Covid Lockdown: Video of My Band The Four Fathers Playing at a Small Party in a London Park That Would Now Be Illegal

A screenshot of The Four Fathers playing in a park in south London on August 29, 2020.

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On the August Bank Holiday weekend, my band The Four Fathers played a largely acoustic set — and then joined other musicians in a jam session — as part of a little party in our local park in south London, parts of which were filmed by our bassist’s daughter, and which now constitute a record of what London looked like five months after the government first declared a lockdown to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

The party normally takes place in a friend’s house, but this year, because of Covid-19, everyone concerned recognised that even a well-behaved house party wasn’t acceptable at the time, and so the proposal to move it to our local park was suggested instead.

In the earliest days of lockdown, London’s parks were patrolled by the police and local officials to make sure that no one stopped or mingled during their allotted one hour of exercise a day, but, as the peak of the panic passed, parks then became the focal point of human interaction, and while there were some obvious examples of slightly reckless behaviour — parties of young people drinking late into the night, provoking the wrath of the curtain-twitching brigade — for the most part people were aware of social distancing, and were simply trying to balance the need to avoid spreading the virus with an equally important need to socialise.

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Check Out The Four Fathers’ Video Trilogy from Our Pre-Covid Charlie Hart Sessions

A screenshot from The Four Fathers’ YouTube channel.

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Since the coronavirus hit, my band The Four Fathers have, like most musicians, been unable to do much at all. Initially isolated from each other — and with our bassist Paul having moved to San Francisco — we didn’t get together until June, when we played a few songs for my friend Neil Goodwin’s Virtual Stonehenge Free Festival, available on YouTube here.

Paul then returned from San Francisco, which was good news for us, and we’ve rehearsed a few times since, but, unsurprisingly, we haven’t played any gigs, although we did manage to release three new studio recordings, which we recorded in December with the great Charlie Hart, who, in a 50-year career, has played in Kilburn and the High Roads with Ian Dury, and in Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance, has produced music for the legendary Congolese singer Samba Mapangala, and currently plays in a revived Slim Chance and in his own band The Equators, an extraordinary world-jazz-blues group of extremely talented musicians.

The recordings were of three new songs that I wrote in 2018/19, all available on Bandcamp, where they can be purchased as downloads: The Wheel of Life, a meditation on mortality and living in the moment, This Time We Win, an eco-anthem inspired by Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, on which Charlie plays Wurlitzer piano, and Affordable, a punky blast of rock and roll about lying politicians and the housing crisis.

We also followed up the release of the new recordings with experimental videos using found footage that were made by our drummer Bren Horstead.

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Video: “Guantánamo in 2020: What is the Future of the Prison Camp after Eighteen Years?” at New America, Jan. 13, 2020

A screenshot of New America’s page for the “Guantánamo in 2020” event that took place on January 13, 2020.

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Today I’m delighted to be posting, via YouTube, the hour-long video of a panel discussion and Q&A session about the prison at Guantánamo Bay — and the need to close it — which I took part in at the New America think-tank in Washington, D.C. on January 13, two days after the 18th anniversary of the opening of the prison.

Also taking part was the attorney Tom Wilner, with whom I co-founded the Close Guantánamo campaign in 2012. Tom was Counsel of Record for the Guantánamo prisoners as they successfully sought habeas corpus rights before the Supreme Court in 2004 and 2008 — although those rights have since been gutted by ideologically malignant appeals court rulings — and we are grateful to New America for hosting a panel discussion about Guantánamo with us every year on or around the anniversary. The moderator for this year’s anniversary event was Melissa Salyk-Virk, Senior Policy Analyst in New America’s International Security Program.

As I hope readers have realized via my various articles about the anniversary, and my ten-day US visit to call for the prison’s closure — this year there was a real urgency, indignation and passion to the calls for the prison’s closure and of the need for urgent change in the political leadership in the US expressed by myself and other campaigners.

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Video: Attorney Shelby Sullivan-Bennis and I Bring the Sorrow, Injustice and Cruelty of Guantánamo to Life at Revolution Books in New York

Andy Worthington and Guantánamo attorney Shelby Sullivan-Bennis discussing Guantánamo at Revolution Books in New York on January 16, 2020, five days after the 18th anniversary of the prison’s opening.

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I’m just back in the UK after a ten-day trip to the US to call for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay that has, I think, been as constructive as anyone could have expected. I took part in a prominent rally in Washington, D.C., two speaking events with lawyers representing prisoners, one TV interview and six radio interviews.

The rally (video here) was outside the White House on January 11, the 18th anniversary of the opening of the prison, where I spoke as a representative of the Close Guantánamo campaign, which I established with the attorney Tom Wilner eight years ago, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison. The rally also involved representatives of numerous other groups that remain concerned about the existence of Guantánamo, including Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Witness Against Torture, whose members fast and stage actions in the run-up to the anniversary, and who, in their orange jumpsuits and hoods, provide a suitably grim theatrical backdrop to the occasion.

On Monday January 13, Tom Wilner and I spoke at the New America think-tank, a well-attended event for which, I hope, a video will be available soon. I then returned to New York, where I was interviewed by RT in a seven-minute feature that, shockingly, constituted the sole focus on the Guantánamo anniversary in the whole of the US broadcast media, and I then took part in my second speaking event, at Revolution Books in Harlem, which I’m posting below.

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Reporting from the US, Including My Photos of the Close Guantánamo Rally Outside the White House, Jan. 11, 2020

Photos from the rally calling for the closure of Guantánamo outside the White House on January 11, 2020, the 18th anniversary of the prison’s opening. Photos by Andy Worthington, except the photo of Andy, which is by Witness Against Torture.

See my photos of the rally on Flickr here.

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.




It’s now five days since a sad occasion that I traveled to the US from the UK to mark — and to rail against: the 18th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, on January 11, when I took part in a rally outside the White House organized by numerous rights groups, including Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Witness Against Torture.

This was the tenth year in a row that I’ve traveled to the US to mark the anniversary, and I’m still here, about to take part in a speaking event at Revolution Books in Harlem this evening, and also taking part in numerous media interviews — for the Scott Horton Show, and with Sunsara Taylor on her show “We Only Want the World” on WBAI in New York. Yesterday, I was interviewed on RT America (video posted below), today I’m speaking with Paul DiRienzo on WBAI and with Mickey Duff for “Project Censored” on KPFA, Pacifica Radio in Berkeley — and tomorrow I’ll be speaking with Latif Nasser on WNYC, New York Public Radio, and on the Michael Slate Show in Los Angeles. Do get in touch if you’d like to be added to this list!

Here’s that RT America video, which represents, I believe, the sole focus on Guantánamo, on the 18th anniversary of its opening, in the whole of the US-based broadcast media:

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Video: Calling for the Closure of Guantánamo Outside the White House on the 18th Anniversary of the Opening of the Prison

Andy Worthington outside the White House on January 11, 2020, calling for the closure of the prison on the 18th anniversary of its opening (Photo: Witness Against Torture).

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, including my current visit to the US to call for the prison’s closure. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.





 

Yesterday was the 18th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, and, for the tenth year running, I was in Washington, D.C., calling for its closure.

I was there as a representative of Close Guantánamo, an organization I established eight years ago — on the tenth anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo — with the attorney Tom Wilner, and I was delighted to be part of a line-up of speakers that included representatives of numerous other campaigning groups and lawyers’ organizations — Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Justice for Muslims Collective, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and Witness Against Torture, to name just a few, as well as some other individuals playing music and performing spoken word pieces.

The video is posted below, via the Center for Constitutional Rights’ Facebook page, and I hope that you have time to watch it in its entirety. If you want to see what happened when I distilled a year’s worth of rage and indignation at Guantánamo’s continued existence into four minutes, my speech begins around 55 minutes in.

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Video: I Discuss Guantánamo with Chris Hedges on His Show ‘On Contact’ on RT America

A screenshot of Chris Hedges and Andy Worthington discussing Guantanamo on Chris’s show ‘On Contact’ on RT America.

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.




 

An injustice does not become any less unjust the longer it endures, and yet, when it comes to the prison at Guantánamo Bay, you could be forgiven for not thinking that this is the case. Over 17 years since the prison opened, it is still holding men indefinitely without charge or trial, and yet these days the prison is rarely in the news, either in the US or internationally.

The is shameful, because, although only 40 men are still held (out of the 779 men held in total by the US military since the prison opened in January 2002), the blunt truth is that no one should be held indefinitely without charge or trial, because that is what dictatorships do, not countries that, like the US, profess to care about the rule of law.

I’m pleased to report that, in an effort to continue to shine a light on the ongoing horrors of Guantánamo, Chris Hedges, one of the most significant critics of America’s current lawlessness, interviewed me for his show ‘On Contact,’ on RT America, which was broadcast on Saturday, and is embedded below via YouTube:

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Please Watch ‘The Trial’, A Powerful Video About Guantánamo’s Broken Military Commission Trial System

A screenshot, from 'The Trial,' of Ammar al-Baluchi's defense team - from the left, Alka Pradhan, James Connell and Lt. Col. Sterling Thomas.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.




 

In the long and horrendously unjust story of Guantánamo, the two key elements of America’s flight from the law since 9/11 have been the use of torture, and the imprisonment of men, indefinitely, without charge or trial. A third element is the decision to try some of these men, in a trial system ill-advisedly dragged out of the history books by former Vice President Dick Cheney and his legal adviser David Addington.

That system — the military commissions — has struggled to deliver anything resembling justice, in large part because it was designed to accept evidence produced through torture, and then to execute prisoners after cursory trials. The Supreme Court ruled this system illegal in 2006, but Congress then tweaked it and revived it, and, after Barack Obama became president, it was tweaked and revised again instead of being scrapped, as it should have been.

Throughout this whole sorry period, the US federal courts have, in contrast, proven adept at successfully prosecuting those accused of terrorism, but at Guantánamo the commissions have struggled to successfully convict anyone. Since 2008, just eight cases have gone to trial, but six were settled via plea deals, and, of the other two, one ended up with the prisoner in question (Salim Hamdan, a hapless driver for Osama bin Laden)  being released after just five months, while the other was an outrageously one-sided affair, as the prisoner in question (Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, a propagandist for Al-Qaeda) refused even to mount a defense. The commissions also have a history of collapsing on appeal — and with good reason, as the alleged war crimes most of the prisoners were convicted of were actually invented by Congress. For an overview of the commissions, see my article, The Full List of Prisoners Charged in the Military Commissions at Guantánamo. Read the rest of this entry »

Video: Andy Worthington Discusses Guantánamo’s 17th Anniversary and Gina Haspel’s War Crimes as a Torturer on RT

A screenshot of Andy Worthington discussing Guantanamo, black sites and Gina Haspel with Scottie Nell Hughes on RT America on January 15, 2019.

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 my recent US visit to call for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay on and around the 17th anniversary of its opening, I was interviewed for RT in New York on January 15, and have only just found the video, which is posted below. I appeared on ‘News. Views. Hughes,’ which the channel describes as “a special daily afternoon broadcast hosted by journalist and political commentator Scottie Nell Hughes.”

Hughes was a paid CNN commentator and vocal Donald Trump supporter during the 2016 presidential election, and, as GQ explained in an article in 2016, “served as one of Trump’s most faithful and pervasive campaign surrogates” on the campaign trail. Her questioning showed an effort to challenge my assessment of the situation at Guantánamo, but, as a long-standing campaigner for the closure of the prison, it isn’t difficult for me to point out that only dictators hold people indefinitely without charge or trial, and that the American people deserve better from their leaders, who are supposed to have a fundamental respect for the rule of law.

I also discussed the unsuitability of Gina Haspel to be the director of the CIA — something that was abundantly clear to me throughout the period of her nomination an her eventual confirmation, and which I wrote about at the time in two articles, The Torture Trail of Gina Haspel Makes Her Unsuitable to be Director of the CIA and Torture on Trial in the US Senate, as the UK Government Unreservedly Apologizes for Its Role in Libyan Rendition. Read the rest of this entry »

More Video and Radio from the Resistance to the Continued Existence of Guantánamo on the 17th Anniversary of Its Opening

Witness Against Torture campaigners form a circle outside the White House towards the end of the annual vigil calling for the closure of Guantanamo, on January 11, 2019 (Photo: Andy Worthington).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.




 

How time flies. It’s almost a week since I left the US after my annual visit to call for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay on and around the anniversary of its opening, and here I am still posting videos and audio links of shows I took part in.

That’s a good sign, however. On the last two anniversaries, the focus on Guantánamo had almost entirely disappeared. Two years ago, we were caught in the limbo between the outgoing administration of Barack Obama and the imminent arrival of Donald Trump, and last year, after Trump’s first year in office, the outrage and exhaustion was such that Guantánamo barely got a look-in.

A year on, and you’d be excused for thinking that the situation would only be worse, but although that certainly seems true when it comes to Trump — now obsessed with his Mexican wall, and having shut down the federal government for the longest period in US history (marking a calendar month today) — it is not true of those opposing him on many fronts, including Guantánamo. 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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