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Interview With "Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict With China" Co- Author And Former U.S. Department Of Defense Official Michael Beckley; Interview With China National Association Of International Studies Director Victor Gao; Interview With "You Resemble Me" Co-Writer And Director Dina Amer; Interview With Native Rights Attorney And Citizen Of Cherokee Nation Mary Kathryn Nagle. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired November 14, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to AMANPOUR. Here is what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Zelenskyy, is this the beginning of the end of the war?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. visits liberated Kherson. We have a special report on the strategic win. Then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I want to be clear, and be clear with all leaders but particularly with Xi Jinping, that I mean what I say, and I say
what I mean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: High stakes, reasonable expectations as Biden and Xi meet face to face in Bali. Where does the supercharged U.S.-China relationship go
now? I asked two former government officials, Victor Gao from Beijing and Michael Beckley from the United States. Also.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My mom though she was beating me into behaving. But she taught how to change into some else in order to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The woman falsely accused of being Europe's first female suicide bomber. Journalist and filmmaker Dina Amer tells her story and "You
Plus, Cherokee nation member, Mary Kathryn Nagle, tells Hari Sreenivasan about her work to protect the sovereignty of tribal lands. And how a
Supreme Court ruling could change everything.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The emotional celebrations continue in Kherson today. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine, visited the embattled region as liberation after
nearly nine months of Russian occupation ushers in a new stage of the war. Fueled by the success of U.S. and NATO support for Ukraine so far and
election success at home in the midterms, President Joe Biden meets Chinese President Xi Jinping face to face for the first time as leaders.
Now, after the two spoke for more than three hours at the G20 summit in Bali, the White House said the conversation was candid about issues like
human rights, climate, Taiwan, and, of course, Russian aggression in Ukraine. And in a press conference following the talks, President Biden
detailed new efforts to defuse the tensions between their two nations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We were very blunt with one another about places where we disagreed or where we were uncertain of each other's
position. And we agreed we would set up, in which we did, mechanisms whereby we would meet with detail with our -- with key people in each of
our administrations to discuss how we could resolve them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I will dig further into that relationship in a moment. But first, we want to bring you some of the most recent images from Kherson.
Where Nic Robertson reports.
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NIC ROBERTSON, CNN'S INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voiceover): The joys of Kherson's liberation keep on giving.
How are you, she says.
I survived, her friend replies. But the Russians kicked my door in and stole everything.
This city, once home to more than a quarter million people, is still celebrating its freedom. But beginning to count the cost of the eight-month
brutal occupation they endured. The city's phone and internet connection cut, residents crowding around soldiers' communication in desperate hope of
contacting loved ones.
On their way out, the Russians crippled almost every vital service, electricity off and water too. This pump close to the riverbank giving
water too polluted to drink.
The water stopped when the power went off, he says. This is the fourth day without water. But what can we do? We need to survive somehow.
The Russians even felled the city's main TV transmitter.
ROBERTSON (on camera): They blew it up just before leaving, a final act of punishment for a population but until days earlier they said was part of a
Russia and would be forever.
ROBERTSON (voiceover): That same message, Kherson and Russia together forever, plastered on hundreds of billboards around the city, is already
being torn down.
Why, Platton (ph) says. Because eight months of occupation is not very nice. I didn't feel very good living in fear that any moment a car could
pull over near you and bring you to a very unpleasant place.
Alexander wasn't lucky enough to be taken to one of those unpleasant places and shows us around the jail he was in. He says the Russians beat him
They abused everyone. Kept us hungry. Used us as free labor to repair their military vehicles, he says. They were beating us whenever they wanted.
ROBERTSON (on camera): This is where they say Russians kill people for simply shouting out, slava Ukraini, glory to Ukraine, or having tattoos
saying the same thing. And over here in this room, this is where they used to torture people.
The fire, Alexander says, started by the Russians as they left to cover up their crimes. But it is across the road in Catherine's Church, Russia's
oddest brutality was perpetrated. The grave of Grigory Potemkin, fabled in history for building faith villages was looted days before the Russians
left. Father Vitaly (ph) takes us into the gloomy crypt, shows us where Potemkin's coffin was stolen from.
He lay here for 240 years through many wars, he says. We honored him as a founder of Kherson and they took him without permission.
Repairs of souls and city have only just begun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Nic Robertson reporting from Kherson.
Now, let's get more on how that geostrategic landscape might also impact the relationship between Presidents Xi and Biden. Joining me now from
Beijing is Victor Gao, former Chinese government official. And China-U.S. expert Michael Beckley, who also worked at the Pentagon and ran security
think tank and is the author of "Danger Zone".
Welcome both of you to the program. Can I ask you, Michael Beckley, from the president of the United States, his point of view, do you think the
idea of, sort of, at least try to set a floor beneath which relations can't sink any further as a decent and ambitious enough aim?
MICHAEL BECKLEY, CO-AUTHOR, "DANGER ZONE: THE COMING CONFLICT WITH CHINA" AND FORMER U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I think, for right now
it's all that can be obtained. And there were some notable things that came out of this. First of all, it's the -- it shows that these kinds of talks
can happen. Not just between Biden and Xi, but now between lower-level officials up and down across every issue. It also allowed Biden to clarify
his position on Taiwan, which had been, sort of, muddled in recent years. It also led to this agreement on the idea that we need to avoid a nuclear
war with Russia and Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: So, those are all really important details. So, you would give it a what? A seven, an eight, this meeting in terms of achievements?
BECKLEY: Yes. I mean, you can give it a high mark because I think it achieved everything it could but at a very low bar, obviously.
AMANPOUR: And from your perspective, Victor Gao, what do you think was achieved, as Michael just said also. You know, he made -- he -- the
president said a few things about Taiwan. We know your president has been very clear about Taiwan. What do you think it achieved from your side?
VICTOR GAO, DIRECTOR, CHINA NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Thank you very much for having me.
I think this summit meeting between President Biden of the United States and President Xi Jinping of China really achieved one great thing, which
will be remembered, historically speaking, as a major breakthrough. That is, there is a flaw established to China-U.S. relations, guardrails have
been installed. And from here on, what remains to be done is to see whether these two countries can use all the wisdom and courage and vision to boost
their relations for their mutual benefit.
I think of all the critical issues, like Taiwan, like Ukrainian war, et cetera. And then situations in China's Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong for
example, the two leaders exchanged their views very candidly and very straightforwardly. Sometimes, frankly with each other. So, they understood
each other better now.
And then a framework has been set up so that the government officials of both countries can now freely travel to each other's countries and talk,
and talk, and talk about how they can overcome difficulties and achieve a better relations for these two countries. And if they can improve the
relations, the whole world will be a better place. That is the major point of this summit meeting.
AMANPOUR: So, so far, very upbeat from you two, who are thoroughly involved in this relationship. Let me just, please, play a little bit of a
soundbite from President Xi. And I'm not sure, is it directed at Biden? Is it directed at himself? Let's just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
XI JINPING, CHINESE PRESIDENT (through translator): A statesman should think about and know where to lead his country. He should also think about
and know how to get along with other countries and the wider world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Michael, I don't know whether I was being a little, sort of, flippant, but do you think Xi was saying he should or that Biden should?
BECKLEY: My sense is the onus from Xi as on Biden here. The idea -- you know, that -- the Chinese government has been very clear. They feel the
United States is going back to what they call a cold war mentality, being hegemonic, and being highly aggressive and provocative over critical red
lines for China like Taiwan or seemingly trying to choke out its high technology economy with export controls on computer chips.
So, my sense, and maybe Victor can clarify, but my sense is that Xi Jinping is saying, you know, you should actually pursue softer line policies. Look
for cooperation in what the Chinese often call win-win solutions.
AMANPOUR: Victor, your view? And how is it being played in your press, this meeting?
GAO: I think President Xi Jinping talks about this very important point and related to both himself as the Chinese leader, as well as President
Biden of United States. Because I think what he means is that, for the top leaders of both China and the United States, you cannot just take care of
your affair and business for your own purposes. You really need to think about a bigger, larger unit of analysis. That is, for example, relative to
each other. As well as relative to mankind as a whole.
This means that both President Biden and President Xi Jinping should really look upward and see a higher purpose of what they are doing. That is, they
cannot just try to destroy the other country or the other people. They need to find a way to get along with each other and to overcome the differences
for mutual benefit.
I think President Xi Jinping set the tone for China-U.S. relations going forward. China-U.S. relations are not just for China or the United States.
It is for mankind as a whole. There is an extra sense of responsibility on the shoulders of China, as well as for the United States, because mankind
will need a better relation, more normal relations, between Washington and Beijing.
AMANPOUR: Well, they are the two most important countries in terms of their clout in the world. So, yes. But, Michael, let me ask you, this is
what President Biden said on the issue of Taiwan. Because the Chinese readout was a President Xi has said Taiwan is the first red line that must
not be crossed. And then Biden said the following.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I do not think there is any imminent attempt on the part of China to invade Taiwan. And I made it clear that our policy and Taiwan has not
changed at all. It is the same exact position we've had, I made it clear that we want to see a cross straight issues peacefully resolved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Michael -- OK. But the president has said a few things, such as we will defend Taiwan. Is he sending China mixed signals and does this
clarify it once and for all?
BECKLEY: Yes -- I mean, I wish that this had happened right from the get- go because now after, you know, President Biden has said four times that the United States would defend Taiwan. And that is was a commitment that
the United States made, which could be interpreted as a, sort of, blank check for Taiwan, that the United States would always come to its aid and
involve itself militarily.
Whereas the long-standing U.S. policy was always very clear about the ends which the U.S. seeks, namely a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue. But
was very ambiguous about the means that the United States would impose. It wouldn't necessarily just come rushing in with the full force of its
military. Biden earlier had seemed to distance himself. And now, is sort of walking back towards the more traditional policy.
I think he could have been consistent from the start saying that the United States views the Taiwan issue as vital, as a very important interest for
the U.S. That it insists on a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue without having to have muddied the waters.
I think it's also important to point out though that it's not all up to Biden because obviously, we have divided government in the U.S. And
multiple times in the history of U.S.-China relations, the Congress has actually been more hawkish on the Taiwan issue, passing the Taiwan
relations act with a veto proof majority over Carter's attempt to normalize relations.
And, you know, there's legislation pending on Capitol Hill right now that would upgrade Taiwan's status and the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. So, would -
- we're not out of the woods in terms of muddying the waters and mutual, you know, misunderstanding on both sides on this issue.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, interestingly, lately, the latest that sparked the Chinese's ire was Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, her visit to
Taiwan a few months ago.
But Victor Gao, if the president of the United States is potentially walking back to where, you know, American strategic ambiguity has been for
decades, what about your president? Because, you know, President Xi's statements have looked increasingly aggressive at the famous Congress just
last month. This phrase, that they resolutely reject into stem Taiwan independence forces. That was added to the party charter.
Do you believe that there is risk from your side that this thing, you know, may not be resolved peacefully? Because President Xi said, by all means
necessary, we will get, basically, Taiwan back.
GAO: This is a very important question. And I think nothing is more important for China-U.S. relations than how this Taiwan issue should be
approached and dealt with, eventually. I think President Xi Jinping has not made any major changes towards the consistent policy of China, towards
seeking peaceful reunification between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.
However, the China's persistent policy has always been that they were never going to renounce the use of force because there is a danger that
separatists in Taiwan really want to take measures to break away from China, aided and abetted by some foreign power. And if that happens, then
China will be driven to a corner with no other option but to use force to solve its issue.
Therefore, I think the key is not whether China wants to use force or not. The key is whether the separatists in Taiwan should not be aided and
abetted to go beyond the point of no return to force a confrontation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.
If President Biden really means what he says, and he says he means what he says, then I think there will be clarity between the two sides of the
Taiwan Strait. So long as there is no push beyond the point of no return for Taiwan separatism, so long as foreign powers do not really get involved
in aiding and abetting Taiwan separatist movements, then why should Mainland China use force?
After all, people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait's our brothers and sisters. Why should we launch a war, killing each other? We should embrace
each other. We should really nurture the relations leading up to better (INAUDIBLE) and better understanding and eventually peaceful reunification.
AMANPOUR: Well, look -- you know, it all sounds very kumbaya, that's my word. And, of course, there are a lot of really, really difficult issues.
Not just Taiwan, which maybe the whole relationship boils down to that.
But I want to ask you, Michael, what about the unbelievably important issue of the global economy, particularly between the United States and China? As
we know. President Biden maintained President Trump's, I think, it's $300 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods. As you know also, there is
concern about Xi and China's economic policies amid the whole zero-COVID issue. And even at the Congress, President Xi, kind of, broke with
tradition or recent tradition, spent less time on the economy, more time on national security.
So, from your perspective first, Michael, do you see room for other equally important issues to be, kind of, resolved between the two countries?
BECKLEY: Why, thank you. You're right to highlight the economic issue first and foremost, just because these are the two largest economies on the
world and they dominated international trade and investment. I think you're seeing steady decoupling between those two economies in the most strategic
and important areas. These semiconductor controls that the United States has put on China will essentially make it impossible for them to access or
produce the most high-end computer chips, which consigns China to technological inferiority for the foreseeable future.
So, that is going to have broad scale ramifications and you see it in many other sectors where the United States is rallying, especially its
Democratic allies -- its rich Democratic allies to sign new trade and investment understandings that would implicitly discriminate or exclude
China. While China's trying to rally an economic coalition across the global south through its belt and road initiative.
So, you see these two countries, even though they still are very much economically tangled up with each other, looking for alternative ways to
build out their economic spheres so that they don't have to rely so much on each other.
I think that is such an overwhelming issue. It almost crowds out many other factors, things like human rights that often come up between these two
countries as well.
AMANPOUR: Indeed, I was going to mention that. Victor Gao, can I just, sort of, pivot a little bit. I wonder what you think. President Biden came
into this meeting much, much stronger than he might have done had it been a month or two months ago.
The midterm elections have happened. He did the best of any incumbent president in living memory. He wasn't shlacked (ph), to use the word that
President Obama did during his midterms. In fact, far from it. His backing of Democratic and independent loving forces, as they say, in Ukraine is
proving to be successful. More successful than your president's friend, Putin. Putin, who didn't even turn up at the meeting. Does China see the
wind at the back of the United States and its allies right now?
GAO: I think the Democratic success at the midterm is purely a domestic affair of the United States, and China has no say. China is just an
observer, a witness. On the other hand, I think we do need to give President Biden a lot of credit for displaying pragmatism and realism in
dealing with China as he did in the summit meeting. And also, in emphasizing of all these very important points for these two largest
countries in the world.
I just hope President Biden will do the decent work for the American people by telling them who is paying all these billions of dollars of tariffs
imposed by the United States government on exports from China to the United States. China doesn't pay any tariff. Chinese government does not pay any
tariff. The tariffs are paid by the American consumers.
And now, the United States has faced with this inflation. Do something to lower inflation, lower the cost for the American people, American
consumers. Let's call this tariff as a tax imposed by the U.S. government, not on China but on American people. So, I hope President Biden really will
demonstrate greater realism and pragmatism in dealing with these hot issues in China U.S. relations.
You talked about the war in Ukraine, China has been consistent in urging and calling for peaceful resolution through diplomacy. And I still believe
this is the only right way going forward to solve the problem between Russia and Ukraine and to end the war in Ukraine.
The longer the war protracts, the worse it will be for mankind as a whole. And major countries, including the United States and all European
countries, will be more and more dragged into this quagmire. And war is not a solution at all. We need to promote peace. And I think President Xi
Jinping must have conveyed this message very clearly, straightforwardly, or sometimes even bluntly to his counterpart, President Biden.
AMANPOUR: I thought you're going to say to his counterpart, President Putin. Did you misspeak?
GAO: Both Russia and Ukraine are friendly countries as far as China is concerned. China-Russian friendship and good neighbor in this predated the
emergence of Russia in 1991. It predated all the way to 1989 --
GAO: -- when China emphasized its relations with the former Soviet Union.
GAO: Why should anyone throw a wedge into good, neighborly relations between China and Russia? We need to use these good neighborly relations to
really promote peaceful resolution of whatever issues there are between Russia and Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: OK. I have one last question. I have to give it to Michael Beckley. Do you think this -- and very, very, very quickly, this current
state of affairs supports Biden and the forces of democracy against authoritarianism?
BECKLEY: I think the past week or so has been good with Ukraine's advances and with the United States. I mean, getting tough with China is one of the
main bipartisan issues in the country. But I don't think we can count on a relaxation of tensions between the United States and China going forward,
simply because the most important issues in the relationship are fundamentally zero-sum.
You know, Taiwan can be ruled from Taipei or Beijing, not both. The south China Sea can be Chinese waters or international waterway. And Russia can
be propped up with oil and gas deals or it can be ground down with sanctions. So, I think the United States still has a lot of work to do on
its side. And I just don't think you can paper over the cracks with one meeting between the two presidents.
AMANPOUR: But at least it was a meeting. Michael Beckley, Victor Gao, thank you both very much indeed.
Next, we turn to a film that has been seeking the truth about a woman, the woman, falsely accused of being Europe 's first female suicide bomber. Days
after the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, French police raided an apartment, looking for terrorist. A bomb went off. Hasna Ait Boulahcen was
killed, along with her cousin, who is the suspected terrorist ringleader.
It's a painfully relevant story, as terrorism strikes Istanbul just this weekend. And a female bomber is suspected of planting the device that
killed at least six people and wounded dozens more, that happened yesterday. Journalist Dina Amer was reporting on the Bataclan attacks in
Paris for VICE back in 2015. And now she is telling Hasna's story and her new film called "You Resemble Me". Take a look at the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I know who I am. I can change who I am to get love. It's my superpower. You're confusing me with someone
else. I have a common face.
You don't know all the women I've been. You don't know all the things I've done.
I know who I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the director and co-writer, Dina Amer, joins me now. Welcome to the program, Dina. It's a really provocative and thought, you know,
thought provoking piece is what I mean. Tell me, what made you decide to focus on Hasna?
DINA AMER, CO-WRITER AND DIRECTOR, "YOU RESEMBLE ME": You know, I was actually at the scene. I reported for VICE News that Hasna was the first
female suicide bomber which turned out to be fake news. And I felt so terrible about contributing to fake news headline that I wanted to go find
And her mother had turned away every single journalist or camera that, you know, had approached her and wanting to interview her. But she allowed me
into her home because she felt I resembled her daughter. And so, everything with this sprung from that place of resemblance. And I was also really
fascinated by how this woman radicalized in such a short amount of time, less than 10 months after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. And had a new
sensation around the reporting of those attacks.
And that she had previously been known as, like, the cowgirl of the neighborhood. You know, she was known for wearing, like, cowboy boots and a
cowboy hat. And -- you know, this was a woman who was deeply fragmented and struggled. She didn't feel like she belonged to the Middle East or to the
West. But yet, she felt she was a cowgirl.
And I felt like her becoming, you know, "Europe's first female suicide bomber", which turned out to be a fake headline.
AMER: That actually was, kind of, least iteration of her cowgirl archetype. And I think that, kind of, is missing, sometimes, from the
nuance of, like, how and why people radicalize, you know, whether it's like white nationalist organizations, or even a group like ISIS. It's -- you
know, every time I try to peg it to a lack of education or unemployment issues, or even a broken family, you find someone who didn't struggle with
any of that but still radicalized because they had a very fractured sense of self. And they were desperately looking for belonging and home, and
community. And those are universal needs, you know.
AMANPOUR: Exactly. I'm going to dig into that. But I purposely did not give away, I didn't do a spoiler when I introduced. And you have brought up
the fact that it was not just fake, it was just wrong. I mean, she wasn't a suicide bomber.
AMANPOUR: Everybody thought she was a suicide bomber. So, describe what happened when, as we said, that bomb went off. And she was, you know,
accused of having set it off.
AMER: So, there was actually a viral video that surfaced where she was on the balcony, screaming at the top of her lungs. And she was saying, please,
let me jump, to the police forces who were closing in on the apartment. And you could hear an officer yell out, where is your boyfriend? Referring to
her cousin. And she screamed out, he's not my boyfriend. Please let me jump. And then the bomb went off.
And so, suddenly when that video went viral, it put her in a position of being in the gray. You know, now, there was evidence to show that, maybe,
she wanted to leave at the final moment. That she had realized that this was a trap.
And so, you know, there wasn't -- the damage had been done, though, you know.
AMER: That headline had traveled the world. And I felt so moved by her story because I felt that it was talking to systemic failure, you know. And
that, unfortunately, we live in a world with so much senseless violence and so much fragility.
And young people are finding purpose and meaning through picking up the gun and pulling the trigger. And it really necessitates us to ask why.
AMANPOUR: Well, I was going to ask you why. You are Egyptian American. You have, you know, a foot in all these societies. And you walked a little bit
-- and I'm going to play this part of the clip. You said, you know, it doesn't -- people -- well, it's education, it's this, it's not having this
opportunity, it's coming from an abusive family. But in the end, it's about community and identity.
So, in this clip, Hasna, before she becomes radicalized, is trying to get out of her -- you know, kind of the cesspool that she has sunk into and she
wants a proper job. So, she goes to a military recruiting office and this is what transpires.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Why do you think you're qualified for the job?
MOUNA SAUALEM, ACTRESS, "YOU RESEMBLE ME" (through translator): I'm a strong woman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): OK.
SAUALEM (through translator): No. But like really strong. Even physically.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What I am trying to say is your application is a little thin. So, why would we take in someone like you?
SAUALEM (through translator): What does someone like me mean? An Arab?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What?
SAUALEM (through translator): You mean an Arab like me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): No. I mean, a young woman no diploma, no nothing.
SAUALEM (through translator): Sir, I don't have a diploma but I don't have nothing. I'm not nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you know, she's put the -- you know, tried to put the, you know, hammer on the nail. She says, because I'm an Arab. He says, no, it's
because you -- you know, you don't have a diploma. You haven't graduated, you have kind of nothing to offer. What about -- so, again, trying to
figure out how she felt alienated, did you get anywhere near figuring that out from her mother or her family?
AMER: Absolutely. I think that, you know, there were -- there are many ingredients to lead to that -- the rotten (ph) through that creates that
headline, you know. I think on a family level, she felt abandoned. I think that also, by the French state she felt incredibly alienated. And it's wild
to imagine that Hasna could've died serving France as -- you know, either as a policewoman or, you know, in the army, because she applied for both.
And I also think that, you know, it's important to note that, like, recruitment videos for joining, you know, national armies are playing for
the same ideals of, you know, recruiting people who want -- who have courage and who want to dedicate themselves to a higher cause. So, there is
hope in that, because I think it signals to us as a society that the same people who are enforcing are grabbing our attention the worst way- possible
through these tragic headlines and these cycles of violence could have been known to us through a more humanitarian result, given the right
And I think that's very important to remember, that, you know, that there are -- we are all human beings here who are looking for a purpose, who are
looking for belonging. That it's a human issue and that perhaps policing and militarization won't solve the problem, but looking at it on a root
level can give us better, you know, answers onto why and how this happens.
AMANPOUR: So, I am really interested to read that you had spent, as part of sort of an exchange program, and explain it to us, some six months with
prisoners incarcerated men at Rikers Island. It was a theater and cinema program. Tell us about it, and did that influence your desire to seek out
AMER: You know, it's funny, because I had never -- I would never think in a million years, Christiane, to make a film about terrorism or a film in
France, quite honestly. And -- you know, because I am an Egyptian Muslim American and lived my entire life really distancing myself from that
headline and feeling that I actually had a lot of resentment towards, you know, the perpetrators. And yet, it wasn't until that experience at Rikers
where I did this cinema exchange with the incarcerated men, and I realize that a prison system was so tragically broken. And that -- you know, that
these men had committed crimes, but yet, they were human beings and they all had stories.
And they were -- you know, they say, if you knew everyone's story, you'd fall in love with them. You know, because you understand that no one comes
out of the womb wanting to commit a crime. It is a long process. And even from a purely national security perspective, if we want to live in a safer
society, we need to understand the human beings were behind the headlines and called perpetrators. We can't just throw them away. It doesn't help us
to live in a safer society.
AMANPOUR: Right. And finally, you know, you are trying to do this, you are trying to -- you know, to pull back all these layers and to understand for
many, many reasons. And your film has had a lot of good reviews and positive feedback.
But you say you found it very difficult, maybe you still find it difficult, to get a proper big distribution for this feature.
AMER: Yes. You know, it's so wild that, you know, the film it was a seven- year journey in 2023. And, you know, we premiered in Venice, and thankfully we've gotten very strong reviews. I've been able to bring on like Spike
Lee, Spike Jones, Alma Har-El, Riz Ahmed, like very notable, like quite honestly, like, cinema heroes of mine to support the film and champion it,
and yet, something didn't quite translate into a distribution deal because -- and I got love letters, you know, from distributors, being like, you
know, we love the film. Very bold and powerful, but we're afraid of how audiences will react to it. We don't know if they will be able to watch
something that, you know, dares to humanize a woman called a terrorist.
And that was so shocking to me, Christiane, because I felt like, you know, Hollywood has no problem in focusing on, you know, true crime or even, you
know, the number one show right now on Netflix is about the Jeffrey Dahmer story. So, I was like, wait, so, is the resistance because she's a woman
and because she's Muslim and she's, you know, tied into this like "Islamic terror headline"?
And thankfully, Christiane, we've proven them all wrong and the film has sold out in New York and in L.A. and has been extended. And yesterday, it
was printed at the Box Office, and we are on top of the list for, you know, numbers of being able to draw in audiences and it's been an independent
self-distribution. Just myself, my producer, Elizabeth Woodward, Sean Glass, and E.P., just a small team of dedicated individuals who have been
doing grassroots campaigning to get audiences into the cinema to experience this film.
And I'm so grateful that people have been moved and have seen themself in a woman who we throw away and just dismissed as a monster. Have realize that,
you know, we all belong to each other, and we need to understand how and why violence is part of our accepted reality, you know, we can't just be
desensitized to it.
AMANPOUR: It's really fascinating. Really, really interesting film. Dina Amer, thank you so much indeed for joining us. Thank you.
Now, turning to the U.S. Supreme Court as the Indian Child Welfare Act is at risk of being overturned. It was created to prevent family separation in
Native American communities. And this is the first time the constitutionality of the law is being challenged. Mary Kathryn Nagle is
Cherokee and an attorney, and she helps the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center. She joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the significance of
this case and how it impacts tribal sovereignty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Mary Kathryn Nagle, thanks so much for joining us.
So, you know, just to get our audience up to speed, help us understand how what looks like an adoption case stands to threaten tribal sovereignty. I
mean, tell us a little bit about the law that is at the center of this. This has been on the books since 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act. What
is the legal challenge here?
MARY KATHRYN NAGLE, NATIVE RIGHTS ATTORNEY AND CITIZEN OF CHEROKEE NATION: Well, the Indian Child Welfare Act is a law that was passed unanimously in
Congress, bipartisan support, right, not a single voter who voted against it just 44 years ago, and the goal of the law is to affirm and recognize
the inherent sovereignty of tribal nations to protect their own children. And it sets gold standards. Of course, it doesn't dictate outcomes in these
sorts of custody proceedings or adoption cases, but it simply says that if an Indian child is going to be taken from his or her home, the very first
place we should look to place that child should be with his or her family.
And if you talk to any child welfare advocate, that is the gold standard for any child. But it's critically important for Indian children because
when Congress passed this law in the 1970s, our children were being removed from our families and our nations at alarmingly high rates. Higher than any
other population in the entire United States. In some cases, up to 40 or almost 50 percent.
And so, really, it was just another round and continues to be today of attempting to end tribal nations by taking our children from us. And so,
the Indian Child Welfare Act affirms the inherent right of our tribes to protect our own citizens and our own children.
SREENIVASAN: So, because it preferences that Native American children be placed with family members or a foster agency that is approved by the
tribe, where is the legal challenge here? The parents who are in this lawsuit say that this is racial discrimination.
NAGLE: Right. That is their claim. And when you look at this case in particular, you've got three parents, two of those three have fully and
legally adopted the Indian children they claim ECOA prohibits them from adopting on the account -- on the basis of race. And that last couple, the
Cliffords (ph), are trying to take a child away from her grandmother. And their claim is that somehow, they have some constitutional right to raise
this child instead of her grandmother. That's what's so absurd about the facts of this case.
But legally, if you look at the arguments they are making, it is in line with a lot of other cases that have been coming up or trickling up to the
Supreme Court, with huge funding, huge resources behind them. And so, what's really at the heart of this case isn't whether certain children are
going to be placed with certain non-Indian people who really want to purchase them and adopt them and raise them. It's really, at the end of the
day, is the 14th Amendment, can it ever be used, how can it be used, and for what purposes? And they are really trying to rewrite the 14th
Amendment, which never applied to Indian people in the first place.
SREENIVASAN: OK. First, I guess, stepping back a second, the idea of what is a Native American, is it a race, as these people say it is? Because I
fill out forms all the time for my health care and other documents and I see a check box. Oh, are you this race? Is it a race as we think of it or
is it a political designation that has been kind of imposed on groups of people by the United States government?
NAGLE: Yes and no. So, it can be a race, it's also a political classification when Congress uses it and calls us Indians, which signifies
citizens of tribal nations that predate the United States. Now, it's not a term imposed on us by the United States because we as -- I'm a citizen of
the Cherokee nation. My ancestors were citizens of the Cherokee nation long before that United States came into existence.
The fact the United States came into existence does not change that. And in fact, the constitution itself calls us Indian tribes, and gives Congress
the exclusive duty and obligation of effectuating the promises the United States has made to our tribal nations in the hundreds of treaties signed
with tribes. But if Congress can't use the word Indian to identify who is a citizen of those tribal nations, Congress will never be able to fulfill its
constitutional duty and obligation to honor the promises made to our nations and our nations' citizens, in the hundreds of treaties that created
the United States today. But that's exactly what the plaintiffs want in this case. And specifically, the oil and gas industry, that's funding their
SREENIVASAN: So, these parents are essentially saying that this is a racial discrimination, because they will never be citizens of a tribal
nation, that they will never be Native American, and they are being prohibited on the basis of race from adopting a child that they want to
give a better home to.
NAGLE: Yes, it's pretty outrageous to think that if you are a white couple, that you should have some sort of constitutional right to take a
child from her home and from her family or from her grandmother. But that is exactly their argument. And they are really trying to conflate race and
the political classification, which, by the way, the Supreme Court has consistently held for hundreds of years that when Congress uses the word
Indian to signify citizen of a tribal nation, that it is a political and not a racial classification.
But they are playing on the misunderstandings of that and the general public and a lot of other messaging that they have used. When at the end of
the day, if a child is racially Native American but not a citizen in a federally recognized tribe, and -- you know, and if their parents are not a
citizen of that tribal nation, then that child is not an Indian child under the act. The act simply does not apply.
SREENIVASAN: If this -- if the Supreme Court decides that this has something to do with race, then what is the effect on the sovereignty of
native tribes? I mean, what does that take away or is there a domino effect that you are concerned about?
NAGLE: Yes. So, for instance, in 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision saying tribes could no longer exercise criminal jurisdiction over
non-Indians who come onto our lands and rape and kill and murder our children. Today, our women and children face the highest rates of violence
in the entire United States. And the Department of Justice reports that the majority of those violent crimes are committed by non-Indians.
The Supreme Court use this Indian non-Indian classification to take jurisdiction away from us. If that classification becomes unconstitutional,
which is what the (INAUDIBLE) attorneys are arguing for, and if Congress cannot use that classification as it always has for hundreds of years since
the United States came into existence as a political classification, then all of a sudden, the ability of Congress to restore the tribal criminal
jurisdiction that the court took away, that Congress has been restoring in reauthorizations of the Violence Against Women Act becomes jeopardized and
is called into question. And that's the real risk here.
Congress every day passes laws calling us Indians, because we are Indians, right? And that's a political classification, and it recognizes that
sovereign relationship between my tribal nation and the hundreds of other tribal nations and United States.
And if Congress can't pass those laws anymore, then we are really -- we're in big, big trouble. But it also opens up, you know, that at this point in
time, native nations in United States only control about 2 percent of the lands in the United States. But underneath those lands are an estimated 1.5
trillion dollars' worth of untapped fossil fuels.
There's a reason that oil and gas companies want to destroy tribal sovereignty and erase the authority of our tribal nations or the ability of
Congress to pass laws recognizing the authority of our nations. They're trying to make that unconstitutional.
SREENIVASAN: So, do you think that this is a pattern that has been repeated in the past? Sort of having a conversation about children where
really there is more at stake?
NAGLE: If you look back at the boarding school era, and that time, General Richard Henry Pratt, who was the architect of the horrific boarding schools
that killed thousands of Indian children in the late 1800s and early 1900s, he had just lost on the battlefield against many tribal nations. General
Custer had been killed by Lakota, Cheyenne warriors. He told Congress, it's going to be more cost-effective to take their children from them under the
guise of civilization and education than fighting them on the battlefield. If we take your children and wipe out their language, their culture and the
sovereignty of their nations, that they will no longer have nations to govern. They will no longer have lands to govern. And then, we won't have
to fight these expensive wars in the West. And so, Congress said, yes, and that's how boarding schools came to be.
Now, to us, we were told, this is to help you. You are not civilized. This is to help your children. This is about to the Indian children we are
trying to help. We are trying to give them a good home, a better future, access to a good college, right? All of these resources that come with
affluent white families. And so, that's the real repetition of history that is happening right now. And we know what it means to be told that this is
in the best interest of our children. We've been told that before.
SREENIVASAN: You heard the oral arguments that have been in front of the court. Is there something that you heard? Because oftentimes, the justices,
in the phrasing of their questions, give you have an indication as to what it is that they are thinking or what's the key question that's important to
them before they weigh in on a decision. Anything that you heard concern you?
NAGLE: Several things that I heard concern me. I will say, I was very relieved to hear that several justices understand not only what's at stake
but what the constitution says in very plain language. Calling us Indian tribes, which can't be unconstitutional if the framers put it in the
constitution as the bedrock principle of our democracy. But there were questions that were concerning. Such as, Justice Kavanaugh asking how there
can be a federal law that prioritize the placement of Indian children with Indian families of other tribal nations if those tribal nations, at one
point in time, had conflicts and used to fight wars against each other?
Which, I think is a question that comes out of ignorance. Yes, our tribes fought -- had conflicts and fought wars against each other, it's true. Most
of those wars, you will find, postdate the arrival of white Europeans, who tried to pit us against one another and encouraged us and almost forced us
to fight each other for survival during genocide.
Now, it's not to say we didn't have conflicts before the arrival of white Europeans. Certainly, we did. But we had a lot better means to work those
conflicts out, and to say that, you know, Congress that has this constitutional duty to protect our children and the sovereignty of our
nations can't make that judgment call, that an Indian child is going to be better off with Indian parents from another tribal nation is really
concerning, and I think the thing that Justice Kavanaugh doesn't understand is that that, yes, our tribes are very different and very unique with
cultures, but we have a lot of similarities.
And, you know, Indian parents will know the value of -- even if they are members of separate tribal nation, taking that child they've adopted to
ceremony, to learn their language, to meet their extended family in that tribe, to keep that kid connected to who he or she is. And that's going to
prevent that child from suffering further trauma when they become an adult and they to spend years searching for their identity, which is what happens
to a lot of our children that are adopted out of our nation.
And so, you know, complete lack of understanding of not just with the plain language in the constitution says, but also Congress's role in
understanding Indian affairs as the exclusive branch of the federal government with constitutional authority to govern over Indian affairs.
SREENIVASAN: One of the arguments that the lawyers are making in this case is that the children inside tribal nations are not having the same access
to opportunity, to services, and so forth that a white family in Texas might be able to give that child. And that somewhere, by design, there is
an inequity here and why shouldn't parents from outside the tribe be able to give these children equal opportunities?
NAGLE: I mean, this is really -- this is the underpinnings of this case. I think a lot of nonnatives look at this and say, well, I've read a lot about
the poverty on reservations and I want my children to have a chance to be raised in affluent homes. But this undermines everything we stand for in
terms of our democracy as a nation. If that's really the standard, then we have millions of children living in lower class homes right now that
apparently can just be scooped up and taken from their loving parents where they're not -- I'm not talking about homes where there is abuse or drug
abuse or alcohol abuse. Obviously, children need to be taken out of those homes.
And ECOA requires that as well, right? ECOA doesn't preclude that. But we are talking about this age-old narrative of, well, don't we, as rich,
affluent people, just know what's better for poor children living in a lower socioeconomic class? And I think that narrative does more harm than
good, and I think there's a lot more to unpack there. But it is exactly the stereotypical thought that, unfortunately, a lot of well to do Americans
have. And they think, they have this belief, that they are here to save poor children. And it's inherently problematic.
SREENIVASAN: You're a member the Cherokee nation, you have represented families in custody matters for a long time. Why does this case matter so
much? If the decision comes down that this law is unconstitutional, how will it change what you do?
NAGLE: Well, if you think about it, when my grandmother was born, she was not a citizen of United States. She was born in 1912. She didn't become a
citizen until 1924, when Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act. If plaintiffs win in this case and Indian becomes an unconstitutional race
based on classification, the very law that gives us U.S. citizenship will become unconstitutional. And that's because the 14th Amendment had no
application to Indians when it was passed.
It was debated, and the senators who drafted and passed that amendment and said, no, Indians are -- that's a political classification, it's not a
racial classification, they are citizens of separate tribal nations. When a citizen of the Omaha Tribe tried to vote in Nebraska in the late 1800s, his
case went all the way to the Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court said no, you're a citizen of a separate nation. Indian is a political
classification. The 14th Amendment doesn't apply to you. You can't vote.
We had to fight in Congress for that right to vote, and we got that right in 1924. In a law that labels us as Indians. Everything we had we have
fought for in Congress in laws that label us is Indians because that means you are a citizen of a tribal nation that predates the United States.
If Congress can't use the word Indian anymore, the vast majority of the laws that protect our nations, our children, our lands, our sovereignty,
they are all at risk and they are all up for grabs. So, this case is everything for Native Americans/Indians, Native Americans, people who have
native ancestry. But Indians, people who are politically citizens of tribal nations that predates United States today.
SREENIVASAN: Mary Kathryn Nagle, thanks so much for your time.
NAGLE: Thanks much for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And that is a fascinating issue. And finally, tonight, graffiti on the day bury (ph) of war-torn Ukraine. The renowned and yet anonymous
British street artist Banksy has unveiled his latest work, a mural in the late deeply damage town of Borodyanka after weeks of speculation that he
was in fact in that region.
The image posted to Banky's official Instagram page shows a female gymnast balancing on a pile of rubble, and it's on the side of a building that was
damaged by Russian strikes. Borodyanka, as we saw when we visited, situated northwest of Kyiv, was hit particularly hard by the Russians who were
trying to capture then to capture the capital at the beginning of the invasion.
And having witnessed the destruction left by the retreating soldiers in early April, we ourselves could get a sense of the shifting tide of the
war, even back then, as Ukrainians mounted fierce counter offenses, ever since then, all the way back to Kherson.
That is it for now. And if you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. On your screen now is a QR
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Remember, you can always catch us online as well, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.