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Interview With Atlantic Council Non-Resident Senior Fellow And Former Adviser To The Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevgeniya Gaber; Interview With U.S. Defense Department Chief Digital And A.I. Officer Craig Martell; Interview With "When Crack Was King" Author Donovan Ramsey; Interview With Boas Kragtwijk. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired August 07, 2023 - 13:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The rules based international order, which was violated by Russia, must be restored.


AMANPOUR: Productive, honest, and open. Ukraine's assessment of weekend pieced talks in Saudi Arabia, as Russia continues to pound civilian


Then, artificial intelligence and the military. I'll speak to the Pentagon's first ever chief digital and artificial intelligence officer,

Craig Martell. Is this a panacea or a pandora's box?

Plus --


DONOVAN RAMSEY, AUTHOR, "WHEN CRACK WAS KING": The crack epidemic where we changed the way that our society operated on a number of different levels.


AMANPOUR: -- "When Crack Was King," the devastating epidemic and how it disproportionately affected the African American community. What we can

learn from it.

And finally --


BOAS KRAGTWIJK, ULTRA RUNNER, MULLROSE, GERMANY: Just hearing the stories and seeing this war evolving on the news just made me think I have to do



AMANPOUR: -- I speak to the man running from Amsterdam to Kyiv. His war effort, bringing ambulances to Ukraine.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Split screens dominate the news about Ukraine. From Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accuses President Vladimir Putin of yet more war crime

after a drone attack on a blood transfusion center in the east and Ukraine's security forces detaining a woman suspecting of being part of a

Russian plot to assassinate Zelenskyy.

While across continents, dozens of nations have just wrapped up a weekend peace conference for Ukraine. Russia was not invited to the event in Saudi

Arabia, but China was. That's an important diplomatic coup for Ukraine, which wants to push the Global South into recognizing Russia as the


Let us get the latest on all of this now with Yevgeniya Gaber. She is a former top foreign policy advisor, and now, she is with the Atlantic

Council in Turkey, joining me now from the southern port city of Odessa.

Yevgeniya Gaber, welcome to the program. You used to advise former prime minister under the Zelenskyy administration. And I just wonder whether you

also have a bit of a disconnect between the, you know, bombardments in Ukraine over the weekend at the same time as this peace conference was

going on.

YEVGENIYA GABER, FORMER ADVISER TO THE UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER: Yes. Hi, Christiane, and thank you for inviting me. Well, that's every time what we

witnessed here in Ukraine, when there is a peace summit or any high-level negotiation going on with Ukraine talking about the need for just and

endurable peace, we experienced these attacks, indiscriminate Russian attacks on Ukraine and civilian infrastructure.

I'm based in Odessa. So, I can tell you that just two nights ago we had a major attack, with Russia using every kind of ammunition, starting from

different types of missiles to drones to attack civilian infrastructure, to attack every cultural seaport infrastructure. The other day, we had Russia

attacking Odessa City Center with the UNESCO protected world heritage. So, all of this, there is this link and there is this brutal aggression of

Russia going on in Ukraine, not only on the battlefield but also against civilian targets.

AMANPOUR: So that's happening, and I don't know whether you've read, you know, the readouts from the peace conference, but from your perspective,

even though nothing absolute concrete was achieved, no, you know, plans listed, however certain Ukrainian officials say it was a success and that

future episodes, if you like, are being planned. From your perspective, what about that gathering was favorable towards Ukraine?

GABER: Well, obviously it's not an easy task to put an end to Russian aggression. So, for Ukraine, the most important part was first engaging in

the Global South, not limiting its diplomatic efforts with the, let's say, Global West. This time we had Brazil, India, and even China present, which

is important, because you need to have this ownership feeling in the multiple worlds. So, not necessarily focusing on one part of that, to make

it legitimate and really international.


On the other hand, we do have this general consensus that any peace negotiations must be based on two principles. One is respect to the United

Nations Charter and the other one is territorial integrity of Ukraine. That's important. Last but not least, most probably we will see more

efforts coming for humanitarian factors or humanitarian dimensions like food security, like energy security, like prisoners (INAUDIBLE), return of

Ukrainian kidnapped children, and that's where, of course, the presence of Saudi Arabia, China, and other global actors are really important.

AMANPOUR: You are in Odessa, and your expertise is on the Black Sea, amongst other areas. So, I want to ask you, Russia pulled out of the grain

accord, which enabled, over the past year or so, these shipments to be able to go and feed of the world -- you know, part of the world that depends

heavily on food stuffs coming from both Ukraine and Russia.

So, do you feel -- is there any -- do you think there's any hope that it is a grain deal can be resurrected?

GABER: Well, on the one hand, we see diplomatic efforts going on, especially by Turkey and I believe also mounting pressure from China, which

is the main beneficiary from this grain initiative. China gets something like one-third of all grain shipped from Ukraine within this initiative.

So, that's one thread. But another thread is obviously a need for Ukraine to step up its air defense capacities and capabilities, and that's where

Ukrainian needs support from the western countries.

We need to protect seaport infrastructure, Black Sea, but also that of the Danube River, which is an alternative option to that. And we need to talk

about the de-occupation of the Black Sea as such, because obviously these blackmailing by the Russian side, it will not end even if we have the grain

initiative back on track for some time. But again, in one month, in two months from now, we will probably see the same raising stakes from the

Russian side.

AMANPOUR: I mean, for a while, prisoner exchanges and indeed the fraught grain deal seemed to be, at least, you know, side successes of this brutal

war, that actually something was getting done thanks to diplomacy. But as we know, you know, this has come to a grinding halt recently.

But you've argued that, "The semi defunct grain deal should not be renewed. That would be to appease Russia." You've said, "Ukraine's western

supporters should address the root cause of the problem, which is Russia's control of maritime routes, Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey, NATO's Black Sea

powers should send ships to escort grain transport through the Black Sea." You wrote that in "The Washington Post."

Give me an idea of what that would look like. Is there a precedent for the other third-party ships to escort, patrol, and protect?

GABER: Well, actually, the argument here is that we're facing piracy from the Russian side, because attacking commercial vessels is no less than

that. So, in an ideal world, I would argue that we do need this NATO convoys, or at least Romanian and Turkish convoys in the Black Sea, not to

violate the Montreux Convention. But I don't think this is really possible now just because many countries are still very much cautious about the

possible escalation from the Russian side.

So, what we need now is, again, equipping Ukraine with everything it needs for a successful counteroffensive and for restoring control of the Black

Sea countries. So, the Black Sea basin. If that happens, I believe that it will be much easier for such countries as Turkey, for example, or Romania

to take decisions to come to the Russian aggression on the Black Sea with some kind of maritime patrols or convoys in a more decisive way, just

because this aggression now, it's affecting directly also the freedom of navigation, which is international principle, security of Turkey and

Romania, et cetera, et cetera.

So ideally, I would call for convoys. But from what we can do now, from what is doable and feasible, I would argue that Ukraine needs much more

support for its air defense and anti-missile, anti-ship defense systems.

AMANPOUR: I'm going to get to that in a moment and the counteroffensive. But first, do you -- look, this meeting in Jeddah was significant. I mean,

we talked about China going. China had not gone to the previous one that was held before in Copenhagen in Denmark.


Certain African countries seemed to be more open to hearing Ukraine's perspective, countries that have long been, you know, dependent on and

allied with Russia. India has also tempered slightly its previous sort of almost full-throated support for Russia. Do you think part of that is a

result of seeing this kind of mayhem with a perfectly, you know, decent halfway agreement on the grain that Putin pulled out of?

GABER: Yes, totally. Because, as I mentioned before, it's mostly such countries as China, as Indonesia, as Global South, which are affected by

Russian congregants (ph), Russian grain -- weaponizing of grain actually.

Since the moment when Russia withdrew from the grain initiative, it destroyed 180,000 tons of Ukrainian grain, which was to be shipped to these

countries within the grain initiative. It destroyed more than 25, 26 different objects of infrastructure, import infrastructure, every cultural

infrastructure. The lands in Ukraine, the fields in Ukraine are heavily mined. And of course, such countries, as those that you mentioned and those

who took part in this meeting in Jeddah, they are affected by that.

So, both the level and the scope of these atrocities by Russia and assaults on agricultural and seaport infrastructure, it shows that there is no way

Russia can be a negotiable partner, that it can be trusted, and that it can be credible.

So, I think more and more we see this understanding in many countries, including in the Global South, that we need to put more pressure on Russia

and not just negotiate and hope for Putin and for the Kremlin to be constructive in negotiations.

AMANPOUR: Well, exactly. The Kremlin believes that it can wait out Ukraine, and wait out Ukraine's allies. Again, about China. As you know, Igor

Zhovkva, top diplomatic adviser to President Zelenskyy, told -- was quoted to saying about this weekend's summit, China did not object, as it never

objected, that Ukraine's territorial integratory should be respected. So, that's about the bottom-line demand by Ukraine that any peace accord needs

to be based on the principle of Russia withdrawing from all occupied territories and other such things.

Now, China says that it agrees with that. But Russia has said, and was quick to respond, it's deputy foreign minister, the meeting in Jeddah is a

reflection of the West's attempt to continue futile doomed to failure efforts to mobilize the International Community, or more precisely, the

Global South, even if not entirely, to support the so-called Zelenskyy formula, which is doomed and unworkable from the outset.

I mean, they're never going to agree to any of peace accord, whether it's China, India, the United States, or Ukraine, that calls for them to

withdraw completely.

GABER: Well, yes. But on the other hand, this shows that the summit in Jeddah was a success, because this reaction from the Russian side, it

actually shows that it pays attention to what's going on there and that the decisions that were discussed and taken there, they are ringing warning

bells for the Russian side.

Look at the African summit, which recently took place in Russia and the very low level and very few leaders coming to participate in that summit,

actually. This shows that Russia is gradually losing its influence and its political clock (ph) in Africa and in the Global South. And that means that

any further attacks on Ukraine will only show the real nature of the Putin regime to those countries, and those populations who have been brainwashed

by Russian propaganda for many years.

But, of course, it's not easy to make Russia withdraw its troops from Ukraine, but we have to do that, because this is the only way to, you know,

durable peace and to a just peace. Anything less than that will only invite more of Russian aggression and encourage Russia to attack again and again.

AMANPOUR: So, we started by talking about this counteroffensive and what you were saying that Ukraine needs a lot more, you know, anti-air defenses

and the like. How do you analyze, from your position, the counteroffensive? There are many mixed messages being reported in the press. Some say it's

beleaguered, not going as well as possible, the -- you know, the western training on, you know, combined warfare is just, in many instances not

working for the Ukrainians, they're having to resort to original tactics. You know, there's just a lot of conflicting information.


What is, in your view, and in Ukraine's view, the state of the counteroffensive right now?

GABER: Well, first, everything has been provided by the West, it has been very important and playing a very crucial role for Ukrainian

counteroffensive. Of course, we cannot copy paste any experience in Ukraine in reality just because this is the largest conflict, the largest war in

Europe since the Second World War.

So, when we're talking about thousands of kilometers of front line, when we are talking about hundreds of square kilometers of heavily mined fields in

Ukraine, that's not what probably Ukrainian soldiers are being taught. But on the other hand, of course, this knowledge and this training is


Then again, what's the situation now in Ukraine, obviously, we're not talking about any breakthrough like it happened in Kherson, in Kharkiv, for

a variety of reasons. But there are mainly two reasons why we can't do that at the moment. The Russian defense lines are really very well equipped

because it had a lot of time to prepare itself for this defense. On the other hand, we lack air support, again, both for the counteroffensive and

generally for Ukraine as a country.

So, obviously, it's not easy, but we do have incremental advances, and I believe that now Ukrainians are just setting the stage for decisive

counteroffensive operations in the future.

AMANPOUR: Yevgeniya Gaber, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us. Former top policy official to the Ukrainian prime minister.

Many, of course, believe that artificial intelligence could be a game- changer on future battlefields. And depending on who you ask it could either save humanity or wipe it out. Well, my next guest tonight is charged

with managing how the Pentagon will use A.I. Craig Martell is the Pentagon's first-ever chief digital and artificial intelligence officer.

And this is his first TV interview since getting that role.

Craig Martell, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: Can I just start by asking you to describe what the Pentagon's chief, you know, digital and A.I. officer does?

MARTELL: Yes. That's a great question. The goal -- the forming this office was to try to take industrial expertise and apply it to the hard problems

of the Department of Defense. And so, we merged a number of offices together, the JAIC, which was the Joint A.I. Center, Advana, which is our

analytics team, and the chief data officer, and the -- and DDS, which is the Defense Digital Services.

We merged all those together into a single org so that we could have data analytics and A.I., and the application of those things under one roof.

AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you specifically, we've just been talking about diplomacy and the ongoing counteroffensive in Ukraine. Obviously, the

United States is the biggest supplier of weapons, along with its allies to Ukraine. Are the United States and allies testing A.I. assisted military

systems on the battlefield in Ukraine?

MARTELL: So, my team has a lot to do with helping out with gathering, gathering things together to help Ukraine. But we do if from a data

perspective. We want to know what things are coming in and where things are. We're not actually engaged that deeply in helping out with A.I. for


AMANPOUR: OK. Now, the Pentagon did just issue -- or first issued a responsible use policy for its autonomous systems back in 2012. I mean,

that's a long time ago, more than 10 years. And the deputy secretary of defense wrote about this in "Politico." This is Kathleen Hicks. She's

saying, "We are swiftly embedding A.I. in many others aspects of our mission, from battle space awareness, cyber and reconnaissance, to

logistics, force support and other back-office functions."

What is the DOD's position on autonomous weapon systems?

MARTELL: Well, so, the responsible A.I. work is being updated from the 2012 to 2023. I'm not sure if it's been released yet, but if not, it's going to

be released very soon. And it's very clear to all of us that there's always a responsible human who makes the decision. It will always be the case that

somebody has decided that we are going to leverage a particular technology, and it will always be the case that someone will be responsible. It will be

a responsible agent. We don't imagine a world where machines are making these sorts of decisions on their own.

AMANPOUR: So, look, this is the crucial question, and that's why I think all of us and all of you, are concerned with making sure that A.I. doesn't

run humans, and as you say, there are humans in the loop to run A.I.


But you yourself have said that, you know, you're scared to death by generative A.I. Tell me why. What is the scary part for somebody like you?

MARTELL: Right. So, generative A.I., and large language models, which are all the rage, I think are really -- as a scientist, are really fascinating

from a scientific perspective. In fact, they have moved the field decades forward. Way quicker than we thought we would get to.

So, for example, generative A.I. can now generate coherent text. coherent text that sounds believable. But there's still some problems with it from a

scientific perspective, it doesn't generate factual coherent text all the time.

And when I say I'm scared to death, what I really meant is, is the natural proclivity to believe things that speak authoritatively. And these things

speak authoritatively, so we just believe them. And that makes me afraid. Because from the science perspective, I'd love where we are. From a product

perspective, I don't believe we're ready. I don't believe it's the case that we have shippable or deployable large language models because they


And if you talk to most folks in industry, they'll say, well, the hallucination is something we'll tackle. We're going to get to that. That

is the problem. Imagine your asking a highly technical question that you need to know the answer to and you are not sure if 30 percent of the time

or 40 percent of the time the machine is telling you something that's factually incorrect.

So, my being scared to death is more about the natural proclivity to believe authoritative speech, less about the artificial intelligence. I'm

very excited about artificial intelligence as a scientist, just not as an end-user yet. I think there's a big gap between the science and deployment.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, that's interesting. What happens now in that gap time and what makes you excited?

MARTIN: Well, so, I'm excited because the -- think about it, you can actually talk to your phone in really effective ways. The last 10 years

have been phenomenal. And your phone, most of the time, does the right thing. Often it -- for particular accents or particular languages, it

doesn't do as well and it's frustrating. But it's significantly better. I can text folks while driving without ever picking my phone up, and get

messages. I think that -- those are -- that kind of interface is a really big move forward.

And particularly the way the answers from the machine come back as fluent natural language, that's amazing. That's a huge jump forward. But how do we

drive this? How do we, the Department of Defense, contribute to driving these new technologies toward effective deployment? I think it's incumbent

upon us to lay out a set of use cases, and we're working diligently at this now. I don't have them for you yet, but please pay attention, they're


A of use cases and acceptability conditions. So, for example, if a particular use case is to generates novel ideas, well, we're pretty close

to being there now, because once you generate that novel idea, you can check it for -- whether it's factual or not. But if it's, let me ask, how

to use this new technology that's just been deployed in the battlefield? Boy, it better tell the truth most of the -- like 99.999 percent of the


AMANPOUR: So, let's talk about the misinformation, because we know there's a lot of misinformation, and this can generate disinformation, and all the

rest of it. So, let me just play what President Biden said recently about A.I. on this particular issue.


JOE Biden, U.S. PRESIDENT: We'll see more technology change in the next 10 years, or even in the next few years than we've seen in the last 50 years.

That has been an astounding revelation to me, quite frankly. This is a serious responsibility. We have to get it right.


AMANPOUR: So far, and correct me if I'm wrong, the Biden administration's guardrails on this technology are voluntary commitments from the seven big

A.I. companies to watermark A.I. generated content. But the "Wall Street Journal" points out, it remains simple for people to remove indications

that an image is A.I. generated. OpenAI's content policy allows users to remove the watermark, and there are instructions on sites such as Reddit

that explain to users how to eliminate these details.

So, does that worry you?

MARTIN: Yes, it worries me a great deal. I have two responses to that. One is the Department of Defense is going to have a higher bar for what we

think is acceptable A.I. So, if we think -- if we explore a watermarking technology, it's going to have you watermark in technology that's not

removable. Like those kinds of concerns are very real.

And I think watermarking is the right direction and I think we have a lot of work left to go there. And we have to maintain diligent research to get

to where we need to go. These things concern me greatly. Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: And again, another study says that, you know, anyone could circumvent A.I. safety measures. And there are, you know, chat bots that

could create nearly unlimited amounts of harmful information.

So, getting back to what you say about the weapon systems that will always be a human in the loop. Tell me what that human would do. Because I know

that, for instance, at Pentagon, legal counsel has to sign off on certain usages of certain weaponry. What would the human in the loop do to keep

everything on track?


MARTIN: Well, so, I think one thing that the Department of Defense should be highly recognized for is how well we train, with any new technology. So,

for the last 60 years, we've been integrating, automate, you know, autonomous technology and new technologies into the way that we do our

jobs. And we train really hard with them and we get a great sense of whether we have justified confidence in that technology or not.

It's the same thing when you use the self-driving car, if you use the adaptive cruise. For mine, I really trust the adaptive cruise. So, I have

justified confidence in my adaptive cruise. So, I feel confident in using that, even though I know I'm responsible if it crashes, right? So, I am

taking that risk. I am making that choice to use the adaptive cruise. I don't make the choice to use the lane keep assist in my car. Why? Because

it bounces back and forth among the lines and it almost always tries to hit a truck.

So, in my training with these technologies, and this is what we do in the Department of Defense, we learn to have justified confidence in whether I'm

willing to take the risk to deploy the technology or not. And I think that's the case for all technologies, not just for these newer ones.

So, I'm not bothered by integrating new artificial intelligence technologies into our training pipelines and allowing people to make the

choice about whether they're going to take the risk for the responsibility or not. We've been doing that all along.

AMANPOUR: OK. And then, of course, everyone is always now very, very, very interested in how the dynamic and the military dynamic between the United

States and China plays out. Are you in an A.I. kind of race to succeed with China? What is -- is there any interaction there?

MARTIN: I would love to see -- I was going to echo what the deputy secretary of defense said, which is, we've published our responsible A.I.

strategy. We are really proud of it. We've had it vetted by folks from many different political events saying that this is strongly taking

responsibility for the use of A.I., and the Department of Defense. I believe very highly in it. I'm staking my career on it. And I would love to

see China engage in similar activities. And we're happy to have an open conversation about the right way to do A.I.

AMANPOUR: And sort of a last sort of personal, but obviously, professional and scientific question to you. As you know, everybody is talking about the

current A.I. moment, being the Oppenheimer moment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Detonator is charged.


AMANPOUR: The zeitgeist around the film, we know that that was all about, you know, creating the nuclear bomb and then trying to figure out how to

contain it. You, I think, have said that you don't believe A.I. as either a panacea or a new Prometheus. Explain it to me.

MARTIN: Yes, I think that's right. Sure. What I've actually said is it is neither panacea nor a pandora's box, but same idea. I -- the -- you apply

artificial intelligence technology on a use case by use case basis, and you have an empirical evaluation metrics to decide whether that's applicable

for the use -- this use case or not. That's why I think it's really important to drive industry towards use case-based evaluation of these


It's not like we've got to the point where we have a brain in the sky, where there's something -- there's some monolithic intelligence, which is

the way it's being pitched, and it's -- I think it's a little bit of fearmongering, as well as hype mongering going on.

It's neither a panacea. It will work for some things. It works great for image recognition. It works pretty poorly at generating factual text. It

works for some things. It doesn't work for others. Nor do I believe it's a pandora's box. It's not going to be the case that there will be an

unlimited number of attack vectors now on systems.

There will be some. And we'll have to learn what those are and we'll have to learn to defend against them. I don't just mean the Department of

Defense, I mean, hacking corporations as well. And so, we have to look at this use case by use case and tackle each of the use cases in turn.

People want a panacea because it solves all problems immediately. People want a Promethean moment, as you said, because it allows us to fearmonger.

I think neither of those are true.

AMANPOUR: OK. Well, thank you very much indeed for that really very valuable perspective from the Pentagon. Craig Martell, thanks for joining


MARTIN: Thank you, Christiane.

Now, in the United States, we know how the opioid epidemic and the fentanyl crisis are literally major killers. But perhaps we've forgotten one that

blighted the 1980s, devastated communities and defined a generation, that was the crack epidemic.

Now, decades later, journalist Donovan Ramsey dives into the many misconceptions around it, and he's joining Hari Sreenivasan to discuss his

new book, "When Crack Was King," about the scale of the problem and the role race played.



HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Donovan Ramsey, thanks you so much for joining us. Your book, "When Crack Was King," takes a deep

dive into what was the crack academic back in the '80s and '90s. And give us an idea of the sense -- a sense of the scale of how significant this was

in the United States.

DONOVAN RAMSEY, AUTHOR, "WHEN CRACK WAS KING": You know, Hari, the crack epidemic really changed the way that our society operated on a number of

levels. I think most significantly, it completely altered our criminal justice system. We have things like the 100 to 1 crack disparity, the

(INAUDIBLE) disparity between crack and powdered cocaine thanks to that period. Lots of walls around mandatory minimum sentencing came into place

around that period.

Lots of policing tactics like stop-and-frisk that we know of today as helping to explode our criminal justice system came into form during that

period. But it also changed a lot of ideas about addiction, about cities, about marginalized communities.

SREENIVASAN: And this is also a bit personal for you. I mean, you described early in the book growing up in a neighborhood where crack was taking over

households or individuals lives. Why did you want to dive into this?

RAMSEY: Yes. You know, I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone that grew up in a major city whose life was not touched by the crack era in

some way, and that includes me. You know, I was born to a single mother, I have two sisters in a really impoverished neighborhood that was hard hit by

crack. So, my earliest memories are really of the era.

And I wrote in the book that it was like living in a coal town where nobody talked about coal, because, you know, my mom shielded me in so many ways

from what was happening, you know, as close as down the street. So, as I got older, you know, I have lots of questions about people in our community

that disappeared or, you know, events that I just never got an explanation for. So, I wanted to write this book to be able to answer those questions

for myself, but also for people who grew up like me.

SREENIVASAN: You found four individuals that you wanted to follow through the book. Tell us a little about the characters and what drew you to them,

even though there's some significant differences between them.

RAMSEY: Yes. I knew that in order to tell this history properly, to really do it justice, that I couldn't just chronicle cracks rise and fall as some

people had tried to in the past, and I needed to also pair that official history with memory, people's memories of how they experienced it in their

stories of how they survived it.

So, I interviewed hundreds of people across 2018, and I travel to the hardest hit cities, and I sat down with a woman named Lennie Woodle from

South Central Los Angeles, Kurt Schmoke who is the former mayor of Baltimore, Elgin Swift whose father was an addict in Yonkers, New York and

a man named Shawn McCray who was a major drug dealer out of Newark, New Jersey.

And together, I hope that their stories give people a sense of how the epidemic played out differently in different cities, but also how people

could experience the epidemic differently just based on how they were positioned in society.

SREENIVASAN: And what did you find, I guess, in common with these individuals as you're writing the story?

RAMSEY: What I found is that they were positioned to be vulnerable to this epidemic. Just by virtue of living in a big city at a time where the

industrialization was happening, where crime was rampant, when there was a great need among folks in that community.

You know, today we use the term like disaffection to describe people who have fallen victim to the opioid epidemic. Now, what I found is that, you

know, big cities in the '80s and '90s were no different, that the people that lived there were hopeless and looking for a way to check out, and

crack was that way to check out. So, you know, all those folks have been -- have that in comment, that they were members of communities that were

experiencing that.

What they also have in common is that they survived it. And the way that they survived it was, what I will call community care. Not necessarily

policy, but small acts that kept people alive. Things like, you know, churches doing programs to help people in their recovery or to buyback

weapons, you know, during some of the most deadly years of the crack epidemic.


In some cases, organizations like the Nation of Islam busting up crack houses and, you know, kicking drug dealers out of communities, or even

something as small as grandparents taking in grandchildren while their children ran the streets. It was these little acts that kept people alive

and ultimately, kept those communities going until the storm passed.

SREENIVASAN: One of the other things that I remember a lot was the term crack baby. Where did -- as you point out, the crack baby idea, erroneously

it is, come to be? Where did all this start and what was the result of this very powerful meme?

RAMSEY: The crack baby myth was maybe one of the most prominent of the crack era, and it was, you know, the idea that infants who were exposed to

cocaine in utero, because their mothers were users, would be irredeemably damaged, that they would have cognitive issues that would make them, I

think, the language was, the most expensive babies ever born. That the framing was that they would be not only, you know, violent and

unpredictable, but that they would be costly.

And the origin of that idea was just a small bit of research done by a scientist in Chicago, Ira Chasnoff, just on, you know, a few dozen expected

mothers who had used cocaine. And they gave birth to these small babies that had, you know, tremors and that developed slowly, and his conclusion

was that -- you know, that these babies would have issues.

A few years later, he retracted that because he realized that those babies were mostly premature, that the cocaine exposure had caused them to be born

premature and that the things he associated with the cocaine exposure were actually related to their being premature. But by then, it was too late,

that the news media, politicians had really run with that and it became, you know, another weapon to really use against people who were dealing the

drug addiction.

And the consequences of it worldwide that I think that there was a cloud that really hung over a generation of young and black Latino people, this

idea that you were potentially a crack baby. And what we saw from that was a level of criminalization in our school. And I think that to find out

years later after a woman and named Hallam Hurt out of Philadelphia had done research on hundreds of kids that were cocaine exposed and that there

was no significant difference, to find out that it was all a myth really opened my eyes to how impactful the misinformation was of the crack era,

that it completely shaped my childhood, that it -- again, that it shaped my idea of even kids that I grew up with, you know, to think that, oh, this

guy next to me is having issues in class, maybe he's a crack baby, you know that that was not uncommon, you know, to -- sort of an uncommon way to

think during the crack era, and think that we still have to expose people to the truth of what was happening.

SREENIVASAN: You lay out in the book how a situation thousands of miles away, in Nicaragua, helped create some of the supply glut. You have a kind

of geopolitical understanding of this. And you mentioned, you know, because there are sort of some conspiracy theories out there that say, well, the

CIA essentially allowed this cocaine to come into the United States. This was part of a plan.

I want to quote you, it says, "Reagan, the CIA, the cartels and the contras (ph) had no need to conspire because the entire machinery of the United

States was designed either to our detriment or with no regard for us at all. The crack epidemic was not the product of an anti-black conspiracy,

but the product of an anti-black system." Tell me more about that.

RAMSEY: This would be a much easier book to write, you know, if it was a group of old white dudes in a back room coming up with, you know, poison to

kill people in black communities. You know, it's far more complex than that. I really learned throughout the reporting of this book the extent to

which hundreds of years of policy can make people the most vulnerable to really anything.


And, you know, I was finishing this book up during COVID, you know, in 2020, and I was seeing, again, how a disaster could hit black and Latino

folks first and worst. And that really helped me to understand it better what happened with crack, which is that there were lots of poor policy

decisions like, you know, not going after people who were transporting cocaine into the United States or, you know, not having great public health

and mental health systems to help people into recovery, that all of these things, all of these policies make it so that, you know, people like me,

people in communities that I grew up in are vulnerable to basically anything that happens.

And that's the way that it was with crack, is that, you know, I didn't find any evidence that the federal government created crack or, you know, that

there was intention around cracks spread in the United States. What I found was that it was this perfect storm of factors that came together. And that,

folks like Ronald Reagan, folks like Bill Clinton, folks like even Joe Biden, took advantage of that on the political level to create laws that

then compacted the harm in some cases.

And because they responded to it so poorly, many people believe that the federal government must have done it, you know, intentionally. It seems all

too convenient. You know, but it was -- you know, that's the way that hundreds of years of policy can impact a community.

SREENIVASAN: You know, there were efforts to try to decriminalize, including one of the characters in your book, the former mayor of

Baltimore. And at the time, he was basically laughed at by members of both parties. Why do you think that is? And I guess how does he perceive the

state that we're in today, where decriminalizing is a much larger conversation compared to what he was trying to advocate for in the midst of

this crisis?

RAMSEY: Kurt Schmoke was really ahead of his time, as you mentioned. As early as 1988, this man who was the first elected black mayor of Baltimore,

he was in his 30s at the time, he thought that Baltimore could be a model for what he called medicalization, that he looked around his city and he

saw institutions like Johns Hopkins, he also saw that Baltimore had an intravenous drug use problem with heroin that was really fueling HIV/AIDS

cases in the cities, and he thought that a medical response would actually be more effective than a criminal justice response.

And as you mentioned, he was completely laughed out of congressional hearings and the conference of mayors because people thought it was

ridiculous idea. I think that Kurt Schmoke has been vindicated. You know, he's president of a college now, and people are just now coming around to

an idea that he had in the '80s. But I don't think that they're coming around to the idea fast enough.

SREENIVASAN: Explain the disparity in sentencing, back when the Anti-Drug Abuse Act came into being, but then, some people also feel like, hey, well,

look, President Obama and the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 has cleared it up, kind of where are we now compared to where we were and where we need to


RAMSEY: We are still living with the consequences of, you know, a decade or so of poor policy starting, you know, as you mentioned, with laws under

Ronald Reagan, really, that were bipartisan now, I should say. That most of the crime and drug legislation at the '80s and '90s was a bipartisan


You know, I mentioned earlier that 100 to 1 sentencing disparity between crack and powdered cocaine, which we now acknowledge are the same exact

substance, under Obama in 2010, that was reduced to 18 to 1, but it still exists, that despite the fact that we know that this was the substance,

that it is the same substance, despite all that we know about our mass incarceration system and how many people we warehouse due to drug

convictions, there wasn't enough political will, even in 2010, to eliminate it entirely.

I think that there were lots of things that we need to do policy wise to repair the harm of the crack era, and I think that the -- that eliminating

the disparity in sentencing between crack and powdered cocaine is a great first step.


Next first steps would be continuing to fund harm reduction programs that, you know, distribute fentanyl or test strips and, you know, the lifesaving

drug, Narcan, that can actually interrupt an overdose, that we owe it to the folks that we served poorly during the crack era to get it right this

time, to eliminate, again, this dragnet that I talked about earlier that can only criminalize people who need help. We need to actually beef up a

public health response in a way that could both end the opioid epidemic but also prevent future drug epidemics.

SREENIVASAN: You put some of the blame and responsibility at Joe Biden's feet as well for actions that he took as a senator. Do you think now that

he has done enough as president, what more does he need to do?

RAMSEY: I think that Joe Biden is perfectly positioned to repair the harm of the crack era on the policy level. Not only, you know, are his hands on

really every major piece of legislation going back as far as Reagan, but, you know, he also has some a son who suffered through drug addiction and

also, an addiction to crack, at the time that Joe Biden was advocating for the death penalty for people in possession of crack cocaine.

And he's acknowledged that many of the policies that he advanced were wrong, but again, you know, we still have an 18 to 1 disparity in how we

sentence crack and powdered cocaine.


RAMSEY: That's something that his Department of Justice could change tomorrow. And that would be a great first step. But really, what I would

like to see is more investment in our health care system, to be able to, one, care for people and to do the harm reduction programs that I'm talking

about that keep people alive while they are on their way to recovery. But then we also need a health care system that also helps people recover.

Right now, we don't have that.

SREENIVASAN: The book is called "When Crack Was King." Donovan X. Ramsey, thanks so much for joining us.

RAMSEY: Thank you so much for having me, Hari.


AMANPOUR: A vital struggle, of course there. Now, in Pakistan, a lawyer for the former prime minister, Imran Khan, says that he has met with his client

and will be petitioning for his release. Khan's party has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court after he was convicted on corruption charges this

weekend and sentenced to three years in prison.

A court in Islamabad found him guilty of making false declarations of certain assets. This could disqualify him from holding office and threaten

his political future. In a prerecorded video shared on Twitter before his arrest, the former prime minister called on his supporters to carry out

peaceful protests.


IMRAN KHAN, FORMER PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): You have to continue peaceful protests until you get your rights. And the biggest

fundamental right is to elect your government of choice through votes. Do not allow any occupying group to rule the country like they are doing



AMANPOUR: So, Khan, the former prime minister and former national cricket star, his supporters did turn up in different cities across the country to

condemn his arrest. Many of them believe he was not given a fair trial. And in the latest development there, Pakistan's minister of defense has told

CNN that if Khan's appeal in the Supreme Court is successful, the government will "obey the court orders."

Meanwhile, meanwhile, there is more tragedy there, because Pakistan, the officials are launching an inquiry to find out what caused his Sunday's

rail crash. At least 30 people were killed and dozens were hurt, when passenger train derailed in a remote farming area of the southern Sindh

Province. And Correspondent Anna Coren has more on what we're learning about that disaster.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The death toll from Sunday's train derailment in Pakistan is expected to rise due to the severity of injuries

according to local officials. And looking at the pictures of the mangled wreckage of the aftermath, it's not difficult to understand why.

Yesterday, the Hazara express left Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, at 8;00 a.m. local with 950 passengers were on board. More than five hours

later, just after 1:00 p.m., the train derailed near a town of Nawabshah, in Sindh Province, 170 miles from Karachi.

Authorities say the train was traveling at moderate speed, 28 miles an hour when it ran off the tracks, 10 cars derailed. This is a remote farming

area, so the first people on the scene were local villages, trying to pull survivors from the wreckage. Eyewitnesses spoke of people screaming, and

bodies everywhere, including women and children.


Local video reports it took hours for emergency crews to arrive. They had to bring in heavy machinery to free passengers who were trapped. The

military also assisted. The injured were taken to local hospitals where an emergency was declared to deal with the influx of patients. Body bags lay

on the ground next to survivors.

Let's now have a listen to one of those survivors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It was so sudden. And we were seated comfortably until then. We heard the growling sounds, and I gather

that the train had derailed. Then a storm of dust spread. Then a bird fell on my head and blood splashed.

COREN: The cause of the derailment is unknown at this stage. But the railway minister said it could be a technical fault or an act of sabotage.

An investigation is underway. Fatal train accidents are frequent in Pakistan, and the countries to decaying rail network is like funding and

attention despite promises from successive governments to upgrade the system.

Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, returning to the war in Ukraine where the suffering of innocent people witnessed by millions around the world has

inspired many to take action. And one man is running from Amsterdam to Kyiv in 50 days, that's over 2,000 kilometers and more than a marathon a day, to

raise money to buy ambulances for the country's emergency services.

Boas Kragtwijk joins on the phone from Mullrose, Germany, the latest leg of his mammoth journey. Boas, tell me what's going on and what made you,

literally, run across the continent to Ukraine?

KRAGTWIJK: Hello, good evening. Can you hear me?

AMANPOUR: I can. Tell me how it is to make this long, long run.

KRAGTWIJK: Yes. This started one and a half years ago, I saw this war evolving at such a rapid pace that it gave me (INAUDIBLE) feeling I had to

do something. Also knowing in the back of my head that there has been a time in history where it was my country that got invaded, we also got help,

and that's why I live in a free democracy and also my parents and my grandparents. So, that gave me a feeling I had to do something.

I just couldn't really answer the question on what I could do. I'm not a doctor or a politician. But I am a runner. I have been running my whole

life. So, I was thinking how can I use running to do something for Ukraine, to show people how close by this is to western European countries. So, I

thought, what is a more powerful way than running, from Amsterdam to Kyiv. 2,500 kilometers. And I also thought it was a wonderful way to raise money.

AMANPOUR: So, Boas, tell me, how much money you've raised and what the money is going to be used for.

KRAGTWIJK: So far, we have been collected 63,000 -- no? How much? Yes. 63,000 -- 36,000, I'm sorry, three days ago from (INAUDIBLE), because every

30,000 euros that we collect will be used for an ambulance. Like one thing was very sure for us, we didn't want to feed this war. So, we are not

sending gun power, no grenades, rocket launchers. We only want to send help.

And for that, we teamed up with the foundation, Sails of Freedom. And for 30,000 euros, we can buy an ambulance, which will be ready in two weeks and

can save up to 25 lives a day. So, it's a really powerful and fast way to make a sustainable impact for a huge group of people that are getting


AMANPOUR: It's really the definition of humanitarian aid. And tell me about being an ultra-runner, because you are doing more than a marathon a day.

KRAGTWIJK: Yes. Every day we run 50 kilometers. I say we, because this is a full group team job. I have a support team driving behind me in a camper

van that my coach, Rum (ph), who is taking care of my health, and cameraman, Beau (ph), who is making videos and photos for our Instagram,

Ultra 4 Ukraine.

What it takes to be an ultra-runner? I would say that it is everything more than a marathon. So, it starts from 50 kilometers and it goes a bit less

speed about the speed and more about distance.


KRAGTWIJK: So, covering long distance.

AMANPOUR: All right. Well, Boas, we are running out of time and we have great aerial video of you doing this. So, good luck.

And as you heard, you can track Boas' journey to Kyiv on Instagram at Ultra 4 Ukraine.


That's it for now. If you ever missed our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast, and of course, always online

and on our website and all over social media. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.