It now seems like an age since I flew into New York’s JFK airport — after an achingly long flight from London that involved sitting around at Heathrow for two hours while the plane underwent maintenance — to be met by my good friend The Talking Dog, who was putting me up in his secret kennel in Brooklyn, and to then take the Metro to West Manhattan to meet up with friends and supporters including Debra Sweet, National Director of The World Can’t Wait, who had raised the funds to buy my ticket, and Nancy Talanian of No More Guantánamos, and to grab a quick meal before heading to the Brecht Forum, right beside the Hudson River, for the first event of my week-long tour to publicize the plight of the remaining prisoners in Guantánamo on the 9th anniversary of the prison’s opening.
Amazingly, however, that was just two weeks ago, and it was just a week ago that I returned, happy but exhausted after what should have been a grueling program of relentless film screenings (of the documentary, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” which I co-directed with Polly Nash), panel discussions, TV appearances, meetings with Guantánamo lawyers and with The World Can’t Wait’s supporters, and protests outside The White House and the Department of Justice.
I was encouraged by the large crowds attending the events (much bigger than during my last East Coast visit in November 2009) and by the number of people who follow my work, and invigorated by the company of my fellow experts and activists — Debra and the activists of The World Can’t Wait, Leili Kashani, Pardiss Kebriaei, Katie Gallagher, Jen Nessel and others at the Center for Constitutional Rights, David Swanson and Kevin Zeese and other activists in Baltimore, Frida Berrigan, Matt Daloisio, Jeremy Varon and Carmen Trotta of Witness Against Torture, Scott Horton, the staff at Revolution Books in New York, Tom Parker of Amnesty International USA, Valerie Lucznikowska of September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Tom Wilner, Morris Davis, Todd Peirce, Barry Wingard, Professor Juan Mendez, the new UN Rapporteur on Torture, and many others — and, back in Brooklyn, chewing on a bone of indignation and serving up wonderful food, The Talking Dog.
If I find the time, I’ll write an overview of the whole week, but there’s so much going on right now that I won’t make any promises. Much of it is already available — see the Baltimore video and the gun control interview, videos of the D.C. protests here and here, my appearances on Democracy Now! and Russia Today, and the video of the panel discussion at the New America Foundation — and I’m pleased to inform you that a video of the panel discussion at the Brecht Forum in New York on the evening of my arrival (which was packed out, despite only 72 hours’ publicity), is also now available online, via YouTube, as is a second video covering the Q&A session that followed the presentations. The first part is 72 minutes; the second 42 minutes.
Entitled, “WikiLeaks, State Secrets, Guantánamo and Torture,” this Special Forum was moderated by Leili Kashani of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and featured myself talking about WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning (including questions about WikiLeaks’ role in the modern media world, Bradley Manning’s troubling isolation in US military custody and the Obama administration’s pursuit of Julian Assange) and the current woes of Guantánamo (as described in the articles I wrote while in the US, Guantánamo Forever? and The Political Prisoners of Guantánamo), Pardiss Kebriaei of CCR talking about the unexplained deaths of three men at Guantánamo in June 2006, and judicial obstruction of attempts to pursue this particularly bleak story, Katie Gallagher of CCR talking about torture lawsuits in Spain, and Jeremy Varon of Witness Against Torture talking about activism. It was an excellent evening of presentations, the crowd was great, and my thanks go to Joe Friendly for making this available, via YouTube (here and here):
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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Here are some comments from Facebook:
Yusuf Mohammed Abdullah wrote:
Have shared this Andy…saw you on press TV a couple of weeks ago on R&R.
Willy Bach wrote:
Thanks Andy, great to see the growing dissidence in the USA, perhaps not evenly spread over the country but this is a start.
Loubna Haikal wrote:
great video. Thanks, will circulate.
And Yusuf, thanks for alerting me to that. It’s the Rattansi and Ridley Show, and it’s here, with me discussing the case of Shaker Aamer with Yvonne Ridley:
Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. 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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