tv Former Intelligence National Security Officials Discuss Intelligence... CSPAN December 11, 2018 6:59am-8:29am EST
thank you for coming to the national press club. i am mark rozell and i with the charter town of government at george mason university and we host the michael hayden center for intelligent policy and international security. welcome to spy watchers. this promises to be a wonderful program. if you don't know the charter school policy government is one of 10 schools and colleges at george mason university. we are 2000 students strong and 11 different degree programs in arlington, virginia, and fairfax, virginia. among highly, the masters degree programs. and ranked at number 3. and and for the past 10 years,
michael hayden has been a gem in the classroom and public servant throughout all his life. we are honored to have him on the george mason university faculty and to be hosting the michael hayden center. we all wish michael a speedy recovery so he can get back to the public square. he is such an important powerful voice in the sphere of public debate and discourse during difficult times so i would like to introduce the executive director of the michael hayden center who has a message as well, larry pfeiffer. >> welcome, everybody. appreciate the turnout. it is cold outside and people
have a lot of competing priorities between holiday priorities, shopping and whatnot. thank you for coming out. general hayden is sorry he cannot be here tonight. general hayden suffers a serious stroke in late november. he is very hard, working hard at recovery as we speak at elevated -- rehabilitation hospital where he will be spending part of the holidays working hard to get back. looking to extend his and his families, thanks to all of you and everybody watching on television. thanks for all the prayers, concerns, well-wishers, notes, cars and all walks of life, strangers from across the united states and around the globe. it is very heartwarming and inspiring.
and he appreciates all that. given he is watching us on television, it is a great opportunity for all of us to extend our well-wishers through a round of applause for general hayden. [applause] >> i know that will mean a lot to his family. thank you very much. they hayden center for those who don't know, we are at the charter school and we are here, our noble cause is to educate the broad public about intelligence and how it informs and sometimes doesn't inform policy as our nation's leaders make hard decisions about events around the world and we have a series of eventss we do throughout the year.
this year our theme focused on accountability, intelligence, but first, a quick and full of administrative notes, first, i would ask you when we have our question and answer session a little later, a couple asks for you, wait to be called on. that would be great. number 2, wait for a microphone to be handed to you so the rest of us can hear you as well as folks on television can hear you. and identify yourself when you ask a question. if you have an affiliation you would like to let us know about mention your affiliation. most importantly we would love it to be a question and not a speech. appreciate that is much as possible. we have a reception at the end of the event, for everybody in this room. enjoy a drink, food, an opportunity to converse one on one with our panel members, we
appreciate that. this is one of a series of eventss on accountability of intelligence, on 11 september, and his intelligence committee leaders. and it is available on youtube, and it was a really entertaining evening. we will be doing two more events later in the year. in february we hope to do an event that will focus on congressional oversight and importance of the role of congress in overseeing intelligence activities, it we will talk about the role of the press and media in governing over see intelligence activities. tonight we are going to focus on spy watchers, the people who
are inside the intelligence community or executive branch whose job is to make sure those intelligence activities are conducted in a moral and ethical manner. i am one of those of noxious hosts i will ask you to do something. i would love you to stand up for a moment. thank you. i would like you to raise your right hand. fantastic. look around the room at your colleagues and friends in such, fantastic, you can all sit down. when you looked across the room you saw people standing with their right hands up. i would like you to know that is what every member of the intelligence community does on their first day of work, they stand up, raise their right hand and swear an oath. affirmative they can't swear. that oath is to protect and defend the constitution of the united states of america, to
bear through faith to the laws by the constitution and to well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office. it is a powerful moment for anyone who has experienced it and set the tone for everyone's career in their intelligence careers. that is an important thing to remember. the other thing to remember is they will make mistakes and some will be seduced by the power vested in them. some will skew over into criminal behavior. what we will talk about tonight are the ways in which the intelligence community that protects and governs itself against those instances where we are not as expected entirely true and faithful to the constitution so with that i want to introduce our panel
members, introduce them one at a time. i will flip my paper over to make sure i get everybody's name here. the first person i would like to introduce is mark, marik zaid, of a law firm that focuses on national security law, free-speech claims and government accountability. he has represented many whistleblowers, a very important function in us intelligence community, they have availed themselves of the opportunities inside and their grievances have been addressed and it is another avenue of approach. please welcome mark. secondly, i would like to invite george little to the stage. he and i go back a long way, he was director of public affairs in the cia and spokesperson for cia prominently during the leon panetta years as director. he went with director panetta over to the department of defense where he served as assistant to the secretary of
public affairs and many of you probably remember him appearing on television as the pentagon press secretary. [applause] >> next panel members former acting general counselor of cia, chief legal officer through probably one of the most turbulent periods in a recent national history, he served as chief legal officer for much of the time from 2001 through about 2000 what, john? 2009. you can go through your historical rolodex in your mind and think about what happened between 2001-2009, john was making recommendations to the director of the cia, leading a staff of lawyers who made recommendations to the officers of the agency as they took on edgy operations in support of the defense of our country.
john is that steptoe and johnson and author of a great book if you haven't had a chance to read it called company man, 30 years of controversy and crisis in the cia. if you want to know what a lawyer's life is like in the cia does a great thing to read. [applause] >> i would like to introduce a real national treasure, lisa monaco has a long story to career and his affirmative justice and its components common 80 with her being assistant attorney general for national security. she had a job at one point being chief of staff to robert mueller at the fbi. in the cocktail hour you can ask all the questions you want about bob mueller. she finished her government career serving president of the united states as assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism and now spends a good amount of time educating the next generation of lawyers at nyu law school, please welcome lisa monaco.
[applause] >> last but not least a good friend of mine is michael morell who is serving as the moderator tonight. he was going to be a panel member but now he gets to ask questions instead of answer them which is always great but michael is former acting director of cia and deputy director of cia but very famously known for being the only human being with president bush on 9/11 and was with president obama on the day of the osama bin laden takedown. please welcome michael morell and we will get started. >> good evening to everybody, thank you for coming. i want to start by reiterating what larry said about general hayden. i know i speak for all the
family members here in wishing him a speedy and full recovery and wishing the best to him and his wonderful family. just as we miss his reasonable voice at this difficult time in our nation's history, we are thinking about him. american intelligence agencies are secret organizations operating in a democracy and the secret part makes it difficult to convince the democracy part of it the intelligence community is number one operating within the bounds of the constitution, statute and regulations. number 2 that it is doing the job that it is supposed to do, protecting the country and number 3 that it is doing it in a way using the money the taxpayers money in a way that makes sense.
at the end of the day the way you scare that, the public sense of those 3 things is oversight and there are a lot of mechanisms to oversight and the two we think about the most are congressional oversight and oversight by behavior. there are a lot of oversight mechanisms in the executive branch for what happens inside the intelligence community and that is what we are talking about tonight. i talk about congress and the media at future sessions so to get started let me just give you a list of many of the mechanisms in the executive branch for overseeing the intelligence community. number one, there are lawyers, lots of lawyers, general
counsel that each intelligence community agency. the dni general counsel. there is an nfc lawyers group, a small group of lawyers from the national security agency that in sure that policy steps in the united states to include those the agencies under the intelligence community are undertaking our legal. there is the office of legal counsel at the government of justice, the nation's lawyer and ultimately the attorney general himself or herself. lots of lawyers. secondly, there are inspector generals at different intelligence agencies and an inspector general at the dnr. some of those inspector general are statutory, special responsibility members. third, there are executive branch oversight values. the president's intelligence advisory board, the intelligence oversight board.
and there is the privacy and civil liberties oversight board and there is ad hoc commissions as well as the one i served on for president obama after disclosures on technology and intelligence collection and fifth, fourth, sorry, there are was lower positions, some of those defined in statute and some of those defined in regulation. we will talk about those. i want to add one more to tonight's discussion because i wasn't sure where to put it and that is the pfizer court. doesn't fit in media or congress or the president's discussions. we are going to put it in tonight even though it is not part of an executive branch oversight body. a lot of oversight going on. to kick this off and with all that as background let me turn to our panel and start by
asking john and mark a simple question, why so much oversight, what brought us your? what is the history? >> i assume you are not calling on me because i'm the oldest person on this panel but i actually joined in 1976, a young, totally naïve out of law school graduate, among the first wave of lawyers hired by the cia after the committee investigation, and the 18th lawyer hired. and not that i personally had anything to do with this but that marked the beginning of
oversight and there was none. 1976 marked the beginning of the establishment of oversight committees in the house and senate. the establishment of the president's intelligence oversight board out of the white house to specifically oversee the executive branch perspective intelligence. >> what brought us to the need for oversight? >> there was nothing perversely that drew me to apply in the first place in 75, the church committee, this was the first i heard the new york times broke the stories about cia drug experiments. and assassination plots.
and there was in 1975, the first televised hearing and there was repulsion on a bipartisan basis in congress about not only these activities cia had done over the previous decades but no one outside the cia so there was a consensus that there had to be some sort of oversight. >> they exist because they are needed and john accurately sets
forth the history that led to it. as i explained to folks it is more reactive than proactive. it doesn't do a very good job anticipating something to happen in the intelligence community that react to something bad that happens. if it is good, we might not ever hear about it. bad things happen to the intelligence community by an individual, and other times by an agency, and led to additional reform and oversight and talk about whether the oversight worked and i'm sure we will. dealing with the threats, insider threats.
they both interact very much. one of the things i say in dealing with whistleblowers, some of the people, in the national security environment, i could give you concrete examples that they are going public in a way they thought was meaningful and beneficial, for of their whistleblowers who want to follow the rules to abide by the law and go through the system because the way agencies reacted from and oversight standpoint to prevent another such person who shall not be named. and there's a lot of reactions, the system is improved but has been made worse.
>> policy oversight of the intelligence community in the context of the general, generally held view, in the us military and intelligence community and intelligence operations and my question for you is involved in a reason that there is a need, and those organizations than the rest of the government, what is your sense on that? >> let me say thank you to george mason and the hayden center for having us. if i can add to that the reason we have oversight, over time
the legal, regulatory and policy requirements of increased. it is healthy to have an apparatus within the executive branch to make sure the intelligence community and different agencies are part of it. and will discuss whether that is efficient and a natural, appropriate and healthy response to the growth in legal and regulatory mechanisms to make sure that the balance of both the security, the intelligence community and others are sworn to as well as protections in our constitution. to your question, i would take issue with the notion that there is a particular grip on
military and intelligence community. i think in the obama administration, the view that the national security council created by the national security act of 1947 to be that place where coordination happens in the federal government of all integration of foreign intelligence and military matters. there was a view, i know president obama held it that the national security council arts to do its job is laid out in the national security act pursuant to a clear process that he articulated in a presidential directive that laid out the issue the first day of the obama administration. and rightly a template that president bush 41's white house adopted so there are to be a process and carefully and clear
integration of those interests and integration of policy needs, clear set of goals for that foreign-policy and execution of intelligence operations so i think it makes sense to have that happen, to use your words, pretty tight grip in the white house because ultimately the president is one of two folks elected at the federal level, accountable for all that policy and all those operations. it is appropriate to centralize that in the white house. that ought to be against the backdrop that should not be operational and learned through some cycles of a crisis and reform and response in prior years.
there ought to be that process, that structure. it is appropriate to the white house but has to be done if you're into that. >> i would add the risks being taken by the us military on a daily basis in the intelligence community on a daily basis the risk to the nation, the risk to the organization and the risk to credibility of the nation requires a level of oversight. george, i am wondering from your experience, in part we are doing this to make sure mistakes don't happen and to ensure the public but always being done as it should be done. how do you educate the public about all of this stuff most of which they don't know about? >> it is a tough job, attempting to do so.
i will let you assess my success or lack thereof. let me echo what lisa said, thank you to george mason to the hayden center. i want to give a shout out to director hayden who took a chance on me and make me a spokesman at the agency after having never spoken to a reporter in my life. it was a real gamble. secondly, he is the son of pittsburgh. i want him to know for the remainder of this football season i am switching my football allegiance from the washington redskins to the pittsburgh steelers. that is out of deep affection for him but also the rest of the performance. i certainly hope he is watching in one of those towns. what was the question again, michael? >> how do you view your job in making sure the public
understands? >> one of the great lines director hayden had in one of his speeches was the twin imperatives of openness and secrecy. there used to be a button of people long before i got there, some stashed, a red line through it. that was no longer tenable because there is no natural constituency for the cia, and executive officers support the agency, and following an routine support from other branches of government especially. and we have more on the record which surprised a lot of people and there's a lot you can say about the mission and its people in world events.
the president has won a key way of trying to educate, the press is ultimately not the enemy of the intelligence community or anybody else. the press informs the american people and we are adversarial from time to time in the intelligence community with the press but the intelligence community beat reporters are generally very responsible. if you develop a relationship of trust, understand the sources and methods. and people and operations that might harm life or our national security. it gets harder in the digital age with bloggers and the international press looking at this but the press is in fact a
very important component of that education. it took us a while at the agency to get the security clearances to approve anything on twitter or the rest of it but the cia does have a digital presence, does a nice job of it but the cia did better. finally, i think you have to harken back, in the agency year and tell the stories of accomplished men and women over time who risked their lives for this nation entails can't be told right away. and others in the office, telling the story -- working at the agency. and did mention area, during
world war ii, became part of the os us against his will and in 2011 of the contractor, spent 70 years, and you can tell those stories of the men and women of the mission, you can tell world events and comment on them and have a relationship with the press and that is ultimately the bag of tricks that you have to inform the american people. >> when general hayden came to cia we were more closed, less transparent and in making an argument which was quite persuasive i think we can push the fence line out and telling the more what we are doing, give them more confidence in who we are and what we do and by pushing the fence line out
we can do a better job protecting what we have to protect. >> we need to have some secrets. >> we did that during general hayden's tenure and worked to continue it after he left but that is important. i want to ask you the big question which is about effectiveness. the effectiveness of this oversight. how effective do you think these mechanisms are which are the most effective, do we need any more? do we have too many? how do you think of that? >> the oversight in general, and components to that, it is a component that checks a lot of
national security divisions and the list of lawyers, wonderful group of 100 plus lawyers whose job is to represent the intelligence community and part of that, the other lawyers you mentioned, is to ensure legal requirements. think of that in the box of what can be done? and law and regulation, in terms of governance. does it make sense, is it consistence with our principles and who we are? does it follow the policies who
are duly elected. and the most effective oversight mechanisms in operation, both involve the government and have the legitimacy that is attached to that and touch on both that our compliance that have an element of governance, what we have seen in my work over many years with the intelligence community across the board, the cia, national security agency, different components of the fbi and defense department that there is a real effort to get it right to satisfy the legal compliance, is this something we can do consistent with legal
obligations and to ask themselves something we should do but mostly there is an inherent responsibility to policymakers to be asking that question. >> call me prejudiced, but my pick for the first line of defense is lawyers for the intelligence community and lisa and michael said they proliferated over the years. >> you say that with affection. and bemusement. >> that is where george and michael know this. that is the first place the real substantive people, the analysts and operators go these days, lawyers literally sit among them in every component of the agency.
i observed it over the years, i would like to think i helped some over the years but that would be the first line. the second line of defense, and the inspector general system's pick and confirmed, nominated, with all of the intel agencies including dni, and those who served in cia offices, and vacation this time. and by 5:00, this new idea is
truly independent, has actually been a boon although those of us on the inside, a form of experience they can be a pain in the butt sometimes. the final thing, maybe this is one thing above the other, the house, the senate intel committee, one of the regrets i had about the agency post 9/11 and controversy over the interrogation program, the black sites, i hold myself part of that. we didn't tell enough people in congress at the time at that
time of national peril what we were doing and why we felt we had to do it. we kept it to a small group, the gang of 8, congressional leadership, briefings were episodic, off the record, and this is a political reality, 3 or 4 years later after the original briefing, political deterrent and these few members, how do i put this? not all of them scrupulously stood up and said they were aware of the program, this was to be expected, what we should have done was tell as many people as possible, at the time it was being done.
>> does oversight get in the way of the ic doing its job? >> you know as well or better than i that it can be a huge pain. we have to do briefings, get higher up, spend half your time briefing members and most of the time staff, the legal standard for reporting the intel committee, and intel committees, i don't tell you how many times you would dutifully go to the oversight committee staff and say this is what we are doing and it is pretty significant. why are you telling us this.
it can be hugely frustrating. and second guessing in my experience can -- it gets personal. without oversight especially in congress, we not only followed the law but we are going to put you guys in the boat with us. if you have a problem with that. and the intel community is indispensable. >> effectiveness. >> i agree that there are many
many lawyers that i spend time within the united states government. director hayden used to say in speeches that there are more lawyers in the intelligence community than there are in intelligence services around the world. which is true. there are two broader trends that are worth talking about with respect to congress. i don't think we have the congressional oversight peace quite right. we can attribute that to interesting personalities in congress or the politics of the day prepare two broad strokes, one sounds a bit silly, one is the informal relationships that used to exist, the social relationships that used to exist in washington don't anymore generally. the intelligence community's interactions with congress have
become more formal, adversarial by definition and you answer formal questions etc. etc. and there used to be more informal exchange between the executive branch, intelligence community leaders and congress which helps. director panetta would have copies on a weekly basis with members of congress and that helped but it is something to bear in mind. the other trend is a broader trend about the country's politics. it used to be politics stopped at the water's edge. now i think that is not the case. we have seen regrettably more politicization of intelligence and congress which does not, in my opinion, lead to responsible and informed oversight. >> to the extent, i'm asking to see if you agree, to the extent that is happening, it makes the
oversight in the executive branch of the intelligence committee more important to the extent that it is down to some degree in congress. >> no doubt about it. there are extensive i can accountability mechanisms but we need to get back to a time when this is in the process. >> what is your sense? >> i give a little insight on both sides then throw in the judiciary, the oversight mechanism, one of the areas those of us in the private sector can use to ensure a degree of oversight not so much on the legislative branch but a little bit once in a while. i agree with george on the partisanship. that is part of the problem and it goes back a long way.
post 9/11, and all sorts of gerrymandering for how it worked but different subject altogether. and from the congressional oversight, the two intelligence communities only have so much staff for one thing and the staff are doing a lot of work and everyone's in a while, i am usually dealing with staff. as a general rule, in the years i have gone to them by attitude, difference between house and senate. they don't want to hear about individual cases. they want to hear more of a systemic problem. i have to say this client of
mine is undergoing this issue and it is not just highlighted to them. they are not just retaliated but there is something bigger for the committee to look at and that is difficult to do. the other committees which are lost in the shuffle of any intel, there are a number of committees that by the way they are created have dual jurisdiction, the judiciary committee, armed services, government reform, appropriations. the intel committees have an agreement when created in 77-78 to be the priority but are not exclusive. there was a fascinating hearing two decades ago, the house government reform committee had a hearing why the cia refused to cooperate with them. jim woolsey was the surrogate witness because the committee
was furious that they were not getting any cooperation. originally the agencies agreed to show up on a noncontroversial issue and the cia from what was told to me by someone who was a staffer talking to other agencies out of cooperating as a group but part of the problem, there's a lot of great oversight and a lot of the agencies and each of the branches. one place i have been disappointed is the inspector general's particularly in the sense that given the work i do in representing aggrieved individual employees whatever it might be, security clearances, put aside they are being investigated by the ig. they once complain about something else in another part of their agency or the ic whether it is a was a blower or whatever it might be and other than having personal relationships after 25 years,
fortunately i will with folks in other agencies, it has been very hostile from the outside to try to work with the igs. you would think the ally i had in any of the agencies, intelligence or otherwise would be the ig. they care about whistleblowers. >> on the inside. >> we don't see it from the outside unless we have a special personal relationship with someone on the inside, the that level of oversight or receptiveness exists which is a really sad thing. i continue to try to change it. what do i see as success? one example i could give would be the ice, information security appeals panel within the national archives, information security oversight office.
this is a classification declassification entity not dealing with whistleblowers or things like that but in oversight perspective why do i say it is a good thing? all executive branch members from a variety of agencies, if you make a mandatory declassification request to declassify a document and an agency says no, you can take it to this appeal body of other agencies including the one you requested it from and they will sit in judgment over the decision and something like the last act i saw, 71% of the appeals are successful meaning that appeals group overrides the agency that said no. it is classified. a dod state department nsc person is saying no to an nga individual who said we can't release this information. that is fantastic oversight and that is always in the executive
branch. was i would love to see for whistleblowers and clearances is to have another agency in the executive branch oversee the decision process. all sorts of debates we can have on it but when i really see sound, informed, impartial decisions, if i can get it outside the agency where they have personal stake involves because of friendship or cya or embarrassment or whatever it might be, that is when i start to see the difference. that could be congress, that could be the judiciary but -- >> have you found the dn i can play the roller not? be honest. you are on tv. >> totally off the record. >> there have been times the dn i has been fantastic in helping out some cases that i had
without a doubt. i was on a panel with the former general counsel for the american bar association last month. bob was a great general counsel from the outside when i was dealing with them on issues. we can have a separate panel on this. the dn i is trying to figure out what role it plays within the community and how much oversight it will exert upon the agencies. we are routinely bringing cases on the dni and ig because we have issues with the cia ig and we are trying to get them to function in a way we think or believe congress had created it to be this oversight body overall but there is still haven't reached a level of maturity. >> i think people are not aware of the level of cross agency oversight. for instance lawyers used to work for me in the national
security division would conduct on-site reviews of what was going on in the national security agency, the fbi, for the conduct of national security investigations and appropriate use of the fish court, that was across agency oversight. when i was chief of staff to bob mueller i spent, we spent many hours in front of the president's foreign intelligence advisory board, they were really pushing the transformation of the fbi into a national security focused organization focused on preventing the next attack and build up of a more robust intelligence capability. when i was in the white house after the snowden disclosure, we sought outside expertise and created a commission you served on where the former acting director of the cia served, hand in glove, with a card-carrying member of the
aclu, constitutional law professor at the university of chicago precisely to get a variety of perspectives. >> they faced each other and we argued and argued and came to a meeting of minds. >> it made for a better product and made a set of recommendations, and all of which we took to the letter but forced us in the executive branch to think through. those are three examples of executive branch oversight in different flavors that i was part of that i found to be effective, not perfect but certainly effective. >> let me bring together three things, you said something earlier i agreed with which is you have all 3 branches of government doing oversight it is very effective, number one. number 2, we talked about snowden, right?
number 3, we had a discussion about the public. i'm trying to figure out how the public fits into this oversight because the snowden disclosures in particular, two of the programs he disclosed were two of the programs that had the most oversight in my memory in the history of the intelligence community and executive branch oversight, they had judicial oversight, oversight by two different white houses, multiple national security teams, multiple fees and multiple fis s a decisions. the issue exploded because the public reacted in a certain way. how did you think about that? >> it comes back to this framework, didn't just on on me and a colleague of mine at nyu, a shout out to who was written
on this, about this notion of compliance in government. what happened with the ed snowden disclosures revealed was take for instance the 215 program, collection of telephone metadata subject to robust oversight in the executive branch, multiple different judges proving lots of oversight by congress and inspector general oversight but when it became public, the way the constitutional structure was set up to have those branches engaged in overseeing to lend that activity legitimacy it was not seen that way by the public. it is an overgeneralization but so far a different law was passed to put it under different authority.
innocence, what was revealed was this activity was lawful according to district court that had a different view but multiple courts and all the oversight i indicated was done for the statute in congress, you could say it was lawful but deemed a legitimate in the eyes of many republicans so what do you do? what does the intelligence community do? what the answer is is public debate which is what we ended up having and ultimately the authority in the executive branch, changing it to house that information in the phone companies instead of national security agency but that was done pursuant to the statute. >> i wonder from where you sat if you look at this disclosure to what extent you thought the public reaction was because we
didn't handle the issue as well as we could have. >> i don't mean to sound critical of anybody because when i was in government i remember going back to 2007 when i became a spokesman for the agency and i was talking to a public affairs colleague and said you guys better start talking and developing relationships, getting your message out to the public, sharing your mission, because your day is going to come. i didn't think that they would come with it snowden but we were having tough times at the agency. we were getting bad coverage and despite efforts to tell people we were operating in the confines of american law policy was a tough sell. i didn't see that pivot on the part of in essay. they maintained, i will give
credit to director hayden who was more open during his time there but they never really developed that. it was a no comment environment in a long time. that goes to the culture of this incredible agency with a couple people and until 1996 there was no such agency. so when the stone disclosures hit in 2013 and i was at the pentagon at the time watching this unfold on sunday afternoon i thought to myself in essay has no reputational capital in the bank and this is going to be bad. go. it is a crisis when coming to the window and they are coming to the windows but had no ability to tell their story and
they had missed several opportunities in my humble opinion to defend broadly without going into detail, to defend their work, men and women of the nsa and it is finally important programs. >> what is more important at the end of the day? the mechanisms of oversight or the people, integrity of the people operating inside the mechanisms? could another iran contra affair happen today even with all the oversight? what do you think? >> here i go. i was, i was, i had the slow job of being the liaison between cia and the iran contra, short answer, a lot of unique personalities in the executive branch at the agency,
the nsc, in congress. >> i think i was not even born. >> thank you. >> i was born. >> the spanish-american war. >> he wants to hear about the bay of pigs? i will just say the iran contra affair was silly. since then, the oversight mechanism has been built up since that time. the inspector general has become a confirmed initiative as has the cia general counsel. i don't think it can happen again.
i think the country learned lessons and congress learned a lesson. one last thing about the iran contra scandal. hard to say i am not seljuk about it but one thing, there was a joint committee, remember that. 26 members. 26 members, republicans, democrats, house and senate. there was a unanimity, consensus, when the cia screwed up but 2, don't try to keep in perspective the misguided but well-intentioned policy rules here underlying all of this. in those days when congress got mad at us it was on a bipartisan basis, now everyone retweets to their foreigners depending who is in the white
house. >> you agree something significant can happen? >> something significant could happen on a grander scale of iran contra. i have seen many iran contras happen. .. to be suspected of doing something. >> so those were cut by the agencies. which was not a major controversy in that type of situation, but when they became known, able danger was his operation that dod and some of the intel agencies were doing, and get controversial depending on what you have of it, but
there were aspects where, when we had congressional hearings wn it, that agencies were not sure how they were reacting to one another and there started the allegations that individuall intelligence officers were off on their own doing certain operations that the word and they would say they been authorized by so-and-so, whether it was put down in writing or not. it was one of these things where now we look back a dozen years later and we talked to some of the people who were the superiors we said at authorized it and who t i denied it then bt now they're out of government service, they will have a beer with us and say yeah, yeah, actually i remember telling you it was okay to do. so that's a degree of frustration to say the least. it can happen without a doubt. going back a little bit on -- i really do think the stoughton
situation, the public reaction was a pr failure by the government. again, not in anticipating what could likely happen and then how to react to it. it's now the fifth anniversary this past june and there's very little, very few articles. go google what was in the last few months. very few articles talking about snowden in the last five years and what the impact has been since. i would dare say those in the government will know better than either the the programs are pry more stronger and active completely legal because like lisa said, complete oversight and new statute. now congress can't complain they didn't knowt about as they did n some of the litigation that came out of the snowden disclosures. the key thing from a pr standpoint if we only look at the domestic surveillance programs, we now get fisa court
decision w declassified. sure, they have redactions over to see what analysis is and the program still goes stronger we can have congressional hearings on it and information are released and the program is still going strong. that could easily have happened before hand. we will document the program on television, , i'm a record on msnbc and 2007 talking about aspects as it had started to leak out. instead of embracing it and saying let's review some information, fidgety sunoco will not do anything and that frankly contributed to snowden, right or wrong, quite frankly wrong as far as i'm concerned, to doing what he did for ideological purposes. >> i was just at a first i had complete sympathy for george lowe and his colleagues and having to deal that jordan had to deal with the snowden but his press colleagues in not being
armed, notn being able really hd their hands died because of the appropriate classification of the time of a lot of these programs. it is true the government was not able to turn on a dime to explain these things but it did force a lot more declassification. >> okay, , let's open it up to questions. i can't see very well because of the lights. right here. mic is coming. . >>. >> thank you to the panel for being here tonight. and for that balance i am with
public-policy focusing on intelligence oversight so thank you for being here. [laughter] so what the mechanisms are that congress the executive branch the agencies choose to employ ava specifically why we choose commissions over the executive branch and those agencies with the ombudsman as well as the committee hearings. with that expertise and accountability and agenda setting so looking at that what are your perspectives on your time and government why these different political principles choose these
commissions as independent outside workers to hold government accountable quick. >> because in the awake we fired up all of these mechanisms from the presidents intelligence committee and with the oversight board we need them to have some outside perspective. and to be represented. and then to put together this panel for those who have never served in the government or from different perspectives to give us a wide range of views. >> so with that political
aspec aspect. >> so that notion there is a reason also president obama tended to take a long view on the issues aside from the individual programs but it deflected the public response the way they talk about at the time these were adopted to be digested differently but ten or 12 years hence and technology taking on different roles in our lives. it was disclosed in different environments in the broader
context. >> with that strategy commission congress wanting the independent view about the country's defens defense. >>. >> i am a freelance journalist. so when you talk about oversight going into the church committee and also go back to the subcommittee oversight hearings in the intelligence committee that led to watergate but the
intelligence oversight mechanism that evolved from that controversy, do you feel that it has weathered itself well cracks and with the response to a different set of problems we face now quick. >> the short answer is yes. there was no intelligence committee at that point. in many ways it was posturing from both sides on the dais that with the intelligence committees we have been
fortunate with some exceptions over the last 40 years the heads of the two intelligence committees regardless of party or house or senate they have been good and responsible and conscientious with some notable exceptions. but as a said earlier the structure is not only part of the democracy but it is a huge insurance policy. so it has evolved very effectively.
>> i will defer to lisa and michael but i left government in 2009 and honestly in my time with the intelligence oversight board, honestly i did not view them at the time as rigorous appointed by the president. and just from being inside at that point, i never viewed them as terribly rigorous. >> i have worked as a contractor supporting cia for opportunities so with the ig's
office and how they can truly be effective when they report to the head of the cia cracks they really are not independent at all they are not statutorily independent now that you mentioned at the cia but they still report to the cia they don't report to the outside organization. at one point due to the organization. >> nei g during my seven years i certainly felt they felt
they were independent and i felt they felt they could report to the director and deputy director what they were thinking. they were statutory they don't need our permission to go to the hill and frequently they did. so i think they have the independence they needed but my issue has always been effectiveness. i always thought the audit piece did a magnificent job in auditing the various activities. the inspection part of the ig did not ever really tell me anything i didn't know. these were people who were on rotation for short periods of time, from other parts of the
agency they didn't bring expertise or a lot of insight into a particular unit they were inspecting. on the investigative side i felt they didn't have those resources that they really needed. to get all the facts in one place to make a decision. my thought was effectiveness and not independence. >> that's what i talked about the audits with the machines of the person worked or not with the complicated way to prove they are working. but if i want to bring the whistleblower to the ig these agencies are very small like a small town coming from dc - - from new york to dc. especially on the operational sites if they are going on rotation, everybody knows one
another or is connected so if you try to bring a whistleblower inside the agency even though the ig does not get along with the director, i know that it could be at loggerheads but whether the individual is doing the investigating or they go back to the office is problematic which i would like to see some external oversight for whistleblowers to get a completely unbiased independent view of a agency. but the thing about whistleblowers that bothers me. if you look on paper the work that i do as a nonprofit whistleblower representing
4 feet one - - for free we are all on the same page all the laws are in favor you encourage whistleblowers until one actually blows the whistle. [laughter] then they don't feel like they are in a friendly way. it is frustrating when we try to bring people who want to do it the right way and people who don't do it at all because they are concerned if they do they will be penalized. but they are not received well enough. that is where that oversight dimension fall short as far as i'm concerned. it sad because the mechanism is there but where the people come in. >> it is dangerous if you don't feel you are taken seriously within that mechanism that's created. >> edward snowden said i don't
agree but he said he went outside the system because he saw how others were treated. i would debate if that was legitimate because that is what he thought and that's why he did what he did. >>. >> working for the united states army which just beat navy on saturday. [laughter] so to follow up on the comment to be more forthcoming on the hill. i will play devils advocate. if you had done that what are the odds somebody who disagreed with you would have leaked it to be adjudicated not through legitimate oversight but through the media cracks i am hearing you
think more things need to be weighed by the public quick. >> i think from the beginning of the program early 2002 then it would have been supportive and with those congressional leaders at that point they were all tremendously supportive if we go through with the excruciating detail that reaction from both republican and democrats is this unique cracks now i don't know if they would have then.
i never felt any opposition. four years later of cours course, after 911 and the political winds change i feel if we had just gone down there to put it on the record this is what waterboarding is the so-called torture verbatim the least they could have said years later 8 percent of congress did not know to say i never knew this was going on but to say wait i was briefed but they did not tell me enough because we had no record that's what i was talking about. >> and then the program did start to get leaked in the
white house has a lot of say of what you briefed to congress. >> yes. i took a role in this but the decisions came out from the vice president's office at the time. he limited it for years until general hayden arrived and then he went back one of the one of the great many acts of service he did for our agencies. >> i briefed congress many many times on extraordinarily sensitive issues with both members and staff in the room. nothing i breached - - i gave to congress was ever leaked. it's not well known but most leaks of classified information do not come out of congress they come out of the executive branc branch.
i never had anything leaked i told congress. >> i agree with that. >>. >> i will throw this question up to the panel it's interesting you mention the review process or appeals to declassify information what struck me immensely and i just want to know how you word explain that to me maybe there would be more empathy? additionally, talking about oversight is the model effective to other parts of
the intelligence committee using more oversight cracks. >> but i don't have any insight now. i present those that have been on the panel over the years that many of you know knowing for a long period of time. and bill leonard who i represented of those espionage cases were he was the expert witness my felt they took their job seriously with those classification guides and frankly to mean not what made a difference they didn't have
any equities there was something about that issue about that agency that was classified and those other members of the community what are you talking about? coming out through this process. >> in my experience the arbitrary rules for the longest time because it impinges on the decision-making so that is the position until president bush
decided to declassify so those rules that tend to be arbitrary they don't debate very often. >> i was not ever a part of that process with a number of discussions about whether or not to declassify certain things so in other words if it was to be declassified we hear from the diplomats what that impact would be.
so frankly some of those should be at that level. >> that's what happened with the memos early 2009. >> if we understood if it was secret that we could have more than four debates. >> we still have questions that could be asked we'll have a reception when it comes time to conclude exit through the rear doors giving the panel members an opportunity to get a drink.
and many that went well tonight. and along with my oversight thank you. [applause] >> if you like to write a note for general hated me will make sure they get them as soon as possible. >> i just want to thank this wonderful paneld for i think offering you a lot of great food for thought about the great mechanisms we have in place to try to ensure we're doing the right thing for the american people. so quick final round of applause, and let's go have a drink. [applause]