Congratulations to John Grisham for Writing about the Injustice of Guantánamo

In the long and horrendous history of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, it has been noticeable that very few celebrities have challenged the myriad injustices of Guantánamo — the torture; the indefinite detention without charge or trial; the decision by the Bush administration to tear up every domestic and international law and treaty regarding the treatment of prisoners; the refusal to make a distinction between soldiers and terrorists; the bounty payments issued to America’s Afghan and Pakistani allies, which led to numerous civilians being rounded up and sent to Guantánamo; the pressure exerted on the prisoners to make them tell lies about themselves and their fellow prisoners, to create the majority of what passes for evidence at Guantánamo; the failure of President Obama to hold any Bush administration officials (up to and including President Bush) responsible for their actions; the failure of President Obama to close the prison as he promised; the failure of President Obama to resume releasing prisoners, as he promised in a major speech in May this year; the opportunistic fearmongering of Congress, which has raised almost insurmountable obstacles to prevent the release of prisoners or the closure of the prison; the decision by judges in the appeals court in Washington D.C. (the D.C. Circuit Court) to gut habeas corpus of all meaning in relation to the Guantánamo prisoners, and to shut the Great Writ down as a route out of the prison; and the decision by the Supreme Court to allow this cynical manipulation of the law to stand, and not to assert its authority over the appeals court.

As a result of the general indifference towards Guantánamo, it came as a great and pleasant surprise when, at the weekend, the author John Grisham, whose books have sold over 250 million copies, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantánamo, focusing, in particular, on the case of Nabil Hadjarab, an Algerian national, and an orphan, with relatives in France who have been seeking his release for many years. Grisham found out about him because he was alerted to the fact that prisoners were being prevented from reading his books, and that Nabil was one of them — and I imagine he was made aware of this through his support for the Innocence Project, a non-profit organization in the US dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people, which Nabil’s lawyers at Reprieve have also been involved in over many years.

Grisham, I’m glad to say, has understood perfectly the horrors of Guantánamo, as the following passages from his article show: 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 (The State of London).
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