Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Joint Chiefs Chairman Charles Q. Brown; 150 People Killed in Sudan Rebel Attack; Interview with Sudanese Researcher and Political Analyst Kholood Khair; Interview with The New York Times Chief Africa Correspondent Declan Walsh; Interview with Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired June 07, 2024 - 13:00:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.


GEN. CHARLES Q. BROWN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Our freedom is not free and democracy can stand on its own, but we've got to make sure we're prepared.


NEWTON: Defending democracy 80 years ago and today in Europe and on the home front. Christiane speaks with America's Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman

General C.Q. Brown in Normandy.

Then, devastation in Sudan, famine, death and displacement. We look inside one of the world's worst humanitarian catastrophes.

And --


ADRIAN FONTES, ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: While no election is perfect, we're hoping we can get pretty close.


NEWTON: -- protecting the vote one deepfake at a time. Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes is training poll workers to defend election


And a warm welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Paula Newton in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, whom we'll hear from in a moment from

now, from France, where President Joe Biden just spoke.

Now, he stood at Pointe du Hoc 80 years ago, 225 U.S. Rangers faced withering gunfire there to claim a small patch of territory. One crucial

step in the battle to reclaim Europe from the Nazis. Now, the president honored those who fought and died in Normandy in 1944 and said their voices

are summoning us right now to play our own part in defending freedom.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: They're not asking us to give or risk our lives, but they are asking us to care for others in our country more than

ourselves. They're not asking us to do their job, they're asking us to do our job, to protect freedom in our time, to defend democracy, to stand up

aggression abroad and at home, to be part of something bigger than ourselves.


NEWTON: Now, in Paris, meantime, Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and apologized for delaying a critical aid package held

up by Republicans in Congress.

President Biden's speech echoed an iconic address made at the same spot by, of course, his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, in 1984. And though Reagan is

Biden's ideological opposite, they espoused the very same values with one crucial distinction. While Reagan confronted the threats from Soviet

communism, President Biden faces a threat to democracy both abroad and from Russian President Putin. And at home, inside the United States.

Now, throughout the program today we'll report on the struggle for basic human rights in Europe and Sudan and of course all around the world.

But first, Christiane is in Paris for us, and she brings us an exclusive interview with chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General C.Q. Brown. I

mean, Christiane, I've really taken in all your commemorations this week from France. Can you believe it? I cried again with Jake Larson after

watching it twice. I encourage everyone to go to social media and look at it again.

But going to the moment, that moment for President Biden, what was your takeaway?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, it has been the most dramatic commemoration that I've ever covered, and I've been doing it

since 1994. And the reason being really set out in Biden's words, that is that, A, these veterans who did it and who -- some of whom are still alive

and being congratulated and rewarded and awarded again, they are a dwindling number.

But secondly, the most important thing is what they fought for, which was to free Europe and to destroy and kick out the Third Reich tyranny. They

did that successfully. And now, 80 years later, Europe is ravaged by another war. This time, it's not the Soviets, as Ronald Reagan alluded to,

but it's the Russians in the form of one man, Vladimir Putin, who decided that he wants to re-establish a sort of imperial Russia with its own sphere

of influence and interest.

And as such, that is why he's trying to go for Ukraine. As well as stamping out any idea of democracy, because the idea of democracy, whether in the

western nations or in Ukraine, is an existential threat to Putin's hold on power at home.


So, all of this. Biden and the other world leaders and the vets are commemorating the heroism of 80 years ago. And I did speak to the chairman

of the Joint Chiefs, C.Q. Brown, who is an Air Force general. He has been in combat. I was at Normandy. It was yesterday when he joined me at the

American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. And we spoke about the very real threat that exists today, as this battle for liberation in Europe started

in earnest 80 years ago.


AMANPOUR: Chairman, General C.Q. Brown. First of all, congratulations. Welcome.


AMANPOUR: What does it mean to you to be here?

BROWN: It just makes me think about the work that those that, you know, young people like we have today that were here 80 years ago and what they

were able to do, not just for Europe, but just for the world. And having a chance to meet a couple of them this morning, just completely impressive.

And it's been -- you know, I've had a long time of fascination with D-Day and Normandy growing up. And so, being here is a blessing.

AMANPOUR: And what sort of nugget did you take away from one or two of them that you talked to today?

BROWN: Well, just, you know, their stories and having read their stories of -- you know, a number of them that were 17, 18 years old, some that

actually forged their mother's signature so they could join. But then, not only what they did here for D-Day, but then they had full careers after

that and they -- how they continue to serve, not just in uniform, but continue to serve the nation.

AMANPOUR: You're an Air Force general. You've also flown in combat, and we're going to have flyovers and it's -- everybody's going to remember what

happened that day and those days after D-Day. Tell us what -- from your perspective as a combat airman, what would have been going on? The C-130s,

the Spitfires, all the other planes that were involved.

BROWN: Well, within all the orchestration, all the planning, and all the training, and this, particularly when you come into a combat situation,

there's certain things you can't predict, and -- but it's where your training comes into play, and you use the best of what you know and make

decisions in the moment, and that's what they were able to do during that time frame. That's what our service members do today.

You know, I have complete confidence. And our service members really built on the foundation of the greatest generation of the things they were able

to do, which allows us to do what we do today.

AMANPOUR: General, you are in the midst -- we're all in the midst of a raging war in Europe. Unlike anything in 80 years, we've not had this kind

of war. This celebration of the heroism and the eventual success and the liberation, the defense of democracy. Did you ever think that you would in

your career be here when it's at stake and at risk again in such a real form?

BROWN: No, not at all. But I feel very fortunate that I have -- I've been prepared for the position I'm in today, just like so many of our service

members that wear the uniform, they're prepared for these very complex situations.

As I said, I have complete confidence in our force, the work we do with our allies and partners. And, you know, this is why it's so important that we

pay attention and realize why we're here today is to prevent and think about what could happen in the future. And the work for those -- that were

done 80 years ago is a reason why we can --

AMANPOUR: President Zelenskyy's here. He's obviously very grateful for everything America has done in terms of arms supplies and support. But it

is still very much on a knife's edge. The delay in getting American weapons, seven months, gave Russia a head start, and is -- you know, the

crossing of the line into Kharkiv.

What do you think is going to happen in that battlefield in -- you know, now, in the next weeks and months?

BROWN: Well, you know, I can't predict what's going to happen. But I do know that, you know, when, Ukraine's been provided capability, they've been

able to do and work and defend themselves against this supposed, you know, more capable larger military.

And, you know, my hats off is to the will and the bravery of the Ukrainian people and their service members, having a chance to meet with some of them

and talk to General Syrskyi on a routine basis. But we've got to continue to support them. Because when aggression happens in one part of the world,

it can broaden to other parts of the world. And we saw that, you know, over 80 years ago.

AMANPOUR: Do you think they can reverse the advances Russia has made? I mean, it was a significant delay, and certainly, the Ukrainians blame that

delay for losing men and territory.

BROWN: Well, even if you look at what's happened over the course of the past year, I mean, there has not been a dramatic shift in in the lines

there. But we -- again, we've got to continue to support Ukraine and be able to push back against this aggression because it does have an impact,

not just for Ukraine, not just for Europe, but really for the entire world.


AMANPOUR: General, there's been a lot of talk about how much further NATO will go in supporting Ukraine. You know, the French president said that

there probably should be NATO boots on the ground in terms of trainers. And you yourself were quoted as saying, it's just a matter of time. It's

inevitable that's going to happen. Do you stand by that? And do you think Americans will be --

BROWN: You know, when I made that comment about being inevitable, it's after the fact you know, if you go back to we were supporting Ukraine with

trainers before the this conflict started. When this conflict is over, I would expect when we go back to your training. At the moment, you're

putting trainers into Ukraine, it doesn't necessarily -- it creates more risk really for NATO and NATO partners. But we --

AMANPOUR: So, that's off the table at the moment?

BROWN: For us, it is.

AMANPOUR: I've read in preparation for this interview and for D-Day, members of the Armed Services Committee, who you and your counterparts

regularly testify against, you know, saying that actually America's in a bind. It is the strongest military in the world. It has had the most

experience. It has the heaviest lift capacity. But China is outpacing you in the navy, in missiles. We can see that there's not enough hardware and

ammunition production, just in terms of what's happening in Ukraine.

What do you think needs to happen to the American military to suit the history that we're living right now?

BROWN: Well, just like you said, we are the most combat capable, the most respected force in the world. And my goal is to make sure it stays that

way. And part of that work is what we do as a nation, not just -- you know, in the -- for those of uniform, but what we do with our defense industrial

base to increase that capacity.

And we've seen that occur over the course of the past two plus years as the events played out in Ukraine. I think what it's also helped us to do is

help, you know, focus. You know, because the -- you know, this threat raises a lot of awareness that, you know, our freedom is not free and

democracy can stand on its own, but we've got to make sure we're prepared.

And you know, one of the things I focus on is ensuring that we have the war fighting skill to deter a future conflict.

AMANPOUR: And it's been said that Americans of this generation have not yet internalized what apparently a lot of military, certainly NATO

military, believe that it's not inconceivable that there could be a great power war again, and that you have to prepare for it.

Do you think people at home, even in Europe, understand how difficult a situation we're living through right now?

BROWN: Well, what I'll tell you, I have a sense it's coming along. And having, you know, worked in the Indo-Pacific before here in Europe and in

the Middle East, I've watched over the years, and particularly over the past few years, how the awareness, not only for those of us in uniform, but

with our elected leadership and the American public.

And we got to continue to remind folks that when you look at the situation that we're seeing, that we just can't watch. We got to be -- we got to


AMANPOUR: And do you also share those fears that, you know, for the first time in memory, I mean it's possible that there could be a great power war,

whether it's on -- in Europe, whether it's with China?

BROWN: No, I'm not fearful. I'm confident. And what I'm -- my confidence is the -- those young men and women that we have in uniform today have the

same dedication to those that showed up here 80 years ago. But we got to make sure we're doing all the things to prepare, you know, that they have

all the capability possible. So, it's not a fair fight. And that's when I focus on as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

AMANPOUR: Obviously, General, we know that, you know, the Nazis, they murdered in the death camp 6 million Jews. It was the most horrendous

barbarity that people can even digest. Now, we see antisemitism rising again in Europe, in the United States and elsewhere.

At the same time, there's horrors being committed in Israel. And you took your position just before October 7th as the chairman. And then this

terrible war in Gaza. What is America -- what would be best for America and for the world to try -- in that conflict right now, even -- when not in

Europe, but what do you think needs to happen?

BROWN: Well, you know, one of the things that we've got to continue is to allow countries to defend themselves, whether it be Ukraine or Israel. At

the same time, we've got to make sure we're paying attention to the civilian population and the impact to that civilian population. I mean,

that's something that as a military member and having, you know, worked in combat and led combat operations, you've got to take care of the combat

aspect of it, but you've also got to make sure you're paying attention to the civilians while you're executing.

And that's something that, you know, as I engage with my counterparts, it's a conversation we have on a recurring basis.


AMANPOUR: Because they say to me, when I talk to them, that the ratio between what they claim is Hamas and civilians is acceptable. They point to

what the U.S. did in Iraq or Afghanistan. And of course, as we know, and CNN has done investigations, U.S. weapons have been used even in some of

the latest in terms of the attack on the shelter in Rafah.

What is appropriate when you're going after a terrorist organization with an air force, for instance?

BROWN: Well, you know, I can't speak for, you know, what the Israelis are doing, but I'll just tell you from my experience, you know, during a defeat

ISIS campaign, you know, our goal was to be as precise as possible, to minimize any type of civilian casualties, but also realizing that the --

that there is that (INAUDIBLE) potential.

Now, you have to also look at your adversary. And Hamas, in this case, is surrounded themselves with civilians, which increases the risk to the

civilians. And that's something we try to -- again, when we execute, as we talk to our partners and execute together and when they're executing, we

talk to them about how best to minimize this --

AMANPOUR: Do they listen?

BROWN: They do. I mean, it's -- they're executing operations. You know, I'm not there executing operations, but I -- we do have a conversation

about it, and I do sense that, in that dialogue, that they do listen, and they adjust based on the conversation.

AMANPOUR: And finally, there's going to be air flyovers, C-130s, I think F-35s. Just as an airman yourself, what will you be feeling?

BROWN: Well, just, you know, having, you know, been in a cockpit and being able to operate in key events, whether it's a flyover or a combat

operations, I appreciate it more when I'm watching it. When you're in the middle of it, you're in the moment. But being able to look at it -- but it

gives me a chance to reflect. To reflect on my service, the service of those veterans that are here today, but also those that are represented by

the crosses that are behind us.

And you think about and reflect on the -- you know, those service members and their families and the impact that they've had and, you know, those

that paid the ultimate sacrifice, but those that continue to raise their right hAnd take an oath. And I'm just so proud of them.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Chairman, General C.Q. Brown, thank you for being with us.

BROWN: Thank you, Christiane. My pleasure.


AMANPOUR: And, Paula, really, at this moment in history, there is so much to reflect upon on the Ukraine front. President Zelenskyy has been here.

He's met both with President Biden and with President Macron. Both have pledged more aid in terms of financial and actual hardware, the French

offering mirage fighter jets. This is a huge thing. It's unclear when they'll get there, but they really, really need them.

In terms of what President Biden said about the boys of Pointe du Hoc, in the words of President Reagan 40 years ago, he challenged Americans. This

speech was quite directed to Americans at home as well, saying, do you really believe, and I'm paraphrasing, that these Rangers who did what they

did would expect anything less from us today in the United States? Would expect us not to defend democracy at home or indeed abroad?

So, he really threw down a gauntlet for Americans on the value of defending democracy and freedom, being willing to fight and die for it and

maintaining alliances, really sort of making a point, counterpoint between him and Trump as they head to the election.

I think allies will have found President Biden's speech incredibly invigorating with his commitment to keep America in the fight for democracy

or, you know, abroad and to defend the alliance. Paula.

NEWTON: Yes. And, Christiane, I guess the crucial question is, will that speech resonate in the United States where so many are turning towards a

certain brand of isolationism now? And I'm so glad you asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff about, you know, whether or not a great power war is

possible again, because so many see the shock of war come to their doorstep without ever realizing it was even a possibility.

Christiane Amanpour, thank you so much for your reporting from France. Really appreciate it.

And next, of course, we turn to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Sudan, where a civil war between two rival generals is having a catastrophic

impact on the civilian population there. UNICEF is condemning Wednesday's attack, and that was just on one day that left 35 Five Children dead.

In total, at least 150 people were killed and hundreds others injured in that attack by rebel forces on the village of Wad al-Noura. Correspondent

Nada Bashir reports on the disturbing evidence that is now emerging. And we want to warn you some of the images are difficult to watch.


NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Awaiting burial, the victims of another costly day in Sudan's year-long civil war. At least 150 people

were killed by rebel forces in the village of Wad al-Noura on Wednesday, local officials and eyewitnesses say. Though CNN cannot independently

confirm these claims.

These images, which our teams have geolocated, were shared on social media by an activist group. Most of those killed here by paramilitary Rapid

Support Forces were civilians, locals told us, including women and children.


An RSF spokesperson said Thursday it had targeted army bases in the area. The locals disputed this claim. The U.N.'s top official in Sudan has called

for a thorough investigation, but that may take time to heed.

Wad al-Noura is in Sudan's central Al Jazeera State, where RSF fighters are attempting to gain ground. They already control much of the country's

capital, Khartoum, seized after RSF leader, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, fell out with Army Chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in April last year,

unleashing violence across the country.

MARTIN GRIFFITHS, U.N. UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS: Two men basically decided that they were going to resolve their differences

through fighting, that they were going to take the country down. And this was an avoidable conflict.

BASHIR (voice-over): Since then, more than 15,000 people have reportedly been killed, according to one NGO. Some 9 million have been driven from

their homes, and U.N. aid chiefs warn of an imminent risk of famine.

Many civilians sought safety in al Fashir in Western Darfur. But that city is now also facing assault by RSF fighters, according to a Yale report out

Wednesday. As the RSF "continues to gain ground."


NEWTON: And our thanks to Nada Bashir reporting there on the devastating reality now unfolding in Sudan. Now, our next guest says what is happening

in her country can scarcely be described as anything short of apocalyptic. Kholood Khair is a Sudanese political analyst and she joins me alongside

New York Times correspondent Declan Walsh who recently spent three weeks in Sudan documenting the catastrophic situation. Both join us now from

Nairobi. And I welcome both of you to the program.

Kholood, I want to start with you, what we saw in that report, obviously, it's just the latest atrocity in this now more than a year-long civil war.

I mean, truly harrowing images. What people are going through there is clearly unimaginable. The U.N. says the number of internally displaced

people could reach 10 million.

You know, you wrote recently that forgetting Sudan's war is a privilege Sudanese don't have. I mean, tell us what it's like for you. It must be a

fever nightmare to be watching this crisis unfold in your home.

KHOLOOD KHAIR, SUDANESE RESEARCHER AND POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And it's one that you can't really get away from. Every Sudanese person I know

wakes up every morning, you know, with dread at the pit of their stomachs that they will get news of family members, friends, colleagues, et cetera

that have been killed in this war.

Several in the near abroad that have recently been displaced, as well as those who have been in the diaspora for some time and are supporting

various family members, friends, et cetera. It's become a very acute sort of tragedy in a very short space of time.

NEWTON: Very short space of time indeed. In fact, some of what you've recounted, it's just so shocking what families have had to endure and what

they're escaping.

I mean, Declan, I want to turn to you now. You spent three weeks traveling across Sudan, a harrowing experience, I'm sure, in and of itself. You were

with your colleague, photojournalist Ivor Prickett. We'll have a look at some of the photos shortly, but first, you went from the port of Sudan to

the Capitol Khartoum, what was that jour journey like? And I'm really wondering what you saw when you arrived in Khartoum, because apparently

many cannot believe what has happened to that city.

DECLAN WALSH, CHIEF AFRICA CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it's a journey along a road that many residents of Khartoum took in the early

stages of the war in the opposite direction when they were fleeing. When we went down it, the road was largely deserted, of course.

But as we got closer to Khartoum, we just passed checkpoint upon checkpoint, a lot of very jumpy fighters and intelligence and military

personnel. And as we came into the city itself, we saw fighter jets overhead. We saw large plumes of smoke on the far side of -- on the other

side of the Nile where a battle was taking place.

And then, we reached into Omdurman, which is in the western part of Khartoum. It's a part of the city where the Sudanese military has scored

some modest advances over the last number of months. And there we entered into this area of utter destruction where there had been very intense

fighting, entire streets of buildings were either destroyed or looted. And there were very few people living in those parts of the city. Those who

were there really were still quite stunned and told quite harrowing stories of how intense the fighting had been and how they'd managed to stay alive

through it.


NEWTON: Yes, the stories of survival are just chilling. Kholood, in Declan's reporting, he spoke to one Sudanese man who told him all of this

could have been avoided. You say, "This war, in many ways, is an inevitable, if deeply unfortunate consequence of nearly seven decades of

militarized politics in Sudan."

I take what you're saying as truth, but I ask you as well, how? How could this have been avoided? And who had to step in here?

KHAIR: Well, I mean, first of all, let's look at what's at stake. You have a country that is already very much in famine. You have a country where --

the world's largest displaced population. You have a country of total state collapse, or on the verge of total state collapse, because the country --

the war started in Khartoum, and Khartoum was hit first and hardest.

And in many ways, this -- the way that the fighting broke out was because the generals in charge who have, for most of Sudan's history, been in

charge, couldn't settle their differences in any other way but through armed conflict. And that's why there's a sort of inevitability that if you

have a military regime that's been entrenched for decades, this is the only way that conflicts can be sort of addressed.

But what I think it needs to be very much underscored is that there were opportunities before this -- the fighting broke out to really engage

diplomatically across a variety of different international actors, but we never saw that happen. And that's because the International Community was

very complacent in its engagement with Sudan, expecting a political deal to be signed when all signs and all factors pointed to actually an increasing

enmity between the two sides and an increasing irreconcilability between the two sides that were just never properly addressed.

NEWTON: Kholood, just to the point of what is to be done now, though, you underscore that the hypocrisy of framing Sudan as a forgotten conflict,

many of us have said that, and yet you say this characterization privileges the onlookers. I am going to point again to international officials. They

seem at a loss, even -- they've stopped and started a lot of peace negotiations here, but what would you say to them that can be done this


KHAIR: I think we've seen, you know, for example, the United Nations sort of behave as an activist organization, you know, calling for changes to be

made when actually some of those changes are in its hands. We've seen lawmakers and we've seen sort officials from different countries,

particularly in the west, talk about how Sudan should be put on the map and how it shouldn't be forgotten. But they are precisely the people allowing

it to be deprioritized and forgotten. So, there's a bit of a very strange, grim irony there.

And specifically, you know, in the next -- in the past few days, we're commemorating D-Day and the numbers of people who were killed in World War

II, but at the same time, International Community is not even paying attention to people who are dying now. And it's that kind of very strange

sort of political behavior, it's quite schizophrenic that I think is the problem.

When we think about bringing this war to an end, of course that's not going to happen unless serious leverage is put on the table. And frankly, with

all the myriad mediation platforms that we have seen take shape, not a single one of them has put sufficient leverage on the warring parties to

get them to stop the war. So, I don't see how it's going to change without that.

NEWTON: Leverage. Interesting. Declan just to pick up on what Kholood said there, in terms of the suffering right now, WFP says Sudan has the

potential to become the world's largest hunger crisis. Think about that, in terms of everything we talk about every day in various conflicts around the


Now, you reported on what you call the famine ward, and hospitals were -- children are starving right now. You had this picture of this young girl.

It was taken again by your colleague, Ivor Prickett. Tell us more about her story, but also the level of hunger that you witnessed.

WALSH: Yes, we went to malnutrition wards in both Port Sudan and in Khartoum, and we saw some very distressing scenes there of these, you know,

very crowded units in already overcrowded hospitals largely filled with very malnourished children, many of whom had just been brought in by their

very desperate parents in Khartoum.

We interviewed one woman who brought her twin children, I think they're about seven months old, and they had come across the front line, an

extremely difficult journey from a part of the city that was controlled by the RSF, and she told us how her food supply had gradually dwindled and

then her children just became extremely sick, and showed these signs of extreme malnutrition and she felt, at that point, she had no choice but to

make this desperate journey, you know, through checkpoints manned by fighters who were looting, asking for -- demanding money. Other people told

us they had actually seen people being shot at these checkpoints.


So, it was just really a measure of how desperate people were to find help. But the other problem is that there is so little help available in many of

these hospitals. Supplies are extremely low. Very little is getting through.

And most of the hospitals in the Khartoum region have already closed. We saw many that had been out, had been bombed during the fighting. Others

which had just simply closed because the staff had gone. So, it's just an extremely acute situation, and it's particularly shocking that it's taking

place in Khartoum, which, you know, it's easy to forget.

But just 15 months ago, before this war started, was one of the most populous cities in Africa. You know, in many respects, a very sophisticated

place. There had been certainly, you know, as Kholood was saying, hopes for a transition to democracy had taken a big blow with the coup that took

place in 2021, but there was still a process going on.

And what we could see in Khartoum was that just so much destruction, so much of the city in such a short space of time fell apart.

NEWTON: Yes, as I said, shocking when war arrives at your doorstep. And Sudan had been through so much for so many decades. I do, Declan, though,

want to point to another picture that was taken. This is of Hassan (ph). He's age 14. He was shot in the stomach by the Mustanfareen. It is youth

groups fighting alongside Sudan's military now. That's what they're being called now.

But I do want to return back to that issue of 2019, right, when you had so many young people take to the streets, they were protesting against Former

President Bashir, but they had hopes dreams. They thought Sudan would be much different in the year that we're looking at now.

Declan, I mean, what did you see in terms of what has become with this generation?

WALSH: Yes, that generation, unfortunately, is completely splintered. Of course, many people left the country at the start of the war. Many also

stayed on and turned their hand to relief work effectively. They run what were known as the Resistance Committees, which led really the uprising

against President Bashir have now turned into what are known as Emergency Response Group. And they often provide what little relief aid is available

in parts of Khartoum.

But other individuals have taken different paths. There are people who I met before the war who'd been at the front line of these protests against

the army, you know, firing, stones, risking their own lives. Now, some of those people have joined the group you just referenced, these Mustanfareen

militias, popular defense militias, who've now taken up arms, usually, in most cases, on the side of the Sudanese military against the Rapid Support


So, you see this young generation that were a source of so much hope just a few years ago, and now, really on the back butt, either trying to find a

new place in politics, or taking up arms as part of the war.

NEWTON: Yes, it is stunning that we're looking at perhaps yet another lost generation. Kholood, I do want to talk to you about some of the reports

that have come out certainly about the number of people killed, but also the risk of genocide.

I want you to hear now from the U.N. special adviser on the prevention of genocide. And, you know, she warns that the situation today bears all the

marks and the risks of genocide. With strong allegations that this crime is already being committed, why does it seem to you that these warnings are

going unheeded?

KHAIR: I think there are several reasons. One, it's very hard to get data from -- on the ground because of the telecoms blackout. But there has been

some considerable research by Amnesty International, by Human Rights Watch by the Raoul Wallenberg Center that indicate crimes against humanity, and

in the case of the Raoul Wallenberg Center, a genocide.

And of course, one has to remember that the war that started in Darfur over 20 years ago has never really been fully resolved. And we're seeing the

same patterns of violence then -- the -- now that we saw then. So, actually, this is kind of a slam dunk in terms of I'm characterizing this

both politically and legally as a genocide.

I think there's a reticence here in using the word genocide because of other contexts, namely Gaza and Palestine, where the International

Community would feel under pressure if it's characterizing one set of violence as a genocide. genocide to do so elsewhere.

But I think what is becoming abundantly clear is that that's no longer a position that is tenable or that is sort of forgivable. And that the

numbers of people that we're seeing, not just who have undergone these -- have been victim of these serious atrocities, but also the numbers that we

were expecting to see with an RSF takeover in al Fashir simply make -- you know, sort of turning away from and ignoring the atrocities that are taking

place as including genocide completely -- you know, impossible to ignore.


I think what needs to happen very, very quickly is that the United Nations needs to -- followed by member states, particularly in the west, needs to

declare the genocide has been taking place in Sudan and also to declare simultaneously that a famine is taking place in Sudan.

And without those two things, it's impossible to get -- to put in place protection of civilian's mechanisms that could have any impact in saving


NEWTON: Kholood -- Declan, look, I have less than a minute left, but we could write an entire book about the foreign interference right now in

Sudan as well. How menacing is it and how dangerous does it also make the situation?

WALSH: Honestly, it's really the worst-case scenario that people feared at the outset of the war, unfortunately, seems to be coming to pass. You know,

the two belligerents effectively are -- I've shown that neither side is capable of winning militarily. And so, they're turning to these outside

countries, largely for supplies of weapons in order to try and boost their chances. And that is leading to -- you know, you've got countries like the

United Arab Emirates on the side of Rapid Support Forces, Russia, Iran on the other side.

And unfortunately, what that's leading to is, you know, greater carnage on the battlefields in which civilians are being killed, but it's also greatly

complicating those efforts referenced to try and reach a diplomatic solution because how simply too many players are involved.

NEWTON: Right. Yes, it's such complications, even just to try and save lives. Kholood Khair, Declan Walsh, we'll have to leave it there for now,

but really grateful for your insights. Appreciate it.

And next to artificial intelligence, which we want to remind you. is growing more powerful by the day. And if in the wrong hands can be

weaponized, stoking the flames of disinformation as we gear up for the all- important U.S. presidential election.

Now, Arizona's secretary of state, Adrian Fontes, is worried about the spike in A.I. generated campaign content, and he joins Hari Sreenivasan to

share how he's prepping others to combat this challenge. And just a note here, this conversation includes clips from actual deepfake videos, right?

They're fake, but they are watermarked to try and prevent them from being used further in a misleading way.

And this is at a time, of course, when there is so much information to parse. And of course, so many critical choices. Our goal here is to help

you separate fact from fiction.


HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Paula, thanks. Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, thanks so much for joining us. You are in

charge of elections in a crucial state, Arizonand you've done something pretty radical on the last few weeks, which is to help people understand

that there is going to be a flood of misinformation and disinformation around the election. Why did you do this?

ADRIAN FONTES, ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, first, thanks for having me. And second, we've got to be prepared. You know, protecting democracy is

a critical component now of what we should do as election administrators across the United States of Americand we are seeing similar preparations in

a variety of different areas, not just in personnel security, information, technology, security for our software systems and our networking systems.

And we're doing it in other ways here in Arizona as well, the proliferation of artificial intelligence, particularly degenerative artificial

intelligence is something that a lot of people haven't seen yet. And so, just to make sure that the folks who run the fundamentals of our democracy

are prepared, we're doing everything we can to help them.

SREENIVASAN: Now, you have a military background and you ran something called Tabletop Exercises with different groups of people. Explain kind of

what you tried to do.

FONTES: So, this is pretty typical in law enforcement and military spaces where you will sit around a table and just imagine a game of "Dungeons and

Dragons," but the scenarios are real. And imagine walking through an election day where you have news reports coming at you, you have different

sorts of folks talking about different things that end up happening, that is what we do in our Tabletop Exercises.

We inject into a regular day's conversation some of the scenarios that folks might face so that they'll be prepared when it actually does end up

happening. How do you talk to your communications folks? How do you talk to your supply chain folks? How do you talk to your law enforcement folks? And

this coordination happens in a pretty rapid-fire space because when you're running elections, you've only got one day.

And the calendar doesn't stop. You don't get any extension, so you've got to do it right the first time. Practice makes perfect. And while no

election is perfect, we're hoping we can get pretty close.

SREENIVASAN: So, you're trying to do this to prepare people on your team, law enforcement, the media, so that if this happens on election day,

they're not surprised by it and they've maybe gone through the motions before?

FONTES: And that's exactly right. And that's exactly why we're using a deepfakes created by artificial intelligence of myself and other elections

officials. We started back in December training elections officials. We've continued with a media training, a media Tabletop Exercise for our partners

in local and national media.


And this month in June, we're doing law enforcement agencies so that they can at least see what's going on. If there's anything I learned in the

Marine Corps is that you want to train with an awareness of the weapons that your enemies might use against you so that it's not new, so that

you're not excited by it when it happens.

SREENIVASAN: I want to prepare our audience here. What they're about to see is a clip. Not of you. Obviously, we are speaking to the real human

being you. You're probably sitting at the same desk here, but let's play a clip of this video. It feels amazingly real and that's kind of why I want

to prepare the audience.


AI RENDERING OF ADRIAN FONTES' VOICE: This is an impersonation of Arizona secretary of state, Adrian Fontes using generative A.I. The video was

created as part of the Arizona election security and A.I. Tabletop Exercise for the media.

Our goal is to make sure folks understand the capabilities of current deepfake technology and the dangers it poses to the public.


SREENIVASAN: I mean, how easy was that to make?

FONTES: Well, the process consisted of the following. I looked into the camera here at my desk. As you can see, it's a very similar background,

just a little different angle. I read off of the screen for about 30 seconds. And then, I had a conversation with the technologist for four

minutes while the generation of that deepfake happened. And they had programmed in the text that the deepfake was supposed to say, and bam, it


SREENIVASAN: I want to just put a fine point on it. None of the words that were in that video ever came out of your mouth. It's not like the recording

just remixed things that you'd already said. This is something that you had physically not said but you had a computer say, pretending to be you in

your voice. Is that right?

FONTES: That's correct. The technology actually learns my voice. It learns my mannerisms. It learns my -- the way that I look, it learns the

environment behind me and what I'm wearing, and then you can make it do whatever you want. You could have changed my jacket color to green instead

of blue. You could change my language, and the way that my mouth moves would actually match that language.

We've done some deepfakes in other languages than English as well, and they're pretty convincing.

SREENIVASAN: You know what, I want to show the audience a clip of you speaking German. Now, I took some high school German and this is way beyond

what I understand. Let's take a listen.


AI RENDERING OF ADRIAN FONTES' VOICE: Let's try talking in German.

For a malicious adversary, neither you nor your target need to be able to speak a language to general content for it.

Consider the best and worst ways this technology can be used. It allows an individual to communicate with an audience in their native language using

your voice. However, a malicious actor could use your likeness and benefit from the trust that people place in you to trick them and spread dangerous



SREENIVASAN: OK. So, game this out for me. Here I am near election day, I have a video that shows up on my Facebook page or some other social

platform, it is the secretary of state of Arizona speaking in whatever language I'm comfortable with, saying, you know what, the polls are

suddenly closed at 2:00. What -- How do I process this information knowing that it could be you, but it could not be you?

FONTES: Well, look, the bottom line is this, there are trusted sources of information that people can depend on, mostly those are, in the United

States, the secretary of state's offices, your local election administrator, either at the county or the municipal level. And the rules

are set pretty much solidly way ahead of time, and it's a very, very rare emergency. It almost never happens where polls get closed unless there is,

again, an emergency of some sort. And usually that's defined with very narrow geographic location, sometimes one or two polling places during a

flood or a hurricane or something like that.

So, if there is something that invokes an emotion in you like, holy mackerel, that's crazy. That's weird. That's strange. What we're asking

folks to do is go to those trusted sources of information and find out if what you just saw is just something that was created to evoke that emotion

in you because it seems so unusual.

And this is one of the parts of -- one of the ways that we're trying to get folks to understAnd be better consumers of information, even if it seems

like it's coming from some of those trusted sources.

SREENIVASAN: You know, one of the video samples that got a lot of attention in Arizona, I want to play this here, this is a Kari Lake, a

Republican running for the Senate in Arizona. Let's take a look at this video.


AI RENDERING OF KARI LAKE'S VOICE: Hi. I'm Kari Lake. Subscribe to the Arizona Agenda for hard hitting, real news, and a preview of the terrifying

artificial intelligence coming your way in the next election. Like this video, which is an A.I. deepfake the Arizona Agenda made to show you just

how good this technology is getting.


Did you realize this video is fake? Well, in the next six months, this technology will get a lot better. By the time the November election rolls

around, you'll hardly be able to tell the difference between reality and artificial intelligence.


SREENIVASAN: This Kari Lake video that you just saw was not created by her campaign. They sent out a cease-and-desist letter to the creator of that

video. At this point, you know, I see people scratching their heads saying, wait a minute, like that look like as good a campaign ad, the same quality,

you know, all I'm missing at the very end is, I'm Joe Biden and I approve this message or I'm Donald Trump and I approve this message, right? And

even that you could fake.

So, what is my sort of stamp that this is actually anything that I see on video coming into a political cycle like this is real?

FONTES: Well, it's interesting that you say stamp, because there are some major technology companies that are working directly with my office and I

believe other secretaries of state to figure out a method by which we can, I'll just say watermark for lack of a better word, some of the authentic

messages that are coming from our offices.

Look, if you're trying to figure out -- particularly the information, not so much about candidates but a lot of states are making laws about that.

But if you want to look at the time, place, and manner, sort of the regulations of how elections are supposed to happen, go to the dot gov

websites. It's real hard to pirate one of those or to fake one of those. The dot gov websites are usually pretty well trusted.

The other thing I think that people can do is make sure that you're getting informed now about candidates, how they feel about certain issues, what

they think about certain positions, and start making up your mind early, because what we do know is that early voting is really available in a lot

of places across the United States of America. So, that option is available, you know, to avoid the last second emergency issues. We're

telling people to think about that as an option.

SREENIVASAN: I mean, it's a bit of civics lessons, perhaps for people, but your budget to conduct this free and fair election in Arizona, I mean, that

is not coming from the federal government, right?

FONTES: That's true. And it's been a pet peeve of mine for a long time. And I can tell you, I have been up and down Capitol Hill trying to get

folks to understand, elections were declared an American critical infrastructure in January of 2017. There is still no sustained federal

funding for elections administration in the United States of America.

Just like airports or dams or bridges, this keeps America moving, right? Election administration is critical to the nation, to the republic. We've

got to fund it from the federal level, for federal offices and federal elections under federal rules.

The states have their own issues across the country. Many of them are underfunding a lot of these election offices because folks just kind of

assume, well, it happens once every couple of years. We plan for elections two years ahead of time. We've got to get all of our stuff ready. There's a

lot of maintenance and operations that go on behind the scenes.

And so, we really are in a space right now where we have to advocate more forcefully, not just for our budgets, but for the safety of our folks and

to make sure they maintain that professional training and upkeep that they need as folks who are going to continue to protect our democracy.

SREENIVASAN: Now, I've heard that you have a threat analyst that works for you in your office. Is that right?

FONTES: Yes, we do. We've got a chief information security officer here who oversees our Security Department. It's four people deep. And one of

those folks is a threat analyst. This is a person who unfortunately spends a lot of time in the deep, dark corners of the internet, watching the

conversations that are happening, paying attention to potential threats that may arise. And then, when appropriate, communicating those to law

enforcement for appropriate investigation or any other sort of action that they may decide to do.

We're not a law enforcement agency, but we believe that keeping our folks well-informed and safe is going to maintain -- is going to stay a priority

for my administration. So, we've got more than our share of threats in this office, not only to myself, but my staff. And so, we're going to be


SREENIVASAN: So, tell me a little bit about that. I mean, what is the threat atmosphere like? I mean, I remember the scenes at the polls,

especially election watchers that were at times kind of encroaching on the work of people that were actually trying to count the ballots. I mean, what

has been -- what's it been like to be part of or to run the elections in Arizona over these past couple of years?

FONTES: Well, it certainly has been a challenge, particularly since there's a group of people in the United States who have decided that they

don't like democracy, that they don't want to trust their fellow citizens, and they just don't want elections to actually happen. They want to have

undue and violent influence on regular citizens who are just doing their jobs.


So, what we've had to do is really step up in a space that we, generally speaking, were not experienced in. Now, my military background aside, we've

partnered with local and federal law enforcement and state agencies to make sure that we're providing the best possible coverage for our folks. We're

doing whatever training may be necessary. Some of it might be a little bit scary.

But at the end of the day, we want our people to be safe. We want our employees to be safe. Mostly, we want our voters to feel safe when they

vote, whether it's at home, in our ballot by mail system, which is very robust, or if they want to come into one of the vote centers across


It's not been an easy task, but it is an important task. And again, we're going to do whatever we can to maintain our free and fair elections in

Arizona, which we have done, not just here in Arizona, but across the United States of America for a long, long time.

SREENIVASAN: Have you or members of your office been threatened with personal harm?

FONTES: I have and others have. And what we do is react appropriately. Not a lot of details I'm willing to share. But at the end of the day, we trust

our law enforcement partners to advise us well. And we are seeing an increase in investigations and prosecutions from the Department of Justice

and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, particularly if and when threats come from outside of our state lines.

This cooperation, we're very grateful for. But it's too bad that it has to happen. It's too bad that there are people out there who are, you know,

operating in the world of grievance only and think that intimidation and threats is the way that civilized society ought to run. It's not. And so,

we're going to protect against it, we're going to defend against it, and we're going to do everything we can to continue to provide good elections

and solid believable outcomes for our voters.

SREENIVASAN: As we're having this conversation right now, you've got a case pending in your state with Rudy Giuliani and 18 others who've been

indicted on charges related to spreading false information about voter fraud in the 2020 election. And I wonder, do you see any correlation,

connection, link between what happened then and the ecosystem that we're in now, where people have basically alternate facts and alternate realities of

what's happening and might not trust the results of the election in your very state?

FONTES: There's absolutely a correlation. I mean, this is an extension of the same big lie that has polluted the American political system for a long

time. But this is not a political issue. And I don't think anybody should be fooled by this is a D versus an R thing. This is a democracy versus non-

democracy thing. This is Americans trusting one another and moving forward with the peaceful transfer of power versus some people who just don't care

what your vote was, whether you won or whether you lost. These are folks who want to overturn or get rid of American elections as a foundational

value that they have.

Now, I can't speak directly to the criminal indictment that belongs to the attorney general. And the folks on the grand jury, they decided there was

enough to -- evidence to indict, and so be it. But this is an extension of the same big lie. And unfortunately, we still have people in public office

who have the temerity to continue to deny that their fellow citizens are just doing their jobs well, in spite of the fact that they have zero

evidence to show any of those claims to be true.

So, I think folks ought to just stop lying and get on with the program, and the program is this, if you win, you won. If you lose, try harder next

time. That's just how American elections are supposed to work.

SREENIVASAN: Right now, we have a candidate in Former President Trump who essentially says if he does not win, that the system is rigged against him,

that the election is already rigged. And, you know, when you have an enormous number of Republicans in Arizona who have this concern, oh, you

know what, Fontes, he's already in the tank. I mean, this is already going to go one way. I'm not going to believe the results if I don't like the


I mean, how do you deal with that large segment of your population?

FONTES: Well, I'd refer them back to 2020. You know, I was on the ballot with Donald Trump in 2020 when I ran for re-election as Maricopa County

Recorder. And I lost, just like he did. And I believed the voters. I believed in the American citizens who ran our elections. Because I saw it

from the inside.

I was there, you know, as we performed those post-election audits. I saw the reality of the circumstance and I was willing to concede because the

peaceful transfer of power in this country, from one elected official to the other, is a hallmark of what it means to be an American.

And all of the court cases have shown zero evidence. All of the -- you know, the accusations have been proven to be false.

And so, this isn't -- again, this is not a political thing. This is not a left versus right thing. This is a truth and reality versus the grievance

of some people thing. And I'm not going to back down just because somebody is going to scream politics. They're wrong if that's what they're saying

because, you know, my track record proves that they're wrong.

SREENIVASAN: Adrian Fontes, Arizona Secretary of State, thanks so much for joining us.

FONTES: Thanks for having me.



NEWTON: And finally, for us, we remember a powerful moment when solidarity stood strong against bigotry and hatred. On Wednesday, Palestinian

journalist Saif Qawasmi was harassed and assaulted by Israeli youths who were celebrating Jerusalem Day in the Old City.

The annual celebration commemorates the capture of East 1967 war. But has recently become a platform for the far-right, marked by violence between

Israelis and Palestinians.

Kicked and punched by marchers, Qawasmi was simply trying to report on the events on honorable duty in any thriving democracy.

Haaretz Israeli journalists near Hassan (ph) stepped in to shield Qawasmi from those blows. An image that speaks volumes about how freedom of the

press and the safety of journalists should not be mere political tokens.

And that's it for now. I want thank everyone for watching. Goodbye from New York.