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Interview With "The Last Politician" Author Franklin Foer; Interview With "The Mauritanian" Actress Jodie Foster; Interview With Attorney For Mohamedou Ould Salahi And Criminal Defense Attorney Nancy Hollander; Interview With "The Sister" Author Sung-Yoon Lee. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired September 07, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKLIN FOER, AUTHOR, "THE LAST POLITICIAN": Every time everybody writes him off, he somehow manages to find a way to arrive at his greatest
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: A fly on the wall account of Joe Biden's triumphs and failures. Author Franklin Foer joins me with his all-access book on the U.S.
president's first two years.
Then this the CCTV footage could help bring ISIS members to justice. We bring you an exclusive report.
Also ahead --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Since when do we start locking people up without a trial in this country?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- before ISIS there was al-Qaeda, 9/11 and Guantanamo. We look back at the hit movie about surviving America's most notorious prison with
Jodie Foster and Lawyer Nancy Hollander in the film, "The Mauritanian."
Plus, just how powerful is Kim Jong-Un's sister? Hari Sreenivasan asks her biographer, Sung-Yoon Lee.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
One of the most anticipated books of this political cycle is finally out. "The Last Politician" is Franklin Foer's accounts of Biden's first two
years in office, from the inauguration to the many legislative achievements, to the Afghanistan debacle and everything in between. "The
Atlantic" staff writer leaves no stone unturned in his book and in our conversation.
Franklin Foer, welcome to the program.
FRANKLIN FOER, AUTHOR, "THE LAST POLITICIAN": It's so great to be here.
AMANPOUR: Franklin, your book is already being gobbled up for the access you've had, for the fact that it's being described as the first real deep
dive into this presidency. You call it "The Last Politician." What do mean calling Joe Biden the last politician?
FOER: Well, we live in an age of anti-politics. Last two presidents, Trump and Obama, ran against the simply. They were outsiders and proud of that
fac and they bemoaned Washington. Joe Biden is nothing if not a creature of Washington.
And his theory of the case is that in order to save democracy from the domestic threats of authoritarianism and in order to prove democracies
worth its competitors abroad, he needs to show that democracy can still deliver for its citizens. And in effect, he's trying to show that a
politician in politics, in this be practice that we have for mediating our differences of opinion is still the most effective way of running a
And there were times, in the course of its administration, when nobody in Washington, nobody in the country, at moments, seemed as if they shared his
faith in politics. And it looked like he was headed, at various moments, to a Jimmy Carter like presidency. And one of the remarkable things about Joe
Biden is that he is a creature of comebacks.
And so, every time everybody writes him off, he somehow manages to find a way to arrive at his greatest successes.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, you set me up perfectly because you almost wrote him off. You actually said, I viewed him as a bloviator who dangerously
fetishizes bipartisanship. But you also say, the consistent under estimation of Biden was his diesel. In other words, his super power.
So, what is it that somebody even like you who's doing the deep dive, you know, practically blew him off at the beginning?
FOER: Well, it's not even just the beginning. I remember when I was a very young reporter, I was 24. I got my first phone call with Joe Biden, which
felt like a momentous occasion because he'd run for president and he was chairman of the Senate committees. And five minutes into the call, I was
like, oh, my God, this guy is never going to get off the phone.
And he has -- the way that he talks with the folks he anecdotes, the stories that he tells over and over again, I think among the elite of the
Democratic Party who all went to Ivy League schools and pride themselves on their technocratic expertise tend to look down on Joe Biden as somebody who
is not one of them. And Biden is acutely aware of this fact that he is an outlier among elites.
And so, simultaneously he creatives the affection and admiration of elites, but he also looks at them with a bit of distain, that he thinks that
they're -- they can be lazy, that they can be high bound in their thinking. And that chip on his shoulder and that element of social class, I think,
have always been the essential key to unlocking Joe Biden.
AMANPOUR: It appears that "Wall Street Journal" says 73 percent of voters say Joe Biden is too old to run for president. This is Biden at
Philadelphia on Labor Day addressing the elephant in the room. Let me just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: You know, that Biden, he's getting old, man. I'll you what. Well, guess what? Guess what? I -- you know, the only thing
that comes with age is a little bit of wisdom. I've been doing this longer than anybody. And guess what? I'm going to continue to do it with your
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, what do you make of that and did you talk to him or his, you know, closest about that issue? He will be the only president or he is, to
have turned 80 in office and he will be 86 completing a second term. Does he think it's a problem?
FOER: I think the distance between the public Biden and the private Biden on this is pretty much negligible. I thought a lot about this age question
and the way in which we're not able to treat it with any sort of nuance. I think everybody has aging relatives and everybody brings their own personal
baggage about aging to this question. And it should be said that individuals age in different sorts of ways.
We have the example of Dianne Feinstein, the senator from California, who genuinely appears unable to do basic function of job because of age and
AMANPOUR: And maybe Mitch McConnell, the minority leader in the Senate.
FOER: Perhaps. And then, you have the example of somebody like Joe Biden. And you look at the way that he strolls the stage, it's clear he's aged.
And you listen to the way that he talks, he doesn't talk in the same sort of register that he did when he was -- 10 years ago.
But I've also -- and so, I've seen conversations with Joe Biden. I've seen the way in which both parts are true. I've seen him tell stories that go on
a little bit long and where he gets a little bit lost in the story, which maybe Joe Biden always did. That's one of the raps on the guy. But I've
also seen how he turns it around in five -- you know, and a second later, he's giving a commanding description of American grand strategy in the
Indo-Pacific filled with all sorts of individual -- precise details and complicated plans and nuanced thoughts.
And so, both thoughts are true. He is old and his age has brought wisdom. And I think we struggle culturally to find the right way to make sense of
this important part of who he is.
AMANPOUR: Well, as you know, because you probably talk to them, and this is from and an article in "Vanity Fair" earlier. His own team says that,
you know, one of the benefits of him in this office is the kind of wisdom, experience and perspective that he brings to bear on these problems. It
matters, but it tends to be dismissed. That's the chief strategist Michael Donilon speaking.
So, do you get the impression that this is going to be an issue or have they figured out how to deal with this and showing the advantage of it
during a reelection campaign?
FOER: It's -- I think they're going to struggle to show the advantage of it, to translate what are the actual substantive advantages of his wisdom
and experience and how do you demonstrate that to a public?
So, you take -- to take an example, the complicated American relationship with China, where the United States is -- begun to apply enormous amounts
of pressure, economically, militarily on China as it refocuses its -- readjusts its focus on that part of the world. And it's a really hard thing
to do, because you want to apply that pressure but you want to keep the relationship managed so that things don't dangerously go off the rails.
And because of his experience, he's been able to do that simultaneously. He's been able to bring the heat without letting things get dangerously out
of hand. And it's hard to imagine many other American politicians pulling off a feat like that. But how do you explain that to the American people in
a political context? It's just -- it's inherently difficult task.
AMANPOUR: Well, maybe by quoting Vladimir Putin himself who has reported to have said to Angela Merkel after first meeting President Biden when they
had their first meeting, obviously, before the full-scale invasion, that Biden, he said, was much fitter than I expected, is what he said to Angela
So, I guess, you know, he's shown and the world has turned to America as a defender of democracy clearly over the Ukraine, you know, Russia war. And I
think the American people, by and large, support that.
FOER: Right. Well, if you consider the broad indifference to autocracy among the American public, and even among America's allies in Europe, it's
quite a turnabout that he's taken a public that has actually had to make incredible sacrifices on behalf of the cause of Ukrainian freedom.
Ukrainian -- arming the Ukrainians and sanctioning Russia has resulted in higher energy prices. It's cost us a lot of money. And politically, I think
that he's done a very effective job of bringing along the Republicans as best as he can in order to make this a bipartisan thing.
He's worked with Mitch McConnell who is one of his -- he's an actual friend of his. Hard for some people to imagine, but it is true. And McConnell has
been the stealth hero on behalf of Ukraine and just kept the aid packages flowing. And Biden is also been acutely aware of the fact that that good
will, that bipartisan support, the coalition that has -- that he's helped build is not going to last forever. That there are these political
obstacles, these political dangers that are working around the corner.
So, I don't think that Ukraine can necessarily count on stasis within the American system. And Biden doesn't count on that either.
AMANPOUR: Can I get back to domestic issues then, because this is -- this matters to the American people and how they consider him? The idea of
Bidenomics. You know and you've written that he did a swerve from many former presidents who are more enthralled to the market, to globalization,
all of those things. Less friendly to unions and the more progressive.
You know, Biden has done a total switcheroo, right? He's taxed the rich. He has passed all these big legislative, you know, bills. Job growth
continues, wages are climbing, consumer confidence is rising, inflation and unemployment have both dropped below 4 percent. Does he get the credit with
the people for that fact?
FOER: He probably does not. He's taken a lot of what Trump elevated to the surface with his form of populism, which was tougher trade policy,
hostility to monopolies, this defense of American manufacturing, and he's taken it and he's put it within a much more liberal cosmopolitan context
and actually to managed to implement it.
So, you take something -- the biggest most obvious example is infrastructure where it was always infrastructure week during the Trump
administration but he was never able to make the actual investments. And then, Biden is able to pull together a bipartisan group to pass the biggest
infrastructure investment since the Eisenhower administration.
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, that's a big deal. So, the question also is whether his foreign policy is either -- is transformational or is it transitional.
We've talked about the -- you know, the toughening of the NATO alliance, the fact that they are doing a huge amount, you know, in the Indo-Pacific
to try to deter China. The president is going this week to Vietnam after the G20 summit. That is no easy journey for anybody and he keeps going and
keeps doing it.
But let me ask you about Afghanistan, because it was early and it was a catastrophe. And this is --
AMANPOUR: I just want to remind everybody what the president said on the 16th of August, 2021 after the Taliban took over and essentially has sent
Afghanistan back to the Middle Ages. This is what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I've learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces.
That's why we're still there. We were cleareyed about the risks. We plan for every contingency, but I always promised the American people that I
would be straight with you. The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOER: I think that that moment was a turning point moment for his presidency. He was on the cusp of passing his Build Back Better agenda in
the Senate, which would have extended the social safety net in the biggest way since Lyndon Johnson. And Afghanistan knocked him on his heels and he
never truly recovered from that. And he had begun with this reputation for competence based on the vaccine roll-out and his initial performance in
office, and he was never able to recover that after Afghanistan.
But I think you're making another point about foreign policy, which is -- so, he has redirected American foreign policy so that the big frame is
democracy versus authoritarianism. But democracy is not the same as human rights.
And if I were to fault his foreign policy presidency, I would say he lets human rights slip to the side too often. And he didn't really have a human
rights strategy for the fall of the Ghani government in Afghanistan. And as it relates to Saudi Arabia and other parts of world, human rights haven't
been the top of his agenda, and I wish it were.
AMANPOUR: That is really a fascinating insight there. So, can I just ask you, you say that your respect for the president grew as you kept reporting
FOER: So, as I've watched Biden, I told you how I began thinking of him of this guy who was dangerous fetishize bipartisanship, who told these stories
that would never end. And as I watched him, I saw the ways in which he was able to shelf his ego in order to deal with a senator or foreign adversary,
I saw the way in which he was able to apply that psychological acumen that you just described to the people he's dealing with.
So, he can understand in a very realistic sort of way, what their bottom line is, what their psychological makeup is. And as a politician, he's able
to stare across the table and look at his fellow politicians and go through that process of putting himself in their minds to understand their self-
interest. And I think that that's the thing that I ended up respecting.
So, you know, in a sense, just to go back to the title of the book, I ended up respecting politics and the politician and those core skills and
techniques of a politician far more than I had going in.
AMANPOUR: Franklin Foer, author over "The Last Politician," thank you very much for being with us.
FOER: My pleasure.
AMANPOUR: Terrorism is no longer really top of the agenda at international gatherings like the G20. But remember ISIS? The terror group wreaked havoc
around the world since declaring its califate in Iraq and Syria in 2014, carrying out dozens of deadly attacks and inspiring many more. And
authorities are still piecing together any evidence that could bring those responsible to account.
Correspondent Jomana Karadsheh has more in this exclusive report. And just a note, some of the footage might be difficult to watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Answering the call to unite under one flag. This is the source of our glory.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): It was an ISIS hallmark. Slick media productions terrorizing the world. It's what they wanted us to
see. But not this.
CHRIS ENGELS, COMMISSION FOR INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY: This film is different. This film is Islamic State without Islamic State
knowing it was being filmed.
KARADSHEH (voiceover): Never before seen video inside the group's headquarters in the Syrian city of Aleppo in 2013, a children's hospital
turned into a house of horrors. CCTV video that captures the reality of the Islamic State, where torture was routine.
Hundreds of Syrians were held in this makeshift prison. Many never made it out to tell their stories. Others did, including some western hostages with
chilling accounts of what they survived and witnessed.
DIDIER FRANCOIS, FRENCH JOURNALIST: We could hear the Syrian prisoners in the first places where we were detained in the Aleppo hospital for
instance. We could see some of them in the corridors. And we could see some people lying in their blood.
KARADSHEH (voiceover): This video is much more than just a snapshot of ISIS's reign of terror.
ENGELS: As a normal state of affairs, the hospital had CCTV running. The members of the Islamic State didn't realize that this was being recorded in
the background and didn't think too much about it.
KARADSHEH (voiceover): And the cameras rolled for months, capturing scenes like this. A captive left hanging in a stressed position, blindfolded
detainees marched down the hallway. Here, a fighter laughing as he pushes down the head of a handcuffed and hooded detainee. These only a few of the
clips shared exclusively with CNN by the Commission for International Justice and Accountability, CIJA.
ENGELS: This is exactly the type of treatment that we've heard about from survivors. Right? What makes this important is, as you see right there, the
Islamic State member without a mask on walking down the hall, that's a person that would normally try and hide his face outside.
KARADSHEH (voiceover): We've blurred faces to preserve ongoing investigations and possible future prosecutions.
ENGELS: That's incredible evidence at trial for several of these individuals who have been identified.
KARADSHEH (voiceover): According to Engels, fighters from all over the world, including senior members from Europe and the U.S., were operating in
the facility. This video, he says, has already been used to identify a French suspect.
Evidence gathered has long allowed them and law enforcement in various western countries to identify and track down ISIS members who fled. Before
the fall of ISIS's so-called caliphate, CIJA's war crimes investigators worked undercover collecting evidence like this from the battlefields in
Syria and Iraq.
ENGELS: It's often the case that domestic law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities have enough evidence to prove that they were a
member. What we think is important is that, wherever possible, we're able to prosecute them for the torture, for the kidnapping, for the murder.
KARADSHEH (voiceover): This is not just about the past. ISIS remains a top global security threat.
ENGELS: These are individuals that have already proven that they are a threat. And we don't want to give them the opportunity to decide to go down
that path again. We've had several hundred requests for information. Our law enforcement partners have not at all forgotten about the conflict.
KARADSHEH: Just before dawn on January 17th, heavily armed Dutch police descended on the street in the village of Arkel. They raided a house and
arrested a man suspected of having been a senior ISIS commander in Syria.
KARADSHEH (voiceover): His arrest in the small, sleepy town where he lived a quiet life with his wife and children shocked the nation. Residents here
were reluctant to speak to us about the suspect identified as Ayham al S. He allegedly operated in Damascus, not Aleppo, so it wasn't the CCTV video
that led to his arrest. It was a tip from a Syrian NGO and witness testimony that triggered a years-long Dutch investigation.
Sources say he had a long history of extremism in Syria, holding leadership positions first within an al-Qaeda affiliate, and later, ISIS. Ayham al S.,
who rejects the government's accusations, now faces life in prison.
MIRJAM BLOM, PROSECUTOR, NETHERLANDS PUBLIC PROSECUTION SERVICE: He had a leading position within the terrorist organizations.
KARADSHEH (voiceover): Mirjam Blom is the lead public prosecutor on the case. She's charged him with two counts of membership in terror
organizations, with the aim to commit war crimes.
BLOM: In order to charge him with separate war crimes, like execution or violent arrest or torture, you need more evidence than indications.
KARADSHEH: And so, this is ongoing and --
BLOM: We have -- we have investigations still going on, yes.
KARADSHEH: Was he hiding?
BLOM: He was not hiding. He was just living there openly. People like him and also war criminals come to the Netherlands, hiding in the legitimate
stream of refugees. And to be able to investigate and prosecute those cases, it's very, very important aspect in our mission, not to be a safe
haven for war criminals.
KARADSHEH (voiceover): The trail of terror ISIS left behind will haunt not only their victims, but those who tormented them.
AMANPOUR: Jomana Karadsheh and her special report.
For decades the United States held hundreds of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, subjecting many to harsh interrogations and even torture, say some of the
inmates. After 9/11, Mohamedou Ould Slahi was one of the first prisoners at the notorious prison suspected of being a member of al-Qaeda. He was held
and tortured without charged for 14 years. And his book, "Guantanamo Diary," was the basis of film "The Mauritanian."
Here's a clip from the movie where he tells his lawyer, played by Jodie Foster, that he confessed under duress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JODIE FOSTER, ACTRESS, "THE MAURITANIAN": Why didn't you tell us?
TAHAR RAHIM, ACTOR, "THE MAURITANIAN": They are nothing like fantasy. None of that happened.
FOSTER: You signed them.
RAHIM: They made me.
FOSTER: They made you? As in they coerced you?
RAHIM: What do you think?
FOSTER: I don't know. You tell me. They coerced you? You got to tell me what happened, Mohamedou.
RAHIM: You asked me to set fire to this place but I'm still standing.
FOSTER: And then, write it down, right? That's what the pages are for. Write it down. You need to tell me the truth. You need to tell me what
happened here. I can't defend you. Do you understand me?
RAHIM: I don't need to tell you nothing. Whatever I say, it doesn't matter. This -- island. I'll die here. Outside, my family, my brother,
their lives go on. Terrorists' life goes on. But being here, I'm like a statue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: We thought it would be useful to back to that time as the 22nd anniversary of 9/11 approaches. Here's my conversation with Jodie Foster
and the real-life lawyer, Nancy Hollander. We recorded when the film came out in 2021.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program. An amazing film.
I guess, Jodie Foster, I want to ask you first why you decided to do this, because I read that you don't like biopics. You don't necessarily like
political movies. What about this one convinced you?
JODIE FOSTER, ACTRESS, "THE MAURITANIAN": Well, yes, I mean, it's the writing, really. First of all, I have to say that, like many Americans who
lived through 9/11, I knew very little about Guantanamo. I have -- I vaguely knew that it still existed, that Obama wanted to close it down, and
that he hadn't managed to do it. And that was pretty much it.
So, when I read the script, and then subsequently the book and started doing research, it's just such a fascinating story. And to have Mohamedou's
character be the central character of whose eyes we live through as audience members, I think that that's really what made the difference for
AMANPOUR: I just want to ask Nancy Hollander about the actual legal case and the conundrum, Nancy, because, you know, he said in that clip that he
was -- you know, he confessed under duress. Did the charges ever have a chance of standing up?
NANCY HOLLANDER, ATTORNEY FOR MOHAMEDOU OULD SALAHI AND CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, there were no charges. He was never charged
with anything. So, if he had been charged with --
AMANPOUR: The accusations, yes.
HOLLANDER: Yes, the accusations. No, they wouldn't. They wouldn't stand up, and they didn't stand up. And that's why the judge granted his habeas
case, because they didn't stand up. After so many years, the government couldn't prove anything.
AMANPOUR: What do you first think when you first met him? I mean, the clip that we just showed is really -- I mean, it's you portrayed by Jodie Foster
really passionate about wanting to be able to defend him. What did you think when you first met him?
HOLLANDER: I knew nothing about Mohamedou when I first met him, nothing, except that he was there. Everyone there, as far as we knew at that time,
had something to do with 9/11, were accused of having something to do with 9/11.
I went in. I met him. I have told this many times, walked in, and he put his arms out as though to hug, and then I -- he didn't move. And I realized
he was shackled to the floor, walked into his arms. And he said, we -- there were two of us there, and he said, my lawyers. And that's how it
started. I believe he trusted me from the beginning. I had to learn to trust him. Trust -- I trusted him as a person, he wasn't going to harm me,
but I had to learn to trust what he was telling me.
AMANPOUR: And, Jodie Foster, you know, I think you also were very moved by Mohamedou, the person, by the person who's, you know, emerged, forgiving
and hopeful and optimistic. And you also met him as well on set. What did you make of him, the actual Mohamedou?
FOSTER: Yes, very lucky to meet the actual Mohamedou. And, you know, we marveled that he could have gone through so much, lived through so much, so
much damage and, you know, torture psychologically, sexually, just in every aspect of his life, and yet to emerge as such a full human and such a
gentle, sweet, affectionate, funny, teasing guy.
He did come to Cape Town, where we were shooting. He was -- it's the only visa that he's ever been able to get. The U.S. government has kept him from
having visas to leave anywhere. And he got to hang out with Nancy. And they got to see the penguins and visit Robben Island and all sorts of things in
Cape Town. And it was really wonderful.
It's felt very healing. It feels to me like it is very healing for Mohamedou to see that the movie is made and that people have received it.
AMANPOUR: Wow. Robben Island, of course, the prison where Nelson Mandela was for most of his 28-year incarceration. That must have been pretty
amazing. Let me talk to you about you, you two, the way you have teamed up.
Jodie, what was it? I know that Nancy wrote an op-ed about why she defends even terrorists. And you -- that meant a lot to you, even before this film
was a reality.
FOSTER: Yes. So, Nancy is really quite a hero. You know, she believes in the rule of law and believes in the constitution, and she believes that
everybody deserves a defense. And it's been her mission to provide that. And that means challenging governments and challenging authority. And I
think that that's -- I think that, as noble a mission as that is and how important a mission as that is, I think it takes a toll on somebody. And,
you know, she's given so much, so that we can have a just system.
AMANPOUR: Nancy Hollander, you did write this article in "The New York Times," an op-ed, because you needed to say something about a lot of the
criticism maybe that you were getting for all the different kinds of defendants who you were representing. Talk to us about what you experienced
and why you wrote this.
HOLLANDER: At that time, I wrote that, I think it was Cheney who said that we shouldn't be representing these people. And there were some other people
who have always said, you shouldn't represent these terrorists. And it just made me so angry.
And, as Jodie, as me, says in the movie, which is what I wrote, nobody ever complained when I represented people who did horrible things, murders,
raping babies. Nobody ever accused me of being them. And yet we were being accused, the lawyers who represented people in Guantanamo, of somehow being
like them. And it infuriated me. And I think that piece was some of my best writing, actually, because I was so angry when I sat down and wrote it.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to play a clip that we have from the film, which is actually of your character, Jodie, playing and your assistant, legal
assistant. And you are really actually angry at her as well.
So, let's play it and we can discuss it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: What's your point?
SHAILENE WOODLEY, ACTRESS: He's guilty. He's -- guilty.
FOSTER: Maybe he is. He still has a right to counsel.
WOODLEY: I'm not saying that he doesn't. I'm saying that he helped to kill 3,000 civilians, and we're doing everything we can to get him out.
FOSTER: No, we're doing our job.
WOODLEY: I did bake sales for his legal fund. That's not a part of my job. My dad told me I'm not welcome home for Thanksgiving this year. That's not
a part of my job.
FOSTER: Get out.
FOSTER: If you want turkey and pumpkin pie with mom and dad and Uncle Joe, go on. Get out. Go home. You can't win a case if you don't believe your own
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Jodie Foster, that's quite dramatic stuff and it really brings home the stakes and how you had to convince even your own -- or, rather,
how Nancy had to convince even her own legal assistant. But I want to ask you, before going to Nancy, because was -- is Nancy really that -- you
know, what's the right word, aggressive, mean? Did you exaggerate that side?
FOSTER: I definitely did. Nancy's a much nicer person than my Nancy. And, I mean, we tease each other about that. But I thought -- I had said to her,
look, this is not going to be imitation. We are here to serve Mohamedou's story. And in order to do that, we may have to exaggerate certain parts,
may have to -- you know, I believe -- when Nancy just said, you know, she got very angry, Nancy has a way of internalizing anger.
This character allows the audience to see it a little bit more. So, you know, we made those kind of directorial choices, narrative choices just to
make the transition of Nancy's character from the beginning to -- through her relationship with Mohamedou through those many years to condense it and
to allow us to see more change, yes.
AMANPOUR: So, Nancy, what did you think of that performance and what did you -- I guess you must have talked a lot to Jodie, to the directors, to
everybody involved about the process?
HOLLANDER: Oh, I did talk about the process with all of them. But as to that clip, first let me say that Terry Duncan was a lawyer at that time, an
associate in my office. She is now, these years later, an accomplished, terrific lawyer, and she primarily does death penalty cases. So, she would
-- the real -- I'm sorry, the real Terry Duncan would never do that. But Terry's character, I believe, was created as a proxy for the audience,
because we know the audience is thinking that.
However, if someone came to me and said that, I would say not quite as dramatically as Jodie put it, but I would say, you really need to
reconsider whether you can be a criminal defense lawyer, because if you're going to worry about who is guilty and who's innocent, you can't do it. And
so, that's how I would say it. The final words of that clip, you've got to believe your own --, those are my words.
AMANPOUR: Jodie Foster, let me ask you a question, because, you know, people miss you when you're not on screen. You have a huge fan base. But
you don't do many movies. I've read you say that you do what has meaning to you. And I've heard you talk about -- also, about -- you know, you discuss
and you tackle loneliness and, you know, existential issues. Talk to me a little bit about what goes into your choices of roles.
FOSTER: Yes. It's a little mysterious, I suppose. You know, what moves me, may not move somebody else. It's a very personal choice. And sometimes that
may bring me to a very small supporting character. Sometimes it may bring me to a comedy. You know, we -- usually it's something that I feel very
committed to and that feels personally relevant to me. Maybe questions that I have about my life.
And in this case, you know, certainly it was not only the story of Mohamedou, which is central to the film and the most important thing in the
film that I wanted to serve as a supporting actor, really to keep the space for Tahar Rahim to have that beautiful, extraordinary performance. But,
also, you know, I wanted to investigate Nancy's, you know, I say loneliness, but I don't think it is really loneliness. I think that it is a
solitary mission. I think when you are on a mission that other people don't understand, there is a solitary quality to it. You have to give up
Thanksgiving dinner with people who believe that you are a terrorist because you are representing one.
So, I think that Nancy has made these choices. I'm sure she wouldn't have done it differently. But I do believe that the things that we commit to,
that we know are just and good do take a toll on ourselves. I'm sure you probably feel that as well, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I do. And for another discussion. Nancy, what about the legal conundrum that's very real still at Guantanamo, 40 people at least
are still there with who knows what prospect of leaving. President Biden, the latest to promise to close it down. Do you think it'll happen and what
is the legal issue going on in Gitmo right now?
HOLLANDER: Well, I hope it will happen and we hope that this movie will serve to help that at this point. We can't have forever prisoners. These
are people who have never been charged with a crime and have been held, many of them, since 2001.
So, the first thing that I believe that Biden needs to tackle is to get those people out. But we have to get rid of the military commissions and we
have to -- they have to have proper due process and every constitutional right. They have to have the right to confrontation, which they don't even
have in the military commission.
So, we just have to put it together and get it done. And it can be done.
AMANPOUR: OK. Wonderful to have you on, Jodie Foster and Nancy Hollander, thank you so much for being with us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Thirty people are still detained in Guantanamo today.
As the war in Ukraine rages on, Russia may be turning to North Korea for new arm supply, according to the U.S. Kim Jong-Un is reportedly planning to
meet President Putin in Russia soon.
Our next guest is examining the Kim dynasty and what the future holds for the hermit kingdom. Now, tip to be his successor, Kim Jong-Un's sister has
risen to be most powerful woman in the nation. Kim Yo Jong oversees the regime's propaganda department and she's taken lead on the foreign policy.
In his new book, "The Sister," scholar Sung-Yoon Lee traces her spectacular rise. And he's joining Harry Sreenivasan to discuss the Kim dynasty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Sung-Yoon Lee, thanks so much for joining us. First, let's start off with a
little bit of news this week. There were reports that Kim Jong-Un could meet with Russia for a possible arms deal. What do you make of it?
SUNG-YOON LEE, AUTHOR, "THE SISTER": Yes. And it would make sense. Although, when Kim Jong-Un met Putin for the first and only time, Kim Jong-
Un felt, well, not properly respected because Putin, the next day, flew down to Beijing to attend a major conference while leaving his foreign
guests in his home country.
But today, we're living in a different world since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The old -- the former Cold War dynamics of Moscow, Beijing and
Pyeongyang standing against other team, Team USA with Japan and South Korea on its side. That dynamic has returned in full force and national interest,
of course, override any wounded pride. And North Korea wants to sell arms to Russia and Russia needs those North Korean ammunition and artillery.
SREENIVASAN: So, North Korean ammunition and artillery could be used in either, what, back stopping Russia's arsenal or actually used in the
conflict in Ukraine?
LEE: I think the latter. And the Biden administration has quite repeatedly alleged, stated that North Korea has been secretly supplying arms to Russia
since February, 2022.
SREENIVASAN: When it comes to a potential arms deal with Russia, I mean, is North Korea interested in this -- in any part to just be a thorn in the
side of the West in addition to selling arms?
LEE: Well, there's that element too, of course, North Korea wants to be taken more seriously, although all of North Korea's interlocuters,
including the United States take North Korea quite seriously in view of their capabilities. But North Korea has another agenda, which is to swap
ammunition, artillery and so on, in turn for higher military technology, ICBM technology, some long-range launch missile technology from Russia.
So, these national interests on the part of Russia and North Korea override any tensions, any diplomatic protocol, any concern of violation of numerous
U.N. security resolutions that exclusively -- explicitly ban North Korea's testing of ballistic missiles, but North Korea completely ignored such
resolutions, and on officer 100 occasions have shot ballistics millions since early 2022. And what does Russia say? Nothing. What does China say?
In fact, the two big nations, Russia and China, have worked together, cooperated to block any movement within the U.N. Security Council to issue
even a verbal condemnation of North Korea.
SREENIVASAN: So, let's talk a little bit about your new book. This is called "The Sister." And it is a fascinating profile of someone that,
obviously, I had no idea about. And what was fascinating to me is the role that you say she is really playing inside the regime, almost leading from
behind. Tell us a little bit about Kim Yo Jong.
LEE: Well, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of the current North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un, is, to me, a fascinating figure because out of this
buffoonish, you know, this weird amalgam of medieval morays and brutish male buffoonish (INAUDIBLE), that the North Korean landscape, out of this
midyear (ph) has risen a powerful female leader, a co-crime boss of her family regime, the North Korean dynasty, with her finger on the proverbial
nuclear button, that is.
Kim Jong-Un has issued several written statements threating to preemptively nuke South Korea. And in terms of checks and balances in North Korea, there
is nothing of that kind to speak of. It's an absolutist kind of medieval style monarchy pretending to be a republic. So, she's a really powerful
woman who has, well, ambitions.
SREENIVASAN: You mention in the book, in theory, she could decide who was monitored, demoted, promoted, punished, rewarded, banished or even tied up
to be executed in the town square or in a sports stadium behind closed doors.
I mean, she has an official title, which is the deputy director of propaganda and agitation department. Where does she get this power from?
LEE: From her brother. And it has the prerogative of the current and previous so-called leaders. Kim Jong-Un is the third generational supreme
leader of this nation, and all three leaders have enjoyed such prerogatives.
My contention that Kim Yo Jong now has that power as deputized by her brother comes from reports within North Korea from different regions of the
country that Kim Yo Jong has been issuing execution orders of officials and senior most officials for getting on her nerves. She doesn't like the way
so-and-so looks at her or talks to her. So, that kind of capricious and cruel power speaks to the prerogatives of the North Korea leadership.
SREENIVASAN: You describe in the book how her kind of brand has increased in visibility since the death of her father. How so?
LEE: Well, Kim Jong-Un has rapidly elevated, formally elevated his sister since the onset of COVID in early 2020. Since March 3, 2020, Kim Yo Jong
has issued over 40, 4-0, written statements saying that she's running her nation's foreign policy toward South Korea, the U.S. and beyond. And we see
a streak, a very unique streak of vituperative, vile, sarcastic note in all of these written statements. So, that's her signature.
And she has called President Biden, the current South Korean president as well as his predecessor all kinds of nasty names.
SREENIVASAN: You know, the first time a lot of people got a view of who she was, was during the 2018 Olympic games. She wasn't there for the sport.
She was there as much for the political navigation of it all. And you outline here that she had some of her requests met on some of the
preconditions. Tell us what some of those were.
LEE: Yes. So, Kim Yo Jong, you know, she made her international debut on a very grand stage, the Winter Olympics that South Korea hosted in February
2018. And she was quite -- well, the South Korean public and government, it seemed, was quite memorized by her physical presence in South Korea. But
since then, Kim Yo Jong has gone through sort of a metamorphosis, a transformation from the previous precious (ph) princess from Pyeongyang to
a foul mouth mean female (INAUDIBLE).
Since 2020, Kim Yo Jong had issued various condemnation of South Korean leadership and made an exclusive demand that is to come up with a criminal
law for South Korea, to come up with a criminal law that criminalizes sending anything, leaflets, toothpaste, pair of socks, a bar of soap or
anything across the border from South Korea into the north.
Now, human rights activists, many of them are North Korea emigrates (ph) who have resettled in the south have been for many years sending such
amenities, $1 bills, the bible and so on, into the north, raising awareness on the human rights violations in North Korea.
Of course, the North Korean regime does not like this. And in June 2020, Kim Yo Jong, under her own name, said, come up with a law, criminalize such
activities and send these people to jail. Within hours, various South Korean government ministries said, OK, yes. We will work on it. And indeed,
the law was passed a few months later in late 2020.
A senior British parliamentarian has coined the term gag law to refer to this Kim Yo Jong dictated law. So, her presence, her command has been met
by the previous South Korea government with alacrity, with deference.
SREENIVASAN: So, what is her role when it comes to diplomatic meetings? Because in 2018, there was a historic meeting between the north and the
south. Kim Jong-Un came. He was the first leader to do so in decades. And that was also the year that President Trump met with the North Korean
leader. So, where does she fit? What's her role?
LEE: Well, I think Kim Yo Jong is an unprecedented diplomatic weapon in the North Korean diplomatic toolbox. Why? By virtue -- simply by virtue of
her identify, her relative youth in 2018. She was barely 30 years old. And her gender.
You know, she brings this unprecedented softer feminine glow to the very brutish cold macabre image that is despotic her regime. So, I think the
tendency, the latent patronization, the tendency to patronize young women, sexism, you know, latent in many of us, I would suggest men and women, is
an advantage to the Kim regime.
You know, it's easier to stomach, to swallow insults coming from a young pretty woman than less photogenic and dower (ph) looking brother. So, you
know, she casts a softer glow on her regime. And what she says seems to strike many as genuine and real.
So, what she did in 2018, to set the stage for her brother's debut on the international stage in his campaign to win many concessions from the U.S.
and from South Korea and other countries, she's taken on this role, and I think she relishes it being under the spotlight issuing various
condemnations against world leaders, stating her nation's undying support that they will -- North Korea will always stand in the same trenches as the
heroic soldiers and people of Russia, referring to the invasion of Ukraine. So, I think she's quite enjoying herself being out there.
SREENIVASAN: You know, there was the case of the American college student, Otto Warmbier. And I wonder -- he gave a forced confession. And you say
that this had Kim Yo Jong's fingerprints all over. Explain.
LEE: Yes. So, at the time, Kim Yo Jong had been running her nation's very powerful propaganda and agitation department. And since 2014, we've seen
some real vial homophobic, racist, sexist insults hurled against variously -- a very renowned retired judge from Australia, who's openly gay, against
President Obama, very racist vile invective against President Obama and also, against the then-South Korea female president, the first ever female
elected leader in East Asia.
Otto Warmbier was detained, taken hostage in January 2016 while on a visit to North Korea. And then, North Korea made all these trumped-up charges,
obviously, pushed Otto Warmbier to give a coerced confession and so on.
And because Kim Yo Jong was in charge, the de facto leader of this department of propaganda and agitation, I see very sinister attempts to get
Otto to make this confession, how he was operating under the auspices of the CIA, how his methodist church, local church promised to give him
$200,000 for doing things to the North Korea regime, to insult the North Korea regime, none of this is true.
And, you know, a federal judge and the District Court of District of Columbia issued a ruling finding North Korea guilty of hostage taking, of
torture and of illegal extrajudicial killing. And I participated in that lawsuit as an expert witness and studied the issue carefully.
So, yes. The whole unpleasant, very cruel case has her signature all over it, I would suggest.
SREENIVASAN: Do you think that the father was more impressed with the daughter? And if so, why not make her the heir in the first place?
LEE: According to various people who have spoken with the late North Korea leader, Kim Jong-il, the father. Kim Jong-il said that if his daughter, Kim
Yo Jong, who's the youngest child and the youngest daughter, obviously, if she were a boy, he would have anointed her as the heir.
Well, North Korea, you know, pretends to be a communist system where there's gender equality. The reality is the exact opposite, it's a male
chauvinistic, male dominated patriarchal society. Even the notion of a female supreme leader is quite jarring for ordinary North Koreans as well
as the leadership.
But I contend, for now, for the foreseeable future over the next 10, 15, years or so until one of Kim Jong-Un's children comes of age, which is, you
know, adulthood, very simply no other viable candidate to take over in case Kim Jong-Un becomes incapacitated other than his sister, Kim Yo Jong.
Because it's a royalty, a monarchy, you have to maintain power within the family and Kim Yo Jong is the only viable candidate, and that she's
capable, she's out there, very much, and she's ambitious. And she, again, is the only member of the family, the dynasty.
SREENIVASAN: So, I've got to ask just from a reporter's perspective. There are no diplomatic relations. There are no independent journalists. It is
still an incredibly closed society. How do you get enough material? How do you find out enough information to write a profile of this woman?
LEE: With great difficulty. I have looked over every single statement, I believe, every reference to Kim Yo Jong in Korean, that is North Korea
documents, as well as in South Korea, with the help of research assistants, also every single reference to her in China, in Taiwan, obviously all
English language sources. And I've been studying North Korea and teaching about it for the past 20 years.
So, I've watched hundreds of hours of North Korean documentary and I saw that her body language and the body language of other officials in Kim
Jong-Un's presence and in his sister's presence is basically the same, they tremble, they avert their gaze. It's considered rude if not confrontational
for an underling to look at the superior right in the eye for more than a couple of seconds.
So, the way North Korean officials behave in the presence of Kim Jong-Un and his sister says a lot about how they view the sister as almost equal to
Kim Jong-Un himself.
SREENIVASAN: The book is called "The Sister: The Extraordinary Story of Kim Yo Jong, the Most Dangerous Woman in the World," author Sung-Yoon Lee,
thanks so much for joining us.
LEE: Thank you so much for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: A fascinating look behind that curtain. And that's it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it
airs on our podcast. And remember, you can always catch us online, on our website and all-over social media. Thanks for watching and goodbye from