Andy Worthington Discusses Eleven Years of Guantánamo with Michael Slate


On Friday, I was delighted to talk to Michael Slate on his long-standing progressive show, on KPFK in Los Angeles, about Guantánamo, as I prepared to fly to the US for a series of events to mark the 11th anniversary of the opening of the prison, and to demand its closure, as promised by President Obama when he first took office four years ago. The show is here, as an MP3 and our interview lasts for around 20 minutes, and is the second interview in the hour-long show, starting about 20 minutes in. For anyone interested in my current whereabouts, I’m now in Brooklyn, having traveled here safely today.

I hope you can listen to the show. Michael and I have spoken before (see here, here, here and here, most recently following President Obama’s reelection) and it’s always a pleasure, as he is an extremely well-informed host.

In this latest interview, Michael helpfully promoted the imminent anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, not only asking me about the events in Washington D.C., and promoting my website and the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, but also pointing out that, in Los Angeles, there will be a silent vigil at 10am on January 11, and a rally and press conference at 10.45am, at the Federal Building in Downtown LA, on the corner of Temple and Los Angeles Streets, which my friend Andy Griggs, the program director of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, had also let me know about.

For those who haven’t yet seen any promotional material regarding the protests in Washington D.C., there will be a panel discussion at the New America Foundation, at 1899 L Street, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036, beginning at 10am, featuring myself and the attorney Tom Wilner, representing Close Guantánamo, along with Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the military commissions, and Ramzi Kassem, the attorney for a number of Guantánamo prisoner including Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison.

At 12 noon, we will be joining representatives of 26 different groups, including Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Witness Against Torture and World Can’t Wait, at the Supreme Court, for a rally and march that will feature numerous speakers (myself included), ending up at the White House via the Capitol.

In our interview, as well as discussing Friday’s baleful anniversary, and the reasons for Guantánamo’s continued existence, which involves the failures of all three branches of the US government, I also had the opportunity to point out the unrelenting shame of holding 86 men, out of 166 in total at Guantánamo, who have been cleared for release since 2009 at the latest, and in some cases since 2004.

I also mentioned the significance of the list of 55 cleared prisoners that was released by the Justice Department in a court case in September, and Michael and I also spoke about the latest shocking news, revealed in the Washington Post last week, in which the use of rendition to bring terror suspects to justice in the US was discussed, This is a tricky issue, as I explained in the interview, and although preferable to Obama’s mass killing by drones — and Bush’s “black sites” and indefinite detention — it is a gray area that is, sadly, horribly typical of the ways i which the law has been shredded since 9/11, and remains, essentially, in tatters.

I hope you have time to listen to the show, which also featured Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights, and Guy Davidi, the co-director of the acclaimed documentary, “5 Broken Cameras,” which, as Michael puts it, chronicles “five years of struggle against encroaching settlers and the Israeli military in the West Bank village of Bil’in.” Guy also spoke about his attempts to get the film shown to students in Israel, and the obstruction he is facing, and if you would like to get involved in this project, click here.

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.

9 Responses

  1. Tom says...

    Best of luck with the trip.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Natalia Rivera Scott wrote:

    Thank you for keeping on the fight to close this hell of a place. Your persistence and job is admirable. Gracias!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Joyce McCloy wrote:

    sad and shameful. Yes I’ll listen.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Luke Hansen wrote:

    Are you appearing at any public events in NYC this week?

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Mui JS wrote:

    Andy, will this be your only trip to NYC this yr?

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Natalia, Joyce, Luke and Mui. Good to hear from you all.
    Luke, I’m in NYC today and heading to DC tomorrow. There’s no event today, but I’ll be at Revolution Books in NYC on Sunday when I get back, speaking with Ramzi Kassem. Revolution Books is at 146 West 26th Street (between 6th & 7th Ave) and the event starts at 4pm.
    And Mui, this is my only planned visit at this particular point in time, but I do hope to be returning at some point this year.

  7. Tom says...

    Andy, when you have time, you should check these out in the news here:

    Chuck Hagel’s pending confirmation as Sec. of State. The top “concern” of the neocons w/him is of course, AIPAC. Also, pending Dept. of Defense budget cuts. Will he close various global bases (possibly including Guantanemo)? There’s potential spin value for Obama, and then there’s financial reality.

    John Brennan as the next CIA director. According to Ray McGovern, Brennan’s been aware of torture going back to 2002 (practice CIA torture sessions in the White House basement). Essentially he washed out as an analyst. However, then Director Gorge Tenent liked his loyalty and promoted him. Now Obama’s continuing in the same vein.

    The govt. is now about $11 billion over the $16.4 trillion national budget cut. While you can creatively bookkeep all you want, even Obama, Cameron and Clegg know that numbers don’t lie.

    Latest word is that “Zero Dark Thirty” will get some Oscar nominations. Will there be any boycotts? You be the judge.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tom!

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tom. The monstrous propaganda coup provided for the CIA and the Bush administration by Kathryn Bigelow is weighing more on the minds of those I’m meeting with here than Obama’s appointments. To be honest, I think Obama has demonstrated with startling clarity how the military-industrial complex actually runs America, along with the banks whose pockets we already know he’s in.

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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 and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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