Archive for January, 2013

Photos of London: Hilly Fields in the Snow

Hilly Fields in the snowChildren playing in the snowLooking towards Hilly Fields CrescentTrees on the slopeSledges and toboggansTyler in the snow
ToddlerSnow-lovers in Hilly FieldsSnow-clad treesThe top of Hilly Fields in the snowHeavy snowThe entrance to Hilly Fields

Hilly Fields in the Snow, a set on Flickr.

On Friday, when the snow began falling on London — something that is not even necessarily an annual occurrence in the UK — I took a tour by bike around Brockley, my home in south east London, and also visited Ladywell, Lewisham and Greenwich, taking photos as the first snow fell.

I posted the first set of photos yesterday, and was planning to post the second set, featuring Greenwich, today, but then it began snowing again, more heavily than before, and I spent this afternoon on another photographic trip — first of all, taking my son sledging in Hilly Fields, the hill-top park in Brockley that is one of my favourite places to visit, and then cycling through Brockley and on, via New Cross, to Deptford, capturing one of my favourite urban environments in the snow. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos: First Snow in London

First snow on Hilly FieldsAbstract snowscapeFirst snow in Ladywell FieldsAlgiers Road, LadywellWinter garageHilly Fields steps
Snowy leavesThe top of Hilly FieldsThe basketball pitchThe gardens of Tressillian Road and Breakspears RoadSnowy gardenSnow on Tressillian Road
Hilly Fields in the snowThe River Ravensbourne in LewishamThe banks of the River RavensbourneCornmill Gardens in the snowDead endA snowy road in Lewisham
Live free!Snowy view from Elverson RoadSnow on the tracksElverson Road in the snow

First Snow in London, a set on Flickr.

This photo set, the 72nd in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, rather sprang upon me yesterday (January 18), when, while still sleep-deprived and rather jet-lagged after returning from my ten-day visit to the US to campaign for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on the 11th anniversary of its opening, I had to make a visit to my local hospital in Lewisham, in south east London — whose A&E Department, and other frontline services, are currently under threat of closure — and was thrilled, in an inner-child way, to discover that it was snowing.

After taking a few photos en route, I reemerged after an hour or so to find that the snow was still steadily falling, and so, after pushing my bike back up the hill to Brockley — to mend a puncture I had received during the short journey to the hospital — I set out to capture some photos of my wider neighbourhood in the snow, taking a well-worn route down the hill to Lewisham, along the River Ravensbourne to Greenwich, and then down to the River Thames and back, a two-hour journey, at the end of which I was half-frozen. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos: Protestors Call for the Closure of Guantánamo outside the White House

Guantánamo protestors and the Washington MonumentPeace bikeFree Djamel AmezianeGuantánamo protestors and the White HouseGuantánamo protestors in front of the White HouseThe poet Luke Nephew calls for the closure of Guantánamo
Close Guantánamo: Black hoods, orange jumpsuits and the White HouseAndy Worthington calls for the closure of GuantánamoClose Guantánamo: Andy Worthington in front of the White HouseRamzi Kassem calls for the closure of Guantánamo in front of the White HouseRamzi Kassem calls for the closure of GuantánamoClose Guantánamo: Protestors outside the White House
Close Guantánamo: Two protestors outside the White HousePardiss Kebriaei and Leili Kashani at the "Close Guantánamo" protest outside the White HouseLeili Kashani calls for the closure of GuantánamoClose Bagram and GuantánamoInaugurate Justice, Close GuantánamoCruel, Inhuman and Degrading
Close Guantánamo: Witness Against Torture's White House protest166 orange ribbons and the White House

Protestors Call for the Closure of Guantánamo outside the White House, a set on Flickr.

These photos, following on from the previous set, capture some of the key images and the principled, decent and tireless campaigners for justice involved in the protest in Washington D.C. on January 11, 2013 to mark the 11th anniversary of the opening of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and to call on President Obama to fulfil the promise he made to close the prison when he took office in January 2009, or be remembered as a failure, who succumbed to political expediency and settled for a path of cowardice rather than confronting his political opponents, both in the Republican Party and in his own party, and doing what needed to be done.

This, of course, involved the still-pressing need to restore some semblance of justice in the wake of the horrors inflicted on the law, on America’s reputation, and on hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the so-called “war on terror,” but instead of addressing the issues, President Obama has expanded the US government’s drone program of extrajudicial assassinations, and has failed those in Guantánamo — especially the 86 men (out of 166 still held in total), who were cleared for release by the interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama established after taking office in 2009. The Task Force spent a year reviewing the prisoners’ cases before reaching its sober and considered conclusions, and, in addition, some of these men were actually cleared by military review boards under the Bush administration, some as long ago as 2004. Read the rest of this entry »

Video: Close Guantánamo – Andy Worthington, Tom Wilner and Col. Morris Davis Lay into President Obama at the New America Foundation

On Friday, the 11th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, myself and the attorney Tom Wilner, the steering committee of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, held our annual reunion at the New America Foundation in Washington D.C. with Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the military commissions, who resigned in 2007, the day after he was placed in a chain of command under William J. Haynes II, the Pentagon’s senior lawyer and one of the Bush administration officials most involved in developing the administration’s notorious torture program. The event was moderated by Peter Bergen, the director of the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.

For three years now, we have gathered on the anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo to call on President Obama to fulfill the promise to close the prison that he made on taking office in January 2009.

This year our call was more passionate, intense, and driven by righteous indignation than ever before. Read the rest of this entry »

Video: Andy Worthington Tells President Obama Why His Failure to Close Guantánamo Is Akin to Dictatorship

“Andy Worthington rips President Obama for failing to close Guantánamo” is the heading that the Baltimore-based filmmaker Bill Hughes gave to his video of my speech outside the White House in Washington D.C. on Friday January 11, on the 11th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo. The video is available on YouTube, and I’ve posted it below.

Bill filmed me as I addressed the passionate group of protestors — many in orange jumpsuits — who had gathered on President’s Park South (aka the Ellipse), just south of the White House, at the end of a march from the Supreme Court, when, inspired by the vigorous and almost palpable spirit of indignation that was the driver of the protests, I called on President Obama to fulfill the promise to close Guantánamo that he made when he took office four years ago, and was justifiably critical of the failure fog all three branches of the US government to deal with the poisonous legacy of Guantánamo with justice and fairness, instead demonstrating — in the administration, in Congress, and in the courts — a disgraceful combination of cowardice, indifference, and cynical obstruction and fearmongering. Read the rest of this entry »

Close Guantánamo: Photos of Protestors outside the Supreme Court on the 11th Anniversary of the Opening of the Prison

Close Guantánamo: Protestors outside the US Supreme CourtClose Guantánamo: Hooded protestors outside the Supreme CourtRemembering Adnan Latif, killed by GuantánamoClose Guantánamo Now!End the military commissionsWomen say no to torture
Mr. President, you gave your word to close GuantánamoSolitary prisonerTorture is wrongFree Shaker Aamer and Abdel HakimAndy Worthington, Tom Wilner and the Center for Constitutional RightsClose Guantánamo: The march to the White House
Guantánamo protest outside the D.C. Circuit CourtGuantánamo protestors outside the NewseumAn Amnesty protestor outside FBI HQGuantánamo protestors outside FBI HQGuantánamo protestors march past FBI HQFree Fahd Ghazy
Free Mohammed al-HamiriBringing the Guantánamo protest to the White House

Close Guantánamo: Protestors outside the Supreme Court on the 11th Anniversary of the Opening of the Prison, a set on Flickr.

These photos are from the protest in Washington D.C. on January 11, 2013 to mark the 11th anniversary of the opening of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an annual event that becomes more shameful for the United States with every passing year, and which has also come to test the endurance of those opposed to the prison’s existence.

Four years after President Obama came to office promising to close Guantánamo within a year, the blunt and unforgivable truth is that the prison is still open, and that all three branches of the US government — the administration, Congress and the courts — have failed the 166 men still held, and particularly the 86 men who were cleared for release by the interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force, established by President Obama in 2009, which spent a year reviewing the prisoners’ cases before reaching its sober and considered conclusions. In addition, some of these men were actually cleared by military review boards under the Bush administration, some as long ago as 2004. Read the rest of this entry »

Eleven Years of Guantánamo: End This Scandal Now!

Eleven years ago, on January 11, 2002, the Bush administration proudly presented to the world one of its major responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 — a prison on the grounds of the US naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, designed to hold hundreds of men and boys seized in the “war on terror” that was declared in the wake of the attacks, where the prisoners were to be neither criminals not soldiers, but “enemy combatants” without any rights whatsoever.

The base was chosen because it was presumed to be beyond the reach of the US courts, and when the prisoners were deliberately excluded from the protections of the Geneva Conventions, in a directive issued by President Bush on February 7, 2002, it became a genuinely evil experiment, devoted to torture and other forms of coercion, indefinite detention without charge or trial, and the extraction of false statements from the prisoners that were then dressed up as evidence to justify holding them.

This was in spite of the fact that, for the most part, the prisoners knew nothing about Al-Qaeda or international terrorism, and were sold to US forces for bounty payments by their Afghan and Pakistani allies, or seized as a result of inept US intelligence. Many of the prisoners were living in Pakistan or visiting Pakistan, or were visiting Afghanistan as missionaries, humanitarian aid workers, refugees or economic migrants. Read the rest of this entry »

A Message from Omar Deghayes on the 11th Anniversary of the Opening of Guantánamo

I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012 with US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email. 

On the 11th anniversary of the opening of the lawless prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where 166 prisoners seized in the “war on terror” remain imprisoned, I am in Washington D.C., having traveled from my home in London to take part in events designed to raise awareness of the burning need for the injustices of Guantánamo to be brought to an end, for the 86 cleared prisoners still held to be released, and for the others to be tried or released — or, if the political courage exists, to be redefined as prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, so that we can finally begin to ask how long this ill-defined and open-ended “global war” can actually last.

Only those paying close attention seem to know that, of the 86 cleared men still held, all were cleared for release under President Obama in 2009, through the sober and careful deliberations of an interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force, and around half were also cleared for release by President Bush between 2004 and 2007, and yet they remain held because of political inertia, or cynical fearmongering, in all three branches of the US government — the administration, Congress and the courts. Read the rest of this entry »

Please Write to the Forgotten Prisoners in Guantánamo on the 11th Anniversary of the Opening of the Prison

Friday January 11 is the 11th anniversary of the opening of the Bush administration’s “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an ongoing legal black hole, and an experimental prison for holding Muslim men and boys without rights, and subjecting them to torture and other forms of coercion and abuse, and medical and psychological experimentation.

At Guantánamo, the US authorities manufactured a rationale for holding these men and boys — calling them “the worst of the worst,” and disguising the fact that the majority of them were sold to the US military for substantial bounty payments by their Afghan and Pakistani allies. They did this through the extraction of false statements in which pliant prisoners — whether tortured or otherwise abused, or bribed or pushed until they could take the pressure no longer — made false statements about their fellow prisoners, and/or themselves, which continue to be regarded as something resembling evidence by all three branches of the US government, even though the closest analogy for what this information is in reality can be found in the false statements uttered by the victims of the witch hunts in the 17th century.

For those who are concerned about the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, this is a worthwhile time to write to the remaining 166 prisoners, to let them know that they have not been forgotten. Disturbingly, they have largely been abandoned by the Obama administration, by Congress, by the courts, by the media and by the American public, even though 86 of them were cleared for release three years ago by an interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force established by President Obama to review the cases of all the prisoners, and even though around half of them were previously cleared for release, between 2004 and 2007, by military review boards established by President Bush. Read the rest of this entry »

Eleven Years of Guantánamo: Andy Worthington Visits the US to Campaign for the Prison’s Closure

Contact me from 10am Eastern Time on January 9 (until January 16) on 347-581-2677.

It’s over 24 hours since I arrived in the US, with the support of Witness Against Torture, World Can’t Wait and Close Guantánamo, for a series of events to mark the 11th anniversary of the opening of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a shameful anniversary that should not have come to pass. Four years ago, when he took office, President Obama promised to close the prison within a year, but he failed to fulfil that promise. His lack of courage has been matched by opportunistic intervention from Congress, where lawmakers have passed legislation designed to thwart any efforts to close Guantánamo. To complete the failures of all three branches of the US government, the courts too have added their own contribution, with the D.C. Circuit Court gutting the habeas corpus rights of the prisoners, which lawyers spent many years fighting for, and the Supreme Court refusing to revisit the prisoners’ cases, when given the opportunity last year.

As I — and others who still care about the closure of Guantánamo — continue to point out, the ongoing existence of Guantánamo is an affront to all notions of justice and fairness. Distressingly, of the 166 men still held, 86 were cleared for release by President Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force, and yet, through the combination of cowardice, indifference, opportunism and scaremongering outlined above, they remain held, even though one long-cleared prisoner, Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, died at Guantánamo last September, and even though President Obama won reelection in November, and is now free to act to secure his legacy rather than focusing all his attention on campaigning — and not mentioning anything contentious. If he wants a legacy that doesn’t describe him, amongst other things, as the man who promised to close Guantánamo but then failed to do because it was politically inconvenient, he needs to act now. 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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