Archive for January, 2018

Video: On 16th Anniversary of the Opening of Guantánamo, Andy Worthington Tears Into Donald Trump for His Failure to Close the Prison, and His Defense of Endless Imprisonment Without Charge or Trial

A screenshot of Andy Worthington calling for the closure of Guantanamo outside the White House on January 11, 2018.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration, including my current US visit.

 

Last Thursday, January 11, was the 16th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, and, as I have done every January since 2011, I traveled from London to join campaigners calling for the prison’s closure outside the White House — as well as taking part in other events on an around the anniversary.

This year, as I reported in an article, Telling Donald Trump to Close Guantánamo: My Report on an Inspiring 24 Hours of Protest and Resistance in Washington, D.C. on the 16th Anniversary of the Prison’s Opening, and in a photo set on Flickr, there was renewed energy for a fight to get Guantánamo closed, after a year in which campaigners and lawyers struggled to keep the focus on Guantánamo in the general tsunami of bad news emanating from the Trump administration.

We succeeded only when something so terrible happened that it erupted through the general patina of indifference towards Guantánamo — the treatment of hunger strikers, who claimed in September that the military, under new instructions, was no longer monitoring their health, the decision by the chief judge of Guantánamo’s broken military commission trial system to imprison the head of the defense team for defending the right of civilian attorneys to resign after they discovered that the government was spying on them, and the decision by the military, after an exhibition of the prisoners’ art went on display in New York, to overreact to the resultant humanizing of the prisoners (which they themselves had facilitated by providing art classes to the prisoners in the first place) by publicly threatening to burn all their artwork in future. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos: Telling Trump to Close Guantánamo – The White House protest, Jan. 11, 2018

Campaigners calling for the closure of Guantanamo at the annual protest outside the White House on January 11, 2018, the 16th anniversary of the prison's opening.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

See my photos on Flickr here!

On January 11, 2018, for the eighth year running, I joined protestors in Washington, D.C., calling on the US government to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, a shameful example of indefinite detention without charge or trial run by a country that claims to respect the rule of law, on the 16th anniversary of its opening. This was the first anniversary that Guantánamo has been under the control of Donald Trump, and there was a passion and an anger at the gathering, replacing the disappointment that was the hallmark of most of the Obama years.

I posted my thoughts about the day in a previous article, Telling Donald Trump to Close Guantánamo: My Report on an Inspiring 24 Hours of Protest and Resistance in Washington, D.C. on the 16th Anniversary of the Prison’s Opening, so this update is really more of an opportunity for you to see what went on in front of the White House — the placards and banners, some of the wonderful people involved, and, sadly, the heavy-handed police presence when five protestors tried to carry a banner towards the White House calling for the release of the 41 men still held “along with the thousands imprisoned in immigration detention centers and the millions of victims of hyper-incarceration in the US”, as one of the five, Brian Terrell, described it in an article afterwards.

As he put it, “To approach the White House, we needed to cross under yellow police line tape and were immediately arrested by uniformed Secret Service police. I have been attending protests at the White House since Jimmy Carter lived there and with each succeeding administration, the space allowed for political discourse has been reduced and the once protected free speech of citizens increasingly criminalized there. Under Trump, half the width of the formerly public sidewalk in front of the White House is fenced off, the inner perimeter now patrolled by officers armed with automatic weapons. Pennsylvania Avenue, long ago closed to vehicular traffic, is now closed off to pedestrians at the hint of a demonstration. This public forum, a place of protest and advocacy for more than a century, the place where the vote for women and benefits for veterans were won, has been strangled to the point where no dissent is tolerated there.”

The increased police presence was indeed a sign of a less tolerant presidency, something we have seen for the last 12 months as Donald Trump, flexing his Islamophobia and racism at Guantánamo by refusing to contemplate releasing anyone, even though five of the men still held were approved for release by high-level government review processes under President Obama, shamefully extends that racism to the whole country, via increased deportation dragnets, and internationally via repeated iterations of his vile and groundlessly racist travel ban.

For many years now, Guantánamo campaigners have been seeking to bring together different groups of campaigners — those opposing the US’s industrial-scale domestic prison system, for example, with its racist bias and its epidemic of solitary confinement, and, in recent years, the Black Lives Matter movement.

Sadly, the need for opposition is not going to go away anytime soon, with Trump at the head of a dangerously right-wing Republican government, but all we can hope for, in an effort to stay positive, is that new alliances can be forged, all of which continue to lead us to a hoped-for place — where there are enough of us to properly realize that we outnumber those who mean us harm, through their wars, their guns, their deportations, their courts and their prisons, whether on the mainland or on a naval base in Cuba.

I hope you enjoy the photos, and will share them if you do. Please also consider joining the new photo campaign I’ve launched via Close Guantánamo, counting how many days Guantánamo has been open, and urging Donald Trump to close it without further delay.

Also see the album here:

Telling Trump to close Guantanamo: The White House protest, Jan. 11, 2018

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 music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Donald Trump No! Please Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2017), 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.

As Guantánamo Enters Its 17th Year of Operations, Lawyers Hit Trump with Lawsuit Stating That His Blanket Refusal to Release Anyone Amounts to Arbitrary Detention

After launching the new lawsuit against Donald Trump, lawyers with the Center for Constitutional Rights came to the White House to join the annual protest against Guantanamo's continued existence (on the left, legal director Baher Azmy, and on the right, Omar Farah and Pardiss Kebriaei. In the center is Advocacy Program Manager Aliya Hussain (Photo: Andy Worthington).Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration, including my current visit to the US.

 

January 11 was the 16th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo, and as campaigners (myself included) were making their way to the White House to prepare for the annual protest against the prison’s continued existence — the first under Donald Trump — and, in my case, to launch the new poster campaign counting how many days Guantánamo has been open, and urging Donald Trump to close it, lawyers with the Center for Constitutional Rights and Reprieve were launching a new lawsuit at the National Press Club prior to joining the protesters.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of eleven prisoners, and, as CCR’s press release states, it “argues that Trump’s proclamation against releasing anyone from Guantánamo, regardless of their circumstances, which has borne out for the first full year of the Trump presidency, is arbitrary and unlawful and amounts to ‘perpetual detention for detention’s sake.’”

CCR Senior Staff Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei said, “It’s clear that a man who thinks we should water-board terror suspects even if it doesn’t work, because ‘they deserve it, anyway’ has no qualms about keeping every last detainee in Guantanamo, so long as he holds the jailhouse key.”

CCR’s press release also stated, “The filing argues that continued detention is unconstitutional because any legitimate rationale for initially detaining these men has long since expired; detention now, 16 years into Guantánamo’s operation, is based only on Trump’s raw antipathy towards Guantánamo prisoners – all foreign-born Muslim men – and Muslims more broadly,” adding that “Donald Trump’s proclamation that he will not release any detainees during his administration reverses the approach and policies of both President Bush and President Obama, who collectively released nearly 750 men.” Read the rest of this entry »

Telling Donald Trump to Close Guantánamo: My Report on an Inspiring 24 Hours of Protest and Resistance in Washington, D.C. on the 16th Anniversary of the Prison’s Opening

Some of the supporters of the new Close Guantanamo initiative, counting how many days Guantanamo has been open. Clockwise from top L: Alli McCracken of Amnesty International USA, Natalia Scott in Mexico, Susan McLucas in Massachusetts, Martin Gugino, representatives of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Kathy Kelly, Brian Terrell and Beth Adams in Washington, D.C. Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration, including my current visit to the US.

 

Thursday, Jan. 11 was the 16th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, and to mark the occasion, via the Close Guantánamo campaign I co-founded with the attorney Tom Wilner in 2012, we launched a new initiative: the Gitmo Clock, which counts how long Guantánamo has been open — 5,845 days on the anniversary. We’re encouraging people, throughout the year, to print the clock, take a photo with it, and send it to us, to put up on the website and to share via social media.

I arrived in New York from London on January 8, on my eighth annual visit in January to call for the closure of Guantánamo on and around the anniversary of its opening, and on Wednesday, January 10, I took the bus to Washington, D.C., to attend an event that evening, and to take part in a protest and a panel discussion the day after.

All were wonderful, inspiring occasions, providing an uplifting antidote to the anxiety and misery of life under Donald Trump as the repulsive, dysfunctional head of a disturbingly heartless Republican government. Read the rest of this entry »

Guantánamo Has Been Open 5845 Days on Jan. 11: Please Join the New Close Guantánamo Campaign – Take a Photo With a Poster And Send It To Us

Andy Worthington launching the new Close Guantanamo initiative for 2018, showing how long the prison has been open - with the first poster showing 5,845 days on January 11, 2018, the 16th anniversary of its opening. Throughout the year, the Gitmo Clock website will count exactly how many days, hours, minutes an seconds Guantanamo has been open, and posters can be printed from the page for people to take photos with and send to the Close Guantanamo campaign.

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration, including my current visit to the US.

 

I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, with the US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.

Please print off the poster here for 5,845 days on Jan. 11, and send it to us. After Jan. 11, please print the Gitmo Clock, which counts exactly how many days, hours, minutes and seconds Guantánamo has been open. Send them to us to put up on the website and on social media.

January 11, 2018 is the 16th anniversary of the opening of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, when it will have been open for 5,845 days, and to mark this grim occasion — which ought to be a source of shame for all decent Americans and citizens of the world who respect the rule of law — the Close Guantánamo campaign, set up by journalist Andy Worthington and attorney Tom Wilner exactly six years ago, is launching a new initiative: inviting opponents of Guantánamo’s continued existence to take a photo of themselves holding a poster telling Donald Trump to close the prison, and marking how long it has been open.

Regular readers will, we are sure, know exactly why it is so important for Guantánamo to be closed, but if you’re new to the site — and we hope some of you are — the reason it needs to be closed is because the men held at the prison (41 now, but 779 in total over the last 16 years) were almost all the victims of a horrendous experiment in detention — held not as criminal suspects, to be charged swiftly and prosecuted in federal court, nor as prisoners of war protected by the Geneva Conventions, who can be held unmolested until the end of hostilities.

Instead, the Bush administration decided that the Guantánamo prisoners had no rights whatsoever. Guantánamo — the site of an existing US naval base, in Cuba —was chosen because it was presumed to be beyond the reach of the US courts. As such, hidden from outside scrutiny, they were open to being abused when, as it transpired, most of them had no useful information to impart. What made this situation even more shocking is that many of them had no useful information because they were insignificant. The truth only later emerged — and is still generally unknown — that there was no effective screening in Afghanistan, where all the prisoners were processed, before their arrival at Guantánamo, and, in addition, the majority of the prisoners were not “captured on the battlefield” by US forces, as the Bush administration alleged, but were handed over or sold by their Afghan and Pakistani allies, with the US paying bounties averaging $5,000 a head for prisoners who could be packaged up as being members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban. They were then tortured or otherwise abused in an effort to get them to provide useful intelligence, even though most of them had no such information. Read the rest of this entry »

No More Guantánamo! Rights Groups Meet at White House to Demand the Closure of the Prison on the 16th Anniversary of Its Opening

Campaigners with Witness Against Torture call for the closure of Guantanamo outside the White House on January 11, 2016, the 14th anniversary of the opening of the prison (Photo: Andy Worthington).Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

16 years after the prison at Guantánamo Bay opened, to hold without any rights whatsoever prisoners seized in the “war on terror” that was declared by George W. Bush after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, rights groups are meeting outside the White House, as they do every year on Jan. 11, the anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, to call for the prison’s closure. See the Facebook page here.

In a press release, the groups describe how their rally has been called “to demand the closure of the detention camp, end indefinite detention of the detainees, and reject the use of torture by the US government.”

As I explained in an article a few days ago, promoting my current visit to the US (I arrived in New York yesterday), the prison at Guantánamo is “a profound injustice, established in the heat of vengeance after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” and it ought to be “a source of shame to all decent Americans every day that it remains open.” Read the rest of this entry »

Please Write to the Guantánamo Prisoners, Forgotten Under Donald Trump

Photos of some of the Guantanamo prisoners, included in the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

Back in June 2010, prompted by two Muslim activist friends in the UK, who had initiated a project to get people to write to the prisoners still held in the prison at Guantánamo Bay, I followed their lead, publishing an article similarly urging people to write to the men still held — 186 at the time. I then repeated the process in June 2011, and then every six months or so until July 2015, with two further calls in 2016, the last being in the dying weeks of the Obama presidency.

Over a year later, and with just four days remaining until the 16th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, I thought this was a good time to call for the first time for a letter-writing campaign under Donald Trump, who, of course, will have been in office for a year on January 20. Trump started his presidency threatening to send new prisoners to Guantánamo, but although he has not made good on his unacceptable, belligerent threat, he has, nevertheless, effectively sealed Guantánamo shut, refusing to contemplate releasing any of the prisoners still held, even those previously approved for release but still held.

At the time of my last appeal, 59 men were still held, but another 18 were freed by Obama before he left office, leaving 41 men held under Donald Trump. Five of these men were approved for release by high-level government review processes during Obama’s presidency, and just ten of them are facing or have faced trials, with the other 26 continuing to be officially held indefinitely without charge or trial, subject to a review process, the Periodic Review Boards, that led to 38 of their fellow prisoners being approved for release (of whom 36 were released) in Obama’s last years on office, but which has, in their case, failed to remove them from the legal limbo in which they continue to languish. Read the rest of this entry »

16 Years of Guantánamo: My Eighth Successive January Visit to the US to Call for the Closure of the Prison on the Anniversary of Its Opening

A poster prepared by Witness Against Torture showing events in Washington, D.C. on an around Jan. 11, 2018, the 16th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration, and my imminent visit to the US, discussed below.

 

On Monday, I fly into New York from London for what will be my eighth successive January visit to the US to call for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay. Despite the generally inhospitable climate and the unpleasantness of the cause, it has always been exciting to visit, as I have met and got to know the people who should be running the US — the campaigners, principled lawyers and ordinary citizens who have made a stand against the existence of the prison, recognizing it as a profound injustice, established in the heat of vengeance after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which is a source of shame to all decent Americans every day that it remains open.

A majority of Americans, unfortunately, don’t understand how important it is to rely on established and internationally accepted procedures when depriving people of their liberty. Those imprisoned should either be criminal suspects, charged as swiftly as possible and put on trial in a federal court, or prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, and held unmolested until the end of hostilities. At Guantánamo, however, the men held were deprived of all rights, and held as “unlawful enemy combatants” — “for the express purpose of denying them the rights that combatants normally receive,” as Human Rights First has explained in a briefing.

This would be bad enough, but the very basis for holding the men has always been a disgrace — although one, sadly, that has never received the mainstream coverage it cries out for. Contrary to claims that the men and boys held at Guantánamo were “the worst of the worst,” who were all captured on the battlefield, most were captured not by the US, but by their Afghan and Pakistani allies, who didn’t find them on the battlefield, and who often sold them to the US, which was paying bounties averaging $5000 a head for anyone who could be portrayed as a member of al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Read the rest of this entry »

Andy Worthington: An Archive of Guantánamo Articles and Other Writing – Part 22, January to June 2017

Andy Worthington with Refuse Fascism's Carl Dix in Washington, D.C. on January 11, 2017Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

This article is the 22nd in an ongoing series of articles listing all my work in chronological order. It’s a project I began in January 2010, when I put together the first chronological lists of all my articles, in the hope that doing so would make it as easy as possible for readers and researchers to navigate my work — the nearly 2,950 articles I have published since I first began publishing articles here in May 2007, which, otherwise, are not available in chronological order in any readily accessible form.

I receive no institutional funding for my work, and so, if you appreciate what I do as a reader-funded journalist and activist, please consider making a donation via the Paypal ‘Donate’ button above. Any amount, however large or small, will be very gratefully received — and if you are able to become a regular monthly sustainer, that would be particularly appreciated. To do so, please tick the box marked, “Make this a monthly donation,” and fill in the amount you wish to donate every month.

As I note every time I put together a chronological list of my articles, my mission, as it has been since my research in 2006-07, for my book The Guantánamo Files, first revealed the scale of the injustice at Guantánamo, continues to revolve around four main aims — to humanize the prisoners by telling their stories; to expose the many lies told about them to supposedly justify their detention; to push for the prison’s closure and the absolute repudiation of indefinite detention without charge or trial as US policy; and to call for those who initiated, implemented and supported indefinite detention and torture to be held accountable for their actions. Read the rest of this entry »

Andy Worthington’s Top Five Enthusiasms for 2018

Happy New Year 2018!Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

Happy New Year to my friends and supporters, and to anyone passing by! If you don’t know me, I’m a reader-funded journalist, activist, photographer and musician, working through these media to inform, educate and entertain, and to address important issues involving human rights and social justice. Below are my main passions, and what I hope to achieve in 2018, and you’re more than welcome to get on board and get involved with any or all of them! Donations to support my work, however large or small, are always welcome, as I very genuinely cannot do what I do without your support.

1. Closing Guantánamo

Regular readers will know that the last twelve years of my life have largely been given over to telling the story of Guantánamo and the men held there, and working to get the prison closed — first via my book The Guantánamo Files, and, since May 2007, via my website, where I have, to date, published 2,154 articles about Guantánamo, and, since January 2012, via the Close Guantánamo campaign and website that I established (with the US attorney Tom Wilner, who represented the prisoners in their Supreme Court cases in 2004 and 2008) on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison on January 11, 2012.

Every January, since 2011, I’ve visited the US to call for the closure of Guantánamo on an around the anniversary of the prison’s opening, and I’ll be doing the same this month, flying out to the US next Monday to take part in events in Washington, D.C. on January 10 and 11, including a protest outside the White House, and I look forward to more dates being added soon. If you want an interview, or want to stage an event, do let me know — and if you want a spur to donate to support my work, then it will help with my visit! Read the rest of this entry »

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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, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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