With the prison-wide hunger strike at Guantánamo nearing the end of its third month (on Sunday), and even President Obama finally breaking his silence at a news conference on Tuesday — condemning the ongoing existence of the prison, but offering little in the way of solutions — I have been very busy with media appearances, as the mainstream media has woken up to the chronic injustice of Guantánamo in a convincing manner that — dare I say it — shows no sign of going away, as has the general public.
If you haven’t already signed it, please sign the petition calling for President Obama to close Guantánamo, which was launched this week by Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the military commissions, who resigned in protest at the Bush administration’s use of torture. In just a few days, the petition has already secured over 125,000 signatures, showing a depth of concern for the ongoing injustice of Guantánamo that has been imaginable for the last few years.
This is entirely appropriate, of course, as 166 men languish in Guantánamo, abandoned by all three branches of the US government — President Obama and his administration, Congress and the courts — including the 86 who were cleared for release at least three years ago by an inter-agency task force established the President Obama himself.
With the widespread media attention, I took part in three BBC programmes on Tuesday — on BBC World News, the international TV channel, with George Alagiah; and twice on the BBC World Service, on Newsday and World Have Your Say, and in the last week I have also spoken to two old friends and colleagues in the US — Scott Horton and Dennis Bernstein — as well as speaking to Pippa Jones, a Spanish-based British radio presenter who has her own show on iTalkFM, an English language radio channel “broadcasting topical news, interviews and music across the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca.”
Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, discusses his article “The Prisoners Speak: Reports from the Hunger Strike in Guantánamo;” the likelihood that the remaining prisoners will be held until they die, without charge or trial; Obama’s continuing pretense about closing Guantánamo; and the hunger strike’s success at bringing media attention to the situation.
Last night, I also spoke — again — to Dennis Bernstein, on his Flashpoints show on KPFA 94.1 FM in Berkeley, California. Dennis and I have spoken many times before — and twice since the hunger strike began (see here and here) — and it was great to be able to bring him and his listeners up to date on the hunger strike, and, in particular, the meaning — or lack of it — of President Obama’s decision to finally address the ongoing horrors of Guantánamo, and the need for renewed action to free prisoners and to finally close the prison, at his news conference on Tuesday.
My 15 minutes with Dennis, recorded late last night UK time, is available here as an MP3 (beginning at 11 minutes and 30 seconds), and it was a pleasure to talk to him, as ever. The page for the show is here.
Earlier in the week, I also spoke to Pippa Jones, who had previously interviewed the US attorney Tom Wilner. Tom represented the Guantánamo prisoners in their successful habeas corpus cases before the Supreme Court in 2004 and 2008, and is my colleague in the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, which we established together last January on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo.
Below is the interview with Pippa, which she made available on YouTube, and below that is Pippa’s earlier interview with Tom:
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, 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 “Close Guantánamo campaign”, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
Sorry to be posting so late, my friends. I was out at a friend’s birthday party. Here’s another reminder about the petition, now on 127,000 signatures: http://www.change.org/petitions/president-obama-close-detention-facility-at-guantanamo-bay
Richard Jenkins wrote:
give us the key and it will close NOW..
I like that, Richard. Empty it out, lock it up. And, I think, hand it back to Cuba.
I did sign the petition; but have continued to use every opportunity to campaign on this issue generically or regarding Shaker Aamer or whatever. I keep up with all the news from this website and others and use any little changes in the situation to conduct another fresh campaign. I don’t believe for a moment that the UK Authorities are in any way serious concerning their communications with the US Admin about Shaker Aamer. They are just passing time. I believe that things are getting worse in the UK; we not only have the Shaker Aamer fiasco, but all the rest, Julian Assange and so fourth, when added all together it paints a bleak picture of a politically unstable Britain. The latest arrests of muslim men regarding terrorist plots is another incremental step on the road to disaster. There is a vast difference between a terrorist attack and a terrorist attack on crack pots who can be counted as real enthusiasts. They’ll think it’s a game, and really want to play! The elections are showing a drift towards the right wing and turning against the EU, but all for the wrong or not understood reasons. Nationalism is what they are supporting; though most don’t really understand that fact. From what I have seen of the United States, nationalism is the problem; they have no socialist left wing that could act as a buffer against the criminality and Hitler like thinking. The rising cost of capital energy is making all things more costly and political leaders more vicious; ready to do deals with private companies that kill their competitors and steal their commodities. That’s the world today.
Sadly, Peace Activist, I find your rather bleak prognosis to be convincing. I too distrust politicians and diplomats when it comes to telling the truth about Shaker, and bemoan the right-wing drift of politics here in the UK. It seems to be far too easy when there are huge economic problems, caused by bankers and their political chums: find a scapegoat, whether it be immigrants, the unemployed, the disabled, or, as history tells us, the Jews.
Good to hear from you. Thanks for all you do.
Good for you that the MSM momentum is starting to pick up. Look at it from a news editor’s perspective. First, they might say, no story here. If we bring it up, we’ll lose access to the US govt. and various key figures. Then, the alternative media sticks with it, and suddenly it’s an “official” story. Now, they can’t ignore it and risk getting beaten by their competition.
Which means, what’s the new angle on this? My suggestion would be use this momentum to your advantage. A lot of corporate media outlets (and the BBC) are outsourcing coverage and production of many of their programs. Have you ever freelanced for any of them? You have the contacts and background on this story. No editor anywhere would consider this? I find that hard to believe. Of course, if you ended up working for “Newsnight” you’d have to deal with Paxman. But you’re tough. You could do it.
Some other reasons why you should freelance:
You have lots of good activist contacts both in the UK and the States
Being a UK citizen, you don’t have to worry about Obama’s silly Cuban embargo (and the travel restrictions that come with that for US citizens)
Does any UK MSM outlet have any bureau in Havana? The only Stateside one that does is CNN.
Not to put down your work or commitment to this in any way. But maybe now it’s to the point where you need more support and funding to accomplish the goal of closing Guantanamo down? Just one opinion.
Thanks, Tom, and I certainly value your opinion, but I’m going to let them come to me if they want my detailed knowledge! Also, I am still engaged in some work behind the scenes …
Listened to your interview on Scott Horton’s show and, as always, I enjoyed hearing your authoritative grasp on this important issue. “Enjoyed” is relative, of course. It is heart wrenching, hearing their stories – your commitment to this cause is remarkable.
Thank you for those wonderfully supportive comments, Jessica. Great to hear from you.
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