Return to Transcripts main page
Theresa May to Become New British PM; Suing Syria's President over Journalist's Death. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired July 11, 2016 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:15] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN'S AMANPOUR SHOW HOST: Tonight, a new Prime Minster for Britain, Theresa May will become only the second female
to hold this office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, LEADER OF THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY: I am honored and humbled to have been chosen by the Conservative Party to become its leader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And David Cameron announces that Wednesday will be his last day. And Former Conservative Party Leader Michael Howard joins me live to
discuss political events moving faster than the speed of light.
Plus, the sister of slain journalist Marie Colvin joins me, the family is suing Bashar al-Assad and his government for her murder. Cat Colvin reveals
what piece of evidence hits her the hardest in this exclusive interview alongside her lawyer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CATHLEEN COLVIN, SISTER OF SLAIN JOURNALIST MARIE COLVIN: I remember when Scott told me, who was driving, and he said you should pull over for this a
bit. That a woman was lurking outside the media center to visually target and identify Marie and confirm the coordinates where they would be killing
her the next day, was a chilling piece of evidence to hear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Good evening everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. Its revolving doors at Number 10 Downing Street, the
most famous front door in world politics. In two days' time a new Prime Minister will cross that threshold as Home Secretary Theresa May was bolted
into the top spot when her only opponent still standing suddenly dropped out this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAY: We need a strong, new, positive vision for the future of our country. A vision of a country that works not for the privileged few, but that works
for every one of us. Because we're going to give people more control over their lives and that's how together, we will build a better Britain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Meantime, David Cameron who had planned to stay on through the summer now announced that he's packing his bags.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, INCUMBENT U.K. PRIME MINISTER: Tomorrow I will chair my last cabinet meeting. On Wednesday I, will attend the House Commons for Prime
Minister's questions. And then after that, I expect to go to palace and offer my resignation. So we will have a new prime minister in that building
behind me by Wednesday evening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Theresa May, a well-respected cabinet minister, stood by the Prime Minister in arguing for the UK to remain in the EU. Albeit without a
huge amount of enthusiasm, she is widely considered to be a Euro skeptic. She now says, national unity and strong leadership will be vital to
navigating Britain's post Brexit future. Her only opponent in the PM state was the Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom. She backed out after facing a fierce
backlash that's saying, that as a mother, she would be a better leader than the childless may. While authority politics are moving at wolf speed, the
opposition Labor Party remains mired in the turmoil of its own leadership crisis as another woman, Angela Eagle threw her hat into the ring today to
replace the embattled party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Former conservative party leader Lord Michael Howard joins me in the studio to discuss all of this
and if we can now see a route to the future. First and foremost, welcome.
LORD MICHAEL HOWARD, FORMER CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADER: Thank you. Christiane.
AMANPOUR: You were supporting Andrea Leadsom, you are a Brexiteer.
AMANPOUR: Are you satisfied with Theresa May now being the next Prime Minister?
HOWARD: Yes. I think now the past is the past. We've all got to get around Theresa May. I think she will be a good Prime Minister. I think the great
thing is that as you know, we've lived through a period of considerable uncertainty since the Brexit vote and indeed before the Brexit vote. And
one important element of that certainty has been removed today. We know who our next prime minister is going to be. She is going to be in Number 10 in
a couple days' time and I think she will do very well in taking us forward and making full use of the opportunities that lie before us outside the
AMANPOUR: Yeah, I can see that you probably all have certainly on the Brexit, the official Brexit side, probably all hoping to help sort of
navigate that new policy. What do you expect because, let's face it, Andrea Leadsom was described as a hard Brexiteer, in other words, quickly get in,
invoke article 50, start the divorce proceedings. Where Theresa May says, Brexit is Brexit, and she'll implement it, but would prefer to not trigger
article 50 to the end of the year. So Britain can actually have its negotiating position. Is that a good thing?
[14:05:03] HOWARD: Well, I don't know how long it's going to take Theresa to work out on negotiating.
AMANPOUR: Did you expect her to do it immediately?
HOWARD: No, it will take a little time to work out the negotiating position. I don't personally think it's all that complicated or difficult,
but she may take a different view and she is in charge. And then when we know exactly what we want, then I think it's reasonable for her to activate
article 50 and start the process.
AMANPOUR: Let me pick you up on that. You say you don't personally think it's that difficult. I mean, let's face it. The Brexit side was
characterized by a very, I will say it, a happy-clappy rule to a glorious liberated future. There was no blueprint and as you know, sir, Lord Howard,
there was no blueprint that was publicly given to us anyway and the entire raft of main Brexiteers deserted the ship at the first opportunity from
Boris Johnson to Michael Gove and all the rest.
HOWARD: I think that's a very unfair characterization, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: I think that is how it's being characterized across the multiple --
HOWARD: Well I actually --
AMANPOUR: What do you expect? I want to ask you on a specific thing.
AMANPOUR: Because Andrea Leadsom has said, you know, the single market is no longer a term that is any longer relevant to this discussion. And yet,
the single market is something that a lot of people in this country still hope, even Brexiteers that you can have access to.
HOWARD: There is a huge distinction between membership with a single market and access to the single market. I personally don't think we need
membership with the single market. Now, everyone in the world has access to the single market. It depends on what terms.
HOWARD: And I personally think it's quite easy to negotiate a free trade agreement with the European Union. We wouldn't be part of this single
market. We have access to it on a free trade basis. Every European country that is not in the EU except for Belarus, has this free trade arrangement
with the European Union and I don't think there would be any great difficulty in negotiating that.
AMANPOUR: Does any part of the post Brexit scenario trouble you? For instance, there is still sort of how do we deal with immigration. Many
people don't believe that it's going to be an automatic stop to immigration. You've seen the sterling plunge, you've seen many big
businesses, you know, basically hold on to their positions, not necessarily investing right now. People are worried about the unemployment level, or
even cities and towns that voted overwhelmingly for Brexit which had huge amounts of EU money announcing, okay, where is that going to come from? Is
the government going to give it to us?
HOWARD: You asked --
AMANPOUR: A lot of questions.
HOWARD: -- a lot of questions there. Of course there wouldn't be a stop to immigration from EU. But we will have control over the level of immigration
from the EU, whereas at the moment, we don't have any control at all. And that's the position on immigration. You've talked about unemployment.
Happily, our unemployment is at a very low level and indeed, the stock market hit a new high today. It's higher than it was the day before Brexit
and so I have no doubt, of course, you know, there will be challenges ahead. There always are, but there are also fantastic opportunities. I
believe the city of London has huge advantages. It's going to carry on having those advantages. People used to say the city of London will be in
terrible decline if we don't join the Euro. That didn't happen and it's not going to be in decline after Brexit, either.
AMANPOUR: All right. Great deal of optimism. What about the opposition? I mean, first of all, people are saying should there be an election? Should
we just have a snap sort of you know, appointment of a next prime minister or should there be an election? So, do you think there will be an election
and if so, I mean --
HOWARD: There won't be an election.
AMANPOUR: But do think you have one now, you'd win it, you know, how --
HOWARD: There won't be an election. We have a parliamentary democracy and what's more, we have a law now which sets out Fixed-Term Parliaments, so
there's s fixed-term parliament. And you can't actually have an election until 2020 without some contrived no-confidence surge in the House of
Commons which I don't think is going to happen. So there indeed won't be an election. There won't be an election. We certainly don't want to act
through the uncertainty. One of the great things about today as I say, is that it removes one important element with the uncertainty.
AMANPOUR: And what about a one-party state so to speak? Do you think that the labor -- What's going to happen to labor?
HOWARD: Are you asking me to intrude on private routes?
AMANPOUR: I am.
HOWARD: I don't know and I don't think many people in the labor party know. I agree with you, we don't want a one-party state. I think in a
parliamentary democracy such as ours, it's healthy to have a strong opposition. They are a very long way from that at the moment and I don't
quite know how they're going to get there.
AMANPOUR: Just to go back to Andrea Leadsom, your candidate, she really -- I wonder if you'll agree that she just wasn't ready for prime time. She did
this interview in the times which seems to have torpedoed her standing, whether it was about you know, the mother stakes. Whether it was about some
of the other things she said as well. And clearly, she felt that she couldn't take the heat. And also inflating her CV and doing other things
like that. Was it just a good idea that she backed out? And she did it pretty quickly.
HOWARD: I don't want to dwell on the past. I think we need to draw a line now over the strong feelings that were aroused in the Brexit campaign, the
strong words that we used in the leadership campaign, draw a line under all that. Let's look to the future. We have a new prime minister. We should all
unite around our new prime minister, not only in the Conservative Party but in the country, too, as she leads us.
[14:10:21] AMANPOUR: Do you think it's possible? Because that is so --
HOWARD: Yes, I do. Yes.
AMANPOUR: And do you believe some of the more famous names of the Brexiteers will get cabinet positions, should they? People like Boris
Johnson, Michael Gove?
HOWARD: That's a matter entirely for the Prime Minister.
AMANPOUR: Would you be happy with whoever she chooses?
HOWARD: I would be happy with whoever she chooses. She is a Prime Minister. She has got to choose her cabinet. I couldn't be more to suggesting who
should be in --
AMANPOUR: And you're convinced and satisfied that even though she would officially remain, she would implement Brexit?
HOWARD: She said, time after time, Brexit is Brexit and Brexit will be Brexit and I'm sure she believes that.
AMANPOUR: We will just have to see what Brexit is. On that note, Lord Michael Howard, thank you very much indeed. Thanks for coming in. Coming
up, finding justice for journalist Marie Colvin. I speak to her sister Cat, bringing a war crimes suit against Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and the lawyer
who unearthed the truth after years of investigation. That's next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. Now, so far Bashar al-Assad has escaped unscathed and unaccountable after five years of war and hundreds of
thousands of deaths in Syria. But now, he's being sued on war crimes charges in the death of one reporter, Marie Colvin. She was killed covering
the Siege of Homs near Damascus in 2012. And the lawsuit filed on behalf of her family in the United States this weekend says that it was not
accidental. Colvin, they say, was deliberately targeted in order to silence her. Nima Elbagir have the story of Colvin's career and the works that led
her to seek the truth in Syria.
NIMA ELBAGIR, LONDON-BASED CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Marie Colvin was a war correspondent for the Sunday Times of London. Her life was spent
bearing witness, working in conflict zones from Chechnya and Kosovo to Baghdad and Sri Lanka where she lost an eye in a grenade blast. Four years
ago, Colvin smuggled herself into Homs, a Syrian city under constant siege by government forces. Activists were uploading videos of people maimed and
killed in rocket attacks, but the government blamed an armed insurgency. Colvin's reports said otherwise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIE COLVIN, SLAIN AMERICAN JOURNALIST: These are 28,000 civilians, men, women and children, hiding, being shelled, defenseless. That little baby is
just one of two children who died today, one of children being injured every day. That baby probably will move more people to think what is going
on and why is no one stopping this murder in homes that is happening every day?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELBAGIR: Hours after this CNN interview, shells hit her hideout, a media center run by activists and she was killed, along with a French
photographer, Remi Ochlik. Now, a lawsuit claims she was targeted deliberately, her location seen here after the attack given away by her
satellite broadcast signal and an informant.
[14:15:04] The suit filed by her family alleges shells were dropped at the direction of senior military officers in Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Silencing journalists was essential to the Assad regime's strategy to crush political opposition it says. The Syrian government denies the claim. Nima
Elbagir CNN, London.
AMANPOUR: Now, Marie's sister Cathleen has filed that suit in Washington, D.C. She and her lawyer joined me with the incredible story of the forensic
investigation that led them into court. Cat Colvin and Scott Gilmore, welcome to the program.
C. COLVIN: Thank you.
SCOTT GILMORE, CJA LAWYER: Thank you for having us.
AMANPOUR: Cat, let me ask you first as Marie's sister and you have been working on her legacy and on this important matter for so long. How does it
feel to have finally, you know, laid down an indictment, to have tried at least to bring what you believe the perpetrators to justice, how does this
C. COLVIN: I'm just so appreciative that I have, I'm in a unique position to be able to do something. It just didn't feel right to let her killers go
unaccountable and not to have to answer for their crimes. It just absolutely disgusts me that she could be targeted so ruthlessly and have
nothing happen. So I'm really proud to be able to bring this case.
AMANPOUR: And before I turn to Scott for the legal details, what point was it, at what point, when you thought, hang on, this wasn't a terrible
accident and she wasn't just caught in the crossfire of war, that there was something more deliberate about it, Cat?
C. COLVIN: Really it felt right from the beginning like it had to be deliberate. The coincidence of her reporting out of Homs just the night
before she was killed was too much of a coincidence. But it really hit home when I spoke to Paul Conroy about his knowledge of the artillery fire and
how he was absolutely certain that the pattern of fire was one of targeting, not random bombings as they had experienced in the weeks leading
up to Marie's murder. So I really felt from the outset that it was deliberate. It was almost a year before I sort of came out of the fog and
reporters without borders introduced me to Scott and to the center for justice and accountability. I'm just so, so appreciative that they were
able to help me do something. I just didn't feel right to do nothing.
AMANPOUR: Scott, you are the legal brains behind this. And of course, we have the video of that very, very moving last testimony that Marie made
from Homs. She was talking to Anderson on CNN, she was talking about a young boy who was, you know, dying before her eyes and she was saying it's
a lie what the Syrians claim just to be targeting military and other -- and other sort of war-like targets. Give me the legal reason why you were sure
that you could bring this indictment.
GILMORE: This is a civil case brought in the United States against the government of Syria itself. Normally under U.S. Law, a foreign state cannot
be sued in an American court. However, there is an exception that's made for family members of an American who has been murdered overseas by a
state-sponsor of terrorism such as Syria. And when all of those facts fall into place, there is the jurisdiction of a U.S. Court to adjudicate
precisely this type of claim.
AMANPOUR: We have here exhibit A, it's part of the materials that you have and I believe you're sharing with the media. And one of it is a document
written in Arabic and translated and it is to the Ba'ath Party. And it is about, you know, orders to arrest and to stop, you know, what they call
terrorists and people acting against -- against the regime. How important - - and again, this is 2012, the beginning of the war in Syria just about how important is this note and why?
GILMORE: This note really was of crucial importance for a number of reasons. First of all, while the note indicates its instructions
distributed to intelligence agencies throughout Syria to arrest, indeed to cleanse areas of these types of targets, while they might be characterized
as terrorists. What they actually target are people merely demonstrating, people who are, quote, tarnishing the image of Syria in the foreign media.
What it means is that the state through these instructions identified as enemies of the state, people who were merely gathering news and
broadcasting it to the world. And as a result of these instructions, these were formulated at the highest level of the government through what's
called the central crisis management cell, this was an interagency body that was created to oversee the entire crack down on the demonstrations in
[14:20:05] AMANPOUR: So Scott, presumably legally you're trying to establish a chain of command all the way up to president Assad. And in
your indictments, you talked about Assad's son as being part of this conspiracy. You talked about intelligence chiefs, military chiefs. So just
-- that's what you're trying to do, right, establish a chain of command?
GILMORE: That's exactly right. The focus of our investigation was not just to reconstruct the hours and days leading up to the attack on February
22nd, 2012 that killed Marie, but also to reconstruct the broader pattern of attacks on journalists indicated by pieces of evidence such as that memo
that you saw. And the purpose of all this is to show how it links up to the command structure that was in place that went up to the highest levels of
the government, senior cabinet level decisions to target media workers in Syria.
AMANPOUR: Cat, let me turn to you a second. Because one of the things that I found really extraordinary was Paul Conroy's description as a former
military himself of the targeting, the bracketing, and many of us who have been in war zones know exactly what that's like, the mortar that has
constantly hit further and further towards the target. That was fascinating. But equally fascinating that there may have been a female
informant that basically snitched on Marie and on that so-called journalist safe house in Baba Amr, I suppose, in Homs. Tell me about that. How sure
are you about the female informant?
C. COLVIN: You know, you hit on one of the most horrifying pieces of evidence that Scott shared with me and I actually remember that moment.
Because Marie was such a supporter of women and a protector of women. She was very sensitive to the suffering of women and other civilians in war
zones, a huge feminist, and to have a woman betray her that way was difficult to hear. I remember when Scott told me, I was driving and he
said, you should pull over for this bit. That a woman was lurking outside the media center to visually target and identify Marie and confirm the
coordinates where they would be killing her the next day, was a chilling piece of evidence to hear. And one that really hit me very hard. And
related to that, the death squad leader who she reported to was given a car as a reward for killing my sister. That very -- Had a personal impact on
AMANPOUR: I can imagine and I can see you getting very emotional at this moment and I can fully understand it.
Scott, how did you find this out?
GILMORE: Well, this was the result of four years of painstaking investigation with my colleagues at the Center for Justice and
Accountability, really working in partnership with an entire network of international criminal investigators who have been gathering evidence of
atrocities in Syria since 2011. The process involved multiple trips following the periphery of the conflict as it spilled out into Turkey,
eventually into Europe with the outflow of refugees. Eventually, we were able to locate not just survivors and eyewitnesses, but government sources.
People with direct knowledge of the allegations, the meeting, the planning, the electronic surveillance, the informant network, all of the details that
are in the complaint. All of this we intend to present as evidence at trial.
AMANPOUR: Cat Colvin and Scott Gilmore, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.
C. COLVIN: Thank you.
GILMORE: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: An important lawsuit indeed. And when we come back, a picture is worth a thousand words. Imagining the story behind this black lives matter
protest. That's next.
[14:25:54] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, President Obama heads to Dallas for a memorial tomorrow for the five police officers who were shot and
killed in the Texan city last week by an African-American man who was targeting white officers. Now, some in the Black Lives Matter Movement
worry that this sniper has hurt their cause, even as protests continue to rock cities across the United States after police shot and killed two
African-Americans late last week. But imagine a world finding this silhouette of solidarity and defiance in this chaos. In Baton Rouge,
Louisiana, the site of one of the killings, a young woman unarmed, wearing nothing but a summer dress and her phone stands calm and collected facing
heavily armed riot police wearing their helmets and shields. The image and the message it sends have gone viral. Photographer Jonathan Bachman snapped
it, he was captivated he said by her quiet determination to hold her ground, the moral high ground.
It instantly brings to mind a much more dangerous act of defiance, the man in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989, or Flower Power against
the Vietnam War outside the Pentagon in 1967. Fragile but fierce, all standing strong for all to see. And that's it for our program tonight.
Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and
good-bye from London.