On Democracy Now! Andy Worthington Discusses Guantánamo, Yemen, Lies, Hysteria and the False Recidivism Report

8.1.10

Today, I made my way to a TV studio in central London to hook up with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez in New York to discuss the recent uproar over the release of Yemeni prisoners from Guantánamo, and the Pentagon’s most recent claims that 1 in 5 released prisoners have engaged in terrorist activities, for Democracy Now! The segment, entitled, “After Years in Guantánamo Prison Without Charge, Future Even More Uncertain For Yemeni Detainees,” is available below, and is featured here on the Democracy Now! website:

I have covered both stories in a number of recent articles — Why Obama Must Continue Releasing Yemenis From Guantánamo (which contains profiles of the six men released before Christmas), Guantánamo and Yemen: Obama Capitulates to Critics and Suspends Prisoner Transfers, Yemenis in Guantánamo are Victims of Hysteria and Guantánamo Recidivism: Mainstream Media Parrot Pentagon Propaganda (Again) — but was delighted to have the opportunity to discuss them with Amy and Juan, as they demonstrate some of the worst lies, distortions and fearmongering (and cowardice on the part of the administration) that have occurred since Barack Obama came to power nearly a year ago.

Essentially, the Yemeni story involves inflated claims about the failed Christmas bomber’s links with Saudis released from Guantánamo, an almost total aversion to recognizing that the “Saudi recidivists” were released by George W. Bush, despite the advice of the intelligence agencies, a similar aversion to recognizing that, in contrast, Obama has been extremely careful about releasing prisoners from Guantánamo, and a complete disregard for the fact that the cleared Yemenis have now been made a victim of political maneuvering.

I also spoke about how Obama’s capitulation to criticism was sadly typical, despite the fact that, on TV shows at the weekend, John Brennan made a great case for the government’s record on releasing Yemenis, and ran through a few of the men’s stories, to demonstrate how innocent men — some of them students seized in a house raid in Pakistan — are being made to pay the price for political opportunism and presidential cowardice.

With reference to the claims of recidivism, I ran through the whole sordid story of how the mainstream media uncritically reports whatever nonsense the Pentagon chooses to leak at strategic moments like this, despite the fact that genuine investigations have demonstrated that no more than 12 to 20 prisoners have engaged in any form of terrorism since their release. This allowed me to ask how it was possible that 80 to 90 men had “returned to the battlefield” since last May, when the last “report” was issued, and also gave me the opportunity to question the Pentagon’s timing, and, perhaps most crucially, to ask whether Obama is actually in charge of the Defense Department.

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, updated in January 2010, 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.

3 Responses

  1. On Democracy Now! Andy Worthington Discusses Guantánamo, Yemen, Lies, Hysteria and the False Recidivism Report « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] Andy Worthington Featured Writer Dandelion Salad http://www.andyworthington.co.uk 8 January [...]

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Over on Common Dreams, a reader called Joe wrote:

    Now all of a sudden the chief threat is not Iraq nor Afghanistan nor Pakistan nor Syria nor Iran. It is Yemen. Yemen! Look it up. Based on this story, how many billions will we spend, how many bombs will we drop, how many farmer families and goats will we kill, how many hapless soldiers will we deploy to pull people out of their houses at night in this small and poor country?

    The Guantanamo prisoners’ fates are dependent on the latest whimsy of the story-telling militarists. They make up story after story in their advertising campaign for munitions sales and imperialist adventure. They embellish, weave and distort. The press dutifully repeats most of it without question, and without providing any factual background to to inform our geography- and history-challenged population.

    All of us are pawns in this game. Alternatives that would create good will in that poor country, such as bringing water or schoolbooks or health care, are not even considered because they do not benefit Lockheed, Grumman et al.

    The prisoners at Guantanamo cannot do much about all this. But most of us still have our walking around papers. The MINIMUM we can do is to question every story and question every action based on the stories.

  3. The Liberty Voice » Web-Only Content says...

    [...] Andy Worthington Featured Writer Dandelion Salad http://www.andyworthington.co.uk 8 January [...]

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