Last week, I undertook my first ever interview with Christopher Renner of Community Bridge Radio, which describes itself as “the progressive alternative to talk radio in Manhattan and across the state,” and is the winner of the 2010, 2008 and 2007 Kansas Association of Broadcasters’ First Place Award for Public Affairs Broadcasting.
This was an excellent one-hour show, and is available by clicking on the following link (MP3 File) or by visiting the Community Bridge website — scroll down to the bottom of the page. Christopher had done his research, and asked me a number of pertinent questions covering Guantánamo past, present and future, enabling me to cover most of the important topics that needed discussing, and I do hope you have time to listen to it.
I began by discussing how I had become involved with Guantánamo, and how the research that I undertook, mainly through analyzing 8,000 pages of publicly available documents, enabled me not only to tell the men’s stories, but also to put those stories in context, in a chronology that I was also able to establish, demonstrating who was caught where and when, and how, in addition to other factors — including the prevalence of bounty payments, and the use of torture, coercion or bribery to secure confessions — this structure enabled me to prove that the men were not all “the worst of the worst” who were all captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan.
From here, Christopher and I moved on to discuss the case of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, which I dealt with in my recent article, “The Rule of Law in the US Hangs on Obama’s Response to the Ghailani Trial,” and George W. Bush’s memoirs, his admission that he personally authorized torture, his lies about how the use of waterboarding foiled a number of terrorist plots, and the inability of anyone in the United States to put him forward for prosecution under the federal anti-torture statute.
We also discussed the poor track record of the Military Commission trial system that was first revived by Dick Cheney in November 2001, was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in 2006, revived by Congress later that year (and again last year under President Obama), but which has, to date, come up with only five tarnished results, and has been noticeably less successful in prosecuting terror suspects than the federal courts, where trials are opposed by Republicans on purely ideological grounds.
I also had the opportunity to run through the statistics regarding the 174 prisoners still held in the prison: how, under the guidance of an interagency Task Force established last year by President Obama, 35 men are scheduled to face trials (although Obama’s appetite for any kind of trials now appears to be exhausted), how 48 were recommended for indefinite detention without charge or trial (in other words, Bush revisited), and how the others were supposed to be freed — although very few have been, in large part due to an unprincipled moratorium on releasing any Yemenis that was announced by Obama after last Christmas’s failed plane bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (a Nigerian), was revealed to have trained in Yemen.
We also discussed the false claims of recidivism put out by the Pentagon, which have led to an oft-repeated — and completely unsubstantiated — claim that 1 in 5 of the men freed from Guantánamo have become involved in militancy or terrorism, and, in closing, discussed the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” which I co-directed with Polly Nash, and which I hope to be showing again in America as part of a series of protests and consciousness-raising events on and around the 9th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, on January 11, 2011.
It was a real pleasure to talk to Christopher, and I hope we have the opportunity to talk again one day.
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.
On Facebook, Susan Hall wrote:
Happy Thanksgiving and great interview.
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