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In America, NRA ‘thrives’ on horrific moments, says filmmaker

January 7th, 2015
07:23 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

As Republicans took control of both houses of U.S. Congress on Tuesday, a key goal for President Obama has never looked further away – enacting gun control reform.

Almost exactly two years after the horrific killing of 20 children and six schoolteachers in Newtown, Connecticut, attempts by advocates to enact new gun control legislation have failed.

A new documentary by PBS Frontline, “Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA,” premiered Tuesday, and explores the history and power of the gun-rights organization.

“This is an organization that is started in America as a kind of gun safety group, a marksmanship group,” filmmaker Michael Kirk told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Tuesday.

“In the 1960s, when President Kennedy was assassinated, when his brother, Bobby, was assassinated, and when Martin Luther King was killed, the government in America, the President, Lyndon Johnson, and the Congress basically enacted gun control legislation.”

“And it was at that moment that the NRA went from being a small, benign gun safety group to a tremendous political force in America.”


Filed under:  Gun Control • Latest Episode • U.S. Politics

Fidel Castro must have been involved in U.S.-Cuba deal, says his niece

December 18th, 2014
06:32 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

Fidel Castro’s niece told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday that the former president and revolutionary must have had a role in the decision-making process that led to the historic breakthrough in U.S.-Cuba relations.

Mariela Castro Espin, daughter of President Raul Castro, said she doesn’t know “what is his view about this process but imagine that at any moment he’s going to write his reflections as usual. But I’m certain that he’s really happy about it, he must have participated in all this decision-making.”

In the first television interview from a leading member of the Castro family since the move to renew U.S.-Cuba relations was announced by both countries’ presidents on Wednesday, Castro said she feels “thrilled and excited and feel that a dream has come true, something that we wanted for so many years.”

“Normalizing the relations is something we’ve always wanted since the beginning, at the start of the Revolution as declared by our leader Fidel Castro.”

The Cuban President’s daughter, who is an elected member of Cuba’s parliament and a civic leader, said she “didn’t have the slightest idea” the negotiations, which had been ongoing for 18 months and kept in secret, were ongoing.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Cuba • Latest Episode • U.S. Politics

Cuba policy change was 'a long time coming'

December 17th, 2014
02:48 PM ET

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Cuba • Latest Episode • U.S. Politics

CIA agents who tortured are vulnerable to prosecution in ‘any country in the world,’ says U.N. official

December 12th, 2014
08:43 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

CIA agents who tortured inmates can be prosecuted anywhere in the world, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, Ben Emmerson, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“They are considered as war crimes, they are crimes of international jurisdiction,” he said.

“Any country in the world can prosecute CIA agents involved in this activity, and Italy already has prosecuted, convicted 22 CIA agents, including the Milan station chief, and sentenced them to significant periods in prison in absentia.”

Italy sentenced the agents, including CIA station chief Robert Seldon Lady, to prison in absentia in 2009 for their role in the alleged CIA capture of a Muslim cleric on the streets of Milan; prosecutors there said that Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr was then rendered to Cairo, where he was tortured.

This danger of prosecution, of course, means that any CIA agent involved in the program could potentially be arrested whenever he or she leaves the United States.

A former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, Colonel Morris Davis, told Amanpour on Tuesday that “my advice would be vacation domestically.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Torture • U.S. Politics

U.S. Department of Justice performed ‘abominably’ over CIA torture program

December 11th, 2014
06:12 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

The CIA "enhanced interrogation" program, what amounted to torture, would not have been initiated if the Department of Justice had not performed “so abominably,” former U.S. Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday in an exclusive interview.

Mora was one of the first critics of the brutal interrogation tactics at Guantanamo Bay during the Bush administration, and led efforts within the U.S. Defense Department to try to halt the program, which was catalogued in an extensive Senate report on Tuesday.

“What a different place we’d be in today if the Department of Justice had not performed so abominably and abdicated its professional responsibilities to the country, to the President, to the agencies, and had provided quality legal advice on these kinds of issues.”

“There wouldn’t be the confusion that is evident in [CIA] director Brennan’s comments nor… We would not have entered into the torture programs that the nation entered into.”

Mora’s comments followed a rare press conference given by the CIA Director John Brennan, in which he stood by the organization but questioned some of its tactics.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Torture • U.S. Politics

CIA torture methods ‘are war crimes,’ says former Guantanamo chief prosecutor

December 9th, 2014
07:00 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

The abuses committed in the CIA’s "enhanced interrogation" program during the George W. Bush Administration were war crimes in the eyes of international law, Former Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay Colonel Morris Davis told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“These are also crimes in the international community, and we can’t, and we have no authority outside our borders to excuse this conduct so these are war crimes, are violations of the Convention against Torture.”

The U.S. Senate has for the first time laid bare the shocking wrongdoings carried out in the CIA’s network of black site detention centers between 2002 and 2008, following the September 11th attacks.

Colonel Davis said he “wasn’t shocked by the particulars and the techniques that were employed.”

“We’ve all heard about waterboarding and some of the other things that were done to the detainees as part of the program. I think what was breathtaking to the public looking at this is the quantity, the scope and the extent and the pervasiveness of this program that we’ve used for a period of time on a number of individuals.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Torture • U.S. Politics • War Crimes

A cry for justice in America

December 5th, 2014
11:15 AM ET

Imagine a world where the cry for justice rises coast to coast, perhaps echoing the last words of Eric Garner as he pleaded to the police who were harassing him "this stops today."

Christiane Amanpour has the story.

NY Congressman Hakeem Jeffries: I ‘worry every day’ about what a ‘bad apple’ police officer could do to my son

December 4th, 2014
03:14 PM ET

Click here to watch the full interview.

By Mick Krever, CNN

U.S. House Member Hakeem Jeffries, a black congressman from Brooklyn, New York, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday that he views some “bad apple” police officers as a threat to his son.

“I’ve got to worry every day about what could happen to him – not just from the robbers, but from a bad apple on the police department.”

His remarks came a day after a grand jury in the New York City borough of Staten Island decided not to indict a police officer who used a banned choke hold on an unarmed black man, which resulted in his death.

“I was really struggling as a father as to what to say to my older son in particular about what this verdict, or failure to indict, means in terms of his everyday actions on the streets of New York. I was actually comforted by the fact that I called and he got home safely.”

Jeffries called the decision a “stunning miscarriage of justice.”

“In many ways it’s a stain on the credibility of American democracy.”

“The overwhelming majority of New York City police officers are to be commended for the great work that they’ve done in partnership with the community in reducing crime.”

“But there are bad apples on the police force, and when you unleash them without consequence you see the type of tragedy that results.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • U.S. Politics

Bishop: Obama’s action on immigration a ‘real relief’ for millions

November 27th, 2014
11:15 AM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

President Obama’s new action on immigration will provide “real relief” for millions of families who are just trying to find “a better life,” Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

“I am very welcoming… [of] his move, his action, of course, because [it] will benefit at least five million people to really legalize their statuses here, and especially for all those adults who have already children, U.S. citizens born here.”

“And so it will be great for them to have a legal status and work here normally. And for them it's a real relief.”

Last week, through an executive order, the U.S. President announced that he intends to grant large numbers of undocumented immigrants protection from deportation; The Migration Policy Institute estimates that more than five million people could be protected.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • U.S. Politics

In America, ‘equal justice under law’?

November 26th, 2014
03:43 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

The grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson over the death of an unarmed black teenager Michael Brown has angered many Americans, who feel that equal justice under the country’s law system is failing.

So is that the case? CNN’s Christiane Amanpour put the question on Tuesday to Vincent Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and to CNN’s Senior Legal Analyst and Former Prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin.

They started by looking into how prosecutor Robert McCulloch handled the investigation into Brown’s death, which sparked protests in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson in August. The demonstrations have since spread across the country.

“I would draw a distinction between the process and the result. I actually think the result – no charges – is defensive, but I don’t think the process he [McCulloch] followed was appropriate,” Toobin told Amanpour.

“The best thing the criminal justice system can do is treat everyone the same, and the process the prosecutor used, using a grand jury, which is rarely used in any kind of setting and throwing all the evidence, rather than a selection of it before the grand jury almost seemed to dictate the result, which was an exoneration."


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • U.S. Politics
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