The Talking Dog

January 4, 2010, And then there were... 198

We are rapidly coming up to January 22, 2010, the day that President Barack Obama will have unquestionably broken a promise that, at the time he made it anyway, was 100% within his power to keep, that being to "close Guantanamo within one year."

The thing with the Guantanamo promise, aside from candidate Obama's stand on the issue having been a selling point for many rubes and suckers (such as myself) to support his candidacy, is that it was an actual concrete promise on which we can clearly measure accountability, rather than the nebulous (and ultimately meaningless) "hope and change" and the all-important "Oprah(TM) says he's The One(TM)" that were the twin hallmarks of his campaign. Nope: my old college classmate really screwed the (non-talking) pooch on GTMO all by himself, having managed to release a pathetic three dozen or so of the over 230 men he inherited last January (down from the over 700 who passed through the place at one time or another). Had the place been "substantially" vacated, say, down to the few dozen actual possible "bad guys," with trials of those remaining in some stage of progress... we'd have given a "substantially complete" assessment, and a hearty back-slap. Instead, we have seen foot-dragging and ineptitude, not to mention outright malfeasance (such as permitting Congress to tie his hands re: bringing even cleared prisoners to the United States, or the dictatorial "preventive detention" proposals... and we won't even talk about the abuse of state secrets privileges) that would have embarrassed the Bush Administration. And hence, we have an Obama Administration that tells us the majority of men it is holding are "cleared for release"... but it will hold them in potential life sentences in maximum security anyway!

Fortunately, our friend the indefatigable Andy Worthington is ever vigilant, and gives us his definitive prisoner list updated for 2010. And he means definitive: Andy gives updated accounts of quite literally all of the 779 (known) unfortunate bastards who have passed through GTMO, including the 198 (known) to still be stuck there (notwithstanding that most of them have been "cleared for release")... and the half dozen or so who died there (including at least one who was himself "cleared for release" at the time of his death.)

Andy is a top-notch journalist and historian, but in the "interesting" media environment we find ourselves in (where the staged musings of "reality t.v. stars" is "news" and what used to be considered "news" is now done by... well, it's not done by what used to be considered "news organizations")... Andy is a one-man show. Please consider supporting his critical work by clicking on the PayPal link in the linked post. The thing is, this is really the state of "journalism" as we presently find it in the year 2010. Guantanamo and American detention in the so-called "war on terror" really is the story of our time. And yet, with a few honorable exceptions (pretty much exclusively in either print media or non-corporate radio, btw), such as Charlie Savage, Carol Rosenberg and Amy Goodman, the journalism in this area is being done almost entirely by "the new media"... a free-standing journalist like Andy, an advocate seeking to keep the public informed of key developments like Candace Gorman, or perhaps by some talking dog with a computer who has managed to interview more of the players in this area than just about anyone on Earth. But this is what now comes to mind when thinking about Guantanamo related journalism.

Which, let's face it, is a huge part of the problem. Even many "informed" people simply write off GTMO as a partisan issue, and assume that since the beloved Obama is in charge, everything is better now...even though nothing could be further from the truth. But then, it's not as if there's any reporting on this in the sources that most people rely upon for their "news," now is there?

Well... just wanted you all to know that some of us, at least, are keeping score, and if there ever is to be accountability... the powers that be had better know that accounts are being kept.