>> guest: tom phillips is the owner and bought up by newspapers here many events. they're impressive that you won this award for young journalists. there are submissions and judges and i am aware of various winners and tom phillips. he oversees this complex of which i am a small part. you can get the book to me through the phillips foundation. ..e through the phillips foundation. >> host: next call for ann coulter comes from new york city. hi, mike. >> caller: hello. good afternoon to all of you. i would, like to talk about the recent act of white terrorism in norway. initially this is described by people on the right as muslim terrorism, which was incorrect. then it was described by people on the left as christian terrorism.
which is also incorrect. the only way this could have been described is that and drers breivik, is a white racist terrorist who committed an act of white terrorism in a worldwide system of white supremacy. forget christianity. forget right-wing. for get left-wing. that is the only way this should be looked at. and to do so any other way is, incorrect. >> guest: i agree with part of that. and as luck would have it, i read his mannyfesto. not all of it. it gets a little representative so you can skim right through some parts -- repetitive. i'm unaware of any conservatives who blamed it on islamic terrorism. we didn't know what it was. by the time we heard what
happened he was being described in "the new york times" headlines as christian fundamentalist. gun-toting, fox news-viewing i believe. and his mannyfesto makes clear as the caller said, he isn't a christian. he uses the word christian to mean, nonislamic. it is not specifically, i don't know, black, hispanics, brown people. no, it is muslims he does not like. that's it. and yes it was very anti-muslim. he talks how he wants the jews and buddhists and all the people of europe to join with him to fight against the islam maization of europe. that is his big thing. whether or not that is connected to the insanity on some molecular level i don't know but for "the new york times" to describe him as
>> this is just over an hour. >> good morning, everyone. welcome to the miller center forum. today, we're thrilled to welcome william and eric schmidt, two journalists covering military affairs, and the untold story of the america's campaign against al-qaeda. they were senior writers and residents at the senior for american security. george joined the times in 1997 and is covering the pentagon and national security, including efforts of transformation within the pentagon and gloanl campaign csh gobble campaign against terrorism. he was a former editor of the
chicago tribune, spending time with the moscow bureau chief. he's wrote about the military and national security affairs for the newspaper for more than 20 years. he's covered some of the biggest stories, part of two teams of times reporters, awarded the pulitzer prize including one in 1999 for coverage of the transfer of sensitive military technology to china and another in 2009 for coverage of afghanistan and pakistan. since the september 11th attacks, both made numerous trips to afghanistan and iraq vetting with troops at various levels to cover military operations there. please welcome tom and eric. [applause] >> well, thank you, christina,
terms of changes. one focus was on 9/11, just how little the united states government really knew about al-qaeda and about terrorist networks. to get an understanding of this and really understand a little bit about how little it was known, as we went around and talked to individual in the bush white house who was there that day and were in the white house and in washington, and it became clear on 9/11 that it was al-qaeda that was the organization responsible for carrying out the attack, there were actually people inside the white house who asked, al who? when it came to understanding who the organization was. it was not on the radar. al-qaeda was an organization not well-understood, although they carried out one attack against the world trade center towers in new york in 1993, and they carried out an attack on the uss cole in yemen, but terrorism was something that happened overseas, not to people in the
united states, aside from, of course, the tragedy dm oklahoma city. . the other major flaws was the response to 9/11, that the government undertook. perhaps understandably, that response was an instinctive one to use the approach to kill and capture its way to victory. the idea, after all, was if we just kill enough of the fighters and kill and capture enough of its leaders, that this organization will collapse internally, and we'll be done with it. that was pretty much the thinking, even after the successful efforts in afghanistan was small number of special forces troops going in and working with the northern alliance to move out al-qaeda out of afghanistan and take down the taliban government, but that really was the theory, the philosophy, the thinking at that time, and it was only a couple years into this whole campaign
when there's an important pivotal moment as we write in the book, and this comes in december of 2003. this is when secretary donald rumsfeld hands an important memo to half a dozen of the top civilian and military leaders. at this point, we caution editors just because rumsfeld said it doesn't mean it's necessarily wrong. [laughter] in fact, rumsfeld puts his finger on it in this important memo, a short memo, but raises this important question, and the question is this. are we, with our operations now, again, this is december of 2003 in iraq, are we creating more militants than we are taking off the battlefield? if we are, we have to look at this whole campaign against the new enemy in a different way. again, rumsfeld, for all his flaws, had a vision here when he had a problem and it's not being addressed, you expand the problem. that is what he did.
he's asking starting with the top military advisers to do this, but soon it's expanding throughout the government, and this is one of the first times where the government is starting to look out from that kill and capture mentality. what we do in the book is look at the evolution over ten years whether the government goes from knowing very little about al-qaeda and terrorist organizations in general to where we stand today with a pretty detailed knowledge of its leadership, of its structure, how it works, certainly, since the death of bin laden and the information that was taken out of his safe house in pakistan, much is known. it's still imperfect knowledge though the understanding of how terrorist nearings operate -- networks operate and bleed together now in the areas that the u.s. is combating forces today. we also look at how this campaign goes from being a fairly straightforward military campaign with the assistance of the u.s. intelligence agencies to what we call a much more
whole of government approach where spies and soldiers are still very important, obviously, as the raid on bin laden. this is a whole of government meaning other agencies of the u.s. government are much more involved. the state department, its diplomats are involved in counterterrorism efforts. the justice department in the fbi have people deployed overseas working alongside their foreign counterparts. the treasury department, of all things, is the lead agency of the u.s. government in trying to choke off the financing the terrorists use, and they have animal analysts sitting side by side on cutting back and eliminating wealthy donors in the country who continue to give money to th taliban and al-qaeda. as we look forward in terms of how the approach is going, we are left with those big questions. this is all still very much an
evolving picture. how is the threat changing, and how is the response this government makes? how does this happen? i'll turn it over to tom to tell you the next part of the story. >> a sincere thanks for inviting us here today and for all of you taking time out of your schedule to let us discuss this with you. i'd like to say everything important i know in life i've learned from my wife, johnny cash, and the united states army. [laughter] the army in particular is important. as we cast our eyes back over the past ten years, we were looking for organizing principles to gather all of this information in a way that would be digestible, and if you know the way the military looks at the world, they divide things into the tactical and the operational and the strategic, and so we do just that in our book. we have some tactical case studies, the young men and women learning, evolving, doing
missions on the ground. we have some very cool, very exclusive stories never reported before, and i'll share one of those with you later, and then at the operational level, we analyze how the bureaucracies and institutions of our government evolved and how they came to a greater understanding. the terrorist operate in networks, have corporate structures, if you will, and if you understand the business model of how terrorist operate, what individual notes are essential to the entire enterprise, there's opportunities to target and take out those individual financiers, bomb makers, bun runners, ect., so you don't have to capture and kill everybody because there is no way to kill your way to victory in a war against violent extremism, and what the government learned is it takes a network to defeat a network, and then, of course, at the high level, we describe the search
for a grand strategy counterterrorism,ing? that would -- something that would echo deterrence in the cold war and kept nuclear peace with the soviet union during those dark days. first, i want to focus on that strategic search of grand strategy of counterterrorism, and really it's an untold story how an unlikely group of big thinkers inside the pentagon, across the intelligence community, and in some of the military commands were thinking outside the box, and the two most important were an old cold warrior at the pentagon and his young jedi apprentice who is a hollywood handsome. we are available after wards. [laughter] the problems are obvious though when you try to apply deterrence to a terror network.
they don't hold territory like the soviet union did. there's no way to identify territories at risk like factories or like the old missile silos, like the black sea where the elites kept their mistresses, valuable things you can hold at risk. at the same time, of course, terrorists do not leave a return address like in incoming missile from the soviet union does, so those were the problems, but what the new things were set to do is to identify a different kind of territory that these violent extremists hold dear, a territory required to operate effectively. if you can put those things at risk, if you make the terrorists worry about the safety of those virtual safe haven, then you act their thinking and change their
behavior, the essence of deterrence. these are changes for success, personal glory and reputation. 23 you throe up -- if you throw up barriers and make it harder, terrorists would rather not try than to try and fail and be disgraced in the eyes of their followers. it's where they get their money, their volunteers, so slowly the government learned that it should point out that 85% of those killed in terrorist attacks since 9/11 even innocent -- have been innocent muslims. they try to understand how to get inside the terrorist communication systems, and how they think, and therefore, to sow confusion and distrust and consent, to take apart the cohesion from the inside. now, we acknowledge that this assessment of a new deterrence against violent extremism is not
perfect. it certainly won't work on summon like a bin laden or those at the highest level, and it will not work on young committed jihadis after they strapped on a suicide vest. it's too late. there's people in the middle required for a terrorist system to operate who don't want to make the ultimate sacrifice, and you can threaten them, put them at risk to achieve a deterrent effect. this concept borrows on an older deterrence going back to traditional criminal justice. you put cops on the street, bars on the window, you build prisons with unbreakable walls, all to influence the decisions of those intending criminal action and hope to detour that. well, as exciting and as with all the potential new deterrence offered, there's a lot of people who resisted, and i guess the number one resister in chief was
president george bush. he wanted to be a war on terror, not a detouring presence. when rumsfeld took the new ideas to his ranch in texas in 2005, bush said, no, i'm sorry, i'm not buying it. as fate would have it inside the closed room, there was a four star general sitting there, general james cartwright, at the time commander of the strategic command that holds the crown jewels of the nuclear bombers, the airplanes, and submarines. he'd been working through the same issues. bush said, hoss, what do you think? he said, well, with all do respect, mr. president, we're doing the same work, and there's a lot to be had there. cartwright was in the room that day not to talk about this thinking, but to talk missile
defense against north korea and iran, but what cart youwright said to the president, he said, mr. president, if you think that 12 or 20 or 30 of our missile intercepters, which we know will not, will be unable to knock down every enemy missile, but if you believe that small system can inject uncertainty into the mind of an adversary in north korea or iran, if you think our limited, imperfect system changes the thinking of north korea or iran, if you accept that, well, mr. president, how can you not apply those same rules and thinking to countering violent extremism? >> so this idea sounds good, but how do you carry it out in the field? how do you carry it out in practice? this is what some of the critics in the pentagon and other people said. how do you make this work?
let me give a few examples from the book on how you make it work. again, these things are happening in the field as we write in the book, many of these things, the innovations are coming from the young military officials, officers, young analysts, people solving problems on the ground, not directed necessarily from washington or the higher headquarters from some place. let's take the example of thinking about deterrence in networks as thom mentioned. this is important because, again, the idea that you can have on the one end of the spectrum, suicide bombers, most of them are not detourble. they think they'll get rewards, no use in going after them. the government tried as we write about to make secret efforts to get to him through his family with secret messages. he never responded. the people in the middle that thom talked about, these enablers, these supporters, people like the lolo gist
tigses, the financiers, the volunteers, people they rely upon, but they are not driven by the ideology. they are in it for the money largely. if you target them saying we're going to take you out of this business for some reason, you are going to be able to take that important piece of the chain out of place and make it more difficult for the bombers to carry out their task. again, how does this actually happen in the field? well, one instance we talk about is the instance of the suicide bomber networks that evolved or young suicide bombers recruited throughout the middle east, north africa, come into syria, and there's a pipeline coming from syria into iraq, and initially, the attempt where you try to pick off suicide bombers is they come into iraq and kill off as many as you can before they get their suicide vests,
but there's a virtual, a limitless supply of these young men committed to jihad and blowing themselves up, so some of the intelligence analysts get together, and this is talking with some of the iraqi colleagues as well say, you know what? if we take out a very important piece of this network, we'll do better, i think, and the key here is each one of these suicide bombers had to have his mission blessed by a cleric, one who blesses this attack going forward, therefore ensuring the bomber knows he'll go to heaven to get the benefits, the vir begins, and everything that -- virgins and everything that comes with the deal. what happens if you intervene? instead of killing the bomber themselves, but take out the person who blesses the bombers. guess what? it's harder to replace a trained
cleric than a bomber. without the blessings, the bombers do not go forward. it's delayed in this part of iraq for months until they reorganize themselves. again, it's an example of where the military, working with analysts, start pulling a very important piece out of the network to disrupt or dissuade the attacks from takes place. another example is, again, going after the financiers. we talk about in our book how in the case of a province in aves, the military working with analysts on the ground go after an ancient money trading system, family run bases basically, and what the americans did basically was shut down about half a dozen of these businesses, and then they turn to their colleagues in the community says, you saw what we did? we shut down your neighbors and colleagues. these are good businesses you have providing you a standard of living, a nice house, a garden with the house, there's nice
wherewithall for your children. we can make this go away or shut you down if you continue to do business with th taliban. do business with the taliban, you're be like your neighbors. within weeks, the transactions the taliban could conduct dropped dramatically, and they had to move elsewhere forcing it to be more difficult to operate, again without firing a shot here. finally, what we talk about in the book in a great amount of detail is how the united states has been able to penetrate, perhaps, the ultimate safe haven that terrorists have, and that's the internet. the cyber world. this is where the terrorists do much of their recruiting, where they raise money, or even through the use of virtual online war games, they can plot and carry out plotted attacks using the same vie knack cue lar
that your teenager might use in these war games. another thing americans are doing now is infiltrating militant chat rooms, getting inside, oftentimes just posing very provocative questions saying, dear brothers, why is it this bombing of a wedding party in jordon that killed scores of muslim, men, women, and children, civilians, how does this advance our goal? how does it advance the goal of bin laden? raises questions and doubts, maybe to suede some of these young mill at that particular times thinking about carrying out bombings or attacks and deciding whether they want to go through or not. same is happening as americans infiltrating hacking into the cell phone networks of terrorist leaders to send out confusing messages to the militants themselves, to the point where most militants read the messages going, i think our guy lost it upstairs.
he's sending messages, i don't want to go with the program on this one anymore. timely, where the -- finally, the cyber defense of the united states has been able to come up with exak duplicates of the water marks al-qaeda uses sending out messages in confusing and perhaps dissuading militants from starting the attacks all together. even as the tactical successes on the ground are growing and understanding intelligence better and combating enemies, there's an understanding as we talked earlier in the talk about how to understand your enemy, get inside their head, how to dissuade and disrupt them in different ways. this is the long term solution to the campaign. >> i'd like to share with you a case study from the book, an example of how the early understanding and stumbling and funnel ling of 9/11 after
focusing on capture and kill and after a number of years, the agency learned to work together, a case of what right really can look like when the government gets its act together. it starts on another september 11, this time in 2007, a mission in the western deserts of iraq, just a dusty tent village that american intelligence had found was the most significant smuggling route for foreign fighters and jihads coming in from outside iraq. it's a modest historic footnote, but iraqi insurgents were not suicide bombers. they didn't want to die for the cause, but live another day, so most of the suicide bombers were foreign jihads who came to attacks the americans, and not to be suicide bombers themselves, but learn fighting and bomb making skills. as you recall in 2007 during the surge, the suicide bomb, were
40-60 a day, taking a terrible toll not only on the american and allies, but, of course, on the iraqi people. the u.s. government had put just a number of intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance platforms overhead this town. they sucked up cell phones, 24/7 realtime video and established what they called a pattern of life to predict when each shipment of future suicide bombers would be coming in, so a command team went in and went in hard. they killed the one who managed the smuggling line and his comrades. what they didn't expect and the bonus, they scooped up a number of computers and hard drives and documents, and what they learned, according to our sources, was that al-qaeda is as anal as the nazis when is comes to recordkeeping. [laughter]
another was with video cameras. they videoed everything as much as pamela anderson and tommy lee. [laughter] this trove of data was known as the al-qaeda roldex. they are aliases and home tones of all. it shows which school teachers or, you know, religious leaders had inspired them to make jihad, and they were able to determine in graphic spread sheet form where they were from and where the ink spots or the centers of gravity that provided so many suicide bombers. two-thirds came from libya and saudi arabia, very, very interesting. one an ally, one not one at the time. all the documents were translated, come piled and analyzed, but the military wanted to know what to do with them. it's a powerful narrative.
in the military, whatever unit captures intelligence, owns the classification of that intelligence. an officer, not well known at the time, but is now, stanley mcchrystal, he was the commander of the mission, and he decided i'm going to break down wall. this is too valuable to keep inside my joint special operations command to run for missions. we have to push this out to the world. he declassified more than 800 files on jihads giving to command, west point for academic research, and then the most really revolutionary idea, he gave it to the state department where the new ambassador for counterterrorism was an old battle buddy of his, a retired three star general who was the state department's top officer for counterterrorism. general daly, and ambassador
daly went to countries in the middle east, countries that were p -- that were friends with the u.s., partners, and even rocky relations, and he'd walk in with his credentials in his ambassador suit and laid out for the ministry, their officers, all of this data. look, guys, this is not american propaganda. these are jr. passports, your travel documents that show that these jihad jihadis come from your country. a number of them come back to your country highly trained. do you want that? we have to stop the flow of these young men out of your country. his efforts were so effective that by the end of 2007 and into 2008, general petraeus was the overall commander in iraq that
did this whole of government effort beginning with the intelligence on the site, the command raid, the capture of the documents, the exemployeation of the intelligence -- exploitation of the intelligence, and then the effort to spread it across the middle east, that whole entire government effort did more to halt suicide bombings in iraq than any other military mission could have. >> so, to conclude, where does this leave us today? here we are, just a couple weeks after the 10th anniversary of 9/11, a lot of commemoration ceremonies at ground zero, washington, and pennsylvania, but where are we today in completing this book? well, to be sure, the al-qaeda leadership in pakistan with the death of bin laden in may in that navy seal raid has taken several blows. other leaders have been taken off the field in that period of
time through drone strikes and capture. that important al-qaeda leadership structure in the tribal-afghan border is diminished now. its capability to organize and carry out attacks against the united states is diminished, not completely eliminated, but diminished. at the same time, however, there's been a growth of affiliates of al-qaeda, corporate offshoots, franchises in places like north africa, in east africa in somalia, and most troublesome in yemen. that's the offshoot that orchestrated the so-called underpants bomber, the young man trying 20 blow himself over in a plane over detroit in 2009, or the same mission that packed explosives in air cargo planes bound for chicago, and without a tip from the saudi intelligence
services, could have blown at any time. there's orchestration carried out that suggests that the possibility of another large scale mass casualty attack like we experienced on 9/11 is probably less than what we saw, what we have today, but the likelihood of a smaller scale attack is probably greater coming not only from these affiliates that continue to scheme and come up with plots to do this, but also from americans here in the united states who are radicalized in a couple of ways, either by traveling to the tribal areas to be used in bomb making techniques like a young man who was a manhattan push cart vender and later a denver airport driver, a plot to carry backpack bombs into the subway system in new york and blow up during the rush hour, luckily,
this plot was avoided. they listen to the online videos of particularly in the case of anwar al-awlaki, an american born cleric, preached in mosques in fairfax, virginia and san diego, and hiding in yemen where he's the chief operational planners right now, knowing and understanding the ways of the west and the ways of the united states in trying to come up with new attacks that way. where does this leave us in terms of a response? well, clearly, the government is marshalled response in millions of billions of dollars really. there's an exercise in washington of reconciling the costs as the economy, the troubles of the economy sinks in and try to measure and find risks. can this country take more risks now that we're more mature and
think maturely about the threats we face? the 9/11 attack, there were four planes hijacked, two into the world trade centers and one into the pentagon, yet what's the threat they were worried about? the concern that a few u.s. citizens got back into the country and would carry out a truck bomb in washington or new york. the skill was different. skill, the aim is to -- still, the aim is to terrorize. this country's leadership starting with the president on through the congress has not prepared the american public for what we say will be, and we believe will be another attack. we don't know when it's going to come or the form. if you look at the creativity of bomb makers now, it could be an airplane strike or any way. it can come in just the radicalization of an individual as we saw in fort hood texas are a major shot his colleagues
there in the processing center. it could be like that any day. what the country has not done or the country's political leaders have not done is talk about how the next attack will come and how the country needs to be more resilient to defend against that. i don't mean, and we don't mean in the book to say resilience in the form of physically rebuilding. i think all of us who saw the images from ground zero have to be heartened in what we saw and what's rebuilt there in lower manhattan, but what we talk about in the book is psychological resilience like the brits learned in hard years of dealing with terrorism in those countries and after attacks, you clean up, grieve those, and then you move on so you don't overreact or give the terrorists exactly what they want, the overreaction that continues their momentum, to recruit anew. as we look forward to the coming years, as this government tries
to get its armsaround this attack, again, are we safer? probably from the mass casualty attack like on 9/11. we are more vulnerable to the smaller scale attack, and the question is, when it comes, will the country be resilient enough to deal with it in a mature way, address the problem, and not overreact? that's the question before us today. thank you for coming today, and we look forward to your questions, thank you. [applause] >> thank you both, very much. i'll head to the back of the room in a few moments and invite you to ask questions, but i'd like to begin with a point touched upon briefly, eric, actually, and it comes as a surprise to most americans which is the earl u.s. efforts to communicate directly with al-qaeda and with bin laden. i was hoping you could give us details on this, putting this
into context, and to what extent is there reason to believe these attempts continue today? >> what we write about in the book is right after the 9/11 attacks, there's a nemple reactions, the kill and capture a -- reactions, and some were written about in the book how at one point in a small meeting, pentagon officials, somebody suggested if there was going to be signs of another attack from al-qaeda, 245 the united states threaten to bomb mekkah. well, you can see that shows the lack of cultural sensitivity at the very least of the thinking. thankfully, that idea never left the room. what they did do, and americans, a small number of intelligence officials and others in the government did, was they tried to open a conversation with bin laden himself, extensively to set down some red lines to say, look, we have been attacked by al-qaeda, but here we're going
to draw red lines around which, you know, we'll take actions that maybe you didn't conceive. they did this through going through bin laden family members and business associates in saudi arabia and elsewhere in the middle east of hopes much drawing out an adversary as we sought out different soviet leaders throughout the years. as these efforts went on for a small number of years, a small group, the response from bin laden was hush, hush, and sphoors we know, there's been no response. >> thank you for coming. it's a fascinating story. it sounds to me as if what you're describing represents the victory of those who said we better concentrate on counterterrorism rather than counter insurgency, has finally worked out, and that makes sense to me. i think the point that you were making about developing american
resiliency, i like the statement by michael lither as he was leaving the nctc, that people had to be ready for this, but my question goes to the so-called arab spring countries. you mentioned it in the context of yemen. i'm thinking broadening that to perhaps libya. we don't know how that's going to work out, egypt, the same thing. do you see, do our people who are working on this matrix and these people who are fueling terrorist activity, making money out of it, are they looking at the turbulence in the arab spring countries as a more fertile field to work in for their ends than afghanistan might be? >> right. that's an incredibly important question. thank you for asking. in the early days of the arab spring in tunisia and egypt, al-qaeda was flat footed because, in fact, they said it would take violent acts to
liberate the arab world from the regimes, many of whom were allied with the united states, so when the governments fell to the efforts of bottom-up people power revolution, democratic ideals, the al-qaeda narrative seemed to be dead. what we've learned since, of course, that was just what the first act of what's going to be a three-act play, if not more, and as the hopes and aspirations was arab spring begin to enter parredden the cliche, a glim arab autumn, there's opportunity for extremism to come back in and try to gain in-roads, and we're seeing that in places already, yes, indeed. >> hello, and thank you both for coming and laying out so much in such a short time. i might conclude from the introduction that you feel that it was a wrong move to start
we're against the taliban and afghanistan just after 9/11. is that what you intend? >> no, not at all. i think what we say is obviously there there was going to be a natural reaction to take, to go after the perpetrators of aan tack that killed nearly 3,000 americans. there's no question about that. we argue that was done fairly smartly with a small footprint, i mean, the leaders at the time was conscious of the soviet experience, so they sent small numbers of special forces to work with the northern alliance, use american air powers to drive out al-qaeda and ultimately collapse the taliban government. i think from there, of course, you move into the decision of the bush administration made to go to war with iraq, which was not a center hub for terrorist at the time. it became one though as we talked about the examples in our talk, and so i think we've come full circle, of course, as time
went on, and afghanistan was a neglected campaign. al-qaeda and allies across the border and in pakistan were able to reconstitute, retrain, and take more territory, leaving the government of the united states now in a position where we have the american troops on the ground. now, they are both fighting taliban and other militant groups, many of whom have safe havens in pakistan, which is a major problem, both for the effort on the ground there as well as for american foreign policy. >> thank you very much for an excellent talk. could you comment on the role of the broadcast media in helping us develop this resilience that i agree with you, we need. i've been thinking about this for some time, and i don't think the broadcast media or the media in general have really lifted a finger along these lines. >> well, i'm of -- i'm an
old-school journalist. i mean, when i'm in vienna for arms talks, i lay flowers at the statue because without him, i wouldn't have a job. [laughter] i'm old-school enough so i don't believe the broadcast media or any media have a role to further government policy. we're to inform and to educate and to investigation so that all of you, the taxpayers and voters can tell you government how you want to act. the theme of resiliency, if that's to be communicated to the american people, it has to be done by the senior leadership. an earlier question mentioned michael leiter, but it has to come from the presidential level. before 9/11, we had a scoop in the times because we were made privy to the white house talking points ahead of the 10th anniversary, and for the first time, resill yeps was front and -- resilience was front and center. that's challenged because in the
polarized environment today, when a leader talks resilience, that means we're going to get attacked again, and that, of course, in this political environment, puts those of the other party to accuse the president of being weak, and so i think if there's one thing that, you know, the whole media has to discuss is to hold our leaders accountable for why there is not a more unified view of national policy from the waters' edge outward as there was for years during the cold war. domestic disputes stay at home and foreign affairs branch out. it's not up to the broadcasters' role, but the political leadership. >> thank you very much to both of you for joining us this morning. i have a three-part question if you don't mind. one, have you looked into what
the root cause is for people to strap on a bomb belt, the suicide bombers? and two, you know, al-qaeda was nonexistent in iraq before we attacked in 2003? any comment on that? three, now that bin laden is gone, should we not get out of the afghanistan? thank you. >> i'll take a shot at a couple of those. root causes, it's difficult. you look at the al-qaeda leadership, and they come from wealthy family. bin laden, himself, his father was one of the wealthiest construction builders in the middle east. certainly, you can look across the arab spring movement, for instance, and see there is, there are some common elementings.
-- elements. the alienation, the economic opportunities, their educational opportunities, essentially a poverty of hope that they have any chance of advancing themselves or their family. these are local grievances al-qaeda played upon and other militant groups as well to make this not just a local grievance whether it's your village, province, or county, but make it a nationwide and then international crew said. that's the trouble the united states has in countering it. it's a simple message al-qaeda spreads is the west and united states is at war with islam. how do you fight that when there's tens of thousands of american troops remaining in iraq, afghanistan, and as we saw last week in the debate for the united states nations general assembly, the whole assembly of the statehood, this provides grist for this to continue.
as i said in an earlier question, there was not a terrorist threat inside of iraq in 2002 or 2003, but once, of course, the united states decides to go in, it becomes a mag innocent as we talk with the suicide bombers from all over the middle east trying to come in, and it becomes, you know, the center for jihad in that area, trying to turn that around, now, has been a great tsk as -- task, as we talk about in the book. al-qaeda and iraq has been largely defeated, but as we see today, it's making a come back there. maybe thomments to take on the -- thom wants to take on the third one. >> is could get me in trouble. it's worth reviews. this administration made the case for war in iraq because of what intelligence said was weapons of mass destruction and indicated potential links to terrorists that might get those for an attack on the u.s., well,
that intelligence has been debunked. the one lesson of iraq that's undeniable is that no american president is ever going to send 150,000 troops to invade a country on a counterterrorism mission, just not going to happen. how's that relevant for afghanistan? the u.s. troop withdrawal already set for the end of 2014. that being said, there's vital strategic interests in preventing afghanistan from becoming yet again a safe haven for al-qaeda or allowing any place to be a safe haven where terrorists can attack the united states and its allies. the narrative spine of the book is this new darwinism. you know, terrorism is evolve evolveing, getting smarter, and the u.s. is trying to evolve and get smarter as well. no doubt, a signaler counterterrorism presence is likely to remain there and also
in other parts of the world. >> as some of you know, we're beginning to incorporate questions from social media outlets into the forums. this is a question from facebook. how do you think realtime reporter helps or hurts u.s. efforts to combat terrorism? >> well, i think certainly it gives you a bird's eye view as to what's going on, but it cuts two ways. look at the mumbai attacks in india. this, by having those attacked aired live on international television, we see it in other international networks, it obviously gave the general public as well as world leaders and other counter terrorism officials a very clear look at what's going on, but what is also did, and this was deliberately done by the terrorists, it gave them situational awareness, by just watching their television coverage, they see what's succeeding and what's not.
their handlers back in pakistan, they are directed to other attacks by watching what is working on various floors of the hotels and what's going on around the town. this has raised questions in immediate aftermath of mumbai whether the media and television broadcasting should boycott or blackout or restrict their coverage of this. this was raised by people in new york nypd, new york city police department, who sent a team to mumbai to study that and could this happen in new york or another major american city, and could we actually, the police, in this case, and request the broadcast media to restrict coverage to impair the ability of terrorists to use that to their tactical advantage. it's a discussion that has been going on behind closed doors and wouldn't work because the need to know for information, but it raises the point of how you, in this case, would manage, you know, from a law enforcement
standpoint a very fast moving, fluid terrorist type of attack happening in similar locationings simultaneously, how you defeat that what the terrorists use the communications network, in this case, americans have come to rely on that for their information. >> thinking about recent years on the number of soldiers who have been injured in pakistan, taliban, their ties to al-qaeda, do you think it's a good idea for the united states to remove the financial aide we've been giving to pakistan? >> pakistan is probably the most vexing foreign policy issue facing our country today, and, yes, that's my line that i can't give you a direct answer. we have vital interest there. it's a nuclear power sitting on, you know, the cross roads of
violent extremism. what we learn though in years past, when the u.s. cut off ties completely with pakistan is we allowed an entire generation of military officers not to have the opportunity to come to the united states and study and interact with the military and create the kinds of ties that really do bind the militaries together. is there a problem with the relationship? absolutely, but is severing ties the first step to take, cut off all aid? i'm not sure what the effect of that would be. i mean, to understand pakistan's point of view, you really have to put yourself where they sit. whether you agree or not, they look in one direction and see india as their existential threat. they look at the other way in afghanistan and see a very unstable country where they know the u.s. is going to leave yet again. they've seen this movie before. it's called charlie wilson's war. they have lit rally seen the -- literally seen the movie
before. they are supporting insurgent extremist groups in afghanistan because that's how they want to maintain influence there. the problem is as one of our intelligence sortses used to say -- sources used to say to us, pakistan is keeping the poisen yows snakes to bite their neighbors' kids, but they will bite their own kids as well. pakistan's playing a dangerous game, and it's up to their leadership ultimately to determine that that's not the best policy. >> it strikes me of -- much of what you studied in the book was secure. it held a -- it was tough to get in there. can you tell me something about your sources and did you have any luck with the nsa which must have played a great part in it? >> so our book is largely drawn from first accounts, from interviews we had with more than 200 individuals throughout the government at the highest levels
of the pentagon, the justice department, the fbi, cia, the other intelligence communities, justice department, state department, again, trying to get a whole government approach in our sourcing as we were in our approach to this book. we did receive pretty good cooperation, and i think in large regard, that's because thom and i work this story as beat reporters for the times for 15-20 years. we go back to many sources who have been working with us for daily reporting saying, we're taking a step back to put the last ten years in perspective. can you help us do that? through their recollections, providing us with certain documents, through giving us their real perspective, sometimes in cases after they left government, it enables them to be more candid than they were before. in terms of the question of classification, particularly in areas such as the cyber stuff, i mean, we were very careful as we discussed this with sources,
that nothing we publish crosses any lines. i mean, all of this information we were very careful to go back to the sources and say, look, this is what we're planning to publish. this is what we do with daily newspaper stories as well. if you have objection on grounds of security and sources and meths, let us know now, we can work it out. in small instances, some information was withheld, particularly in places where it's happening, because the agencies may want to try a similar technique or use a similar tactic again without the enemy knowing necessarily all the details that go through it, but i think this is our approach. it mirrors the approach on what we do on a day-to-day basis being "new york times" reporters. >> the question of the nsa, general alexander, who is dual hatted as directer of the nsa and commander of the u.s. cyber command, gave us his very first
interview ever, and as you know, fort meade is so highly classified that we couldn't even enter the complex, so we met at the national crip logic museum, outside the gate, so i call it our first date, and i didn't even get off the front porch. [laughter] >> hi, thank you. there's been several television interviews including a fox affiliate in california for spokesperson of an organization called architectures and engineers for 9/11 truth. this is a group of 1600 licensed architects and engineers in the united states claiming that the evidence, scientific evidence, that they've analyzed shows that the two towers and building seven were brought down by controlled demolition. now, whether we believe this or not, this is what the licensed architects are putting their
careers on the lines to say. they want a new investigation. do you think al-qaeda could have had the capability on 9/11 to plant explosives in the building which takes weeks to do? would they have had that kind of capability? >> no, they wouldn't have, and, you know, i know this has come up. i was asked about it in previous lecture just out on the west coast last week, and i'm not familiar with what the architects are saying, but i know it's unprecedented to have these attacks with aircrafts full of jet fuel going in and coming down. we're not technical experts on how this may have happened, i have personal skepticism about this scenario, but i think a lot was not known about how this amount of jet fuel at the high temperature that had raised basically forming a molting core in the middle, but i think we
refer you and refer others to the investigations that have taken place, and they have been exhaustive in looking at how exactly this could happen, how two buildings sigh by side could implode like this, not keel over or tip over, just implode like that. it's of great interest to the germing community involved d engineering community involved and how this could have happened not just once, but twice. >> we have just spent an hour listening to why this happened and how it happened and what this country and others are trying to do to keep it from happening again. we have sat through several other hours in the last couple years of a very similar forums, and i can go all the way back to cane and able, but how can you get into the culture that creates people that want to go out and give their life to