Chicago World Can’t Wait welcomed Andy Worthington to Chicago to screen his film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo,” at an event jointly sponsored by Amnesty International, Midwest Antiwar Mobilization, National Lawyer’s Guild (Loyola Law), National Lawyers Guild, Chicago Chapter, Public Interest Law Society, and the Muslim Law Student Association on Saturday, January 14,
The film focuses on several detainees — Moazzam Begg, Shaker Amer, Omar Deghayes, and Binyan Mohammed — through own their personal testimony as well as through events recounted by their attorneys, including Tom Wilner and Clive Stafford Smith.
More broadly, “Outside the Law” provides a sweeping critique of the detention practices begun under the Bush administration and continued under Obama — what Andy Worthington calls the “running sore” of American detention practice. It was thus a fitting capstone for over a week of protests and other activities taking place in Chicago against indefinite detention, unfair trials, and torture practiced by the U.S.
Memorable moments in the film included:
* Clive Stafford Smith explaining how hypocrisy of the kind the U.S. engages in its detention policies and practices “is the yeast that ferments hate of the U.S. around the world.”
* Tom Wilner stating that every detainee he interviewed described abuse similar to that carried out at Abu Ghraib.
* The description of Binyan Mohammed’s military commission trial, in which he said, “What should we call this place? A court? A room? No, it should be called a ‘con-mission’ … because its purpose is to ‘con’ the world into believing there’s justice.”
* Andy Worthington’s characterization of U.S. practice as “kidnapping and rendition on an industrial scale.”
* Photographs of a child of one of the detainees holding a sign that said, “I am 7. I have never seen my dad.”
Notably, in the film Omar Deghayes explains that “the only way for detainees to make a statement is through hunger strikes.” The Chicago screening occurred on the fourth day of a hunger strike, newly undertaken by Guantanamo detainees in solidarity with the January 11 protests taking around the world in recognition of the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.
The film also drives home the point that the brutalization of the detainees greatly hindered the ability of the attorneys to begin to represent and defend them. As one attorney said, “Torture survivors have been shattered. They don’t trust their own mothers.”
Following the screening, there was an in-depth presentation by three Chicago-area attorneys that represent Guantanamo detainees. H. Candace Gorman, Len Goodman, and Andy Moss each described the frustrations of trying to represent clients in a system that seemed determined to prevent due process and fair proceedings. A crowd of about 75 participated in a robust Q & A session, including extensive discussion of the recently signed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which Chicago World Can’t Wait has characterized as “Guantanamo for EVERYONE!”
Our thanks to Loyola Law for hosting this important event. Please contact Chicago World Can’t Wait at Chicago@worldcantwait.orgif you are interested in screening this film at a local library, congregation, school, etc.