Radio: Andy Worthington Discusses Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker on KBOO FM in Portland and Radio Islam in Chicago


Andy Worthington and Joanne MacInnes of We Stand With Shaker with music legend Roger Waters (ex-Pink Floyd) at the launch of the campaign outside the Houses of Parliament on November 24, 2014 (Photo: Stefano Massimo).I’m happy to make available two recent interviews I undertook with radio stations in Chicago, and in Portland, Oregon.

The first was with an old friend, Linda Olson-Osterlund, for KBOO FM, a community station in Portland, Oregon, and our 27-minute interview is available here, as an MP3, starting at 4:38, after adverts for the radio station.

Linda and I have spoken many, many times before, and it was a pleasure to talk to her again. I was delighted that she opened the show with “Song for Shaker Aamer,” the campaign song I wrote and played with my band The Four Fathers for We Stand With Shaker.

We Stand With Shaker is the campaign I launched two and a half months ago with the activist Joanne MacInnes, to call for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison.

This is how Linda described the show: “Host Linda Olson-Osterlund talks with British author and film-maker Andy Worthington about the news coming out of the illegal prison at Guantánamo Bay and the international protest movement against it. You will hear both good news and bad from prisoner releases to revelations about torture experimentation and murder at the facility. You will also hear about the January 10th protest on Dick Cheney’s lawn and January 11th at the White House.”

The good news was the flurry of prisoner releases at the end of last year and into the new year, although there have now been no releases for nearly a month, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte and other lawmakers, including John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have just introduced a disgusting and unacceptable bill, the proposed “Detaining Terrorists to Protect America Act of 2015,” which is intended to prohibit the release of any prisoner who has ever been declared a high or medium threat by the authorities at Guantánamo, even though these designations — which can be found in the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011 — are profoundly unreliable, as they contain a considerable amount of information extracted from prisoners using torture, or other forms of abuse — and also through bribery (with all kinds of “comfort items” denied to uncooperative prisoners) or through exhaustion, when prisoners, relentlessly dragged to interrogation after interrogation, gave up resisting, and simply told their interrogators whatever they wanted to hear.

This wretched bill also ignores the fact that, of the remaining 122 prisoners, 54 have been approved for release, and, of the 68 others, only ten are facing, or have faced trials, and the rest are undergoing a thorough review process — the Periodic Review Boards  — to assess whether they should continue to be held, a process that should not be dismissed and replaced by naked political maneuvering.

Linda and I also spoke about the Senate torture report (which I wrote about here and here), and the important book Murder in Camp Delta by former Staff Sgt. Joseph Hickman, revisiting the disputed triple suicide at Guantánamo in June 2006, which was also covered by Democracy Now!, Vice News and Newsweek. For my previous articles about Sgt. Hickman’s story, and its coverage by law professor and journalist Scott Horton, see herehere and here.

As Linda mentioned, we also spoke about the invasion of Dick Cheney’s house on January 10, and the annual protest against Guantánamo outside the White House on January 11, both of which are featured in photo sets I took, here and here.

The second interview was with Radio Islam in Chicago, with whom I had not spoken previously, and my interview came about because I visited Chicago as part of my US tour, and was put in touch with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. I spoke to CIOGC while I was in the US, and this then led to my appearance on Radio Islam.

I was part of an hour-long show, available here, via SoundCloud,which was co-hosted by Tahera Shireen Rahman and Imam Matthew Ramadan, and which focused on Guantánamo Diary (serialized in the Guardian), an extraordinary account written at Guantánamo in 2005 by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian prisoner, still held at Guantánamo, which has just been published, and which, I’m delighted to note, has become a New York Times best-seller. I know Slahi’s case well — see here, here, here and here for my analysis of his habeas corpus petition and discussion of how he was singled out for torture at Guantánamo —  and I can only hope that it will help to lead to his release, and that the truth he exposes so frankly and so eloquently will win out over the cynical hysteria of Sen. Ayotte and her colleagues.

Distressingly, although Slahi’s habeas petition was granted in March 2010, when a US judge concluded accurately that, although he moved in proximity to individuals connected to terrorism, he had no personal involvement with terrorism whatsoever, the Obama administration appealed that ruling, which was vacated and sent back to the lower court in November 2010, although, disgracefully, his case has never been re-considered, as it should have been. He is now one of the 50+ men still held who are awaiting Periodic Review Boards.

The show began with Larry Siems, who edited Slahi’s diary for publication, and Larry was followed by Nancy Hollander, who is Slahi’s attorney. I got to speak from 42 minutes in, until the end of the show, and I very much hope you have time to listen not only to me, but to the whole hour’s show, as it is very rewarding. I had the opportunity to complement Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s story by talking about Shaker Aamer and, again, the We Stand With Shaker campaign that is still ongoing — and please see here for our latest initiative: a Valentine’s Day campaign to mark the 13th anniversary of Shaker’s arrival at Guantánamo on Saturday.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, the director of “We Stand With Shaker,” calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and 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. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

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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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