tv Amanpour on PBS PBS February 28, 2018 6:00am-6:31am PST
♪ welcome to "amanpour" on pbs. tonight, a new poll reveals that americans don't think president trump is doing enough to protect their upcoming elections from hackers. we talk russia, war and cyberspace and on land with the former u.s. counterterrorism czar richard clark. plus, paying off your desperate journey to europe with sex work? correspondent nima's shocking new discoveries from the migrant trail. ♪ >> "amanpour" on pbs was made possible by the generous support of rosalind p. walter.
good evening, everyone and welcome to the program. i'm christiane amanpour in london. the all-important u.s. political barometer, the mid-term elections, are fast approaching. and a majority of americans are really worried about more foreign interference. and they don't believe their president is doing enough to protect them from it. a new cnn poll today shows that 60% of americans are not confident of trump's response. this, as the director of the national security agency and cyber command, chief mike rogers told senators on capitol hill that the president has not directed him to disrupt russia's election-hacking machine. here is an exchange he had with senator reed. >> essentially we have not taken on the russians yet. we're watching them intrude in our elections, spread misinformation, become more sophisticated, try to achieve strategic objectives, and we're
just essentially sitting back and waiting. >> i don't know if i would characterize it as we're sitting back and waiting. but i will say it's probably -- again, i apologize. i don't want to get into classified here. it's probably fair to say that we have not opted to engage in some of the same behaviors that we are seeing. >> rogers also warned that russia has not paid a high enough price yet to change its behavior. nobody is better suited to address all of this than richard clark. he served as president george w. bush's point person on cyber security and is national coordinator for security and counterterrorism for both presidents bush and clinton. and he joins me now. welcome to the program, richard clark. >> it's great to be with you. >> so, you heard what admiral mike rogers said on capitol hill there. i mean, that's a pretty big admission, isn't it, from a security chief to say that we're not countering them like for
like. >> in the obama administration, the president decided that any offensive cyber activity, even covertly, had to be approved by him. so, nsa and cyber command cannot take the initiative to go out and defend the united states against the kind of bots and trolls that the russians have been using. >> uh-huh. >> the same bots and trolls they used in the last presidential election they're still using and they used this year in the virginia governor's election and this year in the alabama senate election. and no one tried to stop them because the white house has to tell nsa and cyber command to do that, to give them the authority. and the president has not given them the authority. >> so, how unusual is that fact that the president has not actually directed them to do what would seem like an obvious counter espionage or counterhacking operation?
and compared to what president obama did, did he give authority to fight back like for like against russian interference? >> no, he didn't because i don't think they realized during the obama administration the full scope of what the russians were doing until it was too late. but it's highly unusual that after all the facts that we now know that the white house is doing nothing. and it's not just in going after the bots and the trolls, there's a comprehensive plan that any president would have turned to his staff and said, give me a comprehensive plan to protect the american elections against any kind of foreign interference. and if i were given that job, any one of the presidents i worked for, i would have been back in the morning with a ten-point plan and a budget. the president's never asked for it. there are people in the white house who could do it. the man who is now in charge of cyber policy in the white house is rob joyce.
he comes out of the very nsa unit that would be tasked to do this mission. so, he knows it can be done. the president hasn't asked him to do it. >> what would your ten-point plan and budget do? you heard also what admiral rogers said or senator reed said that russia has not yet paid a high enough price to force it to change its behavior. so what should be done? what would you advise? >> well, just for fun, the first thing i would do is take that internet research agency in st. petersburg and knock it offline. i would fry every computer in the building just to make a point. and we can do that. we can do that and it wouldn't be difficult to do. i would do that and i would take all of the organizations associated with it. you know, putin's chef is what the guy is called who owns the so-called internet research agency.
he also owns the para military to it, putin's kind of black water paramilitary force that's fighting in syria. and he owns a vast network of other businesses where he's making money selling things to the government. and you can bet some of that money is being kicked back to putin. i would take down the entire network of all of those organizations, do computer attacks on them, fry their software and hardware, turn their computers into doorstops. we have the ability to do that. and we should do that just to make a point. >> well, it sounds awfully exciting and thrilling, actually, sort of like something out of a spy movie. but could there be equal and worse retaliation? i mean, it sounds eminently sensible what you're saying and you obviously have the experience in this counter domain, what might be the response?
>> well, look, it is true that when ever you attack a country using cyber weapons or any other kind of weapons, overtly or covertly, you risk retaliation. but the alternative is to say, we're so afraid of retaliation that you can keep hitting us and we'll never hit back. and i think that's not the message we want to send. i think we want to send the message that if you interfere in our democracy, if you continue to do that, that's off limits. if you do that, we will make you pay a much higher price than you have made us pay. if you want to keep escalating, fine. we can do that. we'll win in the end if you want to keep escalating. that's the kind of message we should send. that's the kind of message putin understands. he doesn't understand passivity. he doesn't understand the sort of non-reaction the americans are giving.
the other part of the ten-point plan i think has to focus on securing the machinery of our elections. we still have states where about machines that have no paper backup. they need to be replaced. we still have voter registries that could easily be hacked. we know the russians got into 21 states voter registries. we don't know what they did. maybe they did nothing. but they could get into them again. they could delete names. they could change addresses. they could cause confusion. they could make it difficult for people to vote. our election system should be rock solid, nonassailable. we can also do things to stop the russians from putting money into our elections through foreign cutouts. now they can put money into a foreign llc in the caribbean and then move that to an llc in delaware and then move that money into a committee that runs ads on facebook or on tv. and there's no way of knowing
that right now. >> so the question is -- >> it's not clear it's illegal. >> so why then would you surmise that president trump is not doing some of these things that you're saying and you say the americans have the capability to do it and could do it well. why, for instance, is the administration not enforcing the sanctions on russia that congress itself has approved and, you know, really in light of this new cnn poll that says a really big majority, 60% of the american people don't think the president is doing enough to protect them. >> he's not. the congress overwhelmingly, republicans and democrats, voted additional sanctions on russia because of their interference in our election. and the administration is ignoring that law, which it really doesn't have the authority to do. it's not implementing law. and the republicans and the congress who voted for it are letting him get away with it. they're not holding hearings
demanding that the law be implemented. i think there's an obvious conclusion as to why the president is not trying to stop russian interference in our election this year and in 2020. it's because he thinks it will benefit him if there's russian interference as it benefitted him the last time. >> yeah. it's really extraordinary. you know, the economist which is no lefty rag which talked about a new normal saying such clear evidence of foreign interference would normally constitute a moment for the commander in chief to reassure an anxious nation that the attack in an election year no less would be repulsed. but that was not mr. trump's response at no point did mr. trump express any concern for the safety of american democracy. so just a final on this issue. i mean, in your experience, is the very integrity and safety of america's democracy more at risk now than it was during 2016? >> i'm not sure it's more at risk. you know, our democracy is pretty fragile to begin with, as
we saw in the last election. you could have one person get 3 million more votes than the other and still not get elected. it comes down to very small number of swing districts in any election. and if you can influence those swing districts, a very small change in voter attitude can change the result. >> let's just move on because russia has also tried to disrupt the olympics. they were mad apparently that the doping scandal forced them to operate under sort of neutral flags, neutral names, no national anthems. and they made it look like it was coming from north korea. so they really are good at this. again, there were no consequences yet. but north korea now very troubling the u.n. has put out a report saying that it's been shipping equipment, material, substances that have aided syria's chemical weapons program.
you know, what do you make of that? >> well, north korea has been sanctioned by the united states by the united nations so heavily, especially with the new u.s. sanctions, that there's very little we can do to deter them any more. they try to make money wherever they will do it. if it means cyberattacks or selling chemical weapons or counterfeiting hundred dollar bills they'll do it. they support themselves by a whole host of criminal activities because it needs the cash. >> okay. so if the sanctions are not having the impact that the world wants them to have and, in fact, causing this kind of backlash behavior, what does that mean for any possibility of talks, negotiations and the north
koreans just raised it. they want to have talks with the united states. of course the south koreans are saying the u.s. has to lower its bar to go into these talks. where do we stand with that? >> well, the united states has been asked by south korea essentially to have talks without precondition. i think that's fine. we need to have talks with them to see if there is anything that we can accept that they can accept. i doubt that there is, but we need to find out because the alternative, which is being discussed in the white house, is a military strike by the united states. that could lead to the worst war that we have seen in 50 or 60 years. so, talking is absolutely necessary and the south koreans are right about that. the americans need to drop any preconditions and go to the table. >> wow. and of course a very different situation in syria, of course, all the sort of powers had an aim. they all went after isis. and now they think isis is
pretty much defeated. first of all, do you think that's true? are you concerned about a metastization of isis? >> isis has changed from being a terrorist organization that held cities, large cities, to an administered territory to now going back to a traditional terrorist group, which is a covert group that hides in multiple cities around the middle east and in europe. they're not defeated. they've been forced out of the cities. many of them have been killed. many of the leadership has been killed. but the organization is still there. and it's still a threat. >> it's incredibly important all of this. richard clarke, we're so fortunate to have your unique insights. thanks so much for joining us. and of course, as we know, the latest in the war in syria is the relentless bombardment of ghouta, the suburb of damascus. there has been some brief humanitarian pause. we'll see how it goes. we know syria contributed to the
worst refugee crisis since world war ii, but it's not just the middle east. huge numbers of africans try to reach europe's shores and for years they've been making the journey across the sahara through war-torn libya and across the mediterranean. libya is most dangerous of all. cnn revealed last autumn that smugglers were auctioning off migrants as slaves there. and now correspondent, the one behind that shocking report nima is back going undercover in northern nigeria to show the central role that rape plays in the smuggler's operation. i spoke to her about this earlier. nima, welcome to the program. >> thank you. >> so, the idea of women and the sexual abuse and harassment, the physical dangers they face in all aspects of life, including the humanitarian area and naturally along the very
perilous migration route that you've been covering, what did you find about the particulars to women in nigeria in your recent report? >> off the back of the end of last year, what we were trying to understand was how active are these routes? how active to they continue to be in spite of all this international talk about wanting to clamp down on the exploitation and the trafficking that happens along these migrant routes. so i and my producer, we posed as women attempting to be trafficked to europe. we wanted to see how easy it was. and frankly, it was incredibly easy. within 24 hours of arriving in edo state, we were meeting with a smuggler in his home office, as he essentially implied to it as, the local brothel. that was it. we were on the move. and he made a point of pulling me aside to be very clear about the fact that on this route i should expect to be assaulted. i should be expected to be raped.
>> we're going to play a piece of that particular conversation that you had with this smuggler. >> tonight, we are working out of a local hotel that doubles as a brothel. inside the brothel, we're told to wait. we don't know what we're waiting for. utterly unprepared but all of a sudden we're on the move. our journey to europe is under way. we move to the local bus depot where we're told we'll be put on a bus heading north. but first he wants to know if i have everything i need. >> so we can't travel without the contraception?
as part of -- >> yeah, as part of the journey. >> part of the journey. >> because the women are abused? >> huh? >> what happens? the women are abused on the trip? >> in libya. >> what happens? you get pregnant? >> that's why you have those things. it's not a guarantee. sometimes we have to meet one of them like say somebody asks. you know what it means. don't tell me you don't know what i'm saying? >> taking me aside, he repeats again, condoms. don't struggle if you're raped. ultimately, trust in god. with that, we board the overnight bus to the north. the doors lock behind us. from here begins the journey into the unknown.
a journey that promises a litany of horrors, rape, trafficking, slavery. once we're sure the bus has moved out of his sight, we jump off. we, at least, are safe. >> so i mean, it is an extraordinary moment. it's clear that you don't continue that particular leg of the journey, but you have been to libya, the other side. so, this man was telling you, i guess, kiss is a brand of condom and that you were being made to understand that this was par for the course. that women who tried this were more likely than not to be assaulted, as you said. >> well, and the sense that we got, it was that it was more than that. that this was part of what the criminal network's put in place to further maximize on the investment as they view it of smuggling these women. that in addition to however much you're paying, you'll work off some of that cost.
that's not made very clear to you at the beginning. you saw him there speaking to me almost as if those condoms were for my protection, whereas actually those condoms are part of the criminal activity where women are forced essentially into sex slavery. >> that is an extraordinary description there. it's an extraordinary discovery. you obviously have reported what you've uncovered to the authorities in nigeria, presumably. >> we have. and they talk about on going investigations. and they talk about the fact that trafficking is something that they are working to uproot. but the reality is that they really don't have what they need to take on this challenge. the criminal networks are incredibly coordinated. they are making an extraordinary amount of money. this is a business that brings in 10s of billions of dollars a year and nigerian authorities at the best of times are no match for these criminals. they aren't even a match for the criminals in the north of the
country boko haram let alone such an organized entity as we see in the south. >> you just mentioned boko haram. you covered that story. just this week, another 100 girls have been abducted. despite the best efforts of the government that keeps assuring us all that they're doing something about it. this is still a very, very real problem for the girls there, isn't it? >> yes. in a society that is still so very, very traumatized. and actually what's extraordinary about that part of the country is that this is a part of the country where there were real ambitions for these girls. when we covered the abduction of the girls a few years ago, that was part of what made this so heart breaking is that these were girls who aspired to be doctors, to be teachers, to go out and change the futures not just of their families but of their whole communities. and in one fell swoop this extremist group extinguished that. the fact that they have been able to do this again will make parents even less likely to allow their daughters to go out
and forage their own futures. that's part of the double tragedy of this. >> the abduction sparked the bring back our girls movement. it was very big in the united states and around the world. and, yeah, people are looking at this with deep, deep seated alarm because boko haram is the nigerian version of isis and this is a very active network still then. >> and also raises concerns that first the american soldiers were killed in niger, what is the broader political background here, the impact of chad being put on president trump's travel ban, chad withdrawing a lot of troops that were based in the region in the west of africa part of the effort to combat boko haram. is this a resurgent boko haram off the back of all of that. those are the questions that so many in the intelligence communities are having to ask themselves, is this the knock
effect of an ill-advised muslim travel ban that brought in chad when chad was a necessary ally. >> again, of course, the death of those four american servicemen has been played out and playing out in the u.s. right now as everybody is trying to figure out what the mission was and why four of their loved ones have been killed out there. so thanks for explaining a little bit about that. let's just go back to this surge of migration and the pipeline. why are you finding -- what is the principle reason for despite the danger and despite the horrors even the slavery auctions that you uncovered late last year, what is the reason for them continuing to make this perilous journey? is it war? is it economics? is it climate ravages and the inability to sustain themselves in those parts of africa? what is it? >> it's pretty much all of the above. it is war in some parts of africa. it is despotic regimes in east
africa and also fundamentally grinding poverty. literally this extraordinary young man we spoke to who had been rescued from slavery in libya, we met with him in nigeria when he returned back to his family. he was homeless. he couldn't move back in with his mother and siblings because if he did that it would mean less food for his younger siblings. he made the choice to sleep where he could, to eat when and where he could, to try and put everything he had to help his mother and his younger siblings. and that is the reality that they flee from and when they're not successful, that is the reality they go back to. and oftentimes poverty can be just as dehumanizing as what these migrants suffer on route to europe. and until that is dealt with, we're going to see people taking these horrifying risks. >> nima, this is a very important point because after your ground-breaking reporting on the slavery aspect of it that
you're talk about and profiling victory, many nations in the region and many european nations -- i remember there was a big summit that sparked big sort of u.n. outrage and some action and they all said, okay, now we're going to repatriate all our citizens. you're saying they're going back to potentially worse and they could actually maybe even try that route again? >> and many do. many that we spoke to say we have every intention of doing this again because what we have here is just -- it is a living death one person described it to me as, to have no aspirations, to have no future, to have such narrow horizons. and until there is a concerted effort to tackle not only the push factors the poverty, but also to really go after the people who are benefitting from this, this is so extraordinarily well coordinated. this is a mafia. it's a criminal network that
snakes from one end of africa to the other and it has to be dealt with as such. and the international community has to find the will to put the resources into going after the leaders of these networks. >> nima, thank you so much for joining us. just a note, she's won this year's george polk award for her game-changing reporting and is sharing her experiences on "the daily show" with trevor noah tonight. that is it for our program. thanks for watching "amanpour" on pbs. and join us again tomorrow night. >> "amanpour" on pbs was made possible by the generous support of rosalind p. walter. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com