Earlier today I posted a link to a 13-minute video on Truthout, “The Human Cost of Guantánamo,” featuring an interview filmed by Sari Gelzer and Troy Page in San Francisco, during my recent US tour to promote the new documentary, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (directed by Polly Nash and myself), which also includes some powerful excerpts from the film.
The video is available below (via Blip TV), and DVDs of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” are available to buy here.
In the interview, conducted at the University of San Francisco School of Law, after a screening of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” I had the opportunity, before President Obama even made his admission that Guantánamo would not close by his self-imposed deadline of January 22, 2010, to talk about how difficult it will be remove this chronic stain on America’s reputation, primarily because the administration has failed to seize the initiative in bringing cleared prisoners to resettle on the US mainland, which would have encouraged other countries to follow suit. Instead, finding new homes for prisoners has been only marginally easier than getting blood out of a stone, and has been further complicated by the refusal of Congress to recognize that its reputation — and that of the United States as a whole — will remain fatally tarnished throughout the word until this icon of injustice is closed.
I also explained — illustrated by clips from the film — the extent of the gulf between the Bush administration’s rhetoric about Guantánamo holding “the worst of the worst” and the rather more distressing reality: that, in their violent haste, and their arrogant dismissal of domestic and international laws designed not only to protect prisoners from abuse, but also to screen them to determine whether they had been seized by mistake, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld presided over the creation of a lawless experiment that not only enshrined the use of torture, but that also held no more than 40 prisoners (out of a total of nearly 800), who had any meaningful connection to al-Qaeda or international terrorism.
About the film
“Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” tells the story of Guantánamo (and includes sections on extraordinary rendition and secret prisons) with a particular focus on how the Bush administration turned its back on domestic and international laws, how prisoners were rounded up in Afghanistan and Pakistan without adequate screening (and often for bounty payments), and why some of these men may have been in Afghanistan or Pakistan for reasons unconnected with militancy or terrorism (as missionaries or humanitarian aid workers, for example).
The film is based around interviews with former prisoners (Moazzam Begg and, in his first major interview, Omar Deghayes, who was released in December 2007), lawyers for the prisoners (Clive Stafford Smith in the UK and Tom Wilner in the US), and journalist and author Andy Worthington, and also includes appearances from Guantánamo’s former Muslim chaplain James Yee, Shakeel Begg, a London-based Imam, and the British human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce.
Focusing on the stories of three particular prisoners — Shaker Aamer (who is still held), Binyam Mohamed (who was released in February 2009) and Omar Deghayes — “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” provides a powerful rebuke to those who believe that Guantánamo holds “the worst of the worst” and that the Bush administration was justified in responding to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 by holding men neither as prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects with habeas corpus rights, but as “illegal enemy combatants” with no rights whatsoever.
“Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” is a Spectacle Production (74 minutes, 2009). For further information, interviews, or to inquire about broadcasting, distributing or showing “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” please contact Andy Worthington or Polly Nash.
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 I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
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