Return to Transcripts main page


White House Declaring Iran's Revolutionary Guard A Terrorist Organization; Iran Connected to al-Qaeda; Hamid Baeidinejad, Iranian Ambassador to the U.K., is Interviewed About al-Qaeda; "WikiLeaks" Founder Arrested; Emily Bazelon, Author, "Charged," is Interviewed About Julian Assange; The Driving Force In America's Mass Incarceration Crisis; Human Trafficking And Veterans Rights. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired April 11, 2019 - 13:00   ET



[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The threats, they are very real. Almost everyone is connected to Iraq.


AMANPOUR: Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, ratchets up the pressure on Iran. And the White House names Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corp a terror

group. In a rare interview with the top Iranian official, I ask, could tensions be reaching a boiling point?

And "WikiLeaks" Julian Assange arrested in London, faces charges in the United States. But his side is citing first amendment issues. I speak

with legal journalist, Emily Bazelon.

Then, Cindy McCain, widow to the late Senator John McCain, keeps his legacy alive. Supporting veterans, spreading democracy and pushing back against

President Trump.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

The Trump administration keeps ratcheting up what it calls its maximum pressure campaign against Iran, from pulling out of the nuclear deal last

year and reimposing a wide range of tough sanctions, to know declaring Iran's revolutionary guard a terrorist organization.

So, where is all of this pressure headed? Senator Rand Paul says that he's worried the White House may be angling to use a 2001 authorization for the

use of military force, which allows U.S. troops to fight entities responsible for the 9/11 attacks to lay the groundwork for military action

against Iran. And when he pressed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on that, the secretary hardly set those fears to rest.


POMPEO: The factual question with respect to Iran's connections to al- Qaeda is very real. They have hosted al-Qaeda, they permitted al-Qaeda to transit their country. There's no doubt there is a connection between the

Islamic republic of Iran and al-Qaeda. Period, full stop.


AMANPOUR: It is rare in the Western press to hear what Iran has to say about the situation. And today, I'm joined by Hamid Baeidinejad. He is

Iran's ambassador to Britain and one of his most senior diplomats.

Welcome, Ambassador, to the program.

So, it looks like things are getting serious again in terms of rhetoric from the United States towards Iran. First and foremost, the Secretary of

State, administration, is trying to lay the groundwork it seems that you, Iran, are indelibly connected to al-Qaeda. What is your response to what

he said about hosting post 9/11, allowing them to transit?

HAMID BAEIDINEJAD, IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.K.: I agree with you that they are intensifying some parts of rhetorics. But these kinds of

allegations that Iran has had some links with al-Qaeda is not a new thing. They have made these numerous times and we have always rejected this.

But unfortunately, the U.S. wants to always increase the pressures and have some rhetorics up, they would raise this issue normally, but this is not

new to us.

AMANPOUR: It's not new to you. In fact, there were some al-Qaeda inside Iran after 9/11. I mean, just explain what was going on, including one of

the sons of Osama bin Laden.

BAEIDINEJAD: As I said, there have been always some allegations that, in fact, had not been any -- they have not been substantiated. But what we

have very clearly mentioned from the U.S. authorities, I advised Secretary Pompeo to consult Hillary Clinton because she was rather very clear in her

enunciations the United States has created, in fact, this group back to the Soviet occupation period when they hired Osama bin Laden and, in fact, gave

the necessary advanced equipment to Osama bin Laden and those Jihad groups, which then created this al-Qaeda. So, that was the creation of the United


AMANPOUR: That was way back in '80s when the United States was supporting the Islamic militants, the Mujahideen, against the Soviet occupation during

the Cold War. But you're hearing what they're saying, you admit they're ratcheting up and it's getting more heated in public. You heard Senator

Rand Paul say what -- that he doesn't -- he's concerned about the use of this connection. Do you fear that there is an attempt to ratchet up

conditions to start a campaign to take on Iran militarily?

BAEIDINEJAD: Normally, that should be in this manner. But what we see from the United States that there is no coherent policy [13:05:00] by the

United States. So, they can increase their rhetorics in one place, but forget about how to implement those stated policies in practical terms.

So, we believe that these are just rhetorics and that we are very skeptical to see if they had -- they have any intention to, in fact, increase the

pressure on the ground. But we will see.

AMANPOUR: Let me just play this soundbite by Senator Paul Rand, he's a Republican but does not want to let President Trump or Mike Pompeo use that

2001 authorization for war. Let's just listen to what he said.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): I am troubled that the administration can't unequivocally say you have not been given power. I can tell you

explicitly, you have not been given power or authority by Congress to have war with Iran. In any kind of semblance of a sane world, you would have to

come back and ask us before you go into Iran.


AMANPOUR: So, laying out what is certainly his side, and I'm sure a large group of senators believe about a repetition of an Iraq situation.

However, again, the facts show the administration is prepared to take unprecedented steps. For instance, it is never designated an entity that

is a governmental entity in any country a terrorist group, which it just did to the Islamic revolutionary guard.

I mean, what is your reaction to that and why do you think they're doing that?

BAEIDINEJAD: As I've said, I think this is part of the rhetorics because, in fact, the realities show that they are not at all interested to see what

are the implications for making such decisions, for example, in the region and in the -- within the Iranian nations.

Now, as you heard, the leaders in the region are very concerned and they have contacted the necessary people in Washington to ask for the revision

of this kind of decision. They are objecting this policy by the United States. And you have heard the leaders in the region very clearly stating

their policies.

In terms of Iranian public opinion, as you know, the IRGC is in a very solid position and has great support from the people. And no Iranian

institution or no part of the Iranian public opinion has been associating itself with this kind of rhetoric, which is going on in the U.S. And IRGC

is in a very solid position in terms of the support that it's received from the nation.

AMANPOUR: Well, I am going to talk a little more about that solid position of the IRGC because that's also worrying a lot of people. Let us just play

exactly what Secretary Pompeo said about the IRGC as they were designating it a terrorist organization.


POMPEO: For 40 years, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has actively engaged in terrorism and created, supported and directed other terrorist

groups. The IRGC masquerades as a legit my military organization but none of us should be fooled. It regularly violates the laws of armed conflict.

It plans and executes terror campaigns all around the world.


AMANPOUR: Now, Iran retaliated by saying that now Iran has designated CENTCOM, the American forces in that theater, as terrorists and, you know,

has warned them to watch out for consequences. I mean, that looks to be a deliberate direct counterthreat. And we've seen American forces in the

region over the past few years deliberately targeted and Iranian forces have been blamed among others, and Iranian militias, people aligned with


So, what does Iran mean when it designates CENTCOM forces as a terrorist organization?

BAEIDINEJAD: This is exactly retaliation that they have named our armed forces terrorist organization, which is against the facts. IRGC has been

very effectively fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. They have been very effective in helping those two countries to fight against ISIS. So, in our

view, IRGC should be rewarded rather than sanctioned.

So, this is contrary to the realities in the region. And in our view, that was a kind of gift to Netanyahu, pre-election gift to Netanyahu before --

exactly the night before the election [13:10:00]. So, they are not, om fact, taking any interest to see what are the consequences of this

decision. They are -- just want to, in fact, help Netanyahu to have solid position in Israeli politics.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, that is what your foreign minister said, Dr. Zarif said, another misguided election gift to Netanyahu, another dangerous U.S.

misadventure in the region. And of course, Prime Minister Netanyahu did thank his very good friend, the president of the United States, as he put

it, for doing this and for calling out what he called a common threat and threat to the region.

You know, designation of terrorism, counter designation of terrorism by you. All of these plays into a very concerted realignment or alignment of

forces in your region with the United States and Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia seeking to push back Iran's influence. And let's

face it, Iran's IRGC has had -- you know, many people believe a very negative influence in Syria. What and how are you preparing against this

regional push against Iran?

BAEIDINEJAD: Iran now is a very -- in a very good mood of corporation in the region between Iran and Iraq. As you know President Rouhani visited

Iraq and he met all of the high officials, with the people, different cities. We have a very good cooperation with Afghanistan, Pakistan and

also other governments in the region.

So, Iran is in a very stable situation. In fact, we are not afraid of what the United States believes in Washington. The question is that, in fact,

we are in a very positive cooperation in all spheres, economic, political and even defense cooperation in the region. So, we think that these

actions by the United States intend to impress, in fact, this kind of cooperation which exists between Iran and the region.

But the reality is that U.S. forces now are in the region. So, logically, now there are concerns even within the U.S. establishment from naming the

IRGC as a terrorist organization. Because now, it can have very immediate impact over the situation that the U.S. forces are in the region. They are

in a very volatile, in fact, situation and they are -- they could be in a very damaging situation if they want really to implement the instructions

from Washington.

I believe, that set aside the rhetorics, there would be no particular instruction from the United States and Washington to implement those

rhetorics on the ground because they are in Persian Gulf, they would see IRGC officers -- IRGC forces in the Persian Gulf if they dare to implement

those instructions that IRGC is a terror organization, if they move to counter the IRGC, they would see how forcefully they would be retaliated on

the ground.

So, I imagine these are just rhetorics, they don't have any instruction on the ground. And as you have listened, the spokesman of the army in some

respect, they have mentioned that they have -- we have not received any new instruction in terms of countering the IRGC. The situation is as before.

AMANPOUR: You're talking about U.S. army?

BAEIDINEJAD: U.S. Army. Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you because, you know, obviously the Trump administration wants a completely different and new negotiation with Iran,

whether it's over nuclear and/or the other issues that they've delineated and frankly, many countries want to see Iran have a different relationship

in many areas, whether it's in Syria, Hezbollah, whatever it might be, terrorism and all the rest of it.

They kind of seem to want regime change. My question to you is, has the United States pressure over the last two years of the Trump administration

since pulling out of the nuclear deal, has it bolstered the very forces that they are against, in other words, the IRGC and the more hardliners in

Iran? Has the United States' action helped the IRGC or hurt it?

BAEIDINEJAD: I can tell you that these wrong decisions have enabled our nation to be together and bring a consensus over the [13:15:00] policy with

the United States. Now, all forces in Iran, either moderate or conservatives or whatever we call them, they are in one line which is

confronting the U.S. threats and sanctions. And we see that even this last decision against the IRGC, again, has reinforced the position of all

nations to be behind IRGC and supporting the IRGC.

So, these are the wrong decisions, which are creating exactly the contrary, in fact, consequences that they have in their minds.

AMANPOUR: And just to be clear, the IRGC is not just a military force, although it is one, but it has a huge footprint on the Iranian economy and

in every aspect of Iranian life, correct?

BAEIDINEJAD: IRGC is now an organization which really has different branches. And even as you -- you can see during the floods in Iran, which

was very devastating and very, in fact, covering many cities in Iran, IRGC was among the first forces which was on the ground helping the people, with

the machineries and equipment, they're really trying to make bridges, which, in fact, in difficulties and helping the people, assisting the


And the IRGC is now is very popular. They are -- had the legacy in the war. And also, many Iranian soldiers, young people when constituted, they

are in the IRGC to serve their military services.

AMANPOUR: Let me move on to another issue, the State Department, and particularly the secretary of state says he's committed to, and the

president, bringing back Americans who are held hostage, unjustly imprisoned in countries around the world, dual nationals included. You

have several dual national Americans in jail in Iran.

And I just want to play for you a soundbite from Jason Rezaian, who is the Iranian-American journalist who was released as part of the Iran nuclear

deal under the Obama administration. This is what he says about his release and about those who are still there.


JASON REZAIAN, GLOBAL OPINIONS WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I am the happy ending, and it took 544 days for me to be sprung from that situation. At

this moment, we don't see anything happening between the U.S. and Iran that would indicate that there are negotiations going on for the people that are

currently being held.


AMANPOUR: Are there any negotiations? Because the Americans have, you know, proudly said they brought people home from Turkey and North Korea and

elsewhere. Is this administration engaging with Iran to try to get the dual nationals out of your jails?

BAEIDINEJAD: There are no negotiations at the moment because, in fact, when we had the JCPOA channels and we had some communications with the U.S.

in terms of implementing the JCPOA, there were negotiations concerning that part of the implementation.

But after the Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA, there is no channel and there is no negotiations between Iran and the U.S. on any

issue, including this question of dual nationals.

AMANPOUR: Their families must be very, very unhappy. Will Iran do something to help them get free? Most of them are unjustly held. All of


BAEIDINEJAD: We are not happy that these people are in jails, but they are in the jails because of the verdicts by the judge about the wrongdoings

they have made. We always try to see if there are possibilities to help them. But, in fact, that needs a working relationship with the judiciary

and we have been always trying to see what are the possibilities. But the reality is that, there have been wrongdoings and they should be, in fact,

jail to have their sentences.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador Baeidinejad, thank you very much indeed for joining me.


AMANPOUR: So, now America, as we know, is notorious for having an incarceration rate that is the highest in the developed world. And in her

new book, the legal journalist, Emily Bazelon, says, "That's largely because the criminal justice system is heavily weighted towards the

prosecution." She teaches law at the Yale Law School and she's a staff writer for "The New York Times" magazine.

The book is called "Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration." And I asked her about that and

about another legal [13:20:00] matter, the arrest of the "WikiLeaks" founder, Julian Assange. When I spoke to her today, Assange has being

charged with helping the Former Army Intelligence Specialist, Chelsea Manning, then called Bradley Manning, to access Defense Department

computers back in 2010 in an effort to disclose secret government documents. Assange and his legal team want to make this a question of

freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Emily Bazelon, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So, let's just start with the hard news, the breaking news of today and that is Julian Assange, as we said, has been arrested after all

of these years hiding out and hoping to have, you know, escaped the extradition in the Ecuadorian Embassy. What kind of justice do you think

he will face in the United States?

BAZELON: Julian Assange will face federal charges for computer hacking and the big controversy here will be whether this is a threat to press freedom

because he's being prosecuted for helping to release information, which a lot of people think was in the public interesting relating to abuses,

privacies, abuses by the U.S. government, the information that came from within the government from Chelsea Manning. So, there's a way in which

Assange performed a role here some people think is heroic in this case.

On the other hand, these are computer hacking charges. They are not charges under the Espionage Act. He is not being accused of spying. And

so, the kind of counterargument will be, well, Assange broke the law. For example, by trying to break a passcode into the U.S. government. And that

because he broke the law, he was not performing the traditional role of a journalist here.

AMANPOUR: In fact, his lawyer pushed back similar to what you just mentioned, U.K. courts will need to resolve what appears to be an

unprecedented effort by the United States seeking to extradite a foreign journalist to face criminal charges for publishing truthful information.

So, they're certainly going to go with that defense.

And obviously, the Obama administration had tried to prosecute him for this hacking but then dropped it. What will this current administration and

Federal courts do?

BAZELON: This administration does not buy the idea that Assange was acting as a journalist and will try to portray him as someone who went beyond the

role of a journalist by breaking the law himself. The question will be whether the courts buy into that theory of the case.

And then, of course, we should mention Assange has become an even more complicated figure because of his role in the Russian hacking and influence

in the American elections in 2016. He's not being charged with that conduct. These charges relate back to 2010. But because he has played

this dual role, that I think makes his position as a defendant in this case trickier for him.

AMANPOUR: And because this is really the topic of your book, which we're going to get to right now, what kind of a sentence based on precedent if

there is one could he face? Imprisonment for how long?

BAZELON: He could certainly face years in prison. When the Federal government comes after you for this kind of high-profile case, they tend to

try to throw the book at you by stacking up a lot of charges. And, you know, this is a very high-profile specific, unusual case. But the

prosecutorial power that we see here is very much the subject of my book and affects ordinary people in lots of -- more hidden ways every day.

AMANPOUR: So, let's just repeat, your book is "Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration." So, let's

just start this conversation with a couple of charts to show everybody the facts and figures about crime and incarceration in the United States.

So, firstly, U.S. violent crime rate is going down, and that is what the chart shows from 1996 to 2017. However, conversely, incarceration is going

up. It's now at almost 2.2 million and it has quintupled, if you like, since the 1980s. What is wrong with that picture?

BAZELON: Well, I think that's wrong with that picture is that if you go back even further to the 1970s, that was a time when crime in the United

States was rising. And so, when incarceration rose in response, you could see the relationship there.

But then, you see violent crime go down, way down. In places like New York City, it's down to the levels of the 1950s. And yet, incarceration

continued to rise and it's really stuck at the 1980s level as if we still had this epidemic of violent crime we had back then.

So, we have not caught up to the level of crime falling and we have also not faced up to how damaging incarceration is for the families of people

who [13:25:00] go to jail and prison, for the communities they come from and, of course, for the people who experience this. And there are real

questions, I think, finally being asked in the United States about how we're using our resources and whether this is actually helpful or a harmful

pursuit of mass incarceration that we're engaged in.

AMANPOUR: OK. Well, it's certainly infamous around the world, the United States mass incarceration is infamous. And again, let me put up another

chart because it's worth just seeing. You write in your book, you give incredibly interesting case studies that you follow, but you are mostly

focusing on I think you term prosecutorial zeal and the plea bargain process. So, walk us through what that means and how it's led to this.

BAZELON: Well, prosecutors have much more power than the American system was designed for. And they are really the missing piece in explaining the

American mass incarceration puzzle and why are rates are so much higher than the rest of the world.

In the '80s, lots of states started passing mandatory sentences. When you make a sentence mandatory, it means that the punishment is baked into the

charge and it's the prosecutor who controls the charge. The higher you set the charge with a mandatory sentence or by stacking charges, the more

leverage you have to force a plea bargain.

It's very hard for defendants when they're facing significant time in jail or prison to take a risk and roll the dice on going to trial. They know

that the prosecutor and the judge will punish them by making their sentence much higher if they lose at trial. And so, that's the dynamic we see here

in which prosecutors are just playing this key role.

AMANPOUR: So, obviously, there's a devil's advocate question to be had. You know, you're talking about essentially either the crisis of mass

incarceration, which now is becoming something the public and indeed politicians, even President Trump are looking at. And then you have the

crisis of victims' rights, that most law and order types and politics seems to venerate obviously. So, what about the victims' rights?

BAZELON: Well, I'm so glad you brought up this point because victims are such an important part of this picture. And are often so misserved by the

American system. If you talk to victims and surveys of them, they express a lot of feelings of betrayal and disappointment with the American system.

Now, it is true that some victims want punitive outcomes and a murder is a terrible crime, but there is vast amount of crime in the United States that

is not murder or rape, this sort of classic most scary violent crimes. And then some of those cases, victims are interested in other outcomes in

prison, in a kind of reckoning, in restitution, in talking to people and understanding the circumstances of their lives that led them to snatch an

iPhone off the street, say, or break into an empty building. Break into your house when you're not at home.

So, I think actually putting victims front and center is pretty important to criminal justice reform. And that assuming that they want the harshest

outcome in every case, that is not actually always the case.

AMANPOUR: The other thing that I find really interesting is you look at, for instance, Norway, just to take a country, and talk about how some of

the countries in the world, including Norway, have maximum sentences no matter what the crime. I mean, let's just take Anders Breivik, right. I

mean, all of -- the guy who committed mass murder as a White nationalist in Norway a few years ago. There's a maximum sentence.

And you have said that actually time and age do change individuals or very much can change individuals, and that they may not be the same danger to

society as when they first went into prison.

BAZELON: That's right. I mean, look, there are heinous crimes that Americans may feel deserve life in prison. It is also true that most

people age out of the period in which they commit violent crimes. When you talk about people in their 40s and 50s and older, they are just very

unlikely to continue to commit violent crimes.

And so, locking up people for many decades doesn't usually make sense if you're thinking about it from the point of view of deterrence, of keeping

the community safe. It really can only be justified in terms of retribution, and it's incredibly expensive.

So, you know, in thinking about the way we spend our resources, we have to ask the question of whether that's a sensible use of resources, whether

it's really serving a just and moral purpose.

[13:30:08] AMANPOUR: I want to play a little bit from "60 Minutes" when Louisiana Prosecutor Marty Stroud made very, very emotional sort of apology

in 2015 for somebody who he put in jail wrongfully.


MARTY STROUD, LOUISIANA PROSECUTOR: I was arrogant, narcissistic, caught up in the culture of winning.

BILL WHITAKER, CORRESPONDENT, 60 MINUTES: Win regardless of the facts, the truth?

STROUD: Looking back on it, yes. There was a question about other people's involvement. I should have followed up on that. I didn't do it.

WHITAKER: You were on death row for 30 years.


WHITAKER: Did you ever come close to an execution date?

FORD: It came within a week because a judge said he would retire and he wanted to put a death date on me.


AMANPOUR: I mean it really is horrendous. He was sent to death row for a crime that he didn't commit and now you have a prosecutor apologizing. So

address that unleveled playing field.

BAZELON: Well, I think what we see in the United States is that the judge, who is the neutral referee, is not in a decision-making position in the way

we imagine judges to be. And this goes back to what we were talking about in terms of prosecutors having so much power overcharging and plea


Because of that, we've seen a shift where it's really prosecutors making the key decisions. And the reason that matters so much is that the main

job of prosecutors in the United States is to win convictions. They are also supposed to be ministers of justice but their incentives are really to

convict people. They're not neutral.

And also they exercise their power in a kind of black box. Plea bargaining does not take place in open court. It's haggling over the phone or in the

hallway with the defense lawyer.

And so in this very crucial ways, the American system has shifted. And we didn't talk about this when we were making sentences harsher in the 1980s

and '90s. We didn't say OK, it's time to shift all the power and discretion to prosecutors. So it's this feature of the system that was not

really intended or planned but has all kinds of consequences.

AMANPOUR: Let's just not forget, let's reiterate that that man Glenn Ford spent 30 years on death row in jail just waiting for that, you know, for

the lever to be pulled until he was finally released. So that's 30 years.

You talk about plea bargaining a lot and you quote a Yale law professor. He basically says it's like torture. There's, of course, a difference

between having your limbs crushed if you refuse to confess or suffering some extra years of imprisonment. But the difference is of a degree, not

kind. Plea bargaining, like torture, is corrosive and it is unique to the United States.

But isn't it something that keeps the system moving on? What if there wasn't plea bargaining?

BAZELON: It absolutely keeps the system, the current system, in the United States moving along. And it's pretty unimaginable to imagine ending it

here. However, it is imaginable to imagine placing some constitutional limits on it.

Having a degree of threat that is beyond what prosecutors are allowed to do. We don't have any of those constitutional limits in the United States.

The Supreme Court has failed to set them.

So I think that you can imagine a system in which plea bargaining continues to play a role but it is restrained in a way that we don't have now. And

so one of the things I got the most excited about writing about in my book is a movement among prosecutors to exercise their power differently.

As long as they control charging and plea bargaining, it's up to them to figure out how to not always pick the harshest outcome. And in the United

States, prosecutors and district attorneys are elected which means that really their power is the power of the voters.

And one of the things I enjoyed the most about the book was learning about a movement and really trying to track its efforts to elect new kinds of


AMANPOUR: OK. So this bit is now really, really interesting because as you say, public opinion is shifting. The president of the United States

was in the Oval Office with Kim Kardashian and somebody who she and his daughter wanted released from jail and he released that person, commuted

her sentence.

But prosecutors, the tougher they are, have always thought that's a great way to run for national office and it's happened over and over again. Now,

let's say Senator Kamala Harris is trying to run for president. She was a tough prosecutor but it's not quite going so well for her. Explain that.

BAZELON: Well, you're absolutely right. It used to be in the United States if you ran as a [13:35:00] law and order, tough-on-crime politician,

you could not lose. And Democrats, as well as Republicans, tended to make sure they could check that box.

In addition to Kamala Harris who's facing questions about her record as a prosecutor, there's also Joe Biden who was very proud of his role in

passing crime bills in the '80s and '90s that now we look back and there's really a bipartisan consensus that they were excessive. For example, in

putting drug offenders in prison, and also create an enormous racial disparity in the system with black people in the United States bearing the

brunt of the punishment.

So the politics really are shifting. In public opinion polls, most Americans are interested in supporting candidates who promise to reduce

incarceration. And that is a bipartisan phenomenon and it is changing this local and state elections in red states as well as blue states where people

elect prosecutors.

And people are realizing that they have the power to reshape the criminal justice system in their own communities. This is not something they have

to wait for Washington to fix.

AMANPOUR: Really interesting. And, of course, huge money on both the left and the right is going into this reform process. You are the author of

"Charged". Emily Bazelon, thank you so much for joining us.

BAZELON: Thanks for having me.

AMANPOUR: And we'll obviously definitely keep following this trend for reform in that criminal justice system.

But up next, Cindy McCain has become a figurehead in the fight against human trafficking and Veterans rights. And although she's still grieving

for her husband, the late Senator John McCain, she says the fight must continue. And she sat down with our Hari Sreenivasan to explain.

HARI SREENIVASAN, CONTRIBUTOR: It's been less than a year since Senator McCain passed. And I know grief is a process. Where are you now?

CINDY MCCAIN, BOARD CHAIR, THE MCCAIN INSTITUTE: I'm better. You know this is -- it's my job to stay strong for my children, and they're at

various stages as well. So it is a process and it's something that, you know, as a human being, you just do the best you can. You never get over

it though but you learn to live with it.

SREENIVASAN: What are the hard parts?

MCCAIN: Oh, just I mean everything reminds me of him and people remind me of him. We loved him. They will stop me in the airport or stop me

wherever I might be, and that's always a reminder of what he was and what was lost.

SREENIVASAN: Let's talk a little bit about the initiatives that you're focused on through the McCain Institute. Human trafficking. Why that

topic and what are you working on?

MCCAIN: Well, the Institute has many different issues as you know but the human trafficking element was -- my husband had -- we called it our sides

and it's not that way. But his, obviously, interest was next-generation leaders, human rights, freedom of the press, et cetera. And my side was

the human trafficking element of it.

So what we do is we work not just on sex trafficking. We began domestically. We started right in Arizona and expanded -- since expanded

and have helped or a part of many programs across the country.

Our latest issue is labor trafficking. We have begun our step into labor trafficking. We have a very robust project going in Texas with regards to

the fruit pickers and the people that come across either on a daily basis or slip across or whatever it may be.

And that includes being able to not just charge the traffickers much harder than we were but training prosecutors, making sure that the workers are

being treated fairly, making sure that we have a constant continuing effort to make sure that they know their rights as well.

SREENIVASAN: The International Labor Organization estimates that this is a $150 billion industry, that there are 40 million people around the world

that are being trafficked. For Americans, help them understand how is this happening in the United States? How are they perhaps contributing to it

and not knowing?

MCCAIN: Well, the first thing we tell people is to take a look, be observant of what you're buying. So buy the products that you believe and

can possibly make sure or determine that are fairly produced and their workers are treated humanely is the kind of word that I would use.

And then, of course, making sure that you understand your community because this is -- it's not just happening in Texas. It's happening all over the


And these labor traffickers are not just fruit pickers. These are people that could be working at a hotel. They could be working as a domestic

helper. They could be -- it could be anywhere really.

And so I -- what I tell people is, be alert. If you see it and you're not sure, then educate yourself on it and make sure -- and be a part of this.

Be a part of this wave that I think is going on right now and help them to stop this.

By the way, this is not an immigration issue. This is a human rights issue. It's a basic human rights issue and we [13:40:00] sometimes get

confused. Our issue gets confused with immigration. It's not.

SREENIVASAN: How are people trafficked?

MCCAIN: Well, within the United States, these are local girls and boys that are usually on the edge. They may have been in foster care. They may

have been homeless. They've run away.

They wind up in the hands of these pimps that for instance in a girl's case, they will reel them in and say you're beautiful. You look so lovely.

Let me get you a modeling job kind of thing. And that's kind of how a lot of this stuff starts.

But they are systemically moved around the country. You can almost follow the trends to it. In fact, you can follow them.

It -- for instance, Super Bowl, I use that as the first prime example because that's how we got started. Huge event. A lot of good things

happen. A lot of bad things happen. Trafficking is one of them.

Large events like that, you will see them move from maybe a Super Bowl to a big car race or to a convention in Las Vegas or all the way around the

country. A lot of this is done online. I'm happy to say that there's been some legislation passed nationally that has stopped a good portion of this,

but it's still happening.

SREENIVASAN: Last year, the military reached a record number of suicides and -- since they began keeping track in this century. It's a sad record

to hit.

MCCAIN: Awful.

SREENIVASAN: You're also working with an organization that helps veterans with PTSD. Tell us about that.

MCCAIN: Warriors & Quiet Waters, they're a small non-profit. They're based out of Montana. And I've came upon them because basically a young

man that my son knew started it.

And what they do is they take our wounded veterans, not just our physically wounded but our wounded veterans that are suffering within themselves.

They take them and it's a very simple thing.

They take them and they go fly-fishing. They give them all of the equipment. They give -- they send them out in boats with other men who

have been in the same situation but that are now fishing and doing other things.

And it's been most successful with these men because it's a kind of program that it's soft, it's simple. It's -- but it really has an impact on these

men. We have seen a lot of different people come through and they're doing much better. Now, it's not a hundred percent but it's a very good


SREENIVASAN: What is it about? Is it about talking to other people and realizing you're not alone?

MCCAIN: Yes, I think it's about talking. I think it's about understanding. I think it's about somebody caring enough to do it quite

frankly and enabling them, giving them the tools that they could maybe do it themselves later on.

It's wonderful to watch this. They took me fly-fishing one year. I was up there for a board meeting and I was -- quite frankly, I was kind of cranky

as I've got things to do. I need to -- I got to -- I have work to do, et cetera.

And it was the best thing they could have done for me. And that's how I really understood how successful this is because I spent a day, just a day,

and it was life-changing for me. It was great.

SREENIVASAN: Your husband admitted that one, he was a prisoner of war, that he had thought about and tried to take his own life. After he came

back, I mean he had a storied career, a war hero, I mean sort of larger than life.

Did veterans approach him because of knowing his history in a way where he could connect to them, understanding a little bit of the pain that they

might still be feeling?

MCCAIN: Yes, very much so. He understood and as you know advocated for help for veterans in many different ways. And I think too they saw -- they

felt a camaraderie with him because they knew that he knew. He knew what it was like.

SREENIVASAN: What are some of the challenges that are structural that veterans are facing considering that we're in these forever wars and then

we're going to have an influx of veterans coming home?

MCCAIN: Right. Right. I think one of the issues -- I know that my husband worked on a great deal with Veterans Choice, giving them the

opportunity to get health care, including mental health care, within their own communities. Not having to go to the VA to get it.

These guys come home, and men and women come home, and they wind up homeless. They wind up on drugs, whatever. All various things that can


And our communities are just not equipped enough to deal -- either deal with them or can't deal with them in one way or another. And it's up to us

as Americans to make sure these young men and women are cared for.

So Veterans Choice is one that would be a huge benefit for this. And just our communities getting together and supplying more beds and more shelters

for these guys that wind up on the streets especially.

SREENIVASAN: You mentioned that you're still in a process of grieving. Recently, the president took his legacy to task again. What does that do

to you?

[13:45:00] MCCAIN: Well, it was something that I'm sorry that it happened, but, listen, our family is so strong that those kinds of things make no

difference to us. I think my daughter handled it very well.

And as far as the rest of the family, we just want to go on with our lives. We know who John was and we know what our life is, was, and is with him.

SREENIVASAN: You received some really hateful messages and you chose to take one of them and tweet it out. Why do that?

MCCAIN: Well, it wasn't so much about what was going on with the White House, et cetera, but it was about the absolute lack of civility in a

public forum in any way. The anonymity that social media has given has propelled people to say horrible things. Not just to me, to a lot of

people, and somehow they can get away with it.

And I just felt that that one, it was so bad. I mean I get them every day but that one was so bad, I thought I'm just going to let people know what's

going on.

SREENIVASAN: So we are hearing there's a possibility that the woman who sent you that horrible message, that she could have been hacked. That this

could be part of something bigger just to try to get us to hate each other.

MCCAIN: That to me is just horrible if that's true. We don't have confirmation on it yet but it's horrible if that actually happened. And

this level, like you said, the level of discord that's occurring right now and someone would go that far perhaps to instill this kind of hatred, it

has to stop.

I place, not blame, but I place responsibility on some of these outlets to monitor what's going on and help all of us who are trying to do the right

thing but we need help. I mean I can't -- I still get this stuff on Twitter, not like that, but I still get it.

SREENIVASAN: You know, the social media companies are going to say listen, we've built these tools that actually helped democracy and something that

you care about. If it wasn't for us, there wouldn't be these protests and uprisings against dictatorial regimes.

MCCAIN: I understand.

SREENIVASAN: Right? So what should they do?

MCCAIN: There has to be a standard though. I mean talking about an uprising or talking about political democracy or whatever it may be is one

issue. But rolling over and what that tweet or that message was all about, that's not acceptable in my idea.

And I think that we have to -- our Facebooks and our Twitters, it has to be somewhat responsible. They have to help us in this.

SREENIVASAN: What about the friends of Senator McCain who are silent in the face of this? I mean they seem too scared to challenge the president

for their own political careers.

MCCAIN: Well, I think that whatever their decision is is their decision on any of this. The important part is that the country knows who John McCain

was and the country believed in him and loved him the way we do.

And so we don't need praise or we don't need -- as far as our family goes, we don't need any help but we welcome any that comes.

SREENIVASAN: Lindsey Graham, somebody who considered himself a friend to John McCain, even throughout the eulogy, there have been several instances

where he's had an opportunity to point out the record of the late senator and dispute some of these claims that have been made.

I mean the president's attacked your husband's patriotism, the loyalty to the Republican Party. And Lindsey Graham, his responses are tepid at best.

And you're still going to have a relationship with Lindsey Graham. You're going to Africa soon with him, right?

MCCAIN: Lindsey is a good friend. He was literally like a son to my husband. These are Lindsey's decisions.

I don't dislike him for any of it. I love him and will always love him. He's a part of our family.

So life goes on. And whatever he decides to do, he decides to do. It's his decision.

But let me say he is a good friend, and like I said, I love him very much.

SREENIVASAN: You've said before that you're a lifelong Republican, that politics is cyclical. But at this point, the overwhelming majority of

Republicans who self-identify support the president's policies, so it seems to be a different party than the one that you and John signed up for.

If the Republican Party and platform truly now the party of Trump, are you still a Republican?

MCCAIN: Yes, I'm still a Republican. But with that said, politics is very cyclical. And we used to describe it's as a pendulum. A pendulum goes

this way and then it swings back. It will go that way and swing back in. This is part of the pendulum swinging.

I believe in the decency and honesty of people, Republican or Democrat, and [13:50:00] this will pass. This too will pass as John would have said.

SREENIVASAN: You and Vicky Kennedy, wife of late Ted Kennedy are friends. Unfortunately, the same disease to both of your husbands. It seems like

that sort of relationship is increasingly rare in American political life.

MCCAIN: Politics should never be personal, no matter what area you're in, no matter what -- whether you're on the local level, the national level,

the worldwide level. It's not personal.

And I think those are the kinds of lessons that my husband was really good at teaching people and mentoring people. He loved to mentor especially

senators that came through and House members, teaching them and showing them the right way to work with this. And I think right now we're in an

arena that it's maybe a little more personal than it should be.

SREENIVASAN: It seems like personal is what's rewarded.

MCCAIN: Well, I do think that the American people are the ultimate judge of this too. And they speak through the ballot box.

So I think those of us that are on the sidelines, we will speak very loudly about this at the ballot box. And I think we will see what happens in


SREENIVASAN: One of the other things you're focused on is fostering democracy around the world. And you were recently in Ukraine. What was

that like?

MCCAIN: Ukraine was a country that my husband cared very deeply about and worked very hard to not only propose democracy but help the fledgling

democratic country work.

For me to be back where and see an election that he had talked about, the upcoming elections, which we just saw the first part of it, for me to see

it and having heard about it through him and then see it through other people's eyes and see how impactful John was to that country -- you know

they named a street after him now.

SREENIVASAN: No, I didn't know.

MCCAIN: It's amazing. It's wonderful. Democracy was what John was all about. The right to be free and determine your own destiny. And it's

coming to fruition in Ukraine.

SREENIVASAN: You know, when you were in Ukraine, I'm sure you heard more about this but are they concerned about Russian influence in their


MCCAIN: Oh, very much, very much so. This first round was very clean. It was -- there was no discourse. There was no -- we've been hearing there

were going to be riots and all kinds of things. Nothing happened.

It was actually quite dull which was great. It was a great thing. The second round I think is going to be troublesome and they're worried about

the Russians doing all of the things that we have been told that they do and are continuing to do with regards to infiltrating and messing with the

count and all of the things that they could do.

SREENIVASAN: You look at all of these different things, fostering democracy, fighting human trafficking, veterans care, restoring civility in

public life, these are all sounding like planks to a candidate's platform. Any interest in running for office?

MCCAIN: Oh, me? Oh, no. No. I've seen -- I've been around this a long time. I'm very happy doing what I'm doing. And like I said, the most

important thing I need to be doing right now is making sure my family is OK.

SREENIVASAN: And how are they doing with this?

MCCAIN: They're all -- there are different stages with this. It's -- and I, just day by day, it's making sure that everyone is OK. It's been --

we're seven months out from John's death now and it's not any easier but I think it's getting easier to live with if that makes sense. Just the

understanding that this is our new reality. So that's been a little challenging at times.

SREENIVASAN: Cindy McCain, thank you so much for joining us.

MCCAIN: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: A rare interview with Cindy McCain.

Meantime, across North Africa, Arab Spring 2.0 seems to be underway. Today in Sudan, the president, and former General Omar al-Bashir was ousted in a

military coup, after months of protests against his 30-year rule.

Here's a snippet of my interview with Bashir back in 2004 during the notorious Darfur genocide, when he refused international demands to end

that slaughter.


AMANPOUR: Some have suggested that outside troops come here to keep the peace and to stop the violence. Would you accept American, British troops

from other countries?

OMAR AL-BASHIR, OUSTED SUDANESE PRESIDENT (through translator): We're truthfully capable of shouldering our responsibility to provide security

for the Sudanese citizen and we're not willing to accept any foreign forces because honestly, foreign forces will only complicate the situation.

AMANPOUR: So, no, you would not accept troops?

BASHIR: We will not accept foreign forces.


AMANPOUR: In the end, Bashir was indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court because of Darfur.

But that's it for now. Remember, you can listen to our podcast. See us online at and follow me on Instagram and Twitter.

Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.