On Saturday, I was delighted to talk about Guantánamo past, present and future with Chuck Mertz, who hosts an excellent four-hour radio show, “This is Hell,” every Saturday on WNUR 89.3FM Chicago. Chuck and I have spoken several times in the seven and a half years since I began researching and writing about Guantánamo on a full-time basis, and we had a very thorough discussion on Saturday, which is available here. Scroll down to listen to my 45-minute interview, after interviews with Ann Jones, Juan Cole and Dana Becker, or listen to the whole show here, which also includes Jim Naureckas, Trevor Ewen and Jeff Dorchen.
Our latest discussion was triggered by Chuck’s horrified appreciation of my most recent article for Al-Jazeera, “At Guantánamo, a microcosm of the surveillance state,” in which I discussed the latest scandal to rock the permanently troubled military commission trial system at Guantánamo — a technical upgrade that, through incompetence, or through an aspect of the sweeping surveillance state exposed by Edward Snowden earlier this year, led to 540,000 confidential emails sent by military defense attorneys at Guantánamo ending up with prosecutors, and seven gigabytes of files disappearing completely.
This, for the record, is how Chuck described the show:
If Franz Kafka had access to 21st century technology, we could have booked him on the show to talk about the military commission trials of Guantánamo detainees. Defense files are given to the prosecution, the FBI spies on meetings between lawyers, and charges are sought against only 2.5% of total detainees at the site. Kafka wasn’t available to comment, but investigative journalist Andy Worthington knows the alienation and farcical nature of authority better than anyone outside Camp X-Ray’s walls. Read the rest of this entry »
Please sign and share the petition, “EU leaders: Stop mass surveillance,” which, shamefully, has just under 5,000 signatures at the time of writing.
Last week, as the European Parliament’s Office of Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs released what Index on Censorship described as “a notably pointed briefing paper arguing for Europe to stop trusting American Internet services,” and Index on Censorship launched a petition on Change.org, entitled, “EU leaders: Stop mass surveillance,” which was also sponsored by numerous other organizations including Amnesty International, English PEN, Article 19, Privacy International, Open Rights Group and Liberty UK, I was called by Nima Green for the radio station Voice of Russia, and asked my thoughts.
Nima’s four and half minute broadcast is available here, and below is a transcript of the broadcast, in which I was pleased to be able to get my point across that blanket surveillance is unacceptable, and that our governments should only be allowed to specifically target those they regard as suspicious in a carefully managed manner with a clear command responsibility and legislation to back it up. I don’t agree with the other speaker in the broadcast, Margaret Gilmore of the Royal United Services Institute, who tries to play down the extent to which surveillance is used. 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 »
On Thursday, I took part in a fascinating conversation on Voice of Russia about Edward Snowden, the role of whistleblowers and the surveillance state. The discussion was entitled, “How far can politicians go to protect our security?” and I was with Brendan Cole in London, while, in Moscow, Dmitry Medvedenko’s guest was Dr. Boris Martynov, Deputy Head of the Institute of Latin America in Moscow, and in Washington Rob Sachs’ guest was Bruce Zagaris, a partner with Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe LLP.
The 40-minute show is available here, and in it I made a particular point of explaining how far too much of the mainstream media is obsessively focusing on Edward Snowden’s search for asylum, rather than focusing on the aspect of the story that is much more significant — the fact, as I put it, that “he felt compelled to sacrifice his career because he wanted to reveal the extent that people were being spied on by their governments.”
I also explained why that is so important — because, instead of governments regarding their citizens as “innocent until proven guilty,” they have revealed themselves — with America in the driving seat — as “massively obsessed with trawling for information about all of us,” and having “an obsession with power and a sense of paranoia that is very inappropriate.” Read the rest of this entry »
A few days ago, I was delighted to talk to Scott Horton, who I’ve been talking to, on a regular basis, for nearly six years, about the ongoing horrors of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, which, in a few weeks’ time, will have been open for its appalling business of arbitrary detention and torture for eleven and a half years. The half-hour interview is available here as an MP3.
In the show, Scott and I discussed the hunger strike at Guantánamo, now on its 143rd day, in which 106 of the remaining 166 prisoners (by the military’s own account) are on hunger strike, and 44 are being force-fed.
As I always explain, although it is horrible that men are being force-fed, which medical experts regard as a form of torture, this should not distract us from the reasons that the men are starving themselves and risking their lives — because they have reached a point of despairing at ever being released or provided with anything resembling justice, and with good reason.
Over half of the 166 men still held — 86 in total — have been cleared for release for at least three and a half years, after the inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force, established by President Obama when he took office, issued its report recommending whether the prisoners should be released, prosecuted or held indefinitely without charge or trial — recommendations that, just two weeks ago, through FOIA legislation, were finally accompanied by a full list of the prisoners and which categories they had been placed in by the task force, which I wrote about in my article, “The Guantánamo Review Task Force’s Decisions on Who to Release, Try and Hold Indefinitely Are Finally Released.” Read the rest of this entry »
On Tuesday evening, I responded to a last-minute request for a brief interview about Guantánamo, and the ongoing hunger strike that is now on its 135th day, with Press TV. That interview is available here, and below is a rather helpful transcript, produced by Press TV, to which I have made a few corrections.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to link to a radio interview I undertook last week with Linda Olson-Osterlund on her show A Deeper Look on KBOO FM, a community radio station in Portland, Oregon. Linda first approached me for an interview back in May 2008, and we have since spoken many times. It is always a pleasure to speak to her, as she is a well-informed host, passionate about exposing injustice. The half-hour show is available here, and the MP3 is here.
The show was entitled, “Guantánamo Bay Prison Camp: Will It ever Close?” and this is how Linda described it:
With 104 men on hunger strike, 41 of them being force fed and 4 hospitalized, White House officials and Senators Feinstein and McCain paid a surprise visit last Friday. At the same time there is a mini troop surge going on at the prison. Join me, Linda Olson-Osterlund, for A Deeper Look, this Thursday morning at 9:30am. My guest will be Andy Worthington, journalist and author of The Guantánamo Files. He’ll help make sense of the changing political landscape about the prison camp and bring us up to date on efforts to have men released. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, as the trial of Bradley Manning finally got underway at Fort Meade in Maryland, nearly three years after the military analyst was first arrested for the biggest leak of classified documents in US history, I was asked to take part in a radio show on Voice of Russia, the radio station whose UK studio is in St. James’s Square in central London.
The show was entitled, “Bradley Manning and the nature of intelligence,” and involved guests in three studios — in Washington D.C, Moscow and London. It was 45 minutes in total, but the London segment has been made available as an audio file, and can be listened to, or downloaded here.
I appeared in London alongside John Gearson, Professor of National Security Studies, and Director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College London, and our host was Hywel Davis.
I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak about the importance of Bradley Manning’s whistleblowing, and to explain why I believe that, although he obviously disobeyed the rules governing the behavior of US military personnel, the attempt to claim that he was “aiding the enemy” is absurd, and the military — and the Obama administration — should, at most, have settled for the 20-year sentence that is the maximum punishment for the crimes to which Manning has already agreed. Read the rest of this entry »
With the prison-wide hunger strike at Guantánamo nearing the end of its third month (on Sunday), and even President Obama finally breaking his silence at a news conference on Tuesday — condemning the ongoing existence of the prison, but offering little in the way of solutions — I have been very busy with media appearances, as the mainstream media has woken up to the chronic injustice of Guantánamo in a convincing manner that — dare I say it — shows no sign of going away, as has the general public.
If you haven’t already signed it, please sign the petition calling for President Obama to close Guantánamo, which was launched this week by Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the military commissions, who resigned in protest at the Bush administration’s use of torture. In just a few days, the petition has already secured over 125,000 signatures, showing a depth of concern for the ongoing injustice of Guantánamo that has been imaginable for the last few years.
This is entirely appropriate, of course, as 166 men languish in Guantánamo, abandoned by all three branches of the US government — President Obama and his administration, Congress and the courts — including the 86 who were cleared for release at least three years ago by an inter-agency task force established the President Obama himself. 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 »
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