A few days ago, I was delighted to be interviewed by Scott Horton for his radio show. Scott and I first spoke about six and a half years ago, and have spoken numerous times since. Our latest half-hour interview is here, and I hope you have time to listen to it, and to share it if you find it useful.
This time around, Scott was interested in hearing the latest news from Guantánamo, but had also picked up on my recent article highlighting the fact that, on February 7, it was 12 years since President Bush issued a memo explaining that the Geneva Conventions didn’t apply to Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners seized in the “war on terror,” a memo that opened the floodgates to the use of torture.
This only officially came to an end after the Supreme Court reminded the Bush administration, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in June 2006, that all prisoners — with no exceptions — are entitled to the protections of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit “cruel treatment and torture,” and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.” Even then, although the CIA’s torture program came to an end, torture techniques migrated immediately to the Army Field Manual, which was reissued with the addition of Appendix M, containing those techniques.
In addition, it remains important to remember that, although the specific torture program at Guantánamo that Donald Rumsfeld introduced in the fall of 2002 came to an end when lawyers were allowed access to the prisoners , following the Supreme Court’s ruling granting the prisoners habeas corpus rights in Rasul v. Bush in June 2004, the indefinite detention of the prisoners — who have no idea, when, if ever, they will be released — can, I believe, be described as a form of torture in and of itself, one made even worse by the fact that 76 of the 155 men still held were cleared for release by President Obama’s high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force over four years ago, in January 2010, and yet are still held, because of a lack of political will.
While discussing President Bush’s memo of February 7, 2002, I also spoke about Article 5 competent tribunals, another part of the Geneva Conventions that had been pioneered by the US in previous conflicts. The tribunals are meant to take place if there is any doubt about whether or not those detained are combatants, something that happens readily in situations except those where two nations in uniform face each other on a clearly defined battlefield. In the first Gulf War, the US held nearly 1,200 of these tribunals, and in nearly 900 cases — three-quarters of the tribunals in total — found that civilians had been seized by mistake, and sent them home.
Had these competent tribunals taken place after 9/11, it’s clear that the “Mickey Mouse” detainees that Brig. Gen. Michael Dunlavey, an early commander of Guantánamo complained about, would never have been sent there in the first place, but as it is 155 men — most of whom had no connection whatsoever with terrorism — are still held.
There was more in the show, including me talking about the ongoing hunger strike, and the recent victory by three prisoners, including Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, in the court of appeals in Washington D.C., where judges ordered the lower court, the district court, to revisit its rulings in summer that prisoners at Guantánamo are legally prohibited from challenging any aspect of their conditions of detention.
As I mentioned at the top of this article, I hope you have time to listen to the whole show, and to share it if you find it useful.
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.
Great interview, and great write-up Andy! We’d all be in the dark without people like you and Scott fighting the good fight every day.
Thanks, Noah. Great to hear from you. It’s always a pleasure to talk to Scott.
Michael S. Kearns wrote:
Well done mate…
Thanks, Michael. I’m grateful to the radio hosts who talk to me regularly – as well as Scott, that’s Linda Olson-Osterlund in Portland, Michael Slate in LA, Dennis Bernstein in Berkeley, and Peter B. Collins, also in the Bay Area. Archive here: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/category/andy-worthington-tv-and-radio/
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