On Monday I marked a milestone that, when I began blogging on a full-time basis in May 2007, I had no idea I would ever reach. My article about the forthcoming anti-torture week in Berkeley, California, from October 10 to 16, which I am proud to be attending, was my 1000th blog post about Guantánamo — and closely related topics. I’m not specifically looking for financial help today, but it is always appreciated (especially as my computer has just died on me!), so if you’d like to make a donation, you can do so via the PayPal button at the top of this article (and readers in the UK can send a cheque — scroll down here for the address).
When I began my career as a specialist freelance journalist in the new media, it was something of an experiment. I blogged about Guantánamo because I had completed the manuscript of my book The Guantánamo Files, and wanted to keep up with developments (unexplained deaths, kangaroo courts, the stories of prisoners released). However, as the mainstream media was not generally interested in my point of view, and was largely content to report on Guantánamo sporadically, and mostly without much context, I set out to see whether I could become known and noticed online.
In those dark days in the middle of President Bush’s second term, thoroughly dissecting Guantánamo and exposing the lies and cruelty that sustained it was not an easy sell. Only hardened activists, it seemed, were immune to the torture fatigue that plagued many decent citizens of the United States. However, Cageprisoners immediately picked up on my work and began cross-posting it, and, realizing that there was an audience out there, I soon approached CounterPunch, the Huffington Post, Antiwar.com, AlterNet and ZNet, who began publishing my articles and spreading the word.
By the end of 2007, I was getting 30,000 page views a month, and by the end of 2008, when I was writing for the Guardian’s Comment is free and for Cageprisoners, had a regular weekly column for the Future of Freedom Foundation and had worked for a while with Reprieve, the London-based legal action charity that focuses on Guantánamo and death penalty issues, I was up to 75,000 page views a month, with much of my work covering the Bush administration’s farcical attempts to make the Military Commissions appear legal and viable, the release of prisoners and the legal challenges that culminated in the Supreme Court’s June 2008 ruling, in Boumediene v. Bush, that the prisoners in Guantánamo had constitutionally guaranteed habeas corpus rights.
Although the US briefly sloughed off its torture fatigue as Bush’s two terms of horror came to an end, and Barack Obama was briefly able to portray himself as a knight in shining armor who would right all the wrongs of the previous eight years, the last 20 months have, for the most part, been a particular disappointment on issues relating to ”national security.” Torture fatigue has once more become commonplace, as Obama fulfills his promise to look forward and not back, and has failed to hold anyone accountable for torture, has failed to close Guantánamo, and has defended, endorsed or maintained far too many Bush-era policies, including indefinite detention without charge or trial at Guantánamo, the revival of the Military Commissions, the denial of habeas corpus to foreign prisoners rendered to Bagram from other countries, overseeing a whitewash of the lawyers who wrote Bush’s “torture memos,” and using the “state secrets” privilege to prevent torture victims from having their day in court.
Nevertheless, I have continued to chip away at the issues, gaining new readers through writing for Truthout, through touring the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (which I co-directed with Polly Nash) in the UK and the US, through numerous radio and TV appearances, through my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list and my detailed analysis of the prisoners’ habeas corpus petitions (in which they have won 38 out of 55 cases to date), through my new series telling the stories of all the remaining prisoners in Guantánamo, and, since June this year, through working as a Senior Researcher for Cageprisoners. I’m delighted that, from my humble beginnings as a solitary unknown blogger, I had nearly 150,000 page views a month at the end of 2009, have regularly been in Technorati’s Top 100 World Politics Blogs, and, this month, have had my most successful month ever.
September always brings in hordes of casual visitors who have stumbled across my February 2008 article, Six in Guantánamo Charged with 9/11 Murders: Why Now? And What About the Torture?, with its photo of the 9/11 attacks (I had nearly 21,000 unique visitors on the 9th anniversary of 9/11, for example), but some of these readers have stayed on, and this month I’ve received 350,000 page views for the first time ever.
So as I mark my 1000th post, I’d like to point out that all my articles — the “1000 Reasons to Close Guantánamo” referred to in the title — can be found in chronological order here, but most of all I’d like to thank everyone who has supported, and continues to support my work. You provide me with the feedback that keeps me going when the seemingly endless uphill struggle in pursuit of justice gets too much, and you — and you alone — have demonstrated that, in the new world of communications facilitated by the Internet, an individual blog can make a difference, can get noticed, can challenge the mainstream, and can attract readers in significant numbers.
Please keep spreading the word, via Facebook, Twitter and Digg, through links and comments, and through cross-posts, which are always welcome, so long as all internal links are preserved, because the Internet positively encourages the sharing of information, and those who regularly cross-post my articles — including The Public Record, Eurasia Review, Common Dreams, the World Can’t Wait, War is a Crime, The Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Uruknet, Campaign for Liberty, United Progressives, Free Detainees, Blog from Middle East and the New Left Project — are doing a wonderful job.
I’m not pleased that I’m still here writing about Guantánamo nine months after President Obama failed to fulfill his promise to close the prison, and the struggle ahead still requires dedication and commitment — and a refusal to succumb to apathy or indifference — but I will keep writing about it, to finish what I started when I began researching The Guantánamo Files five years ago, and I hope that you’ll stick with me.
London, September 30, 2010
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) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. 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 July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, currently on tour in the UK, and available on DVD here), and my definitive Guantánamo habeas list, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
Here are some comments from Facebook:
Patrick O’Brien wrote:
… Andy … congratulations on reaching this ‘milestone’ (impressive!) and thank you for all your good work …
Salmah Yousuf wrote:
I agree, thank you so much. A big salute of respect to you
Cheshire Cat wrote:
Amazing. Fantastic work, Andy!
Ghaliyaa Haqq wrote:
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andy Worthington, Susan Hall. Susan Hall said: 1000 Reasons to Close Guantánamo | Andy Worthington http://bit.ly/d723GS […]
Writer, campaigner, investigative journalist and commentator. 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.
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