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Interview With Jordanian Queen Rania Al Abdullah; Interview with "The Achilles Trap" Author Steve Coll; Interview With "It's Hard for Me to Live with Me" Author and Former NBA Player Rex Chapman. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired March 11, 2024 - 13:00   ET



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


QUEEN RANIA AL ABDULLAH, JORDANIAN QUEEN: This has been a slow-motion mass murder of children five months in the making.


AMANPOUR: The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins with still no relief for desperate Gazans or release for desperate Israeli hostages. My exclusive

conversation with Queen Rania of Jordan.

Then, America's missteps on the road to war in Iraq have been thoroughly picked over. But what did Saddam Hussein fail to understand about the

United States? Journalist Steve Coll reveals what went on inside Saddam's palaces in his new book, "The Achilles Trap."



REX CHAPMAN, AUTHOR, "IT'S HARD FOR ME TO LIVE WITH ME" AND FORMER NBA PLAYER: I was too proud to talk to anybody and, you know, try to keep up

this facade that everything was going great for me on the outside.


AMANPOUR: -- Michel Martin speaks with basketball star and social media phenomenon Rex Chapman about his new memoir on the struggles he has with

mental health.

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

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins amid mounting tension in Jerusalem, across the Middle East, and amongst the Muslim population worldwide. The

threat of an Israeli invasion into Rafah is sparking a riff now between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his closest ally, the U.S. president,

Joe Biden.

President Biden warns such an incursion would cross a red line. Prime Minister Netanyahu responds that his red line means preventing another

October 7th. And he's again flatly rejected President Biden's call for a two-state solution.

Israeli officials say an offensive into Rafah is not imminent, but neither has it been ruled out. More than a million internally displaced

Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah. Food scarcity is bad there, but even worse in the north, which is why the U.S. and Europe are trying to ramp up

sea convoys of aid while also resorting to air-dropping food and humanitarian assistance into Gaza.

On Sunday, the U.S. and Jordan conducted another joint drop into Northern Gaza. Dangerous and desperate measures with no secure distribution and

local crime families grabbing whatever they can. Jordan's Queen Rania has been outspoken in defense of Gaza civilians and urging the United States

and other Israeli allies to use all their leverage to end what she calls Israel's deliberate effort to deprive those in need. And I spoke with her

exclusively from the King Abdullah Air Base in Jordan just ahead of another airdrop.


AMANPOUR: Queen Rania, welcome back to our program.


AMANPOUR: Can I first ask you, it is Ramadan, it's just started, and I wonder what your reflections are for yourself, for your family, for Muslims

around the world celebrating, or maybe that's not the right word, marking Ramadan this year in the middle of this war?

QUEEN AL ABDULLAH: Well, you know, Christiane, Ramadan for us is a month of worship, charity, and compassion for our fellow human being. And I think

this year, we're welcoming these holy days with very heavy hearts.

Ramadan is typically defined with family gatherings, people coming together, sharing a meal and breaking their fast together. But what is it

like for the people of Gaza today who are now hungry and thirsty in tents or makeshift shelters, who are mourning their death and mourning the life

that they had just a few months ago?

You know, Christiane, since the beginning of this war, Israel has cut off everything that is required to sustain a human life, food, fuel, shelter,

medicine, water, and it has been going on now for five months and left the people of Gaza completely reliant on outside assistance. And actually, it

has systematically denied and delayed a lot of that assistance, occasionally bombing some of the convoys that bring this assistance and

bombing some of the people -- shooting at some of the people who are trying to get whatever scarce resources that they can get.

According to the U.N. every single person in Gaza today is hungry. Over a quarter of the population, that's more than 550,000 people, are one step

away from famine. Experts say that they have never seen a population descend into such mass hunger so rapidly.


I mean, I'm hearing of people just eating whatever they can get their hands on, including grass or they're having to grind, you know, bird feed or

animal fodder just to make bread.

And in the north of Gaza, people are not on the verge of starvation, they're actually dying of starvation. It starts with the most vulnerable,

the elderly, the wounded, babies. We're hearing increasing number of babies who are dying from severe malnutrition and thirst. And if things don't

change, I think these cases are going to be spiraling throughout the strip.

And, you know, this has been a slow-motion mass murder of children five months in the making. Children who were thriving and healthy just months

ago are wasting away in front of their parents. You know, starvation is a very slow, cruel, and painful death. Your muscles shrink, your immune

system shuts down, your organs give out. Imagine being a parent, having to go through that, witness your child going through that and not being able

to do anything to help. It is absolutely shameful, outrageous, and entirely predictable what's happening in Gaza today because it was deliberate.

AMANPOUR: Queen Rania, we have been reporting systematically what you are describing. In fact, a lot of the world is now and has been reporting this

severe hunger, the statistics, the pictures that you're talking about. I wonder whether you think that is the reason why, for instance, the United

States, the U.K., other nations, which are allies of Israel, have started to really ramp up their need to deliver aid, like the airdrops that Jordan

has been involved in, you see the U.S. doing it. You see the idea of a floating pier in order to bring much more aid via the sea.

Do you think the message that you've just described has actually now gotten through?

QUEEN AL ABDULLAH: Well, look, let me just be very clear about what these airdrops are. They are us resorting to desperate measures in order to

address a desperate situation. These airdrops are literally just drops in an ocean of unmet needs. And King Abdullah has said from the very

beginning, they are neither sufficient nor they are substitute for, you know, humanitarian access at scale.

So, countries should not use them as a way out, nor should they be viewed as an excuse for not doing what needs to be done. And that is implementing

an immediate and sustained ceasefire, opening all access points into Gaza, particularly land routes, streamlining the inspection process and making

sure that there is safe access within Gaza so that the aid can be distributed.

Every moment counts. Children are starving as we speak. So, every moment and every meal counts. And so, I think now we're past the stage of trying

to talk Israel into doing these things. We need to actually start using measures and political leverage to get them to do those things.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you to describe what Jordan has done? Well, first of all, you're sitting in an air base. I believe behind you is some of the

goods and humanitarian items that will be dropped. Tell me when they're going to be dropped into Gaza and how has Jordan's experience been with,

for instance, its hospital there with the air dropping?

QUEEN AL ABDULLAH: Well, look, the reason why we started doing these air drops is we found that after trying so hard in vain to persuade Israel to

open the access points, the land access points, that we had to do something. We couldn't just sit idle and watch people starving. And so,

King Abdullah started, you know, organizing these air drops. But I have to emphasize that the need is much greater than what we're being able to


As it stands today, there are trucks -- there's tons of food in trucks that are miles away from people who are starving. So, this is -- the hunger is

not a natural disaster. This is a man-made -- an Israeli made disaster. It is a -- it is, you know, deprivation by design. No matter the volume of the

aid going in, nothing is a substitute for a ceasefire.

Delivering aid under bombardment does not stop the destruction, the death, and the heartbreak. We cannot save people from hunger only then to bomb

them to death. So, again, an immediate ceasefire is the number one priority.

AMANPOUR: So, clearly Hamas has said that it wants a long-term ceasefire. As you've heard, not only the Israeli government but also the U.S.

president said that when they thought there was a possibility of a ceasefire and a release of hostages and, you know, much increased aid into

Gaza, the last thing we heard was that it's up to Hamas to sign on.

What does Jordan believe to be the sticking point with a ceasefire?

QUEEN AL ABDULLAH: Look, I'm not privy to the specifics of the negotiations. What I do know is that knows that from a humanitarian

perspective we need to secure a ceasefire as soon as possible so that aid operations can be restored at scale, so that people can start burying their

dead, so that they can start healing.


This has been going on for way too long. And this is not a time to hold out for political victories. There are no victories to be had as long as this

war continues. There's only loss after loss after loss. And I believe that the International Community really needs to weigh in.

Israel has been able to operate with impunity, and that has really affected the credibility of many countries in the West. Now, I'm happy to see that

some nations have changed their positions, have shifted, you know, a country like France. We're very grateful to President Macron who has called

for a ceasefire and who has been with us executing these air drops right from the beginning. Countries like Spain, Belgium, Ireland, South Africa,

Latin America, all these countries are asking for a ceasefire.

We've seen solidarity from the global public and, you know, exceptional solidarity from the global public, and that sometimes created a rift

between the public and their own leaders, including the places where you are, where the public is wondering when are their governments going to

start taking more decisive positions.

You know, it's just that every time a child is being pulled out of the rubble, the credibility of countries, even like the United States, their

values of equality, justice and human rights, they're called into question. People in my part of the world are not only angry, they are disillusioned

and disappointed. Many people admired western values and now, they're having to rethink their worldview because they're asking, you know, how

come human rights are granted to some and denied to others?

AMANPOUR: So, President Biden publicly urged no offensive into Rafah, saying that it would cause -- I cannot sit back and see another 30,000

deaths in Gaza, and said to Israel that it would cause more damage to the Israeli cause than benefit Israel. Then Netanyahu responds saying, my red

line is no more Hamas, no more threats, and by the way, no state, no two- state solutions.

So, what is Jordan thinking about not just the immediate, but the day after? Because clearly you are the country, one of them, that does believe

in a two-state and does have a peace treaty with Israel.

QUEEN AL ABDULLAH: Well, look Christiane, I think it's no coincidence that we're witnessing one of the most violent episodes of this conflict under

one of the most hardline racist governments in Israel's history.

You know, Prime Minister Netanyahu, by his own admission, says that his policy was based on divide and conquer, covertly propping up Hamas in order

to undermine the Palestinian Authority and then say there's no partner for peace.

Last year, even before October 7th, we have set a record in terms of settler -- settlement expansion and construction. Just last week, the

Israeli government approved plans to build 3,500 more illegal settlements on occupied West Bank land. And sure, some of its allies condemned those

plans, but as in previous cases, there's condemnation, but then the plans are carried out.

As long as Israel is allowed to get away with breaking international law, as long as its allies don't hold it accountable, it will just increase its

sense of impunity. So, for years, Israel talks peace, but then condemns it to death by settlements, making a contiguous, independent Palestinian State

less viable by the day. And for the longest time, we hear the International Community talking about a two-state solution while allowing Israel to

create a one-state reality.

And so, you know, I think the time for trying to persuade Israel to do the right thing has long passed. It is time for us -- we are not -- when you

look at the horrendous reality that's in Gaza today, it is hard to believe that Israel is being unfairly singled out, that it's being held to a higher

standard. Critics of Israel merely wanted to do the bare minimum, which is just abide by international law.

AMANPOUR: Obviously, you were received at the White House along with the king. You also went to Capitol Hill where some of the strongest support

does reside. What message did you deliver on Capitol Hill and what did you hear from them?

QUEEN AL ABDULLAH: Well, I think a lot of people need to know more about this conflict, to really understand the intricacies of it, to understand

that this is one of the greatest historical injustices, and to understand what the root cause of this issue is, to understand that this conflict did

not begin on October 7th, that it was a result of years of occupation, of settlement expansion, of human rights abuses, of disregard for

international law.


And this is what led us to this point. You know, if we look at Israel today, you know, sometimes I -- you know, you hear the prime minister

justifying the war by saying that he is doing what the public wants and that the overwhelming majority of Israelis support this war. Well, you

know, I refuse to believe that an entire population can look at what's going on in Gaza and be OK with it.

In Israel, the dehumanization of Palestinians is systematic. It's ingrained. It is ubiquitous. They believe that if we don't kill them,

they're going to kill us. And so, I blame hardline Israeli leaders for keeping their people in this perpetual state of fear of an existential

threat that doesn't exist and making them feel like just killing Palestinians and killing Hamas is going to be the solution to the problem.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you --

QUEEN AL ABDULLAH: The real solution to their problem is to end the occupation. Palestinians do not hate Israelis because of who they are, they

hate them because what they're doing to them. And so, if we do the greatest guarantee for Israel's security, and this is what I want to say to what I

said to Americans, if you want a safeguard Israel's security, there is no better way to do it than through a just and comprehensive peace.

No army in the world, the strongest army in the world, the most proficient intelligence, whatever, will not guarantee Israel security as much as a

just and comprehensive peace would. We, in this part of the world, need to find a way, to share these holy lands in peace.

AMANPOUR: So, what you say -- I mean, basically the Israeli public does support the war because they want, A, their people back and B, they don't

want to live side by side with Hamas at all ever again. They don't want it to be in that situation under that threat.

You said it doesn't present an existential threat --

QUEEN AL ABDULLAH: Right. But I mean, let's just talk about --

AMANPOUR: Yes. You know, hold on a second. Hold on a second. I mean, the question is, how -- if it was you and you were to give a speech or a visit

to the Israeli people who said to you, but, Queen Rania, you may have a peace treaty with us, but look what Hamas did to us on October 7th.

What would you say to them about how they should -- I mean, you've talked about the history but they're in -- I mean, there's such a trauma that

everybody we talked to right now says it's still as if it is October 7th, even though Prime Minister Netanyahu's ratings are in the dumpster. They

don't support him, but they do support the idea of not having that threat anywhere near them anymore.

QUEEN AL ABDULLAH: You know, I would say that as devastating and as traumatic as October 7th was, it doesn't give Israel license to commit

atrocity after atrocity. And Israel experienced one October 7th, since then, the Palestinians have experienced 156 October 7th. You know, they

have been going through this every day.

And prior to October 7th, they have been living in 50 years of oppression, of occupation, of having their movement restricted, having every aspect of

their lives dominated, being humiliated. If we want -- if I speak to the Israeli public, I would say, if you want your peace and your security, you

have to address this big injustice that's on your doorstep. There is no shortcut. There is no security measure that is going to bring the more

hopeful future and the stability that you want in your lives, other than finding a way to live with Palestinians.

Israeli leaders must stop treating the existence of Palestinians as an inconvenient truth, as a demographic challenge, as the mode that leads to

be a mode every now and then. Palestinians are here to stay. And so, we have to find a way to live with one another. And we need to be able to re-

humanize, to be able to see the humanity of the other -- our humanity reflected in others' eyes.

You know, an Israeli mother should understand that a Palestinian mother cares about her children just as much as she does. And there is just no way

around that. I don't believe that peace is about politics. Peace is a bit about state of mind, it's about -- it's a culture, it is about values, and

those are the values that really need to be addressed, and they are long overdue.

AMANPOUR: Queen Rania, thank you very much for joining us.

QUEEN AL ABDULLAH: Thank you, Christiane.



AMANPOUR: Now, both the Gaza and Ukraine wars were addressed at the Oscars last night. Director Jonathan Glazer has some strong words as he accepted

the award for Best International Feature.

His chilling film, "Zone of Interest," follows the domestic life of the Nazi commandant and his family at Auschwitz.


JONATHAN GLAZER, WRITER AND DIRECTOR, "ZONE OF INTEREST": Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being

hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people. Whether the victims of October the -- whether the victims of

October the 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all the victims of this dehumanization. How do we resist?


AMANPOUR: Glazer's film is all about the banality of evil and a warning against complicity. Indeed, he told us in an interview last month, the film

is not saying, look at what they did, it's also saying, look at what we do.

And the war in Ukraine was also in the spotlight. The film, "20 Days in Mariupol," won the Oscar for Best Documentary. It was shot in that

Ukrainian port city during the early assault and siege by Russian forces. Here's photographer and director, Mstyslav Chernov.


MSTYSLAV CHERNOV, DIRECTOR, "20 DAYS IN MARIUPOL": This is the first Oscar in the Ukrainian history. We can make sure that the history, record is set

straight, and that the truth will prevail, and that the people of Mariupol and those who given their lives will never be forgotten. Because cinema

forms memories and memories form history.


AMANPOUR: And harrowing images like these from Mariupol will indeed be impossible to forget.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Careful. Wait.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Bring it higher, higher.


AMANPOUR: And two years on, Ukrainians continue to suffer such horrors every day. I spoke to Chernov back in December here in the studio.


CHERNOV: If we don't report everything as it is, if we don't show to people across the world, to our viewers, to our audience, the reality of

war, it becomes acceptable. It's a big danger not exposing the war for all its brutality, for all its absurd. And if it's polished, if it's sanitized,

then it's acceptable, and that shouldn't be the case.


AMANPOUR: So, the reality is that MAGA politics in Congress continues to prevent desperately needed ammunition and weapons reaching Ukraine. And

latest news from the battlefield shows that Russia currently is firing around 10,000 shells a day compared to just 2,000 a day from the Ukrainian

side. They are running out.

The best actor winner, Cillian Murphy, who played "Oppenheimer," father of the atomic bomb, dedicated his award to the peacemakers everywhere. It is

generally taken as an article of faith that the 2003 Iraq War was the single biggest American foreign policy blunder in recent history, with

blowbacks still being felt far and wide.

Investigations and special commissions established within weeks practically that Saddam Hussein actually did not possess the weapons of mass

destruction, which were the reason for George W. Bush's war. The two-decade mystery about Saddam Hussein's refusal to admit that is being revealed in a

breakthrough new book called "The Achilles Trap." Journalist Steve Coll uncovers the story from Inside Saddam's palaces, and he's joining me now to

explain the dangerous assumptions on both sides that paved the way for that war. Steve Coll, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So, honestly, it's war everywhere. It's in our consciences and our consciousness, and it's just everywhere, as we've just talked about in

this entire show. I wonder whether listening to everything that's happening now, you feel that actually this book, "The Achilles Trap," and the

miscommunication or maybe the deliberate misunderstandings led to a war that could have been prevented.

COLL: I think in the case of Iraq, yes, no doubt. And the misunderstanding was mutual. That's what I was reflecting on listening to some of the other

conversations in this program is that we live in a world of conflict, and that means a world of adversaries. As some of your guests have said about

different conflicts, the tendency of politicians, sometimes incented by their own domestic politics, is to dehumanize the enemy and to caricature



And what the story of Saddam Hussein's thinking about his WMD shows is that we did not understand who he was or why he was motivated to behave the way

he did.

AMANPOUR: And he didn't understand what the U.S. knew and didn't know. And he had his own ideas, basically out of whole cloth, about what America

might be thinking. So, first, I want to ask you, OK, this is a long time coming, this book. As I said, we understood very shortly after the invasion

that there were no WMD.

But it's taken this long for us to understand Saddam's inner thinking. And that's because you got access to all sorts of records. How did it take that

long to make them public, or at least to you?

COLL: Well, I mean, so it turns out that Saddam tape recorded his leadership conversations as assiduously as Richard Nixon, thousands of

hours. And he also kept records of his presidential office and his intelligence services. So, there's a vast trove of documentation and

recordings about what he was saying and thinking.

He was a micromanager. He wrote in the margins of a lot of memos that he sent around. But as you say, these records are not available. They haven't

generally been available. I ended up collaborating with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and nonprofit in the U.S. And we sued

the Pentagon, which holds them.

AMANPOUR: Is that like a foyer of freedom of information?

COLL: Precisely, yes. In order to file the lawsuit, you initially file a request under foyer, then they don't comply, then you sue them and then

they settle. And that's what happened. So, I got a batch of these materials that way.

And it's a complicated history. But essentially, those records do take you inside Saddam's mind, that critical points of his conflict with the United


AMANPOUR: Well, I don't know whether we should work backward or forward. I mean, he was wrong in the Iran-Iraq War about America, in the first Gulf

War about America, in the George W. Bush War about America.

So, what stood out the most? Let's just say about his miscalculation that led to the invasion and is toppling?

COLL: Well, he's so contradictory because he can be quite shrewd about the way the world is organized and about power. After all, he retained power

under threat for 20 years, so he must know something about how to manage the threats against him. At the same time, he saw the world through a

series of interlocking conspiracy theories that left him very confused about U.S. decision making or the reality of US capabilities.

So, for example, one reason why he didn't cooperate on WMD inspections in the run up to the war was that he believed the CIA already knew that he

didn't possess any WMD because, of course, they're omniscient. They know everything, but then follow the logic, since they know I don't have it, the

accusation that I do is just a game to set the stage for a war that has no relation to WMD. So, why should I play their game? Why should I cooperate?

It's all theater.

Now, that is a microcosm of a whole series of other similar beliefs that he held going back to the 1980s. And by the way, it wasn't as if he was all

crazy or without evidence for some of his beliefs, because we did things that were genuinely confusing for him.


COLL: Well, I mean, Iran-Contra, you mentioned the '80s, right? So, he starts a war with Iran in 1980, unprovoked. And then in 1982, the Reagan

administration panics, thinks he's about to lose the war. The Iranians are going to break through his lines, so they send the CIA officer to Baghdad,

carrying secret intelligence information to help the Iraqis see what's coming and to prevent it.

They then cooperate for years, the U.S. providing satellite pictures to Saddam, all along Saddam is saying to his comrades, we can see on the tapes

now, I don't trust this. These photos may be doctored, or if they're not doctored, they're giving the same ones to Iran. His team say, boss, you're

being too suspicious.

And then, in 1986, as you remember, it was announced in the United States that we were, in fact, cooperating with the Israelis to provide Ayatollah

Khomeini with weapons and intelligence not so --

AMANPOUR: So, it was literally all over the place?

COLL: It was literally all over the place. And so, there's this great tape of him, after Reagan makes the speech, announcing that he has, in fact,

been secretly supporting Iran, where Saddam comes in and says, I told you so. This is the reality. There is a permanent conspiracy involving the CIA,

the Israelis, Ayatollah Khomeini. And by the way, Khomeini is an American project. And even in the '90s, he would refer back to Iran-Contra in

explaining why he was taking a rebellious course.

AMANPOUR: And in the '90s, let's say the early '90s, when, you know, I remember because I covered it, there were weeks of mounting tension, and he

just kept threatening and threatening. And the U.S. -- what did the U.S. do? Because in your documents, you say something incredible. I want you to

say what you discovered Saddam Hussein say had he been warned?

COLL: You mean about going into Kuwait?


COLL: Yes.

AMANPOUR: In 1990.


COLL: Well -- so, he later said, if you didn't want me to go into Kuwait, why didn't you tell me? And this became, of course, a huge episode in

American politics at the time, because there was an ambassador in Baghdad, April Glaspie, a pioneering woman who was the first Arabist of her

generation to serve at that level.

And she was thrown under the bus by the Bush administration, saying that she had --

AMANPOUR: H. W. Bush.?

COLL: H. W. Bush.


COLL: That she had gone in and been too soft with Saddam in an important meeting. Well, I've now had the benefit of these records in hindsight. And

clearly, she has been falsely accused of being responsible for this, to the extent that she was -- two points, first, to the extent that what she said

was too soft, it was written for her by the H. W. White House. I mean, she was just reading out --

AMANPOUR: So, there was no Saddam Hussein, do not cross that red line, because we will oust you?

COLL: Because we were still trapped in the policy of cooperation with him. And George H. W. Bush, being a good foreign policy president, was calling

all around the Arab world, asking for advice. He saw the threats that Saddam was making. And he would call up King Fahd in Saudi Arabia, King

Hussein in Jordan, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and say, what should I think? I'm worried. And they would all say, we've got it, George. This is just a

bluff. Don't get involved. It's all just putting the arm on the Kuwaitis to get some loans forgiven. Please stay away.

And Bush, being, you know, a kind of internationalist, believing in the advice of allies, said, OK, I'll take their advice. And it turned out it

was wrong.

AMANPOUR: But isn't this something you also raised, the idea of miscommunication between leaders? Why didn't Bush pick up the phone and

call Saddam Hussein? And then, you have a very interesting -- we'll get to the Clinton one, and say, why didn't Bush call leader to leader?

COLL: Well, he should have and he might have. In fact, at the very end, when Iraqi forces went across the Kuwait border into the Emirate, his aides

rushed to him in the White House and said, time to call Saddam. And just as they were about to do that, they got word from the CIA that Iraqi troops

were already downtown. So, Bush says, well, I guess it's too late for that.

AMANPOUR: So, now, we go back to the fall of 2002. Here is George W. Bush on Saddam Hussein.


GEORGE W. BUSH, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: He deceives, he delays, he denies. And the United States, and I'm convinced the world community aren't going

to fall for that kind of rhetoric by him again.


AMANPOUR: So, we've discussed a little bit of it, but I think it's so interesting you write, a CIA capable of making an analytical mistake on the

scale of its myths about Iraq's WMD was not part of his world view.

COLL: Yes. And so, we've mentioned -- we talked before about how his confusion about the CIA's omniscience and omnipotence confused and misled

him. But, you know, let's remember the confusing underlying story.

So, in 1991, after Iraqi troops were expelled from Kuwait, we now know that Saddam ordered his son-in-law to destroy all the WMD stocks he had, but he

didn't tell anyone about what he had done. He didn't keep any records --

AMANPOUR: So, that's nuclear, biological, and --

COLL: Chemical.

AMANPOUR: All three?

COLL: All three, and also missiles with the -- that were banned because of their long-range capabilities. And so, he lied to his own generals, he lied

to inspectors about it, and he kept no records of what he had done.

AMANPOUR: Because?

COLL: Because he had it in his mind that he wanted to pass inspections and then be relieved of sanctions. And if he passed inspections, maybe the

Russians or the French would come in and support him and get sanctions relief.

He could only pass inspections if he didn't have anything there to get caught with, but at the same time to admit that he was disarming before the

world would have been humiliating, he would have none of that. He sought glory and dignity in the Arab world as a Fidel Castro defiant sort of

leader. And he also feared that it would make him vulnerable, that if Iran or Israel saw that he had no deterrence, that they would attack him.

AMANPOUR: It's remarkable. Again, back to communications. I think it's so revealing. One of the quotes, it's about Clinton, because I remember a lot

of cruise missiles into Iraq during the '90s. This is from Bill Clinton privately to Tony Blair, who was prime minister here in 1998. If I weren't

constrained by the press, says Clinton, I would pick up the call and call the SOB.

COLL: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And he didn't.

COLL: No, he didn't. And in fact --

AMANPOUR: So, what do you mean by the press? What did he mean by constrained by the press?

COLL: Well, he meant that he would be attacked by House Republicans who then controlled under then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, the House of

Representatives, and he felt under a lot of political pressure over Iraq. The Republicans were giving him a hard time saying he was being too soft on


And -- but what the larger issue is that we now can recognize that between 1991 and 2003, there was no contact at high levels between the Iraqi

government and the United States.

AMANPOUR: 1991 and 2003?


COLL: 2003. Not a single -- never mind Clinton picking up the phone and calling Saddam, not even at the intelligence service level, not in secret,

not diplomats talking to one another. They were completely isolated by design in order to try to maintain allies or a coalition of people who

would sign up to the sanctions.

So, they were afraid that if they started talking to Saddam that they would weaken the consensus around the sanction, which, after all, we now know

punished the Iraqi people more than they punished Saddam.

AMANPOUR: Awful. I mean, it was -- and we saw, after the toppling of Saddam, how the sanctions had essentially ravaged and tripled the country,

which was one part of how they weren't able to rise apart from anything else. But I think this is just incredibly crazy as well.

You wrote that if the United States had a better read on Saddam right before 2003, they might have realized that he had lost interest in the

military adventures and he turned to writing novels.

COLL: Yes, I'm afraid so. Yes, they're not very good. But he had entered his 60s. And in part, because we had no contact with him, so we have no

basis to kind of get that tactile human feel for who he had become, we didn't know that in his 60s he wasn't the same as he was when he I was a

younger adventurer. And he have become isolated within his own kind of palace and intelligence system, but he was using his time obsessively to

write novels in handwritten Arabic hours a day, turning pages over to his editors. And he wrote four in a period of two or three, four years. And

anyway, he had his mind on other subjects.

AMANPOUR: I want to ask you, you know, finally when he did talk to Americans, they were the interrogators.

COLL: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And, and he busy smoking cigarettes and cigars.

COLL: Cigars, yes.

AMANPOUR: What kind of relationship did they have? We've got 30 seconds.

COLL: Yes, there are about two records, one from an FBI interrogator and then also a CIA interrogator. And generally, if they asked him about

history, he was forthcoming and would be willing to explain why the Americans were wrong. Yes.

AMANPOUR: Yes. I wish we could go on. It's just a fascinating insight. Anyway, "The Achilles Trap." I didn't even ask you why -- well, we'll put

it online why is called the "The Achilles Trap." Steve Coll, thank you so much indeed.

Now, our next guest is a basketball veteran who spent 12 years in the NBA. Rex Chapman was a top 10 pick in 1988, but he gambled away his millions and

he became addicted to opioids after several injuries. He reflects on the highs and the lows of his career in a new memoir. And now, he shares his

story with Michel Martin.


MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Rex Chapman, thank you so much for talking with us.

REX CHAPMAN, AUTHOR, "IT'S HARD FOR ME TO LIVE WITH ME" AND FORMER NBA PLAYER: Thank you for having me, Michel. Thank you.

MARTIN: I mean, you know, best high school player in Kentucky, superstar at the University of Kentucky. First ever draft pick of the expansion

Charlotte Hornets. Member of the U.S. National team. And so, let's go back to the beginning. Why basketball?

CHAPMAN: Yes. You know, I played every sport growing up. I love what I did. We love football. I didn't like getting hit, but I liked hitting.

Baseball, I couldn't hit, but I could feel and I could pitch and all that, whatever season it was, I was a really good swimmer. That was my main sport

growing up first.

But basketball was -- you know, my dad played basketball. He knows everyone in basketball. He coached basketball. And from the time literally that I

could walk and pick up a basketball I was dribbling a basketball on the side of his practices. So, I learned probably how to dribble behind my back

and between my legs and all that stuff before I knew it was hard. It would just second nature to me.

By the time I got in first grade, I could do things the fifth and sixth graders were doing. And that was just kind of my chart. That's the way my

life went.

MARTIN: But somehow -- you know, 12 seasons in the NBA, but somehow the title of your memoir, "It's Hard for Me to Live with Me." It's hard to

fathom why.

CHAPMAN: I know. I struggled a lot in my life just with insecurities and different things. And I had -- I -- for sure, dating back to when I was a

teenager was starting to suffer from depression a little bit. And mental -- some mental illness. I was constantly getting in trouble. Just really

running wild. And I didn't really have any coping skills for what I was dealing with externally.

The basketball part was -- I'm not going to say it was easy, but it was -- I was -- I had worked so hard at it for so long that it was kind of like

second nature. And it was just all of the other stuff that I couldn't handle or had trouble handling off-court, interviews, relationships, living

in an adult world when I felt 12. So, yes, it's hard for me to live with me sometimes.


MARTIN: Still now? Still, to this day?

CHAPMAN: Still, some, but way better. You know, the last eight or nine years -- nine and a half actually, I've been clean from opioids. And really

from that point on, started making a conscious effort to try to figure out myself and kind of why I made the choices I did. And that's been painful,

but it's been good. I just didn't have any coping skills and I've had to learn how to sit in my bad emotions and not numb them, not run and get a

pain pill and try to escape. So, that's been the hardest part.

MARTIN: People are going to know you from lots of different parts of your life. Some people are going to know you as that kind of the basketball

star. Some people are going to know the fact that you did struggle with opioid addiction for years and were arrested for it. And other people are

going to know you as a kind of a social media guy that has like a million followers and you kind of lay it on the line.

You really go into detail on all of those lives and it's painful. It's painful to read in parts, but it has -- so that has to have been painful to

write. What made you want to do it?

CHAPMAN: It really has -- it's been terrifying. It's been -- I've kept a lot of this stuff bottled up for years. I mean, there were times I had to

just bail for a couple of weeks because emotionally I couldn't do it or I had remembered something that happened that I had completely

compartmentalized and had to kind of take a step back.

In 1986, I had, at school, unrelated to basketball, I had a panic attack. It was something that was going on. They were kind of telling me who I

could date and who I couldn't date at school. And I kind of realized that was B.S. And I had what -- at the time, you know, I'd only heard people

describe as like a nervous breakdown, like I woke up as a teenager and I couldn't move and everything seemed awful.

I thought everything is -- what's the point of any of this. And I forgot about that for about 30 years. And about six months ago when we were

finishing up the book, I had another panic attack. I've never had one. I'd never had one since, I had one again. And I'm sure therapy possibly could

have been a lifesaver for me when I was 18 or 19 years old.

I was too proud to talk to anybody and, you know, try to keep up this facade that everything was going great for me on the outside.

MARTIN: One of the really interesting things about your book is the way you deal with race, grapple with race. As a white player, the racial

dynamics of the sport and of the kind of the whole ecosystem of the sport. So, if I could just get you to read a little bit from the book.


MARTIN: You know, page 51.

CHAPMAN: I hear myself being compared often to former Wildcats, Kyle Macy is the one I hear the most. I also hear a lot of comparisons to non-

Kentucky players like Pete Maravich and Jerry West. No doubt those guys were great players, but I don't know anything about them except that they

are white. That bugs me because I think myself more like Darrell Griffith and N.C. State's David Thompson. The two guys I idolize the most, both of

them are killer athletes who attack the rim with abandon. I try to imitate them every time out.

But that's how it is in sports, white guys are compared to white guys and black guys are compared to black guys. It's a pattern that will recur

throughout my career and bothered me to no end.

MARTIN: And that's just the half of it. You were in love with -- it's fair to say in love with an African-American girl, right?


MARTIN: And you were discouraged from dating her. Say more about that.

CHAPMAN: Shawn Higgs and I -- Shawn is my -- she was my girlfriend in high school, like probably my first love, her first -- you know, we were 15, 16

years old and we grew up together. People in our hometown didn't like it very much. So, we kind of hid it and -- as best we could, all the kids


She went to Kentucky too. And she was a track star in high school. We were in town of about 60,000 where we grew up. And I think we just assumed that

when we went to school that it's a bigger city. I think we thought of Lexington, Kentucky as like New York.

We got to Lexington and started going to class together and stuff like that. And very quickly, I got called into the coach's office and they said,

hey, Rex, listen -- because also every school that recruited me knew Shawn was my girlfriend and they had made it clear to me that that was not going

to be an issue. All of them did.

And when I came in, you know, the coaches were in there and our head coach said, hey, Rex, listen, you and Shawn been walking to class together. You

need to be careful about that, maybe just -- you guys spend time together when it's dark or at night.


I said, yes, sir. And it's the most cowardest thing ever. And I just didn't -- I couldn't stand up for myself. And also, I knew I was going to have to

go tell Shawn. And so, you know, I just remember telling Shawn and her eyes starting to well up. And me in that moment thinking I'm never going to love

something so much that I hurt like this. And I felt something kind of breaking me a little bit at the time to where I started putting my emotions


MARTIN: I know you're sort of -- it's still personally painful, but what do you think that says about the sort of the world you were in writ large?

Is that that white players like yourself have to be sort of reserved for white people to like or what do you think that means?

CHAPMAN: Well, first of all, I didn't do the work to -- in college to be an academic all SCC person or make the dean's list, but I did miraculously.

They just put me on those things. I had -- you know, they needed my image to be the all-American kid on campus, white kid, homegrown from Kentucky.

And they didn't -- I guess, my dating, my girlfriend didn't fit that sort of image. And they were definitely afraid of it. They just were. And it

still makes me mad. It still makes me sad.

MARTIN: I see that. So, let's fast forward. The other big pain point in your life. You're in the pros. You are having a successful career. How did

the addiction start?

CHAPMAN: Yes, yes. Well, I think -- again, I was always a basketball addict. I just didn't -- you know, I didn't drink and drug, but I would

wake up in the middle of the night in a panic at midnight realizing someone on the West Coast was still at a park playing and I'd do push-ups or go run

and come back, go to bed. I was weirdly motivated like that.

So, I was an addict always. If somebody gave me a Jolly Rancher, the little candy, I'd be like, one? I want that whole bag. Those are good. Like, I've

always been that way. If I like it, I like it. And I started gambling. When I got stressed, I left and I was stressed all the time.

And so, I would go to the track, spend hours at the track, and then go back to the gym. So, that's probably where it started. And then, my last three

years of playing in the NBA, I had seven surgeries. Right at the end of my last surgery, a doctor gave me a new drug called OxyContin. He said, take

it. I took it, and in two days, I was in love. It was the greatest thing I've ever had in my life and probably have had.

It made me feel smarter, funnier, better, better husband, better dad. More relaxed in my own skin. If people came up and wanted to chitchat, I was all

for it. Like, come on. All my social anxiety went away. And as they say in rehab, drugs are fun at first and then it's drugs and problems. And then,

it's just problems after a short period of time. And that's what it was with me.

It was a very -- you know, 18 months after retiring, I was taking probably 40 Vicodin and 9 OxyContin a day. And Danny Ainge came to me and said, hey,

you are messing your life up. You got to go to rehab. So, that was kind of the start. And that was in 2001. And we go into rehab. And I did it three

different times. The last time in 2014, after I was arrested for shoplifting in an Apple store. I still can't. It's hard to say those words.

And yes, after that, I went to rehab. And I was broken and broke. And I was just -- I was rock bottom. And if I was going to live, then I was going to

have to try to figure out what landed me in the spot.

MARTIN: You tell this really heartbreaking story of when you were released from jail after having been arrested for shoplifting at an Apple store. And

you don't -- you know, you don't have your car. You don't have your -- you don't have anything. You don't have your license. You have nothing.

CHAPMAN: I'll read it for you.

MARTIN: You really don't mind?

CHAPMAN: OK. After a long sleepless night, I'm taken at 6:00 a.m. to appear in front of a judge. They let me go. As soon as they hand me my

wallet, I dig out that sheet of medicine and put it under my tongue. I have no way to get home. So, I start walking toward the freeway, my mind in a

total fog.


It's hot. And after 20 minutes, my son Zeke finds me and pulls up in his car. He gets out, comes around to hug me, and starts bawling. He keeps

asking me over and over if I'm OK. I know I am sad, but I don't really feel it. And I barely console him. That's what life is like when you're addicted

to drugs. You just go numb. Here I am, worst moment of my life, the worst of his two. Zeke is completely broken up. And yet, I don't even shed a


I climb back into his car. After about five minutes, the medicine kicks in. I feel much better and seek drives me home. Out one prison, back in to


MARTIN: That's tough.


MARTIN: But, you know, you're here to tell us about it. So, that's a victory, right?

CHAPMAN: I hope so. I hope so, yes.

MARTIN: You know, it's interesting, the same community that so let you down -- you know, not the same exact ones, but basketball world, right?


MARTIN: It's so disappointed you and with such hypocrites about the whole thing. When you kind of hit that moment, a lot of them really put their

arms around you.

CHAPMAN: The NBA has always done that. And I've never really spoken on this, but when I came in, I left school and I didn't want to leave school.

I didn't feel like I was ready to leave school yet, especially emotionally and socially.

Basketball-wise, I was fine and, you know, I went right into the NBA and was fine, physically. But emotionally, I wasn't. And when I got into the

NBA, guys like Magic Johnson and Isaiah Thomas and all those -- all the stars, black stars, they all put their arms around me, all of them.

And I was -- I still am. I feel like a lot of guys' little brother. You know, Joe Dumars and Rolando Blackman and all these guys, they knew, they

knew what I'd been through. None of us ever talked about it, but they were so damn nice to me.

And if not for them, my teammates, Dell Curry, Muggsy Bogues. Dell taught me how to tie a tie. But everyone really put their arm around me and really

helped raise me because I was the youngest player in the NBA by two or three years. And so, that part of it is so heartwarming and it almost

brings me to tears thinking about it when I have to articulate it because they didn't have do that. I always a competitor of theirs. And -- but they

did, and I'll never forget it.

MARTIN: What reaction are you getting? I know a lot of the younger athletes really enjoy it and follow you, but what about the basketball

world writ large?

CHAPMAN: So far, it's -- no, it's been very positive, which kind of makes me feel bad too. When you're 10 years old and you think about being a

famous athlete someday and maybe writing your memoir, this isn't the memoir that you want to write. I wanted to the write the one that Steve Nash will

write someday or Grant Hill will right someday, just the all-American guy that did everything and could handle all that stuff. I couldn't handle it.

And that makes me feel bad. And being praised for it is weird too.

I feel like I'm failing up. But a friend of mine told me the other day, he said, shut up. What you're doing is not failing. So, I had to take that in.

MARTIN: Well, before we let you go, you know, one of the other -- the big stories in basketball world right now is, of course, LeBron James. You were

King Rex for a minute, but he's King James, just scored 40,000 points. But the other big story, Caitlin Clark.


MARTIN: What do you think about her?

CHAPMAN: Love her. Also, LeBron took a picture with my book the other day and put it out, which just out of nowhere. I mean, I don't even know LeBron

like that. I just love and respect him. But great.

Caitlyn Clark, amazing. I think this all the time and I'm good friends with Candace Parker and different women's basketball players. My sister is two

years younger than I am, 54. She was a great athlete. But there were really women sports at the time. A lot of women had to play in men's, you know, on

the men -- on the boy's team, played boys little league and all that stuff.

What these women are doing -- and my sister didn't have WNBA players to look up to. There was no such thing. Now, the girls are -- and the women --

the young girls, have these idols like Candace Parker and Caitlin Clark to look to up to and forget the sport part of it.

The best times I've ever had in my life are on the back of a bus with my teammates, flying across the country with my teammates. We deprived young

women of that for a long time. And now, I just look in and I see all the heroes that these young ladies have to look up to.

I have three daughters. My daughters are growing up in a different world than my sister grew up in, and I couldn't be happier about that.


MARTIN: Well, Rex Chapman, it's been great talking with you.

CHAPMAN: Thank you for being so comforting because this is a tough subject and subject matter is tough to discuss and I just really appreciate your

care and kindness.

MARTIN: Well, thank you. Rex Chapman, thank you so much.

CHAPMAN: Thanks, Michel.


AMANPOUR: That's nice, Michel. And that is it for now. Remember, you can always catch us online, on our website, all over social media, and of

course our podcast.

Thanks for watching. Bye-bye from London.