On Friday, I was delighted to talk to Susan Modaress, for the show “Inside Out” on Press TV. Susan interviewed me while I was in New York City in January 2011, for protests on the ninth anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, which are available here.
The 22-minute show, “Is Guantánamo Forever?” (available below via YouTube) centred on a Skype interview with me and an interview with Karen Greenberg, the Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University’s School of Law, and I hope you have time to watch it.
Susan and I began by discussing the hunger strike — how it began, and why the 166 men still held are in such despair that they have been refusing food for over five months and are risking their lives.
Their despair, of course, is because 86 of them were cleared for release three and a half years ago by the inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force, but are still held, and the 80 others were either recommended for trials that have largely failed to materialize, or were recommended for indefinite detention without charge or trial, on the basis that they were too dangerous to release, even though insufficient evidence exists to put them on trial.
As I explained, this means, of course, that the supposed evidence is actually profoundly unreliable, involving information extracted through the use of torture or other forms of abuse, or through bribing the prisoners with “comfort items” — food, entertainment, and much more. It’s also clear that prisoners with mental health problems were pressurized to make statements about their fellow prisoners that were, of course, fundamentally untrustworthy.
I also spoke about the many reasons why President Obama failed to fulfill the promise to close Guantánamo that he made on his second day in office — Obama’s own failures, including the ban on releasing Yemenis he imposed after the failed underwear bomb plot on Christmas Day 2009, which was hatched in Yemen, and the Congressional restrictions that have done so much to tie his hands — although a waiver exists that he can use to bypass Congress if he regards it as being “in the national security interests of the United States,” which he has not used over the last year and a half, and, in particular, that he has not used since he made his fine speech on May 23 promising to resume releasing prisoners.
Susan also spoke about the motion recently submitted by four prisoners, calling for the courts to order the government to stop force-feeding prisoners, and forcing them to take medication, which was reluctantly turned down last week by District Judge Gladys Kessler, because of a precedent established by a US court in 2009. Nevertheless, Judge Kessler pointed out that health professionals describe force-feeding as torture, and pointedly urged President Obama to act, as the Commander in Chief. I wrote about the motion here, and about the ruling here, and also published poignant testimony by three of the prisoners, Nabil Hadjarab, Ahmed Belbacha and Abu Wa’el Dhiab. For testimony by the fourth man, Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, see here, here, here, here and here.
Towards the end of the show, Karen Greenberg spoke about the need for President Obama to restore the rule of law and provide closure for 9/11, which I thought was very powerful.
My thanks to Susan, and I hope we get the chance to talk again in the not too distant future.
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.
On Facebook, Aoife Kyna Chapuller Devanney wrote:
Thank you Andy x
You’re welcome, Aoife. Great to hear from you.
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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