Radio: Andy Worthington Discusses Closing Guantánamo, Trump, Brexit and the Failure of Mainstream Politics on Portland’s KBOO FM


A composite image of Donald Trump and Guantanamo.Please support my work! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo until the end of the year.


Yesterday, I was delighted to speak to Linda Olson-Osterlund on KBOO FM, a great community radio station in Portland, Oregon. The show, “Positively Revolting,” aired for an hour from 8am (4pm London time), and is available here on the website or here as an MP3. I hope you have time to listen to it and to share it if you find useful.

On the website, it was noted how Linda and I “talk[ed] about the seventy days left of the Obama presidency and the movement to close Guantánamo and release all prisoners not convicted of a crime,” as well as “the 2016 Presidential election and the parallels to the UK vote to leave the EU and the rise of the extreme right wing in both countries.”

Linda had picked up on the Countdown to Close Guantánamo that has been running all year, and that I was promoting on Thursday, just two days after the election, because moping or ignoring Guantánamo will not get that wretched place closed, and Barack Obama is still president for another ten weeks.

On Thursday, I launched a campaign video for the Close Guantánamo campaign I launched in 2012 with the US attorney Tom Wilner (who represented the Guantánamo prisoners in their Supreme Court cases in 2004 and 2008), featuring photos of some of the 500+ celebrities and concerned citizens across the US and around the world who, at 50-day intervals this year, have taken photos of themselves with posters counting down how many days remained for Obama to fulfill his promise.

The video (also on Facebook here) encourages people to get involved with the next stage of the countdown, on November 30, when President Obama will have just 50 days left to fulfill his promise. Please print off a poster, take a photo with it and send it to us. Please also feel free to include a message to President Obama, and, if you wish, to let us know where you are.

The video also includes a new song of mine, played with my band The Four Fathers, which, aptly, is called “Close Guantánamo.” In it, I run through the history of Guantánamo’s sordid history as a “war on terror” prison, and explain how and why Obama has failed to close it, and you can hear the whole song and buy it as a download on our Bandcamp page.

See below for the video:

In the show, I explained who is still held at Guantánamo (60 men), and how I hope that the men approved for release (20 of these 60) will be freed before Obama leaves office, because, of course, we have no idea what Donald Trump will do when he becomes president. I also expressed my hope that the Periodic Review Boards, a recent review parole-like process that has approved half the remaining prisoners for ongoing imprisonment without charge or trial, will continue, because the PRBs have approved 34 men for release who were previously, and ill-advisedly, regarded as “too dangerous to release.” However, the PRBs were established via an executive order issued by Obama, and may be exactly the sort of thing that Trump, and the disturbingly right-wing Republicans jockeying for power around him, will want to get rid of when he takes office.

I also spoke about how I think it will be difficult for Trump to send anyone new to Guantánamo — something that Obama always refused to even contemplate — because Guantánamo is a broken, useless place, and federal courts are the correct venue for terrorist trials.

However, as noted above, I have no idea what Donald Trump really believes in, and what he will do, now that the hateful, far right rhetoric of his campaign is no longer needed. At his meeting with Obama in the White House, Trump looked old, mentally ill and confused, and in his acceptance speech he noticeably dropped all his fighting talk. However, he remains stunningly unpredictable — and, let me add, very evidently unsuited to the demands of high office — and another great fear centers on which of the objectionable, white and mainly old and male lawmakers vying for his attention will get nominated to key positions in his administration.

So the future, unfortunately, does not look bright, as Linda and I also discussed in a reflection on the similarities between the US election (and Linda was kind enough to promote my article, Trump’s Victory Confirms 2016 as the Year WASPs Began, Alarmingly, to Embrace the Far Right in Significant Numbers) and the UK’s EU referendum in June, and how, in both places, racism is on the rise and the understandably disenfranchised, in huge numbers, are seeking an alternative to the two mainstream parties, who have spent decades catering only to the rich, the banks and the corporations, facilitating the outsourcing of as much work as possible to other countries, and absolutely failing to protect workers in their own countries.

The sad irony, of course, is that the billionaire Trump is no “man of the people” outsider, as the new Republican government will, presumably, show in all its old-fashioned greed and disdain for the common man and woman as soon as Trump is inaugurated, and, in the UK, Nigel Farage of UKIP, a former commodities broker, is, similarly, only given credibility by those desperately projecting their hopes onto him. What is genuinely needed is either for the Democratic Party and the Labour Party to become agents of profound economic change, putting the people before the profits of their exploiters, or for us, the people, to organize a new world from the ground up — a huge task given how so many people are permanently ground down just trying to get by, but one that appears ever more necessary if we are not simply to be crushed.

This was a call-in show, so there were numerous calls from listeners, many of which were very interesting, and some of which drifted off-topic, but this was, I think, inevitable given fears about Donald Trump’s election victory, and also reflected other facets of the urgent need for decent people to organize at the grass-roots level, and, fundamentally, not to accept the regressive step that was taken by a minority of voters but a majority of the electoral colleges on Tuesday, when a bitter old white America, gazing endlessly backwards at a non-existent golden age, unconvincingly seized the reins of power, despite having no notion whatsoever of how to create a functioning government that will do anything useful for the majority of the American people.

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’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), 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...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, linking to and discussing my interview yesterday with Linda Olson-Osterlund on Portland, Oregon’s community radio station, KBOO FM – about Guantanamo, my ongoing efforts to put pressure on President Obama to close it before he leaves office, the significance of Donald Trump’s election, and the comparison between Trump’s election and the EU referendum vote in the UK. In both, we can not only see the disturbing rise of the far right and white racism, but also the failure of mainstream establishment politics, be it Republican, Democrat, Tory or Labour, all fatally contaminated with neoliberal greed and a disdain for ordinary working people and those made jobless through outsourcing and globalisation, and the inability of millions of people to realize that their would-be saviours – Trump, Nigel Farage and Theresa May – are not going to help them at all and are absolutely part of the problem.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    When my friend Jan Strain shared this on Facebook, she wrote:

    From Andy Worthington… Sing it, brother!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Jan – and literally singing it here!

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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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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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