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The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison 1st Edition

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0745326641
ISBN-10: 0745326641
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Editorial Reviews


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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto Press; 1st edition (December 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745326641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745326641
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,183,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. Putley on February 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
British journalist Andy Worthington is perhaps 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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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By John Fisher on June 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a very detailed volume that takes a painstaking effort to detail, details of the various individuals who have been caught up in this so called war on terror.

It puts a human face to those incarcerated and a human story as to who they are.

And it is true there are some bad buggers in there, I think that I can account for perhaps 4 or was it 5 out of some 800.

But this is primarily the story of who the others are.

There is an underlying story in this volume, it sits just in the background and that is the bit that will really disturb the reader.

That there is an extraordinary incompetence in who was captured and an unbelievable naivety in the screening process of these people it does not surprise. I think that to most outside the US of A, this would be taken as a given; recent history allows us to draw no other conclusion.

The underlying story:

When I was a young lad in the early 60's our books and reading material often included stories of Nazi Germany and the prison systems that operated during that period, I well remember the revulsion I felt at that time as a 12 year old reading these stories of the abject cruelty of the guards toward those in their charge.

In reading Andy's story of the Guantanamo detainees, I suddenly realised that I was reading stories about those same cruel, or should I say evil, sadistic people. The German prison guards; only this time they were Americans in Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba.

Which then makes me wonder, how is it that a very religious nation, primarily Christian to boot, preaching goodwill to all, a nation that is going to rid the world from evil can be responsible for such evil.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dienne TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Andy Worthington's "The Guantanamo Files" is an invaluable resource to anyone who wants the truth about the "detainees" (i.e., prisoners) at GITMO, mostly straight from the horse's mouth (or, well, the government's anyway). Chapter after chapter he explodes the myth that these "hardened al Qaeda/Taliban fighters" were all captured on the battlefield and represent the "worst of the worst". Quite the opposite, in fact. Apparently the worst of the worst either managed to slip away or were let go by U.S. and coalition forces. It was mostly just poor unlucky saps that got caught up in the net of Arabs captured by Northern Alliance and Pakistani forces and sold to the U.S. for handsome bounties.

Worthington begins the book with an account of the "uprising" at Qala-i-Jangi. At first glance, it would be hard to argue that these prisoners were not captured "on the battlefield". However, Worthington does a remarkable job of bringing to light details that make it clear that this was no uprising of hardened jihadists determined to fight to the death, but rather a brutal betrayal and massacre of low level foreign fighters who had already surrendered on the belief that they would be disarmed and allowed to return to their country. The suicides and "riots" happened only after it became clear that the captors planned to kill the captives anyway. In response to the "riots", coalition forces bombed the fortress with daisy cluster bombs, poured oil into the basement where the captives were hiding out, and later tried to flood the basement. Of the 400+ bodies found in the aftermath, at least 200 had their hands tied behind their backs. The fact that 86 men survived this massacres is evidence, in the government's eyes, that they must be hardened fighters.
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