Regular readers will know that I returned on Tuesday from an intense and rewarding two-week tour of the US, in which I visited New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles calling for the closure of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The tour was supported by the campaigning group World Can’t Wait (see the report here), and was timed to coincide with the 12th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, marked by a protest in Washington D.C. outside the White House and in the National Museum of American History. Please see here for videos from New York, see here for videos and photos from Washington D.C., see here and here for the radio shows I took part in, and see here for a video of Jason Leopold and I speaking in Anaheim, California on January 16.
As the next step in providing a permanent record of the tour, I’m delighted to make available below the 57-minute video of the panel discussion that took place at Stanford University on Monday January 13, in which I was joined by my friend and colleague Jeff Kaye, a psychologist who has done some groundbreaking and genuinely pioneering work on the Bush administration’s torture program, former Stanford student and journalist Adam Hudson, who recently visited Guantánamo, and Stephanie Tang standing in for World Can’t Wait’s national director Debra Sweet, who missed all the action unfortunately because of an injury she had received in New York just before my arrival in the US.
This was a powerful event, and I’m very glad that it was recorded, as it provided a detailed analysis of Guantánamo past, present and future, as well as providing an overview of the torture program initiated by the Bush administration, which, of course, is inextricably tied in with the existence of Guantánamo, as well as having had its own malevolent life in the CIA’s global network of “black sites,” and living on, albeit in a reduced manner, in the torture techniques still available to US forces, under President Obama, in Appendix M of the Army Field Manual (as Jeff explained in his presentation).
In the panel discussion, Adam gave an overview of the history of Guantánamo as a US outpost, and reported on his visit to the prison, and I ran through the prison’s 12-year history, explained how and why President Obama has failed to close it as he promised, and where the campaign to close it will need to focus in 2014, to build on the progress achieved last year when the prisoners themselves forced the president to promise action by embarking on a prison-wide hunger strike. Jeff, as I mentioned, spoke about torture under Bush and Obama, including an explanation of how Bush’s torture program involved the reverse-engineering of a US military program (the SERE program) used to train US personnel to resist torture if captured by a hostile enemy, and Stephanie provided World Can’t Wait’s perspective.
The event was also attended by other old friends, the author Barry Eisler (who, with Jeff and Stephanie, I met for the first time at “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week, organized by World Can’t Wait in October 2010), Almerindo Ojeda from UC Davis, who runs the Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, which focuses on Guantánamo and torture, and Michael Kearns, a former SERE instructor, who made a kind of mini-presentation during Jeff’s talk. Kearns was appalled to discover, several years ago, that his former colleagues Bruce Jessen, James Mitchell and Roger Aldrich had played a key role in reverse-engineering SERE techniques for the torture of supposed “high-value detainees” seized in the “war on terror.”
I’d like to thank Stanford Says No To War and the Progressive Christians at Stanford for organizing the event (with World Can’t Wait) and, in particular, Eric Sapp of Stanford Says No To War, without whom the event would not have happened. Thanks to On Wide Lens (OWL) and the Community Media Center of Marin (CMCM) for filming and producing this video, which is also available on this page.
I do hope you have time to watch the video, and to share it if you find it useful. Eric introduces the event, followed by Adam, I begin at 13 minutes in, Jeff begins at 29 minutes, and Stephanie at 40 minutes, with Adam summing up at the end.
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.
I’m delighted to report that Jeffrey Kaye, my friend and fellow panelist, has just had an article published on the Guardian’s website, looking at the very issues he was talking about in Stanford: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/25/obama-administration-military-torture-army-field-manual
Willy Bach wrote:
Thanks Andy, I’ll listen and we’ll converse about Oz. Shared.
Thanks, Willy. Yes, I’m feeling much better now. It will be good to talk the week after next. It’s tax return time next week, unfortunately.
This video helps to spread the word and highlight a desperately important cause. The only thing I can add is that it’s worth thinking about how the horrors of this situation are transforming and spreading, increasing in diversity as time passes; giving more power to the unscrupulous. From what I can gather few people have the ability or inclination to view this problem holistically; rather they have myopic and narrow view that’s supportive towards Guantánamo Bay and other secret prisons and so on. We need to take the message of all this to the people where and whenever we can.
Thank you, Peace Activist. It’s very good to hear from you, and to have your considered opinions.
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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