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Interview with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan; The Release of Loujain al-Hathloul, one of Saudi Arabia`s Most Prominent Women`s Rights Activists. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired February 19, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNNINT HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Amanpour. Here`s what`s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But me (ph) erase any lingering doubt. The United States will work closely with our European Union partners
and the capitals across the continent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Our exclusive, interview with National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, as President Biden agrees to talks with Iran and tells the world
America is back. Then released but not free. I talk to the sister of Saudi Arabia`s women`s rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, about her fight for
justice. Plus -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may not always trust what you hear and what you see, but you can trust the vaccine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: An urgent appeal to minority communities. David Anushoba (ph) joins me to talk about the history around hesitancy. And -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROFESSOR SOHOSHANA ZUBOFF, CHARLES EDWARD WILSON PROFESSOR OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION: The conditions that we`re living in now as far as the
digital domain goes are unprecedented in any history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Our Hari Sreenivasan talks to Harvard Professor Shoshana Zuboff about the rise of a surveillance economy.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I`m Christiane Amanpour in London. President Biden addresses major multilateral organizations today, virtually
of course, but he breaks with his predecessor`s America first policy and signifies a return to diplomacy. In a moment, my exclusive interview with
National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, on Iran and other major global priorities.
First, though, we focus on Saudi Arabia where the president has welcomed the release of Loujain al-Hathloul. She is one of the kingdom`s most
prominent women`s rights activists. She was arrested in 2018 after campaigning to end the ban on women driving. This drew international
condemnation, and she says she was tortured and sexually abused in detention. Riyadh denies it.
In December she was convicted for terrorism and sentenced to nearly six years in prison. In the end, though, she was released last week but under
such draconian restrictions that her family says she is certainly not free yet. Her sister, Lina al-Hathloul, is one of her biggest advocates. She`s
a lawyer, and she joins me now from Brussels. Lina al-Hathloul, welcome to the program.
It is simply great that your sister has been released from this detention, this prison, although you say that she is not free yet. I just want to ask
you to respond to her condition because she says that she was sexually abused. She, we know, spent a long time in solitary confinement, and
indeed, she says she was tortured. Tell me about what happened to her.
LINA AL-HATHLOUL, SISTER OF SAUDI ACTIVIST, LOUJAIN AL-HATHLOUL: Yes, absolutely. So when Loujain was first arrested in May 2018, she was first
held in (inaudible) for approximately three weeks and then she called us and our parents saying that she was in an unofficial prison. I think she
used to called it palace (ph).
And for months until August 2018 we didn`t know what this palace was. And after my parents first visit they saw her. She was shaking. She had bruises
on her body. She had red marks on her neck, but she wouldn`t say anything.
And months later after the Khashoggi murder, after the reports on the torture in the (inaudible), my parents knew. They saw Loujain. She told
them that she was in an unofficial prison. So they told her, look, Loujain, we`ve read about everything. Now you really have to tell us the truth. And
that`s when Loujain broke into tears and told them that what she used to call a palace was actually a torture facility and there where she was
electrocuted, she was flogged, and she even showed my parents her thighs and they were blacked with bruises. She could barely sit because of the
torture. She was sexually abused.
And what`s important to note is one of the people who was overseeing the torture was our Crown Price, MBS`s right-hand man, (inaudible) Ghafarri
(ph). So really it`s something that was frightening for her even to - even to talk about it and to say that the highest (inaudible) in Saudi Arabia
were complicit in this torture.
AMANPOUR: Lina, you know, the only thing that Loujain herself has been able to say publically since being release is, you know, a statement.
Returning with a heart full of gratitude but bruised form 1,001 disappointments.
So she`s referring obviously to what you`re talking about, but she was kept in for 1,001 days. Let me ask you, what are the conditions under which she
has been released? We`ve called them draconian, she`s pretty much certainly not free - she can`t talk, which is why we`re talking to you. She can`t
travel. Tell me, what are the conditions of her release from official prison?
HATHLOUL: Yes, so again, what`s interesting to see is there is the legal sentence, and then there`s the pledge she had to sign just before her
So the legal sentencing, there is a five year travel ban and also there`s a probation of three years in which she promises not to commit the crimes
she`s accused of, and the crimes she`s accused of is basically all her activism. We have published the charges, and everyone can go read them.
She`s really charged with being an activist for - she`s charged with talking to journalists, she`s accused of demanding women`s rights in Saudi
Arabia. So if she does any of - all of this, she can be imprisoned again.
But just before her release the state security which has nothing to do with the judiciary made her sign a pledge in which she promises not to talk
about her conditions during these almost three years in prison, and not to celebrate her release publically. And so we clearly see that - so they have
something to hide and they don`t want her, basically to talk about all the torture and to have evidence of all of this.
AMANPOUR: You know, Lina, obviously we tried to do our due diligence and get a reaction from the Saudi government in every form - we approached the
embassies. We`ve heard a huge and deafening silence. They obviously denied that she was sexually abused and tortured. But we can`t even get any
comment out of them.
What`s extraordinary is you`ve just - you`ve just outlined the charges speaking to journalists, being an activist for women`s rights - is that she
was actually convicted under terrorism charges. How did they even justify terrorism charges? What - what`s the terrorism?
HATHLOUL: What`s also interesting to see is that for almost two years she was being tried in the normal criminal courts and then after two years,
suddenly the judge said that he doesn`t have any jurisdiction over the case and sentenced to the terrorism court, so again, it`s very absurd and the
trial is a sham trial. Everything has been done illegally since the beginning.
And so then when they sent her to the terrorism court, they basically just changed the (inaudible) law to the terrorism law and saying that everything
that she`s accused of is considered as terrorism, so they make it explicit and clear now in Saudi Arabia that activism is considered as terrorism.
There is nothing more clear than this.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you, of course President Biden has welcomed her release from prison, he has made human rights a major plank of his
administration. Returned America to actually valuing and acting on those values.
He has already done things to show that the close relationship under the previous administration with the Saudi regime will not necessarily be
continued under the Biden administration whether it`s the war in Yemen, whether arms sales and the like. Why do you think the Saudi government, or
whoever it might be released your sister at this time? And it was about a week ago.
HATHLOUL: Yes, I mean, it`s a fact. It`s not a coincidence, we have seen it that for almost three years she barely had any trial sessions (ph) and
all of a sudden everything was sped up and they sentenced her, gave her a suspension of the sentencing, gave her a probation.
So everything is quite clear, MBS`s administration (ph) - under MBS of course they were protected by the Trump administration, Trump himself said
that he saved MBS. So I think it`s clear that they feel pressure and they think it`s a good thing that Biden put human rights at the core of its
relation with Saudi Arabia.
And we want also to thank him for that - but also not to forget that (inaudible) assemble and the first thing was to release her, but the human
rights situation in Saudi Arabia did not change with Loujain`s release, and I think that we really have to emphasize on the fact that she`s released
but she`s not free.
There are 1,000 other political prisoners in Saudi Arabia, and that we still have to pressure for the other activists and political prisoners to
be released, and for the whole human rights situation in Saudi Arabia to be better, and MBS not to violate human rights with impunity.
AMANPOUR: So you refer to MBS as obviously the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who was viewed as a reformer and that`s what the Trump
administration, you know, thought that that`s what was going to -- going to happen.
But you say that women`s empowerment is a lie in Saudi Arabia, there are no real reforms, and let`s just not forget, your sister was at the forefront
of campaigning for women`s rights, including the right to drive which actually MBS allowed and still put her in prison. So what are -- what hope
do women in Saudi Arabia have for reform under this, under this Saudi, under this -- under MBS?
AL-HATHLOUL: Hope, I think when we live -- when Saudi -- the lifestyle the women have in Saudi Arabia, they can only live with hope. So I think maybe
some of them are hopeful but I think most of them now -- most of the Saudi people have understood that MBS is not a reformer, that their situation is
not better under MBS, and that -- you know what`s even worse is that they don`t even know where the red lines are.
So, for example, you know, some women -- MBS said that women can travel without the consent of their male guards in, but at the same time, there`s
still the disobedient and disappearance law, which gives the right for the male guardian to arrest his daughter or wife if he considers the travel as
disobeying him or disappearing.
So women who don`t have a male guardian are not better off under MBS, and MBS, all the reform, so-called reforms, does -- he does is for the west to
see to legitimize himself to pretend like he`s a reformer, but left, women`s rights in Saudi Arabia have not improved actually. It`s quite the -
- it`s exactly the same.
AMANPOUR: So let me --
AL-HATHLOUL: It`s -- yes.
AMANPOUR: Sorry. Let me just finally ask you, how is Loujain feeling, that`s one question now, and are you concerned that speaking out for her
like this publicly might have a repercussion back home?
AL-HATHLOUL: So how`s Loujain feeling? I think physically absolutely, I mean she`s exhausted, she`s been through two hunger strikes, she`s been
tortured, she was held in solitary confinement for months, so we can`t say that she`s physically okay.
But morally, she`s amazing. She`s still the resilient, strong, hopeful and optimistic the woman she was before prison. And, again, it amazes me to see
her like this. And, of course, you know, speaking up, it`s always a risk management we have, but we cannot stay silent anymore.
When we were silent, Loujain almost got killed because of the torture in prison, so I think that the only thing that can save her and everyone in
Saudi Arabia now is to speak up and to say that under MBS, this human rights situation it`s as oppressive as it`s ever been, so we really have to
speak and to raise awareness regarding this.
AMANPOUR: Well, look, thank you for speaking to us exclusively. Thank you for being the first to put your sister`s feelings and her case publicly
like this, put a face to what happened to her, and we will continue to pursue this as well. Lina al-Hathloul, thanks for joining us.
Now President Biden has pledged to contribute up to $4 billion to COVAX, which is the organization that`s meant to provide vaccines to developing
nations. Here, in the U.K., more than 16 million people have already been vaccinated under a rollout that`s hailed as a major success.
But in black and minority communities, it`s happening at a much, much lower rate. And my next guest is tackling this head on in this new campaign
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID OLUSOGA, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC HISTORY, UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER: You may not always trust what you hear and what you see, but you can trust the
UNKNOWN: Just one simple step will mean we can once again eat, drink, pray and hug together.
UNKNOWN: Not only will you be saving your life, but you`ll be saving other lives too. And there can be no better gift than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now David Olusoga is Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester and he`s joining me now from Bistrol. David
Olusoga, welcome back to the program.
OLUSOGA: Thank you. Good to be back.
AMANPOUR: Sorry, I`ve got a slight disconnect and we`ve got some time issues, but never mind, we`ll press ahead with these tech issues. Can you
tell me, and for our viewers, what is the problem, what is the hesitancy -- what is the root of the hesitancy in the minority community here in the
OLUSOGA: Well, I think in essence, it`s the same problem in all communities, in white British communities, which is that there`s a huge
amount of misinformation out there.
Social media, the ease at which misinformation and conspiracy theories spread, is affecting everybody, but there are specific misinformation,
specific falsehoods that have emerged within or targeted at the non-white communities in the U.K.
Now we use the word BAME, bame, in the U.K. to describe all the minorities, and it`s a somewhat clumsy term, but we can -- when we break that down
within Pakistani, within West Africa, within West Indian, Bangladeshi populations in the U.K., what we`re seeing is the effect of that
misinformation, much lower levels of vaccine uptake in those communities than in white communities.
AMANPOUR: So let me read some of these stats. This is open safely Oxford University study. 70 to 79-year-olds in the U.K. have received the vaccine.
Now among whites, 86%, South Asians, 73%, mixed heritage 68% and black 55%, so there really is a statistical, you know, I mean, its right there.
You can see how much lower the take up is. And even SAGE, the government advisers, say trust is important for black communities. They have low trust
in health care organizations and research findings due to historical issues of unethical health care research. Talk us through some of that.
OLUSOGA: Well, I think one of the other effects of social media has been that information, whether it`s false or true, travels rapidly around the
And those who are spreading misinformation are doubly empowered when they are in the position to point to real, verifiable historical incidents and
use them to suggest that they prove that the medical profession or the governments or that the manufacturers of vaccines are opposed or don`t have
the interests of non-white communities at heart.
Now their messages are false. These are -- these are conspiracy theories, these are -- this is misinformation, but it is weaponizing real historical
events. And so more and more people are aware of these historical tragedies, like the Tuskegee incident, the study in 20th century America
which was supposedly, as it was sold to those who took part, a study of the treatment of syphilis in African-American men.
In reality, what was happening was that doctors were studying the effects of that disease without treating those African-American men, and then
examining their bodies. Now, that was an appalling abuse of power by the medical profession, which carried on until the 1970s.
We mustn`t forget that last year, in 2020, two French doctors made the public suggestion that the right thing to do would be to test the then
emerging coronavirus vaccines on Africans in Africa, that Africa was somehow a continent in which the people could be used as guinea pigs in
So if that can be said last year, it`s not difficult for people who are spreading misinformation to point to those incidents and use them to try
and persuade black and brown people in the U.K. and elsewhere that the vaccine isn`t for them, the governments and the medical profession don`t
have their best interests at heart.
AMANPOUR: So, what was it that made you, you know, intervene here? What -- was there a point because, you know, we`ve been talking about hesitancy for
a while, obviously we see these stats about the low level of take-up, and you did have pretty much all the British T.V. stations, I think you called
it a roadblock, they all put take the vaccine PSA, the public service announcement, on the air at the same time.
So, again, what prompted you and what effect do you think this is will have?
OLUSOGA: Well, it is, it`s the first time. I mean, this was wall-to-wall all the channels. The BBC, which for structural reasons can`t do that,
covered it on all of its radio channels and its program. So it`s been a huge campaign.
What inspired me to get involved was those statistics because what those statistics are pointing towards is the potential of a double tragedy
because it has been exactly those communities that have been the most badly affected and impacted by the pandemic.
And the idea that those communities that have already suffered disproportionately would suffer again, would once again be those who are
most affected because the vaccine hesitancy is just too chilling and depressing a thought to countenance.
And people like myself, I`m a historian by training, the one thing that I have which is useful in this setting is I have a public profile.
And so it was actors and it was athletes and it was public figures like myself who felt we should use our public profile to try to persuade our own
communities that this vaccine, not only is it safe, vaccines are some of the safest products ever created, not only is it safe, it is the only way
out of this appalling global crisis.
AMANPOUR: And of course in the past, I`m just thinking back - I guess to polio and smallpox, the U.S. used celebrities and I guess other countries
did too, to show that these vaccines should be taken and that they are safe. But I want to ask you, because - do you think this current government
is doing enough to reach out to the communities who are most at risk that we`ve been talking about?
For instance, the home secretary herself, of South Asian heritage has on the one hand tried to reach out, and on the other hand she kind of disses
(ph) the Black Lives Matter protests and their activism. Let`s just play a little bit of a sound byte.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRITI PATEL, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: Well those protests were dreadful.
NICK FERRARI, LBC STUDIO: Indeed.
PATEL: (Inaudible) in particular.
FERRARI: Would you still take the knee, Home Secretary?
PATEL: No, I wouldn`t. I would not - I would not have at the time, either. There are other ways in which people can express their opinions. Protesting
in the way which people did last summer was not the right way at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So is that a mixed message, David?
OLUSOGA: No, I think it`s two separate issues. I think the government is trying somewhat belatedly to reach these communities in terms of vaccine
hesitancy and more money has been promised toward that. And I think there is now growing awareness that we can`t control the pandemic unless we can
lower levels of vaccine hesitancy across all communities.
But at the same time I think there is an attempt by this government, and by other sections of British society to sew divisions (ph) along racial lines
for electoral ambitions. I think that`s one of the reasons why history and statues (ph) are at the forefront of debates, because I think that it`s -
there is a politics of division as it`s been called by somebody within the government is part of the strategizing of this government, and said in
newspapers and groups within the U.K.
AMANPOUR: Yeah, I guess maybe mixed message wasn`t the right terminology. But I guess what I`m trying to say is - to build on what you`ve just
explained, how are the community that you`re trying to reach - the minority community meant to trust government officials who, on the one hand don`t
seem to respect their activism, their protests, and the need for them to have their own racial reckoning and racial respect which has come in the
forefront obviously since the George Floyd murder.
Do you - I mean, I know that it`s not part of this campaign, but it`s surely part of the bigger picture, isn`t it?
OLUSOGA: Well, it`s part of the bigger picture. But I think the key issue when it comes to vaccines and vaccine hesitancy is not trust of the
government. I mean, we know that there are different electoral (ph) patterns of which parties are favored by different ethnic groups in the
U.K. I don`t think that`s really the issue. The issue is there`s been a historic disconnect between health and health provision in the U.K., and
some minority communities.
The irony is, of course, that minority communities in the U.K. are hugely represented in workers within the National Health Service. We have
something very special in the U.K., we have a National Health Service that is the most beloved institution in the nation, and I think we need to use
it more to reach out to the communities who serve it and who - for historic reasons sometimes distrust all authorities not just government and not just
the medical profession.
But now is a moment when we urgently need to overcome those historic disconnects and find a way of making everyone realize that on this issue -
the issue of the vaccine we absolutely need to convince everybody that this is safe, that the misinformation online is exactly that - misinformation,
and that this is the route out of the pandemic.
AMANPOUR: You know, this is an issue in the United States as well. And on a more expanded issue, you have got a new series coming up on PBS, a doc.
It`s called "Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer."
I mean, there`s incredible statistics that have just been released in the U.S. that actually life expectancy has certainly gone down because of the
COVID year. But even before that it was going down, and there`s a pretty big spike in the decline in life expectancy in white Americans, and there
always has been in minority Americans. Talk to me about the documentary and what you`re addressing there.
OLUSOGA: Yes, it`s a series with PBS with Steven Johnson who is a great American writer on science and ideas. And what it`s about is the fact that
we haven`t really noticed the - one of the biggest phenomena of the modern age. Which is that life expectancy has more than doubled - life expectancy
in 1900 across the world was 32, today it is 71.
So for us to appreciate the significance of the recent fall in American life expectancy as a result of the pandemic, and the fall among poorer
white communities, and of course minority communities in the United States. I think we have to realize that it is a decline after a long, long period
of increase - one of the greatest achievements in human history.
I think when I read the statistics about that achievement being rolled back it makes me realize that we haven`t - we never appreciated it in the first
place. There`s been a strange disconnect between our relationship with medicine.
We have lived through this incredible, almost miraculous period where medicine has overcome some of the diseases that our ancestors lived in fear
of, and we`ve got used to that. And we have never really done the looking back, we`ve never really done the survey to realize what an incredible
achievement that was.
AMANPOUR: Amazing. David Olusoga, thank you so much indeed.
Now #TakeTheVaccine continues here in the U.K., and the series "Extra Life," will premier in the United States May 11 on PBS.
We turn now to our top story, President Biden who`s working to assure the world that America is back. Take a listen to what he said during his speech
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I know the past few years have strained and tested our transatlantic relationship. But the United States is determined
to reengage with Europe, to consult with you - to earn back our position of trusted leadership.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, a major priority is reviving the Iran Nuclear Deal, and the White House has announced it is ready to hold talks with Iran on this.
With me now is President Biden`s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. He held top foreign policy positions under President Obama, and he also
played a key role in the original Nuclear Deal. He joins me now from the White House.
Welcome to the program, Jake. It`s great to have your first interview with us. So tell me, this is a big day for the president - and he`s taken on
some of these major issues. Tell me about how you think reviving the Iran Nuclear Deal is going to go. What`s the choreography going to look like?
JAKE SULLIVAN: U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Well, Christiane, the first and most important thing for us to communicate is that we believe
diplomacy has to be part of the answer of solving the Iranian nuclear issue, and that means being prepared to sit down at the table with the
permanent five members of the security council, plus Germany and Iran to talk about how we get Iran back in to compliance with the terms of the
joint comprehensive plan of action.
So President Biden directed us to agree to the invitation by the European Union to join a meeting at a date to be determined where we can begin those
discussions. We`re at an early stage here, it`s going to take work, it`s going to take hard headed clear-eyed diplomacy, and ultimately it`s going
to take a decision by Iran that they are prepared to take the steps required to assure the world, and to prove to the world that their program
is for exclusively peaceful purposes.
AMANPOUR: Steps by Iran to do that, clearly, and steps by the United States to meet its obligations. Because as the U.S. which is in
contravention and came out of that deal, and Iran is calling for sanctions to be lifted. Is there any mechanism for synchronicity?
And obviously I`m asking you because you were there at the origin story - you were there at the beginning of the first Iran Nuclear Deal
negotiations. And it was - if it`s hard now, it was really hard back then. Do you see any diplomatic way to be able to - both of you get back in to
SULLIVAN: Well, what we have said repeatedly is that the United States is prepared to come back in to compliance with its terms if Iran comes back in
to compliance with its terms under the deal.
And frankly, Christiane, one of our concerns right now is that Iran is presently threatening to move even further out of compliance, to refuse to
cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the work it`s trying to do to ensure that nothing in Iran`s program is being used for
So I think the first order of business here would be for the Iranians to take the decision to stop the process of moving further out of compliance,
and then I do believe that there is a diplomatic pathway to getting to an ultimate agreement in which we can all have confidence that Iran`s nuclear
program has a lid on it - the kind of lid that was on it when we were actually all in the joint comprehensive plan of action together.
AMANPOUR: I spoke to the Iranian foreign minister, they say that they might reduce but not kick out any IAEA inspectors, but of course the IAEA
is going there this weekend, already we`re hearing from them - or at least via media reports that they may have discovered some undeclared Iranian
sites which haven`t been used, they say, for the last two decades.
Are we seeing a game of sort of hardball being played in advance of trying to get back on (ph) both sides? Because the German Foreign Minister said
Iran was playing with fire yesterday.
Can you describe what seems to be going on?
SULLIVAN: Look, from our side, it is pretty straight forward. President Biden has said throughout the campaign and he said throughout the first
month in his administration that he is prepared to engage in diplomacy to solve this problem. He believes ultimately the best way to stop Iran from
getting a nuclear weapon is through the diplomatic path. And he criticized the last administration for leaving the Iran nuclear deal because it`s put
us in a significantly worse position than we were in when we were in the deal in the first place.
We believe that it`s totally possible to come to a diplomatic solution. But our view is, let`s get to the table, let`s have this first meeting, let`s
have both sides talk directly to one another in the context of P5+1 and let`s take it from there. I`m not going to ascribe any particular motives
to Iran at the moment in terms of why they are taking the decisions they are taking, but I do think that they should have to explain and answer for
any step they take in the next week to reduce or curtail or refuse to cooperate with the IAEA.
AMANPOUR: I`m going to come back to Iran if I have a little bit of time. But first, I want to ask you about another really important deadline and
that is the U.S. troops and the decision, I believe, May 1st whether or not to keep the U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Does the Biden administration, does the president, does his national security advisers believe that the conditions in Afghanistan are such that
the remaining 2,500 U.S. troops can be pulled out as President Trump pledged?
SULLIVAN: We are currently undertaking a review. The president is looking hard at this. He inherited a U.S. Taliban agreement that was agreed
basically a year ago that set this May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of the remaining U.S. troops. It also set out a series of requirements on the
Taliban as well, including that they reduce violence and cut ties with terrorists and engage meaningfully in a peace process. And so, the
president is taking a hard look at all of that in consultation with the allies and partners and with his commanders on the ground and his
diplomats, and he will be making determinations in the coming days and weeks as to what the way forward is for the United States and Afghanistan.
And this will be a decision that is not just an American decision from the perspective of the coordination and consultation we are doing. Secretary
Austin was just with the defense ministers of NATO over the course of the past two days discussing this issue, there are many other countries, allied
countries involved on the ground in Afghanistan, and of course, we will want their input as well.
AMANPOUR: At the Munich Security Conference which the president addressed, so did chancellor, Angela Merkel, and she said Germany is the committed to
keeping their troops there as long as the conditions demand. So, I wonder if that would sway the president.
SULLIVAN: He is going to listen to allies and what their view is, both in terms the of their assessment of the conditions and their assessment of the
U.S. Taliban agreement. Ultimately, he`ll make his own determination about what is in the best interest of the United States and the American people,
and his fundamental proposition that the purpose of this mission in Afghanistan is to protect the United States from Afghanistan ever again
becoming a launching pad for terrorist attacks against our homeland, against our interest and against our allies, that is the metric against
which he will judge this decision.
He will coordinate and consult. But ultimately, he is going to decide based on what`s in the best interests of the American people.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, I understand those troops are counter terrorism troops. So, that would make some sense. Can I ask you about Russia, because
the president in the G7 intervention today said that he was not inclined as the former president was to invite Russia back to G7 and particularly on
the issue of the solar winds hack which was such a massive failure that it was completely, you know, none of your -- I mean, you were not in office,
but none of the national security or the intelligence agencies caught it, it`s infected all sorts of the federal agencies and President Biden has
said that Russia will pay a price.
Has anything been done and is anything going to be done to hold Russia accountable for this massive hack of the U.S. federal agencies?
SULLIVAN: So, right after President Biden took office, he tasked the intelligence community with an assessment of the scope and scale of this
attack and he also asked the intelligence community to provide him with an updated capacity to attribute exactly who conducted it. What the previous
administration said was that it was "likely of Russian origin." Well, we believe we can go further than that and we are in the process now of
working through with the intelligence community and his national security team a series of steps to respond to solar winds, including the steps that
will hold who we believe is responsible for this, accountable, and you will be hearing more about this short order. We`re not talking about months from
now, we`re talking about weeks from now that the United States will be prepared to take the first steps in response to solar winds.
AMANPOUR: What is that? More sanctions?
SULLIVAN: I am not going to get ahead of the president`s ability to make the decision and lay it out for you, but it -- we are not simply looking at
the question of sanctions, we`re looking at a broad range of responses, some of which, Christiane, are not just about imposing the costs but are
actually about hardening our own defenses so that this kind of thing does not happen again.
And then, of course, there`s the intense work that`s under way now to remediate this specific hack and ensure that the threat actor is expunged
from federal government systems on a going basis.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you about Saudi Arabia? Because we have already seen how President Biden is making the relations more conditions-based, he`s
talking about reducing the arm sales, you know, the war in Yemen, et cetera. But I want to ask you, because we just spoken to the sister of the
released Saudi woman`s activist who is still not free, and we understand that your administration, the intelligence agencies might be releasing
whatever documents and information that you have on the murder of Jamaal Khashoggi.
Is that going to happen next week, and what effect do you think that will have?
SULLIVAN: So, Congress has passed a law actually mandating that the administration release an unclassified version of the report of
accountability and responsibility for the brutal and grisly murder of Jamaal Khashoggi. We intend to comply with that. We intend to do so soon. I
can`t tell you the precise date for it, but it will not be very much longer before we are going to be prepared with that report and send it up to the
Congress and we will accompany that announcement with our answer, our further answer to how we will ensure that there is accountability for that
AMANPOUR: And do you expect it to say definitively that it was ordered by the crown prince?
SULLIVAN: I know that I keep letting you down with my answers, Christiane, but again, this is one where I can`t get ahead of the intelligence
community`s process of creating an unclassified version of this report so that we can give our final answer on this.
AMANPOUR: Jake Sullivan, national security adviser, thank you so much for joining us this evening.
SULLIVAN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And we turn now to big tech with our next guest, Shoshana Zuboff of Harvard Business School who is warning of an inflammation coup in the
way tech giants collect our data. She is the author of "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism." And here she is speaking to our Hari Sreenivasan
about her theory.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Shoshana Zuboff, thanks so for joining us.
SHOSHANA ZUBOFF, AUTHOR, "THE AGE OF SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM": Thank you so much for having me, Hari. It`s a pleasure.
SREENIVASAN: So, you have been studying power, society, culture, the workplace, the internet for decades now. And here we are at this
interesting point where while we`re having this conversation there is a mark threat to democracy, there is an influence of a former president, a
lot of that has to do with technology and social networks.
How much of where we are at today do you lay at the feet of these technology companies?
ZUBOFF: A great deal. I mean, we have never before had a situation in our society or any society where a private economic logic serving a corporation
or set of corporations could drive disinformation at scale to so many people in such powerful and relentless ways day after day, hour after hour.
The conditions that we are living in now as far as the digital domain goes are unprecedented in any history. Let alone in the history of our short
digital century. So, a great deal is laid at the feet of this economic logic.
SREENIVASAN: So, explain surveillance capitalism to someone who is unfamiliar with it. I mean, you also call it almost a human futures market.
What`s being traded? What is the surveillance and where is the capitalism?
ZUBOFF: Surveillance capitalism was a breakthrough idea where it was discovered that it was possible to secretly capture private human
experience and treat it as free raw material for the translation into behavioral data. These behavioral data immediately then are declared as the
private property of that corporation.
Now, with their private property, which is data about us, they can take that into their manufacturing processes, which are, of course,
computational, we call it artificial intelligence, and they can produce products which are computational products and they can sell them.
What are the products they produce? They actually take all of this data about us and they produce products that are predictions of our behavior.
What we will do soon and later. It turns out that many kinds of businesses and many kinds of industries really want know what we will do.
So, they have established a new kind of marketplace where they sell these behavioral predictions. These are predictions of our future behavior, and I
call these markets, as you have noted, humans` future markets, because now what has happened is our private experience has been commodified in the
form of this behavioral data.
SREENIVASAN: Now, how different is what is happening in the digital domain than say if I am a customer and I go to McDonald`s and I keep ordering the
large fries? After a while they say, well, this guy probably wants the large fries, it`s a pattern, I see that. Let`s have some more large fries
ready when he shows up. How is that different? What do I own in the types of the transactions that I am making online or what, I guess, should I own
but don`t really have any access to?
ZUBOFF: So, this is such a good question because it`s a huge point of confusion, the techniques for capturing our data are designed to be hidden.
They are designed to keep us in ignorance. So, we rely a lot on weak documents and whistle-blowers and informants to find out what is really
going on here, but the public at large, just -- you know, we`ve just sort of proceeded really confused and really not understanding what is going on
behind the curtain.
So, here is a great piece of information from a leaked document, Facebook, 2018, we find out that it is describing what I call its factory, they call
it the A.I. backbone. And we find out that in this A.I. backbone, the A.I. is computing trillions of data points every day and producing 6 million
behavioral predictions each second. That is the kind of scale that we are talking about, Hari.
Now, what folks don`t understand is that a very small fraction of those trillions of data points are based on what we knowingly give to the
companies. Most of what they have about us is what they secretly take. And when they write about their ability to do this, they celebrate the fact
that they can lift personal information from us for translation into behavioral data, they can aggregate it in ways that allow them to infer
things about us that they know we do not intend to disclose, sexual orientation, political orientation, personality profiles, just to get
started, and they understood right from start, and I mean from the start, going back to the very early 2000s when we began to have research and
surveys on this, they understood from the start that as soon as people find out about what is really going on, they hate it, they rebel, they resist,
they want to hide, they are looking for camouflage, they want an alternative.
But what has happened over these past 20 years is those alternatives have disappeared. And so, now, we are finding ourselves pretty much trapped,
every internet interface is now a data supply chain for surveillance capitalists, artificial intelligence factories, and its profit-making
SREENIVASAN: I want to be clear that this is not just about Facebook or Google, we are talking broadly about digital domains anywhere that we go on
the web, there`s tracking cookies and so forth that are constantly in effect, I want to pull this to the audience`s attention. You say, they have
declared our personal information their private property, so they own all the information. They have all the rights to the information based on their
ownership. They know more than we do. The gap between what we can know and what can be known about us is growing exponentially every moment. So, there
is new extreme inequality. Explain that.
ZUBOFF: So, just about every industry now has taken on this model as the key way to produce revenue. So, with this inequality, you know, we are used
to talking in the 20th century about concentrations of economic power. But now, we have to talk about concentrations of knowledge, and that`s
important for two reasons. The basic problem which is I can`t know nearly as much as these people can know about me, as their machine systems can
know about me. Why is that so critical? Because knowledge, as everybody has heard, is power.
And when we talk about the operations of these companies we talk about a range of targeting mechanisms that use all the knowledge they have amassed
about us to come back to us in very specific ways, manipulating what they know about us to get us to think things, do things, join things, sometimes
just behave in subtle ways and sometimes behave in very overt significant ways that we would not otherwise have done.
The knowledge they have about us translates into a new kind of power to shape, tune, herd and modify our behavior individually and collectively at
scale. This is a digital-born form of power that has never before existed.
SREENIVASAN: You know, many of us as consumers have been lured by the bargain that, hey, for this, I`m getting free e-mail, I`m getting free
something or another, right? I mean, economists will say there ain`t no free lunch, right, but there is always this notion that I don`t have to
participate in the social network, I don`t have to use this particular e- mail provider. Is it possible for me to escape the clutches of what you are describing here?
ZUBOFF: The big deal is what we give them is a tiny fraction of what they have. Their systems are taking from us without asking. They are taking from
us in a way that is engineered to bypass our awareness.
Now, I know you have young children. You go home tonight, Hari, and ask one of your kids, hey, if somebody takes something from me without asking and
then they say it belongs to them and they`d go off and they do stuff with it and they sell it, what should I do about that? And I guaranty you, your
child will say, dad, that is called stealing. You should call the police, because somebody is stealing from you.
But somehow, we missed that step. We have gotten so habituated to the fundamental illegitimacy, this license to steal that they have claimed for
themselves, you know, that we have gone along with it. But the fact is that all around us, they are taking without asking. It is illegitimate and it is
SREENIVASAN: Is this the end game here of these companies? Why do they target me so that they can, what, deliver something to their customers
which are all of the companies that are trying to sell me stuff? Is that all of it?
ZUBOFF: You`ve got to look at these capabilities and what they are able to do, and the sort of the power that is at work here. Now, if we just pivot
this a few degrees from commercial outcomes to political outcomes, I think that you will see my point.
We now know, Hari, that in 2016, you know, the Facebook executives have claimed that Mr. Trump would not have won the 2016 election had it not been
for Facebook. They said that his campaign used Facebook more potently exploited all of its capabilities more potently than any other candidate
had ever done in the three key swing states that year, you will recall Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio, the Trump campaign had an explicit goal of
getting the black citizens not to vote, to refrain from voting. And they used all of this mass of information that they had on black citizens to
analyze their personalities, to analyze their political orientations, to analyze other things about them, to get an idea of what their emotional
triggers might be, all of this analyses, and then they created a category out of all of this which they called the deterrables, the people who could
be deterred from voting on election day. And then they used the targeting.
We know from the larger picture that the black vote was successfully suppressed in these states. And there is every reason to believe that these
efforts were effective. But here is what I want you to think about. Democratic citizens in the oldest democracy on earth relinquished,
voluntarily relinquished their most critical democratic right, which is the right to vote and they did it without anyone ever knocking on their door
and showing a gun. They did it without anyone ever threatening to drive them to the gulag or the camp, without anyone ever threatening murder or
violence, they did it simply because they were manipulated through the milieu of the digital. They were manipulated through the medium of digital
instrumentation. Manipulated in ways that were designed to keep them in ignorance so they never saw it coming. They never knew it was happening.
SREENIVASAN: Right now, there seems to be some focus on Section 230 and figuring out whether the platforms should be liable for what`s said on
there. Should we be -- is that kind of missing the point? I mean, are we looking downstream versus kind of more of the root of the problem? Should
we be regulating them like utilities? I mean, is Europe doing it right? What should we be thinking of?
ZUBOFF: So, I am very motivated for us to really think hard about the solutions that we need right now, because we are on the cusp of the third
decade of the digital century. If we think back to industrialization and 19th and 20th centuries, that was also a very bleak time, very much like
now, employers had all the rights.
Their property rights gave them all of the rights to dictate every aspect of what happened in a workplace. There were no workers` rights, there were
no consumers` rights. We fought as a society, the public together with lawmakers to eventually, in the third and even into fourth decade of the
20th century, produce the new charters of rights and laws and the new kinds of democratic institutions to oversee it all that we would need to make the
industrial century safe for democracy, and it is exactly that kind of challenge that we face right now.
We need to be thinking about new kinds of rights. In every age, when the conditions of our lives change fundamentally, new kinds of rights become
necessary. So, for the first time in the evolution of civilization, we have to have formal rights that say, epistemic rights, right to knowing about
our own experience, these belong to the sovereign individual. So, I decide what to share and with whom and for what purpose. I decide what is public
and I decide what remains private. What remain my secret or maybe I share it with my family or maybe I share with my best friend.
So, it is not that we are not going to have big data, it is not that we are not going to be able to learn from data, it`s that the learning from the
data is going to be tied to public service and the real needs of society. And it is going to be done transparently with the full participation of
But the fact is that, Hari, we have not yet begun. We have not yet begun. Now, it is really only in the past year or so that we are beginning to see
democracy finally on the move. It`s on the move in Europe where they are starting to take the lead with critical new legislation that is now in
front of the European Parliament. And if this legislation is passed in the next year or so, which I believe it will be, it will quite firmly reassert
democratic governance over these companies and their operation operations, and that will be, you know, the first big effort at turning this huge ship,
turning the Titanic away from the iceberg, something that we will be building on for this decade and the decade to follow that.
SREENIVASAN: Shoshana Zuboff, thank you.
ZUBOFF: Thank you, Hari.
AMANPOUR: And that is it for now. Tune in next week for more interviews, of course, including my conversation with the legendary, Jodie Foster,
around her new movie, "The Mauritanian."
You can catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.