A few days ago, I spoke — for the 21st time — with the irrepressible Scott Horton for his show on Antiwar Radio, which is available here. Over the course of 18 minutes, we discussed why my contentiously entitled article, The Irrelevance of Wikileaks’ Guantánamo Revelations, was intended to provoke interest in the reasons why the main WikiLeaks revelations about Guantánamo — detailing the often shabby horse-trading with countries around the world, as the Obama administration sought third countries to take cleared prisoners who could not be repatriated because they faced the risk of torture — was only necessary because of the refusal of every part of the US government — the Obama administration, Congress and the courts — to give homes to any of these men on the US mainland.
We also spoke about the 58 Yemenis, cleared for release by President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force, but still held, apparently forever, because of an unprincipled moratorium, preventing the release of any Yemenis, which President Obama issued last January after being subjected to ridiculous hysteria following the failed Christmas Day bomb plot by a hapless Nigerian recruited in Yemen.
We also spoke about how the proposed trials of 34 Guantánamo prisoners have ground to a halt, because the left hates the Military Commissions (with extremely good reason, as the recent show trial of Omar Khadr showed), and the right hates federal court trials for men they insist on regarding as “warriors,” even though terrorists are criminals, and federal court trials actually have a proven track record of convicting terrorists more successly than the blighted Commissions.
We also spoke about the relentless negative campaigning of the Republican Party, and its barking mad advocates of a worldview still dominated by Dick Cheney, and ran through some regular talking points of mine and Scott’s, including the significance of the Authorization for Use of Military Force, still used to justify holding men neither as prisoners of war or as criminal suspects; the important role played by White House Counsel Greg Craig in the early months of Obama’s Presidency, who provided principles and courage that have since been abandoned, and who lost his job as a result when Obama decided that doing nothing was easier than doing what was right; and the lies that Dick Cheney told when he was torturing “terror suspects” to get false confessions to justify the invasion of Iraq, while pretending that the CIA torture program was designed to prevent another terrorist attack on US soil.
This is how Scott described the show:
Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, discusses the WikiLeaks-revealed US negotiations to offload Guantánamo inmates scheduled for release; why resettling wrongfully-imprisoned Guantánamo detainees in the US remains politically impossible; how Obama can’t — or won’t — stand up to Republicans who won’t countenance the possibility of closing Gitmo and holding terrorism trials in federal courts; and the large portion of Americans subscribing to Sarah Palin’s fact-free worldview.
I hope you enjoy the show, if you have 18 minutes to spare. It’s always good to talk with Scott, and I look forward to the next time.
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.
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Mui J. Steph wrote:
There’s something atrocious about some of those US/Saudi/Kuwait/Yemeni exchanges regarding Gitmo, like they are not talking about human beings. They sound like tyrants.
Alan L. Stewart wrote:
From: Reuters by Mark Hosenball
WikiLeaks’ next assault on Washington may highlight U.S. government reports on suspected militants held at Guantanamo Bay, which some U.S. officials worry could show certain detainees were freed despite intelligence assessments they were still dangerous.
The leaks could be an embarrassment to President Barack Obama’s administration, already angered over WikiLeaks document dumps of U.S. State Department cables, as it seeks to fulfil a 2-year-old pledge to close the prison and either release the foreign terrorism suspects or move them elsewhere.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, jailed in Britain this week, has told media contacts he has a large cache of U.S. government reports about inmates at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, known as GITMO, the last of four major tranches of U.S. government documents which WikiLeaks had acquired and at some point would make public.
“He’s got the personal files of every prisoner in GITMO,” said one person who was in contact with Assange earlier this year.
Officials at the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies had no immediate comment.
People familiar with Assange’s dealings with the media said they had no indication he had already given journalists access to the Guantanamo material. In the past, large document dumps by WikiLeaks were made available initially to a small group of media.
Several U.S. government sources said there was concern Assange’s material could include highly sensitive “threat assessments” by U.S. intelligence agencies gauging the likelihood that specific inmates would return to militant activities if set free.
These assessments, if published, could prove damaging in a number of ways, including revelations that could theoretically put in jeopardy U.S. intelligence sources and methods.
They could further embarrass the U.S. government if they show that detainees deemed likely to return to terrorism were released and subsequently involved in anti-U.S. violence.
It is unclear what time period may be covered by the Guantanamo documents believed to be in WikiLeaks’ possession.
The prison at a U.S. naval base in Cuba was opened to house prisoners taken in the U.S.-led Afghan war launched by President George W. Bush soon after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. It has been controversial as a legal limbo, and Obama said on taking office in January 2009 that he wanted to close it in a year.
BACK TO THE BATTLEFIELD
This week the office of the Director of National Intelligence, the government’s top intelligence official, released statistics showing that one in four of the 598 detainees released from Guantanamo are either suspected or confirmed to have become re-engaged in “terrorist or insurgent activities” after their release.
U.S. agencies believe that 83 remain at large.
WikiLeaks has already released three batches of classified U.S. documents, including Pentagon reports on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and 250,000 State Department cables, whose recent release is currently roiling the diplomatic world.
WikiLeaks began posting material on numerous mirror websites around the world after one of their main U.S.- based hosts, Amazon, cut them off for violating terms of service.
Assange, in British custody after sexual misconduct allegations involving two Swedish women, has threatened to release a deeply encrypted “insurance file,” believed to be yet another massive collection of government data, if WikiLeaks’ existence is threatened. It is not known whether this file contains Guantanamo material.
On Wednesday, Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens, told Reuters that because WikiLeaks websites were still operating, there was no plan to release “insurance file” at the moment.
Neil Goodwin wrote:
hi andy, please give the avaaz wikileaks petition a plug. the numbers are leaping…
OK, it’s here, Neil: http://www.avaaz.org/en/wikileaks_petition/?cl=850353097&v=7730
Over 400,000 signatories. Wish we could get the same response for Fayiz al-Kandari:
Ann Alexander wrote:
100,000 more signatures on avaaz wikileak petition since I signed it late last night.
Michael S. Kearns wrote:
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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