Return to Transcripts main page


Hostages Freed In Algeria; U.S. & U.K. React To Hostage Crisis; Armstrong's Damaged Legacy; Syrian Massacre Draws Questions

Aired January 18, 2013 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to NEWS INTERNATIONAL. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. We're taking you around the world in 60 minutes here. We are covering two big stories of the day.


LANCE ARMSTRONG, FORMER PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST: I view this situation as one big lie.


MALVEAUX: After years of denials, Lance Armstrong admits now to using performance-enhancing drugs to win his seven Tour de France titles. We're going to take a closer look at Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey and talk with an expert about whether or not this admission is going to help or hurt the brand.

But first, dramatic, new developments in the deadly hostage crisis underway in the North African nation in Algeria. State media say that the army has freed some 650 people from Islamist militants in a remote oil field. Now, moats of the freed are Algerian. The U.S. is now in the process right now of evacuating some of the Americans and other foreign nationals who were rescued.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very, very relieved (INAUDIBLE) obviously and been really (INAUDIBLE) of what's happening. I couldn't see, so as much as I would like to be out, I thought some of his (ph) colleagues are still there at the moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel safe at the moment, but I won't feel 100 percent happy until I'm back in the U.K. Until I see my family (INAUDIBLE). I'll (INAUDIBLE). My heart goes out to the guys that are still there and hopefully everyone comes home safe. Because at the end of the day, it's only work, you know. No one should ever have to go through what we just did (ph).


MALVEAUX: Americans are believed to be those among the missing still. This is day three of the bloody siege. The effort to rescue remaining hostages, this is ongoing. I want to bring in Vladimir Duthiers. He's joining us from Lagos, Nigeria. Vlad, we understand that this is happening in various locations near the plant. Bring us up to speed.

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Suzanne. So the large scale operation to rescue the hostages from the Amenas gas plant in eastern Algeria has ended, but there is still some ongoing activity at the plant, possibly to root out some terrorists who may still be hiding within the plant, which is a fairly large and sprawling complex.

Now, what we understand from the Algerian Press Service is that the reason that the Algerians decided to conduct this operation yesterday was they felt that the terrorists were on the verge of taking the hostages out of the country. So they launched this operate to rescue these hostages.

Now they did this without first warning the western heads of state, who have now expressed some concern about that. But they say that throughout this operation they were able, as you mentioned, to rescue 650 hostages, 573 of those hostages are Algerian, and they've also been able to rescue out of 132 foreign nationals, 100 of those nationals have been rescued.

Now, the other thing that we know is that Prime Minister David Cameron has said that -- the prime minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, has said that these attackers, the people that are behind these attacks, were well armed, this was a well coordinated attack. And so the rationale that the attackers gave for attacking the hostages in the first place, which was France's ability to conduct military intervention in Mali though the use of Algerian air space, doesn't necessarily ring true, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Vlad, do we know the conditions of those who were rescued?

DUTHIERS: Well, there's just this incredible story of one Irish national, Stephen McFaul, his brother gave an interview today where he said his brother, who was one of the hostages who managed to escape yesterday, he was -- he had duct tape on his mouth, he was blindfolded, rope on his hands and he had plastic explosives around his neck. A really, really harrowing ordeal. He managed to escape. And when news came to his family, this is what his son had to say about that.

So, sorry, we don't have that sound, but his son essentially said that he would love for -- he can't wait for his father to come home and he's going to give him a big hug and never let him go. And that's just one family's story, which turned out in a good way. But prime minister -- U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has said that he's warned the U.K. people that there's more bad news ahead, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Vlad, do we know, first of all, was anybody killed in this hostage standoff. And, secondly, are there still people who are being held hostage now?

DUTHIERS: We don't know those numbers. There's just still, believe it or not, even three days into this operation, this still remains sort of a very murky, very hazy as to exactly what is going on. Many, many of the western countries have even said themselves that they're not altogether certain exactly what is happening hour by hour.

But I'm told now that we have that sound of young Dylan. He's 13-year- old Dylan McFaul, the son of the man who escaped yesterday. We're going to play that for you know.


DYLAN MCFAUL, SON OF STEPHEN MCFAUL: I feel over the moon (ph). I'm just really excited. I just can't wait for him to get home.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he's coming home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he's coming home and (INAUDIBLE).

MCFAUL: I just can't wait -- I'll never let him go back there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what's the first thing you'll do when you see him?

MCFAUL: Give him a big hug and I won't let go.


DUTHIERS: Even when you hear that sound bite, Suzanne, it's still -- even when I listen to it again, it makes my heart skip a beat. But, you know, tears of joy for one family. But as I said, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has said that for others there may be some difficult days ahead, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Sure, Vlad, it does make you tear up. We certainly hope -- we hope for the best for the rest who are still being held hostage. Give us an update as soon as you know.

The White House says that the president is in constant contact with the Algerian government. He's getting regular updates on that situation, the hostage situation.

In London today, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had a warnings for those who are taking those folks hostages.


LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Terrorists should be on notice that they will find no sanctuary, no refuge, not in Algeria, not in North Africa, not anywhere. Those who would wantonly attack our country and our people will have no place to hide.


MALVEAUX: For the very latest on the U.S. and British response to the hostage crisis, want to bring in Dan Rivers out of London. And, Dan, we just heard from Secretary Panetta about this warning that he is giving, but essentially what is it that the United States is doing to back that up?

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they and the British government have sent sort of diplomatic rapid reaction forces to Algeria, essentially to support the hostages that have been released, people who are trained in trauma and counseling and who can expedite things like passports that may have be lost in the firefight and the chaos that's ensued.

But they are pretty limited. I mean they haven't been really given access directly to the sites. This British plane anyway has gone to an airfield that's about 250 kilometers north of the Amenas gas field. So they're being kept quite a long way back. And there is clear frustration both here in London and in Washington with the communication or lack of communication by the Algerians. David Cameron, the British prime minster, sent --

MALVEAUX: Yes. I mean we still don't know how many Americans who specifically are caught up in this attack. We don't know how many Americans have been evacuated. Do we have a sense of why there isn't more information?

RIVERS: Well, I think largely because, a, it's a chaotic scene in that gas field that the Algerians don't have a firm grip on what's going on. But also because the little information that they have got, they're not passing on in a timely manner to the western governments. I mean David Cameron was pretty clear about that. The Algerians went in yesterday without informing the Brits or the Americans and that caused, I think a lot of irritation. You could hear him talking almost through gritted teeth in parliament that that operation went ahead without him knowing about it.


RIVERS: And I think there will be a lot of fury. The Algerian ambassador has been summoned to the foreign office to be given a dressing down today. So they're pretty -- they're pretty angry about it.

MALVEAUX: Yes, let's listen to the prime minister, David Cameron. Let's take a quick listen to that.


DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Speaker, during the course of Thursday morning, the Algerian forces mounted an operation. Mr. Speaker, we were not informed of this in advance. I was told by the Algerian prime minister while it was taking place. He said that the terrorists have tried to flee, that they judge there to be an immediate threat to the lives of the hostages and had felt obliged to respond.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MALVEAUX: So, Dan, do we know, are the Brits accepting that explanation from the Algerians? Because we heard from Vlad, and Vlad said that they thought potentially people would be killed and that that was imminent.

RIVERS: I think they've got to take it at face value. But clearly, I don't think he would have raised that point were there not quite a bit of irritation behind the scenes about how this is being handled. There's been constantly changing numbers on how many hostages we're talking about, how many kidnappers they think are there. You know, the situation at one point was said to be under control.


RIVERS: Now we know it's not under control. There are still terrorists holdout in there and there are still possibly up to 32 hostages unaccounted for.

MALVEAUX: All right, Dan, please keep us informed if you find out any additional information, any updates there.

And, of course, the other big story we are covering, this is the interview that everybody is talking about today, Lance Armstrong telling Oprah Winfrey about his doping.


OPRAH WINFREY: Was it a big deal to you? Did it feel wrong?


WINFREY: Uh-huh.


WINFREY: It did not even feel wrong?




MALVEAUX: All right, Lance Armstrong, it's out there. He admits it. He finally came clean. He doped himself up, used steroids to help him win bike races. Now he told Oprah Winfrey the rumors, the accusations, all true all along.


OPRAH WINFREY: Yes or no, did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?


WINFREY: Yes or no, was one of those banned substances EPO? ARMSTRONG: Yes.

WINFREY: Did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance?


WINFREY: Did you ever use any other banned substances like testosterone, cortizone or human growth hormone?


WINFREY: Yes or no, in all seven of your Tour de France victories, did you ever take banned substances or blood dope?


WINFREY: In your opinion, was it humanly possible to win the Tour de France without doping, seven times in a row?

ARMSTRONG: Not in my feeling.


MALVEAUX: So, Armstrong's straight forward yes or no answers, a far cry from the defiant, at time antagonistic tone that he took when he was asked about blood doping earlier in his career. Oprah Winfrey, she asked him about that, this change of heart.


WINFREY: For 13 years you didn't just deny it, you brazenly and defiantly denied everything you just admitted just now. So why now admit it?

ARMSTRONG: That's the best question. That's the most logical question.

WINFREY: Uh-huh.

ARMSTRONG: I don't know that I have a great answer. I will start my answer by saying that this is too late. It's too late for probably most people. And that's my fault. You know, you -- I viewed this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times.


MALVEAUX: Wow. Another part of the interview I want to share with you. This is Lance Armstrong when he talked about what he called his myth. It was the moment that he made it to the top of the cycling world and the impossible expectations that came along with it.


ARMSTRONG: I know the truth. The truth isn't what was out there. The truth isn't what I said.

And now it's gone. This story was so perfect for so long and I mean that as I try to take myself out of the situation and I look at it.

You overcome the disease. You win the Tour de France seven times, you have a happy marriage, you have children. I mean, it's just this mythic, perfect story.


ARMSTRONG: And it wasn't true.

WINFREY: And that wasn't true.

ARMSTRONG: And that was not true on a lot of levels.


MALVEAUX: Lance Armstrong confession and apology making headlines all over the world, as you can imagine. Here's the front page today of "L'Monde" in France where Armstrong won his seven Tour de France titles. Says simply, "Armstrong admits big lie."

Canada's "National Post" splashed his picture on the front page under the headline, "Armstrong comes clean." And on the front pages of papers in Belgium today, another country where people take their cycling very seriously, big picture that the headline reads, "The confession of Lance Armstrong, I've laid it all out on the table."

I want to talk about all of this, his image, the damaged legacy, and what is next. Well, Melissa Dawn Johnson, she's the author and the president of Velvet Suite Marketing.

Melissa, you wrote a brand -- a book, as well, about the brand of Lance Armstrong. You know, I just find this so disturbing and it just makes me mad, really. He does not even seem remorseful. I'm not getting that yet. Maybe that's going to happen today when we see the second part of the interview.

But how important is that for him to be remorseful? I mean, does he stand a second chance when it comes to remaking his brand?

MELISSA DAWN JOHNSON, PRESIDENT, VELVET SUITE MARKETING: Well, the brand that we know today as Lance Armstrong I believe is dead. And I believe at this point that it's very critical that he thinks about reconstructive surgery.

And what I mean by that is that people who are very successful or very high-performers, misconstrue their identity. And their image, their commercial image, their success drives them to a place that they lose sight of who they really are and define who they are by what they do.

And, so, my thought is, you know, even his fight with cancer probably prepared him for the biggest fight of his life, which is to reclaim his name.

MALVEAUX: Can he do that now?

JOHNSON: It's going to take a lot of work and it's going to be an inner work. You know, he's a fierce competitor and I think he's been looking for opportunities to compete with others as a driver for his whole persona.

Now, the competition's inside. How are you going to ask yourself the hard questions? Who was I before I became the world renowned athlete, Lance Armstrong? What point did I compromise and why did I do it and who did I hurt? How do I go back and restore those relationships?

So, branding is about authenticity, not just packaging and image that everyone says, oh, I want to admire, because, at the end of the day, your reputation won't keep you where your character will cause you to fall back.

MALVEAUX: What's his brand now do you think? I mean, we're looking at him and it's just like, oh. You know, you can't stand it.

JOHNSON: Liar. A liar is a liar in every language. That's the brand that people are associating with him right now. It's the first thing that comes to mind when they think of his name, lie.

And, so, he's got to think bout how he's going to begin to change the conversation about who he is.

MALVEAUX: I want you to hear this. This is a bit of the interview with Oprah Winfrey. This is all about the fact that he got away with it.


WINFREY: How were you able to do it? I mean, you talked a bit about the culture and there are all kinds of stories out that you were going to confess, you were going to talk to me, but you weren't going to tell me everything. We said no holds bars.

How was it done? You said it was smart, but it wasn't the most sophisticated. What we've read, what we've heard, is it true, Motoman, dropping off EPO?

ARMSTRONG: That was true.

WINFREY: That was true? Were you blood doping in the stage 11 of the 2000 tour, stopping at a hotel. Tyler Hamilton says you stopped at a hotel.

ARMSTRONG: I'm confused on the stages, but, yes, certainly that was the ...

WINFREY: But in the middle of the tour. Tyler Hamilton also said that there would be times when you all were injecting EPO in a camper or in a tent and right outside the fans would be outside and you all would be dumping the syringes in Coke cans. Is that true?

ARMSTRONG: I didn't read Tyler's book. I don't necessarily remember that, but I'm certainly not going to say that's a lie, that's not true.


MALVEAUX: He says he doesn't remember that. The more he confesses, we know he's a liar.

How does -- how do you believe anything that he says going forward? Is that possible to change that in any way when you look at his brand and who he is?

JOHNSON: Right. When you have look at heroes in celebrity pop culture, we have many examples of people who fell from grace, whether it's the Britney Spears of the world or even our President Bill Clinton.

But the key is that they need to, first of all, acknowledge the truth, which he's done. I think the next step is stepping back to rehabilitate, really begin to ask the hard questions, get in touch with who they are.

And then the next step is stepping forward and repositioning, really stepping forward and say, what is my new life going to be? I don't know that it's ever going to be an athlete, but he can be a teacher.

He can be someone who can share a story of lessons he's learned that can help others not make those same mistakes.

MALVEAUX: The one thing that I thought was striking, too, is the fact that he said, I'm going to have to live with this for the rest of my life.

He still seems to me as someone who has a victim mentality. Like, you know, woe is me. I have to deal with this for the rest of my life. I'm going to have to rehabilitate.

Does that help or hurt him in any way?

JOHNSON: Well, it's a process, right? He's been living a lie for many years, so now he's come to truth about who he really is. He's going to have to deal with that and I think that's a process.

But I believe his brand can turn around, but it's going to be different. It's going to have to be different and he's going to have to allow time to take its place in order for people to really begin to believe because credibility is the biggest barrier to building a brand.

MALVEAUX: All right, thank you very much.

JOHNSON: Thank you. Thanks so much.

MALVEAUX: Good to have you. Really appreciate it. Thanks again.

You are seeing scenes now from the movie "God Loves Uganda." It is really -- it is a shocking look at American evangelicals on a crusade against what they call "sexual sin." It results in a bill that would make homosexuality punishable by death in the East African country.

We're going to talk to the man behind this amazing documentary.


MALVEAUX: That is the sound of Syrian jets reportedly carrying out an air strike in the town of Rabin. That is a suburb of Damascus. This was the scene on the ground, rebel fighters apparently firing at troops loyal to the regime of President Bashar al Assad.

An opposition group says 125 people were killed today across Syria. Civilians often caught in the middle of all this fighting. An opposition group says that regime forces unleashed a bloody assault in and around Homs killing more than 100 civilians.

But witnesses say the massacre was not carried out by government troops. ITN'S Bill Neely went to Homs to find out what really happened.


BILL NEELY, ITN REPORTER: A Syrian army unit on the move against rebels, they're fighting on the edge of Homs where 5,000 people have been killed so far. A toll that's just gone up, dramatically. Something terrible has just happened here.

Covered by an armored vehicle, we walked to Haswia (ph), the scene of a massacre. Both sides agree dozens were killed here. After that, they agree on nothing.

The opposition say that 106 people were killed in these streets, men, women and children shot and burned to death. They say forces loyal to the regime did this.

Local men came out of hiding. They haven't seen each other since the fighting began. Each one had a story of loved ones murdered, but they claim it wasn't the regime who killed in cold blood. It was rebels.

You are saying the army did not commit a massacre?

No, it was armed men, rebels, dressed in black, they say. Wearing a bandage that had "Allahu akbar." They say the gunmen were from a fundamentalist group linked to al Qaeda.

A woman and five children were shot dead here and then their bodies burned, allegedly because they tried to stop the gunman using the roof as a firing position.

Five children, the oldest was seven-years-old?

I can't prove any of these accounts. I saw no bodies.

The men said around 30 people have been killed.

The army commander denied killing civilians.

Then the troops brought out two men they said they'd found with a gun. The men shook with fear. One clasped his hands until a soldier's burning cigarette made him move them.

The gun was an American weapon. The men's fate is unclear.

This woman knows the fate of her family. The armed man killed my three children, she says. They came at night. I couldn't tell who they were. We're just farmers. Now, we have nothing.

A regime warplane circled overhead, the fight against rebels in Haswia (ph) is still going on.

The governor of Homs is one of President Assad's men. He told me civilians were killed. He'll call it a massacre. But he says al Qaeda-linked rebels, Jabhat al-Nusra, did this.

No, no, our forces did not kill those civilians.

I can't say who did, but everyone's agreed, dozens are dead, another mass killing in a dirty war.

Bill Neely, ITV News, Homs.