Archive for December, 2019

As $738 Billion Defense Bill Is Passed, Guantánamo Prisoners Are Ignored by Congress

A collaged image of the US Congress, and a prisoner at Guantánamo.

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.




 

I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, with the US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.

Two months ago, I reviewed the situation at Guantánamo as it relates to Congress, providing a succinct summary of the extent to which Congress has — and hasn’t — been involved in establishing and maintaining the prison since it first opened nearly 18 years ago, and establishing that Congress has largely been complicit in the existence of Guantánamo.

Lawmakers facilitated its creation under George W. Bush, and, when both the Senate and the House were controlled by Republicans under Barack Obama, imposed restrictions on Obama’s efforts to close the prison, in the annual National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA), that largely remain in place today.

These restrictions — on the countries to which prisoners can be released, on the transfer of any prisoner to the US mainland for any reason, and on spending any money to create a replacement for Guantánamo on the US mainland, or to close the facility in Cuba — largely make no difference under Donald Trump, because Trump has no interest in releasing prisoners, or in closing Guantánamo under any circumstances. As Military.com explained, the requirements regarding Guantánamo in the NDAA “fall in line with Trump’s Jan. 2018 executive order to keep Guantánamo open indefinitely.”

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Radio: I Discuss Boris Johnson’s Alarming Election Victory – and Guantánamo – with Chris Cook on Gorilla Radio

Boris Johnson promising to ‘Get Brexit Done’ and Donald Trump and Guantánamo.

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On Thursday, I was delighted to be interviewed by Chris Cook, in Victoria, Canada, about the parlous state of British politics, and the ongoing and outrageous injustice of Guantánamo, on his weekly show, Gorilla Radio, which is “dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.”

The show is here (and here as an MP3), and I’m also pleased to be able to embed it below. My interview is in the first half of the one-hour show:

Here’s how Chris introduced the show on his website, accurately capturing the madness of the UK right now:

Last week, Britain followed America’s lead in electing an ultra-conservative, faux populist based on the single premise of, if not making Britain Great again, at least carrying through with the years-old promise to take the country out of the European Union. The great mystery to those looking from outside the country is why?

Why, following the divisive and ill-defined scheme dreamt up by the David Cameron Tories of yore, did the people of that green and pleasant land, rather than punishing the authors, and bungling executors of the disastrous Brexit debacle, decide instead to reward them with massive electoral success? And for Britons, the greater question now is, what’s going to happen next?

I’m honoured that Chris has had me on his show numerous times over the last ten years — almost always to discuss Guantánamo, but occasionally to discuss other topics — and it was a pleasure on Thursday to be able to provide some analysis of the disaster area that is Britain today, following last week’s General Election.

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Horribly Repressive: The Truth About Donald Trump’s Guantánamo

Khaled Qassim, Abdul Latif Nasser and Saifullah Paracha, three of the Guantánamo prisoners who told their lawyers that, this summer, they were subjected to repressive and culturally inadequate treatment by medical personnel at the prison.

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.





 

In a recent article about Guantánamo — a rarity in the US mainstream media — ABC News picked up on a sad story of medical neglect and culturally inappropriate behavior by medical personnel at the prison, as conveyed to the broadcaster by Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, an attorney who represents some of the 40 men still held.

In “‘Degrading’: Aging detainees describe health care woes at Guantánamo 18 years after 9/11,” ABC News’ Guy Davies described how a “breakdown in trust between detainees and doctors” had “reached breaking point” at the prison.

The ailments of Saifullah Paracha, Guantánamo’s oldest prisoner

Davies’ article began by looking at the case of 72-year old Saifullah Paracha, Guantánamo’s oldest prisoner, who suffers from “debilitating chest pains,” an “overactive bladder and enlarged prostate,” as well as “diabetes, coronary artery disease, diverticulosis, gout, psoriasis and arthritis,” as Sullivan-Bennis told ABC News, adding that he “has also suffered two heart attacks, one of which occurred when he was held in Bagram, in Afghanistan, before his transfer to Guantánamo” in September 2004.

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Boris Johnson’s Election Victory: A Truly Depressing Day for Britain, But Now He ‘Owns’ the Toxic Brexit Nightmare

Boris Johnson in a bike helmet during his eight useless years as London’s Mayor. Now, absurdly, promoted to Prime Minister of the UK, he is intent on turning the British economy into a car crash via his enthusiasm for a no deal Brexit.

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The only positive message that can be taken from the otherwise almost insanely depressing outcome of Thursday’s General Election — in which the Tories, under Boris Johnson, a lying and thoroughly untrustworthy philandering narcissist, secured an outright majority — is that Johnson now ‘owns’ Brexit, the toxic destroyer of the UK, and both he — and the fawning mainstream media that was so shockingly biased in his favour throughout the election campaign — will be unable to blame Britain’s slow, agonising and inevitable collapse on anyone other than themselves.

Elsewhere, there is no other good news to report about this election. The Tories won largely because traditional Labour strongholds in the north of England and in Wales swung their way, often for the first time in their history (although the results didn’t come out of nowhere). An additional factor that should be noted is the number of EU-supporting Tory voters who stayed faithful to the party brand, even though, under Johnson, the party has become unrecognisable, and is clearly fixated with inflicting a hugely damaging no deal Brexit on the country.  

And those swings occurred fundamentally not because of how credible or not Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party’s policies were, but because Johnson took one simple stupid message — ‘Get Brexit Done’ — and hammered it home relentlessly and successfully. While I and others groaned at its constant repetition, it did exactly what it was intended to do: to confirm to those who voted Leave in the EU referendum that all the faffing about was over, and that a strong leader would now deliver what they voted for. Further analysis will also show, I’m sure, that many who voted ‘Remain’ in 2016, also voted for Johnson and his sledgehammer message, because they too thought that it was long overdue that the “will of the people” needed to be respected.

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After Nine Years of Austerity, and to Save the NHS, Please, Please, Please Vote the Tories Out!

The photo of four-year old Jack Williment-Barr, with suspected pneumonia, sleeping on the floor of Leeds General Infirmary, which has focused attention on Tory cuts to the NHS. The photo was featured in a Yorkshire Evening Post article, and was then included in a front-page article in the Daily Mirror.

Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal. I’m currently trying to raise £2,000 ($2,500) to enable me to continue working as a genuinely independent journalist and commentator over the next three months.




 

I haven’t, to date, waded into the fray regarding tomorrow’s General Election in the UK, in large part because I am so profoundly dismayed that we still have such an antiquated voting system — first past the post — that massively favours the Tories, and, to a lesser extent, Labour, at the expense of all the other parties, and in part because, in the echo chamber world created by the tech companies’ cynical and divisive algorithms, I’m bound to be preaching to the converted.

However, I don’t want tomorrow’s polling to take place without throwing a few thoughts your way, so here’s my gambit: if you live in a constituency where the race is tight, please vote wisely to get the Tories out. This means that, whoever is the closest challenger to the Tories should get your vote, whether that is Labour or the Liberal Democrats.

If our opposition politicians were truly grown-up, they would have stood aside for each other in closely-contested constituencies where a divided vote will do nothing except return the Tories to power, and they would have spelled out to voters how the main drive of this election needs to be to make sure that the Tories, led by the execrable Boris Johnson, are removed from power. However, a pact hasn’t materialised, because politicians tend to be idiotically tribal, and because far too many of them have been so conditioned by the inadequate first past the post system that they’d rather come third and allow a Tory to win than demonstrate the kind of responsibility that we, as a country, so desperately need at this perilous time.

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Quarterly Fundraiser: Seeking $2500 (£2000) to Support My Ongoing Work on Guantánamo and Torture and My London Photo-Journalism Project

Andy Worthington calling for the closure of Guantánamo outside the White House on January 11, 2019, the 17th anniversary of the opening of the prison, and photos from Andy’s photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

Please click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation towards the $2,500 (£2,000) I’m trying to raise to support my work on Guantánamo over the next three months of the Trump administration, and/or for my London photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’




 

Dear friends and supporters,

It’s that time of year again when I ask you, if you can, to make a donation to support my ongoing work on Guantánamo and the US torture program, and/or, if you wish, to support my ongoing photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London.’

As a completely independent journalist, activist and commentator, I have no institutional backing whatsoever, so I’m reliant on your support to help me to keep writing and campaigning about Guantánamo, and chronicling the ever-changing face of London.

If you can make a donation to support my ongoing efforts to close Guantánamo, and/or ‘The State of London’, please click on the “Donate” button above to make a payment via PayPal. Any amount will be gratefully received — whether it’s $500, $100, $25 or even $10 — or the equivalent in any other currency.

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Close Guantánamo’s Aims for 2020’s Presidential Election Year – and New Campaign Posters

Campaigners outside the White House calling for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay on January 11, 2012, the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison.

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.





 

I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, with the US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.

For those of us who care about the ever-pressing need for the prison at Guantánamo Bay to be shut down for good, the coming year is going to be challenging.

As long as Donald Trump remains president, and, frankly, as long as Republicans retain control of either the Senate or the House of Representatives, it is reasonable to assume that there will be no movement whatsoever towards the closure of Guantánamo.

Forgotten or ignored, Guantánamo may not even be mentioned at all on the presidential trail, but we’ll be doing our best to make America remember this stain on its national conscience, where 40 men are still held, for the most part without charge or trial, in defiance of all the legal and judicial values the US claims to hold dear.

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Standing the Test of Time: “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo”

The poster for the documentary film “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo”, directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, which recently marked the tenth anniversary of its release.

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.





 

On Friday, I was delighted to take part in one of the few regular Guantánamo-related events that are left in my calendar, as the prison becomes something of a footnote in the history books.

This amnesia is, to be blunt, genuinely alarming, because the prison is as malignantly alive as ever, a pointless zombie facility still holding 40 men, mostly without charge or trial, for whom no legal mechanism to secure their release exists, and who will all die there unless there is a change of government, and an awakened sense of outrage in the three bodies that supposedly provide checks and balances to prevent any manifestation of executive overreach in the US — the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court, all of whom have failed the men still held.

The event on Friday was a screening of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” — the documentary film I co-directed with Polly Nash, which was released ten years ago, in October 2009 — to second-year students at the University of Westminster, who are studying International Relations under Sam Raphael, followed by a lively discussion about Guantánamo past, present and future.

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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 (The State of London).
Email Andy Worthington

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