Guantánamo: 500 Posts – And A Fundraising Appeal

12.6.09

The Guantanamo Files

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As the Obama administration’s muddled mission to clear up the toxic inheritance of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush continues, and fearmongers of both parties — led by Cheney himself — continue to spread lies and misinformation about the men held at Guantánamo and in other “War on Terror” prisons, the need has never been greater for accurate information about who is still held there, why most of them never had any involvement with al-Qaeda or international terrorism, and why the Obama administration should do all in its power to release the majority of these men before January 2010.

It is also important for the President to understand that, to reestablish America’s moral standing in the world, those prisoners regarded as truly dangerous (no more than a few dozen, according to reliable intelligence sources) should be prosecuted in a court that meets internationally acceptable standards (in other words, not in a reworked version of Cheney’s Military Commission trial system, which the administration recently proposed).

The President must also understand that another recent proposal — to seek Congressional approval for a policy of “preventive detention” — is also unacceptable, as it would enshrine, in law, the fundamental betrayal of justice on which Guantánamo was founded. Prisoners in US custody are either prisoners of war, to be protected by the Geneva Conventions, or they are criminal suspects, who must be put forward for a trial, in which they will be found either innocent or guilty. There is no “third way,” whereby men can be deprived of their liberty forever without having the opportunity to prove their innocence, or to have their guilt confirmed by a jury.

President Obama came into office promising to close Guantánamo within a year, to ban the use of torture, and to ensure that, in future, all prisoners in wartime would be held according to the Geneva Conventions and would be interrogated according to the non-coercive techniques laid down in the Army Field Manual.

It was an auspicious beginning, but as the months have passed, it has become clear that many different voices — some less benign and more cowardly than others — have been prevailing upon the President to compromise his mission to undo the damage wrought by the Bush administration’s “War on Terror.”

Some of the resulting problems are outlined above; others include resisting calls to extend habeas corpus rights to foreign prisoners held in the US prison at Bagram airbase, bowing to hysterical pressure from politicians and other fearmongers by refusing to resettle innocent prisoners from Guantánamo on the US mainland, and invoking the “state secrets” doctrine to prevent disclosure of information about “extraordinary rendition” and torture.

To some, the refusal to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate the legality of the Bush administration’s policies is Obama’s major failing, but as this particular story is still unfolding, I have to say that, on the first anniversary of Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruling that reasserted the Guantánamo prisoners’ habeas corpus rights (after they had been granted in 2004 and then taken away by Congress), my major complaint right now is that the Justice Department has been persistently obstructing the District Court judges in their attempts to review the prisoners’ habeas cases — primarily by refusing to provide the prisoners’ defense attorneys with necessary material in a timely manner, if at all — to the extent that there is now a widespread feeling amongst the lawyers that, in the habeas cases, the change of government has made absolutely no difference whatsoever.

I wrote about the Justice Department’s obstruction in several articles recently (see here, here and here), but there is clearly more work to be done, for the simple reason that most people are not yet aware of the extent to which what is being hidden is, for the most part, not evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the prisoners, but evidence of information extracted from unreliable witnesses  (through the use of torture, coercion or bribery), and evidence of desperate attempts on the part of the authorities to build up “mosaics” of intelligence that are not actually credible. A substantial amount of work also remains to be done on other crucial topics, including the “ghost prisoners” held in secret CIA prisons, who were not eventually transferred to Guantánamo, and the prisoners in Bagram.

I also remain committed to breaking news stories in the Western media (as I did with the death of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi last month), to providing detailed commentary on breaking news stories that is not available elsewhere, and to being able to continue producing reports like the definitive Guantánamo prisoner list that I published in March, and the report on hunger strikes and weight loss in Guantánamo that I published this week.

For over three years, I have been assiduously chronicling every aspect of Guantánamo and the men held there, first through my book The Guantánamo Files, and, for the last two years, through this blog and the many other websites and publications where my work is available. I recently published my 500th post on this site (“Guantánamo’s Youngest Prisoner Released To Chad,” about the release of Mohammed El-Gharani, which was published before anyone else picked up on the story), and although I’m delighted that a number of media outlets support my work financially, and am also generally content to keep doing this work for the sake of combating injustice, and to help to bring an end to the crimes committed in the “War on Terror,” I could do with a little financial help to keep myself and the website running.

I promise only to put out a fundraising appeal every three months, but if you can help at all, it would be greatly appreciated. US readers — or readers anywhere else in the world — can use the “Donate” button, which leads to a PayPal page, at the top of this post. If you’re in the UK and want to help, you can send me a cheque (address here — scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Thank you for your time and support.

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.

3 Responses

  1. Connie L. Nash says...

    You certainly deserve this support, Andy! I hope this comes flooding forth. Wow- it’s simply beyond what anyone could ever have imagined doing in several lifetimes with a football team of staff and you have been doing this alone. Nearly every day there’s enough material to begin another whole intriguing and challenging book.

  2. Jeff Kaye says...

    http://valtinsblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/support-work-of-andy-worthington-author.html

    You, you who are reading this. Did you make a donation already? What are you waiting for?

  3. Worthy of Your Support « Ten Percent says...

    […] of Your Support 18 June, 2009 — RickB Mark Anthony France & Andy Worthington Posted in Good Journalism, Politics. Tags: Blogging. Leave a Comment […]

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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 (The State of London).
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