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The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison [Paperback]

Andy Worthington
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

20 Oct 2007
In 2006, four years after the illegal prison in Guantánamo Bay first opened, the Pentagon finally released the names of the 773 men held there, as well as 7,000 pages of transcripts from tribunals assessing their status as 'enemy combatants'. Andy Worthington is the only person to have analysed every page of these transcripts. Drawing on these documents, as well as news reports and interviews with lawyers and released detainees, this book reveals, for the first time, the stories of all those imprisoned in Guantánamo.

This book does not make for easy reading. Deprived of the safeguards of the Geneva Conventions, and, for the most part, sold to the Americans by their allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the detainees have struggled for five years to have their stories heard. Looking in detail at the circumstances of their capture, and at the coercive interrogations and unsubstantiated allegations that have been used to justify their detention, 'The Guantánamo Files' reveals that the majority of those captured were either Taliban foot soldiers or humanitarian aid workers, religious teachers and economic migrants, who were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The book also uncovers stories of torture in Afghanistan and Guantánamo, and contains new information about the process of 'extraordinary rendition' that underpins the US administration's 'war on terror'.

Who will speak for the 773 men who have been held in Guantánamo? This passionate and brilliantly detailed book brings their stories to the world for the first time.

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The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison + Guantanamo: America's War on Human Rights + Enemy Combatant: The Terrifying True Story of a Briton in Guantanamo
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto Press (20 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745326641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745326641
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 15.4 x 22.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 584,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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This is an important book. If you care about our Government's complicity in these illegal and horrific acts then this book provides the evidence. Carefully researched and documented, it reveals a story of appalling brutality. The people are not mere ciphers but, as their stories unfold, their pain becomes our concern. (Ken Loach)

Extraordinary rendition, false imprisonment, inhumane treatment ... has forever destroyed and reshaped the lives of hundreds of men, of whom I was one. The subject matter of this book is imperative, being the first of its kind to collate and describe accounts from the prisoners themselves and pitting them against the purported reasons for their incarceration - without charge or trial (Moazzam Begg, former Guantanamo detainee and spokesman for CagePrisoners)

The [book] is a meticulous piece of documentation about torture. ... It recalls the age old story of the willingness of both governments and ordinary people to inflict pain upon each other for financial and political gain while exercising a misguided sense of power over those peoples perceived as inferior to themselves. This is an extremely vital and important piece of work. (Marty Fisher, Co-Producer of Alex Gibney’s "Taxi to the Dark Side", a film about the U.S. torture activities in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and Iraq)

About the Author

Andy Worthington is a freelance historian. He is the author of two books on modern British social history, and his work has also appeared in the Guardian and the Idler.

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "war" with no Geneva Conventions 5 Feb 2008
British journalist Andy Worthington is probably the world's leading expert on Guantánamo Bay and its inmates. Basing his research mostly on the Pentagon's own documents, obtained under freedom of information legislation, Worthington has produced a unique compendium of individual histories, combining them with a narrative of events in the "war on terror". The overwhelming case made by the book is that, amongst the great numbers of prisoners who were swept up in Afghanistan, the majority were either completely innocent men caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, or were unimportant foot-soldiers whose involvement in an inter-Muslim civil war both pre-dated 9/11 and had no connection with it. The treatment of these captives has been wholly disproportionate.

Helpless men, of whom some have subsequently been released, were tortured before arriving at Guantánamo Bay, the torture producing forced - and untrue - confessions of their links with al-Qaeda. In a number of cases the torture was "outsourced" to selected countries. The conduct of the CIA and the US military towards their prisoners recalls in some instances the fate of prisoners at the hands of the Gestapo in World War Two. Not coincidentally, perhaps, the term adopted by the US authorities, "enhanced interrogation techniques", expresses in English the Nazis' identical euphemism for similar forms of torture.

Following rendition to Guantánamo Bay, prisoners receive brutal treatment in supermax lockdowns. The majority of US "detainees" in Guantánamo Bay are being kept isolated in long-term solitary confinement, in high-security facilities. While there appears to be no operational necessity for such long-term isolation, one consequence of it is permanent psychological damage.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very important book 9 Oct 2011
A very, very important book.

Andy Worthington definitively exposes the myths and falsehoods that surround those that were and still are imprisoned in the world's most notorious prison. From teachers, to humanitarian aid workers all kinds of innocent people spent their time in legal black hole that is Guantanamo Bay; far from the "worst of the worst" and the "bad men" that senior Bush administration figures boldly stated. Andy Worthington has painstakingly researched and told their stories, the results are often heartbraking.

Essential reading for those who care about human rights, and the path of modern society.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cool, measured and devastating 16 Feb 2011
It is hard to imagine what it must have been like writing this book. The author is evidently implacably opposed to the practices he writes about, but he has managed to stay cool, distanced and (given the material) amazingly objective.
Worthington very rarely gives in to the temptation to fulminate against the stupidity and cruelty of a process that saw so many innocent individuals incarcerated, tortured and in some cases murdered. Having said that, the text does provide clear narrative pointing out how self-deceiving and irresponsible were the CIA and army intelligence officers in Afghanistan immediately after the invasion. There are occasions when his representation of witness's stories seems a little credulous, but given that he is voicing the stories of men who have been imprisoned and tortured by a bureaucracy that refused to listen for about five years, it would be soulless now to question their word.
From Worthington's reports (gathered from the transcripts of US Tribunals and supplemented with first-hand accounts from prison guards, interrogators and prisoners) it seems as if the ferocious competence of the American military machine is matched only by the ferocious incompetence of the American military machine.
On arrival in Afghanistan the Americans assumed that anyone who was not either European or Afghan was necessarily a terrorist. They didn't recognise that there were many aid agencies and religious groups and just plain innocent individuals who had valid reasons for being in the country and, most importantly, it seems they didn't care.
They were happy to throw "Overwhelming Firepower" at the problem and capture anyone and everyone who had a finger of suspicion pointed at them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quick delivery 11 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It was bought as a present so I haven't read the book myself but it arrived rapidly and was in good condition.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By J.L
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is a complete testimony of various people in America who have undergone malicious injustices and sufferings in detained prison camps. It diabolically gives you the pictures of the cruelty these innocent people went through in such vivid authorship......
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