tv After Words Nada Bakos The Targeter CSPAN June 22, 2019 10:01pm-11:01pm EDT
analyst looks the inter- workings of the agency in her work and tracking terrorists. she's interviewed by representative andre carson, a member of the house intelligence committee. "afterwards" is a weekly interview program with relevant guest hosts interviewing top nonfiction authors about their latest work. >> welcome, finally you watched a book, an exciting book, you've been on tv for the past several years. you've inspired movies, you're a rockstar. >> i've not inspired any movies. >> there have been characters created around the work you have put in. some women. you are like breaking glass ceilings. >> there were predecessors before me who did a lot of that
work. when i joined the agency, there were a lot of women in that position. >> walk us through what inspired you to write the book and tell us what the targeting officer does in your mission. >> i joined as an analyst, da side, the analyst side. my intent when i was doing this was to have a job for extra work for overseas. i've always wanted to travel. i like learning other linkages and other cultures and i got lucky when i applied and they called. i got in in a completely different role. the targeting officer of the time was in the operations side. >> tells about the role you initially took on. >> the first job i had was a
role in hr, organizational development. allocate resources and try to understand how they can best structure and modernize their workforce. >> are those skills transferable? >> that wasn't how i started my academic and professional career. i ended up there. my background was in economics. >> are you from texas originally? >> montana. >> did you always want to grow up and be an intel? you wanted to travel, you could have joined the circus, a rock band, why the cia? >> i might be a good backup singer but not bubbles. i didn't focus on the cia, especially when i was younger, i thought about law enforcement. was focusing on living overseas. i happened to see an ad in the
economist. i was in my late 20s. i went ahead and took a flyer and applied and luckily got a phone call. >> awesome. having a background in economics, you had a global worldview, i'm assuming. you wanted to be part of the global conversation but when you came to the agency, or you disappointed when you got there? we surprised that some things? did you expect to be jumping out of exploding buildings and folks shooting at you? >> because i didn't join the agency under the delusions of hollywood, i didn't have expectations. i had been in the workforce long enough, i was almost 304 had turned 30, but i knew most institutions had a bureaucracy, there were everyday people walking around in every building.
i wasn't expecting james bond. >> tells about the culture of the agency. >> it is pretty diverse. it helps to be able to blend into other countries so it attacked people interested in global positions and living internationally. people are mindful of other cultures because of your living through another country, protect yourself. >> tell us about the mindset of some of the people you tracked. you think these folks start off with this mission? kind of rationale do they set within themselves to justify their actions? >> thankfully, there's a lot of studies about extremism. regardless of their is. there's a spectrum of why people 20 organizations and not everybody who embraces it becomes violent. there is, i think, u.s. has a
long way to go to reflect on what happening to us internally for as far as that ideology, it seems like every individual is very unique in that aspect. >> you were hunting terrorists. you work with a group of phenomenal women. was the commodity like? the official squad or did you bond together simply because of a male predominated industry? >> when i first joined as an analyst, there was gender equity on analyst side. it was based on your skill set and if you could write and that's what you were judged by. the gender inequality on the operations side. -- >> make that distinction. >> the analyst in the analytic world, their job is to digest the information coming in, whether it's our operations
officers, other agencies or technical collections, they're taking it in on an area that they are looking at, digesting it, pulling out pieces to the right products or policy makers. it's never that sexy as hollywood. they recruit people by that. >> i tell you during my time in the holding security, the analysts did the bulk of the work. we had analyst from the fbi there, other agencies and this was at the beginning of facebook and myspace. a lot of folks were creating fake profiles. the best analysts were women because there was this instinctive thing to anticipate movement, actions and kind of create profiles, speaking to a
particular target. do you think women are unique in that regard in terms of anticipating human behavior and being a project and being leaders with regards to men relying -- you talk about equity but in the law enforcement and intelligence space, women have yet to give their there do because of decades of discrimination. >> normally i push back on that narrative of it. i just think that regardless of your gender, whatever you identify with, you can be good at a job. i do think there has been studies that women mature faster emotionally so there maturity tends to be a little further. depending on different age groups but as adults, i think we're all capable, we all have
different skill sets. the women who started out in the center, which came before me, that unit, they are doing that job because it wasn't sexy work. they were being rewarded for that before 9/11. it was hard arduous and detail oriented. i think that is how come, they were just okay with not having a sexy position. >> there have historically and i know the cia has changed this model, allowing analysts and officers or agents on the fbi side to train together at least for the initial few weeks. is a great idea? >> i think it is a good idea. it is useful for all agencies to understand what each other does. i also think it's useful for them to share, one of the lessons learned, why re-create
the wheel? the cia a lot of time and energy into developing their schools. all the training programs and officers. i did work with law enforcement and there's a huge distinction between set ia cia and law enforcement. cia is charged with analyzing information on foreigners and operations overseas have to do with foreign entities they don't do is direct people or collect information on u.s. citizens or persons. as a huge distinction where law enforcement is about upholding role of law, cia is focused on collecting information, spying on other countries and you can say they are like the opposite. [laughter] >> one task was enforcing the law, of the other task with
breaking the law. [laughter] >> not u.s. laws. >> is a different controversy around drones. some feel like there should be a responsibly solely given to the military. >> in my experience, i think the agency does a great job of analytic targeting. that is one place i think where the eye signs. they understand, they collect information. the collateral targets, i don't know who needs to own the program itself, i do have a great and clear answer for that.
i think each agency has one or two think they're good at and we need to be focused on who is best to carry out the mission. >> probably because everyone knows for most people know who osama bin laden is. there's another figure you had a connection to. tell us about your experience tracking him. >> start with looking at evaluating 9/11 and al qaeda. we had been policy makers and review them and our bottom line was that iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. there was not the connection there. after that, after the invasion when i became an officer, rose to prominence because he had
been attacking iraq. then eventually joined al qaeda it's so much to be an analyst but your operationalizing information. >> a lot of what we do in life, manifests itself in our personal work. you've had some defining moments in your life, you lost your grandmother. how did it impact you? how did it shape you to be the great person you've become? >> it's a huge impact in shaping my focus in life. they love to travel, i think curiosity and my grandmother was always wanting to learn
something new. that was a big impact on me. it's something i think we don't talk about enough and the steps of that. trying to read books about how you grief. it's a huge impact, especially even as adults, it was apparent. >> were you most like, your grandmother or month? >> probably most like my grandma. she was mostly strong-willed. had a clear open it. >> how did she express herself? >> she was hilarious. she's very articulate. >> and she's from montana? >> yes.
first generation. >> tell us about your dad. >> my dad is also from montana. he also was third generation. >> did you pick up new skills growing up from farming experience? >> yes. you learn how to persevere. when you get stuck in a field and attracted by yourself, at like 12, you figure out how to fix things. >> so you got that from your dad, your a bit of a contrary and an underlying comedian from your grandmother. what did you want from your mom? >> probably empathy. my mom was a social worker. my mom was great with kids. she was always the person argue, super annoying.
[laughter] >> one would say how could you be a sympathetic and work with the cia? >> it's not a contradiction. you can have your own moral compass and work for any organization. you could ask that about people who work for tech companies, they are often demonized as well. what is your moral compass and your own integrity? >> in the book you describe terrorism in the evolution of capabilities from the pre-iraq war, only up to numerous attacks and the responsible for what happened in iraq. take us through that journey. >> from the beginning of his notoriety, a street kid in
jordan, getting into trouble, he had criminal convictions, he had been in-and-out of jail, he ended up in prison with radicalized clergy at the time. physically ended up radicalizing that initially. i think for him, that was a sense of belonging and a sense of this. prior to that, his sense of purpose was drinking and doing all the fun stuff he wasn't supposed to be doing. for him, that extremely next passed for him was a sense of belonging and providing community. his sense of purpose and mission. as soon as he latched onto that, he was totally focused and in network since the early 90s,
he was in iraq prior to invasion. he was located in northern iraq with another organization and he was focused on creating these room entry areas. at the time, the u.s. government was there. it was a network pulling from, caucuses, he had quite a diverse group. it wasn't this cohesive unit like al qaeda has. >> what lessons can we learn from the war in iraq now that we're talking about going to war with iran and dealing with master section, exaggeration, aggressive intel reporting, perhaps missed characterizing terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. pressure from top political grabs in the bush
administration, resulting in politicizing intelligence and the reporting process. what are some takeaways? >> i think some of the biggest takeaways, especially for members of the public's question. regardless of anonymous statements, ask for receipts and declassify reports as much as possible we can understand the detail behind it. i also think during that is when changing the narrative, with a huge role in the decisions for the iraq war and that kind of support. it's a soulful affect every time they say the same thing over and over on tv, it has an impact, this must be the truth regardless of what else is being said.
>> when we talk about wars in our country, the iraq war, so many words, oftentimes our troops, i can tell you is a politician, the townhall, they bring back our troops, they get a standing of asian. oftentimes folks in the intelligence community serve, they are overlooked. they suffer from ptsd. how many unsung heroes farther in the intel community who suffer from ptsd? are we doing enough to address those issues within the agency's? >> i think there are probably a lot of people like me who didn't realize they had ptsd. it wasn't until i hit rock bottom until i had the understanding of what it was. unable to, do every day normal things. i talked to a friend of mine who
had the same experience, didn't realize until we slowed down and out of the agency that this is something we have to deal with. and that we had been going through. i don't know how many people it impacts but i am hoping there is acknowledgment that this happens. you don't even have to be in a warm stone, just constantly inundated with graphic imagery and constantly reading about this information, picture the policy maker understands it. it from happening. this has an impact on our human psyche. the sooner we get ahead of that at least a little bit to acknowledge what is happening, we'd be much better off. >> it's not just the war zone, i can relate to that, seeing documents regularly but is not just the war zone, it's about maybe the organization and having a culture of being
foldable. i spoke to a cia official the other day and she's a trailblazer and she mentioned culture is changing of it for you have this superhero entirety but there are wraparound services provided for officers and analysts to seek help and get treatment worth no longer about thing to be open about oppression or any other bonuses. are we doing enough, what else should be done? should we look at managers? my philosophy is that everyone should work for that once, if you survive in a healthy way, you become a compassionate leader. >> i think they can be. i'm relieved to hear they are focusing on wraparound service. then, there's a huge stigma. even acknowledging you might
need some kind of therapy has to be reported. according to your agreement. there were people that really felt like they were retaliated against. just for the fact of their therapy. i'm glad to hear there is evolution hopefully taking place. i hope it is enough. the culture is going to need to embrace this and shift focus of this being, mental health being stigma around their being and counseling and acknowledging you need help. it's another organ in our potty, why we treat it like that is beyond me. >> i am passionate about having a mother suffering from schizophrenia, it's very tough when you have stressors or managers or coworkers if you're not strong enough and assertive enough, you can go into depression into her fearful and
even seeking help. what might be done and what would you say to anyone considering a career clear? >> it has changed since i have been there and i know the competition is fierce. the way i apply now, it would be different. didn't talk about the credentials and applying for the cia -- >> what is that? you have to be bilingual? road scholars? >> we are missing a hold pool of people for that. people who are focused and driven to participate in security. goals and languages they are bringing to that is incredible.
>> you talk about struggling with panic attacks, your abilit- >> you talk to my family? [laughter] >> gas lighting. how long has it taken you? perhaps you are still struggling with the aftereffects. have a panic attacks your ability and maybe even ptsd in a very real sense carried on and how much of it heavy treated with you in your new chapters? >> it certainly changed me going forward. i am a different person today and i was prior to even acknowledging that i had it. >> are you more suspicious of people? >> no. >> are you a glass half full or empty? >> i consider it pragmatic.
>> cynical? >> maybe. years of therapy, it's a lot of hard work. the intense at first but there is light at the end of that tunnel. those symptoms sort of go away. but i think it is forever changing as far as your outlook on life, things you appreciate, i appreciate little things. things every day that i wouldn't have before. like meeting the house, enjoying time with friends, doing things, maybe it is old age. i don't know. things are much simpler. >> taking a phone interview without a secure area. >> that is nice. >> yes. be able to talk on the phone. >> yes. talk about what i do. >> also. >> gossip, yes.
>> what did you miss overseas? things normal folks take for granted. >> in iraq, i missed coffee. at the time when i was first there, we were in a set up that didn't have access to things like that. it was fine but i loved coffee. >> talk about glass ceilings, i remember a time working at the intel center, representing this sentiment among police officers and analysts that the analyst did all the work, the police agencies, at least the big ones in the fbi came in, they took all the credit. a similar tension within the
cia, you have folks taking credit for pioneering work, particularly you folks getting activated door like hello, over here, you see me? how frustrating that must be. you're still a human being, you still need your pats on the back and you want to feel validated for your work and what you're doing. you want to feel appreciated. how annoying and frustrating that must be. [laughter] >> the analysts of the cia actually have that, too. the very different situation within the cia as an analyst versus fbi or other law enforcement. have to ask the police or agents, they're in charge of their own world. they are the ones taking the information and deciding whether or not to do that daily brief.
there is equal power versus law enforcement, i know in some cases, still struggling with how they fit this into how they partner with them or work with them. after working in the task force, i see the distinctions. the analyst there are also operational analyst. that is a different type of work. >> you stay in touch with your old buddies? >> yes, i do, it's difficult once you are out but as best as possible. we are scattered, difficult to talk, you can't talk openly. you can't discuss what they are doing at work. communication strings after a while. >> it's difficult to have a family or even a relationship. tell us about that dynamic. coming from military family, having iraq and afghanistan visiting artist troops, talk
about ptsd and dear jane letters. what did you see? >> as far as ptsd or -- >> this mom has passed away, the guilt associated with it. relationship altering. >> relationships, it is hard because especially if you're living overseas and your spouse is able to change their job and move every few years, it is pretty difficult to be married to somebody who also has a clear inside the government. for me, it became impossible. ...
paradigm and i don't have all the answers. >> peace time will not cure that. >> i don't think so. >> take us to the point of where you were and where you are now in your future goals? will you do more consulting? and instructor quick. >> that's a good question. if you have an answer for me i am all ears. i'm still exploring where i can have an impact. want to have an impact and do something interesting. it is kind of hard when you leave the cia to find that mission and fulfillment that was an extraordinary place to work.
>>host. >> there are 16 agencies pick one. [laughter] >> maybe i'll run for office. [laughter] >> what would you run for quick. >> i would start as a representative may be. >>host: this is your big break. you never know. word you consider being an instructor quick. >> absolutely. i need to finish my phd. >>host: you are doing something exciting. >> the book is exciting that is labor most definitely.
and with the government review process three or four years to get out because it went into the review process and then reviewed by other agencies and that process is very broken. i can help you fix this congressman. [laughter] >>host: as chairman of the subcommittee, i meet with the cia regularly. is a something i should bring up quick. >> that this is interagency stuff. cia have no way to get it back from the other agencies there is a reciprocal agreement there is no deadline, they can't say we need this back. so when it was stuck and then i get back black pages with no explanation i have no way to sit down to talk to anybody
without filing a lawsuit which i ended up doing even just to discuss. >>host: were juicy details left out. >> probably. >>host: are you still disappointed quick. >> know. because i could build a story around that without - - and still use the essence of it. >>host: this is a great book. but those who are curious about the target are for netflix or a movie based on this. >> this subtitle is ultimately what it is about my life in the cia. and challenging the white house. those three elements. >> would you even challenge the white house?
>> i had a bold chief. our team charged with evaluating if iraq had anything to do with 911 or al qaeda. and the administration was looking for that angle. not everybody but parts of the white house or the pentagon were looking for that angle and regardless of how we answer that question consistently after the analysis it kept coming back in different forms. and what was frustrating for some members of the congress and us. >> some in the administration to tie saddam hussein into the scenario. political expedience different
shops were set up to support the narrative at the pentagon. and i think our analysis was up against the other narrative was not based in truth or fact. and it was instructional for our team - - team day in and day out. >>host: you mentioned the dog in the book. >> the st. bernard. i adopted him here in washington dc. he is our rescue dog. he is about two years old. but unfortunately the first thing he did was run up the stairs and could not get down. so that is in the book if you
want to know how he gets down you have to buy it. 's. >>host: tell us about your dogs. >> one is a shepherd that is a breed from turkey they are very independent if you want a dog to boss you around he is sweet and argue with you. the other is a corgi mix. >>host: which one is the mama dog? >> the first one. >> just a charmer. he is super smart. >>host: who is your favorite quick. >>. >> how do these braids take place in your book quick.
>> at the time in iraq there were different taskforces so the ratings were based on one task force or one branch of military most of the time cia does not go along as we feed the intelligence but in this case when they got there it was like the wild west and with that target and initial analysis and what would come next so i was not at all
prepared for anything like that. >>host: chapter seven you wrote about something that really frustrated your work i'm referencing though wish u-letter say a backwards looking request these are deviations to take you off course. >> this is a good example it was recovered after inside of iraq with the connections between the regime in tangential members of al qaeda there was a lot of discrepancy you could tell by the first read there was somebody inaccuracies that most of this could possibly be true but we
couldn't do preconceived bias so we also have the letter and the ink itself analyzed by another government agency and after all was said and done the information did not add up at all be could use pieces of information that was validated to refute that. the ink was not old enough to be drafted prior. >>host: i don't want to give too much away but talk about the higher profile attacks? this includes the un bombing this was a prominent mosque in the shia community. and then to draw connections
and with this network how do you make that connection? was it a group effort. >> yes. i had a colleague i talk about in the book that was helping to pull those together that was in iraq. that one really stands out to me as just to kill so many civilians. that this would be his mo. it was the entire team effort to help piece together the information and back with this analysis i turn that into the presidential daily brief to inform the administration that target was not only still there but operational.
>> it is a mysterious thing someone who is tasked with that briefing but were you dejected by that time? >> know. i was all in because as an analyst you write a few of the as well - - a few of those the presidential daily brief is coming out every week. but you on the edge of what is happening and then to give the president very active information so it is an intense process.
but then to in an e-mail. >>host: i have a sneaking suspicion you have a fascination with turtles. >> some of my titles come from they come from my old boss. if not for him we would not have those titles. >>host: a very popular book that became a movie? is that how you were inspired quick. >> are you talking about zero dark 30? >>host: you tell me. i was not part of that bin laden part at all. >>host: a book of turtles? i don't want to get you in trouble. >> not that either. it was a bucket of turtles my
boss would say life around here everybody scrambling to get to the top. not very well. we had a few frustrating days and i try to portray that walking through the worst. and the colleagues that i am working with. >>host: a bucket of turtles. >> what do you do on your days off? was at a rotating shift quick. >> during the initial invasion we did i would go in with a
colleague. to brief the policymakers and we were working about 12 or 14 hour days. >> so you play video games or you make up games? >> especially when i was there. it was working around the clock. >>host: what was something that you looked forward to? >> the camaraderie that you build up in the military in a
situation like that. there were a few nights we all got together in a makeshift bar that we would build near the workspace. the fourth of july stands out. >>host: and the cake stands? >> no. [laughter] we were not that exciting. >>host: now you go back to the cia. >> things like making sure you're not stepping on any ied going between the bar and your space. >>host: but you still came to the office on your off days quick. >> yes. there were no off days.
>>host: why would anybody want that type of career for themselves after listening to you? >> being there especially during wartime is unique and it doesn't always have that frenetic place and that frenetic pace just continues and it was just a constant. and we don't take these steps slightly but to serve your country if you are at all inquisitive about the world, national security objectives, it's a good place to work. >>host: how much excesses in the military budget? so talking about cutting back in military spending do we
need to cut back quick. >> it's fair to take an in-depth look at how the military spends. obviously from new cycles the accountability not happening inside of iraq is inexcusable to me. there is absolutely no reason the united states government should not hand over money without accountability. >>host: the police department and contractors? also there was a lot of resentment from enlisted folks in the military. the contractors were getting three square meals a day that the military was not but they were making six figures. >> rights. that creates the inequity that should not exist.
and then asking them to do that for those that are making three times as much for a similar position but not even putting themselves at risk. that can be problematic. the agency changed how they allowed to work for contractors during the time i was there. >>host: if you have an opportunity to go back as a contractor would you do it quick. >> it depends on what i would do. >>host: were you ever heartbroken seeing teenagers overseas? >> absolutely. driving around to see the young marines draped over the hump the trying to get some
sleep. i was not a mom but i wanted to be a mom to all of them. it is heartbreaking. so to put a face on resources that we need has to be the first conversation that we have is a member of the public. what are you asking for our children and how much and is it worth it? >>host: what do politicians need to understand? should america be the world's police? do we have that responsibility the wealthiest nation in recorded history from the cia as it relates to intervening intellect - - elections. and then other governments try to intervene into our elections how important are they in should we even try to please the world?
>> i hear that analogy a lot the civ - - the caa intervenes and so it is okay. but to that there is a big difference of how the agency conducts their work i am not disputing any erroneous things that government engaged in but it is our national security to start with. if we always said we did this earlier, we would have no national security objective. >> is it true a lot of countries criticize us publicly but behind the scenes they ask for assistance.
>> you probably know that better than i do. >>host: of course. im for world peace but keeping people safe is a muddy business. and the boundaries can become hard to determine with countries who practice normalized corruption and don't have our core values. but i still say that the ic is important. military is important. could we have a broader selection? without question or a deeper discussion about our sense of presence. without question paragraph the end of the day it's important to know what other people think because if we are not protecting ourselves surely in the 2016 election as was evidenced a lot more damage
can be happening than we think. >> i agree. the question if we should be the world's police but what kind of world do we want to live in our values to support of our own? is it to make sure we always have the right guy in place so that we focus to focus on the humanitarian disasters. what is the priority at this point? it doesn't have to be a single priority as there is a period of national security objectives. >>host: thank you very much. >> the target or is available at amazon and bookstores at barnes & noble. it is an insightful read i hope a lot of young women choose a path to national security.
driving from nashville to mississippi. i was riding shotgun i sit in the back with my mother. the entire car is silent and all four of us are still as stones. we have to pull over it is midmorning in july. there is a gas station 2 miles up. the front left tire is flat. we had been engaged in several months this is not his first visit to nashville or mississippi to meet my extended family brothers and sisters and cousins and nieces. and the wheel was entrusted to john for his acquiescence. he supplanted him as a man in my life. but it was only a gesture. my father did not anticipate he would exercise the
authority to take us on a new course. [laughter] but he pulls over right there on the shoulder of the interstate between memphis and jackson. the minute he is under the car my parents and i stand paraguay feel pride as they watch my fiancé move in confidence in silence to replace the tire with the spare. i ate for my father who shifted quickly side to side to hurry him. there we would stand my black family is vulnerable. bound by history. i focus on john imagining these policies wrapped around us like armor. the eyes of white men for when
we arrive at the nearest gas station they stay in the car while they drive into the store i follow him carrying a small practical purse we buy water and fill the tank and are back on the road my mother with a voice would tell the story too many people for many years to come it is a story how a black family would do things one way and a white man comes and nothing is ever the same. someone who holds tradition and high regard and reluctant to stop before we reach the gas station instead it has to do with history this has proven to be a hospitable
place something no black person traveling to the south is ever taken for granted. when my father arrived in nashville to rely on those experiences of other black people that they inform black travelers it is possible for them to sleep and eat. of underground railroad's. the green book publication to this day their cities and towns in this country that the traveling black have not subsided. and at the root of my father's anxiety the danger represented by the flat tire is
unprecedented. somewhere between the clarity and the focus in the complexity of anxiety perhaps lies the difference between living black and living white in america. that there is a difference. how deep that runs is impossible to ascertain. to see the difference and i despise it but it makes it possible for me to marry a white man. [applause] >> i will give david a moment thank