Andy Worthington Discusses Guantánamo And The Obama Administration’s Cowardice With Jeff Farias

9.12.09

On Monday, I was delighted to talk again with the progressive radio show host Jeff Farias, who has been very supportive of my work, and always appears to be genuinely and almost viscerally appalled by the crimes of the Bush administration, and the difficulties in awakening the American people (even after eight years!) to the brutal practices carried out in their name at Guantánamo and elsewhere in the “War on Terror.”

The three-hour show is available here (my 35-minute interview starts nearly two hours in, at 01:57), and Jeff and I had the opportunity to discuss, at length, the cowardice of the Obama administration in the face of right-wing attacks, which has led to so many of the current difficulties, and which, sadly, is symptomatic of an administration that seems to be unable to take the fight to the Republicans.

This gave me the opportunity to discuss my recent article, “Guantánamo: Idealists Leave Obama’s Sinking Ship,” lamenting the departure of White House counsel Greg Craig, who, whatever his other faults, approached the closure of Guantánamo in a refreshingly robust and principled manner, until he was sidelined by the administration. Along the way, we also discussed the ill-defined and troubling story of how two Tunisians — cleared for release from Guantánamo — were recently sent to Italy to face trials based on evidence which, at least in part, seems to have been extracted from “high-value detainees” in US custody, who, of course, were subjected to torture.

In further discussions of the supposed evidence, Jeff and I talked about the general inadequacy of the material dressed up as evidence — largely extracted through the coercion or bribery of other prisoners — which has been seen through by the judges in the prisoners’ habeas corpus petitions, where, in 80 percent of the cases on which District Court judges have ruled, they have dismissed the government’s supposed evidence for failing to demonstrate that the men in question were connected to either al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

Jeff and I also discussed the recent Seton Hall Law School report (PDF) about the three deaths at Guantánamo in June 2006 (and also see Scott Horton’s article and a Q&A with Mark Denbeaux), which allowed me to mention the outstanding questions regarding the deaths of two other prisoners in May 2007 and in June this year (see here and here). I also talked about the darkness at the heart of Guantánamo, to this day, in which those who work at the prison are still briefed that they are guarding dangerous terrorists, even though the prisoners themselves are unwilling participants in the most extraordinarily cruel and ill-conceived experiment, subjected to what is, to be honest, nothing more than pernicious propaganda, given that they have never been tried or convicted for any crime, and continue to have no idea whether their open-ended detention will ever come to an end.

We also spoke about the mainstream media’s inability to remain focused on issues that should never leave the public eye, and the toothless, if sporadically fascinating Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War (which is being largely ignored in the US), and we even managed to find time to talk about the maddening futility of Obama’s Afghan surge, which continues to astound me on two particular points: the phenomenal financial cost, and the human cost of stretching military personnel to the very edge of their endurance.

It was a pleasure, as ever, to talk to Jeff, and I look forward to our next interview, on the basis that the ills of the world are unlikely to be resolved in the next few months.

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.

2 Responses

  1. James O'Neill says...

    Andy: a tremenous discussion and I was with you all the way until you reached the point about the attacks of 9/11. KSM may well be a murdering scumbag although how one can distinguish the truth when the source of the “evidence” had been waterboarded more than 180 times defeats me.
    The focus on him tends in any case to detract from looking critically at the whole official 9/11 fairy tale. Such a critical examination is warranted. You yourself have pointed out on more than one occasion the appalling crimes that have been committed in the name of 9/11, not least of which is the travesty of Guantanamo, and the illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the human misery and suffering that has ensued. Like you I believe very strongly that those responsible should be held accountable.
    It doesn’t help however if one suspends ones critical faculties in looking at 9/11. To take one simple example. A recent scientific paper in the Open Chemistry and Physics Journal (Harrit et al April 2009) showed conclusively that highly sophisticated nano-thermite was used to bring down te three WT towers.
    You cannot buy this stuff on ebay much less manufacture it in a cave in Afghanistan. Then you have to have access to very secure buildings to place the stuff.
    All of which gives the lie to the official conspiracy theory.
    There is much more and apart from the Harrit paper I suggest you read David Griffin’s books The New Pearl Harbor Revisited (2008) (Publishers Weekly’s choice of the week in November) an the latest The Mysterious Collapse of WTC 7 (2009).
    The truth about 9/11 is a lot more complex than you think.

  2. The Jeff Farias Show: Sasha Abramsky + Andy Worthington | Dandelion Salad says...

    […] by Andy Worthington Featured Writer Dandelion Salad http://www.andyworthington.co.uk […]

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