commissions, whose departure, after something of a Damascene conversion, has spooked the administration to such an extent that it has dropped charges against five prisoners he represented in an attempt to prevent him from testifying for the defense.
Also included was a discussion about two juveniles in Guantánamo –- the case of Mohamed Jawad, in which deliberately suppressed evidence was discovered by Vandeveld, leading to his outspoken departure, and Omar Khadr, about whom I recently wrote an article following my discovery of a manual on the treatment of juveniles in Guantánamo that was clearly never implemented by Donald Rumsfeld’s Defense Department.
The show closed with a discussion of the Presidential candidates and their relative positions on Guantánamo and the “War on Terror,” in which I lamented the transformation of John McCain, a lifelong opponent of torture, into the figurehead of a campaign of hatred and fear, and my hopes that, although Barack Obama has chosen –- or been advised –- not to speak about the government’s abuse of executive power in the run-up to the election, he means what he said in a speech in August 2007:
In the dark halls of Abu Ghraib and the detention cells of Guantánamo, we have compromised our most precious values. What could have been a call to a generation has become an excuse for unchecked presidential power. A tragedy that united us was turned into a political wedge issue used to divide us.
When I am President, America will reject torture without exception. America is the country that stood against that kind of behavior, and we will do so again … As President, I will close Guantánamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists … The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example to the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.
I thoroughly enjoyed the interview, as ever, and hope to speak to Linda again in the near future.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and see here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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