On Tuesday, I was delighted to be invited to a TV studio on a boat on the Thames to take part in “Crosstalk” on Russia Today, hosted by Peter Lavelle. The other guest, who, I believe, was not obliged to endure the most miserable wind and rain to reach the equivalent studio in Washington D.C., was Charles “Cully” Stimson, formerly the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs in the Bush administration, and now a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation. A video of the 25-minute show is available below via YouTube:
RussiaToday — April 02, 2010
The title of the program was “Morphing injustice,” which, in plain terms, involved discussing the closure of Guantánamo. Although the intention, clearly, was that sparks would fly, “Cully” and I had a certain amount of mutual respect for each other, and found ourselves largely involved in discussing key elements of the US detention policies in the “War on Terror,” and putting across our respective points of view.
Although sparks flew on occasion, I felt that I had ample opportunity to explain why I have devoted four years to campaigning for the closure of Guantánamo, and demanding that the prisoners be either charged or released – which, essentially, involves an ongoing attempt to highlight the incompetence that led to so few genuine terrorist suspects being captured, and the lamentable introduction of torture as a key component in the interrogation process – and I believe that “Cully” also had the opportunity to present his opinions.
I was, however, pleasantly surprised that he agreed with me that some of the Uighur prisoners should have been brought to live in the US last year, that serious mistakes were made in rounding up prisoners in the first place, and that there are fundamental problems with much of the supposed evidence against the prisoners, which was, for the most part, extracted from the prisoners themselves, or from their fellow prisoners, under circumstances that included torture, coercion or bribery.
I disagree with him about the legal justification for holding prisoners neither as prisoners of war nor as criminal suspects, and also doubt the extent to which sensitive intelligence material plays a part in anything more than a handful of cases, but I found the debate worthwhile, and would be happy to discuss these topics with him again, and I’d like to thank RT for giving us the opportunity to have this debate.
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, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
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