tv After Words with Bill Gertz CSPAN April 15, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
this is the point i make in the book. we are under and in flirt -- information assault. they are largely in the dark. that includes our government as well as the public at large. as you might recall in a recent hearing that you are the chair of one of the witnesses testified about the russians in their propaganda outlet in an official told them they would have no audience in the united states if the u.s. media were doing its job properly. in a sense what has traditionally been the role of the american media that is to provide both education and information has really fallen off. right now were seen a politicization of the media into general liberal and conservative camps. and they are not really presenting the kind of news especially on international affairs and about our enemies. one of the things i've always tried to do my journalism
career as well as my career as an author is to highlight threats. if people don't have an understanding of the threat than it really is difficult to get the tools and the resources necessary to deal with the problems. so again this is a threat book. it deals with the main threats of information warfare and it shows that this is a serious strategic threat to the united states across a broad spectrum of areas from international affairs to domestic affairs. we talk about the increase of information warfare is a strategic part of the united states. it is the use of social media. you talk about that in the book. facebook users you actually include this statistic host 4.75 billion pieces of content every day.
as we see in our facebook feeds and twitter you choose the social network. in social media has also changed the landscape of conflict and in the book in fact you talk about the islamic states use of social media. a distinct feature of the media operation is its agility and ability to respond quickly to events also how performing state media. a network of dedicated online supporters who amplify the islamic states message. what should the u.s. to combat that. i pointed it out in the book that there is a kind of conflicting approach to this problem. on the one hand there is pressure from the u.s. government to shut down the
terrorist use of social media on the other hand there's an intelligence need to find out what they're doing. this is a real challenge. how do you balance these two competing needs. i've asleep monitoring social media much of which is an open source can produce valuable intelligence especially about people who are going to perpetrate attacks and this is really the problem that needs to be solved. i make the case that social media is being weapon eyes and we need to figure out ways to be able to have the same kind of agility that the terrorists have demonstrated they will shut down twitter feeds or facebook sites from terrorists that are known to be using this to recruit and then they will and they have their own private means of setting up a new communication channels very quickly. you knock one site down and immediately they had three or
four others that they can use. mother getting even more sophisticated they are going to encrypted communications we saw this in the recent case of the terrace in london who rammed ramped a number of pedestrians on the bridge. he was using a telegram which of the key tool of the russian software that's allowing terrorists to communicate much more difficult ways for intelligence agencies in the west to detect them. >> does u.s. law enforcement and as policymakers do have an adequate strategy ourselves to use social media to combat miss information with the truth and make sure that potential accrued recruits actually see information that we want them to see that this is not the proper interpretation. basically what i found was the
main tool for this is a state department centered strategic for terrorism. i spoke to a number of officials in researching the book and all of them agreed that they have a real challenge. they're not allowed to address the topic of islam itself. they have adopted at least under the obama administration and of course the trump administration is changing this now. they're talking openly about radical islamic terrorism in the past i argued that this has really made it very difficult for us to do counter operations. the state department under the center they actually did a study in the study was based on some experts. it is a classified study. it has been reported on in the past. because the government has no credibility that should even
shouldn't even attempt to try to do counter efforts against these terrorist groups online. that is a totally defeatist approach. you will never succeed if you don't even try. there are some new efforts just in december the latest congressional defense bill contained a new provision that is calling for counter disinformation and propaganda which is mostly targeted against russia but it needs to be much broader targeted against all of these main adversaries in the end the series loves their mechanism. it stands for china, russia, korea and terrorism. and so those are the main threats that we need to address and i'm hoping that
under the trumpet ministration they will get more efforts both resources with people and leadership to tackle these tough problems. >> what of the most impressive parts of this book is that you look at different case studies and you just named china and russia and north korea. i wanted to delve into some of the examples that we have seen of the use of information warfare by the specific countries. the first one i would like to like to go to is north korea. i think the general public as well aware of the sony hack because it got i got so much media coverage that is of course a hack in response to the movie of the interview why was this such a significant event when it comes to information warfare. you spend a lot of time talking about that in this book. it took place in 2014 and it was based on the north korean government's recognition that they were really opposed to
this movie the interview. it was an important thing in exposing the kind of problems that north korea poses. north korea needs to be understood and i don't think a lot of people understand this. it is a crimes against humanity regimes. they have exposed that. they had identified it and yet here we are in the 21st century and were still dealing with this regime that does horrible unspeakable things to its own people. the sony hack was really the first time that a government had attacked a private industry for political gain so the sony pictures they went in and they took information which was extremely damaging to the company as well as they conducted a damaging attack the software that was used actually destroyed the entire
networks of these people is kind of a harbinger of things to come. for research for the book i actually interviewed a north korea defector. and he actually trained hackers in north korea and he issued a dire warning. he said the u.s. and the west should deftly take this threat seriously. what they're going for ultimately's u.s. infrastructure. u.s. infrastructure. the ability to turn out the light. to prevent us from operating a western society. the u.s. is probably the most wired country in the world. everything is networked. if detect if the structure you could cause strategic damage to the united states. and as a real danger. the north koreans are building on that capability. they are still considered a second-tier threat to the russians.
you are critical of the lack of response to the hack. can you unpack that a little bit more so that they understand what the u.s. did after the attack and if it was missed opportunities. i think covering this issue i learned from intelligence sources in the u.s. government that senior officials of all the major agencies the intelligence community the pentagon law enforcement had presented a series of options to the obama white house and these options were listen, we are under attack from these various places and unless we do something about it in a very real way these attacks are to continue. they presented a range of options ranging from imposing sanctions on the offending entities whether it was
government officials all the way to conducting offense of counter cyber attacks that would actually go in and damaged some of the infrastructure of these organizations the chinese unit that was linked to the office of personnel management hack. they rejected all of those options so basically there hasn't been anything done in the case of sony they have made some symbolic sanctions against some north korean officials that really would have no impact. it was things like blocking them from entering the united states are blocking them from access to the international financial system. those are okay measures they weren't enough to really make an impact and as a result we have seen an escalating scale of cyber and influence operations. the reason is there needs to be a greater response.
the admiral who is the current national security agency chief has been one of the strongest advocates for tougher deterrence responses. he has been advocating that the cost of entry into this realm of information welfare is a low that it's irresistible to our enemies to engage in that. the cost is raised that well have a deterrent effect and it will say hey if you attack the united states you're going to be attacked back. that will change the equation. and i to get highlights think it highlights an important question for policy makers that we are certainly grappling with. because it's a non- government agency what role should the department of defense play when we are discussing admiral watch -- rogers and making sure that we are sharing information with nongovernmental organizations of the cyber threats that are out there. that is really the big problem right now.
it's what they call the lines of authority that allow the government to be able to do things their very blurred. they are not clear into the problem is that most of the infrastructure is in private hands. they are in charge of their own security. the government has a great resource of security abilities on their kind of constrained from using it there is a lot of reasons for that. we saw them really turned against the national security agency which to me is the premier agency for cyber security other intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the pentagon had good capabilities to counter this but they are constrained by law and regulation about what they can do. that's why i think we really need a new entity i call it information america where we would set up something that
would be similar to the u.s. information agency of the cold war era and it would transcend various agencies because if it's part of the defense department information warfare would be subordinated to kinetic military. if it's in the intelligence community it would be imposed by heavy secrecy which is their culture. if it's in the state department it would be what i call diplomacy impaired. it's oriented towards getting along with foreign nations if we have individual agency that could do this kind of thing i think it would help clarify those lines of authority and it could be both a content counter and promotion thing as well as technical and cyber to be able to cross over these two things and perhaps interact better with the private sector. the mic that is an interesting
proposal that i get to at the end of our interview. we talked about north korea as being into tier two. let's move to the tier one actors in this space. in one of the examples that you touch upon. mommy find the quote. you write no other nation today poses a greater danger to american national security than china to stay engaged in an unprecedented campaign of information warfare using both massive cyber attack and influence operations aimed at diminishing what beijing regards as the most strategic enemy the u.s. the example that i've experienced with china was the hacking of the office of personnel management. i served in the administration and i was one of the individuals that got the notification that my information was part of the hacking. why was at such a significant event and second, talk to me
about china's broader capabilities and how they differ from the two tier two actors. they recognized early on that they do not had the physical military capabilities to challenge the united states. and right now china is challenging the united states the u.s. has largely self deluded itself that china is a normal nation when in fact it is a nuclear armed dictatorship. i had been covering the issue for over 30 years. the problem is the chinese everybody talks about china's rise but what they're also doing is trying to manage the decline of the united states. they have what they regard as
the decline this theory. they have a rising power and they are working to help diminish the united states. that is the underpinnings of their information warfare operations against the united states. the opm hack was unique in the fact that 22 million federal records were attacked. but that was just one element of this broad thing that have been going on for at least a decade on the intelligence community have a code name for it. it was called byzantine hades. they had broken into and it was primarily a cyber espionage operation. they stole the records which included the most sensitive information that you could possibly had in the u.s. government things about security clearances they were
questioned about someone getting a security clearance. it was extremely valuable for further cyber attacks. what they can do with the information is shifted using the tools and then be able to identify assistance administrator inside a defense contractor. use that to gain access to gain further access information. these attacks have been kind of diminished as this is just intelligence gathering. i think it is a real misnomer. these are attacks and the reason you can't say that it's just simple intelligence gathering is because there are two things that happen in the chinese to get get inside a network like the office of personnel management. this is a little-known fact
they plant something called sleeper agent software that is software that communicates with beijing but is almost impossible to detect. and maybe communicates back once a year and it's mixed in with the software that make up these millions of lines of code. and so this is the real problem. in a crisis they could use that software to shut down networks or to do other damaging or sabotage efforts. we are having trouble with the terminology or is it cyber sabotage. it's accommodation of both. in terms of the amount of data that they have stolen. they estimate that the amount of data stolen by the cyber spies is that 50 terabytes of data that equivalent of five times all the information
contained in the nearly 161 million books and other printed material held by the library of congress. that is astounding. it demonstrates how much of a threat it is. the use of that data is what is critical. i interviewed a person from a data mining company in the u.s. he basically said in china there are some 60,000 data mining companies that are emerging. they are having the ability to manipulate and mine that data for useful intelligence and also to conduct future cyber operations. >> another tier one actor is russia. he spent a fair amount of time in the book as well.
in my committee in congress has also spent a great deal of time on that. can you give the viewers a sense of a scale size and scope. it is significant. just last week i went to a conference where the deputy national director was giving director was giving a speech and afterwards i went up to him and i said i heard a number of years ago the director of national intelligence said that russia had eclipsed china as the major threat in the cyber realm and i ask who is the bigger threat is that russia or china and he said russia. the reason is the russians are building their cyber capabilities in their influence capabilities.
they have a tremendous technology base and a lot of those technologies which were involved have now emerged as key players in the cyber realm. and at the combination of private sector as well as the intelligence services are going great guns and using these cyber capabilities in what they see is a main threat. they had identified at the united states as a main enemy. something that putin is using to whip up hysteria. there was an indictment against two russian hackers into intelligence officers. i know we had spoken a lot about cyber warfare but i think the case of russia
allows us to influence information operation on the specific manipulation of the media i wanted to quote them in 2013 the very rules of war have changed. the role of nonmilitary means has grown and in many cases they have exceeded the power of force and weapons in their effectiveness. i think as were looking at russia's increasing influence when it comes to undermining our nato allies we see a very unique way that they are using information warfare can you talk about that in terms of its operation into the ukraine and the crimea specifically. the russians strategic threat is extremely dangerous and i
don't use that term lightly. and don't scare easily. over the last several years had just really frightened me. one their emerging cyber warfare but behind the scenes is also the nuclear development. in addition to new nuclear weapons as well as developing small nuclear weapons that are actually usable in a conflict. i mentioned in the book that the pentagon did a study of their low yield nuclear weapons the russians have changed their tactics to the point where they have this policy called escalate to de-escalate.
they need nuclear weapons. with the use of information warfare. it was a case study in what has been known as hybrid warfare. they took over this industrial region without firing a shot. without insignia. it became known as little green men. to put forth false narratives. i belong to russia. a large russian population. this one was really a wake-up call to the west.
as far as the russian ideology goes and looked at what is motivating vladimir putin to do these things. a nationalist approach. the biggest catastrophe for russia and he is bent on reestablishing a russian supremacist state that he said will stretch from the pacific to the atlantic. and will control all of the areas around russia. this is a very dangerous situation we are seen seeing the russians emerge in under a regime that has designs on taking over a nation the apologists in the propagandist outlet for russia had diminished this by saying what's a little a section of a country like crimea.
if we learned anything from the last session at least a very bad things. i think that's where we are now. unless the aggression is reversed we are gonna see more problems with russia down the road. >> when it comes specifically we saw how effective this information campaign was in terms of shaping media coverage i wanted to touch upon my initial question about what is the media is aware of this happening and have been a tool for these disinformation campaigns. i think this case crystallizes what we need to do to encourage members of the media to understand what is happening how can we do that. i'm certainly concerned about this. i want to ensure that what i'm reading in the news is not shaped by our adversaries?
>> dealing with the press today i've seen the news media is kind of in turmoil. you find that newspapers and now is struggling to survive setting up pay walls but as i mentioned it's also been a certain politicization of the media and as we say and is dominated by three issues which is gender identity racism and global warming. on the conservative side give a focus on security issues a domestic issue in a little bit more concerns about government overreach. and these two issues have created a division within our society. if you watch the network news every night as i do i thought it's incredible bias is so obvious that people aren't
getting along. it's mostly domestically focus. and unless there is a major event like a terrorist attack we aren't covering overseas. were not covering these threats and again it is identifying in these threats. the other thing is in the liberal media today there is a post modern. and of course our enemies don't agree with that view at all. that's really where we need to focus on understanding the threats more. >> another very notable fact in the book is the fact that the russians conducted the first known cyber attacks against the foreign power grid. they also demonstrated that the russians are leading the weight was cyber attacks
including the first known cyber attack against the foreign nation electrical power grid with tens of thousands of ukrainians. from my perspective that is deeply concerning the fact that these cyber attacks can happen to critical infrastructure around the world or even in the u.s. what potential threat does that pose a for us in the u.s. and what can we do to ensure that we have the defense measures in place to combat that. >> is the big enchilada in terms of cyber threats. the bad news is the u.s. intelligence and law enforcement has already detected both russian and chinese cyber intruders getting into the networks that map the grid. what does that mean. it means they're doing reconnaissance so that the future crisis they could shut down the power present kind of
a fictional scenario and the in the china chapter as a result of a crisis in the south china sea where a u.s. plane sinks a chinese worship that rather than conduct a kinetic counterattack they dispatch covert commanders to pennsylvania at a specific node in the grid and actually make it look like it was a natural disaster a tree telling on a power line and then they use cyber attacks to create a cascading power failure over the three grids of the u.s. electrical grid. that's exactly the kind of thing the people are worried about. and i think some subs are being taken to try to strengthen and harden the grid against those attacks but it's not going to be easy. for example transformers it
has been shown that through cyber you can cause a transformer to explode and blow up. it can be very costly it will take a long time. the u.s. doesn't make transformers. and so this is the kind of thing that we need a more comprehensive approach. we talk about critical infrastructures. it should be the top priority hardening the electrical grid. iran is deftly an emerging power in information warfare steer. i want to highlight in the chapter is that iran has gone from low level defacement of
they could've created a natural disaster. it was a very serious threat. the government has done a little bit. they indicted a number of iranian hackers recently that revealed some of the information that much more information has to be put out. if to identify these threats. if we don't when i can know how to counteract those threats. >> since i represent new york's 21st district it's disturbing to me. i think many of these examples highlight that these are non- governmental organizations and institutions in the u.s. need to do a much better job information sharing so that we can ensure whether you are private company a financial institution critical infrastructure you have the tools to be able to invest in
cyber security. so the situations don't happen. i want to look more broadly at some of the conclusions in the book. i want to preface this by saying i'm in a read this quote but the big question is where we go from here. we have an opportunity with the new administration with a new congress to put forth a strategy when it comes to information warfare and i found it quite compelling in the book you talked about a 2012 study produced by the joint chief of staff and it found that the u.s. lacked a strategic understanding of information warfare needed in the war on terror. the u.s. was slow to recognize the importance of information in the battle for the narrative in achieving objectives at all levels. it was often ineffective in aligning the goals and desires. you talked about the need for a new information agency how is that one part of where we go from here.
i would love to hear some of the conclusions you had drawn in this book. see mike it's been a feature of my books that again i highlight a lot of the threats and paints a pretty dark picture but i always try to prevent -- present proposals on how to fix the problems. i presented the outlines of a number of issues i mentioned information america it's basically a usia for the 21st century. how could be structured is up for debate. it could be a government entity like it was in the past it could be a private sector. funded by philanthropist were realistically could be a combination of the two where it would be supported by intelligence agencies and diplomatic service as well but really focused on setting up programs so i present an outline on how we do this obviously there is room for debate.
we need to identify these problems and then come up with some solutions and i think have a pretty good idea that if we don't try to do this were going to be in bigger trouble down the road. the problem is getting worse. we did not talk extensively about the influence operation but clearly that was a new step and it left the government saying while we never thought about our election as part of a critical infrastructure. the fbi during the cold war that was one of their jobs to counteract that than soviet influence. they can get out of that. it's very difficult to do in a polarized political environment but i think we need to have a public debate on these issues and come up with some real solutions. i'm optimistic that the trump administration will take a look at this. i know like yourself and others there looking at some solution to this. i love books that look very critically at the challenges
they face but then present ideas and recommendations and you talk about as part of information america another -- a number of projects for them peak my interest. if i could go through these and get the quick summary of what they are. the big data project what would that mean? >> the government is very much interested in using big data. that's basically all of this open source material whether it's from social media news sources or other sources and putting it all together and identifying patterns. you're able to use that in a constructive way that could counteract some of the false narratives. that's kind of what they're doing. the company in the story. they do some government work. it's a very complicated area. it involves the ability to first gather the data and then most importantly to be able to make sense of it and find out what's going on.
again, you'd had to have this in russian and chinese and then you have to develop language skills and technologies that could shifted chinese characters or cyrillic. i think that is really a growth area to be able to use big data. another project that you recommended is the hollywood project. americans in the film industry was one reason that people around the world loved america but unfortunately in hollywood today you have a narrative that portrays the united states in the worst light possible.
it's almost a cliché in every movie that it's anti- corporate. the bad guys are always who in the past used to be the good guys i'm not saying that we should let them do that but i know that there is a big market for pro- american patriotic movie that have a different narrative. let's set up a pro- american film industry or studio i know glenn beck has talked about doing this. it's something that is urgent. i think it would be a commercial market for a. because films that do patricia america while it could just be dismissed as propaganda but we need to get over there and say with some great things to offer the world we need to promote democracy against the chinese socialist model i think that would be one way to do it. >> this takes you to my next point. you mentioned this idea of the hamilton project.
obviously that's in response to the hamilton musical and the success we've seen beyond all previous broadway plays. earlier in the book separate from this discussion you talk about how our founding fathers understood the importance of information warfare and influence operations. what were the with the hamilton project look like. it does highlight the strength of our u.s. republican democratic government and the challenges that our founders face. >> it would be an offshoot of the hollywood project but more oriented towards using the broadway arts in place and musicals for this purpose. i think the hamilton project really does show that you can use artistic venues to promote the rest of america. and i think we should be able to apologize for that. the liberal left narrative is
that america is evil country and should be all of its faults should be highlighted. i think we need to promote that view. now i'm gonna turn the tables. what is your recommendation for members of congress. on the permanent select community. we have oversight over the defense department. what is your recommendation for elected officials in the big questions that we need to be asking and that things we need to go through to be a better place to do for years from now when it comes to information warfare. the biggest thing that congress could do would be to help the american people understand the threats that were facing. that is really the key. if people don't think there's a threat or they think the threat is just a reflection of the same thing the u.s.
government does there is a misunderstanding there. congress can be a valuable resource in helping at the defense department to promote things like understanding the chinese information warfare threat the intelligence community as well. they have information at their whole culture is we can't let anybody know this. the information explosion around the world things travel at light speed and yet we can't get information out when something comes to light. if we can establish better procedures and policies i think congress could play a key role there. all of the best things that i've seen in my career have come as a result of congressional action. here is an example. congress mandated that the pentagon produce an annual report on the chinese military.
the chinese hated it. it is one of the most important baselines for understanding what's going on. similar things could be done with information warfare and cyber threats. let's get this information out there so that people can know so that our company's canal and so we can take steps to fix the problems. >> one of the policy questions that were grappling with is the importance of u.s. cyber command. as you know admiral rogers is dual headed in the commander of u.s. cyber command. what should we do to mature that. and should we look at splitting that dual hat. this has been one of the key questions. it's a chicken or egg problem. the problem is that an essay which is co- located with cyber command is the repository of the best cyber
capabilities. they are focused on intelligence gathering. that is her main mission. cyber command in the job is to know the threats and then to be ready when needed to be able to take action either defensive action to block or in the work our sense to wage cyber warfare in the future. the lines of authority remain blurred in fact they committed recently that the lawyers are controlling it. they are not allowed to use the cyber capabilities because they are restricted by legal constraints. there clearly needs to be at some point cyber command that will be separated and probably be elevated to its own combatant command. but until they can figure out
the legal differences and figure out a way that they can directly support cyber command as probably can a stay that way for another year or so. i am a big believer in public-private partnership. whether it's a big data project how can we more effectively it worked with worked with the private sector specifically our technology companies that are investing in research and development and big data analytics. it is really the industrial heart of america right now. i pointed out that a lot of the people have been co-opted by the left there was a great article by a guy who talked about this infant's good values in the political left in a lot of ways is co-opted many of the people in silicon valley whose instincts i think
could be much more developed in the processing security directive and said it is kind of leaning in the limitary direction where they don't want to be interacting with the government. they think they had two any problems and it's too bureaucratic i think there needs to be some outreach. i know the cia has the technology unit and the pentagon has an innovation center there. i think the challenge is really to try to get them to contribute to this battle against foreign information warfare threat. i think the social media companies in the titans out there were educated to some of the things i am writing about in iowa i think it would change their view on how to deal with these problems. dealing do think it's an
opportunity for this and menstruation to invite members of companies there. to bring in the best and brightest. there are so many companies that understand that importance of cyber security and the information warfare has been an increasing threat with the u.s. do you think it's a opportunity for this administration. i think that's the first step that should be taken. a lot of times commissions like that can be oriented by the people you pick it will be done in a way that will create some real policy proposal. let's get some of the silicon valley people. and let's get them all working together.
it is going to get a lot worse as we saw in the last election. at second the stop. it will be there in 2020 it will be there in 2018. this is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed right away. now i want to turn to some fun process questions as well. can you tell me how long this book took you to write. but actual from start to finish in terms of brainstorming to publication how long did it take. i began work on the book in april of 2016 and my deadline to turn in the manuscript was august first. i relied on a lot of my reporting that i have done i took some of the stories and i did further research i tried
to identify again without having known that the government had identified these major players i was able to do chapters on each and every one of these and i did a lot of inside information that is one of the advantages to writing. this is the first book that i've written since 2008. and back then there wasn't the same level of access to information as it is now. with so much information at our fingertips it's just an information explosion out there. there is incredible resources that are out there. for example i found a report that was done on russian information warfare it was done a polish woman and a fascinating look at how the russians orchestrated the takeover of crimea.
a lot of the information i was able to get the and put it all together. the publisher was very good. we did a little bit of a back-and-forth. i think it came out very well. and the feedback has been quite positive. there are a number of parts of this book that actually made news. this was amazing. one of the solutions to the north korea problem. there is a way to change the regime in north korea. we need to change that regime. it shouldn't be should be allowed to torture its own people. my solution was and have them send cell phones and computers.
i know from the korean people they are innovated enough and breakthrough it will change very rapidly. one of the tools would be to set up to really put the pressure on them. through their ministry of state to security conducted at assassination. as he walked through the airport. using the vx nerve agent.
this took away a potential leader and in order to understand the regime at the family dynasty three generations of dictators and so the solution then is to target the center of gravity of the north korean regime. >> i have the opportunity to travel to south korea. in the cover of the newspaper was two days after the assassination. it is a significant national security challenge and it's can be incredibly important for policymakers the north korean challenge is significant and having a strategy to shed light and ensure that north korean population actually has access
to the truth of information. i think that will undermine at the regime the regime and have a potential future for north koreans. it was certainly eye-opening visiting there. we've reached the end of our book talk. and for your willingness to put decades of work from writing a book like this. >> i really appreciate you taking the time. she spent where history unfolds daily. it was created at a public
service by america's cable television companies. it's brought you today by your cable or satellite provider. sunday night on afterwards. with the book i wore. it examines how modern warfare has evolved. the member of the house select committee on intelligence and share of the armed services committee. it is really a look at what i feel is the new form of warfare.