Radio: I Discuss Guantánamo on Portland’s KBOO FM with Linda Olson-Osterlund


A composite image of KBOO FM’s logo, and the prison at Guantánamo Bay on the day it opened.

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The prison at Guantánamo Bay —- and the plight of the 40 men still held there — has, in general, fallen so far off America’s radar that it is unsurprising that many in the US think that it has closed down.

So little interest is there in Guantánamo that the days when I was regularly asked to discuss it on US radio stations are, sadly, long gone, and so I was delighted last week to be asked to discuss it with Linda Olsen-Osterlund, on KBOO FM, a community radio station in Portland, Oregon.

The one-hour show is here as an MP3, and I hope you have time to listen to it, and will share it if you find it useful.

Linda and I have spoken many times before — since 2008, I was shocked to learn on going through my archives — and it’s always a pleasure to talk to her.

On Wednesday, on the Radiozine program that runs from 9-10am on weekdays, I brought Linda and her listeners up to date on Guantánamo, pointing out, in particular, how scandalous it is that the men still held there are, fundamentally, the personal prisoners of Donald Trump, and, to a lesser extent, the US Congress, unable to be freed unless Trump desires it — which, of course, he doesn’t, as he has persistently made clear.

In the hope of illuminating quite how disgraceful this situation is, I ran through the categories of the 40 men still held — including the nine men facing, or having faced a broken trial system, the military commissions, that is incapable of delivering injustice; and the five men approved for release by high-level government review processes under President Obama, but still held because no legal mechanism exists to compel their release, and also because, in any case, Trump has shut down the office of the Envoy for Guantánamo Closure, established under Obama, which not only arranged prisoner releases and re-settlements, but also — for those interested in America’s national security — kept tabs on former prisoners to make sure there was no possibility of them engaging in hostilities against the US.

The other 26 men are the “forever prisoners,” men deliberately held without charge or trial, but given reviews, under Obama, called the Periodic Review Boards (PRBs), a parole-type process whereby the prisoners, in order to secure a recommendation for release, were required to show contrition for their actions and affiliations they were accused of (regardless of whether or not those claims were accurate), and to establish viable plans for a peaceful and constructive post-Guantánamo life.

Under Obama, 64 men had their cases reviewed, and 38 were recommended for release, with all but two of these men freed before he left office. Under Trump, however, although the PRB process continues, it has become a zombie process, with absolutely no one recommended for release since Trump took office, so that, as I explained in a recent article, No Escape from Guantánamo: Former Child Prisoner Boycotts Broken Review Process, Calls It “Hopeless”, the prisoners are all now boycotting their PRBs, having rightly concluded that they have become meaningless.

Amongst other topics, Linda and I also discussed her valid contention that the treatment of the men at Guantánamo, which the US government has largely got away with for nearly 18 years, has led directly to a situation whereby Donald Trump thinks it is acceptable to hold asylum seekers, including children, in brutal and lawless conditions on the Mexican border — another reason, if any more were needed, why Guantánamo must be closed once and for all.

* * * * *

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, or you can watch it online here, via the production company Spectacle, for £2.55), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from seven 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 2017 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. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, and the trees were cut down on February 27, 2019, the resistance continues.

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.

7 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article: a report about – and link to – an interview about Guantanamo that I undertook this week with Linda Olson-Osterlund on KBOO FM, a community radio station in Portland, Oregon.

    Linda and I have, it’s sobering to note, been discussing Guantanamo for eleven years, and it’s always good to talk to her, but particularly so right now, as we approach the 18th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo (in January), because, despite the horribly long amount of time this wretched prison has been open, it has largely dropped off the US media radar.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Deborah Emin wrote:

    Thank you.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re welcome, Deborah. Thanks for your continued interest in the shame that is Guantanamo.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Valerie Jeans wrote:

    Thank you, Andy.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re welcome, Valerie. Thanks for your ongoing concern about the continued existence of Guantanamo.

  6. Danielsmerb says...

    Thanks for helping people get the information they need. Good stuff as usual. Keep up the good work!!!

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the supportive words!

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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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