Video: Discussing Guantánamo on the 15th Anniversary of the Prison’s Opening – Andy Worthington, Tom Wilner, Jim Moran and Rosa Brooks at New America

13.1.17

The panel at New America on Jan. 11, 2017, the 15th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo. From L to R: Peter Bergen, Jim Moran, Rosa Brooks, Tom Wilner and Andy Worthington.Please support my work! I’m currently in the US to campaign for the closure of Guantánamo, and trying to raise $1000 (£800) to support my visit.

 

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the opening of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and a typically busy day for me. My seventh annual visit to Washington, D.C. to call for the closure of Guantánamo on the anniversary began with a protest outside the Supreme Court with representatives from rights groups including Witness Against Torture, Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. As usual, there were speakers from all the groups involved, plus some powerful spoken word pieces by The Peace Poets, and video of my talk will hopefully be available soon.

The day continued with a panel discussion, Guantánamo Bay: Year 15, at New America, with my friend and colleague Tom Wilner, counsel of record to the Guantánamo prisoners in their Supreme Court cases in 2004 and 2008, with whom I co-founded the Close Guantánamo campaign five years ago, Jim Moran, former congressional representative for Virginia’s 8th district and a longtime opponent of Guantánamo, and Rosa Brooks, a Senior ASU Future of War Fellow at New America who also served in the Obama administration. The moderator was Peter Bergen, the Vice President of New America and the Director of the International Security Program.

I’m pleased to report that the panel discussion was streamed live, and that a video is available on YouTube. It’s cross-posted below and I do hope you have time to watch it, and to share it if you find it useful.

I was the first speaker, and spoke — as I did outside the Supreme Court — about the double disappointment of this particular anniversary, with Obama just days away from failing to fulfill the promise to close Guantánamo that he made on his second day in office nearly eight years ago, and Donald Trump about to take it over with his wild promises to “load it up with some bad dudes.” UPI reported that, outside the Supreme Court, I said that Obama “will tell you to the end he failed [in closing the prison] because of members of Congress,” adding that, while he was right to acknowledge Republican opposition, the president “should have acted much earlier to overcome that resistance.” I also said, “When it comes to Guantánamo, this is a time of a double disappointment, there is no other way of looking at it. President Obama failed to fulfill the promise he made eight years ago. I think Donald Trump is going to shut the door on Guantánamo immediately.”

I was followed by Tom Wilner, who also expressed his disappointment, and then Rosa Brooks, who spoke of how Obama had failed to fulfill his promise because of “bureaucratic inertia and political cowardice.”

Finally, Jim Moran took the line that it was wrong to blame Obama for failing to close the prison. “It’s not his fault,” Moran said, “it’s the fault of the American people,” who, he added, “by and large don’t give a sh*t about Guantánamo.” He also called Guantánamo an “indelible stain on the soul of this country,” like slavery, the treatment of native Americans, and the treatment of Japanese Americans in the Second World War. On another occasion in his speech, lamenting recent foreign policy disasters, he spoke eloquently of how we had made a tragic mistake “sticking our fists into the hornet’s nest of Iraq.”

An interesting Q&A session followed, in which, as with our speeches, much time was spent speculating on what Trump may or may not do — uncertainties that dominated the whole day’s events, and that continue to cast a disconcerting cloud over everything. There was some discussion of torture, and of the role that Gen. Mattis will hopefully play in refusing to allow its use, but on Guantánamo, although I fervently hope that Trump will not send any new prisoners to Guantánamo, there was no consensus amongst the panelists that this is not worth worrying about — but then again, worry is something that is, unfortunately, the most natural of feelings right now amongst anyone not taken in by the inexplicable magnetism of Donald Trump.

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’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), 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.

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

12 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, linking to the video of the panel discussion at New America yesterday, the 15th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo, featuring myself, Tom Wilner, Jim Moran and Rosa Brooks, with Peter Bergen moderating. The panel discussion followed a protest by rights groups including Witness Against Torture outside the Supreme Court, at which I spoke on behalf of Close Guantanamo. A busy day, at which there was no conclusion but to lament the double disappointment of this anniversary – Obama’s failure to close the prison, and Trump taking it over all too soon.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Tom Kroemer wrote:

    CIA whistleblowers call for declassification of torture reports > Via Mickey Huff from Project Censored
    Posting at
    https://www.facebook.com/mickey.huff/posts/10210319293593027

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for sharing, Tom. This was at the press conference the day before I arrived in DC, to accompany the handing-in of a petition that, so far, has been signed by nearly 75,000 people: https://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12569

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Hanan Bagh wrote:

    Thanks for sharing Andy

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Angela Gipple wrote:

    Thanks for all you do, Andy.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re welcome, Hanan and Angela. Great to hear from you!

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Lindis Percy wrote:

    Thank you Andy – you are a STAR – posted on CAAB fb. xx
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/121142151239668/

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Lindis. Great to hear from you.

  9. Mark Erickson says...

    Wish I could thank you in person, Andy. Good to see you on the video at least. Also, I was very happy to see and hear The Talking Dog for the first time. I thought his point/question was a good one and was very happy you rescued it from the perfunctory “no” he got from Moran. Take care and I hope you have a great trip and safe travels home.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Mark. Great to hear from you. I’m actually staying with The Talking Dog, and he’s very pleased with your comment.
    Btw, I’m hoping to publish a book collecting the best of my writing on Guantanamo this year – in part to mark the 10th anniversary of my relentless only journalism about Guantanamo – accompanied by a tour, and I hope to make it out your way.

  11. Mark Erickson says...

    Great news, I will host if you make it to Minnesota.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Excellent. Thanks, Mark. Do you know any of the Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) people? Coleen Rowley, Tom Dickinson and others, in Minneapolis?

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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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