Last week, during the West Coast leg of my 12-day “Close Guantánamo Now” tour (supported by the World Can’t Wait), I was first in San Francisco, a visit that involved being reunited with a number of old friends, including Stephanie Tang and Curt Wechsler of World Can’t Wait, Joey Johnson, who does community work in San Francisco neighbourhoods, the academic and anti-torture activist Rita Maran, lawyer Sharon Adams (with whom I spoke on Rose Aguilar’s “Your Call” show on KALW Public Radio) and Michael Kearns, the former instructor in the SERE program, which trains US personnel to resist interrogations if captured by an enemy that uses torture, who was appalled to discover, several years ago, that his former colleagues Bruce Jessen, James Mitchell and Roger Aldrich had played a key role in reverse-engineering these techniques for the torture of supposed “high-value detainees” seized in the “war on terror.”
I had met many of these good people for the first time in October 2010, when World Can’t Wait brought me over to Berkeley for “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week, and was reunited with many of them two years ago, as part of a short US tour on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, in which I also visited New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago.
On this occasion, I first met up with some of my old friends in Oakland, at the house of other old friends, Ruth and Zeese, who had put me up on previous visits, where we had an inspiring anti-torture salon experience, of a kind that would be difficult to achieve outside of those involved in “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week. This was on the evening of my arrival, after a few hours in the afternoon spent exploring and photographing Mission Street in San Francisco, and the next morning I recorded the “Your Call” show with Rose and Sharon (and CUNY law professor and Guantánamo attorney Ramzi Kassem in New York), and then walked along Ocean beach, saw the Bay Area from Twin Peaks and ate delicious lamb shwarma with Joey Johnson, soaking up the radiant sunshine everywhere we went. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday, I was delighted to speak to Michael Slate on his show on KPFK in Los Angeles, as the monstrosity that is Guantánamo reached another horrible milestone — Day 150 of the prison-wide hunger strike that began in early February. Michael and I have spoken many times before (most recently here and here), and our 20-minute interview is here, at the start of the hour-long show.
According to the authorities, 106 of the remaining 166 prisoners are taking part in the hunger strike (the prisoners claim the true total is around 120). Moreover, 45 of these men are being force-fed, a horrible process whereby they are strapped down into restraint chairs twice a day, and have liquid nutrient pumped into their stomachs through tubes inserted up their noses.
For recent discussions of this process by two of the men being force-fed — who, shockingly, are amongst the 86 men cleared for release who are still held — see “Guantánamo Hunger Strike: Nabil Hadjarab Tells Court, ‘I Will Consider Eating When I See People Leaving This Place‘” and “In Court Submission, Hunger Striker Ahmed Belbacha Tells Obama, ‘End the Nightmare that is Guantánamo.'” Read the rest of this entry »
The hunger strike in Guantánamo, which is now in its 74th day, continues to draw attention, although it is important that everyone who cares about it keeps publicizing the story — and keeps reminding the mainstream media to keep reporting it — or it will be lost in the hysteria emanating from the Boston bombings, which right-wingers, of course, are using to replenish their Islamophobia — one aim of which will be to shut down discussion of Guantánamo, in order to keep the prison open.
As my contribution to keeping the story alive, I’ve been publishing articles about the hunger strike on an almost daily basis, and have also been taking part in as many media appearances as possible. On Monday, after the military had clamped down on the hunger strike with violence last weekend, firing non-lethal rounds and moving the majority of the prisoners into solitary, I received several invitations to take part in TV and radio shows, but all but two fizzled out when the Boston bombing occurred. One of the two was a Canadian radio station, and the other was with Dennis Bernstein on Flashpoints, on KPFA in Berkeley, California.
My interview with Dennis is available here, just three weeks after our last discussion about Guantánamo, and I was pleased to be joined by Candace Gorman, the Chicago-based attorney who represents two Guantánamo prisoners — one still held, and the other freed in 2010 — and Stephanie Tang of the World Can’t Wait. Both are friends, and between us, and with Dennis’s informed interest in the topic, I believe we thoroughly analyzed the dreadful situation that is still unfolding at Guantánamo, and pointed out the urgent necessity for President Obama to take action. Read the rest of this entry »
The world is, I hope, waking up to the truth that something terrible is happening at Guantánamo — a prison-wide hunger strike, involving as many as 130 of the remaining 166 prisoners, which began nearly two months ago, but was denied by the US authorities until just two weeks ago, although the numbers conceded by the military fail to match those cited by the prisoners themselves, via their lawyers.
From the five or six long-term hunger strikers initially acknowledged, the numbers went up to 14, and have been steadily increasing so that, today, the Pentagon claimed that “39 men are consistently refusing food,” as the Washington Post reported, also noting, “Of those, 11 are being force fed.” The men are on a hunger strike because of complaints about their treatment under the current command at the prison, but also — and primarily, I believe — because of their understanding that they have been completely abandoned by President Obama, even though he promised to close the prison (within a year) when he took office in 2009, and even though 86 of the remaining prisoners were cleared for release from the prison by an inter-agency task force that the President established in 2009.
On Friday, I spoke to Michael Slate, the veteran radio host whose informative and hard-hitting show is on KPFK 90.7 FM, in Los Angeles. The show is available here, as an MP3, and my interview begins at just after 23 minutes and lasts for 17 minutes. It follows another important interview, with Annette Dickerson, the Director of Education and Outreach at the Center for Constitutional Rights, discussing a disgraceful milestone: the 5,000,000th person to be subjected to the New York Police Department’s “stop and frisk” policy. Read the rest of this entry »
On Friday, I was delighted to talk to Michael Slate on his long-standing progressive show, on KPFK in Los Angeles, about Guantánamo, as I prepared to fly to the US for a series of events to mark the 11th anniversary of the opening of the prison, and to demand its closure, as promised by President Obama when he first took office four years ago. The show is here, as an MP3 and our interview lasts for around 20 minutes, and is the second interview in the hour-long show, starting about 20 minutes in. For anyone interested in my current whereabouts, I’m now in Brooklyn, having traveled here safely today.
I hope you can listen to the show. Michael and I have spoken before (see here, here, here and here, most recently following President Obama’s reelection) and it’s always a pleasure, as he is an extremely well-informed host.
In this latest interview, Michael helpfully promoted the imminent anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, not only asking me about the events in Washington D.C., and promoting my website and the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, but also pointing out that, in Los Angeles, there will be a silent vigil at 10am on January 11, and a rally and press conference at 10.45am, at the Federal Building in Downtown LA, on the corner of Temple and Los Angeles Streets, which my friend Andy Griggs, the program director of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, had also let me know about. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday, I was delighted to talk to Michael Slate on his long-standing progressive show, on KPFK in Los Angeles, about Guantánamo past, present and future. The show is here, as an MP3 (also see here) and our interview lasts for around 20 minutes.
If you have the time, I hope you can listen to the show. Michael and I have spoken before (see here, here and here) and he is always very well-informed. On this occasion, our discussion was timed to coincide with the aftermath of the Presidential election, and the focus on President Obama to fulfil his promise to close Guantánamo within a year, which he made in January 2009, and then, of course, failed to achieve.
Michael asked me about the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, which I established in January this year with the attorney Tom Wilner, and I explained our mission, and how the main focus is on educating people about the fact that 86 of the remaining 166 prisoners in Guantánamo have been cleared for release but are still held, and how securing the release of these men is the most urgent demand for campaigners. Read the rest of this entry »
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