Radio: Perpetual Imprisonment at Guantánamo – Andy Worthington Interviewed by Linda Olson-Osterlund on Portland’s KBOO FM


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.


Last week, I was delighted to talk to Linda Olson-Osterlund for the morning show, Political Perspectives, on KBOO FM, a community radio station in Portland, Oregon. Linda has been talking to me about Guantánamo for many years, and it’s always a pleasure to talk to her. 

The show is available hereand here as an MP3 — and I hope you have time to listen to it, and will share it if you find it useful. Unfortunately, KBOO had a new telephone system, which didn’t allow foreign calls, and so the first 12 minutes of the show feature some music by Bill Frissell, before Linda introduced me at 12:20, prior to our interview beginning at 15:00.

Linda and I spent the first ten minutes talking about the habeas corpus petition submitted by lawyers for eleven of the remaining 41 prisoners at Guantánamo on January 11, the 16th anniversary of the opening of the prison. As I explained in a recent article, the lawyers argued, as a press release by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights put it, that “[Donald] 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’s press release also stated that the lawyers’ 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.” The lawyers added 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.”

As part our discussion, I was pleased to be able to mention a particular bugbear of mine — the Justice Department Civil Division lawyers, some of whom have been in place since the earliest days of Guantánamo under George W. Bush, and who have now spent 16 years solidly resisting any efforts to release prisoners under any circumstances. 

Around 25:00, Linda shifted our attention to what she described as “the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that immigrants facing deportation can be held indefinitely with no hearing on their cases,” a shocking development, although one that is sadly typical of a lamentable hardening of attitudes towards immigrants and minorities under Donald Trump and those who voted from him in America, and in Brexit Britain under Theresa May and the Tories. I was pleased — perhaps that’s not quite the appropriate word — to be able to mention to US listeners the disgraceful situation that emerged in the UK a few years ago when Theresa May, our current Prime Minister, was Home Secretary, when, extrajudicially, she stripped two dual national citizens of their British citizenship while they were in Syria, and then told the US where they were so they could be killed in drone attacks, and I also mentioned the disgrace that is Britain’s open-ended detention system for failed immigration applicants, who can be held indefinitely, in prisons that are a compete betrayal of all fundamental human rights.  

Around 31:00, Linda moved the focus of discussion onto the construction and  destruction taking place at Guantánamo — the new buildings being raised, and the old ones being destroyed, with the latter topic being one I discussed in my recent article, Why Camp X-Ray at Guantánamo Mustn’t Be Destroyed.

We also discussed the cost of maintaining the prison at Guantánamo — $441m a year, or, in other words, $10m a year per prisoner, versus the $35,000 a year that it costs to keep a prisoner in a maximum-security prison on the US mainland, and from here we moved into America’s out-of control spending budget, with me saying that it was, essentially, “impossible to imagine that someone could rise to the position of president by declaring that the amount the US spends on military spending is insane.”

At 40:00, Linda followed on by discussing the awakening resistance to the lack of gun control amongst young people, who are sick of a system in which any deranged person with a gun can embark on a massacre in a school (because of the lobbying of the criminally powerful gun lobby), and particularly amongst black girls and young women, who also face the potentially lethal everyday racism of the US, and of particular interest is Naomi Wadler, the 11-year old girl who spoke with remarkable eloquence at the recent D.C. March For Our Lives, and that video is posted below:

There was plenty more in the show, so what are you waiting for? Give it a listen!

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 see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in 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), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London.

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, The Complete Guantánamo Files, 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.

9 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s an article linking to and commenting on my most recent radio interview – with Linda Olson-Osterlund on Portland, Oregon’s community radio station KBOO FM. Linda and I have spoken many time before, and it’s always a pleasure to talk to her. Over three-quarters of an hour, we talked about the latest Guantanamo habeas case, the recent Supreme Court ruling supporting immigration detention, construction of new buildings and the destruction of others at Guantanamo, and many other topics, including the recent and inspiring resistance of young people to the dominance of the gun lobby in the US in the wake of the latest school massacre. I hope you have time to listen to the show, and will share it if you like it!

  2. Tom says...

    Nice job. Linking where I can.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tom!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Sanchez Montebello wrote:

    Hello, Andy.
    As you may be aware, I have been on a self-imposed media blackout due to the incessant pimping of the fake Russian narrative by BOTH your country’s media and ours. Ecchhhh…. PEW!!! For the sake of my own sanity, I haven’t listened to a drop of even the NPR, BBC and Public Radio outlets. I just wanted to let you know that I was willing to “bend my personal rules” for a few minutes to give your interview a listen. You gave quite a perspicacious interview, especially about the Justice Department issues destroying Camp X. I mean, W-T-F???
    I’m still involved in shooting and editing some music videos and don’t usually have time for too many “distractions” on at the moment. So I just wanted to say that it was “Time well spent”. Now… You gotta figure out how you’re gonna make your West Coast Speaking Tour debut for all the folks out here.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Sanchez Montebello wrote:

    OH MY GOD…
    I just heard 441 MILLION PER YEAR to keep these poor men in prison. Grrr.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for listening, Sanchez. I’m very glad you enjoyed this example of the real media!
    It’s certainly true that the mainstream media is increasingly failing us. Here in the UK, for example, we’ve got a fake Jeremy Corbyn anti-semitism story being used as yet another attempt by the establishment to try and get rid of him – it’s kind of the last straw for me, so I never watch the BBC’s news coverage anymore, and many other people I know are doing the same.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    As for a tour, Sanchez, I’m trying to find time to write a memoir of my life as a Guantanamo activist, which also includes some of the “greatest hits” of my writing. I think it might work quite well, but it really is difficult finding the time.

  8. Tom says...

    Saw a recent interview with John Pilger talking about BBC News. He was saying he still looks at it, but has to decode it every time. I agree. Considering how corporate it is, it’s too bad that legally UK citizens/permanent residents can’t refuse to pay their annual license fee.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, i just paid the c. £150 a year that the licence costs last week, Tom. We listen to the radio, which is worth paying £3 a week for, and some of the TV programmes are good too, but the news most definitely isn’t trustworthy any more. As with government spending, it would be interesting to see what people would fund if they were given options.

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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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