tv Discussion Focuses on Russias Election- Year Hacking CSPAN February 2, 2017 10:54am-12:24pm EST
funding to the university of california at berkeley in its decision to cancel an event with milo yiannopoulos because of his spee speech. russian hacking and the 2016 election. former george w. bush officials will discuss and analyze the conclusions of the intelligence report on the russian hacking, and the future of the relations of russia and the trump administration. >> welcome to the center for the national interest where we will have i am sure an interesting and important conversation today about russia in the u.s. election and assessing moscow's
actions and america's responss.s that is obviously an important topic, and also something that a lot of people, a lot of journalists and a lot of people in congress are talking about. so hopefully we will be able to shed some light in addition to a lot of noise which you will find elsewhere around town. this is a very distinguished group. i know that many of them if not most of you if not everybody, but i will introduce two members of the board. chairman of the board of the center for the national interest, four-star general, charles voigt who has a very distinguished experience including as deputy of navy in europe, and also in a commission ed panel on recommendations. they made recommendation before
september 11th, and the recommendations widely advertised, but not necessarily forwarded. >> well, it was not wide lly praised. >> and also a chairman of the board of the agricultural committee from kansas, and the committee on intelligence and a person with a strong foreign policy national security background and rel are vant to our discussion today. we have two speakers. we have george beebe and paul sau saunders. paul saunders was a state department adviser in the george bush administration. he has experience in the u.s./iraq are relations, and also from your tenure in the
state ghept the democracy promotion. at that time i have to say it was american democracy promotion in russia, and not russia interference in the united states. but i think that it provides you with a certain important perspective. george beebe is truly in my mind one of most unsightful and serious american experts in russia. george was foreign service officer stationed in moscow with the c ixa and a member of the -- i think it is seniorle intelligence service, right? yes, and also director of russian analysis at the cia and before that was special adviser to vice president cheney who as many of you know was not suspected of particular
integration of russia. and there was a powerful piece published several weeks ago where he was raising questions of how reliable was the evidence of russian interference, and not so much that russian interference existed, but what it was trying to ak accomplish and then what level it was approved. most of the speakers will speak for about 10 minutes. mr. beebe. >> thank you, dmitri, and the centers of the national center interest for the inevitativitat today. i want to keep the reremarks brief about what we know and what we don't know and what we surmise about the russian interference many in the elections. the russian community published a role of russian involvement in
the election. it was striking and divided. "the new york times" called the report surprisingly detail and damning. people that work in the information and technology field, cyber, they have a different perspective and they use words that cannot be used in a family environment about what they called somewhat sloppy. so this is a question. are we dealing with a report that is surprisingly detailed and damning, or weak and sloppy? interestingly enough. this kind of the question is something thatle intelligence analysts are paid to answer. where does truth lie a mid controversy and conflicting claims and incomplete
information? this is not an easy thing to do. why is that? smart people are generally not good at answering questions like this. the human mind is not designed to answer this sort of thing. we are all prone to things like confirmation bias, seeing what we expect to see in sets of information, and we are not particularly good at putting ourselves in the shoes of other people and seeing things from their perspectives, particularly the per spspectives of the fore actors. which makes it hard for us to understand their intentions a lot of times. and we have a bias towards expecting the future to look like the present. status quo bias, if you will. so when we approach a question like this, we will have to really make conscious efforts to account for all of the tendencies. so i wanted to do that briefly with the evidence that we have
got in the case of russia's role in the elections. i'd like to focus only on information that is in the public domain. i obviously don't know what classified information there might be out there, and it is certainly possible that the intelligence community has c conclusive diagnostic evidence about what happened and why. but with what we do have in the public domain, i think that it raises some red flags that we need the to consider. and i wanted to look at some of them. the first is in the area of attribution, whodunit in other words. the report said that this is an operation that was explicitly ordered by president putin with specific goals in mind. the forensic evidence that we have in the public e domain is not particularly impressive in this regard.
first of all, it is a couple of things that we need to address on, this and number with swone the number of intrusions, itself, and according to the forensic data, two separate intrusions into the democratic national committee e-mail servers, and the first occurred in the summer of 2015 and this is around the time that now president trump was first announcing his candidacy for the presidency. the second occurred in march 2016. there were two separate groups who infiltrated the servers. this is unusual. if you are look to maintain operation areal security, you don't want to intrade trud in--e
into the same target multiple time, because the more likely, you will be caught. the fact that they went after the same information raises questions about whether these things were actually centrally directed or not. now, the proponents of the so-called kremlin ordered it thesis explained it by saying, well, this is the fruit of bureaucratic rivalry. we had one intelligence agency the gru that penetrated and then another, fsb that penetrated on a separate occasion. that is a plausibleb explanation, and certainly, there is a lot of bureaucratic fighting that goes on in russia as with many governments, but i think that this particular case, we ought to consider an alternative hypothesis which is
that perhaps these were not centrally directed intrusions. to combat the tendency of confirmation bias, it is behooving us to consider alternative hypotheses such as could these have been hacktivists that were at work here. could this have been a false flag operation? the evidence that we have here is consistent with all of these hypothes hypotheses. second red flag is the sloppiness of the operations themselves. in the cyber world, the chinese have a reputation for being quite brash and sloppy in their intrusions. the analogy might be one of an intruder into home that breaks your window, and marches around your house in muddy boots and leaves fingerprints everywhere, almost as if they don't care if we are able to figure out that
ch china was behind the operations. the russians on the other hand have typically been more likely the intruder that, you know, you don't know they entered the home and two years after the fact you figure out that, boy, something is missing, and how did that happen. they are quite stealthy. in this particular case however, the operations were almost amateuri amateurish, and they left all ind kay er or thes -- indicator to point towards the russians and the compiling of the information they took happened in moscow business hour, and it is an easy thing to fix. even the entry level hackers can figure out how to program the compiling so that it won't leave that clue. some of the e-mails leaked included metadata put in using cyrillic keyboards and one of the users behind the leaks had a
code name of felix admonovich which is a clear ref are rens to t -- clear reference to the founder of the soviet chekhov. so you think, gee, was ut really th them? a false flag or did they want to be found which is another possibility that we ought to consider which gets to intent. the last thing is the level of sophistication of these intrusions, and not very high. the cyber experts looked at the malware code that was used, and essentially said, look, this was off of the shelf now where widely available internationally, anybody basically could have done this. and we are not dealing with the custom crafted code that was
something that you would automatically say, you need a sophisticated intelligence level operation to undertake this. so all of these things are not to say, e gee, it show has the russian government was not behind it, and not at all. because it is a plausible hypothesis, but, it does behoove us to explain alternative explanation explanations, because when you do that, you can get into trouble, and affects your confidence in the judgment, and big implications behind the judgments that we are talking about here, and before we go down to the road of saying, you know, we are certain about certain things, you think that we really owe it to ourselves to think hard about whether the facts that we have in front of us can be explained in other ways. we got into trouble in this
regard with the famous iraq wmd example. i would hope that we can learn some of the lessons that led to failure in that case, and apply them here so that we don't repeat the mistakes. so that is attribution. the other part of this is intent. not just whodunit, but why? what was motivating them. intent is a harder nut to crack than attribution, and attribution in the cyber world is slippery thing. it is rare that you get def definitive intelligence to allow you the understand clearly what the motives are driving the conduct that you are seeing. and it is, it struck me in the ic report on this, that it is quite categorical about the intent that it was ascribing to russia, and the ambitions that it aare tributes to russia were
quite striking, and nothing less than undermininging the u.s.-led democratic order. when we are look agent what actually occurred, my question would be, gee, are there other ways of attributing intent here, even assuming that the russian government was behind it? there are. there are other explanations that are quite plausible, and i want to address a couple of them. one is scyber espionage. the penetration of the dnc servers can be easily explained first of all as the simple attempt at espionage information gathering, and it is reasonable for us to pause it that the russian servers have a standing collection of priorities which include plans and intentions of foreign government, the technical specifications of wep systems, and what is likely to
occur in elections and change of governmen governments. a logical thing for russia to are try to gather in this area. now, you might ask, okay, that is great. so they stumble upon information here that appears to have relevance in the context of the u.s. election, and it is one thing to gather the information and another thing to actually disseminate it publicly to make it available, and once you have done that, you have crossed a line between espionage, and active interference, and illegitimate interference in the election, and it is a fair point. however, to cross that line, you don't necessarily have, have to have a goal of the u.s.-led international order or destroying the faith in our electoral system. one fairly simple explanation in that area of it might be
tit-for-tat. the russians believe rightly or wrongly the united states habitually interferes with countries abroad and not just in the states of the soviet union, but elsewhere abroad. so it is a fairly easy thing for me to imagine that they looked at the information and said, boy, with give them a dose of their own medicine here. and the goals may have been simple retribution or, boy, once they see that we can do it, too, maybe they don't have as big of an appetite to do it in the future or use it as perhaps an impetus to reach some agreement on the cyber treaties and the things that they have talked about wanting to do in the past. i am not sure necessarily that you have to go all of the way to
that very stark judgment of attempting to undermine the liberal-democratic order internationally, although it is a plausible explanation of intent. one final thing on this question of intentions. this is something that i think that is oftentimes at the root of policy disputes, differing perceptions of the intentions of foreign actors. i think it is very much at the heart of current controversies about russia are right now. what i would argue here is that this is something that we really need a genuine national discussion about. arguing about this by proxy, by talking about the russian cyber operations in the e llection is not getting at the heart of the matter. as we consider where we are going to go in dealings with russia, we really need to be
talking very candidly about what is driving the russian ambition, and are they in fact as stark as undermining the u.s. democracy and the liberal democratic order, and somewhat less than that, because this is something that we need to get right. it has enormous implications for our policies towards russia. and i think that it is really needs to be addressed directly and candidly. >> george, thank you very much. i have a question before we move further. some very curious things happen happened in russia during last several weeks related to this whole discussion. at first, the fsb and the post kgb have arrested a number two person in the division of the cyber security. then a couple of days ago, they have arrested number one in the
division. then they have arrested somebody in the so-called left which deals outside of the government with this kind of the methods, but considered post kgb, fsb contractor, and the russians did not make any public announcements, but the inf information in the media including the follows is that the death officials is being investigated for no less than treason. treason, and that it is somehow connected to the whole scandal. do you know anything about it? >> i am aware of the commerant publication. obviously, it is tempting to look at this and connect the dots. the u.s. intelligence community accuses russia of the cyber
malfeasance, and russia realizes this, and starts to investigate. arrests officials that are in this specific area, a ha! there you go. maybe it is true. and this may be connected. however, a couple of things about the press report stood out to me that caused me to question that conclusion. consparski said that the ar vest based on the actives they the konsparski official had prior to joining the labs. he had joined the operation in 2012. so if we accept that as true, what they said was this is for something that occurred almost five years prior to this, well before donald trump had even
announced his candidacy. so, it made me won ede deder - n wonder. >> when that individual russian government. >> when that individual worked for the russian government. so i suspect that what we are talk talking about is related to corruption and not to interference in the u.s. election, but we will have to see. >> thank you very much. paul. >> okay. i'm going to talk a little bit about our policy responses for a few minutes, and then maybe say a word or two about the political climate here in washington. you know, as we think about policy responses on the issue like this or indeed on any issue, we have to ask yourselves three questions. what is it that we are responding to? what is it that we are trying to accomplish through this?
and we have come to a fair conclusion that russian was interfering in our election, but in my view, we don't yet have a full understanding, and here i agree with george, of russia's inte intent. we don't have a full understanding of the actions that russia took. certainly, relatively little of this has made it into the public domain. so to my mind, step one is in v invest gating this whole issue thoroughly and trying to develop a much better understanding of what happened including both what russia did and also what we think that they were hoping to achieve.
as we are doing that though, we also need to place our thinking of this incident into the con context of the u.s./russia relationship which is a 25-year-old relationship. the u.s./russia relationship did not start with russian efforts to hack into our election compu computers or to get into dnc or to do all of these other things that we are talking about. it started 25 years ago, and it has gone through a long and complex and mutually frustrating history and we arrived at a particular point last year when many of these things took place, and i think that we need to think a little bit about what
led to that. second question. you know, what is our objective in responding to russia. and now sh, there is one set of objectives which is that we want to punish russia or we want to discourage russia or deter russia from encouraging, sorry, from conducting this kind of activity in the future. from that point of view, i think that what the obama adm administration did in december is a little bit puzzling. the obama administration ejected 35 russian diplomats which they described more as a response to russian diplomats in moscow than a response directly to this matter. they sing shunned officials at
the russian intelligence agencies, and by sanctioned by putting them on a list of people who can't get american visas and are subject to having their assets in the united states seized. i guess that i wonder how many gru or the fsb officials have significant russian military intelligence or federal security service that the successor kgb pe personnel have significant assets in the united states. then they shut down two of the re recreational facilities as they were described, one in new york, and one in maryland where where russian diplomats go to get away from d.c. or new york or whatever. maybe they had some intelligence
gathering capabilities there, but i expect that the action was of limited impact on russia's intelligence services, and probably its greatest impact was creating a lot of angry russian diplomats. i don't have a problem with making russian diplomats angry. but, you know, is that really the objective of u.s. policy and should it really be an objective in u.s. policy in this case. that leads me to a couple of questions. one is that if the previous administration really had solid evidence that russia had engaged in extremely serious conduct that threat henned the integrity of the election, why didn't they do more? and why didn't they do it sooner?
conversely, if they couldn't really come to that conclusion, they didn't really have that evidence, then why was there this sort of the rushed process of putting out the document that george deskribcribed. and this sort of kind of effort to impose what i woulder consider symbolic punishments on russia, and just three weeks before a new administration would come into office, and would be able to take a look at that issue in a more deliberate way, you know, together with the congress and to respond appropriately. and i'm sure that there were a variety of different factors in the prior administration's
decisionmake on that issue, but it is very difficult to exclude po politics as one of the factors. it is very difficult to exclude that. and then, this leads to the third question about costs and benefits. and you know, obama administration officials quoted in the press on this, and some by name, but mostly not by name. you know, they have said more than once that they were concerned about russia's potential retaliation, and particularly concerned about the are retaliation before the election, and the consequences that might have. there was also a concern expressed that the united states could be disproportionately vulnerable to the scyber attack compared to russia, because of the nature of the economy and the society, and there was a certain caution.
you know, you think that those are valid things to worry about. we always need to worry about the potential costs when we are making the policy. what i guess i found interesting is that there was a somewhat more explicit but still unnamed formulation of the administration's logic, and the approach by nbc news which cited they said multiple high level governmental officials saying that the administration's decision not the do more was based on really three things. we didn't want to look like we were interfering in the election. we thought that hillary clinton was going to win anyway and therefore, it was not really
worth it. that according to the nbc attributed to multiple high level government officials. so that gives us a little bit of the window into the decision-making process on that issue. i'm not shure -- i understand some of the concerns and the factors in that decision-making process, but i am not sure that it is necessarily the way that we would want our government the go about thinking about a serious issue like that. i think that moving forward, i see two different risks that we really have to navigate in between. you know, one is having a thorough investigation, discovering what happened and then, really, fail ing ing to rd in an adequate way to whatever we may discover. there is another danger though, which is responding without
having a thorough investigation, and without really understanding what we are responding to. possibly attributing motives or central direction or, you know, other things like this to rush into decision-making, and responding on that basis when actually the evidence for that may be less persuasive than meets the eye. then h, i t then, i think, there is also a question of proposht nrtionalipd we need to look at them discretely. if russia hacked into computers and changing votes and the former president of the united states said that there was very
little evidence that anything like that had happened, and that would certainly be a very serious and direct intervention in the american electoral p process and it required a certain response, and the outgoing administration pretty much said that it did not happen. hacking into the dnc servers and then exposing that information which i would cause an influence to influence american opinion is a little bit different from hacking into election computers and trying to change votes. here again we have senior obama administration officials on the record saying that they don't believe that russia's conduct changed the outcome of the
election. which i think is somethingles th -- something else that we should bear in mind in our response. finally, there's this question of r.t., russia's propaganda channel which to my mind was somewhat bizarrely included in the intelligence community's public report on this issue. r.t. is a russian propaganda channel, and openly russian propaganda channel, but what's thep appropriate response of the united states government to stories that appear on r.t.? is that something that requirs s separate and special action by the government of the united
states beyond much of what the united states routinely does in its own government-led broadcasting an information efforts that we call public diplomacy. that is the third and final one. the last thing that i wanted to say as i mentioned is to talk a little bit about the political climate. i'm really quite worryied about the political climate surrounding russia and the u.s./russia relationship in the united states. we have reach e reached a level discourse, and by that i mean a low level of discourse that we have not seen since the mccarthy period in the united states. when we have people kind of running around looking for russian sympathizers in the
united states here and there. there is what looks like to me a version of kind of six degrees of separation from vladimir putin in which anybody who has had contact with the russian government official or traveled to russia or met a are russian b business person or anything like that is somehow suspect, and this is going to be put into things that people write or things that people say in other formats. i think it has a chilling effect on our ability to have the serious conversation about the u.s. policy toward russia that we need to have. i think that in some ways actual
actually that is more dangerous to our democracy than some other threats to our dem kocracy. i worry about it a great deal. dmitri knows that the i am a great fan of george washington whose bust we have actually in the hallway outside. on my instructions. >> yes. >> and so i guess that i will in this context quote washington in his farewell address who was very good in this topic. the nation which indulges towards another a habitual hay trid or habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. it is a slave to the animosity or to the affection either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and interest. that is a very profound and
i don't want to be controversial here, but if you look at vladimir putin and what happened is doing putin's work, right. that is not the kind of dialogue that we want or need in the united states. i hope that as we talk further as a country in this issue, we will be able to move beyond that. >> thank you very much. we hope that everyone would agree with you, and i certainly do, but it was informative and powerful prez sentation. one specific question based on your background and not only in the bush administration, but before that i remember in the 1990s you were a program officer for a foundation promoting democracy in russia. when we were making, and we, i mean, collectively in the united
states, this government, the congress, the nonprofit organizations, and when we were making this major and drastic effort to promote democracy in russia, often against wishes of the government dud we calculate a possible russian retaliation? >> well, no, i don't think that we did. certainly, most americans would feel that there is a fundamental difference of trying to promote democracy and trying to undermine it. but, at the same time for governments and societies that are on the receiving end of our efforts, that distinction may be less obvious. and they certainly have their own views, and the russian
government and many others in russia have made that quite clear. and certainly, if you are looking back, just as one example to russia's election in 1996, i think that there is no question that the united states government very decisively put the finger on the scale in russia's election in 1996 and that many russians saw that and recognized it and profoundly resented it. >> thank youer very mu >> thank you very much. and i know that most of us know each other in this room, but the audience of c-span and others will not know, so i will ask you the introduce yourselves. please. >> mike mcgof of "the new york times," and a question for paul saunders. do you accept at all if there
was a sort of the rush of judgment by the intelligence community at the end of the obama administration it was in some sense to preempt what they feared might be an attempt by the new administration for its own reasons to stop the el in l intelligence community from coming to the conclusion koconc russia was involved in the election? >> i believe it ap e peers they had that fear. how justified the fear was, i can't really say. i don't have access to that kind of information about the internal deliberations of this administration that is just coming into office. i think that however that that betrays a very fun damtal lack of confidence in the institutions in the rest of our society. you know, we have a congress,
and we have a media and we have a civil society, and the idea that kind of everything depended on this what i view as kind of the hasty effort, and i have a problem with that. >> graham allison from harvard. i thought it was excellent presentation, and let me especially commend george for a great article in the national interest, and as a professor, i particularly like your trying to explore al teternative hypothes and looking at the evidence to see how you can sort it. so let me invite you the do that with the respect to th he appenx for the intelligence report for the compromising information on trump that had been gathered by
opposition research. so to remind the facts as best i understand them, but the question is so if you were doing your intel skrens aligence anal that, what is the intent? i believe that the facts are as part of the opposition research, first for the republican opponents of trump and then the dlinton campaign, a political consultant sold services collecting what is called the p opposition research in campaigns that i have been involved in, and that is just called trash. everything that you can find. secondly, that this is payback. and secondly, the campaigns were not able to confirm any of this. so the same political consultant then peddled the same report and gave it to the newspapers including the "post", the "times" and several others hoping to get something. and even to a couple of the
senators i believe, because mccain said he received it in the summer. and third that the i don't know what the intent of the po"post"r the "times" were that they might suggest clinton to trump, and therefore they were interested in this information, but only if the they could have some degree of confirmation, and nobody was able to get any confirmation, so nobody published this. this is where i have an argument with e my colleague cliff sanger about, this and that gives me more respect to the press looking for the second source, and they could not get it easily. and these were charges. so then finally a two-page summary of whatever 25 pages of collection was attached in the appendix to report that was then briefed to the senate, and maybe to the house, but with the 100%
predictable consequence that it would soon be a top mick the newspapers. so, now the question of what is the intent by what would lead to this e behavior. >> you want me to answer that? >> yes, please. >> okay. senator roberts is going to help and then george. >> well, i was until i found out that i was being shown on c-span. but i think that it is pretty obvious. i mean, this kind of information was out in june, and i was not aware of it and i don't believe that anybody in the congress was at that particular time. i think that mother earth allegedly put it out just before the election. i think that as you described it, graham, very well as trash. the question was quite frankly and when we had one of the many briefings that was going on, why
on earth it was attached to the 19-page report to the whole matter, and the answer back was, well, we just thought that he ought to know, and this is regards to, you know, briefing the president alike. i find that rather ridiculous, and any time you say it in the classified briefing with the senators and the members of congress and the house, it reeks and it just does as former chairman of the intelligence committee, and the wmd days and george remembers it, and it was highly disturbing to me with regards to the highest classified information that we had, and it was weak. but that did not happen in the first year of our inquiry. it was an investigation that we found out that saddam didn't have the wmd, but it has carried
over and gets into a lot of the partisanship unfortunately, and even in the intelligence committees today. so if you say that and a then it is out into the press, and even though the newspapers follow the canons of journalism written by the university of missouri that were written years and years ago that nobody pays attention to now, and they followed the advice and could not verify it and could not print it, but they could certainly print what people said back, sort of the echo effect. the response was certainly unfortunate. because it did not add up except for a political purpose. hopefully now with mike pompeo with the head of the cia, we can get to the point of these questions, and i have probably
talked enough about it right now. >> thank you very much. >> david ignatius from the washington post. paul saunders said in the presentation, step one is a thorough investigation of what russia did and what they were hoping to achieve, and i would like to ask you both to take that further. we know that there is a second intelligence committee that is begun by the partisan investigation, and so far as we have been able to establish the remains and there remains open an fbi investigation, and apparently other intelligence investigations continued into the matters. and so the questions that i'd like both of you to address. are these investigations appropriate? should they be augmented? are they too much in your view?
second, are they likely to arrive at answers that you think that are the essential ones that the country needs, and if not how should we seek those answers? and then third perhaps most important what would be the appropriate public response? what would be your response if there is some effort either by the justice department to stop the fbi investigation or an effort by the republican le leadership in congress to stop the senate intelligence committee investigation. how should he respond to that? >> yes, ma'am. >> well, i said that i think that we needed a serious and thorough investigation, and i think that we do. i don't think it is going to be a serious process if it becomes
a political process. and to avoid it becoming a political process, you know, as far as the congress is concerned, u i thiyou think tha intelligence committee is probably the best place to do that. you know, that is anp appropriate venue for something like that, and perhaps sh, it i less political than some other approaches that congress could take. i think it is appropriate for the fbi to investigate. it is appropriator for others to investigate. i would not really advise efforts to curtail investigations like that. i think that this is an issue where we need to get to the bottom of what happened, and establish the facts.
but i also think that we need to do it fairly, and we have political climate now inside of the beltway where it is my impression that it is not easy for some people to approach questions like this in an objective way. and that worries me. >> i agree with all of that. i will add also that i think that it would make sense in this particular case in conducting these investigations to broaden them. rush snoot only kcountry with te capability or the potential motivation of messing with the elections. there are a lot of actors out there in the world that can do this sort of thing, and we need to look into that as well, and to devote a serious effort to try to protect our infrastructure and the electoralm systems from vulnerability from this sort of
thing. and that has to do with the lot more than russia, itself. the second bit of broadening has to do with the intentions that russia has towards the united states and towards the world. we need to think seriously about that, and to debate seriously, and unless we do that sort of thing, we are going to be continuing to experience the failure failures, and the disappoints with our relations with russia for the last 2 1/2 decades. >> let me add perhaps one thing. i agree with george actual ly i the way that he is describing brooending, but i think that -- he is describing broadning, but we also have to be narrowing to do this in a serious way, and by that i mean investigating russia's conduct.
if we start trying to have a discussion about what impact did this have on the electoral system or how someone voted somewhere or something like that, then i think that any hope of an objective and useful policy relevant investigation will go out the window. >> actually, i will slightly disagree with the colleague. i think that we should have a broad and comprehensive investigation. it should be focused on the 2016 election. and we should not try to investigate the chinese or whoever else, and whatever else they were doing at some other time or for some other purposes. and talking about this election, let's face it, if i understood senator roberts correctly, there is an implication that the way
that the investigation started during the obama administration of a certain partisan connotation. i believe this is definitely the case. i think that the investigation so far was remarkably one-sided. we have to investigate russian interference without any attempt by the trump administration to close certain avenues of investigation. it should be honest, professional and nonpartisan. but i think that the american people also want to nknow what the democrats were doing at the time, and what were their connections and how those foreign connections could be exploited to affect the election. i would be particularly interested in what happened with paul manafort who was at that time running trump's campaign, and suddenly, the most sensitive
moment of the electoral season, ukrainian hard evidence allegedly got some money from these politicians. he was a consultant, entitled to do things like that provided he was obviously reporting income if there was income, but i have heard from several ukranian politicians basically supportive, there was a disturbing coordination between some elements over the obama administration including some elements of the state department and the ukranian government
which was as much for hillary clinton as some officials were for donald trump. i think that this episode has to be investigated, has to be better understood and the russian case has to be announced loudly and clearly, but we need to look into that because it would among other things illustrate the components of that political campaign. >> i would like to ask george to develop more to something he alluded to but didn't give much detail and given the background in the intelligence community and that's the distinction between cyber espionage and hacking and leaking, we tend to think that one is essentially the other, i on record condemn
julian assange but can't -- that a 14-year-old hacked the dnc, let alone john podesta's account. is it your position that it was russia and china, but i was for years in a ctc sponsored cybersecurity exercise which demonstrated among other things the incredible vulnerability of our society to cyberhacking from non-government actors, not hidden by 14-year-olds but the extraordinary openness of our society, corporate, private institutional government, to almost anyone with a skills set in this area. why is it that we are assuming that this was necessarily any
government, let alone the russian government? if you get into this i could name you a dozen non-state actors who had as much interest trying to affect the outcome of the u.s. election as did moscow, beijing, tehran, we're making assumptions that it seems to me themselves need to be investigated rigorously, i'm not saying the russians were not involved in espionage, we know from their own statements but there's a big difference between cyber espionage and giving that material to julian assange and wikileaks? >> i very much agree there's a very big difference between those things, and the assumptions made behind this conclusion, i really don't know.
i think you would have to be privy to some of the investigations going on, but there are a lot of plausible explanations for what might have occurred her a occurred here and all should be investigated and we need to focus on bits of evidence that are only consistent with one explanation and this is an unusual thing in the world of intelligence. most of the information that you get is consistent with multiple explanations simultaneously, what you're really looking for are things that can rule out certain explanations and i think the idea that hacktivists, could have done this on the public information that we have here is quite true. >> hi, i want to follow-up on
several of the questions in regards to boeof both of the statements. i agree with you the report, the ic report at least the one made public has some very specific, very serious conclusions based on at least what was made public very little evidence. and it would seem to me that if that's true, and there's not a whole lot more that they know that we don't know, that what both of you are saying is that the intelligence community learned absolutely nothing from the wmd situation which was precisely what you just said which is taking a number of things that could have various conclusions and in fact pushing yourself into one conclusion and that would seem to me to be almost a more serious charge
that what we're talking about with the russians, to say that the intelligence community made no progress at all because it was either politically influenced or didn't do its job very well, it was incompetent and i wonder if you can talk about some of the implications that you have raised about the intelligence community and it would seem to me to have a document come out signed off by the entire intelligence community and then to really talk about it in the way that you and many others have just talked about it is a pretty big deal. >> thank you from my neighbor here. we did learn a great deal after the wmd situation. and part of it was that we had a worldwide intelligence failure.
it was an assumption failure. interestingly enough, most intelligence community was firmly behind the conclusion or the analytical product, the intelligence reporting and then you have the product of the nie conclusions. weapons of mass destructions as we found out later, he thought he had them, nobody told him he didn't. one guard thould -- thought he had it and vise versa. i got a lot of flak with regards to what we concluded, but with the conclusion of every at that time there were i think we have
17 now. somebody can correct me on that, with the intelligence community, but there were several that didn't add up and that means you better have everybody in on the analytical reporting. in other words, full intelligence reporting. i don't think that happened in this case. i think there were about four or five major players, but following the wmd assumption failure world wide, there was a lot of red teaming going on, an awful a lot of efforts to take down the silos of information and the lack of sharing and we now have the national intelligence counter terrorism center, and now have the department of homeland security. i'm not sure that was the best idea, but we have that. and a lot of effort was made to
take down these esilos. then again, if you have something like this that pops up out of the woodwork with operation research has been pointed out by david over here, it's a little different ball game, but i think there's about four or five major players here, it would be interesting to get the full complement of all of these, there will be no attempt by the majority party by republicans to stop that. we want to get to bottom of it as the fbi divests their business but we will follow-up on this and richard burr is the chairman and i have ever confidence and we will work in a bipartisan way, hopefully we're
not past the election, but hopefully. >> first of all, i don't think we can conclude in this case that the intelligence community has failed to learn lessons from iraq wmd, it's quite possible they have evidence that is classified behind the judgments they have published here and we just don't know it. now i'll also say that very, very serious efforts have been made at learning lessons and applying lessons from failures in the past. these are hard to do, the cognizant biacese -- fix it it is going to be a long term
struggle to improve overtime. then this particular topic, cyber operations, is a very tough one for intelligence organizations because it cuts across several areas of expertise, on the one hand you have got your technical experts your ones and zeros people that understand malware, command and control systems, et cetera, et cetera, on the other hand you have your liberal arts majors, they understand the cultures and the politics, those two worlds don't coexist very easily, you really have to bring them together and have them work together harmoniously, that's not an easy thing do, so i'm
very synthetic to efforts on this area. >> thanks for a fascinating session. this is a little bit off topic but our president is going to talk to president putin tomorrow and there are rumors circulating on twitter and whatnot that president trump is considering lifting sanctions on russia unilaterally and i simply want to know, do you think that's a good idea for him to do this without any concessions from russia on ukraine and what would that do with the current atmosphere between the u.s. and russia. >> i will express my opinion. i think it's a bad idea, almost as bad as some in senate to have a congressional resolution which you would deprive president trump the opportunity to lift obama's executive sanctions. i think that if you lift
sanctions on russia unilaterally today, it certainly would be difficult to explain -- to a lot of people on the hill not only democrats and even more difficult to explain to our allies and one of the relationships with russia is so great that we should be making unilateral presence to putin. having said that, it would deprive the elected president of the united states to lift obama's executive orders, that certainly would not be good for trump's credibility in general and for his ability to negotiate with putin in particular. if he is going to negotiate with putin, let's say on syria, syrian refugees, ukraine, if
putin knows that president trump cannot unilaterally decide on obama sanctions, i think it would not be good for american negotiating. >> i certainly agree with that and i wouldn't support it either for the reasons that demy ttr demytridescribed -- damytri described. and i agree with the further point. it would not be instructive for the congress within a week of the president of the united states being inaugurated to start trying to impose all kind of constraints.
i think that would provoke a even more divisive political environment and even more fractured political system. there's no way it would be constrained to that one or limited to that one issue. so i think this is a good case for mutual restraint. >> do you want to say something about that? >> no. [ laughter ] >> i would just say in general that coming back from philadelphia, the main topic was repeal and replace and what is that? and then national security right behind that and adhere to our budget limitations and do what we have to do with our military.
but there was also considerable talk for lack of a better word a robust or thoughtful strategy with regards to cyber and everybody has that in their laundry list of things we should be doing, not many could figure out what we should be doing but is a multifaceted issue that goes over several agencies, but in general terms of cyb cybersecurity, i think that triggered that to some degree in a greater light than previously considering. it's unfortunate that you have to do it that way, but that's all. >> quick comment on this. i think one of the big dangers faced right now in u.s.-russian relations is inflated expectations in moscow about where the u.s. might be going and its policies and my sense is
that the russians believe the united states is coming to its senses having spent a couple decades believing it can remake it in its own image and we have stopped doing things that russia has found objectionable and russia doesn't need to do anything but sit back and watch us change. i think that's a misperception number one, and won't work overtime and the united states shouldn't encourage that by starting out this new administration by taking some unilateral steps that have not been reciprocated on moscow's part, i think we find ourselves in a very bad dynamic if we do that. >> thank you.
my question is for george bebeand bebe and takes us back to the excellent question which is still on the floor and questions about the dossier and all of that. i wanted to ask you to give us your judgment as an intelligence professional how this statement by the intelligence communities with all of the caveats you put in but also all of the warnings, criticisms you put in, how could this have happened? >> well, i really don't know the answer to that. i think the simplist explanation is they have some very conclusive classified evidence that's driving their decisions. i'm skeptical that's the case, why is that? a couple things, one in the
intelligence community report itself there's an interesting caveat that nsa had only moderate contents, that's a red flag -- >> and then the -- >> the national security agency. >> yes, the national security agency. that suggests to me the kind of evidence they have got in the classified world is not all that conclusive. that's number one. the second thing is given the political atmosphere that we're experiencing now in washington which i think paul has very accurately described the degree to which we're able to keep these sorts of things secret generally in that atmosphere i'm suspicious that if we really had that kind of evidence in the classified world that we would know that either directly or indirectly in the public domain so i suspect we really don't have that kind of conclusive evidence in the classified
world. how do we end up with a report we wound up with? a lot of explanations, the biological tendencies we all share, the pressures that can occur bureaucratly, timelines underway, the separations of sets of expertise within the community, all of that may have had a role to play in all of this, but i'm speculating. >> the dossier, i thought i got a reprieve from senator roberts but apparently not. [ laughter ] >> one is how do you actually vet something like this. hard thing to do. cia would typically approach this by looking at the sourcing and sub sourcing critically,
impossible to do in this case. the next case would be looking for facts reported in this that you can verify, was so and so in a particular place at a particular time. that's only gets you so far in this report. which i have not seen by the way. there is a couple of things that make me skeptical about the information that's in it. one, the target, the source of some of these claims is supposedly the russian presidential organization. that's a very hard target. they devote themselves around the world to penetrate that target. very, very hard to do so it's hard to believe a individual
able to dig up dirt is able to do that using his own sources, i'm skeptical. second, moscow is good at nothing beyond generating lots and lots of rumors. and a lot of rumors are gener generated precisely because the people in the circles are not transparent about what's going on and people tend to gossip a lot about what's going on. really easi really easy to tap into that topic. am i getting real information or rumor? -- moscow rumor mill and
circulated what's out there on that. >> the boston journal identified a person who was one of the main sources, if not the main source former russian citizen origin, many years citizen of the united states and running the kind of business promotion organization with a huge budget. so happened that i was on the russian tv one of the live talk shows with a gentleman, they were interviewing him from atlanta claiming he was hiding from everyone because he was afraid for his life. the gentleman explained it had nothing to do with this report whatsoever, that this was all done to under mine our president, meaning mr. trump. he was a trump supporter, no, he did not meet trump more than
once. and the report suggested he was telling people how close he was to trump, how he played the role in organizing trump's visit in russia, was in russia in 2007, he was not in russia in 2007. you know, it sounds to me that you are dealing with somebody who was clearly talking to somebody who wanted to promote himself and portray himself as an insider. he did not know the people he was talking to would take it literally and that something like that ever, ever would find itself on the desk of the president of the united states. >> paul, when you were speaking, you expressed some concerns about kind of the wider issue
here. you didn't call it a red scare but pretty close to that language. where are the ditches here? should we just be concerned about the theft and subsequent publications or should we be concerned about the second piece since we don't engage in prior restraint and should we be concerned about rt, france 24, in a post citizens united environment doesn't everybody get a kick at the can here and is this something a fact of life and we should be willing and able to accept and welcome the participation of other countries even if they're financed by their government to actively try to influence our elections. >> sir, sir, i certainly would not accept other countries
trying to hack into our system and change people's votes. once you start talking about foreign efforts to influence public opinion in the united states, you know, i don't even know how you deal with something like that. certainly we're trying to influence public opinion in a number of other countries. we try especially hard to do that in countries that we view as having strategic importance to the foreign policy of the united states. i think it's reasonable to expect that other governments would take the same approach. now, we could decide that we want to ban rt in the united state states, for example. i'm not sure what that would
really accomplish because you know it's not just a question of what people can get on their cable tv or actually over the air. they also broadcast over the air, but the internet. so are we going to start policing what americans can look at on the internet? i don't really see a way to address that problem other than having our own kind of robust kind of media and information environment and clash of ideas and people being responsible about checking sources of information and facebook is trying to verify in some way or certify things that people put on to facebook. there are certain things that you can do. and we should try to do those things, but i don't really see
how we can close off the united states from these other sources of information or those perspectives and i don't really see it as consistent with our values. >> the discussion on different angles by the participants, i think the consensus at least at this table was this is a real serious matter. that there is serious and real evidence of russian interference in the american electoral process. there is also real evidence that this was politics as usual and that unfortunately that was exploited for political purposes. i take both spots very seriously.
i think mr. putin should be quite pleased with outcome, he got mr. trump in the oval office and if he wanted to disrupt our elections of at least creating an element of legitimacy and outcome when you have somebody like congressman lewis portrayed as great american icon, he questioning legitimacy of the election based on that kind of report, those kind of allegations, more than 60 members of congress democrats are refusing to be present, that's extremely serious. that's why i very much hope that senator roberts said we will have a comprehensive serious, non-political investigation, conducted both by the fbi, by congressional bodies and i hope that our media will also start looking at this phenomenon kind
oversight commission hearing. here is a portion of that. >> let me go on to the russian things. i understand the idea of method i would like to introduce these into the record my letter from december 15th -- 14th asking for a hearing on russian hacking also enter into the record an fbi investigation cyber activity called grisly step, ss-t-e-p, te analytical process and cyber attribution produced by the director of the national intelligence. submit for the record a statement by james r. clapper,
february 9th, 2016. >> no objection, so ordered. >> so we have enough here, just with this here enough to do an investigation and this is just the stuff that is unclassified that the intelligence community has put out there. we don't have to talk about -- >> will the gentleman yield? >> sure i yield. >> two points. number one, sources and method are the sole jurisdiction of the intelligence committee. number two, have you really thought this through? do you think it's appropriate for this committee to investigate the hack of the dccc. >> absolutely. >> we're going to have to dive into a political party's infrastructure data, i don't think that's appropriate. here is the difference. >> actuall y