This morning, as part of my current US tour to raise awareness of Guantánamo, in the week that the 173 men still held in the “War on Terror” prison begin their tenth year of detention, I was delighted to be invited to speak to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Democracy Now! Amy and Juan had also invited Katie Gallagher of the Center of Constitutional Rights, and our segment of the show, which lasts about 12 minutes, is available below:
In the time available, I was pleased to have the opportunity to explain, briefly, how, as the 9th anniversary approaches, we face the shocking possibility that very few prisoners at all will be released before the 2012 elections. With reference to the findings of the Obama administration’s own Guantánamo Review Task Force, I explained how the 89 men cleared for release are, for the most part, going nowhere, because 58 are Yemenis, whose repatriation has been prevented by both President Obama and by Congress, and 31 others are awaiting third countries prepared to offer them a new home. As I explained with regard to the Yemenis, “It’s been a year now since the President announced a moratorium on releasing any prisoner from Guantánamo to Yemen because of the uproar that came about because, at Christmas 2009, a Nigerian man tried to blow up a plane, and it came out that he was apparently recruited in Yemen. So Yemen is now this entire terrorist country. Nobody cleared for release from Guantánamo can be released there because of these fears that they will join some terrorist cell. That’s guilt by nationality. It’s collective punishment. However you want to look at it, it’s grossly unfair.”
Speaking of the other 31 men and the need to secure third countries prepared to offer them homes, I pointed out how, in the recent WikiLeaks revelations about the international horse-trading regarding these men, the failure of the US to take responsibility for any of these men had been overlooked. As I told Amy and Juan, “It remains a problem that, at every level, at the highest levels of government in the United States, everybody who could — the courts, Congress, President Obama — refused to accept cleared prisoners to be brought to live on the US mainland.”
Moreover, just this week, President Obama showed his disdain for those seeking justice for the Guantánamo prisoners by forcibly repatriating the first prisoner released since last August — Farhi Saeed bin Mohammed, an Algerian who had won his habeas corpus petition, but was desperate not to return home, and who, shockingly, was repatriated while a legal challenge to his forcible repatriation was underway.
I also spoke about the 48 men proposed for ongoing indefinite detention without charge or trial, noting how this designation — and the recent suggestion that President Obama will sign an executive order formalizing their indefinite detention, while providing for some sort of review process — is also fundamentally wrong. I also mentioned how the Task Force’s findings — through a secretive process initiated by the Executive — conflicts with the prisoners’ ongoing habeas corpus petitions, or involves designating for indefinite detention men who have lost their habeas petitions, even though the majority of the 19 men who have lost their petitions “were very peripheral foot soldiers in the military conflict that took place before the 9/11 attacks, in Afghanistan,” and are, explicitly, “not terrorists.”
Katie spoke about two submissions, filed in Spain today, relating to ongoing investigations of the US torture program, which are pending in the National Court of Spain. In the first, CCR and the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) “submitted a dossier regarding former commander of Guantánamo, Geoffrey Miller, which collects and analyzes the evidence demonstrating his role in the torture of detainees at Guantánamo and in Iraq,” requesting that a subpoena be issued for Miller to testify before the court, and in the second, CCR and ECCHR “submitted an expert opinion that sets out the legal basis for holding the ‘Bush Six’ criminally liable under international criminal law,” which summarizes the key evidence against the defendants — David Addington, William J. Haynes II, Douglas Feith, Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee. Further information about both cases — including the submissions — is available here, and also see this op-ed in the Guardian by CCR’s President, Michael Ratner.
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), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
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I received the following message from Carol Coakley:
I just saw you on my computer on Democracy Now and I just quickly want to say thank you. I hope to see your film soon, but it will probably not be shown widely or any where near my home.
Are Americans uniquely unable to look at their failings? We seem most reluctant to do so and I wondered if you find the Brits are like that.
As a peace and justice activist, I can barely keep up with the injustices I am asked to protest each and every day, not to mention the long term policy changes we are working on. Besides hearing the stories of soldiers or civilian war victims, the one equally difficult thing to hear is the US’s blatant disregard for our own and international laws as explained by you and Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
How can I ask my fellow Americans to stop war, stop polluting the air, stop the use of drones, stop FBI repression of peaceniks, stop killing polar bears, if they won’t even stop Guantanamo? So I will go see your movie, I expect I will cry and be upset and motivated…to keep on.
May they forgive us.
Good to hear from you, Carol. If you’re interested in the film, you can order it for £10 ($16) post-free from the production company here: http://www.spectacle.co.uk/catalogue_production.php?id=538
[...] the Spanish probe is still ongoing, and I recently appeared on Democracy Now! and at an event in New York with Katie Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights, just [...]
[...] For videos of CCR attorney Katie Gallagher talking about the Spanish cases, see On Democracy Now! Andy Worthington and Katie Gallagher of CCR Discuss the Failure to Close Guantána… and Video: Forum — “WikiLeaks, State Secrets, Guantánamo and Torture” with Andy Worthington, [...]
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