Radio: I Discuss “Will Joe Biden Close Guantánamo?” on South Africa’s Radio Islam International

9.11.20

A screenshot from the podcast of Andy Worthington discussing “Will Joe Biden Close Guantánamo?” with Ebrahim Moosa on South Africa’s Radio Islam International on Nov. 8, 2020.

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Yesterday evening, I was delighted to speak for half an hour to Ebraham Moosa on South Africa’s Radio Islam International about US President Elect Joe Biden — and, specifically, what to expect from the new president regarding a long-standing travesty of justice: the continued existence of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay.

In a thorough and wide-ranging discussion of the issues, I talked about what a disgrace Donald Trump has been when it comes to Guantánamo, entombing the 40 men still held, and how we can be hopeful that there will be change under Joe Biden, even if it also reasonable to expect that it will have to be fought for.

Unlike eleven years ago, when Barack Obama first took office promising to close Guantánamo within a year (but left eight years later having failed to do so), Guantánamo is, nowadays, America’s largely forgotten shame, and raising it as an issue — as Obama found — only tends to play into the hands of Republicans and the right-wing media.

Nevertheless, while there was no way for NGOs, human rights groups and concerned lawyers to even communicate with Trump and his administration regarding Guantánamo, Joe Biden and his transition team will be aware that Guantánamo is a disgrace that won’t go away until it is closed, and that it has been particularly outrageous how it has been sealed shut under Donald Trump for the last four years, with only one prisoner reluctantly released.

Joe Biden must also be aware that, when he is inaugurated on January 20, the prison will have just begun its 20th year of operations. Guantánamo opened on January 11, 2002, and he will have just a year to make progress on releasing insignificant prisoners (of whom there are still many) and working towards closing the prison before the 20th anniversary of the prison’s opening rolls around on January 11, 2022, when organizations and media around the world will be shining a light on the US, and asking how a prison that most closely resembles what we expect from a dictatorship can still be operating.

I’ve embedded the show below, and I hope you have time to listen to it, and will share it if you find it useful. Amongst the many topics discussed were the importance of reinstating the Office of the Envoy for Guantánamo Closure, releasing the five men still held who were approved for release by high-level government review processes under President Obama, addressing the unjust basis of holding 26 other men as “forever prisoners,” even though none of them have been put forward for trials, and examining the broken military commission system, which has repeatedly demonstrated that it is incapable of delivering justice in the cases of the seven men — including those allegedly responsible for the 9/11 attacks — who are currently charged.

Radio Islam International · Will Biden close Guantanamo – Andy Worthington

 

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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 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, or you can watch it online here, via the production company Spectacle, for £2.55), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from eight 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 the 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, and the trees were cut down on February 27, 2019, 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.

One Response

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, linking to, and discussing my half-hour interview on the topic of “Will Joe Biden Close Guantanamo?” with Ebrahim Moosa on South Africa’s Radio Islam International, after the Biden-Harris team’s victory over Donald Trump in the US Presidential Election.

    I spoke about how the 40 men still held have, for nearly four years, been entombed by Donald Trump, and how there is now hope that a Biden administration will, at the very least, be open to pressure from international bodies, NGOs, human rights groups, lawyers and activists to resume the release of prisoners and to move towards the closure of the prison with the 20th anniversary of its opening just over a year away.

    There are pressing concerns that must be addressed immediately — most noticeably, the need to release five men approved for release by high-level government review processes under President Obama, whose unjust ongoing imprisonment was, of course, completely ignored by Donald Trump.

    Biden also needs to urgently re-establish the Office of the Envoy for Guantanamo Closure, established under Obama but mothballed by Trump, and he also needs to look with some urgency at the status of 26 other men who have been aptly described as “forever prisoners” — men the US doesn’t plan to charge but still regards as some sort of a threat — and who, to this day, shamefully, still include men who are only regarded as a threat because of their attitude while imprisoned at Guantanamo, and others who are a case of mistaken identity or have had their significance wildly exaggerated.

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

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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 and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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