Top 30 Guantánamo articles (December 2008 to February 2009)


In an attempt to reflect what visitors to my site are reading, the following is a list of the most popular articles based on site traffic in the last three months. I hope that it provides new readers with some help in navigating the 300+ original articles on the site, which cover most aspects of Guantánamo and the “War on Terror,” although I’m aware, as ever, that it does not take into account the large numbers of readers who have found many of these articles on other sites on which they were published: primarily, the Future of Freedom Foundation, for whom I write a regular weekly column, Cageprisoners, for whom I also write regularly, and others who publish my work; in particular, the Huffington Post,, CounterPunch, ZNet, and AlterNet, as well as many other sites that regularly cross-post my articles. As this list only includes visits to the end of February, it does not include significant developments in the last few weeks, in particular the definitive Guantánamo prisoner list that I published at the start of the month.

Please note that figures in brackets refer to rankings in the last list, published in November, and that I have also included stats for my books, including The Guantánamo Files, and for the additional online chapters published over the last 16 months (see the column on the left). Also note that, if you want to receive new articles in your inbox, please sign up to my RSS feed.

1 (1): Six in Guantánamo Charged with 9/11 Murders: Why Now, and What About the Torture? (February 2008)
The perennial chart-topper, this article followed the announcement that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five others had been put forward for trial by Military Commission at Guantánamo, and provided a detailed background to their stories, and their torture in US custody. For other articles relating to the 9/11 trials, see 9, 16 and 29 below, and for articles dealing with Barack Obama’s suspension of the trials, see Chaos and Lies: Why Obama Was Right To Halt The Guantánamo Trials (January 2009) and Who’s Running Guantánamo? (February 2009).

2 (5): Torture allegations dog Guantánamo trials (March 2008)
Examining the problems facing the US administration in its attempts to conceal evidence of torture during the Military Commission trial system, this article — part of a comprehensive series of articles about the Commissions from June 2007 onwards — focused in particular on misguided attempts to prosecute two juveniles: Omar Khadr (see 22, below) and Mohamed Jawad (see 19, below).

3 (-): The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison
The first book to tell the story of every man trapped in Guantánamo. Reviews, synopsis and how to buy the book.

4 (-): The Last US Enemy Combatant: The Shocking Story of Ali al-Marri (December 2008)
Revealing in detail the suffering of US resident Ali al-Marri, who was held for nearly six years in severe isolation as an “enemy combatant” on the US mainland, this article followed on from Court Confirms President’s Dictatorial Powers in Case of US “Enemy Combatant” Ali al-Marri (July 2008), and was followed by Ending The Cruel Isolation Of Ali al-Marri, The Last US “Enemy Combatant” and Why The US Under Obama Is Still A Dictatorship (both March 2009).

5 (-): The Guantánamo Files Website Extras 3: Osama’s bodyguards
The third of 12 additional chapters, looking at the so-called “Dirty 30,” alleged bodyguards for Osama bin Laden.

6 (2): Sami al-Haj: the banned torture pictures of a journalist in Guantánamo (April 2008)
An overview of the experiences of al-Jazeera journalist Sami al-Haj, which was published just before he was released from Guantánamo, this features five powerful drawings (based on censored drawings by Sami), which were commissioned by Sami’s lawyers at the British legal action charity Reprieve. An archive of articles about Sami is here.

7 (20): Guantánamo: Torture victim Binyam Mohamed sues British government for evidence (May 2008)
A Londoner’s transformation from janitor to al-Qaeda operative. All it took was 22 months of torture. The horrors of “extraordinary rendition,” in one case study. Also see 14 and 26, below, and Seven Years of Torture: Binyam Mohamed Tells His Story, an article based on an interview following Binyam’s release from Guantánamo last month.

8 (-) A History of Music Torture in the “War on Terror” (December 2008)
Also known as “Hit Me Baby, One More Time,” this article reviewed how music has been subverted by the US military, transformed from entertainment, or from something more transcendental, into part of an arsenal of torture techniques. The article contains case studies, and the responses — either pro-, anti- or indifferent — of various musicians, including Britney Spears, David Gray, Deicide, Drowning Pool, Eminem, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against the Machine, to the misuse of their music in this manner.

9 (-) Is The 9/11 Trial Confession An Al-Qaeda Propaganda Coup? (December 2008)
The penultimate instalment of the dark farce that was the 9/11 trials, until their suspension by Barack Obama on his first day in office, this article focused on the failed attempts by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-defendants to be executed as martyrs before the Bush administration left office.

10 (11): Book review: Road From Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía (January 2008)
The story of Camilo Mejía, the first deserter from the Iraq war, capturing the camaraderie of the soldiers, the deranged incompetence of many of their leaders, and the encounters with brutality, including his own, that led him to desert. A few other articles about Iraq are here.

11 (-): Waterboarding: two questions for Michael Hayden about three “high-value” detainees now in Guantánamo (February 2008)
The first open admission of torture. Still no prosecutions.

12 (-): An interview with Guantánamo whistleblower Stephen Abraham (Part One) (December 2008)
Stephen is the former Lieutenant Colonel, and veteran of US intelligence, who served on Guantánamo’s tribunals in 2004-05, convened to assess whether the prisoners had been correctly designated as “enemy combatants,” who could be held without trial. I’ve covered his story since July 2007, when he first demolished the tribunals’ credibility by explaining how the tribunals were incapable of delivering anything resembling justice, and this was the first part of a detailed and very enjoyable interview. Also see Part Two.

13 (-): The Battle of the Beanfield
My second book. The State crushes dissent in a largely overlooked quasi-military operation in 1985. Maggie at her worst. Reviews, synopsis and how to buy.

14 (-): The betrayal of British torture victim Binyam Mohamed (February 2009)
Written for Cageprisoners, this article ran through the history of Binyam’s Transatlantic legal challenges in the year before his release, triggered by the latest stage in the refusal of either the British or the American governments to release information to the public that would reveal their involvement in or complicity in torture.

15 (-): Jose Padilla: More Sinned Against Than Sinning (September 2007)
Picked up on as a result of the attention focused on Ali al-Marri, this article examined the long isolation and torture of Jose Padilla, a US citizen held as an “enemy combatant” on the US mainland for three and a half years in connection with same non-existent “dirty bomb” plot in which Binyam Mohamed became ensnared. The article followed his farcical trial, after all mention of the plot — and his torture — was dropped, and for my response to his sentence see Why Jose Padilla’s 17-year prison sentence should shock and disgust all Americans (January 2008).

16 (15): In a Legal Otherworld, 9/11 Defendants Cry Torture at Guantánamo (June 2008)
Following 1, above, and preceding 29, below and 9, above, this article looked at the arraignment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-defendants in June, and, in particular, at Mohammed’s sly mentions of his torture by US forces. For an analysis of possible false confessions made by Mohammed, see Guantánamo’s tangled web: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Majid Khan, dubious US convictions, and a dying man.

17 (-): A New Year Message to Barack Obama: Free the Guantánamo Uighurs (January 2009)
At the heart of Guantanamo’s long and ongoing injustice is the story of the Uighurs, 17 men who succeeded, after an extraordinary appeals court ruling, in persuading the Bush administration that they were not “enemy combatants.” Unable to return to China, they remain in Guantánamo, because no other country has been found that will take them, despite a District Court ruling that their continued detention was unconstitutional and they should be rehoused in the US. This article urged Barack Obama to act on their behalf — but see Bad News And Good News For The Guantánamo Uighurs (February 2009) for the latest developments (or, rather, the lack of them).

18 (-): Return To The Law: Obama Orders Guantánamo Closure, Torture Ban and Review of US “Enemy Combatant” Case (January 2009)
An analysis of the Presidential orders issued by Barack Obama on his second day in office, when he pledged to close Guantánamo, to abide by the universal torture ban, to close all secret prisons run by the CIA, and more besides. Mostly positive, but with some caveats that are still worrying two months later. See, for example, Obama’s “Humane” Guantánamo Is A Bitter Joke (February 2009).

19 (-): Former Guantánamo Prosecutor Condemns “Chaotic” Trials in Case of Teenage Torture Victim (January 2009)
Originally published on the Raw Story, this article provided a detailed analysis of an explosive statement by Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, a former prosecutor in the Military Commission trial system, who resigned last September, after becoming severely disillusioned with the whole process (also see The Dark Heart of the Guantánamo Trials). Focused on ineptitude and obfuscation in the case of Afghan teenager Mohamed Jawad, it provides the most comprehensive breakdown of the Commissions’ inability to deliver justice.

20 (-) The Dying Days of the Guantánamo Trials (January 2009)
Even as the bunting was hung for Obama’s inauguration, the trials stumbled on. This last report ran through the Commissions’ ignoble history, and presented the last gasps in the pre-trial hearings of various prisoners, including Omar Khadr and Mohamed Jawad.

21 (-): Six Years of Guantánamo: Enough Is Enough (January 2008)
Despite Guantánamo marking its 7th anniversary in January, this article from a year before drew the most attention. For articles marking the 7th anniversary, see Seven Years Of Guantánamo, And A Call For Justice At Bagram (written for Cageprisoners), Seven Years of Guantánamo, Seven Years of Torture and Lies, which was circulated widely, and Will Guantánamo Bay ever close? which I wrote for the Guardian.

22 (14): The trials of Omar Khadr, Guantánamo’s “child soldier” (November 2007)
A detailed account of Omar’s story, from his capture (at the age of 15) to pre-trial hearings in his Military Commission, including psychological analysis, legal challenges to the Commissions, the shame of putting forward a child for a “war crimes” trial, and the disgraceful suppression of evidence. For more on Omar, an archive is here, but I particularly recommend Omar Khadr: The Guantánamo Files (October 2008).

23 (8): Dick Cheney: More Horrors from the “Vice President for Torture” (June 2007)
A detailed analysis of Dick Cheney’s role as the actual Commander-in-Chief of the Bush administration, this article followed the publication of a ground-breaking Washington Post series on Cheney by Barton Gellman and Jo Becker. Also see The Lies of Dick Cheney (Part One and Part Two), published over the Christmas period, which received a lot of traffic on the Huffington Post.

24 (-) Refuting Cheney’s Lies: The Stories of Six Prisoners Released from Guantánamo (January 2009)
As Cheney was wheeled out of office declaring that those still held in Guantánamo were the “hardcore,” this article examined how the last six men to be released by the Bush administration were no such thing, and uncovered gross ineptitude and a miasma of false allegations surrounding four Iraqis, an Afghan and an Algerian. Written for the Future of Freedom Foundation.

25 (6): 20 Reasons To Shut Down the Guantánamo Trials (November 2008)
From David Hicks to the Kuwaitis charged in October (also profiled here), this article dissected the problems with all 20 of the cases put forward for trial by Military Commission — and the six that were dropped. See 20, above, for the story of Tarek El-Sawah, the last prisoner to be charged.

26 (-): British torture victim Binyam Mohamed to be released from Guantánamo (January 2009)
Written for Cageprisoners, this article ran through the history of Binyam’s rendition and torture, and covered attempts by his military lawyer, Lt. Col. Yvonne Bradley, to discover details of the hunger strike that he embarked on before his release, as a protest against his continued detention.

27 (-): Guantánamo’s forgotten child: the sad story of Mohammed El-Gharani (April 2008)
This introduction to the torment of Mohammed El-Gharani, who was just 14 years old when he was seized in a raid on a mosque in Pakistan and sent to Guantánamo, where he was treated appallingly, was picked up on when a judge ordered his release from Guantánamo after his habeas corpus review two months ago (see Judge Orders Release Of Guantánamo’s Forgotten Child). Sad to say, Mohammed still hasn’t been freed.

28 (-): High Court rules against UK and US in case of Guantánamo torture victim Binyam Mohamed (August 2008)
An analysis of the British High Court’s devastating ruling about Binyam Mohamed’s case, following a judicial review last summer, in which the judges criticized the British government for complicity in Binyam’s rendition and torture, and were appalled by the Bush administration’s entire approach to justice.

29 (17): Is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Running the 9/11 Trials? (September 2008)
A report on the pre-trial hearings of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four alleged 9/11 co-conspirators, in which another facet of the Commissions’ extraordinary ineptitude was highlighted when Mohammed was allowed to use his right to self-representation as a platform to mock the judge and toy with the administration.

30 (-) The Guantánamo Files Website Extras 1: The Qala-i-Janghi Massacre
The first of the 12 additional online chapters, looking at survivors of a massacre in northern Afghanistan in November 2001.

Bubbling under:
A critical overview of Salim Hamdan’s Guantánamo trial and the dubious verdict (August 2008)
Why Guantánamo Must Be Closed: Advice for Barack Obama (November 2008)
The End of Guantánamo (December 2008)
Lost in Guantánamo: The Faisalabad 16 (December 2008)
Will the Bush administration be held accountable for war crimes? (December 2008)
Bush Era Ends With Guantánamo Trial Chief’s Torture Confession (January 2009)
How Cooking For The Taliban Gets You Life In Guantánamo (January 2009)
Guantánamo’s refugees (February 2009)
Guantánamo: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics (February 2009)
Abu Qatada: Law Lords and Government Endorse Torture (February 2009)

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 also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.

One Response

  1. Connie L. Nash says...

    What do you know, Andy, Talking Dog, Others about how the Lawyers’ Movement in Pakistan may have something to do with missing people & the turning them over to US military and/or US intelligence?

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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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