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Guantánamo Scandal: Eleven Men Were Set to Be Freed Last October, Until “Political Optics” Shifted After Hamas’ Attack on Israel

22.5.24

My unapologetic condemnation of the Biden administration for stopping the release from Guantánamo, in October, of eleven men who have long been approved for release. The men were supposed to be resettled in Oman, but the deal was pulled at the last minute, as a result of what NBC News, which broke the story, based on the accounts of four administration officials, called the “political optics after Hamas’ attack on Israel.” These men, all Yemenis, who were unanimously approved for release by high-level US government review processes between 607 and 1,301 days ago — and, in one case, 5,234 days ago — cannot even challenge the outrageous politicized decision to cancel their release, because the decisions taken to free them in the first place were purely administrative, meaning that they are completely outside the US legal system. With no ability to ask a judge to order their release, these men, held for the most part for over 20 years without charge or trial, have no idea if they will ever be freed, as that decision is dependant on the whims of two men in particular — President Biden and Antony Blinken — who wield absolutely power over their lives, just as George W. Bush did when he first opened Guantánamo over 22 years ago.

Julian Assange Wins A Major Battle in His Long War Against Punitive US Overreach

20.5.24

My response to today’s major victory for Julian Assange in his five-year struggle to prevent his extradition to the US to face espionage charges relating to the publication by WikiLeaks, in 2010 and 2011, of classified US files leaked by Chelsea Manning. In the UK High Court, judges allowed him to appeal on the basis of his right not to be prejudiced against because of his nationality (he is an Australian citizen), and his entitlement to the protections of the US First Amendment. On this latter point, the US government refused to provide adequate assurances that he would be entitled to First Amendment Rights, even though they guarantee freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The decision highlights the US government’s shameful efforts to portray Assange as someone other than a journalist and publisher whose publication of files leaked by Chelsea Manning took place alongside some of the world’s most significant newspapers. It is shameful that only Julian Assange has been singled out for punishment, and even more shameful that the Biden administration failed to drop the extradition request, initiated by Donald Trump, despite its devious and unacceptable efforts not only to prevent Assange from having the protection of the First Amendment, but also to portray him as some kind of terrorist.

As Israel Shuns a Ceasefire and Continues Its “Forever Genocide” in Rafah and Across Gaza, An End Must Be in Sight

15.5.24

In my latest article about Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza, I reflect on the latest death toll and the scale of the destruction, and invite western readers to reflect on what this scale of death and destruction would mean if over 100,000 bombs had been dropped on comparable areas in the west — half of New York, or a quarter of London — in a seven-month period. I also examine the ceasefire proposal recently agreed to by Hamas, but turned down by Israel, and assess Benjamin Netanyahu’s obsession with invading Rafah as the continuation of what has now become Israel’s sole purpose: the continued eradication of the whole of the Gaza Strip, and the murder of as many Palestinians as possible. I also look at the few hopeful signs that an end could possibly be in sight — increasing anger within Israel that the hostages in Gaza are being sacrificed for Netanyahu’s quenchless thirst for genocide, alarm in military circles in both Israel and the US about the risks of Israel’s actions in Gaza turning into an endless, pointless quagmire, alarm within the Democratic Party that they will lose to Donald Trump in November unless the conflict is brought to an end, and the emerging awareness of what “the day after” would mean in practice — reconstruction efforts that, as the UN Development Programme has estimated, will take until 2040 and cost at least $40bn (£32bn), even if an end to hostilities takes place soon. The alternative, as I point out, is the completely unacceptable realization of the darkest wish of Netanyahu and his ministers — a truly alarming “forever genocide.”

Palestine Vision: An Astonishing Night of Music at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill as an Alternative to the Tainted Eurovision Song Contest

10.5.24

My review of, and photos from ‘Palestine Vision’, an extraordinary evening of Palestinian music at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill on May 7, taking place to protest against Israel’s inclusion in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which included an electrifying appearance by Palestinian hip-hop legend Tamer Nafar, and a moving set by rising pop star Bashar Murad, who set to music ‘If I Must Die’ by the much-loved poet and academic Refaat Alareer, who was targeted and murdered by Israel in Gaza in December. My video of Bashar’s musical version of Refaat’s poem is included.

As Israel’s Genocide in Gaza Grinds On, the Old Order Is Collapsing, But Can a New World Arise?

6.5.24

In my latest article about Israel’s genocide in Gaza, I provide a re-cap on the last seven months of horror in Gaza, in which over 42,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been murdered by Israel. I also condemn the Israeli regime and the western governments providing unconditional support, but note how unparalleled numbers of people have switched off from largely uncritical mainstream media (with the brave exception of Al Jazeera), and are refusing to conform, through their engagement with what, globally, must be the largest protest movement in human history. I also celebrate the student protests on US campuses, deplore the violent response by many university administrators and the police, and express my hope that, not only will the protests continue, but that students’ call for their universities to divest from organizations complicit in Israel’s genocide will expand to recognize that the genocidal war machine is just part of the capitalist death cult of the third decade of the 21st century, and that what is also needed is wholesale divestment from every aspect of this sick system, which is not only erasing Gaza, but is also committed to making the prospect of life on earth untenable for all of us.

Photos and Report: Eight Global Vigils For the Closure of Guantánamo on May 1, 2024

2.5.24

Photos from, and my report about the eight vigils for the closure of Guantánamo that took place across the US and around the world on May 1, 2024, the latest in an ongoing series of monthly coordinated global vigils that began last year. The vigils take place on the first Wednesday of every month, and the next date is June 5.

Video: On the 13th Anniversary of WikiLeaks’ Release of the Guantánamo Files, My Interview with the Julian Assange Defence Committee

25.4.24

The video of my hour-long discussion, with Emmy Butlin and other members of the Julian Assange Defence Committee, about the 13th anniversary of the release, by WikiLeaks, of classified military files about the Guantánamo prisoners, leaked, along with other classified documents, by Chelsea Manning. I was a media partner for the release of the files, along with numerous major newspapers from the US, the UK and the EU, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to discuss my Guantánamo work in general, my work on the files released in 2011 and their significance, and also to provide an update about the sad and shameful situation at Guantánamo today, where 30 men are still held.

End Times for Humanity, With the West Fully Committed to Israel’s Genocide of the Palestinians and to Complete Climate Collapse

16.4.24

In my latest article about Israel’s genocide in Gaza, I examine a little-discussed aspect of Israel’s actions — the lack of an exit strategy. With no prospect of any other countries accepting the population of the Gaza Strip as refugees, I conclude that Israel’s genocidal actions are actually a “final solution” to the Palestinian “problem”, and that President Biden, who leads the west’s largely unconditional support for Israel, also endorses this approach. Criticizing western leaders for the emptiness of their support of Israel’s “right to defend itself”, I also condemn their refusal to recognize that Israel’s two stated aims — to “destroy” Hamas and to free the hostages seized on October 7 — are either unworkable or self-defeating, and conclude my analysis by comparing how the west’s position on Israel is as dangerous and irresponsible as its failure to take climate collapse seriously, and warn that, by allowing Israel to so blatantly shred international humanitarian law, and by using fake antisemitism claims to suppress dissent and to further stifle protest, they are ensuring that, not only is nowhere in Gaza safe, but nowhere in the west is safe either — not from any external “terrorist” threat, but from our own governments.

Free the Guantánamo 16: Photos Of Nine Global Vigils For the Closure of Guantánamo on April 3, 2024

7.4.24

Photos from, and my report about the nine vigils for the closure of Guantánamo that took place across the US and around the world on April 3, 2024, the latest in an ongoing series of monthly coordinated global vigils that began last year. The vigils take place on the first Wednesday of every month, and the next date is May 1. This month’s vigils featured a special one-off vigil from inside the European Parliament, at an exhibition of prisoners’ artwork attended by former prisoner Mansoor Adayfi.

Yes, AI Is a Component of Israel’s Genocide in Gaza, But It’s Not the Whole Story

5.4.24

In my latest article about Israel’s still-ongoing genocide in Gaza, I reflect on the latest death toll of 41,496 Palestinians, compiled by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, which also indicates that 90% of those killed were civilians, and discuss the latest investigation by +972 Magazine, exposing the existence of an AI program, codenamed “Lavender,” which auto-generated bombing targets with little or no human oversight, contributing immensely to the devastating civilian death toll. I note, however, that the existence of the AI program shouldn’t distract us from the reality that Israel’s aim has always been genocide, as evidenced by bombing raids in which no military target is discernible, through the complete destruction of Gaza’s entire infrastructure, its war on hospitals, its summary executions and enforced disappearances, its incessant use of snipers and quadcopters (often deliberately targeting children), and its use of starvation. I end by noting that unconditional western support for Israel finally seems to be waning, particularly as a result of outrage generated by the killing of six western aid workers (and a Palestinian), which, of course, only demonstrates a fundamental racism in the west. Despite the hypocrisy, however, I conclude that it is worth exerting as much pressure as possible on western politicians and the media to permanently shift their positions and to begin the necessary moves towards finally ending Israel’s 76-year impunity, and, by whatever means, ending its current, and unprecedented genocidal slaughter.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
Email Andy Worthington

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The Guantánamo Files book cover

The Guantánamo Files

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The Battle of the Beanfield

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Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

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Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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