Radio: Unauthorized Disclosure – I Discuss Guantánamo and Julian Assange with Kevin Gosztola and Rania Khalek
Andy Worthington and a quote from the “Unauthorized Disclosure” show he featured on in January 2020, speaking about Guantánamo and Julian Assange. 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.
My thanks to Kevin Gosztola and Rania Khalek for interviewing me for 40 minutes on Friday for their “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast, which was made available on Sunday. As the dust settled on my return to the UK from a ten-day trip to the US to call for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, it was a good opportunity to reflect on what I had done and what I had learned during my trip, as well as providing enough time for me to explain some crucial aspects of the prison’s long and unjust history in depth. As I explained when I posted a link to the show on Facebook , it is crucially important for people to remember that “the remaining 40 prisoners — and especially the three-quarters of them who are held indefinitely without charge or trial — are ‘entombed’ in the prison by Donald Trump, who has no intention of releasing any of them under any circumstances, and against whom no mechanism exists to oblige him to do anything that he doesn’t want.” As I explained during the show, “Whoever has control of Guantánamo can do what they want with it,” and as I also explained, under Trump “the prison is sealed shut, entombing the men remaining in this pointless and cruel facility which defies American values, where the prisoners for the most part are held without charge or trial, and where they’re warehoused awaiting death, whenever that may come — 10, 20, 30, 40 years from now.” Describing the particular lawlessness of a facility where no one can be released except at the whim of the president, I pointed out that “we’re dealing with the kind of facility that we should recognize as being akin to a facility that would be run by a dictatorship, and if the United States would like to admit that, then maybe we could start dealing with it, but they don’t.” Elsewhere in the show, in which I explained my involvement in writing about Guantánamo and working to get it closed from 2006 to today, including a fascinating discussion of the few threads of tortuous legal developments involving the prison, I also made a point of calling the men still held “the personal prisoners of Donald Trump,” also explaining that “we could call them political prisoners,” and stressing the need, in this election year, to get rid of Trump and Republican control of the Senate if there is to be any positive movement on Guantánamo, as there so desperately needs to be. We also spoke about a development that took place as I was flying back from the US — the questioning, at Guantánamo, of James Mitchell , one of the architects of the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program, by attorneys representing the five men charged in connection with the 9/11 attacks. This may prove to be a defining time for the commissions, which have been going round and round in a perpetual Groundhog Day for years, as the government’s strenuous efforts to hide the horrendous use of torture on the men in CIA “black sites” seem, finally, to be coming undone. However, as I explained to Kevin and Rania, I also hope that the reporters will pay attention to all the men still held, including the 20 or so “low-value detainees” in Camp 6, all held without charge or triail, and the “high-value detainees” in Camp 7 who are also not being tried, and not just the five involved in the 9/11 trial. As I described it, “It’s so infrequent to have a massive media focus on Guantánamo that if the people who are there are failing to make the connection that there is something very fundamentally wrong with the entire existence of the prison at Guantánamo and the men who are held there, and if they don’t focus on these lower value detainees who didn’t go through the [CIA] torture program but have been tortured and abused in their own way, then I think yet again that we’re seeing the failure of the mainstream media to do what it is required to do, which is to report on terrible things that are being done by their governments, and to shine a light on that to try and get the world to pay attention.” Finally, we spoke about the shameful imprisonment in the UK of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is fighting extradition to the US on espionage charges, even though what he did, fundamentally, was to be the publisher of classified material leaked by a third party (Chelsea Manning) that, fundamentally, revealed wrongdoing on the part of the US government that it is in the public interest to have exposed. I expressed my contempt for the British government, for not blocking the extradition, and contempt for the Trump administration, and drew an analogy between Daniel Ellsberg’s “Pentagon Papers” and the Washington Post , and Chelsea Manning’s revelations and WikiLeaks, with both the Post and WikiLeaks serving as publishers of important, otherwise hidden information that the public needed to know about. Julian Assange’s full extradition hearings begins on February 24, and yesterday, his case was given a boost when the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe issued a report, produced by the Labour peer Lord Foulkes, which stated that his imprisonment “sets a dangerous precedent for journalists.” As the Guardian explained, “Foulkes had drafted an initial report — Threats to Media Freedom and Journalists’ Security in Europe — that will now contain amendments referring to Assange tabled by a number of European parliamentarians. One of the amendments backs the recommendation of the UN special rapporteur on torture who called last year for Assange’s release and for extradition to the United States to be blocked. The other states that his possible extradition to the US ‘would set a precedent and threaten journalists’ freedoms in all member states.’” * * * * *
Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer , film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers , whose music is available via Bandcamp ). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here ) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in the US and the UK ) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield . He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “ Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo ” (available on DVD here , or here for the US, or you can watch it online here , via the production company Spectacle, for £2.55), and for his photo project ‘ The State of London ’ he publishes a photo a day from seven years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.
In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of the documentary film, ‘ Concrete Soldiers UK ’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘ Grenfell ’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘ No Social Cleansing in Lewisham ’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, and the trees were cut down on February 27, 2019, the resistance continues.
To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here ), Twitter , Flickr and YouTube . Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list , The Complete Guantánamo Files , the definitive Guantánamo habeas list , the full military commissions list , and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles .
Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign , and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation .
2020-01-29 | American torture, Andy Worthington's TV and radio appearances, Andy Worthington's US tour (January 2020) | English | AndyWorthington