For nearly six years, I have been researching and writing about Guantánamo and the 779 men (and boys) held there over the last ten years, first through my book The Guantánamo Files, and, since May 2007, as a full-time independent investigative journalist. For three years, I focused on the crimes of the Bush administration and, since January 2009, I have analysed the failures of the Obama administration to thoroughly repudiate those crimes and to hold anyone accountable for them, and, increasingly, on President Obama’s failure to charge or release prisoners, and to show any sign that Guantánamo will eventually be closed.
As the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo approaches, this is an intolerable situation, as the prison remains as much of an aberration, and a stain on America’s belief in itself as a nation ruled by laws, as it was when it was opened by George W. Bush on January 11, 2002. Closing the prison remains as important now as it did when I began this work in 2006.
Over the last six years of researching Guantánamo and writing about it on an almost daily basis, my intention has been to puncture the Bush administration’s propaganda about Guantánamo holding “the worst of the worst” by telling the prisoners’ stories and bringing them to life as human beings, rather than allowing them to remain as dehumanized scapegoats or bogeymen. Read the rest of this entry »
Despite an eleventh hour appeal to the US Supreme Court, Troy Davis, on death row in Georgia for 20 years, was executed last night, by lethal injection, at 11pm, local time. The Supreme Court took four hours to turn down his appeal for clemency, even though rumors had spread that his execution would be stayed, for up to a week, and that Justice Clarence Thomas — not a man generally known for his humanitarianism — was particularly interested in his case.
Troy Davis’s execution was not an isolated incident in the US. 34 death row prisoners had already been executed in America this year, and although the number of executions in the US is declining (from a 30-year high of 98 in 1999), there were still 46 executions last year. In addition, at the start of this year, there were 3,251 prisoners on death row in the US, and when it comes to executions, only three countries have more institutional vengeance than the US — China, Iran and Iraq.
Even so, Troy Davis’s case was particularly noteworthy for two reasons: firstly, because of the breadth of support he received from around the world, with nearly a million people calling for him not to be executed, in petitions that were delivered to Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm (with many more also signing online petitions), and also because of the widespread protests around the world as the date for his execution approached; and secondly, because there were such profound doubts about his guilt. This, again, is no obstacle to execution in the US, but it was made a particular issue by the state of Georgia, as Amnesty International explained eloquently in a blog post on Tuesday. Read the rest of this entry »
Today (September 20), the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency to Troy Davis. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection tomorrow (Wednesday, September 21, 2011) at 7 pm EST. To take action for Troy Davis, please visit this Amnesty International page and send urgent emails to the Pardons Board and the District Attorney.
Troy Davis was convicted of murdering a Georgia police officer in 1991, based upon the testimony of nine witnesses, seven of whom have recanted their testimony entirely, and has been on death row since his conviction. Three previous attempts to execute him were stayed at the last minute.
As Amnesty International explained today:
The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony.
Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.
One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester “Red” Coles — the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles. Read the rest of this entry »
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