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.

For this year’s anniversary, lawyers for eleven of the prisoners filed a new habeas petition, which I wrote about here, and which, as the Center for Constitutional Rights explained in a press release, “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.’”

Outside the White House, the protest, led by Witness Against Torture, and including Amnesty International USA and numerous other groups, was sharply focused on Donald Trump, his disgraceful inaction, his poisonous rhetoric and the plethora of racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic policies he has introduced since coming to office — including the many iterations of his Muslim travel ban, and the marked increase in deportations.

My speech, which opened proceedings on Thursday, is below, filmed and made available on Vimeo by Justin Norman, the media director of Witness Against Torture.

Andy Worthington Speaks on the 16th Anniversary of Guantánamo from Shrieking Tree on Vimeo.

As I explained when I posted it on Facebook, it was a fiery speech, in which “I ran through a brief history of 16 years of anger and disappointment with Presidents Bush and Obama, and ended up in fury at Donald Trump for his disgraceful refusal to even contemplate releasing a single prisoner — even though five of the 41 men still held were approved for release by high-level government review processes under Obama.” I added, “As I will continue to insist, until Guantánamo is finally closed, indefinite detention without charge or trial cannot ever be accepted as a norm.”

I also launched the new Close Guantánamo photo project, asking people to take photos with posters showing how long Guantanamo has been open (5,845 days on the anniversary, and 5,853 days today) and to make their own voices heard in telling Trump to close the prison once and for all. Details of that project are here, and I do hope you’ll get involved, and will share this video if you find it helpful.

I already posted an Associated Press video recorded at the protest (of me discussing the anniversary, as well as former NCIS agent Mark Fallon, and Pardiss Kebriaei of CCR), and the video of the panel discussion at New America on the afternoon of January 11, and I hope soon to be able to post the video of my talk at Revolution Books in Harlem, which took place on Tuesday.

I was also interviewed for two radio shows just before the anniversary — with Bob Connors for the Peace & Justice Report on WSLR, Sarasota Community Radio, on January 10, which can be found here (scroll down to Jan. 10). It was a great 40-minute interview, with the opportunity for me to give a properly detailed analysis of the story of Guantánamo, and I’m also delighted that Bob played my song ‘How Much Is A Life Worth?’, the title track of my band The Four Fathers’ new album. I hope to be able to speak to Bob again in the not too distant future.

I also spoke to Jerome McDonnell for Worldview on WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR station. I’ve spoken to Jerome before, and he’s always a well-informed host. That show is available here (under January 10, 2018), and here as an MP3, and the 52-minute show also includes Uri Freidman of the Atlantic discussing “national security adviser H.R. McMaster’s ideology around a possible nuclear confrontation” with North Korea, and Jacqueline Litzgus, a professor of biology at Laurentian University, talking about freshwater turtles. My interview begins 30 minute into the show.

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.

3 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, linking to the video by Justin Norman of my speech outside the White House on January 11, the 16th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo, lamenting the role played in the prison’s story by George W. Bush (for opening it) and Barack Obama (for failing to close it), but reserving my particular fury for Donald Trump, whose racism and contempt for the law is such that he has spent the last year sealing Guantanamo shut, even though five of the men still held were approved for release by high-level government review processes under Obama. Disgracefully, Trump has no interest in understanding that indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial and with no option of release, ever, is the hallmark of a dictatorship, and is not a convenient fallback position for a racist bigot who has shamefully ended up as the President of the United States. Please watch it – it’s less than 3 minutes – and share it widely if you share my fury!

  2. Tom says...

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tom. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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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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