Andy Worthington: An Archive of Guantánamo Articles and Other Writing – Part 19, July to December 2015

Andy Worthington with Shaker Aamer, after his release from Guantanamo, at a meeting in the House of Commons in November 2015.Please support my work! I’m currently trying to raise $2800 (£2100) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo for the next three months.

This article is the 19th in an ongoing series of articles listing all my work in chronological order. It’s a project I began in January 2010, when I put together the first chronological lists of all my articles, in the hope that doing so would make it as easy as possible for readers and researchers to navigate my work — the 2,690 articles I have published since I began publishing articles here in May 2007, which, otherwise, are not available in chronological order in any readily accessible form.

It is also a project for which I receive no funding, so, if you appreciate what I do as a reader-funded journalist and activist, please consider making a donation via the Paypal ‘Donate’ button above. Any amount, however large or small, will be very gratefully received.

I first began researching the Bush administration’s “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo, and the 779 men (and boys) held there almost exactly 11 years ago, in September 2005, and I began researching and writing about the prison and the prisoners on a full-time basis ten and a half years ago, in March 2006, when the Pentagon lost a FOIA lawsuit and was obliged to release 8,000 pages of documents relating to the prisoners, and which, I was surprised to learn, I was the only person in the world to analyze in depth. Initially, I spent 14 months researching and writing my book The Guantánamo Files, based on those documents, and, since May 2007, I have continued to write about the men held there, at first on a daily basis, and for the last few years every couple of days, as an independent investigative journalist, commentator and activist — for two and a half years under President Bush, and, shockingly, for what is now nearly eight years under President Obama.

As I note every time I put together a chronological list of my articles, my mission, as it has been since my research first revealed the scale of the injustice at Guantánamo, continues to revolve around four main aims — to humanize the prisoners by telling their stories; to expose the many lies told about them to supposedly justify their detention; to push for the prison’s closure and the absolute repudiation of indefinite detention without charge or trial as US policy; and to call for those who initiated, implemented and supported indefinite detention and torture to be held accountable for their actions.

The period covered by this 19th list, from July to December 2015, was not a particularly good period for the release of prisoners, as only non even were freed, but one in particular dominated my work throughout this period — Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison. The six-month period covered here began with an open letter to President Obama that was signed by over 90 celebrities and MPs including Sir Patrick Stewart OBE, Ralph Fiennes, Russell Brand, Roger Waters, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Richard E. Grant, Mark Rylance, Juliet Stevenson, David Morrissey, Frankie Boyle, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and Michael Brearley, Boris Johnson (then the Mayor of London before his Brexit disgrace), two former Attorney Generals, Keir Starmer and Dominic Grieve, and the six MPs who led the cross-party Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group: the co-chairs, John McDonnell (Lab.) and David Davis (Con.), and the four officers of the group: Andrew Mitchell (Con.), Jeremy Corbyn (Lab.), Caroline Lucas (Green) and Andy Slaughter (Lab.). At the time, of course, Jeremy Corbyn was not the beleaguered leader of the Labour Party, just what he had always been — like John McDonnell, one of Britain’s most hardworking MPs devoted to addressing all manner of injustices.

In September came the great news that Shaker was to be released, but then, following the revelation that he had embarked on a hunger strike, fearing that he wouldn’t be freed, Joanne McInnes and I, who headed the We Stand With Shaker campaign that was behind the open letter, launched another initiative, the Fast for Shaker, that maintained the pressure on the US and UK governments to secure his release.

In this period, I also covered the Periodic Review Boards that continued to assess the cases of men not already approved for release, and not facing trials, and, when time allowed, I also covered other aspects of British politics, as well as promoting the music of my band The Four Fathers, whose first album was released in July.

July 2015

1. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Abdul Rahman Shalabi, Guantánamo Hunger Striker for Ten Years, Is Approved for Release to Saudi Arabia
2. Shaker Aamer: Over 90 Celebrities and MPs Sign Open Letter to President Obama Calling for Shaker Aamer’s Release from Guantánamo on US Independence Day
3. Guantánamo campaigns: Write to the Guantánamo Prisoners, Don’t Let Them Be Forgotten
4. Guantánamo, hunger strikes, US courts: US Judge Orders Release of Guantánamo Force-Feeding Tapes, Condemns Government Delays
5. Guantánamo, military commissions, US courts: Despite His Conviction Being Quashed Three Times, Guantánamo Prisoner Ali Hamza Al-Bahlul Remains in Solitary Confinement
6. Torture: Report Damns American Psychological Association for Collusion in US Torture Program
7. Shaker Aamer: Please Ask Your MP to Join the Shaker Aamer All-Party Parliamentary Group, Working to Secure Shaker’s Release from Guantánamo
8. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: 16th Guantánamo Prisoner Seeks Release Via Periodic Review Board

August 2015

9. Closing Guantánamo: Does President Obama Still Have a Plan for Closing Guantánamo?
Guantanamo hunger striker Tariq Ba Odah, photographed at Guantanamo before the long-term effects of his eight-year hunger strike took hold, which led to him ending up weighing just 74.5 pounds.10. Guantánamo, hunger strikes, US courts: Tariq Ba Odah, Hunger Strikes, and Why the Obama Administration Must Stop Challenging Guantánamo Prisoners in Court
11. Guantánamo, US courts: War Is Over, Set Us Free, Say Guantánamo Prisoners; Judge Says No
12. Shaker Aamer: Ignoring President Obama, the Pentagon Blocks Shaker Aamer’s Release from Guantánamo
13. Guantánamo, hunger strikes: Disgraceful US Justice Department Secretly Blocks Release from Guantánamo of Gravely Ill Hunger Striker Tariq Ba Odah
14. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Fayiz Al-Kandari, the Last Kuwaiti in Guantánamo, and a Saudi Prisoner Ask Review Boards to Send Them Home
15. UK anti-terror laws: The Shocking Story of Y: Imprisoned in the UK Without Charge or Trial on the Basis of Secret Evidence Since 2003
16. Guantánamo: Yemeni Prisoner Zaher Hamdoun Says He Is “Buried in a Grave Called Guantánamo”
17. New Orleans floods: Watch Spike Lee’s “When the Levees Broke” for the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, When US Racism Was Openly Revealed

September 2015

18. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Mohammed Kamin, an Insignificant Afghan Prisoner in Guantánamo, Asks Review Board to Recommend His Release
19. Solitary confinement: Huge Victory for Prison Reform as California Ends Indeterminate Long-Term Solitary Confinement
20. Life after Guantánamo: Life After Guantánamo: Attorney Tells the Story of a Father and Son Freed, But Separated By 1,850 Miles
Former Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr speaking to the media after his release from prison on bail on May 7, 2015. Photo made available by Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star on Twitter.21. Omar Khadr: Former Guantánamo Prisoner Omar Khadr Asks for Bail Conditions to be Eased So He Can Visit His Family
22. Shaker Aamer: Labour Frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn Joins Cross-Party Signatories on Early Day Motion Calling for Shaker Aamer’s Release from Guantánamo
23. 9/11, Guantánamo: 14 Years After 9/11, It’s Time for Guantánamo to Be Closed
24. Shaker Aamer: “The More We Get Close to What We Want, The Farther It Goes”: Shaker Aamer’s Endlessly Thwarted Hope of Being Released from Guantánamo
25. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Seriously Ill Libyan Approved for Release from Guantánamo by Periodic Review Board
26. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Fears for Guantánamo Prisoner Released in Morocco But Held Incommunicado in a Secret Location
27. Omar Khadr: On Omar Khadr’s 29th Birthday, Bail Conditions Eased; Allowed to Visit Grandparents, and Electronic Tag Removed
28. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Periodic Review Board Approves Release of Fayiz Al-Kandari, the Last Kuwaiti in Guantánamo
29. Shaker Aamer, protest music: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Release ‘Song for Shaker Aamer’ as Download: 25% of Takings to Go to Shaker’s Family
30. Shaker Aamer, protest music: Video: On RT, Andy Worthington Discusses Release of ‘Song for Shaker Aamer’ and the Failure to Free Him from Guantánamo
31. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Abdul Rahman Shalabi, Long-Term Hunger Striker, Repatriated from Guantánamo to Saudi Arabia
32. Shaker Aamer: Wonderful News! Shaker Aamer to be Released from Guantánamo – Finally!
33. Torture: 28 Veterans of US Intelligence Fight Back Against CIA Claims That the Bush Torture Program Was Useful and Necessary
34. Shaker Aamer, protest music: Video: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Launch YouTube Channel, Play ‘Song for Shaker Aamer’ Unplugged
35. Shaker Aamer: Radio: Andy Worthington Discusses the Imminent Release of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo with Scott Horton
36. Protest music, Guantánamo: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Release ‘Love and War’ Album for Download, With Songs About Guantánamo, Torture, Austerity and Love
37. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: 97-Pound Yemeni Hunger Striker Appears Before Periodic Review Board As Saudi is Approved for Release from Guantánamo

October 2015

38. Shaker Aamer: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Truth, Lies and Distortions in the Coverage of Shaker Aamer, Soon to be Freed from Guantánamo
39. Shaker Aamer: Shaker Aamer’s Latest Words from Guantánamo; On a Hunger Strike, Fearful That He Won’t See His Family Again
40. Shaker Aamer: Radio: Andy Worthington Discusses Shaker Aamer, the Closure of Guantánamo and His Band The Four Fathers with Peter B. Collins
Younous Chekkouri (aka Younus Chekhouri), in a photo included in the classified US military documents (the Detainee Assessment Briefs) released by WikiLeaks in April 2011.41. Life after Guantánamo: Former Guantánamo Prisoner Betrayed by Morocco: Are Diplomatic Assurances Worthless?
42. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Fan of Shakira, Taylor Swift and Game of Thrones Asks Review Board to Free Him from Guantánamo, As an Afghan is Approved for Release
43. Shaker Aamer: Fast For Shaker: New Campaign Launched – Please Join Celebrities and MPs Fasting in Solidarity with Shaker Aamer, on a Hunger Strike in Guantánamo
44. Guantánamo media: How Laurie Anderson Brought Guantánamo to New York
45. Shaker Aamer: Video: Andy Worthington Discusses Shaker Aamer, Guantánamo and Fast For Shaker on the Victoria Derbyshire Show on BBC2
46. Shaker Aamer: Fast For Shaker: Press Launch of New Campaign in Solidarity with Shaker Aamer, on a Hunger Strike in Guantánamo, London, Thursday 15th October
47. Shaker Aamer: Video: Andy Worthington Discusses the Fast For Shaker Campaign on London Live
48. Shaker Aamer: Photos: Fast For Shaker Press Launch – MPs and Campaigners Show Solidarity with Shaker Aamer, on a Hunger Strike in Guantánamo
49. Shaker Aamer: Video: Andy Worthington Speaks to RT at the Launch of Fast For Shaker in London on October 15
50. Shaker Aamer: Fast For Shaker Supporters Encourage Shaker Aamer to End Hunger Strike, Maintain Pressure to Get Him Home By October 25
51. Torture, protest music: Video: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Play “81 Million Dollars” About the US Torture Program, Calling for Bush, Cheney and Others to be Held Accountable
52. Shaker Aamer: Five Days to Go: The Countdown to Shaker Aamer’s Release from Guantánamo
53. Life after Guantánamo: Guantánamo’s Tainted Evidence: US Government Publicly Concedes Its Case Against Ex-Prisoner Facing Trial in Morocco Collapsed in 2011
54. Shaker Aamer: Radio: Andy Worthington Speaks to Anastasia Kyriacou About Guantánamo, We Stand With Shaker and Fast For Shaker
55. Guantánamo, hunger strikes, US courts: Obama’s Mixed Messages on Guantánamo, as Justice Department Tells Judge Not to Intervene in Case of 75-Pound Hunger Striker at Risk of Death
56. Shaker Aamer: Shaker Aamer’s 5000th Day in Guantánamo – and My 2500th Post
57. Shaker Aamer: Clive Stafford Smith’s Fast For Shaker Aamer Hunger Strike Diary
58. Shaker Aamer: Photos: Shaker Aamer’s 5000th Day in Guantánamo – Vigil Outside 10 Downing Street, October 24, 2015
59. Shaker Aamer: Keep Up the Fast For Shaker Aamer, As Foreign Office and State Department Say Release Delayed Until Late This Week or Early Next Week
60. Guantánamo, President Obama, US Senate: Finally, President Obama Vetoes Defense Bill That Contains Onerous Guantánamo Restrictions
61. Shaker Aamer, prisoners released from Guantánamo: Shaker Aamer Finally Freed from Guantánamo: We Stand With Shaker Responds to the News
62. Shaker Aamer: Shaker Aamer’s Statement on His Release from Guantánamo

November 2015

Music legend Roger Waters (ex-Pink Floyd) supports We Stand With Shaker at the US Embassy on February 13, 2015 (Photo: Andy Worthington).63. Shaker Aamer: WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Roger Waters Writes About the Release of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo
64. Shaker Aamer: Shaker Aamer, Freed from Guantánamo, Is Reunited With His Family
65. Shaker Aamer, protest music: Video: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Play New Version of ‘Song for Shaker Aamer’ Reflecting His Release from Guantánamo
66. Shaker Aamer: Andy Worthington’s TV and Radio Appearances Following the Release of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo
67. Shaker Aamer, protest music: ‘Song for Shaker Aamer’ by Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers is ‘Protest Song of the Week’ on Kevin Gosztola’s Shadowproof
68. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Mauritanian, Cleared for Release Since 2009, Finally Repatriated from Guantánamo
69. Life after Guantánamo: Moroccan Released from Guantánamo Facing Kangaroo Court Trial Back Home As Wife Says She Is “Still Living a Nightmare”
70. Shaker Aamer: Responses to Shaker Aamer’s Release from Guantánamo – from MPs, and a Poignant and Powerful Article by Cori Crider of Reprieve
71. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Eroding Hyperbole: The Steady Reclassification of Guantánamo’s “Forever Prisoners”
72. Shaker Aamer, Ahmed Errachidi: Chef Held at Guantánamo Calls Shaker Aamer a “Beautiful, Great Man” But Warns of Difficulties Adapting to Freedom
73. Shaker Aamer: Radio: Andy Worthington Discusses the Release of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo with Richie Allen
74. Shaker Aamer: First Photos Published of Shaker Aamer Since His Release from Guantánamo
75. Shaker Aamer: A Photo and a Message from Shaker Aamer to His Supporters
76. Shaker Aamer: Radio: Andy Worthington Discusses Shaker Aamer’s Release and the Future of Guantánamo with Scott Horton and Peter B. Collins
77. Protest music: Podcast: Andy Worthington of The Four Fathers Interviewed About Protest Music By Kevin Gosztola of Shadowproof
78. Prisoners released from Guantánamo: Five Yemenis Freed from Guantánamo, Given New Homes in the United Arab Emirates
79. Closing Guantánamo: Playing Politics with the Closure of Guantánamo
80. Shaker Aamer: Radio: Andy Worthington and Debra Sweet of the World Can’t Wait Discuss Shaker Aamer and Closing Guantánamo with Cat Watters
81. Shaker Aamer: We Stand With Shaker’s 1st Anniversary, 100 Celebrity Photos and a Vigil on Thursday
82. Pacifism: Please Listen to Benjamin Ferencz, the Last Nuremberg Prosecutor, Explain His Implacable Opposition to War

December 2015

83. Guantánamo media: A Hunger for Justice at Guantánamo as Witness Against Torture Video of Thanksgiving Fast Gets 900,000 Views
84. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Presenting the First Annotated List of the 64 Guantánamo Prisoners Eligible for Periodic Review Boards
Former Guantanamo prisoner Haji Ghalib, photographed after his release from Guantanamo in February 2007.85. Life after Guantánamo: Haji Ghalib, the Afghan Freed from Guantánamo Who Is Now Fighting Isis and the Taliban
86. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: For Review at Guantánamo, DoD Acknowledges That 20th “Forever Prisoner” Is Case of Mistaken Identity, As He Seeks Release
87. Shaker Aamer, protest music: In London, Andy Worthington Discusses Shaker Aamer and Guantánamo, and His Band The Four Fathers Play Three Gigs
88. Human Rights Day: On Human Rights Day, A Call for the US to Close Guantánamo, and for the UK to Defend the Human Rights Act
89. Shaker Aamer: Shaker Aamer Speaks: First Newspaper Interview Since Release from Guantánamo, in the Mail on Sunday
90. Shaker Aamer: Shaker Aamer Discusses His 13 Years in Guantánamo, Built to “Destroy Human Beings,” and Adjusting to Freedom Since His Release
91. Guantánamo, Periodic Review Boards: Zahir Hamdoun, the 21st Guantánamo Prisoner Seeking Release Via A Periodic Review Board
92. Shaker Aamer: Video: After Guantánamo, Shaker Aamer’s 90-Minute BBC Interview with Victoria Derbyshire
93. Shaker Aamer: Video: Andy Worthington and Joanne MacInnes Discuss the Success of We Stand With Shaker on George Galloway’s Sputnik Show on RT
94. Shaker Aamer: Video: Andy Worthington Discusses Guantánamo, Shaker Aamer and We Stand With Shaker at Deptford Cinema, Dec. 18, 2015
95. Shaker Aamer, protest music: Video: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Play “Song For Shaker Aamer” at Deptford Cinema, Dec. 18, 2015
96. Closing Guantánamo: President Obama on Closing Guantánamo

An archive of articles about British politics, July to December 2015

Andy Worthington holding up a copy of 'Love and War' by The Four Fathers, after collecting the first copies from the manufacturers on July 3, 2015.1. Protest music: Buy It Here! Love and War, the Debut Album by Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Launches Today
2. Austerity: George Osborne’s Savage Cuts to Some of the UK’s Most Vulnerable People in His ‘Emergency Budget’
3. Music festivals: Photos: Mud and Magic at WOMAD 2015
4. Jeremy Corbyn, CND: Photos: Jeremy Corbyn at CND’s Hiroshima Day 70th Anniversary Ceremony in Tavistock Square
5. Refugee crisis: As the Death of Three-Year Old Syrian Refugee Aylan Kurdi Appals All Decent People, Please Sign the E-Petition Asking the UK Government to Accept More Refugees
6. Jeremy Corbyn, refugee crisis: Report and Photos: The Massive March for Refugees in London – and Jeremy Corbyn’s Victory
7. John McDonnell: “This Is The New Politics”: John McDonnell’s Inspiring Speech to the Labour Party Conference Includes Announcement of Establishment of Powerful Left-Wing Economic Advisory Board
8. Protest music: Video: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Play ‘Tory Bullshit Blues’ Unplugged
9. Syria: Labour’s Dilemma: What Should Be Done with the 66 MPs Who Voted with the Tories to Approve Airstrikes in Syria?
10. Protest music, books: For Christmas, Buy My Books on the UK Counter-Culture and Guantánamo and My Music with The Four Fathers
11. Protest music: Videos: Andy Worthington’s Band The Four Fathers Play “Fighting Injustice” and “She’s Back”

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’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). 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.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

Not Fit for Purpose: The Ongoing Failure of Guantánamo’s Military Commissions

"End Guantanamo commissions: use fair trials" - an Amnesty International supporter outside the White House.

Please support my work! I’m currently trying to raise $2800 (£2100) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo for the next three months.

In the 15 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States has systematically undermined many of the key values it claims to uphold as a nation founded on and respecting the rule of law, having embraced torture, indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial, trials of dubious legality and efficacy, and extra-judicial execution.

The Bush administration’s torture program — so devastatingly exposed in the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report into the program, published in December 2014 — no longer exists, but no one has been held accountable for it. In addition, as the psychologist and journalist Jeffrey Kaye has pointed out, although ostensibly outlawed by President Obama in an executive order issued when he took office, the use of torture is permitted, in particular circumstances, in Appendix M of the Army Field Manual.

When it comes to extrajudicial execution, President Obama has led the way, disposing of perceived threats through drone attacks — and although drones were used by President Bush, it is noticeable that their use has increased enormously under Obama. If the rendition, torture and imprisonment of those seized in the “war on terror” declared after the 9/11 attacks raised difficult ethical, moral and legal questions, killing people in drone attacks — even in countries with which the US is not at war, and even if they are US citizens — apparently does not trouble the conscience of the president, or the US establishment as a whole. Read the rest of this entry »

Former Child Prisoner at Guantánamo, Tortured in Jordan, Is the Last of 64 Men to Face a Periodic Review Board

Yemeni prisoner Hassan bin Attash, in a photo taken at Guantanamo and included in the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011.Please support my work! I’m currently trying to raise $2800 (£2100) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo for the next three months.

On September 8, Guantánamo prisoner Hassan bin Attash, born in Saudi Arabia to Yemeni parents, who appears to have been just 17 years old when he was seized in a house raid in Pakistan and sent to Jordan to be tortured, became the last of 64 prisoners to face a Periodic Review Board. Set up in 2013 to review the cases of all the prisoners who had not already been approved for release by an earlier review process (2009’s Guantánamo Review Task Force) and were not facing trials (just ten of the 61 men still held), the PRBs have played an important role in reducing the prison’s population in President Obama’s last year in office.

Consisting of representatives of the Departments of State, Defense, Justice and Homeland Security, as well as the office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the PRBs function like parole boards, assessing prisoners’ contrition, and plans for the future that will mitigate any concerns about them engaging in terrorism or military activity against the US after their release.

To date, 33 men have been approved for release by the PRBs (and 20 of those men have been freed), while 19 others have had their ongoing imprisonment without charge or trial upheld — although all are entitled to further reviews at which they and their attorneys can submit further information in an effort to change the board’s opinion. Purely administrative file reviews take place every six months, and, every three years, prisoners are entitled to full reviews, although in reality those that have taken place — for four men, who all ended up with recommendations for their release — have occurred sooner (between ten months and two years after their initial PRBs). See my definitive Periodic Review Board list on the Close Guantánamo website for further details. Read the rest of this entry »

PLEASE HELP! Quarterly Fundraiser Day 5 – Still Seeking $3000 (£2250) for My Guantánamo Work

Andy Worthington addressing campaigners in Florida, outside the entrance to US Southern Command, on January 9, 2016 (Photo: Medea Benjamin for Andy Worthington).Please support my work!

Dear friends and supporters,

Every three months I ask you, if you can, to make a donation to support my work on Guantánamo and related issues. As an independent researcher, commentator and campaigner, without any institutional backing, I cannot do what I do without your support; or, to put it another way, the majority of the 50 or so articles I write every quarter are written for free, and it is only through your donations that I get paid.

The $3500 (£2600) I seek every quarter works out at only about $70 (£50) per article — not a huge amount, I hope you’ll agree, but considerably more than nothing.

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). Read the rest of this entry »

Long-Term Hunger Striking Pakistani Seeks Release from Guantánamo Via Periodic Review Board

Guantanamo prisoner Ahmed Rabbani in a photo made available by his lawyers at the legal action charity Reprieve.

Please support my work! I’m currently trying to raise $3000 (£2250) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo for the next three months.

On September 1, Ahmed Rabbani (ISN 1461), a Pakistani prisoner at Guantánamo (also identified as Ahmad Rabbani, and known to the the US authorities as Mohammed Ahmed Ghulam Rabbani), became the 63rd — and penultimate — prisoner to face a Periodic Review Board. A long-term hunger striker, he was described as looking “frail” by Courthouse News, which also noted that he “has a long, thick black beard and wore a white covering on his head,”, and that, “Leaning forward with his arms folded on the table in front of him during the hearing, [he] seemed slight, especially when he raised his arm and the sleeve of the loose, white shirt he wore slid down his thin bicep.”

Seized in Karachi, Pakistan on September 9, 2002, with his brother Abdul Rahim, whose PRB took place on July 7, he was regarded as an al-Qaeda facilitator, and was held and tortured in CIA “black sites” for two years, before arriving at Guantánamo with nine other allegedly “medium-value detainees” in September 2004. The US still regards him as an al-Qaeda supporter, although his lawyers argue that he is a case of mistaken identity, and that he wishes only to be reunited with his family and live in peace.

The Periodic Review Boards, as I explained at the time of Abdul Rahim’s review, “were set up in 2013 to review the cases of all the men not already approved for release or facing trials. These men were described by the government task force that reviewed their cases in 2009 as ‘too dangerous to release,’ despite a lack of evidence against them, or were recommended for prosecution, until the basis for prosecution largely collapsed. The PRBs have been functioning like parole boards, with the men in question — 64 in total — having to establish, to the satisfaction of the board members, made up of representatives of the Departments of State, Defense, Justice and Homeland Security, as well as the office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that they show remorse for their previous actions, that they bear no ill-will towards the US, that they have no associations with anyone regarded as being involved in terrorism, and that they have plans in place for their life after Guantánamo, preferably with the support of family members.” Read the rest of this entry »

Quarterly Fundraiser Day 3: $3300 (£2400) Still Urgently Needed to Support My Guantánamo Work

Andy Worthington speaking outside the White House on January 11, 2016, the 14th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo (Photo: Justin Norman).Please support my work!

Dear friends and supporters,

For ten and a half years now, I’ve been writing about Guantánamo, and working to get the prison closed, as an independent journalist and human rights activist. I don’t have the support of a media organization, and I don’t receive any institutional funding, and as a result it’s important for anyone who recognizes the importance of my work to realize that I can’t do what I do without your support — the nearly 2000 articles about Guantánamo I’ve written since 2007, and those that I will continue to write until Guantánamo is closed, no one is held in indefinite detention by the US, the men freed are all adequately looked after, and those responsible for the crimes committed in the “war on terror” are held accountable.

I know times are hard, and I’m sure you all have many demands on your money, but as a reader-funded journalist I hope you’ll understand me pitching in to ask urgently for your support. Without it, I may not be able to keep writing about Guantánamo as I have been doing for all these years.

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).

Any amount will be gratefully received, whether it is $10, $25, $100 or $500 — or any amount in any other currency (£5, £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, although at present, I note, the majority of my financial support is coming from the UK.

I need your support to run this website and the associated social media, to write the 50 or so articles I write every quarter, to undertake the media appearances and personal appearances I make, most of which are unpaid, and to be available to answer questions about Guantánamo and the men held there, from researchers, film and TV companies, students, and journalists around the world that pepper my inbox on a regular basis.

It would be better for my mental health if I had a regular, reliable benefactor, but I don’t, beyond those kind individuals who always respond when I put out this appeal every 13 weeks, and my monthly sustainers, supporters who pledge an amount every month, so that I’m at least guaranteed some basic level of support every month.

If you can become a monthly sustainer, I will be extremely grateful. After clicking the PayPal “Donate” button, you simply tick the box marked, “Make This Recurring (Monthly),” and fill in the amount you wish to donate every month.

Please also note that, although supporters can pay via PayPal from anywhere in the world, if you’re in the UK and want to help without using PayPal, you can send me a cheque (address here — scroll down to the bottom of the page), and if you’re not a PayPal user and want to send cash from anywhere else in the world, that’s also an option. Please do also note that foreign checks are no longer accepted at UK banks — only electronic transfers — but don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to support me by paying directly into my account, from the UK, the US or anywhere else in the world.

In conclusion, perhaps some of you think that my work is nearly done, and that Guantánamo will soon be closed. I doubt that, although we should all be reassured that President Obama has taken significant steps to reduce the number men held — and that by the time he leaves office in January, there may well be no more than 40 men still held. I suspect, however, that he will not persuade Congress to drop its ban on bringing any prisoners to the mainland for any reason, and that the final closure of  Guantánamo will be left to his successor, who may or may not be interested in doing so.

In addition, as I noted at the start of this article, even if the prison at Guantánamo Bay closes, men will still be held in indefinite detention without charge or trial by the US, and that, of course, will be as unacceptable as it has always been and will need challenging, a task which I hope to be able to pursue, as well as demanding that all the men freed are adequately looked after, and that those responsible for the crimes committed in the “war on terror” — up to and including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld — are held accountable.

Thanks for listening, and thanks, as ever, for your support.

Andy Worthington
London
September 14, 2016

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’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). 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.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign.

Quarterly Fundraiser Day 1: Please Help Me Raise $3500 (£2600) to Support My Guantánamo Work

Andy Worthington speaking outside RAF Menwith Hill on July 4, 2013, at an annual protest staged by the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB). Please support my work!

Dear friends and supporters,

It’s that time of year again when I ask you, if you can, to help support my independent work on Guantánamo and related issues. I’m trying to raise $3500 (£2600) to cover the next three months, which doesn’t work out as a huge amount: £200 a week — or less than $300 a week — for the 50 or so articles I write every quarter, and also for maintaining social media, dealing with admin, and undertaking interviews and personal appearances (mostly unpaid), as well as the cost of running and maintaining this website.

If everyone who reads and appreciates my work was able to donate just $10 (£7.50) for the next three months, I could wrap up this fundraiser immediately, but I know many of you have limited funds and numerous demands for your support. Do bear in mind, though, that I have no institutional backing and that I am, fundamentally, a reader-funded journalist and activist, and as a result reading my work for free means accepting that I have written it for no payment whatsoever.

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). Read the rest of this entry »

15 Years After 9/11, Still Waiting for the Closure of Guantánamo

The US flag at Guantanamo.Exactly 15 years ago, terrorists attacked the United States, killing 2,996 people, in the World Trade Center and on two hijacked aeroplanes, and changing the world forever.

Within a month, the US had invaded Afghanistan, aiming to destroy al-Qaeda and to topple the Taliban regime that had harbored them. That mission was largely accomplished by early 2002, but instead of leaving, the US outstayed its welcome, “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory,” as Anand Gopal, the journalist and author of No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes, explained to me several years ago.

In addition, of course, the Bush administration — led by a president who knew little about the world, attended by two Republican veterans, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who believed in the president’s right to act as he saw fit in times of emergency, unfettered by any kind of checks and balances (the unitary executive theory) — also set up a secret CIA program of kidnap and torture on a global scale, and prisons in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, in Cuba, where the Geneva Conventions did not apply, and where they tried to pretend that indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial was the new normal, rather than a dangerous aberration. Read the rest of this entry »

Afghan Moneychanger Seeks Release from Guantánamo Via Periodic Review Board

Afghan prisoner Haji Wali Mohammed, in a photograph from Guantanamo included in the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011.On August 25, an Afghan prisoner at Guantánamo, Haji Wali Mohammed, who was born in February 1965 or 1966, became the 62nd prisoner to face a Periodic Review Board. The PRBs — whose closest analogy are parole boards — were set up in 2013 to review the cases of all the prisoners who had not already been approved for release and were not facing trials, and in total 64 men have had their cases reviewed. The last two reviews took place on September 1 and September 8, and I’ll be writing about them very soon.

Of the 64, 12 decisions have yet to be taken, but of the 52 cases decided (see my definitive PRB list here), the board members — comprising representatives of the Departments of State, Defense, Justice and Homeland Security, as well as the office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — approved 33 men for release, while upholding the ongoing imprisonment of 19 others. That’s a success rate for the prisoners of 63%, which is a rather damning indictment of the caution exercised by the previous review board, the Guantánamo Review Task Force, which reviewed all the prisoners’ cases in 2009, and made the recommendations for the ongoing imprisonment of the 64 men who have ended up facing PRBs.

23 of the 64 had been recommended for prosecution by the task force, until the basis for prosecutions in Guantánamo’s military commissions largely collapsed as a result of a number of devastating appeals court rulings in Washington, D.C., in which judges dismissed some of the handful of convictions secured in the commissions, and concluded that the war crimes in question had been invented by Congress. Read the rest of this entry »

No Justice for 14 Tortured “High-Value Detainees” Who Arrived at Guantánamo Ten Years Ago

Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, three of the 14 "high-value detainees" who arrived at Guantanamo from CIA "black sites" ten years ago, on September 6, 2006.I wrote the following article (as “Tortured “High-Value Detainees” Arrived at Guantánamo Exactly Ten Years Ago, But Still There Is No Justice”) 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.

Ten years ago, on September 6, 2006, President Bush announced that secret CIA prisons, whose existence he had always denied, had in fact existed, but had now been closed down, and the prisoners held moved to Guantánamo.

14 men in total were transferred to Guantánamo. Three were named by President Bush — Abu Zubaydah, described as “a senior terrorist leader and a trusted associate of Osama bin Laden,” and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, allegedly involved in the 9/11 attacks. Biographies of the 14 were made available, and can be found here. They include three other men allegedly involved in the 9/11 attacks — Walid bin Attash, Ammar al-Baluchi (aka Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali) and Mustafa al-Hawsawi — plus Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, allegedly involved in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian allegedly involved in the US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, Majid Khan, a Pakistani alleged to be an al-Qaeda plotter in the US, the Indonesian Hambali and two Malaysians, Zubair and Lillie, the Libyan Abu Faraj al-Libi, and a Somali, Gouled Hassan Dourad.

After the men’s arrival, they were not heard from until spring 2007, when Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) were held, which were required to make them eligible for military commission trials. As I explained in my book The Guantánamo Files in 2007, KSM and Walid bin Attash confessed to involvement with terrorism, although others were far less willing to make any kind of confession. Ammar al-Baluchi, for example, a nephew of KSM, and another of the alleged 9/11 co-conspirators, denied advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, or of al-Qaeda. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

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