On Friday, following the publication of my article “America’s Disappeared” on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation, I was interviewed by Scott Horton, with whom I have been talking since August 2007, when he first picked up on my Guantánamo work, and then followed up via an article about Jose Padilla, the US citizen imprisoned as an “enemy combatant” on the US mainland, and tortured until he lost his mind.
Scott and I have mostly discussed Guantánamo in the last five and a half years, although we have also dealt with related issues — the US prison at Bagram in Afghanistan, for example — and on Friday the initial topic of our discussion was torture, the CIA’s “black sites” and the lack of accountability for the Bush administration’s torture program — all of which was dealt with in my article. This followed the publication, by the Open Society Justice Initiative, of “Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition,” the first major report identifying the prisoners subjected to torture and disappearance since a UN report on disappearances in 2010, on which I was the lead author of the sections on disappearances in the “war on terror.”
I’m disappointed, of course, that the report was largely ignored in the mainstream media, but it is unsurprising, as the crimes of the “war on terror” — and its victims — are largely ignored these days. This is because, for some unfathomable reason, people have accepted that President Obama has managed to shroud them in a cloak of amnesia, so that they are no longer regarded as significant.
This, of course, is horribly true when it comes to Guantánamo, and the 166 men still held — and especially the 86 men cleared for release at least three years ago, and in some cases as long ago as 2004 — who are still held because it has proven to be politically inconvenient to release them.
I was, I hope, particularly indignant about the indifference regarding Guantánamo in the US political establishment and the mainstream media, and my hope that it will somehow prove possible to persuade President Obama and his advisors that continuing to ignore Guantánamo — and the President’s failed promise to close it — will not look good as part of his legacy.
When President Obama’s legacy is written — and the first drafts are already being prepared — it will be noted that he failed to close this legal, moral and ethical abomination not because, on reflection, he rather liked having a prison where people could be indefinitely imprisoned without charge or trial, but simply because it was politically inconvenient to fight for what is right and just, in the face of outrageous fearmongering and cynical political maneuvering.
My thanks again to Scott, and I hope you have a spare half-hour to listen to the show.
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, Stop Wikileaks Censorship by Obama Administration wrote:
Sharing on my page too & thanks for all both of you do on behalf of the prisoners, and all of us. You guys are a class act!
Thank you for the supportive words! Much appreciated.
Writer, campaigner, investigative journalist and commentator. 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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