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

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Radio: As the Prison at Guantánamo Begins Its 15th Year of Operations, Andy Worthington Speaks on US Radio

Andy Worthington outside the White House in Washington, D.C. on January 11, 2016 at a protest marking the 14th anniversary of the opening of the prison (Photo: Debra Sweet).From January 8-18, I was in the US for a brief tour to highlight the importance of closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay, coinciding with the 14th anniversary of the opening of the prison, on January 11. I visited Miami, Washington, D.C. and New York City, and videos of my various escapades can be found here, including appearing with my friend and supporter, the music legend Roger Waters, on Democracy Now!

I also took part in a number of radio shows, and am making those available below. I hope you have time to listen to them, and to share them if you find them useful. I’m keeping my description of them quite brief, as I’m snowed under with other Guantánamo-related work right now — in particular the launch of the Countdown to Close Guantánamo, a new initiative, via the Close Guantánamo campaign I set up with the US attorney Tom Wilner in 2012, asking people to print off a poster calling for President Obama to close Guantánamo before he leaves office in a year’s time, to photograph themselves standing with the poster, and to send it to us to put up on the website and to publicize via social media. I hope you will get involved!

On the morning of January 11, just before I took part in the annual protest outside the White House, and a panel discussion at New America, I spoke to Jerome McDonnell on his show “Worldview” on WBEZ 91.5 in Chicago. The show is available on Soundcloud, and is posted below, and this is how Jerome described it: Read the rest of this entry »

Radio: Andy Worthington Speaks to Michael Slate and Scott Horton About Guantánamo, David Hicks and Shaker Aamer

Andy Worthington speaks at a meeting in Northampton, Massachusetts on January 14, 2015 (Photo: Debra Sweet for Andy Worthington).I’m pleased to report that, in the last week, I have taken part in two radio shows in the US with two radio hosts that I have known for a long time and who I admire — Michael Slate and Scott Horton.

Michael’s show was entitled, “From the Torture Chambers of Guantánamo to the Deadly Streets of the US: American Thugs on the Rampage,” which is a great title, and I was delighted to be on the same show as Larry Siems, the editor of Guantánamo Diary, the extraordinarily powerful book by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who is still held at Guantánamo (Larry and I were previously on another show, in Chicago, which you can find here). Also on the show was the activist Carl Dix.

The hour-long show is here, and I’m on for the first 16 minutes, bringing Michael’s listeners up to date on the current situation at Guantánamo, and also speaking about We Stand With Shaker, the campaign to secure the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, which I launched in November with the activist Joanne MacInnes. Read the rest of this entry »

Radio: Andy Worthington Talks About Guantánamo with Dennis Bernstein, Michael Slate and Margaret Prescod in San Francisco and L.A.

Last week, during the West Coast leg of my 12-day “Close Guantánamo Now” tour (supported by the World Can’t Wait), I was first in San Francisco, a visit that involved being reunited with a number of old friends, including Stephanie Tang and Curt Wechsler of World Can’t Wait, Joey Johnson, who does community work in San Francisco neighbourhoods, the academic and anti-torture activist Rita Maran, lawyer Sharon Adams (with whom I spoke on Rose Aguilar’s “Your Call” show on KALW Public Radio) and Michael Kearns, the former instructor in the SERE program, which trains US personnel to resist interrogations if captured by an enemy that uses torture, who was appalled to discover, several years ago, that his former colleagues Bruce Jessen, James Mitchell and Roger Aldrich had played a key role in reverse-engineering these techniques for the torture of supposed “high-value detainees” seized in the “war on terror.”

I had met many of these good people for the first time in October 2010, when World Can’t Wait brought me over to Berkeley for “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week, and was reunited with many of them two years ago, as part of a short US tour on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, in which I also visited New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago.

On this occasion, I first met up with some of my old friends in Oakland, at the house of other old friends, Ruth and Zeese, who had put me up on previous visits, where we had an inspiring anti-torture salon experience, of a kind that would be difficult to achieve outside of those involved in “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week. This was on the evening of my arrival, after a few hours in the afternoon spent exploring and photographing Mission Street in San Francisco, and the next morning I recorded the “Your Call” show with Rose and Sharon (and CUNY law professor and Guantánamo attorney Ramzi Kassem in New York), and then walked along Ocean beach, saw the Bay Area from Twin Peaks and ate delicious lamb shwarma with Joey Johnson, soaking up the radiant sunshine everywhere we went. Read the rest of this entry »

Radio: On Day 150 of the Hunger Strike at Guantánamo, Andy Worthington Talks to Michael Slate

Yesterday, I was delighted to speak to Michael Slate on his show on KPFK in Los Angeles, as the monstrosity that is Guantánamo reached another horrible milestone — Day 150 of the prison-wide hunger strike that began in early February. Michael and I have spoken many times before (most recently here and here), and our 20-minute interview is here, at the start of the hour-long show.

According to the authorities, 106 of the remaining 166 prisoners are taking part in the hunger strike (the prisoners claim the true total is around 120). Moreover, 45 of these men are being force-fed, a horrible process whereby they are strapped down into restraint chairs twice a day, and have liquid nutrient pumped into their stomachs through tubes inserted up their noses.

For recent discussions of this process by two of the men being force-fed — who, shockingly, are amongst the 86 men cleared for release who are still held — see “Guantánamo Hunger Strike: Nabil Hadjarab Tells Court, ‘I Will Consider Eating When I See People Leaving This Place‘” and “In Court Submission, Hunger Striker Ahmed Belbacha Tells Obama, ‘End the Nightmare that is Guantánamo.'” Read the rest of this entry »

Radio: Andy Worthington Discusses the Guantánamo Hunger Strike with Dennis Bernstein and Michael Slate

The hunger strike in Guantánamo, which is now in its 74th day, continues to draw attention, although it is important that everyone who cares about it keeps publicizing the story — and keeps reminding the mainstream media to keep reporting it — or it will be lost in the hysteria emanating from the Boston bombings, which right-wingers, of course, are using to replenish their Islamophobia — one aim of which will be to shut down discussion of Guantánamo, in order to keep the prison open.

As my contribution to keeping the story alive, I’ve been publishing articles about the hunger strike on an almost daily basis, and have also been taking part in as many media appearances as possible. On Monday, after the military had clamped down on the hunger strike with violence last weekend, firing non-lethal rounds and moving the majority of the prisoners into solitary, I received several invitations to take part in TV and radio shows, but all but two fizzled out when the Boston bombing occurred. One of the two was a Canadian radio station, and the other was with Dennis Bernstein on Flashpoints, on KPFA in Berkeley, California.

My interview with Dennis is available here, just three weeks after our last discussion about Guantánamo, and I was pleased to be joined by Candace Gorman, the Chicago-based attorney who represents two Guantánamo prisoners — one still held, and the other freed in 2010 — and Stephanie Tang of the World Can’t Wait. Both are friends, and between us, and with Dennis’s informed interest in the topic, I believe we thoroughly analyzed the dreadful situation that is still unfolding at Guantánamo, and pointed out the urgent necessity for President Obama to take action. Read the rest of this entry »

Andy Worthington Discusses the Guantánamo Hunger Strike, and America’s Chronic Injustice, on the Michael Slate Show

The world is, I hope, waking up to the truth that something terrible is happening at Guantánamo — a prison-wide hunger strike, involving as many as 130 of the remaining 166 prisoners, which began nearly two months ago, but was denied by the US authorities until just two weeks ago, although the numbers conceded by the military fail to match those cited by the prisoners themselves, via their lawyers.

From the five or six long-term hunger strikers initially acknowledged, the numbers went up to 14, and have been steadily increasing so that, today, the Pentagon claimed that “39 men are consistently refusing food,” as the Washington Post reported, also noting, “Of those, 11 are being force fed.” The men are on a hunger strike because of complaints about their treatment under the current command at the prison, but also — and primarily, I believe — because of their understanding that they have been completely abandoned by President Obama, even though he promised to close the prison (within a year) when he took office in 2009, and even though 86 of the remaining prisoners were cleared for release from the prison by an inter-agency task force that the President established in 2009.

On Friday, I spoke to Michael Slate, the veteran radio host whose informative and hard-hitting show is on KPFK 90.7 FM, in Los Angeles. The show is available here, as an MP3, and my interview begins at just after 23 minutes and lasts for 17 minutes. It follows another important interview, with Annette Dickerson, the Director of Education and Outreach at the Center for Constitutional Rights, discussing a  disgraceful milestone: the 5,000,000th person to be subjected to the New York Police Department’s “stop and frisk” policy. Read the rest of this entry »

Andy Worthington Discusses Eleven Years of Guantánamo with Michael Slate

On Friday, I was delighted to talk to Michael Slate on his long-standing progressive show, on KPFK in Los Angeles, about Guantánamo, as I prepared to fly to the US for a series of events to mark the 11th anniversary of the opening of the prison, and to demand its closure, as promised by President Obama when he first took office four years ago. The show is here, as an MP3 and our interview lasts for around 20 minutes, and is the second interview in the hour-long show, starting about 20 minutes in. For anyone interested in my current whereabouts, I’m now in Brooklyn, having traveled here safely today.

I hope you can listen to the show. Michael and I have spoken before (see here, here, here and here, most recently following President Obama’s reelection) and it’s always a pleasure, as he is an extremely well-informed host.

In this latest interview, Michael helpfully promoted the imminent anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, not only asking me about the events in Washington D.C., and promoting my website and the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, but also pointing out that, in Los Angeles, there will be a silent vigil at 10am on January 11, and a rally and press conference at 10.45am, at the Federal Building in Downtown LA, on the corner of Temple and Los Angeles Streets, which my friend Andy Griggs, the program director of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, had also let me know about. Read the rest of this entry »

Andy Worthington Discusses the Need to Close Guantánamo on the Michael Slate Show

Yesterday, I was delighted to talk to Michael Slate on his long-standing progressive show, on KPFK in Los Angeles, about Guantánamo past, present and future. The show is here, as an MP3 (also see here) and our interview lasts for around 20 minutes.

If you have the time, I hope you can listen to the show. Michael and I have spoken before (see here, here and here) and he is always very well-informed. On this occasion, our discussion was timed to coincide with the aftermath of the Presidential election, and the focus on President Obama to fulfil his promise to close Guantánamo within a year, which he made in January 2009, and then, of course, failed to achieve.

Michael asked me about the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, which I established in January this year with the attorney Tom Wilner, and I explained our mission, and how the main focus is on educating people about the fact that 86 of the remaining 166 prisoners in Guantánamo have been cleared for release but are still held, and how securing the release of these men is the most urgent demand for campaigners. Read the rest of this entry »

Andy Worthington Discusses WikiLeaks’ Guantánamo Revelations on the Michael Slate Show

Last Friday, while I was returning from a memorial service for my father in Norfolk, I was obliged to conduct a pre-planned interview with Michael Slate on KPFK Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles in the car park of a service station on a mobile phone that was running out of power. Fortunately, the battery lasted for about 15 minutes of our planned 20-minute interview, and I was then delighted when Michael got in touch to ask if we could finish the interview as planned, so that the full 20 minutes, and all Michael’s planned questions, could be included in a podcast.

That was absolutely fine with me, and so, on Tuesday evening, we recorded the last of the show for the podcast, which is available here as an MP3. The show is also available via the page here.

It’s always a pleasure to speak to Michael, whom I last spoke to in January, during my most recent visit to the US, to publicize the plight of the remaining Guantánamo prisoners on the 9th anniversary of the opening of the prison. In this most recent interview, Michael efficiently encouraged me to run through the story of the classified military documents released by WikiLeaks eleven days ago, explaining what the documents are, and what they reveal — primarily, that “high-value detainees,” tortured in secret CIA prisons, and notorious informants in Guantánamo, coerced or bribed with the promise of better treatment, are responsible for a vast amount of the dubious information in these files that masquerades as evidence; and also that they include the stories of nearly a hundred innocent or thoroughly insignificant prisoners whose stories have never been publicly revealed by the US government, and who are part of 200 innocent or thoroughly insignificant prisoners released in the first two and half years of Guantánamo’s nine-year history. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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