Introduction by Andy Worthington
A friend of mine for several years now – and a great supporter of the campaign to get Shaker Aamer released from Guantánamo – the musician Roger Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd, has written an article about Shaker’s release, which he has made available exclusively to me, on behalf of all those who have campaigned for Shaker’s release. Thank you, Roger!
A relentless campaigner against injustice, unlike far too many high-profile musicians, Roger became involved in the campaign to free Shaker after he was sent a letter from Shaker about a year and a half ago, via his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, the founder of Reprieve, in which Shaker had been quoting from Roger’s song “Hey You” (from the album “The Wall”). The song begins:
Hey you, out there in the cold
Getting lonely getting old
Can you feel me?
Hey you, standing in the aisles
With itchy feet and fading smiles
Can you feel me?
Hey you, don’t help them to bury the light
Don’t give in without a fight
Roger then got involved with the We Stand With Shaker campaign that I launched with the activist Joanne Macinnes last November, attending the launch outside Parliament (see the photo above), and also visiting the US Embassy on Valentine’s Day, the date of Shaker’s arrival at Guantánamo in 2002, which is also the date of birth of his youngest son, when we were trying to hand in a giant Valentine’s Day card saying, “There is no love in Guantánamo,” signed by numerous celebrities and MPs. Roger also wrote an article for the Daily Mail, signed the open letter we wrote to President Obama on Independence Day, and, just two weeks ago, took part in the Fast For Shaker, when over 400 celebrities, MPs and concerned citizens around the world fasted for 24 hours in solidarity with Shaker.
Roger’s article, as well as discussing Shaker, also takes in the military industrial complex, the struggle of the majority – “We The Many” – against a corrupt elite, the illegal invasion of Iraq and the 15 million people who protested against it, the importance of habeas corpus, the idiocy of Donald Trump, propaganda as entertainment (Zero Dark Thirty, 24, Homeland), and the West’s role, via blowback, in creating ISIS, which has come about not just because of opposition to illegal wars, Guantánamo, indefinite detention without charge or trial and torture, but also because of Western enthusiasm for targeted killings by drones. Enjoy!
~ Andy Worthington
Roger Waters Writes About the Release of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo
“Read all abaht it! Shaker Aamer released from Guantánamo Bay after 14 years in the clink.”
Firstly, Shaker, your supporters are profoundly glad to see you reunited with your brave family. You have been mightily wronged and your illegal detention and torture at the hands of the military industrial complex has served and will continue to serve as a reminder to us all that the battle has just begun.
Those who led the campaign for your release, Andy Worthington, Joanne Macinnes, Clive Stafford Smith at Reprieve, and all the others, including the MPs who went to lobby in Washington on your behalf, represent the tip of an iceberg.
Beneath the icy waters of political and economic domination by the few, “We The Many” are massing our forces and we will mount a formidable challenge to the deadly domination of those few. Dwight D. Eisenhower warned, in 1960, in his famous speech, of the perils of the unchecked advance of the Military Industrial Complex. I quote:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
“We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together … the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.”
Sadly the citizenry is anything but alert and knowledgeable. The Military Industrial Complex has invaded our living rooms where we sit mesmerized by “thirteen channels of shit on the TV.” The hired legal guns in Washington, in the Justice Department, write their memos and briefs to accommodate our new moral, ethical and legal standards. Torture and targeted assassination are legal now, regarded as morally acceptable in the corridors of power.
The entertainment industry has become a propaganda adjunct to the Military Industrial Complex. For instance, according to the movie Zero Dark Thirty, it was the use of torture that led to the capture and execution of Osama Bin Laden. That blatant untruth was fed to the makers of the film by the CIA. As we know, torture doesn’t produce reliable intelligence and, “We The Many” will not be subjoined into The Military Industrial Complex’s Gestapo.
“We The Many”, 15,000,000 of us, took to the streets all over the world on February 15th 2003 to demonstrate against Bush and Blair and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Rice and Rove’s determination to dash headlong into war in Iraq.
They ignored us, lied to us, trumped up fake evidence, and went ahead with their insane plan. We mourn the dead. The calumny of the invasion of Iraq will remain a stain on our history forever.
“We The Many” were right then and we are right now and armed with our resolve to do the right thing we lie in wait beneath the surface of the icy waters that are The New World Order. Let their Titanic beware, we are here and we are strong and our love for all our brothers and sisters and the Law and Mistress Liberty is stronger than their love of money and power and they will founder on us.
All this may sound like a digression from Shaker Aamer, but it is not. Shaker was imprisoned without trial for 14 years! Incarceration without due process is fundamentally antipathetic to any civilized society. For many years I have used an inflatable pig, as a theatrical device, which has sported the slogan “Habeas Corpus Matters”. It does. The legal requirement that no one can be disappeared, that everyone accused of a crime has a right to his or her day in court, is a cornerstone of jurisprudence that is to be protected at all costs!
I feel I may be losing the attention of some of the dimwits at the back of the class — “Yes, Trump, I’m talking to you.” There should be a wider conversation — “Trump, pay attention!” — a wider conversation about circumventing the law, and whether decisions to circumvent the law should be left up to generals or politicians.
Fundamentally the question is this: do “We The Many” want to abrogate our rights as individuals under the Law and submit to the authority of the State? Will we be content for Uncle Sam to become indistinguishable from Uncle Joe Stalin? “Trump!!! Wake up!! Pay attention!”
Where does The Law come from? Who decides that torture or incarceration without trial, are suddenly legal? “Trump? Trump!! Wake up.”
If Trump were not asleep he would probably trot out, ”Terrorist threat, foreigners, ticking bomb, national security, immigrants, torture works … I’ve seen it on TV … Kiefer Sutherland, 24 … just shoot’em in the leg … they’ll tell you where the dirty bomb is!”
So really, what Trump is saying is that it’s OK by him that The Law is a malleable device controlled, at its sole discretion, by the executive branch of government, ratified and rewritten by trained flunkies in the Justice Department and then sold to an ill-informed public through the fantasy of network or cable TV shows like 24 and Homeland.
Speaking of Terrorism and the Law, I suspect Trump approves of targeted assassinations, which are illegal by all international standards. Targeted assassinations, whether by drone attack or other means are international acts of terror, which create enmity and exacerbate the problem they pretend to address. We’ve all heard the theory. The theory is this, if you “cut the head off a snake”, if you take out the top guy of any organization, be it drug cartel, or radical political group or even some inconveniently elected government or politician, the target organization will wither and die.
This theory is generally acknowledged by top DEA and/or Military authorities to be complete rubbish. Kill whoever it might be and all his friends and relations are drawn to the cause, whatever it might be. Far from killing the snake you are building a pyramid with an ever broadening base. The inevitable results are escalating violence in the so called war on drugs and the spread of all negative aspects of the illegal trade in narcotics, the tyranny that always follows political assassinations, and, most obviously of all, the compounding of disasters like the invasion of Iraq. By continuing the senseless slaughter, you create ISIL, just as you effected the spread of Al-Qaida in Iraq all those years ago.
On a happier note:
Shaker Aamer, you are a man of incalculable spirit and courage and doubtless also faith. Your indomitable resistance in the face of remorseless persecution lights a corner of the dark. We owe you an enormous debt of gratitude. Welcome home, my friend.
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 debut album, ‘Love and War,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp – also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign, the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition – 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).
Reprinted with permission from Andy Worthington’s website.