Please sign the petition, on the Care 2 Petition Site, calling for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison.
In September 2013, a team from CBS News’ “60 Minutes” show traveled to Guantánamo, producing a 13-minute show, “Life at Gitmo,” broadcast on November 17, which was most notable for featuring the voice of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, who shouted out while the presenter, Lesley Stahl, and her guide, Col. John Bogdan, the prison’s warden, were walking though one of the cell blocks.
Shaker shouted out, “Tell the world the truth. Please, we are tired. Either you leave us to die in peace — or either tell the world the truth. Open up the place. Let the world come and visit. Let the world hear what’s happening. Please colonel, act with us like a human being, not like slaves.”
He added, “You cannot walk even half a meter without being chained. Is that a human being? That’s the treatment of an animal. It is very sad what is happening in this place.”
The video is below, via YouTube, and the segment featuring Shaker begins about three minutes in:
Following Shaker’s cry for help, the CBS team at least bothered to investigate his story, discovering that he is one of 84 of the remaining 164 prisoners who were cleared for release by a high-level, inter-agency task force that President Obama established soon after taking office in 2009, and also that he was cleared for release by a military review board under President Bush. Lesley Stahl noted in the broadcast that, earlier this year, the British Prime Minister David Cameron had raised his case with President Obama at a G8 summit, and also noted that the British government had repeatedly called for his return to the UK.
She evidently found it troubling that he was still held, as the following exchange with Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the London-based legal action charity Reprieve, and one of Shaker Aamer’s lawyers, shows:
Lesley Stahl: I’m trying to understand how a prisoner who’s been cleared to leave twice, with an appeal from a Prime Minister of a friendly country, and he’s still sitting there — I’m just trying to figure out why he’s still there.
Clive Stafford Smith: I think it is a fascinating question and I would love a little more transparency.
Lesley Stahl: What’s the official explanation?
Clive Stafford Smith: I wish someone official would give me an explanation and they won’t. No one will say why they won’t let him go.
Stafford Smith also told her, “What I have said and what Shaker has said for years is that if you have got an allegations against him, put up or shut up,” and, when asked about what would happen if he were to be returned to the UK — if he would be locked up again, monitored, or a free man — Stafford Smith said, “Shaker has agreed to whatever conditions the British government want to put on him, because he has nothing to hide.”
Lies and distortions in CBS’s coverage of Guantánamo
It was powerful to hear Shaker’s voice, and his anguish, although unfortunately the rest of the show was a profound disappointment. The lies and distortions began early on. Lesley Stahl mentioned how there were men held who couldn’t be tried because, as she put it, “The evidence against them is weak or inadmissible, in some cases because it was obtained through quote ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.'”
Not mentioning that “enhanced interrogation” is a euphemism for torture — which would make statements inadmissible, and those who extracted them liable for prosecution — was one problem with this statement, but another was Stahl’s refusal to ask what other factors might contribute to information being “weak or inadmissible.” In the case of Guantánamo, this is because a shocking amount of the information masquerading as evidence consists of unreliable statements made by the prisoners, incriminating themselves or more often incriminating their fellow prisoners, and if these profoundly untrustworthy statements were not produced through the use of torture, they were often produced through other forms of coercion, or through bribing prisoners with better living conditions or in exchange for medical treatment.
Lesley Stahl was taken by Col. Bogdan to Echo Block, where prisoners are held in isolation, and where they responded to her arrival with Col. Bogdan by creating a huge noise, hammering against the doors of their cells. She was told, and repeated the claim, that this was “where detainees who’ve attacked guards are held,” but what was not mentioned was that prisoners held here are also those regarded as being influential — in other words, those like Shaker Aamer, who has been held in Echo Block, who are both articulate and furious about their ongoing imprisonment, and capable of stirring up other prisoners to take action to demand justice.
Discussing Col. Bogdan, Lesley Stahl failed to challenge him significantly on his role as the spur for the prison-wide hunger strike that began in February and raged for seven months. She acknowledged that it had involved him “cracking down,” as she put it, following his appointment last year, and searching cells for contraband, but she never questioned why such a search was deemed necessary in one of the most secure prison environments on earth, or asked him about how abusing prisoners’ Korans triggered the hunger strike. When she asked him what the reasons were for the hunger strike, his only reply was that “their primary complaint was to leave Gitmo,” which is partly truthful, but ignores his role and downplays that what they want, after nearly 12 years, is to be set free or charged and tried; in other words, what they are calling for is justice.
Stahl also mentioned that there had been force-feeding during the hunger strike, but failed to explain how medical professionals condemn it as a profoundly abusive process that should not be undertaken.
She also gave Col. Bogdan far too much time, unchallenged, to defend his own actions. Explaining why he had allowed her access to Echo Block, he said — as she put it — that “everything he’s done he’s done to protect the guards, and he wanted to show us what they’re up against.” Also allowed to pass unchallenged was his claim that PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) at Guantánamo is twice what it is on the battlefield, which, frankly, sounds implausible, and, if true, suggests only that this is what happens when guards are told, as they have been since the prison opened, that the men held there are “the worst of the worst,” when almost all of them are no such thing. It says nothing for the morale of America’s soldiers, if, in such a secure environment (for the soldiers), they are ending up with PTSD.
Towards the end of the program, Stahl delivered the following statement: “Everybody is trapped — the guards, the prisoners, and even President Obama, who says Guantánamo Bay has become so notorious it has quote ‘likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.'” This overlooked President Obama’s own failure to challenge Congress when lawmakers imposed restrictions on the release of prisoners, which have meant that, for the last three years, almost no one has been freed from Guantánamo.
Unfortunately, Stahl followed on from the above by claiming that President Obama “can’t ignore the fact that, of the 606 prisoners already released, 100 have gone on to commit acts of terror.” That is a completely unacceptable claim, taken at face value from profoundly unreliable statements made since 2009 by the DoD and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, even though those claims have never been backed up with evidence. As the New America Foundation has demonstrated, a more realistic figure for those who have engaged — or tried to engage — militarily or through terrorism against the US following their release is 8 percent of the total number of released prisoners; in other words, 48 men in total.
When talking to Clive Stafford Smith, Lesley Stahl told him, “Col. Bogdan says that these are men who are taken off the battlefield so that they will stop committing the acts of terrorism that they are accused of, are believed to have done. This is where they’re taken until the war is over.”
Stafford Smith responded by asking how long the US authorities thought it was plausible for their “war” to continue, when the First World War only lasted four years, and the Second World War only lasted for six. However, Stahl — and Col. Bogdan — managed to evade the massive contradiction inherent in her line of questioning, involving “terrorists” being seized on “battlefields,” when it is soldiers who are seized on battlefields, to be held in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, while terrorists — sometimes on battlefields, but generally not — should be prosecuted in federal courts, as all other terror suspects have been for the last 12 years.
When Stahl was outside Shaker Aamer’s cell, and Shaker was calling out, “Let the world hear what’s happening,” Stahl asked Col. Bogdan, “Do you feel any sympathy for his situation?” Again unchallenged, Bogdan delivered a monstrous piece of “war on terror” rhetoric that should not have been allowed to pass without comment. “To be locked up or detained for 10 years, or 11 years,” he said, “sure, I’m sympathetic to that, but at the same time these men are enemies of us, just as we are enemies to them.”
When 84 of the remaining 164 prisoners have been cleared for release by the president’s own task force, because they are not regarded as posing a threat to the US to warrant their continued detention, that’s a monstrously unacceptable position, but it is typical of this generally ill-informed show that Col. Bodgan wasn’t even challenged.
Note: For a transcript of the “60 Minutes” show, see here.
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, Aisha Aijaz wrote:
Yes, it’s very powerful, and very sad, Aisha. I do hope people watch it – and also take note of my criticisms of the generally skewed coverage. This is how the status quo remains in place, however cruel, messed-up, illegal and lawless it is, because the people who should be asking the tough questions don’t even appear to be able to formulate those questions in the first place.
Asif Rana wrote:
This is unbelieveable Andy. I have watched it through completely and read your critique. I still think it’s stunning. Yes, undoubtedly access was granted due to all of the bad publicity and yes, she does say how everything was censored, but she gets in some very good points too:
How the guards are also trapped, how much it costs, how Obama wants it closed, but cannot, the interview with Clive SS, and so on.
My perspective is that Americans are almost kept fully in the dark about the whole thing and are in complete denial, like that idiot, Jon Ogden, I think it was? Who commented on one of your posts the other day? I wonder what he would have to say about it?
This, on a very high profile show too. We need to get Jon Stewart talking about it more, no? You should try and get on his show. Overall, I view it as a positive.
There were a few good points, Asif – primarily, I thought, when Lesley Stahl obviously couldn’t understand why Shaker was still held, but I worry about the lingering effects of her allowing Bogden to say that “these men are enemies of us, just as we are enemies to them,” discounting the fact that 84 men have been cleared for release, and, particularly, Stahl’s reference to 100 released prisoners who “have gone on to commit acts of terror.” That’s probably the lie that will have the most resonance for casual US viewers. I just think we need much, much better coverage than this. Sadly, Jon Stewart never returned my call. Just kidding. I thought he was great when Bush and Cheney were running things, but since then he’s welcomed all the torturers on his show to promote their books, which, frankly, is about as uncool as it gets.
“everything [cruel, degrading, lawless] he’s done he’s done to protect the guards …”
So solitary confinement etc are applied to protect the poor guards against the violent prisoners. Well, apart from the rhetorical question whether the prisoners are in a position to harm anyone but themselves, the answer to this terrible dilemma is simple, Col Bogdan: Close Guantanamo, and you won’t have to worry about your poor staff’s security anymore …
Alternatively, lock the guards up in the solitary cells (for their own protection, of course) and let the prisoners roam free. It would no doubt be much more quiet this way.
I like your last proposal, Anna!
It is shameful, though, isn’t it, Col. Bogdan’s incredibly narrow view of what Guantanamo’s all about?
A contrast to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Breasseale, who, in comments made after Esperanza Spalding’s video was released, said, “To be completely clear: We agree with the President. The facility is wildly expensive, it lessens cooperation with our allies, and keeping it open is outside of America’s best interests as it serves as a continued recruiting tool for extremists.”
Asif Rana wrote:
To my eyes Bogdan looked like a complete idiot. They know that they’re wrong but just cannot admit it.
How stupid did he sound by saying that the rates of PTSD there were twice that of soldiers in the field? HOW? That just screamed out to me, if there is any truth to those numbers it’s because they know the wrong that they are participating in.
As I said, my expectation was zero, quite frankly. However, by 60 Minutes focussing on other reasons to close the place, as opposed to the obvious one of being completely illegal and immoral, may be the only way to get any progress.
Then, in 25 years time, they will start to admit how wrong it all was.
Asif Rana wrote:
I haven’t watched the Daily Show in ages, after some jokes Stewart made about Muslims that I thought were inappropriate to a US tv audience and not really balanced. However, I saw his guide to Islamophobia on YouTube and his arguments against Fox and thought he may be trying to redeem himself.
If you can get yourself on there, just be the tv whore that everyone else on there is. Your supporters will know why you’re doing it. Thanks for this piece and for all of your work. Sorry I didn’t meet you at the last Wednesday demo I went to.
You’re probably right, Asif, about Bogdan. The PTSD comment only makes sense if you believe the lies about everyone being “the worst of the worst.” As for getting on Jon Stewart’s show, perhaps the fact that I’m not interested in playing those kind of games is part of the reason that I’m not moving in the kind of circles that get you on those kind of shows!
Thanks for the supportive words about my work. Perhaps you can make it to Battersea for the day of protest for Shaker on Saturday: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2013/11/08/andy-worthington-attends-amnesty-film-screening-about-guantanamo-in-canterbury-and-a-day-for-shaker-aamer-in-battersea-nov-13-and-23/
Neil Goodwin wrote:
CBS – convincing BS.. to stupid Americans
Thanks for that, Neil. After watching it several times, just to make sure I’d taken it all in, I was fuming. Such care taken to not come out and scream “injustice!” or even allow people to come away with that opinion unless they were already well informed about what’s going on.
Oh, and Neil, any chance you can come along on Saturday? It would be great to finally welcome you back to these shores …
Carol Brown wrote:
Barry Mills & I watched it. Very sad – but maybe the publicity will help. Let’s hope so.
Thanks, Carol. Great to hear from you, and I’m glad you and Barry were able to watch it. I suppose, on balance, it has the power to educate a few people – particularly the section on Shaker, I thought.
Emily Clement wrote:
so its the guard families enjoying the nice new homes and the mcdonalds
reward for killing the afghans
we’re all one dont ya know
Oh yes, Emily. The prisoners are either in total lockdown 22/23 hours a day or allowed some communal time if they’re very well behaved. It’s a dangerous farce. it looks like a prison, but no one’s had a trial.
Emily Clement wrote:
i dont have any wealthy friends but i could grease a few hands and have them all out
If you have that kind of influence, Emily, then please go ahead! Unfortunately, big business is usually in charge, and they make their money out of war and greed and exploitation and injustice, and not out of doing the right thing.
Jehan Hakim wrote:
I heard and watched on 60 minutes
I understand your feeling of helplessness, Jehan, but these kinds of injustices take many long years to correct, so we have to keep pushing, and stick together. We have justice on our side. Ordinary people are showing, little by little, that they understand that something is wrong when men are held forever without being charged or tried, and 84 men are cleared for release but aren’t released because it’s become politically inconvenient for them to be freed. That’s not right, and people can see that when they’re given the facts.
Jehan Hakim wrote:
People have been conditioned into believing that our “democracy” is a just one. So this type of cruel and unusual treatment is foreign..unAmerican. Anyone I talk to about Gitmo doesn’t believe it! Then I refer him to people like u Andy.
Thanks, Jehan. It is the problem with exceptionalism and America’s self-regard – something that Britain used to have, and that still lingers on here. There are great things about our countries, but shutting our eyes to the brutality of our ruling elites and our long histories of oppression is not one of them!
As for the whole piece, it’s clearly a question of very manipulative editing. Whether that was the responsibility of Ms Stahl or someone else is hard to tell. I would bet for instance that Clive gave more of an answer to the 100 recidivists’ claim, but his answer was cut off in such a way, as to suggest that he basically agrees!!!
I agree that there are several such moments, which make our blood curl.
This certainly includes the false claim that Shaker was some friend of BinLaden’s, while he had gone to Afghanistan with his -pregnant- wife and small children, in order to ‘talk some sense’ to the Taliban regime, as they would probably be more receptive to constructive advice from well educated, pious muslims who are well acquainted with our mentality, than from aggressive politicians without the foggiest idea of the muslim culture they’re addressing,isolating them even more. He felt this to be his duty as an educated muslim and I think that was a very sensible, intelligent and truly humanitarian attitude. After 10 years of development work in Afghanistan, I think I am entitled to such a judgement.
However, the film did bring his case to the general attention in an unexpected and very strong way. He’s not just a name anymore. Even we, all of us who have him in our heart since so many years, have heard his voice and we’ll never be able to forget it.
It will motivate us even more to fight and what a victory for him to literally have made himself heard! Now let’s just pray he won’t be punished even harsher than before and let’s hope that this mainstream media attention will provide him with some measure of protection. What an exceptional personality, what a father to be proud of, in spite of all the suffering!
Yes, you’re right, Anna, Shaker’s voice is very powerful and we won’t be able to forget it.
I don’t believe the authorities can do more to Shaker than they’ve done already. His resilience is extraordinary.
As for the rest, I agree. Very selective editing, so that Clive wasn’t seen responding to much of what was said, and Bogdan was given far too much time.
And you are certainly entitled to your opinion abut Afghanistan. Very well put!
Emily Clement wrote:
honestly the duality will always need a victim
Yes, Emily, that’s a good point. It’s alarming, I think, how Manichean notions of good and evil are so prominent in US politics – and it was profoundly disturbing here in the UK to find out that this was Tony Blair’s view of the world, when he gave George W. Bush the credibility he needed for the illegal invasion of Iraq.
Jehan Hakim wrote:
Power and greed lead to many atrocities..
Similarly, Jehan, yes, greed and a lust for power are no basis for trusting anyone. I wonder why so many people are dazzled by psychopathic or sociopathic monsters masquerading as men – or women – of the people, when their obsession with power should preclude them from being allowed to hold high office.
Dave Reed wrote:
That lingering sense of exceptionalism is too often accompanied by blindness to the truth of our own crimes and injustices.
Someone really interested in exceptionalism would explore our faults and work tirelessly to improve.
That’s a good basis for new political movements, Dave – to thoroughly challenge and deconstruct the ills brought about by clinging to notions of exceptionalism.
Channel 5 News has a short news item featuring Shaker’s voice, excerpted from the CBS show, here on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WNRWhGOMd4
Just beware of the published news item, posted to promote it, which gratuitously includes in its title the unjustified claim that Shaker is “accused of links to Osama bin Laden.” As someone called Kate noted in the comments, “The first sentence of your report is totally prejudicial and misleading. Shaker Aamer is NOT ‘accused by America of links to Osama bin Laden.’ No charges have been made against him, there is no evidence against him and he has twice been cleared for release. Why not say that instead of damning him by association with the name Bin Laden at the very first sentence of your report.”
The Channel 5 video writes something to the effect that “the forwarder did not make this film available in your country.”, whoever that ‘forwarder’ or ‘sender’ may be, Channel 5 or an intermediary. Wonder whether other European countries face the same problem?
I imagine that it’s only available in the UK, Anna. I hadn’t realised that there would be territorial issues, but now I think about it there have been other issues like this in recent months – US videos not available in the UK, for example.
Neil Goodwin wrote:
hi Andy, what is happening on Saturday?
Neil, it’s a day for Shaker Aamer. See the details here: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2013/11/08/andy-worthington-attends-amnesty-film-screening-about-guantanamo-in-canterbury-and-a-day-for-shaker-aamer-in-battersea-nov-13-and-23/
I’ll be there at 2pm, speaking sometime after that, and sticking around for a few hours. There’ll be lots of great people there!
Asif Rana wrote:
Hi Andy. You know best mate, I trust you completely. Really appreciate your tenacity, hard work, and cool headedness about all this. I am in town with family on Saturday, on a long standing engagement. If we can divert to Battersea, even for a while, then we will do so.
On this matter I feel the piece highlights a cognitive dissonance on the part of the US. I feel that they would almost welcome being given a way out of this, they are that uncomfortable with the situation. For them to resolve this would mean admitting they were wrong about all this. And there I was thinking that only when dealing with people from the Far East was face saving a negotiation requirement.
They tell themselves at every opportunity how great they are, so they cannot possibly admit to being wrong about something so high profile and important. It would have too much impact on their psyche.
Thanks again, Asif, for the wonderfully supportive comments. I believe you are absolutely correct about how the US authorities “cannot possibly admit to being wrong about something so high profile and important.” It’s definitely what motivates some key people, whether they admit it or not.
Hope to see you on Saturday!
Idrees Amin Shah wrote:
Tell shaker world knows the truth..but world has become full of humans without hearts..tell him world has humans with eyes but they don’t see..tell him world has listened to ur shouts…thr r humans with ears…but they cant listen…they listen to their wishes…dreaming abt peacfull world..but lying to their ownselvs…claiming to peace negotiators…but creating fuss …liers…
Hez nt alone ..
I share his pain…
Thanks, Idrees. I share his pain too, as do thousands of others. But millions of people are forgetting everything but themselves.
There’s a piece of our souls gone down to gitmo
Been detained by us holding some regular Joes
Who’ve done nothing wrong, harmed no one
We pervert justice and make a big show
To ‘frighten the bad guys’, and make fear grow
Cause the seeds of true freedom and peace
Greed don’t sow
Nice one, Chris. Thanks for that.
David Nicholl wrote:
If going to save Shaker rally tomorrow, buy the Guardian, memorise last sentence of my letter, SHOUT IT out when I ask you…. Spread the word!!!
OK, David. I shall have a look for your letter in the Guardian tomorrow and memorise your line! Looking forward to it!
David Nicholl wrote:
Letter is out, 272 words, ie same length as Gettysburg address
Excellent, David! Thanks for that. You letter is great. There’s also another worthwhile letter from Joy Hurcombe, chair of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign.
Angela Gipple wrote:
Why are people still paying attention to mainstream media? Haven’t they figured it out yet?
Good question, Angela. Old habits die hard, people are lazy or gullible, I suppose. It used to be that the mainstream media had a monopoly on telling people the news. Those involved liked to pride themselves on having a certain authority because they were qualified journalists. All of this was never more than a half-truth, of course, but I think there’s generally less rigorous questioning of the establishment these days as well, partly as part of the post-9/11 world, partly because of corporate control, and partly because the mainstream media no longer contains enough people who question everything they’re told.
When Susan Hall shared this on Facebook, she wrote:
Will you close your eyes to horrific harm done to those for the sake of the rich and famous and done by the powerful US; the North American Indians had the Trail of Tears for the purpose of expansion, railroads, and general control, now the US with big oil and big drugs (around 90% of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan) have kept people in Guantanamo for over a decade because they are in the way and can be used as propaganda as the US did with the whole idea of “savages.” Those who refuse fair FAST trials – not a decade later – are those who perpetuate injustice. US release the British uncharged father, Shaker Aamer. I have not put on blinders and I see.
Hope all is well with you, Susan – apart from the oceans on injustice we still endure, of course. Thanks for sharing this. I like your introduction!
When Pauline Kiernan shared this on Facebook, I wrote:
Thanks for sharing, Pauline. Great to hear from you. I am speaking at the day for Shaker Aamer in Battersea today, where, I’m sure, there will be powerful indignation about this endless, grinding injustice. I just saw, on the Save Shaker page, that Shaker has received a letter from William Hague, which pleased him, but what is British politicians’ excuse for not demanding – and securing – his immediate return to his family in the UK? It is very hard – if not close to impossible – to avoid the conclusion that they are not actually very concerned about Shaker.
Here’s the letter written by Dr. David Nicholl, longtime campaigner against Guantanamo, published in today’s Guardian:
Over the past eight years, I have used every legitimate method, including a five-day hunger strike, to highlight the abuses and torture Shaker Aamer has faced. Organisations from Amnesty to the Vatican have labelled Guantánamo a disgrace – yet all politicians lack the ability to close it. There are many difficult areas in politics, but surely releasing a man you have cleared for transfer, Mr Obama, has to be one of the easier ones?
This week also marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, delivered by Barack Obama’s hero, Abraham Lincoln. Mr Obama should reread Lincoln’s words: “A new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” These fine words which heralded the beginning of America’s long road to deal with its slave past are especially poignant for a man like Shaker, held as a 21st-century slave. Lincoln was a true leader who brought his country from being a slave state to an abolitionist one.
The question is whether Obama has Lincoln’s courage to lead his country to do the right thing. Sadly in the over six months since his most recent announcement to speed up prison transfers, we have seen precious little action by the president on this matter. That is why I, along with others, will march and rally today to call for Shaker’s immediate release to his family in south London. Yes, you can, Mr Obama. Yes, you can release Shaker.
Here’s a photo of me speaking at the day for Shaker in Battersea on November 23: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152119319143804&set=a.10150687732288804.452718.738143803&type=1
I also wrote the following commentary:
Via my friend Brigid-mary Oates, this is me speaking yesterday in Battersea at the day of action for Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantanamo, organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign. Thanks to everyone involved in organising the march and rally for Shaker – and of course to everyone who found the time to turn up. Due to family obligations, I couldn’t get there until 3.30, so I missed seeing the majority of the speakers, unfortunately, but there was still a good crowd by the time I got to speak, and I had the opportunity to talk to lots of people afterwards.
Nevertheless, I am disappointed that, as usual, the mainstream media failed to pay attention to the event, as though the imprisonment without charge or trial for 12 years of a British resident, who has twice been cleared for release by representatives of the US government, isn’t worthy of discussion.
When I spoke, I was unable to disguise my frustration that Shaker is still held when the UK claims it wants him back and has been trying to secure his return, and the US has stated it no longer wants to hold him. How are we meant to accept that he is still held, when he could be put on the first plane home tomorrow morning?
Muhammad Imran wrote:
Hey Andy i appreciate your struggle, Also raise voice for the drone attack victims.May Allah give u the reward.Aameen
Thanks, Muhammad. I am of course profoundly troubled by the drone attacks, and their many victims, but I generally leave it to others to cover that story, as there are many very capable people writing and campaigning against it.
Muhammad Imran wrote:
Margaret Heller wrote:
Wow, that exchange above was awesome. Clean, neat, to the point and right on.
Thanks again, Muhammad, and thanks, Margaret. Good to hear from you.
Rafael Shimunov wrote:
You never do stop, this time of year everyone should visit your website and donate to keep you going
Thank you, Rafael, for the supportive words. I’ll be having a fundraiser in two weeks, but of course there’s nothing to stop anyone who supports my work from donating at any time!
Or click on the “Donate” button on the top right of this page – and every page – on this website!
Willy Bach wrote:
Good to see that this event was well supported. Andy, I agree – I think the British mainstream media has some explaining to do. Why have they been so silent and compliant about Shaker Aamer’s unconscionable internment? They can’t say they don’t know about it.
Exactly, Willy. The Guardian and the Independent have covered it, of course, and David Rose, who moved to the Daily Mail, has taken advantage of that generally racist and xenophobic paper’s more general opposition to torture to write about it there, but the broadcast media has been less involved. Overall, I believe, the mainstream media that is not explicitly right-wing fails us permanently on issues of grave importance, treating everything like a dinner party topic, and not wanting to upset people too much. To paraphrase a popular expression, “If you’re not upset, you’re not paying attention.”
Brigid-mary Oates wrote:
Wonderful day. .. I came back up north with a feeling of solidarity and renewed sense of motivation x thank you Andy Worthington and everyone
Thanks, Brigid-mary. Let me know if you can think of any opportunity for an event up north about Shaker and Guantanamo. I would be happy to come and talk.
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.
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