Last week, I took part in a panel discussion organized by Revolution Truth, along with David Remes, the attorney for a number of Guantánamo prisoners, which was presented by the activist Tangerine Bolen, with her co-host Pamela Sue Taylor.
The show, entitled, “GTMO, The Rule of Law and the NDAA,” lasted a little over an hour, and is available here as an MP3. A description of the show is here, and I’ve also posted it below as a YouTube video, which has just been made available today.
This was a fascinating show, and it was great to spend an hour on a show with Tangerine, who I got to know through her work at Revolution Truth, and her role as a plaintiff in the case brought by herself, Chris Hedges and others against the US government regarding the mandatory military custody provisions for alleged terror suspects that is contained in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This led to a memorable victory in a US courtroom earlier this year, which I wrote about in my article, Why Does the Government So Desperately Want Indefinite Detention for Terror Suspects?
In the show, David and I had the opportunity to explain in depth the story of Guantánamo past, present and future, and also to talk about the death of Adnan Latif, a Yemeni, and one of David’s clients, who died in Guantánamo three months ago, despite having been cleared for release repeatedly — by a military review board under the Bush administration, by President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force, and by a US judge — although that latter decision was overturned by a disgraceful panel of appeals court judges, and, just three months before his death, when offered an opportunity to deal with his case (and that of six other Guantánamo prisoners), the Supreme Court refused to intervene.
Adnan Latif was failed by all three branches of the US government, and it can only be hoped that his death will lead to renewed demands for the prison’s closure, especially as my friend and colleague Jason Leopold continues to keep his story in the public eye, most recently, with David’s help (as he discussed during the show), in an article entitled, Latif Letter About Guantanamo Speaks From the Grave: “I Am Being Pushed Toward Death Every Moment.”
There is much more in the show — including discussion of the NDAA — and I hope you can find the time to listen to it, but as we approach the 11th anniversary of the prison’s opening, on January 11, 2013, those calling for the closure of the prison — and for President Obama to fulfil his promise to close it — will be holding up Adnan as an example of what is so dreadfully wrong at Guantánamo, when cleared prisoners like him are dying, despite having been cleared for release.
86 other cleared prisoners are still held at Guantánamo, and it is imperative that the obstacles to their release are removed, before any of them, like Adnan Latif, die in Guantánamo without being freed. These obstacles are in Congress, where cynical lawmakers have set up obstacles designed to prevent the release of any prisoners, under any circumstances, and in President Obama’s administration, where a ban is in place on releasing any of the Yemenis who make up two-thirds of the cleared prisoners, because, three years ago, a Nigerian recruited in Yemen tired and failed to blow up a bomb in his underwear on a flight into the United States.
My thanks again to Tangerine Bolen and the team at Revolution Truth, and I hope to have an opportunity to talk on Revolution Truth again.
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, Flickr (my photos) 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, Waris Ali wrote:
I heard it live when you posted on it, certainly learned a thing or two from Mr Remes when he was talking too. Don’t suppose the likes of the Guardian or Independent who have done various articles/pieces on Shaker Aamer over the past couple of months and just in the past couple of days would interview you, ask your thoughts on Shaker and Guantanamo in general?
Well, that would be nice, wouldn’t it, Waris, but it seems to me that they think they have it adequately covered. At least they keep chipping away at the story …
Waris Ali wrote:
Yeah it would, both as you say have adequately covered it and have reported on the latest developments. It’s great that the comedian Frankie Boyle is throwing his weight behind it with Reprieve. i was wondering whether you could give your thoughts on this below and what it means for shaker and the other detainees?
“Within days, President Obama is expected to sign the 2012 National Defence Authorisation Act, which gives money to the military annually. This year, it includes an amendment allowing the indefinite detention of anyone, including US citizens, who were “part of or substantially supported al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, or associated forces, under the law of war until the end of hostilities”.
Tom Parker, Amnesty International’s US policy director on terrorism, counter-terrorism and human rights, said: “The implications for Guantanamo are quite simple: it is staying open now. This effectively enshrines indefinite detention in American law permanently, or at least as long as any group vaguely connected with al-Qa’ida continues, which basically means any Islamic group” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/obamas-uturn-on-guantanamo-seals-fate-of-lone-briton-6283796.html
This is history replaying itself, Waris, as last year’s NDAA is repeated, essentially. From what I understand the President still has a waiver he can use to bypass the Congressional restrictions on releasing anyone – if he is prepared to declare that it is in America’s national security interests to release any prisoners. It is this waiver that he needs to use to free a number of prisoners, including Shaker, so that he is not paralyzed into inaction for the whole of his second term. We need to tell him to release the cleared prisoners (86 of the remaining 166 prisoners), or be damned by the history books as the President who promised so much, but did so little.
Jason Leopold wrote:
This was a great discussion, Andy! Thank you for sharing!
Thanks, Jason. Very glad you enjoyed it. I do hope to be seeing you in 2013 – if not in January, then at some other time in the not impossibly distant future!
Waris Ali wrote:
Understood, thank you for your response. I was worried that it’d be even more difficult to get him out now and the British government would use this as an excuse to say there’s nothing more they can do. Reprieve are certainly turning up the heat on the government and the security services. It’s wonderful that Frankie Boyle has decided to throw his weight behind it. I’m hoping amongst other things he’ll make a video in conjunction with reprieve and the SSAC. Then this campaign can really hit the mainstream and reach a hell of a lot more people from different backgrounds across the UK, as well as really helping to get the required signatures of course! :))
Yes that would be very good indeed, wouldn’t it, Waris? I think it would just be good for Frankie Boyle to explain why this case has moved him. He’s obviously identified with the horrors of indefinite detention, and the failures of the British government, and could obviously help a lot more people to understand about these very important points.
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