Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: Will Obama Close Gitmo?

Peter B. Collins Presents Journalist Andy Worthington

As an author and journalist, Andy Worthington is an expert on America’s offshore island prison, Guantanamo. As an activist, he helped lead a year-long campaign to free Shaker Aamer, the last British prisoner who finally went home on October 30. We talk about his return and reunion with family, and the ordeal he experienced as the most high-profile inmate released so far. When he’s healthy—physically and psychologically—Aamer is expected to expose much about his detention, torture, hunger strikes, and the complicity of British officials and intelligence agents in his almost 14-year detention without trial or charge. Worthington also talks about Sen. Feinstein’s recent call to close Guantanamo, and the irrational objections expressed by many American leaders.

*Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantanamo Files and covers America’s gulag on his blog. He is also a member of The Four Fathers, a music group that updated their Song for Shaker after Aamer’s return to England.

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Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: “Free Shaker Aamer!”

Peter B. Collins Presents Andy Worthington

In the second of two reports on Guantanamo prisoners, Andy Worthington details the new campaign to bring home Shaker Aamer, the last Briton at Gitmo. With a large, inflatable “Shaker” and a heartfelt endorsement from Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, activists are demanding that the Cameron government negotiate the immediate release of Aamer, who has been held for 13 years without charge or trial, and was cleared for release 5 years ago. We talk about the recent transfer of 6 prisoners, with 10 more reported to be imminent, and the disappointing recent ruling about force feeding by Judge Gladys Kessler. Roger Waters makes a cameo appearance.

*Andy Worthington is a British journalist and author of The Guantanamo Files. Visit his website here and the Shaker Aamer site here

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Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: Gitmo Force Feeding Case Update

Peter B. Collins Presents Attorney Jon Eisenberg

Hunger striking prisoners at Guantanamo are often forcibly “extracted” from their cells to be force fed. Jon Eisenberg relates the recent ruling in the case of Abu Wa’el Dhiab, where Judge Gladys Kessler showed compassion for Dhiab and expressed outrage over aspects of his treatment, but failed to address the key legal issues. While he is very disappointed in the ruling, Eisenberg confirms that there was a secret hearing with only government lawyers present, and notes that he is pursuing the same legal points in another case before a different judge. He says Dhiab’s treatment has improved, and that the release of videos of cell extraction and force feeding may be delayed by government appeals.

*Jon B. Eisenberg is an attorney in Oakland, California who is one of many pro bono lawyers aligned with Reprieve (UK) and the Center for Constitutional Rights. He was lead counsel in the al Haramain illegal wiretapping case.

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Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: America Yawns at Obama’s Latest Afghan Plans

Peter B. Collins Presents Journalist Anand Gopal

Since 2008, Anand Gopal has reported from Afghanistan and broke the stories of the US night raids on civilians and secret prisons. He reacts to Obama’s new drawdown plans, and the passive reaction of American media and elected officials that some troops will remain until at least 2017. Gopal talks about his June 1 op-ed in the NY Times, and the failed Petraeus “surge” that put warlords on the US payroll whose loyalty will lapse when the payments do. He adds important perspective on the Berghdal prisoner swap, and profiles the 5 Taliban leaders released from Guantanamo, and explains that Obama’s new plans enable continued control over the secret Parwan prison.

*Anad Gopal is an independent journalist who has covered Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria and more, his new book is No Good Men Among the Living: America, The Taliban and the War Through Afghan Eyes.

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Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: “Will Gitmo Ever Be Closed?”

Peter B. Collins Presents Reporter Jason Leopold & Lawyer Robert Wagstaff


While President Obama claims he wants to close the prison complex at Guantanamo, the prospects look slim at present. Jason Leopold just returned from another week-long reporting visit, and interviewed the new commander, Rear Admiral Richard Butler, who says he supports Obama's call to shut it down; the commander who opened the prison in 2002, Maj. Gen. Lenhart, recently said it never should have been opened. Attorney Robert Wagstaff details how the offshore prison violates basic notions of fair play, due process, and the rule of law, and calls Obama out for weak leadership. Leopold and Wagstaff talk about the impediments to shutdown, especially in the cases of about 45 prisoners who are told they will not be charged or tried--nor released--indefinitely.

Jason Leopold is an investigative journalist who has been covering Guantanamo for many years and now reports for Al Jazeera. Robert H. Wagstaff is a constitutional lawyer based in Anchorage, Alaska and past president of the Alaska Bar Assn. His new book from Oxford University Press is Terror Detentions and the Rule of Law: US and UK Perspectives.

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Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: “Abu Zubaydah’s Lawyer on Gitmo & US Foreign Policy Failures”

Peter B. Collins Presents Brent Mickum

Attorney Brent Mickum represented 3 former Guantanamo prisoners, and continues to represent Abu Zubaydah, whose recently published diaries offer further proof that he was not an al Qaeda leader or involved in any attacks on the US. Mickum offers insight into the netherworld of American torture and detention through the stories of his released clients, and Zubaydah's dubious distinction as the best-known detainee who will be held indefinitely without charge or trial. In the second half of the interview, Mickum comments on a powerful essay he recently published, Reflections on American Power and Foreign Policy, a sweeping review of US foreign policy failures since World War II. We talk about blowback from years of covert operations, the outsized influence of Israel on American policy, and Mickum's 11-point indictment of our foreign policy up to and including the recent threats to attack Syria and Iran.

George Brent Mickum IV has a private law practice in Washington, DC and has been part of the Guantanamo defense bar for many years. He previously worked at the Federal Trade Commission, as a special assistant U.S. Attorney for the Department of Justice and as the senior investigative counsel for the Senate Special Committee on Investigations

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Processing Distortion: “Lara Logan Isn’t the Only Problem at 60 Minutes”

Peter B. Collins offers Critical Analysis

As CBS News suspends chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan for the recent embarrassing and misleading report about Benghazi, Collins comments and says that Logan should be fired, in part for her criticism of the late Michael Hastings for his coverage of Gen. McCrystal, which Logan said was out of bounds. Collins plays segments from Leslie Stahl's recent 60 Minutes report on Guantanamo, where she displayed deep ignorance of Shaker Aamer--the last British prisoner at Gitmo--when Aamer shouted comments from his cell as Stahl toured the block with Col. John Bogdan. Collins is also sharply critical of the way Stahl covered the hunger strikes and force feeding, and that she asserted that 100 men who have been released returned to the fight--without offering any proof or details. This episode takes a critical look at corporate media, its errors of omission and commission.

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Processing Distortion: “Abu Zubaydah’s Diaries Reveal Much”

Peter B. Collins Presents Jason Leopold

Investigative journalist Jason Leopold has just published the second of five parts in a series based on the private diaries that were collected when Abu Zubaydah was picked up in Pakistan in March, 2002. Leopold acquired them from an unnamed intelligence source, and they offer insight into Zubaydah's odyssey from displaced Palestinian raised in Saudi Arabia to jihadist in Afghanistan. The still-classified diaries show that Zubaydah knew bin Laden and other mujahideen, but was definitely not an al Qaeda member or leader, and had no advance knowledge of, or role in 9/11, as originally alleged by US intelligence. He confided to the diary his fear of insects, which was used to create the CIA's approved torture regimen, which also included waterboarding at least 83 times. The series installments are here, here & here.

Jason Leopold, currently reporting for Al Jazeera, has been reporting for 15 years for Dow Jones, the Los Angeles Times, and Truthout. He's an investigative reporter covering Guantanamo, counterterrorism, national security, human rights, open government and civil liberties issues. He is the author of a memoir, News Junkie.

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Processing Distortion: “On Guantanamo, Little Changes Despite Obama’s May Speech”

Peter B. Collins Presents Andy Worthington

Since Obama's May 5 speech, very little has changed at Guantanamo. British journalist Andy Worthington notes that while two Algerians were released in August, and in early October the Pentagon named its Special Envoy for Guantanamo (and Parwan in Afghanistan), very little else has changed since Obama lamented the hunger strike and blamed Congress. Worthington points out that the president can use an existing waiver process on some or all of the 84 men who have been cleared for release since 2009--some far longer. We also discuss about 46 men Collins calls "zombies", who will not be charged or tried but held indefinitely, and the obvious improprieties that have marked the early stages of the trials of Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and 4 co-defendants.

* Andy Worthington is an acknowledged expert on Guantanamo, and his book The Guantanamo Files identifies almost all of the 776 people who have been incarcerated there since 2002. He is based in London, a founder of Close Guantanamo, and his website is here.

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The Reality Principle -Episode 28

“Gitmo, Syria, and Beyond” with Eugene Puryear

RPLogoThis week, Eric sits down with activist and organizer Eugene Puryear to discuss a number of important issues. First, Eric and Eugene discuss the ongoing hunger strike at the Guantanamo concentration camp and the continued use of torture by the US authorities. Eugene also informs listeners about the demonstration he has helped organize in Washington for May 18th demanding the closure of Guantanamo and the end of systematic torture. Eric and Eugene also discuss the US-sponsored destabilization of Venezuela and the nature of the imperialist ruling class in the United States. In addition, they examine the current situation in Syria and the role of the United States in perpetuating this conflict for geopolitical reasons.

Eugene Puryear is an activist and organizer with the ANSWER Coalition. He was the Vice Presidential candidate from the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) in 2008. Eugene has helped organize demonstrations against the Israeli blockade of Gaza, the use of torture by the United States, and countless other important political and social causes. He is based in Washington DC.

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Obdurate Washington

“Washington is becoming not only despised but a laughing stock.”

obdurateWith its power declining, Washington was not able any longer to keep Russia out of the World Trade Organization. Congress showed its spite over its impotence by hooking the normalizing of trade with Russia to what is called the “Magnitsky rule.” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20634768 )

Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian attorney who represented a British investment firm accused of tax evasion and fraud in Russia. Apparently, the UK firm supplied information to media alleging government misconduct and participation in corruption inside state-owned Russian companies.

Magnitsky represented the accused UK firm. He claimed that the firm had not committed fraud but had been a victim of fraud. In turn, Magnitsky was arrested. He developed serious illnesses in prison for which he apparently received inadequate medical care. [Read more...]

Podcast Show #100: The Black Hole Called Guantanamo

The Boiling Frogs Show Presents Andy Worthington

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Journalist Andy Worthington updates us on Guantanamo, where 85 men cleared for release are still held. We talk about the September death of Adnan Latif, the Yemeni who had languished for 8 years since being cleared by Bush-era officials, the almost 100% denial rate for habeas corpus suits from Gitmo prisoners by the DC Court of Appeals in recent years, and the last British detainee still held, Shaker Amer.

About 49 minutes in, Sam Banning joins us to talk about his new documentary Cruel & Unusual about the "3 Strikes" law in California. The film was produced before voters approved Prop 36, which reformed the definition of a third strike to limit it to serious, violent crimes. Banning profiles 3 people convicted for a third strike for petty crimes, like forging a check for $140. The film also covers the Stanford Law project which has won challenges to 25-life sentences for minor crimes, and which helped get the measure on the ballot.

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Here is our guest Andy Worthington unplugged!

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America’s Moral Degeneracy

“It is not only foreign political regimes that are corrupted by Washington’s evil, but also Americans themselves”

degeneracyOn May 31, 2010, the Israeli right-wing government sent armed military troops to illegally board in international waters Gaza aid ships of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla organized by the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief. The Israelis murdered 8 Turkish citizens and one US citizen in cold blood. Many others were wounded by the forces of “the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Despite the murder of its citizen, Washington immediately took the side of the crazed Israeli government. The Turks had a different response. The prime minister of Turkey, Erdogan, said that the next aid ships would be protected by the Turkish navy. But Washington got hold of its puppet and paid him to shut up. Once upon a time, the Turks were a fierce people. Today they are Washington’s puppets.

We have witnessed this during the past week. The Turkish government is permitting the Islamists from outside Syria, organized by the CIA and Israel, to attack Syria from Turkish territory. On several occasions a mortar shell has, according to news reports if you believe them, fallen just inside the Turkey border. The Turkish military has used the excuse to launch artillery barrages into Syria. [Read more...]

Answers in Absolute for ‘Why 9/11?’

Why ‘some’ Still Question, Seek Answer(s) & Accountability


whyFor ‘some’ reason I have been receiving more than a few ‘eye-rolling’ responses when I mention our theme for the month leading up to September 11- the tenth year. You and I know where the conscious but mostly subconscious eye-rolling and in some cases eye-aversion reactions come from. A very few bold ones are courageous enough to actually put this reaction into words. They ask ‘why can’t some people just let it go?’ They comment, ‘enough already with this 9/11 subject!’ Many of these same people are actually very outspoken and active in combating civil liberties related issues and abuses such as NSA Illegal Domestic Wiretapping, Rendition and Torture, FBI National Security Letters, TSA’s outrageous abuses …and the long list goes on. However, for ‘some’ reason they see ‘this 9/11 thing’ as a pointless nuisance, and wonder why some people don’t give up and keep bringing ‘it’ up. After all, the majority of these people consider 9/11 as ‘case closed,’ and a few regard it as a ‘cold case.’

 I am not going to get into the ‘some’ reasons for this post; although, I have plenty to say on the subject. Instead, for the purpose of this piece, and for those audiences, I am going to answer the ‘whys.’ Why ‘some’ still question and seek answer(s) and accountability on 9/11.

Why 9/11? Because ‘they’ claim that’s what gives them the right to override our Constitution and all other laws guaranteeing our liberties and privacy.

Why 9/11? Because that’s what ‘they’ claim as justification for every one of our many wars.

Why 9/11? Because that’s what ‘they’ say is the reason for us having to be violated, humiliated, groped and fondled for the ‘privilege’ of travel. [Read more...]

Podcast Show #75

The Boiling Frogs Presents Philip Giraldi

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This is Part III of our interview series on the Makings of a Police State. You can listen to previous segments here.

Philip Giraldi joins us to discuss the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act-NDAA, the claim by the White House that it will only use this new power carefully and with due process, and contrasts that to the well-established trend of law enforcement and security agencies, which is to expand on powers granted, not to rein them in or limit them. He provides us with his assessment of the recent case of former CIA operative John Kiriakou, and discusses President Obama’s horrendous track record on civil liberties- broadening its definition of war powers, silencing critics and government whistleblowers through the repeated exploitation of the state-secrets privilege, abuses of National Security Letters, continuation of Guantanamo Prison, supporting numerous dubious terrorism prosecutions.

GiraldiPhilip Giraldi is a former CIA and DIA counter-terrorism officer, member of the American Conservative Defense Alliance, and contributing editor at The American Conservative magazine. He has a regular column, Smoke & Mirrors, at Antiwar.com.

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