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tv   Open Phones with Andrew Bacevich  CSPAN  December 31, 2016 2:00pm-2:46pm EST

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paris last year and really do what's necessary to avert catastrophic climate change, to reduce carbon emissions enough to do that. so there is a path forward. now, we wrote the book before we knew what the result of the presidential election was going to be. and the challenge, of course, is somewhat more uphill now because we have an incoming president who, you know, has said that, among other things, he wants to back out of the paris agreement. we didn't realize how relevant climate change denial would be 2007 the turn that our election took -- given the turn that our election took. and so now, in fact, the issue of climate change denial -- though we'd like to think that we put it behind and that we're sort of marching ahead towards solving the problem -- well, we have a new obstacle in our way, and we're going to to need to deal with that. >> so what might the implications be if we were to back out of the paris agreement for the next four years specifically? >> well, you know, we are one of the two largest emitters of carbon on the planet, china and
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the u.s. and under the obama, you know, under president obama, we reached this monumental agreement, this bilateral agreement between the u.s. and china to make dramatic cuts in our carbon emissions. that sort of set the stage for the very successful paris summit where nearly 200 nations from around the world made significant commitments to loring their carbon -- lowering their carbon emissions. if we now unilaterally back out, it's going to send, obviously, the wrong message to the rest of the world. it's going to say that the u.s. is a country that goes back on its agreement. and it's really, to me, it's loftier than the issue of climate change, are we willing to be a constructive and good faith partner in this larger effort to make sure that we leave behind a has habitable wod for our children and grandchildren. .. .. ter middle east, what do you mean?
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>> well, i'm talking about a very large swath of the islamic world. i could have called it america's war in the middle east but it seems to me to use that narrower term really understates the expanse over which we have been involved, certainly incl it seems to me to use that narrow where term understates the expanse over which we have been involved, including places like afghanistan which doesn't fall in what we think of as the middle east and now includes large parts of central and western africa which again doesn't fall within the typical definition of middle east. >> host: why was the year 1990 so significant? >> guest: the year that is significant is 1980, the year when jimmy carter promulgated the carter doctrine, a statement that basically said the persian
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gulf is vital national security interest and more to the point a place the united states considers worth fighting for. we have been involved militarily now so long that most americans, the greater middle east wasn't on our military map. and made all the arrangements and over flights. and reorient its priorities, and was now prepared for what becomes an almost endless series of armed interventions in the region. >> host: you talk about the fact that 1990 prior to that very few lives lost, american military lives lost in the united states after 1990, nearly all. >> i do. sadly i think to some degree since the end of world war zero make the american military has
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been pretty busy. certainly since world war ii we have been prepared to fight for europe. even today we had substantial us forces in europe. after world war ii we were prepared to fight in east asia, we thought before 1980, we fought two substantial wars, when in korea, when in vietnam, we were not prepared to fight in the islamic world since 1990, strikingly, virtually every american soldier killed in combat has been killed in that part of the world and i believe something americans should be more attentive to, the specificity, geographical specificity, something to be more attentive to than most of us have been. >> host: the numbers are up on the screen if you want his chat with retired army officer andrew
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bacevich, his book "america's war for the greater middle east: a military history," 20 numtwo-748-8200. east and central time zone, 748-8201, in the mountain and pacific time zone, we will get to those calls right away. andrew bacevich, you write that oil has always defined the raison d'être of the war in the greater middle east. >> guest: that was the initial raison d'être. the offense that prompted president carter to promulgate the carter doctrine where two. one of them was the iranian revolution which was perceived to be a great threat to us interests in the region. the second occurring in 1979 was the soviet invasion of afghanistan and the perception in washington, those events together in the persian gulf, crucially at a time when the
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american way of life seemed to be increasingly dependent on access to foreign oil. that said, from the outset there really was not explicitly stated, a larger set of steaks and the larger steak was this has been a war intended to demonstrate that we are a people to whom limits do not apply. we are a people who need not take into account circumstances such as the resistance we face in that region and that defined the underlying purpose, when you think about it, today, 2016 we don't need the oil from the region, we don't need the natural gas from the region and this war continues as if on autopilot. >> host: with president trump in office could that change?
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>> guest: theoretically it could. the thing the next administration will do, the president-elect's comments with regard to foreign-policy on the campaign trail have been all over the map. he has said things at times that suggests he would favor a less militaristic, more restrained approach to foreign-policy but on other days he said other things that suggest that he is going to dive more deeply into the region. for example the supposedly good plan to bring about the destruction of isis was one of the reasons many of us are watching with fascination the role of appointments is we imagine, maybe we are not right, that these appointments give us a clearer understanding of what a trump administration actually will do, looking beyond what
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trump himself said while a candidate. >> host: what is your background prior to being a book author? >> guest: i was a professional soldier for 23 years. my undergraduate degree is from west point. i served in vietnam, spent a lot of time serving in europe in the latter part of the cold war. when i got out of the army i became an academic historian by academic training, and not so much as an academic but as a citizen, have become increasingly concerned about what strikes me as the misguided direction of us policy was when i say misguided direction, i mean the misuse and excessive reliance on american military power. the way we used our military, we are making the world a better
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place, if it were promoting the values we believe in, enhancing american security, i would say let's go for it but my own reading of the situation is our use of military power is doing none of those. instead it is costing us tremendously, lives lost, lives shattered, trillions of dollars expended and to what end? seems to me particularly our military engagement in the islamic world has not succeeded. it has failed and therefore it is incumbent on americans to begin thinking about a different course. the purpose of my book is to promote an awareness, the failure of military efforts to encourage americans to think
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about that different course. >> host: the cover of the book, "america's war for the greater middle east: a military history". as we listen to gym in erie, pennsylvania. go ahead. >> caller: thank you for taking my question. the general states the quandary in terms of what we are looking at. how do we get from a blatantly, flagrant, openly hostile islamic culture that seems to be intent on murdering as many innocent people as possible, cares nothing about human rights and dispatches terrorists and inspires terrorists all over the world to murder innocent people, this engagement sounds nice but in this type of culture clash, clash of values. i am a retired coast guard guy myself. i don't understand how we can sit here and say we to disengage
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when we are dealing with people who wants to murder us. >> host: we at the point. let's hear from andrew bacevich. >> guest: if we saw evidence that military engagement, the presence of us forces in the region, us bombing, us invading, us working, if there is evidence that was making the situation at her, i would say let us continue that course, i don't see that evidence. my prescription begins with what may be a disagreement from the threat the extremists pose. i don't believe for a second even isis poses an existential threat to the united states of america. that threat is relatively modest and the appropriate response to the threat is to erect offensive
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defenses here rather than send us forces across the region. because the presence of us forces makes the problem worse, furthermore i would argue strongly, those countries for which isis does pose an existential threat, talking about iraq, iran, saudi arabia, turkey, egypt, they need to own this problem. were they to take ownership, where they to set aside their differences and collaborate against the threat posed by isis i believe they could handle that threat. think about isis. it is probably 25, 30,000 fighters, no air force, no navy, no weapons of mass destruction, no significant resources, no allies to speak of. for the countries in the region to focus their collective effort
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on defeating isis and restoring semblance of stability, they could do so. our diplomatic task is to promote their understanding of their imperative. >> host: kim calling in from new york. go ahead. >> caller: thank you so much. my victory suggests it began in 1954. and how did those mistakes begin? >> guest: the subtitle of the book is a military history. i'm trying to explain what the united states has done with its military. prior to 1980 our military presence and involvement in the region, i am not arguing and one should not argue prior to 1980 the us had no policy in the
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region. we did have a policy, we had interest in the examples you cite of the cia's involvement in the overthrow in iran, very good example of how misguided our policy was even before 1980. >> host: next call comes from daniel in california. go ahead. >> caller: don't know whether to direct my question to professor, doctor or colonel. did the concept, does the concept of radical islamic terrorism have any relevance in political discussion? it was made quite a big deal of, what is russia's policy? >> let me focus on the first one.
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i am hesitant to get bogged down in this debate about terms that can be used or cannot be used. there certainly is a strain, i would say, relatively small in the larger scheme of things, a strain of islam as an ideology to which some people adhere and finds expression in violence directed against the west, violence directed against muslim and anti-state institutions in that part of the world but i would hasten to add the problem more complex than that, that the sources of dysfunction we see are multiple. what do we have going on here? who we have is a historic antagonism between islamic
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civilization and the west that probably can be traced to the crusades. what we have here is a legacy of european imperialism particularly british imperialism. the results of a reckless dismantling of the ottoman empire at the end of world war i, we have endemic, economic underdevelopment of local leaders who are corrupt and unenlightened and we also have shortsighted us policies that contributed to making matters worse. my point would be i urge people to push back against the notion that there is a single explanation for the turmoil in the region and indeed to embrace the notion there are
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multiplicity of causes, further caution against the notion that further us military action is somehow going to fix matters. there is no evidence to support the expectation. >> host: andrew bacevich, donald trump will be the 13th president since harry truman, 1946, to deal with the middle east. how does that work for you? >> nobody has fully gotten it right and despite the fact that dwight eisenhower was the president when we overthrew most of that, i think eisenhower came closer to getting it right than any other president. eisenhower believed that we needed to find some way to have a modicum of relations with the arab world. eisenhower was quite reticent
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about a commitment to israel that would undermine the possibility of having decent relations with the arab world and eisenhower as a matter of principle was exceedingly hesitant about using american military power not simply in the middle east but anywhere else. eisenhower believed war really should be a last resort, that has tended not to be the case with more recent presidents. >> host: hanukkah in pennsylvania, you are on booktv. we are listening. >> caller: good evening as the largest arms dealer in the world how can you direct our military support to three large entities? without imposing our interests and helping to create a potential collapse of the entire middle east you >> guest: that is a great
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question. i think i agree with the premise of that question. that is to say, for too long now successive administrations have acted on the assumption that selling arms to our so-called friends in the region ultimately the most ability, win friends and promote stability, i think in particular of late, we see that assumption is utterly false, saudi arabia is involved in a war in yemen. their aircraft are being refueled by american planes, flying us manufactured and dropping american weapons and i don't see that as being good for anybody, not good for the united states so there needs to be a re-examination of our arms sales policies.
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>> host: tired boston university professor andrew bacevich about his most recent book "america's war for the greater middle east: a military history". here is the cover. let's listen next to paul in san diego. go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: thank you so very much for taking my call, thank you for c-span for watching your guest, andrew bacevich. my question is this. what type of ripple effects would happen if there was a solution to the palestinian issue. is it mission impossible and if it isn't, what you see happening in the region? thank you so much and i will take my question off air. >> guest: i think it is mission impossible because neither of the two sides, the palestinians or the government of israel are seriously committed to that and the expansion of settlements in the west bank which the
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government of israel routinely applies makes the prospect of a two state solution ever more distant. we are at the point we should acknowledge it is a complete fiction. sadly, i say that. to your point i think the point is a very good one. there was a long-standing argument tends to hear from arabs and that is that were the international community to respond effectively to the grievances of the palestinians, that they could have the effect of reducing the antagonism in the islamic world directed to the united states. supporters of israel say that is nonsense but i would argue we have a very strong interest, our interest in testing the proposition. we have a strong interest in seeing the creation of a sovereign palestinian state in
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order to find out if that could possibly be a way to alleviate the antagonism directly at the united states. >> host: andrew bacevich, if someone is in favor of a two state solution, are they anti-israel? >> guest: i don't believe so. i'm not the only one who makes this argument that the two state solution is in the long-term interests of the state of israel, that absent between 2 state solution, the prospects of israel continuation in the jewish state and democracy, are pretty slim. and with the passage of time and the expansion of the israeli jewish presence into the west bank, the government of israel, was creating barriers or obstacles to that long-term
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stated goal of the israeli government to assure that israel is a jewish state and a democratic state. i would very much like to see israel continue to be a jewish state and democratic state. the policies of the government of israel, exceedingly shortsighted in that regard and proved counterproductive in the long term. >> host: next call, gregory, sherman oaks, california, you are on booktv. >> caller: hello, c-span. i really love this program. in the middle of the iraq war, a proposal appeared for a us program that would provide millions of solar panels to the cities and villages and neighborhoods of iraq which would have provided thousands, tens of thousands of jobs for iraqis who otherwise became
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combatants and would have provided something the iraqis in the region really needed, their electricity is very spotty and that is part of the conflict, turning power on and off to different neighborhoods. it could have been done for a fraction of the multibillion-dollar cost of the iraq war at no risk to american lives and would be a template for something the us and the rich nations could and still should do, i think, across the middle east in the global sunbelt as i wonder, is there any realistic possibility that a program of massive solar energy in the middle east, the world's other literally hot and bothered and conflicted regions could supplant a major part of this endless war that serves no purpose? >> host: i think we got the point. let's hear from andrew bacevich. >> guest: i am not able to comment on the feasibility of that kind of project. the premise of the question
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deserves our attention. that is to say the result of our expectations that military power can provide a solution to the problem, will ultimately cost us trillions of dollars. if we go back to 2003 with the george w. bush administration invaded iraq, they did not anticipate what the full cost would be and part of the judgment of that administration is their failure to understand what was going to ensue. the need to consider alternatives to simply further expenditures of military power, whether it is solar panels or irrigation or some other program of economic development,
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ultimately nurturing, functioning, stable societies, he is going to require something other than simply dropping bombs and conducting military campaigns on the grounds. i think your question makes that point very nicely. >> host: colonel, is there a tendency toward groupthink in the pentagon in military circles? or is there a pretty robust debate that goes on before policies are implement it? >> guest: i don't have great insight to what they talk about in the pentagon these days because i've been out of the army for quite some period of time but i think there is groupthink with any institution. the older the institution, probably the tighter the grip of groupthink. certainly the united states military, understandably the united dates military wishes to sustain its status in our society, wishes to sustain its
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prerogatives which in simple terms, wishes to sustain the exceedingly high level of defense spending that has come to be routine. that doesn't preclude the possibility of members of the officer corps particularly those served in the greater middle east over these recent decades of coming to some thoughtful, critical conclusions about whether or not what we are doing is working. i don't know what happens in these conversations. my hope, my bet is there may be some serious thinking going on within military circles now that we are facing this new trump administration. one of the questions is will our next president, is he the kind of guy who is willing to sit down with our four *military leadership and be open to what they may have learned in the
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consequence of recent wars. open doesn't mean deeper, and do what generals want. and willingness to think of new rather than simply continue on the same path. >> host: morris in louisiana, your question or comment for andrew bacevich. >> caller: thank you for taking my question. i came on earlier and heard you talking about foreign oil and my husband works offshore and i am sure you know there are a lot of people who have been laid off and ones that haven't been laid off taking federal pay cuts is my question for you, so low here, we are giving too much
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foreign oil -- >> host: not quite clear. could you repeat the question? >> caller: do you think the reason oil is so low in the us because we are acquiring too much foreign oil? >> host: foreign oil, domestic oil. i want to add to what she had to say but you said this earlier. the mores in the middle east are on autopilot now. >> guest: even though we are energy independent. the price of oil is a function of supply and demand and for all kinds of reasons, to include the development of new sources of oil and natural gas in the western hemisphere, global supplies are up. my sense is the saudi's who continue to be the supplier of last resort wish to have for their own tactical reasons wish to have the price of oil at
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least for the time being remain low and they have the ability by controlling the spigot to a considerable extent to control the price of oil. for an explanation why the price of oil is what it is we should probably look to the saudi's. to the point you were raising, i am surprised by how little discussion there is of the strategic implications of the transformation of the global energy environment and the fact that we now know that the oil and gas reserves in north america are far greater than we imagined 20 or 30 years ago. the strategic implications should be huge and should promote people asking questions about why do we still consider
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saudi arabia. why do we sign such important to the persian gulf? that discussion hasn't happened. >> host: greg in florida, good evening from booktv, you are on the air. >> caller: good evening, andrew bacevich. my question to you is why the united states is to get involved in every military action outside of our borders? why is it we cannot just protect our borders and be done with it? >> guest: great question but i don't know where this cough came from. >> host: we will give him a cough drop and show you the cover of the book one more time but we are not ignoring you, we're just letting andrew bacevich get a chance to take a cough drop, sip of water. "america's war for the greater middle east: a military history" is the cover of the book, a military history.
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he is going to answer your question i promise. we are not you. >> guest: great question. >> host: we will give you a chance, we are going to come back to that question. we will not forget. just because of this cough, let's hear from david in west linn, oregon as well as getting to answer both questions. go ahead. >> caller: thank you for your service. my question has to do with saudi arabia. a year ago i heard a report that got released from the pentagon that the funding and coordination of 9/11 trace to central governing elements of saudi arabia and the royal family and the starting position would have to include the bin ladens and the house of saud
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board meeting closely. all hands on deck with them. knowing that i was wondering what the professor's response is. >> guest: what we know and what we suspect, we don't know. as citizens we don't know everything but i think what we do know is wealthy individuals in saudi arabia have for years and decades been using their wealth to promote a radical version of islam. what we don't know some alleged, some suspect. what we don't know is decisionmaker's in the royal family are directly complicit in that. we know that elements within saudi arabia have promoted
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radicalism. we don't know that the royal family was in bed with osama bin laden to the earlier question. >> host: greg in florida. >> guest: why this fancying the united states as to employ military power to solve every problem in the world, that is a great question and no easy answer but the important part of the answer and what you were referring to a minute ago and a strong element of groupthink. and us political circles that imagines and asserts we are the indispensable nation, the global order cannot manage, cannot lease itself absent our
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leadership. a conviction, further conviction that leadership means using the militant -- american military power. leadership can be lead by example, demonstrate by the way we run the country, values do have value, we do things that other nations may wish to embrace and this mindset, this is interesting to think about what trump is going to do. he is not of that establishment. in many respects he got elected because he says we got to drain the swamp, we take down this establishment. i don't know that he would even try to do that. i don't believe he will succeed but to the extent he succeeds or tries, one of the interesting is to say what is his alternative
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to this washington mindset and his conviction that we need to lead the world and leading the world somehow requires the use of military power. >> host: let's hear from gary in southfield, massachusetts. what is the last word? >> caller: thanks for c-span. andrew bacevich, i get the feeling you want the country to become isolationist. i don't feel we can get out of the area we are in. we have to get our new administration going and get rid of these people that want to kill us. i don't feel it is going to do anything and when you talk about draining the swamp i don't feel what has going on has been good for the people of our country.
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we have become an oligarchy. we are not a democratic society anymore and i think we are going to get back to that and the people have been sick of the way things have been going on and i hope for our sake that our new president will listen to the generals and work with everyone across the aisle and get our country going in the right direction again. >> host: thank you very much. andrew bacevich, last word. >> guest: it is funny. anytime anybody suggests a more restrained approach to policy, the response is you must be an isolationist which i reject that. it seems to me, the label we should all want to have is pragmatism. what works and what doesn't work. if you think that, our efforts, use of our military in the
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middle east is making things better, if you believe that, then vote for it. i see no evidence of that happening. seems to be it is time to look for an alternative. not sure how many people we would have to kill in order to make the dysfunction of this part of the world go away but it will be a big number and for those bothered by the size of the deficit, endless war, guarantees that deficit is going to not only continue but skyrocket. people who are concerned about our fiscal circumstance should also be pragmatists it comes to us military policy and should think carefully before insisting there is no alternative but to dive deeper into a circumstance we are ready made a mess of. >> host: here is the book, "america's war for the greater middle east: a military history".
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andrew bacevich is the author. appreciate you being on booktv from miami. >> you are watching booktv on c-span2 with nonfiction authors every weekend, booktv, television for serious readers. >> it is true -- what is not true is we didn't know what that meant. it is true that apple for rise lied to us. it isn't true that we didn't know what that meant. ks m's nephew after the its were done, we are in the debriefing stage, tells us ks m told me
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awkward out kuwaiti delivered a letter to abu garage appointing him chief of external operations, now we are interested. if he delivered a letter from uvl we believe they don't know where he is because in 2002, he went underground, he did use electronics, just a few people. we have a guy who says there was a career, using his jihadi name who delivered a letter from ubl. across ks m, we go to ks m who says no no no no no. that guy used to work for me, protége of mine is associate of mine but he retired in 2000. his nephew says he is lying. don't know what that little guy is doing but he's lying to you.
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we think i wonder why ks and is lying. it has got to be important. what most people don't know is they established a secret way to communicate with each other, the detainees had so ks m could get messages to the troops. what he did know his we knew it. we wanted to see what he was saying to the troops so we are asking them about how kuwaiti, the guy has quit as he puts it a secret message, don't tell him about the courier. what we are thinking is that guy has to be informed. here is a relatively cooperative guy some people would say experienced the worst you could
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experience who was willing to risk going back to that to protect the identity of this one career. they got the guy who got the letter and he said i never heard of that guy, and there's never a guy like that. we had been asking these other detainees, and he said -- he was a facilitator that worked with high lever facilitator that worked with ks and. maybe more people with osama bin laden, with a small group of people, could be him. he moves letters and people, works for him, made it clear this other stuff, this is the
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case. we had a detainee who said one of osama bin laden's wives, not his youngest, one of his wives gave him a letter to deliver to osama bin laden so got to be thinking guy wouldn't give him a letter if i don't know who he is and don't have something he could get to put all these little clues fall into place in the brilliant men and women of the cia who were analysts and tigers put it together. there was a partial true name for the courier that was already in the database out there but we didn't know how important that was or how to find him. i interrogated the shortest interrogation that ever took place, less than ten minutes,
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after that, when he moved almost immediately into debriefing, he said this guy you're interested in has a speech impediment. when he talks he talks in arabic and palestinian. the agency was then able to find out, where he lived. he said we knew he was living, we had been told he lived with osama bin laden or staying with him because essentially he had no outside contacts the what they did was try to find out if osama bin laden was on that side so it wasn't the case, and then tape to a steering wheel and cutting their fingers off, and
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the cia analysts take the matrix of stuff and actionable intelligence and actionable intelligence, becomes actionable only when placed in the greater context of what you know from everybody. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. ♪ >> good afternoon. welcome to the 37th annual american book awards, presented by the beforeol

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