Guantánamo: Two Years of Blogging, A Million Words In The Archive

31.5.09

Happy birthday to me! It’s exactly two years since, after putting the manuscript for my book The Guantánamo Files to bed, and wandering around in a post-book completion daze for two weeks, I was galvanized into blogging action by the death at Guantánamo of a Saudi prisoner, Abdul Rahman al-Amri (I marked the second anniversary of his death with an article yesterday).

From those humble beginnings, I soon began approaching other websites — CounterPunch, the Huffington Post, Antiwar.com and AlterNet — looking for suitable outlets to apply the results of the research I had undertaken for 14 months for The Guantánamo Files to the still-unfolding story of Guantánamo, and discovered, as prisoners were released, as the Military Commissions were revived by Congress after being ruled illegal by the Supreme Court, and as new scandals emerged regarding the cruelty and ineptitude of the Bush administration, that to do justice to it would be a full-time job.

I’m glad to report that, along the way, I’ve picked up other work — for the Guardian on a regular basis, and on one memorable occasion for the New York Times — and also for a range of other organizations and publications, including Amnesty International, the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, Index on Censorship, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), the Daily Star, Lebanon, the Raw Story, Cageprisoners, and the Future of Freedom Foundation, for whom I write a weekly column every Monday.

Moreover, I’m glad to say that, once the black cloud of despair and inertia was lifted from the nation on November 4 last year, the number of people who have been prepared to engage with the difficult topic of Guantánamo and other crimes committed as part of the “War on Terror” has increased significantly, even if the vacillations of the Obama administration have actually created more work for me than existed before. This month alone, visitors to my site have made 140,000 page visits, a far cry from June 2007, when I had just 10,000 page visits.

Oh, and that figure of a million words mentioned in the title of this post is just an estimate, although I think it’s a fair one. On the second anniversary of my life as a full-time journalist in the new media, this is my 482nd post, and as the majority of those were full-length articles, and my articles tend to credit readers with the stamina to cope with 2-3,000 words on any given topic, I’d say that, if anything, it’s perhaps a little on the low side.

Thanks to everyone who’s supported me these last two years — there are far too many of you to mention, but you know who you are — and I can only say in conclusion that I will continue to write about Guantánamo, about the crimes of the Bush administration, and about Obama’s slow progress in dealing with this horrendous legacy, until the prison has shut for good, and the remaining prisoners have either been repatriated, released in other countries, or put on trial in a venue that meets internationally recognized standards, and not, hopefully, in a rejigged version of the kangaroo courts dreamt up by Dick Cheney and David Addington, which, like everything to do with the “War on Terror,” were a manifestation of the most disgraceful combination of arrogance, lies, brutality, ineptitude and law-breaking that has ever besmirched the noble aspirations on which the United States was founded.

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.

18 Responses

  1. Kel. says...

    Happy birthday Andy!

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Kel … although it’s not my real birthday, of course, just my online birthday. Is that pretentious, or what? Who do I think I am, the Queen?

  3. Stephen Grey says...

    Congratulations Andy and thanks for your investigations. Two more years!

  4. Connie L. Nash says...

    What immense and deep satisfaction you must have today, Andy! What could be better than for a writer to maintain, raise and know about such a large body of engaged and well-informed readership?!

    Your joy today must be way over the top! And then to also know that what you have reported in the way of well-researched and comparative details has been an massive treatise toward truth. The way you’ve painted the larger picture and your palpable compassion all the way through – keeps drawing us all. What else has helped more to diffuse the negative forces at work between our two nations and areas of the world at risk once again of domination by the same?

    CONGRATULATIONS!

    May you enjoy the glow of this major milestone!

    CONSIDER:
    On this momentous occasion for you and for those who follow you almost daily, is there any chance of covering Bagram in a short series at least? See the short, recent item on the Bagram imprisonments at Human Rights First – a brief follow-up on the personal visit to Bagram by two top staff members – undlerlines the fact that this prison is apparently outside of legal accountability – just as GTMO has been – and that in other ways it’s like GTMO. There are reportedly around 600, outside of perimeters of law and worse. According to other sources – such as a recent discussion between two former detainees – one of Bagram’s goals is to brainwash to the point of making the detainee insane. Yet without more really good investigative reporting – along with these reports from the victims – how will the masses believe and know the truth?

    As the US military along with freshly- armed Pakistan push more and more militant groups from Swat Valley region into the young and strong at root nation of Pakistan – into the major cities even – we are all in for trouble.

    Especially now – we need to know not only concerning the men but we need to know more truth about at least one woman detainee who is apparently being used by all sides. Various stories and rallying cries about her as well as about men still in Bagram have become volatile. Facts and objective witnesses and investigations are missing while many reports from all sides are lacking essential details. Therefore there is more and more hostility toward international trust and peace efforts. Yet we in the West seldom read these reports, blogs and commentaries.

    For those who make up lies from whatever “side” – no matter who they are – and justify them in the cause of war propaganda – they are ALL part and parcel the cause of these wars – not just who happens to be the “enemy” of the day. For those in my gov’t who say that the torture inflicted has been mild and necessary – of course anyone who does the research will easily have to admit this is blatantly false, archaic reasoning at best and more than counter-productive to any semblance of victory or hope for international cooperation.

    Recent and current – the moving of the US warring into Pakistan greatly lights up the stakes.

    Back to you, Andy – what about a series on Bagram and/or the women detainees – especially any who are high profile?

  5. Connie L. Nash says...

    Andy- I really hope you took the whole day off and longer…

    Yet when you get back, I’m keeping the pressure up for what it’s worth??? (smiles)

    So for you and your readers here, I decided to place the following as comment from
    Human Rights First:

    AFGHANISTAN – Bagram Theater Internment Facility: 600 people – another version of GTMO? The Bagram Theater Internment Facility in Afghanistan in many ways is another version of Guantanamo. It holds around 600 individuals—outside any legal framework.

    HRF staffers Gabor Rona and Sahr Muhammed Ally just returned from a trip to Afghanistan to study the situation on the ground.

    Their interviews with former detainees tell a familiar story: after capture in their homes, detainees were hooded, shackled, given orange uniforms, held in isolation and sent to Bagram for several years without knowing the basis for their detention and with no process to challenge their detention. Some are transferred for prosecution in Afghan courts, but these trials are based on little or no evidence, as exposed in HRF’s Arbitrary Justice report last year.

    Sahr and Gabor are documenting their findings in a report and have already met with the administration’s Special Task Force to discuss their recommendations on detentions in Afghanistan.

  6. Mathias says...

    Congrats Andy and keep up the good work!

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks Stephen, Connie and Mathias. Your support is greatly appreciated.

    Connie, I took five hours off to spend time with my family — hope that’s enough!

    And you are, of course, right about Bagram. I have stories to report, which I’ll hopefully be able to deal with sooner rather than later.

  8. the talking dog says...

    Well, Andy, plenty of time to ponder the next area to earn your well-honed observation… for now, just congratulations on a job well-done, and celebrate the milestone. And mostly, I’m proud to call you my friend.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    … for once I’m speechless. Thanks, TD, and the feeling, of course, is mutual.

  10. David Mery says...

    Happy blog anniversary Andy, and congratulations on a fantastic work.

    br -d

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Well, thank you, David. And for those who don’t know, David is one of those brave souls keeping a sharp eye on Britain’s surveillance state. Check out his blog:
    http://gizmonaut.net/blog/

  12. Frances Madeson says...

    One million fifty-two thousand, two hundred minutes
    One million fifty-two thousand, t’hundred moments so dear
    One million fifty-two thousand, two hundred minutes
    How do you measure, measure two years?

    In questions and theories
    In blog posts and cups of coffee
    Fact checking, in thinking, sleepless nights, and sighs
    One million fifty-two thousand, two hundred minutes
    How do you measure, two years in the life?

    How about hope?
    How about hope?
    How about hope?
    Measure in hope.

    (With thanks/apologies to Jonathan Larson and RENT)

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Frances.
    I guess I do measure it in hope, but in practical terms it generally revolves around questions like, “They’ve just done what?” and “What do you mean, you can get away with it just by moving out of the White House?” and “How often do I and others have to point out that Guantanamo’s not full of ‘hardcore terrorists’ before the government and politicians take notice?”

  14. Frances Madeson says...

    Outrage too. Why not? God knows we feel it.

  15. Forgotten: The Second Anniversary Of A Guantánamo Suicide by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] Guantánamo: Two Years of Blogging, A Million Words In The Archive [...]

  16. Elena says...

    congratulations and many thanks, Andy!

  17. Telma Alencar says...

    Andy,
    The other day, I received something from Dr. Steven Miles, author of “Oath Betrayed:..” and I would like to forward it to you who have been “opening the cracks so that the light gets in”…for the last two years..
    Thank you for all the precious information and CONGRATULATIONS!

    A piece called Anthem, from Leonard Cohen, Canada…

    I can’t run no more
    with that lawless crowd
    while the killers in high places
    say their prayers out loud.
    But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
    a thundercloud
    and they’re going to hear from me.
    Ring the bells that still can ring …
    You can add up the parts
    but you won’t have the sum
    You can strike up the march,
    there is no drum
    Every heart, every heart
    to love will come
    but like a refugee.
    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack, a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in.
    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack, a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks Elena and Telma.
    I don’t know why I haven’t come across “Anthem” before, Telma, but thanks to you — and Steven — for sharing that with me. Recently I posted the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War,” but there are, sadly, few songs that capture what we’re all trying to do.

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