Sean Penn on El Chapo Meeting: "We're Not Smarter Than the DEA or the Mexican Intelligence"
The actor also explains that he wanted to interview the cartel leader to "begin a conversation about the policy of the war on drugs" but believes that his "article has failed."
Sean Penn has opened up about his meeting with drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in an interview with CBS' Charlie Rose.
In an excerpt of the sit-down that aired on CBS This Morning, Penn said that the idea that he helped with El Chapo's recapture by Mexican authorities a week ago is a "myth" and that it wasn't as if he and his team were able to find Guzman before the authorities did.
"There is this myth about the visit that we made, my colleagues and I with El Chapo, that it was — as the Attorney General of Mexico is quoted — 'essential' to his capture," Penn told Rose. "We had met with him many weeks earlier ... on October 2nd, in a place nowhere near where he was captured."
The actor added: "We know that the Mexican government ... they were clearly very humiliated by the notion that someone found him before they did. Well, nobody found him before they did. We're not smarter than the DEA or the Mexican intelligence. We had a contact upon which we were able to facilitate an invitation."
Penn said he thinks the Mexican government released information about his meeting with El Chapo in part because they want him blamed and targeted by the cartel, but the actor said he's not afraid for his life.
Penn also explained that he wanted to meet with El Chapo to "begin a conversation about the policy of the war on drugs."
"This is somebody who ... upon whose interview could I begin a conversation about the policy of the war on drugs. That was my simple idea," Penn said of his goals with his Rolling Stone interview.
"We're going to put all our focus — forget about blame — we're going to put all our focus, all our energy, all our billions of dollars on the 'bad guy,' and what happens? You get another death the next day the same way," Penn added, elaborating on his views on the war on drugs.
Now that the discussion around the interview is about the role Penn played in El Chapo's capture, how he was able to get access to the drug lord and other questions about legal issues and journalistic ethics, Penn feels that he wasn't able to accomplish his goal.
He told Rose he has a "terrible regret" about the interview.
"I have a regret that the entire discussion about this article ignores its purpose, which was to try to contribute to this discussion about the policy on the war on drugs," said the actor. "My article has failed."
Rose explained that Penn's deal and trip were led by Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, who had contact with the drug lord. Penn contacted her, Rose said, and he believes that contact enabled him to meet with El Chapo.
In a second clip from Penn's interview that aired later on the CBS morning show, he talked about those who've criticized him for his lack of journalistic qualifications and Rolling Stone for letting El Chapo review the article before it was published.
"When you get the story that every journalist in the world wanted, there's a lot of green-eyed monsters who are gonna come give you a kiss," Penn told Rose, confirming he was referring to, as Rose put it, "jealous journalists."
Rose said Penn described himself as an "experiential journalist" who writes about his own experiences and has "no regrets" about how he spent his seven hours with El Chapo.
"Of course I know that there are people who don't like me out of the gate," Penn said, consenting to Rose's characterization of the actor as being "not without controversy." "At the same time, when 'journalists' who want to say that I'm not a journalist — well, I want to see the license that says that they're a journalist."
The full interview is set to air on Sunday's 60 Minutes and also will air on Rose's eponymous PBS program on Monday night. During their full discussion, Rose said Penn talks about how he negotiated with El Chapo, the deals he made, why he went and what he thought of the drug lord.
Penn's sit-down with Rose is his first TV interview about his meeting with El Chapo. Rose explained at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour on Tuesday that he would be interviewing Penn during his trip to California but he didn't know when the interview would occur.
The two sat down on Thursday night in Santa Monica.
Jan. 15, 8:10 a.m. This story has been updated with the second clip of Rose's interview with Penn.