Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch; Interview with Prime Ministers of Iraq and Lebanon; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 22, 2016 - 14:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: from Davos, my interview with the U.S. attorney general, Loretta Lynch, on exchanging

prisoners with Iran, on human trafficking and the Obama administration's mission for gun control.

Plus: two key players in the war against ISIS, the prime ministers of Iraq and Lebanon. They share their hopes for overturning the growing influence

of daish in their region.


AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour at the World Economic Forum in Davos with our special

weekend edition.

The biggest name in American government at this mountain getaway this week was Vice President Joe Biden. He made an emotional appeal after the death

of his son to, once and for all, defeat cancer.

But it was another American, the attorney general, who may have had the most effect on policy.

Loretta Lynch may very well be the most important American official you've never heard of, shaping policy on virtually every major decision made in

the White House.

Reforming America's police force, that's her. Deciding which jailed Iranians to free in a prisoner exchange, fighting international cyber

crime, indicting accused criminals at FIFA, justifying President Obama's executive action on guns and immigration, that's all her, too.

And we met here, as Loretta Lynch continues her quest to put a mark on the office like few who went before.


AMANPOUR: Attorney General, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: What is the attorney general of the United States doing in Davos, this talking shop?

LYNCH: Well, the Department of Justice is focused on some of the very important issues being discussed here, particularly today, cyber crime,

human trafficking, later on, terrorism.

Davos, the World Economic Forum, has always been a place where thought leaders from government, private industry and academia get together and

think about not just the problems of today but the problems of tomorrow. And that's what we have to focus on in facing all these important issues.

AMANPOUR: The United States has long been warning about cyber crime and dealing with China, for instance, and others to make sure it stops or you

can mitigate it.

Where are you in this cyber war?

LYNCH: Well, the cyber war is going on. I think we are actually coming to a good place. One of the most important aspects of the cyber crime issue

is that it is one where law enforcement needs private industry, perhaps more than in any other area in which we work.

AMANPOUR: Just to follow up on that, the Apple CEO, Tim Cook, is urging you, urging the government, to accept his and other tech leaders'

encryptions as a way to deal with this.

Do you -- are you accepting that or you want to put more -- ?


LYNCH: We've had some great discussions with Tim Cook and others. This is, in fact, one of the issues of the day. Not the only issue. There are

a lot of issues on which we come together and work very well.

Encryption is a challenging one. It's an important thing. It's important for the security of our systems, of our financial sector, our government.

At the same time, our concern is when encryption prevents law enforcement from gaining the data that we need to prevent crime and solve crime. So

our hope is that, by continuing the dialogue with Tim and others in the industry, we can work on ways to deal with that.

AMANPOUR: Do you ever think you'll get the balance between freedom and privacy and security?

Do you think you'll ever get that balance right?

LYNCH: My goal in seeking information is to protect people. And many people's goal in trying to keep information private is for their protection

also. We have common ground there. And with common ground, we can find a solution to this problem.

AMANPOUR: What about human trafficking? You mentioned -- it's work I do a lot on. Even before you were attorney general, as a district attorney, I

believe, you indicted dozens of people for this crime.

What is it that motivates you about that?

And how much of an issue is it for the United States?

LYNCH: Well, it is an incredibly large issue in the United States. It's one of the most invisible yet pernicious crimes within the United States.

And I did have the privilege of leading a number of cases against human trafficking when I was the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn.

For me, it is a crime that I think goes to the essential nature of humanity. We're here 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, of the

13th Amendment of the United States, that was supposed to end slavery and yet we still have modern-day slavery practiced around the world and, sadly,

even within the borders of the United States.

The reason why I think it's so difficult for me is that human trafficking makes people a commodity. And we have people, young --


LYNCH: -- men and women, boys, girls, who literally disappear into this world and become simply a source of money for someone else, as chattel, as

it were. And no one should be chattel anymore in this day and age.

AMANPOUR: You know, you bring up the end of slavery and yet, you know, you talk in an environment where the United States is in a, from where we sit,

in a pretty dire situation with, you know, Black Lives Matter, all these issues, where we've seen black people being shot down by policemen, by

white policemen often.

Is there a crisis?

Is this as bad as you've ever seen it in your lifetime?

Is there a major crisis between the police and the communities that they're meant to police?

And what can you do to reform and change that?

LYNCH: Well, it's a very important issue. It's one of my top priorities as attorney general. It's focusing on this issue of community trust with

law enforcement.

And I think it is a serious issue. A lot of the things that you talk about are visible today because, quite frankly, we have visibility into

situations that we didn't always have.

The witness with the cell phone, the security camera, these things are giving us visibility into events. And, frankly, they're making them part

of a dialogue that is very painful but very important and very necessary.

AMANPOUR: Are you saying the visibility is more prevalent or the action is more prevalent?

LYNCH: I think if you talk to people who live in communities that deal with these issues all the time, they will say to you that what these videos

are showing us now is what people in many minority communities have been talking about for years and what they've been describing for years.

But they haven't been believed. They have been dismissed mainly because people don't want to believe that law enforcement can overstep. And of

course, it's not every law enforcement officer.

But when it happens, the impact it has, the gash that it leaves in the web of trust that we need in order for everyone to feel safe is tremendous.

And so that's why these incidents resonate so deeply. I think we're at a point now similar to 50 years ago with the civil rights movement.

And in fact, the televising of the police dogs and the fire hoses on young people then was a motivating factor and a wake-up call, really, for people

within the U.S. and outside the U.S., to really face the issues of racial unrest in America.

Similarly, we're at a situation where, viewing these videos, viewing these incidents of misconduct, of deaths occurring, hard as they are to see, it's

giving us an opportunity to talk about this.

And, frankly, it's giving law enforcement the opportunity to step forward to be accountable and talk about what is and is not effective policing.

AMANPOUR: You're African American. Your predecessor was African American.

Is it important that you have that background while so much of your domestic Justice Department work is taken up with this struggle?

LYNCH: I think that my background is important not only as an African American but also someone who's been a prosecutor for over 20 years. I've

worked with police. I've worked with agents. I've also worked with communities who have dealt with these issues over the years that I've been

involved in law enforcement.

And I've had the privilege of seeing communities actually come together because it can be done. It takes commitment from both sides.

Law enforcement has to be willing to examine its actions, its role in these events, the type of training that goes on and, frankly, impose a level of

first-line accountability that everyone expects from people with the type of power and responsibility that we in law enforcement have.

AMANPOUR: Here in Davos, just to switch gears for a moment, everybody is talking about Iran and its reemergence into certainly the international

market but onto the international stage as well.

You were very fundamentally involved in the prisoner swap and deciding which and how and whether prisoners, who had been convicted in the United

States, could be freed. They say that the Justice Department initially didn't want to do that.

Is that true?

LYNCH: Well, what I will say is that it was a very, very important negotiation that was ongoing. We were certainly committed to the goal of

obtaining the release of the Americans who had been held unjustly in Iran.

Certainly as part of that process, which we were part of, it was our responsibility to raise every issue and debate every point so that we

could, in fact, have the best process possible.

AMANPOUR: Particularly on the prisoners.

Did you have to decide which ones?

Because there are more that the Iranians want released. You released, you approved seven.

What were you looking for to allow these to go?

LYNCH: Well, I think what's important to note about the negotiations and the deal ultimately is that the seven defendants, of six Iranian Americans

and one Iranian, who ultimately were part of this transaction, were essentially charged with violations of the U.S.-Iran embargo and other

financial crimes.

They were not charged with violent crime. They were not charged with terrorism.


LYNCH: And so as part of this unique situation, this one-time exchange, they were part of the consideration for getting our American citizens out.

AMANPOUR: The President of the United States, for all his administration, has tried to get sensible gun control past Congress. He hasn't been able

to do it. He now wants to take executive action. Guns are killing more people in America than terrorism does.

Do you think he can actually change -- can it be a game-changer, the executive action?

What can he really achieve with that?

LYNCH: I think we can achieve a great deal with the actions that were announced a few weeks ago. The recommendations that I made to the

president, essentially to promulgate guidance on who actually should be a licensed firearms dealer and, therefore, have to submit their customers to

background checks, closing a loophole in who can buy certain kinds of weapons, if you use a legal entity, a trust, and also clarifying who has to

report when this valuable commodity is lost or stolen in transit, will, in fact, go a long way toward keeping guns out of the hands of people who are

prohibited from having them.

In addition, I think it's very important to note that the president is asking for Congress to work with him on the budgetary front to fund

additional resources to support mental health treatment. The problem of guns in America and mental health are inextricably linked.

Many -- as we know, there are several hundred thousands of gun deaths a year. Two-thirds of them are suicides. We need to make sure that people

who are facing this issue have resources and have somewhere to turn to as well as make sure that they don't have easy access to firearms.

AMANPOUR: Attorney General Loretta Lynch, thank you so much for joining me.

LYNCH: Thank you for having me.


AMANPOUR: And when we come back, another hot topic in the Davos cold, peace in Syria and the end of ISIS. My conversation with the prime

ministers of Lebanon and Iraq, two key players. That's next.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

There's been a dark cloud hanging over this idyllic Alpine resort and that is Syria and all the disaster that flows from it. All the major players

are here along with some hope for peace talks next week. But the U.N. envoy to those talks, Staffan de Mistura, told me that it's still not clear

just who's attending.


STAFFAN DE MISTURA, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY TO SYRIA: There are a lot of work still to be done. What we want to ensure is that this time it will not be

like Geneva 2, a serious talk about peace and not talk about talk.


AMANPOUR: Meantime, across the Alps in France, the U.S. Defense Secretary, Ash Carter, met his counterpart and called on Arab countries to provide

more help in the fight against ISIS.

And today in Davos, I put that to two key players in the region.

As prime minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi is at the eye of the storm of that war on ISIS.

And the prime minister of Lebanon, Tammam Salam, presides over a nation where a quarter of the whole population is refugees from Syria.


AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Prime Minister Tammam Salam, thank you very much for being here.

Secretary Kerry, as well as Secretary Ashton Carter, have asked your fellow Arab nations to do more to help in the fight against ISIS and all the


Do you need more help, Prime Minister Abadi, from the --


AMANPOUR: -- Gulf states, from more Arab states?

HAIDER AL-ABADI, PRIME MINISTER OF IRAQ: Daish is almost on the retreat. It's collapsing. But somebody is sending a lifeline to them. Just at

Ramadi, sectarianism is a very powerful weapon, is being used by all regional players just to further their own interests but they're using all

weapons available to them.

Iraq just happened to be on the fault line there, where fighting together.

So I think the region can play a major role in supporting us in our fight against daish by controlling -- well, I'm not saying control the truth; by

spreading the truth. At the moment, they're not spreading the truth.

AMANPOUR: What about actual material help, humanitarian or military help?

AL-ABADI: Well, that has been very little, to be honest with you, especially with our fiscal problem last year and this year, as you


Oil prices has plummeted. Before my government was formed, the oil price per barrel was over $100. Therefore, at the moment, we were selling it

yesterday $22 per barrel.

We haven't been receiving, to be honest with you, any support, apart from Kuwait, who's allocated $200 million U.S. to help our restructure these

areas. Thank you very much for that. But we expect much more from others.

AMANPOUR: And from your perspective, Prime Minister Salam, you're also a front-line state when it comes to the war in Syria. And you have a quarter

of your population are Syrian refugees.

Are you getting enough help from your Arab neighbors in terms of humanitarian necessity?

And what about your daily skirmishes that don't get reported but with daish along the border area?

How destabilizing is that?

TAMMAM SALAM, PRIME MINISTER OF LEBANON: Well, it certainly is destabilizing, not only for Lebanon but also for the region. I believe a

serious approach should tackle not only this violent situation but also why extremism, why terrorism is prevailing, why it's ongoing, why it's not

being able to be stopped and to be diminished.

Well, there must be some things in the origins of the matters in the region that have created the situation. And a major element for me is not enough

support for moderation and moderates in the region.

AMANPOUR: It was interesting to read -- and I wonder if you can tell me a little bit more about this -- that Shia militias were kept deliberately out

of the fight in Ramadi in order not to create this them-and-us situation amongst the Sunni tribes and the population that you need to get on side

and in order to make sure that you don't have a repeat of what happened in Tikrit, where Shia militias basically caused death and destruction and

pillaging and plunder after liberating Tikrit from ISIS.

AL-ABADI: After Tikrit, immediately, I called upon all units outside our military to leave the city because of what happened, just to restore order.

And we did restore order very quickly.

We've liberated Ramadi. Within 10 days of liberating Ramadi, we pulled back our military units from the city and handed it over to the local

police, exactly like what happened in Tikrit.

This is a story of success now, where the locals see that they can run their own cities with the support of the federal government. So I think

the reason was we didn't need anybody else from Mosul or Anbar to fight for Anbar because the whole chemistry of al-Anbar has changed.

AMANPOUR: Just to follow up on what you said originally, "We are winning, daish is losing."

Yes, everybody wants to believe that and hope that. But they are recruiting, even if they're losing some territory; the prime minister of

Kurdistan told me that they are recruiting at a pace that they've never seen before.

Daish is recruiting tens of thousands of people as we speak right now. But he says that the whole situation, the Iraqi army is not yet ready to take

on Mosul, again, a city 1 million people, a much more complicated situation, where really the whole daish story started in your country, in


Do you agree with that timeline?

When do you believe that the next round of pushing back daish will happen?

AL-ABADI: I gave a pledge that 2016 will see the end of daish militarily in Iraq. But on the terrorist thing, this will continue. Of course --


AMANPOUR: That means all your cities will be liberated. Fallujah, daish - - I mean Mosul.

AL-ABADI: Yes, our -- this year. There are difficulties, I agree. And -- but we are -- like we surprised the world by liberating a Ramadi where

nobody thought we would or we can, but we did.

But I think mostly because of this is history. This is a very -- there used to be a lot of kingdoms in Mosul patrolling the whole areas. This is

vital for daish. And it's vital --


AL-ABADI: -- for us to take it back and we can. We already have a plan now, how we take it back and we will -- hopeful we will take it back. We

always will rely on our military, on our local units which are there and local police.

AMANPOUR: I mean, it is extraordinary that five years ago this month the Arab Spring was seen as a great, great hope for the whole world, not just

your part of the world. And it's pretty much all collapsed. The one bright, shining spot was Tunisia -- Nobel Prize, democracy, some sort of

stability maybe.

But right now, there are demonstrations in Tunisia about economic opportunity.

How are you going to meet your responsibilities to your own people?

SALAM: You need many economic development projects all over the region that require a lot of expenditures, that require a lot of funds, mainly

away from what is being spent now in billions of dollars to contain this affair, to allow for those people to live in peace, to live in stability,

to be productive and to look forward for a better life.

AMANPOUR: How much responsibility do you take for the well-being of your own people?

SALAM: We must take all the responsibility and this responsibility was messed around with for many years in the past. That led to the uprising.

That led to the Arab Spring.

And, yes, it will go on, will -- the people will go on pressuring us, pressuring all the responsible everywhere. And we will to handle this as

best as we can.

And there international efforts are highly needed. If they were deployed a few years back as they are now, I'm sure we would have been able to avoid

much of the violence that is prevailing today.

In Syria in particular, if things were attended to four years ago, I'm sure we would not have reached where we have reached today.

AMANPOUR: Final thought as we wrap up?

AL-ABADI: Well, I think you just mentioned it, the last thing, welfare of the people. I think we have -- this is a major issue. I take full

responsibility for that, me and my government. Our people were demonstrating last summer, just asking for improvement on services, on the

postal system. And there are certain things which have started the process of major reforms.

Of course, we should be responsible for that. We may not be able to deliver now because of lack of resources but at least we should go on the

right track. I mean, this is a success story.

While every city in Iraq was demonstrating, asking for welfare, asking for services and we are having a war, we kept peace. Our whole government in

the region in the same track, on the same track, providing welfare for the people.

Are they actually responsible for the people?

I think some governments are not. I think that's problem number one.

AMANPOUR: Prime Minister al-Abadi, Prime Minister Salam, thank you very much indeed for being here.



AMANPOUR: When we come back, from the cold slopes of Davos to the frozen wastes of outer space and a new world beyond Pluto.

Does our solar system have a new family member after all these millennia?

Find out next.





AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, at the beginning of the week, we caught a glimpse of the first-ever flower to bloom in space. And now we imagine our

galactic neighborhood getting a little more crowded than we thought.

New research suggests that, way out there past Pluto, a new and ninth planet could await in our solar system. About four times the size of

Earth, the breakthrough was made when scientists at Cal Tech discovered icy objects orbiting an undiscovered giant. If proven, it would be the first

discovery of a local planet in 170 years.

So far, it's mysteriously known just as Planet Nine and it's managed to stay out of sight for thousands of years because of its massive distance

from the sun. That would be 93 billion miles away.

It could take 20,000 years for the new planet to orbit the sun just once and it would take a ray of light one whole week just to reach the planet.

For context, it takes about eight minutes for a ray of sunlight to reach us here on Earth, even though it feels like it's taking a lot longer to reach

us back here in frozen Davos.

Anyway, that's it for our program tonight. And remember, you can now also always listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me

on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from Davos.