Democracy Now! yesterday. The discussion concentrated on plans by the U.S. to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other prisoners (Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al Hawsawi) in federal courts, and other Guantanamo prisoners, including Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Omar Khadr, at Obama's newly refurbished -- and deeply flawed -- military commissions.
What follows is from Worthington's interview with Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman:
AMY GOODMAN: .... At the time of this broadcast, Eric Holder is about to hold a news conference, the Attorney General, announcing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others will be tried in a New York civilian court.I had the good fortune to catch Andy on his tour when he spoke in Berkeley at Revolution Books on Wednesday night. He is a rare specimen of an impassioned researcher and activist, a man who, with his landmark book, The Guantanamo Files, really shined light into the dark places of ignorance that surrounded the identities and stories of the hundreds of prisoners rendered to Guantanamo -- a darkness, I may add, deliberately engendered by the United States government. Thank you, Andy, for all your hard work.
ANDY WORTHINGTON: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Your response?
ANDY WORTHINGTON: Well, I mean, this is what actually we’ve all been waiting for, to be honest. This was what it was all supposed to be about, was rounding up the people who had a connection to the 9/11 attacks. And, of course, what we’ve actually had over the years is eight years of a prison outside the law holding nearly 800 people, most of whom had nothing to do with it, not to mention all the other prisons that have been used, the secret prisons, the whole CIA program. So, to that extent, it’s good news.
I’m rather disturbed to hear that the second tier of justice, which is the military commission system, has been—we’re apparently going to hear that that’s where one of the men, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, is going to be prosecuted, because the administration and the Senate have tinkered with the military commissions, which were essentially revived as the terror trials by Dick Cheney in November 2001. They were once ruled illegal by the Supreme Court. Congress brought them back. They failed spectacularly throughout their history to demonstrate that they were a viable form of justice. And even with these latest amendments, they still fall short of the standards that we would expect from trials and the standards that we would expect from federal court. So it’s rather disturbing to hear that these two layers of justice are still planned....
And, I mean, there is already a problem, which was identified by the administration in summer, and they told the Senate about this, that the charge of providing material support for terrorism is a charge that they think will be subject to appeal in the military commissions system. But the administration has also said they don’t have any problems with trying that in federal courts. So I’m really confused as to why they’re going ahead with it. And, you know, the overall impression it gives me is that they’re trying to rig the system. You know, they have a premier league trial system, and if they have doubts maybe that that’s going to work, then they’ve got this reserve system. And that’s not the way that justice should work, and especially not after the horrors of the last eight years....
I’m surprised there’s no mention there of the habeas corpus petitions, because, you know, this has been an important, very crucial part of the story this year, is that when the men finally secured the right to habeas corpus. And, you know, the Supreme Court last June gave them those rights and made them constitutionally guaranteed, so that lawmakers couldn’t interfere, as they had before. We’ve had thirty-eight cases decided by judges, and in thirty of those cases the judges have said, you know, that the government has failed to provide the evidence used to justify holding these men. Now, that leaves eight people who have—the judges have said, you know, “By a preponderance of the evidence, you have demonstrated that these people had a connection to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and you can continue to hold them.” So, all these people have habeas petitions that are ongoing. And, you know, the administration has to, I think, let this process carry on. And it will result, I have no doubt, in some of these—was it seventy-five?—being cleared.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s turn to an excerpt from your new film, Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo. This is Omar Deghayes, a Libyan British resident who was freed from Guantánamo in December of 2007.OMAR DEGHAYES: The interrogator said to us, “You will be released one day, yes. You will be released, I’ll tell you that. You will be released. But you will not be released from this place until you are broken wrecks. We will release you. You are terrorists. And we will release you, yes. But you will be physically finished, psychologically finished, and you will be nothing.”AMY GOODMAN: And here’s another clip from the film, featuring British lawyers Gareth Peirce and Clive Stafford Smith.
The last time I saw my son was when they abducted us in Lahore, and he was six month years old, I think. Very young. Now he’s seven years old. I haven’t seen him since. I think it is the biggest loss I can, the biggest loss I have lost in Guantánamo, really. Not my eye, not my broken finger, not my broken ribs, not my broken nose, not the humiliation, not the sexual abuse, not all that transport and things. All these are bad enough, but the worst, I think, thing that can—that did happen, I lost there, is not the eye; it’s those years of seeing Suleiman growing up.CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH: They will close Guantánamo, but so what? That’s not the end of the story, because there are many, many thousands of prisoners held in US secret custody around the world. Guantánamo is the tiniest tip of the iceberg of that.
GARETH PEIRCE: Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan is being reinforced, rebuilt, has now far more prisoners than Guantánamo had.