Inside Guantanamo: Lawyer Clive Stafford Smith Regularly Visits Clients in the Prison Camp He Calls America's "Law-Free Zone". This Is His Chilling Report on Life Behind the Wire

By Smith, Clive ord | New Statesman (1996), November 21, 2005 | Go to article overview

Inside Guantanamo: Lawyer Clive Stafford Smith Regularly Visits Clients in the Prison Camp He Calls America's "Law-Free Zone". This Is His Chilling Report on Life Behind the Wire


Smith, Clive ord, New Statesman (1996)


The 12-seater Air Sunshine plane sets down at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base just as the sun descends behind the hangar. I am met by a military escort. We josh about the threat that the legal profession poses to national security: lawyers are required to stay the night on the leeward side, safe across the bay from the main base and the prison. He drops me off at the motel, the Combined Bachelors' Quarters or CBQ, where a sign boasts that it is "the pearl of the Antilles".

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Here, for $12 a night, a bachelor can share a room with three other soldiers. Even in this age when "Don't ask, don't tell" is the official line on homosexuality in the US forces, the notion of combined bachelors strikes me as incongruous. They give me a room with four beds to myself. After eight visits I am an old hand here and I have my favourite room with a view of the placid Caribbean.

The motel sign also trumpets the base's motto, "Honour Bound to Defend Freedom", but freedom is a relative term here. Iguanas are free enough, and if my escort accidentally runs one over it's a $10,000 fine, as US environmental laws apply in Guantanamo. On the other hand, if you feel the need to hit one of the 500 prisoners who are now four years into their captivity it is called "mild non-injurious contact" and there are no consequences. Two years ago in the Supreme Court, we argued that it would be a huge step for mankind if the judges gave our clients the same rights as the animals.

At the motel, television is the only diversion. I am unsure whether the CIA organised this to spook me, but on each of my recent visits to the base I have had the option of watching Groundhog Day, with Bill Murray waking up over and over again to the same morning. As his clock radio clicks over to 6am, Sonny and Cher are inevitably moaning, "I got you, babe."

Guantanamo Bay is Groundhog Day. It's reveille at 5.30am for breakfast. The cook nonchalantly crushes a scorpion that has wandered into the chow hall and greets me with the same cheese omelette as yesterday. I am pinioned to my table by television monitors shouting the American Forces channel at me.

I walk a mile down the road to meet the 7am ferry. A bus always passes me at the same place and, as usual, I wave to the driver. The tarmac steams as the sun rises over the Cuban hills, stillness and beauty clashing with the rusted barbed wire. I wonder whether the ten-foot snake that was outside my motel door this morning lives in one of the wooden Second World War bunkers that adjoin the road.

Cresting the hill, I see the ferry coming across the bay. As it approaches the landing, tinny music can be heard above the drone of the engine. Each morning for a week it has been Jimmy Buffett belting out "Margaritaville". I have a fantasy that one day we will progress a track or two on that Buffett album to a song called "Why Don't We Get Drunk (and Screw)". But it never happens.

Most of the lawyers complain about staying on the leeward side, but I enjoy the morning cruise. High in the hills, as the pilot steers us in to the windward dock, four wind turbines slowly rotate. They are majestic, an unlikely sign of environmental sensitivity in such an otherwise harsh world.

The escort meets us at the dock and calls his code in to our unseen monitor. We stop off at Starbucks and then drive down to McDonald's. A soldier smartly salutes his superior, "Honour Bound, sir!" The officer salutes his reply, "To Defend Freedom, soldier!" The first time I saw this I chuckled, thinking they were joking. It's mandatory. It's the motto.

"Recreation Road" runs alongside Guantanamo Golf Course, grass sparse, leading to the prison camp. I cannot write about the layout of the camp, because that would violate the security rules.

The various camps have been given names steeped in irony. "Papa" is where the prisoners on hunger strike are force-fed. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Inside Guantanamo: Lawyer Clive Stafford Smith Regularly Visits Clients in the Prison Camp He Calls America's "Law-Free Zone". This Is His Chilling Report on Life Behind the Wire
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.