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Challenging the White House from Within; Jack Goldsmith's Life Experience; "In Hoffa's Shadow," Goldsmith's New Book; Jack Goldsmith, Former Head of the U.S. Office of Legal Counsel, is Interviewed About his Life Experience and His New Book; Whistleblowers, What it Takes to Risk Everything; Katharine Gun, Whistleblower, is Interviewed About Being a Whistleblower. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired October 15, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK GOLDSMITH, FORMER HEAD OF THE U.S. OFFICE OF LEGAL COUNSEL: We have endowed a president, especially in the foreign affairs area, he's most
unchecked there. That's where is most free reign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: He led the Office of Legal Counsel under President George W. Bush. Jack Goldsmith talks to me about executive overreach then and now,
and about living in the shadow of Jimmy Hoffa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, ACTRESS, "OFFICIAL SECRETS": My motive was to stop a war and save lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: In the U.K., whistleblower, Katharine Gun's story is the subject of the new film "Official Secrets." She joins me to talk about the price
she paid for raising the alarm about the Iraq war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Musician, Robbie Robertson, on shaping the band, scoring for Scorsese and taking Bob Dylan electric.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
As he flexed his executive power to the limit, President Trump is facing massive bipartisan pushback after his unilateral decision to abandon
allies, the Syrian Kurds, to the Turkish military. And on the Ukraine crisis, his own former, fired, national security advisor, John Bolton, as
well as his former Russia adviser are saying they objected to his actions.
Well, my guest tonight has personal experience in challenging the White House from within. Jack Goldsmith headed the Office of Legal Counsel under
President George W. Bush where he spoke up on issues like excessive wiretapping and so-called torture memos.
Now in a new book, Goldsmith is looking back to the events of his childhood that led him to a career in law and justice. His stepfather, Chuckie
O'Brien, became a prime suspect in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, the powerful leader of the Teamster's labor union who vanished without a trace
back in 1975. That mystery is also the topic of Martin Scorsese's new and highly acclaimed epic "The Irishman."
Goldsmith's book is called "In Hoffa's Shadow." And he joined me to talk about that and his own experience reigning in presidential power.
Jack Goldsmith, welcome to the program.
JACK GOLDSMITH, FORMER HEAD OF THE U.S. OFFICE OF LEGAL COUNSEL: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, you have a book out and a life experience that seems to really hit at the heart of major issues happening in the United States and
the world right now.
Given all that is happening with the presidential actions regarding Ukraine and regarding, also, the war in Syria and the green light to Turkey. But
let's just go back to your experience in the White House, the DOJ, as Office of Legal Counsel. Talk to me about executive power, the limits of
executive power, how you, in the end, became alarmed at what the executive, at that time, President George W. Bush was doing with his power.
GOLDSMITH: Sure. So, as we see with President Trump, like we haven't seen maybe ever in this country, the president of the United States is endowed
with just extraordinary power, extraordinary discretion to guide the fate of the country. And the president has built up this power over 200 years,
basically, either through collecting it on his own or through Congress giving it to him.
When I was in the Justice Department in 2003-2004, I was the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, and there are -- despite the president's power,
there are legal constraints on the presidency and we were charged with ensuring that those constraints were enforced and I did my best to do that.
AMANPOUR: And it was quite difficult, I mean, there was some very, very powerful people in the White House at that the time, from President Bush to
Vice President Cheney to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and all their second in commands as well. I mean, it was a very powerful group of people
who tended to believe in the same thing, whether it was, you know, the post 9/11 how you're going to treat terrorists or terrorist suspects under the
Geneva Conventions, what about the torture memo which was so fundamental to your experience, the warrantless wiretapping.
Describe what you've already written about it in one of your books, when you went into the White House and you answered a question that they had, do
the Geneva Conventions apply even to terrorist suspects? What happened? What did you say and what did they respond?
GOLDSMITH: That was in the first week of my time at the Office of Legal Counsel in October of 2003. The assumption had been that they did not
apply to terrorists in Iraq, and I told them that our analysis suggested that it did, at least for [13:05:00] almost all of the terrorists, and they
were flabbergasted. They couldn't believe it. They -- I think they expected a different answer.
AMANPOUR: Well, in fact, you write that the lawyer, David Addington, Dick Cheney's lawyer, was enraged, livid. And you said that he said, you cannot
question his decision, referring to President Bush. I mean, that's pretty extraordinary to -- I mean, I guess they would say that, wouldn't they?
But reflect on how that impacted the war and also, how you see any connection to today's White House and the president wanting maximum
authority under his executive power.
GOLDSMITH: Well, to go back to the Bush administration, they believe -- they had a broad view of executive power, historically broad view of
executive power, and they were faced with what they thought was a serious threat to the nation's security. And early on, they did everything they
could to be as aggressive as possible to meet the threat after 9/11. And in my judgment, they overstepped in some respects.
And when I was there for about a year, I was basically charged with or it fell in my lap to try to put everything they were doing on a sound or legal
foundation. I think those excesses ended up hurting the cause. Certainly, the interrogation stuff did. They got caught up in scandal over the
warrantless wiretapping program and the like.
All presidencies, this was through Barack Obama presidency, it's through Donald Trump's presidencies, in different ways seek to exercise maximum
executive power. Presidents have enormous responsibilities and they try to exercise as much power as they can to ensure that they can meet those
responsibilities. Often, they go too far.
This administration, President Trump's administration, is the difference. The main difference is that President Trump, unlike prior presidents, just
doesn't have any conception of the office, the norms that surround the office, the legal constraints on the office, even the Bush administration
had -- when they were pushing the envelope had a very developed and principle view of executive power, even if I disagreed with it. I don't
think this president does.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me then ask you, because you obviously -- I mean, you resigned in end over the torture memos and the whole aspect of what was
going on there. You told the "New York Times" once that because of what happened before in President Bush's administration, you don't think "any
president in the near future would be able to have the same view towards executive authority as President Bush did because the other institutions of
government won't allow it."
You kind of -- I mean, that would have been nice, right, but it didn't work out that way.
GOLDSMITH: I wouldn't quite say that. Let me just draw a distinction, please. The Trumps tried to get away with a whole bunch of things. And he
certainly indifferent to the law and indifferent to norms. But he hasn't - - the court just stood up to him on a lot of matters. His own Justice Department has stood up to him on a lot of matters, extraordinarily,
including his political opponents.
The fact that the Mueller investigation was allowed to reach its end without Mueller being fired. The report was allowed to come out in almost
unredacted form. So, I think there's a difference between Trump -- what Trump wants to accomplish and what he's able to accomplish.
AMANPOUR: Well, then let me ask about a domestic issue and that is Ukraine. I mean, as you know, it is being -- it's resulting in impeachment
inquiry by the House.
AMANPOUR: And the White House has said that it refuses to cooperate. Let me just read you the White House counsel's letter to speaker of the house,
Pelosi, "President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances. Put
simply, you seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the president they have freely chosen."
As a former Justice Department lawyer, OLC, what do you make of that?
GOLDSMITH: I found the legal argument from the letter to be completely groundless. The idea that the House is somehow proceeding in an
unconstitutional way. I found those arguments completely meritless. There are politics on both sides of this. And that letter, even though the
letter was from the White House counsel and even though it was couched in legal language, was the political shot over the bowel (ph). That was
designed for public consumption for the president's base and they had concluded for whatever reason that that was a shrewd political move. But I
don't think it's a fair characterization of what is going on in the House at all.
AMANPOUR: Let's move on, Jack Goldsmith. Who, for those who don't know, was Jimmy Hoffa?
GOLDSMITH: Jimmy Hoffa was a larger-than-life figure in the 1950s and '60s. He was the most prominent labor union leader at a time, unlike today
when unions really mattered. He led the most powerful union in the country, the Teamsters Union, and he was also notoriously corrupt. He had
close relationships with organized crime, he had all sorts of side deals with employers and his loans. But he brought [13:10:00] home the bacon to
the workers. He was hugely popular with the 1 million plus Teamster Union members and he wielded enormous power.
AMANPOUR: Obviously, the unions are in the spotlight again today with the GM strike, and the story of Jimmy Hoffa is really in the spotlight in a way
that may be accessible to many more people today and that is with the film "The Irishman."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back then, there was nobody in this country who didn't know who Jimmy Hoffa was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The Jimmy Hoffa character is played by Al Pacino and it's a remarkable film. Have you seen the film, by the way?
GOLDSMITH: I have not seen the film yet, no.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, as you know, of course, the mystery, the eternal mystery about Jimmy Hoffa is what happened to him? It's assumed he
was kidnapped and killed but his body has never been found. And his right- hand man was none other than a gentleman by the name of Chuckie O'Brien, your stepfather.
And culture up until now and history has sort of -- kind of blamed him, haven't they? They've said perhaps he drove Hoffa to his death. Tell me
about what is in the public eye and what you sought to find out as you wrote the book.
GOLDSMITH: Sure. The conventional wisdom since 1975, since just the week of the disappearance was that my stepfather, Chuckie O'Brien, picked up
Hoffa and drove him to his death. And this was a theory that the FBI put out in 1975, there was some leaked documents at the time. And that
narrative from 1975 that Chuckie was involved has persisted in the public mind to this day. I think it's the theory of the movie that's about to
come out, at least the book it's based on.
One of the things I set out to do in this book was to see if, in fact, he was guilty of what he was accused of because I suspected for a whole bunch
of reasons that he wasn't. And so, for seven years, I pored over every document I could find, including lot that had never been looked at in the
public realm. I spoke to every agent involved in the case.
To make a long story short, I came to the conclusion, I think, a very persuasive conclusion, everyone who has read the book had said so, that he,
in fact, was not involved in the disappearance, that it was -- and moreover that the FBI has known this for 20 years. They came very close to
exonerating him about five years ago and then they got cold feet.
But the story that the FBI put out 45 years ago about the Hoffa investigation and the one that still fills conventional wisdom is just --
has no basis to it.
AMANPOUR: So, how did Chuckie O'Brien come into your life? You speak about him -- you open the book by, I think, saying, he was my third father
and the best.
GOLDSMITH: Yes. So, my birth father was neglectable, to put it kindly, and wasn't never around and left permanently when I was seven. Then I had
a stepfather who wasn't a very good stepfather. And when I was 12 years old, suddenly from nowhere my mom had met Chuckie and they got married in
June of 1975, and it turned out he was Jimmy Hoffa's long-time right-hand man. Turned out he was a Teamster's Union official. It turned that he had
many close connections with organized crime.
But in addition to that, he was just an extraordinary father. He was just -- gave me love and attention and affection and did everything he could for
me and everything he could with me. And during my teenage years, I really idolized him. So, he was a great father, at the same time that he was a
leading suspect in the Hoffa disappearance and the circus surrounding that.
AMANPOUR: And not only that, I mean, you write some pretty hair-raising and toe-curling experiences that Chuckie, the amiably named Chuckie, did
for Jimmy Hoffa, like how did he once intimidate the editor of the Detroit newspaper?
GOLDSMITH: So, Hoffa in the early '60s was furious that Martin Hadden, who is the editor of "The Detroit News" was just killing him in the press and
asked Chuckie to do something about it to stop him. So, Chuckie, he didn't always have the best ideas. I don't know if this was a good idea or not,
he went to the morgue at Wayne State and he purchased a cadaver or he purchased a head of a cadaver, he put it in a box, wrapped it up as a
Christmas present and sent it to Martin Hadden.
I don't know what the consequences were, but I know that story and that actually happened.
AMANPOUR: You know, I mean, it's so extraordinary and to think he was your stepfather. Did you talk to him about the head in the box?
GOLDSMITH: Of course, I did. That's where I first learned about the story. I was later able to confirm it after a lot of work. But, yes, he
told me about that and a lot of other things that he did. Some violent, some illegal. He was pretty candid with me about his life.
AMANPOUR: Let's talk about the interface, if I can put it that way, between Jimmy Hoffa and, obviously, Chuckie O'Brien, your stepfather, and
the mob. He was no fan of the Mafia, you say about Hoffa, but he worked with them and he was not shy of criminality. This is Hoffa speaking to a
reporter in 1959. He said, 20 [13:15:00] years ago, the employers had all the hoodlums working for them as strike breakers. Now, we've got a few and
everybody is screaming.
Was that him trying to let himself off the hook? What was his real relationship with the mob?
GOLDSMITH: That was not him trying to let himself off the hook. That was his true belief. Hoffa was a lot of things but he wasn't a hypocrite.
He's basically admitting there that he has relations with organized crime in 1959. And he's really explaining why he didn't think it was a big deal
because it's true in the '30, when the Teamsters were in violent confrontations with management and the state, the employers did hire
organized crime officials to fight with them and that's where Hoffa kind of learned his lessons about what it took to confront the government with
So, he wasn't -- he was being very candid there about his relationship with organized crime and he was always -- he never hid it really and he said it
was exaggerated but he never hid it. But one of the things Chuckie taught me also, Hoffa had extremely dense relations with organized crime figures,
especially through the loans that he gave from the Teamsters' pension fund. But they were always at arm's length.
Hoffa never really hang out with the mobsters. He didn't understand them. He didn't understand their rituals. And for him, the mob was just another
way of getting power just like when he paid off politicians or judges and he would do anything he could to enhance his power, to enhance the union's
power. And he saw his transactions with the mob as just another set of transaction as transactions to enhance his power.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you sort of -- a really sort of difficult part of your relationship with Chuckie. At one point, after you had gone to
college and you were wanting to maybe be a lawyer and you were getting more and more conservative. I mean, you are a conservative. And you kind of
decided once you heard more about his story and about Hoffa that you were going to break up with your stepfather.
You change your name back from O'Brien, you're taken his, to Goldsmith and you wrote him a letter that you thought was loving and kind and, you know,
get you off the hook while you take back your birth father's name. And he wrote back to you. Can you read a little of that extract of his letter to
GOLDSMITH: Sure. "To think that you do not want the O'Brien name for whatever reason hurts. Makes me sad. Even makes me angry at times. But I
still love you. I cannot say that the name change will not affect our relationship. It cannot help but affect the relationship. That hurt will
not go away easily. The pain will be there each time I see or hear Jack Goldsmith. It will be ever present. I can handle it. I've had to handle
many, many unpleasant things in my life. I've endured heartache and sorrow. And although it won't be easy, I can handle this one more burden,
so to speak."
AMANPOUR: It's really -- you can feel the pain and you actually did not see -- you really broke up with him for more than two decades and it took
you a long time to go back and make up with him and ask his forgiveness. How did he take that and how do you feel now when you think of the pain
that break up caused him?
GOLDSMITH: So, when I was 20 years old, I was thinking about myself and my career and I wasn't thinking about him and his letter didn't move me. As I
got older and wiser and had more experience and really grew empathetic with him because of some of the things that I was accused of and grew empathetic
with him and sympathetic with him and also came to see that perhaps I wasn't so virtuous as I thought 20 years earlier and he wasn't so bad. I
also had my own children. It was really when I had my own children that I understood how my break with him how much pain it caused.
And through a long process of figuring all that out, one evening I decided that I was going to try to seek his forgiveness. We were watching Seinfeld
one evening. And I just turned to him and I said, I'm so sorry for what I did for the last 20 years. It was wrong and I love you and I hope you'll
forgive me. And it was completely out of the blue and he looked at me with a puzzled expression and his face was ashen because he wasn't well and he
started crying and he said he basically forgave me.
He goes, I forgive you, son. I'm not mad at you. I know why you did what you did. And basically, that was it. And from that point on, we grew over
the next 15 years, basically, very, very close.
AMANPOUR: And does he have any idea where Hoffa's body might be?
GOLDSMITH: He says he doesn't and I don't believe that he does. I think he knows more than he told me, but I don't think he knows where Hoffa's
body is, no.
AMANPOUR: And let me just ask you, go back to our original premise, what do you make of the whistleblowers who remain anonymous, the ones in Ukraine
[13:20:00] and the United States, but going forward? You know, they've been denigrated by the president and by the administration.
GOLDSMITH: It is tough to be a whistleblower in government, and because -- and it's tough to be a whistleblower in government today, because every
single thing becomes immediately politicized. The person, whoever it was, acted bravely, tried to follow the procedures of the whistleblower statute.
Almost certainly doesn't deserve the hell that he or she is getting from the White House. And it seems like it sparked more to come forward. We'll
see what the consequences are.
AMANPOUR: Jack Goldsmith, thank you so much.
GOLDSMITH: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: So, as we said, whistleblowers are at the heart of the Trump impeachment probe. What makes someone risk everything to expose government
wrong doing? Our next guest knows that only too well.
The Iraq war whistleblower, Katharine Gun, working for the U.K. Government Intelligence Agency, GCHQ, in 2003 raised the alarm when she learned the
U.S. National Security Agency was trying to find dirt on certain U.N. members in order to get them to vote with the United States and with
Britain for the Iraq war. Dramatic stuff, indeed.
And now, a timely Hollywood film stars Keira Knightley as Katharine Gun. It's called "Official Secrets" and it's out now. Here is a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KNIGHTLEY: My motive was to stop a war and save lives. I failed. What I've managed to do is put my husband's future at risk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And your own. In fact, by leaking information to try and stop a war I'd argue that you chose loyalty to your country over
loyalty to your government, your marriage and yourself. You had nothing to gain and everything to lose. I think that speaks rather highly of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And Katharine Gun herself joins me here in the studio to talk about her incredible story.
Katharine Gun, welcome to the program.
KATHARINE GUN, WHISTLEBLOWER: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Does this seem to you -- or how do you feel about this film coming out, "Official Secrets," right at a moment where whistleblowers are
so much in the news?
GUN: Well, I don't think there could be a more timely moment for this film. And I'm really pleased that it's coming out now and I hope we can
talk about issues around it.
AMANPOUR: We will. But how does it make you feel? Because you haven't spoken much about your experience. And obviously, you went through a very
difficult time. I mean, you were younger, you were newly sort of in the professional world and you were taking on your government. How does this
make you feel as you see the film, as you see what is happening in the United States with the whistleblowing?
GUN: Well, I'm glad it has taken 16 years for the film to come out. I know that sounds strange but it's actually -- it's been good for me because
I don't think I could have dealt with this 10 years ago. The issue, you know, what I faced and what happened afterwards, it left -- you know, it
left me in a difficult position and I did sort of suffer for a while. When I was interviewed, I would get flashbacks and sort of palpations from
talking about the issue. Now, I don't. Now, I'm perfectly calm and sensible when I talk about the issues.
AMANPOUR: What did you suffer personally and professionally? Because obviously, that's one thing whistleblowers or potential whistleblowers take
into account. I mean, we'll get to the nitty-gritty. But basically, you tried to blow the whistle on what you thought was a false intelligence
directive to try to cook up a reason for the Iraq war. You wanted to stop the Iraq war. You didn't. But nonetheless, you wanted to do that. How
scary was it for you to go ahead and do what you did?
GUN: It's -- you know, it's very hard to explain the point of view I had or the mental state I was in at the time. All I could was this looming
war. It seemed inevitable. It was as it happened. But it seemed inevitable. It seemed like it was, you know, the wagons were rolling fast
and furious towards this awful situation and I was kind of in tunnel vision. I was sort of -- I felt like I was blinkered as a horse. I
couldn't see beyond this war and all I wanted to do is just to -- put a spoke in the wheel of this wagon.
AMANPOUR: And that spoke was this memo that had --
AMANPOUR: -- been leaked to you and then you leaked it to the press, not leaked but delivered to you --
AMANPOUR: -- by somebody within your organization.
GUN: Well, no, I was a recipient alongside about a hundred other recipients of that e-mail.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, what did it say and what was your decision-making process?
GUN: Well, simply the e-mail was from the NSA, which is the U.S. equivalent of GCHQ, and it was asking for our assistance, GCHQ's
assistance, in collecting information from six of the [13:25:00] swing -- U.S. Security Council swing nations. So, that was Angola, Bulgaria,
Cameroon, Chile, Guinea and Pakistan. And those six swing nations, their delegates, they wanted --
AMANPOUR: When you say swing nations, they were once at that the U.S. and the U.K. were trying to get on side --
AMANPOUR: -- so you could get a U.N. resolution for the war, correct?
GUN: That's right. Yes. They were going use information gathered from the intelligence to either bribe or blackmail them into voting for this
AMANPOUR: And in the film, your character played by Keira Knightley basically says -- I mean, you say you were proud of working in GCHQ until
you saw this memo. And you said -- you say that, you know, I didn't join in order to fix a vote in the U.N. to convince the world to go to a war --
to go to war. Here is a clip of you being interrogated by the police detective.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you work for the British government?
KNIGHTLEY: No, not really.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No?
KNIGHTLEY: Governments change. I work for the British people. I gather intelligence so that the government can protect the British people. I do
not gather intelligence so that the government can lie to the British people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, that's pretty ballsy. You -- he thought he had got you right then by saying you work for the government. But was that point more
or less correct, that you refused to accept that you worked --
AMANPOUR: -- come what may, for the government, that you worked to protect the people from the excesses?
GUN: That's right. And I mean, I think later on we had the league, which showed that intelligence was being fixed around the policy. You see, and
this is the exact same kind of issue. They were using our services, using the intelligence services, to undermine and, you know, subvert the
democratic processes of the U.N.
AMANPOUR: And do you have any flashbacks or sort of thoughts when you see what the whistleblowers in the United States, just the recent ones, over
the Ukraine issue? I mean, how would you describe what they've done and what they must be feeling right now?
GUN: I think, you know, we are in this difficult situation because the laws are so unclear and they basically exclude any kind of public interest
disclosure. So, in the U.S., you have the case of many whistleblowers being charged under the Espionage Act, which, by the way, was taken, more
or less, word for word from the British Official Secrets Act.
And these two pieces of law basically forbid you from releasing any information to anybody at any time. So, it prevents people, intelligence
officers or anybody who signed these agreements, or these pieces of law, to bring forward instances of illegality, immorality and crime of, you know,
all kinds of description.
AMANPOUR: In your case, as we've said in some of the clips we've played, you were trying to stop this war and you admit that you failed. But you
were charged and you were brought to trial. And then it was dropped. The case was dropped. And I think you regret that the case was dropped
paradoxically. Why is that?
GUN: Yes, it's a very difficult point. I mean, obviously, I was hugely relieved because one of the principle things at the time was my fear of
being in the public eye, strange though it may seem at the moment. But back then, I was very, very concerned about that. And, you know, having
this high-profile political trial was the last thing I wanted.
But on the other hand, we had built up to this huge big fight, if you like, and we were determined to ask for the attorney general's legal advice,
which we heard had changed between a visit that he had at the U.S. whereby the previous advice was that it was illegal and the subsequent advice was
that it was legal.
AMANPOUR: This is for the war?
GUN: For the war, that's right. And we were going demand for those papers and that advice. And literally, I suppose, we were going to put the war in
Iraq on trial.
AMANPOUR: There's an interesting scene, from my perspective, it's very interesting being a journalist, covering these things and, of course, this
journalist was the recipient of your memo. I mean, you gave it to him. He worked for --
AMANPOUR: -- "The Observer." And it came at a time when the press here in the United Kingdom and the press in the United States, by and large,
supported the war. Here is a clip of you talking to the journalist to whom you gave the memo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've dreamt of this moment. (INAUDIBLE) the press gallery, if that's all right.
KNIGHTLEY: Yes. Yes. You took a real risk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you took the risk. I think what you did was extraordinary. I think we exposed the extraordinary. All our institutions
failed us; the government, the intelligence services and the press. They failed us categorically. Even my own paper supported the war before that
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for being here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, thank you. It's important what you did. It matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It matters, he says and he also said all the institutions have failed to ask the questions and to sort of enact that kind of
accountability. Do you remember what it was like at the time when pretty much all the institutions were moving in one direction on both sides of the
GUN: Yes, I mean, it was extraordinary, the sort of lock step that these institutions fall into when the government decides to take a country to
war. I think that's something that needs deep scrutiny because again we're at a time when this is a real possibility, you know, in various countries.
And I think everyone, everyone who works with the press, with the media, with even parliamentarians, you know, in the U.K. and representatives in
the U.S. How do they get swept along in this? Why do they get swept along with it? And what they should do about it?
AMANPOUR: So it's a little bit like a warning about the herd mentality.
GUN: You could say that, yes because I think it's very difficult to separate yourself from this concept of patriotism when the government
decides that it's time to go to war. I would argue that, you know, the Iraq war was not in the national interest. It did not benefit the U.K. in any
way, shape, or form, and it has, in fact, been detrimental to our national security. I think we need to look at that and the histories of the Iraq war
before we start even considering any other interventions.
AMANPOUR: Do you feel vindicated today, 16 plus years on that most analysis agrees with you that it was not, in the end, to the benefit of
either the United States or the United Kingdom or Europe?
GUN: I suppose so. I mean, personally I don't feel like what I did was extraordinary. I felt it was a necessary thing to do, and I hope that this
film will enable people to think, I mean, first and foremost, it's a form of entertainment. I hope it will give people pause to think about the
AMANPOUR: You said you suffered or you said you've suffered a certain amount of PTSD after this entire episode.
AMANPOUR: In what way? How did it affect you personally and professionally? Obviously you can never go back to GCHQ.
GUN: No. That's another issue that, you know, I've struggled with over the years but when I became a mother, I chose to stay at home with my daughter
and, you know, I've thoroughly enjoyed being a mother but now that she's 11, I'm hoping to address some of these issues and maybe campaign on some
issues and I hope this film will sort of help us come to terms with a lot of things.
AMANPOUR: It's interesting because whistle blowing, certainly in the United States, there is a law in various intelligence arms and also in the
state department. There are laws that allow you, if you see what you think is immoral or illegal taking place to report it up the chain.
And I in fact spoke to a former very senior diplomat in the state department who has been talking about this in light of her colleague, the
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine being fired for not wanting to go along with what she thought President Trump was ordering her to do, to facilitate vis-
a-vis digging up dirt on Biden, et. cetera. This is what she said about whistle blowing.
NANCY MCELDOWNEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO BULGARIA: We have a professional ethos which calls upon us to identify and call out illicit,
immoral, or illegal activity and if we cannot get the traction that we need within our agency structures, we are then to go to the inspector generals,
to file formal grievances and complaints and to become a whistle blower. Instead of attacking the whistle blower and trying to undercut -- uncloak
the identity of this individual, what people throughout our government should be doing is talking about how courageous that person was and working
hard to ensure the safety of this person.
AMANPOUR: How do you feel about that? It must encourage you.
GUN: Yes, it's hopeful and I think we need to work on all these issues about, you know, providing a means whereby officials can bring forward
information if they feel it is in the public interest to know. I mean, currently in the U.K., we have the most draconian secrecy laws and the most
draconian sort of levels of secrecy and I think, well, I'm hoping that we can actually reform it, because previously before 1989, the Official
Secrets Act did have a public interest defense.
AMANPOUR: Daniel Ellsburg, who you well know, one of the most famous whistleblowers of all time, leaked the Pentagon papers. He said about you,
the most important and courageous and leak I've ever seen. No one else, including myself, has ever done what Gun did. Tell secret truths at
personal risk before an immanent war in time, possibly to avert it.
Well, you didn't avert it, but that's high praise.
GUN: Yes. I mean, Daniel Ellsburg is, I would say, a friend of mine and he's been enormously supportive and helpful. And he's just an amazing,
amazing activist after all these years. His brain is still encyclopedic and he's forensic in his detailing of issues, so it's a real honor that I
have a friend like Dan Ellsburg.
AMANPOUR: Given the choice and the chance, would you do it again?
GUN: Under the same circumstances, yes I would.
AMANPOUR: Katharine Gun, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
GUN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, let's turn our attention back to the film "The Irishman," but this time to it's music. Rock legend Robbie Robertson has once again
collaborated with Martin Scorsese to score his latest mob hit.
Robertson has also just released a solo album and starred in a new documentary based on the memoir of his time in the band. He gave a glimpse
of his early days in music to our Walter Isaacson.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNNI CORRESPONDENT: Robbie, thanks for being here.
ROBBIE ROBERTSON, CANADIAN MUSICIAN: Thank you.
ISAACSON: So cinematic, this is very personal. I mean, you've been there in all the great moments of rock in some ways, Big Pink, The Basement
Tapes, Dylan gone electric. And now you do an album that just come out that's deeply personal. Explain what was that about.
ROBERTSON: There was a lot of things going on while I was making this record, that -- that all these connections were being made. They were
making this documentary, "Once Were Brothers," and while they were making that I one day sat down to write a song, I never know where it's going to
go when I sit down, and this song came out that was reflective of the guys in the band and this brotherhood.
And so, I wrote this song and the people making the movie said, oh my God, this is exactly where we're going with this film. And then ended up
calling the film, "Once Were Brothers," and the song's in there.
ISAACSON: Give me the opening lyrics of, "Once Were Brothers," the song.
ROBERTSON: It's when the lights go out and you can't go on, you miss your brothers, but now they're gone.
ISAACSON: There's a wonderful scene in the documentary, in which you kind of introduce, in a way, each of your fellow band members. You're up in
Woodstock, you're in a studio there in your house in Woodstock and everybody's playing. Let's show that clip and then maybe you can tell me
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: I think about Lee Vaughn, Richard, Rick and Garth all the time.
We went through things together you could never replace, you could never give enough credit to something that special.
I was an only child, so this brotherhood was so powerful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ISAACSON: It was so intense, why did it go so sour for a while?
ROBERTSON: I joined up with Lee Vaughn when I was 16-years-old in 1960, then over the next couple of years the rest of the guys that became the
band joined up with us. Then in the end of '65 we hooked up with Bob Dylan, '66 we did this world tour with him, where they booed us everywhere
that we played around the world. That was a unique experience.
ISAACSON: But, that's because he went electric.
ISAACSON: That's why they were booing.
ISAACSON: What was it like when they started saying Judas, Judas, as if he's betraying rock?
ROBERTSON: I've never heard of anything like this, Walter, that people play around the world and they boo you every night, and on some level it's
very successful. It goes on to become part of a musical revolution. It changes the course of music forever and years later when we play together
again, everybody celebrated it like it was -- like it was always terrific, but we knew the difference.
So anyway, after that, and the band, we made these albums and they had a tremendous effect on the course of music, on the culture, on all kinds of
But in this era, in this period there was a lot of experimenting going on with drugs. People were like, ooh, did you try this one yet? And in the
beginning there was something that didn't seem that dangerous about it. As time went on we started to be introduced to something that we were really
unfamiliar with. And it's called addiction and alcoholism. And so as this starts to seep in it has a big effect on the brotherhood. It has a big
effect on the music. And we didn't know how to handle it. You know, with some guys [ph] we'd be like hey man you're drinking too much. Snap out of
And that didn't work. I came to the conclusion that we weren't going to put a band-aid on this and fix it. So I said let's do the last waltz [ph].
Let's bring this amazing journey that we've had to a beautiful conclusion in the name of music. And the idea was then we bought our self a ticket to
take a breather. Take a break. Everybody could go, some of the guys wanted to make solo albums, try this, do this. Then we were going to come
back together and do something. This was my dream. We would do something creative and as good as anything we'd ever done before.
And what happened was after a period of time nobody came back.
ISAACSON: But some of the members do come back a little bit later and you decide not to be a part of it. Right?
ROBERTSON: They - they asked me if I wanted to come and play some jobs with them. Because some time went by and they asked, they said we want to
go play some jobs and is it Okay if we go out and call ourselves The Band? And I said absolutely. I would never get in the way. But it was really a
matter of people just need - you need to make a living, right.
And, but, I still had this thing that I was concerned about the well being of certain guys in the group.
ISAACSON: Let's talk about Levon Helm, because one of the things in the documentary is watching y'all as teenagers. Almost like - really like
brothers. And how close you were to him. Explain that early relationship and the intensity.
ROBERTSON: Well when I, when Ronnie Hawkins hired me, I went from Canada down to the Mississippi Delta, down to Helena, Arkansas and this was for me
going to the fountainhead of Rock and Roll. This is where this music grew out of the ground. So it was like mythology to me coming from Canada. So
I get down there and I realize I'm too inexperienced in life and I'm not good enough guitar player to take over lead guitar in this band yet. I
have to overcome this and I did.
And I did it with the help of Levon Helm. He saw it, I got something, I've got a certain talent and he befriended me and Levon and I really became
very close friends and we were forever. You know just forever up until we did the Last Walls and then after that when everybody went in different
directions I didn't see him as much. And he was off he wanted to do his own thing. And I missed him terribly.
ISAACSON: Do you think you feel you've got it, you've got it resolved in your own head the falling out and then the resolution at the end?
ROBERTSON: I never, I never had a falling out on my side of it. Levon went to a place and he hit some hard times. And in those hard times he -
he was thinking about what went wrong and he blamed me for it. And -- and I knew him so well, I knew him so well that I was like that's Levon he's,
he's got these issues. Everybody knows what happened. He saw it from one way. I saw it from another. And I loved him and that's it, end of story.
I don't have a part in whatever the issue was.
ISAACSON: You had interesting childhood. Your mother was from a -- Indian reservation. I think she was Cayuga as well as Mohawk?
ISAACSON: And you had an abusive father you grew up with.
ISAACSON: And then, at one point, your mother tells you a story.
ROBERTSON: When I was like 13-years-old, because Robertson, my father, he had been abusive to my mother and to me, and she said, that's it, I'm done.
We're going. And then one day she said to me, you know, I should have probably brought this up to you before. But he's not your father. And I
was like, what?
ROBERTSON: What do you mean, he's not my father? I grew up -- this guy was my father, right? Jim Robertson. And so, she ended up introducing me
to the relatives of my blood father, and they were wonderful people.
ISAACSON: But, you father had been killed?
ROBERTSON: My blood father --
ISAACSON: Blood father?
ROBERTSON: -- was killed before I was born. So, I didn't know anything about this until then. And my relatives would tell me great stories about
him. His -- what his thing was, he had a phenomenal memory and he was card counter before people knew what a card counter was. And he gambled and he
did -- he was very successful. Then my uncle is like a major underworld figure, and it -- when you're young, you think, whoa, that's kind of cool.
ISAACSON: So, it helped shape you?
ROBERTSON: All this stuff. In the documentary I say to them, you know, but you know I'm really, really drawn to music and that's a direction I
want to go in. They're like, what are you talking about? Music? You know, you should be in the business with us. And my other uncle was like,
yes, you don't want to be in furs and diamonds? What's the matter?
And then the light went on, and they went, you mean show business?
ROBERTSON: Oh -- oh, oh OK. OK, we understand that.
ISAACSON: This whole album seems to have a lot of strands of your life in it, as does the documentary that you did with it. How does that connect
what you and Scorsese did with this new movie coming out on "The Irishman?"
ROBERTSON: When we did the "Last Waltz" we became really good friends and he would turn me on to amazing movies that I would have never seen. And I
was turning him onto some music that he may have never heard. So, we had this interchange.
Then, he's directing "Raging Bull" and he says, I'd like you to help me out with the music on this. And he asked me to do the source music for the
movie, and then there was songs that I had turned him onto that ended up in the movie as well.
So, after I did "Raging Bull" with him, I was hooked. So, we've been doing this over all these years. The new one is "The Irishman." The score that
I did for this movie is something like I've never done before, and I've worked on I don't even remember how many of these movies now.
ISAACSON: So, why is the score unlike anything you've ever worked on before?
ROBERTSON: Because, it takes place over many decades, this story. And I needed to find something that didn't sound like, oh, that's the 1950s, oh
that's the 1980s. That it could play and it had a timeless quality to it. And then I said to Marty, I think I'm on to it. And he said, oh, that's
good -- that's good. As long as it doesn't sound like movie music.
And not that he has anything against traditional film music or me, but he says, I just don't know how to do that. I don't know how to do the ba-ba-
ba-da dome. You know the things. I -- you know, it's just -- it doesn't work with what I do. And I get that. I understand that. So, that's why
we've been doing this together all these years, and hopefully forever.
ISAACSON: So, you take one of the greatest songs you ever wrote for the band, "The Wait," and you make it new again, like going around the world.
And there's a wonderful video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCUS KING, MUSICIAN: Pulled into Nazareth, I was feeling about half past dead. Just need some.
ROBERTSON: (Voice over) My son Sebastian (ph) produced that. It was his idea and so he told me, he said you know what I'd like to do? I'd like to
do one of these playing for change. It's a thing that they have done before with other songs and they're very impressive. He said but I want to
do one with "The Weight." And so, you know, I need you to participate in this and everything so I was like, he's my son, of course, whatever you
want to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
So anyway, we do it and then Ringo Starr comes in and he's part of it and he plays on it and then what this playing for change this is, they have
musicians, extraordinary musicians from all across the world playing together in wherever they are whether they're in India, whether they're in
Tokyo. everywhere. Everybody joins together in playing this song and the video turned out to be a phenomena.
ISAACSON: One of the things I learned both from the documentary, and, of course, your memoir is about "The Weight" and Nazareth and why it begins
ROBERTSON: I was in a mode when we were about to make music from big pink. I had been reading a lot of screen plays that I found that you could
buy at Gotham Book Mart on 47th Street in New York and I had been reading some Boone Well(ph) screenplays and he had a theme that came to the surface
in some of his stories that was kind of about the impossibility of being of sainthood, of being really righteous. You try to be too righteous, it'll
turn on you. Right?
And he does it with a certain humor and a certain surrealism. He's a king of surrealism. So anyway, I was sitting at my house in Woodstock and
thought, God, I want to write a song and I just -- sometimes you need something to spark the beginning of it and I was sitting there with my
Martin guitar and I looked inside and it says Nazareth. These guitars are made in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Right? That was the headquarters of Martin
Guitars and I thought Nazareth. I like the sound of that and I thought I pulled into Nazareth, and that was.
ISAACSON: Keep going. Keep going.
ROBERTSON: And that was -- feeling like half past dead and that was the beginning of this thing that was reflective of Mary and Joseph and no room
at the inn and going to this place and there for somebody saying when you get there, say hello to Joe for me. When you get there, go and visit bla,
bla, bla. And the story of these things and it turns into a crazy fiasco in the story and it was like a little movie, this song. So anyway, it
connected to Boone Well(ph) thing. It connected to everything going on and it was reflective of when I first went from Canada down to the Mississippi
delta and the south watched over me and it was like oh! Just the sound of the Mississippi River going by, the way people walk in rhythm here,
everything these characters, all of these things kind of came out of the darkness for me and I incorporated some of that in the song.
ISAACSON: It wasn't that big of a song when it came out and now it's become one of the great songs of the century.
ROBERTSON: An anthem, yes.
ISAACSON: An anthem. Why is that?
ROBERTSON: You know, some things do have a timeless quality to them. And I always -- because of the music that the other guys in the band we deeply
appreciated was music that you just could feel inside. That's going to be around. That is classic. And so in writing songs, I never wanted to write
anything that felt trendy or happening or anything. I wanted to go to another dimension and write things that just came from a whole other place.
ISAACSON: Well you helped invent Americana Music. What do you think your legacy is going to be?
ROBERTSON: I don't know someone else is going to have to figure out the legacy.
ROBERTSON: Part. I'm just going to try to give them something good to talk about.
ISAACSON: And a good soundtrack to listen to. Good to see you.
ROBERTSON: It's so great, Walter. Thank you so much.
ISAACSON: Thank you, Robbie.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: Robbie Robertson on his incredible song book "In the Band and Beyond". But that's it for now, remember you can always listen our podcast
and see us online at amanpour.com. And you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter. Thank you for watching and good-bye from London.