Andy Worthington Discusses Al-Qaeda Film “The Oath” on Press TV

14.7.11

Recently, I was happy to follow up on my discussion on Press TV of “You Don’t Like the Truth,” the harrowing documentary about Guantánamo’s former child prisoner Omar Khadr, with another discussion, this time about “The Oath,” an extraordinary documentary by American filmmaker Laura Poitras. See here and here for the two parts of the Omar Khadr show.

Filmed in Yemen, Poitras’ film follows Abu Jandal (aka Nasser al-Bahri), a former bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, who left al-Qaeda before the 9/11 attacks, and was imprisoned in Yemen when the attacks took place. He then became an extraordinarily valuable informant for the FBI, and was eventually freed. When Poitras met him, he was driving a cab in Sana’a, a charismatic figure, who, nevertheless, is either conflicted or ambiguous when it comes to his beliefs.

What is clear throughout, while Abu Jandal espouses his love of jihad but his hatred of terrorism, is his guilt that his brother-in-law, Salim Hamdan, for whom he secured paid work as a driver for Osama bin Laden, was still held in Guantánamo at the time the film was made, while he was a free man in Yemen. Hamdan was eventually freed at the end of 2008, after he became the first prisoner to be tried in a war crimes trial following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

For the “Cinepolicitics” show on Press TV, I joined presenter Russell Michaels, and  the Sunday Telegraph‘s film critic, Mike McCahill, to review “The Oath.” As Press TV noted, while McCahill “commends the fact that the film has no narration and shows rather than tells,” I “criticise the use of military courts to try the Guantánamo detainees by the US government.”

The show is available below, via YouTube, and if you have 25 minutes to spare I can wholeheartedly recommend it:

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, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in June 2011, 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 — or here for the US), 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.

29 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Rebecca Riley wrote:

    You worked with Press tv? The Iranian regimes propaganda outlet? Wow, do you know what they are doing to Iranian journalists right now? You are supporting some evil men.
    You seriously need to educate yourself on the Iranian regime, the green movement, Neda, and the young people fighting for democracy there. Working with the Iranian regime is like working with Assad or Qadaffi.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Malihe Razazan wrote:

    Andy, I have a lot of respect for your work and you have been on our program. But you should know and I am sure you do that Press TV is nothing but a propaganda arm of the Iranian regime which has raped, tortured and executed thousands of political prisoners and doing so as I am drafting this post. Also their reporters were present and filming the interrogation of protestors/journalists in Evin prison and they are being sued in the UK. They should be boycotted by people like you not promoted.
    They have the audacity of producing program about Gitmo! You should speak up against them doing it while thousands of people have been executed even without their lawyers knowing (those who did have lawyers).. just google torture/rape/Iranian regime or check this out.. will give you an idea!
    http://globalvoicesonline.​org/2009/08/22/iran-testim​onies-of-torture-and-rape/

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Rebecca Riley wrote:

    http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=F48SinuEHIk
    Also you should watch this video, it is called For Neda about the life of Neda Soltan.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Malihe Razazan wrote:

    And one simple question! Why are you speaking out against Gitmo and not against a similar one operating 7,000 miles away?

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Jeremy Sapienza wrote:

    Ooh I was on Press TV for about 7 seconds today.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Malihe Razazan wrote:

    I hope you are not being sarcastic, because it is not funny Jeremy!

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Jeremy Sapienza wrote:

    Nope.
    http://www.presstv.ir/deta​il/189099.html
    Skip to 1:20.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Rebecca Riley wrote:

    You should not have anything to do with Press tv if you are an American. That is awful.
    Do you know how they treat women? I have Iranian friends that have been beaten for showing their hair by police. You should talk to actual Iranians and ask them what they think. That regime is the worst on the planet today to its people, to women, gays, Bahai, atheists, journalists, scholars, people who speak out. What about Sakineh?

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Borhaan Arifee wrote:

    Iranian Mullas (of Qum) are very clever modern Islamic Nazis. With thanks to their newly launched Press TV they are desperate to show the world about the atrocities of the US of A and its NATO allies (which should be shown) but can you find anything on Iranian propaganda engine of Press TV on the atrocities being committed against the Baloch people in Iranian occupied Balochistan or the atrocities that despotic clerical regime is committing against its (supposedly) own people? It is nothing but a complete hogwash to divert the attention of world population. Iran is as much guilty as all the other imperial powers of the world with total impunity.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Jeremy Sapienza wrote:

    I am aware Press TV (and Russia Today, for that matter) are little more than an attempt to needle the US govt. I have no illusions that this is anything but a kook-fest — Press TV has on all kind of nutjobs. I am also very aware of what the Iranian regime does to people. Are you aware of what the US regime does to people as well? Should I never try to get a point across on, say, NPR?

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Jeremy Sapienza wrote:

    Also sorry, Iran is not the worst regime on the planet (!) by FAR. Simply untrue by any metric.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Jeremy Sapienza wrote:

    For the record, I was told it would also be on al-Arabiya. The producer works with many channels.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Rebecca Riley wrote:

    I meant to write one of the worst.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Borhaan Arifee wrote:

    Jeremy: Yes, because it sells! Produce money, that is what producers do!

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Borhaan Arifee wrote:

    Andy: Congratulations for your recent appearance. We want more people like you must appear on other channels as well, so that the people of the world could be made aware of what kind of inhuman treatment is being given to the human beings.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Jeremy Sapienza wrote:

    A friend was on Russia Today last year talking about 9/11 I think? And he started talking about how Putin orchestrated the 2002 Moscow apartment bombings as a false-flag attack and they cut him off. haha

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Malihe Razazan ‎wrote:

    Jeremy, no it is not the worst! just one of the worst which has managed to fools the progressives in this country with its hollow rhetoric and hence silence them.. That is the tragedy.. the enemy of my enemy is my friend… and by the way, they are not enemy of the US… the right price has not been agreed on yet! It is just the matter of calling them on their criminal activities… they should be boycotted! torture is torture… I do not do the compare game..

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Borhan. Yes, I do take part in other programs when asked, and would like to take part in more. After WikiLeaks released the classified military files from Guantanamo at the end of April I was interviewed on Democracy Now! and the BBC World Service as well as numerous other radio shows. I do a lot of radio, but nowhere near as much TV, although I am always available.
    As for Press TV, Russell’s show covers documentaries that no one else is covering, which is a poor reflection on the likes of the BBC and Channel 4, and it’s a good show. I’ve also appeared on Press TV here in London with many interesting presenters, including George Galloway, Lauren Booth and Yvonne Ridley, and of course all the Iranians that I meet in connection with Press TV are lovely people and not obviously oppressed by the government or mouthpieces for tyranny in Tehran.
    That said, I do deplore the very obvious bias that means nothing critical on Iran will be aired, but it’s a more difficult issues than it appears, as every broadcaster has a bias — is the BBC thoroughly honest and impartial? Would al-Jazeera criticise the Qatari government? Should anyone have ever appeared on Sky or Fox TV, now we know what we know about criminal phonehacking activities?

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Borhaan Arifee ‎wrote:

    Andy: You are absolutely right! No quarrel with you at all. Every media outlet has its own policies and agendas. But, it is good that the big brothers’ in-fighting bringing the truth out. And Rupert Murdoch (media empire) is no one else but lingering ghost of Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels or the chief propagandist of the Fourth Reich!

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Sho Leh wrote:

    Mr. Worthington:
    This is not about the “lovely people” you met at the PressTV nor the less lovely people at the VOA or BBC as you inferred. It never ceased to amaze me how the so called “leftist” journalists fail again and again to do their bid (their homework) of remaining critical and conscientious when the tyranny falls outside of their immediate reach… or is it that we have seriously accepted the US versus Them analogy so the enemy of my enemy is an ally?
    Your readers/audience expect more diligence from journalists who strive to work outside the proverbial box… When BBC is not (and it really is not) Thoroughly honest, imagine how unreliable the official broadcasting service of the Islamic Republic is! Did you bother to ask yourself that along side these lovely people like Ms. Ridley, Ms. Booth, and Mr. Galloway, What Iranian journalist is able to produce and broadcast programs of substance in and for the Press TV?
    It is normative to sell out, just don’t feed us the politically conscientious line when your double standards are clearly legitimate in your work.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Sho Leh wrote:

    having said all that, I want you to know that I have been reading your work before and will continue to read across multiple imperfect news sources as I normally do.. but your defensive logic above is not just weak here, but incorrect in my view. so forgive the heated response.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Jeremy Sapienza wrote:

    Press TV is often untrue and probably rather unreliable, sure. But not when honest people are on. This doesn’t make Iran look good.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Elisa Davinca wrote:

    Chomsky on Press TV http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=I2k3biZ5asM

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Sho Leh wrote:

    if chomsky does it it must be right!

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Elisa Davinca wrote:

    look Sho, if you know the background of a channel you know how to put the information and how to deal with it … the media is a means of transportation … if nobody else is bringing up some cases I am glad that at least Press TV does it … I know what the iranian regime is doing … this does not mean that I agree with it … I would rather say: shame on the so called “free” western media … I only know Democracy Now! for doing that brilliant job … where are the others … ???!!! “This media is corrupt – we need a Hippocratic oath for journalists.” word, George Monbiot.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/​commentisfree/2011/jul/11/​media-corrupt-hippocratic-​oath-journalists

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Lively discussion! Thanks, Sho Leh, Jeremy and Elisa.
    And Sho Leh, I can’t obviously object to you having a go at me for appearing on Press TV, but it’s cateogorically not a matter of preferring Press TV to any other broadcaster. I haven’t banned anyone from talking to me — I think that’s important — and I would prefer not to set up a scale of censorship for my work, but what I need to have corrected is the possible misconception that I think journalists at the BBC or VOA (which I didn’t mention) are “less lovely” than those at Press TV. I never said that, and nor would I, and your decision to emphasize that is a complete misrepresentation of what I wrote, designed to help you to pigeonhole me as a so-called “leftist” journalist. I don’t have an “old left” background, supporting any tyrant who opposes the West, but most of all I really don’t believe it’s acceptable that I should be labeled as someone who has stated a preference for Press TV journalists over anyone else when that’s simply not true.

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Willy Bach wrote:

    Andy, I agree about the lively discussion – refreshing, isn’t it. One comment made by Rebecca made the unfortunate assumption that you are an American, which was mirrored somewhere else by a Brit assuming that Rupert Murdoch was British and could be tried for treason – all very charming. This is global discussion folks, leave all your assumptions at the door.

    Whilst busy condemning the Iranian government for its excesses, there are a few things to keep in mind. I am sure Andy that you would go where ever you were invited to get your message out. Fox just can’t bring themselves to dial your number. If the Iranians think that you laying out the truth of US torture makes good propaganda for Iran – that’s fine, let it happen.

    A smart US government would stop the torture and defuse their message instead of trying to silence the critics. US channels get plenty of opportunity to draw attention to Iranian public hangings and bad treatment of women. If the Iranian government doesn’t like the criticism, they could stop these practices. The US does not look very convincing when they criticise other countries doing public hangings when they still have the death penalty and are only second to China in the number of executions.

    Sho, “leftist” is quaint. It is not a useful term. Try ‘progressive’ and look for progressive people in power (not many). There are very many progressive people who are critical of the war of terror. People on the regressive side of politics are simplistic yet skilful in manipulating public hysteria, so they equate any defence of Muslims with extremely brutal punishments in Saudi Arabia. It is a trap not to fall into.

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Willy,
    Thanks. Great to hear from you, and I like that understatement: “I am sure Andy that you would go where ever you were invited to get your message out. Fox just can’t bring themselves to dial your number.”
    How true! How many years have I been waiting? “Rupert, why don’t you call …?” And now — who’d have thought it? — it would seem to be too late!

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    Dejanka Bryant wrote:

    Typical of those who called themselves the leftists. I also refused to watch PressTV after that appalling news and their own, disgusting, research into the death of Neda Agha-Soltan. It was an insult to my intellectual mind. There are so many News Channels I do not watch any more. BBC and Al-Jazeera. That doesn’t mean that I am not going to follow their poignant documentaries and interviews with prominent guests. Banning and prosecuting people who are fighting for a long time keeping issues of injustice alive, without thinking about their personal profits, is something that reminds me of a horrifying statement that Zizek once said: “I hate humanism”. Your accusation of Andy appearing on that channel while at the same time you support his fight to remind us constantly about long forgotten people, tortured endlessly by methods only known during Nazis, is very disturbing.

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