Video: I Discuss “Guantánamo at Twenty: What is the Future of the Prison Camp?” with Tom Wilner, Karen Greenberg and Peter Bergen at New America


A screenshot of Andy Worthington with Tom Wilner, Karen Greenberg and Peter Bergen at “Guantánamo at Twenty: What is the Future of the Prison Camp?”, an online discussion hosted by New America on Jan. 11, 2022, the 20th anniversary of the opening of the prison.

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The 20th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay was marked by a flurry of mainstream media activity, and, for those us who work on Guantánamo regularly (or even incessantly), it was extraordinarily busy.

I worked almost non-stop on Guantánamo from 8.30 in the morning until 3am the day after, in what was probably the busiest day of my life, starting with a brief but helpful interview with BBC Radio Scotland (about two hours and 45 minutes into the show), and proceeding with a half-hour Turkish TV show with other experts, an online panel discussion at New America in Washington, D.C., and a Virtual Vigil hosted by Amnesty International and other groups. In between these events, I wrote and published an article calling for action from President Biden, posted 50 photos of Close Guantánamo supporters holding up posters calling for its closure, and also uploaded and posted a video of my band The Four Fathers playing ‘Forever Prisoner’, a new song I wrote about Khaled Qassim, one of the men still held indefinitely at Guantánamo without charge or trial.

Over the next week or so, I’ll be posting articles linking to these events, doing what I’ve been doing for most of the last 16 years: trying to keep a focus on the injustices of Guantánamo, and the ever-urgent need for it to be closed, when the mainstream media moves on (as it has done already after briefly remembering the prison on Tuesday).

First up, then, is the video of “Guantánamo at Twenty: What is the Future of the Prison Camp?”, an online event hosted by the New America think-tank in Washington, D.C., featuring myself, the attorney Tom Wilner, who has been representing Guantánamo prisoners in the courts since the prison opened, and with whom I co-founded the Close Guantánamo campaign ten years ago, and Karen Greenberg, the Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, and the author of The Least Worst Place: Guantánamo’s First 100 Days.

The video of the one-hour online event is below, via YouTube, and I hope that you have time to watch it, as it was, I believe, a detailed analysis of exactly where we stand with Guantánamo after 20 years, one year into the administration of President Biden, and with understandable concerns about his lack of significant action towards the prison’s closure over the last 12 months, but some hope that, at the very least, the men who have never been charged (27 of the remaining 39 prisoners) will be freed, even if the delivery of anything resembling justice to the men who have been charged (ten men in total) continues to look unachievable via the fundamentally broken military commissions trial system.

The event was moderated by Peter Bergen, New America’s Vice President, Global Studies & Fellows, and, coincidentally, an old college friend of mine from Oxford University in the 1980s. Peter and New America have been hosting Guantánamo events with Tom and I on the anniversary of the prison’s opening every year since 2011 — with the exception of 2013, when Tom and I were too dispirited by President Obama’s inaction to muster any enthusiasm for an event, and last year, when it was derailed by Covid. My first appearance at New America — and, oh dear, how young I look — was actually in March 2008, on my first ever visit to the US, to promote my book The Guantánamo Files.

* * * * *

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 you can watch it online here, via the production company Spectacle, for £2.50).

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 struggle for housing justice — and against environmental destruction — 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.

One Response

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, the first of a number of articles covering events marking the 20th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantanamo Bay on Jan. 11, 2022 — an online panel discussion, hosted by New America, at which I joined attorney Tom Wilner (with whom I co-founded the Close Guantanamo campaign ten years go), Karen Greenberg and Peter Bergen to discuss whether President Biden can or will finally close the prison.

    I hope that you have time to watch it, and that you’ll share if it you find it helpful.

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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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