Archive for January, 2012

Andy Worthington’s “Close Guantánamo” US Tour — San Francisco, Chicago and Six More Radio Interviews

Last week, I was in the US for a series of events to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, which I wrote about here and here. I also made three TV appearances, and undertook seven radio interviews, one of which was covered here. Three other appearances took place while I was in Washington D.C. On January 10, I was obliged to leave the Q&A session following a screening of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (the documentary film that I co-directed with filmmaker Polly Nash) to speak to the veteran progressive radio host Dennis Bernstein on his “Flashpoints” show on KPFA in Berkeley. The interview is available here (or here), and it starts just before 6 minutes in and lasts for ten minutes, with me talking to Dennis in the entrance of Busboys and Poets, with a cellphone clasped firmly to my ear, as people entered and left the premises, often speaking far louder than me.

I’ve also embedded the interview below: Read the rest of this entry »

Video: Andy Worthington on Guantánamo’s 10th Anniversary on Russia Today (and in Urdu on VOA News)

Last week, while I was in the US on a 12-day tour to call for the closure of Guantánamo on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison, I did three TV interviews as part of my busy schedule (which also involved nine speaking events, and seven radio interviews). The first of these was The Alyona Show on Russia Today on January 11, the actual anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, and that interesting interview is available below, via YouTube. Although we had just six and a half minutes, Alyona Minkovski demonstrated a sound knowledge of all matters Guantánamo, which, in turn, helps to explain why RT is becoming required viewing for Americans interested in anything more than a whitewash when it comes to reports and analysis of their own government’s crimes and failures. Read the rest of this entry »

With Right on Our Side: The Inspiring Guantánamo 10th Anniversary Protest in Washington D.C.

Last week, I was in Washington D.C., attending events to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as part of a 12-day US tour organized by some of my great friends in the US — the activists of The World Can’t Wait, and their national director Debra Sweet, who is largely responsible for making sure that I don’t get lost, that I can find coffee when I need it, and that I don’t get too much sleep! — as well as being a tireless campaigner for justice.

In a progressively busier and busier schedule, Debra and I followed up on events in New York, which I wrote about here, with a bus trip to Washington D.C. on Monday, and a warm welcome at the house of Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, where we were very well looked after. On Tuesday lunchtime (January 10), we made our way to the first of two events that day, a panel discussion, filmed by C-SPAN, at the New America Foundation, moderated by my old college friend Peter Bergen, and featuring, as well as myself, Congressman Jim Moran, Col. Morris Davis and Tom Wilner, which I wrote about here (where there is also an embedded video of the event).

That was an excellent event, and afterwards Debra and I, and some other friends old and new, including Todd Peirce and Derek Poteet, military attorneys in the defense team for the Military Commissions at Guantánamo, whose lawyers I have met with, spoken with and occasionally briefed over the years, went for lunch, prior to Debra and I making our way to Busboys and Poets at 5th and K, for a screening of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” the documentary film that I co-directed with Polly Nash. The film, it seems, never fails to convey to audiences the tragic human cost of Guantánamo, as is made particularly clear in the testimony of former prisoner and British resident Omar Deghayes, whose statements are at the heart of the film. Read the rest of this entry »

Video: “Guantánamo Forever?” – Jim Moran, Andy Worthington, Morris Davis and Tom Wilner at the New America Foundation, January 10, 2012

See the entire event on C-SPAN here (and also via UStream below, from the website of the New America Foundation, where it was later replaced by a YouTube version, made available at the foot of this article).

On the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Bush administration’s prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which belonged to George W. Bush for seven of those ten years, but has belonged to Barack Obama for the last three, there is no reason for anyone with a heart, a conscience or a respect for America and the rule of law to be cheerful.

On Tuesday lunchtime, however, as part of my ongoing US tour, when I met up, at the New America Foundation in Washington D.C. with Tom Wilner, Counsel of Record in the Guantánamo prisoners’ habeas corpus cases in the Supreme Court in 2004 and 2008, and Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the Military Commissions at Guantánamo, who resigned in 2007 in protest at the use of torture, Col. Davis found it impossible not to crack a joke about it. “We must stop meeting like this,” he said, referring to the fact that, exactly a year ago, he and Tom and I were on a panel discussing Guantánamo on the 9th anniversary of its opening. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Close Guantánamo on Its 10th Anniversary: Three Radio Interviews with Andy Worthington

I wrote this today on a plane flying across the US, from Washington D.C. to San Francisco, a week into my 12-day visit to campaign for the closure of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which has been the focus of my work for the last six years.

It feels like more than a week, as it has been such a busy time, first of all in New York, which I wrote about here, and, for the last two days, in Washington D.C., where the horrors of Guantánamo were dreamt up, where those who could close it have failed or refused to do so — the administration, Congress and two particular courts (the D.C. Circuit Court and the Supreme Court) — and where a number of significant events took place to push for the closure of the prison. Read the rest of this entry »

“Close Guantánamo” Campaign and Website Launches: Retired Military Personnel, Lawyers Call for the Closure of Guantánamo After 10 Years

Yesterday, at “Guantánamo Forever?” an event at the New America Foundation in Washington D.C., attorney Tom Wilner and journalist Andy Worthington launched “Close Guantánamo,” a new campaign and website designed to provide education about the ongoing injustice of Guantánamo, to provide a focus for those who believe that the prison must be closed, and to provide methods for people to show their support for the closure of Guantánamo. A sign-up page is here, where supporters can help to build up a body of opposition to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to show the Obama administration, Congress and the media how many people are dissatisfied with the President’s inability to close the prison, and the actions of Congress to actively prevent its miserable 10-year history from coming to an end.

In addition, a petition calling for the closure of the prison is on the White House’s “We the People” website, and 25,000 signatures are required within 30 days to secure a response from the White House.

Below is the press release that was issued yesterday announcing the launch of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign and website. Please also join the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.
Read the rest of this entry »

Guantánamo Prisoners Stage Peaceful Protest and Hunger Strike on 10th Anniversary of the Opening of the Prison

Today, prisoners at Guantánamo will embark on a peaceful protest, involving sit-ins and hunger strikes, to protest about their continued detention, and the continued existence of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, three years after President Obama came to office promising to close it within a year, and to show their appreciation of the protests being mounted on their behalf  by US citizens, who are gathering in Washington D.C. on Wednesday to stage a rally and march to urge the President to fulfill his broken promise.

Ramzi Kassem, a law professor at the City University of New York, and one of the attorneys for Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, said that his client, who is held in isolation in Camp 5, told him on his last visit that the prisoners would embark on a peaceful protest and hunger strike for three days, from Jan. 10 to 12, to protest about the President’s failure to close Guantánamo as promised.

He explained that the men intended to inform the Officer in Charge ahead of the protest, to let the authorities know why there would be protests, and added that the prisoners were encouraged by the “expression of solidarity” from US citizens planning protests on Jan. 11, the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison. Read the rest of this entry »

Andy Worthington Reports on the New York Dates of His “Close Guantánamo” Tour on the 10th Anniversary of the Prison’s Opening

After nearly four days in New York as part of my US tour to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, I’ve just taken a bus with Debra Sweet, the national director of the campaigning group The World Can’t Wait, who arranged my visit, heading down to Washington D.C. to take part in a number of events. Tomorrow lunchtime (Tuesday January 10, at 11.45), I’m taking part in a panel discussion at the New America Foundation,  “Ten Years of Guantánamo: Will It Ever Close?” — with Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor for the Military Commissions at Guantánamo, who resigned in 2007, in protest at the planned use of evidence obtained through the use of torture, and is now the executive director of the Crimes of War Project, and Tom Wilner, Counsel of Record for the Guantánamo prisoners in their cases before the Supreme Court in 2004 and 2008. We will also be welcoming a special guest, Congressman Jim Moran, whose presence, in a Presidential election year, at an event that dares to mention Guantánamo is greatly appreciated.

At 5.30 pm, Tom Wilner and I will be at Busboys and Poets (at 5th and K) showing a new cut of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (which I co-directed with filmmaker Polly Nash), featuring new commentary by Tom, and, on Wednesday January 11 (the actual anniversary), I’ll begin, at 10 am, by attending an event at the National Press Club, at 529 14th St. NW, on the 13th Floor in the unironically entitled First Amendment Room.

Organized by the Center for Constitutional Rights, “Obama’s Prison: Guantánamo Turns 10” is an event to “discuss issues ranging from National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) provisions that prohibit the transfer of detainees unanimously cleared for release by the CIA,FBI, NSC, and Defense Department, to the continued lack of transparency and accountability for US  torture practices.” The event features Stephen Olesky, co-lead counsel in Boumediene v. Bush, Col. Morris Davis, Retired Adm. Gen. John Hutson, Vince Warren, CCR’s Executive Director, and Baher Azmy, CCR’s Legal Director. Read the rest of this entry »

A Tired Obsession with Military Detention Plagues American Politics

Before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, there were only two ways of holding prisoners — either they were prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, or they were criminal suspects, to be charged and subjected to federal court trials.

That all changed when the Bush administration threw out the Geneva Conventions, equated the Taliban with al-Qaeda, and decided to hold both soldiers and terror suspects as “illegal enemy combatants,” who could be imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial, and with no rights whatsoever.

The Bush administration’s legal black hole lasted for two and a half years at Guantánamo, until, in Rasul v. Bush in June 2004, the Supreme Court took the unprecedented step of granting habeas corpus rights to prisoners seized in wartime, recognizing — and being appalled by — the fact that the administration had created a system of arbitrary, indefinite detention, and that there was no way out for anyone who, like many of the prisoners, said that they had been seized by mistake. Read the rest of this entry »

London Events for the 10th Anniversary of the Opening of Guantánamo

I arrived in New York yesterday, a year after my last visit, for 12 days of events to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo (as described here), with a particular focus on a rally and march in Washington D.C. next Wednesday, January 11 (the actual date of the opening of Guantánamo). On arrival, I was met by Debra Sweet, national director of The World Can’t Wait, who arranged my visit, and we immediately made our way to the Brecht Forum on the West Side Highway for a fascinating event, “Building a Movement to Close Guantánamo and End All Unjust Detentions,” which focused on building bridges between those working to close Guantánamo and those campaigning against unjust trials and detentions in the US. There I was delighted to meet up, for the first time since last January, with Pardiss Kebriaei and Leili Kashani of the Center for Constitutional Rights (with whom I have been working on reports forthe 10th anniversary, to be published very soon), and also with another old friend, Guantánamo attorney and law professor Ramzi Kassem, and also Faisal Hashmi of the Muslim Justice Initiative, the brother of Fahad Hashmi, whose unfair extradition from the UK and unfair trial and disproportionately punitive sentence in the US in 2010 — after three and a half years kept in isolation in New York — I wrote about here.

I hope to write more about this event and others in the coming days, but for now, while I’m absolutely delighted to be here, meeting up with old friends, making new friends and campaigning for the closure of Guantánamo where it matters the most, I’m also pleased to note that a number of compelling events have been lined up in London, which I’m delighted to publicize below:

Saturday January 7, 2012, 2-4pm: Shut Guantánamo – End 10 Years of Shame
Public Rally, Trafalgar Square, London, at the top of the steps outside the National Gallery.

This event is organized by the London Guantánamo Campaign, the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, Stop the War Coalition and CND. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

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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