tv Journalists Discuss Relationship Between U.S. Intelligence Community the... CSPAN April 18, 2019 7:36am-9:01am EDT
it may be less number of people exposed but can escalate into something severe. >> our time is up for questions. i want to thank everyone for their questions and a big thank you to our panel members for taking time to meet with us and share your wisdom. thank you, enjoy the rest of your day. [applause] >> tonight booktv in primetime features books about business and economics. starting at 8:00 eastern or here on c-span2. next a group of journalists discuss the relationship
between the us intelligence community and the press. hosted by george mason university, this run is an hour and a half. [applause] >> thanks for coming. before i get started i want to acknowledge a few special guests we have here. first and foremost, the bureau of intelligence and research at ellen mccarthy, wonderful to have a current employee here working on an intelligence mission, tending our event. also attending tonight former cia director admiral james comey the director of international spy museum chris costa here as well for those interested in the spy museum, reopening on may 11th or 12th or maybe 11th. i have the good fortune of visiting your space. if you haven't had a chance to go to this by using the will of the new spy museum.
we also have a handful of intelligence community current public affairs officials, amanda shock from the national intelligence and security center and tim barrett, press secretary of the cia, thank you for coming. last but not least i want to acknowledge a guy that did fantastic work for many years at cia and spawned a generation of incredible public affairs officers who continued to provide great service, bill harlow. if you have a chance please do. as mark mentioned we have a series of eventss this year. our theme this year is focused on the usual accountability of intelligence in today's debate, a lot of questions about intelligence, are they being held accountable or not. we in the intelligence business believe the community is held
in very rigid accounts from a variety of directions, a number of events this year we did not have a chance to attend, you can find them on the future channel but we had an event focusing on relationships between the president and his community leaders so please check that out. an event that looked at the internal mechanisms and executive branch within the ic to govern how we conduct our business focused on general counsel and inspectors general. it sounds really boring but in dc we had a full house. very well attended event. we did a great event a month ago with former members of congress, the house and senate that looked at the role congress plays in overseeing intelligence and tonight's event looks at the world of quest. you are on the intel community, you must hate the press. they piss me off no doubt, but there is nobody in intel community leadership that doesn't believe there's great value in the role of the media
in overseeing our activities. there is a great man in american history name george mason. some of you may have heard of him. george mason, actually the father of many of the protected liberties we see in our constitution. james madison was a young student at the feet of george mason and george mason in the great virginia declaration of rights which came out june 12, 1776, weeks before the declaration of independence, there's article number 12 which says freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty and can never be restrained but by despotic governments. this is the departure point for americans when we look at our society, look at our press freedoms. when we look at our intelligence activities. we are an open and free society. we all believe the press should have unfettered access to everything going on in government. but what i would also offer is we as a society have also
agreed there should be things kept secret. the members of a crowd are going you are in intel guy, of course he thinks should be kept secret but what i would like to offer is any time with former communal group for things that should be kept secret. we look at matrimony. a wife testify against her husband, a husband can testify against a way, their secrets in the family unit that should be protected. we looked at court deliberations, how a jury deliberates, that is secret and protected. we look at congress, congressional markup sessions, they are secret. the results of the congressional market remain public but the markup itself is secret. we agreed as a society there are things that should remain secret and one thing we agreed is our intelligence business should remain secret. there's executive orders, legislation that protects information and allows senior
officials including the president to identify those things that should be classified so there's tension between the freedom of the press we hold dear and the need to protect secrets that exposure would ultimately lead to a weakening of our country. we are going to talk about that tonight and we have a great panel that will talk about that and we will get to that in a moment. some administrative notes i want to touch on before we begin. you may have noticed hammers in the back of the room. there are two things going on, we are videotaping for our own purposes and we will put this event on our website and social media. if you have not found us, find the behavior center on any social media platform and visit our website. we also have c-span, c-span looked at this event and said this could be an interesting thing to put on c-span so c-span is covering our event
live on the main c-span channel which we are very proud of and there are hundreds of people in this room i would like to think thousands around the nation and around the world who will benefit from this discussion tonight. we will avenatti and q&a. i would ask you identify your self. there will be roving microphones around the room. wave your hand, hopefully we will pick you and wait until you get the microphone, love it if you identify yourself by name and affiliation you would like to announce, let us know what that is. we ask you don't make a speech, get to a point, ask the question. with regards to our panel we have a program in front of you. i don't want to waste a lot of time identifying people to you but i want to mention a few things. we will have great panel here. we have peter finn of the washington post, he is the salami in the sandwich, he stands between the reporters and the report stuff and get
inches on newspapers and he stands between him and the editors who make decisions about sensitive material that should or shouldn't be disclosed. we have suzanne kelly, ceo and publisher of "the cipher brief". if you're not for me with "the cipher brief" please check out "the cipher brief," thesite forbrief.com. they write articles for that website that inform the national security debate. i am happy to announce tonight that the hayden center launched a partnership where we will give students an opportunity to publish articles on "the cipher brief". the idea being we have a great cadre of young smart people who address national security issues.
and incredibly esteemed, they touch on that and the author of a lot of great spy novels, body of lies star leonardo dicaprio, please check out his novel, go to amazon tonight and order his book. we have andrea mitchell, a legend in washington. she's on nbc news, she is the host of andrea mitchell reports, i can hardly think of a time andrea mitchell, and intelligence communities at the united states, she will offer a lot of great thoughts tonight on the subject. last but not least we have our moderator, michael morell, former acting director and deputy director of central
intelligence agency, he's a really gracious this last year and helping the hayden center, moderated many of the events while general hayden is down for the count with medical issues. and i'm happy to announce he will be joining the faculty, and teaching courses to our students. and continuing to support the hayden center activities. let me please bring the panel up and welcomed them if you are close. [applause] >> good evening, everybody. i want to thank the panelists.
general hayden appreciates it. we will have a great discussion. i want to start with what larry said. people in the intelligence community who i work with really do believe the media plays an important role overseeing these activities and the purpose of ensuring we are doing our job and living up to the constitution and the laws of the united states and to ensure taxpayers money is used in the best way possible. not everybody in the community believe that but the vast majority does. that is why this is on the program. i want to ask do you think about that point? and you do your job every day.
>> i want to say to general hayden how honored we are to be here. it is such a tribute to all of you, this turnout and this panel. for some of the others i worked with, what can i say about bill harlow? people praising him and what he contributed. what do you establish? everyone has followed in those roles which you are so critical. i believe very strongly in our responsibility and our responsibility for the public and responsibility for the community. we consider everything we write about the intelligence service, the agency, as being vital to the national security of our country and involving potentially the safety and
security of the people here, i was so moved by the speech admiral mc craven gave. i hope you saw a video of it. it is an amazing tribute to something, uniform service to the often secret by necessity covert work that is being done in the field around the world as he put it and i am paraphrasing, don't have the armor, and exit strategy. we see stars on the wall and things that are concerning in particular over the last 2 and half years, the way the intelligence community has been described, have been so
politicized by the investigation, so we think about it. covering ronald reagan for eight years i would walk through the gates every day and as i walked past them, think about my responsibility as a reporter, to communicate to the countries of the world, the voters, citizens of the country and what our government is doing and in particular, the national security arena for the intelligence service. >> your point about the pressure for the last 21/2 years. how do you think they have handled that?
>> let me start off. the traumatic time on this business. being directly or indirectly criticized by the president. that is not the situation. any intelligence chief or officer would want to be in. one of the things that is reassuring about the country, being in an airplane bumping around. and the professionalism of military intelligence services, law enforcement, with foreign governments, that is what they always focus on.
the continuity and consistency, must take enormous discipline and self restraint to do their jobs in such a politicized environment. we don't make their jobs any easier, nor should we. our job isn't to be supportive of them. however much we might admire the job, to be critical. one additional thing following andrea. it is really special for us to be here in the presence of general hayden and his wife. through many jobs i first met mike hayden when he was director of the nsa, tried to talk within the limits. i remember when he was deputy director of national intelligence and cia director,
through a long career, he tried to balance secrecy which is basic to be accountable. it is great to be here in your presence and at the center. >> one thing, i started covering the intelligence community as a reporter a decade ago. i noticed the transformation in 10 years, pushed for what is closely held information in a wall in terms of sharing information with the press in a good way. at the nsa, for the first time allowing television crews into the nsa giving more information, we had similar issues with the cia when before they wouldn't give comments on
things being easier to work with and get information to provide context with things that are happening that they didn't get before. the us media consumers were not always getting all the facts. a big change over the past 10 years or so. >> i would ask the current director is setting the tone for how they are handling them, which is to keep their head down and do their work. gina haskell has had one public experience, another one coming up this week on thursday. [laughter] >> there is very little direct media engagement in contrast to previous directors in private briefings who had dinner with reporters and engaged with them a little more than is happening now and i understand why that
is happening but i wonder if it might not be reconsidered. the only counterpoint is they are keeping their heads down and i am curious how inside the agency how vocal john brennan and others are who are former senior leaders on the current administration, how those statements are being read in the intelligence community. >> we understand why they are keeping their heads down. there is long-term damage to that, do you think? >> long-term damage? >> for the community, not being out there and not being more transparent. >> this is a community that over time whether to many crises and has the ability to emerge. my guess is they will emerge from this. they may be scarred by what
they are hearing in the criticism but i don't see it as debilitating. >> i think the threat assessment testimony proves they are following their core mission. they were following the guidance and analysis of a professional. it was professional and brave and they took a lot of heat. it is understandable they need to put their head down. peter would love to see more background and more transparency in some sort of traditional off the record background basis. is general mattis showed the
pentagon, really reduced from the colleagues perspective, realized to protect his core mission he needed to do that and could only do it once or twice and we've seen the result. this is a very tenuous time and they need to focus on their job as frustrating as it can be. >> does it strike you all how similar these professions are? search for the truth, use of confidential sources and protection of those sources at extraordinarily high cost, really is interesting how parallel they are. you've written novels about spyware. how do you think about that? >> the two professions are eerily similar. in the news business, you want to make information public that is not public.
you want to draw it out so you look for the people who know important information and develop relationships of trust. sometimes it takes months. for me it took years but you work slowly. nice thing about being a journalist is you don't get dropped into different management spots. i met 35 or more years ago at least. so you develop sources, try to maintain relationships and trust with them and try to protect them and avoid being manipulated by them and their agendas first intelligence officers should though i've seen many cases where prisoners of their information better than masters of it.
and then your responsibility and journalists, the collector and analyst, we collect the information and try to make sense of it and organize the facts with a clarity. and obviously our job is to tell the truth. i've always thought there's tension for us, and things that are similar between and, that is high -- how i did the right thing to do. in truth we work for our publishers. publishers mediate the relationship between us and publishers decide what they want to publish. if we don't like it we should quit. but i think it is fascinating
that the media and intelligence business are in this inevitable and appropriate conflict because what we do is so similar. >> anything else? .. and give them exclusives, , and that's not the way it works. they are closely reading congressional testimony to see what hence or thanks might be in it. they're talking to people on the hill, talking to people in embassies, talking sometimes the foreign intelligence services. they are talking to -- all of
you know reporters are contacting you all the time. they're talking to contractors to try and assemble a picture. and the good reporters are approaching cia or nsa when they already have a pretty good sense of where they're going with the story. they make it beaten back some or they may not, but cannot collect up cia with some, on a fishing expedition. you're not going to get anywhere. this is slow, methodical work, the best reporting builds over time. >> i think it's a great note like david set about working for your publishers. after spending an entire career as a journalist i decided to become my own publisher, which was a bit of a risk midlife to make that shift, but i feel like it has allowed me and my colleagues at the cipher brief to focus on something that doesn't always get appropriate context i think there's always
that rush to get out a good headline to rush to get out a good piece of information from a source. but it takes a a long time to e sure you are reporting that in a way that is responsible and that will allow people to make informed decisions about how the field about a lot of the issues that are defining who we are as americans, whether it's enhanced interrogation of what the nsa is collecting or not collecting. i think understanding the reasons why they are doing that is what makes, like my mother is my barometer of the american people. if she understands the topic, i feel pretty good about it. if she asked me like why would the answer spy on us just like that, i think to myself, let's add some information and said the changes, how you feel about it. i think that's a really important thing that is sometimes missing in the rush to get out headlight or please your editors or your publishers. >> the shoe is on the other foot
here. big picture, big picture, where do most leaks come from? [laughing] >> come on. >> is it the hill? is it the executive branch? is it the policy agencies? is it formers? if you're inside of an intelligence agency, you take a polygraph every five years and you could ask the question about inappropriate contacts with the media, right? i never thought there were a lot of leaks coming out of cia. i always thought the leaks were largely cia to formers to the media. i'm just wondering to what extent you are willing to answer that question. [laughing] maybe not. >> maybe not. i mean, i think, i mean, i think the fiction is everything comes off the hill.
that's what most administrations think. actually let me just turn it around and say that so-called leaks of pending policy decisions, let's say, are much less valuable now in the world of donald trump because, frankly, there is -- this is slight exaggeration but there really is no interagency process. there's no deputies committee. there's no analysis that goes up and gets debated internally because things can change in the instant of a tweet. a second estate could be fired at 8:40 in the morning on a monday morning, and we had no preparation for that. there's lots of threats threadg the way and attention, but then there are the reversals and the back spans -- back spans we can
find a leak this is there's a consideration twice on separating children are reinstituting separating of children, and then, or another leak that says there's been consideration of bringing migrants to sanctuary cities, and then we are told authoritatively supposedly that that has been dispensed with because nobody wants to do it. and then i was in a viewing a senator on the committees at 12:35 p.m. live, and the tweet came out, yes, i strongly want to do this. the interview i thought was going on one subject, the president trader he does want to do that after all. whether it is to be provocative to appeal to the base, whether it is pure politics, whether it
is emotion, anger at the bureaucracy with a deep state, whatever you want to call it, policy isn't is an policy untie president announces it, and even then he can say, i never really considered something that is that i was going to do last week. >> so one thing i heard you say, with less process there's less touch point for reporters to get information from. >> but there's also, there are fewer leaks let's say that are credible. you have to be very, very careful about what you report because he can reverse it with the flip of a switch. >> so i'm wondering if you think reporting, peter, maybe this is a place to start with you, if you think reporting on intelligence activities is inherently more difficult because of the secrecy and reporting on press of the government activity?
>> yes. that's, i mean, it's the nature of the intelligence community to want to protect its information, to share only what it views in its interest or that it can put out, but as i i said, people bd up stories very slowly and incrementally, and when you ask who leaks, it could be everyone and anyone. there's no defined source for leaks. often what you might think of as a leak is actually the work of weeks and weeks and weeks and talking to multiple, multiple people, that in the end when you read it may look like some leaked that information but may have been the intuition of the reporter, the experience of the reporter, his daily conversations may have triggered something that he began to look into. i don't think that leaks within
the intelligence world are like whispers on capitol hill about the latest political development. it's a very, very different form of journalism. >> i think the secret kind of is it's not really a secret. the source of africa leak as a person with an agenda. it doesn't really matter where it comes from. whether they feel like they're filling a whistleblower role or they have constituency they want to get a story out and spun in a certain way. the leak is only give you a piece of the story, and it's the responsibility to not allow yourself to be manipulated to sort of that those leaks. and i wonder sometimes if that's being done to the extent that should be and once was. >> i would just add, as peter said, stories emerge over a long time, and you know the agatha
christie novel where it turns out everybody had a hand in the killing. you know, sometimes stories are that way. there were just so many different sources who informed the process of reporting, and then finally you get something that nails it and sometimes that becomes the hard fact on which everything is hung, like a suit hanging on a hanger. but there's all this other collateral stuff that led you to the point where you can't that one source. just underline what suzanne said because i think it's really important. every piece of information that comes to us in the news media comes with some spin. people do have agendas. they want to settle scores. you want to advance policy agendas. cia in general doesn't leak to the u.s. media. you are not about you, but that doesn't other intelligence services don't, and it's not
always clear to us that they are behind information that we are getting. one thing we need to do better is the more transparent within the limits of protecting our sources with readers about the baggage that comes attached to the information we are sharing. because sometimes that as important as the piece of information, why somebody was so determined to put it out. and if you don't know that it's really hard to evaluate the information. that's especially true where the tools of surveillance, the ability to collect right here from every cell phone that everyone has is vulnerable to new techniques of surveillance. we've been writing about that, an israeli company that does this, but their many companies around the world blanket, which means that any piece of private information potentially could get hacked and then dished to us
in the news media, anything. anybody with an agenda wants to take somebody down, must take government down, have that avenue. and i think it's something we in the news media have to think a lot more about to make sure when not being used and manipulated by people with this information that they have grabbed and their agendas as opposed to our readers, what our readers care about. >> let's keep this theme of secrecy going here. we all know that individual with a clearance who provides classified information to journalists is committing a crime. and we all know that, i was going to say thanks to james madison by guest i should say thanks to george mason, that when you report it you're not. but i'm wondering how you think about your responsibility with regard to handling classified
information. and maybe each one of you should answer this question because i think it's so important. and then i want to take how you answer that question i want to shift to the wikileaks and whether you think about wikileaks is deserving of first amendment protections. but let's talk about the responsibility of a journalist and handling classified information. >> you have to decide with the public interest is what the threshold question is, does it disseminate that a inflation ad came to some flight or national security? and there have been many conversations over the years with all of our editors and publishers when there are issues that arise and the government sometimes at a very high level calls and says, i know david has has to deal with this at the "washington post" more than i have, that something should not be published. we and my organization usually
err on the side of safety and security if we are persuaded that there really is. one of the earliest experiences i had was during the carter administration when my colleague john palmer happened on a sunday night to notice the lights at the white house and the west wing and the activity, and went back to work. i mean, he really came upon the unusual activity, , and it was e rescue operation. he confronted jody powell and jody powell said, if you go on the air now and discuss activity at the white house, you are endangering everyone's lives, but the president will give you the exclusive the minute this operation is over. and so that's how nbc broke that story when it was sadly over, and it was a terrible outcome. but there's never an excuse to
publicize something that will endanger the lives of people in the field, hours or others. once the threshold has been crossed and yet satisfied yourself that there is a really important public interest in the information, and we come in some of these instances i think dana priest worked in the past on some of the prisons in poland and elsewhere, there were a number of instances where i think the publication was the right choice. >> david? >> well, i agree with andrea that in these conversations with government officials about stories, we take very seriously any argument that someone's life might be in danger. i think one of the benefits of
having covered conflicts for journalists is that you know what danger looks like, and it's not an abstract and you know the americans engine of those in uniform are in danger daily sick and personalize it more. i will share to kind of touchdowns for me as a journalist on this question, michael. -- two kind of touch stones. the first is like late great publisher katharine graham, mrss was concerned about the post coverage of national security issues, so she gave a speech, i was a young editor, which became kind of a law of the profits. in the speech mrs. graham said that if one of her "washington post" journalists have a piece of information that we were
considering publishing, we had a responsibility to go to the agency that might be affected in the government and let them give us an argument why publication of this information would be damaging, either in terms of loss of life or damage to national security. that, peter, as an editor, now i call this but i'm out of this world but at the time i was an editor we took that seriously. we would talk to government officials, as you know, and we would have extensive, cities discussions, but we would reserve the right as miscreant insisted that we had to, to make our own final judgments. and sometimes, i mean, i'd love for you to respond, but sometimes when government officials tell us human life will be at risk, that is stretching things, it turns out.
so that kind of makes, it harms the relationship of trust if somebody tells you somebody could die and it turns out that was overstated. the second thing i will briefly mention this to my other mentor in this area, and that was then bradley. then bradley, 11 image of him just slam it. he did talk like that. he worked hard at being then bradley. he was good at it but ben had served in the navy during world war ii. he was a combat veteran. he took national security issues seriously in his way and ben used to say our readers don't need to know the wiring diagram. they need to know the information because that's part of being an informed citizen. i can remember a couple stores
we just had the appetite for some of the very minute details that he thought were blowing secrets needlessly, didn't help inform readers. those would be the two bass lines. but mrs. graham said jeff to talk to people, but ben suggestive tell the truth, hold people accountable if you don't have to put in the wiring diagram. >> i couldn't say it any better. they fit -- entry andrea and dd have already hit the, would he be in the public interest, and our lives going to be in danger? we now live in an age where so many different people are calling themselves journalists, and they're not the traditional journalists that institutions that follow these rules and now these morals and the internal boards went to discuss the right and wrong of something. the question for me is and to think i worry about is, is it in the public interest now being replaced by, is it a sexy headline and is it going to get a lot of clicks and a lot of
followers? sadly, every bit on stage understands what journalism is. i don't know the people on the receiving end of that information can easily distinguish anymore whether someone has andrea mitchell's repetition or david's or peters, and if that's a reliable source of information when they are flooded with interesting sexy headlines that are very fun to talk about with people you know. so i worry about what's happening to journalism in this age of just get some information out there, we will check the facts later. >> peter? >> i would just say those conversations david described continue. and the major roadblocks for us on publishing, at the life is in danger, it sources and methods would be exposed needlessly, we take that very seriously. i would say that different parts of the government throw around the lives will be in danger more
than others. so without talking about particular administration i've had people at the white house so that at me when i thought there was little substance to it. i will say in my experience the intelligence community uses that card much more carefully, much more occasionally, and with much more deliberation, so that when we do that here that -- so that when we do hear that from the we take it very seriously, rather than from some political appointee who shouting down the phone of me. but we do have serious conversations about certain stories. it's not like it's happening every day, and there are levels of escalation where we know how serious this thing is getting. normally reported is talking the cia public affairs, then public affairs may want to talk to me, but if he gets to the point where the director or the deputy director wants to talk to marty
baron, the editor, then we know we are dealing with something consequential and it does come along once or twice a year may become but it's not frequent. >> let me say one thing and then we will do wikileaks. what i want to say is, i don't know how many people know this, that the "washington post" as you know have all of the snowden documents, every single one of them. it didn't post it anywhere so everybody could read them. you actually secured them, physically secured them and you went through the very carefully and make decisions about what you thought was in the public interest. for those things he went to the intelligence community and said were going to publish this and gave the intelligence community an opportunity to talk to you about that, right? so with that context and in contrast to what wikileaks does, i wonder how you would answer
the question of first amendment protection. let's come back down this way. >> i would say i don't want to decide who is a journalist and who is not a journalist. i think it's a dangerous road that we've seen abuse in many parts of the world. i certainly don't want the government deciding who is a journalist. and so i very ambivalent about the prosecution of assange and take what i read the indictment and woven in with a specific hacking charge which i don't know a whole lot about except that they had these laws forever long time, the previous administration decided to widen the case. they decided they couldn't bring an espionage case because obviously it would implicate other publishers. i would extend first amendment privileges to wikileaks, that's my position.
>> you showed ambivalence. >> i disagree with tossing material out there that puts people in danger, informants, people who are in contact with indices, as we saw with the diplomatic cables, the military cables that were released. that was opposed by all major publishers who interacted with wikileaks and argued against it. but we are on come to get back to indictment, we have the government making this specific charge and then talk about protecting sources and using encryption and other things as if this is all nefarious behavior. so i think that got to get their line straight if they want to go down this road, and i'm reluctant to see people, even if i don't personally like them, that's irrelevant. if they are publishing and they're going to be prosecuted
for publishing, even if there's another pretext or fig leaf that the government is using, then i would oppose it. >> i really admire the way the "washington post" handled that in that there was a sense of responsibility that was part of the process, and it wasn't just put it all out there and that the world figure it out, which we've seen with some other hacks. the specific encouraging someone to hack and helping them do that is a step beyond what any journalist i know would have done in that case. >> all i would add is i don't disagree with encouraging someone to hack. it's not journalistic behavior, but that isn't unproven unproven charge at this point, based on fragmentary information. i want to see the case in court and then we can make a better decision. >> we're journalists. we need all the facts personall personally. >> i wrote a column, the lead was come is julian assange a
journalist? the justice department has tried to sidestep this in the way they to the indictment, focusing on the alleged role that assange played in helping steal information by cracking a password, but that we will have a debate about the first amendment here no matter what the justice department said it was. one of which i feel torn, to be honest matters, not in the case of speech that we all love, matters with extreme speech, the aclu defends the nazis were marching in skokie, illinois. every right-thinking person want to shut up, but that's the case
to test whether you're really committed. you could argue that assange, as a former guardian editor, wrote recently is really difficult person to deal with. maybe he's the extreme test that you say even so, and even these facts is still the first amendment right. i'm still struggling with that. in the reporting i did when the indictment came out, and as you did and suzanne said, we do need to know just because the justice department asserted it is true, doesn't mean it's true that he helped steal the documents. but i was surprised by how many first amendment lawyers and spokespeople i talked to who did not want to defend assange. one example is bruce brown,
executive director for the reporters committee for freedom of the press, a genuinely respected figure in our area, who said, no newsroom lawyer, and i know peter and i know this is very true in our newsroom, whatever condone doing what its alleged that assange and it, helping a source break, actively helping break, , the allegation. similar comments from other people, david kendall, a lawyer who has really earned his spurs as a defender of these issues, similarly cautious. i'm going to come back to it suzanne rightly said. we need to know more i think before we make judgments about the ultimate first amendment issue here. >> and i think if the allegation is proved, then as david just pointed out, it is something that no journalist would do
ethically. full disclosure, i'm just having down at the end of my term on the steering committee for the reporters committee, freedom of the press. i would tend to agree with him on the principle. i have a problem with what is alleged but it has not been proved, and i interviewed the editor from wikileaks the other day program, and aside from this case, which was considered by the justice department under obama and not prosecute because they did not want to get into this tangle about journalism and first amendment issues, i am also well aware, as we all are, of the mueller indictment which refers to wikileaks as organization one, and a willing conveyor of jump from the gru. so i have a real problem with
wikileaks as an organization, if the mueller allegations are established from what they did in 2016. >> talking with the foreign intelligence services, and dumping and a targeted way particular data that has been tailored to influence an american election. that is not what journalists do. on the broader issue wikileaks, not this case, these are not journalists. >> talk about the tools used and then what the intent, right, the intent to and form was intent for some other purpose? >> to influence. that's not what we do. >> before we go to questions i want to ask each of you one more question, which is what advice would you have for young reporters who are just starting on this peak? >> oh, my gosh, ron. [laughing] -- run. i'm going to completely get myself i remember being a young intern at cbs news in new york,
and they had just had an unveiling of the new studio and dan rather came down and said understand we have some interns in the room. i just want to tell you there still time to choose another profession and you should do it. and i thought that's the worst welcome i've ever heard in my life but it actually, once you talk to dan a little bit more it's a very difficult business. i think a lot of young people when i was coming up through school got into it because they wanted to be on television or because they wanted to be an influencer, for reasons that were not that core old school you are informing decision-making in this country. there's a responsibility that needs to come with this study think is critical. my advice to young people today would be, to look deep in your heart and ask yourself what you really want to do because you're probably not can make a lot of money. you're probably not going to get people having you on the back saying great job. or often enough people will complain about what you got wrong and never focus on what
you got right. if you have the personality to truly overcome it and to truly put forward something he passionately believe in, then go for it. you might be that next-generation that changes the way we get information and that takes us back to what i think our core values are. >> i love it so much and don't want to discourage people from having their great, vibrant experience that all of us have come and hope to continue to have. i would say right now it is more difficult than ever in my experience. i've covered republican and democratic presidents and administrations and signatures of state. i've never seen the media treated as hostile enemy, an enemy of the people. >> like the intelligence community burke well, we shared a lot. i've never seen it be this
adversarial, this a question and adversarial relationship is healthy. i don't mean difficult. i just been healthy skepticism. but after covering jimmy carter and ronald reagan and both bushes and bill clinton and obama, i've never seen anything quite like this. it does affect the cabinet secretaries. i respect that the intelligence leaks are keeping their heads down, but i think it does affect the kind of information that is being communicated to the president from other agencies and other sources, and that is very dangerous because tax matter. i really worry about that. i worry about our ability to ferret out the news and to get it coherently explained to people.
but i have to say, that said, it's never been more important, never been tougher, but the joy and the privilege and responsibility and excitement of being an eyewitness to history, traveling around the world, of communicating big ideas of writing great, one tries at least, great stories, covering things that were never expect, often horrifying things. we've all been through 9/11. the tragedy of notre dame. just think you'd think you neve going to happen. and then trying to rise to a level of explaining it to the public is just profoundly important. i would urge every young person who really wants a great adventure in life, if they feel a sense of patriotism and responsibility, to go for it.
>> just as a practical matter if people told me they want to cover intelligence i would say hold on a little bit. i would encourage them to cover the military, to cover the federal court, to get some experience on capitol hill come to me spend time overseas. and then when you said some seasoning and you have started to know people across washington, then come and say that you want to cover intelligence. intelligence is not a starter job. and if you look at the best intelligence reporters, they do have experience at the pentagon. we do have experience in other parts of town, and to work their way up to this. >> david? >> i said publicly once about andrea mitchell, that one reason i admire her so much was that she never felt that she was more
important than the story she was covering. i think that's why she is such a professional, and i think that's the yardstick i would apply for a person who wants to be a journalist, especially covering this very sensitive nuanced subject of intelligence. you have to have humility. you are not more important than what you are covering. this is a hard time to be a journalist, but it's a great time to be a journalist. sometimes in our business, like in any business, , you wonder, does this really make a difference? by doing something that matters. this is not the time when we worry about that. we know that doing our jobs, avoiding trump derangement, not playing the role he would like us to play his permanent -- just
doing our jobs makes a difference, so yes, it's a great time. >> let's do questions. please wait. i will call on you if i see you but please wait for a microphone to come to you. first question right over here. >> good evening and thank you all for coming. my name is julie can and kyle s from the illustrious howard university and the american university in washington. i would get straight to the point. in a direct comparison of bobby kennedy to president trump, bobby wasn't all the universities. all the young white kids really loved bobby. bobby quoted poetry. how would you say that america's relationship with the press would be different if we were not blessed with people like
bobby and his brother, although anything negative that has happened, how do you think we would be different if we never had them come if we were not blessed with the presence at that point in time in the '60s? thank you. >> so i'll just come in such an interesting comment, and i'll just respond by saying that bobby kennedy is one of those figures who, you know, as you said, marks "the age of reason" in politics, thoughtful, humane man. but when it comes to national security issues at the beginning of his time as the attorney general, he was the person who in secret the evidence is fairly clear, plotted things like the possibility of killing foreign
leaders. bobby kennedy had come up as a fierce anti-communist. he had worked in investigative committees in congress that were going after communist. he came to this with an intense, and in some ways troubling values. the art of his career, though he changed i think is one of the great stories, a lot of political history. but it's interesting, this is not in the beginning of his career not distinctive figure. bobby kennedy, ask for footnotes. check it out. >> i just want to ask about
journalism and the role of outright media, breitbart -- alt-right. what is journalism today in the current era? what about "the intercept" or the involvement of foreign governments in the information intelligence? i would like to ask you how, rt, for example, russian tv, how would you give space to those outlets here? >> i think you have a lot of different things there. i mean, "the intercept" is a a publication i read, i admire, and they are journalism and some of it has been really impressive. but that's vastly different than talking about foreign governments or foreign operations. it's night and day, in my view. we've seen what happened in 2016
and out easily the current media environment can be manipulated. i think that's only going to get worse, unfortunately. i think people will learn from what the russians did, not only of the foreign governments, but i am increasingly afraid the domestic actors will start to use these tactics, political campaigns, and then you run smack into the first amendment and our politics could just become more and more poisonous. that's what i think is the challenge going forward. i just would not put "the intercept" in the same paragraph, even chapter without discussion. >> i'm from george washington university. thanks for coming out and sharing your experience. my question is what kind of feedback you receive from government officials on whether
or not releasing information endangers those out and field and how does that change a risk evaluation procedures before publication? >> before we publish any sensitive story, we do speak to the relevant intelligence agencies, often at some length about the story. we have held back details at the request of the intelligence agencies to protect what they view as a threat to life. i think in most cases we end up reasonably satisfied with the compromise. when the story comes out, it's not like i'm getting angry phone calls from ca public affairs that we screwed them over or something.
i think we've discussed this in advance. i have a good sense of what's coming, and we have shielded details, though rarely, i mean very, very rarely, as a result of those discussions. >> david, a 1. you said i would love to know what you think. it's a good place to say that in my experience, those off the record dinners, peter, that you mentioned, that so many directors, general hayden did, the reason, one of the reasons those are so important is to build trust, to build trust between the reporters and the leadership of the organization so that when you had an issue, to issue to discuss, that was a trust there. i probably during my three and half years as deputy director and acting director had to ask a journalist or organization
probably ten ten times to eitht run a piece entirely or take a paragraph out, take a sentence out. my batting average was 1000. there were many, many more times when my people wanted me to make a phone call, but i wasn't convinced by their argument. but i think because those relationships had been built, we were able to get things done that maybe you couldn't get done if those relationships were not there. >> i would just add that's an important thing for people in the intelligence community, is to understand that that card is a card you play rarely and carefully. >> but with those off the record conversations, and we should talk about how we define off the record, the way i was raised off the record is you do not ever report it. there some people think it now means no attribution or no attribution to a particular agency. >> or go out and ask someone else about it. >> but you shouldn't.
those conversations i think we're really, trust is the keyword and i do think follow up on what peter said, the current leaders, maybe they're doing and i'm just not invited. [laughing] >> i think it's also worth quickly adding that what happens in this conversation because i've been at the table with you, michael, when you at the agency and most people don't know what conversations are like and you will pull in maybe ten or 12 journalists and go through either timelines of information based on what you know, and that's what you're talking when the trust comes into that but that's what happens. they are not like secret handshake deals where nobody knows what's going on but they are intended to make sure that the journalists who don't have access to the factual information that the intelligence agencies have come that information shared again to provide a larger picture of context which is so important. >> over here.
>> i'm a retired navy public affairs office and i think mike, i'd like to direct this question to you. about 25 years, my dad worked in this building on the 12th floor. in 1963, for about three months, he was illegally wiretapped by the cia. it was called project mockingbird. it was published in the cia family jewels, but in the course of the wiretapped the lasted three months, he was talking to ten congressmen, including the speaker of the house. he was talking to about half a dozen senators turkey was talking to white house staff, several people in the cia, and other intelligence agencies. this is just a fact. my question is, since 2007 when the family jewels was published and i learned about the wiretapped, i've been trying to
get information about it, just to fulfill what really happened and learn as much as i can about what took place. to this day i have received very little from the cia. my big concern, this is not, i'm not slapping anybody in the face, this is just a general comment. is the lack of transparency 56 years later about such things as the transcript that you know is out there, because it's in the cia documents that it won't be released. and i guess, i'm just, , to me this is an opportunity to say, why can't the cia to the historians office understand that this is a fairly significant document, and sit down with a person like myself as a requester and try and do a more than cursory release of
information, especially 56 years later. sources and and methods isomer pretty much out the window. most of the folks are deceased, including my dad, it's a story i'd like to be able to tell to my family. and to think historically from the cia standpoint, , even thouh it's not a good story, it's just something that should be out there in the public domain. >> i'll say a few things. one is is that our folks here tonight from cia, and i hope one of them finds the way to talk to you afterwards. that's the first thing i would say. the second thing i would say is when general hayden was the director. we actually had conversations with the leadership team about pushing the line out and creating more transparency, and talking to the american people more about what it is we do and why we do it and what we get right and what we get wrong. our sense was that if we did that, and i think we did that to
a large extent, i think, peter, you saw that come to the extent that we did that we did give the american people more confidence in their cia, in their intelligence community. i think we did a better job protecting the secrets we need to protect. and if you think the intelligence community in general and maybe the cia in particular has got room to push that fence line further out like a general hayden did. over here. >> so our intel kinard is very, very interconnected. americans, the british, israel's, worldwide was it correct for buzzfeed to publish michael steals name when they published the dossier? if it was correct, why? >> and maybe part of that was
what you're feeling on the publication of the dossier itself? >> we chose not to publish it. buzzfeed can answer for the own decision-making but so much of it was uncorroborated and we don't publish material that we ourselves have independently corroborated. it's really that simple. >> i would underline what peter says. the "washington post," other news organizations and individual journalists at the post had that dossier for a long time and tried very hard to confirm it, establish whether it was reportable information, and we were not able to. peter put it right. we have standards for what we will publish and what we will not, and they are pretty stringent. people who think we are willy-nilly out there breaking secrets, they should sit in on
some beatings. we live in a world now where if we decide in a measured way, you know, really editors like peter and others in our newsroom, that we are not going to publish something, somebody is going to leak it to somebody else. at some point it's just going to get out there. i can remember agonizing decisions about whether to publish details about bob dole, senator dole running for president, his private life. we went on day after day talking about this, was it relevant that the voters needed to know? we decided no. it got leaked to somebody else and we ended up writing a story about the story. so that's part of the dilemma. we make the best judgments we can, but that doesn't mean it's not going to be out there soon and that we will end up writing about it anyway. >> one example was when we published a story about
president trump's discussions with the russian foreign minister and russian ambassador in the oval office, and that he had revealed critical intelligence and that it caused consternation in the white house. we deliberately did not identify the country of the source of that intelligence, and that was a conscious decision. we knew who it was, but the "new york times" within 24 hours at come forward. to make their own decisions. i'm not criticizing the times. we made our calculation. they made theirs, but then it's done, it's cooked. we can't hide the fact that that country was named. and so it spills into our coverage. similarly, dana priest when she wrote about black site, held back initially the names of the two countries. it was only a a matter of time before those names came out and were widely and universally
published. >> i get the last question. we've got four or five minutes. really a question about journalism and last question about journalism and intelligence. in march of 2017 somebody called me and said that they just read a book about hugo chavez and that he really needed to read this book because the parallels between trump and chavez were striking. so i got this and i read it, and are some parallels i somebody was also many differences that assault. what really struck me was that when hugo chavez first came to power, the political opposition in venezuela had withered away. there was no opposition leader to stand up and chart a different course for the future venezuela. as a result of that, that venezuelan media became the political opposition. and in becoming the political opposition, venezuelan media all of its credibility with the
venezuelan people. i just wonder about how you think about that story in relation to what happened here? david? >> if you look at the polls, there's a lot of public mr. ross of journalists. i hope this audience find as credible, but sadly, if you believe the polls, the country as a whole is not so happy with us. i think that that should concern us. what bothers me the most is that we are increasingly in immediate environment -- media environment where readers and viewers want their opinions to be enforced rather than challenged. we all were trained to be in the fact business and to present,,
when i said i work for my readers, my readers are not some who is made up their minds. it's just somebody who is trying -- and increasingly, just turn on cable news, go to websites and you see that throwing red meat to people saying that people you hate are terrible, the people you love our wonderful, is way to get the clicks and viewers. so somehow we have to resist that and we have to encourage and train young people to resist it. but people are going to get the media that they deserve. in the end if you click on that horrible website, you will drive out the good website because it will have enough money. >> anybody else? >> i i just think especially gog
into 2020 we have to resist drawing early conclusions. polls are meaningless now in any case. let these plants and try to focus on policy choices, policy conversations as much as possible. and the as down the middle as we can be on both sides of the equation, and not feed into the demonization of the media and just try to be as resolved as we can to not show implicit bias. as david brinkley used to say, there's always -- and now i'm dating myself -- david brinkley used to say, there's no such thing as objectivity, but finding what goes into our 22 minute evening newscast each night is a subjective choice.
you're making an editorial decision deciding what was on the front page and what gets buried. that said, every story needs to be balanced and fact-based to the greatest extent that human beings can without being computers. just there is human error and breadth of knowledge those errors. went to some of try to maintain our credibility with the public. it's terribly important, more important than ever, and i think there's a lot to be said for the way we did not cover the real story that needed to be covered in 2016. there were a lot of mistakes along the way. there was russian manipulation and things we could not spot,, and where to forget how to do that. a real good forensic analysis looking at the boxes and connecting dots between particular things that were said
online and have a credit influenced events. she doesn't draw final conclusion except to say that there was in a fierce and a think affect the outcome. a lot about the things affected the outcome as well, including our misjudgments. and including i think live coverage of one candidate over what another candidate was saying. because one was more entertaining, clearly. that's a long way saying have a big job and we're going to be criticized no matter what we do we just have to try to keep our focus on the job and the mission, and try not to be distracted. >> any final thoughts? >> i was going to see exactly to that point, the minute you as a journalist who site of your mission and durable, it's gone forever it sounds like a son example you told me at have read the book that that's what happened, they lost focus on what their mission was. the core mission of the journalist is to provide a balance story which means you talk to people from multiple
different perspectives on what they think. the second we lose that, then great, it's an information free-for-all and there's no more journalism. >> i worry about it all the time. i don't have any particular way out of it. the credibility, the attacks on the credibility of the media, yuma, come from the top down. we have the president saying we say only fake news of we are enemies of the people. as a former moscow correspondent, that phrase has particular resonance for some who's written a lot about russia and the soviet union. as our editor marty baron said, we are not at war with anyone. we are at war. we have to keep doing what we do and maintain our standard, subjecting everyone to the same
skepticism and scrutiny in service of the public, not in service of our agendas. and if we keep doing that, i think in the end i have to be optimistic that there will be a good result. >> let me just say finally, there is a a risk that things e becoming normalized and a lack of access to the key decision-makers, to even the public pronouncements of cabinet secretaries is becoming normalized. i spent two years watching the diminishing role of the state department press corps because we don't have access to the secretary because he doesn't travel. his right assessor didn't at all and then brought three or four people on, and now it's been reduced, what used to be 13-17 people for 40 years traveling with the secretary of state is now limited to six people, three of whom are technicians. worked great journalist but you're not correspondence or
writers. so behind the scenes for whatever reason, cabinet secretaries are dealing with merely, primarily one network and making their own choices, but that is diminishing their ability to tell the story of venezuela, to tell the story you want to tell about what you're about to do tomorrow in cuba. to explain north korea. there are some really important policies that are not being adequately explained because the principles are refusing to deal with the news media. that's their choice but i think we are lesser for it. >> thank you all very much. [applause] ..