On Wednesday (November 13), the media, inspired by an article for the Guardian by Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the military commissions at Guantánamo, who has become a formidable critic of the prison since his resignation six years ago, picked up on a baleful anniversary — the 12th anniversary of the creation of one of the main founding documents of the Bush administration’s “war on terror.”
I subsequently spoke to Scott Horton on his hard-hitting political show, the latest in the dozens of interviews with Scott that I have taken part in over the last six years. The half-hour show is available here as an MP3, and I hope you have time to listen to it.
Scott described the show as follows: “Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, discusses how Dick Cheney helped make torture an official US government policy; former Guantanamo inmate Omar Khadr’s fight for justice in a Canadian prison; and how torture has poisoned America’s soul.”
As Scott explained, we did indeed talk about how Omar Khadr, and his appeal against his outrageous 2010 conviction for war crimes (which I wrote about here), as well as also discussing the need for accountability for all of the senior Bush administration officials (up to and including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld) and their lawyers, who approved the use of torture.
I do, however, consider the spur to our discussion — the document issued on November 13, 2001 — as something worthy of reflecting on further.
The “Military Order of November 13, 2001,” or, to give it its official title, “Detention, Treatment, and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War Against Terrorism,” authorized “terrorists and those who support them” to be “detained, and, when tried, to be tried for violations of the laws of war and other applicable laws by military tribunals.”
This document, which established the rationale for the opening of Guantánamo and the creation of military commissions, was a major contribution to the “war on terror” by George W. Bush’s Vice President, Dick Cheney, “the malevolent power behind the American imperial throne,” as I explained in June 2007 while the Washington Post was publishing a major series on Cheney by Barton Gellman (the author of Angler, a subsequent book about Cheney) and Jo Becker.
Via the Post, I discovered how:
[O]n 13 November 2001, under the cover of his regular weekly meeting with the President, [Cheney] played the leading role in circulating and gaining approval for the presidential order — Military Order No 1 — which stripped foreign terror suspects of access to any courts, authorized their indefinite imprisonment without charge, and also authorized the creation of “Military Commissions,” before which they could be tried using secret evidence. Approved within an hour by only two other figures in the White House — associate counsel Bradford Berenson, and deputy staff secretary Stuart Bowen, whose objections that it had to be seen by other Presidential advisors were only dropped after “rapid, urgent persuasion” that the President “was standing by to sign and that the order was too sensitive to delay” — the order’s swift and unprecedented passage bore all the hallmarks of Cheney’s preferred modus operandi: that of an ultra-secretive control freak who, while serving the President, was actually running the show himself.
While I hope you have time to listen to Scott’s show, I’d also like to recommend another interview I did recently, with someone else I have been speaking to for many years, Peter B. Collins, who interviewed me for the “Processing Distortion” show he does for FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds’ Boiling Frogs website.
Our interview, which lasted for over an hour, and was very wide-ranging and in-depth, is available here, although it you can only listen to it if you subscribe to Sibel’s site, something that I recommend, as both Sibel and Peter do important work, as I do, without any institutional backing.
This is how Peter described the show:
Since Obama’s May  speech, very little has changed at Guantánamo. British journalist Andy Worthington notes that while two Algerians were released in August, and in early October the Pentagon named its Special Envoy for Guantánamo (and Parwan in Afghanistan), very little else has changed since Obama lamented the hunger strike and blamed Congress. Worthington points out that the president can use an existing waiver process on some or all of the 84 men who have been cleared for release since 2009 — some far longer. We also discuss about 46 men Collins calls “zombies”, who will not be charged or tried but held indefinitely, and the obvious improprieties that have marked the early stages of the trials of Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and 4 co-defendants.
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, and “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, Pamela Lynne Kemp wrote:
As always, that you for your dedication to this issue. As an American and a Christian it is hard for me to witness people being denied the basic justice that I would want for myself.
Very well put, Pamela. I think that’s a key problem with what’s happened over the last 12 years – the refusal to accept that there are such things as human rights, which apply to all human beings.
Willy Bach wrote:
Andy thanks, is there something called political will in the Obama regime?
There is very little of it, Willy, that’s for sure. With regard to Guantanamo, it led to the release of two prisoners in August, but that’s all we’ve seen of it. In many other areas, I’m sure it hasn’t manifested itself in a single action at all.
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.
Email Andy Worthington
Please support Andy Worthington, independent journalist: