On CounterSpin, Andy Worthington Discusses WikiLeaks’ Guantánamo Files, Lucinda Marshall Discusses Exposé of Author Greg Mortensen


During a brief media frenzy last week, following the release, by WikiLeaks, of classified military documents relating to almost all of the 779 prisoners held in Guantánamo, I was interviewed on Democracy Now!, by the BBC and Press TV, by Antiwar Radio, by Alexa O’Brien for WikiLeaks Central, and by other media outlets, including FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), for the weekly CounterSpin show, which also featured Lucinda Marshall discussing revelations that the best-selling author Greg Mortensen may have been economical with the truth in his best-selling “memoir,” Three Cups of Tea.

A national media watch group, FAIR, founded in 1986, keeps a close eye on bias in the mainstream media in the United States, which is, of course, a colossal task. I’m delighted to have written for FAIR’s Extra! magazine in February 2009, discussing, in an article entitled, “Dangerous Revisionism Over Guantánamo,” flawed reporting in the New York Times regarding alleged bodyguards for Osama bin Laden (mostly still held), who are known as the “Dirty Thirty,” and I’m also pleased to have spoken on CounterSpin back in May 2008 and November 2008 (also here).

The latest interview, with Steve Rendall, which lasts for nearly nine minutes, and is available here, starts just before 10 minutes into the show, following a round-up of the week’s news, and involves me explaining, in the first place, how the documents contain nearly 200 profiles of innocent and insignificant prisoners whose stories have never been revealed before by the US government.

I also ran through the story of the unreliable witnesses, including “high-value detainees” subjected to torture in secret CIA prisons, and other dubious informants in Guantánamo, who told false stories about their fellow prisoners in exchange for better living conditions, which I covered in my introduction to the release of the documents, WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Guantánamo Files, Exposes Detention Policy as a Construct of Lies.

On the perceived bias in the US media, Steve Randall quoted from a variety of stories in the US media (including reports in the Washington Post and on NPR), and asked me to address the sort of casual scaremongering that pervades many US media reports. This allowed me to explain how it is important to recognize that the entire classification process of “low risk,” “medium risk” and “high risk” detainees revealed in the documents released by WikiLeaks is flawed, as innocent prisoners were labeled “low risk” and some patently innocent prisoners have been labeled as “high risk.” I also explained how much of the mainstream media in the US has bought uncritically into the propaganda that is regularly issued by the Pentagon regarding the alleged “recidivism” of prisoners, which I have written about previously in my articles, New York Times finally apologizes for false Guantánamo recidivism story (in May 2009), Guantánamo Recidivism: Mainstream Media Parrot Pentagon Propaganda (Again) (in January 2010) and Countering Pentagon Propaganda About Prisoners Released from Guantánamo (in January this year).

As I also pointed out, the reason for this bias is because there are, sadly, many powerful forces in the United States — in Congress and the media, in particular — who want Guantánamo to remain open, and who would dearly like to extend the unacceptable policy of indefinite detention without charge or trial that was introduced by President Bush at Guantánamo, where, under Obama, men are still held neither as prisoners as war according to the Geneva Conventions nor as criminal suspects.

Steve also asked me to discuss Sami al-Haj, the Al-Jazeera cameraman who was seized on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan and sent to Guantánamo, where, for over five years, he was only interrogated about Al-Jazeera, in a clear attempt by the US authorities to penetrate the Qatar-based network and to destroy it from within. The torture and abuse of Sami al-Haj as a pawn in an unforgiveable intrusion on media freedom and the right of journalists to be protected from arbitary imprisonement and abuse should, of course, be of great concern to journalists anywhere in the world, although FAIR is understandably concerned that US journalists have failed to show sufficient solidarity with Sami al-Haj (as Steve and I first discussed back in May 2008, when he was released from Guantánamo).

This is how CounterSpin described this week’s show:

This week on CounterSpin: If you’ve heard much at all about WikiLeaks’ new disclosures about Guantánamo, you’ve probably noticed that US media tend to emphasize information justifying and rationalizing the US actions regarding its offshore prison camp. But what should listeners really know about the new WikiLeaks revelations? We’ll talk with journalist and Guantánamo expert Andy Worthington about what the latest disclosures mean.

Also on CounterSpin today, the US public soured on the Afghan War a long time ago. That might explain some of the popularity of Greg Mortenson, whose bestselling book Three Cups of Tea suggests that building schools instead of waging war would do more to help Afghans. It’s hard to argue with that, but CBS’ 60 Minutes aired an explosive investigation into Mortenson’s charity and his truthfulness. What are the big lessons here? And why do stories like his resonate with American audiences? We’ll speak to Lucinda Marshall of the Feminist Peace Network.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, on tour in the UK throughout 2011, and available on DVD here — or here for the US), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

9 Responses

  1. On CounterSpin, Andy Worthington Discusses WikiLeaks' Guantánamo … | The Daily Conservative says...

    […] original here: On CounterSpin, Andy Worthington Discusses WikiLeaks' Guantánamo … Share and […]

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Chenae Meneely wrote:

    Sharing and will Digg

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    Sharing, and I see it’s been Dugg.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Monique D’hooghe wrote:

    shared and Dugg…

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    Dugg. I thought a piece only needs to be Dugg once.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the comments, everyone, and George, I guess Digg has a way of making sure that each user can only Digg a specific article once, but there’s no limit on the number of people who can Digg any particular article.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    You might be right. The note I got from Digg said *at least* that the article had already been Dugg. I cannot remember if I had already Dugg it. Now I am curious. I’ll try to check.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    I tried to re-digg ‘Normalizing Evil’ but could not. And I *know* that it was dugg before my first digg. So you are right.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    OK. Happy to oblige, George!

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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).
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