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Pentagon Unveils Plan to Close Guantanamo; Wynton Marsalis on Race and the Role of Jazz; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired February 23, 2016 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: President Obama tries to fulfill a promise he made on his first day in office by his final
day in office. That is to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let us do what is right for America. Let us go ahead and close this chapter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I speak live to Alberto Mora, the former general counsel of the U.S. Navy.
Plus: a close encounter with the legendary jazzman, Wynton Marsalis, on America, race and the power of music.
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Hobbled for years by an obstructionist Congress and, some say even an insubordinate Pentagon, President Obama has laid out his plan to finally
close the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We can ensure our security, uphold our highest values around the world and save American taxpayers a lot of money in the process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: For 14 years, Guantanamo has presented America's worst face to the world. Now the president has ordered the Pentagon to close the prison
and transfer most of the remaining detainees, either to other countries or to maximum security sites in the United States.
Republicans are already railing against it, like presidential candidate Marco Rubio, today in Nevada, ahead of tonight's critical primary there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not only are we not going to close Guantanamo but when I'm president, if we capture a terrorist
alive, they're not getting a court hearing in Manhattan, they're not going to be sent to Nevada, they're going to Guantanamo. And we're going to find
out everything they know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Ninety-one inmates are still locked up; many of them have been on hunger strikes and were force-fed under military supervision.
Now Alberto Mora, the former general counsel of the U.S. Navy, was the first and most senior official to come out against the Bush
administration's torture policy and, indeed, for closing Guantanamo itself. It was a position that was not popular in the burning political atmosphere
Alberto Mora joins me now from Boston.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program.
Do you think, Mr. Mora, after all of this time, that this actually now will happen?
ALBERTO MORA, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL, U.S. NAVY: Christiane, I think it's likely to happen because I think the president has laid out a compelling
case for the closure of Guantanamo.
But he doesn't have the power, I don't think, to do it unilaterally. And in fact, his statement and press releases today indicated that
congressional cooperation is going to be required to move 40-odd detainees to the continental United States.
AMANPOUR: When you see the other sound bite we just played from Marco Rubio, who said that if there's a terrorist captured, they won't go to the
U.S.; they will go to Guantanamo and we will get everything out of them, what is that code for?
You also hear Donald Trump on the campaign trail, saying, torture works. You know, he would allow techniques, quote, "a hell of a lot worse than
waterboarding," and do it because, quote, "people in ISIS deserve it."
What does that say to you about this torture that you have lobbied against for all these years?
MORA: Well, that's unfortunate. And it demonstrates that these two presidential candidates aren't really very familiar with the national
security equation, both with Guantanamo or with the use of torture.
Torture, of course, made the country weaker, not stronger; made us less safe, not safer. And it constitutes not only a war crime but a fundamental
violation of human rights.
It is profoundly contrary to American values and American laws and American constitutional order. And more importantly, it's contrary to the kind of
world we want to help bring.
We want a world that is less cruel, not more cruel; that is more respectful of human dignity, not less respectful of human dignity.
Their statements seem to indicate a different orientation, a different set of values and I think puts them at odds with most of the American people.
Now with respect to Guantanamo, the case is fairly clear. We can transfer the prisoners from Guantanamo to the United States, with no loss of
MORA: And also, the economic considerations are significant. As the president indicated today, by closing Guantanamo, we would save $300
million in 10 years and close to $1.7 billion in 20 years; even by Washington standards, that's significant money.
And given the fact that we accomplish no other purpose in Guantanamo, rather than to spend this money, I think the economic case alone is --
compels acceptance of the president's plan.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Mora, you may be right. Economics may do the talking in the end.
But what about legal cases and the legal concerns as well?
You are a lawyer. You know, Dianne Feinstein, the senator from California, in her lobbying to close Guantanamo, points out that almost no one has been
charged, has been tried and convicted in Guantanamo, some by military commissions.
But even the five co-conspirators, accused and charged of planning 9/11, haven't even come to trial. Can the legal process against those who are
really guilty and charged happen quicker in a U.S. court than in Guantanamo?
MORA: Well, I think, with respect to the military commissions, they've become a symbol of futility and failure, to put it simply; 15 years on and
not a single conviction, for either the co-bombers or the 9/11 hijackers.
If I were a member of the 9/11 families -- and I'm not, of course, and I don't speak for them but if I were -- I think my reaction would be
disappointment and anger at our inability to bring these terrorists to justice.
Now the president's plan didn't address the military commissions or at least he addressed it elliptically. He pointed out they've been too
ineffective and too slow, too cumbersome.
And, by the way, we're not even talking about the appellate process because, although it's been 15 years to come to trial with years more to
go, there's not going to be at least a decade of appellate procedures afterwards, which boggles the imagination.
After all, let's recall, the Nuremberg trials in which we tried the major Nazi criminals after World War II started less than one year after the
World War II war in Europe.
By comparison, we still haven't gotten on track 15 years after 9/11. The military commissions are a problem because military commissions are
(INAUDIBLE) justice and we need to address those at some time in the future. The president didn't do that today, though.
AMANPOUR: Well, then, let me ask you about that because I used the word insubordination when I was describing the Pentagon. That is not my term,
that's something that "The New York Times" used to describe the military not following President Obama's orders to move these prisoners out and to
do it in a speedy way.
You know, you're a civilian in the Navy but you have the rank of a four- star general. The military just did not obey their civilian commander in chief, did they?
MORA: I'm not sure it's that clear. When I was in the Bush administration and we dealt with military commissions and the detainees in Guantanamo,
what struck us at the Department of the Navy was that the system was really not pressurized, as my former boss used to say, meaning that nobody was
really in charge of the process.
And I think, to some extent, that dysfunction has continued over the years. But I think while, there may have been an element of truth with some of
those allegations, I think for at least the last year, Secretary Ash Carter has demonstrated clear leadership on this and has taken responsibility for
the closure of Guantanamo. So I think this may have been a problem in the beginning but it hasn't been a problem in recent months.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about, you know, we've talked about legal, national security, moral but also the idea that ISIS and other terrorists
have been able to use the imagery of Guantanamo, you know, lining up their prisoners, dressing them in the Guantanamo orange. They have really been
able to do that and really punch the U.S. in the face with that imagery.
And as Dianne Feinstein again said, our policies have allowed terrorists to cloud who holds the moral high ground.
How damaging is that going to be?
How can we put that moral high ground genie back into the bottle?
MORA: Well, by acting in conformity with our moral values and our legal standards. There's no other way to go about it.
And, Christiane, you're exactly right. Guantanamo, the military commissions, the cruelty that we exhibited when we applied so-called
enhanced interrogation techniques, more accurately known as torture to some of the detainees, proved as strategic gifts to Al Qaeda, ISIS and other
opponents of the United States.
There are one of the principal recruiting tools these terrorist organizations use to bring fighters into combat against American forces in
the field. And in fact, my understanding is that, in 2005, the Pentagon had concluded that the number one and number two identifiable causes of
U.S. combat deaths in Iraq --
MORA: -- were, number one, Abu Ghraib, and number two, Guantanamo. But quite apart from these strategic gifts to the terrorists, there's also the
element that we are damaging our political relations with our allies.
Guantanamo is a symbol that creates political opposition to support for the United States among our closest allies. So we get hurt in these two
fashions and we need to understand that strategic component to Guantanamo.
AMANPOUR: Alberto Mora, thank you so much indeed for joining us. And we will see whether this gets closed by the end of the Obama administration.
Thank you for being with us this evening.
AMANPOUR: And after a break, we change the beat with an antidote to all of this horror and misery. One of the all-time jazz greats, Wynton Marsalis,
blows us all away with his incredible talent and his unique insight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Are you too experienced to get nervous?
WYNTON MARSALIS, MUSICIAN: No, I get nervous. I mean it's serious to me, so, you know, I get nervous. I want to sound good. I'm not too good to
sound bad. Plus I'm feeling I want my guys to think I can play, too.
AMANPOUR: Great. Well, here are your guys.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
Racial tensions remain high in America. From the Black Lives Matter campaign, to even the controversy over Beyonce's Black Panther-inspired
performance at the Super Bowl.
But for decades, trumpet player and jazz legend Wynton Marsalis has been raising consciences around the world.
As he said in a recent speech, "Of all that came from slavery, music is the most enduring and powerful gift. It is an inheritance, a legacy.
The first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize, he has spent years touring the world, educating and entertaining in equal measure, as he
explained recently before a performance at London's Barbican Theater.
AMANPOUR: Welcome, Wynton Marsalis, what an entrance.
MARSALIS: Yes, ma'am.
AMANPOUR: So since you started with your trumpet, I want to know why, as the big cheese of your band, the leader of your band, you still sit in the
back row, right?
In the trumpet section. You don't conduct, you're not taking center stage.
MARSALIS: Well, I'm not a conductor, first. I'm a terrible conductor. So it's -- and I love playing trumpet. And my part, I'm a fourth trumpet
part. My music's very democratic. And that's the best place for me.
AMANPOUR: You have said publicly that the fantastic thing about jazz, one of the fantastic things, is that it's so improvisational, so collaborative
and, therefore, so democratic.
And one critical observer has written, "Here's what Marsalis is preaching, if we could learn how to jam better together, if we could listen more
acutely to what the masters were teaching us back in the day, we would achieve a more --
AMANPOUR: -- democratically progressive society. That is the higher ground that jazz can take us to."
MARSALIS: Yes, jazz takes us to the higher ground, when we understand, there's the freedom and there's the improvisation. That's the one part
that's the most fun to talk about.
But there's adherence to some type of form. And when you play inside of the swing rhythm, which is the fundamental rhythm of jazz, the rhythm is
evolving on every beat.
You listen, we improvise, but we agree on a fundamental form that allows us to converse across cultures. So if I'm anywhere in the world, and I go on
a bandstand, so I say what you going to play, if I say blues, that means a specific set of harmonies and a specific rhythm.
AMANPOUR: Can you do a little there?
MARSALIS: Well, I can play some blues but without the rhythm section, it's like...
MARSALIS: So it combines --
I have to ask you, we live in a very tense society in the United States right now, the Black Lives Matter movement, the fact that, after nearly
eight years, there's still so much opposition to the first black President of the United States.
MARSALIS: Well, I did a record maybe 10 years ago called, "From the Plantation to the Penitentiary." And I was talking about it, much of what
we see comes from the minstrel show. Much of rap, hip-hop, many styles that evolved, they take minstrel images and they continue in much of rock.
Many of these things are all together, like if you take the minstrel show itself in the 19th century, black people -- white people imitating black
people imitating white people imitating black people imitating white people. And we still are doing that same thing, like it's the same desire
to use racial things and to use them as a way to get traction and friction but never to actually deal with the underlying realities of just tribalism
The one advantage of jazz is that, in jazz, it's the only thing that was integrated in trying to be integrated in the 1920s, '30s, '40s of America.
And we have great figures of all races, Benny Goodman, we have Dave Brubeck, all kind of civil -- Benny Goodman was the first integrated groups
in the 20th century.
With jazz, it was always in the forefront of a kind of freedom movement. So I continue in that tradition. Like I said, I'm a child of the civil
rights movement. I believe in equality.
AMANPOUR: What do you think of some of the criticism or the commentary that surrounded Beyonce's Super Bowl halftime performance, the political
You talk about the difference between jazz and hip-hop and the rest but it's that hip-hop which seems to be the anthem for today's black protests
and civil rights.
MARSALIS: Right. But that's because, because, the true development of the civil rights movement is something that's much deeper than the reiteration
of populist cliches.
So the symbolism of black for this reason, OK, it's OK, it cost those guys their lives. But I think that it's like if something's on Twitter for 24
hours and then they're on to the next subject of a sensationalism, I'm more serious about the issues and the subjects and so I'm not -- therefore not
against what any person does, be it Beyonce or Kanye West or whoever it is. You know, everybody has a right. I like to see people talk about some type
But the seriousness of these issues require a lifetime of dedication to them.
AMANPOUR: You've also said, for some, slavery is a more lucrative and sustainable story, while freedom remains as a hard-fought thing for all.
MARSALIS: Yes, it's very hard. That's why it's much easier --
AMANPOUR: So are you saying people spend too much time looking back?
MARSALIS: No. I'm saying that people want to be slaves. People want to be slaves. People want to have slaves. People want to exploit the work of
people for nothing. People want to call themselves pejorative names for the entertainment of a larger group of people.
People want to take their clothes off so people can see, they want to exhibit. They want to accept less of and present less of their humanity to
It's hard-fought. You have to be critiqued, not necessarily as for what you are for a long time, you would rather get on stage and call people
niggers and do this and that. It's in the DNA. And we're talking about in the context of American culture. That's the culture that I know and am
qualified to speak about publicly.
But having traveled the world, it's in world culture. Whoever that group is that's called upon to get up on the lunch table and take their clothes
off and dance and act a fool for the entertainment of everybody else, those people will want to do that because they want that majority to put their
hand on them and say, hey, you're all right.
And that could be women in some instances, it could be some tribal name or group that you don't know who they are. There are many different people
who fall in this -- it could be you and your family who's called upon to be the funny one or the fat kid who's funny or the person who has a handicap
that makes fun of themselves or the person who's --
MARSALIS: -- it comes in the form of many names but it's the same thing. It's a desire to alter who you actually are to be liked and to fall into an
archetype that's ultimately destructive for you. And our music is the opposite of that.
AMANPOUR: And to that end, you've also said that it's a shame not more money and attention is paid for cultural education because you've said,
it's not just music and an art, it's fun, it's about who we are.
MARSALIS: Because yes, when you address these issues, you're serious. So I'm getting on my vibe, I'm serious about it. I'm talking to you. So i
understand -- and of course the respect I have for you comes out, bring that.
But most of the time, we joke around and playing and clowning and having a good time. And the playing field is larger when you get into the arts
across the world. There's been great artists across time and their art, their work is timeless because they've thought deeply on these things.
AMANPOUR: We met and we interviewed Joey Alexander, the young prodigy from Indonesia. And I'm going to play a little bit of what we saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: You are his mentor and you have really helped him along.
What is it that makes him so special?
Is he just special for a 12-year old?
Is he special in the world of jazz?
MARSALIS: Jazz has never had a person who could play on his level of sophistication as a kid. Our music is adult music. So we don't have a
string of prodigies or kind of Mozart person who at 8 or 9 could play. He's the first person I know of that plays with that degree of
AMANPOUR: It must actually be something quite phenomenal that you spend your life giving joy to the world.
MARSALIS: It's such a deep blessing for me. For instance, to play with my unbelievable band. That's first of all, never has there been a band like
MARSALIS: The type of dedication and belief in the mission that is all for them and the leadership and mentorship that I have had and to be able to
play for people is deeper than a blessing.
Like a level of gratitude, I try, I can't express it as much in words but try to show it in the way that I play and the type of humility I address
each person that comes to me and as I grow, I try to become more humble and to become more grateful because, for me, it is truly something I could not
have imagined. And I'm deeply, deeply grateful and blessed by it.
AMANPOUR: So are we. Wynton Marsalis, thank you very much.
MARSALIS: Yes, ma'am, thank you so much. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And up next, an unexpected tempo in the rhythm of life. Imagine a world where a human gynecologist ends up in a pretty hairy situation at
the local zoo. It's a girl, it's a gorilla, it's both. That's next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world going ape over a gorilla.
In Bristol, England, a local zoo has welcomed a new resident; weighing in at just 2 pounds, this baby girl Western Lowland gorilla is a new addition
to the rare species. And what's even rarer is the way she came into the world, by Caesarean.
Her mother, named Kera, was suffering potentially fatal preeclampsia, so zoo staff took the extraordinary measure of bringing in a medical doctor,
David Cahill, who usually treats humans. But it was OK; he'd brushed up on gorilla anatomy in the morning. And by the end of the day, he and a vet
had delivered the tiny gorilla.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROF. DAVID CAHILL, GORILLA OBSTETRICIAN: On this bed here where we're standing by was the one where we delivered her. And clearly, she's quite
different to delivering a human mother.
But in terms of when the operation starts and when we went through it, actually, it was very similar, the tissues are very much the same and all
the things that we did were just like what we did if you were doing a Caesarean section on a human.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Things got a bit hairy to begin with. The tiny baby gorilla had to be resuscitated after the birth. But 11 days on, the little girl has
been swinging from strength to strength and should be reunited with the tribe before too long.
And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can now listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and
Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.