Last week, just after the arraignment at Guantánamo of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, which I discussed in my article, Trial at Guantánamo: What Shall We Do With The Torture Victim?, I was delighted to speak about al-Nashiri’s case — and about the dispiriting history of the Military Commissions at Guantánamo — with Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio. The show is available here, and at the start of the interview, Scott asked me to explain how it is that the prison is still open, despite President Obama promising to close it within a year of taking office.
For the 171 men held, as I explained, the situation is bleak as we approach the 10th anniversary of the prison’s opening (in January 2012), as there now appears to be no way that any of them will ever leave the prison, given the indifference of the administration to their fate, and the hostility of lawmakers and certain crucial right-wing judges (who have been deciding detention policy in the D.C. Circuit Court). I also spoke about the current horror of the National Defense Authorization Act, which is being discussed in Congress, and which contains a vile proposal from lawmakers, insisting that, in future, all terror suspects be held in mandatory military custody, and not held as criminal suspects or given federal court trials.
As mentioned above, Scott and I also discussed the history of the Military Commissions and the six men who have been convicted or have accepted plea deals (David Hicks, Salim Hamdan, Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, Ibrahim al-Qosi, Omar Khadr and Noor Uthman Muhammed), and this provided me with an opportunity to mention that Omar Khadr is still being held, even though he was supposed to return to Canada two weeks ago, according to the the terms of his plea deal.
We then turned to al-Nashiri’s arraignment, in which I ran though the history of al-Nashiri’s torture, and Scott and I discussed that, however much the Commissions have been tweaked, they remain the wrong venue for someone accused of terrorism, who should be tried in a federal court, with the fairness and transparency that will never be part of the system at Guantanamo.
In conclusion, I lamented how the Obama administration has refused to confirm that, should al-Nashiri somehow be acquitted, there is no guarantee that he would be released — a position which, of course, only confirms how far we have traveled from basic notions of decency, a sense of proportion, and respect for the law in the last ten years.
It was a pleasure to speak to Scott, as ever, and I hope you can listen to the interview, if you have 20 minutes to spare. For the record, this is how Scott described the show:
Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, discusses the ten-year-long miscarriage of justice at Guantánamo; why Obama hasn’t expended any political capital to close the prison or end military commissions; the mere six Guantánamo prisoners who have either accepted a plea deal or been convicted of a crime; and why the Obama administration won’t release USS Cole bombing suspect Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri even if he is acquitted, making a mockery of the “justice” system.
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, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see 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.
On Facebook, Ahmad Belal wrote:
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Thanks, Ahmad, Charlie and Yasmin. Very good to hear from you.
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Thanks, George. Always good to hear from you.
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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