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Interview With Axios Chief Financial Correspondent Felix Salmon; Interview With International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan; Interview With "Katrina Babies" Director Edward Buckles Jr.; Interview With Cierra Chenier, Featured On "Katrina Babies". Aired 1-2p ET
Aired August 23, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Hello everyone and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what is coming up.
As rising prices forced families across the planet to make hard choices, we discuss what's to come with Axios' financial journalist Felix Salmon.
Then, finding justice for the victims of Sudan's bloody civil war. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court joins us from
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARD BUCKLES JR., DIRECTOR, "KATRINA BABIES": Have you ever, like, talked about this before?
MIESHA WILLIAMS, FEATURED IN "KATRINA BABIES": No, I haven't.
BUCKLES: Why you didn't?
WILLIAMS: I don't know. Nobody ever -- they never asked me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: The untold story of Hurricane Katrina and the people left behind. I'm joined by the director and a subject of the devastating documentary,
Also, ahead --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PEITER "MUDGE" ZATKO, TWITTER WHISTLEBLOWER: Large tech companies need to know what the risks are. And then they also need to know they have an
appetite (ph) to go fix it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: A dire warning, the whistleblower saying Twitter's lack of security could impact U.S. security and democracy. We have an exclusive report.
Welcome to the program. I'm Sara Sidner in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
From the U.S. to the U.K., Europe to Latin America, and China the world is struggling with rising prices and slowing economies in the wake of the
pandemic and the war in Ukraine. As the cost of food and energy spikes, inflation in the double digits is becoming a more common occurrence. At the
end of this week, America's top economists will gather in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. All eyes are on what the chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve,
Jerome Powell, will say on Friday.
So, what can we expect and how will it impact working families? Joining me now, Felix Salmon, a financial correspondent for Axios. He warns that
economic stress could lead to as, he puts it, intolerable suffering. Welcome to the show, Felix.
FELIX SALMON, CHIEF FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT, AXIOS: Thank you.
SIDNER: So, the numbers don't look great. The IMF, the outlook that they have put on the economy is gloomy and uncertain. We're seeing economic
growth slow to about 3.2 percent this year. And that's roughly half the pace of what was happening during last year's expansion. We're also seeing
these astronomical inflation numbers. The U.K. forecasted at 18 percent. The U.S., now at about 8.5 percent inflation.
You know, the numbers don't look good, they seem alarming, but what will this actually mean for people on an everyday basis?
SALMON: Well, it certainly means higher energy prices, especially in Europe which is very reliant on natural gas, and as we have seen that Russia is
basically cutting western Europe off from natural gas supplies. Higher food prices, higher energy prices, feeding straight into higher food prices
because what you might not realize, what a lot of people don't realize, is that one of the main ingredients in food is energy. You have to fix the
nitrogen in the soil and you do that through hydrocarbons.
And that just means spending more money, higher inflation. In the United States, we have massive rises in rents and housing costs. So, all of this
is just making people feel poorer. And when you say the GDP growth is slowing, remember what -- GDP growth is real numbers after counting for
inflation. So, economies need to be growing enormously fast in, like, dollar terms or Euro terms or pound terms, just to keep still, just to have
zero growth when you have inflation at these levels.
SIDNER: Can I ask you about the R word, the recession?
SIDNER: We don't like to say it out loud, as you well know. But the truth of the matter is it gives a lot of people anxiety. And can I ask you
whether we are -- where the recession might be happening already, and if the United States is heading that way?
SALMON: So, the U.K. looks really bad. Probably Germany, given what's happening with energy prices could be headed that way, and I can definitely
say that Argentina looks really bad.
You know, there are definitely countries in recession on there. China, especially, is going through this incredible climate crisis right now. It
has an unprecedented heat wave, probably the worst heat wave that the world has ever seen ever in history, that is really hitting the Chinese economy.
And China doesn't have the same definition of recession that we do say in the United States. But there's going to be a massive slowdown in China. And
China, as you know, just produces goods for the entire planet. That will have massive, knock-on, effects globally.
So, it looks bad for the world as a whole. Certainly, I would say, pretty much as bad as it's looked, with the exception of a couple of months in
early 2020, since 2009. So, that's bad. Is the United States in recession now? Probably not. Is the United States going to be in a recession? Well,
all things happen eventually. But I'm not holding my breath for that one. I don't think it's imminent.
SIDNER: You would argue that despite America seeing some of the highest inflation it's seen in 40 years, that that does not mean we are in a
recession. Can you give us a sense of what a recession is? Because this looks a lot different. We have some numbers that show, you know, gas prices
have dropped for 70 days in a row, the second longest streak of lowering prices since 2005. We've seen unemployment rates that are at just 3.5
percent in July. And the U.S. economy added more than 500,000 jobs. That doesn't sound like a recession to me.
SALMON: No, it really isn't a recession. You don't increase employment at that kind of rate, at that level of unemployment. You're absolutely right.
Things are looking up for Americans. And if you look at the prices which are going up, it's prices on things like travel and vacations which is
discretionary spending, with people are going out and they're saying, I'm going to spend whatever it takes to have a good summer holiday.
And so, all of that, kind of, spending, it's a sign of a healthy economy. And there's just not enough productive capacity. The economy kind of shrank
a bit during COVID in terms of what it could absorb in terms of spending. And so, prices have gone up, that feeds into inflation but that doesn't
mean a recession.
A recession and inflation are two different things. And often inflation is a sign of an economy that's just running hot and doing really well rather
than an economy that's shrinking. And I think that's closer to where we're at right now.
SIDNER: OK. I'm going to jump back to Europe, which is not only dealing with inflation, the U.K. in particular but also dealing with the fallout
from the war in Ukraine. The question I think here is with -- you talked about energy prices and how important they are because it's not just gas
obviously, it is being able to heat your home and things like that. And the question is, will working families have to choose, at some point, between
eating and heating?
SALMON: I think in the U.K. the answer is yes. If the kind of electricity bills that people are talking about in the U.K., wind up becoming reality,
if the, you know, the new prime minister doesn't do something about that, then yes, it's looking very bad. Energy prices across Europe are just
absolutely astronomical, natural gas prices in particular, which drive a huge amount of the electricity generation in Europe.
And Europe doesn't seem to have a plan to deal with it, like, Europe needs to cut its energy consumption drastically. We're talking, like, 20 percent,
and it hasn't done that and it's not clear how it's going to do that. And if it's just as left up to the market to make that happen by making
electricity so expensive that people can barely afford it, that is going to probably cause a recession across the continent. And really impact, just
you say, working families who are going to have to choose, am I going to heat my house this winter or am I going to feed my kids?
SIDNER: It's really disturbing, is there anything that we can do whether you're in a working family or you're a single person trying to get by?
Anything, an advice to someone who's looking at this and what could happen, and what is already happening in places like the U.K., to stave this off or
to help yourself on a personal level?
SALMON: So, one of the things that has happened in China is that the government has been very strict in terms of cracking down on industry and
saying, use much less electricity because we need this electricity to keep our people warm. And if that means that our economy gets smaller while
we're going through this energy crisis, then so be it because we're going to put our people first.
And China has the ability to do that. And I don't know if I -- if you've seen the photographs of the Shanghai skyline which went dark in a kind of
symbolic way but kind of meaningful way as well. That was all of the biggest companies in China basically saying, we're going to turn off our
lights, you know, in an attempt to help save electricity. And that was driven by the government.
And what I'm not seeing is the European government having anything like that kind of ability to force the industry to consume less electricity and
thereby leave more leftovers, it were, for normal people.
SIDNER: I think what you're saying this is so much bigger than the individual whether it's family or an individual person. This has to be
something that governments --
SIDNER: -- tackled. What impact -- you talked about China and the slowdown there. What impact will China's slowdown have globally? I mean, will it add
to the problem that's happening on a global scale?
SALMON: So, if Chinese production really falls and it becomes harder for importers in Europe and the United States to get Chinese imports, then yes,
that's going to hurt economic growth in Europe and the rest of the world, and the United States. It's not going to have a huge effect, and ultimately
those importers are going to keep on exporting from -- the Chinese exporters are going to keep on exporting from China because domestic demand
in China has collapsed, right?
The Chinese population is really struggling right now, with a crashing property market. They all bought their houses. And now the houses are worth
much less than they paid for them in that negative equity, kind of, situation that we remember so vividly from 2008 and 2009. That's happening
in China now.
And so, the Chinese companies really want to export more. So, I think probably the spillover effects from China to the rest of the world won't be
huge. But they're certainly not going to be positive. I mean, it's definitely a negative, it's holding the global economy. And globally
speaking, of course, China is a really enormous part of the global economy. And if that slows down, that means everyone in aggregates slows down.
SIDNER: Yes, we are talking about supply chains, right? And where things aren't available, and so that slows things down on the other end. I want to
jump back into Europe because you have a duality happening here. We've seen extreme heat waves and drought in Europe. The Ukraine war has pushed many
countries to say, hey, we need to stop, sort of, relying on fossil fuels, particularly from Russia.
And some European nations are turning back to fossil fuels while at the same time, you know, everyone is warning that if you don't get rid of this
dependence on fossil fuels, that we're going to keep dealing with this problem and we need to go green.
So, is switching to renewables at this time, in this kind of situation necessary or could it make things worse in the short term?
SALMON: So, it's absolutely necessary. Europe needs to switch to basically anything it can get its hands on right now that isn't natural gas. They're
burning coal, they're burning oil, they're, you know, getting as much energy as they can from nuclear, Germany notwithstanding. And they're just
trying to get every ounce of electricity they can from not burning gas because Russia has cut off the gas supplies.
And really, the question here is not a question that one between renewables and hydrocarbons. The question is to bring natural gas that comes from
Russia and everything else. You can get oil from many, many places that aren't in Russia. You can only get gas from the pipelines that come from
Russia, and if Russia cuts them off, there's nothing you can do.
So, the renewables -- like, if this puts the fire under European governments and makes them invest more in renewables so that they would
never need to be this reliant on Russian gas ever again, that would be awesome. But you can't do that overnight, right? That will take 10 years to
build that kind of renewable capacity in Europe. But frankly, it can't come quickly enough.
SIDNER: Felix Salmon, thank you so much. And also, I appreciate the flowery shirt in dealing with these difficult problems.
SALMON: It's a great pleasure.
SIDNER: Coming up after the break, the International Criminal Court takes up its first investigation of genocide. Can it get justice for victims of
Sudan's civil war? The chief prosecutor joins us from Khartoum, next.
SIDNER: Welcome back. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is in Sudan this week. There, as the search for justice continues
after the country's civil war. Sudan's former president Omar al-Bashir stands accused of committing genocide in Darfur. According to the N -- UN,
up to 300,000 people died there, ousted by the military in April 2019. Al- Bashir has been wanted by the ICC for more than a decade. For the court, his case marks a series of first.
It's the first investigation dealing with allegations of genocide. And al- Bashir is the first person they have charged with genocide while he was in the presidency. The ICC's Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan joins me now from
Khartoum. Thank you for joining the show.
KARIM KHAN, CHIEF PROSECUTOR, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: My pleasure. Thank you for having me, Sara.
SIDNER: I think this might be your second visit to the country since you became the chief prosecutor of the ICC. Why was it important for you to
show up now? And what are you hoping to achieve being there in Khartoum?
KHAN: Well, I think it's very important to be close to the victims. And whether that's in Sudan or whether that's in Cox's Bazar in Rohingya, the
rule applies. We can't conduct effective investigations in reasonable time limits by remote control from the Hague. We need to be with the people.
Learn about the culture, the history, the undercurrents, and move forward building partnerships with the states where possible and with the victims
and survivors. And I think it was very important to come here.
And today, just a couple of hours ago, I gave the first briefing ever from Sudan to the Security Council of the United Nations. And I think it's
symbolic but also it matters.
SIDNER: Can you tell our audience, for those who may not be following this, what is at stake in this particular case in Sudan?
KHAN: I think what's at stake is the power legitimacy of the promises the International Community makes to victims. Because in 2005, the Security
Council referred the situation in Darfur to the office of the prosecutor. It did so say that there was a threat to international peace and security.
Your viewers may recall pictures of Janjaweed, individuals on horseback, and allegations of rape, and killings, and massive displacements.
And for the Security Council's words to matter, it's important also that the ICC is given cooperation to investigate the situation. And I think if
we don't, if we can't show that the law means something to victims and survivors, that peoples' lives matter equally, whether they're in Sudan or
whether they're in Rohingya or whether they're in Ukraine or in any other part of the world, human life matters equally. I think we will erode
confidence that the rule of law means anything and can be effective.
And that's not just some normative principle. It has an effect on deterrence. Because how will a cycle of violence be ended unless we grapple
with the crimes of the past? And I think on many dimensions from many perspectives it's absolutely key that we make sure that we have effective
investigations and meaningful prosecutions in the Sudan situation.
SIDNER: Mr. Khan, let me ask you, and I know you've been asked this before, but it is an important distinction. The ICC can indict, they can make these
allegations, they can investigate, but they don't have the enforcement power. Is that correct? And if so, how do these things get enforced?
KHAN: It's absolutely correct. We rely upon states. I don't have a police force. I don't go in and break down doors and arrest people. We rely upon
states to do that. We have 123 states that are parties to their own statute. But in two situations, Libya and in Sudan, the Security Council
made determinations that those situations represent a threat to international peace and security and referred it to us. And we say that
that requires the Security Council and all states, member states of the United Nations to remain actively involved and to support, you know, the
quest for justice.
SIDNER: Sudan hosts -- we've been looking at pictures. One of the largest refugee populations in Africa. Some people have been living there in camps
for a very long time. We're talking about a couple of decades or almost 20 years. You have said that the displaced of Darfur need to see justice. And
you said it again on our show, they need to see it, not just hear about it. So, in practice, how can you make that happen?
KHAN: Well, we need to come to gather. The Security Council is fractured on political lines. Our politics is left, right, and center. We need to really
build common ground. You know, surely, we can suspend our political differences. When it comes to the rights people that have, really, nothing
And when I -- I just came back yesterday from Darfur -- I mean, Khartoum, as I speak, I went to one of those camps, we call them a camp, which has
300,000 people. They're in miserable conditions. And yet they have joy and hope because in April of this year, despite massive difficulties, I opened
the first trial of the first Janjaweed leader. But what I said to the council a couple of hours ago is that we need to make sure that this is a
new day for justice, not a false dawn. And that requires us to realize actions speak louder than words. And we need to decide as humanity as the
ICC but as the Security Council and as the United Nations whether or not it suffices to promise justice or whether once we make those commitments, we
have to deliver on them.
And I think we need to realize that we can't be a single-issue society. We must -- the council and the court needs to have the bandwidth to deal with
very complex situations in, you know, different parts of the world and act effectively. So, I think that's the best answer I can give.
SIDNER: Yes, you said something significant there. It's a new day, not a false dawn. I want to talk about that in the context of Omar al-Bashir, the
first Sudan president was -- he was the first sitting president for the ICC to go after, indict, and charged with crimes of genocide. Allegedly
committed in those timeframes between 2003 and 2008 in Darfur. So, he has been wanted for a very long time, is the ICC still looking to bring him to
trial after, I think, a decade of him being, you know, on the run, so to speak, from the ICC?
KHAN: Yes. Well, my predecessors applied for warrants, and judges of the ICC issued those warrants in relation to Mr. Omar al-Bashir and Mr. Hussein
and Harun who are currently in custody here in Sudan. They are in custody. The issue is they have not been transferred to the court.
What I have been saying in the past one year since I commenced my responsibilities as a prosecutor, is that we need to build cooperation. We
need to make sure the evidence in all our cases is strong enough to sustain the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It's not enough to have
somebody, what has to be able to take a case home and prove it to the satisfaction of independent and impartial judges. And that requires more
cooperation from Sudan but actually also more cooperation with other states around the world to make sure we vindicate the rights of survivors. And I
think that's something we're trying to work towards.
SIDNER: Mr. Khan, I want to give an update on a trial that has already been done. It started in April of the Janjaweed leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-
Rahman, can you tell us how long it took to just bring this case? And why it's so difficult for the ICC to be able to bring a case to justice? As I
understand it, you have to have the person you're charging sitting in the court in order, obviously, to do the trial. What is taking so long? Why 20
KHAN: Well, firstly, the Security Council referral was in 2005, 17 years ago, it's still an awfully long time. It took some years for -- my
predecessors to investigate the case. But the first application for a warrant was the case against Mr. Abd-Al Rahman who's also known as Ali
Now, the situation was compounded because there's complete noncooperation by the government of Sudan. The office couldn't set foot on the territory.
And also, for some years, my predecessor hibernated the situation between 2012 and 2019 because of lack of resources and also the noncooperation of
Sudan. So, what changed really was the change of government in Sudan in 2019. And the ability to actually get hold of and arrest with the
assistance of some states, Mr. Abd-Al-Rahman and -- Ali Kushayb and to bring him to the Hague.
The cases before the courts are not straightforward. They are allegations of genocide or war crimes or crimes against humanity. But we can do better.
We can move faster. And this goes back to one of my earlier points, for us to move faster, we need to be focused probably on less. We need to be
closer to the people, not from the Hague, but in the countries concerned. And build partnerships and try to identify a common ground to vindicate the
rights of survivors.
So, it's a whole approach that can change. But you know, the situation is always, before the court, are going to be complex. But I do think we have
to find novel ways to build partnerships with the African Union here in Sudan and also with the Sudanese government to make sure we're not just,
you know, saying sweet nothings to each other. We're actually moving in a way that, you know, can be felt and seen by the victims and survivors.
SIDNER: People want to feel and see justice and not just hear about it, as you have put so eloquently. I want to talk about a conflict that is going
on right now in Ukraine. On March 2nd, the ICC formally opened its investigation into allegations of war crimes in Ukraine.
And a month later in April, you visited Ukraine, a mass grave in the town of Bucha. I have also been there. We have all seen the gruesome pictures of
people lying in the streets. And there's a photo of you in Ukraine as you went to this mass grave and looking at the number of bodies there, many of
whom we saw lying in the streets after the Russian tanks came rolling through. Can you give me a sense of what you hope to achieve in Ukraine and
whether Vladimir Putin himself could be indicted?
KHAN: Well, I think what we're trying to achieve in Ukraine is what we're trying to achieve in all situations. The principle that individuals, mostly
men with guns and weapons, whether they're machetes or they're rocket launchers or jets, they don't have a license to target civilians. And they
don't have the right to rate or to kill or destroy with abandon.
There are certain laws out there that have been there since antiquity. The laws of human (ph), they've been there since the second world war in
Nuremberg and they're there today, and they're also identified in the Rome Statute.
So, we have to show that lives matter everywhere in the world. And that people can't take the law and seek to stamp on it and disregard it. And
this is a challenge to all of us. Because if we don't seize the opportunity, whether it is the Rohingya, whether it is here in Sudan with
Darfur, or whether it is in Ukraine, to make the law relevant to people's lives will be viewed too much as an ivory tower in the Hague. And nobody
will trust the Security Council or nobody will trust states that they are willing to do what is necessary to make sure that the promise of never
again that has been hurt continuously since Nuremberg is realized.
And it's not going to come like mana from heaven. It's going to become by effort, work, perseverance, and a willingness with all the contradictions
of international relations to abide by the law, even when it causes a short-term inconvenience to a political government or to -- even to a
nation-state. We need to realize that if we don't hold fast to the law, we are going to be left with nothing to hold on to at all. And that's the law
of the wild west, that's the law of mayhem.
And we are seeing a glimpse that escalation in Ukraine and other parts of the world is not theoretical. And the best response, I think, is to hold to
the law, reinvigorate the law, and apply it with greater consistency around the world.
SIDNER: Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, I appreciate your time in speaking to us from Sudan. You have an
extremely extraordinarily difficult job to do.
KHAN: Thank you so much.
SIDNER: Still to come tonight, Hurricane Katrina, 17 years on. We look at a new documentary focusing on the children of that storm, they called it
SIDNER: Welcome back. This month marks the 17th anniversary in the United States of Hurricane Katrina. A tragedy which decimated New Orleans,
displacing 200,000 residents and washing away entire communities. Now, a new documentary called "Katrina Babies" is centering the voices of those
whose trauma is most enduring, yet too often overlooked. The children of the storm. Here's part of the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hurricane Katrina caused one of the biggest disbursements of black people in history.
EDWARD BUCKLES JR., DIRECTOR, "KATRINA BABIES": After losing so much, why wouldn't anyone ask if we were OK? Nobody ever asked the children how they
were doing. So, I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: I am lucky to be joined now by director Edward Buckles Jr. and Cierra Chenier, featured in the film. Welcome to the program to both of
BUCKLES: Thank you so much for having us.
CIERRA CHENIER, FEATURED IN "KATRINA BABIES": Thank you for having me.
SIDNER: All right. I'm going to start with you Edward, you were 13, I think, when Katrina hit, and your family evacuated and you spent eight
months in Lafayette before returning to New Orleans. Can you tell me first and foremost what inspired you to decide to start asking the tough
questions and recording all of this so that we can get a glimpse of what things are like now 17 years on?
BUCKLES: Yes, honestly what inspired me was how the trauma was surfacing in my upbringing in a post-Katrina New Orleans. You know, being 13-year-olds
during the storm, you know, I wasn't really processing everything that I was feeling. But, you know, those years after and staying in New Orleans
and growing up in a post-Katrina New Orleans and, you know, seeing all the trauma that began to surface with me as well as my peers really inspired
And then something else that inspired me was the fact that it seemed like, you know, children, we were getting blamed for how our trauma was
surfacing. So, I just wanted to draw parallels between what happened in 2005 and what was happening with the current state of New Orleans youth.
SIDNER: There are extraordinary pictures. And when I watch this, I have to tell you, I got that same sense of anxiety watching this happen, it was
like it was happening all over again.
Sort of, people on the tops of roofs, little babies and kids being pulled into and air lifted from buckets from the top, different people screaming,
help us. You also said this film was called, "Our Story After the World Stopped Watching". And right now, we're watching those images from 2005 of
people being rescued after, you know, being stranded for such a long time. What do you think it is that made you say, look, the world stopped caring,
they stopped watching what was happening to us after the fact, after all of this trauma? Why do you think that is?
BUCKLES: Well, honestly the reason that I say it's our story once the world stopped watching, is because again once that trauma started to surface,
when we looked around to see who was helping, it was nobody, you know. It was us lifting ourselves up and like, left to deal with everything that the
flood washed away, but also everything that Hurricane Katrina brought in.
So, you know, I was only left to assume that no one cared once, you know, the storm wasn't on the news anymore. So, you know, I don't know why, you
know, it is, but I just know that, you know, every year during August, you know, I would hear, like, all of these stories about New Orleans being
rebuilt and, you know, New Orleans coming back, and I just always felt weird about that because of the fact that it seemed like no one cared to
check on us. So, yes.
SIDNER: Cierra, let me talk to you about your experience. You were nine years old when the storm hit. Can you tell us what your experience was
during Katrina and its aftermath?
CHENIER: So, I always acknowledge the privilege in even being able to evacuate. And I just remember the anxiety leading up to it. It was almost
this eerie feeling of, like, you know, we know how we usually deal with storms. They come and go, you know, you might be off from school for a
couple of days, and a few wind damage, a few flood in, and that might be it. But there was something just very different this time around.
And my family and I, we evacuated. We packed for three days because that was always the standard, you know, three outfit was the baseline of when
you evacuated in New Orleans. And as an adult, you know, especially going through Ida last year, Hurricane Ida last year on the anniversary of
Katrina, I'm now realizing, you know, it is very expensive to evacuate. You know, it is a tremendous privilege to be able to, you know, pack up the car
and be able to eat out of town, in hotels, and fill up the tank to get gas. And this was something, as a child, you just knew that it was chaos.
I just remember, kind of, internalizing, you know, what my family was going through, that uncertainty of not really knowing. And I always stressed
that, you know, this was not the present day where we have access to a live stream and everything is instant on social media. A lot of that resource
sharing was through word of mouth and, you know, I didn't even have a cell phone at the time. This was, you know, a different period of time of
So, that was an added layer of how difficult it was to check on your people in the city, to check on your home, to check on your neighborhood, to check
on your family and friends who were scattered. So, I just -- I'm always so grateful to be back home because I just always remember that feeling of
being nine years old and being, you know, going from city to city, place to place and just wanting to go back home so bad. Until you realize that, you
know, that home that you knew is no longer habitable. You can't go back. And --
SIDNER: Cierra, you --
CHENIER: -- to be back in New Orleans, especially --
SIDNER: Yes, you talked about how crucial your neighborhood was to who you are. And how important it was to your growth. Can you tell me about how you
are now and what this trauma has done to you in your life now 17 years on?
CHENIER: Yes, so, I will say that participating, being a part of this film was the first time I was able to really name that. I always felt like, you
know, I don't have a Katrina story, you know, I didn't stay. But then once Buckles started asking questions, it was insane. These things, for the
first time in my life, it was like, you know what, it was not normal to lose everything at nine years old and not fully understanding the gravity
of what was going on or seeing your home underwater.
And our neighborhoods are changing so much in New Orleans with a lot of the gentrification that is going on. And so, I would say that the way that I
internalized my trauma is wanting to have a sense of place and have a sense of footing and wanting to stay in New Orleans and on a home in New Orleans.
And, you know, have a presence here.
SIDNER: I think that is such a human response to it. And also, both of you have mentioned this idea of gentrification where you had to suffer through
the difficult times. But once things started being rebuilt, as you said, you don't get to participate in that, and that's been a pain. I know that a
lot of people, especially, black folks have talked about.
Edward, you described your childhood as idyllic, happy, enjoying time with your cousins. I watched the documentary and it is absolutely both touching
and infuriating and beautiful all at once. Can you tell me a little bit -- but before then, I want to get to a clip because this quick clip really
struck us as we watched this. When you talk about your cousins and you talked about then all of a sudden realizing as a child what had happened in
your neighborhood with the flooding. Here's what you say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUCKLES: I remember I asked one of the adults, wait, like, if all of this is underwater, what happened to the people who stayed behind? Like, where
are they? And, like, you know, she was, like, looked me dead in my eye as a kid and said, everybody who stayed in New Orleans is dead. And, like, I
just started crying. Like, instantly, I just started crying. Looking at the TV screen and her saying that, it seemed like it was true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: When you see those pictures and you remember, how have you coped with this?
BUCKLES: Yes, it's -- you know, I never -- you know, there's never a feeling of numbness when I hear that clip because it's still so real and
it's still so present, you know. When you think about growing up in New Orleans, and when you think about what family means to you, and what a
village means to you, and what your tribe means to you, you know, and how neighborhoods play a role in all of that, you know. Like, one of the first
questions that people ask you in New Orleans, you know, upon greeting is, you know, like, who you people with, you know.
And we do that because of the fact that, you know, our identity is tied so much to our families. And like, you know, you can tell so much about a
person based upon where they're from and, like, you know, what family they belong to. What last name they have, right. And when you think about losing
that, right, literally, it being washed away, literally -- you know, your family not being able to return even 17 years after the storm, you know,
you have to think about what that does to identity and what that does to, you know, knowing who you are.
After Katrina, I remember coming back and not having that tribe anymore. I remember coming back and not having my cousins who were my best friends,
you know. And I just remember also getting into a lot of trouble within the neighborhoods. Like, I remember I would fall victim to peer pressure. And I
remember, you know, being influenced by things that I would never look to before the storm when I was with my family.
And, you know, at the time I didn't realize that I was dealing with a trauma response. But now that I've made this film and as Cierra said, we've
learned to name things. I can go back to that and realized that I was really -- I was lost, you know. I didn't have my support system anymore. I
didn't have my family anymore. So, you know, I was looking for it.
And in some cases, I was looking for it in all the wrong places. And I think that that's what a lot of children in New Orleans are dealing with.
No matter, you know, if they lost their families or if they lost their childhood homes. No matter if they lost their childhood homes or if they,
you know, were displaced within New Orleans because of the fact that gentrification is taking over.
Identity is something that we've lost in New Orleans. And, like, I'm hoping that, you know, this film can help some of the children -- most of the
children get it back because once you know who you are, you know where you're going.
SIDNER: Edward, you say something very poignant as well in the film. Saying that in America, especially during a disaster, black children are not even
a thought. And I want to listen to this clip of Miesha, who was 12 when the storm hit and she said something that is striking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIESHA WILLIAMS, FEATURED IN "KATRINA BABIES": I was at the center, and it was weird. I saw a dead man on the street, it was scary. Like what? Like,
am I going to die? Like, that's not the question of things now. I just smell, like, feces, just like clearing (ph) from the bathroom. And just
people just look like, just sad. Just really sad. I don't know. I just felt like, I'm not supposed to be here, that's how I felt. Like, what? Like,
this is not real.
I don't want to cry. Sorry.
BUCKLES: It's OK. Just take your time. It's OK. Like -- wait, so, like, have you ever talked about this before?
WILLIAMS: No, I haven't.
BUCKLES: Why you didn't?
WILLIAMS: I don't know. Nobody ever -- they never asked me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: No one has ever asked me if I'm OK. Cierra, I'm curious if that was your experience as well?
CHENIER: Yes, and I think another profound point that was brought up in the film and something I didn't realize until, like, the third time watching
it. It was that, you know, Buckles says, I feel like we started school too soon. And even in that aspect of this -- the places that you may have
evacuated to, or the schools that you may have started when you return back to the city, I don't recall ever being asked.
And, you know, knowing that there were kids coming from New Orleans or whether you went to school they opened up in New Orleans, the
acknowledgment in those classrooms, you know, just is -- business as usual. School as usual. You know, studying for a test and taking quizzes. And I
try to place myself back during that time in 2005. And after the storm and I just -- I don't recall a time.
And I remember there being a journal prompts (ph) that asked if you had a wish -- a genie could grant you a wish, what would you wish for? And at my
school in Lafayette where I was evacuated, my response in the journal was, an international disasters. And I think that was my way of communicating
something that nobody never asked me but I am saying it myself.
SIDNER: Cierra and Edward, both of you, I am so happy to see you in a position of thriving and being able to express yourself in a different way.
Thank you both so much. And the film "Katrina Babies" debuts August 24th on HBO and HBO Max.
Now, when we come back, does Twitter's lack security pose a threat to democracy? CNN's exclusive report coming up next.
SIDNER: An explosive whistleblower report is alleging security vulnerabilities at Twitter. Issues so severe it warns they pose a threat to
U.S. security and democracy. The disclosure obtained by CNN and "The Washington Post" comes as the company's former security head Peiter "Mudge"
Zatko. And more revelations could be on the way. Elon Musk's legal team tells CNN they have subpoenaed Zatko. And the Tesla's CEO's ongoing battle
CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has our report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Ready?
PEITER "MUDGE" ZATKO, TWITTER WHISTLEBLOWER: Yes.
O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Why are you coming forward?
ZATKO: All my life, I've been about finding places where I can go and make a difference.
O'SULLIVAN (on camera): This is Peiter Zatko. Until January this year, he was head of security at Twitter, but now he is a whistleblower. And he says
Twitter's security problems are so grave they are a risk to national security and democracy.
ZATKO: I think Twitter is a critical resource to the entire world. I think it's an extremely important platform.
O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): He's handed over information about the company to U.S. law enforcement agencies including the SEC, FTC, and the Department of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May I ask your name and title (ph)?
O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): Zatko is better known in the hacking world by his nickname, Mudge. He's been a renowned cybersecurity expert for decades.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His roots are in hacking. Figuring out how computers and software work.
O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): That expertise might be why Jack Dorsey, then CEO of Twitter, hired Zatko after the company was hit by a massive attack in
2020 when hackers took over the accounts of some of the world's most famous people.
JOHN TYE, FOUNDER, WHISTLEBLOWER AID: Mudge was one of the top five or six executives at the company.
O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): Zatko is represented by John Tye who funded Whistleblower Aid. The same group that represented Facebook whistleblower
TYE: We are in touch with law enforcement agencies. They're taking it seriously.
O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): Twitter is pushing back. Saying, Zatko is peddling a narrative about our privacy and data security practices that is riddled
with inconsistencies and inaccuracies, and lacks important context. When we spoke to Zatko and his lawyer, they said the lawful whistleblower
disclosure process only allows them to talk about these issues in general terms. For specific allegations about Twitter, they referred us to Zatko's
TYE: I'm not going to go into details. But I will say that Mudge stands by the disclosure and the allegations in there.
O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): CNN and "The Washington Post" obtained a copy of the disclosure from a senior democratic official on Capitol Hill. In it,
Zatko claims nearly half of Twitters employees have access to some of the platform's main critical controls.
ZATKO: There's an analogy of an airplane. So, you get on an airplane and every passenger and the attendant crew all have access to the cockpit, to
the controls. You know, that's entirely unnecessary. It might be easy. But there, it's too easy to accidentally or intentionally turn an engine off.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twitter accounts belonging to a whole lot of famous people --
O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): That kind of access contributed to the massive attack in the summer of 2020 when hackers, two of them teenagers, tricked a
couple of Twitter employees into letting them into Twitters systems. That gave them access to accounts including that of then-Presidential Candidate
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have to tell you the significance of being able to breach the Twitter accounts with many millions of followers, including
of leading politicians, three months from a presidential election.
O'SULLIVAN (on camera): In the disclosure, you quote from a wired magazine article that says, but if a teenager with access to an administration panel
can bring the company to its knees, just imagine what Vladimir Putin can do.
TYE: Foreign intelligence agencies have the resources to identify vulnerabilities that could have systemic effects across an entire platform,
across the whole internet.
O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): Twitter told CNN that since the 2020 hack, it had improved these access systems and a trained staff to protect themselves
O'SULLIVAN (on camera): If you're running any system, the more people that have access to the main switches, that's a very risky situation.
ZATKO: Yes, absolutely. I'm talking in generalities. Just large tech companies need to know what the risks are. And then they also need to have
an appetite (ph) to go fix it.
O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): Zatko also claims Twitter has been misleading about how many fake accounts and bots are on its platform. That's an issue that
Elon Musk has made central to his attempt to get out of a deal to buy the company.
ELON MUSK, CEO, TESLA AND SPACEX: I guess, right now, I'm sort of debating the number of bots on Twitter.
O'SULLIVAN (on camera): There will be suspicions of the timing of this. Are you guys carrying water for Elon Musk?
TYE: Absolutely not. We've been following the news just like everyone else. But that has nothing to do with his decisions or with the content of that
was sent in to U.S. law enforcement agencies.
O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Mudge hasn't been talking to musk in the background or anything like that?
TYE: Not at all.
O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): Zatko says he's been fired by Twitter in January this year after he tried to raise the alarm internally. He points the
finger at Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal saying he has worked to hide Twitter's security vulnerabilities from the board.
O'SULLIVAN (on camera): I suspect that Twitter might try to paint it like this that Mudge got fired, and he's trying to retaliate against the
TYE: Absolutely not. This is not any kind of personal issue for him. He was eventually fired in January of this year. But he hasn't given up on trying
to do that job.
O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): In response to the allegations, Twitter told CNN security and privacy had long been a priority at Twitter. As for Zatko,
they said he, "Was fired from his senior executive role at Twitter more than six months ago for poor performance and leadership. He now appears to
be opportunistically seeking to inflict harm on Twitter, its customers, and its shareholders.
ZATKO: Your whole perception of the world is made from what you are seeing, reading, and consuming online. And if you don't have an understanding of
what's real, what's not. Yes, I think this is pretty scary.
O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Are you nervous?
ZATKO: Yes, yes. This wasn't my first choice. But, yes, I just want to make the world a better place, a safer place. The leverage that I have to do it
are through security, information, and privacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: And one other note. Today, Twitter's CEO vowed to, "Pursue all paths to defend the company."
And finally, football returns to Ukraine. The Ukrainian premier league walked out on the pitch for their first match since December. No fans will
be allowed to attend games. And players and staff must go to bunkers if air right sirens sound. Last season's campaign was scheduled to begin the day
after Russia's invasion.
And tomorrow, we'll talk to Ukraine's defense minister as the nation marks six months of war.
That is it for us for now. Thank you so much for watching and goodbye from New York.