A New Media Milestone: 3,000 Articles Published (Including 2,200 on Guantánamo) Since I Began Writing Online as an Independent Journalist and Activist in 2007

19.4.18

Andy Worthington singing 'Song for Shaker Aamer' in Washington, D.C. in January 2016 (Photo: Justin Norman).Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

Dear friends, supporters, and any stray passers-by,

My most recent article, WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Salem Gherebi’s Letter Explaining Why He Voluntarily Returned to Libya from Senegal Despite the Danger in Doing So, was something of a milestone for me — my 3,000th article published here on my website since I first began publishing articles here, on an almost daily basis, nearly eleven years ago. 

Almost 2,200 of those articles have been about the prison at Guantánamo Bay and the men held there, the main focus of my work as a writer and a campaigner since the spring of 2006, when I began working on the manuscript for my book The Guantánamo Files, which I completed in May 2007, and which was published that September.

If you’ve been with me all that time — as some of you, perhaps, have been — you’ll know that I started publishing articles here after the fourth prisoner at Guantánamo died, a man named Abdul Rahman al-Amri, allegedly by committing suicide. After spending 14 months researching and writing about the prisoners, based on a forensic analysis of the many thousands of pages of information about them that the Pentagon had been obliged to release after they lost a Freedom of Information lawsuit, I think it’s fair to say that I knew more than anyone in the world about the prisoners at that point, but although I pitched a proposal to the Guardian, I was told that they’d pick up on the Associated Press’s wire, and so I published it myself, as I already had a website up and running (technically, a WordPress blog), and hoped people would notice.

That was perhaps a wild hope, in the days before social media, but in fact, Maryam at Cageprisoners almost immediately picked up on my writing and started cross-posting it, and I then approached a number of other sites, who also began cross-posting my work or allowing me to publish with them — in particular, CounterPunch, the Huffington Post and Antiwar.com. 

In Bush’s last year, when there was still great hesitation in general in the US to challenge the notion that the “war on terror” — and all the crimes committed in its pursuit — was actually a heroically patriotic endeavour, and that any criticism of it was treasonous, and some of us were still wondering if there would be some kind of coup to keep Bush and Cheney in power, I worked relentlessly on Guantánamo, covering stories no one else was writing about, and also worked for Reprieve, wrote for the Guardian and even had a front page story with Carlotta Gall published in the New York Times — an one-off occurrence, as the Bush administration immediately put pressure on the Times to pull the plug on me.

As Obama came to power, I and many others thought that Guantánamo’s days were numbered, but that, of course, didn’t happen. In his first year in office, I took the advice of American friends and first started asking my readers to support me financially — a crucial step for anyone wanting to establish themselves in the brave new world of the internet, in which it is, unfortunately, far too easy to not make any money at all. I have since issued a fundraiser every three months, and am always happy to receive donations if you want to support me.

I also worked for the United Nations, on a groundbreaking report about secret detention, based on my research, and a documentary film I co-directed with Polly Nash, ‘Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo’ was released, which I took on an extensive tour throughout 2010. I also hooked up for the first time with Debra Sweet of the World Can’t Wait, who organized a visit to the US, and has been organising visits every year since — in January, to coincide with the opening of the prison (on January 11).

In 2011, working relentlessly on Guantánamo for five years took its toll on me, as I contracted a rare blood disease, and, after a blood clot, was fortunate that two of my toes, which had gone black, were only saved because of truly wonderful care by the NHS.

My ordeal should have made me slow down, but Julian Assange then got in touch with me, asking me to be a media partner for the release of the classified military files about the Guantánamo prisoners that Chelsea Manning had released to WikiLeaks. Analyzing those files took up most of 2011, and it was not until 2012 that I  fundamentally re-thought my life, inspired in particular by the fact that, far from closing, Guantánamo had hit a fundamental impasse, as appeals court judges had shut down the habeas corpus process that had been fought for for so many years, and that had led to dozens of prisoners having their release ordered by federal court judges, and lawmakers had passed laws that made it difficult for Obama to release any prisoners without expending considerable political will, which he was unwilling to do.

That January, I set up the Close Guantánamo campaign with the US attorney Tom Wilner, but as the months passed and Obama refused to engage with Congress, I resumed an interest in photography that had lapsed in my five non-stop years of feverish writing about Guantánamo, and began cycling around London taking photos, an endeavour designed to enable me to get fit, and to keep fit, after my recent health scare, and which, as I became more enthusiastic about it, developed into a project to visit and take photos in all of London’s 120 postcodes. This project — ‘The State of London’ — is still ongoing, and last year I began posting a photo a day from my archives on Facebook and Twitter.

In this period, I also began focusing on British politics under the Tory-led coalition government, as their cynical age of austerity began to do serious damage to the structure of British society, and, in particular to the public services that are at the heart of what makes Britain a generally decent place to live. I did a lot of work on the NHS from 2011 to 2013, including the successful campaign to save my local hospital, Lewisham Hospital, from being severely downgraded, and I also tried to keep tabs on other aspects of the Tories’ cruel policies — the shameful treatment of the disabled, for example, and their general assault on the welfare state.

In 2013, the focus shifted back to Guantánamo, after two and a half years in which just five men had been freed, even though nearly a hundred had been approved for release by high-level government review processes, when the prisoners embarked on a prison-wide hunger strike, which awoke the world to the ongoing injustice of Guantánamo, and finally compelled Obama to find a way to resume releasing prisoners.

In Obama’s last years in office, I continued to do what I could to exert pressure to try to make sure that he fulfilled his long-lapsed promise to close Guantánamo before he left office, via relentless campaigning, including the We Stand With Shaker campaign that I launched with Joanne MacInnes, to get Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo released, which was a campaigning success, and which helped to secure Shaker’s release in October 2015. In 2016, I ran a photo campaign via Close Guantánamo, and in the end, although Obama failed to close the prison, he left only 41 men still there, although they, of course, have found themselves newly re-imprisoned in a place that seems to have no exit door by Donald Trump, a uniquely poor excuse for a functioning president.

In Trump’s first 15 months in office, I have continued to do what I can to keep the focus on Guantánamo, but, as in Obama’s desperate years of inertia, I have also had more time to focus on other issues — my long-standing interest in social housing, which has led to me narrating a documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, currently on tour in the UK, and my band The Four Fathers, and our two albums of, largely, rock and roots reggae protest music, ‘Love and War’ and ‘How Much Is A Life Worth?’ In both these fields, a truly galvanizing incident was the Grenfell Tower fire in west London last June, in which over 70 people died, their deaths the direct result of a bureaucratic system that regards those who live in social housing as inferior to those with mortgages. My first articles written after the Grenfell disaster is here, and please also feel free to watch the video of the song I wrote, calling for justice, recorded with The Four Fathers.

As I wrap up this, my 3,001st article, may I thank everyone who takes an interest in my work, whatever form it takes. I hope you’ll be with me for the next thousand articles — and will meet me to reflect on that next milestone, perhaps sometime in 2023 …

Andy Worthington
London
April 19, 2018

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 music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in 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), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London.

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, The Complete Guantánamo Files, 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.

23 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, marking something of a milestone in my 12-year career as an independent journalist and activist focusing mainly on Guantanamo – the publication of my 3,000th article since I began publishing articles, on an almost daily basis, on my website nearly eleven years ago. Nearly 2,200 of these articles have been about Guantanamo, and in this article I run through my work since 2007, also touching on my other work – on social justice in the UK, and specifically, right now, issues involving social housing, my photography project ‘The State of London’, and my band The Four Fathers, playing mainly protest music.
    Thanks to everyone who has supported my work and continues to take an interest in my career as a new media journalist and campaigner, work that is only possible with your support.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    When my friend Aleksandra Łojek shared this, she wrote:

    Andy Worthington, a friend of mine who stubbornly and tirelessly researches and writes about Guantanamo. About its current inmates, previous ones, injustices, law violations, fight for justice, minors in the prison, secret trials, secret prisons… I do not think there is a person better informed on the issue than him.
    Was privileged to meet him ten years ago after having read his absolute bestseller, The Guantanamo Files.
    Not only do I recommend reading this book, but also his very informative blog. He is a historian with love for details and truth. No fake news here. Read, share.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Aleksandra, for the very kind words. Anna would like to bring me out to Poland to show ‘Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo’ again, although I worry that no one would be interested. What do you think? Obviously, the film isn’t specifically up to date, but I showed it to students at the University of Westminster a few months ago and it still holds up very well. Plus, of course, we could talk about the “black site” and the fact that no one still has been held accountable for its existence, despite rulings in the prisoners’ favor by the European Court of Human Rights.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Angela Gipple wrote:

    Thanks for all you do, Andy! Hugs.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Angie!

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    Keep up the good work.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    I will do my best, Tashi. Nice hat!

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Lindis Percy wrote:

    We wouldn’t know half of what was happening without your up to date posts and excellent, informative articles – thank you Andy xxx

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re too kind, Lindis. I rarely get exclusives, but I do have a particular form of articulate indignation!

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Sanchez Montebello wrote:

    Congratulations on reaching this milestone, Andy.
    May you have many, many more in your wonderful career.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Sanchez! Good to hear from you!

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Aleksey Penskiy wrote:

    To this can be added an improvement in the image of the British. Very many of my friends in Russia know you in absentia. They are very respectful and interested in what you are doing. In fact, you are doing far more than helping Guantánamo detainees, with your work you give hope that this world will change someday. This is very important, thanks, Andy!

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Aleksey, for your assessment of the significance of the mission to get Guantanamo closed not only in the west, but also in Russia. That’s a new perspective for me, and I’m really glad to hear it.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Lorraine Barlett wrote:

    Yes, big congrats and more important, THANKS for your dedication and constant reminders… you are our collective conscience on all things GTMO… a veritable mission of Divine consequence!!

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you so much, Lorraine. I am honored by your description of me!

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Asif Rana wrote:

    Thank you Andy.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re welcome, Asif. Good to hear from you.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Dorrine Marshall wrote:

    You are amazing! Thank you for all that you do. I really am ashamed to be an American at this point in time.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the kind words, Dorrine. Sadly, politically, there is little to recommend in the traditional bases of western power. The right is moving further to the right, while the centre remains besotted with neoliberalism. We need a new populist, youthful, environmental, socialist, relentlessly anti-neoliberal movement of the left. Logically, it’s the only choice, but of course with Trump in the White House and Brexit steering the UK off a cliff, logic is in short supply right now.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Shahela Begum wrote:

    Congrats Andy Worthington… your work is much appreciated!

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Shahela!

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Linda Olson-Osterlund wrote:

    No one else has contributed so much knowledge about the men imprisoned at Guantanamo. Your Journalism is a gift to all the rest of us.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you so much for those kind words, Linda!

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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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