Radio: Andy Worthington Discusses Shaker Aamer, the Closure of Guantánamo and His Band The Four Fathers with Peter B. Collins

6.10.15

Andy Worthington and Joanne MacInnes of We Stand With Shaker with music legend Roger Waters (ex-Pink Floyd) at the launch of the campaign outside the Houses of Parliament on November 24, 2014 (Photo: Stefano Massimo).Located in the Bay Area of California, near San Francisco, Peter B. Collins is a great progressive radio host, and someone I have known for many years. He has interviewed me about Guantánamo numerous times over the years (see here for our interviews from the last three years), and interviews with him are always particularly satisfying — and for listeners, hopefully, very informative — because he is very knowledgeable and because the shows last for an average of an hour, allowing us time to really delve into the multi-faceted injustices of Guantánamo and the “war on terror.”

On this occasion, Peter wanted to speak to me on the back of the news that Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, is to be freed after nearly 14 years in US custody without charge or trial, despite the fact that he was approved for release under President Bush in 2007, and under President Obama in 2009, by a high-level, inter-agency review process.

Peter generously acknowledged the role played in this long-overdue development by the We Stand With Shaker campaign that I launched with the activist Joanne MacInnes last November, which has involved celebrities and MPs standing with a giant inflatable figure of Shaker, and he also promoted my band The Four Fathers and our ‘Song for Shaker Aamer‘, which was used in the We Stand With Shaker campaign video, and which I made available as a download last week — also making available our album ‘Love and War,’ which features the song, as a download or on CD.

Peter and I also talked about the fact that Shaker’s release, when it comes — hopefully no more than 30 days after the announcement ten days ago — will still leave 113 other men at Guantánamo, 52 of whom have, like Shaker, been approved for release, and how most of the other prisoners will never be put on trial, and must either be released — something that the latest review process, the Periodic Review Boards, are currently addressing — or moved to the US mainland if President Obama is finally to fulfill the promise to close Guantánamo that he made on his second day in office back in January 2009.

I do recommend the whole show if Guantánamo, and Shaker Aamer’s case, is of interest to you. You will need a day pass — at a cost of just $1 — to listen to it, or you can also support Peter for $5, $10 or more a month, or $50 for a year. The show will be free to listen to in a fortnight, and I’ll try to make sure I publicize it, but $1 really isn’t much to pay to support Peter’s very worthwhile broadcasting.

This is how Peter described the show on his website, where a short free preview clip is available:

British journalist Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, returns to talk about the announcement of the release of Shaker Aamer, the last Brit held at Guantánamo, the result of a creative activist campaign led by Worthington.

The news that President Obama called British Prime Minister Cameron on September 24 to notify him that Shaker Aamer will be released after 13 years in Guantánamo is a major achievement with Worthington and many Britons who joined the effort to win his freedom.  Using a gimmick — a large, inflatable Shaker figure in an orange jumpsuit — and the support of pop stars like Roger Waters, Sting and Peter Gabriel, the group was tireless in drawing attention to the case.

While savoring the moment, Worthington is appropriately guarded, waiting to see Shaker actually returned to England. And he remains concerned about the slow process of releasing cleared prisoners and Obama’s goal of closing Gitmo before he leaves office.

In this wide-ranging conversation, we talk about the process for reviewing and releasing prisoners, and the many obstacles, mostly political. We agree that Obama must show stronger leadership, that at most about two dozen inmates, who have been charged or will be charged, should be transferred to military prisons in the US. Thorny issues remain regarding about 40 Yemenis who have been cleared for release and 25-30 men who are told they will be held indefinitely without charge or trial.

We open the podcast with part of a song by Andy’s group, The Four Fathers.  You can check out their tunes here, and any downloads will support Worthington’s work, with 25% of proceeds from “Song for Shaker” going to the Aamer family.

Note: While looking for an image to accompany this article, I stumbled across a video of me calling for Shaker’s release outside 10 Downing Street on February 14 this year, taken by Vivienne Westwood and posted on YouTube, which I hope is of interest:

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp — also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign, the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — 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 six-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, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

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Andy Worthington

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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