Return to Transcripts main page


Libya - Time to Intervene Again?; U.K. Phone Hacking Exposed; Imagine a World

Aired August 7, 2014 - 14:00:00   ET



FRED PLEITGEN, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: descent into chaos. Is Libya in danger of becoming a failed state? I speak exclusively with

the country's foreign minister as he makes this desperate plea for help.


MOHAMED ABDELAZIZ, LIBYAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We should not be left alone. This is the message that we are trying to convey to the

international community at this critical stage.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Plus learning from mistakes: what lessons can we draw from the British phone hacking scandal? I'll talk to the man who

uncovered it.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program, I'm Fred Pleitgen, sitting in for Christiane.

Just as the U.S. considers aid drops and military intervention in the crisis in Iraq, is it also time for the West to intervene in Libya once


A militia war is raging across that country, the worst fighting since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi. Extremists are tightening their grip on

Benghazi and the Tripoli Airport is still a battle zone. Many inside Libya are desperate to get out. Have a look at this picture.

These men are surging over the border as Tunisian forces struggle to hold them back.

But for those who remain a Twitter feed called #LYSurvivalTips has become a forum for trying to stay alive.

"If you are caught in the middle of a gun fight, do not hide behind cars. Bullets can easily pass through doors," says @JaziaB (ph). And

"armed militia checkpoints stopping travel through west #Janzour, more fighting expected there today, says @SicurolIMS.

With Tripoli under siege, Libya's new parliament had to meet in Tobruk, about as far away as you can get. The parliament called for an

immediate cease-fire under U.N. supervision, saying that building a state from the ashes of Gadhafi requires foreign support.

But foreign powers, even the ones who supported the revolution, seem to have no interest in getting involved.

Mohamed Abdelaziz is Libya's foreign minister. I spoke to him from Washington, where he's looking for international help.


PLEITGEN: Minister Abdelaziz, thank you for joining the program. Now, first of all, I have to ask, you were at the U.N. recently, and you

said that Libya is in danger of becoming a failed state.

Do you feel abandoned by the international community?

ABDELAZIZ: I think we do feel somehow we are not totally abandoned, but I think the mistake that happened is that the international community,

through the Security Council, assisted Libya to get rid of a oppressive regime.

The most important thing to put in place is a post-conflict strategy for Libya to be helped to move more smoothly and speedily to building the

state of the rule of law and viable governance.

What happened is that the minority (ph) with the United Nations, support mission Libya was deployed and we were very grateful for that.

There was quite -- established a close partnership at the regional and bilateral levels, but at the same time, they have given the responsibility

to the transitional government to do the job.

Unfortunately, the government didn't have the right tools to move forward, and therefore now we are asking the international community to

have a great and effective engagement at this particular time when you see Libya going in the direction of civil war.

I must really underline the fact that all the factors at the moment are leading in the direction of a failed state. Seventy percent of those

factors are in that direction. We would like really seriously to return in the trend, to go in the direction of building the state of the rule of law

and viable governance.

I think the Libyan people should not be deserted at this particular stage, and we need, as I mentioned to you, upgraded, effective engagement.

And when I say engagement, engagement has a responsibility of the international community that stood beside us, particularly you are still

under Chapter 7 of the United Nations.

PLEITGEN: But, sir, when you talk about international engagement, what are you looking for?

Are you looking for military assistance? Are you looking for a peacekeeping force? Are you looking for someone to build up your own armed

forces, because that's lagging behind as well?

ABDELAZIZ: Indeed, I'm very happy that you mentioned that, because I make a big difference between military interventions and engagement. There

is a big difference in that.

What we are asking for is that the international community, either through bilateral partnerships or regional partnerships, global

partnership, should equip the state to build its institutions, starting with the defense, starting with the police, with the intelligence services,

institution building, capacity building.

The -- to build the capacity of the country, to give the responsibility of the Libyan people to shape their own destiny, but the

Libyans will not make it alone.

What we need is this engagement in order to equip the state and the Libyan people to move forward to build their own state.

We should not be left alone. This is the message that we are trying to convey to the international community at this critical stage of seeing

conflict, military conflict between military groups.

We see civil sites are being destroyed. The Tripoli airport is totally destroyed. Brand new planes, cost millions of dollars, have being

destroyed. Infrastructure, lack of food, displaced persons -- we have seen now a wave of displaced persons that we have not seen in the past during

the last few years.

It is really unfortunate that the international community continues to see Libya as a state that is going in the wrong direction and yet nothing

has been moved.

PLEITGEN: But, sir, what you're -- the measures that you're talking about, they all seem like very long-term measures: building up

institutions, building up forces. However, you're also saying that you do have a hot conflict going on at this point in time, in the east of the

country, in Tripoli as well.


PLEITGEN: And I know that there's many people in these cities, in Tripoli, in Benghazi, who are saying, in 2011, the international community

intervened in a humanitarian pretext. Now the militias that are fighting are accused by Amnesty International of committing war crimes and the

international community is not intervening.

So isn't some sort of intervention necessary to pry these fighting forces apart and to protect civilians, because many people are trying to

flee already?

ABDELAZIZ: What I believe very, very strongly is to pursue so-called incremental approach. First of all, if you, if the international community

is serious enough, either at the level of the Security Council, to call on the Libyans to ensure there is a ceasefire, to stop the fighting, this is

the first step.

Second step as the international community to help us, particularly also involving regional organizations such as the legal para-states (ph),

the African Union, the Margaret (ph) Union, involving also the European Union, there are a number of regional organizations that can be very

effective to convince Libyans and to facilitate a dialogue, a truly national dialogue, between all factions.

What is really important at this stage and the positive thing at the moment, or the positive development at the moment, is we have already now a

new parliament. The new parliament now should be very critical, I would say, should take firm decisions, to start putting a road plan for the

political process in Libya.

PLEITGEN: But how do you --


ABDELAZIZ: Sir, how do you start a firm political process when you don't have any sort of hard power means to back that up?

And isn't it a big mistake of Libyan policy after Gadhafi was ousted, right afterwards, not to disarm these militias and instead make these

militias the centerpiece of the new Libyan armed forces? So you're basically paying these militias that are now going at it against each


ABDELAZIZ: I would not really blame the government because you can blame the government that doesn't have enough resources, it doesn't have

the capacity to demilitarize.

Practically, from as soon as Libya was liberated, the security was not of the country, was not secured by the government establishment security

institutions. It was mainly the revolutionaries who maintained the security for a while.

Now, the international community should have rushed to provide, in a timely manner, proper training for the police, for the military, for the

intelligence. They should be also given the opportunity to use the latest technology, the latest arms. You cannot blame the government at times when

the international community has not provided the tools for this government to do its job.

PLEITGEN: So essentially you're saying that the --


ABDELAZIZ: So the government has right --

PLEITGEN: -- that it's the international community's fault that Libya is in the state that it's in?

ABDELAZIZ: Of course. I mean, we have one side of the coin to get rid of the dictatorial regime. The other side is to build the state. If

you are going to build a state, it means you have to provide the required assistance in a timely manner, and you have to have a vision how Libya

should move in the direction of building the state of the rule of law and viable governance. This is how we have the two sides of the coin addressed

in a timely and proper manner.

PLEITGEN: How concerned are you about the fact that you have extremist groups that are popping up everywhere, that are getting stronger

everywhere, as especially the east of the country in danger of becoming a breeding ground and a training ground essentially for extremists, and

possibly turning into something like parts of Iraq are now with ISIS?

ABDELAZIZ: I must confess that being a Libyan national, I -- it's not only I am concerned; I have pain in my stomach because those who are

fighting are Libyans.

And why do we have to give the opportunity to those extremists, you know, to control certain areas?

And instead of thinking seriously about the raising the flag, of building the state.

All are Libyans and what we are calling for is a dialogue, and we would like to follow a political inclusiveness process that would not

really -- would like to marginalize any faction, regardless of its ideological associations.

At the end, we are concerned about the presence of other nationalities, as far as extremism is concerned. It's not only the Libyans

that are in the eastern part of Libya.

There are other nationalities, either from Morocco, from Algeria, from Tunisia, from Egypt, from other nationalities. These people do not

recognize borders. For them, if there is an opportunity for them to act, they will act, and we should not give that opportunity to them.

We are calling for a national dialogue. We are calling for inclusiveness.

PLEITGEN: But, sir, one of the questions that, of course, needs to be asked in situations like this --

ABDELAZIZ: Yes, please.

PLEITGEN: -- especially looking at the history of Libya and where it came from, is, is this really a viable country?

Is it a country that perhaps might be better off if it were split into different regions?

I'm sure that many people in Misrata feel that they could run better on their own, that many people in Zintan feel the same way, possibly people

in Benghazi feel the same way, because they have oil reserves, they could maybe go it on their own.

Is this a viable country that has a future?

ABDELAZIZ: Look, Libya, you're not talking about a country that is a small island, lives in isolation from the rest of the world. Libya is a

great country with a great history with a great civilization. It's existed for thousands of years.

Libya is considered to be the fourth in terms of size in Africa; it is 17th in terms of size of the level of the world as a whole. Libya is

extremely promising because of its natural resources, oil and gas; strategically it is a location that should not be played with.

The security in Libya should not be seen in isolation from the security of the neighboring countries at the regional and a global level.

If Libya is becoming a failed state, the price will be paid very high not only for the Libyans, but also for the neighboring countries and the

community as a whole.

So we are not dealing with a small country in isolation from this world. And it is an obligation; it's not -- we are not a charity case.

And I have to make it very clear. It is the obligation of the international community and the neighboring countries, either North

Mediterranean or South Mediterranean, to take the case of Libya very seriously.

And I would like to underline, once again, we are not calling for a military intervention. We are calling for the solidarity, engagement of

the international community. And also the bilateral level to make sure that the state is capable of moving forward towards moving in the direction

of the rule of law and viable governance.

PLEITGEN: Minister Abdelaziz, thank you very much for joining the program today.

ABDELAZIZ: Thanks a lot for giving me the opportunity. I wish you and your own colleagues all the best.


PLEITGEN: Very strong words. And while there is talk of possible war crimes in Libya, two of the world's most notorious war criminals have

finally faced justice for the slaughter of millions almost four decades ago. Nuon Chea, now 88, was a top deputy of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime

in Cambodia back in the 1970s, while Khieu Samphan, 83, was the head of state under its ruthless Maoist leader Pol Pot.

Today a Cambodian court found them guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced them to spend the rest of their lives in prison. The verdict

brought an outpouring of emotion from survivors and the families of the victims.

Almost 2 million people were murdered by the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. And after a break, a very different kind of trial, one that puts

journalists in the dock, a phone hacking scandal that won't go away -- when we come back.




PLEITGEN: The phone hacking scandal shook Britain to its core, embroiling the political elite, the police and the press. Allegations that

journalists were involved in phone hacking, computer hacking and the bribery of officials in the end forced the shutdown of the country's

bestselling newspaper, the "News of the World," owned by media tycoon, Rupert Murdoch. It was the public inquiry and an eight-month-long criminal

trial which went to the heart of Downing Street. The prime minister's closest adviser, Andy Coulson, former editor in the Murdoch empire, was

found guilty.

And the story isn't over. Other journalists and executives have separately also been charged with phone hacking.

So what lessons can we learn from the phone hacking scandal and how should the media operate in this day and age?

The reporter who first exposed what was going on, Nick Davies, has written the book, "Hack Attack: How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert

Murdoch." He joins me now in the studio.

Great to have you here, Nick. Thank you for coming on.

You said from the beginning that this book is not only about the press; it's about power and the abuse of power.

How do you (INAUDIBLE) that?

NICK DAVIES, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Well, so it begins with the crime in the newspapers. But when you look at the way the authorities reacted to

that, you see first of all the press regulator and then Scotland Yard refusing to investigate properly, refusing to get anywhere near the bottom


PLEITGEN: -- schmoozing with these people, right? You describe that wedding of Rebekah Brooks was just so lavish and politicians were there.

DAVIES: Yes, in the book, I did a whole chapter about this day when Rebekah Brooks married her -- Rebekah Brooks married her husband. And

everybody's there, the whole power elite are gathering.

And it's not actually that they want to be there, because the champagne and the canapes are that great. There's a kind of fear bubbling

beneath the surface. If you're Rupert Murdoch, you own these newspapers that specialize at exposing people's private lives. That's a very

powerful, frightening thing to do for government ministers or police chiefs.

Plus you've got the ability to destabilize a government of political parity, of cooperation. People are frightened of Rupert Murdoch. And then

he doesn't have to do very much. I'd say it's a bit like the power of a school bully, that once he's beaten up a couple of kids in the playground,

all the other kids are going to step carefully around and try and please him. It's that kind of power that's at work. So the police didn't

investigate properly. The press regulator didn't investigate properly. And then up pops up prime minister, as he now is, and recruits the editor

who was in charge at the time and says, come and work with me, boy.

PLEITGEN: One of the interesting things that I found reading it is that you have the subtitle and the book, "How the Truth Caught Up with

Rupert Murdoch."

But did it really? Because I mean, he's not that much worse off. There's the share prices of his company are up. He just did a bid to buy

our parent company, TimeWarner.

Was he really hurt by this?

DAVIES: OK. In a sense, you're right. There was this moment during the summer of 2011 after we published this story about Milly Dowler, this

little schoolgirl, who'd been abducted and murdered and they'd been hacking her voicemail messages.

PLEITGEN: And this was different, because she wasn't a celebrity; she was a child. She was a victim. and --

DAVIES: And it took the -- we'd been writing about this scandal for more than two years. But it finally took it over the line. And all of

these people in the power elite, who'd been so anxious to be Rupert Murdoch's friend, suddenly didn't want to be seen with him. They all

backed off.

And I -- it's a bit like the kids taking over the classroom. They're all dancing on the desks and the head teacher was running down the road.

But very slowly you can see things returning to the way they were and him getting his prestige and his power back because he still owns these

newspapers and these television news outlets. People are still scared of him, not just in Britain but clearly in the United States and other parts

of the world, where he has his media assets.

PLEITGEN: And his power went to the extent that even a lot of other newspapers were against you, a lot of other journalists were against you.

Politicians were against you. They saw you as a nuisance. I think Rebekah Brooks even said that "The Guardian" would come crawling on its knees for

bringing this to light, didn't it?

DAVIES: Yes. She was asked how the scandal would end. And she said it would be with my editor on his knees, begging for mercy. And no, the

other newspapers also are a part of this kind of cabal. That's not just because they're frightened of Rupert Murdoch. It also was because quite a

lot of them were up to criminal things themselves. In the book I've named 42 private investigators who were up to various things, illegal or legal,

for Fleet Street newspapers. It did become a really corrupted profession.

But as I say, the book's really about power and the way that Rupert Murdoch operates with his -- with his people.

PLEITGEN: We of course have a global audience here.

Do you think that this phone hacking scandal offers some sort of insight for a global audience? Because it seems as though the British

media is somewhat unique in that it's very strong vis-a-vis the state; whereas in other places, like for instance the U.S., you have the state

almost infringing upon media freedoms with Assange, with Snowden, whose exile today was prolonged by three years.

How do you see that?

DAVIES: Well, that's a complicated question. I would say that Britain is peculiar in having this highly competitive media market. So

you've got 60 million people here, crammed into a space that's not much bigger than the state of Texas. So a newspaper that's published in London

or Glasgow, it can reach all of them. So it's fantastically competitive so it becomes ruthless.

I think that's special to the U.K. But beyond that, you've got to watch out for Rupert Murdoch wherever he operates, anywhere on the planet.

As you have to watch out for how --



DAVIES: -- but -- and so what I'm trying to do in the book is in great detail, to look at the way power operates. Because it's often very

subtle. And that's really the lesson. And if you just stand back and take a naive point of view and say you remember this thing we created once,

democracy, this funny little idea that each of us would be kind of equal politically, one man or one woman, one vote?

And you look at the way that that's fallen apart and now we have one media mogul -- and actually the rest of you don't count for very much,

there's something terribly important going wrong. And it's not just in Britain. Wherever he goes, he creates media triangles. So if you have the

down market newspaper like "The Sun," you'll also have, say, the "New York Post" in New York. And then the up market paper, "The Times" or "The Wall

Street Journal." And then the TV outlets, Sky or the FOX in the United States. And it's very powerful.

And once that media mogul starts to play political games, off the back of that power that that triangle gives him you're in trouble. Democracy's

in trouble. And that's the lesson which applies to any country in the world where he or a mogul like him operates.

PLEITGEN: Nick Davies, thank you very much for being on the program.


PLEITGEN: -- very courageous man. Thank you so much.

And while journalists walk a tightrope between getting to the story and becoming the story, 40 years ago today, New Yorkers and much of the

world woke up to another high-wire act.

Philippe Petit, a 24-year-old French daredevil seemed to float on air over the -- over 1,000 feet above downtown Manhattan as he walked a thin

wire cable stretched between the still unfinished twin towers of the World Trade Center.

For 45 minutes, he walked, he sat, even dance to the delight of onlookers below and to the dismay of the police, who would arrest him and

later release him to the cheers of the crowd.

In those 45 minutes, he transformed the towers, unloved by most New Yorkers back then, into the iconic symbols they remained until 9/11. And

yet as amazing as it was, it was not the biggest news of that day. We'll tell you what was when we come back.




PLEITGEN: And a final thought tonight, 40 years ago tomorrow on the night of August 8th, a worldwide television audience sat down to watch

President Richard Nixon make this dramatic announcement.


RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... as President, I must put the interest of America first.

Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as president at that hour in this



PLEITGEN: Now imagine a world where we roll the clock back just 24 hours, when Nixon still believed he could remain in office. It had begun

with what the media called -- what the White House called "a third-rate burglary" of the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the

upscale Watergate complex. But the cover-up that followed prompted a congressional investigation and calls for impeachment, still Nixon remained



NIXON: I have never profited, never profited from public service. I have earned every cent. I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got.


PLEITGEN: Now facing a likely impeachment trial, Nixon was confident that he had the votes to hold on. But on August 7th, Barry Goldwater, the

leading Senate conservative, brought a delegation of fellow Republicans to the White House to give the president a dose of reality.

When Nixon asked how many votes he had, Goldwater put it bluntly.

"You don't have mine and you don't have enough."

The next day, Nixon would make that fateful announcement to the nation and one day later, on August 9th, he became the first U.S. president to

resign from office, leaving the White House for good and waving a final goodbye.

And that's it for the program tonight. And remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter

@FPleitgenCNN. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.