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Interview with Former Colombian High Commissioner for Peace Sergio Jaramillo, Interview with "President Garfield" Author C.W. Goodyear; Interview with "By All Means Available Author and Former U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael G. Vickers; Interview with Primatologist Jane Goodall. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired June 30, 2023 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Amanpour. Here's what's coming up.
An eyewitness to Russian brutality. I'm joined by Colombia's former peace negotiator, Sergio Jaramillo, who was in the Kramatorsk restaurant struck
Then, violent protests sweep through France after police shoot and kill a 17-year-old. We get the latest from Paris.
Also, ahead, from radical to unifier, historian and author C.W. Goodyear on the forgotten legacy of America's 200-day president, James Garfield.
Plus, after a lifetime guarding America secrets, top defense official Michael Vickers takes Walter Isaacson behind the scenes of U.S. national
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANE GOODALL, PRIMATOLOGIST: They told me when I went to Cambridge to get a degree that only humans had personality. Only humans have mind capable of
problem solving. Only humans have emotions. How arrogant of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: -- the breakthroughs of Dr. James Goodall, as a climate crisis near is a point of no return, a look back at Christiane's interview with
the legendary primatologist.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
Are we seeing the beginnings of a potential Russian purge? Less than one week after the failed rebellion by Wagner mercenaries, Ukrainian officials
say a plot has emerged to assassinate the group's leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin. And rumors are swirling about the location of Moscow general,
Sergey Surovikin, as new documents show he was a VIP member of Wagner.
It's a very public break in Russian unity, but it hasn't slowed the Kremlin's war machine. Today, the Kherson region suffered significant
Russian shelling, and it comes as the country mourns those lost in a strike on the Kramatorsk piece of restaurant on Tuesday. A blast that killed at
least 12 people, including three teenage girls.
I'm joined now by someone who was at that restaurant when the missile struck. The Colombian peace negotiator, Sergio Jaramillo, was in Ukraine as
part of his campaign to strengthen Latin American solidarity with the country. And he joins me now from Brussels.
Sergio, thank you so much for joining us. First of all, how are you feeling physically and emotionally following Tuesday's horrific blast?
SERGIO JARAMILLO, FORMER COLOMBIAN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR PEACE: Well, thank you very much for this invitation, Bianna. I'm actually physically fine. I
was hit hard on my right side by a falling beam. I have some trouble walking, but it's frankly absolutely nothing in comparison with what some
people around me suffered, and the news we're getting of all of this mounting death toll. Two twins died, imagine the suffering of that mother.
It's just unbelievable the Russian brutality.
GOLODRYGA: It is horrible. And we've been covering the human cost of this war since it began and, obviously, we've been talking about those twins and
their family, and grieving now as they're trying to bury them amidst this war.
You were there with two colleagues, as well as a Ukrainian writer, Victoria Amelina, who is in critical condition. What more do you know about how she
JARAMILLO: Victoria is really almost the only thing I think about. She was sitting right directly to my left --
JARAMILLO: -- when the bomb -- when the missile struck. I had actually lowered my head below the table by coincidence. She was sitting upright.
She got hit, I didn't, and I spend all my time trying to help looking after her with the paramedics and waiting for the ambulance to come.
Out of respect for the family, I think we need to wait. They want to be the ones who actually inform the public how she's doing.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. And everyone on social media that knows her husband sending her and her family their deepest well wishes and thoughts as she continues
to be in critical condition. We saw pictures of her there with you recently.
Colombia's president, Gustavo Petro, in response to this horrific attack and strike said this over the weekend, Russia -- this week, he said, Russia
has attacked three defenseless Colombian citizens. It has violated the protocol of war.
We know the Colombia's ambassador to Russia was invited for a meeting with the Russian foreign ministry to discuss the "circumstances of the war." And
I want to just read from you a bit of what the readout was from the Russian foreign ministry. Here's what they said. We drew the ambassador's attention
to the urgent need to recommend that Colombian citizens refrain from visiting territories located in the war zone. And that this was a strike
that they viewed was legal and followed their protocols of war.
What is your response to that?
JARAMILLO: Look, by coincidence, I know a bit about this because 15 years ago I was deputy minister of defense in Colombia. One of my
responsibilities -- one of my main responsibilities was international humanitarian law. I actually helped co-write the Armed Forces Operational
Law Handbook. So, we know a bit about this.
And what the Russians are doing is frankly not just breaking the laws of war, breaking IHL, but conducting a policy of terror against civilians such
as, I think, the world hasn't seen for a very long time. Because it's not just an issue of military operations, it's the targeted use of military
might by one of the largest militaries of the world. And on top of that, by a country that is a permanent member of the Security Council, and as such,
should be safeguarding international peace and security.
Well, that country is actually targeting civilians, and this as what's happening day in and day out. This is what we need to wake up to. These are
just not people who die incidentally, they are targeted all over the country, near the front, far from the front, as it has happened in Duman
(ph) and Venetsia (ph). This is absolutely scandalous. And the world -- and not just government, but societies at large, this is what we're trying to
do with our campaign, we need to raise our voice in protest.
GOLODRYGA: Well, we have images of the civilians who were murdered, injured here as the families and friends were just enjoying a night out at a busy
pizza restaurant and in a very commercial area there. And you have the government officials in Russia saying, basically, that you were at the
wrong place at the wrong time.
I mean, how is the world -- and I'll get to this in a moment, but specifically Latin American countries, countries in the Global South,
Colombia, who have been arguing since this war began that the best way to end it is just to go to the tables for peace negotiation as opposed to
providing any sort of aid, because that hasn't gotten anybody to -- any closer to this war ending at this point.
What is the message, you think, this recent attack sends to those countries?
JARAMILLO: Let me just say one word about what you just mentioned at the beginning, because the Russian statement is outrageous. A pizzeria is a
pizzeria. It's a protected civilian object, according to IHL, and there were families and people like myself having dinner there, all international
correspondents meet in this place, this is the place where everyone goes in Kramatorsk. So, calling that a military objective is frankly completely
And so far, as Latin America is concerned, I don't think there's a homogeneous view across the countries. You have different views in
different countries. What I can tell you is, first, that what we see with our campaign, which has mobilized some of the most important writers of
Latin America, along with other artists and musicians, who have raised their voice in condemnation of this invasion, is that most of Latin
Americans have common sense. They understand that to invade your neighbor is that, it's an invasion.
So, I think Latin America is strongly against this. And I think that some governments who you may have seem look warm may start to come around to a
more realistic view of what's really going on, including my own government. I value the words of President Petro when he came out condemning what they
did to us, saying they violated the principles of war, raising a former protest. That's what Colombia needs to do, and I thank him for that.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. It's interesting that you say that this perhaps is one of the examples and will lead to Latin American governments turning around in
their views on the war. But I do want to play what your former president, your old boss and winner of Nobel Peace Prize said when asked recently on
CNN about what needs to be done to end this war and the role that countries like Colombia can play. Take a listen to what he said?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUAN MANUEL SANTOS, FORMER COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT: They say, well, why am I paying more for food and for the electricity for war that is not my war?
And when they ask, they tell him, listen, we have to establish a precedent and we cannot allow any country to invade another country. For example.
what will happen if Brazil invades Colombia? And they simply laughed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Is that an accurate characterization that you view and see around you among the population in Colombia and neighboring countries?
JARAMILLO: No, I don't agree with that. I think on this one my former boss is wrong. I think that -- I'll give you an example. Very recently, for our
campaign, we were interviewing the former president of Uruguay, President Sanguinetti, a very distinguished figure, a real democrat, and he was
making a very simple but fundamental point. He was saying, for two centuries, my country, Uruguay, a small country, almost defenseless next to
these big guys like Brazil and Argentina, has had peace. And why is that? Because we all respect international law, because we all respect each
So, this problem in Ukraine that seems to be very far away it's actually very close to us, because it's our protection that is at stake. And if you
actually think about it, if Russia gets its way, then we're really down to the law of the jungle.
JARAMILLO: The weak have to look for shelter under the mighty, and that's not the world we want to live in.
GOLODRYGA: It's a full global disruption, and that is for sure. You are there for your initiative -- you were there for your initiative,
AguantaUcrania, which means hang in there, Ukraine. I know that you will continue to pursue this mission along with your colleagues. In the
meantime, I hope for a speedy recovery for your colleagues who are still hospitalized and thank you for the efforts that you are making to bring
this war to end and as well. Be safe, be well. Sergio Jaramillo, thank you.
JARAMILLO: Thank you very much, Bianna. Let me just encourage you your audience, everyone in the world, to really raise their voice for the
Ukrainians, to tell the Russians, you must stop killing civilians, and you can do that through our account at Instagram #AguantaUcrania or through any
media. But we really need to unite in one single voice telling Russia, you must stop this now.
GOLODRYGA: All right. Sergio, thank you.
Well, from Russia, we now turn to France, where President Macron is holding crisis talks and calling for calm, and large-scale events have been banned
following a third night of violent protests in towns across the country. This after the police killing of a teenage boy at a traffic stop in the
outskirts of Paris. His death sparking a nationwide conversation about racism and police brutality.
Nearly 900 people have been arrested and hundreds injured as demonstrators clashed with police. Correspondent, Nic Robertson, has more on this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Thursday night, Paris's underprivileged suburbs in flames. Elite cops in Nantes, the
epicenter of the violence and anger over the killing of the young teen, Nahel, dust through barricades burning vehicles, Paris's ring of fire
engulfing a bus station in the suburb of (INAUDIBLE), 12 buses on fire.
With daybreak, the extent of the losses becoming clearer. 26 buses in a tram destroyed in this neighborhood alone. According to a local official,
total cost, ballpark, $11.7 million. France's transport minister came to see the damage for himself.
ROBERTSON: What will it take to end the violence, please?
CLEMENT BEAUNE, FRENCH TRANSPORT MINISTER (through translator): We can't allow for any ambiguity in this question (ph). We need to condemn these
violences with extreme firmness. We need to protect our public servants. It's in the interest of those who are expressing their anger today to
protect the public servants.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Local residents here worried about an escalation.
It's the fault of everyone, he says. I've heard that Saturday will be worse.
The buses that are burned there, the people that live here use them, another man tells us. That does no favors for anyone.
ROBERTSON: And it's not just here in Paris, the protests are spreading. Lille, in the in the north, Lonth (ph) in the west, Bordeaux in the
southwest, Marseille in the south, Lyon in the center. The contagion of the anger is rippling out.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): By late morning, officials saying 1,900 cars are set afire. Over 500 vehicles burned, including 34 town halls and 24 schools
in the past 24 hours.
In Lille, government offices torched. Bordeaux, tires set afire. And above the Mediterranean port city Marseille, huge plumes of smoke rising. Its old
historic library set on fire.
France's president cutting short a trip to Belgium, calling his ministers for a crisis cabinet meeting. His message, large public gatherings are
banned. The violence must stop.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): We all condemn this pure and unjustifiable violence which no longer has any legitimacy. A third
of those detained are young, sometimes very young. It's the responsibility of their parents to keep them at home.
ROBERTSON: Nahel's mother, who led an initially peaceful protest Thursday said, she is not angry at all police, only the one that shot her son. Her
son's funeral planned for Saturday. Expected to fuel the ongoing backlash.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And Nic joins us now from a suburb outside of Paris. Nic, we saw what's been transpiring in the last 24 hours. How are authorities and law
enforcement preparing for what could happen this weekend?
ROBERTSON (on camera): Yes. There's a couple of things they're doing and I think one of them, if you look at the burnup wreckage of buses behind me
speaks directly to that, the concern about this damage of public property, all the buses and trams across the country, whole of France are being shut
down 9:00 p.m. this evening. That's about two hours from now.
There's also the police are going to step up the level of armored vehicles that they're going to bring it to play to sort of -- essentially, to try to
control the situation. So, in part, the police will have heavier and struggle tools at their disposal.
The Elysee Palace, President Macron's office, were asked about, well, why don't you go to a state of emergency like you did back in 2005 when there
was the big outbreak of violence then? And they said, look, back then, the troubles ran for nine days before we declared a state of emergency. This
official is saying, that what we want to do right now is just step things up slowly if we need to, not ramp them up too fast, but just take a
graduated approach and hope that they can taper off, things will get better and they can taper off. And I think this is an idea to try to not anger
people further. It's not clear if that's going to work right now though.
GOLODRYGA: All right. Nic Robertson, we'll be watching closely. Thank you so much for that reporting.
Well, next, we turn to the polarization that often sends people to the streets a world over. We live in a time when the political divide is so
stark, it's not just dividing the left from the right, but also people within the left and the right, and it's particularly acute in the two-party
system here in the United States.
Well, in the late 19th century, President James Garfield faced such an America, and even though factionalism ultimately took his life, he managed
to leave behind a calmer politics. It's an extraordinary story told in the new book, "President Garfield: From Radical to Unifier." And it's author,
C.W. Goodyear joins me now from Washington, D.C.
C.W., thank you so much for joining us. Congrats on this book.
C.W. GOODYEAR, AUTHOR, "PRESIDENT GARFIELD": Oh, thank you so much.
GOLODRYGA: So, James Garfield had one of the shortest 10 years as president in U.S. history. He's actually remembered as one of the four "lost
presidents" who served rather uneventfully after the civil war. Why did you choose to write about him?
GOODYEAR: Well, actually, I ended up finding him indirectly. I was very interested when I began my research process, about five years ago, in
finding a period of American history where the conditions were maybe not exactly like our own, but somewhat similar, in terms of political,
economic, and social polarization, but somebody on the national level was resisting the device and spirit of the times.
So, I was drawn to reconstruction in the Gilded Age, so the post-civil war and then, the post-post-civil war. And throughout that time in my research,
I found the same person lurking in the background of every major event, from -- sorry, 1863 until 1881. And what was more interesting was that
everybody in his time was also saying vaguely nice things about him despite their own politics, and that struck me as a very interesting combination in
an individual. And then, the deeper I dug into his life, the more compelled I was to make the most of this fascinating biographical subject.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. And it is an extraordinarily short life that he did live from a log cabin, truly, the last U.S. president born in a log cabin all
the way up to the White House. He was the youngest appointed general in the U.S. Army at the time, and served in the House of Representatives. And as
you said, was liked by almost everyone, universally. He was a decent man. Tell us more about his incredible journey.
GOODYEAR: Yes. He was described, even before he actually won the presidency, as already being one of the most impressive Americans of all-
time. Another president, Rutherford Hayes, actually ranked Garfield above Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln as among the most influential and
accomplished Americans in the history of our nation.
Last president born in a log cabin but -- and he ended up actually being the second to be assassinated tragically. But in between, you had this
remarkable American dream style of a life. He was raised by a single mother and in quite tough poverty on the Ohio Frontier. But between then and his
White House ascension, he was also a college president, a state senator, an abolitionist preacher, the youngest brigadier general in the Union Army, as
you rightfully described. Then the second youngest congressman in the country halfway through the civil war, he became that as well.
In his congressional career, he founded the first federal Department of Education. He was a radical Republican. So, he was even more progressive
than Lincoln on the social and racial issues of the time. He was also just a phenomenal intellect, which makes it very fun to write about. He was a
Supreme Court attorney while also serving in Congress. And then, he even authored an original proof of the Pythagorean theorem.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. I was --
GOODYEAR: And this was all before he was assassinated.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. I was going to add that he was also a mathematician as well. And yet, at least from his writings and from your research, he
appeared to have been reluctant for the highest office in the land. Why?
GOODYEAR: He was. And I'm so glad you brought that up. He was genuinely -- so, by 1880, he had endured, as a congressman for administrations, all of
which had ended quite poorly. He saw nothing in the presidency that would allow him to be a productive statesman. So, he had this here be dragons
view of what the presidency voted for him personally.
But he was also very afraid of daring to think that he could be president one day. Because he had seen in his congressional career around Washington
this -- the idea that if a politician gets the idea in their head that they might be president one day, it would end up leading them into behavior that
would ruin their political career.
Garfield saw many mentors and friends succumb to what he called this presidential fever in Washington. And he watched it end up being the death
of him. So, he vowed that he would never succumb to the presidential fever, that he would never try and dare think that the presidency was ahead of
him. But ironically, this ended up ensuring that he got elected president.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. We just were looking at images of him and his wife, probably one of the few relationships, I would say, he struggled with,
despite his trajectory and politics. And you go to great length in the books to talk about the dynamics of his relationship and strange
relationship at times with his wife.
Talk about the subtitle here, "From Radical to Unifier." Because he was an abolitionist firebrand at times, even questioned Lincoln's ultimate intent
and his view. And yet, once he got into higher office, compromise was the name of the game, and it was all about unifying. Was that a difficult
journey for him to make, personally?
GOODYEAR: It was difficult in the sense that he found it agonizing to watch his ideology and his principles fail to take root in reality. He adjoined
the Union Army in the civil war because he wanted to be -- General Garfield wanted to be part of this liberating force going into the south to free the
slaves and to actually bestow on them equal rights.
The young Garfield believed in not just immediate equality between the races but the redistribution of plantation land in the south to former
slaves in what he called loyal whites, and the disenfranchisement or execution of confederates. But then you fast forward 17 years and he is
watched for a variety of reasons, political, social, and even legal, the failure of a lot of these policies. And his attitude had shifted from this
no compromise as radical view of how to build a more righteous republic, he had decided that -- and this is quoting him directly as president-elect
talking about racial relations in America, that time is the solution of everything, with wisdom and justice at work.
And that's not an entirely positive message, I don't think. And one of the things that's really compelling about Garfield's story to me is it
illustrates both the positives and negatives of having a pathologically compromising reasonable person in power in Washington. You know, it's not
all sunshine, unfortunately.
GOLODRYGA: And it may have been a practical decision he made in terms of compromise, but it was singing for him, obviously, to hear people like
Frederick Douglas described his "flip-flopping" as indicating that he lacked a moral backbone.
So, he's elected president. And 200 days later, into his presidency, he is fatally shot by another Republican. Explain the circumstances surrounding
GOODYEAR: Yes. He was shot right here in Washington actually, not far from where I'm speaking to you now. Garfield was nominated for the presidency
despite not wanting to. He was picked against his will off the convention floor in 1880 because his party was so badly factionalized at that time, it
was split into the Stalwarts and the Half-Breeds, who were seen as being not real Republicans, and then this independent reformist class.
All of their candidates, their declared candidates, couldn't get a majority of party support. So, they all rallied behind Garfield. But when Garfield
became -- he was elected to be a unifier, and when he tried to put that into practice, he ended up failing and he ended up actually aggravating one
faction of his party, and a supporter of that party who was so agitated by this rhetoric and this toxic climate between Garfield and this other wing
of Republicans decided to stalk and shoot Garfield here in D.C. And he didn't immediately, he died of the infection.
GOODYEAR: And so, his agony was prolonged over the months.
GOLODRYGA: As so many dead following being looked after by doctors who didn't obviously follow the standard protocols that we use now for hygiene
GOODYEAR: Yes. Well, I'd say that, actually, it's a good story of why we still, in the state of COVID, should wash your hands.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. It's all about washing your hands. And yet, here is a life cut short, a legacy cut short perhaps and accomplishments that we may never
know. What do you think, from your research, could have been some of his longer lasting legacies as a president had he served full term, perhaps
GOODYEAR: I think he would've tried to accomplish more moderate goals on this agenda he set for himself. His inaugural address, he spoke of the need
to correct racial injustices in the deep south. He also endorsed the idea of universal public education in America and the importance of that to
ensuring we had a healthy and safe future republic.
And not only that, he believed in cleaning up government, instituting reforms on how long are bureaucrats could hold office, whether they could
privately take money from their public duties, all those things that are also relevant today. He would've accomplished minor victories, but we must
resist this urge to not remember the realities of his politics at that time.
The reaction to his death was not unlike the Kennedy assassination, Garfield was built into this man that he wasn't in American popular memory,
and a lot of people look at his positions and they imagine he is this great loss progressive champion. The truth is, by then, at that point in his
life, he had decided that politics was the art of the possible in America.
GOLODRYGA: In the final few seconds that we have here, do you see a through line between from his legacy, his views on the country and what reforms are
needed to be made, and his concerns, his prescient concerns at time, not only the civil war but the aftermath, and how African Americans would
continue to be treated here in this country with where we are today, I mean, a day after that really significant decision by the Supreme Court
regarding affirmative action and education?
GOODYEAR: Yes. He was an institutionalist who -- so, he believed in progressive politics and he believed in the need for pragmatism in
politics, but he also believed in the strength of our institutions. During his day, the Supreme Court was a major obstacle to the successful
prosecution of reconstruction.
And so, this situation, he would see parallels, I think, with what's happening today. But he retained a great optimism and the destiny of the
Republic, that's a phrase lifted from his inaugural address. And what's very interesting and encouraging to me is despite being this very nitty-
gritty and very complex operator and politics back in the Gilded Age, Garfield still had this belief that one day America would be a truly
righteous and just society for all types of Americans.
And so, one can help but be taken with that idea, but also acknowledge his role and ensuring they didn't reach that stage during his life.
GOLODRYGA: We're looking at this image as we close -- of his log cabin, where he was born and spent the early years of his life.
GOLODRYGA: It is the fantastic book. I'm holding it right now, "President Garfield," I learned so much, I'm halfway through it. Already learning so
much about this really fascinating man whose life and presidency was cut way too short.
GOODYEAR: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Charlie Goodyear, thank you so much. Congratulations on the book.
GOODYEAR: Oh, my pleasure. I'm glad you're enjoying it.
GOODYEAR: Thank you.
Well, our next guest I sharing his life of secrets. Michael Vickers is a retired CIA officer and served as the undersecretary of defense for
intelligence. He has written a memoir going behind the scenes of some of the most important covert operations for the 20th century. And he joins
Walter Isaacson to discuss his storied career.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank, you Bianna. And, Michael Vickers, welcome to the show.
MICHAEL G. VICKERS, AUTHOR, "BY ALL MEANS AVAILABLE": Pleasure to be with you, Walter.
ISAACSON: Almost exactly 50 years ago this month you enlisted in the Special Forces of the United States. You rose up through the ranks, through
the CIA, to become the top civilian intelligence officer at the Defense Department, many other roles. Why, after 15 years of keeping secrets, did
you decide to write a book?
VICKERS: Well, it's a very good question. So, one, enough had become publicly available that I thought I could tell the story, and then with the
help of reviewers from CIA and DOD and other government agencies, I was able to do that.
And there were three reasons, principally. One was a duty to history. I participated in some pretty historic events. The CIA's support for the
Afghan resistance in 1980s that drove the Soviets out of Afghanistan, it was the largest and most successful covert action in CIA's history. Our
campaigns against al-Qaeda, to disrupt, dismantle and ultimately, defeat them, primarily in the Afghanistan, Pakistan border region, but Yemen and
other places. And in the raid that brought justice to Osama bin Laden.
Second reason was really to try to explain to the American people the work that CIA officers, special operators and national security strategists do
on their behalf. And the third was my duty to officials, future operators and strategist to pass on lessons, hopefully inspire them and help them
ISAACSON: I was struck by the fact that you joined the Special Forces that summer of 1973, which is exactly when the U.S. is withdrawing, in a messy
way, from Vietnam, and the whole country has been -- our country, the U.S., has been torn apart by Vietnam. What caused you to decide to want to do
that and what lessons did you take from Vietnam?
VICKERS: And so, you know, earlier on I wanted to be a professional baseball or a football player. When I realize that wasn't the cards I
thought, all right, what am I going to with my life? And I probably saw too many James Bond movies, but I settled on becoming a CIA officer via the
Special Forces. The Special Forces was something I could go into right away. Complete my college degree, become an officer, which I did, Special
Forces officer, and then a CIA officer. Luckily, it all worked out that way.
But you know, it was a combination of wanting to do something for my country where individuals could really make a difference, that Special
Forces and the CIA, and, you know, see great adventures. Again, you know, I had read T.E. Lawrence and others and I thought, that's what I'd like to
A high school teacher actually provided or shoved to copy of "The New York Times," my senior in high school, in front of me and it had a story on
CIA's paramilitary operations in Laos during in the Vietnam War and he said, you might be interested in this. And I had no idea why he thought,
you know, I was probably daydreaming of throwing touchdown passes, but I thought, leading secret armies, this sounds kind of cool, maybe this is
something I want to do.
And so, then when I went into the Special Forces, I was really blessed by having been all these Vietnam veterans as mentors teaching me, you know,
combat tactics and a range of things that helped me advance up the ranks. And a lot of my fellow special operators who rose to four-star ranks really
joined in that lonely 1970s period, Admiral Eric Olson, Admiral Bill McRaven, General Stan McChrystal, et cetera. So, you know, that produced a
pretty good group of folks.
ISAACSON: One of the great successes in the book is the Afghan operation that drives the Russians out. It sets up a whole lot of things. Also, it
causes some problems there, the Mujahideen, other things risen. How did you come up with this strategy and what would you do differently now?
VICKERS: So, the strategy was partially a result of events Congressman Charlie Wilson had quadrupled CIA's budget, just as I took the job. And so,
I thought we could do a lot more than simply impose costs on the Soviets. And then, so I got to work on what we might do. And then, as I was working
on my plans, and thinking we could probably use more resources, which the Congress then provided, President Reagan signed a national security
decision directive that changed our objective from imposing cause on their occupation to driving them out. And so, that gave my new strategy a lot of
leeway and had the support of my seniors at CIA and then secretary of states and defense and, of course, President Reagan.
What I would do differently, if I could, was we disengaged from Afghanistan after the Soviets withdrew and after the communist government, they had
been backing, collapsed to the Afghan resistance. And Afghanistan -- and we also withdrew from the region, Pakistan as well, in 1990. And that caused a
number of problems. Afghanistan went into a civil war. The Taliban eventually came to power and al-Qaeda went to Afghanistan.
So, the first thing would be to not disengage from the region. And that was tough for a variety of reasons and we had a lot of success in Europe, but
that would be one.
ISAACSON: Wait, wait. Let me push you there. If we hadn't disengaged, what will we have done in Afghanistan to make things different? Do you think we
could we have created a civil society? I mean, we spent $2.3 trillion in 20 years trying to do it, and we weren't able to.
VICKERS: Well, I think we might have prevented if we hadn't disengaged the Taliban from taking over and al-Qaeda coming back. Now, (INAUDIBLE) or our
ambition should have been, I take your point on nation building and, you know, that maybe a bridge too far, but, you know, Afghanistan really
descended into hell and that created the path for the Taliban after years of civil war. But the --
ISAACSON: Well, let me drill down on that nation building things, because I'm not trying to push you.
VICKERS: Yes, yes. Sure.
ISAACSON: I don't understand the answers here. Is nation building something that people like our, you know, covert action leaders like yourself and CIA
and the government in the U.S. can't do or should we keep trying to do nation building?
VICKERS: Well, some of it we can try. I mean, it's certainly not something that people in my old line of work necessarily do, it's more job for the
State Department and other elements of government. But, you know, it has its roles, just when you set your objectives too high.
But ordinarily, on our counterterrorism interest, you know, what we learned after 9/11 was not to give groups like al-Qaeda any sanctuary, and we
didn't do that before 9/11. And so, if I could just wind the clock back to 1998, after the embassy bombings, knowing what happened on 9/11, I would've
certainly recommended far more decisive action than we took, you know, you know, some cruise missile strikes against al-Qaeda and some backing of some
local elements, but that's it. You know, we would've done something far more muscular after 9/11 as we did.
ISAACSON: What lessons coming out of Afghanistan apply both to the Russians trying to be in Ukraine and us trying to help the Ukrainians?
VICKERS: So, one, when you try to occupy -- invade and occupy a big country as the Russians did in Afghanistan and Ukraine, and the population is
against you, you've got your hands full, particularly when you have a small force, which the Russians did in both cases relative to the size of the
You know, in Afghanistan, they would have needed four times the force they had to even have a chance of pacifying the country, and even then, they
would've taken a lot of casualties. Same is true in Ukraine, and that's why they're hunkered down now in certain regions that they're trying to hold
with the defensive lines.
For the U.S., I think the answer is somewhat different. You know, we were very successful at toppling a government, not so successful in what comes
after. In Afghanistan, we did transition security responsibility to the Afghans. And so, we were providing assistance, you know, the last several
years, advise, aid, and then backed up by our power. And then the question is, do you have the strategic patience to stay that course? When, one, do
you transition soon enough to where the American people don't get tired of the war?
ISAACSON: As you look at Prigozhin and you look at that wild thing that's happened in Ukraine, with Prigozhin sort of having a mercenary army, the
Wagner Group, it seems like he was partly affiliated with Putin for a very long time, and this doesn't ring true to me, what's just happened. What's
VICKERS: Well, he was close to Putin for a long time. And the Wagner Group was an important instrument of Russian foreign policy around the world,
several countries in Africa, you know, providing security and exchange for critical minerals, gold and other things, in Syria, and then, in Ukraine,
that's really the shock troops, you know, the offensive shock troops in Bakhmut.
And, you know, he had been progressively criticizing Russian military leadership, the minister of defense, and of the chief general staff, and
that they weren't doing enough. And there was also this regulation coming up one July that required his group to be transferred to the ministry of
defense, and he had been making a billion dollars in the last year in a lot on Wagner Group operations. So, this was a threat to his business interest
as well as whatever else he thought.
And so, you know, since he'd gotten away with things for months, this progressive rhetoric, I thought he could -- he thought he could, you know,
do this march and get these two individual Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov removed, it didn't turn out that way.
And so, he turned out, I think, to be a loser in this. Putin is weakened by it, which all too good for Ukrainians, Europeans, and the United States.
ISAACSON: How do you see the Ukrainian situation resolving itself?
VICKERS: Well, it could end up something like Korea, like other Russian conflicts where they tried to have a frozen conflict or, you know, you have
some armistice, and that's why I think we need to think through not only help the -- giving the Ukrainians what they need to win and take back most,
if not all, of their territory --
ISAACSON: I'm sorry. Do you mean Crimea as well?
VICKERS: Crimea is the one case that, you know, you have to deal with when we come to it. But certainly, Eastern Ukraine and quite likely Crimea, yes.
And -- but, you know, it's a little bit of a different kettle of fish.
And then, deterrence afterwards, because Russia would try to come back at some point. You know, so things that we talk about, well, they don't need
it now like F-16s, they will certainly need to deter in the future and they actually do need them now, and it would help.
And then, there's the rebuilding aspects to this. You know, it's going to be a pretty staggering reconstruction effort.
ISAACSON: When I look at what's happening in Ukraine, part of it looks like it's almost the early 20th century, you know, World War I era trench
warfare with people fortifying trenches. And then, it looks like 21st century warfare with a whole lot of drones, a whole lot of cyber things
that -- you know, using satellites in order to send drone missiles there.
How is warfare changing and what does that mean for the type of special operations you did?
VICKERS: Well, you captured it very well. I mean, it really is a combination of warfare over the last hundred years. You know, part of it
does look like World War I, including the need to provide a sustainable -- you know, a societal order, provide sustainable lever of munitions, you
know, to have the industrial capacity to produce that, you know, that was one of the factors that determine the outcome of World War I, and certainly
World War II, and it applies in Ukraine as well. And then, you have all these new technologies.
You know, it is a land war. So, I wouldn't draw -- you know, there's lots lessons on land combat about artillery and mobile combined arms, the use of
drones, which has really changed the battlefield. The attacks on these population centers, you know, indiscriminate attacks.
But, you know, all conflicts are different. They have different politics, different techniques. And so, you know, if there was a war over, say,
Taiwan, you know, it would look very different likely than -- it might have some elements in common with Ukraine, popular resistance, you know, to any
invasion, but it would likely be more air and maritime and space and cyber and even more high-tech than you see in Ukraine. So, you have to careful
about the lessons you draw.
ISAACSON: For 50 years you've guarded America's most closely held secrets, all the way up the ranks. When you are watching what's happening on Donald
Trump and those classified documents, you probably have a better sense than anybody of what might be in those documents and why it's important to keep
them. What are you thinking and what do you think the damage could be?
VICKERS: Well, it depends on what the documents are. You know, I was the senior intelligence official, the undersecretary of defense for
intelligence when Edward Snowden did his leaks and took things with him and ended up eventually in Russia. And so, we had to do a series of damage
assessments about that, about, you know, what we know -- we knew he took and what the damage was, what he might have taken and what he looked at,
but we -- you know, we couldn't be sure whether he took it or not. And, you know, some of it could -- you know, pose potentially really great damage to
the United States.
So, without getting into the details, it looked like the worst didn't happen, but lots of bad things were compromised by that. So, the Trump
case, you know, who saw these documents that shouldn't have seen them, you know, definitely Mar-a-Lago is a target for an espionage services, these
things look like they were unguarded and moved around a lot. And, you know, so I'm sure the Intelligence Community is working diligently on assessing
the damage and I know congressional committees are interested in hearing that. And, you know, it's a concern whenever secrets are spilled, just like
the recent case we had with the airman in Massachusetts.
ISAACSON: Let me read something from your book --
ISAACSON: -- about our effectiveness and intelligence. It says, where our analysts most missed the mark, of course, was in their assessment that
Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and active WMD programs. CIA had also failed to correctly assess the strategic consequences of the Arab
Spring and the boosting of jihadist groups that came from it. It also failed -- and this is your writing -- to anticipate Vladimir Putin's
aggressive actions between '24 and 2016.
And if I wanted to add to that, in the broad sense, the Intelligence Community missed everything from -- in the late 1980s, the collapse of the
Soviet Union and how weak it was and even now, hasn't been able to figure out or come to a consensus on whether COVID leaked from a lab. Having read
your book, I was very impressed with all the things you did, but I also began to worry about our intelligent assessment capabilities.
CULVER (voice-over): Yes. So, you know, our intelligence is the best in the world by far in terms of the collection but also in the honesty of our
analysis. That doesn't mean that they get it right all the time. You know, if get it right 70 percent of the time, they're doing pretty well.
And, you know, it's been said you can divide the intelligence world into secrets and mysteries, you know, if we can get the secret, we're pretty
good at that. The more complicated the problem, whether it is not a secret that you can steal, then, you know, it becomes, not a guessing game, but a
tougher judgment. And some of those cases certainly fit into that.
You know, the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, with both the Russians and a lot of western services thought they would be able to take Ukraine
quickly. That's based on an assessment of the capabilities of the Russian armed forces, Ukrainian, et cetera, you can be wrong about, and they were
wrong, you know. And there's a number of cases like that.
It's a tough job. But, you know, I was more on the collection side. So, I'm -- and really, the covert action. So, I'm a little reluctant to, you know,
throw stones at analysts. But, you know, as I said, it's not perfection. And it's just that you want to tell it as accurately as you can, as
objectively as you can and then let policymakers or commanders do, you know, what they will with the intelligence.
ISAACSON: Michael Vickers, thank you so much for joining us.
VICKERS: Walter, pleasure talking with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And finally, we dig into the archives. Pioneering conservationist Jane Goodall join Christiane back in 2017 to discuss her
groundbreaking work and the documentary that captured it all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANE GOODALL, PRIMATOLOGIST: It takes me back, to those days, more than any other documentary that I've seen. I'm reliving those days, the best days of
my life. And it's because it isn't censored, it's not -- it's it was and, you know, it shows all the banana feeding and the contact with the chimps
which today we know is something that shouldn't be done, because chimpanzees can catch our diseases. But back then, we didn't know that. And
it's just -- and then, I relive that magic time when chimps who had been running away from me, now allow me to actually play with them.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, we have to bring in the singular achievement of your discovery, and that is how close you
got to them, how -- you know, for how long you observed them, and you discovered that, no, we humans were not unique in a certain aspect, which
is about tools. Let's just listen to that.
GOODALL: It had been long thought that we were the only creatures on earth that used to make tools. Man the toolmaker is how we were defined.
And here was David (INAUDIBLE) using a tool. It was hard for me to believe what I had seen. A few days later, I watched, spellbound, as chimps set off
to return (INAUDIBLE). He picked a small leaky twig then stripped it of its leaves. That was object modification, proof beginning toolmaking. It had
never been seen before.
AMANPOUR: It is extraordinary, what you say at the end there, that it has never been seen before. You are the one who discovered this. When you think
about that now, all these decades later, how does it make you feel?
GOODALL: Well, it makes me feel how arrogant science was to maintain that we were the only -- I mean, they told me that when I went to Cambridge to
get a degree, that only humans had personality, only humans have mind capable of problem solving, only humans had emotions, how arrogant of us.
AMANPOUR: You were a very young girl who came and was given this task of observing of the chimps. You were not a university graduate, you were not a
scientist, and you come back with this revelation. I mean, how did you stick to your guns? Did people say, excuse me? Who are you?
GOODALL: The scientist did. And, you know, fortunately, I'd loved animals all my life, had an amazing supportive mother and I had a great teacher
when I was a child who taught absolutely these professors at Cambridge may be very knowledgeable and learned at an erudite, but this teacher taught me
that when it comes to animal personality, mind and emotion, they're wrong, and that was my dog.
AMANPOUR: There is a segment in this film that is enough to make even the hardest heart weep, and that's when the elderly female, Flo, dies
eventually. And her son, Flint, just cannot accept that. Take the story further.
GOODALL: He was a totally dependent on her, even though he was six, seven years old, still riding on her back, still sleeping in her nest with her at
night, still trying to suckle, although her milk that had dried up. And so, when she died, he just couldn't cope, and he went -- no, it's rather like a
child falling into deep, deep depression and in this depression, he didn't eat and got sick and he died. And it was one saddest times that (INAUDIBLE)
watching him, because I had known him since a tiny baby.
AMANPOUR: We're in this environment where the president of the United States has an EPA administrator who's looking to turn the clock back. They
have scientists who essentially don't believe what you believe that are not looking to protect the environment in the way that you think should be
protected. How much of a mortal threat or a planetary threat do you think we're under right now?
GOODALL: It's a huge threat. We are -- you know, the big difference between us and chimpanzees is the explosive development of our intellect. So, how
is it that the most intellectual being to ever walk the planet is destroying its only home?
AMANPOUR: I want to rewind the clock back to around 1957 or the late '50s when you went to Africa to work for the great primatologist, the great
anthropologist, Louis Leakey. How did that even happen and how were you employed without a science background?
GOODALL: When I was 10 I read "Tarzan" and fell in love. And I mean, that wretched Tarzan, what did he do, he married the wrong Jane.? I was really
jealous but that's when I decided, I'm going to grow up, go to Africa, live with wild animals and write books about them.
AMANPOUR: And you're a woman, you were a girl, you were a young girl, there weren't many, if any, young girls doing that kind -- none.
AMANPOUR: There is an amazing picture, which actually we're looking at right now. And before we went on, you said, there you have my legs.
GOODALL: My cover girl.
AMANPOUR: Your cover girl legs.
AMANPOUR: There you have my -- you said, there are my cover girl legs. Where you -- I mean, did you get a lot of that kind of guff for your looks,
for your legs?
GOODALL: Yes, I did. There were some people saying, well, you know, she's only famous because of her legs and she's a "Geographic" cover girl and we
don't need to take anything seriously. But then, "Geographic" sent Hugo van Lawick out to take the film and so, it was proof that I was not telling
lies, that chimpanzees were using tools, they were making tools, they were doing all the things that I described.
AMANPOUR: And Hugo was the preeminent wildlife photographer at the time. And you fell in love.
GOODALL: We fell in love, and it was not surprising. He was a gentle person. He loved animals. He always wanted to film in the natural world.
And so, there we were together. He was a perfectionist, drove me nuts. I'd say, Hugo, look, nobody believes that the chimps do this. Please film it.
No, I can film it because the exposure will be wrong and the --
AMANPOUR: And what do you hope that this film does?
GOODALL: I hope that it will inspire whole new generation of young people to understand how beautiful the natural world is, how important it is to
save it. And if it's necessary, OK, learn the science so that you can fight the climate deniers.
AMANPOUR: On that note, Jane Goodall, keep up the good fight. Thank you very much for being here.
GOODALL: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: That is such an important message from the incomparable Jane Goodall.
Well, that is it for now. Thank you so much for watching. Have a great weekend and goodbye from New York.