Radio: My One-Hour Interview With Peter B. Collins About Closing Guantánamo, and Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing

10.12.20

Andy Worthington marking 6,900 days of the existence of the prison at Guantánamo Bay and calling on President Elect Joe Biden to close it, on December 1, 2020, and a campaigner calling for an end to the proposed extradition to the US of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, outside the Old Bailey in London on October 1, 2020.

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! This week is my latest quarterly fundraising week, and I’m trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.




 

Last week I was honoured to be asked by the veteran talk radio host Peter B. Collins to take part in what is being billed as his ‘Last Interview’ series, as he retires from regular broadcasting after a 47-year career which began with him covering Watergate when he was just 19.

The show is available here, and here as an MP3 — and as this is my quarterly fundraising week, please be aware that I don’t receive any payment for my various TV and radio appearances, so if you can help with a donation, to enable me to keep writing about, campaigning about and talking about Guantánamo (and other human rights issues) across a variety of media, it will be very greatly appreciated!

Peter first interviewed me about Guantánamo — if I recall correctly, gazing back into the mists of time — back in 2009, and we have spoken many times since, as he largely moved from hosting talk radio shows into running his own subscriber-based podcasts.

It has always been a pleasure to talk to Peter, as he is so well-informed about all the topics he discusses with his guests, and his show will be sorely missed by those who value a consistently intelligent and challenging analysis of US politics from a non-partisan left-wing perspective — “from the Left Coast”, as Peter describes his Bay Area location.

I hope you have time to listen to the show, and that you’ll share it if you find it useful. I’m also very pleased to note that Peter played out the show with ‘Grenfell‘ by my band The Four Fathers, taken from a live performance filmed by a German TV crew.

Peter’s description of the show is below:

Will Joe Biden release prisoners, and ultimately close Guantánamo? British journalist Andy Worthington returns to talk about America’s Caribbean gulag and his role in the British extradition hearings for Julian Assange. Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files, and has dedicated more than 15 years of his life to expose and end the use of the prison complex that has undermined America’s reputation and claims of liberty and justice. Get his latest reporting here.

We open with some speculation about Biden’s potential for action on Gitmo, since he has not taken a public position during the presidential campaign. Worthington hopes he will permit the release of 5 prisoners who were cleared during the last year of the Obama administration, and amend the laws that prevent Guantánamo prisoners from being brought to the US to at least allow for emergency medical care, especially for elderly men.

We discuss Obama’s failure to close Guantánamo — which he lamented in a recent interview with Stephen Colbert — and related issues, like Obama’s legal equivocation about the rights of “forever prisoners” who may never be charged, tried, or released. While it’s easy to blame Republicans, many Democratic leaders oppose any changes to Guantánamo policy.

And near the end, Worthington shares his observations about the recent extradition hearings for Julian Assange, where Worthington was scheduled to testify. In the end, he submitted a statement describing how WikiLeaks release of the Guantánamo files produced evidence of American war crimes.

Andy’s important work is supported by contributions, so if you are able, please chip in!

* * * * *

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 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 eight 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.

9 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, linking to, and discussing my recent one-hour interview with Peter B. Collins, as part of his ‘Last Interview’ series, in which we talked about Guantanamo, and the prospects for its closure under Joe Biden, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition hearing, for which I gave evidence as part of his defence.

    I hope you have time to listen to the show, and that you’ll share it if you find it useful. Peter has been interviewing me, on and off, for more than ten years, and has been a consistently well-informed and articulate radio host. As he retires from his full-time show, I wish him the best, but hope that he will do the occasional show in the future!

  2. Anna says...

    Hi Andy, haven’t had time yet to listen, but one answer already appeared : “Meanwhile, the defence bill also maintains Congress’s prohibition on the closure of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” …
    From : https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/11/us-defence-budget-bill-provisions-afghan-deal-israel-aid.

    Ik looks like Biden – not really surprisingly in view of his general lack of vitality and drive, apart from for his own benefit – is preparing an Obama-2 government which is even worse than I feared. Not a speck of progressive voices, just the usual (Obama) suspects all over again. With I suspect Obama himself pulling some strings in the background, a true ’eminence grise’.
    His so-called ‘diversity’ seems to be limited to window dressing by appointing women & coloured persons, without too much attention to what they represent.

    This will be a dire X’mas, not even so much because of the virus but because there is so dramatically little progress (except Bolivia), but a veritable explosion of new conflicts all over the world.

    Hang in there, with the Exit now at hand and consumer prices probably steeply increasing as a result of that criminal madness. At least you have a roof over your head, a small mercy in this turmoil.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, nothing to get worked up about, Anna. It’s genuinely good to be rid of Trump, but not great to have a “business as usual” Democrat back in the White House. But I do genuinely believe there’ll be progress on Guantanamo, especially if the Dems could take the Senate as well as the House. That way perhaps the worst of the pro-Guantanamo provisions in every year’s NDAA can be made slightly less bad – transfers to the US for medical purposes, for example, which some Republicans already support.

    But anyway, all this is a long way away from the latest domestic drama – Boris Johnson’s “no deal” Brexit. The other EU countries are apparently genuinely bemused by his behaviour.

    From a Twitter thread by Alex Andreou – https://twitter.com/sturdyAlex/status/1337437325979246593:

    “Everyone at the Commission is quite confused. The current offer to the UK is a deal in which IF we align, we get full access. IF, in future, we diverge they limit access or put up (some) tariffs. The UK choosing to go to NO access and FULL tariffs NOW, is incomprehensible.

    “This has led people to split into two camps: There is one school of thought, that Johnson really is utterly clueless. His behaviour at the UVDL dinner last night (a car crash, apparently), has fed that impression. This makes people not want to do business with this government.

    “The second school of thought, is that Johnson negotiated in bad faith throughout. That his aim was always No Deal and he simply strung 27 countries along, at the expense of a huge amount of work, effort and expense. This makes them not want to do business with this government.

    “Note that the conclusion is precisely the same under either theory. That whether idiot or fraudster, Johnson is best kept at arms length. Polling in most EU27 shows that being tough with the UK yields a big favourability boost. So, I’m afraid, nobody is riding to our rescue.”

  4. Anna says...

    Yes, I did not want to rub it in, but the no deal always seemed to be his gamble, so I believe the second – fraudster – version. Which does not mean that he is not a clueless moron too, but he’s so infantile, practical jokeish & irresponsible, that I honestly think that he’s been aiming for a no-deal all the time and only pretended otherwise to avoid fierce criticism which might have derailed his plan. By pretending to look for a deal, the eventual lack of it and its disastrous consequences then could be blamed on the EU being unreasonable : I tried & tried but they never gave us a fair chance.
    It’s truly unbelievable that a highly developed country can be so thoroughly ruined by one idiot, whether that be Johnson or Cummings, Jekyll & Hide. There are plenty of people who find Johnson so ‘refreshingly amusing’ …
    I suppose the windows in nr 10 are fortified, but I personally would love to smash one of them with a brick or at least a few rotten eggs.
    I suppose that he’ll be getting a handsome lifelong pension after having been PM, which will allow him to spend the rest of his life playing on the beach of some tropical tax haven, the %$#*&€. The worries of the rest of Europe seem futile compared to yours…

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    It’s so depressing, Anna. Imagine this self-inflicted damage to the economy, to imports of everything from food to medicine, on top of the pandemic. In that Twitter thread there was some incredulity from Europe about how fundamentally unprepared the UK seems to be for the full ramifications of what leaving means, but where’s the outrage? Someone was complaint the other day that lots of mainstream journalists seem to have only just woken up to the enormity of it all. Is it something to do with the “wellness” culture we live in that people are so determined to be “positive” that they can’t see a disaster when it’s in front of their eyes?

  6. Anna says...

    Another European war brewing – to be remembered in history as the ‘2021 X years Fishing War’? Sorry for an ex-compatriot of mine supporting this.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/12/uk-navy-on-standby-to-protect-fishing-in-case-of-no-deal-brexit

    And yes, it is mindboggling how ‘the full enormity’ never really was acknowledged. Of course Covid took away interest for anything else in this crucial year, but even so, it is mindboggling. Not to mention future quality of your food, workers’ & social rights, which will impact everyone except the (super) rich. In addition to the EU, they now have Covid to blame the coming disaster on.

    I suppose that like everyone else you are hoarding – albeit within decent limits, you and Dot being who you are. If I ever visit London again, I’ll ask you for a shopping list for continental goodies that you might be yearning for.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Apologies for the delay in responding, Anna. Dot and I went away for a night to Hastings, on the south coast. It was good to get away from the news for 24 hours.

    My feeling right now is that Johnson is feeling the heat of the British establishment and business leaders who are letting him know in no uncertain terms how disastrous a ‘no deal’ Brexit will be. We can only hope that they’re successful, but I have feared for some time that there is no escape from the ‘no deal’ conclusion to this idiotic story, and that we’ll have too crash out of the EU and suffer horribly before enough people realise the enormity of what has happened, kick out the Brexiteers and beg to rejoin the EU.

    But who knows? Like in Trump’s America, millions of people seem to have lost their minds, and, given the corrupt nature of our tabloid media, may simply not change the bitter, delusional, illogical conclusions about the UK and its glorious isolated sovereignty that have come to define them over the last four years. What a mess.

  8. Anna says...

    Glad you had a day’s respite from all the mess ! Johnson’s usual bluster seems to be shifting to fluster the last time I saw him on my computer screen – looked like he finally seemed to be getting the message, that his over-the-top promises will now have to be realised while he has no clue how to do that … I’ll keep my fingers crossed for ‘the last mile’, for whatever that will be worth …

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    I’m hoping that the centrist – or centre-right – grandees of the British political establishment, as well as numerous prominent voices from the UK business community, have been able to get through to him, Anna. Did you see the article in the Observer yesterday by Michael Heseltine, formerly Margaret Thatcher’s right-hand man? ‘Brexit is the worst decision of modern times. Why are its critics in cabinet so silent?’: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/13/brexit-is-the-worst-decision-of-modern-times-why-are-its-critics-in-cabinet-so-silent

    And here’s former Tory party chairman Chris Patten, saying that Johnson is “not a Conservative but an ‘English nationalist'”: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/dec/13/tory-grandees-fury-over-johnsons-nationalist-no-deal-brexit

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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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