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Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden; Andrew Cuomo Facing Possible Impeachment; Battle Over Booster Shots; Interview with Peter Bergen; Interview with Lachlan Morton. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired August 6, 2021 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: WHO is calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): The battle over booster shots. We discuss the science and the morality with epidemiologist Larry Brilliant and German
public health official Karl Lauterbach.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The facts are much different than what has been portrayed.
GOLODRYGA: A defiant New York Governor Andrew Cuomo faces down a possible impeachment. Former federal prosecutor Laura Coates guides us through what
could happen next.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al Qaeda had ever known.
Journalist Peter Bergen joins me on his just published biography, "The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden."
LACHLAN MORTON, PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST: That's the biggest part of the challenge is, like, keeping yourself together mentally.
GOLODRYGA: Professional cyclist Lachlan Morton tells Hari Sreenivasan about his alternate Tour de France, an 18-day, 3,000-mile ride through the
countryside all alone.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, who will be back next week.
Millions of people across the world have yet to get a single shot of the COVID vaccine. But in countries like Israel, France, the U.K. and Germany,
some vulnerable citizens will soon be getting their third. These four countries are going directly against the pleas from the World Health
Organization, who called for a moratorium on booster shots until at least the end of September.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GHEBREYESUS: We should not accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it, while the world's most
vulnerable people remain unprotected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: The German Health Ministry says that this is a false choice, saying -- quote -- "We want to provide the vulnerable groups in Germany
with the precautionary third vaccination and at the same time support the vaccination of as many people in the world as possible."
Well, here to discuss the science and the ethics around all of this are German politician and public health expert Karl Lauterbach and
epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, who worked on the global eradication of smallpox.
Welcome both of you.
Dr. Brilliant, let me begin with you, because before we get into this third booster shot, can you just give us some specifics and more information on
what it is exactly? Is it more of the same, the first two?
DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, CEO, PANDEFENSE ADVISORY: Yes, the current booster shot is more of the same.
I think, soon, we will be getting boosters that are specific for different ages, specific for different doses, specific for different variants. But
we're talking about right now, if it was Moderna or Pfizer or J&J, it is more of the same.
GOLODRYGA: And along those lines, there seems to be a lot of confusion about the need for a booster right now, because there had been headlines
that people could go for a year or two perhaps with those first two vaccinations, those first two shots, without needing a booster, that the
efficacy rate was high enough.
Is it Delta that changed the narrative here?
BRILLIANT: Yes, so there's three different kinds of vaccine efficacy.
A vaccine does three things. We want it to do three things. We want it to keep you from getting it, getting the disease. We want you to -- keep you
from giving it, spreading it, and we want to keep you from getting really, really sick.
These vaccines are phenomenal at the middle. They keep us from getting sick. Vaccine efficacy in the 95 percent is not un -- unheard of. But as
far as getting it, there are more breakthroughs, certainly, with Delta than there have been with previous variants.
And as far as giving it, it probably reduces transmission that you would normally have only by 50 percent, rather than 100 percent. I think the
issue really is that there's an epidemiological path, and there's an equity path, and often they overlap. Sometimes, they confuse each other.
Right now, we have two groups of people that we need to get vaccine to, first and foremost, those in the developing world, the poor world that have
not been able to get vaccinated.
I listened to Dr. Tedros. I respect him deeply. I agree with him. We need to stop the hoarding of vaccine in countries that have purchased four or
five times what their need will be. That needs to be number one.
But, at the same time, those countries have people who are over the age of 70 who are immunocompromised, and got their vaccine six months ago or more.
Those people are not only at risk of getting it, Bianna, but they are at risk of becoming variant-producing factories.
So we have to prioritize both of those groups. And I think I heard my German colleague use the word false choice. You couldn't have said it
GOLODRYGA: So let me ask you that then, Dr. Lauterbach. Is this a false choice? Is this not just a case of either giving third boosters or waiting
until everybody gets their first shot?
Is there a scenario where we can see that vulnerable communities across the world may start receiving a third shot, while also more vaccines are going
into the arms of people that haven't even had one shot?
DR. KARL LAUTERBACH, GERMAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Yes, I would think so.
First of all, I would like to say hello to Dr. Brilliant. And I could not agree with him more, the way he has described, basically, what the vaccines
are capable of performing when it comes to the Delta variant.
But what is the situation in which we are in Germany currently and also in other European countries? We have a very old population. Germany does have,
roughly speaking, the oldest population in Germany. A large percentage of that population has been vaccinated.
And we now see the necessity of a booster immunization in those that are particularly old and do have diseases that make them immunocompromised. So,
what we do not want is basically, as people who have been fully vaccinated and who die nevertheless, because that would reduce the acceptance of the
vaccine in the population.
We have a hard time to convince in particular middle-age and younger people to take the vaccine. And the worst thing that we could imagine is that,
while we try to convince the population to take the vaccine, we see elderly people dying who are fully vaccinated. That is not really what we want.
And is not a campaign for the vaccine. On the other hand, we will basically limit the booster vaccines to those that are in the most dire need, those
that are immunocompromised and who are old. And we make sure to give away as much vaccine as possible.
If you look at it from a per capita basis, Germany is the country which, let's say, supports the COVAX program, the most important program that
makes sure the poor do get vaccine as much as possible. Germany supports the COVAX program on a per capita basis more than any other countries that
I do know of.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, Germany has pledged to donate 30 million doses through COVAX. You are right.
But it's hard not to argue that COVAX has not lived up to the expectations that many had foreseen early on into this pandemic. And there's a huge
disparity among those in the world who are now debating about whether they should be receiving a third shot and those who haven't had access to one.
How did we get here, Dr. Lauterbach? And what could have been done to prevent this? And, I guess more importantly, what can be done to make sure
that we catch up to that equity -- to the disparity there among those who have access?
LAUTERBACH: I think the European Union has made a major mistake about a year ago, when there was not enough investment in establishing a production
capacity for the vaccines.
We have basically only invested in the production capacity that was needed to cover Europe. We haven't done much more. That was, in my opinion, a
major mistake. And I have said so a year ago and earlier. So that is where we currently are.
I think what we can currently can do is, basically, we need to work together. I myself also think that we should make the patent available to
the poor countries. That is a position that is not shared by Angela Merkel, with whom I agree on many issues and are -- really working together with
her is really successful and a pleasure, but, here, we have a disagreement.
I will do things that, let's say, the patents, making the patents available to poor countries, so that they can produce the vaccines themselves, in
particular, those that are somewhat easier to produce.
Here, I'm more in agreement with the Biden administration than with my own administration.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, it is interesting and puzzling to see that disagreement there among allies, right, and those who are focused specifically on the
Dr. Brilliant, explain to me how you can, on the one hand, make the argument that if we don't get enough vaccines for those that have yet to
have one, we will see more and more variants, and they could be even stronger than Delta, but, on the other hand, when somebody hears that
companies are advising that third booster shots be given, they have every right to say I want one.
So, where do you stand here?
BRILLIANT: Of course, it's complicated, like so many things.
But, once again, I agree with my German colleague. I, for one would like to see us rethink COVAX. I think Seth Berkley and the group have done a
phenomenal job with it. They depend so much on donations, they can't do more than give away what they get.
But what we should be doing is, we should be giving away patents. We can argue about that yes or no. But what we should be doing is selecting 50 to
100 countries around the world that have some nascent or good vaccine manufacturing capacity, and we should be exporting vaccine manufacturing
We had that in smallpox and polio. We had regional manufacture of vaccines. We must understand that, once we have the vaccine, the game doesn't end.
That's just the beginning. We have to get the vaccine to the final inch of 200-plus countries. It's an enormous task, much better done if the vaccine
is made locally.
And I'm aware of all the problems of quality control, but those can be fixed. And the companies that have the patents can indeed claim a royalty.
Let them make money, I don't care, exporting vaccine manufacturing factories and capabilities, because no single factory will be able to fill
the bill of the tens of billions of doses of vaccine we will need over the next three years.
And I didn't want to ignore your question. If we don't have vaccination in the developing world and the world that doesn't have vaccine, we will
continue to run through the Greek alphabet, and perhaps have to add at a different alphabet after that with variants, because there's nothing to
stop this virus from replicating, mutating, creating variants, unless it hits a wall of vaccinated people and the density of susceptibles is
We're not doing that adequately. That's why we're having this shower of variants.
GOLODRYGA: You mentioned the financial aspect here. And I'm glad you brought that up, because I'm wondering, Dr. Brilliant, if you think the
messaging here could have been more uniform.
And I'm specifically talking about the companies Pfizer and now Moderna suggesting that a third booster would be needed. These companies have had
record revenues over the course of the past few months because of these vaccines.
We have seen them come out and suggest that boosters should be given sooner, rather than later. And yet the U.S. government early on, at least,
just a few weeks ago, said no, not yet. We're not there yet.
Now there are reports, "The Washington Post" is reporting that perhaps we could even hear from the U.S. government and the FDA authorizing booster
shots for those who are immunocompromised in the U.S. within just a few weeks.
So this could raise the question for many that is there a financial incentive for these companies to be saying this? Why aren't the government
and these companies on the same page?
BRILLIANT: So, there -- we have anecdotal evidence. We don't have good science, but we have anecdotal evidence of one or two individuals who were
immunocompromised and who had the COVID virus in their body for 10 months, two cases in particular.
And out of that came some of the worst variants that we had. In fact, there is a concern that perhaps even the very first, the Alpha variant in the
U.K., arose from one individual who's immunocompromised.
Whether those anecdotes are illustrative or apocryphal, we know that the basic science tells us that if an infection reaches someone who has
HIV/AIDS and is immunocompromised, on chemotherapy, has leukemia, all of these different reasons, the virus gets wounded, it doesn't get killed, and
it continues to mutate and more variants are possible.
So, you have a very good global epidemiological reason to find those people. Usually, they're over 70, 75. They are immunocompromised. And their
primary dose of the vaccine is waning because it's been more than six months. That is not something that I would pin on the pharmaceutical
companies for trying to pump their stock.
But if they don't start thinking in bigger terms, if we don't think about a credit facility in the trillions of dollars, which is what it would take to
make the 100 factories all over the world, then what are we going to do? We're already paying trillions of dollars from what we have had in the
original COVID. It's not going to go away.
This virus will be here forever unless we figure out a large enough and creative solution to empower countries all over the world to make vaccine.
Otherwise, just the supply chain of getting vaccines delivered to a capital city, out into the field, to the final inch -- I did it in the smallpox
program. I was part of the malaria, part of the polio eradication program.
This is a very difficult job. You make it harder with only factories in the developed countries.
GOLODRYGA: And you make it harder when millions of people refuse to get a vaccine when they have access to one.
Doctors, thank you so much for joining us. Really important conversation. We appreciate it. Thank you.
Well, now, despite calls to resign from President Biden down to the state Assembly speaker, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is remaining defiant. It
appears impeachment is the only way the governor will leave office.
And state lawmakers are moving full speed ahead after the state attorney general's report concluded that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women.
Meanwhile, also in Albany, just today, an anonymous accuser, one of the 11, filed a criminal complaint with the sheriff's office detailing her sexual
misconduct allegations against the governor.
Laura Coates is a former federal prosecutor, and she joins us now.
Laura, I'm so glad that you are joining us here, because who better to talk about this than you, especially given that this has now turned from a civil
probe to perhaps even a criminal one, after this criminal complaint was filed. How significant is that? And is this a game-changer for the
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is in terms of the mounting pressure.
Remember, his -- one of his main statements has been that this was the findings of the attorney general's office, an investigative probe, but not
a court of law. He tried to talk about it being in the court of public opinion, trial by newspaper, talking about the notions of due process,
And it is, of course, someone's right to profess their innocence. And we do have that presumption of innocence. But we're talking about the criminal
context here, where somebody is -- now has the benefit of a more-than-100- page report that talks about the findings, finding them as credible witnesses, credible victims of this behavior.
It buttresses the credibility even in the criminal context as well. And so now he's competing and fighting in multiple friends, the political realm,
as you mentioned, of impeachment, Bianna, but now also the notion of the civil world, potential civil claims against him, and now the criminal
Now, of course, just to ground everyone in the reality, the allegations are largely around what are considered misdemeanor offenses, meaning the
nonconsensual offensive touching. That seems to be the substance of the claim that we're now facing and thinking about.
So that's a misdemeanor, not as serious in terms of the criminal code as a felony. But that's only one of the five different prosecutors who are even
looking at these issues.
GOLODRYGA: And, of course, we should note that the governor has denied all of these accusations.
But, as reported by the attorney general and those who were assisting in this investigation, all of these victims, these women proved to be
credible, from their standpoint, over these -- the course of these five months.
For the woman who filed this latest criminal complaint, she told investigators -- she had been an assistant to the governor. And she told
investigators he had pulled her in for a close hug and then, after that, when she pulled away, he slid his hand under her blouse and cupped her
breasts. She described that in great detail.
Could we see from this complaint perhaps even an arrest?
COATES: Well, we certainly, first of all, have to remember the investigative report only -- found her to be credible. They found the
governor's accounts to be not credible, which is very, very telling in terms of the overall evaluation of how they saw that.
They were well aware of his denials at the time. They were well aware of the referral to sort of internal organization office through counsel to
figure out how to best proceed. And, knowing that, they stated that they did not find his denials or his recollection to be credible. That's very,
But in terms of an actual charge, again, misdemeanor context. If this -- if the prosecutors in this case, finding and looking at that report, and
meeting with the person who as to us is still anonymous as the person executive number one, if they also independently come to the conclusion
that it's credible, they could present an arrest, in terms of an arrest warrant or some sort of charge filed against the governor, which, of
course, puts him in very difficult and tough water.
But, again, misdemeanors and felonies are treated very differently United States, as you well know. And misdemeanors usually have about a six-month
potential in terms of incarceration, if at all. That might be the ultimate here.
But one thing the attorney general did not do which people are looking to her to do is to say, well, what specifically will happen next? And what her
statement was, well, look, it's up to the governor, who himself commissioned this report. It's up to the state Assembly, who has control
over the impeachment. And, ultimately, it's up to the voters, who, of course, he is representing as their governor.
And so on all different fronts, I think you have the arrest potential, the misdemeanor prosecution potential, but you certainly have the political
inevitability of this being a situation where Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his party.
And we're in the middle of a pandemic and the Delta variant, as you spoke with Dr. Brilliant about, Bianna, where the state of New York is going to
have to -- like every other state in this country at least, has to focus on trying to flatten the curve, return to normalcy.
If he doesn't have that confidence, can he do it even politically, even while he fights against the charges against him that might be coming?
GOLODRYGA: And he was already facing the nursing home death scandal as well prior to this report last week.
GOLODRYGA: It is peculiar. I think those that have followed his career for months and -- I mean, for years, and who have seen him for months now with
these very popular public press briefings, tape a response, instead of publicly coming out for a press conference, a response, that seemed to be
edited and highly produced, perhaps lawyered up.
I want you to listen to just a snippet of it before we talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: I do kiss people on the forehead. I do kiss people on the cheek. I do kiss people on the hand. I do embrace people. I do hug people, men and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Did this seem to you like a peculiar defense? He was not saying what he did was wrong. He was saying this is who he has been for years, and
everyone has known that about him.
But at the same time, this is not necessarily what these allegations and charges detail. It's not just calling somebody bella or kissing them on the
And the word peculiar is one way to describe it, the notion of disingenuous. He's navigating a mine field. He stepped on several of them,
talking about this being a generational or a cultural conflict in some respects, in which he is not yet aware or was not aware at the time.
That slideshow included him kissing the president of United States on the cheek as well. Again, as you're right, if these allegations were about the
idea of whether he cupped someone's face and kissed them on the cheek and publicly said ciao bella or referred to them as a sweetheart, well, perhaps
he would be in very different circumstances.
But we're always talking about grabbing the behind, the buttocks of a person, cupping the breasts, not a face, of a woman. Also, a state trooper
is one of the 11 people who gave statements to the investigators. And in a world where we think about the credibility of our police officers, a woman
who is assigned to protect as a security detail of the governor, who she says has been subjected to aspects of this is very, very troubling.
And his statements about the sort of idiosyncrasies of his personality or his demeanor does not hold a lot of weight. But one of the things you
pointed out is the idea of the what's in his checking account, so to speak, political checking account. He, I think, is banking a great deal on the
ability to establish the rapport that he did over the better part of a year while the nation grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic.
COATES: His daily press briefings were in stark contrast to what was happening at the federal presidential level.
And I think he's hoping that that will counteract the allegations against him now. But, remember, these are particularly -- 11 different people, over
160-something witnesses, tens of thousands of pages of documents.
GOLODRYGA: Right. And...
COATES: As I say, he has every right to fight against it, but, politically, it's untenable.
And as popular as he may think he is, there are some things he can't counter. And that would be impeachment, right?
GOLODRYGA: If there are enough in the state Assembly who would support that. And it appears that that is the case.
How quickly could we see things unfold along those lines?
COATES: Well, interestingly enough, I mean, it's already -- it's at neck- break pace at this point.
And, you know, the United States, we're very well-accustomed now to impeachments. Everyone has become very well-versed. Over a very long time
of not ever having them, we had two in two years.
But the difference of an impeachment at a state gubernatorial level, as opposed to presidential, is that a president can stay in office during the
pendency of an impeachment trial until he is convicted and/or removed.
In New York, however, the impeachment trial triggers a requirement that the governor must temporarily relinquish power to the second in command, the
lieutenant governor. He cannot remain there for the duration of the trial.
And so it could have -- by having an impeachment trial, in and of itself, could have really the immediate effect of removing him, at least
temporarily, from power. And if he were ultimately convicted and removed, well, then the lieutenant governor, second in line, would step up for the
remainder of the term, which he is due to be thinking about perhaps running again next November for the general election.
So a very, very precarious time politically. And, of course, the women who have come forward, it's one where they're looking for accountability for --
in a variety of ways.
GOLODRYGA: A fast-moving situation.
Laura, we appreciate your insights. Thanks. And your expertise as well. Thank you.
Well, we are fast approaching the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people. Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind
the attacks, was killed in 2011, when U.S. Special Forces raided his hideout in Pakistan.
My next guest was the only journalist to be granted access to that compound before it was demolished. Peter Bergen is also one of the few people who
actually sat across from the man himself as the producer of Peter Arnett's interview with bin Laden in 1997 for CNN.
Bergen is now out with the new biography of the founder of al Qaeda called "The Rise and Fall of Osama Bin Laden."
And he is joining me now from New York.
Peter, welcome to the program. Thank you so much for coming on.
You have spent years researching bin Laden. hand you talk about what you have learned since, especially since the U.S. government in the Trump
administration in 2017 released 470,000 computer files that Navy SEALs had seized from his compound during that raid.
What was the most surprising revelation that stood out to you?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Bianna, thanks for having me on.
I think one of the surprising things I think for readers of the book will be that bin Laden was highly reliant on his two oldest wives to do his
thinking for him. Two of his wives, his oldest wives, had Ph.D.s. One of them had a Ph.D. in child psychology. Another had a Ph.D. in Koranic
And one of them was 8 years older than bin Laden, and really kind of was somebody that he greatly admired, respected. And one of the big, Bianna,
that he was concerned about was the Arab Spring, which was happening in the final months of his life. And he was holding almost daily meetings with his
wives to think about, how can I react to the Arab Spring?
He was well aware that the people who are protesting in the streets of Tunisia and Egypt and Libya were not holding up banners of Osama bin Laden
or influenced by al Qaeda's ideas. They were just demanding basic human rights.
And so he was puzzling. He held these daily meetings with his wives and his two adult daughters, and they committed all this to a bin Laden family
journal. It was handwritten in Arabic. It was part of those 470,000 files that you just referenced that were released.
And they thought that bin Laden could really take a big role in the Arab Spring if he kind of came out with the right speech. Of course, this was a
total delusion. But it was a delusion that they all had and that they spent many nights in the final weeks of bin Laden's life kind of trying to puzzle
out what al Qaeda's leader should say.
GOLODRYGA: You also talk about how delusional he was in terms of the aftermath of 9/11, in not thinking that the U.S. would respond the way it
BERGEN: Yes, the whole -- Pearl Harbor was a great tactical victory for imperial Japan, but it was a strategic failure. And I think 9/11 was very
similar for bin Laden.
He thought that he would attack on 9/11, the United States would pull out of the Middle East. He completely underestimated the American response,
which, of course, was overthrowing the Taliban in only three months, decimating much of al Qaeda, eventually invading Iraq under false
pretenses, including that al Qaeda in Iraq were somehow allied.
But none of this was intended by bin Laden. He later kind of put a post facto gloss and all they're, saying 9/11 was a kind of clever plot to bring
the United States into the Middle East and bankrupt Americans.
That was certainly not his intention. Obviously, now, we're 20 years later. We are pulling out of Afghanistan. We're turning into a non-combat mission
in Iraq. But bin Laden never saw any of this.
He really believed his own propaganda, a rather dangerous thing to do, which is, the United States was a paper tiger and that we would -- the
United -- Americans would pull out of the Middle East after 9/11.
That didn't happen.
BERGEN: -- rather the dangerous thing to do, which is the United States was a paper tiger and that we would -- the Americans would pull out of the
Middle East after 9/11, that didn't happen.
GOLODRYGA: I want to get to -- you touched on Afghanistan today and the U.S. pulling out. But before we do that, I want to go back to the missteps
that the U.S. also made and the miscalculations that the U.S. made following the 9/11 attack. Because you say that instead of necessarily, you
know, going after Bin Laden and his escape from Tora Bora, you had the defense secretary, Rumsfeld, and other officials focused on Saddam Hussein
and Iraq in just the aftermath, the days after.
BERGEN: Exactly. I mean, you know, we -- Bin Laden was at the Battle of Tora Bora for several weeks. And this is known to American officials. You
know, you know, Donald Rumsfeld was occupied with the Iraqi war that on December 12, 2001 he actually had a lengthy meeting to discuss the 800-page
Iraq war plan with the top leaders in the Pentagon, and that was the very day that Bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora and went on to live for another
decade. So, I think that, you know, speaks for itself.
Bianna, interestingly, by my count, there were more journalists at the Battle of Tora Bora, including CNN's Nick Robertson, than there were
American soldiers. And I think that sort of speaks for itself. You know, the -- even as the World Trade Center was smoldering, you know, the Bush
administration's sight were already, you know, moving to Iraq.
GOLODRYGA: So, fast forward to today and the withdrawal of U.S. troops, something that you called the worst speech that the Biden administration --
President Biden has made thus far when announcing the rationale for leaving Afghanistan. What did you take issue with in particular?
BERGEN: I mean, President Biden and Secretary Blinken presided over a very similar decision in Iraq at the end of December of 2011, and it's kind of a
strategic narcissism that Americans have, which is if we have sent ourselves somehow, you know, the conflict is over and there have been lots
of stories about the war in Afghanistan is ending. Well, the fact the war in Afghanistan is accelerating as we draw down.
And on August 31st, the last American troops will be out except a small, you know, presence protecting the U.S. embassy. And, you know, predictably,
the Taliban just in the last 24 hours seized a provincial capital for the first time. They have taken 200 districts in the country out of 400 or so.
So, you know, I mean, this movie is something we've seen before. We've seen it relatively -- we never learn from our own history, even our recent
history. And, you know, the Taliban isn't necessarily ISIS, but I think we're going to see some similar kind of advances by the Taliban as we saw
with ISIS in Iraq after the American pull out in 2011. And we may well -- the Americans may well decide they need to go back in. Because if, you
know, the Afghan government and army kind of collapses and al-Qaeda, there are plenty of reports now of al-Qaeda on the front lines, you know, that
will be a very hard thing to live with.
GOLODRYGA: And the Taliban just today claimed responsibility for the killing of the Afghan government's top media advisor as well. But it speaks
to the argument that, if the Afghan government and military can't defend itself, what more can the U.S. do after 20 years? And I want to play a clip
of you of an interview that I conducted just a few weeks ago with Abdullah Abdullah who is overseeing the peace negotiation, the peach talks with the
Taliban and his view at the time of what the Afghan military and forces could do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, CHAIRMAN, HIGH COUNCIL FOR NATIONAL RECONCILIATION: I would say that's Insha'Allah, God willing, it's impossible. They may try.
They may some immediate or midterm success and we may face some setbacks, but if Taliban are opting, you know, for a military solution, that's a big
miscalculation in their part. That's defying the lessons of history. Afghanistan has changed and they need to evaluate the risks of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: So, is that not a miscalculation on Abdullah Abdullah's part in suggesting that the government would be able to push back against the
Taliban? I mean, look at where we are just a few weeks into the U.S. troops leaving?
BERGEN: Well, the Taliban may not be able to take over the entire country. There is the Afghan National Army, there's the Afghan Special Forces, which
are somewhat effective. There are continued U.S. airstrikes, not clear if that will continue. There are also local militias because no one -- a lot
of groups of people, ethnic groups, they don't want to be ruled by the Taliban.
So, he may be right in the sense the Taliban may not be able to take over the entire country. But as you point out, I mean, they have done pretty
well just in the few weeks since you interviewed him.
But going back to your first kind of question, you know, we're still in South Korea 75 years after the end of the Korean war. And there are 25,000
plus American troops there. So, I mean, the idea that somehow 20 years is relatively short is -- in the grand scheme, 20 years is not a long time
necessarily. And I think that this was an unforced error by the Biden administration. We didn't have to say we're leaving completely. Because not
only are we leaving, all our NATO allies are leaving, all the -- pretty much all the contractors are leaving. None of this was really necessary and
there was no big political constituency in the United States demanding that we just pull out.
GOLODRYGA: And the progress of women and girls have made over the past 20 years is not trivial either. And that is something that many have noted as
well and are really concerned about in the months and years ahead.
As for Bin Laden himself, there are some really fascinating details that you talk about in this book. One, his vanity, right? We heard the story
about identifying him and not necessarily knowing exactly how tall he was. But another issue was that his beard color had changed. It had been dyed.
And it confused troops because they had expected to see that he had gray hair.
BERGEN: Yes. You know, he -- I actually went to the compound shortly before it was demolished by the Pakistani military and, you know, in the
bedroom there was just for men hair dye. So, he was certainly dyeing his hair, dyeing his beard. Here he is in '97, in our CNN interview with him.
By the time he died when he's 54, he looked lot older than 54. So, you know, he liked to micromanage his personal appearance, particularly in the
media. And so, he was dyeing his hair and beard in order to look like a younger guy.
GOLODRYGA: My final question to you and one difficult to answer when we try to get into the mind of sadists here and some of the most ruthless
killers in the world. But he came from a very rich family. Not necessarily as ideological as he became. His family traveled to the West. Had 55
siblings. There are photos that you show in the book of his family vacationing in Sweden, some wearing bell bottoms, some loving western
music. How did he become the man he did?
BERGEN: I think it was a long process. I mean, that is where the book kind of outlines. I don't do a lot of armchair psychologizing. His father died
when he was only 10. He only had five meetings with his father, you mention the 55 siblings. You know, he became very religious at a young age. And
then through a process of events throughout his life, he -- there was a long process of radicalization.
There was -- none of it was inevitable. He could have -- there were off ramps when he could have decided not to go down the path of founding al-
Qaeda or turning against the United States. He didn't choose to take those paths. And, you know, he became the person he was. But none of it was
inevitable. The book tries to explain how he got there. It was a long process that took place over decades.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. You describe him memorizing the Koran as just a child as well.
Peter Bergen, it is a fascinating dive into the mind of one of the most ruthless killers in history. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.
BERGEN: Thank you, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: Imagine beating the Tour de France. Now, imagine doing that without any of the perk. No mechanics, no hotels, no crews at all. Well,
that is exactly what Australian pro cyclist, Lachlan Morton, did this summer. He dubbed it "The Alt Tour de France." Riding miles a day and
beating everyone to the punch by five days. Lachlan did it all for World Bicycle Relief, a non-profit that finds bicycles for people who need them.
Here he is talking to Hari Sreenivasan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Bianna. Joining now is Lachlan Morton, a profession cyclist.
I think the most basic question people are going to ask after learning what you did is, why? Why take on such a grueling physical feat?
LACHLAN MORTON, CYCLIST, UCI, WORLD TEAM EF EDUCATION-NIPPO, PRO-CYCLIST, ALT-TOUR DE FRANCE: It was a little bit of a challenge from Jonathan
Borduas who, I guess, essentially the boss for our team. He kind of put the question to me, like, could it be done? And I guess I have a bit of a
background in taking on, like, some sort of ultra-challenges on the bike. And yes, it was the sort of challenge that, like, you know, just sparked
something in me, that I was like, I got to do this now.
SREENIVASAN: You have photos of some of the absolutely spectacular vistas that you were at, and obviously, these are a just a sliver of what you
actually witnessed, right? I mean, there are -- and this was while kind of adjacent to the tour? You got to a point where you are ahead of them. So,
some of these roads were actually just quiet. They weren't filled with spectators. They weren't filled with all the hoopla that goes with the Tour
de France. What was that like?
MORTON: It's amazing. And to be honest, like, you know, that is why I enjoy cycling so much, is being outside. And, you know, these incredible
natural spaces that are free to anyone to access, you know. So, I think that was, for me, like a lot of what I was looking for out there was to be
alone in these incredible places, basically traveling on my bike, with everything you need. It is a very, like, unique and like amazing feeling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORTON: This the Col de Peyresourde, tell me that is not what you think about when you hear the Tour de France. This is like, so nice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORTON: So, I drew like a lot of motivation and, like, the inspiration just from being out in that scenery. And it was -- I wasn't really like
spending any time on my phone. I was pretty disconnected from everything that was going on outside. So, I think the combination of just, like, you
know, the difficulty of what I was trying to do, the place I was doing it and then sort of experiencing it just sort of for myself was, yes, super
SREENIVASAN: There wasn't actually a guarantee that you either could beat the tour or even finish this. Because you are doing on a bike what they get
to do on busses and planes at the end of the day, which is go to the next race.
MORTON: Yes. I mean, when I said, yes, I think I can do it. It was more like, yes, I want to try. And I think that the reality in my head, I was
kind of putting it at like 60/40 can probably be done. Just because, as you said, it is such a long distance and there are so many, you know,
uncontrollable elements, which means that there is just a lot of time for things to go wrong. And specially, you know, when you are taking it all on
The style, I guess, I was doing it in is considered like unsupported. So, after my own food and sleeping, you know, outside in my camp set up and
mechanical issues and, that was all, you know, on me. So, that leaves a lot of space for things to go wrong. And yes, plenty of things did go wrong and
it was just a matter of, you know, dealing with it, you know,
SREENIVASAN: You know, first couple of days there, people were kind of starting to bet against your success because you had some problems with
your knees. And then you did something way off the books, which is switch to basically like Birkenstock sandals. What was that all about?
MORTON: Yes, I had issues with my knee on the first day, which is basically the worst thing that could happen. And, you know, the event was
always going to be about like problem solving. And I kind of tried to nurse my knee through the next day. But quickly realized I had to change
something. Because it was just becoming impossible to pedal.
And it was when I was actually trying to find some food for dinner, I stumbled across this, like, a bike for sale at like a supermarket and saw
the flat pedals. And I just thought, you know what, maybe if I can move my feet around a bit, like find a more comfortable position and not be locked
in, maybe it would help. It was a bit of a shot in the dark. And I had some sandals with me that I was using for off the bike.
So, I threw them on my -- I actually had to buy this bike because they wouldn't sell me the pedals. So, it was like a 50-year-old set of pedals,
but I threw them on my road bike. And sure enough, like, the knee started to fix itself. And I had to make like a fair few modifications to the
sandals because a lot of rubbing, you know, when you are spending 12 hours riding the day in sandals, you kind of have to like find how to make them
And then it just became like, I didn't want to change it then. You know, like, when something is working and, you know, it was just like, all right,
I'll stick with this now. And at the time, it seemed quite normal to me. Like, I could see from the outside it looked like, what's he doing, this is
ridiculous. But in my mind, it was like, oh, this is the perfect solution.
SREENIVASAN: So, there you are in sandals riding 12 hours a day, which, again, most people in their life will never do once, and you are doing it
day after day after day. And so, I kind of want to have a little bit more of a conversation about what it is that goes through your mind and how you
overcome these problems? Because inevitably, throughout any normal bike ride, people are going to have a point where they feel low. For you --
SREENIVASAN: -- you are in the middle of, at the very least, a 10, 12-hour day and, you know, technically, it is going to go on for another couple of
weeks with literally two mountain ranges in between.
MORTON: Yes. It is like a huge mental battle. That is the biggest part of the challenge is like, keeping yourself together mentally. To be able to
basically, you've just got to keep pedaling. I wish there was a simple key, because every day it's like inevitably, you have a big log moment. And I
found after three or four days you kind of realize that OK, it is not going to get better. Every day there's going to be some problem. And just the
accepting that and being prepared for when it comes and then when that moment comes trying to minimize the impact it has. So, it is like, I need
to switch my mindset and basically, just trying to get like a positive mind set back.
So, sometimes I would, you know, call my wife and just check in on what she's doing on a regular day. You know, like I'm not trying to talk about
what I'm doing, I'm just like, what are you doing? What are you cooking for dinner? Or like -- just to like not remove yourself from the situation but
just put everything in perspective again.
You are, as you said, spending so much time in your own head. And like, when you overcome things, you know, difficult moments day after day after
day, it is very, like, empowering. And I always come out of like a big challenge like this, feeling like, OK, you know, I'm actually somewhat
stronger than I thought I was.
SREENIVASAN: There are -- for people who follow the race, there is this giant hill mountain called Mont Ventoux, it's above the tree line. It looks
like it's on Mars somewhere. And this route, you had to climb it twice.
SREENIVASAN: And, I mean, it just seemed, you know, sadistic to try to put that in in the middle of a bike race. But not only do the riders do it, a
lot of rides, people just literally don't make the time cut. They just can't do it. And, you know, when you are tackling or when you're at the
base of one of these mountains, what do you say to yourself?
MORTON: The challenging thing for me climbing Ventoux was like in -- I think I did 200 Ks before I got to the first descent. And it was raining
the whole day. And like it's a part of France where I've decided in my head that it shouldn't be raining anymore. You know, I felt like I was getting
far enough south that like, I was like, I should be out of the rain now. Like this is unfair.
And then I had three flat tires and ended up like having to patch my tube with like the mattress kit for the blow-up mattress that I had, because I
had run out of tubes. And so, like that was a big stress. And then, I hit Ventoux like late in the afternoon. And it was like OK, now I need to get
up and over this thing. But, you know, the sun would come out and I'd manage to find a couple of tubes in the town at the bottom before I climbed
So, interestingly, like of that whole day, Ventoux became the easiest part. And, you know, like I was like, oh, I just got to get over this thing now
and then I'll camp on the other side and then I'll do the next lap in the morning. So, it is interesting that, like, what would probably be the most
difficult, or definitely be the most difficult part of the stage turned out to be like just the most enjoyable nice part of my day.
SREENIVASAN: So, you know, this is -- you did this and you raised an enormous amount of money. I don't know what the final total is for World
SREENIVASAN: When you juxtapose what you are able to do with what a bicycle means for the people who are getting them because of this charity,
how does that play in your head?
MORTON: Yes, it is really incredible. Because, you know, I'm like, I love bikes, you know, more than any. Like they have changed my life and they
give you so much on a day-to-day basis that like I can't imagine living without a bike now in my life. And that is coming from someone who like, I
had every opportunity and every privilege as a kid, you know. And still, like the bike means more to me than anything.
So. to be able to give that gift to people who cannot only use it for like leisure and enjoyment, which, you know, that's like 90 percent of what I
do, it's like, they can use it to just access education or, you know, cut down the time it takes them to get water, which can allow them to spend
more time with school. And it's just it's so empowering.
So, to play like a small part in being able to do that and me using my bike to enable that to happen, yes, I feel lucky that I was able to like play a
role in that. And I'm really thankful to everyone who donated. And so to get behind (INAUDIBLE), behind, you know, the ride. So, yes, basically it
is just a big thanks to everyone who donated.
SREENIVASAN: You know, right now we're also in a period where we are seeing athletes really take the first step in talking about mental health,
whether it was Naomi Osaka or Simone Biles or bike racers like Tom Dumoulin who just won a silver medal or, you know, Mark Cavendish, who is a great
sprinter, who had suffered from depression. And I wonder how it is that you get through an event like this, when you know that the lows that you are
going through are lower than most of us will ever go through. What do you keep in mind or what -- how do you frame it to have some sort of confidence
that it will get better, that you will reach a higher point?
MORTON: Yes, it is interesting. I think like, when you are in a race situation, you are very aware of the pressure. Because you have a team
director who is asking you to do a job. And, you know, that's sort of what you're paid to do, to go there and perform this task. So, there is a
pressure on a day-to-day basis to, you know, basically get something out of yourself that you are 90 percent sure you can do. There is still 10 percent
of doubt and fear and anxiety around whether I could perform that task.
So, the way I approached what I was doing was to basically remove that idea of pressure and I think if I'd known how many people were following what I
was doing, and, you know, just like the amount of support I was getting, it wouldn't have helped me. Because like, it's a lot of pressure then to keep
doing what you are doing.
SREENIVASAN: As a spectator, it is a very strange thing. We just collectively seem to expect either a gold medal or you are a loser, or this
person should win every race they are in. Why aren't they? Right? Something is a little off. But, you know, when Simone Biles made her decision the
other day, what went through your head?
MORTON: I can absolutely relate to that. Because, you know, my experience in elite sport is that, you know, I don't deal with pressure well. So, for
me, that has meant like, I compete less often so that when I do, I'm mentally ready and can enjoy the experience.
So, I can't imagine the amount of pressure that Simone Biles is under, you know, because not only is she competing at a level that no one has ever
competed at before and then that's just what she's expected to do time and again, it is also she's in an environment when, like, the sport is just a
small part of it now. You know, like she's part of a huge machine, I guess.
So, yes, I think it is amazing that she's done what she's done, I think. And I really like applaud her. Because now I think more than ever it is
difficult for those really top elite athletes because there is no escaping it. I mean, it is a different world that these elite athletes are competing
in now. It is a lot more pressure. So, I think there needs to be a bigger focus on mental health and just support in general. Because, you know, it
is basically -- it is a position that no one can relate to, you know, or there is maybe 20 athletes in the world who know what that feels like.
So, it is easy to sit on the couch at home and go, oh, yes, but, you know, she's an elite athlete. That's what she's, you know, paid to do. But at the
end of the day, it is like, you don't know what that's like. So, yes, I take my hat off to her and I hope it starts a conversation that, you know,
can lead to these elite performers getting the sport they need.
SREENIVASAN: Lachlan Morton, pro cyclist from team EF Education-Nippo, thanks so much for joining us.
MORTON: Thanks for having me.
GOLODRYGA: It's so good to see continued calls to prioritize mental health across the sporting community. Fascinating conversation.
And finally, this weekend marks the end of one of the most remarkable Olympic Games in modern history. Think about it. Even through a global
pandemic, thousands of athletes were able to show up for the biggest sporting event in the world. And boy, were there some memorable moments.
American gymnast, Simone Biles, shining a powerful spotlight on the importance of mental well-being, as Lachlan Morton was just talking about,
to the Qatar and Italian high jumpers deciding to share the gold medal when they reached a tie.
To Japan who not only pulled off an historic game, but also take home a record number of medals. This makes Tokyo 2020 the country's most
successful Olympics ever.
And we also want to mark another important milestone, it is the 56th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. Reminding us of just how hard many
fought to get the legislation on President Johnson's desk and why efforts to protect that fundamental right continue today. And we will continue
fighting for that right.
That is it for now. Thank you so much for watching and goodbye from New York. Christiane will be back here on Monday.