Andy Worthington Discusses the “Political Prisoners” of Guantánamo on Antiwar Radio

24.2.11

It’s always a pleasure to vent some disgust about current affairs with Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio, and on our 23rd outing recently, which is available here, Scott asked me to run through the bleak scenario that prevails at Guantánamo, now that President Obama has given up on even pretending to close the prison, and 172 men remain held, possibly forever.

Scott had particularly wanted me to talk about the case of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a Yemeni cleared for release under the Bush administration, who has serious mental health problems and has tried to commit suicide on several occasions, and the letters he has recently written from Guantánamo (see Guantánamo Is “A Piece of Hell That Kills Everything”: A Bleak New Year Message from Yemeni Prisoner Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, A Cry for Help from Guantánamo: Adnan Latif Asks, “Who Is Going to Rescue Me From the Injustice and the Torture I Am Enduring?” and Another Desperate Letter from Guantánamo by Adnan Latif: “With All My Pains, I Say Goodbye to You”).

Latif, who won his habeas corpus petition last summer, ought to be a free man by now, but, cynically, the Obama administration has chosen to appeal his successful petition, as, in fact, has happened with all the Yemenis who have won their habeas petitions (with one exception). The reason for this has nothing to do with justice, and everything to do with political expediency.

As I explained, appealing every successful Yemeni petition (to the right-wing D.C. Circuit Court, which is now dictating detention policies that would not have been out of place in the darkest days of the Bush administration) helps to reinforce the moratorium that President Obama issued last January, preventing the release of any Yemenis cleared for release by his own Guantánamo Review Task Force, which only came about because of a hysterical backlash to the discovery that the failed Christmas 2009 plane bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had been recruited in Yemen. As I have been explaining for some time, this is a demonstration of “guilt by nationality” on the part of the administration, and makes the cleared Yemenis who are still held into “political prisoners.”

I also spoke about the 31 men still held who have been cleared for release, but cannot be repatriated because of fears that they will face torture in their home countries (and who cannot be given new homes in the US because of the implacable opposition of Congress, the courts and Obama himself), and referred particularly to the five remaining Uighurs — out of the 17 who won their habeas petition in October 2008 — who are still held after turning down the offer of new homes in countries that they did not regard as safe, and who are currently appealing to the Supreme Court to allow them to be rehoused in the United States (for further information, see this Los Angeles Times editorial).

There was even more in our 19-minute interview, and I hope you have time to listen to it, as it’s always excellent to talk to Scott. This, by the way, is how Scott described the show:

Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, discusses the end of whatever small chance there was of closing Guantánamo, though half the prisoners are cleared for release; the Obama administration’s continued moratorium on releasing Yemeni prisoners, based on political pressure dating from the 2009 Christmas Day attempted bombing; why the material support statute should give everyone pause, even those who don’t care about the plight of Guantánamo prisoners; and how the current SCOTUS composition (eight members when Elena Kagan recuses herself) guarantees gridlock on Guantánamo decisions, which will allow conservative circuit court judges to decide the law — not that Obama cares.

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, on tour in the UK throughout 2011, 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.

8 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    When Scott Horton said he was on the phone with the ‘great’ Andy Worthington he was so right about that :)

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tashi! You made my day.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Allison Lee-Clay wrote:

    innocence is no barrier to being tough on crime & terrorism

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Ruth Gilburt wrote:

    She’s not wrong, Andy….x

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Neill Le Roux wrote:

    hear, hear… : )

  6. Tweets that mention Andy Worthington Discusses the “Political Prisoners” of Guantánamo on Antiwar Radio | Andy Worthington -- Topsy.com says...

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andy Worthington and Khaled Hishma, tosexyformy. tosexyformy said: #Guantanamo on Antiwar Radio | Andy Worthington: http://bit.ly/gDcx5a [...]

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Malcolm Bush wrote:

    Pleased to have listened to some more from the Great Andy Worthington; I believe this chronology of Guantanamo Bay is of great importance. This is a story that must be told, and Andy Worthington has covered this with great diligence and integrity. Of course this a an important issue regarding the denial of basic human rights of those incarcerated there; but it has had far reaching effects that have encompassed us all. The actions of the US Administration have sent a clear signal across the world, that has made dealing with so called “rogue states” and human rights abusers almost impossible. We have a situation where all but a few people have any trust in their government. This comes at a time when there are many other problems, domestic and global, a time when we need trust and social cohesion more than ever.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Malcolm. Much appreciated.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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