Note: This image was produced by Amnesty International as part of their letter-writing campaign for this December, featuring Adnan Latif (on the left), a Yemeni prisoner who died at Guantánamo last weekend, and Hussein Almerfedi, another Yemeni who, like Latif, won his habeas corpus petition, but then had it reversed by the malignant rightwing ideologues of the D.C. Circuit Court. Amnesty made the image available to Latif’s attorneys, so please feel free to circulate it widely.
The news cycle is such that we are all trapped like hamsters on a fast-moving wheel, and even when something terrible happens, the media tends to move on after a couple of days — even when that terrible event is the death of a man at Guantánamo who had mental health problems, who was cleared for release in 2006 by a military review board under George W. Bush, and in 2009 by Barack Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force, and who had his habeas corpus petition granted by a federal judge in July 2010.
Instead of being released, Latif had his successful habeas petition thrown out by the D.C. Circuit Court last October, not on any factual basis, but because of the application of a twisted ideology, and in June this year the Supreme Court also failed him, refusing to get involved when he — and six others — appealed for them to restore justice to the habeas process. Read the rest of this entry »
Friday was the start of the holy month of Ramadan, and it seems to me that, for both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, there is no better time to send a message of support to the remaining 168 prisoners in America’s reviled prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
This is a campaign initiated two years ago by two Facebook friends, Shahrina J. Ahmed and Mahfuja Bint Ammu, and repeated every six months (see here, here, here and here), but it is depressing to note that just eleven prisoners have left Guantánamo alive in the last two years, and two others left in coffins.
The men still held at Guantánamo have been failed by President Obama, who promised to close the prison within a year of taking office in January 2009, and then resoundingly failed to do so. Compounding this failure, President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force, comprising career officials, lawyers and experts from all the relevant government departments and from the intelligence agencies, who analyzed the prisoners’ cases throughout 2009, concluded that 87 of the remaining 168 prisoners should be released, although they are still held. Read the rest of this entry »
Last Thursday, February 16, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called “underwear bomber,” received a life sentence in a courtroom in Detroit. Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, had tried and failed to blow up a plane bound for Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, receiving serious burns when the bomb failed to detonate.
After he was apprehended, he was read his Miranda rights, and interrogated non-coercively by the FBI, but this was not acceptable to supporters of torture, who proceeded to demonstrate that a new phase of fearmongering and paranoia was opening up in what should, by then, have been the dying days of the “war on terror.”
In this new spirit of hysteria, the discovery that he had been recruited for his failed mission in Yemen led to a chorus of demands that no more Guantánamo prisoners should be released to Yemen — from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), and even Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, who told Politico, “In terms of sending more of them to return to Yemen, it would be a bit of a reach. I’d, at a minimum, say that whatever we were about to do we’d at least have to scrub it again from top to bottom.” Read the rest of this entry »
Below, I’m pleased to cross-post an interview conducted by phone with the journalist Brad Jacobson during my recent visit to the US to campaign for the closure of Guantánamo on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Bush administration’s brutal and lawless “war on terror” prison. The interview was conducted while I was in Washington D.C., and afterwards I was pleased to direct Brad to Truthout as a prospective publisher, and delighted that Truthout decided to run with it. It was published on Sunday, and I’ll let it speak for itself, after noting that I have made a few editorial changes, and have inserted some additional links as well.
Brad was a knowledgeable interviewer, and clearly interested in the horrors of America’s post-9/11 journey to the “dark side,” and the surreal situation we now find ourselves in, when a Democratic President, who campaigned largely on a promise to clear up the Bush administration’s mess, and to close Guantánamo, has largely failed to do so, and,perversely, has ended up normalizing much of what, under George W. Bush, had come to be regarded as a national shame.
On January 12, the tenth anniversary of the notorious military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Truthout interviewed investigative journalist and Guantánamo expert Andy Worthington. Author of The Guantánamo Files and co-director of the film “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” Worthington has spent the last six years painstakingly working to keep alive in the public consciousness the human faces and personal contexts of the 779 people imprisoned within the facility. Read the rest of this entry »
The new “Close Guantánamo” website, an initiative I was involved in launching last month, with a petition on the White House’s “We the People” website, has now entered a new phase — presenting the prisoners’ stories, as told by their attorneys — which is a project that, hopefully, will run throughout the year, and will feed into new campaigns and projects. Please sign up here if you’re interested in adding your voice, and in receiving regular updates.
In the meantime, to help promote the “Close Guantánamo” campaign and the prisoner profiles, I’m cross-posting below the introduction to the prisoner profiles and the first profile, a thorough and detailed account of Abdul Razak Qadir, one of five Uighurs (Muslims from China’s Xinjiang province) who are still held at Guantánamo, written by his attorney Seema Saifee. Please note that many of the links have been added especially for this cross-post.
When the “Close Guantánamo” website was established a month ago, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, we had two aims — to push for the closure of the prison, particularly by focusing on the injustice of holding 89 prisoners cleared for release, out of 171 prisoners in total; and to dispel the still prevalent myths about the prisoners being “the worst of the worst,” by telling their stories. Read the rest of this entry »
During my ten-day US tour last month to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo, all the events I took part in, and the TV and radio interviews I undertook, were worthwhile, enjoyable, and an opportunity to provide important information and to urge those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo to keep campaigning for its closure.
This is not an easy task, given President Obama’s failures, cynical Congressional opposition, and the obstruction of right-wing judges in the D.C. Circuit Court — and it is compounded by a recent poll showing that a majority of Americans are apparently content for Guantánamo to remain open — but the 10th anniversary provided an opportunity to launch a new campaigning website, “Close Guantánamo” with the attorney Tom Wilner (and supporters can sign up here), and also to hook up with many other friends.
One of these is Jason Leopold, the lead investigative reporter for Truthout, who is a colleague and a friend with whom I spent some time in the fall of 2010, during “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week, and in the third of the four cities on my recent visit — San Francisco — Jason and I took part in an hour-long conversation, at UC Hastings Law School on January 13, which was one of the most satisfying of all my engagements, as Jason and I work well together, and had enough time to cover all the issues that need discussing, on this baleful anniversary when all three branches of the US government have failed to close Guantánamo, and too few people seem to care. Read the rest of this entry »
On January 10, while I was visiting the US for events marking the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, the World Can’t Wait, the campaigning organization responsible for my visit, hosted a screening of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (which I co-directed with Polly Nash) at a branch of Busboys and Poets in Washington D.C.
This was the day before the rally and march to close Guantánamo, which I covered here, here and here, and it was an extremely well attended event, with over a hundred people in the audience — mostly campaigners from the various organizations involved in the January 11 protest, including Amnesty International, Witness Against Torture, the World Can’t Wait, Code Pink and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.
Also present were: the attorney Tom Wilner — my colleague in the newly established “Close Guantánamo” campaign and website, with whom I had just taken part in a lunchtime event at the New America Foundation (also with Congressman Jim Moran and Col. Morris Davis) — and Darold Killmer and Mari Newman, attorneys from Denver whom I had asked to come along and speak about their clients, five Yemenis who are still held at Guantánamo. Read the rest of this entry »
Since March 2006, I have been researching and writing about Guantánamo and the 779 men (and boys) held there, 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 analyzed 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 recent events marking the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo have shown, this remains an intolerable situation, as Guantánamo is 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 nearly six years ago.
Throughout my work, 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.
This has involved demonstrating that the majority of the prisoners were either innocent men, seized by the US military’s allies at a time when bounty payments were widespread, or recruits for the Taliban, who had been encouraged by supporters in their homelands to help the Taliban in a long-running inter-Muslim civil war (with the Northern Alliance), which began long before the 9/11 attacks and, for the most part, had nothing to do with al-Qaeda or international terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »
While I was in the US two weeks ago, for the 10th anniversary of the opening of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, there was great deal of understandable outrage amongst activists — both those on the left, and libertarians — because of outrageous provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (PDF), which was passed by the Senate on December 15, and was signed into law by President Obama on December 31.
I discussed these provisions in a number of articles — most recently in an article entitled, “A Tired Obsession with Military Detention Plagues American Politics” — in which I wrote about the shameful provisions requiring the mandatory military custody, without charge or trial, of anyone allegedly associated with al-Qaeda, and also wrote about the provisions preventing the release of prisoners from Guantánamo, which have stopped anyone being released in the last year.
In addressing concerns about the NDAA, I made a point of stressing that, although it is important that criticism should continue to be directed at lawmakers for subverting the entire basis of America’s foundation as a country based on the rule of law with their military detention provisions (for which they should all be hounded out of office), and although it is also of significance that the restrictions on releasing Guantánamo prisoners are based on fearmongering for nakedly political reasons, two other details should not be overlooked. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, I was in the US for a series of events to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, which I wrote about here and here. I also made three TV appearances, and undertook seven radio interviews, one of which was covered here. Three other appearances took place while I was in Washington D.C. On January 10, I was obliged to leave the Q&A session following a screening of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (the documentary film that I co-directed with filmmaker Polly Nash) to speak to the veteran progressive radio host Dennis Bernstein on his “Flashpoints” show on KPFA in Berkeley. The interview is available here (or here), and it starts just before 6 minutes in and lasts for ten minutes, with me talking to Dennis in the entrance of Busboys and Poets, with a cellphone clasped firmly to my ear, as people entered and left the premises, often speaking far louder than me.
I’ve also embedded the interview below: Read the rest of this entry »
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