Yesterday I was delighted to be invited to take part in an edition of “Inside Story” on Al-Jazeera English, to discuss the closure of Guantánamo in light of the recent concession, by President Obama’s Detention Policy Task Force, that it had missed its six-month deadline to issue recommendations about how to close Guantánamo, which has made observers wonder if the President will now miss his deadline of January 21, 2010 for the closure of the prison.
This was a lively show, hosted by Hashem Ahelbarra in Doha, and also featuring Cori Crider, an attorney with the legal action charity Reprieve, whose lawyers represent over 40 current and former Guantánamo prisoners, and Nile Gardiner, the director of the Heritage Foundation’s implausibly-named Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. As you might expect, there was a certain amount of friction between Mr. Gardiner, channeling Dick Cheney, and Cori and I, whose knowledge of Guantánamo and its prisoners is based less on groundless rhetoric and rather more on research and first-hand experience.
A video of the show is available below (via YouTube):
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.
well done, mr. worthington. for my part, i was impressed al jazeera managed even to *find* someone who would say nobody was abused at guantanamo.
one wonders: when are the people saying ‘The Prisoners’ are too dangerous to try or release going to name a single human who fits into that category?
And good for Crider for reframing the questions for better dialogue.
Gardiner. He sounds like that disingenuous, opportunistic class of people called DC Wonk. The type that claims to speak for all Americans, when really he’s speaking for the DC club. How someone can sit there and say there’s been no abuse, etc. is beyond me.
I don’t know why there is talk of transferring to military prison. As you said on the show, detainees can be tried by fed courts if there’s a case. Fed pens have held certifiables like McVeigh, the Unabomber and Ramzi Youssef before.
And (trying to think cynically in a way that might appeal to the Pres.) if anything happened, the responsibility could easily be passed to the judges and prisons or hospitals. Ex: In my state when a murderous crazy person gets loose the gov. disciplines the holding institution and wipes her hands clean just like that. If Pres. Obama had been a gov., he would have known that.
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I know, it’s rare that someone like our man from the Heritage Foundation leaves his right-wing comfort zone to debate with the likes of us. I’m sure it made for more combative telly, but I’d have preferred to have had more time to discuss the real issues in more depth.
Anyway, you did a good job, and I hope we have an opportunity to do it again sometime.
Thanks, Mui, for pointing out which kind of convicted criminals are safely held on the mainland after successful federal court trials.
It needs repeating more often.
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