Yesterday, I made my way to a TV studio opposite the Houses of Parliament to take part in an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! — my first since last April, when the classified military files released by WikiLeaks, on which I worked as a media partner, were first published.
I was joined by Shayana Kadidal, senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights, and I was delighted that the story was the main feature on yesterday’s show, and that so much time was devoted to it, and to analyzing the sweeping failures, across the entire US administration, that have led to a situation in which, although 87 of the remaining 169 prisoners have been cleared for release, only two prisoners have been freed in the last 18 months, and there are no signs of when — if ever — any of these 87 men will be released.
The interview, like my interview with RT on Monday, was scheduled last week, following the publication of my report, Guantánamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Years Ago, but it assumed alarming new significance on Monday, when the Supreme Court refused to consider any of the appeals that had been submitted over the last year by seven of the 169 remaining prisoners in Guantánamo. It’s posted below, via YouTube:
My report highlighted the failures of the administration and Congress, pointing out that, of the 87 prisoners cleared for release by President Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force, but still held, shamefully, 40 were cleared at least five years ago, and some as long ago as 2004.
However, the Supreme Court’s failure to take up the Guantánamo prisoners’ appeals, which were dismissed without any further explanation, added to the prisoners’ woes, confirming that they have been abandoned by every branch of the US government.
Ironically, the Supreme Court’s decision to ignore the prisoners’ pleas came the day before the 4th anniversary of Boumediene v. Bush, when the Supreme Court — with the important contributions provided by Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired two years ago — granted the prisoners constitutionally guaranteed habeas corpus rights, paving the way for a number of successful hearings between October 2008 and July 2010 that led to the release of 28 prisoners.
For the last two years, however, no prisoners have had their habeas petitions granted, as the right-wing judges of the D.C. Circuit Court have intervened to prevent any prisoners from being released by demanding that the shockingly unreliable evidence put forward by the government — which the District Court judges had been challenging in an appropriate manner — should be regarded as accurate.
In discussing the distressing situation at Guantánamo — and in the corridors of power in the US — I was pleased to be asked by Amy about the case of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, cleared by a military review board under President Bush in December 2006, and almost certainly cleared by Obama’s Task Force, who was also, effectively, cleared for release for a third time by the US courts when his habeas corpus petition was granted in July 2010. That ruling, however, was overturned by the D.C. Circuit Court last October, in a ruling in which two of the three judges demanded that intelligence reports produced in the field — in haste and under pressure, and never intended to be sober and considered assessments — should be given the presumption of accuracy, prompting serious dissent from the third judge, David Tatel. Of all the appeals turned down by the Supreme Court, this is the one that most alarmingly demonstrates the Supreme Court’s abdication of its responsibilities.
Allowing these rulings to stand puts the Supreme Court in the disturbing position of disowning Boumediene, and handing victory to the D.C. Circuit Court, led by Judge A. Raymond Randolph, who has been openly scornful of Boumediene and of the Supreme Court, and who, under George W. Bush, endorsed every outrageous stance on Guantánamo that was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court.
That is self-evidently regressive — and, added to President Obama’s complete paralysis regarding the need to close Guantánamo, as he promised, and the cynical, fearmongering obstruction erected by Congress, which has acted to block every effort to release prisoners and to close the prison — it leaves us in a bleak place indeed.
I can only hope that the recognition of how terrible the current situation is will grow as the months pass and we approach the 11th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, in January 2013, so that the pressure will build to get the prison closed, rather than allowing this disgrace to continue indefinitely.
Note: Click on the photo at the top of the article, which I took on January 11 this year, to enlarge it, and please feel free to use it, although if you do so, please credit me and provide a link to this website.
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 April 2012, “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 please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
On Facebook, Abbe Kitty wrote:
Hi Andy — I just saw you a few minutes ago on Democracy Now. You did a good job, especially in ‘humanizing’ the prisoners. When you spoke about the man who sought legitimate medical care and then ended up in Guantanamo, that was very compelling. In television interviews, you may have only one or two minutes to get your point across to viewers, and you did a good job there in the limited amount of time given.
Thank you, Abbe. That’s very good to hear.
I wanted to second (3rd, 4th…) that motion stating that you did an impressive interview and a good job of summarizing the issues that we, as Americans, must confront. Currently, these issues aren’t even in the national dialogue.
In this election year, it is extremely important to create that dialogue.
No matter who wins the presidency, neither candidate will do what is needed at Guantanamo and both will stand the same on the issue of Guantanamo, indefinite detention and the continued attacks on human rights around the world.
Obama can’t possibly say he supports closure of Guantanamo as he pours more money into it for upgrades, expansion and rehab. He can’t possibly state he is for closure when he will not release the 87 prisoners cleared by his OWN commission; When he stays silent on the continued abuse; When he refuses to hold anyone accountable; When he perpetuates the cover-up attacking those who would bring truth to light; When he perpetuates and even expands on the crimes committed in MY name and in the name of every American.
Instead, there is no discussion; No dialogue; No reporting. When a story arises it is about “leaks” of intel and not the intel itself! It is denial and deflection; Blaming and complaining. Never is a statement or discussion allowed on what we are doing or even a modicum of awareness of our responsibility and culpability for wars, hostilities and terrorist acts.our responsibility for the acts against us
It is up to the people to bring the story into discussion. It is up to us to confront Obama, Romney, the entire government and its agencies from the Pentagon to the CIA to the Treasury to the SCOTUS, the POTUS, the Congress. It is up to the people to demand transparency and accountability for the actions committed in our name and it is up to the people to assure freedom for those 87 men held in Guantanamo, cleared of any wrong doing
Thanks, Jan. Very well put. I will continue to do what I can, to raise awareness of these issues, and to try and build a body of resistance to demand movement on Guantanamo in January 2013.
Andy, I am sure you will continue…and I will do what I can to help
Thanks again, Jan. Your help, in spreading the word and relentlessly educating people, is very much appreciated.
[…] Least Five Years Ago,” with the report’s author, Andy Worthington, being interviewed on RT and Democracy Now! to discuss not only the report, revealing the identities of 40 prisoners cleared for release […]
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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