Radio: I Discuss Guantánamo’s Discredited Torture Trials with Scott Horton

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in a courtroom sketch by Janet Hamlin during his arraignment at Guantánamo nearly 12 years ago, on November 9, 2011. (Image copyright Janet Hamlin Illustration). Interestingly, his clean-shaven appearance was not a one-off. As the Spanish journalist Macarena Vidal Liy noted for El Pais after attending recent hearings, one of his lawyers, Anthony Natale, told her that, as she described it, he “loves pop music — he is a fan of Dua Lipa — which has helped him learn to communicate in English,” and, “[u]nlike other prisoners, he is not religious, generously hugs his defenders and has no problem with female prison staff.”

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently 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, hot on the heels of my interview about Guantánamo with Kevin Gosztola and Rania Khalek for their “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast, I was delighted to speak again to Scott Horton, the indefatigable interviewer, author and libertarian, who I’ve been talking to on and off for the last 16 years. Scott works so hard that this was, astonishingly, his 5,935th interview!

The focus of our half-hour interview was my recent article, Trial Judge Destroys Guantánamo’s Military Commissions, Rules That “Clean Team” Interrogations Cannot Undo the Effects of Torture, about the recent devastating ruling by Col. Lanny Acosta, the trial judge in the military commission pre-trial hearings (now in their 12th year) for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, accused of being the mastermind of the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, who was held and tortured in CIA “black sites” for nearly four years before his transfer to Guantánamo in September 2006.

Al-Nashiri had made self-incriminating statements under torture, but the government knew that these could not be used in court, and so, four months after his arrival, a so-called “clean team” of interrogators interviewed him non-coercively, apparently securing voluntary self-incriminating statements. It is these statements, however, that Col. Acosta has just ruled inadmissible, because, as he established, the regime of torture and confession in the “black sites” was so enduring that al-Nashiri had essentially been “conditioned” to believe that, if he didn’t tell his interrogators what they wanted to hear, he would inevitably be subjected to horrendous torture.

Read the rest of this entry »

Radio: I Discuss Guantánamo’s Shameful 21st Anniversary on the Scott Horton Show

Andy Worthington with the Close Guantánamo campaign’s poster marking 7,671 days of Guantánamo’s existence on Jan. 11, 2023, the 21st anniversary of its opening, and the logo of the Scott Horton Show.

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently 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, as part of my concerted efforts to publicize the ongoing and unjustifiable existence of the prison at Guantánamo Bay on the 21st anniversary of its opening, I was delighted to be asked by the indefatigable radio host Scott Horton to appear on his show, in an episode that he gave the appropriate heading, “The US is Still Running an Illegal Prison at Guantánamo Bay.”

Scott and I have been dissecting the iniquities of Guantánamo and the “war on terror” on a regular basis for over 15 years, and I’m impressed by his astonishing dedication to amplifying critical voices that are generally ignored by the mainstream media. This was his 5,831st interview, in a career as a radio host spanning 20 years, and he has somehow also found the time to write and publish two books about US militarism and the “war on terror” — “Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan,” and “Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism.”

As Scott explained in his introduction to the show on his website, where you can listen to our half-hour interview, and also download it as an MP3, “Andy Worthington returns to talk about the 35 men who remain imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay as we pass the 21st anniversary of the prison. Of those 35 men, 20 have already been cleared for release, yet they remain in custody with no release date. Scott and Worthington talk about the shameful history of the prison, consider all the reasons it’s stayed open so long and discuss what must happen for this disgraceful chapter of America’s history to finally be brought to an end.”

Read the rest of this entry »

TV and Radio: I Discuss Guantánamo’s 20th Anniversary on Turkish TV, and with Scott Horton and Rebecca Myles

A screenshot from my appearance on TRT World’s program, “20 Years On: What Will It Take to Close Guantánamo Bay?” on January 11, 2022.

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently 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.





 

In the third of a series of articles linking to and promoting videos and recordings of events held to mark the 20th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay on January 11, 2022 (see the first two here and here), I’m posting links to two radio shows in which I was interviewed, and also to a Turkish TV show in which I was joined by other critics of the prison’s ongoing existence.

On January 11 itself — the 20th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo — I was delighted to be part of a discussion, “20 Years On: What Will It Take to Close Guantánamo Bay?” on “The Newsmakers,” a regular feature on TRT World, the English language channel of the Turkish national broadcaster TRT.

I appeared with Mark Fallon, the author of Unjustifiable Means: The Inside Story of How the CIA, Pentagon, and US Government Conspired to Torture, and Tracy Doig of the UK-based Freedom from Torture (formerly the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture). From 2002 to 2004, Fallon was the director of the Criminal Investigative Task Force (CITF) at Guantánamo, whose organization tried to build criminal cases against prisoners using non-coercive interrogations, while other agencies were engaged in the use of torture and other forms of abuse, which he strongly opposed. He was also one of the authors of a report, “13 Recommendations to Close the Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility,” which was published on the anniversary by the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL) at theUniversity of Pennsylvania.

Read the rest of this entry »

The 15th Anniversary of the Contentious “Triple Suicide” of Three Prisoners at Guantánamo

Yasser al-Zahrani and Ali al-Salami (aka Ali Abdullah Ahmed), two of the three prisoners who died at Guantánamo on the night of June 9, 2006, in what was described by the authorities as a “triple suicide,” an explanation that has been robustly challenged on numerous occasions in the years since. No known photo exists of the third man, Mani al-Utaybi.

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently 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.





 

There are some days that are so significant that everyone remembers what they were doing. September 11, 2001 is one such day, when planes flew into the Twin Towers in New York, and for those paying attention to the US response to the 9/11 attacks, January 11, 2002 is also significant, when the first prisoners — “detainees,” in the Bush administration’s words — arrived at Guantánamo.

Almost immediately, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the release of photos taken by a serving US soldier — photos that showed US soldiers shouting at men who were kneeling on gravel under the burning sun at a US naval base in Cuba, half a world away from the battlefields of Afghanistan, men who were wearing orange jumpsuits, and who had their eyes, ears and mouths covered, creating the vivid impression that they were being subjected to sensory deprivation.

For US viewers, the photos were not necessarily noteworthy. Prisoners on the US mainland often wear orange, and the clearly abusive conditions captured in the photos were part of a depressingly successful narrative that the Bush administration was selling to the American people — that these men were, as Rumsfeld described it, “the worst of the worst,” terrorists so hardened and so bloodthirsty that, as General Richard E. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described it, they “would chew through a hydraulics cable to bring a C-17 [transport plane] down.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Radio: I Discuss the Prospects for Guantánamo’s Closure Under Joe Biden with Scott Horton

The Scott Horton Show, and Andy Worthington calling for the closure of Guantánamo outside the White House on Jan. 11, 2020.

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently 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.





 

On Friday, I was delighted to discuss the prospects for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay under Joe Biden with the indefatigable Scott Horton, who always, flatteringly, refers to me as “the heroic Andy Worthington.” Scott and I have spoken on many dozens of occasions since 2007, and you can find our latest interview here as an MP3 or below via YouTube.

“Indefatigable” has to be the most apt description of Horton, who has conducted over 5,500 interviews since 2003, and has also found the time to write two books, 2017’s “Fools Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan,” and the recently published “Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism.”

Nearly 20 years into Guantánamo’s existence, we ran briefly through the failures of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump to close the prison — with several minutes spent discussing the Obama years — before bringing the story up to date with Joe Biden, the fourth president to be in charge of the prison.

Read the rest of this entry »

Radio: I Talk to Scott Horton About the Injustice of Julian Assange’s Extradition Case and the Importance of the Leaked Guantánamo Files

A supporter of Julian Assange outside the Old Bailey in London on October 1, 2020, the last day of his extradition hearing. The balloons were part of an initiative celebrating the 14th anniversary of the founding of WikiLeaks, on October 4.

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





 

Last week, during the fourth and last week of hearings regarding the proposed extradition to the US of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, two statements I made in his defence (via the tireless Gareth Pierce and her colleagues) were read into the evidence at the Old Bailey in London. The two statements were subsequently made available by Antiwar.com — the first, from February, is here, and the second, made last week, is here. A decision on the extradition case is expected to be delivered by Judge Vanessa Baraitser on January 4, 2021.

It took a certain amount of to-ing and fro-ing in court to get my statements accepted, and for some time efforts were made to get me to testify in person, and to be cross-examined by the prosecutor, but — perhaps mercifully — the latter course of action didn’t eventually transpire, as the prosecutor, James Lewis, had, throughout the hearings, maintained “very systematic techniques of denigrating and browbeating” expert witnesses, according to the human rights activist (and former Ambassador) Craig Murray, who attended the hearings for the whole month.

My statements related to my work with WikiLeaks as a media partner on the release of classified military files from Guantánamo in 2011, in which I noted how much of the supposed evidence used to justify imprisonment at Guantanamo was, as I described it in my first statement, information extracted from “the Guantánamo prisoners’ fellow prisoners who had been subjected to torture or other forms of coercion either in Guantánamo or in secret prisons run by the CIA”, or information which was equally “unreliable because fellow prisoners had provided false statements to secure better treatment in Guantánamo.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

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





 

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 »

13 Years Ago, Three Men Died at Guantánamo, Victims of a Brutal Regime of Lawlessness That Is Fundamentally Unchanged Today

Yasser al-Zahrani and Ali al-Salami, two of the three men who died at Guantánamo on the night of June 9, 2006, in circumstances that remain deeply contentious. The US authorities insist that they committed suicide, but other troubling accounts have robustly questioned that conclusion. No photo publicly exists of the third man, Mani- al-Utaybi.

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




On the night of June 9, 2006, three prisoners at Guantánamo died, their deaths shockingly and insensitively described by the prison’s then-commander, Adm. Harry Harris Jr., as “an act of asymmetrical warfare against us.”

The three men were Yasser al-Zahrani, a Saudi who was just 17 when he was seized in Afghanistan in December 2001, Mani al-Utaybi, another Saudi, and Ali al-Salami, a Yemeni. All three had been prominent hunger strikers.

Al-Zahrani, the son of a prominent Saudi government official, was a survivor of the Qala-i-Janghi massacre, which John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban,” who was recently released after 17 years in a US prison, also survived. Over 400 fighters, supporting the Taliban, had been told that if they surrendered, they would then be set free, but it was a betrayal. They were taken to a fort, Qala-i-Janghi, run by General Rashid Dostum, one of the leaders of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, where some of the men, fearing they would be killed, started an uprising with concealed weapons. Over the course of a week, the prisoners were bombed, set on fire, and, finally, flooded out of a basement, and when they finally emerged, only 86 of the original prisoners had survived.

Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering Guantánamo’s Dead, 12 Years After the Three Notorious Alleged Suicides of June 2006

Yasser al-Zahrani and Ali al-Salami, two of the three Guantanamo prisoners who died in June 2006, allegedly by committing suicide. No photo of the third man, Mani al-Utaybi, has ever surfaced.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.




 

Today, as we approach a terrible milestone in Guantánamo’s history — the 6,000th day of the prison’s existence, this coming Friday, June 15 — we also have reason to reflect on those who were neither released from the prison, nor are still held — the nine men who have died there since the prison opened, 5,995 days ago today.

On June 10, 2006 — exactly 12 years ago — the world was rocked by news of the first three of these deaths at Guantánamo: of Yasser al-Zahrani, a Saudi who was just 17 when he was seized in Afghanistan in December 2001, of Mani al-Utaybi, another Saudi, and of Ali al-Salami, a Yemeni.

The three men were long-term hunger strikers, and as such had been a thorn in the side of the authorities, encouraging others to join them in refusing food. Was this enough of them to be killed? Perhaps so. The official story is that they killed themselves in a suicide pact, their deaths, as Guantánamo’s commander, Adm. Harry Harris Jr., ill-advisedly claimed at the time, “an act of asymmetrical warfare against us,” and “not an act of desperation.” Read the rest of this entry »

Radio: My Discussion with Scott Horton About the Shameful Rehabilitation of George W. Bush, As I Recall His 2002 Memo Authorizing Torture

Radio host Scott Horton and Andy Worthington, photographed calling for the closure of Guantanamo outside the White House on January 11, 2018, the 16th anniversary of the opening of the prison.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.





 

Last week I was delighted to be invited to discuss Guantánamo, George W. Bush, torture and the “war on terror” by Scott Horton, the libertarian, Texan-based radio host, and the author of Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, in which, as Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg notes in a review, he “masterfully explains the tragedy of America’s longest war and makes the case for immediate withdrawal.”

Scott and I have been talking several times a year — and sometime more frequently — since September 2007, when we first spoke about the case of US “enemy combatant” Jose Padilla, tortured on the US mainland. Our interviews have generally been for 20-25 minutes, but for our latest interview the brakes were off, and we spoke for a whole hour.

The show is available here, or here as an MP3, and I wholeheartedly recommend it as a tour through the darkness of the “war on terror” declared by the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks, as manifested in CIA “black sites,” in the CIA’s “extraordinary renditions” to torture prisons in other countries, in Guantánamo, and in the wars — and the accompanying lawless prisons — in Afghanistan and Iraq. We also looked at the sad failures of the Obama years — not only his failure to close Guantánamo, but how extrajudicial assassination by drones replaced the messy detention, rendition and torture program of the Bush years, but is no more legally or morally acceptable. Read the rest of this entry »

Back to home page

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).
Email Andy Worthington

CD: Love and War

The Four Fathers on Bandcamp

The Guantánamo Files book cover

The Guantánamo Files

The Battle of the Beanfield book cover

The Battle of the Beanfield

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion book cover

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

Outside The Law DVD cover

Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

RSS

Posts & Comments

World Wide Web Consortium

XHTML & CSS

WordPress

Powered by WordPress

Designed by Josh King-Farlow

Please support Andy Worthington, independent journalist:

Archives

In Touch

Follow me on Facebook

Become a fan on Facebook

Subscribe to me on YouTubeSubscribe to me on YouTube

The State of London

The State of London. 16 photos of London

Andy's Flickr photos

Campaigns

Categories

Tag Cloud

Abu Zubaydah Al-Qaeda Andy Worthington British prisoners Center for Constitutional Rights CIA torture prisons Close Guantanamo Donald Trump Four Fathers Guantanamo Housing crisis Hunger strikes London Military Commission NHS NHS privatisation Periodic Review Boards Photos President Obama Reprieve Shaker Aamer The Four Fathers Torture UK austerity UK protest US courts Video We Stand With Shaker WikiLeaks Yemenis in Guantanamo