frost over the world
From: Frost Over the World

Clive Stafford-Smith

Sir David Frost talks to Clive Stafford-Smith about Guantanamo Bay.

Clive Stafford-Smith talks to Sir David Frost

Sir David Frost: This week we heard the extraordinary confessions of Guantanamo Bay detainee Khalid Sheikh Mohammad who admitted not only to the 9/11 attacks but to 30 other offences. But can we trust these confessions? Were they brought about by torture or by other pressure?

Do you dismiss these confessions outright?

Clive Stafford-Smith: Well I don’t know if I would dismiss what has been said in those statements but I think there is a crucial element that we need to focus on. The United States is undoubtedly going to rely on these statements to secure the execution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. There is no doubt about that. And yet if you look at them he talks about torture but he also talks about the many many – his words – many many prisoners in Guantanamo Bay who are innocent and the moment you see that in the transcript you see the word redacted. And the United States military has taken out the evidence of the innocent people in Guantanamo and it is pretty shocking that the US would rely on a statement to execute a human being but is unwilling to rely on that statement to get some innocent people out of the place.

DF: What could be done about investigating that?

CSS: You are certainly facing obstacles because the US wants to keep it all secret but I think if there is one lesson that Richard Nixon learnt in Watergate it is that when the government covers up its sins then they are going to get caught. And trust me we are on to them and we will get it out of them in the end.

DF: How does Guantanamo get closed? Even George Bush says he would like it to close but somehow it seems as though the bureaucracy wins out again.

CSS: Well George Bush says a number of things and I am not sure we can take them all at face value. Unfortunately it is going to be a problem to close Guantanamo and the problem has to be solved by other countries as well. We had a meeting just this week in London of all the various countries that are affected by Guantanamo and until the British, for example, stand up and are willing to take their refugees home there is no way the Americans can close the place.

DF: So it is very difficult to imagine that there will ever be a happy ending to this awful episode.

CSS: Well there is never going to be a happy ending it is just going to be a less miserable ending if we are able to get people out. And what we have to remember is that just as we talk right now, for example Sami al-Hajj, Al Jazeera journalist, is having a tube stuck up his nose in a way that is utterly barbaric and torturous. There is really a desperate urgency to close this place.

To contact us click on ‘Send your feedback’ at the top of the page