Last week, I was delighted to take part in an hour-long Guantánamo special on RT America, presented by Simone del Rosario, who had recently visited the prison. Simone began by noting that it was the tenth anniversary of three deaths at Guantánamo — 22-year old Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, a Saudi, who was just 17 years old when he was seized in Afghanistan at the end of 2001, 37-year old Salah Ahmed al-Salami (aka Ali al-Salami), a Yemeni, and 30-year old Mani Shaman al-Utaybi, another Saudi.
The deaths were described by the authorities as a triple suicide, but there have always been doubts about that being feasible — doubts that were particularly highlighted in 2010, when the law professor and journalist Scott Horton wrote an alternative account for Harper’s Magazine, “The Guantánamo Suicides,” that drew in particular on a compelling counter-narrative presented by Staff Sgt. Joseph Hickman, who had been in the prison at the time of the men’s deaths, monitoring activities from the guard towers. Hickman’s book Murder in Camp Delta was published in January 2015, and he was also a contributor to RT America’s show.
After this opening, the show dealt in detail with the case of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Mauritanian national, torture victim and best-selling author (of Guantánamo Diary). Slahi is one of the prisoners still held who were designated for prosecution by the Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama established shortly after first taking office in January 2009, until the basis for prosecutions largely collapsed after a number of critical appeals court rulings and he was, instead, put forward for a Periodic Review Board, the latest review process, which began at the end of 2013. Slahi’s PRB took place on June 2, and, in discussing his case, Simone del Rosario also spoke to one of his attorneys, Nancy Hollander. Read the rest of this entry »
Have an hour to spare? Want to hear me talk in detail about Guantánamo? Then please listen to me on Wake-Up Call Podcast with Adam Camac and Daniel Laguros, who “interview experts on foreign relations, economics, current events, politics, political theory, and more every weekday.”
They decided to call the show “The Horrible Guantánamo Bay Facility,” which I think is accurate, as I was able to explain in detail what a thoroughly disgraceful facility Guantánamo is at every level.
I began by explaining why the naval base at Guantánamo Bay was chosen as the location for an offshore facility that was supposed to be beyond the reach of the US courts, and how, of course, creating somewhere outside the law made it shamefully easy to begin torturing the men — and boys — who were swept up in the “war on terror” and held there.
Following the introductory comments I mentioned above, I spoke about how the fundamental problem with the Bush administration’s detention policies in the “war on terror” was that, in seeking to establish a way of holding people without any rights whatsoever as human beings, senior officials decided, unwisely, that there was a third way to hold people beyond the established routes — that they are charged with a criminal offence and put on trial, or are taken off the battlefield, and held unmolested, with the protections of the Geneva Conventions, until the end of hostilities.
I proceeded to speak about the prisoners’ long struggle to secure habeas corpus rights, and how, briefly, that led to the release of dozens of prisoners, until politically motivated appeals court judges changed the rules governing the prisoners’ habeas petitions, effectively gutting habeas corpus of all meaning for those held at Guantánamo.
I then spoke about the forms of torture implemented at Guantánamo, and moved on from that to the shameful history of the military commissions, which have failed, throughout Guantánamo’s history, to deliver anything resembling justice to the handful of men who have faced trials. I also discussed the long and so far unsuccessful quest for accountability for the senior officials, up to and including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their lawyers, who implemented the torture, rendition and indefinite detention without charge or trial that were at the heart of the detention policies in the “war on terror.”
I proceeded to discuss how competent tribunals (also known as battlefield tribunals), to separate combatants from civilians, were not implemented in the “war on terror,” and how this was just one of the many mistakes that led to people being held at Guantánamo who were not even soldiers, let alone terrorists, and how, of course, the Bush administration’s disastrous policies dangerously and irresponsibly blurred the differences between civilians, soldiers and terrorists.
I also spoke about the story of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, freed last year as the result of a multi-faceted campaign, including my own contribution via the We Stand With Shaker campaign that I co-founded with activist Joanne McInnes in 2014, and, in connection with Shaker’s story, I also explained why the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011 are full of profoundly unreliable statements made by prisoners who were subjected to torture or other forms of abuse, or were bribed to make statements with the promise of enter living conditions.
I also ran through the history of Guantánamo under President Obama, explaining how unprincipled opposition from Republicans, combined with Obama’s reluctance to spend political capital overcoming those obstacles, has left him with less than six months to fulfil the promise he made on his second day in office, nearly seven and a half years ago, to close Guantánamo within a year.
There was much more in the show than I have described above, and I hope you have time to listen to it, and to share it if you find it useful.
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 debut album, ‘Love and War,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp — also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for 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).
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, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.
Dear friends and supporters,
I know times are tough all round, but I’m in desperate need of support from you to finance my ongoing project to call for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay through my independent journalism, my research, commentary, public appearances, media appearances, and social media work. Most of this work is unpaid — or, to be more accurate, is reader-funded. Without your support, I cannot continue to do what I’ve been doing for the last ten years. I have no institutional backing, and no mainstream media operation behind me.
Since launching my latest fundraiser on Monday, I have received $300 (£200) in donations, but I’m still trying to raise another $3300 (£2200). That’s just $270 (£185) a week for the next three months — not a huge amount, I hope, for all the work that I do to try and bring to an end the long-standing disgrace and injustice that the prison at Guantánamo is, and will be until it is closed once and for all.
So please, if you can help out at all, click on the “Donate” button above to donate via PayPal (and I should add that you don’t need to be a PayPal member to use PayPal). You can also make a recurring payment on a monthly basis by ticking the box marked, “Make This Recurring (Monthly),” and if you are able to do so, it would be very much appreciated. Read the rest of this entry »
Dear friends and supporters,
It’s that time of the year again when I ask you, if you can, to make a donation to support my work on Guantánamo, and related issues. Any amount, however large or small, will be gratefully received, as most of my work is only possible through your donations. I don’t have the backing of a mainstream media outlet, and I don’t have the backing of an institution; I am, instead, very much a creation of the modern online world — a reader-funded investigative journalist and commentator — and almost everything I do is only possible because of your support.
So if you can help out at all, please click on the “Donate” button above to donate via PayPal (and I should add that you don’t need to be a PayPal member to use PayPal).
$3500 (£2400) is just $270 (£185) a week for the next three months — not a huge amount for the 50 or so articles I write every quarter, plus all the social media work, and the personal appearances and media appearances I also undertake, most of which are also unpaid. Read the rest of this entry »
31 years ago, the British state, under Margaret Thatcher, committed one of its most violent acts against its own citizens, at the Battle of the Beanfield, when a group of travellers — men, women and children — who were driving to Stonehenge from Savernake Forest to establish what would have been the 12th annual Stonehenge Free Festival were set upon by tooled-up police from six counties, and the Ministry of Defence. The travellers were outnumbered three to one, while the police were at the height of their use as a paramilitary force by Margaret Thatcher.
The year before, the police had crushed the miners at Orgreave (promoting calls this year for an official inquiry after the belated triumph of victims’ families against the police at the Hillsborough Inquest), and the assault on the travelling community had started shortly after, when a group of travellers were harried from a festival in the north of England. Some of this group joined up with other travellers, festival-goers and green activists at Molesworth, in Cambridgeshire, the planned location for Britain’s second cruise missile base, where a peace camp was set up, following the example of the Women’s peace camp at Greenham Common, set up in opposition to the first cruise missile base. The Molesworth camp was, in turn, shut down by the largest peacetime mobilisation of troops, in February 1985, and for the next four months the travellers were harassed until June 1, when the Battle of the Beanfield took place.
The Beanfield was a horrible example of state violence, with both short-term and long-term implications. Severe damage was done to Britain’s traveller community, who had been seeking to create an alternative culture of free festivals from May to October every year, and who, as Molesworth showed, were not just hedonists, but also had ecological and anti-nuclear aims. Read the rest of this entry »
Today, I was delighted to appear on RT to discuss the Gitmo Clock that I relaunched yesterday to count down the days, hours, minutes and seconds left for President Obama to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay. The first version of the clock was launched in the summer of 2013 to count the number of days since President Obama’s May 2013 promise to resume releasing prisoners from Guantánamo, and how many men had been released.
This new version of the Gitmo Clock is part of the Countdown to Close Guantánamo that I launched in January, as the co-director of the Close Guantánamo campaign. Below is a cross-post of the article I published on Close Guantánamo yesterday for the relaunch of the clock, preceded by a transcript of excerpts from the RT interview.
RT: Obama is surely aware that time is running out. Do you think your reminder will be what kicks him into action? Is the closure of Gitmo going to finally happen before he leaves office? Read the rest of this entry »
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 an additional point of interest, this is my 2600th post since I began writing articles about Guantánamo on a full-time basis in May 2007. If you wish to make a donation to support my work, most of which is reader-funded, then please feel free to do so — I am still hoping to raise $1100 of my $3500 target for the next three months. Click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation via PayPal.
Yesterday, March 25, marked 300 days until the end of Barack Obama’s Presidency, and, to mark the occasion, celebrities and concerned citizens across the US and around the world have been taking photos of themselves with posters, as part of the Countdown to Close Guantánamo campaign, reminding President Obama that he has just 300 days left to close the prison, as he promised to do on his second day in office back in January 2009. The poster is here, and you can send it to us here.
The actors David Morrissey and Juliet Stevenson, and the lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, the founder of Reprieve, which represents men still held at Guantánamo, are supporting the campaign, along with around 80 other people from the US and elsewhere, who, to date, have sent in photos of themselves with posters reminding the president that he has just 300 days left, to add to the 180 photos sent in when the campaign was launched in January, and marking 350 days last month. All the photos are available on the website here and here, and some are also on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
The Countdown to Close Guantánamo is an initiative of the Close Guantánamo campaign, which I founded in January 2012 (as a journalist, activist and Guantánamo expert) with the attorney Tom Wilner, who represented the Guantánamo prisoners in their habeas corpus cases before the Supreme Court in 2004 and 2008. I launched the Countdown to Close Guantánamo in January this year with music legend Roger Waters (ex-Pink Floyd) on Democracy Now! Read the rest of this entry »
Dear friends, supporters and passing strangers,
I hate to scaremonger, but it’s Day 5 of my quarterly fundraiser, and, although 14 supporters have been so kind as to donate over $1000 (£700) to support my work on Guantánamo for the next three months, that’s just $75 (£55) a week, which isn’t enough to live on. So I’m still $2400 (£1700) short of my target, and won’t be able to continue working as I do unless I can make a significant dent in that shortfall.
Those of you who follow my work know that most of what I do is entirely reader-supported, and involves a whole range of activities — research, writing, campaigning, media interviews and public speaking — as well as the hosting fees and maintenance costs associated with running a website. Read the rest of this entry »
Dear friends and supporters,
This week is my latest quarterly fundraiser, in which I’m hoping to raise $3500 (£2400) to support my work on Guantánamo and related issues for the next three months. That’s just $270 (£180) a week for my full-time, independent work on Guantánamo, writing 50-60 articles every quarter, and campaigning to get the prison closed. Thanks to the generosity of ten supporters, I’ve raised $900 (£600) since launching the fundraiser on Monday, but I’m still hoping to raise $2600 (£1800) to reach my target.
In case you don’t know, most of my work is reader-funded. I receive no institutional funding for this website, and I really can’t continue to do the work I do without your support. Any amount will be gratefully received, whether it is $25, $100 or $500 — or any amount in any other currency (£15, £50 or £250, for example). PayPal will convert any currency you pay into dollars, which I chose as my main currency because the majority of my supporters are in the US.
So if you can help out at all, please click on the “Donate” button above to donate via PayPal (and I should add that you don’t need to be a PayPal member to use PayPal). You can also make a recurring payment on a monthly basis by ticking the box marked, “Make This Recurring (Monthly),” and if you are able to do so, it would be very much appreciated. Read the rest of this entry »
Dear friends and supporters,
It’s that time of year, and I hope that, if you value my work, you can help me out.
Exactly ten years ago, I began working full-time on Guantánamo, first writing my book The Guantánamo Files, and then, since May 2007, the 1,919 articles about Guantánamo I have written so far, which are all published here.
Every three months, I ask you, if you can, to make a donation to support my work on Guantánamo and related issues. I’m hoping to raise $3,500 (£2,400) for the next three months, which is just $270 (£180) a week for my regular writing about Guantánamo, telling the prisoners’ stories, and campaigning to get the prison closed.
If you don’t already know, I need to let you know that most of my work is reader-funded. I receive no institutional funding for this website, and I really can’t continue to do the work I do without your support. Any amount will be gratefully received, whether it is $25, $100 or $500 — or any amount in any other currency (£15, £50 or £250, for example). PayPal will convert any currency you pay into dollars, which I chose as my main currency because the majority of my supporters are in the US. Read the rest of this entry »
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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