tv After Words James Clapper Facts and Fears CSPAN May 28, 2018 12:04am-1:04am EDT
thank you. [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] >> book tv is on twitter and facebook. we want to hear from you. tweet us, twitter.com/book tv or post a comment on the facebook page. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979 c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. today we bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, public policy events. c-span is brought to by your
cable or satellite provider. >> next on afterwards, former national intelligence, james clapper offers his insights. he's interviewed by jim hinds of connecticut. afterwards is a weekly interview program with guesthouse interviewing top authors about their latest work. >> host: jim, thank you for agreeing for the interview. this is a privilege for me, now we get to have this conversation about this book you've written. >> thanks for doing this. it's an honor for you to do. >> let's start about the person. the book is remarkable in the criticism of where we are politically, not surprisingly,
not a lot on jim clapper the person beyond your early history. i've been doing this for ten years on the intelligence committee, you are the scariest guy to have as a witness. my question, though it may be stereotypical thinking, military family and the long tradition of being in the national security feel, you're not the first person i would think of as an aggressive warrior for social issues, lgbtq rates thinking about challenge the future muslim americans feel comfortable in our country. you emphasize that and there's a moment when you say you're almost in tears when president obama made a statement about
muslims. tell us about where that comes from. >> first i want to thank you for your service on the committee. a burden that people serve on the intelligence committee that doesn't happen with others is that it's mostly secret. you don't get much benefit from the home district. that's a sacrifice in your part. i want to say i've appreciated that. one of the benefits of writing this book it was cathartic. it afforded me the opportunity to think about what are things in my life that influenced me. surprisingly, my parents. my dad going back to world war ii and served during vietnam.
he never push military service or anything but just as example, my mother was a feminist before the term was popular. i think social justice came from her. she was big on that. it really put that together or appreciate the impact my parents had until they were gone. so that i think i would point to a certain set of influences with my mother and father. >> there's a wonderful story you tell about in asia and she invited junior officer at a social event to join your table. >> this occurred in 1952. we were stationed on the small base in northern japan. my dad was number two in a small
intelligence organization. like most kids, i did not like going to the dentist and my dentist turned out to be an african-american. in 1952 was four years after harry truman ordered a famous issue to desegregate. the big thing for officers and their families was the officers club. we would have a big sunday brunch in a japanese band. quite entertaining, so one sunday we're dressed up my mother spotted her dentist were sitting on the periphery of the ballroom. he was an officer, first
lieutenant and she spotted him until apparently got it from her table walked over to his, spoke with him took him by the hand and brought him toward table. doesn't sound like much today, but in 1952, a white dominated military, that was huge. there were stairs in the room went silent. never forget the look on my dad's face. the combination of amusement and fear. the reason i remember this my mother never said a word. she never talked to me about it after we got home and she talked about lots of other things which i've forgotten.
for some reason the way she did that stuck with me. i was 11 years old when that happened. >> and early on that process a couple of -- >> guest: i was 45 and placed in the organization that managed the troop affairs for the air force command i was assigned to. how's an administrative officer. i had an occasion to process out of the service to outstanding young airmen were outed and i remember the machines thinking what a terrible waste that waste
that was. it seemed to me to be unfair. twenty-five years later i became a two star general and i had a chance to look at that and restore clearance for civilian who work for me at the time who is gay. and i felt like it made me man. >> before we get onto more professional topics, this is the era of the kiss and tell in the biography of hardships overcome and alcoholism. there's three generation of clappers in the book and not much about the challenges of any of those families.
so i have to believe that you have personal issues with kids set a personal choice. >> we were blessed because both my kids turned out great. my daughter is an elementary school principal, my son is a high school teacher. they married educators and that's all due to my wife. i was off to incur things and she was attending to the kids. >> i'm the first to give her credit for that. we had all the normal stresses and strains. we did 23 moves in the air force. the result was my son three high schools.
that's not easy for someone that age. very proud of him and him first to give the credit. >> you become conscious of the fact that other people live different lives. from age five you are immersed in this intelligence world and rose to the pinnacle of the ic. in an alternate universe what are the rigorous have not pursued. >> guest: at one point i thought i wanted to be a dr.. i got over that. i reached a point of starting to make serious decisions. i knew then know what to do follow in my father's footsteps and specifically be would he was for 20 years.
i learned enough about it to appreciate the importance of his commitment and dedication that learned about thought about how to treat people. in an intelligence enterprise. i try carry those lessons. >> host: so was there any point across the decades of service we did try to retire a few times. every thought this is your opportunity. >> the most miserable year was my first tour in southeast asia. i went to vietnam early and it was terrible. the greater version to the war i had only been married about five months when i went away for a
year. my plan was to get out of the air force and go back to san antonio, finish my masters degree and then become a civilian for a national security agency. i got plucked out and was mentored by senior officers that made all the difference in the world for my life. when i retired from active duty in 1995, never figuring i come back to the government then i got a call in 2000 want to come back. that morphed into another agency i got canned after almost five
years and thought that was absolutely the end. then i got a call from secretary of defense who succeeded mr. rumsfeld asking if i would finish the bush term which would've been 19 months is the undersecretary of defense. that turned into three and half years of that i was asked to take on the director of national intelligence. none of this was planned at all. it just happened. it's not like i map this out. now it's safe to say based on the last three pages of your book that this president is not likely to ask you to come back into service. you may have finally succeeded a
return could take time, i know a little bit about what it's like. you separated from your spouse and family all the time, what does that feel like? i see me around the house, how does that feel and what are your strategies. >> guest: i don't expect to get us to come back to government. my wife's birthday was in marc march 1977. to clearly have rounded third base on the realm of life. i didn't realize how tired and stressed out i was. i thought of some kind of iron man. to recognize the job was all-consuming. i never had a full day of the
whole six and a half years. it is liberating to be free of the day today burden of orient stress. i find great satisfaction in things like projects around the house sunday we went to home depot and bought plans and planted them. i have never done that before in my life but it was quite satisfying. >> host: now the thousands of it professionals have been watching this now they get their section. let's go to your wisemen observation on the intelligence community. you have seen over half a century dramatic change in the intelligence community. i wonder if you could talk about
maybe not the details of what happened but what is the great unfinished work. >> what are the weaknesses that the ic has today? one of the changes that we need to think about. >> guest: a weakness at least that having commissioned that they came out with words the community was not as integrated as it needed to be. they recommended a creation of a leadership position, full-time job to foster and promote integration throughout the multiple components of the intelligence community. one point that came out that we passed after the 9/11 commission
there is talk about wanting to create a department of intelligence. think it would be a mistake for this country. one is the civil reasons of privacy concerns and fears that what that would create. for the united states mama as awkward as it might be it's a good one. that's a never-ending journey. stomach were done with immigration and you can close the business. that's a major area from an oversight standpoint the committee should pay close attention to. the components are not allowed to drift apart. they're not working together as
a team. a classic example of the sum being greater than the parts. >> have we settled into a place where it makes sense functionally? you highlight the section of the law that says dni cannot aggregate the authorities of the department heads. that takes it out of the chain of command and influence. we had a number of dni's. is there tweaking that needs to be done? >> what you're referring to is section 1018 which was a provision inserted in the laws part of the compromise to get it passed.
it was intended to protect the deferred to equities. said the dni will not cause the application of responsibilities and cabinet secretaries who had components of the ic from their departments. it specifically implanted tod. some pictures have been made since then and some creative change that was made under the leadership of bob gates, mike mcconnell was the director of national intelligence, and i was the undersecretary. we worked on an arrangement where the undersecretary of defense also wore a hat it
sounds bureaucratic but it was an important change. it basically helped integrate those so that they can be attended to. the dni plays a role in the hiring and firing of agency directors. they're supposed to coordinate whenever there is a nominee that require senate confirmation. so those things in the practice that has evolved over time has done a lot to overcome the effects of that section of the law. >> my impression is the problem you mentioned of the various components drifting away and the
fbi going back to a place, mainly because of the personal relationship with mike flynn, admiral rogers of the predecessors my sense is that we made it work for decades. i worried that if you didn't have the personal history together that maybe we did have the problem, is that fair? >> guest: yes, that's fair. and a concern. in my case having served a long time in the intelligence community every one of the senior officials have mentored many of. so, we all worked pretty well. i knew i did not have a charter
and i was going to be a czar or dictator. i was there to be a facilitator, and to promote cooperation through persuasion. i tried to preserve those locations where he didn't have to preserve something make it the exception and not the rule. it's much better in this arrangement when you're starting to achieve consensus. >> let's spend a minute on mike flynn. there's some level of tragic having played guilty to lying to the fbi, you make a point in the book that has an officer he was quite good until he found himself into a different role.
all of the senior leaders have taken different paths. jim comey is unique is written a book and become a polarizing figure. john brennan a little bit more circumspect. you make a statement that's hardly complementary to the president. mike flynn thinking of you has a very different path. he became one of the most aggressive and partisan political flamethrowers that we have seen. obviously that didn't end well. what do you think happened? >> you have to salute the 30 plus years. very distinguished military intelligence career. probably spent more time deployed in afghanistan or iraq
and that is saying something. he spent a lot of time overseas. i salute that service today. i was a coefficient. he worked for me on the staff for about 11 months. i supported him for his election as director of the defense intelligence agency. an agency i had led in the early '90s. and, for one reason or another to work out. my concern was mike's impact on the workforce.
mike grew very concern. we agreed to terminate after two years in the normal is a three-year period mike flynn took that very well. had a wonderful retirement ceremony for him. i lost contact with him. i think my observation is from afar that early departure ate at him and he became an angry man he became advising several of the candidates and connected with mr. trump. and he became very outspoken. this raises a concern. you mentioned john brennan and myself about our speaking out.
that is controversial. i acknowledge that. it's not a role that i anticipated i never would have thought of doing that. but i think were under different circumstance now. i started trying to defend the community and what evolved. but, not when i had planned on or desired. i felt that after 50 years or so of defending the institutions and values of this country i felt -- >> host: it must be painful. there's a few more questions i have on this but it must be painful and reading your book
there's not a partisan word in there. you criticize partisan activities but with john brennan i would not begin to know how he's registered the must be painful to see what i sense our efforts to defend the integrity of our process. and you say wise it must be painful to see the president supporter say that is a partisan or political statement. >> it is partisan. this has more to do for me and for john and defending those institutions and values. in the ones nearest and dearest
are the intelligence community. the principle of truth and power is very important. in trying to keep the intelligence committee which got very difficult trying to keep it out of the politics which is always better intelligence can stay out of it but in the institutions of the community became political object. that is regrettable. >> host: for your entire career you're not comfortable going hearing you say this over and over again, it's policy. i want your reflections on the nature of the trump administration form policy.
it scares me, but i give the guy credit. we will see where north korea goes so we got hostages back. but i want to be clear by giving credit where credit is due there. i we could watch into the obama policy where there's a sense of on predictable potiphar. it's interesting because north korea seems -- who knows where we end up. what are your takes. you have been were you think the risks and opportunities are which was radically. >> i try to look for areas where i could be supportive of president trump where ever that turns out to be for example, i
agree with where he came out on afghanistan. i know as a teleprompter speech but i thought he said the right things. i we need to stay there. so i thought that was the right call. i supported president trumps acceptance of the indication to have a summit with kim jong-un. their potential pitfalls there, but why not try something different. i don't know that -- has much to do with the apparent change in kim jong-un's behavior or the dprk policy, i think what it had more to do with was the north
koreans had achieved whatever they felt they needed to achieve in the way of the nuclear deterrence. as well if anybody's going to get the nobel peace prize it out of be the south korean president who i think is one of the most astute presidents in the history of the republic of korea. he's done a lot to manage his account to north. to bring this apparent calming of the stormy waters in terms of the relationship between north korea and the rest of the world. i'm hopeful there, i think when i look at north korea it had a profound impact on me engaging the senior north koreans at the time. i did think there is merit in
dialoguing with them. it is the only way out. if it results in a good thing and i think there is the value of they do nothing else but mean green it will be useful. >> right now it's unclear whether the summit will happen. typical for people who don't follow north korea. if you can overcome your genetic uncomfortableness, what would you advise donald trump, what's a success? the united states as we want total denuclearization. what is a win for the united states? you've been there, what would you advise the president on how to get there. >> guest: one significant step which is a win-win for both sides would be to do something as an advocate which was to
establish an intersection in pyongyang and have one for north koreans in washington. we had it in havana cuba for decades to deal with the government we did not recognize. so i understand the north korean regime is all about. but, i think having a full-time diplomatic presence as a means of communication would be a big improvement. i can't make the case but i can argue things may have turned out differently for otto warmbier if we had a presence where we could of been bugging the north koreans every day about his state welfare. >> what you mean by bugging.
>> pestering. >> pestering, engaging with the north koreans on a day-to-day basis about him. i don't know if things would've turned out different but they may have. been there would enhance our understanding and insight about the country. thirdly, as a conduit into north korea. >> host: so just have a more robust communications is a win. >> guest: i think so. then if you have a recognized state of diplomatic dialogue would be an improvement. i didn't find it unreasonable the north korean to me for a peace treaty. it's a cease-fire. everybody stop shooting in 53.
so what you see is a very formidable conventional force. they understand that. they think that force is going to fade north korea invade the dprk and have a regime change. that is what they fear. so peace treaty to enter into negotiations would be a good thing. you say denuclearization, that could be a two-way street. the north koreans might look at that and see our nuclear umbrella over the republic of korea. they could demand that - nuclear station applies to both them and
-- and we would be allowed into the republic of korea or operational proximity. i hope they're prepared to think about how we would respond to that demand. i see the nukes north koreans doing that by saying it applies both ways. >> must spend a few minutes on russia. you been watching russia for 60 years or so. you talk about it in the book and i sense you are frustrated by the inability of the leadership to tell the story. i personally believe that our response was a slap on the wri wrist. so again, if you're whispering in the year of the president and
have two or three pieces of advice on how to deal with vladimir putin in the next 3 - 5 years, what should we be doing? >> with respect to her anemic reaction in retrospect i wish we would've hammered them harder earlier. at the time what tempered that was first reluctance to amplify or magnify with the russians were doing and secondly, given the partisan environment, not putting the hand on the scale and doing that in favor of secretary clinton into the disfavor mr. trump.
but now what to do, one thing that would be useful and i wish president trump would find his way clear to call a the russians for what they did and specifically, putin. this was orchestrated. by putin because of his strong feelings to the united states and the threat he feels reposted them. a throwback to the czar area and he sees russia as a great global power. so, i was thought that what we did was phase i. i hoped that would be reinforced by other steps.
>> the president himself needs to galvanize the country and inject a sense of urgency about the threat posed by russia. what they did to our election was dangerous for this country. that is the main reason i chose to speak up. was the threat posed by russia. >> if the u.s. is in speaking with one voice we have a problem. it's going to a deeper treatment. why did president obama allow the russians to take crimea? oppose the question is suppose it would have been an option to counter that militarily and put
provisions on the ground is that what you want? between where we are today, i would agree with the word anemic. between anemia and full-blown military conflict which we have? >> one thing we could have done which i was never get for was to be more aggressive about arming your creators. eventually i started with the last administration. >> you can do this all day long by reversing what putin did with crimea was opportunistic. i don't think any of it was on the minds of others until that
president left and i think putin got concerned about the vacuum in the ukraine towards the u.s. saw an opportunity to write a wrong and he gave crimea to the ukraine. so it's a long-standing festering -- importance mine. it would've been difficult to push back, the russian military was already there crimea the naval bases they had forces already embedded there. so, i think one thing i can think of would be more forceful support to the ukrainians anymore offensive weapons. >> going to shift gears and talk
about oversight. i tell people it's the best part of my job because it's important the way i explain it, we have an 80 billion-dollar intelligence operation in this country. as organizations that does dangerous things in secret, certainly things that most if not all keep an eye on the lawn the rules. but they push up against house rules. still struggling with the president's decision to kill u.s. citizen. i'm glad -- is not amongst us but for the president to say i'm gonna kill this u.s. citizen has to be a little uncomfortable. i think oversight is really
important. your book would suggest that sitting in front of congress is part of the favorite part of your job. but for my colleagues in the american people what can we can do better? i suspect you are an angry because were giving you a tough time. i suspect you are angry kids get if you like we're doing oversight well enough. >> were disappointed maybe. i was in the intelligence committee. >> a church commission that was a response. >> guest: during and after vietnam using resources to spy on american citizens.
that's what spawned the two committees. they stood up in 1976. >> when the committees were first established not everyone by virtually all the members took it as a national sacred trust. the responsibility not related to home state or district. to think that revealed the first 15 or 20 years and gradually over time the congress has invaded the communities that's not good for the intelligence community. the intelligence committee needs oversight. unfortunately we are having many
complaints over time. is what were doing legal, ethical, moral, and in accordance with american standards and values? that should be the main purpose of those committees. sometimes what happens involves into micromanagement were people want to do the job of seniors and that's not good either. you have a tendency to lose sight of the important things. what is the community doing the legal, ethical and more which is how they started in the first place.
>> the message here is that committees are credible and effective when they do things on a bipartisan basis. that is credibility through the rest of the country. >> they have to represent all of the voters, the american people who cannot have access to all of the secrets. you are a service to them which is the next her burden for members almost through committees unlike other committees that oversee other department. that really cannot be. the places a double burden on those committees. >> other than representing my
constituents, it's probably the most interesting part of my job. i remember something you write about witches the work that mike rogers did and you can tell that they were committed to having a good nonpartisan relationship. were a long way from that today, painful but functional. i spent my day thinking about this, what's your take on what happened? what did it look like on the outside? >> there have been other areas. when chairman mike rogers run the committee did things on a bipartisan basis. they didn't agree on every issue nor were they handmaidens of the intelligence committee. they were tough but fair.
i didn't agree with everything they said they did but they were bipartisan. now you have one party aligned with white house. this was to be three coequal branches of the government. the legislative branches post oversee the executive branch not align with it. it's just a very unusual situation. it is not good for our system or for oversight. >> it will take time to climb out of that hole. you and the ic need to trust us and get trust.
>> it's going to be dealt with this very sensitive information. is it going to be used for political purposes? >> the book is called facts and fears. so the theme is about how challenging it is to deliver truth from power. a lot of people are talking about threats to our democracy. serious is this? you read the newspapers of 100 years ago, are we in a place we have never seen before? or is this an act go of stuff that happens every once in a while. >> i don't recall quite a similar circumstance.
i was young and naïve i do worry about that now. this is not just an institution like the intelligence committee assault that they have taken. all of these things i find burdensome. >> host: to see evidence that the institution under tremendous a pressure in attack by the president, are they beginning to benz or break?
>> so far, i think the institutions have been resilient. >> host: many of us are concerned that when the chairman threatens to drag the attorney drag that all of a sudden the doj is doing so they've never done which is providing members of congress with an ongoing investigation. >> guest: i find that bothersome. i think the whole debate about pfizer authorization this gets this on how it operates. our course i learned the hard way in the aftermath of the snowden officers that they all go to school on these. so long-term worry about not
only the damage to the fabric of our system but however sears, whether their nationstates are not can take advantage of that insight. this exposure for me is not healthy. >> given these attacks on the institutions in your concerned about the viability. what is your advice to more senior people at fbi and doj? i'm not i'm talking about the senior people who are worried for their careers when you tell them? and what you tell the american people? how should citizens think about this today. >> first, i think the intelligence leaders today is
members on the oversight committee they have a heavy burden for providing the top cover. the magnificent workforce continues to do what it does. i think that is the message i would convey to the american people is that they need to be watchful and vigilant to ensure their intelligence committee does a lot of things on their behalf and it's not criticized. it is allowed to continue to convey the facts. that is not a good -- you do not want to get into a trend of that. i think institutions have been resilient.
>> that answer was anticipated, like to your jobs in your very sensitive in this book to a couple of times when people called the intelligence committee and you defend them from that, what is a mid-level person at caa supposed to think about the fact that the president like in the cia's activities to the nazis. how would you advise that person to think about the attacks. they're not coming in from the snowden game but the white house. >> first of all i did call then president-elect trump and he took the call to convey my regrets and comfort about his referring the intelligence community in that way.
i believe rank-and-file in the intelligence committee, most will focus on their mission a job and do that to the utmost, large portion of it is not affected by this. maybe the cia's most visible of all the intelligence committee but they have a special burden there and on their leaders. think the director has been grades and quietly but effectively defending the great men and women of the fbi. it's one of the reasons i was so supportive of -- as director because i thought she had the stealing this to push back if she needs to. that's what we need right now is leadership.
again, it's the next her burden they had not had to bear on the past. >> were almost out of time. the first question is, the people who want to paint the intelligence community is politically biased point to the intelligence leading up to -- and you say fingerprints not. has intelligence community learn from that experience? . . and we said about immediately to
make changes and enhancements to ensure that we don't repeat such a thing not the least of which is greater insight into the collections forces the go into national intelligence estimates. so, for a small example, when we conduct the board to approve a national intelligence estimate which is the seniormost intelligence documents provided to the president and other senior policymakers, one of the first things we do at that meeting his review of the collections forces and each is the veracity that for bad reasons learned about and didn't know about. there's lots of other things. excursions on what went wrong in
thinking o pentagon the sensitivity and controversy surrounding the national intelligence estimate, so the safeguards of them is that have been built our not perfect of course not but it's better than it was in 2002. now i like to think intelligence committee has profited from that experience and learned from it but it is better forced. >> are we going to be okay? the speech is used to say yes but are a little invalid at the end of your book. >> guest: yes. my collaborator -- the only argument we had the book was over the last three phases. we've got a very dark ending comment very happy and it ended up somewhere in the middle. to emerge from notably the civil war and by experience southeast asia and over time, we emerged better for having to endure those traumas and i think so
will it be in this case. >> host: is a remarkable book telling the story of a remarkable career and service, something you for that. >> guest: thanks for doing this. >> if you would like to view other "after words" programs online simply go to the website to booktv.org, type "after words" into the search bar and all previous episodes will be available.