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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
What you need to know about the coronavirus outbreak as the global death toll passes 3,000.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We just won and we’ve won big because of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: South Carolina but Biden back in the game. Will Super Tuesday keep him there? I ask Congressman Jim Clyburn about his powerful
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: The Taliban has given a pledge and a very strong pledge and we’ll see how it all works out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The U.S. and Taliban signed a peace deal 18 years into the war. So, why is it already endangered? The Afghan ambassador to the United
Nations joins us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAUL ORTIZ: We have an opportunity to solve some of the immigration issues out there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The border patrol new deputy chief lays out his priorities.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
The coronavirus has killed more than 3,000 people now and infections are rising rapidly. The World Health Organization has raised its risk
assessment to very high. As a reality check and a warning, it says, to every government in the world, to contain the spread.
In some countries, tourist sites are being shut down, schools are closing. And here in the United Kingdom, the government has held its first crisis
summit on the outbreak. While in the United States, new reports reveal the illness could have been spreading in visibly in part of Washington State
for up to six weeks.
Joining us now is Dr. Paul Offit, an international expert in the fields of virology and immunology. He was an advisor on immunization at the CDC and
he’s now a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Offit, welcome back to the program.
DR. PAUL OFFIT, PROFESSOR OF VACCINOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, of course, everybody is wanting to know when, how, what, and, you know, uncertainty seems to be the rule of the day. What, though,
can you tell me about what the WHO is saying? By not labeling it a pandemic yet, it is talking about containment. So, it still believes that with the
right practices, this can be contained. What do you think?
OFFIT: I think that’s optimistic. I think you can assume that this virus will be very similar to influenza virus, which is to say that it has
similar symptoms, it has a similar mechanism of spread, it has a somewhat higher mortality rate, but not dramatically higher. And it’s very hard to
contain influenza virus, and I think for the same reason it will be hard to contain this virus.
Once it’s in the community, once there’s spread from people who are relatively asymptomatic or have very mild disease, I think it’s very hard
to contain. But I think the good news is that it’s very unlikely to be any more damaging than influenza virus is. I can’t imagine, frankly, that it
would cause one-tenth of the damage that influenza causes every year in the United States.
AMANPOUR: OK. That’s really interesting. You cannot imagine that it will cause one-tenth of the damage. How do you make that assessment, that is
potentially a tenth less deadly or damaging than the regular flu epidemic every year?
OFFIT: Well, the flu epidemic seems to be grandfathered in as OK. I mean, this year in the United States, so far, the CDC estimates that as of
February 22nd we’ve had between 300,000 and 500,000 hospitalizations caused by influenza. And this year in the United States, we’ve had between 18,000
and 46,000 deaths from influenza. It’s March — it’s early March, we have two deaths from this novel coronavirus so far in the United States. I would
be very surprised if this virus were able to catch up to the devastation that influenza virus causes.
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, that really is a reality check. But I guess people don’t know, nobody — we understand that it started potentially with
animals, maybe a snake in China and we are unused to that kind of incubator, so to speak.
The president of the United States has declared, as you know, a national health — a public health emergency. He’s talked about travel and
quarantines and all sorts of things. This is what Vice President Pence said today about the all-government approach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: The president has directed me to lead a whole of government approach to address the coronavirus in this country and
we are doing just that. And while the risk to the American public remains low, as the president said last week, you can be assured we’re ready for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you know, on the one hand he’s saying the risk remains low, which is sort of what you said, even if it spreads, the death count will be
much lower than normal influenza. But on the other hand, is the U.S. as prepared as it should be to contain this? What does it actually need to do?
OFFIT: Well, I think they did what needed to be done at the beginning, which is to try and restrict travel from countries where you knew that this
virus was spreading, and that was important to do. But once the virus is here, then restricting travel becomes, frankly, less important. Once
there’s community spread, then that becomes the issue.
I think that what the government has been good at is getting the information out there about what you should do to prevent this, which is to
try and stay home if you’re sick, that if you’re around someone who is ill, to try and, you know, stay away. Because it spread really by relatively
close contact. So, you — it spread by small droplets, when people are coughing or sneezing. So, if you see that, you know, try and steer clear,
wash your hands and just do common sense things, which we should do, frankly, every winter with influenza virus.
And I just think that the false perception of this virus is that it’s much, much more likely to kill you and that’s why it’s getting special attention.
But I would argue that still the mortality rate is — keeps coming down, as we understand this virus better and better, as we understand the number of
asymptomatic patients or mildly symptomatic patients, we’ve gone from 3 percent mortality to 2 percent mortality. Now, it’s around 1.5 percent. And
I think it’s tens of thousands of diagnostic test kits are brought into the country we’re going to see that that mortality rate may be even lower.
So, I think people have this notion of this virus as being uniquely deadly and that’s not true. It really is, in many ways, very much like influenza
virus that it’s spread, in its degree of contagiousness and I think its likelihood of causing you to be hospitalized or to die.
And you know, what worries me the most in this is that people are going to be so panicked that they’re going to overwhelm the health care system and
push to the side people that really do require medical attention and use up resources for people that really do require medical attention. It’s really
fear that I think we have to combat more than the virus itself in some ways.
AMANPOUR: Yes. It’s fear, again, linked to uncertainty. As someone said to me, it just proves that the world cannot tolerate uncertainty. So, what
you’re saying, I think, is very important and quite reassuring.
I do actually want to ask you, though, to react to what Bill Gates has said about this. And, you know, obviously he’s spent many, many years with his
foundation and many, many billions of dollars in the public health sphere. And particularly on immunization and these kinds of — well, all sorts of
different kind of viruses.
But he said in the New England Journal of Medicine, the virus, this one, has started behaving a lot like the once in a century pathogen we’ve been
worried about. He’s been saying for years we need to invest more in public health. I mean, the United States and many other countries need to make big
systemic changes to avoid possible pandemics. Of course, this one has not been labeled a pandemic.
What do you make of what he said, it’s showing the characteristics of this once in a century pathogen?
OFFIT: Well, remember three times every century we have an influenza pandemic. I think that it’s how you define a worldwide epidemic or pandemic
is, I guess, an open question. Certainly, there are now many countries in this world who are suffering this virus, and it’s a virus that doesn’t
appear to mutate, meaning that if you get infected with it you’re likely to be protected against it for the rest of your life.
I think, you know, we saw two other novel coronaviruses spread. We saw the SARS virus infect that 8,000 people and killed 800 people. We saw the MERS
virus infect about 2,500 people and kill 1,000 people. Both of those viruses’ sort of settled out and largely disappeared. We’ll see what
happens with now this third novel coronavirus. It may be a one or two-year phenomenon or several-year phenomenal. We’ll find out.
But I guess don’t see that as the kind of pandemic that one really worries about, for example in the past like small pox, you know, which would kill
one of every three people that was infected. This is far, far less virulent than that and I do think we do have, I think, a chance to make a vaccine
against this, although we probably won’t see a vaccine for 12 to 18 months. So, I don’t think it’s going to do anything for this particular outbreak
but would help in the future should there be future outbreaks.
AMANPOUR: Yes, that’s important because everybody is going to want to know, what about a vaccine? The president keeps promising a vaccine, you
know, post days, but many professionals, like yourself, you know, they say that it probably won’t be for 12 to 18 months. But I do find it fascinating
that you’re saying it’s not mutating yet or at least there’s no evidence that it’s mutating and it could in and of itself inoculate those who catch
it for the rest of their lives.
But I want to ask you about information flow. As you know, the White House, Vice President Pence, has asked for information, you know, to come through
their central zone, and do you think all doctors are getting the information they need?
Do you think, for instance — you read — must have read the report in the “Washington Post” of the whistle-blower at the Department of Health and
Human Services who said that, you know, she was somewhat worried about, you know, reporting the fact that health workers who went to one of the first
quarantine areas where people were being repatriated from Wuhan, the source of this outbreak, they went without masks or gloves or that kind of stuff.
I mean, you know, those are kind of basic no-nos.
OFFIT: Right. But it’s very hard to stop the spread of a respiratory virus, a virus that’s spread by small droplets. It is. I mean, I think it’s
unfortunate that that happened. I don’t think that’s going to be critical. I think if there’s anything in the United States that we should be critical
of, it’s that we were very slow to get out diagnostic test kits.
I mean, South Korea, for example, had tested more than 25,000 people in their country before we had tested 500. And I think that we really don’t
understand the base below the tip of the iceberg to really understand just how common this virus is in our country now, and therefore, which will
enable us to understand what the real mortality rate is.
But I do think that for whatever reason, we seem to be grandfathering in, you know, the amount of devastation that occurs the influenza every year. I
mean, when you watch, for example, Donald Trump and the other health professionals standing up at that podium, I mean, they prayed for the woman
who then had recently died of coronavirus, but, you know, we could just as easily pray for what at the time was at least 10,000 people who died of
So, we’ve labeled this virus maybe because it has a scary name like COVID- 19 that somehow that makes it far more devastating, but it’s not true. Maybe we should give influenza virus a scarier name. Maybe that would help.
AMANPOUR: Wow. Well, listen, about testing kits, which you bring up. Vice president said now that an additional 15,000 will be sent on to states and
places that need them. Is that enough?
OFFIT: I think it’s a good start. I do think we need as many testing kits out there so we can really get a sense of this. What worries me though is
that someone will have, say, a mild infection with an upper respiratory tract virus, they won’t know what it is and they’ll want to go to their
emergency department and get tested. That’s a bad idea.
I think if you have mild disease, you know, just, you know, stay home and do what you normally do when you have coughs and colds, which is, you know,
try and wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your eyes and mouth and nose and, you know, just do sort of commonsense things.
I just worry that because people have this false notion that this virus is uniquely virulent, uniquely able to kill that they’re going to handle their
normal cough and cold symptoms in the winter season differently and thus overwhelm the health care system to the detriment of the health care
AMANPOUR: And I just want to play just a little bit from Correspondent Ivan Watson. You mentioned South Korea. They started to test much, much
earlier. But now, they’ve — you know, they brought the military in. We’re just going to play this little excerpt from his report
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVAN WATSON: I’m instructed to stay in the car the whole time. I filled out a questionnaire to see whether
I have any symptoms or if I’m in a higher-risk category of people who have visited the City of Daegu, where more than 70 percent of Korea’s
coronavirus cases have been diagnosed.
This is a tough job that the nurses have and a volunteer doctor. They do five-hour shifts. They can’t go to the bathroom, they can’t drink water,
and as one of them told me, it’s cold here. Korea has tested more than 100,000 people since the outbreak began. This drive through site can test
more than 380 people a day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And then our correspondent had his — you know, his mouth swabbed and all the rest of it. So, they’re really rising to the occasion
there. Are you concerned? You’ve talked essentially about the U.S. fallout. What do you think about Asia right now? And we do see that apparently
reported cases in China are dropping now.
OFFIT: I think what’s happened in China thought is that you have now a lot of population immunity because there is a lot of asymptomatic infection,
there is a lot of mildly symptomatic infection. 80 percent of the cases in China fall into those categories. So, you know, I think there was a large
number of people now who have been infected and therefore are immune. And so, that sort of has now put a mote around the fire of this particular
But, you know, what bothers me in this, I guess, is if somebody comes, for example, into our hospital, the emergency room and is found to be infected
with this novel coronavirus, they’re going to be treated differently than someone who has influenza, which is to say they’ll be quarantined,
isolated. Whereas, you know, (INAUDIBLE) influenza, certainly, we practice good respiratory personal hygiene. But we wouldn’t quarantine them.
And I just — I don’t quite see the dramatic difference between these two viruses that allows us to treat one differently than the other. The one
difference, obviously, is we have currently a vaccine for influenza virus, but even with that in hand, realize we have between 20,000 and 40,000
deaths of influenza in this country even with the presence of a vaccine. So, I just think we’ve labeled this as some sort of, you know, preceding
zombie apocalypse and I just don’t think that’s what’s going on.
AMANPOUR: Well, I know that many people who are listening to you as you’re speaking to us will be very comforted to hear that and it’s really valuable
to put this into context because there has been so much panic. We mustn’t let down our guard.
But, Dr. Offit, thank you very much indeed.
Now, Congress is working to forge a multibillion-dollar spending package to fund the U.S. coronavirus response and the crisis is hitting at a busy time
for House Democrats who are preparing for the massive Super Tuesday primary. Let us see 14 states go to the polls on Tuesday.
The Democratic Presidential Race may be shaping into a battleground between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. The former vice president rocketed to first
place after an extraordinary showing in South Carolina this weekend. A victory that owes a lot, if not all to the endorsement of my next guest,
South Carolina congressman and house majority whip, Jim Clyburn.
Congressman, welcome to the program.
REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, thank you very much for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, listen, I just want to ask you first, are you satisfied with the package that you’re preparing to deal with this outbreak? You just
heard Dr. Offit who put it in quite I think sort of comforting context. But are you confident that the government in all its aspects is rising to the
occasion right now?
CLYBURN: Well, I’m not too sure about that. We are in negotiations on the House side. We are hopeful that we can get something in terms of, you know,
money to agree on this week, and we are dissatisfied a little bit with the negotiations.
The White House has asked for something in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion. We don’t think that’s near enough. We would like very much to
reach an agreement with our Republican colleagues this week and get something in the order of $6 to $8 billion out the door to work on this.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, let’s move on to, you know, the presidential race. Are you sort of — you’re a modest man, but are you accepting the
plaudits that your endorsement and passion, you know, for this case, really as Joe Biden says, basically brought him back from the brink of oblivion?
CLYBURN: Well, I appreciate the vice president and all of us who think that I had something to do with it. I tried very hard to do what I think is
in the best interest of the country.
You know, aside from all the issues that we discussed, housing, health care, energy, whatever it is, overarching in this discussion, as far as I’m
concerned, is what I like to call the goodness of this great country. I do believe that that is something we must take a hard look at, not just as it
relates to each other inside the country, but as we, as a country, relate to the rest of the world.
The bombastic kind of attitude that people bring to the political process is something that I don’t think is doing us any real good. Vice President
Biden has a history of getting along with people on both sides of the aisle, people irrespective of what their stations in life may be. I have
worked very closely with him for a couple of dozen years. I know him very well. He has, what I think, is necessary to set our country back on course,
bring our people back together.
This country is too divided and it’s divided along racial lines, gender lines, class lines. This, to me, is idiotic. We need somebody in the White
House which will step outside of these what I call noisy areas (ph) and onto a stage of bringing people together.
AMANPOUR: All right.
CLYBURN: And that’s why I’ve gone as far as I have with Joe Biden.
AMANPOUR: OK. But you’ve also said — I mean, he’s your friend, you’re backing him, that actually his campaign needs to be seriously retooled that
you’re not going to sit idly by. I mean, you’ve said this and watch mismanagement of the campaign. And in fact, Biden sort of, you know, agreed
with you and admitted as much when he was talking on the Sunday programs. Just listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He’s right about the fundraising. But for example, just last night we raised $5 million online. We’ve raised
about $18 million so far just this month. Things are beginning to change. And he’s right and I listen to his counsel and I think he — and I listen
to his counsel relative to how I can get better as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, how do you think he’s got to get better to compete properly on Super Tuesday and do you think that, you know, South Carolina was maybe
a flash in a pan and it might not re-materialize on Super Tuesday? What is your prediction?
CLYBURN: Well, I predict he’s going to do very well on Super Tuesday. I was up in North Carolina last night. I may be in Virginia later today. I
think he’s going to do well in North Carolina, in Virginia. Alabama, Mississippi, Texas. And I think we will surprise people in California as
So, I don’t think South Carolina was a flash in the pan. I think a lot of people were waiting to see whether or not he would come to life in South
Carolina, and he did come to a great life in South Carolina. And I think that was a launching pad. I said in the outset that what I was trying to do
is to create a surge to go into 14 states and I think one of the territories as well.
AMANPOUR: So, let me just move a little bit away from this particular, but it’s relevant, obviously. Joe Biden was in Selma over the weekend for the
Bloody Sunday commemorative march of 55 years ago. Your great friend and congressman and colleague, John Lewis, had his skull broken, you know, 55
years ago when he was actually at that march across the bridge.
And here is what he said. He went there despite the fact that he’s battling stage 4 pancreatic crisis and he went there and gave an impassioned speech.
Let’s just remind our viewers of what he said this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): I thought I was going die on this bridge. But somehow and some way, God almighty helped me. We cannot give up now. We
cannot give in. We must keep the faith, keep our eyes on the prize. We must go out and vote like we never ever voted before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Always the civil rights leader and really going out there to use this as a political exhortation to people to vote. How did you feel, I
guess, emotionally and politically watching him make that effort, given his illness?
CLYBURN: Well, you now, John Lewis and I have been friends for over 50 years. We first met in October 1960, when we were working together, forming
what became known as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, SNCC. John and I, back then, never ever worried or felt fearful about the
country. We were always apprehensive about whether or not we were doing the right thing.
So, I understand why he says, we never should give up. We’ve got to vote, as he said, like we never have before. Because he, like I, fear for today.
I talk to John a lot. We sit on the floor sometimes and reminisce. We talk about how we went out to challenge the system, wondering whether or not we
were doing the right thing, but never fearing that the country would respond in the proper way.
Today, he is fearful, I’m fearful. I talk to people all over my congressional district. They are absolutely frightened. They’re wondering
whether or not this democracy will survive. And we are getting active in this campaign because we think that there are some ominous signs developing
in the political process that we have got to get engaged, we’ve got to make sure that people go out and vote, we’ve got to restore dignity to the White
House. We’ve got to restore the respect around the nation that this country has lost in recent days and we’ve got to restore hope and faith in the
AMANPOUR: Congressman, obviously, you know, John Lewis just there echoing what you’re saying, people must come out and vote like they’ve never voted
before. But that requires inspiration. And as we’ve seen, this Democratic race, the most inspirational candidate has been on the Democratic side,
Bernie Sanders. He is the one who is drawing the massive rallies, the young people, huge Latino and Latina votes.
What do you think? Do you think no matter who wins on Tuesday that it should become a two-person race? Do you think the others, if they don’t get
at least a certain threshold, should follow what Mayor Buttigieg has done and pull out after Super Tuesday?
CLYBURN: I think after Super Tuesday everybody ought to take stock. Everybody ought to look at where they stand, what needs to be done, whether
our party needs to leave — go into this campaign and how we ought to react to each other.
I don’t know that we should run the risk of staying divided all the way up to the convention, go to the convention and have a real knockdown and drag-
out fight. I’ve been to those. I remember 1972. I was on that convention floor when we had that kind of a fight, and George McGovern was nominated,
and a lot of people felt very energized after that process. But we lost all but one state.
What we’ve got to do is think about what it is we are trying to do, irrespective of where you are on the spectrum, what would be, as John said
in his speech, keep your eyes on the prize. And the prize is the White House. So, let’s not lose sight of that.
CLYBURN: So, I think that people ought to look at the results in South Carolina. Joe Biden won all across the board. This stuff about he could not
get the youth vote, he got the youth vote in South Carolina. People are inspired by him. He may not be the most inspiring speaker, but he has the
record that’s the most inspiring. And that, to me, is what really matters.
AMANPOUR: OK. I have to ask you one last brief question. If it ends up a two-person race and then if it ends up Bernie Sanders, who is kind of the
McGovern that you’re talking about and raising that specter, will you support him and will you get people out to vote like they’ve never voted
before if he is the nominee?
CLYBURN: Absolutely. He is head and shoulders above the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I don’t believe that we are in any dire need
of independent candidates. I just believe that when it comes to who is best suited to take on the current president, I just think it’s Joe Biden.
AMANPOUR: All right.
CLYBURN: I think there are other people who are suited as well. But if I’ve got a guy who I think are two or three points better than the rest,
I’m going with the best.
CLYBURN: That’s why I’m with Joe Biden.
AMANPOUR: All right. Congressman Clyburn, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
CLYBURN: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: Now, on Saturday, the United States signed a deal with the Taliban that it hopes will finally end America’s longest war in
Afghanistan. Listen to President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We are going to be leaving and we’re going to be bringing our soldiers back home. We’ve been there for almost 20
years. That’s a long time. We’ve done a great job in terms of getting rid of terrorists. Now, it’s up to other countries to get rid of those
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The United States has been there since just after 9/11, 18 years ago. But the new deal is already hitting major road blocks. Afghanistan’s
president, Ashraf Ghani, expressed serious reservations about the timetable for a prisoner swap, which is a key part of the deal. While a source says
the Taliban is divided over the “reduction” in violence that it promised. Next week, the Afghan government will finally start negotiating face-to-
face with the Taliban.
So, with me to discuss this is, Adela Raz, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United Nations.
Welcome to the program, Ambassador.
ADELA RAZ, AFGHAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, what can you tell us? Do you believe this initial deal in preparation for face-to-face talks between your government and the Taliban
is a good step forward?
RAZ: It absolutely is. Because it’s a country we have been in war for quite some time. And I was raised and born in war and we all understand
what exactly it means to lose your beloved ones. So, we are ready. We are ready to end this conflict, to end this war, and this is an important step
taken by the U.S. government to open up an opportunity that a few years ago, his excellency, President Ghani, he offered, and he said that
Afghanistan and the Afghan government is ready to negotiate and speak with Taliban without any condition.
And I think, today, we see the results.
AMANPOUR: Are you concerned, because there are also reports today that there have been some breakdowns in various areas of this so-called
And, notice, we don’t call it a cease-fire. We don’t call it a cessation of hostilities. The best the U.S. has been able to get out of the Taliban is a
reduction in violence for a period of a few days.
Is it holding, as far as your government is concerned?
RAZ: Well, definitely not as it was before, the seven days ago, and it was expected.
It was expected that, after the seven days of the reduction in violence, there will be incidents. And — but we’re optimistic. And we’re hopeful,
because that’s the main reason we wanted to start a negotiation with Taliban, to end the violence, to end the conflict in the country.
And an increase in violence would not be a good indication of the genuine commitment the Taliban expresses that they have towards peace in
Afghanistan. So, an increase would be something that — it will alarm us, it will alarm our allies and our strategic partners, which is the U.S. as
AMANPOUR: Ambassador Raz, as I said, you are the sort of face of a kind of a liberated Afghanistan that came after 9/11, when the U.S. dispatched the
Taliban and al Qaeda.
You know firsthand what the Taliban did. And if Americans didn’t know anything about Afghanistan, they knew what the Taliban did to women and
girls there, refused them education, refused them any access to work in the public space. The country was at war for so, so long under the Taliban.
Do you believe that they will actually respect women’s rights, which is a key proponent of any peace deal? Do you think that there’s anything serious
at risk, or have they changed?
RAZ: Well, there are two answers or two parts to your questions.
If I speak as a government official, I’m going to say what strong confidence that I am not concerned, because I’m going to stand strong and
tall on protecting the rights of women. And those are the constitutional rights that were governed — given by our constitution by the Islamic
Republic of Afghanistan.
But if I speak as an Afghan woman, as an Afghan woman who was — lived during the Taliban time, during the Taliban regime, and I was stopped from
going to school at the time, I have fear, because the line or the definition or the statement the Taliban still uses towards rights of woman,
it’s the same as they used 25 years ago when they came to Kabul.
They said, Afghan women have the right according to Islam. And we absolutely agree. Islam does not protect — Islam does not prevent women
from their full potential.
It’s the definition how that interpretation arrives. And that position from their side has not been changed. So, there are those concerns. There are
And that’s where I think, we — as an Afghan woman, I am concerned, because, yes, my government is strongly committed, but will — the
international community, when, 19 years ago, they came to Afghanistan and one of the strong — or one of the first priority they identified, beside
dismantling al Qaeda, it was freeing Afghan women or giving the potential or the equal rights that they deserve.
And, today, here we are.
RAZ: I think Afghanistan is a new Afghanistan, because–
AMANPOUR: Let me just play this–
RAZ: — women.
So let me play this sound bite recently from the Taliban spokesperson about women and women’s education.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUHAMMAD SUHAIL SHAHEEN, TALIBAN SPOKESMAN: Women want to have education, and women want to have right of work. We do not have any problem with that.
Only, the issue is, the Islamic hijab, they observe, because it is an Islamic society, only that. And about the other thing is, as you mentioned,
at that time — at that time, we didn’t have the facilities.
AMANPOUR: — saying, right?
I mean, he’s saying, at that time he didn’t have the — I mean, I remember covering. They did have facilities. They just refused to allow girls to be
Have they changed? Can you hold them to this?
RAZ: Well, this is the line they used, as I said, 25 years ago.
RAZ: They said the exact same thing. They said the schools and the work environment is not favorable or not appropriate for a Muslim woman, and —
according to Islam.
And — well, it was not the hijab. At the time, it was — I was wearing a scarf. My family, my mother was wearing a scarf. And it was not the hijab.
I think we’re still carrying that.
It was the definition of how appropriate and what that appropriateness really means in the school or outside of the school. And, today, it’s not
only about education. I think what the new Afghanistan brings is the women leadership, and that leadership is in the justice sector.
That leadership is at the political leadership. That leadership, one time and the future, it would mean taking leadership in — as a president, as a
And these are really, really critical question that need to be raised. And these are the values. And these are the principles that the government is
committed and I am committed, as an Afghan official, to make sure that those are not given up in the negotiation and in the talks.
And these are the values that the international community, our friends and allies, should protect, because this is what makes the new Afghanistan
different than it was 25 years ago.
RAZ: And peace? Absolutely. I think, more than anyone, it’s the government of Afghanistan, it’s the people of Afghanistan that understand what exactly
it means to end conflict.
And we must end this conflict.
AMANPOUR: Ambassador, I have literally got 30 seconds.
AMANPOUR: I’m going to put up a map to show the areas of Afghanistan that are still contested. And it’s a massive splotch of red.
Many people who — indeed, Americans — who fought there, they don’t trust the Taliban right now. They think they are just — they just want to make a
deal, but they’re not really committed, because they’re winning.
The Taliban has got a lot of property, a lot of real estate. Why should they make a deal and give concessions? What would your answer be, in 30
RAZ: Well, we should give them a chance. We should still give it a try.
At the end of the day, they are Afghans too. And then we hope they also genuinely believe to end the conflict.
But we have to be cautious.
RAZ: We have to have conditions. And those conditions are our Islamic constitution, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and our format of the
government, which is a democracy that gives the rights to every Afghan.
That’s men and women, youth to have the same right to vote who they want to have as their leader.
AMANPOUR: OK, Ambassador Adela Raz, thank you very much.
And we will be watching, especially as the next stage of the negotiations get under way.
RAZ: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, our next guest was singled out in President Trump’s State of the Union address last month.
Raul Ortiz has a long history of serving his country. He joined the Border Patrol in 1991 and later served in Afghanistan. Now, thanks to Trump, he’s
the new deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol.
Over his career, he’s witnessed families being torn apart at the border.
And Walter Isaacson spoke to Ortiz and his home state of Texas about that and about his support for Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy.
WALTER ISAACSON: Chief, welcome to the show. Thanks for doing this.
RAUL ORTIZ, U.S. BORDER PATROL DEPUTY CHIEF: Thank you for having me.
ISAACSON: And congratulations on your new appointment.
ORTIZ: I’m excited about it.
ISAACSON: So you’re moving from the border up to Washington again.
Tell me your backstory from Del Rio, Texas.
ORTIZ: So, grew up in Del Rio.
My father grew up in a border community. My grandparents were originally from Mexico. They were born in Mexico, migrated to Del Rio, Texas, which is
about 150 miles west of San Antonio.
My father, early on, knew that he had to get away from the border community, so he joined the Army at the age of 16, wanted to see the world.
And, of course, the army accommodated, sent him all over.
He met my mother, who was serving in the Army at the same time, and they got married. And, shortly thereafter, they decided to move us back to Del
My father and my mother encouraged us to be — to serve in the military. It was one of the rules that my father had early on. He said, you will serve.
And, of course, me being a bit of a rebel, I said, well, I’m not going to serve right away. I’m going to go to college first.
And I did. I went to the University of Texas in San Antonio. But, afterwards, I decided that maybe I should serve. And so both my brother and
I joined the Army and served for several years, before we joined our respective law enforcement.
ISAACSON: And you were in Afghanistan for a while?
ORTIZ: I served two tours in Afghanistan in 2009 to 2010. And then, for a year, I worked for Ambassador Richard Holbrooke at the State Department and
served at his senior adviser for Department of Homeland Security.
And then I went back to Afghanistan a second time as the DHS attache to run our entire Homeland Security mission, and then ultimately ended up coming
back to Washington, D.C., as our deputy of operations, and then spent the last six-and-a-half years on the border in Texas, South Texas, from Rio
Grande Valley all the way up to Del Rio, as deputy chief and the chief right now.
And then I’m getting ready to start my new job.
ISAACSON: So with three generations of both knowledge and emotion about that border, what type of wisdom are you bringing from the border to
ORTIZ: one of the things that I think I need to share and stress to the rest of America and to the Beltway is that what happens on the border
affect those communities.
And so the decisions that we make at the national level, we have to take those opinions and those considerations into our thought process. And, for
me, I still have an awful lot of friends. My mother is 82 years old, still lives in the border community in Del Rio.
And so every decision that we make and that I make, I think, is mindful of the fact that it has a direct impact on those border communities. And so —
and it isn’t just about the border communities in Texas. We’re talking about the 2,000 miles on the southwest border, our northern border now that
I have to focus on, as well as our coastal sectors in Miami, New Orleans and in Puerto Rico.
ISAACSON: One of the things that truly hugs at the heartstrings of most of the public is the family separation issue.
Tell me, have you — when you watch that, when you see a family being separated, do you have any scenes where that’s happened and you just feel,
we have got to change this?
ORTIZ: Well, so, I mean, one of the things that and I think America has to recognize about family separations, that if the Border Patrol is involved
in a family separation in this day and age, it’s going to be because it’s in the best interests of the child.
So we find ourselves in these circumstances and law enforcement finds themselves in these circumstances day in and day out that you may have a
parent that may be abusing a child. You may have a parent that may be posing as a parent of a child.
And so all of those are situations where we’re going to have to intervene and there may be a family separation.
But I will tell you that no Border Patrol agent or law enforcement official wants to purposely separate a mother and a child or a father and a child if
they don’t have to. One of the things that we have to also recognize is that we overwhelmed the system.
When I say we, I say everybody. The cartels, the migrant population, the lack of government support, all of these things overwhelmed the system back
in 2014. And then we did it again in 2017 and 2018.
And, for me, as a field commander, as I looked around at the environment, I thought, well, my Border Patrol agents don’t have the luxury of saying,
sorry, I can’t process you right now or I can’t take you into custody right now.
They were really left with very little recourse as to what their next act was going to be. And that was to take these individuals into custody and do
everything they can to process them as quickly as they possibly can.
And we did a phenomenal job of doing that. And it took a while for us to get the assistance that we needed. But once we started to get the
assistance, and we started to see some policy adjustments, all of a sudden, those numbers started to drop.
And so I will tell you that, certainly, it is a difficult situation to see families torn apart, but, on any given day, there are families that are
making a conscious decision in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador to separate themselves from their children and send them three countries north into the
U.S. with a stranger, with a smuggle.
And those are environments that I don’t know that we’re taking into consideration. And so we need to figure out a way to prosecute those
smuggling organizations and those criminal organizations that are taking advantage of the situation as it exists right now.
ISAACSON: I know you have policy you have to follow. But, tell me, is it heart-wrenching, because you know it so well?
ORTIZ: Yes, most definitely.
As a father, as a grandfather, certainly, dealing with the humanitarian aspect of our mission set is awfully, awfully complicated. But it is also a
very emotional, a taxing issue that our officers and our civilian staff take very seriously.
One of the things that I think the rest of America fails to realize is that you can come down and visit, or you may watch a particular news scene of
something that’s happening in that border environment, but that’s just a snapshot of exactly what’s happening.
Our Border Patrol agents, the men and women that we represent, live and breathe this day in and day out. And they work in these processing centers,
and they deal with these unaccompanied children and these family units daily.
And then they have to go back to their own families and try and resolve those emotions between those two settings. And so, for me, what I want to
be able to do is let people know that we’re working out there in these environments with a tremendous amount of humanity for our fellow citizens.
We’re also doing it for even the people that we encounter in between the ports of entry that perhaps may have broken an immigration law or even
something even more serious, if they were smuggling narcotics.
I want to be able to tell that story through our lens, and so, that way, everybody understands that the Border Patrol agents that are out there
putting their life on a line on a daily basis, that they do it with very little fanfare, expectation, and so you have got to be able to balance that
And I think our Border Patrol agents do a tremendous job.
ISAACSON: Can you give me an example or a scene where you, yourself, saw something, and it really just affected you emotionally?
One of the things that really took a toll on me, it was about 2014, right after the unaccompanied children crisis really started to surface and
become a national news item.
We were out in the field. And we had encountered a minor that was under the age of 7. And the only thing she had that allowed us to identify her,
because — you know, was a piece of paper that said, “My name is” and a phone number.
And I thought to myself, how desperate did that family have to be to allow this young lady to travel through three countries with somebody that they
didn’t know? And seeing the security that the young lady felt when she was able to recognize that we were law enforcement officials there, and there
wasn’t going to be any harm done to her.
Later on, we found out that that young lady had been through a tremendous ordeal over the last four, five days. And so, for us, that happens on a
daily basis, whether it’s in South Texas, California, or Arizona.
And so all of those stories and those episodes that happen out there, they’re just — they take an emotional toll on you. You have got to take
that home and you have got to process that. And you have got to reconcile that against the fact that, hey, the job I’m doing out here is awfully,
awfully important, not just to me, but to the communities that I represent and to the rest of the nation.
ISAACSON: I think there were about 76,000 unaccompanied minors came through last year, came to the border last year, and that was an increase
of more than 50 percent.
And now you say it’s going down in the past few months. What caused it to spike? What’s causing it to go down?
ORTIZ: Well, traditionally, the Border Patrol has seen seasonal movements, trends.
One of the things that has certainly reduced the numbers has been the migrant protection protocols. This has allowed us to process these family
units and these individuals, and then retain them in Mexico with the shelter facilities, so, before they hear — the immigration hearing is
heard in the U.S.
And so we have an able to institute this process in California, South Texas, El Paso, and in Arizona. And it’s had a dramatic impact on the
amount of people that are crossing illegally.
What it’s also done is reduced the amount of people that have placed their lives in the hands of the smugglers. We have seen our rescue numbers drop,
and we have seen the deaths along the immediate border also drop.
And so those are important statistics for me, because the last thing we want to do is have a loss of life out there.
ISAACSON: You have been working the border for 29 years, let’s say. How has it changed under President Trump?
ORTIZ: I will tell you that the men and women at the Border Patrol feel like they do have an awful lot of support from the administration.
We have — like I said, over the last six or seven years, have taken a bit of a beating on several fronts. And the Border Patrol has been around since
1924. And we have got a long standing of honor and serving with integrity.
The president has made multiple trips down to the border in California, Arizona, and South Texas. He has demonstrated an awful lot of interest as
to what’s happening in the border environment. And I think our front-line officers recognize that.
ISAACSON: What would you change, though, in terms of the tone coming out of Washington?
ORTIZ: Well, certainly, across the board, I think we need to work towards more inclusiveness and make sure that we’re listening to the men and women
that are out there performing the job on a daily basis.
There’s got to be some changes. I have talked about, at one point, we had this humanitarian crisis, and then we had this morning — that was creating
the border security crisis.
But, all along, I think, more importantly, it really revolved around a policy crisis. And that’s one of those things that I want to encourage in
my new position in Washington, is to work on some of the policy issues that are out there, so, that way, we can ensure that we don’t face this same
problem set five years down the road, 10 years from now, because I do think that we have an opportunity to solve some of the immigration issues out
ISAACSON: What would you do to solve them?
ORTIZ: Certainly, I think we have an immigration population that’s already in this country that we need to make some decisions on.
You can take DACA, you can take all these issues, and I think there’s an opportunity to right the system, so to speak.
ISAACSON: In other words, one component would be some pathway to some legal status for people in the country?
ORTIZ: Yes, most definitely.
And then the second thing, I think, you have to ensure that, hey, we’re going to secure our border and discourage folks from taking advantage of
these loopholes, these legislative loopholes that exist right now.
And so I think it’s not just a two-legged stool. You have got to have the third leg and encourage these other governments, the capacity-building that
has to happen in these other governments, because somebody shouldn’t want to spend $4,000 to a smuggler in Honduras, when they can invest that $4,000
in their own country to make Honduras a little bit better place.
I have traveled in South America, and I have seen — and Central America — and I have seen some of the situations that exist down there. And so I want
to make sure that we are working with our foreign aid agencies to ensure that those countries have the resources that they need to make those
situations a little bit better for themselves.
ISAACSON: Do you think you need more of a wall or fence to be built?
ORTIZ: Yes, definitely.
I’m a big fan of the infrastructure system. I know it’s not just a fencing system. It’s the roads that go along with it. It’s the sensors. It’s the
technology. All of that plays into our border security apparatus or enterprise that we want to install on these border environments.
But I also recognize that it isn’t the silver bullet. You can’t just have fencing and say, OK, we can walk away from the border environment, because
I think you need those front-line officers out there to be able to respond.
I think you need technology in those more remote areas where fencing may not make as much sense. And so it isn’t a cookie-cutter approach to this. I
think our field commanders know it best. We have nine sector chiefs on the southwest border, and the equivalent on the northern border.
And we quite often ask them, what do you need resource-wise? And they tell us. And I can tell you, we have 2,000 less agents than we had probably 10
years ago. And so we need to increase our staffing levels. And so, yes, definitely, resourcing is going to be a big part of my new job.
ISAACSON: There’s been proposals from the White House to use the Border Patrol and others as a part of elite forces that would go into sanctuary
Is that something that the U.S. Border Patrol is trained and should be doing?
ORTIZ: So, once again, I have been a Border Patrol agent for 29 years, and we have served all over.
Any time there’s a natural disaster, an event that happens, our Border Patrol agents are some of the first ones to be called, even in this city. I
was a commander of the Hurricane Harvey response effort back several years ago.
If another agency asks our Border Patrol agents, especially our special operations detachments, for assistance, quite often, we’re going to assist
I have seen some of the media reporting on what’s occurring. And I will tell you that our special operations detachments are some of the best law
enforcement trained personnel in the country. And if they’re asked to do a particular mission set, I have all the confidence that they’re going to be
able to execute that job.
ISAACSON: Chief, thank you.
ORTIZ: Hey, thank you.
AMANPOUR: Well, you just heard Chief Ortiz talk about Hurricane Harvey.
So, finally, be sure to tune in tomorrow for our climate special.
I will be speaking Paul Polman, the former CEO of Unilever, who has been at the forefront of sustainable business, and to Kathy Sullivan, the first
American women to go on a space walk and former administrator of NOAA. She has a new memoir out called “Handprints on Hubble: An Astronaut’s Story of
That’s it for our program tonight. Remember, you can follow me an the show on Twitter. Thank you for watching “Amanpour and Company” on PBS and join us again tomorrow night.