Radio: I Discuss Guantánamo on the Project Censored Show with Mickey Huff, on WBAI in New York, and with Michael Slate in L.A.

24.1.20

Andy Worthington discussing Guantánamo on RT on January 15, 2020, in the only news feature marking the 18th anniversary of the prison’s opening in the whole of the US broadcast media.

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I’m now back in the UK after an inspiring ten-day visit to the US to call for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay on the 18th anniversary of its opening, when I took part in a prominent rally in Washington, D.C. on the actual anniversary (January 11), two subsequent speaking events with lawyers representing prisoners, one TV interview (the sole TV feature marking the anniversary in the whole of the US broadcast media) and six radio interviews.

My visit was important, I think, because, although Guantánamo ought to be a source of permanent shame for all decent Americans, it has fallen so far off the radar under Donald Trump that many people don’t even know that it exists, and many of those who do don’t care, even though the continued existence of the prison, where the US government holds foreign Muslims without charge or trial, and, in many cases, with no genuine effort made over 18 years to establish who they are, is like a virus infecting America’s soul.

Although few people care, my efforts to remind people of the prison’s existence, and my shared events with lawyers who still visit prisoners (and particularly Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, who carries the weight of their horrendous isolation and despair under Donald Trump), was easily enough to persuade me that, despite America’s amnesia, this work is still of extraordinary importance.

Below are links to the radio shows I undertook during my visit, beginning with my half-hour interview with Mickey Huff for “Project Censored” (available here as an MP3), which I recorded last week from New York, and which was made available online a few days ago. Mickey and I spoke many years ago about Guantánamo, and it was great to be back on the show, and to have the time to discuss the shame and disgrace of Guantánamo in depth.

Mickey and I also discussed the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, imprisoned in the UK as he challenges an outrageous extradition request by the Trump administration, which the British government approved, under former home secretary (and now Chancellor) Sajid Javid, with the full support of ex-Prime Minister Theresa May, and current PM Boris Johnson, despite it being a chilling and unprecedented assault on the necessary freedom of the press to expose government wrongdoing — unless, that is, we want to live in dictatorships.

Mickey and I also briefly discussed Chelsea Manning, to whom we all owe a debt for leaking the documents that WikiLeaks then released, and who, at the time of my interview, had just racked up $200,000 in outrageous, judge-levied costs relating to her imprisonment for refusing to take part of in a Grand Jury investigation into Assange.

Also, in the second half of the show, journalist and film-maker Kristina Borjesson discussed her new project, a whistleblower podcast called “The Whistleblower Newsroom.”

I recorded the show with Mickey on January 16, when I also spoke with Paul DeRienzo for the evening news on WBAI in New York, That show can be found here, and I’ve also embedded it below, and my interview with Paul, who I’ve spoken to before, took place from 13:00 to 19:35.

WBAI evening news on January 16, 2020, in which Paul DeRienzo interviewed Andy Worthington.

On January 17, I also spoke on the Michael Slate Show, which is available here. Michael and I have also spoken many times before, and I spoke to him, appropriately, from the office in New York of the World Can’t Wait, whose national director, Debra Sweet, has been instrumental in facilitating my visits every January since 2011.

I had made my way to the World Can’t Wait office from another radio station, WNYC, New York Public Radio, where I had been speaking to Latif Nasser, of Radiolab, for a  series of shows — hopefully to be broadcast soon — focusing on Abdul Latif Nasser, a Moroccan citizen who is still held at Guantánamo, despite having been unanimously approved for release by a high-level US government review process in 2016, who Radiolab’s Nasser was drawn to because of their shared name. In a detailed interview, I particularly had the opportunity to spell out the inadequacy of every review process undertaken at Guantánamo — because, as I explained, they all involved a kind of institutional over-cautiousness — and also to talk in depth about the unreliability of the witnesses in the classified military files released by WikiLeaks in 2011, on which I worked as a media partner.

Note: I previously posted links to the Scott Horton Show, for which I was interviewed shortly after my arrival in the uS, on January 10, and my short interview with Sunsara Taylor, on the day of the anniversary, just after I arrived in Washington, D.C. from New York, for her show “We Only Want the World” on WBAI in New York. I also recorded an interview with Linda Olson-Osterlund on KBOO FM, a community station in Portland, Oregon, the day before my departure, and that interview can be found here.

I also note that Scott has made his show into a YouTube video, so I’m also posting that below as well:

* * * * *

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 the 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.

15 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, a round-up of the various interviews I undertook on my recent US visit to call for the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay on the 18th anniversary of its opening – with Mickey Huff​ for “Project Censored,” with Paul DeRienzo for WBAI in New York, and with Michael Slate in L.A. Also included: interviews with Scott Horton, Sunsara Taylor​ on WBAI, and Linda Olson-Osterlund​ on KBOO FM in Portland.

    I also discuss another interview, not yet broadcast – with Latif Nasser for Radiolab, on WNYC, New York Public Radio, for a forthcoming series of shows about Guantanamo prisoner Abdul Latif Nasser, one of five men still held despite being unanimously approved for release by a high-level US government review process under President Obama. Watch this space for further information about that series, which will hopefully start airing next month.

    Thanks to all of the above for their interest in keeping the story of Guantanamo alive in the face of massive indifference. A monstrous injustice – like Guantanamo – remains a monstrous injustice whether or not anyone is paying attention, and I am thankful for those of you who care, while being genuinely shocked at the levels of ignorance in the US involving this most desperate and desperately unjust facility as it begins its 19th year of operations.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Ed Charles wrote:

    HIspantv did a small segment on the Washington DC demo which featured you. Here is the link: https://www.hispantv.com/noticias/ee-uu-/446797/guantgnamo-torturas-terrorismo

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Oh, that’s great, Ed. Thanks, I’ve been interviewed by this reporter before – good to see the word getting out to the Spanish-speaking audience!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Jessy Mumpo wrote:

    Will be writing letters from our Amnesty group, gotta keep that candle burning, thanks for all you do Andy. xxx

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    And thanks for your commitment, Jessy!

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Sara Birch wrote:

    I am absolutely determined to keep going with this Andy. The work you do is an inspiration to me to try even harder to campaign for the closure of Guantanamo and raise awareness of the outrageous injustice that those who remain detained there are suffering.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Great to hear from you, Sara. The remaining prisoners definitely need people to care about them. It was, as usual, wonderful to meet up with like-minded people in the US, but in general it’s as if Guantanamo no longer even exists.
    Looking forward to talking soon about how we can take things forward here in the UK.

  8. Anna says...

    Hi Andy, I suppose you’re back in London by now and again submerged in UK or at least European horrors.
    Tomorrow the 75 th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/01/auschwitz-survivor-recounts-horror-75-years-liberation-200126190734628.html
    The words of this survivor should not only remind us of that unspeakable horror from the past, but also ring an alarm bell about what is happening now and not only with rising anti-semitism but islamophobia and general xenophobia. To this day he still lives with these unbearable memories every single day and so do all survivors of institutionalised torture and lawless detention.
    Tomorrow there no doubt will be tons of lofty speeches by politicians, will any of them make the link to today’s fascism?

    As for Boris’ promises, whose lies we know all too well, this cynical shedding of any pretense of reliability still came as a shock :
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/22/north-backed-brexit-feel-costs-tory-mps

  9. Anna says...

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Anna,
    Great to hear from you, albeit on such a sad occasion.
    I am indeed back from the US, but determined this year to keep focusing on Guantanamo as much as possible. It is, at least, a pure horror with no nuance – a banal evil that needs to be stopped – unlike the mess of western politics.
    I’ve largely given up on the news, and especially British broadcasters, since their shameful bias in last month’s General Election, so I may get to sidestep the hypocrisy that will be so evident today, as politicians and media moguls who capitalise on division and racism and xenophobia will be predictably sanctimonious, pretending that the storm clouds of the far right gathering over all our countries has nothing to do with them, when in fact they are very much to blame.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    As for the astonishingly embarrassing, self-serving Boris Johnson, Anna, is it too much to hope that he will get his comeuppance sooner rather than later? What was particularly revealing in the link you sent was the confirmation that hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in services will be diverted from new Tory gains in the poor north to the wealthier south “because of a new formula which significantly downgrades the importance of deprivation in assessing need.” Of course. In Boris Johnson’s bleak Britain, held together by him dancing around like a wind-up clown spouting the emptiest platitudes that anyone has ever heard a fat, over-privileged Etonian elitist utter, why on earth would deprivation be any indicator of need? We are almost beyond satire …

  12. Anna says...

    Yes, the new indicators of need will presumably be those of the shareholders of real estate companies and other corporations.
    Apart from the horror for Britain itself, this also further erodes whatever standing of human, civil and social rights and generally democracy still survives in the EU and more broadly ‘western world’. There’s already the dismal example of the US (Saudis bombing Yemen, Turkey sending army to Libya to ‘train & advise’ and so many other instances of criminal hypocrisy), now Boris has sent a clear message to politicians world-wide : you can promise whatever you want, no one is going to hold you accountable when you withdraw your promises the moment you come to power.
    Over here we have a democratically elected (by bribing with big financial dotations for children – let’s keep Poland white and christian) government completely eroding our judiciary.
    There is no ‘moral authority’ anymore in any country – apart perhaps from Bhutan – so no one can lecture anyone else in that field.
    No one with hands clean enough to -virtually- throw the first stone.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    I absolutely agree, Anna – there is no “moral authority” anymore; no one prepared to say to our populations that racism and xenophobia are dangerous and wrong, and to point out to them what happens if those lessons are ignored. Holocaust Day should have been a reminder.
    As for Johnson, he has no moral centre. I was told when Cameron and Osborne became our leaders that Etonians don’t care about right or wrong, they only care about winning, and Johnson’s the supreme example of that. How we ended up with him as leader confounds me. After the EU referendum, even the Tory faithful recoiled from him when they realised that he had won a campaign – the Leave campaign – that he didn’t even believe in.

  14. Anna says...

    When depressed by it all, I take a dip into Bernie’s FB, all positive, something to hope for and dream of : https://www.facebook.com/berniesanders/

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for that, Anna. “Not Me. Us.” Much better than Corbyn’s “For the Many Not the Few.” The feeling amongst my American friends, however, is generally that, as in 2016, there is no way that Bernie will even be allowed to become the Democratic candidate. I wonder if we can ever get to a point where a caring candidate with vision can get to be seen as a viable leader – you know, rather than a psychopath or a sociopath – before the man-made destruction of the environment and the next great self-inflicted economic collapse bring everything crashing down.

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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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