Andy Worthington provides us with an overview of America’s detention center at Guantanamo Bay and the plight of 774 individuals, most of whom are innocent of any terrorism connections. He discusses the general view of the US government and Americans held by many of those released, and the rarity of radicalization or revenge seeking among them. Mr. Worthington talks about the astonishing lack of interest and coverage of these cases and stories by the US media, President Obama’s failure in meeting the release deadline despite his promises during the presidential campaign, the number and current status of inmates released to date…and more.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009, details about my film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
Here is our guest Andy Worthington unplugged!
Updated: Jan 24, 2010
The Guantánamo Files: Andy Worthington’s Boiling Frogs Podcast with Peter B. Collins and Sibel Edmonds
In case you didn’t know, FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds has a new website, Boiling Frogs, described as “the Home of the Irate Minority.” Sibel and I discovered each other’s work some time ago, and when she established Boiling Frogs, we set a date for an interview, to be broadcast around the time that — as we anticipated — Barack Obama would miss his self-imposed deadline for the closure of Guantánamo.
The day after this predicted failure, Sibel has made the interview, helmed by another friend and colleague, Peter B. Collins, available as an hour-long podcast here. Peter B. and I have done many interviews over the last few months, and for Boiling Frogs, we ran through the whole sordid story of the Bush administration’s lawless project, which President Obama is finding so difficult to bring to an end.
Because this interview was pre-recorded a few weeks ago, Peter, Sibel and I had no idea that, in the days before Obama’s failed deadline, Scott Horton would publish an extraordinary story about the supposed suicides at Guantánamo in June 2006, and Obama’s interagency Task Force would choose the day of the deadline to advise the President that 47 of the remaining 196 prisoners should be held indefinitely without charge or trial.
Nevertheless, the interview was an excellent opportunity for Peter, Sibel and I to run through Guantánamo’s history, enabling me to explain how I came to research and write The Guantánamo Files (and why no major media outlet chose to analyze the publicly available documents that were the main basis of my research). At Peter’s request, I also ran through the prison’s legal history, explaining why the Supreme Court made the unprecedented decision to grant habeas corpus rights to prisoners seized during wartime, and also explained how, of the 779 prisoners held, 95 percent had no involvement with terrorism, and that around half of the prisoners were completely innocent men, seized through ineptitude or the lure of bounty payments, and the other half were Taliban foot soldiers, recruited to fight an inter-Muslim civil war that began long before 9/11.
We also spoke about the Bush administration’s potent propaganda regarding Guantánamo, the “tortured narratives” extracted from the prisoners at Guantánamo, which are only finally being exposed in their habeas corpus petitions in the US courts, and the faith that has enabled the majority of the prisoners to survive their horrendous ordeal without, as the Pentagon regularly alleges in unsubstantiated propaganda, taking up arms against their former oppressors on their release.
I also had the opportunity to review the successes and failures of Obama’s first year, with the emphasis on the latter, particularly when it comes to indefinite detention without charge or trial. At Sibel’s request, I also spoke about the role other countries played in the “War on Terror” (whether willingly or under pressure), with a particular focus on the UK, and its own under-reported policy of indefinite detention without charge or trial for terror suspects.
There’s much more in the interview that I haven’t mentioned here, so I hope you have a listen. I look forward to talking to Sibel and Peter B. again, and am delighted that Peter chose to close the show by stating, “you have provided a great service to our nation and the world by bringing light to this very, very dark series of issues.”
Note: On Friday, I also did a six-minute interview with Free Speech Radio News, which is available here. Another FSRN reporter, David Rosenfeld, also interviewed me last week, and part of that interview was included in an article about the Pentagon’s propaganda regarding Gitmo recidivism, which is here. And on Saturday, for any Slovak readers out there, my interview with journalist Tomas Vasilko, in which I attempted to quell any fears the Slovak people might have regarding the three cleared prisoners to be rehoused by the government, was published in the Slovak daily, SME, available online here.
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