Since last Monday, when WikiLeaks began releasing classified military documents relating to almost all of the 779 prisoners held in Guantánamo, I have undertaken a number of interviews — with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, with the BBC and Press TV, with Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio, with Alexa O’Brien for WikiLeaks Central, and with Steve Rendall for the weekly CounterSpin show produced by the media watchdog FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting).
If you’ve checked out any of the above, then my 25-minute interview with Kevin Gosztola, an intern for the Nation, available here, may not contain too many surprises, but Kevin asked some great questions, and the rather more expansive format allowed me to cover some of the important themes in more detail than elsewhere — the stories of the juveniles, for example, as I discussed in my article, The Pentagon Can’t Count: 22 Juveniles Held at Guantánamo, in November 2008 — and also to discuss the amnesia of modern life, aided by 24-hour news cycles, which means that much of what has been exposed before regarding the Guantánamo prisoners has apparently been wiped clean from people’s minds.
I also had the opportunity to address Kevin’s question about the Justice Department’s ludicrous insistence that attorneys for the Guantánamo prisoners cannot use — or even read — any of the documents relased by WikiLeaks by running through the attempts to secure justice for the prisoners at Guantánamo by legal means, which looked promising in 2004, and again from 2008 to 2009, but which have ground to a halt because of the hostility of right-wing judges in the D.C. Circuit Court, including the notorious figure of Judge A. Raymond Randolph, who is now, single-handedly, driving most of what passes for President Obama’s detainee policy at Guantánamo.
Closing the show, I spoke about how the administration and Congress had, prior to the release of these documents, succeeded in shutting down any avenue for the release of prisoners, or the closure of the prison, and explained how, as a result, the release of the WikiLeaks documents is of great significance, even if, as I mentioned a few days ago, it may, sadly, not create “significant enough ripples in the US to effect any kind of change to the existing policies.”
This is how the Nation described the show:
WikiLeaks released the long awaited “Gitmo Files” this past week. The files are previously classified detainee reports from 2002 to when Obama took office that include analyses and recommendations from Joint Task Force Guantánamo (JTF-GTMO) on what to do with the detainees at the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba military prison. London-based journalist Andy Worthington, who is a WikiLeaks media partner for the release, describes in this Nation Conversation with Nation intern Kevin Gosztola how the documents reveal new information on “unreliable informants” and what the government used to justify the detention of juveniles and senior citizens at Guantánamo.
When considering the fact that the Obama Administration has failed to close Guantánamo, Worthington states, “The United States’ system of law has failed at Guantánamo.” He contends, “In the desire to have more transparency and push back against overclassification,” the release has been very useful. He doesn’t think the material would have been released if WikiLeaks had not published the reports.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison.