This Friday (January 8), I’m flying from London to Miami for a short US tour to coincide with the 14th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay on January 11. I’ll be flying up to Washington, D.C. on the 10th, protesting outside the White House on the 11th, and moving on to New York City on the 13th, where I have an event lined up in Harlem on the 14th, and where I will be staying until the 18th.
I’m traveling as an expert on Guantánamo, with nearly ten years of experience as a researcher, writer, campaigner and public speaker about the prison and the men held there, the author of The Guantánamo Files, the co-director of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” and the co-founder and co-director of two campaigns: Close Guantanamo and We Stand With Shaker. I’m also hoping to return to the US later in the year with a new book, collection the nest of my writing about Guantánamo over the last eight years, and if you’re a publisher, or have funding ideas, or would like to stage an event for me as part of a tour when the book is published, then please get in touch.
Please also get in touch if you want to contact me on my forthcoming tour, either to interview me (for TV, radio or online) or to arrange a last-minute event. You can also contact Debra Sweet, the national director of the World Can’t Wait, who, as in previous years, is organizing my visit. And while I’m in New York, I’ll have a guitar, and will be delighted to play some of my political songs, including “Song for Shaker Aamer” and “81 Million Dollars,” about the US torture program, which I normally play with my band The Four Fathers. If any musician would like to play with me, do get in touch.
This will be my sixth year of visiting the US on the anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, and I hope it will be my last, although I’m not holding my breath for that. President Obama has made progress in recent years towards fulfilling his promise — made on his second day in office in January 2009 — to close Guantánamo, but that promise was to close the prison within a year, and it’s now seven years later, and the wretched place is still open. See the archives for my previous visits — in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
We have been hearing lately that, of the 107 men still held, 17 will be released around the anniversary, which is very good news, of course, but it will still leave 31 men approved for release but still held — many since January 2010, when the high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force that Obama established shortly after taking office issued its final report. I should not need to add that it is, of course, completely unacceptable for anyone to be held, year after year, despite being told that the US no longer wants to hold them.
Just ten men are facing — or have faced — trials (and I should pause to allow the significance of that small number to sink in), while 49 others are awaiting reviews — or the result of reviews — to ascertain whether they too should be approved for release. The task force originally described these men as too dangerous to release, while conceding that there was a lack of evidence against them, or recommended them for prosecutions, but the basis for prosecutions has been collapsing for years, and the alleged dangerousness of these men has been eroded as the reviews have proceeded. Although the process has been far too slow, of 18 cases so far decided, 15 have resulted in the men in question being approved for release. This is an 83% success rate, and a thorough debunking of the hyperbolic description of them as too dangerous to release.
President Obama needs to speed up the process of releasing prisoners, and the process of reviewing those not already approved for release or facing trials, but he will still face a struggle with Congress, where a number of Republicans, in particular, have made it their malignant mission to keep Guantánamo open. They claim this is because of national security concerns, but the real reason is that they like having somewhere they can hold people indefinitely without charge or trial, flouting their nation’s claim to respect the rule of law, and every day they get to maintain their dark wishes is another day that America’s self-regard is clouded by a deep and corrosive injustice.
In a recent article on the World Can’t Wait website, Debra Sweet wrote of my visit, “The week of January 9 we are bringing British journalist Andy Worthington to the US as part of protesting Guantánamo. Many of us have relied on Andy’s relentless, detailed reporting on Guantánamo and the individuals who the US government would like to disappear forever. Andy doesn’t simply report ‘objectively’ but also campaigns for justice for these men, playing a key role in mobilizing people in the UK to bring British resident and Guantánamo detainee Shaker Aamer home this fall.”
I should add that you will need to watch this space for specific news about my visit, Shaker Aamer and the anniversary of the prison’s opening.
Below is my itinerary, and if you’re in Miami, Washington DC or New York City, or are coming to the capital for the January 11 protest, then I hope to meet you. Let’s make 2016 the year that we get Guantánamo closed! — and if you haven’t already joined the Close Guantánamo campaign that I established four years ago with the US attorney Tom Wilner, then please do so now. Just an email address is required to be counted as an opponent of Guantánamo and to receive two email newsletters every month.
Please note that all the events are free.
Saturday January 9, 2016, 2-4pm: Miami Protest to Shut Down Guantánamo Bay, US Southern Command HQ
March starts at NW 36th St & NW 87th Ave, Doral and ends at US Southern Command, 9301 NW 33rd St, Doral
Speakers include Andy Worthington, Debra Sweet and Medea Benjamin of Code Pink.
Organized by People’s Opposition to War, Imperialism, and Racism with sponsors including Code Pink, Black Lives Matter and the National Lawyers Guild, and endorsers including the World Can’t Wait and SOA Watch.
See the Facebook page.
Sunday January 10, 2016, 5-7pm: Visions of Homecoming: Close Guantánamo!
Impact Hub DC, 419 7th Street NW, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20004
With The Peace Poets, Witness Against Torture, Code Pink, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Andy Worthington.
New York-based spoken word artists and educators The Peace Poets perform, Witness Against Torture and Code Pink activists discuss their recent trip to Guantánamo, lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights discuss their clients in Guantánamo, and Andy Worthington discusses the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign, which contributed to the release in October of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison.
Organized by Witness Against Torture, Code Pink, the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms and The Peace Poets.
See the Facebook page. Please also see this Facebook page for information about Witness Against Torture’s 11-day fast for justice in Washington, D.C.
Monday January 11, 2016, 12 noon: Close Guantánamo NOW! Annual J11 Protest
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20500
Speakers include Andy Worthington and representatives of all the organizations involved in the protest.
Organized by Amnesty International USA, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Defending Dissent Foundation, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Close Guantánamo, Code Pink, the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, Witness Against Torture and the World Can’t Wait.
See the Facebook page. The rally will be followed by a march to a location to be identified on the day.
Monday January 11, 2016, 3-4.45pm: Guantánamo Bay – Year 14
New America, 740 15th St., N.W., Suite 900, Washington, D.C. 20005
With Andy Worthington, Karen Greenberg and Tom Wilner. Moderated by Peter Bergen.
Andy Worthington is joined by attorney Tom Wilner, with whom he co-founded the Close Guantánamo campaign in January 2012, to discuss “what can or can’t be done in the next year, and whether President Obama’s promise [to close Guantánamo] will ever be fulfilled,” with Karen Greenberg, Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University and author of The Least Worst Place: Guantánamo’s First 100 Days. Tom Wilner, a lawyer with Shearman & Sterling LLP, was the Counsel of Record to Guantánamo prisoners in the two US Supreme Court decisions that established their right to habeas corpus and in the case that established their right to counsel. Peter Bergen is the Director of the International Security, Future of War, and Fellows Programs at New America.
Join the conversation online using the hashtag #GTMO14th and following @NatSecNAF on Twitter.
Map and Directions here. You can RSVP here.
Please also note that, from 4-6pm, many of the groups at the White House protest will be seeking to educate their fellow citizens with an action at Union Station.
Thursday January 14, 2016, 7pm: Andy Worthington on the Successful Struggle to Free Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo
Revolution Books, 437 Malcolm X Blvd, Harlem, New York, NY 10037
With Andy Worthington.
At Revolution Books’ new store in Harlem, Andy Worthington will be discussing the We Stand With Shaker campaign, which he established in November 2014 with the activist Joanne MacInnes, to campaign for the release of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, who was freed in October 2015. The campaign attracted over a hundred celebrity and MP supporters, who stood and were photographed with a giant inflatable figure of Shaker that was at the heart of the campaign. Many of the supporters signed an open letter to President Obama that Andy wrote, which was published in the Guardian on July 4.
See the Facebook page.
Andy will also be attending a State of the Union protest at 1.30pm on Tuesday January 12, on the east side of The Capitol, across from the Supreme Court, organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, with the support of the World Can’t Wait, Witness Against Torture, Know Drones and other groups, to give an alternative State of the Union message and petition to President Obama and the US Congress on the day that President Obama makes his State of the Union speech. See the Facebook page.
Please note that there are also events in Huntington Beach, CA and Mexico City on January 10, and in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago on January 11. There is also a protest in London on January 11.
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, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), 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.
When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:
Here’s my itinerary for my imminent US visit, from Jan. 8-18, to call for the closure of Guantanamo on the 14th anniversary of the prison’s opening. I’ll be in Miami, Washington, D.C. and New York – inc. the annual protest outside the White House on the 11th, and at New America later that day with Tom Wilner (my Close Guantanamo colleague) and Karen Greenberg. If you’re around, I hope to see you, and if you want to interview me, organize an event, or even play music with me, then please get in touch!
Javier Rodriguez wrote:
Sounds like a great trip to raise awareness! Enjoy! Hope your trip is successful. Looks like Obama is fired up to take on the Republicans at the moment and push though some initiatives he believes in with executive orders…….. Hopefully Guantanamo is also high on his list.
Yes, I hope you’re right about Obama being fired up, Javier. it’s certainly now or never this year for him to sort out his legacy, which very much includes Guantanamo!
Ward Reilly wrote:
Good to see the Veterans For Peace support.
Yes, but I haven’t seen them there for many years, Ward. That photo is from five years ago. Not sure what happened.
Thanks to everyone liking and sharing this. I am looking forward to catching up with many existing friends – the best the US has to offer! – and making new friends on this tour!
Pam Arnold wrote:
‘…far far from home’…good luck Andy, and take care..proud of you ..just listening to your music which is great!
Thanks, Pam. Much appreciated!
Lindis Percy wrote:
So glad you are going Andy…and keeping up the pressure….hope it all goes well and you get some good coverage and interviews.xx
Thanks, Lindis. Mainstream coverage generally tends to be elusive. There was interest back in 2012, on the 10th anniversary of Guantanamo opening, but I hope there’ll be renewed interest this year, as Obama begins his last year in office. He could certainly do with it being closed by next Jan. 11, when he has just a week and and half left in office!
Mohammed Zakaria wrote:
Good Luck Andy
Amy Phillips wrote:
I hope to see you Andy.
Great, Amy. Are you coming to DC on the 11th or NYC on the 14th?
Amy Phillips wrote:
DC 10th & 11th.
See you there, then, Amy!
Elisa Minakis wrote:
All the best Andy and much success!!
Thanks, Elisa. Perhaps one of these days I’ll get to visit Canada!
Mark Erickson wrote:
I’d do just about anything to get you to Minnesota for the book trip. Coleen Rowley and Tackling Torture at the Top! are the better organizers, but I’ll chip in and help.
Thanks, Mark. This has got to be the year I get this book project organized!
[…] Friday, during my brief US tour to campaign for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay on and around the 14th anniversary of […]
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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