Video: Will Guantánamo Ever Close? Andy Worthington, Karen Greenberg and Tom Wilner at New America on Jan. 11


The panel at New America for the discussion, "Guantanamo Bay: Year 14," on jan. 11, the 14th anniversary of the opening of the prison. From L to R: moderator Peter Bergen, panelists Karen Greenberg, Andy Worthington and Tom Wilner.Monday was the 14th anniversary of the opening of the dreadful, unforgivable “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where men are held without charge or trial, in defiance of all the laws and treaties that the US swore to uphold until the 9/11 attacks derailed those beliefs — or allowed the country’s leaders to deliberately jettison them in favor of something far more brutal and unaccountable.

On Monday, I attended the annual protest outside the White House organized by over a dozen rights groups, as the co-founder and co-director of the We Stand With Shaker campaign, which played a part in securing the release from Guantánamo in October of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and as the co-founder of Close Guantánamo, a campaign I established in 2012 with the attorney Tom Wilner (who fought for the prisoners’ habeas corpus rights in the Supreme Court in 2004 and 2008). The video of my speech outside the White House is here.

That afternoon, just around the corner from the White House, at New America (formerly the New America Foundation), Tom Wilner and I were joined by the academic Karen Greenberg for a panel discussion, Guantánamo Bay: Year 14, moderated by New America’s Peter Bergen, author, journalist and an old college friend of mine, which is posted below via Ustream. I’ll also post a YouTube link when it becomes available.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

This was a genuine effort by all of us to address all the issues facing President Obama, the US Congress, the courts and the nation as we count down to the end of the Obama presidency, and the president’s last chance to fulfill the promise to close Guantánamo that he made on his second day in office in January 2009, when he promised to close the prison within a year. Ferocious and unprincipled opposition in Congress, and in parts of his administration (especially the Pentagon and no doubt the CIA) have made this a more uphill struggle than it should have been, although Obama himself failed to help his cause by refusing to spend political capital sidestepping Congressional efforts to prevent him from releasing prisoners, even though a waiver in the legislation allowed him to do so.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about what Karen, Tom and I talked about, what Peter asked us, and what the audience members asked us, as I hope you will watch the whole event. As I have noted above, we genuinely tried to cover all the bases — the sordid history of the prison, the depths of lawlessness it has involved, the current state of affairs, with 34 men approved for release, just ten facing or having faced trials, and 49 risibly, insultingly described as “too dangerous to release,” even though it is acknowledged that insufficient evidence exists to justify this description — or to put them on trial; in other words, that it is not evidence at all, but unreliable information derived through interrogations involving torture, other forms of abuse, or the bribery of prisoners.

My main point is that an ongoing process of reviewing these men’s alleged dangerousness — via Periodic Review Boards — needs to speed up considerably this year if President Obama is to have a chance of fulfilling his promise, and I hope you agree. In the next few days, I’ll be announcing a new initiative via Close Guantánamo — the Countdown to Close Guantánamo — that you can get involved with if, like me, you recognize that Guantánamo is a legal, moral and ethical abomination, and that it is really hugely important to insist that it is closed for good before the end of Obama’s presidency.

To be kept completely up-to-date on this and more, please join us at Close Guantánamo if you haven’t already. I promise to try not to disappoint you as we work on finding new methods to highlight the need to close Guantánamo and on finding creative ways of expressing that demand throughout 2016.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp — also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign, the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — 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.

3 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    Here’s the video of Monday’s thorough and wide-ranging panel discussion about ‪‎Guantanamo‬ at New America in DC, with myself, the attorney Tom Wilner (the co-founder, with me, of Close Guantanamo) and academic Karen Greenberg trying to cover all the bases, in a discussion moderated by Peter Bergen, and with a very attentive audience responsible for a thoughtful Q&A session. I hope you have time to watch it, and to share it if you find it useful.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Rosie Much wrote:

    Thanks Andy

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re welcome, Rosie. Thanks for your interest.

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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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