The Jeff Farias Show: Sasha Abramsky + Andy Worthington

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Interview with Andy Worthington
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad

Posted with permission from Jeff Farias

Listen at The Jeff Farias Show – December 7, 2009

{Sasha starts at 1:00:00 and Andy at 01:57:00}

At 5 PM MST Author and journalist Sasha Abramsky returns! “I teach writing one day a week at the U.C. Davis writing program, am a fellow at the New York City-based Demos think tank, and spend most of the rest of my work-time reporting and writing magazine articles and books. Much of work over the past decade has centered on America’s criminal justice system. I also write on political goings-on and cultural trends. Over the years I’ve also written many travel essays, book reviews, and opinion pieces. More recently, I have focused more on national political trends. Many of my articles are posted on this website.” We last spoke with Sasha about his book Breadline USA: The Hidden Scandal of American Hunger and How to Fix It His most recent book, Inside Obama’s Brain, has just been published by Penguin’s Portfolio Imprint

“A conference with ghosts” San Francisco Bay Guardian,30.May.06 In Conned: How Millions Went to Prison, Lost the Vote, and Helped Send George W. Bush to the White House, Sacramento-based investigative journalist Sasha Abramsky documents the way in which the widespread practice of stripping convicted felons of the right to vote has dramatically contracted the country’s pool of eligible voters. This, he convincingly argues, has warped the outcome of local, state, and the past two presidential elections in favor of conservatives, whose richer, whiter constituency is, if not less crime-prone, less likely to be vigorously prosecuted than its poorer, darker counterpart. “Speakout: Most ex-felons deserve right to vote“ Rocky Mountain News, 4.Aug.06 Senior Fellow Sasha Abramsky discusses how Colorado’s Supreme Court ruling denied parolees the right to vote the same week that the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations issued a highly critical report about how the United States treats prisoners and ex-prisoners. Sasha Abramsky: On Hunger in America Sacramento Press, book review by Hawa ArsalaSasha Abramsky, an accomplished author, teacher, and senior fellow at Demos think tank in New York City, posed a tough question yesterday at his book launch party for Breadline USA: The Hidden Scandal of American Hunger and How to Fix It, hosted by the UC Center of Sacramento. “How do you feed people who are hungry in a country with an abundance of food? … The American Dream, according to Abramsky, is in reverse. The narrative is now of “diminishing possibilities and increasing obstacles to success, a saga of exodus rather than influx.” He hopes the chronicle of families’ struggles in Breadline USA sheds light on hunger in America.”

At 6 PM MST Andy Worthington returns! A British historian and journalist, Andy has published three books and published in numerous publications. Worthington is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post & TJFS.

Worthington’s most recent book is The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison. Following its publication in October 2007, Worthington has published articles supplementing the information in his book, to track new developments. Michelle Shephard, author of Guantanamo’s Child, when summing up other books on Guantanamo, described his book as: “Perhaps the single most important book to cover the big picture of Guantanamo“, even though he “has never even been to Guantanamo Bay.” Stephen Grey, writing in The New Statesman, called the book: “a powerful, essential and long-overdue piece of research“.

On June 16 2009 Worthington published new information on the death of Ibn Al Shaykh Al Libi. Al Libi was the former director of the Khaldan training camp, and during his interrogation in the CIA’s network or secret interrogation camps, he confessed to hosting trainers from Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi administration, who trained Al Qaeda bombers how to use Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. When it became clear that there were no ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda Al Libi disappeared from the public record. It turned out that he had been transferred to Libyan custody. Human rights workers relocated him in mid-May 2009, only to be informed by Libyan authorities that he killed himself on June 1 2009.

Worthington reported that former Guantanamo captive, United Kingdom resident, and citizen of Libya, Omar Deghayes was his link to a source within Libya who had spoken with Al Libi prior to his death. Based on his Libyan source Worthington was able to offer a more detailed timeline of Al Libi’s last years.

Andy Worthington on GITMO Next Left Notes, Fran Korotzer,18.Nov.09 NEW YORK — On November 4, at the Revolution Bookstore in NYC, British historian, author, and journalist, Andy Worthington discussed his book, The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison. He started doing research for the book 4 years ago by examining the 8000 pages of transcripts from the review tribunals that were released in 2006 after the U.S. Supreme Court granted the prisoners habeas corpus rights. He also studied the interviews the British prisoners gave who got out in the period 2003 to 2004 … In his very informative talk at the Revolution Bookstore, Worthington said that Obama repudiated torture legally but it is still going on. Guantanamo now has an Emergency Response Force (ERF) that pepper sprays the incarcerated and beats them for the slightest rule infraction. He added, if you know people are torturing you can’t have anything to do with them. If you do you are guilty of complicity.

We will also discuss his recent Truthout article Four Men Leave Guantánamo; Two Face Ill-Defined Trials In Italy

On Monday, the Obama administration announced that it had transferred four prisoners from Guantanamo: Sabir Lahmar, an Algerian, was transferred to France; an unidentified Palestinian was transferred to Hungary; two Tunisians, Adel Ben Mabrouk bin Hamida Boughanmi and Mohammed Tahir Riyadh Nasseri, were transferred to the custody of the Italian government. …


Updated: 9 Dec. 2009

Andy Worthington Discusses Guantánamo And The Obama Administration’s Cowardice With Jeff Farias

by Andy Worthington
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad

On Monday, I was delighted to talk again with the progressive radio show host Jeff Farias, who has been very supportive of my work, and always appears to be genuinely and almost viscerally appalled by the crimes of the Bush administration, and the difficulties in awakening the American people (even after eight years!) to the brutal practices carried out in their name at Guantánamo and elsewhere in the “War on Terror.”

The three-hour show is available here (my 35-minute interview starts nearly two hours in, at 01:57), and Jeff and I had the opportunity to discuss, at length, the cowardice of the Obama administration in the face of right-wing attacks, which has led to so many of the current difficulties, and which, sadly, is symptomatic of an administration that seems to be unable to take the fight to the Republicans.

This gave me the opportunity to discuss my recent article, “Guantánamo: Idealists Leave Obama’s Sinking Ship,” lamenting the departure of White House counsel Greg Craig, who, whatever his other faults, approached the closure of Guantánamo in a refreshingly robust and principled manner, until he was sidelined by the administration. Along the way, we also discussed the ill-defined and troubling story of how two Tunisians — cleared for release from Guantánamo — were recently sent to Italy to face trials based on evidence which, at least in part, seems to have been extracted from “high-value detainees” in US custody, who, of course, were subjected to torture.

In further discussions of the supposed evidence, Jeff and I talked about the general inadequacy of the material dressed up as evidence — largely extracted through the coercion or bribery of other prisoners — which has been seen through by the judges in the prisoners’ habeas corpus petitions, where, in 80 percent of the cases on which District Court judges have ruled, they have dismissed the government’s supposed evidence for failing to demonstrate that the men in question were connected to either al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

Jeff and I also discussed the recent Seton Hall Law School report (PDF) about the three deaths at Guantánamo in June 2006 (and also see Scott Horton’s article and a Q&A with Mark Denbeaux), which allowed me to mention the outstanding questions regarding the deaths of two other prisoners in May 2007 and in June this year (see here and here). I also talked about the darkness at the heart of Guantánamo, to this day, in which those who work at the prison are still briefed that they are guarding dangerous terrorists, even though the prisoners themselves are unwilling participants in the most extraordinarily cruel and ill-conceived experiment, subjected to what is, to be honest, nothing more than pernicious propaganda, given that they have never been tried or convicted for any crime, and continue to have no idea whether their open-ended detention will ever come to an end.

We also spoke about the mainstream media’s inability to remain focused on issues that should never leave the public eye, and the toothless, if sporadically fascinating Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War (which is being largely ignored in the US), and we even managed to find time to talk about the maddening futility of Obama’s Afghan surge, which continues to astound me on two particular points: the phenomenal financial cost, and the human cost of stretching military personnel to the very edge of their endurance.

It was a pleasure, as ever, to talk to Jeff, and I look forward to our next interview, on the basis that the ills of the world are unlikely to be resolved in the next few months.

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.


Four Men Leave Guantánamo; Two Face Ill-Defined Trials In Italy by Andy Worthington

Countdown: Mysterious “Suicides” At Guantanamo Bay Prison!

116 Guantánamo Prisoners Cleared For Release; 171 Still In Limbo by Andy Worthington

Guantánamo Lawyer Calls Off Talk In Illinois After Receiving Threats Of Violence by Andy Worthington

3 thoughts on “The Jeff Farias Show: Sasha Abramsky + Andy Worthington

  1. Pingback: Former Guantánamo Prosecutor Loses Job For Criticizing Military Commissions by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad

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