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Super Tuesday Voting Underway in the U.S.; A Life in Solitary Confinement; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 1, 2016 - 14:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: Super Tuesday, the biggest test yet for U.S. president wannabes, as a slew of states go to the

polls in America.

And the next president will face Syria and the refugee crisis, reaching breaking point at the Greek-Macedonia border. U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura

joins us.


STAFFAN DE MISTURA, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY TO SYRIA: You will see, the moment they're starting detecting that the conflict is changing, that humanitarian

aid is coming, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, they will not want to leave..


AMANPOUR: And America's mass incarceration of blacks. We talk to Albert Woodfox, who served the most time of any American ever in solitary

confinement. Free at last after 43 years, what he says about captivity, race and the Republican front-runner.


ALBERT WOODFOX, ANGOLA 3: Mr. Trump is appealing to the worst element in human nature and characteristics.



AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Europe.

And like Albert Woodfox, speaking from just released in the United States, he and Europe and around the world, many are keeping a nervous and close

eye on the most critical day for the White House so far: Super Tuesday.

This recent headline in Germany's "Der Spiegel" reads, "Madness," while this cover came from "The Economist" here in the U.K., asks, "Really?"

Stateside, Super Tuesday is in full swing. Primaries and caucuses are being held in 12 states across the United States from Alaska to Virginia. Hillary

Clinton and Donald Trump are hoping to pull ahead of their packs, while their rivals are campaigning hard, of course, to knock the leading

candidates off their pedestals.

If the front-runners do go head to head, Donald Trump would come off second best. Clinton is favored to beat him, 52 percent to Trump's 44 percent in a

general election. That is according to the latest CNN/ORC poll between the two.

Tennessee is one of the states that has most delegates up for grabs today. And CNN's Martin Savidge is live for us at a polling station in


Martin, welcome.

What is going on at the polls as far as you've seen?

And how do they expect the front-runners to do there?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're seeing hear in Tennessee -- and Tennessee ranks, I believe, third, of the total number of

states as far as delegates that the candidates can add to their tallies today -- a very strong turnout.

That's the significant story because Tennessee had early voting and that lasted for about two weeks. They shattered all records with that early

voting, up 17 percent from the previous record.

So you would have thought that the turnout today, the actual voting day, would be less because of that. Oh, no. The experts say that, in this area

and in other parts of Tennessee, they are showing a very strong turnout.

And this, of course, is reflective of the candidates that are running and the attitudes and the feelings of the American people.

So normally, this place, mid-afternoon, would be very quiet; it is not. Already, there is a line forming of people coming in. It's been like that.

There was a line at 7:00 am this morning, Christiane. The polls didn't open until 8:00 am. So that shows you to level of interest in the state.

AMANPOUR: Well, you know, level of interest, high turnout and level of interest obviously around the world.

Tell me about the issues.

I mean, are people who you're talking to talking about the issues?

Hillary Clinton has had many more detailed policy discussions, while Trump hasn't.

SAVIDGE: Correct. Right. Donald Trump appeals to many people on the level of the fact that he is considered to be an outsider. He's considered to be

a businessman, a billionaire and he is a man who speaks his mind, which many conservatives believe is something that has been long overdue.

And despite the fact that others, especially around the world, might find some of what he speaks about makes them uncomfortable, here many Americans

actually like to hear that attitude, at least on the conservative side.

Hillary Clinton seems to be catching on. She had a remarkable win in South Carolina over the past weekend. And that's given extremely new life to her

campaign. And she seems to have also found a kind of theme and that theme is counter to Donald Trump.

She is now coming out and saying, it's not so much that we have to make America great again -- that's been Trump's line -- she's saying, let's make

America whole again. America's always been great. Let's make it whole. That flies in the face of Donald Trump wanting to build walls and barriers.

Hillary Clinton is now focusing on him, saying, no, it's time to take barriers down. And that theme seems to be catching on with Democrats. She's

going to do well here. Donald Trump is going to do well on the Republican side here.


AMANPOUR: And Martin, just quickly, you know, you lay out those issues there, the Republican establishment seems to have come late to realizing

that they want to stop Donald Trump. They don't believe they'll win the presidency if he's the candidate.

There's a disconnect, obviously, between his primary voters and the rest of the Republican establishment.

SAVIDGE: Correct. And it appears that a lot of the conservative establishment has been fooling themselves, believing, like many in the

media, that Donald Trump was a flash in the pan, that somehow, after his campaign got going, he would fall to the wayside very quickly.

That has not happened. He has only grown in strength and popularity, despite some of the stronger comments he's come out with.

So you're right. The Republicans' conservative establishment is trying to figure out what to do. And more and more, they're realizing they're not in

control anymore. The voters are the ones that are deciding that for them. Cleveland and the convention there this summer could be quite remarkable.

AMANPOUR: And we cannot stop watching.

Martin Savidge, thank you very much indeed.

And of course, as candidates slug it out all the way to the White House, how many are even thinking of what challenges await overseas, over here?

Chief among them, of course, the Syria war and the refugee crisis that is tearing Europe apart. With a fragile cease-fire holding now, a political

resolution will be the next hurdle.

And bringing all the warring sides together is U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura, who announced on this program the date for the next round of talks

when I reached him a short time ago.


AMANPOUR: Mr. de Mistura, welcome from Geneva.

DE MISTURA: Thank you. Thank you.

AMANPOUR: So first and foremost, is the cease-fire holding to your satisfaction?

DE MISTURA: The short answer is, by large, it's holding. Satisfaction needs to be careful, because I'm not seeing in 45 years of my professional life,

igniting conflicts any cease-fire or cessation of hostilities magically taking place overnight.

AMANPOUR: You had said that you will restart the talks, the proximity talks, March 7th.

Are you sticking with that date?

DE MISTURA: I've just decided today for purely logistical reasons, you know -- invitations, hotels, travels, visas -- that we will not start on the 7th

but on the 9th, two days afterwards, after noon so that we give the time for delegations to actually show up in Geneva.

AMANPOUR: How do you expect on the afternoon of the 9th and beyond, hopefully, to get further than you did the last time?

DE MISTURA: Well, a lot has happened, Christiane. Think about it. We had, just after that suspension of the talks, which I did call for, we had the

Munich meeting. And I think you were there, by the way.

And the Munich meeting was quite historical in a way because it addressed exactly two areas. One was the humanitarian aid. We needed to see progress

on it.

And the second one, there was a clear commitment about starting what is unheard of, after five years: an actual cessation of hostilities.

Both roads have started. Humanitarian aid started moving -- not enough, not everywhere, not enough medical, for instance -- but 110,000 people reached,

207 trucks moved. So movement, not enough but movement.

On the cessation of hostilities, you saw it. We have had the Russians and Americans agreeing. And, by and large, a huge difference from what was

happening two weeks ago.

AMANPOUR: All right.

DE MISTURA: Again, not enough.

AMANPOUR: All right.

DE MISTURA: But a start.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you this, then. President Assad gave an interview today to German television and they've been busy tweeting his views on

this, that, you know, the terrorists breached the cessation of hostilities agreement from the very first hour.

But importantly, he says, whoever holds armaments against civilians or against private or public property is legally a terrorist.

Well, obviously, he's sweeping up those opposition groups who are going to be attending your peace talks.

Is that a problem from the get-go?

DE MISTURA: Well, let me reply that I listen to what it says but I listen by far more to what international community have been saying, including

Russia, Iran and everyone else, U.S., who were at the Munich meeting.

And the Munich commitment is talking about terrorists only Al-Nusra and daish, i.e., those who had been listed by the Security Council. Those are


All the others, if they abide to the cease-fire and they come to the talks need to be treated accordingly.

AMANPOUR: All right. Well, Mr. Assad seems to keep wanting to push that envelope. And you need humanitarian relief for the hundreds of thousands of

people who are so desperately, desperately in need.

Yesterday I spoke to the executive director of UNICEF --


AMANPOUR: -- Anthony Lake, and he described really horrible, primitive conditions in a hospital there, particularly one that was surrounded by the

government. This is what he said to me.


ANTHONY LAKE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNICEF: The doctors, the nurses and the father of the victim were expressing deep, deep anger, not just at the

government but at the United Nations, at the United States, at the whole world. And I can't blame them because the world has allowed this to go on

for five long years now.


AMANPOUR: So they're right.

DE MISTURA: What he said is true. And frankly, one of the biggest problems we have been having -- and that will be the challenge of next week, when

we'll have the next task force on humanitarian aid -- is to make sure that medicines reach people.

I'll give you an example. In the last convoys, antibiotics were pulled out, vitamins were pulled out. Trauma kits, which are taking care of people who

have been having a stone or a house falling on them, that cannot continue.


Why was it taken out?

DE MISTURA: Well, because the various roadblocks were actually being militarized and they felt that this could go ending up in saving life, not

of people but of the fighters. We cannot accept that.

Syrian people need to have more medicines and we will work on that. You will see, we will be pushing hard on it.

AMANPOUR: How is it that you are actually evaluating the cease-fire?

What observers do you have?

How do you know who's violating what, when, or who's sticking by the cease- fire?

DE MISTURA: Very good point. I've been asking -- thank you for giving this opportunity because there's been a lot of questions on that.

Having a classical monitoring of a cease-fire, like we used to have, 5,000 U.N. Blue Berets sitting or standing and walking, moving around in the

country, out of the question in a country like this. We could have done it. We could do it in a year's time, six months' time.

Can the Syrians wait for it?


So the Americans and the Russians have agreed on a different type of formative cease-fire. Operation centers, one in Geneva, managed by them,

supported by us, they are the ones who are actually monitoring, through their own contacts and through their own drones or satellites and

information and comparing notes, whenever there is an incident.

Another operation center in Amman, one in Moscow and one in Washington. It won't be perfect but it's sufficient to be able, in my opinion, to be

creatively detecting when there are infringements.

AMANPOUR: As you are trying to get this political solution to this terrible war, it's having a worse and worse effect on Europe. And now Greece,

Macedonia, the border there is in an unbearable situation, terrible, terrible pictures.

DE MISTURA: You see, Christiane, that's exactly why we should all pray and work for solving this crisis in Syria. These people are dignified people.

These are proud people. I met so many of them. They love their country. They don't want to leave their country. They want to stay.

So the solution is a political end of this conflict. They don't run away from an earthquake. They don't run away from bad weather because there is

bumps from one side and the other.

You will see, the moment they're starting detecting that the conflict is changing, that humanitarian aid is coming, that there is a light at the end

of the tunnel, they will not want to leave.

AMANPOUR: Thank you very much indeed for joining us.


AMANPOUR: When we come back, racism and the race for the White House. A major voting bloc, African Americans, have mass incarceration on their

minds. Next, the dramatic story of Albert Woodfox, finally free after 43 years behind bars, after a break.





AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

In this highly charged, often outlandish American presidential race, a major issue not getting much attention on the campaign trail is prison


The U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons says, that while African Americans make up only 13 percent of the total U.S. population, they make up 37 percent of

the prison population.

My next guest, Albert Woodfox, spent 43 years in jail, mostly in solitary confinement, despite having his conviction overturned three times. In fact,

he spent more time in solitary than any other American prisoner in history.

After finally taking a plea that he calls a plea for freedom, not an admission of guilt, Albert Woodfox is free and he joined me to talk about

his harrowing experience, along with his former longtime inmate, Robert King, who's been campaigning for his release.


AMANPOUR: Albert Woodfox and Robert King, welcome to our program.

We are very, very glad to see you both, especially you, Mr. Woodfox, because you have just been released.

How does it feel?

WOODFOX: I think the thing I'm most amazed by is the acceptance back into the African American community. I had great concerns about that upon being


You were fortunate enough, Mr. King, at least relatively fortunate, given what Mr. Woodfox has gone through, to have been released nearly 15, 16

years ago. But you've been campaigning for a long time, for this day for Albert.

What do you feel?

ROBERT KING, ANGOLA 3: Well, I feel elated. I feel elated and glad for him. I feel that a sense of accomplishment for him and for his supporters,

worldwide. And we were successful and we can be further successful in the endeavors of this nature.

AMANPOUR: Tell us what it was like, Albert, to be in solitary confinement, to be isolated for so many decades.

How did you keep your sanity?

WOODFOX: Well, it was very -- you know, being in max security, solitary confinement, is like living inside of a horrible nightmare that seems to

have no end.

We knew that if we were going to, you know, survive, that we had to turn outward from the prison and not inward and become a part of the prison's


AMANPOUR: I cannot imagine what it would be like for even one day, to be confined to a 6' x 9' cell, to have to sleep, eat and just spend the whole

time in there. I would be claustrophobic and I would probably lose my mind.

WOODFOX: Yes, you know, I have a long history of claustrophobia or panic attacks. We never thought that we would be in CCR for decades.

AMANPOUR: What difficulties do you expect, coming into the world, which has changed so much, in all the time that you were behind bars?

What is the hardest thing to get used to on a practical and emotional level?

WOODFOX: For me is freedom of movement. I haven't quite adjusted to having people, you know, walk around me or behind me, because being in a 9' x 6'

cell is very confining and, you know, the movement, learning to move, walk, you know, things that I never thought I would have a problem with, it's

just the small things, you know.

AMANPOUR: Your mother died when you were in prison.

What impact did that have on you?

WOODFOX: You know, well, it was devastating. All the decades I was held in solitary confinement, I never, ever came close to breaking. But losing my

mother --


-- it almost destroyed me. And to compound that, we had a warden who was preaching Christian values and he refused to let me say the final goodbye

to my mother.

AMANPOUR: They wouldn't let you go to her funeral.

Have you been to her grave site?

WOODFOX: The day I was released, I went straight from West Feliciana Detention Center to my mother's grave. However, I wasn't able to see her,

because the graveyard had closed. I did go and see my sister and my brother-in-law and said goodbye.

And the next day, me and my brother and A3 members accompanied us to go and say goodbye to my mother and once again to my sister and my brother-in-law.

And we also left flowers.

AMANPOUR: Do you feel at peace, Albert and Robert, do you feel at peace or do you feel full of rage?

WOODFOX: I guess I --

KING: I don't --

WOODFOX: -- for me it's a little bit of both.

KING: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And you, Robert?

WOODFOX: But it's not a destructive rage.

KING: I don't feel outraged or anything like that. It was -- if anything, it's a righteous indignation. And I'm just angry enough to try to dissolve

that which, you know, held me in captivity, unjustly, for so long.

AMANPOUR: I wonder what you make of -- and I'm sure you've been keeping up with it, even behind bars -- the racial divide in the United States. You've

seen Black Lives Matter. You hear now in the presidential campaign, even the leading Republican nominee, Donald Trump, talking about minorities and

hurling insults around and the anger that's out there.

What do you make of today's political environment?

WOODFOX: I think what you see going on in America is Mr. Trump is appealing to the worst element in human nature and characteristics. And that seems --

to me, that seems to be the key to his, you know, temporary popularity.

I don't take him seriously and I think the rest of American people as well as the world take him serious or think that he has a serious chance to

become President of the United States.

AMANPOUR: Are you surprised he's got this far?

He may very well be the Republican nominee.

WOODFOX: No, I'm not surprised. I mean, I've always known and felt the racism in America. Racism has never left America. It has undergone a

superficial change and still, we're using vulgar terms to and about African Americans. We use coded words now. But the racism itself has never gone.

AMANPOUR: You were still in jail when President Barack Obama was elected the first black president of the United States.

WOODFOX: You know, I was happy to see President Obama win. At no time did I have a feeling that America had arised and this country no longer had

racial problems.

AMANPOUR: And you, Mr. King?

KING: Well, I think, again, Mr. Trump, he plays on the races, he plays on the prejudice, appeal to the prejudice of other people in trying to achieve

the presidency. He will appeal to the baser nature of people who really, who are racist, who don't like Obama, who never did like Obama.

I think, as far as I'm concerned, bar none, black or white, I think he's one of the most wisest I've seen. He's a visionary. I think he's a people's


AMANPOUR: Well, it's really amazing to talk to you guys, especially at this time.

So congratulations, Albert, for getting out, finally. And thank you very much for being on this program.

And thank you, Robert King, for coming back and talking to us on this day as well.

KING: You're quite welcome. Thank you.

WOODFOX: Thank you for having me.


AMANPOUR: After a break, America's got a bad rap these days, poisoned partisan politics, gridlock and paralysis. Turns out, though, it's a

problem overseas as well. An epic filibuster in South Korea. Imagining a world that just won't shut up, that's next.





AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world talking and talking and talking. For seven days, nonstop, South Korea's opposition party has

refused to give up the mike in the national assembly.

With a world record-breaking filibuster lasting around 150 hours, more than 20 parliamentary members weeping, reciting songs, even performing long

extracts from George Orwell's "1984," they finally stopped today, failing to prevent a vote on the anti-terror law.

As we said, the United States Congress is no stranger to epic filibusters. Current Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz actually made his name

with a 21-hour ramble against ObamaCare, with no bathroom break.

Well, tomorrow, we have a bit of a filibuster of our own here, with a special one-hour edition of this program, seeking new meaning from Super

Tuesday. We'll see you then.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can now also listen to our podcasts, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.