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 »
It’s been a busy week, with the prison-wide hunger strike still raging at Guantánamo, and the government’s denials about it taking place crumbling under sustained media interest.
I’m delighted that the major US newspapers have picked up on the story, and also that CBS News and CNN have finally deigned to cover it, although in general, as was noted at the start of the week by RT — which is engaged in the kind of sustained coverage of the story that ought to be undertaken by the US networks — US TV remains a Guantánamo-free zone.
I appeared briefly on RT’s show on Monday about the hunger strike — part of a short interview that replaced a larger segment planned for last Friday that was scuppered by technical problems — but what I particularly liked about the show was how RT succinctly exposed the shallowness of most US broadcast news, and the ignorance of the American public when it comes to Guantánamo.
In the streets of New York, a reporter for RT asked residents if they knew that over half of the 166 men still in Guantánamo — 86 in total — had been cleared for release but are still held — only to be met with surprise and, in some cases, evident shock and indignation. Read the rest of this entry »
As the world’s media marked the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq on Tuesday, I was honoured to be asked to speak to Dennis Bernstein, the veteran progressive radio host at KPFA in Berkeley.
Dennis and I have spoken before, and it’s always a pleasure to talk with him, but I was particularly pleased that I was asked to speak about Guantánamo as part of a program about Iraq, as far too few people in the media make the connections between the invasion of Iraq, the invasion of Afghanistan, Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, the use of torture and “black sites.”
At the start of the show, Dennis spoke to Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi exile who works for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and who delivered a searing indictment of the apologist for the Iraq war, ten years on, who pretend that it was, on an level, worthwhile, when, as he pointed out, it led to “one million dead, five million displaced, and the country in a shambles.”
My segment starts at 28 minutes in and last for a quarter of an hour, and began with Dennis asking me to recap how I researched the story of Guantánamo, and got to know about the stories of the men held there (through an analysis of 8,000 pages released by the Pentagon as the result of an FOIA lawsuit), and why the lies told about them — that they were “the worst of the worst” — were so outrageous: primarily, because the majority of the prisoners were bought for bounty payments from their Afghan and Pakistani allies, and because most of what purports to be evidence against them consists of dubious or patently false statements made by the prisoners themselves, or by their fellow prisoners, through the use of torture, abuse, or bribery (the promise of better living conditions). Read the rest of this entry »
On Friday, following the publication of my article “America’s Disappeared” on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation, I was interviewed by Scott Horton, with whom I have been talking since August 2007, when he first picked up on my Guantánamo work, and then followed up via an article about Jose Padilla, the US citizen imprisoned as an “enemy combatant” on the US mainland, and tortured until he lost his mind.
Scott and I have mostly discussed Guantánamo in the last five and a half years, although we have also dealt with related issues — the US prison at Bagram in Afghanistan, for example — and on Friday the initial topic of our discussion was torture, the CIA’s “black sites” and the lack of accountability for the Bush administration’s torture program — all of which was dealt with in my article. This followed the publication, by the Open Society Justice Initiative, of “Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition,” the first major report identifying the prisoners subjected to torture and disappearance since a UN report on disappearances in 2010, on which I was the lead author of the sections on disappearances in the “war on terror.” Read the rest of this entry »
Listen here to my show with Omar Deghayes on Radio Free Brighton. And please sign the petition calling for the release of Shaker Aamer.
Last week, when I visited Brighton to take part in “Freedom from Torture,” an event organised by the University of Sussex Amnesty International Society, I stayed overnight with my friend Jackie Chase and her family, and, the following day, recorded a radio show about Guantánamo on Radio Free Brighton, with my friend, the former Guantánamo prisoner and Brighton resident Omar Deghayes. The 40-minute show is available here.
Jackie is a long-standing campaigner for justice, having been involved in the Save Omar campaign, to secure the return from Guantánamo of Omar Deghayes (who was freed in December 2007). Jackie then campaigned to secure the release of Binyam Mohamed, who was finally freed in February 2009, and now runs Under the Bridge Studios, a wonderfully busy community of rehearsal studios, which also houses Radio Free Brighton, which was recently recognised by Mixcloud as one of the 30 most popular online radio shows in the world. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s four days since I came back from a ten-day trip to the US to join other campaigners, on the 11th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, in calling for President Obama to revisit the promise to close Guantánamo that he made when he took office exactly four years ago, and this time to fulfill his promise, and not cave in to criticism, failing the prisoners as thoroughly as they have also been failed by the other branches of the US government.
As well as being failed by the President, the 166 men still in Guantánamo have been failed by Congress, where opportunistic lawmakers, bent on selling a message of fear to the US public, have imposed onerous restrictions on the President’s ability to release prisoners, and the courts, where pro-Guantánamo ideologues in the Court of Appeals in Washington D.C., who have gutted habeas corpus of all meaning for the Guantánamo prisoners, and have discovered that they are able to dictate detainee policy to the Supreme Court, which has refused to consider a single appeal from the prisoners.
As a result, on the 11th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, on January 11, those of us protesting the prison’s ongoing existence — and the inertia and indifference towards it that is more marked than ever before — found ourselves bound together closely by our concern for those still held, and for the system of indefinite detention without charge or trial that Guantánamo has become. We also discovered new levels of righteous indignation — see, for example, my speech outside the White House here (on the anniversary), and, earlier that day, the panel discussion I was part of, with the attorney Tom Wilner and Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the military commissions at Guantánamo, at the New America Foundation. Also check out my photos here and here. 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 »
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