Andy Worthington on Antiwar Radio: Obama, Guantánamo and Torture

27.1.09

On Saturday, I was delighted to be invited once more to discuss Guantánamo and the “War on Terror” with Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio (the show is available here — and the MP3 is here). This was the first time Scott and I have talked since George W. Bush and Dick Cheney (who had morphed into Dr. Strangelove for his farewell appearance) left the White House, and Barack Obama marked his first few days in office with three Presidential orders requiring Guantánamo to be closed, banning torture, and ordering the CIA to close any secret prisons. These, of course, are the secret prisons that the CIA may have been operating since President Bush declared, in September 2006, that the previously undisclosed secret prison program, which he had, to that point, strenuously denied, had come to an end with the transfer of 14 “high-value detainees” to Guantánamo, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

As ever, it was a delight to have a decent amount of time to talk about the crimes of the Bush administration — and the new broom — with Scott, whose recent move to L.A. from Austin has clearly not dampened his sense of outrage, and in a detailed discussion we also talked about the recent confession by Susan Crawford, the Convening Authority of Guantánamo’s Military Commission trial system, that Mohammed al-Qahtani, the alleged 20th hijacker for the 9/11 attacks, could not be prosecuted because he had been tortured in US custody.

As we attempted to work out what Crawford’s ulterior motive may have been, I made a point of noting that Barack Obama is now required to prosecute the architects of the torture policy — although I don’t expect this to happen without a struggle — and had the opportunity to inform Scott and Antiwar Radio’s listeners that the kind of abuse that al-Qahtani suffered, though horribly severe, was part of a system of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” introduced in 2002, which were applied to over a hundred prisoners in Guantánamo.

We also discussed what might replace the Guantánamo trials, which Obama halted on Day One, and this gave me the opportunity to dismiss proposals to create a new trial system, or to create legislation to endorse “preventive detention,” because, of course, both proposals are, in effect, almost indistinguishable from their reviled predecessors, and we also talked about the Pentagon’s latest salvo of empty propaganda regarding the number of ex-prisoners who have allegedly “returned to the battlefield,” and the recent claims that a former prisoner is now the deputy leader of an al-Qaeda unit in Yemen. This also gave me the chance to discuss how even the most exaggerated estimates of recidivism rates are far less than in any other penal system, and to wonder why it is that, when it comes to the “War on Terror,” members of the public allow themselves to be swayed into thinking that, in order to avoid a single prisoner “returning to the battlefield,” it is somehow justifiable to hold terror suspects forever without charge or trial.

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.

4 Responses

  1. Frances Madeson says...

    A rich and informative interview. You are, as I say, “fluent in catastrophe.”

    While you and Scott were commenting on the unexpected lack of bitterness on the part of the majority of detainees, I thought of Lori Berenson–a naive woman from Massachusetts–who has been wrongfully imprisoned in Peru for 13 years. In the long duration, she has married a fellow prisoner and is now pregnant with their child.

    In her most recent letter to those of us who have been following her quixotic quest for justice since Day One, she noted that because of her pregnancy the authorities are transferring her to another prison with superior medical facilities. Her attitude is striking. She wrote,”It is indeed sad for me to be leaving Cajamarca after 7 years of beautiful scenery, fresh air and a hospitable community attitude that still prevails to some extent…”

    There are loving men, there are loving women, who lift us up, who enhance our humanity. And there are criminals like Bush, Cheney, Addington, Rumsfield, and the others you mentioned, who bestialize us.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Frances, for that touching story, and, again, for your support.
    As for being “Fluent in Catastrophe,” I just might have to get that put on a T-shirt!

  3. Obama, Guantánamo and the “War on Terror” – Politics Unlimited | UK politics news says...

    […] Andy Worthington on Antiwar Radio: Obama, Guantánamo and Torture (audio) | Seven Years of Guantánamo Bay: London Actions | Guantánamo – Obama could do better | […]

  4. Zionists Were Complicit in 9/11 says...

    Obama is a tool of the Elites, as were all our other presidents for decades before, with the exception of JFK, perhaps. The Republican/Democrat, left/right paradigm has been infiltrated & neutralized—they are two sides of the very same coin.

    The Elites/Illuminati/NWO/globalists are sick eugenicists who want a herd of merely 500 million sheeple in the entire world, under their control, to serve them under a feudalistic system!

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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, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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