January 11, 2015 is the 13th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba for prisoners seized in the brutal and fundamentally lawless “war on terror” that the Bush administration declared after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
779 men have been held at the prison — plus at least one other, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, in the “black site” that the CIA ran briefly at Guantánamo. Over the years, that population has been reduced significantly. 532 men and boys were released by President Bush, and 110 have been released by President Obama. Nine others died at the prison, and one was transferred to the US mainland to face a trial, leaving 127 men still held.
This is still 127 men too many, because everything about Guantánamo is fundamentally unjust, and has been since the day the prison opened, and although President Obama has released 28 men in the last year, 59 of the 127 men still held have been approved for release (all but four by the Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama established shortly after taking office in 2009), and the other 68 men must either be tried or released. Read the rest of this entry »
On Tuesday, in a courtroom in New York City, a long-running chapter in the “war on terror” came to an end, when Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, 48, a Kuwaiti-born cleric who appeared in media broadcasts as a spokesman for Al-Qaeda the day after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, received a life sentence based on the three counts for which he was convicted after his trial in March: conspiracy to kill Americans, providing material support to terrorists and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.
The life sentence came as no surprise, as it is permissible for the main conspiracy charge, although Abu Ghaith’s lead defense lawyer, Stanley L. Cohen, had, as the New York Times described it, “sought a sentence of 15 years, saying in a court submission that his client was facing ‘the harshest of penalties for talk — and only talk.'” The Times added that Cohen had likened Abu Ghaith to “an outrageous daytime ‘shock-radio’ host, or a World War II radio propagandist for a losing ideology.”
In court, as the Times also noted, Cohen “emphasized that his client had played no role in specific acts of terrorism,” but the government had argued otherwise, stating in a sentencing memorandum that there was “no fathomable reason to justify a sentence other than life.” Read the rest of this entry »
In the Belly of the Beast: A Walk through Lower Manhattan, a set on Flickr.
Regular readers will recall that, last month, I visited the US to campaign for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay on the 11th anniversary of its opening, taking part in events in Washington D.C. and McLean, Virginia from January 10 to 12, and in New York on January 13, which I made available in photo sets here, here and here. An archive of various articles relating to my visit — and videos of my appearances — can be found here.
However, as I explained in an article two weeks ago, An Englishman in New York: Photos of a Walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan, I actually arrived in New York on the evening of January 7, and didn’t leave until the evening of January 16, so I had plenty of time to wander around the city — and specifically Manhattan and Brooklyn, the former because, of course, it draws the visitor like an irresistible magnet, and because I had appointments there with various friends and colleagues: with Debra Sweet of the World Can’t Wait, with various friends and associates at the Center for Constitutional Rights, with the dancer and activist Nancy Vining Van Ness, and with the journalist and researcher Anand Gopal, as well as my rendezvous for a panel discussion at Revolution Books on January 13 with the Guantánamo attorney Ramzi Kassem, who represents Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, after which a big group of World Can’t Wait supporters went out for dinner before I ended up down an alley in Chinatown being filmed for a forthcoming documentary. Read the rest of this entry »
An Englishman in New York: A Walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan, a set on Flickr.
Last month, when I visited the US to campaign for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay on the 11th anniversary of its opening, I took part in events in Washington D.C. and McLean, Virginia from January 10 to 12, and in New York on January 13, which I made available in photo sets here, here and here. An archive of various articles relating to my visit — and videos of my appearances — can be found here.
However, I arrived in New York on the evening of January 7, and didn’t leave until the evening of January 16, so I had plenty of time to wander around New York — specifically Manhattan and Brooklyn, where I was staying with my friend, the secretive blogger known as The Talking Dog, and his family. The ‘Dog has been my friend since September 2007, when we first met over the phone, as he interviewed me for his excellent ongoing series of interviews with people involved with the Guantánamo story, just after the publication of my book The Guantánamo Files, and I first visited him and stayed with him in March 2008, during my first ever visit to America. Read the rest of this entry »
New York, January 2012, a set on Flickr.
Regular readers will be aware that, since the start of this year, some of my articles have featured photos I have taken (see Photos: The “Austerity Isn’t Working” Protest Outside Downing Street and Parliament, Photos: May Day Celebrations in London, Including Occupy London Protestors, Occupy London, May 12: Photos from St. Paul’s Cathedral Protest and Occupy London, May 12: Photos from the Bank of England Protest and a Call for Global Solidarity, for example).
Photography has been a love of mine since I was a teenager, but it is something that I largely let slip after Guantánamo took over my life six years ago, and my last analogue camera broke and I failed to buy a new digital replacement. Fortunately, my wife gave me a great digital camera at Christmas, which has now become my constant companion, and, as a result, I’ve now set up a Flickr account, and will regularly be uploading photos on Flickr and then providing notification here. Read the rest of this entry »
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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