Radio: My Interview About Guantánamo with Chris Cook, Plus Dahr Jamail on Our Planetary Environmental Catastrophe

30.1.19

Andy Worthington photographed outside the White House calling for the closure of Guantanamo on January 11, 2019, the 17th anniversary of the opening of the prison; or, to put it another way, when it had been open for 6,210 days (Photo: Steve Pavey for Witness Against Torture).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. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.

 

It’s nearly three weeks since the 17th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, and the flurry of media activity that accompanied that somber occasion — although, as is typical, with little or no interest from the mainstream US media — has now largely faded away.

In an effort to keep interest in Guantánamo alive, I will continue to write about it as much as possible this year, to campaign for its closure, and to speak about the need for it to be closed to anyone who shows an interest.

One such person is Chris Cook, in Victoria, in British Columbia, Canada, who has interviewed me on numerous occasions after my annual US visits to call for the closure of Guantánamo on the anniversary of its opening (see our interviews in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017).

Last Thursday, I spoke to Chris by phone about my most recent visit, when, as I have noted in several articles featuring videos, reports and photos from my ten-day trip (see here, here, here and here), I was glad to be able to report that there was renewed energy this year for keeping up the pressure to get Guantánamo closed — not least through the slim hope of action offered by Democrats taking the House of Representatives in the midterm elections in November.

Towards the end of our interview, Chris also asked me about my work on housing issues in London, specifically motivated by my involvement in the Save Reginald Save Tidemill campaign, in which I was part of the two-month occupation of a communal garden in Deptford, in south east London, to try to prevent its destruction. My discussion of how we are plagued by unaffordable new high-rise towers, and how social housing is being cynically destroyed to make way for new and less affordable housing unfortunately resonated with developments in Canada — and, indeed, worldwide, as we are all, it seems, victims of predatory transnational bankers.

Chris also played out with ‘Close Guantánamo’ by my band The Four Fathers, the third occasion that it’s been played on the radio this month.

The one-hour show is available here — or here as an MP3 — and I’ve also posted it below. I hope you’ll have time to listen to it, and that you’ll share it if you find it useful.

My interview took place in the second half of the show, but I do urge you to listen to the first half too, as it features Dahr Jamail, who I first met over ten years ago, when he was reporting from Iraq. Since then, however, he has been investigating and reporting on the unprecedented environmental crisis we are now facing, and he was speaking to Chris about his new book, The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption, which has just been published by the New Press.

I happened to bump into Dahr during my US visit, when we were both being interviewed by Chris Hedges for his show on RT, On Contact. My interview will be out sometime next month, as will Dahr’s, but I have to tell you how moved I was watching his interview with Chris from the Green Room. I also spoke to him before and after, and was profoundly impressed by what he had discovered and what he had to say; namely, that it is too late to avert significant environmental destruction, but it is up to us how much we can collectively change our way of living to mitigate some of the worst effects of the unfolding catastrophe.

Dahr’s work also includes a profound spiritual angle — a recognition, on his part, of the need to love the planet that sustains us, but which we are destroying —and this adds a powerfully poignant aspect to his message of doom; one so powerful that, afterwards, I only half-joked with Chris, before our interview, that there really isn’t any other topic worth discussing after hearing what Dahr has to say.

Please do check out his book, and if you want a taster, read this excerpt on Truthout, entitled, “In Facing Mass Extinction, We Must Allow Ourselves to Grieve.”

* * * * *

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 2017 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. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, the resistance continues.

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.

7 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, linking to my most recent radio show – a half-hour interview about Guantanamo with Chris Cook on Gorilla Radio in Canada. The interview, in which I was happy to tell Chris about the renewed energy of the Close Guantanamo movement this year, is in the second half of the show, and it ends with an additional discussion of my work on the UK housing crisis, with the Save Reginald Save Tidemill campaign, and also with Chris playing ‘Close Guantanamo’ by my band The Four Fathers: https://thefourfathers.bandcamp.com/track/close-guantanamo-2

    I do hope you have time to listen to my interview, but I also urge you, if you can, to listen to the first half of the show, in which the reporter Dahr Jamail talks about his extraordinarily powerful new book, ‘The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption’, which has just been published by the New Press, in which, as I describe it, he explains that “it is too late to avert significant environmental destruction, but it is up to us how much we can collectively change our way of living to mitigate some of the worst effects of the unfolding catastrophe.” I also explain that “Dahr’s work also includes a profound spiritual angle — a recognition, on his part, of the need to love the planet that sustains us, but which we are destroying —and this adds a powerfully poignant aspect to his message of doom.”

    I hope you have time to listen to the show, and that you’ll share it if you find it useful.

  2. Anna says...

    Hi Andy, you’re safely back and I must catch up with your writing from & about the US trip. Looking forward to the radio interview, also the part with Dahr Jamail. I recently read some of it in TomDispatch and it gave me a feeling of kindred spirits. He knows much more about this climate drama than I do, but I know and realise enough about it, not to need more convincing and scientific facts, but exactly what he seems to offer: we’re all sad and depressed about this and its manyfold tragic consequences, but let’s not just moan but rather sort of huddle together, comfort each other and see what we CAN still do to mitigate the disaster for all concerned. So I had already ordered his book and am very much looking forward to reading it and listening to him and you probably this weekend – while assembling a new guestroom bed, still waiting for you guys to come and visit :- ).

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    How lovely to hear from you, Anna – and to hear that you ordered Dahr’s book. Watch out for his interview with Chris Hedges on his ‘On Contact’ show. I think it may be broadcast next week, with my interview the week after: https://www.rt.com/shows/on-contact/
    Both Dahr and Chris were talking with wonderful reverence for the earth, even as we are losing it. It was powerful, poignant, and of course grown-up in a way that most broadcasting simply isn’t.

  4. Tom says...

    From 1991 to 2002 I lived in the UK for a short time and then in Japan. In addition to that, I’ve traveled a lot and have been thru a long list of different types of weather:
    tornadoes
    hurricanes
    blizzards
    volcanic eruptions
    earthquakes
    monsoons
    droughts
    severe temp extremes (from -80F in Alaska to 115F heat in Texas).

    Sometimes I have flashbacks to these situations.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    That’s some list, Tom. Do you find that weather patterns have changed significantly over, say, the last 20 years? I think they have, but I’m also aware that I’ve thought long and hard about it, whereas, it seems to me, many people don’t really ever try to reflect on the state of the world when they were younger, and so don’t even realise how profoundly the weather has been changing,

  6. Anna says...

    Lived through droughts, monsoons & floods, collateral earthquakes (far from their epicentre but still strongly felt) and a funny tiny ‘private’ tornado which I saw whirling quite far from where I sat and read a book on the slope of the Kilimanjaro. Suddenly I was in its middle, it stayed a few seconds but left me caked in dust, including in my (properly covered!) belly button. Quite an experience 🙂
    Already read the first few chapters of Dahr Jamail’s book and it’s all I hoped for and more. Highly recommended balm for the soul of anyone who is really interested (there’s quite a lot of bare facts which need attention to sink in), worried and even frightened. Oddly enough, it also gives me fresh energy – for whatever. What more can you ask from a book 🙂 ?

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    A fascinating collection of experiences, Anna!
    I’m glad to hear you energised by Dahr’s book, despite its pretty cataclysmic prognosis. I felt that while watching Dahr and Chris Hedges talk about it. Their reverence for nature – even as we destroy it! – was a very positive thing. I wonder whether we shouldn’t all give ourselves over totally to this particular struggle …

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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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