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Kofi Annan Dies at 80; Former CIA Directors Speak Out Against Trump; Google Employees Protest Expansion in China. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired August 18, 2018 - 05:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN HOST: Dozens of ex CIA officials are standing against president Trump, including the former CIA director whose security clearance he just revoked. He says the president is quote "drunk on power." Also ahead this hour...


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: (Voice over) That's what's happening in Southern India, monsoon rains triggering flooding leaving thousands of homes and roads under water.

ALLEN: Also at this hour, employees at Google are protesting their concerns about the tech giant's plans in China. We talked to the journalist who got first access to their letter.

HOWELL: Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. We welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen. "Newsroom" starts right now.

HOWELL: At 5:01 on the U.S. East Coast, the backlash is growing over the U.S. president revoking security clearance for one former official and threatening to do the same for more.

ALLEN: So far, 75 former intelligence officials have spoken out against it, issuing more sting rebukes for revoking the security clearance of former CIA Director, John Brennan.

HOWELL: A letter from 60 - that's 60 CIA former CIA officials say the country is the weakened when a political litmus test is tied to security clearances.

ALLEN: And that's on top of the statement from 15 former CIA directors, deputy directors and director of national intelligence, serving under both Republican and Democratic administrations back to the 1980s. They say the president's actions are politically motivated.

HOWELL: And this from the "Washington Post" reporting the White House has already drafted documents revoking clearances for more people that Mr. Trump feels should be punished for criticizing him or for playing a role in the Russia investigation and is planning to roll them out to distract from negative news stories and negative news cycles.

ALLEN: So what is Mr. Trump saying before leaving for New Jersey? He had plenty to say and our Kaitlan Collins was there.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump lashing out at the Russia investigation, reminding critics his presidential powers go a long way.



COLLINS: (Voice over) Defending his decision to strip former CIA Chief John Brennan of his security clearance and rejecting criticism that he is trying to silence his critics.

TRUMP: If anything, I'm giving them bigger voice. Many people don't know who he is. Now he has a bigger voice and that's okay with me, because I like taking on voices like that. I've never respected him.

COLLINS: That as sources tell CNN Trump is prepared to revoke more clearance in the coming days. His next target, Bruce Orr a little known department employee.

TRUMP: I think Bruce Orr is a disgrace. I suspect I will be taking it away very quickly.

COLLINS: Trump has repeatedly targeted Orr because of his contacts with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who investigated Trump's ties to Russia. The Department of Justice department says Orr has no involvement with Robert Mueller's investigation.

TRUMP: For him to be in the Justice Department and to be doing what he did, that is a disgrace; that is disqualifying for Mueller.

COLLINS: Trump reveling in what he sees as rave reviews.

TRUMP: I know that I've gotten tremendous response from having done that because security clearances are very important to me.

COLLINS: But the reviews haven't all been positive. In a stinging rebuke, more than a dozen former intelligence officials issued a joint statement criticizing the move, calling it ill-considered, unprecedented, and an attempt to stifle free speech; the president in his own words drawing a direct line between revoking clearances and the Russia investigation.

TRUMP: Look, I say it, I say it again, that whole situation is a rigged witch hunt. It's a totally rigged deal it's not us. It is a rigged witch hunt. I said it for the long time.

COLLINS: Trump showing little interest if sitting down with the special council. TRUMP: Mr. Mueller has a lot of conflicts also, directly, yourself.

So you know that. Mr. Mueller is highly conflicted; in fact, Comey is like his best friend. I can go into conflict after conflict. But sadly, Mr. Mueller is conflicted.

COLLINS: The president encouraging Mueller to wrap things up.

TRUMP: Let him write his report. We did nothing. There is no collusion.

COLLINS: Kaitlan Collins, CNN, The White House.

ALLEN: Well one thing is for sure, John Brennan is not keeping quiet over all of this.

HOWELL: Not by any means. The former CIA director under President Obama has been highly critical of President Trump. He says Mr. Trump's claims with no collusion with Russia. He says they are quote, "hogwash." After he was stripped of his security clearance, he said it was a part of a broader effort to punish critics and should worry all Americans.


ALLEN: But his most stinging words came Friday night when he said this.


JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: He's drunk on power, he really is and I think he's abusing the powers of that office. I think right now this country is if a crisis in terms of what Mr. Trump has done and is libel to do. And so are the Republicans on the hill who have given him a pass, are they going to wait for a disaster to happen before they actually find their backbones and spines to speak up against somebody who clearly, clearly is not carrying out his responsibilities?


ALLEN: Kate Andrews, is a U.S. political columnist for "City A.M." and news editor at the Institute of Economic Affairs. She joins us now from London. Kate, thanks for joining us to talk about this. Let's reiterate again what we had on that last report; 60 former CIA officials signing onto a letter to President Trump about the Brennan security clearance. Let's read more about what they said in that letter.

"All of us believe," they write, "it is critical to protect classified information from unauthorized disclosure, but we believe equally strongly that former government officials have the right to express their unclassified views on what they see as critical national security issues without fear of being punished for doing so." We should point out these officials served under Republican and Democrat administrations. Is the president stepping into a minefield here?

KATE ANDREWS, POLITICAL COLUMNIST FOR "CITY A.M.": Thanks for having me, Natalie. I think it's really important to separate two issues here. The first is whether or not we can talk about a very important topic, which is whether or not in certain circumstances security clearance should be revoked and is appropriate to be revoked.

I see circumstances in which it is. If you look at the 13 guidelines of which you can revoke somebody's security clearance, they include things like outside issues, outside activities, specifically, also financial contributions that they might be getting from elsewhere. And if someone has decided to go on the public speaking circuit or go on, get paid by national television to express their political views, I think it's legitimate to question whether or not they should still have security clearance. We have to separate that important conversation from what Donald Trump is actually doing.

ALLEN: What about dozens and dozens of former officials saying this is not about speaker fees. This is not about getting paid. This is about the president using the White House to try to stop criticism of him?

ANDREWS: Well, exactly, and that is the second point. That is why Donald Trump is actually revoking security clearance, which is hugely inappropriate and problematic. The president is doing this as a political tactic because he's trying to go after his political opponents and that should not be involved at all in any circumstance when we're discussing security clearance. So I think criticism of the president is extremely important. I just don't want that to become a reason we can't discuss security clearance overall and I do fear that is happening a bit here.

When somebody does decide they no longer want to sit in their role as a civil servant here in the U.K., there are extremely strict rules of what you can say as a the civil servant; that's true in the U.S as well. You are not supposed to be political either. If somebody wants to break out that and embrace their freedom of speech to criticize somebody, to take speaking fees to do so, that's absolutely fine.

Then we can question whether or not security clearance is still appropriate. It's just become very clear, especially since this issue with Bruce Orr that the president is not interested if following the rules or guidelines either. He is going after people for political sport and that is completely inappropriate or wrong.

ALLEN: Bruce Orr, the lower level Justice Department employee. The president thinks his actions brought about the Russia investigation; no proof of that. Let's listen again to the former CIA Chief Brennan on the president's move.


BRENNAN: I think he's out of control. He is - has the steering wheel of the American vehicle in his hands and he's veering wildly right now. He's trying to preserve and protect himself. So what more demonstration do you want? When things get really, really bad, I'm glad that if his revoke my security clearance, it's going to wake people up.


ALLEN: Clearly Brennan may get more attention to his comments about the president now because of his action. So is this move by president Trump going to backfire?

ANDREWS: You know, that's really hard to say. President Trump is always playing to his base and it seems regardless of what happens or regardless of the hugely questionable or downright, let's be honest, racist things that he sometimes says, it hasn't seemed to sway his base very much.


So it's hard to know if the backlash is going to matter if the people might show up in November to vote locally and to vote for the local representative. It's hard to know. What is clear is thtere is this huge standoff now between officials and the President of the United States and sometimes I wonder how many people are actually tuning into this debate.

Do they understand the connections? Do they understand exactly what's going on here? Because the language from the president is so different from the language of the officials, you would think there were two completely separate stories going on. So depending on who the public are listening to and we know the American public is becoming much more polarized in the age of Trump, it's hard to know if there will be backlash, because people are continuing to support the side they signed up to to begin with.

ALLEN: Well we know Republicans on Capitol Hill have been mum over this issue. We will wait and see if that continues. Kate, we appreciate it. Kate Andrews for us from London. Thank you.

ANDREWS: Thank you.

HOWELL: Now to this CNN exclusive, a report on the war if Yemen. We know now a bomb that was used to drop on a school bus this month by the Saudi-led coalition, we now know that bomb was supplied by the United States.

ALLEN: Around 50 people were killed, including 40 children. CNN's Nima Elbagir has more about it and this bomb that we are learning about. We warn you the report does contain disturbing video.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Every day (Inaudible) visits the graveyard where his two little boys are buried. Today he brought their five-year-old brother along. Isid Al-Homran.

ISID AL-HOMRAN, FATHER OF CHILD KILLED IN BOMBING: (through interpreter) People were screaming out the names of their children. I tried to tell the women it couldn't be true, but then a man ran through the crowd shouting that a plane had struck the children's bus. ELBAGIR: On August 9th, he filmed his class on the long awaited

school trip, a reward for graduating summer school. Within hours, it had all gone horribly wrong. A plane from the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition struck a bus carrying them. Dozens died. Some of the bodies were so mutilated identification became impossible. All that's left are the scraps of school books, warped metal and a single backpack. Eyewitnesses tell CNN this was a direct hit in the middle of the market.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Through translator) I saw the bomb hit the bus. It blew it into those shops and three bodies clear to the other side of those buildings. We found bodies scattered everywhere. There was a severed head inside the bomb crater.

ELBAGIR: This video of the shrapnel was filmed in the aftermath of the attack and sent to CNN in contact. A cameraman working for CNN subsequently filmed these images for us. Munitions experts tell CNN this was a U.S.-made mark MK-82 bomb weighing in at half a ton. The first five digits there are the cage number - the commercial and government entity number. This denotes here denotes Lockheed Martin, one of the top U.S. defense contractors.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're at the forefront of design that makes this real.


ELBAGIR: This particular MK-82 is a paveway, a laser guided precision bomb. It's targeting accuracy up to a particular point of pride for Lockheed Martin. But with an arms deal with Saudi Arabia sanctioned and contracted out by the U.S. government. So why does the matter? Because the devastation inflicted by the MK-82 is all too familiar in Yemen.

In March, 2016, a strike on a market using this similarly laser guided 2,000 pound MK-84 killed 97 people. In October, 2016, another strike on a funeral hall killed 155 people and wounded hundreds more. Then the bus attack on August 9th, where they're still counting the dead.

The U.S. doesn't just sell arms to the coalition in its battle against the Iranian-backed rebel Houthi militias, it provides intelligences, help with targeting procedures, mid-air refueling. President Obama blocked sales of precision-guided military technology to Saudi Arabia over human rights concerns. Six months later under the newly elected Trump administration, then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, overturned the ban.


REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Look, there is a balance that needs to be struck. The president also noted that the Saudis have a right to defend themselves. They were being attacked from across the southern border by Houthis who were being aided by Iran and were launching rockets and missiles. And what I would tell you is that we certainly had under the Obama administration deep concerns about the ways the Saudis were targeting. We acted only those concerns by limiting the kind of munitions that they were being given and stridently trying to argue for them to be more careful and cautious.


ELBAGIR: Saudi Arabia denies targeting civilians and defends the incident as a legitimate military operation and a retaliatory response to a Houthi ballistic missile from the day before. When asked to comment on CNN's evidence, the coalition spokesperson tells us the coalition is taking all practical measures to minimize civilian casualties. Every civilian casualty is a tragedy, adding it would not appropriate for the coalition to comment further while the investigation is under way. The U.S. wouldn't comment on the origins of the bomb, but the state department is calling for a Saudi-led investigation which the U.S. defense secretary supports.


JAMES MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Wars are always tragic, but we've got to find a way to protect the innocent in the midst of this one.


ELBAGIR: Osama's cell phone footage is all his father has left of the two boys, their last happy moments. Osama's father isn't optimistic the investigation will change anything. In a country where loss has become common place, they aren't even praying for justice anymore, just peace. Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


ALLEN: Well earlier I spoke with Retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonal Rick Franconia, he is a CNN Military Analyst. He discussed the way the Saudi-led coalition plans targets.

RICK FRANCONIA, RETIRED U.S. AIR FORCE LIEUTENANT COLONAL AND CNN MILITARY ANALYST: This strike was probably a quick reaction strike. There was a Houthi missile attack on Saudi Arabia the day before; one person was killed when the missile was intercepted. The Saudis were looking for retaliation and that's the story for this war, tit for tat. One side does something and the other side just retaliates and it continues.

So the Saudis wanted to strike back. They probably had a quick reaction package ready to go and they said we know the Houthis are using this area for their command and control and planning and probably launched a sortie (ph) right at that. Unfortunately it happened to be in a market place; it happened to be in a crowded marketplace and that school bus happened to be there.

I have no doubt that the Soudis actually hit what they were aiming at. The problem is the target selection process really needs to be looked at. ALLEN: Right. Absolutely. You mentioned a school bus was right there

at that market when it took a direct hit. The U.S. has worked with Saudi Arabia to protect civilians in this war but it's not happening, is it? Is there an explanation?

FRANCONIA: Yes, the explanation, the Saudis are fought following proper targeting procedures. There is a validation process and we've gone over for decades we have been working on this with them. And I can tell you working with the Saudis I mean to be polite, challenging and frustrating. You can teach them, but they don't always listen.


ALLEN: That was Retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Franconia with us. Saudi Arabia insists it is not targeting Yemeni civilians and the strike on the school bus was a misstake.

HOWELL: The worst flooding in nearly a century in India has seen hundreds of people lose their lives in the devastation. It is intense there as you can see. When we return, our meteorologist, Derek Van Dam is here to explain why the condition there is are so bad.

ALLEN: Plus, why some of the victim's families from the bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy, are boycotting the state funeral for them.



ALLEN: You're looking at major flooding in Southern India. The Chief Minister of Kerala State says 324 people have been killed in floods or landslides since the start of the monsoon in May. A majority of the victims died in the past ten days.

HOWELL: Just look at these images you really get a sense of how bad it is there. The financial damage has reached almost $3 billion so far. It's the worst flooding to hit Kerala State in nearly a century.

ALLEN: Derek Van Dam joins us with more about it. This is the worst they've seen for a long time.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: Just on Friday alone they've had over 80,000 high water rescues.


VAN DAM: It's incredible to see what's happening there on the ground and from the air. The Prime Minister of India, he got a first-hand glimpse of what was happening. By the way, there are over 1300 personnels being deployed to help with the rescues, 425 boats, 38 helicopters, here's Prime Minister Modi and his view outside of his airplane, just tragic to see what is happening to this part of the country that he governs and here's another image from his airplane. You can see just inundation from the heavy, heavy flood water. Check out the satellite image. This is a year ago from Google Earth.

Pay attention to this portion of the TV screen. This is Kochi, population 600,000 people. Look at the flooding that inundated this region; this is a digital globe image. So the flooding is invisible from space. We have had over one month's rainfall in a four-day period in some portions of southwestern India. Incredible rainfall totals, in fact, the waters were so high at the Kochi International Airport, the airport in Kochi I should say, that water was lapping up at some of the engines of the jets that are parked on the tarmacs. This is incredible.

The India Meteorological Department still has alerts along the west- facing shorelines of the subcontinent. Overall India is down with its rainfall totals but Kerala, the state, in Southwestern India, has had the worst rainfall across this region. The good news is there is some silver lining here. Some computer models depicting that rainfall is going to start to move a little further to the north. It doesn't mean it will stop raining completely but the heaviest of participation perhaps could move out of the Southwestern areas hopefully sooner than later. They need a little bit of relief.

HOWELL: Derek, thank you.

In Italy, 18 of the 38 victims in the Genoa Bridge collapse are being remembered at a joint state funeral.

ALLEN: This is live video from the Genoa Convention Center. Some families are boycotting though, they are protesting the negligence they claim caused the bridge to come down. Burial services for four of the victims were held Friday.

HOWELL: CNN Contributor Barbie Nadeau joins us now live from Rome with details of what's happening. Again, we saw the images of this service, the state funeral in progress as it's happening now, Barbie, many people there are coming together to support the dead. There are some boycotting this event. Tell us more about that.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a lot of anger surround this. First of all, not all of the victims have been accounted for. There are still four missing people under that rubble. There could be more if their cars that the authorities don't know about were on the bridge at the time. But people really consider this not a natural disaster but a man-made disaster and they don't think this is a moment for a state funeral.


We saw applause from those crowds, though, that were in that convention center in Genoa when the first responders came in; that was a touching moment. We see the local Catholic priest to the families, kissing the coffins. There are 18 covered up with white flowers; one is smaller for a young boy who died in this terrible tragedy, but the people who have decided not to participate are angry. They don't want to be a part of the quote/unquote "parade of politicians" at this particular moment, George. HOWELL: And as far as those that are still unaccounted for, we understand that the search continues there, but tell us more about the efforts that are still under way.

NADEAU: Well, they haven't given up hope on finding someone alive. Just like in an earthquake, or any other disaster, where you have rubble there could be a pocket of air where someone could have survived. They've downgraded the number of missing that they know about from five to four because one person they thought might be under the rubble was actually found alive. He had apparently gone along and reached his destination. So there was relief for one family in this tragedy. But they are working around the clock, removing these huge chunks of concrete and break it up in a way to not further cause a collapse in hopes of finding the remaining people that were involved in this terrible tragedy. George.

HOWELL: CNN Contributor, Barbie Nadeau, following this story for us in Rome. Thank you Barbie.

ALLEN: Donald Trump doesn't like the price tag for a military parade he wanted to stage. Many in the military didn't want it anyway. We'll have that story next.

HOWELL: Plus, Google's slogan, it was, "don't do evil," now it's "do the right thing" and it's employees want to make sure that it's doing just that especially when it comes to censorship. We'll explain what that is all about. Stay with us.



HOWELL: Live coast-to-coast across the United States and to our viewers around the world this hour, you are watching CNN "Newsroom." Thank you so much for being with us. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.

Former CIA Director John Brennan had strong words for President Trump after the president stripped him of his security clearance. Friday night Brennan said Mr. Trump is quote, "drunk on power" and abusing the powers of his office. Seventy-five other former intelligence officials have also rebuked the president for his actions.

HOWELL: The jury in the Paul Manafort's trial will resume deliberations on Monday. The U. S. President's former campaign manager is accused of tax evasion and bank fraud. On Friday, Mr. Trump called the trial quote, "very sad" and said Manafort is quote, "a very good person."

ALLEN: In Southern India, the chief minister of Kerala state says at least 324 people have died in floods or landslides since the start of monsoon season in May. About half of the victims died in the past ten days. Indian officials say the financial damage has reached about $2.7 billion so far. This is the worst flooding to hit Kerala state in nearly a century. HOWELL: In Italy, these images of a joint state funeral in progress

as its happening 11:31 a.m. in Genoa, Italy. A time when people are being remembered; they lost their lives when a bridge collapsed there. Some families are boycotting the commemoration. They're protesting the negligence they claim caused the bridge to come down. Burial services for four of the victims were held on Friday in the town of Torre del Greco.

ALLEN: U.S. President Donald Trump wants everyone to know who cancelled his idea for a military parade.

HOWELL: In his view right? So he says local Washington politicians who just wanted too much money to hold it. He blames them for it. As CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports those politicians aren't exactly disagreeing with him.


COLLINS: The thought and he wanted it.

TRUMP: It was one of the greatest parades I'd ever seen.

COLLINS: A grand military parade, this one put on during a Bastille Day trip to France last year. But when President Trump learned a parade in Washington would cost, according to some reports, north of $90 million, he halted it and blamed D.C. tweeting, "the local politicians who run Washington, D.C. poorly know a windfall when they see it. When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it."

Trump's current hometown mayor tweeted back, writing, "Yep, I'm Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington, D.C., the local politician who finally got through to the reality star in the White House with the realities of parades, events, demonstrations in Trump America, sad."

Bowser's estimate is just for security, road closures, and emergency services. It doesn't include the biggest item on Trump's wish list, a military show of force.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: We don't need a parade to celebrate all this president has done for those brave men and women in uniform.


COLLINS: The White House downplaying the news that the price of pomp and circumstance could instead pay yearly salaries for more than 4,500 active-duty soldiers, but it was President Trump who insisted on the parade in the first place.


TRUMP: We're actually thinking about the Fourth of July, Pennsylvania Avenue, having a really great parade to show our military strength.

COLLINS: (voice over) As for a new parade plans, the president said he will instead, go to the Paris parade celebrating the end of the war on November 11th, which for what it's worth, is Veteran's Day here in the U.S. Now President Trump says he could hold it in 2019 once costs are down, though he didn't cite any reasons why the costs could go down in a few months. Kaitlan Collins, CNN, The White House.

HOWELL: Kaitlan, thank you.

China is stepping up its military capabilities in alarming ways; this according to United States. In a few report the Pentagon says that china is actively developing a fleet of long range nuclear equipped bombers.

ALLEN: The report that Beijing is likely training its pilots for missions targeting the U.S. and new Chinese Stealth aircraft could be ready to go in the next ten years. Now, China's Ministry of National Defense says the U.S. needs to stop looking at its military construction with a quote, "Cold War mentality."

Google is trying to reassure its employees that the company isn't compromising its values so the employees won't have to either.


HOWELL: This comes after more than a thousand workers are reportedly pushing back on the possibly that Google could launch a censored version of its engine in China.

ALLEN: On Thursday, Google's CEO said the company isn't anywhere close to doing that, but he admits they are exploring more options. For more now, here's Zain Asher.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: In the bustling marketplace of the most populated country on earth, U.S. tech giants are struggling to get in because working in China means playing by Chinese government rules. But is Google ready to do that? The company has been planning a censored version for China in order to capture a piece of the country's massive internet audience.


LANCE ULANOFF, SOCIAL MEDIA AND TECH EXPERT: It's a very big market; 1.3 billion people there. They want these services, companies like Google, they want to get in there.


ASHER: Now Google's plans may be facing the biggest road block yet, a display of internal activism against the censored app that would reportedly block searches, websites, and terms like human rights and religion. According to "New York Times," more than 1,000 Google employees signed a letter protesting the secret project referred to as Dragonfly. Dragonfly and Google's return to China raise urgent moral and ethical issues with a copy of the letter. It goes on appearing to demand more transparency. To make ethical

choices, Google has needed to know what we're building. Right now we don't.


ULANOFF: The employees are basically saying, we don't want this; this is not how we want the company to work. It doesn't follow our beliefs, but these are businesses and you know Google is going to keep looking at China.


ASHER: Google's CEO tried to reassure employees at a town hall meeting. According to a source of knowledgeable conversation, he said, "We are not close to launching a search product in China and whether we could do so or could do so is all very unclear." Google declined to comment on the town hall meeting or the authenticity of the letter.


ULANOFF: Somebody, some whistleblower inside the company decided to put that out there and basically into the press which forced the CEO to respond. You know he was thinking about it but the time line is something that's not public. He's saying it's a long way off, he didn't say no.


ASHER: Google suspended its search launches in China in 2010 following a dispute between Bejing and Washington over hacking. At the time one of the company's co-founders reportedly objected to totalitarianism in the country. Eight years later, jumping back into China made markets shift for the tech giant, which has long advocated a free and open market. Zain Asher, CNN.

HOWELL: Some breaking news to tell you about at this hour the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan has died.

ALLEN: And a diplomat from Ghana served in the U.N.'s top post from 1997 to 2006. In 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with the entire United Nations. It was for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world. The United Nations migration agency tweeted, "a life well lived, a life worth celebrating."

HOWELL: CNN's Richard Roth has a look back at the life of the U.N.'s 7th secretary general.




RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (Voice over) Kofi Annan was the seventh secretary general in the United Nations history.

KOFI ANNAN: Good morning, this is my first day. It's like the first day in school.

ROTH: Annan received quite an education serving ten years at the helm of the United Nations. There were personal highs and lows. From winning the Nobel Peace Prize to failing his fight to stop the U.S. invasion in Iraq. Born in Ghana and in university schooling included the big chill of Minnesota at McAllister college.

Kofi Annan spent most of his adult life at the U.N. The man called Kofi, rose to the top after over half a century; staffers recalled his ability to lead and inspire. Annan did manage to avoid career-ending moments serving in the Department of Peacekeeping. In 1994 the U.N. Security Council and others including Annan were accused by the U.N. field commander in Rwanda of ignoring his warnings. An estimated 800,000 people died as the world was reluctant to the send troops in.

ANNAN: I believed at that time that I was doing my best, but I realized after the genocide that there was more that I could and should have done.

ROTH: The next year, thousands of Muslims were massacred in Srebrenica as Bosnian Serbs overran a U.N. safe zone. Annan would later say Rwanda and Srebrenica would shape his global thinking.


The Secretary General at the time, Boutros Boutros-Ghali would take the heat. U. S. Ambassador, Madeleine Albright, would black him for a second term as Secretary General. Washington's candidate, Kofi Annan.

ANNAN: I didn't have such a dreams that it never happened that somebody from the system was elected Secretary General.

ROTH: Annan's first term was highly rated. He championed human rights and urged the U.N. to protect civilians if their own governments turned on them but it was Annan whose charm and style elevated to him international rockstar status. The man and the organization accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, months after 9/11.

ANNAN: We have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire.

ROTH: It would not be a smooth second term for Annan. Friends of Annan reported he appeared depressed and distant, unable to stop the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He later called the assault illegal.

ANNAN: I think the worst moment of course was the Iraq can call which as an organization we couldn't stop and I really did everything I can to try to see if we can stop it.

ROTH: A personal nightmare when a suicide truck bomb killed U.N. Iraq envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and many U.N. personnel sent to Baghdad by Annan.

ANNAN: So you can imagine shock when that brutal death of my friends and colleagues happened.

ROTH: Iraq brought more bad news for Annan. The so-called Oil for Food U.N. agreement with Iraq led to corruption. The report later cleared Annan, but his son Kojo was linked to the scandal. The reserved Annan erupted when a reporter pressed him about a mysterious Mercedes tied to his son.

ANNAN: You've been behaving like a grown school boy in this room for many, many months and years. You are an embarrassment to your colleagues and to your profession.

ROTH: A warmer engagement on his final day when Annan drew a standing ovation in the general assembly. He never stopped working for the goals of the global organization Annan spent a lifetime in, a life and career fueled by tragedies and triumphs.

ALLEN: So again the U.N. Migration Agency letting us know Kofi Annan has died at age 80. We just heard from Richard Roth there in that report. He is now on the line with us from New York. Richard, certainly, you've covered the United Nations for many, many years, Kofi Annan's name was there for many of those years.

ROTH: Yes, and I knew him when he was the director of U.N. peace keeping before that there is no doubt anybody of a certain age covering the United Nations and following the United Nations for the ten years when he was Secretary General the name Kofi Annan is almost larger than life. It's also because the following two U.N. Secretaries General have for various reasons chosen a lower profile route to go. In fact, I dare say that few went out onto the streets of major cities in the world and you asked who is the current Secretary General of the U.N., you would hear, isn't it Kofi Annan?

It was a very, of course, always a tumultuous time in the world, but he started as a Secretary General I would say just as the internet was in its infancy and television news coverage of the U.N. was paramount also then, print media covering the U.N. extensively from the U.N., and Annan and his team also knew that was a good way to get the message out. I think it was good for both sides, though, yes, he certainly had his critics, and some would say he was teflon as I had just mentioned in that lifetime report.

He was somehow able to move on from being entangled with the Rwanda genocide when he was the Director of Peace Keeping, later on, there were other moments and you saw his frustration with the Iraq war, but for Kofi Annan, I can tell you personally, you couldn't help but feel like he was a friend.

You are supposed to maintain some independence from the people you cover, but I thought it was all genuine and I traveled around the world with him from Tunisia to East Timor as it was known then, Timor- Leste, and the man was, had a touch that people I think fell that if he entered a room he had a way of possibly solving some global crisis. It's obviously much more complicated now and he wasn't always able to do. That was a time in which we were covering him. Natalie, George.

HOWELL: Getting a perspective here from CNN Senior U.N. Correspondent Richard Roth on the phone with us. Again, perspective we can get so well from you from traveling with Kofi and in knowing him personally. Richard, standby with us because we're going to break for a moment. After the break we'll bring our David McKenzie, again as CNN covers the breaking news of Kofi Annan died at the age of 80 years old. Stand by, we'll be right back.



HOWELL: And following the breaking news this hour, the former Secretary General of the United Nationas, Kofi Annan, has died. The diplomat from Ghana served in the U.N.'s top post from 1997 to 2006.

ALLEN: And in 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with the entire United Nations and it was for their work, for a better organized and more peaceful world. The United Nations Migration Agency tweeted this, "a life well lived. a life well celebrating." And we want to do that now with our David MacKenzie is live in Johannesburg, South Africa. You have covered Kofi Annan. David, had interactions with him many times. What can you tell us on a personal level?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On a personal level he was certainly, as Richard described, was a man that was hard to maintain (inaudible) when in his presence, you think he had a very powerful presence, a soft spoken diplomat who had an outside influence on world affairs, decades, in fact. This ought to bring you the latest from his foundation, his family saying he died on Saturday after a short illness. He was 80-years-old. His wife and children were at his side during that brief illness and tragic death. They say as a global statesman deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world and certainly in the current climate of diplomacy which seem more around nationalistic interests than international diplomacy. He in a way was a throw back from

another era, a career U.N. diplomat who had worked his way through the ranks and managed stave off controversy to get the highest job at the United Nations.

I dealt with him mostly in the fallout of the Kenyan violence many years ago, ten years ago or more, where he helped to try to broker peace deals. Even after he left as Secretary General, he had a significant amount of power as a global statesman. You could come in and bring together boring and all disagreeing sides of difficult arguments and be a peace maker. So he has had an impact beyond his time at the United Nations.

ALLEN: What David, what were his most challenging times in his leadership role, would you say?

MCKENZIE: Well, I think certainly before he took his role at the U.N. Secretary General, the controversy surrounding the Rwandan genocide which he touched on, was something he had been heavily criticized over the years, also the reform process within the U.N. I have to say wasn't seen as particularly successful necessarily but it still is something that they are trying to get through that unyielding global organization.

But again, as Richard says, if you go and speak to people about Kofi Annan, they still associated with him with the leadership of the United Nations as though you had two Secretary General's post him, he said he was someone who was able to take his power in that pulpit, sometimes the bully pulpit to really push through his agenda of internationalism; sometimes to the chagrin of world leaders. So he was a powerful leader in that position. We haven't had someone quite like that since then leading the United Nations.

HOWELL: David McKenzie live from Johannesburg. Thank you so much David. Again the breaking news here on CNN, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan died at the age of 80 years old. CNN continuing to cover this news. We'll be right back after the break with more.



HOWELL: Following breaking news at this hour, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, has died. The diplomat from Ghana served in the United Nations top post from 1997 - 2006.

ALLEN: In 2001 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with the entire United Nations for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world. The United Nations Migration Agency tweeted, "a life well lived, a life worth celebrating." We're told he died after a short illness. That is CNN "Newsroom." I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. For our viewers in the United States, "New Day" picks up from here and for other viewers around the world, our breaking news coverage continues on the death of Kofi Annan after this short break.