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Close Guantánamo Now: Andy Worthington’s US Tour on the 12th Anniversary of the Prison’s Opening, January 2014
by Andy Worthington
andy guantanamo filesJanuary 11, 2014 is the 12th anniversary of the opening of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an experiment in extraordinary rendition, torture and indefinite detention without charge or trial that should never have opened.
 
Since 2011, I have been visiting the US on the anniversary, to take part in events to raise awareness of the ongoing injustice of Guantánamo, and to call for the prison’s closure, and this year is the fourth occasion on which I have braved the sometimes inhospitable weather of America in January to add my voice to those of others calling for Guantánamo to be closed, and the third year in which I have done so as the co-founder, with the attorney Tom Wilner, of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, which we established on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison in January 2012.

This year, I will be visiting from January 8 to 21, and taking part in events in New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles (my first ever visit!) from January 9 to 17, mostly with Debra Sweet, the National Director of the campaigning group the World Can’t Wait, who has organized my trip.
 
 
Debra has been organizing my visits to the US since 2009, and it will be wonderful to spend time with her and with the other participants in the various events we have planned — who include the investigative journalist Jason Leopold, psychologist and anti-torture writer and activist Jeffrey Kaye, the former SERE instructor and anti-torture campaigner Michael Kearns, and Todd Pierce, a former military defense attorney, who represented men at Guantánamo who were put forward for trials by military commission. We will, at some events, be showing the excellent documentary film “Doctors of the Dark Side,” directed by Martha Davis, and the full itinerary is below (also see the Facebook page here, and see here for Debra’s post about the tour).

For the last five years, of course, the ownership of Guantánamo has been in the hands not of George W. Bush and the Republican Party, but of Barack Obama and the Democrats, and it has, for the most part, been a dispiriting experience watching as fine words turned to inaction. After promising to close the prison by January 2010, President Obama failed to keep that promise, and although he released 64 prisoners from February 2009 to September 2010, those releases almost ground to a halt for the next three years, after Congress imposed onerous restrictions on the release of prisoners, and the president didn’t think it was worthwhile spending political capital overriding lawmakers, even though he had the power to do so.

This year, this inertia was finally challenged by the prisoners themselves, who, in desperation, embarked on a prison-wide hunger strike that succeeded in waking up the world’s media to the message that those dedicate dot the prison’s closure — myself included — had been emphasizing since the inertia began; namely, that over half of the remaining prisoners had been cleared for release by a high-level, inter-agency task force that President Obama established shortly after first taking office in 2009, and that continuing to hold men cleared for release was profoundly unjust and cruel; and, more generally, that the continued existence of the prison, and its default purpose of enshrining indefinite detention without charge or trial as something normal and not dangerously unacceptable, was intolerable.

As a result of the outrage generated by the hunger strike, President Obama was finally obliged to act, which he did in May by promising to appoint new envoys in the Pentagon and the State Department to assist with the release of prisoners and the eventual closure of Guantánamo, and to resume the release of prisoners.

Progress was initially slow, but envoys have now been appointed (Paul Lewis at the Pentagon and Cliff Sloan in the State Department), and prisoner releases have resumed — two men in August, and six more in December — bringing the prison’s population down to 158 men, exactly half of whom (79 men in total) were cleared for release by the Guantánamo Review Task Force, whose final report, after nearly a year of deliberations, was published four years ago, in January 2010.

More releases need to follow, as soon as possible — and, in particular, the deadlock regarding the Yemenis, who make up two-thirds of the 79 men cleared for release but still held, needs to be addressed — but this is undoubtedly progress, and it means that, for the first time on the anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, the message that campaigners calling for the closure of the prison will be sending to President Obama will be both to encourage him to continue with what he has started, as well as reminding him that further inertia is not acceptable.


Andy Worthington’s “Close Guantánamo” US tour, January 2014

Thursday January 9, 2014, 7 pm: Screening of ”Doctors of the Dark Side,” followed by Q&A with Andy Worthington, Todd Pierce and Debra Sweet

All Souls Church, 1157 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10075.

After arriving in New York City on January 8, this will be Andy Worthington’s first public event as part of the January 2014 “Close Guantánamo” US tour, featuring a screening of the powerful documentary film, “Doctors of the Dark Side,” directed by Martha Davis, followed by a Q&A session with Andy, Todd Pierce, a former military defense attorney, who represented men at Guantánamo who were put forward for trials by military commission, and Debra Sweet.

Co-sponsored by All Souls Church, No More Guantánamos, Psychologists for Social Responsibility and Revolution Books.

See the event page here.

Friday January 10, 2014, 5.30 pm: Screening of ”Doctors of the Dark Side,” followed by Q&A with Andy Worthington, Todd Pierce and Debra Sweet

Festival Center, 1640 Columbia Road NW, Washington, D.C. 20009.

On January 10, Andy Worthington, Debra Sweet and Todd Pierce travel from New York to Washington D.C. for a protest on January 11, the 12th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay. The evening before, they will take part in a Q&A session following a screening of the powerful documentary film, “Doctors of the Dark Side,” directed by Martha Davis.

See the event page here.

Saturday January 11, 2014, 12 noon: Close Guantánamo Protest, White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20500.

“12 Years Too Many, No More Excuses, Close Guantánamo” is the tagline for the January 11 Day of Action to close Guantánamo. At 12 noon, there will be speakers outside the White House, followed by a procession to the Capitol and the Supreme Court beginning at 1 pm. The event ends at 2:30 pm.

Organized by groups including Amnesty International, Center for Constitutional Rights, Close Guantánamo, Code Pink, National Religious Coalition Against Torture, Witness Against Torture and World Can’t Wait.

As the organizers state, “This January 11, 2014 marks the unacceptable 12th anniversary of indefinite detention without charge or trial at Guantánamo. Join us in Washington, D.C. to witness this anniversary together, and to call on President Obama to finally fulfill his broken promise to shut it down. Obama has the power to close Guantánamo, and the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2014) just approved by Congress makes it even easier for him to do so. 158 men remain detained at Guantánamo; most should never have been detained in the first place and are entering their 13th year of being deprived of their liberty without any charge or trial. They must be tried in a fair court or released; Guantánamo must be shut down.”

See the Facebook page here.

Monday January 13, 2014, 5.30 pm: Guantánamo, Torture and the “War on Terror”: A discussion with Andy Worthington, Jeffrey Kaye, Michael Kearns and Debra Sweet

Stanford University, 3rd Floor Common Room, Old Union, 520 Lasuen Mall, Palo Alto, CA.

On January 12, Andy Worthington and Debra Sweet fly to San Francisco for five days of “Close Guantánamo” events, beginning on January 13 with this special discussion at Stanford University with Andy, Jeffrey Kaye and Michael Kearns. Jeffrey Kaye is a psychologist active in the anti-torture movement, who works clinically with torture victims at Survivors International in San Francisco. His blog is Invictus. Michael Kearns is a retired Air Force Captain, and a former instructor on the SERE program, which teaches US military personnel to resist torture if captured by enemy forces. He is a former colleague of Bruce Jessen, who, with James Mitchell, reverse-engineered SERE techniques for use in the Bush administration’s “war on terror,” to Capt. Kearns’ horror.

See the event page here.

Tuesday January 14, 2014, 12 noon: Close Guantánamo event, with Andy Worthington & Debra Sweet

Hastings Law School, 200 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.

On January 14, Andy Worthington and Debra Sweet discuss the situation at Guantánamo, as the prison begins its 13th year of operations. Andy will have the opportunity to discuss at length the problems that have led to the prison remaining open.

See the event page here.

Tuesday January 14, 2014, 7 pm: Screening of ”Doctors of the Dark Side,” followed by Q&A with Andy Worthington and Debra Sweet

Revolution Books, 2425 Channing Way, near Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704.

On the evening of January 14, Andy Worthington and Debra Sweet will be speaking about Guantánamo and torture in a Q&A session following a screening of “Doctors of the Dark Side.”

See the Revolution Books website here. For further information, call 510-848-1196.

Wednesday January 15, 2014, 11.30 am: Martin Luther King Luncheon with Interfaith Communities United for Justice & Peace, featuring keynote speaker Andy Worthington

Holman United Methodist Church, 3320 W. Adams, Los Angeles, CA 90018.

Andy Griggs has been working to get Andy Worthington to LA as a speaker on Guantánamo for many years, and this event will provide an opportunity for Andy to speak in detail about the reasons that Guantánamo is still open.

Suggested donation $20, but no one turned away. For further information, contact Andy Griggs by email or call 310-704-3217. See the event page here.

Wednesday January 15, 2014, 7 pm: Screening of ”Doctors of the Dark Side,” followed by Q&A with Andy Worthington, Jason Leopold and Debra Sweet
Revolution Books, 5726 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028.

On the evening of January 15, Andy Worthington and Debra Sweet will be joined by investigative journalist Jason Leopold for a Q&A session following a screening of “Doctors of the Dark Side.” Jason Leopold, who writes for Al-Jazeera, is an investigative reporter covering Guantánamo, counterterrorism, national security, human rights, open government and civil liberties issues. This will be Jason and Andy’s first appearance together since Andy’s last West Coast visit in January 2012.

See the event page here. For further information, call Nicole Lee on 323-463-3500.

Thursday January 16, 2014, time tba: Orange County Peace Coalition “Close Guantánamo” event, with Andy Worthington, Jason Leopold and Debra Sweet

Location tba.

Friday January 17, 2014, 7 am: Breakfast with Interfaith Communities United for Justice & Peace, featuring keynote speaker Andy Worthington

Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 3300 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010.

Following the lunch event on January 15, this event will provide another opportunity for Interfaith Communities United for Justice & Peace and anyone else interested in the closure of Guantánamo to hear Andy Worthington talk about the prison as it begins its 13th year of operations.

For further information, contact Andy Griggs by email or call 310-704-3217.

Friday January 17, 2014, 7 pm: Close Guantánamo event, with Andy Worthington, Dennis Loo and Debra Sweet

Cal Poly Pomona, Bronco Student Center, Orion Room, 3801 W. Temple Avenue, Pomona, CA 91768.

For the last public event of the “Close Guantánamo” US tour, Andy Worthington and Debra Sweet will be joined by Dennis Loo, Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona, who is on the Steering Committee of World Can’t Wait. See his website here.

See the event page here.

On January 18, Andy returns to New York, and flies back to the UK on January 20.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and 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) 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).

To interview Andy Worthington or Debra Sweet, or to arrange further events, please contact Andy or Debra.

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 four-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas 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.


- See more at: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2013/12/29/close-guantanamo-now-andy-worthingtons-us-tour-on-the-12th-anniversary-of-the-prisons-opening-january-2014/#sthash.udjR6YlY.dpuf

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