A few days ago, I was delighted to talk to Scott Horton, who I’ve been talking to, on a regular basis, for nearly six years, about the ongoing horrors of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, which, in a few weeks’ time, will have been open for its appalling business of arbitrary detention and torture for eleven and a half years. The half-hour interview is available here as an MP3.
In the show, Scott and I discussed the hunger strike at Guantánamo, now on its 143rd day, in which 106 of the remaining 166 prisoners (by the military’s own account) are on hunger strike, and 44 are being force-fed.
As I always explain, although it is horrible that men are being force-fed, which medical experts regard as a form of torture, this should not distract us from the reasons that the men are starving themselves and risking their lives — because they have reached a point of despairing at ever being released or provided with anything resembling justice, and with good reason.
Over half of the 166 men still held — 86 in total — have been cleared for release for at least three and a half years, after the inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force, established by President Obama when he took office, issued its report recommending whether the prisoners should be released, prosecuted or held indefinitely without charge or trial — recommendations that, just two weeks ago, through FOIA legislation, were finally accompanied by a full list of the prisoners and which categories they had been placed in by the task force, which I wrote about in my article, “The Guantánamo Review Task Force’s Decisions on Who to Release, Try and Hold Indefinitely Are Finally Released.”
The plight of these 86 caused Scott to note that it was “like a horror movie,” which I think is very accurate.
Scott and I also spoke about the men recommended for trials (33 of the men still held), and how the chief prosecutor recently admitted that no more than 12 of the remaining prisoners will be put on trial, and the 46 others designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial, on the alarming and unjustifiable basis that they are too dangerous to release, but insufficient evidence exists to put them on trial, who were promised reviews of their cases two years ago, which have not yet materialized.
There was much more in the show, including discussions of whether or not Guantánamo might ever close, the relative culpability of President Obama and Congress, and the permanent lack of any more than a handful of genuine terrorist suspects at Guantánamo, and I hope you have a spare half-hour to listen to it. It was a pleasure to talk to Scott, as ever.
This is how Scott described the show:
Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, discusses the remaining prisoners in Guantánamo who will never get charged with a crime or receive a trial — yet are force-fed by the US government to stave off mass suicide; the Congressional hawks who have no incentive to close Guantánamo; and the foot soldiers from Afghanistan (don’t call them terrorists) who have been caught up in a decade-long travesty of justice.
Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and 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. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).
To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the four-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.
Thanks to everyone who has liked and shared this. I worry that the plight of the Guantanamo prisoners is slipping off the radar again, when all it has led to so far from the US government is fine words from President Obama and the appointment of a State Department envoy to a position that should never have vacated in the first place, when Daniel Fried was reappointed at the start of the year. We need to see prisoners being released!
Campaigning investigative journalist and commentator, author, filmmaker, photographer, singer-songwriter and Guantánamo expert
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