The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison

by Andy Worthington

The first book to tell the story of every man trapped in Guantánamo. AVAILABLE NOW! Buy from Amazon (US, UK or Canada), or see below for details of how to order from other retailers, from the publishers, or from the author. As of May 2009, my books are also available via PayPal (UK orders only), but also see here for information on how to order a copy from the author from anywhere in the world.

Praise for The Guantánamo Files:

The Guantanamo Files“Perhaps the single most important book to cover the big picture of Guantánamo.”
Michelle Shephard, Toronto Star

“In Andy Worthington’s The Guantánamo Files, the whole story of the Cuban camp emerges as a ghastly experiment in which the terrorist suspects became guinea pigs in a vast experiment of methods to crack the human soul. [This] is a powerful, essential and long-overdue piece of research, providing the first real Who’s Who of those held at the Cuban base.”
Stephen Grey, New Statesman

“[This] powerful and chilling book … makes a major contribution to the burgeoning literature on Operation Enduring Freedom, the US invasion of Afghanistan in retaliation for 9/11. Worthington has put together a comprehensive and detailed account of the capture and ill treatment of those swept up in the ‘war on terror.’” Henry Blaxland, Socialist Review

“Guantánamo Bay is a legal black hole, just as the Bush administration planned it to be, and this book is the closest many of the prisoners will come to a fair trial. Andy Worthington has done the most thorough work to date on Guantánamo, using the US government’s own documents to prove that large swathes of innocent people were swept up in the post-9/11 panic. This is important work, impressively written. Read this book, and then take action.”
Clive Stafford Smith, Legal Director of Reprieve, and author of Bad Men: Guantánamo Bay and the Secret Prisons

“Operation Enduring Freedom paved the way for what has become the most sinister and flagrant violation of human rights perpetrated by any sovereign nation in recent times. Extraordinary rendition, false imprisonment, inhumane treatment – including torture and death in secretive detention sites like Kandahar, Bagram and Guantánamo Bay – has forever destroyed and reshaped the lives of hundreds of men, of whom I was one. The subject matter of this book is imperative, being the first of its kind to collate and describe accounts from the prisoners themselves and pitting them against the purported reasons for their incarceration for years without charge or trial.”
Moazzam Begg, former Guantánamo prisoner, spokesperson for Cageprisoners and author of Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim’s Journey to Guantánamo and Back

The Guantánamo Files is an important and disturbing work of contemporary history, which paints a grim portrait of Guantánamo as a failed experiment in extra-judicial detention, unworthy of a country dedicated to the rule of law. The sheer accumulation of detail in this book is stunning, and undermines claims by the US administration that the prison camp is filled with vicious killers and terrorists. Worthington introduces us to the detainees as individuals, including many of those who have been released, those who remain, and the handful who have died by their own hand at the prison camp. There are revelations on every page, as we learn about contradictory and nonsensical evidence, and about detentions predicated on the words of madmen or the tortured. As the author makes clear, the credulousness of the camp commanders is outweighed only by the craven manner in which they extract ‘intelligence’ from the detainees. No one who reads this book will rest easy knowing that hundreds of men are still wasting away in America’s illegal prison.”
Marc Falkoff, lawyer for 17 Yemeni prisoners and editor of Poems from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak

“Andy Worthington has written a deeply researched, ground-breaking book that for the first time draws back the curtain on the lives and stories of the hundreds of prisoners inside the Guantánamo prison camp. The faceless men in orange jumpsuits become flesh and blood in this fascinating and well-written book.”
Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc. and The Osama bin Laden I Know

“This is an important book. If you care about our Government’s complicity in these illegal and horrific acts then this book provides the evidence. Carefully researched and documented, it reveals a story of appalling brutality. The people are not mere ciphers but, as their stories unfold, their pain becomes our concern.”
Ken Loach, film director

The Guantánamo Files is a meticulous piece of documentation about torture at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In this bracing book, Andy Worthington chronicles the ordeals of the prisoners at Guantánamo with the same sense of poignancy, compassion and outrage with which Goya, in the nineteenth century, painted ‘The Third of May 1808,’ and Picasso, in the twentieth century, painted ‘Guernica.’ This is an extremely vital and important piece of work.”
Martin Fisher, Co-Producer of Alex Gibney’s film, ‘Taxi to the Dark Side,’ about US torture in Afghanistan, Guantánamo and Iraq

The Guantánamo Files is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how Guantánamo came to be the torture chamber of the United States. This comprehensive and well-researched exposé reveals the stories of the many tragic men and boys who were picked up after 9/11 by, or at the direction of, the US government, and also clearly demonstrates the frightening and unchecked power of the Bush administration and the failures that have followed on from its miserable, inept and criminal policies. Perhaps most disturbing, from a personal point of view, is the author’s unraveling of the US government’s manipulation of classified information, not to protect national security, but in a vain attempt to hide the truth about Guantánamo. The fact that the prison’s real story has been ignored by our corporate media, by politicians on both sides of the aisle and, most distressingly, by the judiciary, makes this book an important historical contribution to this dark period. If the US happens to survive this episode of cruelty and lawlessness, The Guantánamo Files will be an important tool for coming to grips with how we as a nation allowed indefinite detention without charge, extraordinary rendition and torture to become national policies.”
Candace Gorman, lawyer for two Guantánamo prisoners

Published by Pluto Press, October 2007.
230 x 150 mm, 352 pages, 1 map.

ISBN-10: 0745326641 Paperback £16.99
ISBN-10: 074532665X Hardback £55.00
ISBN-13: 978-0-7453-2664-1 Paperback $24.95
ISBN-13: 978-0-7453-2665-8 Hardback $80.00

About the book

On 11 January 2002, exactly four months after the terrible events of 9/11, the first of 774 prisoners arrived at a specially constructed prison on a US naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Until recently, it was impossible to tell the stories of these men. Held without charge, without trial, without access to their families, and, initially, without access to lawyers, they are part of a peculiarly lawless experiment conducted by the US administration, which has chosen to disregard both the Geneva Conventions and the established rules of war, holding the men not as criminals or as Prisoners of War, but as “illegal enemy combatants,” a category of prisoner which is itself illegal.

For four years, those in overall charge of Guantánamo – George W Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld – maintained such a strict veil of secrecy that they refused even to reveal the names of the prisoners, and it was not possible to provide a comprehensive overview of the prisoners and their stories until spring 2006, when, in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit, the Pentagon was forced to reveal the names and nationalities of all the prisoners held in Guantánamo, as well as 7,000 pages of transcripts of tribunals convened to assess their status as “enemy combatants.”

The tribunal process was, like everything else at Guantánamo, both illegal and deeply flawed. The prisoners were not allowed legal representation, and were prevented from seeing the classified evidence against them, which often consisted of allegations based on hearsay or torture, but they were at least allowed to tell their own stories, which were otherwise completely unknown. Through a detailed study of these documents, as well as discussions with lawyers representing the prisoners, and an analysis of press reports, interviews with released prisoners and other reports compiled by human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, I have been able to put together the first detailed history of Guantánamo and its prisoners.

Beginning with the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, The Guantánamo Files explains, in detail, the genesis of the prison, its counterparts in Afghanistan, its development from 2002 to the present day, its role as a prison devoted to interrogation and torture, the legal challenges that have been launched against the administration, and the network of secret prisons that underpins Guantánamo’s brutal illegality. More importantly, The Guantánamo Files allows the prisoners to tell their own stories, explaining who they are and the circumstances of their capture. In contrast to the administration’s claims that they are the “worst of the worst,” what the stories reveal most of all is that very few of them had anything to do with al-Qaeda, and the vast majority were either Taliban foot soldiers, recruited to fight an inter-Muslim civil war in Afghanistan that began long before 9/11, or humanitarian aid workers, religious teachers and economic migrants, who were, for the most part, sold to the Americans by their allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Bringing these stories to life for the first time, The Guantánamo Files vividly demonstrates the human cost of the administration’s ill-conceived and violently executed “War on Terror.”

Ordering details

For further information, or to order copies of The Guantánamo Files, see the websites of Pluto Press or Macmillan (US distributors from January 2009). As mentioned above,  the book is also available through Amazon. Click on the following links for the US, the UK or Canada. The book is also available at Word Power and the Book Depository (UK) and Tower Books, Buy.com, Books-A-Million and Overstock.com (US). It’s also available at Barnes & Noble and Powell’s Books (US), and from Foyles, Waterstone’s and Blackwell’s in the UK.

To order a copy from the author (UK only) for the reduced price of £16.50, send a cheque for £19 (£16.50 plus £2.50 postage & packing) to:

A. Worthington
164A Tressillian Road
Brockley
London
SE4 1XY

Cheques payable to: ‘A. Worthington’.

If you’d like a signed copy and/or a dedication, let me know.

To order a copy from the author from anywhere else in the world, please see the instructions here.

UPDATE MAY 2009:

My books are now available from PayPal, for customers in the UK.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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