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Europe Reacts to May's Brexit Speech; Transgender U.S. Army Private to be Freed in May; WikiLeaks Praises Chelsea Manning Commutation; A Plastic Ocean. Aired 11-11:30p ET

Aired January 18, 2017 - 23:00   ET


[23:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, Europe responds to May's vision for Brexit. "We, too, want a fair deal, but it will be very,

very, very difficult," says the president of the European commission. It is a hot topic at the Davos talkathon. The Austrian chancellor joins me

from there.


CHRISTIAN KERN, AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR: Nobody in the European Union would like to sanction the British for the Brexit, but our most important goal is

to avoid a loose, loose situation. And that means we all have to calm down and develop realistic perspectives.


AMANPOUR: Also ahead, a controversial commutation. President Obama slashes the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who leaked classified American

intelligence to WikiLeaks. Obama's former assistant secretary of state, P.J. Crowley, who resigned over the case, joins me live.

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

Europe is now digesting Theresa May's Brexit menu after she laid down her grounds for divorce in a major address yesterday. Today, European

Commission President Jean Claude Juncker insisted that Europe is not in a hostile mood but said that Britain needs to know that negotiations would

be, quote, "very, very, very difficult."

The continental drift is plain to see in today's papers. Britain's right- wing, pro-Brexit "Daily Mail" touted May's speech as momentous and even called her the new iron lady.

While Germany's "Die Welt" was slightly less enthusiastic with its little Britain front page.

And as if on cue, some British jitters as today HSBC becomes the first major bank to announce that it will move some stuff out of London when

Brexit happens.

Britain and the EU are a major topic of conversation at the World Economic Forum in Davos. And I've been speaking to the Austrian Chancellor

Christian Kern about the very, very high stakes.


AMANPOUR: Chancellor, welcome to the program.

KERN: Hello.

AMANPOUR: Let me first ask you about your reaction to Prime Minister Theresa May's speech yesterday on her vision for the divorce from the EU.

Do you feel that it's a realistic set of wants?

KERN: Theresa May has fully expressed that they are going to trigger the Article 50 procedure, so it's really appreciated. On the other hand, it

was a speech which was given and address to the British people. And if you look at the whole negotiation procedure, which is going to be a lengthy

one, then the basic setup is that just 84 percent of the exports of the European Union go to the UK, and in turn, the British export 44 percent to


So we have to have a realistic approach, a reasonable approach, and I think it's good that the negotiations could start now.

AMANPOUR: You're basically saying that the EU has the upper hand in terms of the trade and that no quick deal or cherry picking in terms of the

customs union, et cetera, will be possible.

KERN: Yes, that's absolutely true. I can assure you that nobody in the European Union would like to sanction the British for the Brexit. But our

most important goal is to avoid a loose, loose situation, and that means we all have to calm down and develop realistic perspectives.

AMANPOUR: So maybe you're also trying to avoid a lose/win situation. In other words, lose for the EU, win for the British. And I ask you that

because the new rotating president, the Maltese prime minister, has said very clearly that any Brexit deal would have to be worse than current

arrangements for the U.K.

KERN: Yes, that's one voice. I think we have to carefully negotiate, and let me repeat again, it doesn't make sense to sanction the British. They

have taken a decision which we have to accept and now it's about the avoidance of diplomatic consequences of the Brexit. I'm quite optimistic

that this is possible, but for sure it will take some time.

AMANPOUR: The Maltese prime minister had just said the clean cut from the current arrangements, the transition of the new deal, will be a long and

arduous task.

[23:05:00] KERN: Yes, i fully agree. It's not as easy as, I think, the British believe today.

AMANPOUR: It's not just Brexit that you're dealing with there in Davos in Prime Minister May's speech, but also, you know, it's a couple of days

before Donald Trump becomes president of the United States. And he has said many things that worry Europe.

For instance, he's talked about the possible break-up of Europe. That he foresees more countries doing what Britain has done.

What is your reaction to that and how concerned are European and other leaders there at Davos?

KERN: We are not concerned about the break-up of the European Union or that other countries will join the United Kingdom, because I think what

somebody has to accept and also the president of the United States is that Europe is not only geography, it's not a business model, it's a community,

which is based on values, respect for human rights, democracy, rule of law, social justice, equal rights for women and men.

And so that's -- which is something -- which is important and precious, but it's fragile. That's true, but I don't have any doubts that every party

who is a member of the union today knows how important that is for the whole continent, for our welfare and for the politically set up of Europe.

AMANPOUR: But doesn't it worry you that the incoming president of United States has certain political alliances or ideological convergence with

those parties who are agitating to leave the EU?

KERN: Yes, that's true, but the main problem and the main threat for the European Union comes from inside, which is the rise of the right wing

populistic parties. And what we have to find is a good answer. And what we witnessed today in Europe is that we have left-wing protests, which is

anti-business and the right-wing protest, which is anti-immigration.

And what we need is to restore the political center, which will take tough positions, that's for sure, which will have to be based on the principle of

leadership change and responsibility.

AMANPOUR: Another thing that's worrying Europe and the rest of the world is the very close and warm words that keep flying transatlantically between

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

Your own foreign minister said this week, the EU could benefit from an improvement of relations between Russia and the United States. At what

cause and on whose terms that improvement?

KERN: Yes, that's absolutely the question. And I fully share the opinion that it would make sense to have a more, let's call it (INAUDIBLE) to the

Russians, but on the other hand, we have to take care that Europe has to stay united with respect to the relations to Russia. We have to discuss

that internally and we have to expect that Baltic states, Poland, for example, has a different approach like countries like Italy, Austria.

AMANPOUR: The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is blaming the EU for interfering in the U.S. elections by apparently dehumanizing Donald Trump.

KERN: Yes, that's a little bit surprising.

AMANPOUR: What would you say to him if he had said that to you?

KERN: Yes, I absolutely do not share his opinion.

AMANPOUR: Let's face it, your country dodged a right-wing bullet, if you like, when the presidency was decided against the leader of the freedom

party. However, that party is the most popular party in Austria.

Describe the challenges for Austria and for Europe as these elections are facing Europe with right-wing parties in France, in the Netherlands, and

even in Germany.

KERN: I'm totally convinced that there is a direct line between the Brexit, Trump, freedom party in Austria, Mr. Wilders in the Netherlands,

Marine Le Pen in France, so that's really our biggest challenge in these days. And what we have to say is that we are living at a crossroads where

globalization meets digitization, and also migration is important in France. And so many people and mature economies have the feeling that they

have been neglected and left behind.

And so for us as political leaders, it's important to express and answer in plain English. And if you do so, we are able to succeed, and what you have

seen during the federal presidential elections in Austria is that it's possible to succeed, that descent of powers still has in the majority.

It's very important to keep an eye on that development and also to design all decisions around that major challenge.

[23:10:00] AMANPOUR: Chancellor Kern thank you so much for joining us from Davos.

KERN: Thanks. Thanks, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: Now yesterday at Davos, the highlight was the first ever address from a Chinese president. Xi Jinping was defending the whole liberal

economic project. And talk about globalization, today, China's first direct train from Zhejiang Province to England arrived in London after

traveling 1200 kilometres in 18 days.

And when we come back, President Obama decides on a controversial final act, commuting the sentence of WikiLeaks informant Chelsea Manning. Good

news for whistleblowers or slap in the face for intelligence gathering? That's next.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. With just two days left in office, the U.S. President Barack Obama has made the stunning and controversial

decision. He's commuting the 35-year sentence for Chelsea Manning.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence, so the notion that the average person who was

thinking about disclosing vital classified information would think that it goes unpunished I don't think would get that impression from the sentence

that Chelsea Manning has served.

It has been my view that given she went to trial; that due process was carried out; that she took responsibility for her crime; that the sentence

that she received was very disproportional - disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received; and that she had served a significant

amount of time, that it made sense to commute and not pardon her sentence.

And, you know, I feel very comfortable that justice has been served and that a message has still been sent that when it comes to our national

security, that wherever possible we need folks who may have legitimate concerns about the actions of government or their superiors or the agencies

in which they work, that they try to work through the established channels and avail themselves of the whistleblower protections that have been put in



AMANPOUR: The transgender former army private formerly known as Bradley will be free in just months after serving nearly seven years. She was

convicted of leaking 750,000 pages of government documents and videos. Among them, this one, a U.S. helicopter firing at what they thought were

insurgents in Iraq, except that they were civilians, many of them killed, including two journalists.

[23:15:10] The leak to WikiLeaks was one of the biggest and most embarrassing in U.S. history and has raised a key question, what will

founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange do now? He had promised to turn himself in to U.S. authorities if Manning was freed.

Joining me now from Washington to discuss all of this is P.J. Crowley. He's the former U.S. assistant secretary of state for public affairs and

he's the author of a new book about American foreign policy. He resigned in 2011 over comments that he made about Manning's treatment.


AMANPOUR: Welcome, P.J., to the program.


AMANPOUR: So what do you make? I know you must be pleased about the commutation of this sentence. But why do you think President Obama did

this, and why now?

CROWLEY: Well, I mean, there was going to be controversy, you know, given the petition by Chelsea Manning, you know, whatever the president's

decision. I think on the one hand, when she was convicted, sentenced of 35 years, I thought that that sent a very strong message to the military force

that if you compromise classified information as she did, there would be consequences.

You know by the same token, there's always been extenuating circumstances on this particular case. You know, in retrospect, she should probably

never have moved through basic training. She never should have. As a troubled individual trying to find her identity, she should never have

found her way into a war zone.

Had the military done what it was supposed to do in terms of network security, she would never have been able to transfer this large trove of

documents to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and finding herself in an all- male prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Now I think the military was going to struggle with someone who was going through a gender transition. So on the one hand, I think, you know, there

was justice. Seven years is a meaningful amount of time in prison. But I also respect what the president has done in terms of ending this case and

giving her a chance to move on with her life.

AMANPOUR: But you resigned. Precisely why did you resign over this case?

CROWLEY: Well, at the time, I was assistant secretary of state. I thought the last thing the United States needed was another controversy involving

detention of, in this case, a U.S. soldier given the legacy from Abu Ghraib and from Guantanamo.

You know, the fact is that her mistreatment while in the military brig Quantico was making her into a far more sympathetic figure than I thought

was warranted.

What she did was wrong. What she did put real lives and real interests at stake. You know, this is a case that has never easily fit into, you know,

any particular description where many who consider her a whistleblower. I do not. And there are many who consider her a traitor, I do not.

So I think that there was a -- you know, it was a necessary prosecution, and I was concerned at the time that her mistreatment in custody was

undercutting the legitimacy of that prosecution.

AMANPOUR: You don't consider her a whistleblower, nor do many in the United States. The U.N. does and came out today and said, you know, this

is a good signal for whistleblowers. But what I want to ask you, specifically, is about the nature of the material that was compromised.

I mean, in my view, it was a good thing that that video was made public, because civilians were killed, including two amongst my profession, and too

often, we are under, you know, danger from forces in the field, those Reuters journalists who were killed.

But the assessments in court and by various others is that national security apparently was not affected and that whatever Chelsea Manning did,

did not lead to the deaths or significant bodily harm of U.S. agents or informants or other such personnel abroad.

From your seat, does that ring true? Was there no harm done in that regard?

CROWLEY: I know that's a familiar line from Julian Assange and others. You know, he can't make that statement credibly.

There were real people put at risk. I can tell you that there are people who were cited in many of those cables who are now dead. Now, can I say

that that was because of the revelation? I can't. By the same token, I think if you are compromising raw intelligence reports, people who talk to

American diplomats, people who talk to American soldiers in very dangerous environments, you know, you'll have to say and you'll have to acknowledge

that that people were put at risk as a result of what she did.

Now, I think, yes, you're right. In the case of manning, and in particular, I think, in the case of Edward Snowden, you know, the

revelations did help people understand what the American government was doing on their behalf. And, yes, there is some element of truth and good,

you know, to that expression.

[23:20:00] I think personally had Chelsea Manning stopped at that video and said, hey, here's what war looks like, we could have a very different

conversation. Just as what Edward Snowden, if he had stopped at revealing the existence of the prison program and stopped there, we could have a very

different conversation. But the fact that they put such a volume of material into the public's fear, you know, there were serious risk placed

on the shoulders of people who did nothing else other than, you know, talk to American diplomats or American soldiers.

And I think that's why I don't think that this is a case of whistle blowing, because when you are compromising several hundred thousand

documents, she had no understanding of what was in that trove and she had no ability to evaluate whether the benefits of release outweighed, you

know, the potential risks.

AMANPOUR: And apparently -- obviously, there's differences between the Snowden and the Chelsea Manning case.

Many people will be looking to see whether, you know, a Snowden would be pardoned or able to come back or whatever might happen to him.

What do you think?

CROWLEY: Well, I think, you know, one factor that went into the president's decision was the fact that Chelsea Manning faced a military

court, acknowledged wrongdoing, took responsibility for her actions. That's very, very different than what Edward Snowden did.

I think personally had Snowden come to Washington, provided these documents to senators who were responsible for oversight of these programs and said,

you know, these documents will help you ask better questions, and then presented himself to authorities and said, you know, I did this in the

national interest, we would have a very different dynamic than someone who fled the United States, went to Hong Kong and now sits at the behest of

Vladimir Putin.

I think given particularly what we've just seen in the 2016 campaign, you know, how Putin did use his intelligence services, you know, to interfere

in the 2016 campaign, I think that puts Edward Snowden in a much different category.

AMANPOUR: And what about Julian Assange who famously did say that if Manning was, you know -- was freed and you know, had his sentence commuted,

that he would also go to the United States? Now apparently different words are coming out, that he needs all his rights guaranteed.

What is -- do you have a position on that?

CROWLEY: Yes, I'm not surprised. Julian has tried it various times to assert himself in the middle of issues for which, you know, he's not a

central player.

I think that it's interesting that Julian has put himself into self-exile in London at the Ecuadorian embassy. And I note that while he volunteered,

perhaps, you know, to come to the United States where there are no charges pending against him, what he did not volunteer to go was to Sweden, you

know, to confront charges that are pending against him.

AMANPOUR: P.J. Crowley, thanks for joining us from Washington.

CROWLEY: Always a pleasure, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: And many in Congress are angry at this commutation. Congress does continue confirmation hearings for Donald Trump's nominees and climate

change was on the agenda.

Today, scientist announced that 2016 was the hottest year on record, making it the third hottest year recorded in a row. And scientific research says

the planet was last this hot 115,000 years ago.

When we come back, a look at what lies beneath our oceans. They provide us with the majority of the oxygen that we breathe and not surprisingly, most

of our water supply. But we imagine a world where all we're giving back is pollution and plastic. That's next.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, Donald Trump's climate skeptic choice to head the U.S. environmental protection agency has been facing his Senate

hearing today.

Scott Pruitt does admit that global warming is not a hoax, at least, as Donald Trump himself suggested. But Trump's nominee for U.N. ambassador,

the South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, has been saying that she will not commit to the Paris Climate Accord.

Well, a new documentary is trying to wake us all up to the chilling reality of our human effect on nature. "Imagine a Plastic Ocean." That's the name

of a new documentary about our choking seas that has just premiered in the United States.

It examines areas like the Indian Ocean in Sri Lanka, which filmmakers thought would be relatively pristine. But they found beautiful and rare

footages of Pygmy blue whales like this corrupted by the filthy truth floating above, all this plastic.

More than 8 million tons of the stuff are dumped in our oceans every year. From billions of bottles and bags, which do not easily biodegrade and can

last forever. By laying out in tragic detail the catastrophic price that's paid by marine animals which eat the garbage, the filmmakers hope to spur

action to save our seas, because of course, by consuming many of those fish, we end up consuming the plastic as well. That is, indeed, food

forethought. And it's the end for our program tonight.

Remember you can always listen to our podcast, see us online and follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye

from London.