On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Rep. Bennie Thompson, (D) Mississippi
Chair, Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol
- Gita Gopinath, Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund
- Zalmay Khalilzad, Former U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation
- Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Former FDA Commissioner
Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN, HOST: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington.
This week on Face the Nation: President Biden's massive spending plan nears the finish line, as we inch toward the next leg of the marathon to vaccinate vulnerable Americans.
Relief may be insight. Vaccines for 28 million elementary school-aged children in this country could become available in a matter of days, plus a promise of a big expansion in available booster shots.
JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: More than 120 million Americans will become eligible for a booster in the coming months.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will check in with former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.
Then: Newly released internal Facebook documents obtained by CBS News chart the explosion of misinformation that may have helped fuel the mayhem on January 6.
We will talk with the chairman of the top committee charged with investigating, Mississippi Democrat Bennie Thompson. We will also ask about the tough compromises Democrats have to consider in order to make a deal.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm hopeful. I think we will get a good deal.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we will hear from the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, Gita Gopinath, on how much those proposals could impact the pandemic- plagued U.S. economy.
Plus: Almost two months after the last American soldier left Afghanistan, questions about our chaotic departure linger.
Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who negotiated the U.S. withdrawal under Presidents Trump and Biden, joins us for his first television interview since resigning last week.
It's all just ahead on Face the Nation.
Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.
We begin what may be a key week in Washington, as President Biden tries to close in on a compromise version of his multitrillion-dollar social spending bill. At his Delaware home this morning, the president himself will directly negotiate with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.
Meanwhile, the COVID pandemic still looms large, as community transmission remains high across the country and vaccine mandates continue to be a point of contention.
Mark Strassmann reports from Atlanta.
PROTESTERS: We will not comply!
MARK STRASSMANN (voice-over): While anti-vax die-hards shake their fists...
PROTESTER: We will not comply!
MARK STRASSMANN: ... most vaccinated Americans shake their heads
In Chicago, COVID America's latest flash point, vaccine mandates fan the flames. Noncompliant firefighters have sued the city.
LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), MAYOR OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: You do not want to have in your personnel history the fact that you refused an order from your chain of command.
MARK STRASSMANN: Tell that to 46,000 New York City employees. They get their first shot by this Friday, or it's their last day, an alarm bell for 3, 500 unvaccinated firefighters and 15,000 cops.
MAN: I'm worried about their jobs, but I'm also worried for the New York City residents.
MARK STRASSMANN: And news for 120 million vaccinated Americans worried about waning protection against the virus. They suddenly have booster options galore. Pick from all three approved vaccines.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: FDA's authorizations and CDC recommendations now allow for this type of mix-and-match.
MARK STRASSMANN: Here's who's eligible for a booster, for Moderna and Pfizer recipients, after six months, adults over 65 and adults 18 and older with underlying medical issues or living and working in high-risk situations.
With J&J, it's simpler, anyone 18 and older at least two months after the first shot.
WALENSKY: For all three vaccines, this is perfectly fine.
MARK STRASSMANN: But COVID keeps infecting our supply chain breakdown, one more force behind all those empty shelves.
Another complication, tens of thousands of unvaccinated employees could be fired two weeks before Christmas. They're employees of federal contractors facing a December 8 vaccination deadline set by President Biden.
Small wonder many businesses talk about playing hunger games, tributes fighting for supplies and survival.
WOMAN: We don't have any right now, but they're coming in supposedly tomorrow.
MARK STRASSMANN: For now, these mandates do not include getting a vaccine.
If you want one, the CDC says, bring your vaccination card, and you can go to any vaccine location -- Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mark Strassmann, thank you.
COVID cases around the world have leveled off, but remain high, averaging just under half-a-million new cases per day.
Elizabeth Palmer the latest from London.
ELIZABETH PALMER: Good morning.
This month, we are watching a full-blown COVID crisis in Eastern Europe.
ELIZABETH PALMER (voice-over): Romania has one of the highest death rates on Earth. In October, the virus has been killing an average of one person every five minutes.
Latvia has gone back into complete lockdown, with a curfew that has police patrolling the streets to make sure anyone out at night is an essential worker with permission.
Russia, the giant of the region, is seeing a record number of deaths day after day. In the provincial city of Vologda, burials have doubled. And with winter looming, hospitals are struggling. Even in the capital, Moscow, there is alarm.
President Putin announced a week of what he called nonworking days. They start at the end of this month. The problem clear across Eastern Europe is low vaccination rates. The Soviet past, followed by decades of poor and corrupt government, means no one trusts authority, with lethal consequences.
Even now, less than a third of Russians are fully vaccinated. Here in the U.K., the prime minister says he's not contemplating another lockdown.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We see absolutely nothing to do indicate that that is -- that's on the cards.
ELIZABETH PALMER: Even though there were more than 50,000 new COVID cases last Thursday alone. But, so far, deaths are stable and low.
ELIZABETH PALMER: British authorities are also keeping a close eye on a subvariant of the Delta strain, AY4.2. It doesn't look as if it's more virulent, but may be more contagious -- Margaret.
Liz Palmer, thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We're joined now by former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who also serves on the board of Pfizer.
Good to have you with us in studio.
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: Good to be here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, we're headed into respiratory virus season.
Is this new version, this new Delta variant, something that has you concerned? What is the direction we're headed in?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yes, look, I don't think this is enough to really change the trajectory of the direction we're heading in.
We're much closer to the end of this Delta wave than we are to the beginning. The South looks very good right now. In the Midwest, where there's been a very dense epidemic, we see cases starting to decline. There's a pickup in cases in the Great Lakes region and parts of New England, so that's concerning.
This Delta wave still has to course its way through parts of the country. But I think, as we get to Thanksgiving and maybe shortly thereafter, we're going to be on a downswing across the whole country. You're seeing cases come down all across the country.
This new variant, we think it could be more contagious. I don't think it's enough to change the overall trajectory. My lament is that we're not better at figuring out these questions. I mean, we should have an answer to the question of just what the characteristics of this new variant are and what kind of risk it poses.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's something you've been saying throughout this pandemic, and it sounds like you're saying we haven't gotten any better.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: We don't really have a coordinated system globally. We parcel this out to certain academic groups. We are dependent upon certain academic researchers to do this kind of analysis.
The U.K. is very good at identifying these -- these new variants. They have better sequencing in place than we do, but we don't have good follow-up in terms of the epidemiological work to try to figure out whether or not these new variants are spreading more aggressively.
This one, if it is more contagious -- it appears to be perhaps slightly more contagious -- again, the vaccines should be protective. And, certainly, people who were infected with Delta will be protected probably against this new variant. So, I don't think this is going to be a new variant that sweeps across the globe, and we're back -- we're back at square one here.
I think that this is something that's going to probably push us in the direction of eventually reformulating our vaccines for a Delta-backbone vaccine, because what we're seeing is, the new mutations are occurring within that Delta lineage.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you said the other day there are two remaining pockets of vulnerable, the very young and the very sick.
So let's start with the compromised. This week, we lost the former Secretary of State Colin Powell. He was battling multiple myeloma. His family said he succumbed to COVID, though he had been vaccinated.
What is the lesson there?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, I don't think anyone should die from COVID now. This is an avoidable death.
People who are -- have intact immune systems have vaccines available to them, highly effective vaccines. There's two pockets of vulnerability, to point, young children, who we will eventually be able to vaccinate, and then people who are immune-incompetent. They can't mount an effective response to the vaccines because they are organ transplant patients, because they're on active chemotherapy.
We have the tools to protect them. We could be using the antibody drugs on a prophylactic basis, giving them regular infusions, probably monthly infusions, to protect them through this Delta wave.
The drugs are being used that way off-label. They're available under compassionate use. There is an emergency use authorization sitting with the FDA right now for that specific use.
Look, I was an adult cancer patient at one point undergoing chemotherapy. If I was in that position right now, I would be wanting to use these drugs on a regular basis to protect me. These patients have become prisoners in their homes because they know how vulnerable they are.
We know there's people who aren't going to respond well to the vaccines. We can be protecting them.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, the former secretary was not given that antibody treatment when he became sick. You're saying, as a preventative measure, people should ask their doctors about this?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Right.
We -- it's happening. Look, these drugs are being used on a regular basis as a prophylaxis, not post- exposure prophylaxis for what -- which is what they're approved for, but as a general prophylaxis in people who are immune-incompetent, who can't mount an effective response to a vaccine because of their underlying health conditions.
And it's a small subset of Americans, but it's our most vulnerable Americans.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: The drugs can be used in that way.
Regeneron is making them available under a compassionate use basis for that use.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Again, there's an application before FDA, but we should be protecting these lives. These are fragile lives. We have the tools to do it. We're not making aggressive enough use of those tools.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You've been saying November the 4th is the soonest we could see vaccinations available for 5-to-11-year-olds.
What do you think of the administration's rollout plan that they detailed this week?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yes, look, the effort has been to push the vaccine for 5 to 11 into pediatricians' offices.
So, Pfizer, the company I'm on the board of, is developing a tray that's 10 vials, 10 doses each vial. So that's one hundred doses. That's small enough that any small-to-medium sized pediatrician's office can stock the vaccine and deliver it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In a regular refrigerator?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: In a regular refrigerator. It could be stored in a regular refrigerator for up to 10 weeks.
It was formed -- it was purposely packaged that way. And so the idea is to try to get it into pediatricians' offices, because we know that getting children vaccinated is a much more consultative endeavor. Parents are going to want to talk to their own pediatrician about that.
And so you want the vaccine to be delivered at those sites. You don't want children to have to go to mass vaccination sites or even necessarily a pharmacy. You want them to go into the comfort of their own pediatrician's office.
So, the administration has been behind that. The company has been behind it. That's been the plan all along. Once -- if Pfizer does get the authorization on Tuesday from FDA, even before the CDC votes on this on November 2 and 3, they'll start to ship it into the supply chain.
So it will be available for use once there is a, hopefully, positive vote from CDC. So, it could be as early as November 4 and 5 that you can go into some locations and get your child vaccinated.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And toddlers and the smallest children still have to wait.
I want to ask you to clarify the boosters and the information we received this week, because it's a little confusing for people. When will the general population be able to get a boost? And with this authorization to mix and match, what should people go out and do? Where do they begin asking questions?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yes, I think the guidance from CDC that's going to come out -- they haven't put out the guidance on the use of boosters.
I think it's going to recommend you sticking with the vaccine you've had unless you have a compelling reason not to. And there are certain patients who might want to switch vaccines, but I think, by and large, most people are going to prefer the vaccine that they had, or that's going to be the general recommendation that comes out of CDC.
They didn't issue that guidance yet. In terms of the total general population, the criteria for who's eligible for a booster is fairly broad.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: And it was purposely broad.
And the administration sent a signal to the pharmacy that they wanted this to be a frictionless process. So, I think they want these to be generally available for people who deem themselves to be at sufficient risk of contracting COVID or spreading COVID that they could benefit from a booster.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Dr. Gottlieb, always good to have you...
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Thanks a lot.
MARGARET BRENNAN: ... on the show. And great to have you in person.
We'll be back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to turn now to the investigation into the events leading up to the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol.
The chair of the select investigating committee, Mississippi Democrat Bennie Thompson, joins us from Jackson this morning. Good morning to you.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Good morning. How are you?
MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm well.
Before we get to that, I want to quickly ask you, since you are a progressive Democrat, what is your view? Are you disappointed that President Biden had to give up tuition-free community college and cut paid leave from 12 down to four weeks time?
BENNIE THOMPSON: Well, I'm a realist in the process of making legislation.
It's the art of compromise. Sometimes, you win. Sometimes, you lose. But it's the ultimate product at the end. I know what we have at the end is good for America. And if we don't get everything in this package, we'll have another opportunity.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will watch for those details as they come out perhaps in the days and weeks ahead.
I want to ask you about January 6 and the work you're doing.
In the past 24 hours, CBS News and other organizations have reviewed internal Facebook documents that show the company researched and identified five ways to limit the spread of false news reports leading up to January 6.
Some groups, though, still used that platform to organize ahead of the violence. How culpable do you think these social media giants, specifically Facebook, are as to the violence that happened?
BENNIE THOMPSON: Well, our committee identified Facebook and some other platforms as important to our investigation.
We are in the process of negotiating with Facebook and those other platforms to get certain information. But it's clear that the January 6 organization, per se, used them as an organizing tool. To the extent that we can identify what will happen, that's the committee's charge from the House of Representatives. We'll do it.
But, at this point, Facebook is working with us to provide the necessary information we requested. At that point, staff and the committee will review that information. And if it's consistent with some of the things that we're hearing coming from other areas, then, obviously, it's a problem.
But, at this point, we are not ready to make a decision one way or the other on Facebook's role.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You said this week you want to know who financed the march, who chartered the buses, who chartered the airplanes that day.
Do you have any of the questions regarding the finances yet?
BENNIE THOMPSON: Yes, we do.
We have one of the teams on the committee whose sole purpose is to look at the financing on January 6, the people who spent money, whether if it's their money and other folks' money. It really doesn't matter. But we want that to go to the work product or the committee.
We think the potential for commingling restricted funds for this purpose might be there, but, obviously, we'll look at it. It's just interesting to note that a lot of people came to Washington by bus, by plane, by chartered vehicles.
They stayed in hotels, motels, all of that. Somebody had to pay for it. And we want to look at whether or not the paying for that participation was legal and whether or not it contributed to what occurred on January 6.
MARGARET BRENNAN: When will you subpoena President Trump himself? Have you seen any -- any direct line to him?
BENNIE THOMPSON: Well, let me say that nobody's off-limits.
We will be on an ongoing basis issuing subpoenas to various individuals around the country, if we have enough evidence. And obviously we are pursuing evidence. But if the evidence leads to former President Trump or anyone else, the committee is not resonant in pushing back on it.
We will go forward with it. So, it's an investigation. We're not trying to get ahead of the investigation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
BENNIE THOMPSON: We'll follow the facts and circumstances as they present themselves.
MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden said a few days ago that the attack on the Capitol was about racism. Listen to this.
JOE BIDEN: The violent, deadly insurrection on the Capitol nine months ago, it was about white supremacy, in my view.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Has your investigation shown that to be true?
BENNIE THOMPSON: Well, clearly, there are some individuals who identified with Stop the Steal movement that are part of the radical right-wing elements in this country.
It's clear that those elements would love to deny people of color their rights in this democracy. So, the president, in his opinion, sees it.
What the committee is tasked with is looking at the facts and circumstances that made it happen. I can assure you, if the facts present what the president is saying, we won't be hesitant in making it part of our report.
But I think the public saw for themselves, when they saw Confederate flags, when they saw anti-Semitic symbols being displayed, those things clearly represent a philosophy that is anti-democratic and racist.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I would like viewers to listen to a portion of Steve Bannon's podcast from the day before that riot.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It's going to be moving. It's going to be quick.
And all I can say is, strap in. The "War Room" posse, you have made this happen. And, tomorrow, it's game day.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How premeditated was this attack?
BENNIE THOMPSON: Well, there's no question, clearly, the direction of the committee is to look at that premeditation to make sure that we identify it.
But the worst kept secret in America is that Donald Trump invited individuals to come to Washington on January 6. He said all hell would break loose. Steve Bannon was part of the conversation and the promotion of January 6.
The very podcast you -- we just listened to talks about it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
BENNIE THOMPSON: Steve Bannon was in the war room, and he was in the Willard Hotel doing a lot of things.
So that's why we subpoenaed him. That's why we felt it was important for the committee...
MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood.
BENNIE THOMPSON: ... and staff to depose him.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
BENNIE THOMPSON: But, as you saw, he refused to participate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood.
Chairman, thank you for your time today.
We'll be back with a lot more Face the Nation, so stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the COVID impact on the global economy.
We're joined by Gita Gopinath, chief economist at the International Monetary Fund and the first woman to hold that role.
Gita, good morning to you.
GITA GOPINATH, CHIEF ECONOMIST, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND: Hi, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Let's start with a...
GITA GOPINATH: Pleasure to join you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm so glad you did.
Let's start with the largest economy in the world, the United States.
The IMF had said previously that any change in the size of this spending deal President Biden was putting together could have an impact on global growth. It's been shaved down from that original $4 trillion number.
What will the impact be?
GITA GOPINATH: Margaret, to answer that question, we will need to know what the ultimate package looks like, because the original package, which was slightly over $4 trillion, the combined package of the infrastructure bill and then the human infrastructure bill, the two of them were about slightly over $4 trillion.
But that had spending measures and it had revenue-raising measures, including taxes. And now the question is, what happens in this new package? Because if you're going to cut back spending, and then you also then scale back tax increases, then the effect could be somewhat similar in terms of the net effect.
But, again, we won't know until we actually know the full details of the package.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we know at least that paid leave provisions are being trimmed from 12 weeks down to four.
I know you have been looking at the impact specifically on women, who are the caregivers here and are so central to the recovery. What does that do?
GITA GOPINATH: We've been in support of the paid parental leave, and we think 12 weeks is a reasonable time horizon, and will wish to provide that kind of leave that would be consistent with the standards in other OECD countries. It's what the federal government currently has.
And in this crisis, what we have seen is both what they call a shecession and a momcession, which is the fact that we've had women being much harder hit in many parts of the world, because they work in sectors, the contact-intensive sectors that have been harder-hit, but also because they end up being the main caregivers...
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
GITA GOPINATH: ... at home, either for children or for parents.
And so, therefore, having this kind of paid family leave will help bring back women much more quicker into the work force.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to pick up on that again on the other side of this ANNOUNCEMENTS.
So, please stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation, so stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.
We want to continue our conversation with Gita Gopinath, chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.
Before the break you were talking about the rest of the world, the most developed economies in the world have 12 weeks of paid leave. The United States does not. And, in fact, President Biden won't be able to deliver on that. His compromise has been four weeks of paid leave in the latest version of this spending bill.
Is it safe to say that will have a negative impact on economic growth, in your projections?
GITA GOPINATH: Margaret, we need to bring back all the women who have left the labor force and, you know, return back to the market to get a full recovery. And family paid leave absolutely helps in that dimension.
Now, four weeks is better than zero, so I think that that is certainly progress made. But, again, what we are seeing around the world is we are seeing labor markets that are recovering much more slowly than output. And in the U.S., while we're seeing men come back much faster, women are taking longer for that to happen. So we need to pay very close attention to making sure that women -- it's attractive for women to return to the workforce.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And they're capable of it.
So the other thing I want to ask you about that's a big worry right now is just the cost of living. We're seeing prices go up. Procter & Gamble announced this week toothpaste, basic goods, they're going to have to raise prices there. The Federal Reserve chair in this country, Jerome Powell, said risks are to longer bottlenecks, higher inflation.
How long can this go on before we lose control?
GITA GOPINATH: Inflation has, indeed, come up high in these last several months. Now, some of that was expected after a deep recession last year. We've had rebound in global demand. We've seen commodity prices come back up after crashing last year. But we're also now seeing the frictions between supply and demand not matching up. We're seeing supply chain disruptions around the world because the fact is that the grip of the pandemic remains, even though maybe it's somewhat lighter. It is -- it remains in the world, and that's creating disruptions everywhere.
The way we see it is that these pressures will remain until sometime in the middle of next year, and then we should see us returning to more normal levels of inflation, towards the end of next year.
But this is going to take some time and we are certainly seeing costs go up. Energy prices have risen again sharply at this time of the year. And that's going to feed into headline inflation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There's also a potential debt crisis looming over the second largest economy in the world. A senior administration official here in the U.S. told me it could be catastrophic, it could just be painful if the -- one of the largest property developers there in China fails.
How do you see this playing out?
GITA GOPINATH: The property sector is a very important part of China's economy, and Evergrande is one of the biggest property developers, which is why we're paying very close attention. But at the same time, our view is that the government has the resources and the ability to (INAUDIBLE) the problem, which means that while we will see shake-up happening in the real estate sector, that it will be contained and will not spill over more broadly to the China -- to China's economy. And, therefore, we won't see very substantial slowing of growth, which is when we will see repercussions to the rest of the world.
So it is a risk. It's a downside risk that we're paying very close attention to. But we, as of now, we believe that the effects can be contained.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It's a controlled risk at this moment?
GITA GOPINATH: That's right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right.
Gita Gopinath, thank you so much for joining us today.
We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban's victory there has left many questions about whether Americans are actually safer now. Until a few days ago, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was the Biden administration's top envoy, negotiating directly with the Taliban. He brokered the Trump-era deal with the Taliban in which the U.S. promised to withdraw all U.S. forces. And he joins us now for his first television interview.
Welcome to the program.
AMB. ZALMAY KHALILZAD, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR AFGHANISTAN RECONCILIATION: It's great to be with you, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, said this was a strategic failure, the end of America's longest war. He said the enemy is now in charge in Kabul.
Do you share that view?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well, I think there is a lot of anger and a lot of resentment about what has happened there. I think, with regard to terrorism, we largely have achieved our directive.
On the issue of building a democratic Afghanistan, I think that that did not succeed. That struggle goes on. The Talib's reality of Afghanistan, we did not defeat them. In fact, they were making progress on the battle field --
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Even as we were negotiating with them. And the reason we negotiated with them was because militarily things were not going as well as we would have liked. We were losing ground each year.
MARGARET BRENNAN: They were winning the war.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Slowly, but making progress. And for us to reverse the progress that they were making was going to require a lot more effort.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How many Americans remain in Afghanistan today?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: We aren't sure. I -- the -- the frank answer is, because not every American -- some of them are Afghan-Americans who have families there, who have -- who live there.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It's hundreds, isn't it?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: I -- I think it's very likely that it will be in hundreds. But we don't know. The truth of the matter is, we don't know.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The U.N. has given some pretty dire projections of what's happening inside Afghanistan right now. More than a million children could die of malnutrition in the next year. The Taliban has still not allowed girls age 12 and older to return to school. They may say something, but they're not doing it. There are videos of women being beaten in the streets to -- just demonstrating for their rights.
I mean isn't this proof that the Taliban has no intention of becoming a democratic government or any kind of government that protects human rights?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: There's no question that the Taliban have a different vision for Afghanistan. It's a vision of a more Islamic government than existed before. And there is, obviously, disputes will the interpretation of Islam.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Little girls going to school?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well, I think there is disagreement inside the Taliban. Right now, for example, in at least three or four provinces, high schools for girls have been opened. And they say the same will happen as far as the rest of the country is concerned. And we should hold them to that, keep pressure on them.
If they don't -- the Taliban don't move toward more inclusiveness, reporting the rights of the Afghan people, and then honoring their commitment to us on terrorism, there will be no move toward normalcy, and there shouldn't be. There should be no release of funds. So the economy could collapse, and in that collapse, that a new civil war could start.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do they know where the leader of al Qaeda is? The U.N. says he's living in Afghanistan.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well, the report that I have seen indicated he could be in Afghanistan or adjacent territories.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Ayman al-Zawahiri.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Al-Zawahiri.
I don't know whether the -- the Taliban know it. The Taliban that I dealt with, they told me they did not know where he was.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You did not include the Afghan government in the deal between the U.S. and Taliban. That was a later step that you promised to -- to include them.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: (INAUDIBLE).
MARGARET BRENNAN: But for the deal you brokered --
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: H.R. McMaster --
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Retired general.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: former national security adviser to President Trump, said -- said you -- you brokered a surrender deal.
How do you respond to that?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: How long did General McMaster think we should continue while losing ground each year? Why -- why did -- why was that the case after 20 years that with so much investment, so much loss of life, that we were losing ground to the Talibs? And the alternative was, either negotiate a settlement or more of the same. And people way above my pay grade decided more of the same is not acceptable anymore.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Because the American public had lost the will to fight?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: And -- and the fight wasn't going right. The fight was not going right after 20 years.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But on the specific point of one of the things in the deal --
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why did the Trump administration agree to the Taliban's demand that 5,000 prisoners be released?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Five thousand prisoners --
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Who could very easily end up right on that battlefield.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Right. Well --
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why did you do that before peace talks?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: The Taliban, in order to sit with the government to negotiate, wanted some confidence-building measures from both sides. Their demand was all prisoners be released by both sides as a goodwill gesture. They were going to sit together at the table to negotiate peace.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What do they need potential fighters for if they're negotiating peace?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Yes. Well, but they were giving up the fighters, also, because it was an exchange of prisoners, not a release, one-sided release, beginning --
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Ghani government was not supportive of your work.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: I was representing the United States to carry out the president's direction. But I believe -- and the biggest difficulty was that President Ghani and a few other Afghan leaders did not believe that we were serious about withdrawal for a long time. And they liked the status quo compared to a political settlement in which they might not have the jobs that they had and the resources that the U.S. was providing would not be there. They preferred that status quo to a political settlement.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes. But if the United States is promising essentially to deliver the Afghan government and to make this deal happen, wasn't it diplomatic malpractice for the secretary of state not to be holding Ghani's hand, walking him through this?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: No.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Shouldn't Mike Pompeo have been doing that? Shouldn't Tony Blinken have been doing that?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Both of them spent a lot of time with President Ghani to take the negotiation seriously, to believe and that we were all --
MARGARET BRENNAN: How was more arm twisting not happening then? If -- if all the blame is to go on the Ghani government --
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: I -- I -- I -- I believe myself, if -- now that you've asked, that rather than that we press Ghani too much, it's my judgment that we didn't press him hard enough, and that we --
MARGARET BRENNAN: So the Trump administration could have pushed harder?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: We could have pushed harder. I believe we -- in retrospect, my judgment is that we could have pressed President Ghani harder.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Secretary Blinken has said he inherited the -- President Biden inherited this deal and not a plan to execute it.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Right. Right. Well --
MARGARET BRENNAN: Whose job was that?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well, I think that they did inherit the agreement. There's no doubt they had an opportunity to take a look at it, and they did. They could have made a variety of decisions with regard to that agreement. They decided to stick with the withdrawal provisions that they agreed --
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why wasn't there a better plan in place from the Trump administration, or crafted by the Biden administration, to execute what you put on paper?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well, this execution of the last phase was not a military withdrawal that went awry, it was the response of the Afghan people to what was happening that created the scenes at the airport. It was a combination of fear and opportunity. Fear because for a long time everybody was saying, including some officials, that when the Talibs come into Kabul, there will be a terrible war, street-to-street fighting, destruction of the city.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: So people were afraid, that was one. Two, the impression was created that anyone who can make it to the airport, whether you have documents or not, you will be evacuated to the United States and to -- to Europe. That combination led to this flood of people to come to the airport and cause the -- the -- the -- the terrible scenes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there blame to be borne by President Biden and his diplomats who you were working with?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well, I believe that -- that the diplomats worked very hard. The president made the decision that he did not to go -- pursue a condition-based approach but just a calendar-based approach --
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Because of a belief that if you pursue a condition-based approach, that the Afghan must negotiate and come to an agreement first, that we will be stuck there for a long time.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In your resignation letter you said, this did not turn out as you envisaged.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Right. I -- I would have wished, I would have liked to see a negotiated settlement.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why wasn't there a plan in place, at least on the counterterrorism front, to deal with the Taliban, to talk with the Taliban and --
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well, we did talk with the Taliban. We have a set of agreements with them, some of which have not been released yet, on what they will do on the terrorism front. We hold them accountable to those agreements.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The administration says that those agreements are not in place, which is why they're trying to build those relationships now with the Taliban.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: No, no, there is agreement in place -- there is agreement in place with the Taliban on -- on terrorism and counterterrorism. But --
MARGARET BRENNAN: To do what?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well, that they -- they will not host, they will not allow fundraising, they will not allow training, they will not allow recruitment of -- by individuals or groups that would threaten the security of the United States and our allies, including al Qaeda. But since we don't trust them, and since we decided to leave, we're going to do that from -- from beyond Afghanistan.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So are you --
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: And that's very -- it remains a critical mission.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think Americans are safer now?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: The terrorist threat from Afghanistan is not what it used to be. The American people should be pleased, not with the way that the final phase happened -- and we all are unhappy with that, but that the Afghan war is over for the United States. The burden has been reduced. That we achieved the goal of devastating al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The CIA says al Qaeda could reconstitute in as little as a year within Afghanistan.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well, our record of predicting things, unfortunately, we need to be a little humble in this regard, but --
MARGARET BRENNAN: So we're not safer? You're hoping we are.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: We are much safer than we were before we went to Afghanistan, when al Qaeda -
MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking about 2001.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Osama bin Laden was running camps --
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: And thousands of people were being trained. Al Qaeda sponsored Afghanistan. That is gone.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But, from August of this year on?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well, we need to keep an eye on the situation, not to do the same thing we did prior to 9/11, as we were seeing al Qaeda was developing, training, organizing, and we didn't have a serious strategy on response to it until after 9/11. We shouldn't repeat that mistake again.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you feel you were misled by the Taliban?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well, I don't allow people to mislead me. I do my homework. The whole of government. This was not a Zal Khalilzad alone doing this.
MARGARET BRENNAN: NO.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: I had the military, the intelligence, everyone with me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You're the only one out here defending it, though.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Yes, but -- I -- well, that's one reason why I left.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I give you credit for coming and talking about it.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Yes, I'm -- I'm -- I'm -- I'm -- one reason I left the government is that -- that the debate wasn't really as it should be based on realities and facts of what happened, what was going on, and what our alternatives were. The decision ultimately was made to put condition-based aside and follow a calendar (INAUDIBLE).
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes. President Biden could have asked to keep troops longer is what you're saying?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: He could have. Then there would have been consequences for it, which is that the Taliban might not have accepted that, and, therefore, they -- no attacks on U.S. forces was in place for so many months now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thirteen American service people died, though.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Yes. As a result of a terrorist attack at the airport by Daesh, which the Talibs are enemy of --
MARGARET BRENNAN: Carried out by ISIS, is what you're talking about.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: By ISIS. And they are at war with each other.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But that bomber was released from prison by the Taliban.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well, not with the intention to --
MARGARET BRENNAN: When they came -- not with the intention, but that is what happened.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: That's what happened.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So this wasn't an orderly withdrawal. Thirteen Americans died.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Nobody -- nobody -- I would -- I'm not saying it was an orderly withdrawal. This was an ugly final phase, no doubt about it. It could have been a lot worse. It could be a lot -- the Talibs did help with the withdrawal. General McKenzie will tell you they did everything we asked them to do during that final phase.
I was on the phone with them constantly, push this, close this road, allow these buses. It could have been a lot worse. Kabul could have been destroyed. Street-to-street fighting could have occurred.
I went to Afghanistan after 30-plus years after the Soviet withdrawal and what happened. Everywhere you looked there was destruction, like some German city after World War II.
This could have been a lot worse. It could have been a lot worse. It can still be a lot worse or it can get better. But the choices now are mostly theirs, Afghans. Rumi, the great Afghan born in Balkh, said, you can walk with people, you cannot walk for them.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Ambassador, thank you for your time. Thank you for taking questions.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Well, thank you. Thank you very much. Good to see you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Good to see you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Under Taliban rule, a humanitarian crisis is growing inside of Afghanistan. The U.N. reports 97 percent of households could be living below the poverty line by the middle of next year.
Imtiaz Tyab has been reporting in Kabul, documenting the state of the country following the U.S. withdrawal.
IMTIAZ TYAB: One of the Taliban's first acts after seizing Kabul was to come here, to the Green Zone, and to paint their flag on this blast wall outside of what now was the U.S. embassy, to make it clear they're now in control.
IMTIAZ TYAB (voice over): But so much across Afghanistan is already spiraling out of control. The United Nations is warning at least one million children will die from malnutrition without urgent humanitarian assistance. Like six-month-old Sophia (ph). Her father, Baba Sharin (ph), tells us he's helpless.
Kabul is a city I know well. I first started coming here over a decade ago. But never have I seen it so desperate. People we meet tell us things have gotten so bad, they're selling off whatever prosperity they once had. Those with even less come here, to a USAID-funded World Food Program distribution center. All that's on offer are sacks of flour and a bit of salt. While we were talking to an aid worker, the Taliban arrived.
MAN: Oh, they -- they say it, stop.
IMTIAZ TYAB (on camera): Filming.
MAN: The -- yes. Maybe you should come later.
IMTIAZ TYAB (voice over): We overheard a Taliban fighter ask his commander if he should kill us. It was time for us to go.
Now that the Taliban are firmly back in power, it's up to the battle- hardened militants to govern and protect the lives of over 30 million people. But in recent weeks, the Afghan affiliate of ISIS, known as ISIS-k, has been lashing out.
IMTIAZ TYAB (on camera): Patrols like this have been stepped up across Kabul, but the Taliban insists that ISIS-k is not a threat.
IMTIAZ TYAB (voice over): Attacks like this tell a different story. Less than a day after we arrived in Afghanistan, ISIS-k carried out a suicide bombing at a mosque belonging to the Shi'a minority in the southern city of Kandahar. Despite the threat, the Taliban leadership seems more interested in enforcing repressive edicts against women and girls, like when it was last in power, including its recent decree that only girls 11 and under would be allowed to go to school, while girls over the age of 12, millions of them, are now forbidden, like 14-year-old Hoda Sadiki (ph).
IMTIAZ TYAB (on camera): Does Afghanistan still feel like home to you?
IMTIAZ TYAB (voice over): Zabi Helamajahid (ph) is the Taliban's chief spokesman.
IMTIAZ TYAB (on camera): When can they go back to school? Is it a matter of weeks, months, years?
IMTIAZ TYAB (voice over): He says, we are trying to do this, but we can't tell you how long it will take.
WOMAN: The Taliban really don't like women at all.
IMTIAZ TYAB: Memuba Saraj (ph) is an Afghan-American women's rights activist.
IMTIAZ TYAB (on camera): What do you want to say to those girls who haven't been able to go to school?
WOMAN: I want to say to them, don't lose hope. So hang in there and (INAUDIBLE).
IMTIAZ TYAB (voice over): Afghan women and girls, defiant and determined, despite the odds.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That is Imtiaz Tyab reporting in Kabul.
We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.
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