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New Documentary on 1971 Activist Raid on FBI; U.S. to Send 450 More Troops to Iraq; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired June 10, 2015 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:11] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: the United States shifts gears, trying to better battle ISIS. Washington
outlines plans for more trainers and a new military base in Anbar, the Sunni heartland.
Plus the year of few ordinary citizens blew open the illegal activities of the FBI and changed the surveillance state forever. We'll talk to the
director of a new documentary, "1971."
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.
The United States is beefing up its 3,000-strong military president in Iraq as ISIS shows its relentless endurance even after nearly a year of bombing.
The White House now says an additional 450 or so military personnel will be deployed to Iraq's Anbar province to train up more Iraqi fighters against
And we will have more on that after a break.
But first, American law enforcement rarely gets praised though right now the world is sitting up and doing just that as the FBI leads the charge
into FIFA corruption. But you'd have to go back to the '70s even before Watergate to recall how deeply distrusted and feared the organization was.
That's when a group of U.S. civil rights activists broke into an FBI office and revealed to the world the unrestrained surveillance state that Richard
Nixon, who was president, and the FBI chief at the time, J. Edgar Hoover, had built.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was huge news.
GEORGE MCGOVERN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The blunt fact is that for millions of decent and loyal Americans, the Federal Bureau of Investigation
has become the Federal Bureau of Intimidation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Newspapers that had never done anything but praise the FBI wrote very critical editorial and there were also one of
those who were strongly condemning the ordinary.
ROBERT DOLE, SENATOR, KANSAS: What we have here is a deliberate effort to turn the FBI in the eyes of the American people into an American version of
the Gestapo. This is not a police state.
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've been to police states. I know what they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And that was 1971. That is "1971," a new documentary. It's just out in Europe and it was screened last night in the U.S. Congress, of
Joining me now is the film's director, Johanna Hamilton.
Johanna, welcome, welcome to the program and thanks for being with us from New York today.
JOHANNA HAMILTON, FILM DIRECTOR: It's wonderful to be with you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So tell me first and foremost, we've described what this is.
How was it received in Congress?
HAMILTON: Well, last night it was received exceptionally well. I have to say. I mean, at the time, I think back in the '70s, all these individuals
were on the FBI's Most Wanted List. I don't think they ever imagined that we would be screening the film on Capitol Hill.
But we were there, actually, thanks to the efforts of Representative John Conyers, who was one of the sponsors of the USA FREEDOM Act that passed
last week. And he took a great interest in the film and in this story.
AMANPOUR: So the story is, as we said, a group of 20 ordinary people who became activists and raided the FBI offices and found this treasure trove,
describing the surveillance state against just about everybody.
But you create this film now as a type of a thriller.
What was your aim? How did you make this journalistic discovery, really, into a thriller, into a film?
HAMILTON: Well, I'd considered myself to be exceptionally lucky to have known the journalist to whom these individuals, who called them the
Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI, they leaked the papers to "The Washington Post," as you just showed in the clip. That journalist has been
a friend of mine for many, many years.
And when she discovered their identities several years ago, she shared the outlines of the story with me. And I was immediately enthralled.
It's a period in history that's captivated me personally since I was a teenager and I immediately urged her to think about making a film.
Fortunately, she then did call me and I managed to persuade them to go on camera.
And to me, every aspect of the story is both so improbable, the fact that these ordinary citizens managed to pull off a heist, and a heist against
one of the most powerful agencies in the United States at that time.
[14:05:04] They find what they're looking for. At the time they broke in, on a hunch, it was an educated hunch. But you know, they could have broken
in and found absolutely nothing. Instead, they found a treasure trove of documents that revealed the existence of COINTELPRO, the counter
intelligence program, which as you just described, revealed all the nefarious activities that the FBI had been conducting, at that point for
the better part of 30 years.
AMANPOUR: That is what happened in 1971 and you're making a film out of it now. At a time when we're sort of caught up in all of this similar
activity by Edward Snowden, give me your sense of comparing the reactions then and now.
HAMILTON: Well, you know, it was quite remarkable when we -- I was finishing editing the film, the Snowden revelations started to come out.
And the overwhelming feeling was both obviously history was repeating itself ever so slightly. The initial revelations that Snowden that came
out were about domestic surveillance in the United States and then we came to know that those had worldwide implications.
But what it did really was make this story, which you know, while I was engaged in making it, you know, all the while hoping that people would find
the thriller in "Mission: Impossible" aspect of it exciting. But I worried that it was going to be perceived as a quaint piece of history and
lo and behold, the Snowden revelations come along. And it really revived both this era from the '70s, you know, brought it really full circle.
I feel that what the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI did in the '70s was start a conversation, a national conversation, that had never
happened. This was the first time that FBI documents were been seen in public. And in a sense, Snowden sparked a national debate that hadn't
really happened in public since September 11th.
So there were great similarities.
AMANPOUR: You know, when the journalist you mentioned, Betty, when her book came out, I had the opportunity to interview her and two of the
protagonists, who you also feature in your film.
And what is so extraordinary is the ordinariness of them and their fellow burglars, if you like, or break-in artists, but also that they manage to
elude captivity and they only came out after the statute of limitations expired.
Are you surprised that they were never caught?
HAMILTON: I think it's extraordinary that they were never caught. I mean it speaks to slight FBI incompetence. You know, they developed certain
theories on whom was responsible for this break-in and pursued that. The other thing is that back in the '70s, there was a mass movement. There
were really -- there was so many people who were involved in protesting that there was really a -- too many suspects almost.
Notwithstanding seven of the eight people who broke in were on the FBI's list of suspects. But you know, no arrests were ever made. I have to say,
even though they decided to come out in a book, in a film, they themselves were unaware of the statute of limitations, which was five years at the
time. But Hoover had wanted to charge them with espionage had they been caught. And I think if they had been caught, they would as world famous as
Daniel Ellsberg is or Edward Snowden is today.
AMANPOUR: And yet, again, as we talk about them, it is extraordinary. There was a mother and a father, people who had children. I spoke, as I
said, to two of them, John and Bonnie Raines, and they told me about their fears for their kids, what would happen if they were caught and also how
they planned it to try to really exact maximum surprise and when the world was maximally distracted. Listen to what they told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN RAINES, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: We're parents; we're also citizens, so that we have a double responsibility, yes, as parents to our children, but
also as citizens to the nation those children are going to live in and have children in.
So we had those two responsibilities.
AMANPOUR: Who would have taken care of those children, if their parents had been sent to jail?
JOHN RAINES: My older brother, and we talked -- and we didn't tell him what we were going to do. But we said this is -- this could be a high
jeopardy kind of thing if we were sent to jail.
AMANPOUR: Did you choose the night specifically?
BONNIE RAINES, ANTIWAR ACTIVIST: That is a key factor. And yes, it was chosen, I think, once again, Bill, who was so strategic and smart, realized
that we had an opportunity on the night of a huge championship boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
And that we -- it was our hope that people living in apartments in that building would be listening to it on their radio and perhaps the police
would not be quite as vigilant. They would be listening to the fight as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[14:10:03] AMANPOUR: I mean, Johanna, even all these years later, it is extraordinary to hear how they planned it on that particular day and they
were sitting there with Betty Medsger, the journalist, who broke the story.
HAMILTON: Right, absolutely. I mean, it's like breaking in on the evening of the Super Bowl or the World Cup final. Absolutely. They planned it
meticulously. They imagined that the world literally would be distracted and they were absolutely right. And indeed, it does -- it does help them a
They figured that every red-blooded FBI agent would not be staying late at their desk that night and, indeed it provided many other distractions, too.
AMANPOUR: There's that amazing planning, but then as you mentioned earlier, the idea that "The Washington Post" published it and some have
said "The Washington Post" had big brass cohones way before even Watergate. And they were the only ones to publish this stuff.
HAMILTON: Yes, it is extraordinary. The turnaround time was also incredibly fast, you know, it was the first time that a journalist had
received had received stolen classified government documents from a source outside of government. Betty speaks of the role that Ben Bradlee played at
that time. When Betty wrote her story and handed it in at 6:00 pm, she was told that, in all likelihood, it wouldn't run. And Ben Bradlee managed to
persuade Katharine Graham, the publisher of "The Washington Post," who, at that point, as you say, this was pre-Watergate. This was pre-Pentagon
Papers, This was the first time she was asked to suppress a story by the Nixon administration and Bradlee managed to persuade her that this story
really was in the public interest. The public had a right to know what the FBI was doing in their name.
AMANPOUR: An amazing and important slice of history, "1971," the documentary; Johanna Hamilton, thank you very much indeed for joining us
HAMILTON: Thanks, Christiane, so much.
AMANPOUR: And now from Americans defending themselves at home to American defense on a global scale. After a break, the latest developments in Iraq
-- after this.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to our top story, and that is the United States shifting gears somewhat to try to better tackle ISIS after what's been seen
this week and in the last several weeks as ISIS' continued dominance of much of the landscape across Iraq and Syria.
The United States, the White House has said as many as 450 new military personnel to train Iraqi forces will be deployed and that a new military
base will be set up in Anbar, which is the Sunni heartland.
Now ISIS, the terror group's most recent attacks, have been bold raids near the capital, Baghdad, and all the way over in the Libyan city of Sirte. So
is more trainers the answer? CNN's Ben Wedeman joins me from Baghdad.
[14:15:00] Ben, you have been coverage this for so long, you've covered some of the fights, the Tikrit takeback.
Is more trainers what's needed now?
Is that it?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly there's room for improvement when it comes to the Iraqi army. They're definitely
stretched to the limit as we saw in Ramadi, which fell on May 17th after a protracted fight for that city. When you speak to Iraqi officials, as I
did today, up near Baiji, they certainly say that they could more training. But what they really desperately need is better equipment.
One of the field commanders was telling me that they, for instance, they need equipment to get rid of mines, that they are using sticks along the
lines of World War II, he said, to remove mines when they know the Americans have very good equipment in that regards.
Also for instance, I spoke with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who is arguably the most powerful military leader here in Iraq. He leads the Hashd al-Shaabi,
the Shia-led popular mobilization unit. And he complained about the fact that the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes are simply insufficient when it
comes to, for instance, cutting the supply lines of ISIS from Mosul down to Baiji and elsewhere.
So they say, yes, training is a good thing, more training is a good thing. But there's a lot of other areas where they desperately need help. And
they say they're just not getting it -- Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, you're absolutely right. And I'm sure you're talked to Sheikh Hardan before he was one of the original tribal leaders
who sort of founded along with the United States The Awakening in Anbar province back in 2006-2007. And this is what he said to me about the state
and the level of U.S. support so far -- listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEIKH WISSAM HARDAN, SUNNI TRIBAL LEADER (through translator): . the Anbar people have been getting killed and Americans are just standing,
watching. Some of them are still fighting and some of them were killed. But we're only getting promises . they abandoned us and left us under the
mercy of ISIS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So there he is, saying very directly that we've been abandoned. We don't have the weaponry. We can't fight. And he was saying they wanted
direct weaponry and help from the United States.
Apparently it comes through the Iraqi government. It is not getting to them.
What do you think about that? What have you noticed and reported on that front? And what about what the U.S. now says, it wants to reawaken The
Awakening, have another awakening.
Any likelihood of that?
WEDEMAN: Well, going back to last summer, we were speaking with Sunni tribal leaders, who were saying that they had appealed repeatedly to first
Nouri al-Maliki, the last prime minister, and now Haider al-Abadi, for direct assistance to revive the Sahawa, The Awakening Council, to fight
ISIS in Anbar.
And it seems that there's so much resistance within the Iraqi government to actually providing weapons to the Sunni tribes, which were so successful
during the surge in crushing Al Qaeda at the time. But they don't trust the Sunnis, the Iraqi government, it would seem, because they are worried,
as we've heard many times, that if they give weapons to the tribesmen, some of those weapons will end up in the hands of ISIS.
But what we've seen is that given the current situation, every time there's a major victory by ISIS, for instance, when it took Mosul last year, when
it took Ramadi last month, that ISIS gets its hands no matter what on huge amounts of weaponry.
We heard an Iraqi officials recently saying that ISIS, after the fall of Mosul, had gotten their hands on 2,300 U.S.-made Humvees. So the fear of
some weapons getting to ISIS via the tribesmen may pale in comparison to the amount of weaponry that's actually getting to ISIS via defeats of the
AMANPOUR: Let's get to the real nitty-gritty, though, no matter how much training and how many weapons, if they ever get to the right people, the
criticism of the Iraqi forces including most recently by the U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, has been that they just don't want to fight or they
feel they have nothing to fight for, no country, no national community to fight for.
Is that what you're hearing when you talk to these forces?
WEDEMAN: Well, what we see, when -- we've spent a lot of time with the Hashd al-Shaabi, the Shia-led paramilitary forces. And what they will tell
you is, look, we are fighting for our religion. We're fighting for our homes, our families, to defend them, that they have an ideology; whereas
many of the Iraqi forces are poorly supported, poorly led;
[14:20:09] many of them feel that they're just being thrown out as cannon fodder to places like Ramadi, to last year in Mosul, where, when you read
the accounts of some of the Iraqi soldiers, who had been in Mosul, they were running short of ammunition, oftentimes they're short of basic things
like food and water and medicine.
So the morale in the Iraqi army does seem to be seriously suffering. And what we've seen time and time again, when you go to the front lines, the
closer you get to the action, the fewer Iraqi soldiers you see and more you see of these paramilitary forces which, in a sense, are becoming more
powerful. Certainly they're getting more fighting experience than the army itself.
AMANPOUR: And what about Mosul? Obviously this all started with the fall of Mosul and there has been a lot of talk about Mosul being the next target
of the U.S. and the Iraqi forces trying to liberate it.
There's clearly an argument now in the U.S. because of the fall of Ramadi and from your perspective, is Mosul not planning to be liberated any time
WEDEMAN: No time soon. We heard in February, for instance, American officials talking about April or May offensive to retake Mosul. Now Iraqi
officials reacted rather angrily to that prediction. And certainly here we are in June and Mosul is no closer to being freed.
You have to keep in mind that for instance Ramadi is only 70 miles to the west of Baghdad. When it falls, the capital definitely is shaken. Mosul
is a long way. It's a six-hour drive to the north. To get to Mosul, you have to go through Baiji. We were near Baiji today. We were told that
only 50 percent of the city is now under government forces, pro-government forces' control.
Until you can clear that road up to Mosul, really talking about some sort of impending offensive against Mosul, it's really a waste of time. So
there's so many things that have to be put in order, so many ducks in a row, so to speak, that have to be straightened out. Now there are efforts
underway, for instance, to train Sunni Arabs from Mosul, refugees, to take part in the fight against ISIS in Mosul. But realistically, I don't think
there's going to be any sort of action to retake that city until sometime, sometime next year.
AMANPOUR: Ben Wedeman, sobering indeed. Thanks always for your first-hand reporting in the field there. Thanks a lot, Ben, from Baghdad.
And that is the United States, trying to take steps to move towards a different future for Iraq. You've heard how difficult that will be.
Now, though, we turn our gaze to some who seem to be trapped in the past in our occasional check on casual sexism. We know this week the Indian prime
minister, Narendra Modi, congratulated the Bangladeshi prime minister for cracking down on terrorism, quote, "despite being a woman."
Of course, that spawned a humorous hashtag for a while, while the British Nobel Prize-winning scientist, Sir Tim Hunt, has recently said, quote,
"Girls should stay out of science because," quote, "we fall in love with them; they fall in love with us and they cry when criticized."
We, for our part, recommend some scientific intervention for Sir Tim. And it is of course all enough to drive you to drink. After a break, we see a
few chimpanzees who've done just that. Imagine primates hitting the bottle from dawn until dusk -- that's next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight imagine a world where Homo sapiens' taste for a tipple is shared without our primate ancestors. Well, we don't have
to imagine because a new scientific study on West African chimpanzees confirms it.
This astounding footage shows our not-so-distant ancestors raiding local supplies and using a leaf as a sponge to shovel down their chosen poison,
which is fermented palm tree sap. Some of the chimps drink the equivalent of a whole bottle of wine with some of the predictable side effects,
passing out before nightfall after binging all day.
But there have been cases of these Bossou chimps swinging under the influence. And how about this? One theory even goes that by being able to
knock back a few primates have actually survived to climb the evolutionary ladder because they could forage and feast on fermented fruit when there
was little food to go around, a skill and a thirst they stored away in their genes and later passed on to us.
Not much more I can say. And that is it for our program tonight. Remember you can always see the whole show online at amanpour.com, and follow me on
Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.