Archive for August, 2021

The Taliban’s Victory in Afghanistan Mustn’t Prevent the Closure of Guantánamo

Asadullah Haroon Gul and Muhammad Rahim, the last two Afghans in Guantánamo. Following the Taliban victory in Afghanistan, in which it has been revealed that two former Guantánamo prisoners hold leadership positions in the Taliban, some right-wing commentators are insinuating that Guantánamo should remain open. However, neither Gul nor Rahim, nor any of the other 37 men still held, were members of the Taliban, and, as “forever prisoners,” held without charge or trial, the two Afghans are amongst 17 of the remaining 39 prisoners who, it is now widely recognized in US circles, must be released if they are not to be charged with crimes.

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. 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.

As the final US troops left Afghanistan two weeks ago, and the Taliban rolled into Kabul, taking the Presidential Palace on August 15 after President Ashraf Ghani fled, the presence of one particular Taliban member — Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir — caught the attention of the western media, when he declared that he had been held at Guantánamo for eight years.

Guantánamo: the mere mention of the word, from the mouth of a conquering Talib, standing in the very place so recently occupied by the US-backed president, reinvigorated the right-wingers in Congress, and in the US media, who had been worried that President Biden might finally close their beloved gulag once and for all.

Once upon a time, the merest mention of Guantánamo had summoned up images of bloodthirsty Al-Qaeda terrorists, hell-bent on the destruction of America, that had helped to keep ordinary Americans docile, and in a state of fear. However, over the years, as the horrors of Guantánamo leaked out to the world, revealing the use of torture and other forms of abuse on prisoners who, for the most part, were not involved in any kind of terrorism at all, defending its existence became more difficult. By his second term, even George W. Bush was aware that it was an embarrassment, and left office having released 532 of the 779 men he had imprisoned there.

Read the rest of this entry »

How the Disaster of Guantánamo Foretold US Defeat in Afghanistan

Razor wire and the US flag 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. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.





 

In the last few weeks, since the last US troops left Afghanistan and the Taliban swept into Kabul, bringing the US’s nearly 20-year occupation of the country to an ignominious end — in defeat — I’ve been thinking about the extent to which that defeat is linked to the existence of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, and the significance of the Afghans held there — around 220 in total — as well as the numerous other Afghans held in the US’s prison at Bagram Airbase.

When we think of Guantánamo, we have been encouraged to think of the “high-value detainees” moved there from CIA “black sites” in September 2006, or the hundreds of Arabs — mostly Saudis and Yemenis — who had been in Afghanistan at the time of the 9/11 attacks, and who were subsequently regarded as terrorists, even though most of them had only gone to Afghanistan to help the Taliban secure victory in their long-standing inter-Muslim civil war with the Northern Alliance.

And yet the Afghans were the largest group by nationality who were held at Guantánamo, and from the beginning their treatment in US prisons in Afghanistan, and the subsequent rendition of many of them to the lawless prison on the US naval base in Cuba was revelatory in terms of understanding the shameful extent to which the US failed to win the “hearts and minds” of the people it was supposedly liberating.

Read the rest of this entry »

Quarterly Fundraiser for My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

The latest photos posted in Andy Worthington’s ongoing photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

Please click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation to support my photo-journalism project ‘The State of London’.





 

Nine years ago, in the spring of 2012, I set out on my bike, with a small point-and-shoot Canon camera, on a mission to take photos in all 120 postcodes of the London postal district, an area of 241 square miles featuring the City and the West End (EC and WC), and the compass points that radiate out from them (E, SE, SW, W, NW and N). 

I embarked on the project after five largely sedentary years spent researching and writing about the prison at Guantánamo Bay, and an illness in 2011, in part because I wanted to get fit, but, in particular, because I wanted to get to know better the city that has been my home since I left university in 1985, and to record its multi-layered history and the significant changes that it was undergoing as it played host to the 2012 Olympic Games, and, more generally, as development money poured in to remake huge swathes of the capital for the 21st century, via an array of “regeneration” projects that largely seem to involve sidelining the genuine needs of Londoners in pursuit of profits for investors, both foreign and domestic.  

Five years in, I began posting a daily photo on Facebook from the archive I’d built up since 2012, accompanying the photos with essays intended to establish it as a photo-journalistic appraisal of the capital in all of its complexity, and I hope that, as the project has gone on, it has also improved, as I embraced better technology (upgrading to a Canon PowerShot G7X Mk. II in February 2019), became a better photographer, and increasingly devoted more time to the essays that give the photos what I regard as a necessary context.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mansoor Adayfi’s “Don’t Forget Us Here”: A Devastating Account of Guantánamo’s Cruelty, But One Suffused with Hope, Humor and Humanity

The cover of former Guantánamo prisoner Mansoor Adayfi’s memoir, “Don’t Forget Us Here: Lost and Found at Guantánamo,” which was published yesterday, and Mansoor supporting the Close Guantánamo campaign on July 4 this year, US Independence Day, when the prison had been open for 7,115 days.

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. 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.

Imagine being seized in Afghanistan or Pakistan, being brutalized in US prisons in Afghanistan, and then being sent halfway around the world to Guantánamo, a US naval base in Cuba, where you are then imprisoned indefinitely, without charge or trial, in a prison facility that was specifically chosen to be beyond the reach of the US courts, and where all of the normal rules regarding the detention and treatment of prisoners no longer applied.

Imagine being held, for years, on and off, in solitary confinement, able only to communicate with the person in the cell next to you by lying down on the floor of your cell and shouting through small holes in the cell wall.

Imagine being punished with sometimes bone-breaking physical violence for refusing to cooperate, or for being perceived to have infringed an ever-changing set of rules designed to dehumanize you on a permanent basis, and to “soften you up” for relentless and often violent interrogations.

Read the rest of this entry »

75 House Representatives Urge President Biden to Close the Prison at Guantánamo Bay

Campaigners calling for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay stand in front of the U.S. Congress on January 11, 2020, the 19th anniversary of the prison’s opening (Photo: Alli Jarrar).

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. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.





 

Ever since the inauguration of Joe Biden as President, nearly seven months ago, an impressive and unprecedented number of organizations and significant individuals have been queuing up to urge him to finally close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, that wretched symbol of executive overreach created as part of the misguided “war on terror” that the Bush administration launched in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In January, seven former prisoners (all authors) had a letter published in the New York Review of Books calling for the prison’s closure, followed in February by a letter from 111 human rights organizations, including the Close Guantánamo campaign, which I co-founded in January 2012 with the U.S. attorney Tom Wilner.

There have also been op-eds by former Bill Clinton advisor Anthony Lake and Tom Wilner, by Lee Wolosky, the former Special Envoy for Guantánamo Closure in the State Department, by retired Rear Admirals Donald J. Guter and John Hutson, by former CIA analyst Gail Helt, by Valerie Lucznikowska of September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, by the attorney Benjamin R. Farley, who represents one of the men accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks, as part of the DoD’s Military Commissions Defense Organization, and by Omar Ashmawy, a former prosecutor in the military commissions.

Read the rest of this entry »

2021 is the Year of Catastrophic Climate Change, But Capitalism Doesn’t Care

A photo from Twitter that may or may not be real, but that, I believe, expresses a profound truth about the nature of climate change, in this year of unprecedented wildfires and floods, and, in general, human beings’ inability to deal with its ramifications.

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.





 

Since I first saw it on Twitter last week, I’ve been haunted by the photo above, showing holidaying diners by the sea, or by a lake, seemingly oblivious to the wildfires engulfing a forest on the hills behind. It may or may not be from Turkey, recently ravaged by uncontrollable wildfires. Or it may be, as one commentator suggested, from similar wildfires in Oregon four years ago. It may even be photoshopped, but in the year that wildfires have engulfed forests in country after country across the globe to an unprecedented degree, in yet another year of record-breaking heat in numerous locations, and in its juxtaposition of this disaster with the people blithely, self-obsessedly asserting their right to enjoy themselves, it vividly captures an uncomfortable truth about our collective inability, as human beings, to put aside the allure of self-gratification that is so engrained in so much of our culture, when faced with an existential threat that is largely of our own making.

In that sense, it is as profound as the photo, from 2017, of US golfers continuing their pointless game, in Washington State, while the world around them was consumed by flames, which prompted me to use the photo to accompany an article I wrote in May 2019, entitled, I Pledge My Allegiance to the Struggle for Survival Against Catastrophic Climate Change, inspired by the campaigning of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, and by the the publication in 2018, by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of a landmark report in which, as the Guardian described it. the world’s leading climate scientists warned there was “only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.”

Unfortunately, while not being oblivious, or in denial, or still enslaved, like so many of my fellow human beings, by simply trying to survive in a harsh capitalist system that exploits so many for the benefit of the comparatively few, my fine words in 2019 haven’t translated into reality. I have continued to work towards the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, to raise money to live on, to play music and to chronicle London in photographs on daily bike rides.

Read the rest of this entry »

Back to home page

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).
Email Andy Worthington

CD: Love and War

The Four Fathers on Bandcamp

The Guantánamo Files book cover

The Guantánamo Files

The Battle of the Beanfield book cover

The Battle of the Beanfield

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion book cover

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

Outside The Law DVD cover

Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

RSS

Posts & Comments

World Wide Web Consortium

XHTML & CSS

WordPress

Powered by WordPress

Designed by Josh King-Farlow

Please support Andy Worthington, independent journalist:

Archives

In Touch

Follow me on Facebook

Become a fan on Facebook

Subscribe to me on YouTubeSubscribe to me on YouTube

The State of London

The State of London. 16 photos of London

Andy's Flickr photos

Campaigns

Categories

Tag Cloud

Afghans in Guantanamo Al-Qaeda Andy Worthington British prisoners Center for Constitutional Rights CIA torture prisons Close Guantanamo Donald Trump Four Fathers Guantanamo Housing crisis Hunger strikes London Military Commission NHS NHS privatisation Periodic Review Boards Photos President Obama Reprieve Shaker Aamer The Four Fathers Torture UK austerity UK protest US courts Video We Stand With Shaker WikiLeaks Yemenis in Guantanamo