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Duke of Edinburgh's Funeral Today; Russia Sanctions American Officials; Gunman Who Killed Eight at FedEx Site Identified as Former Employee; Biden Holds News Conference with Japanese PM; End of the Castro Era; Ousted Myanmar Civilian Leaders to Form Underground Government; Afghans Who Helped Americans Wait for Visas. Aired 2-2:45a ET
Aired April 17, 2021 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A final farewell to Prince Philip, the timeline, who is attending, all the carefully planned details ahead of this royal funeral.
Diplomatic tit-for-tat, Russia, responding in kind to U.S. sanctions.
Plus, as deaths continue mounting in Brazil, the country's worried neighbors scramble to keep COVID-19 from crossing their borders.
Hello, welcome to all of our viewers from around the world, appreciate your company, I am Michael Holmes, this is CNN NEWSROOM.
HOLMES: We begin in the U.K., where the funeral for Prince Philip gets underway a few hours from now. The Duke of Edinburgh will be laid to rest at St. George's Chapel and Windsor Castle after a procession from the state entrance.
Princes William and Harry will walk behind the coffin. The brothers, who famously have been at odds, will not be side by side. Their cousin, Peter Phillips, will walk between them.
Final preparations and rehearsals on Friday, the queen also releasing this unseen photograph going back in 2003. Anna Stewart, in Windsor, with more on what we can expect.
Good morning to you, Anna.
We are looking at what today means and what we can expect.
ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The royal family are waking up this morning, with a very heavy heart. All week, we have incredible tributes for the life and the legacy, of Prince Philip.
All eyes today will be on Her Majesty the Queen, not least in this chapel, very much on her own. Due to the pandemic, social distancing between households. That will be a stark image to see.
Perhaps there will be some comfort in the fact that her husband, Prince Philip, had a big hand in planning this funeral, meticulously planned, in fact. We can give you some timings here. At 2:45 pm, 9:45 Eastern where you are, the procession will set off. That is where the coffin will be placed, on a Land Rover hearse. Designed, specifically, by Prince Philip for that purpose.
It will be followed on foot by members of the royal family, his children and his grandchildren. You mentioned Prince William and Prince Harry. Now this procession may only be 8 minutes long but, my goodness, it will be magnificent.
Over 700 personnel, from all branches of the military, taking part. It will take him right to the foot of the steps of the chapel. This is where we will get a minute of silence. That will sound at 3 pm, it will be started by a gun from the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery. It will be ended by a gun as well.
Following that, a service will begin. And that service reflects his love for the sea and his career in the navy. The last post will sound as his coffin is lowered into the royal vault and finally action station. That will be sounded by a bugler from the Royal Marines, a traditional battle cry, Michael. You can imagine how that will echo out through the chapel.
HOLMES: It will be an extraordinary event. We touched on this and a lot of people, I think, will be watching William and Harry, after a very public division. This notion that they will even be divided, physically, in the procession.
Are there hopes for healing around this somber time?
STEWART: Of course. No one can know what the conversations will be between the two but there is nothing, of course, like the terrible grief in a family to unite one. There is hope that there could be some sort of reconciliation.
As you said, Prince William and Prince Harry, will be walking, in many ways, side by side, behind the coffin. But they will be split in the middle by Peter Phillips, their cousin. A lot of attention being given to this in British media reports, suggesting this is due to the rift that was so publicly exposed by that interview with Oprah Winfrey.
I can imagine, the tabloids will run wild with body language experts. Plenty of people, really hoping today that this is an opportunity to heal the rift. Today is really to grieve the loss of Prince Philip, to mark his life and his legacy -- Michael.
HOLMES: Absolutely. Anna Stewart, in Windsor, thank you.
Many will be keeping a close eye, as we were just discussing there, on many interactions between Harry and William during the funeral.
[02:05:00] HOLMES: Also, people will be watching the queen, Queen Elizabeth II. Nick Glass, with the details, on why Prince Philip's funeral may be a significant test, in many ways, for the royal family.
NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Queen Victoria's statue, outside Windsor Castle, a widow at 42, she would wear black for the rest of her life. With the media encamped outside, her great-great granddaughter remains grieving privately, behind the castle's granite walls.
The queen will be 95 later this month, her first birthday without her husband since she was 22.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The passing of Prince Philip must, inevitably, bring to mind the end of the Elizabethan era. But I think it will be an Elizabethan era, right to the end.
GLASS (voice-over): In other words, right until the end of the queen's life. The castle is currently closed to the public but we already know there are plans afoot for the queen's Platinum Jubilee next year, when she celebrates 70 years on the throne.
Life goes on, royal and ordinary, just as Prince Philip would have wished. More challengingly, there is a serious fracture in the family in need of healing. The Oprah Winfrey interview was just a month ago.
MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: And also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born.
OPRAH WINFREY, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't think anybody anticipated how issues of diversity --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of racism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- would be raised in a way that, in most people's minds, over here, quite unjustly gave a character to the royal family that is not the case. It couldn't be that the funeral gathering for Prince Philip, which will be essentially a family occasion, will be the beginning of fences being mended.
GLASS (voice-over): These photos were taking on the grounds of Windsor Castle last month, just a week after Prince Philip came home from hospital. The queen and her eldest son and heir, the symbolic reassurance about continuity.
We now know the funeral at St. George's Chapel at Windsor will be small, because of COVID. Just 30 people, plus clergy to be televised and, probably in the case of the queen, filmed with some discretion.
What we can assume that the body language of William and Harry will be closely observed as they sit in the choir stalls. Of course, Prince Philip knew the chapel well, from the annual Garter Ceremony as well as weddings and funerals. Here the queen, flanked by Prince Charles and Prince William.
On Saturday, the men, Prince Charles and his two sons, will walk behind the coffin, on this very same road. Prince Philip's face is still everywhere, at Piccadilly Circus and on the Post Office Tower in London.
The tributes have been warm and fulsome, with multiple newspaper supplements. But at the end of the long walk, they are still laying flowers. The firm, as Prince Philip liked to call, will gather to lay him to rest. The royals usually try to hide their emotions. Saturday, promises the sternest of tests -- Nick Glass, CNN, in Windsor.
HOLMES: Our royal coverage of the royal funeral of Prince Philip, beginning at 1 pm London, time 8 pm, Hong Kong.
Now a tit-for-tat of sanctions is playing out between the United States and Russia. Moscow announcing, Friday, it is banning a list of top U.S. officials, one day after the Biden administration sanctioned Russia for election interference and that massive cyberattack.
The U.S. State Department, issuing a statement, saying, quote, "Our recent actions were proportionate and appropriate to Russia's harmful activities. Today's announcement by the Russian government was escalatory and regrettable."
CNN global affairs analyst, Susan Glasser, joins me from West Palm Beach, Florida. She is also a staff writer for "The New Yorker."
Good to see you Susan. Let's talk about this, President Biden called for de-escalation after imposing those U.S. sanctions but predictably, the opposite has happened with the response by Russia.
What do you make?
What could Russia do additionally?
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think one of the complicating factor here is that sanctions were imposed by the Biden administration, for a series of events, including not only their election interference but the massive SolarWinds hack that happened last year that was never responded to by the previous Trump administration.
So this was long in the works and now complicating this is this massive Russian military buildup, right on the border with Ukraine.
GLASSER: So I think, in a way, Russia is familiar with this round of sanctioning, retaliatory actions. But the big question mark, for me, is where does this buildup with the Ukraine figuring, its military action passable, is that the reason for Biden's, somewhat surprising, offer of an early summit with Vladimir Putin? HOLMES: I want to expand more on that, too. This troop buildup around Eastern Ukraine and occupied Crimea. Plus, this restriction on ship movements in the Black Sea which, also, seems aimed at Ukraine.
How dicey is that sort of situation as we've often discussed in these situations?
A miscalculation is a pretty easy thing to happen.
How precarious is that?
GLASSER: I think that's right. First of all, the scale of this Russian buildup is significant, with tens of thousands of troops and it is the largest military buildup since the actual Russian takeover, the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula seven years ago almost exactly.
Obviously, is an actual military force, it definitely, it is sufficient in number for some kind of military action to take place.
However, this time, the Russians aren't being subtle about it. This is a force that seems to want to be noticed. Vladimir Putin, certainly, is an expert at this point, after 20 years in power and getting the attention of the West. Russia had not been front and center on the agenda in Washington in the new Biden administration.
They have now sat up and take notice for sure.
So the question people have is, is this just a test by Vladimir Putin of the new president, who has come in talking in a much more critical way than his predecessor, Donald Trump?
Or is this something that has to do more with Russia's domestic politics, protests and imprisonment of the dissident, Alexei Navalny. There is upcoming Duma elections, would suggest that Putin may be reverting to the familiar script of creating a foreign crisis, in order to rally around the flag, if you will, instead of Russia.
I think people are still trying to understand, primarily, how great the threat is to the Ukraine right now.
HOLMES: Biden has called for that summit between the two leaders and that ball now, is in Vladimir Putin's court.
Do you think he will agree to one?
What is in it for him?
GLASSER: The Kremlin did respond favorably and generally speaking, Putin is often in favor of superpower symmetry, because he likes the optics of being seen as a world leader and forcing the United States to pay attention to him and to Russian grievances.
I still wonder if this might be a way of signaling, from the Biden administration, to buy some time, basically. I think there is, certainly, a view among diplomats that, if Russia's leader will meet with the U.S. president, he probably is not likely to invade a friendly country before he does that.
It may have been a way by the Biden team to get some additional time on the clock, holding out the promise of that superpower summit, in hopes of avoiding an actual military confrontation, so early in the presidency.
HOLMES: Certainly, worrying developments in the region, particularly for Ukraine. Susan Glasser, as always, thank you so much.
GLASSER: Thank you.
HOLMES: We are taking a quick break. When we come back, U.S. President Joe Biden welcomed his first foreign leader to the White House on Friday. What the prime minister of Japan had to say and their warning to China. The live report, next.
HOLMES: Investigators looking into the deadly mass shooting in Indianapolis have now released the names of the victims. Eight people were killed in the rampage at the FedEx ground facility in Indianapolis. They range in age from 19 to 74. Four were members of the city's Sikh community. One man said he expects this to be part of the investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Given the numbers of Punjabi Sikhs that worked at the facility, we fully expect the authorities should and will conduct a full investigation, including the possibility of bias as a factor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Now the White House flag has been lowered to half-staff again and U.S. President Joe Biden angrily condemned the gun violence that has become far too common.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every single day, every single day there is a mass shooting in the United States, if you count all those who were killed out on the streets of our cities and our rural areas. It's a national embarrassment and must come to an end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: This is actually the United States' 45th mass shooting since the Atlanta area spa killings on March 16th, 45th in a month. Some cities actually had more than one, if you can believe it. CNN defines a mass shooting as one where at least four people are hurt or killed by gunfire, not including the gunman.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he had serious talks on China's influence with the U.S. president Joe Biden. Now China is reacting after the two leaders met at the White House and agreed to work together to meet the challenges posed by Beijing's claims in the region.
A statement from the spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington said, in part, quote, "The scheme of the U.S. and Japan will only end up hurting themselves."
CNN's Blake Essig joins me now from Tokyo to discuss further.
Despite a full agenda, China was very much the forefront.
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Michael, there is no question that China, the issue of China, excuse me, was front and center at this first face-to-face meeting between President Biden and Prime Minister Suga.
On Friday, the two leaders took the opportunity to remind the world of the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance, an alliance focused on peace, instability. Here's President Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Japan and the United States are two strong democracies in the region. And we are committed, we're committed to defending and advancing our shared values, including human rights and the rule of law. We are going to work together to prove that democracies can still compete and win in the 21st century.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ESSIG: Throughout the afternoon, the leaders addressed a number of topics, including North Korea, free and open Indo-Pacific, COVID-19, climate change, the Olympics and, of course, China. Here's Prime Minister Suga.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOSHIHIDE SUGA, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We also had serious talks on China's influence of the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific and the world at large. We agreed to oppose any attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion in the East and South China seas and intimidation of others in the region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ESSIG: Along with addressing issues in the East and South China Seas, Suga said the U.S. reaffirmed its commitment to defend Japan, in particular, in the Senkaku Islands under Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan defense treaty.
Of course, China claims those islands and calls them Diaoyu. The two countries also shared serious concerns regarding human rights issues in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. They also touched on the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage a peaceful resolution.
China since responded to the summit, saying Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, all belong to China's internal affairs and that the issues of the East and South China Seas concern China's territorial integrity with no room for interference -- Michael.
HOLMES: All right, Blake, thanks, Blake Essig in Tokyo for us.
Quick break, when we come back, COVID-19 case numbers heading in the wrong direction, as we've been reporting, in Brazil. And that is a problem even for neighboring countries turning a corner on the pandemic. The reasons why when we come back.
HOLMES: Now the state of Sao Paulo, the one that has the biggest population in Brazil, is relaxing coronavirus measures, even though hospitals have few ICU beds to spare. Health experts have been slamming those in charge in Brazil.
One study says the current political chaos is going to led to, quote, "an unimaginable loss of lives." The lead author of the study spoke to CNN, let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIA CASTRO, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: No question that Brazil is a threat to global health security. I think many voices are saying this. We mentioned it in the science paper. And this is obvious.
It's a threat because of the high transmission -- and the virus does not respect borders -- and it is a threat because of the possibility of new variants emerging. It's not by chance that many countries have closed their borders to Brazil. It's because of recognizing this threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: A global threat.
Now the rapid spread of the Brazilian variant has neighboring countries, indeed, taking action to stop it from crossing their borders, if they can. CNN Stefano Pozzebon takes a look at what they're doing.
STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Latin American countries are bracing themselves for a new spike in COVID cases as the situation in Brazil deteriorates and the virus spreads across the region.
Several countries, taking to closing the border with Brazil to try and prevent the spread of the virus. At least two countries Colombia and Uruguay, are now prioritizing vaccinations in the regions that are bordering Brazil in order to prevent Brazilian variants to spread into these two nations.
The Brazilian variants are known to be more aggressive and deadlier than other variants present in South America. But experts, health experts, are careful about this approach and think maybe it's a little too late. Take a listen to what one expert told me, just this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The variant, very probably, is already here. The way it has been spreading in Bogota and there are other characteristics of the new strains of the virus. The big problem in Latin America is that, except for Brazil and even in Brazil, they aren't doing enough genomic tests.
As you can see, and I was in one problem I was in with a doctor, Spina (ph), 600 is what the city of London does any regular day. And that is what we have done in a year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POZZEBON: As long as vaccinations and these new genomics testing does not pick up pace, experts fear that Latin America is ill equipped to deal with this deadly new wave of COVID-19 that is weeping (sic) across the continent -- for CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.
HOLMES: Now after 60 years of Castro family rule, Cuba now entering a new era.
HOLMES: When we come back, we will look at the impact of brothers, Fidel and Raul.
Also as Myanmar's military kills even more civilians, deposed civilian leaders want to form their own army. We'll be right back.
HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
Now the reign of the Castro brothers has come to an end in Cuba. Raul Castro has confirmed that he is stepping down as head of the Communist Party there after 60 years of rule by himself and his late older brother, Fidel.
Castro received a standing ovation at the party's Congress Friday, as he professed his faith in a new generation of leaders. Patrick Oppmann takes a look at the six decades of Castro rule in Cuba.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For over 60 years, there has always been a Castro at the helm of Cuba. In 1959, Fidel Castro's upstart revolution, suddenly, took power. Forcing U.S.-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista, to flee the island. At Castro's side, his most trusted deputy, younger brother, Raul, charged with turning the ragtag army into a disciplined military.
Alarmed by the Castros' leftist sympathies, in April 1961, the U.S. sent a CIA-trained army of exiled Cubans to take back the island. On the eve of the invasion, Fidel Castro declared Cuba to be a socialist state.
The Castros' forces met the exile army, as they landed in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, a name that would become synonymous with failure.
As Cuba's fledgling revolution, improbably, defeated the U.S.-backed troops. Cuba became an ally of the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro a permanent thorn in the side of nine U.S. presidential administrations.
Castro would be both president and head of the Communist Party in Cuba, the maximum leader, Cubans called him; a dictator, according to the U.S.
Then, in 2006, with Cuba's economy still struggling in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro fell mysteriously ill and nearly died. There was no clear transition plan, Cuban officials admit, but his brother and longtime enforcer, Raul Castro, was the obvious choice.
OPPMANN (voice-over): Two years later, as it became evident that Fidel Castro would never be able to return to power, Raul Castro took over, permanently, as president and first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party.
Castro said he would begin a transition to a new generation of leadership in Cuba, stepping down, after 10 years in office.
In 2018, he turned over running the day to day operations of the Cuban government, to his handpicked successor, Miguel Diaz-Canel. Now 60 years to the month after the Castros defeated the U.S.-backed forces at the Bay of Pigs, cementing their hold over Cuba, Raul Castro, 89, is stepping down as head of the party.
The rare revolutionary, who lived long enough to retire.
"After that, if my health permits it," he said in 2018, "I will be just one more soldier with the people, defending this revolution."
Cuba, without the Castros in power, looks pretty much the same, a destroyed economy, a one-party state, a still contentious relationship with the United States. But for Cubans, the end of an era has arrived -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.
HOLMES: Several of Myanmar's ousted civilian leaders are forming a shadow government. They've chosen Aung San Suu Kyi as their de facto leader. They're calling it the National Unity Government. And it stands in opposition to the military junta.
They say that they want to form their own army as well. The group's spokesperson says they have a critical goal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SASA, MYANMAR UNITY GOVERNMENT MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: Our main job is to end this military dictatorship once and for all and to restore democratic freedom for the people of Myanmar and to build a democratic union of Myanmar and have people's government emerge. So until we achieve those goals, we will not rest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Paula Hancocks is tracking these developments for us from Bangkok.
You know, I guess the announcement by this National Unity Government, will it have any impact on what we see continuing to unfold on the ground?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is the thing, Michael. This is a unity government that's been formed outside of Myanmar. It's been formed by democratically elected leaders in some cases. They're not inside the country. It's going to be led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the ousted leader as a state counselor.
She was, in the previous government, which was pushed out of power by the military, she probably doesn't even know that this is happening as she has been detained.
So it's very difficult to see what practical differences and changes this could make on the ground. But we've been hearing from those in the unity government saying it has to be done. And what they need is international recognition, international support to try to make a difference with this unity government.
And we did have a press conference on Friday with Dr. Sasa. You heard from him, he's the minister of international communication and cooperation. We asked him, effectively, how you are going to convince governments around the world to recognize the government rather than the military taking control.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SASA: We are democratically elected leaders of Myanmar, yes. It's free and fair, 2020 election was free and fair and it was democratic. So if the free and democratic world reject us, that means they reject democracy. It's very simple. That means they reject the people of Myanmar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANCOCKS: When it comes to the reaction inside Myanmar, the best bet we have to gauge that is from social media, from activists and protesters inside the country. They have all welcomed this development, the unity government also say they will have a federal army to unite all the ethnic minorities within the country.
Again, it's very difficult to see how this could change anything in practical terms on the ground.
HOLMES: Yes, indeed. Paula, thank you so much, Paula Hancocks in Bangkok.
Now the Biden administration is planning to withdraw the final U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11th. But thousands of Afghans, who worked alongside those troops during the past 20 years, won't be leaving.
They could face death from a vengeful Taliban. Many already have. There is a program for such people, called the special immigrant visa. But those visas are limited. The processing system is painfully slow. Yet now the clock is ticking ever faster to get them out.
HOLMES: Matt Zeller has unique insight into this issue; as a young officer in the chaos of the firefight in Afghanistan back in 2008, his life was literally saved by an Afghan translator who picked up a gun and killed two Taliban fighters Zeller had not seen them but who were about to kill him.
Zeller got the translator out of Afghanistan and has since been working to help the thousands of other Afghans and Iraqis, who put their lives on the line to help the U.S. effort.
Matt Zeller is a Truman National Security Project fellow. He joins me now from Washington.
Now a major, a captain last time we spoke. You and I have talked about this, your work, along with a No One Left Behind group, getting visas with Afghans and Iraqis who worked with the coalition, literally to save their lives.
With the U.S. about to pull out of Afghanistan, the clock is ticking. The backlog is huge.
What are the real risks for those that worked with Americans and others in Afghanistan? MATT ZELLER, TRUMAN NATIONAL SECURITY PROJECT FELLOW: Michael, it's as simple as this. If we don't get them out now, they are going to die. The people that we asked to help us fight against the Taliban have made it abundantly clear that, if they catch these people after we are gone, they are going to murder them.
They've already started doing it. They don't just kill them; they kill their family members as well.
HOLMES: You have said and I will quote, "We could not have performed our jobs without them and many of us are only alive today because these friends and allies helped us when called upon."
Just speak to the role these people played over the last 20 years, how valuable that role was.
ZELLER: I wouldn't be sitting here, talking to you right now, if it hadn't been for my interpreter, Janus (ph). He saved my life literally in a firefight 13 years ago. Two Taliban fighters were about to kill me. He shot and killed them. They were our linguistic and cultural bridges to the world around us, the society around us.
We could not have performed our jobs without them. The Taliban understood this. Whenever I arrived in Afghanistan, our interpreters wore civilian clothes. The Taliban shot at them first. Because they understood, if they killed the interpreter, we could not speak to the villagers around us. We couldn't distinguish friend from foe. We couldn't perform our duties.
So then we started having our interpreters wear American uniforms. And that's when it hit us. It didn't matter if they hadn't been born in the U.S. or formally joined the military. The reality was they were doing the mission just as much as we were if not more so.
I had the luxury of coming home when my tour was over. Janus went on to the next unit, the next mission, over and over and over again.
Most of these individuals are people who served on average at least two years or more. In most cases, it's five years plus. And they are now, because of that service, targeted and excommunicated from the society around them.
HOLMES: Yes, I worked with them, both in Afghanistan and Iraq, the work they do is incredible.
How important is it to humanize these people?
To a lot of Americans, it's numbers, it's not people. And they think it's more people emigrating to this country. But it's important to realize, these are real people, they have earned an escape from the country. It is an outrage that this is not a priority issue, isn't it?
ZELLER: It's a tremendous outrage. Take for example the case of my friend, who we will call Abdul for security reasons. It's not his real name. But these people are so frightened that, when they're abroad, they have to hide their identity as much as possible. Abdul served for a many number of years. Over the course of his
service, he saw about a dozen of his fellow comrades, other interpreters, killed by the Taliban because of their service. He himself was injured in a bomb attack. The Taliban at one point tracked him down at his home.
Because they found where he lived, he was able to flee. He ended up running to India. He's been waiting for our visa process now for years, literally for years. Two years ago, he thought he had his visa. They told him he had it. It was chief of mission approval. It's basically the State Department saying you're all but done. You just have to pass the security review.
And then it was revoked. They told him the reason why is because they needed to speak with his supervisor again to verify his service. It had already been done once before. They needed to, I guess, double check it.
They can't do that. His supervisor is currently being held hostage by the Taliban. So Abdul now lives in India, in abject poverty, where he waits for our system to make a decision on his life.
He cannot go back to Afghanistan. He cannot get work in India. And he is hoping that we are going to keep our promise.
ZELLER: And we need to keep it.
HOLMES: There is the old military maxim of leaving no one behind. These people are literally being left behind. And I know that you agree that there is a long-term imperative to do this, the potential impact of not protecting these people, who risked their lives to work with the U.S., inaction that could hamper the U.S. ability to recruit people in country, in the future.
ZELLER: It's absolutely that, it's that and more. I fear a narrative that it becomes that if you befriend the U.S., that friendship means death for you and your families, for you and your family members.
I fear a future in which, when we try to send not just our military out in the world but our aid workers, diplomats, that we find we cannot befriend folks because they fear that friendship will lead to abandonment and murder.
And the reality is that becomes to be the narrative people actually hold and believe. We are not going to be able to accomplish anything in the world. And in the future conflicts, we are going to have to accept higher casualty rates from our own military. So there's a national security imperative to getting this right now while we still have time. HOLMES: It's a scandal this has not moved quicker. People need to know
about it. The Biden administration needs to get these people out. They've set the deadline for September to get U.S. troops out. They have got to move on this. And thank you, Matt, for the work you and others are doing on this. ZELLER: Can I make an urgent plea?
ZELLER: In 1975 and 1996 respectively, we were able to evacuate our Vietnamese and Kurdish allies to Guam, where they were able to reside in safety while we processed their visa applications. We need to do it now in Afghanistan while we still can and there's still time.
We don't have time to wait until all the U.S. troops are out, until we fix the visa system. These people are going to die if we do not do this now. We need to start the evacuation as soon as people see this interview.
HOLMES: Absolutely, Major Matt Zeller, thank you so much, appreciate it.
ZELLER: Thank you so much, sir.
HOLMES: It is such an important issue.
Before we go, it may have started as a joke but the only ones laughing now are investors on their way to the bank. The cryptocurrency, dogecoin, which began life as a parody of an internet meme, is on track to become a block chain blockbuster after quadrupling its value in one week.
Some credit a show of support from Elon Musk for the latest spike. He retitled the Miro's famous "Dog Barking at the Moon" as "Doge Barking at the Moon," in this tweet. It is up more than 5,000 percent so far this year, proving, this parody pooch can pack a punch after all.
I'm Michael Holmes, thanks for spending part of your day with me, I will see you back here in about 15 minutes. Meanwhile "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" is up next.