'This Week' Transcript: George Clooney

PHOTO Actor and activist George Clooney speaks with Jake Tapper Sunday, January 2, 2011.ABC News
Actor and activist George Clooney speaks with Jake Tapper Sunday, January 2, 2011.

TAPPER: ONE WEEK FROM TODAY, SOUTHERN SUDAN WILL VOTE WHETHER TO BREAK AWAY FROM THE NORTH, A VOTE MANY FEAR COULD RESULT IN MASS ATROCITIES AND EVEN GENOCIDE.

ACTOR AND ACTIVIST GEORGE CLOONEY HAS A NEW PROJECT TO USE SATELLITE TECHNOLOGY TO TRY TO DETER THAT FROM HAPPENING. HERE'S HOW HE HOPES THE SATELLITE SENTINEL PROJECT WILL WORK.

AT ANY GIVEN TIME, THERE ARE A HALF-DOZEN COMMERCIAL SATELLITES OVER THE NORTH-SOUTH BORDER OF SUDAN. THE PROJECT WILL GET HIGH-RESOLUTION PHOTOGRAPHS OF SUDAN FROM THOSE SATELLITES AND POST THEM ON THEIR WEBSITE. THAT WAY YOU AT HOME CAN MONITOR WHAT'S GOING ON, ON THE GROUND IN SOUTHERN SUDAN.

BUT WILL THE WORLD WATCHING MAKE A DIFFERENCE? OUR EXCLUSIVE GUESTS THIS MORNING, GEORGE CLOONEY, JOINING US FROM LOS ANGELES, AND JOHN PRENDERGAST OF THE ENOUGH PROJECT, HERE IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US, GEORGE AND JOHN.

PRENDERGAST: THANKS FOR HAVING US.

CLOONEY: HAPPY NEW YEAR, JAKE.

TAPPER: SO, GEORGE -- HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU -- SO, GEORGE, I'LL START WITH YOU. SO LET'S SAY, IN THE FIRST REPORT, WHICH IS GOING TO HAPPEN, AS I UNDERSTAND IT, THIS WEEK, YOU SEE PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE OF WAR CRIMES, OF PROXY MILITIAS CROSSING THE BORDER AND KILLING OTHER INDIVIDUALS. WHAT DO YOU DO?

CLOONEY: WELL, THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS YOU CAN DO. FIRST OF ALL IF YOU SEE ACTUAL EVIDENCE OF THOSE KIND OF ATTACKS, THAT'S SOMETHING YOU CAN DO -- THAT THE U.N. CAN ACTUALLY WORK WITH.

BUT FOR THE MOST PART, OUR JOB IS TO SAY THAT THESE THINGS HAVE BEEN HAPPENING IN THE DARK FOR A LONG TIME. WHAT HAPPENS WITH THAT IS THAT THE OTHER ARAB COMMUNITIES, THE CHINESE, THEY ALL HAVE THE ABILITY TO DENY IT, TO SAY IT DIDN'T HAPPEN.

WE'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO, YOU KNOW, NOT SHOW IT AFTERWARDS, BUT SHOW IT BEFOREHAND, THAT THERE WERE PLANS, THERE ARE TANKS LINED UP, THAT THERE ARE HELICOPTERS ONLINE, THAT ARE GOING TO -- THAT ARE ABOUT TO COMMIT ATROCITIES.

TAPPER: JOHN, THE REFERENDUM IN WHICH THE SOUTH WILL VOTE ON WHETHER OR NOT IT WANTS TO BREAK AWAY FROM THE NORTH, THAT WILL TAKE PLACE ONE WEEK FROM TODAY. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR TO MAKE SURE THAT THAT REFERENDUM WORKS?

PRENDERGAST: WELL, THIS IS ALL ABOUT DETERRENCE AND ABOUT ACCOUNTABILITY. YOU KNOW, THE HISTORY OF THIS GOVERNMENT IN KHARTOUM THAT'S BEEN IN POWER FOR 20 YEARS NOW IS THEY'VE USED DIVIDE-AND-DESTROY METHODS TO STAY IN POWER, SO WE FIGURE THAT AT THIS CRITICAL TIME IN HISTORY, WHEN THEY'RE ABOUT TO LOSE A THIRD OF THE COUNTRY, THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE COUNTRY, WHICH HAS MOST OF THE OIL, THAT THEY'RE GOING TO USE SOME OF THEIR TRIED AND TRUE TACTICS, MOSTLY RELATED TO GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES, TO UNDERMINE THE REFERENDUM AND NULLIFY THE RESULTS.

SO WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE WATCHING IN THE SKY AND ON THE GROUND TO DETER THE GOVERNMENT IN KHARTOUM FROM UNDERTAKING THESE KINDS OF METHODS TO TRY TO UNDERMINE THIS HISTORIC MOMENT IN SUDAN.

TAPPER: GEORGE, A COUPLE MONTHS AGO, WHEN YOU THOUGHT OF THIS IDEA, THE BIGGEST RISK AT THAT POINT IN TIME SEEMED TO BE THE NORTH SENDING IN ARMIES TO SWEEP ACROSS THE BORDER AND SEIZE CONTROL OF THE SOUTH'S OIL FIELDS. BUT RIGHT NOW, THE SITUATION IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT, AND ACTIVISTS ON THE GROUND ARE A LITTLE BIT MORE WORRIED ABOUT THESE PROXY MILITIAS CROSSING THE BORDER FROM NORTH TO SOUTH OR FROM SOUTH TO NORTH. IS THERE ANY FEAR THAT THIS TECHNOLOGY, THE SATELLITE TECHNOLOGY, WILL NOT BE AS EFFECTIVE IN TRACING THOSE SMALLER INCURSIONS?

CLOONEY: WELL, IF WE WERE JUST RELYING SOLELY ON SATELLITE IMAGERY, THEN, YES, YOU'RE RIGHT, IT WOULDN'T BE EFFECTIVE -- NECESSARILY EFFECTIVE AT ALL, EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT IT COULD BE A DETERRENT, EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE THOSE CAMERAS ARE GOING TO BE AT ANY POINT. AND SOME OF THESE GROUPS ARE IDENTIFIABLE.

BUT, YEAH, IT REQUIRES US ALSO HAVING PEOPLE ON THE GROUND RELAYING THAT INFORMATION. BUT THIS IS SOMETHING THAT'S -- THIS IS HOW THEY FIGHT THE WARS. THEY DON'T FIGHT NECESSARILY CONVENTIONAL WARS. USUALLY THEY COME IN WITH -- WITH, YOU KNOW, A GOVERNMENT BOMBER, FLY OVER, BOMB IT, AND THEN BRING IN A PROXY MILITIA IN TO ATTACK AFTERWARDS.

SO OUR JOB NOW IS TO USE EVERY ELEMENT WE CAN, AND THIS IS JUST ONE -- ONE BRANCH OF THAT.

TAPPER: JOHN, HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS ARE SOMETIMES ACCUSED OF SIDING WITH THE SOUTH UNFAIRLY, SOME SAY. I ASSUME THAT THIS SATELLITE SENTINEL PROJECT IS TO GUARD AGAINST ANY MALFEASANCE BY EITHER SIDE, NOT JUST THE NORTH.

PRENDERGAST: YEAH, THAT'S THE KEY. YOU KNOW, I THINK, AT THIS POINT IN TIME, WHAT WE WANT TO SEE IS A PROCESS THAT OCCURS THAT IS FAIR AND FREE SO THAT THE PEOPLE OF THE SOUTH CAN HAVE THEIR SAY ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THEIR COUNTRY.

THEY'VE BEEN FIGHTING FOR 50 YEARS FOR THEIR INDEPENDENCE, FOR THEIR FREEDOM. NOW THEY'RE GOING TO GET TO VOTE ON IT. AND THE VOTE MUST BE FREE AND FAIR. SO THAT'S WHAT WE'RE CONCERNED ABOUT, AND WE DON'T WANT ON EITHER SIDE ANY KIND OF ATTEMPTS TO TRY TO UNDERMINE THAT VOTE, PARTICULARLY BY -- AS YOU'RE SAYING -- BY THESE PROXY MILITIAS THAT THE GOVERNMENT IN KHARTOUM IS SUPPORTING IN THE SOUTH TO UNDERMINE STABILITY IN THE SOUTH TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE THERE'S TRIBAL CONFLICT AND -- AND THE SOUTH IS UNABLE TO GOVERN ITSELF. THAT'S THE THING I THINK WE'RE MOST WORRIED ABOUT AND NEED TO KEEP A VERY CLOSE EYE ON.

TAPPER: NOW, GEORGE, THIS IS GOING TO COST ABOUT $750,000 FOR THE FIRST SIX MONTHS. IS THAT RIGHT?

CLOONEY: THAT'S RIGHT, YEAH.

TAPPER: IS THERE ANY CONCERN? DID IT GIVE YOU ANY MOMENT OF PAUSE THAT, IN AN AREA LIKE SUDAN, WHERE SMALL AMOUNTS OF MONEY, THE PRICE OF -- OF A VACCINATION, A COUPLE DOLLARS, NUTRITION, THAT $750,000 FOR THIS PROJECT MIGHT NOT BE THE BEST USE OF THOSE FUNDS TO HELP PEOPLE IN THAT REGION? WAS THAT A CONCERN AT ALL?

CLOONEY: WELL, NO, IT'S NOT A CONCERN. I MEAN, WE OBVIOUSLY HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR A WHILE AND HAVE BEEN DONATING MONEY IN THOSE AREAS, BUT THAT'S -- THOSE ARE PUTTING BAND-AIDS ON A WOUND AFTER THE WOUND HAS BEEN INFLICTED. THIS IS TRYING TO STOP IT BEFOREHAND.

THE SECRET TO THIS IS, THIS IS COST-EFFECTIVE. YOU KNOW, IF WE'RE ABLE TO PREVENT ATROCITIES, THEN WE DON'T HAVE ANY BAND-AIDS TO PUT ON, YOU KNOW, AND WE DON'T HAVE REFUGEES TO FEED AND TAKE CARE OF. YOU KNOW, THERE ARE 2.5 MILLION REFUGEES FROM THE DARFUR CONFLICT. SO, YOU KNOW, OUR JOB IS TO TRY AND STOP IT BEFORE IT STARTS. IT'S A MUCH CHEAPER WAY OF DOING IT.

TAPPER: AND DOESN'T, GEORGE -- JUST STAYING WITH YOU FOR A SECOND -- DOESN'T -- DOESN'T THIS PROGRAM NEED TO GO LONGER THAN SIX MONTHS? I UNDERSTAND IT'S JUST SIX MONTHS RIGHT NOW. BUT DOESN'T IT NEED TO GO ON AT LEAST INTO THE SUMMER, WHEN THE COMPREHENSIVE PEACE WILL BE AGREED UPON, AND THEN MAYBE EVEN FOR A YEAR? AS YOU KNOW, THE FEAR IS NOT SO MUCH FOR THE VIOLENCE DURING THE REFERENDUM ITSELF, BUT IN ALL OF THE NEGOTIATION AFTERWARDS.

CLOONEY: RIGHT. IT CERTAINLY WILL HAVE TO GO ON LONGER THAN SIX MONTHS. WE THOUGHT WE'D START WITH SIX MONTHS AND SEE IF THERE WAS SOME -- IT WAS EFFECTIVE. LIKE YOU SAID, OTHERWISE WE WOULDN'T WANT TO SPEND THE MONEY THAT WE'VE RAISED SIMPLY IF IT WASN'T WORKING.

WE FEEL LIKE IT'S GOING TO WORK, BUT WE WANTED TO START WITH SIX MONTHS. BUT WE ALSO ARE -- HAVE HAD LONG CONVERSATIONS -- AND WE'RE CONTINUING TO HAVE LONG CONVERSATIONS -- BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THIS -- THIS SHOULD -- WE SHOULD ALSO BE DOING THIS ON THE BORDER AND INSIDE DARFUR, BECAUSE THE -- THERE'S A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF ACTION GOING ON RIGHT NOW BY THE GOVERNMENT OF SUDAN. TWO WEEKS AGO, THEY BOMBED CORABETCHE (PH) AND -- AND BURNED THE VILLAGE, AND WE WANT TO BE ABLE TO TRACK WHERE THAT ACTION IS GOING ON, AS WELL.

TAPPER: THIS IS, I GUESS, FOR BOTH OF YOU, A MORE EXISTENTIAL QUESTION. JOHN, WE'LL START WITH YOU. RIGHT NOW IN IVORY COAST, WE SEE A LEADER FLOUTING THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE, OF HIS AFRICAN NEIGHBORS, OF THE U.N., OF THE WEST, OF THE U.S., AND NOTHING REALLY IS GOING ON ABOUT IT. YOU BOTH HAVE BEEN OUTSPOKEN ABOUT THE WORLD TURNING A BLIND EYE TOWARDS WHATEVER HAPPENS IN AFRICA.

JOHN, AND THEN GEORGE, WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT EVEN IF YOU GET PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE OF WAR CRIMES, OF GENOCIDE, EVEN -- THAT THERE IS ANY WILL IN THE WORLD TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT? JOHN, I'LL START WITH YOU.

PRENDERGAST: WELL, IVORY COAST REALLY IS A TEST CASE. I MEAN, YOU KNOW, THERE IS A GREAT OF DIPLOMACY OCCURRING NOW, ESCALATING COSTS AND CONSEQUENCES FOR THE GOVERNMENT IN IVORY COAST FOR WHAT THEY'RE DOING, EVENTUALLY POTENTIALLY MILITARY INTERVENTION IF THE MILITARY GOVERNMENT THAT LOST THE ELECTION, IF THE PRESIDENT DOESN'T ACTUALLY VACATE HIS OFFICE.

SIMILARLY IN SUDAN, THERE HAS TO BE A COST AND A CONSEQUENCE. IF THE GOVERNMENT OF SUDAN IS GOING TO UNDERMINE THIS REFERENCE, IF THE GOVERNMENT OF SUDAN IS GOING TO CONTINUE TO UNDERTAKE TERRIBLE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN DARFUR, THERE HAS TO BE A DIPLOMATIC CONSEQUENCE. THERE MUST BE ESCALATING SANCTIONS AND COSTS THAT -- THAT ACCRUE TO ANY PARTY THAT UNDERTAKES THESE KINDS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO MASS HUMAN SUFFERING.

TAPPER: GEORGE?

CLOONEY: YEAH, I THINK -- I THINK THAT'S THE IMPORTANT PART OF THIS, IS THAT -- I AGREE WITH JOHN. I MEAN, THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I WAS GOING TO SAY, SO HE SORT OF TOOK THE WORDS OUT OF MY MOUTH.

TAPPER: WELL, I MEAN, I GUESS THE LARGER QUESTION, GEORGE, IS – IS THE WORLD HAS SHOWN NO WILLINGNESS, REALLY, TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT ATROCITIES IN AFRICA. YOU KNOW THIS BETTER THAN I DO. SO WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT -- THAT EVEN IF YOU BRING THE PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE OF IT HAPPENING WITHIN A DAY OR TWO OF IT HAPPENING THAT THAT WILL CHANGE?

CLOONEY: WELL, WE KNOW WHAT HAPPENS -- WE KNOW THAT IT DOESN'T CHANGE WHEN WE DON'T BRING THE PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE. WE'VE SEEN THAT VERY LITTLE IS DONE.

WE ALSO BELIEVE THAT, YOU KNOW, LISTEN, BASHIR, THE HEAD OF THE GOVERNMENT IN KHARTOUM, HAS BEEN CHARGED BY THE ICC FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY AND EVEN GENOCIDE. HE WOULD LIKE THAT TO BE DROPPED. WE'RE NOT EVEN TALKING ABOUT DROPPING THAT. HE'D LIKE TO BE TAKEN OFF THE TERROR WATCH LIST. IT SHOULD -- THAT SHOULD BE A DISCUSSION, IF HE ACTS LEGITIMATELY.

HE'S NOT ACTING LEGITIMATELY NOW. HE'S -- HE'S NOW BOMBING AND ATTACKING VILLAGES IN DARFUR. HE WANTS TO BE TAKEN OFF? WELL, THEN HE'S GOING TO HAVE TO DO A LOT BETTER THAN THAT.

THERE'S A LOT OF CONSEQUENCES THAT WE CAN OFFER. THERE'S A LOT OF THINGS THAT WE CAN OFFER, CERTAINLY NOT THE ICC, I WOULDN'T -- I DON'T THINK THAT SHOULD EVEN BE ON THE TABLE. BUT -- BUT THE TERROR WATCH LIST IS ONE THAT THEY'D LIKE TO BE OFF. WELL, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO ACT A LOT MORE LEGITIMATELY THAN YOU HAVE TO DATE.

TAPPER: VERY BRIEFLY, BECAUSE WE ONLY HAVE A MINUTE LEFT, I WANT TO GET BOTH OF YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS. PRESIDENT OBAMA, WHEN HE RAN FOR PRESIDENT, CAMPAIGNED ON ENDING THE GENOCIDE IN SUDAN AND GETTING TOUGH WITH THE GOVERNMENT IN KHARTOUM. VERY BRIEFLY, GEORGE AND THEN JOHN, HAS PRESIDENT OBAMA KEPT HIS PROMISE?

CLOONEY: YES, HE HAS. IT'S BEEN -- IT'S A TOUGH ONE TO KEEP, YOU KNOW? THERE'S -- IT'S A VERY COMPLICATED SITUATION. IT IS GOING TO GET A LOT MORE COMPLICATED. WE MET WITH THE PRESIDENT. THE PRESIDENT SEEMS TO BE VERY MUCH ON TOP OF THE ISSUE. AND WE WANT TO MAKE SURE – AND OUR JOB IS TO KEEP THE PRESSURE ON TO MAKE SURE THAT -- THAT THERE'S NO SLIPPAGE IN THAT AT ALL.

TAPPER: JOHN, I'LL LET YOU HAVE THE LAST WORD.

PRENDERGAST: WELL, THIS IS PRESIDENT OBAMA'S MOMENT. YOU KNOW, THE UNITED STATES IS THE BIGGEST ACTOR IN SUDAN. WE CAN HAVE A MAJOR INFLUENCE ON WHETHER OR NOT A DEAL IS STRUCK BETWEEN THE NORTH AND THE SOUTH TO PREVENT A WAR, AND WE CAN HAVE A MAJOR INFLUENCE ON WHETHER HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS CONTINUE IN DARFUR.

THAT'S GOING TO TAKE PRESIDENTIAL LEADERSHIP. HE'S BECOME ENGAGED NOW. WE'LL SEE IF HE CAN BRING IT THAT LAST MILE. THANK YOU.

TAPPER: JOHN, GEORGE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, AND GOOD LUCK WITH THE PROJECT. WE'LL PROVIDE MORE INFORMATION ON THE ABCNEWS.COM BLOG AS TO WHERE YOU CAN FOLLOW THE WORK OF THE SATELLITE SENTINEL PROJECT. THANKS, GENTLEMEN.

PRENDERGAST: THANK YOU.

TAPPER: THE ROUNDTABLE IS NEXT WITH GEORGE WILL, DONNA BRAZILE, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR AMY WALTER, AND MAJOR GARRETT OF NATIONAL JOURNAL.