Video: I Discuss the Possible Closure of the Prison at Guantánamo Bay on RT America

22.7.21

A screenshot of Andy Worthington being interviewed on RT America on July 20, 2021.

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On Tuesday evening, I was pleased to be asked by RT America for an interview regarding the prospects of the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay after the release of Abdul Latif Nasser, the first release from the prison under Joe Biden, since he was inaugurated as president six months ago, and the first release for over three years.

Speaking to Scottie Nell Hughes, I explained how the closure of Guantánamo ought to now be within sight, with just 39 men still held, and only twelve of those men facing trials, or having gone through the trial process. Of the 27 others, ten — like Nasser — have also been approved for release, while the 17 others have never been charged, and have been aptly described as America’s “forever prisoners,” a label that no country that claims to respect the rule of law should want clinging to them.

Fortunately, as I also explained, 19 and a half years since Guantánamo opened, there is now a widespread acceptance within the US mainstream political culture that it is unacceptable to continue endlessly holding men who have never been charged with a crime, and, by the government’s own admissions over the years, never will be.

As a result, if President Biden is serious about closing Guantánamo, the ten men already approved for release will be freed as soon as possible, and arrangements will also need to be made to free the 17 “forever prisoners,” unless any of them can be charged — although, as I added, that seems unlikely because, if credible charges existed, there is no reason why they would not have already been charged.

The video is below, via YouTube, and I hope you have time to watch it, and will share it if you find it useful. My interview was at the start of the show, but do keep watching for an interview straight after me with longtime peace activist David Swanson.

When it comes to approving the “forever prisoners” for release, President Biden has two options. The first is for them to be recommended for release by Periodic Review Boards, a review process set up under President Obama, which recently approved five other “forever prisoners” for release, or they can have their release ordered by a court, although on this point, as I will be explaining in a forthcoming article, and as I also discussed last month, the Biden administration — as was the case under George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump — shows no willingness to rein in the Civil Division of the Justice Department, which has persistently defended the imprisonment of prisoners at Guantánamo, however weak the case against them may be.

As for the 12 men facing trials, it is abundantly clear by now that the military commission trial system, first established to try men accused of war crimes in 2001, ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in 2006, but revived again in 2006 and in 2009 under Obama, is not fit for purpose, and the men charged should be moved, instead, to federal courts on the US mainland, which have a proven track record of successfully prosecuting terrorism-related crimes, so that Guantánamo can finally be closed.

How much of this will come to pass is as still unknown, of course, but it certainly ought to be possible, especially because, as I noted above, the casual acceptance of Guantánamo’s central injustice — holding men forever without charge or trial — seems finally to have become unfashionable.

* * * * *

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer (of an ongoing photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London’), 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).

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.

3 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, linking to the video of my interview with Scottie Nell Hughes on RT America on Tuesday, discussing the possible closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, following the first prisoner release under President Biden — of Abdul Latif Nasser, a Moroccan who was repatriated the day before.

    As I explained, it ought to be possible. Ten of the 39 men still held have already been approved for release, and need freeing as soon as possible, while 17 others, held as “forever prisoners,” also need to be released, unless they’re going to be charged, and the ten men facing trials should have their cases transferred to federal court and out of the broken military commission system.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Anna Elliott wrote:

    This is so hopeful Andy, and your tireless work has meant that Guantanamo never left the consciousness of the world.
    You should feel so proud of yourself. I’m so proud to be your supporter, and Facebook friend.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you so much for your wonderfully supportive words, Anna.

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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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