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NATO Ministers Descend on Turkey; What Did Pakistan Know about bin Laden?; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired May 13, 2015 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: NATO training anti- Assad rebels and telling Russia to get back to the cease-fire in Eastern Ukraine. My interview with the Supreme Allied Commander Philip Breedlove
from their summit in Turkey.
Also ahead, the deputy CIA director, Michael Morell: he's stepped down now. He's written a book and he worries that ISIS could be plotting a big
one against America.
And later the ultimate after-party, Liberia gives Ebola a big sendoff.
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.
The war against ISIS is the main focus for NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Turkey today, which is hosting the summit after months of upping its
Disgruntled with the United States and its Western partners for their failure to take on the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Turkey sees him
as the root of regional instability. This as Turkey's commitment to the fight against ISIS continues to raise more questions than answers.
I asked NATO's military commander, General Philip Breedlove, whether the plan finally to train the moderate rebels against Assad is too little, too
late. He joined me from the summit in the coastal city of Antalya.
AMANPOUR: General Breedlove, welcome back to the program.
GEN. PHILIP BREEDLOVE, SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, NATO: It's good to be back with you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: General, I was talking to former President Clinton last week, who said about Syria that it may not be too late to arm and train the
moderates and that there still are moderates there.
You've been inspecting some training sites in Turkey.
What do you make of what the president told me?
BREEDLOVE: And so as far as to the military mission of being ready to do this, I have been to see the training site. And it's well prepared and our
partners are doing a great job in providing the facility and the capability that we need to do that training.
AMANPOUR: May I just play this little bit of an interview that I did with former Ambassador Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria. Just take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT FORD, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA: I have argued consistently that dribbling in little amounts of aid doesn't accomplish anything. The
United States rather should do a much bigger program and work that with Turkey and Saudi Arabia and other countries to strengthen the moderates.
But dribbling in little amounts of aid does nothing but prolong the conflict.
AMANPOUR: So will you be dribbling in little amounts of aid?
Or is it going to be substantial now?
BREEDLOVE: What I do know is that our partners here in Turkey are ready; our people are ready and we have the capability to do quality training here
and provide what is needed to the larger coalition effort.
I believe that training these individuals to defend themselves is an important task for us and I remain hopeful that this is a path to help in
the overall effort of the coalition.
AMANPOUR: Let me move on to Turkey. You are in Turkey; Turkey is a big NATO partner. But there has been a huge amount of anti-Western rhetoric
coming out of the political circles in Turkey over the last many weeks and months.
Do you sense that Turkey is still a committed NATO partner, that it is still pro-Europe?
BREEDLOVE: I do, Christiane. Yes, Turkey is a strong, important ally in our alliance.
AMANPOUR: The West has been slightly disappointed about Turkey's commitment to closing the border and not reinforcing whatever might be
going into Syria.
How do you assess it?
BREEDLOVE: Well, I think, again, what we've seen is more recent news, announcements by Turkey, of large interceptions of oil shipments; the
number of foreign fighters crossing now, diminishing all along a broad border area. So I see that the cooperation and the results of the
cooperation are actually trending very positive.
AMANPOUR: Let's move on to Russia-Ukraine. What is your assessment right now of the state of the cease-fire and whether Russia still has intentions
to destabilize, to
pretty much keep a grip on Eastern Ukraine?
BREEDLOVE: I have described what's going on along the line of contact as fragile; it's strained right now. And we need to get back to a cease-fire
What we have seen is a pattern of preparation, a pattern of moving forces forward, a pattern of resupply, a pattern of training, bringing in air
defenses, bringing in enhanced command and control, et cetera, et cetera. And these things in the past have preceded further action.
AMANPOUR: Is that happening now?
BREEDLOVE: We have seen those kinds of preparations during this time.
AMANPOUR: What about the Baltic States, which I understand are prepared to formally ask to position troops in their region, in their states?
Tell me the update on that.
Is that going to happen?
BREEDLOVE: Yes, I was just briefed on this possibility. I think they are still working a letter of something like this in a request. I have not
seen it. So I really don't know the details of their ask yet. It has definitely not reached me or my headquarters.
AMANPOUR: Well, the Estonians have said we would prefer not to have a rotational force but a permanently deployed force.
Is that something that NATO would consider?
BREEDLOVE: Well, I can't speak, Christiane, for the political leadership of NATO. But every request that our nations send up, we are going to give
serious consideration. And if these three nations forward this request, it will get serious consideration.
AMANPOUR: So what do you hope comes out of this NATO summit, from your point of view, from your military perspective?
BREEDLOVE: One of the things that we came here to talk about specifically was to focus a little more on the southern issues that NATO has, the
problems associated with what's going on in Iraq and Syria, the problems of what's going on in Northern Africa and especially in Libya and how that's
manifesting itself in migrations and movement of all manner of people and challenges across the water.
Some of the challenges of the Eastern Med and the Levant, all of these are bleeding over into our NATO nations.
AMANPOUR: This new threat, which is sending all these migrants, desperately searching for a better life, across the sea, many of them dying
in the process, do you, from your military perspective, believe that a military intervention, as the E.U. has suggested, has asked the U.N. to
approve, will work?
Will blowing up boats before they leave Libya work, for instance?
BREEDLOVE: Let me just point to two examples of where this kind of collusion has worked. And that first Operation Ocean Shield and Operation
Atalanta off the cost of Somalia and the piracy.
The military strength, the military command and control and discipline of NATO married to that all-of-government capability that the E.U. brought to
reach ashore, coming together to virtually eliminate piracy.
Does that mean that NATO will choose to do this? I can't, again, speak for our political decision-makers. They'll have to look at Ms. Mogherini's
options that she brings to the table. And then they will deliberate and give it serious consideration.
AMANPOUR: General Breedlove, NATO commander, thank you very much for joining us from Turkey.
BREEDLOVE: Thanks, Christiane. It's a beautiful day here in Antalya.
AMANPOUR: It looks it. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: A beautiful day, but huge challenges ahead. And this summit comes exactly one year to the day after the mining disaster in Soma, which
claimed 301 lives. It drew international attention to Turkey's terrifying rate of workplace accidents. But despite mass protests at the time -- and
of course the loss of lives -- not a single Turkish politician has yet been held accountable.
After a break, a day that lives strong in the United States, the killing of Osama bin Laden. I dive under the swirling tide of controversy about that
operation with the former deputy director of the CIA, Michael Morell. He joins me next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
So what really happened the night the world's most wanted terrorist was caught and killed?
And how much did Pakistan know about Osama bin Laden's whereabouts?
It was almost exactly four years ago. Those questions are once again in the spotlight after an article this weekend by the often controversial
journalist, Seymour Hersh.
At the center of it all is the world's most powerful spy organization, the Central Intelligence Agency, and one of its most experienced officers,
Deputy Director Michael Morell, has just stepped down after serving six presidents. He was at President Bush's side in that Florida classroom when
news of the September 11th attack started to come in.
His new book on America's intelligence and security is called, "The Great War of Our Time."
Osama may be dead, but that war continues against ISIS now. And Michael Morell joins me live from New York.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program.
MICHAEL MORELL, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CIA: Christiane, it's great to be on your program.
AMANPOUR: I wonder whether you ever thought the killing of Osama bin Laden four years later would raise such controversy. And I want to ask you
because I know that publicly you've said that what Seymour Hersh says is not true.
But I would like to ask you how did you think that the Pakistanis or the ISI or low-level officers may have known about it?
You say in your book that you said to the ISI chief, Ahmed Shuja Pasha, that "Americans find it hard to believe that no one in your Abbottabad
detachment or in the Abbottabad police ever questioned what was going on in that compound."
That's where OBL was.
MORELL: Correct. So Christiane, I have confidence, very high confidence, 95 percent, 99 percent confidence that the Pakistani government did not
know that he was there, that Pasha didn't know, that General Kayani, the chief of staff, didn't know.
But I find it very difficult to believe that there wasn't somebody at a local level who was protecting him in some way, somebody with radical
leanings. I find it hard to believe that that didn't happen. I find it hard to believe that there wasn't somebody who looked at that compound and
said what is going on in there?
AMANPOUR: Before I get to "The New York Times" Carlotta Gall (ph), who had additional information, did you find it bizarre that after explosions and
40 minutes on the ground, the SEALs were uninterrupted and the Pakistanis didn't come until after they had left?
MORELL: So the Pakistanis who did not know about this -- and I can guarantee you, Christiane, about that; they did not know about this -- the
Pakistanis were incredibly embarrassed and I know this because they talked to me about it and I talk about this in the book.
The Pakistanis were embarrassed by our intelligence that we were capable of finding him in their country and they weren't and they were horribly
embarrassed by the fact that we were able fly hundreds of miles into their territory and be on the ground and they couldn't -- they didn't even know
about it until some time into the raid.
So they were terribly embarrassed by all of that, didn't say a lot about their intelligence capabilities and their military capabilities.
And Christiane, one of the things that I think is going on here is that at the end of the day I think the Pakistanis are putting out propaganda that
they knew about this in order to save face on these two things that they're terribly embarrassed about and I think that's what Seymour Hersh picked up
AMANPOUR: And what about Carlotta Gall, who, after all, has reported from that area
for so long and there's a big "New York Times" article today in which she basically said that some of what Seymour Hersh put out matches her
For instance, she says, "I learned from a high-level member of the Pakistani intelligence service that the ISI had been hiding bin Laden and
ran a desk specifically to handle him as an intelligence agent."
And she says, "It was indeed a Pakistani army brigadier" -- and she names him, Osman Khaled (ph) -- "who told the CIA where bin Laden was hiding with
the knowledge and protection of the ISI."
MORELL: So I have no doubts that a Pakistani official told her those things. But they are not true. Again, I think it's Pakistani propaganda
designed to make the Pakistanis look better here. They've been peddling this ever since the bin Laden raid and people have now picked it up and
people are now talking about it.
But Christiane, I was in every meeting at CIA; I was in every meeting in the White House Situation Room. I was sent to Pakistan to smooth over
relations with the when they were so angry with us after the raid.
I can guarantee you that the Pakistanis did not know about this. They didn't know he was there. They didn't know he was coming. And they did
not give us any information that led us to find Osama bin Laden.
AMANPOUR: Why do you think this American source then told all this to Seymour Hersh?
MORELL: So that's the one piece that I have a hard time thinking through. It must be that this American source is somehow getting information from
Pakistan and passing it on to Seymour Hersh. That's the only thing that I can conclude.
But this person claims to have been at the center of the discussions in the U.S. government about this operation and he was not in the meetings that I
was in, I guarantee you that.
AMANPOUR: So let's revert back to the operation to get him and the plan to get Osama bin Laden. You write in your book that Vice President Biden and
General Cartwright were against it but that Leon Panetta, Defense Secretary -- or was he CIA chief at the time? I don't remember. He said to the
MORELL: He was CIA chief.
AMANPOUR: -- still CIA chief -- he said to President Obama, as you describe it, he put the American people argument to President Obama.
Describe that tension between those who wanted and those who didn't.
MORELL: I think the -- so for Vice President Biden, I think the issue was is the intelligence good enough to take this risk with our troops. And
that was his fundamental question.
For General Cartwright, he thought that there was a better way. He thought that we should take essentially a drone strike against an individual who
was pacing around the compound regularly who we thought to be Osama bin Laden.
So General Cartwright wanted to conduct an operation, just a different one. The vice president wanted to wait for more intelligence. The argument that
Leon Panetta made, very powerfully, was if the American people know what we know -- and I remember to this day him saying this -- if the American
people know what we know, they would want us to act. They would expect us to act.
And I think that was a powerful argument around the table.
AMANPOUR: Let me move on to the Arab Spring, because all of this is all part of a big part, people hoped that when Osama bin Laden was caught and
the whole idea of democracy coming to the Arab world would actually have a much better effect than it's had. And the CIA -- I mean, you say that part
of the reason you got all that so wrong was that you were relying on the strong men themselves for intelligence.
You say, "We failed because to a large extent we were relying on a handful of strong leaders in the countries of concern to help us understand what
was going on in the Arab street."
But isn't that a basic mistake? Because on the one hand, these leaders are not in touch with their people. That's why there was a revolution. And
yet you went to these very leaders to figure out what their people knew.
MORELL: Sure, Christiane. There were two key analytic judgments. The first was we had been warning for years that pressures were building in the
Middle East, social pressures, economic pressures, political pressures for change. And we'd been warning about that.
What we weren't able to do is tell the president, Mr. President, these pressures we've been talking about, they're building to the point of
boiling over. We didn't do that. We weren't able to call the tipping point.
The other judgment -- and I think we should have been, right. I think we should have been and I think you're right.
The other judgment we made was in the immediate beginning of the Arab Spring, we said we think this is going to undercut Al Qaeda. We think this
is going to undercut their narrative that it takes violence to bring political change. And that turned out to be wrong. In fact, I have a
chapter called Al Qaeda Spring, right. The Arab Spring was really a spring for Al Qaeda. And it was a spring for Al Qaeda in two ways. It really
benefited them on the one hand because it destroyed institutions that were capable of keeping a handle on them.
Best example, Libya,
where the intelligence service and the security service fell apart and militants were able to run wild. And the other thing it did was undercut
the willingness of some Arab countries to take on extremism.
Best example, President Morsi's Egypt, where the capabilities were there but the officers that I dealt with every day in Egypt, who used to be
pretty tough on terrorism didn't think they had political cover anymore and eased up and when they did that, Al Qaeda came back to Egypt for the first
time in 25 years.
AMANPOUR: And that is actually a major takeaway from your book, that is your sort of big global analysis that Al Qaeda is back; it's in the form of
ISIS now and what then is your analysis about how long and how difficult the struggle will be?
You just heard me talk to General Breedlove about training. Most people say it's a little and it's too late. But what is your analysis of how long
it's going to take to defeat ISIS? And what you fear they might do?
MORELL: Christiane, I have a great deal of confidence that what we're doing on the Iraq side of the border is working. We have taken back about
25 percent of the territory that ISIS took during its blitzkrieg. And it's going to be a slow process. And fortunately the Iranians are in there
helping us. But we are going to slowly take that territory back. So I'm confident in our Iraqi strategy. We have air power and we have ground
troops in the form of the Iraqi military, the Kurdish military and Iranian trained Shia militia.
But on the Syrian side of the border, I don't have a lot of confidence that our strategy is going to work. It's not that it's too late, Christiane,
it's that it's too little. We need to train ground troops in very large numbers if we're going to be able to take back territory from ISIS and
Syria. And what I fear is that we're going to successful in Iraq; we're going to have a hammer in Iraq but no anvil in Syria.
So the ISIS guys are just going to go across the border into Syria and they're going to have a safe haven in Eastern Syria, where they're going to
be able to continue to plot and that plotting will include plotting against us.
AMANPOUR: Finally, let me ask you to go all the way back to the first Gulf War. I covered it and I was stunned by one of the power grabs that sort of
leapt out at me that you quote, you basically quote Saddam Hussein, saying, "Saddam in essence said, 'Look, if you guys did not want me to go into
Kuwait" -- and he's talking about August of 1990 -- "why didn't you tell me you would deploy 500,000 troops, six carrier battle groups, 1,400 combat
aircraft and a coalition of 32 countries?
"I am not crazy. If you had simple told me, I would not have gone into Kuwait."
Did nobody tell him?
MORELL: So nobody told him that. This is something that he said to his debriefers after we caught him in Iraq. One of the lessons of my 33 years,
Christiane, and you -- I'm sure you know this, too -- is that there are a lot of misperceptions in international relations. There's a lot of
miscommunication. And I think that that was one of the lessons here.
If he had known how we were going to respond, he would not have done it.
AMANPOUR: Michael Morell, really fascinating. Thank you so much for joining me tonight.
MORELL: Great to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And over at the Vatican now, a bowl of diplomatic decision, Pope Francis' Catholic Church today has concluded a treaty that recognizes
Palestinian statehood. This follows what the British, the French and the Swedish parliaments have done in the past year. But this packs a moral
punch as well as it comes from the head of the world's 1 billion Catholics.
And when we come back we travel to Liberia for the mother of all after- parties -- imagine that -- after this.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight sometimes goodbye is the hardest word of all as Shakespeare said, "Parting is such sweet sorrow," but not in Liberia,
which has thrown itself a big goodbye party, a farewell bash that didn't come a moment too soon.
This was goodbye and good riddance as Liberians dared to dance and begin to imagine a world without Ebola. The country's been in a party mood since
the weekend, when the U.N. declared that it was officially Ebola-free after 42 days without a single new case and this after a year where more than
4,700 Liberians died and much of the population was confined and quarantined at home.
Liberia was the hardest hit, along with Guinea and Sierra Leone, but Liberia fought back fiercely for this hard-won victory, though officials
are warning people not to let down their medical guard. And amid the joy of this national deliverance, the government is asking its Muslim citizens
to pray for the dead on Friday and for Christians to do the same on Sunday.
The country that has stared death in the face can finally turn towards life and a future.
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.
Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.