Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed — again! — by Linda Olson-Osterlund for KBOO FM, an excellent community radio station in Portland, Oregon. The show is available here.
Linda, as ever, was a thoughtful and well-informed host, and the time, sadly, flew by. Clearly, we could both talk for hours on the subject, but in the 26 minutes available to us, we discussed the origins of my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list — as, essentially, an off-shoot of the research I undertook for my book The Guantánamo Files, and the more than 300 articles I have written over the last two years — and my ongoing attempts to reveal the prisoners as human beings, held without rights, rather than as dehumanized statistics, the “worst of the worst” in the “War on Terror.”
We also discussed the Pentagon’s regular, and unprincipled allegations that dozens of released prisoners have “returned to the battlefield,” and the various reasons why these claims should be regarded with suspicion, and, in a timely manner, Linda raised the topic of the recent article by Lawrence Wilkerson, a former aide to Secretary of State Colin Powell, who, in a devastating critique of the Bush administration’s policies, stated unequivocally that no more than two dozen prisoners had any meaningful connection to al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups.
Linda also asked me about the stories of particular prisoners that have moved me over the years — a difficult question to answer, given that Guantánamo has produced so many heart-breaking stories (although I mentioned Omar Khadr and Mohamed Jawad, two of the juvenile prisoners whose stories took up so much of my life last year) — and we also discussed the many failures of the Pentagon’s recent report, which purported to prove that Guantánamo is run in accordance with the Geneva Conventions — including, in particular, the military’s shameful re-definition of “solitary confinement,” the importance of remembering how dreadful it is to be held without knowing when, if ever, your imprisonment will come to an end, and the horror of the military’s brutal response to the ongoing hunger strikes.
We also discussed the weaknesses in the Justice Department’s recent announcement that it was dropping the use of the term “enemy combatant” — in particular, the DoJ’s insistence that it can still legally detain people whose connection to terrorist activities is, at best, tangential (staying in a Taliban guest house, for example), the ongoing, and enormously significant inability to differentiate between the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and the overarching problem of conducting military operations in an environment, established by the Bush administration, in which US forces are regarded as soldiers, but those who oppose them are regarded as terrorists.
I also spoke about my dissatisfaction regarding the fact that the Obama administration has, to date, freed only one prisoner from Guantánamo (the British resident and torture victim Binyam Mohamed), in spite of the fact that, for example, six cleared Saudis could be released immediately, and, as our time ran out, I expressed my hope that more releases will follow, and, moreover, that they will take place sooner rather than later.
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.
Congratulations and many thanks for your continuing good work. I share your hope that more good will come from the Obama administration. We all know nothing will happen without ongoing pressure from people like yourself. The public exposure is important as too many among our pols and the public today have a very short attention span.
Keep up the good work. There are lots of us out hear standing with real pride at your back.
Your support and encouragement is much appreciated.
Note: Please visit Jerry’s site here:
Andy, this community of readers, your ongoing & the comments here are quite a strong bit of sunlight on such a dreary, sad state of affairs. We must keep on keeping on…and thanks to you and your readers/commentors – we have so much to encourage us…
Find the following at http://www.bordc.org & scroll down or go directly to http://www.bordc.org/news/ Also, go to http://www.democracynow.org for TWO issues discussed by Seymour Hersh – including one on assassination ring under Cheney…and another pertinent to your readers of Andy’s items.
Mar 31, 2009, Jamey Keaten, Associated Press, Paris appeals court acquits five former Guantanamo Bay detainees
Mar 31, 2009, Pascal Fletcher, Reuters, Miss Universe says had “lot of fun” in Guantanamo
Mar 31, 2009, PRNewsWire, TSA’s Secure Flight Begins Vetting Passengers
Mar 31, 2009, Grant Gross, PC World, Legislation Would Curtail Warrantless Information Demands
NOTE THIS ONE! Mar 31, 2009, Jason Leopold, Public Record, Doug Feith: ‘I Was a Major Player’ In Bush’s Torture Policies
Mar 30, 2009, William Glaberson, New York Times, U.S. Decides to Release Detainee at Guantánamo
Mar 30, 2009, Matt Glenn, Jurist, Second US Army segreant convicted of killing Iraqi detainees
Mar 30, 2009, Daphne Eviatar, Washington Independent, Yemeni Detainees Pose Problem in Closing Gitmo
Mar 30, 2009, Alice Lipowicz, Federal Computer Week, Napolitano to review satellite imagery program
Mar 30, 2009, Matthew Allee, Common Dreams, Justice Department Finds DNA Collection From Arrestees Overloads Backlog In Crime Labs
Mar 30, 2009, ACLU, Legislation Introduced to Curtail Patriot Act Abuse
Mar 29, 2009, Hilary Brown, ABC News, ‘Torture’ Could Haunt Bush Officials
Mar 29, 2009, Devin Montgomery, Jurist, US interrogation tactics were torture: former State Department lawyer
Mar 29, 2009, Lucas Tanglen, Jurist, US, Yemen should allow ‘meaningful legal process’ in Guantanamo repatriation: HRW
Mar 27, 2009, Daphne Eviatar, Washington Independent, Advocates for Bagram Prisoners Hopeful but Cautious About New Afghanistan Strategy
US Prosecutors: Consistent Problems – Although this is about the dropping of the case/conviction of Ted Stevens, it indicates how the last administration is “bleeding into” CURRENT concerns over justice. I wonder for how long? Did Holder have any other choice? If so, why this choice? In which way might this also add weight to the need for a Special Prosecutor?
If you scroll under this one on oneheartforpeace blog – you will find other Rights/Detainee/Torture related items (some perhaps hopeful? Some where the US admin has ignored or changed the Constitution/Bill of Rights/Geneva Accords to suit Cheney/Bush admin and now to try to sweep under the rug perhaps because the financial mess is simply too huge to do anything else???)
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