tv Counterterrorism and Homeland Security CSPAN September 26, 2017 3:00pm-4:21pm EDT
c-span's student cam video competition is in full-swing. this year's theme is the constitution and you. and we're asking students to choose a provision of the u.s. constitution and create a video illustrating why it's important. our competition is open to all middle school and high school students. grades 6 through 12. students can work alone or in a group of up to three to produce a five to seven-minute documentary on the provision selected. include c-span programming and explore opposing opinions. $100,000 will be awarded in cash prizes. the grand prize will go to the student or team with the best overall entry. this year's deadline is january 18th, 2018. for more information, go to studentcam.org. lisa monaco served as president obama's chief
counterterrorism and homeland security adviser. she recently had a conversation with david chancer, director of duke university's triangle center on homeland security to analyze security threats during the obama presidency and what's ahead for the trump administration. this is an hour and 20 minutes. >> good evening, everyone. welcome to our 2017 terry sanford distinguished lecture, a conversation with lisa monaco, counterterrorism in the trump era. i'm sally kornbluth, and i'm here to kick off terry sanford's centennial birthday. i want to welcome any first-year students this evening. it's wonderful you're here taking advantage of the program tonight, learning from distinguished fiscal lars and practitioners who visit our university is really a valuable part of your duke experience. so our event tonight is sponsored by the sanford school of public policy, and the american grand strategy program.
thank you to all the faculty and staff who have made this possible. the terry sanford distinguished lecture is made possible by a gift to the university from the william r. keen and jr. trust in honor of the late terry sanford. terry sanford is a much beloved figure. he dedicated his life to ethical leadership and public life. sanford served as the governor of north carolina from 1961 to 1965, focusing his tenure on strengthening education, combatting poverty and expanding civil rights. he doubled state expenditures, supported desegregation when other governors were blocking african-american students from entering university gates. building on his commitment to public service when sanford was president of duke university, he established an institute for policy sciences and public affairs to serve as an interdisciplinary program to train future leaders. now, the institute then evolved and now stands where you are,
the sanford school of public policy, which supports the primary appointment of over 80 faculty and researchers, two masters programs, a phd program and multiple research centers. in keeping with the spirit of terry sanford, the purpose of this distinguished lecture is to bring campus men and women of the highest personal and professional stature to present to the duke community. our terry sanford lecturer this evening is lisa monaco. this year she left government after 20 years in public service. she obtained degrees from the university of chicago and the harvard law school and soon thereafter counsel to attorney general janet reno. after serving as federal prosecutor for six years, fbi director robert mueller hired her to be special counsel. deputy chief of staff and then chief of staff. in 2009, monaco returned to a senior position in the justice department, and in 2011 was appointed by president obama and confirmed by the u.s. senate to be assistant attorney general for national security. in 2013, president obama
appointed her to be his assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. in this role, ms. monaco was the president's chief adviser on foreign and domestic terrorism, cyber security and pandemic and natural disaster response. she served in the white house for the entire second term of the obama presidency. currently, she's a senior fellow at the nyu law school and harvard's belfort center for science and international affairs. so you all may or may not know that terry sanford was an fbi agent for two years. he fought in the ballottle of t bulge in world war ii. i think he would have been fascinated by lisa's career and proud to have her speaking at the sanford school. our moderator for tonight's event is the sanford school's own david sanzer, associate professor of public policy and director of our triangle center on terrorism and homeland security. so before we begin, it would be great if everyone would silence their cell phones.
and please join me in welcoming lisa to sanford for this very interesting topic. >> lisa monaco, there is not an inch of space left in this building. i don't know, do you have a secret social media following at duke, perhaps? >> not a secret any more, i guess. >> it's fantastic. and let me echo the provost. welcome to duke. we're so happy to have you. >> thank you. it is great, great, great to be here. thank you very much. >> great. well, let's dive right in. i want to start with an issue that's really in the headlines and on really everybody's minds this past -- almost two weeks, which is these historic storms that have caused such devastation in the caribbean and texas and florida and our hearts at the duke community, of course, go out to all those people who are still suffering,
trying to recover from these storms. and the pictures in the keys and houston and especially those islands are devastating. but i know that you, even when you entered the white house in 2013, that's six and a half years after katrina, a big part of your responsibilities were still hurricane recovery issues. so i wanted to ask you, what are the big issues kind of heading down the pike that the trump administration is not, you know -- is going to be very serious issues about cleanup, recovery, rebuilding, and what should they be doing to kind of prepare for very, very difficult public policy issues that are coming their way? >> well, thanks, david, for having me here. thank you, sally, for the introduction. you know, when i was preparing to come down here, i also saw that duke in many different forms is pouring out its heart and help to the communities down there.
so really, hats off to this community. and i got to sit down with some students and fellows over the course of the afternoon that i've been here, and i've already been wowed by the folks here and the work that you're doing. so it's really a pleasure to be here. look, irma and harvey kind of a 1-2 punch that has befallen the south and the southeast. the immediate issues, i think, are going to be in restoring power, particularly, obviously, in south florida. and getting crews in to get access to roads, to be able to get basic subsistence material in. generators, water, food, et cetera. fema is going to have to operate, and is already doing -- i think our kudos should go to brock long and and the administrator of fema and experts there who really have
been doing i think a magnificent job trying to manage both of these crises and bring the federal government's assistance to bear. in the immediate term, it's power, continued rescue operations, getting subsistence materials in there. over the longer term, from a strictly white house perspective, and having been in a role that had me juggling a number of different crises and not only responding to the crisis, but -- and this sounds boring, but focusing on the long-term implementation, right? maintaining focus. this is a challenge for any white house, right? after the cameras go away, after the breaking news banners go away, there is a lot of hard work of implementing the recovery. and that means bringing a full suite of tools to bear. it means housing recovery. this is a big issue in katrina.
we ended up having the then secretary of housing, sean donovan, chairing an interagency task force with everybody from hh -- the health and human services to the army core corps of engineers, understanding and thinking about how they were going to provide housing, rebuild at a resilient level. so focusing on the housing issues, you know, hundreds of thousands of people being displaced in florida alone. environmental issues. health issues. toxins in the floodwater. so there's a whole range of issues that the federal government is going to have to continue to focus on. maintaining that white house leadership and focus is a real challenge, as the crises from foreign and domestic will continue to come at officials in the white house. so that means setting up a structure that can be led from the white house with very clear goals and objectives to continue to implement. and it's going to be not weeks,
not days, but months and years for this recovery effort. >> yeah. so let's turn to the second huge issue in the headlines. the security council, of course, just this week imposed another round of sanctions on north korea. i want to kind of get to the high-level principle here. our policy in north korea, or position in north korea for a long time has been that kim jong-un should give up, or the north korean government should give up its nuclear weapons programs and denuclearize. and i wanted to ask you, just right from the get-go, is that a realistic position any more? is there any possibility that kim, who essentially believes that this -- these nuclear weapons are what is preventing him from being in the same boat as saddam hussein and gadhafi, both of whom either didn't get a nuclear weapons program or gave up their program, he sees this as a guarantee against that.
so what conceivable set of policies could actually ever persuade him to give those up? or has that train left the station? >> so, okay, i think we have to step back when we think about what ought to be our objective here, right? and let's think about who is this guy? right? who is kim jong-un? now, i and others have used words like he's unhinged. and, you know, trying to send the machine that he's not a rational actor. well, the fact of the matter is, he is exceedingly paranoid. he is indescribably violent. but he's rational. why do i say he's rational? he's rational, because he is, and it gets at what you just said, david. he is focused on, as his ancestry has been, on maintaining the regime's hold on north korea. and he does view his nuclear
capability as his ace in the hole. so i'm with jim clapper and other experts on this, which is to say that denuclearization is really not realistic. it does not seem -- at least there is no -- i haven't seen any signs that that's realistic. we should be focused, i think, on deterrents. and i would also say a key ingredient of deterrents is a credible threat of military action. so while i have differed and have done so publicly with some of the rhetoric on this about fire and fury and the like, i do believe a clear, consistent message, such as the one secretary mattis recently delivered of military options being on the table, as unattractive as they are, is an
important element of deterrence. >> so if we are ultimately going to have to rely on deterrence, is that -- do we have to accept mentally that we can live in a world where kim jong-un and actors such as he actually has the capability of launching a nuclear weapon at a large-scale american city? is that something we can tolerate? >> well, i think we have to be -- acknowledge that -- and we've been seeing this steady march. and it has been a steady march, right? he has developed a nuclear capability, and we have seen the most significant test now of a couple weeks ago. there's four elements, just to review here, for a threat that we are focused on here in the homeland. right? nuclear capability. we have seen a very significant test. missile delivery. we have seen repeated, steady march on testing of the missile
delivery system. miniaturization of a nuclear warhead that could be a fix to that missile delivery system. and we have seen some in a leaked intelligence report that one element of our intelligence community, the defense intelligence agency, believes that that capability is there. that miniaturization capability. i personally would like to see what a full intelligence community says about that. but still, very concerning. and the fourth element is reentry. the ability to put that miniaturized nuclear capability on to the missile delivery system and have it reenter the -- from the earth's atmosphere into the target. and that -- our intelligence community does not believe is there yet. but still, we have seen a steady march and a repeated effort to attain all of those capabilities. but as somebody who is focused on the threat to the homeland, we have to be very clear about where kim jong-un is on that
march. and so we should be focused on, in my view, deterrence. we should have a clear view about what -- where he is on that steady march to get those capabilities. we should be increasing our defense capability, and we are steadily doing that. we should be reassuring our partners and allies and working with them, south korea and japan being first among them, quite obviously. we should be working on a covert and other means to sabotage, derail, slow and roll back, hopefully, the gains that kim jong-un has made. and applying steady and increased pressure, including sanctions. and i give credit to, and i think the administration should be given credit for the successes they have had at the u.n. in unanimous security council resolutions. but those -- you know, some of the weaknesses of some have
already been pointed out. but nevertheless, they have been unanimous resolutions. and that has been very important. but we can do some on our own, as well. unilateral sanctions from the united states. pressure on china and chinese banks that continue to do business with north korea. so those are the tools that i think we should be employing all toward hopefully a diplomatic solution to this. >> so this week is also the 16th anniversary of 9/11, and we have held this distinguished lectureship many times on this anniversary. so it is a good time to reflect on that issue, which is, you know, take a lot of your time, i'm sure in the white house. and i want you to -- could you reflect for us, as well. if you look on the one hand, 16 years, there hasn't been any sort of attack, even in order of magnitude of the size of 9/11
here -- right, knock on wood, of course. so on that grounds, you would have to say we have been quite successful if you woke up on september 12th or 13th and said we would go a decade and a half without any kind of thing, you would have to say that would be a good deal. nonetheless, these al qaeda, isis-like-minded groups are incredibly resilient. they're active around the globe. and i'll just give some statistics from the state department's report on 2016 on terrorism. 11,000 terrorist attacks around the world. causing over 25,000 deaths. and 33,000 casualties. so as we sit here 16 years after the horrible events of 9/11, how should we evaluate how the united states and the world is doing against this terrorist threat? >> so it's very important to reflect on it. and no better time than two days after the anniversary of that horrible day. you used a word, though,
"resilient," in describing our terrorist actors and our terrorist enemies. it's not a word i would use. mostly because i associate that with positive traits. i think of communities being resilient, and individuals who have gone through great tragedy as being resilient. so i would -- not to fight the hypo, professor, but i would -- i would say we have faced a very adaptive enemy. and that's important -- that's an important distinction, in my mind. because it reminds us of where we need to go. right? so to get to the heart of your question, kind of how would i gauge our success or failure, i think by any measure, and you have said it, we have been successful in diminishing the threat of a complex, foreign-directed attack of catastrophic proportions, such as we faced and suffered on
9/11. and that is owing to the tremendous work across republican and democratic administrations from the military, intelligence, law enforcement, homeland security. diplomats. and we as a nation did a number of things to make that possible. we broke down cultural barriers to how we organize ourselves and share information. we changed our legal structures to make that more possible. and we changed our structures and we created new structures, including the organization that i was privileged to lead before i went to the white house, the national security division of the justice department. so we built up a net, an apparatus, to enable us to have success against that type of 9/11-style attack. now i said it's diminished. and i use that word specifically
because it is not zero. there are -- al qaeda's largest affiliate currently exists in syria. formally known as jabba tal nusra. i call them al qaeda and syria. it's a more accurate name. continues to plot and plan against the homeland. al qaeda and the arabian peninsula, isis. so we can't forget 16 years later, be complacent about the 9/11-style threat. but we're in a new phase, and we've got a lot more to do on that new phase. and that is the hallmark of which is the self radicalized individual, the individual sometimes known as a lone wolf. we can talk about that. or home-grown terrorist. and we've got a lot more to do on that score, because the net that we built, that i described, post 9/11, is not designed for
that threat. because those threat actors, san bernardino, orlando, the new york/new jersey plot from last summer, charlottesville. those actors don't come into the net that we built if we don't have contact with international terrorist groups, a shadowy group of hierarchical figures operating from caves in afghanistan. communicating with people here. if that's not the trait, that's the net we built. and we need to construct a new one. how do you understand when -- and see when something goes wrong in somebody's mind, such that they take a machine gun and kill 50 people in a bar in orlando? so the work that we have to do on this new phase is going to require partnerships. it's going to require innovation, working with the
tech industry on the role that social media plays in this. it's going to require our communities -- we've -- our focus post 9/11 was on the federal structures and interfacing with state and local law enforcement and our international partners. this next phase was going to require a lot more work from our communities here at home. and we've got some challenges ahead. >> yeah. i want to get to the homeland issues a little later. the great thing about being professor is you get to push back again. >> please do. >> and so let's take a look at what bin laden was trying to do. some people say he was just a religious zealot, out to kill people. but i happen to think he was -- had a lot of political goals, that he was a political actor, as well. he wanted to challenge the whole nation's state system that had been put in place by colonial powers in the middle east. he really wanted to create this clash of civilizations between
what he believed was a muslim community and the west. and he wanted to really impose a big economic cost on the united states for its role and interventionism in the u.s. and you could look at each of those goals and say he's made -- 16 years later, maybe some progress has been made on some of those things. so how do you -- is this movement that al qaeda started -- is it succeeding, or is it being pushed back? is it failing? >> so i think that, you know, the features of -- or bin laden's goals you laid out, those are all fair, and they show up in some of the papers coming that were covered out of the raid of abbottabad. you know, i think the picture you lay out is a valid one. but there also has been tremendous strife and division amongst the movement itself. you see the very nature of isis
is a -- comes from a schism with al qaeda central. but in support of your theory, professor, we have -- >> my hypothetical. >> yes. is what i think will likely be born out, which is that bin laden has passed the mantle to his son, humza, who has released four videos over the last year or 18 months. and so, you know, is he the new leader of the al qaeda movement? and i've already mentioned the the al-qaeda affiliate in syria as being one that, in my role in the white house, i was exceptionally focused on, which is why, quite frankly -- and the president was exceptionally focused on it --
amongst the first targets that the united states hit. so that has never been far from our mind. so, you know, on the other hand, you know, we have seen this evolution and this kind of disparate met asta sees of the movement that bin laden tried to -- tried to promote. and in many respects, discipline that he tried to impose on his organization to do complex, lengthy and planning acts like 9/11, that discipline has eroded. and we have had much more kind of opportunity, some of which we have not. so i think it has -- diminished in its cohesion, if nothing else. >> okay. let's turn to syria, since you
mentioned that. i'm sure it took up a large share of the white house. again, let's start at kind of a high-level spot. you know, did the obama administration let the -- and the united states let the syrian people down by not intervening in 2012 when the civil war was, you know, being heavily contest and had there was a chance to topple the assad regime? you know, looking back, there have been almost a half million people in syria, 6 million people internally displaced. over 4 million refugees. it's only a country of 20 million people. from a humanitarian perspective, truly a disaster. did we not fulfill our values by failing to do something to maybe have a different outcome right now? >> look, this was the hardest --
i think it's implicit in your question. probably the hardest issue that we dealt with as a national security team. and i say that not by way of excuse. but by acknowledging, and i think you're right to acknowledge your question, the -- you know, the complexity here was -- and continues to be something that is incredibly challenging when you think of a situation that has at any one time three or four civil wars going on within it, right? you talked about values. and it's important, i think -- i don't think we should shy from that. and in the situation room, where we dealt with a lot of problems, we wrestled with values questions, probably more than you might -- people might be comfortable, i suspect.
the guidepost -- we came at that, by recognizing that threats against the homeland and our allies and partners was the preeminent challenge we faced. coupled with syria. and made that our top priority. what were the threats to us, what were the threats to our allies and partners. what was -- what would action that we took -- would it be consistent with international law. would it be consistent with our humanitarian and moral obligations.
which is why we were the largest c contributor and i think still are in humanitarian aid in syria. so all of that went into the calculus time after time after time that we came at this. and you say, you know, should we have intervened at a prior time. the question is, one you always have to ask yourself at that table, and the president always asks himself at that table in the situation room, which is, what is the day after look like. and this is an issue that president obama i think was quite public about, saying in the libya context, we did not wrestle with enough up front. so, you know, people -- was there a time when assad might have been more vulnerable for removal. but in favor of what? right? what would come after? what would be institutions of the state look like after the fact?
so there's a number of values that go into those discussions at the situation room table. have to have one that you privilege. the president made our guidepost the national security interests of the united states. and we went after that relentlessly in the campaign against isis and al qaeda in iraq and in syria. and deployed our other tools, all in search of a diplomatic outcome in that country, which, unfortunately, i don't see us closer to than when i left the white house. >> yeah, i want to get to the isis campaign. but i want to ask a couple more questions about syria. another big controversial issue was syria's use of chemical weapons. the first time in 2013. president obama made the red line and then decided to essentially -- on the alternative, cut a deal with russia to help get large
stockpiles of chemical weapons out of syria. however, four years -- does that show that wasn't really a very good deal if there was yet another either saddam hussein -- looking back was that to take -- use force there to punish syria for doing that? >> i think that, you know, phrasing in terms of, you know, good deal or bad deal, no one should be under any illusions. because we certainly weren't. president obama certainly wasn't. that putin was an honest actor in any of these settings. he -- his goal has been, and his intervention there has been to protect his client state in the form of assad. to maintain access to the base.
and to really assert and project russian power in the region. but mostly to protect his client states. so, you know, this -- the summer of 2013 was by no means something entered into as thinking that you've got an even dealer or a player on the other side who is on the level. because i don't think anybody has any illusions about putin in that regard. the fact of the matter is, in the face of congress refusing to even take a vote on the president's request, president obama's request for authority to conduct the strike he wanted to take, and that he believed that that action -- of any u.n. security council solution or basis in international law, that there ought to be congressional approval and there ought to be
congressional weighing in on this. congress refused to even vote on the question. and so entering into the arrangement and the agreement with russia and others in the international community was, i think, an appropriate way to handle that. but there's no -- there's no illusions that -- and we have seen this since, that russia was a -- to get at the heart of your question, that russia was an actor or is an actor that's playing on the level. >> so fast forward four years later, the same thing happens and president trump decides to use air strikes against syria. and when he did so, an assistant secretary in the obama administration, anna maria slaughter tweeted this. she said, finally, after years of useless hand-wringing in the face of idiot atrocities. so did trump do the right thing in his response?
>> i think what he did was a -- i think it was -- the right use of our -- to enforce the norm against the use of chemical weapons. but i think we should be asking, and should be focused on in service of what broader strategy. so the answer to your question is yes. as a -- as an enforcement of the norm against the use of chemical weapons, i support it. but i also think we need to understand and know in what -- in service of what strategy was that done. and importantly, look, we've got partners in the region who have long wanted us to take exactly the type of action that trump did. i would like to know, how could we and how did we -- how could we use that as leverage with
partners that we have to do a number of things. they have been reluctant or very slow to do. >> because the campaign that president obama put together, i'm sure with your assistance, to address -- claimed the caliphate will be disciplined. but the question is, if this is winning the war, what needs to be done to win the peace in this region? i wonder if you could talk about both iraq and maybe syria.
more attractive alternative than the iraqi government at the time to be governed by. so now that isis is being moved out of that area, how does the peace get won in these regions? >> so, like any good professor, the answer is kind of in a kernel of what you said there, right? i think it has to begin in both iraq and syria with addressing what were some of the causal factors in the first instance. so you mentioned, let's take iraq, right? isis was born of the grievances -- sunni grievances that went unaddressed by the maliki government. so to kind of put a fine point on it, and you alluded to this, you had sunni population, some former military and some civilian populations, in -- had
the following choice. i go to fight for the government that is the malaaky government, not addressing my grievance. hasn't done anything to indicate i could be part of an inclusive government. or a deal with a group that would kill, maim, chop of the head of my family members. so they're left with that choice. you're quite right, they rolled through places like fallujah and other areas to -- their ranks. so one of the reasons why, before the isis campaign began in earnest in 2014, one of the conditions of our entry into that and entry into that campaign and deployment of forces was to figure out, are we going to have a partner that we
can work with. and is that partner going to be rooted in an inclusive government. or at least making steps towards and down that road. and that came to pass with the abadi government. and we saw a number of signs of that in 2014, which created the conditions in president obama's view for us to begin that work in earnest with the iraqi government and the iraqi security forces. so the winnings of peace has to have the ingredients that were absent that allowed the disorder to fester in the first place. that is, continued inclusive governance. abadi has got its shia -- they have to address. and we see iran and its proxies making continued malicious
activity in the area in iraq and syria and other places. but inclusive governance has got to be the first ingredient. and continued work with the security forces who now slowed to i think some 100,000 in iraq having steady gains and we have to continue to support them in many respects and work with them and assure them that we will be in it for some time to come. >> well you didn't mention the third group in iraq. and that would be the kurds. >> yep. >> ethnically different from the arabs, but religiously with the sunni. they turned out to be the best fighters -- among the best fighters against isis, and were working with us just as closely, i guess, as the iraqi army. they are having a plebiscite this month on independence, and the u.s. is actually opposing
that. how -- how do you see this desire after, you know, having isis ravage one of their main cities and threaten to go through even the capital? how can they be denied, in essence, a chance to be independent and express their -- some form of sovereignty? >> yeah. i think this is one -- and, you know, brett mcgurk made these remarks. and i think he's got it right. he's the special envoy for the -- counter isis coalition, both under president obama and now under president trump. and there's no better and longer career expert on these issues. and brett said recently that now is not the time because of the precarious point at which we are just, you know, trying to focus on the stabilization operations after mosul and trying to make
sure that that continues a pace. so, you know, his point was that now is not the time in the next, what, two weeks for this -- for this vote. and i think he's right. we're at a particularly sensitive time on that. and our goal has been, both in the obama administration and now in the trump administration, to be very clear that we are working with the iraqi government, and i think we've got to continue in that vein for a little while. i didn't answer before your question about winning the peace in syria. >> let me get to -- go ahead, yeah. >> we can't be ignoring that. look, similar response, though, in terms of what is the peace -- so-called peace going to be rooted in. that is in local control of these areas that isis has been pushed out of. one of the reasons the syria problem has been so hard is that
unlike in iraq, they'll contrast the challenge in syria with that in iraq. in iraq, we had a partner. we have a partner. steadily growing more and more capable in the form of the iraqi security forces. no such partner exists, or existed in syria for a good long time in this campaign. and we have, you know, gone through many iterations of trying to support and build up a partner force, as has been written about. we are having success with the syrian defense forces and with a group of kurdish -- syrian/kurdish forces. but the challenge here is going to be getting and it's going to have to be arab forces that control those places where isis has been pushed out. and that is a big challenge, which is one of the reasons i mentioned before, we would like to see -- i would have liked to have seen and i think we would have in the obama administration, liked to have seen our arab partners bring
more to the table over the course of iraq. >> if they don't, does that mean the u.s. is going to be there, essentially trying to protest the sunni populations from the kurds, from the assad government, from the iranians? what's the role of the united states in this? >> well, i think the trump administration has been quite clear that that is not going to be our role. and that it's going to have to be local arab forces that move in there. and, you know, the -- the reports are training that we have been doing and that those efforts are being -- are proceeding very, very swiftly, very strongly. that the courses in the training we're doing is oversubscribed to hear the experts and to hear brett mcgurk tell it. >> so if isis is disintegrating in iraq and syria, we have this
question about all of these people who left europe to come and fight. and we know in the tens of thousands. and we have seen these truck attacks which seem to be very difficult to defend in many cities in europe. so two questions about that. is this going to be increasing the threat over the next years, both in europe and the united states? and second, you know, have the europeans really upped their game enough to deal with the threat level that we're -- that they are facing now? >> yeah. this is a big, big challenge. so to kind of go back to your pull-back question at the start -- we are two days after the 9/11 anniversary. what's the threat look like? you know, diminished, but not zero threat of catastrophic internationally directed 9/11-style attack. the lone wolf/homegrown/self
radicalized attack we have seen here. and adding to that mix, the threat of foreign fighters and kind of a hybrid attack, such as we saw in barcelona very recently and paris and brussels, of course, and other places. and here i do worry, considerably, about the continued foreign fighter threat. now, just to put this in some perspective. at the height of the conflict and over the course of the conflict, you have had some that the experts -- from -- the estimates from the national counterterrorism center are about 40,000 foreign fighters from about 120 countries have flown in to the conflict. now, those numbers are drastically down. but two words of caution. one, the numbers are based on information that we know. which sounds a little bit, you know, duh, right? that's basic conclusion.
but that's only because we have gathered and had contributed to foreign fighter watch lists and the like from our partners. that's the information we know and can deduce who those foreign fighters are. there is a great wealth of information that i worry that we don't have. and the other issue -- so we shouldn't be overly confident, i think, in those numbers. but i think we can be confident that they've gone down. now, the european counterterrorism coordinator recently said that he thinks there's about 2,500 european foreign fighters still in the islamic state. and the message there is, his concern that they're ready to travel back and go back to their source country. you know, there we've got to be exceptionally concerned that they're going to be more capable than when they left. and traveled to join the
caliphate. and so the question you ask about european capabilities is really a critical one. we're at the 16th anniversary of 9/11. we've already talked this evening about the changes we made. we underwent a sea change in how we think about this problem. we changed our orientation about how to deal with intelligence. we changed our structures. the europeans have not had that moment. strange as it may seem, even though they have been suffering a steady diet of these attacks. so the deficiencies, unfortunately, in intraeuropean sharing amongst european countries, as well as steadily increasing their information-sharing with us have got to be an area of focus for us. because they have a -- the wall that we talk about here between our law enforcement and
intelligence communities that contributed to us missing some of the, quote, docs for 9/11, that wall exists, unfortunately, in even some of our best european partners. and, you know, our focus ought to be more rapid exchange of information and intelligence with them, but really working with our european partners. the french, the belgians and others to break down that wall. because they're facing a real -- a real risk of those returnees who have a lot more capability. >> so we're going to soon turn to questions from our audience. a lot of people are listening or watching and listening on our live feed. and they can tweet in a question to @dukesanford. we're going to give this a try. and others, since there are others -- there's a microphone there.
there's another microphone over here. we'll be able to take a bunch of questions from our audience. but let me turn from very far abroad to pretty close to home for for and acc southern university, what happened in charlottesville and uva. you know, as you know, i've studied a lot of the preventive efforts that we are making to try to address the threats that we face inside the united states. and i look principally at what was going on during the obama administration, because that's when these efforts really took on a more robustness. and, you know, quite frankly, the vast bulk of the resources really seemed to be directed at working with muslim communities to try to deal with the al qaeda, isis-related threat to the homeland. and there really wasn't that much you could find directed towards the other threats, the right wing extremism.
the white supremacy. the trump administration has even gone further and cancelled some of the programs that were -- the small numbers of programs the obama administration had gotten going. so i guess i would i guess i'd like to ask you what should our federal government be doing to be trying to counteract these groups that have a first amendment right to believe what they want, they have a first amendment right to protest, to put up websites, but they don't have a first amendment right to try to intimidate people with violence to engage in violence. what should be done about that problem? >> well, first, i think we need to recognize that the problem is not confined to the muslim community, certainly, and i think we made real strides to try and constantly reinforce that point in the obama
administration. a lot of ink has been spilled on nomenclature countering violent extremism, part of that was clear that violence in service of hate regardless of its ideologic backing should be unacceptable in a rule of law society. so one thing is being very clear about what is part of the problem. and, look, i think we in the obama administration made a series of changes in how we structured this. the first was to try and treat this as a matter of concerted outreach with communities, you know. we have to also recognize -- in addition to recognizing what's part of the problem set, it is how are you best going to get at it, right? and i think we realized pretty early on that this is not a top
down problem you can solve. the solutions have got to come from the community itself. this goes back to what i was saying about the challenge we have in this new phase in the fight against terrorism, which is the threat is not susceptible in all respects to the net that we built after 9/11. communities have got to be part of this infrastructure and part of this solution. they've got to be part of our efforts here because they're the ones who are going to be able to identify and also provide offerings to individuals who are becoming radicalized to violence. so it's a lot tougher problem and a lot tougher for law enforcement and the intelligence community. so recognizing what's in the problem set, recognizing how best to come at it through communities and then how do you organize yourself to do that?
the obama administration we sought as a challenge of outreach in many respects and if you think about how the federal government is set up, we are widest -- we have our widest array of presence in many respects in our law enforcement presence and maybe that was a mistake, because many communities chief among them the muslim community felt like we were securityizing the relationship with the muslim community or communities where we were trying to conduct outreach to because our chief kind of spokesman or point of outreach was the u.s. attorney in many areas. to function more as a coordinator and as a hub for best practices with communities
with, with schools, with public health administrators, with afterschool programs and the like and we house them in the department of homeland security and it's that office that you reference that has been cut from a budgetary perspective and the grants that it had apportioned to a range of different groups including those focused on combatting hate from white nationalism and extreme and far right groups that some of those grants have been pulled back quite regrettably. >> okay. do we have any audience questioners from the first floor up there? go ahead. tell us who you are first and ask your question. >> my name is matt king and i'm a senior here at duke and i just wanted to know from your time in the white house, working with our allies overseas -- the
relationship with the uk on counterterrorism matters was critical and i was -- i was on the phone with my counterpart in the uk when i looked up at the tv and saw that bombs had gone off in boston, my third week on the job, by the way, in the white house -- i had a button on my phone that was a secure phone that connected directly to hip. so that -- that is the unique relationship probably closer than any others. but one of the things we learned after 9/11 was we had to be able to form degrees of those
relationships because the intelligence sharing, the partnered operations. we'll have to come not only from our closest and best allies but we're going to have to work with others. that presented problems in some areas and presented challenges with some -- to the credit of the intelligence community and i will say drawing on my fbi experience, one of the things that bob mueller did was to really focus on -- i logged a lot of miles with him -- in
questions look, you asked a complex set of questions. let me give a little bit of a frame for how we approach this issue and how president obama approached this issue. the -- we operated from the premises that we were going to work with partners to disrupt threats, to the united states and u.s. persons abroad wherever we could, but where that threat was posed and our partner was unwilling or able to address that threat, we would act unilaterally consistent with law and with our values. and it was very important to president obama to have that framework around our operations and he made sure that we were putting those operations and conducting those operations in the context of something we
called the presidential policy guidance, which basically said we're going to have a floor here, we have to make sure that the target is a lawful target, first and foremost, but then always ask ourselves is the action that we're taking, the gravest action any nation can take, is that required because this is a continuing imminent threat to our country and u.s. person and apply the highest standard -- it was important to him that we apply the highest standard that we can apply to those actions and this is outside the area of active hostility. i'm terms of context of terror threats outside of traditional hot battlefields. he said we're going to ask ourselves question to make sure that we are -- we apply the highest standard we can apply, near certainty that that lawful target that poses a threat to us, an imminent threat to us is
present and that no civilians will be killed or injured in the conduct of that operation setting out that framework. and it was important he believed to have that framework to guide and apply rigger to those very weighty decisions, guided first and foremost by protecting the united states and our people but also so that we could set some type of standard and norms for the use of a technology that was proliferating and continues to proliferate and also so that we could apply some transparency about how we're making these decisions and pushback, quite frankly, on terrorist propaganda about our operations. so the kind of shorter answer i suppose to your question is, when you're faced with those most weighty decisions in the
gravest power a government can exercise, it was very important to president obama that we do so consistent with the rule of law and in a framework that would stand the test of time for not only united states but for others around the world who might also be using this technology. >> president trump when he campaigned he said he was going to loosen all the rules of engagements, yet the generals do what they wanted and unshackle the military. do you think that in this 7 1/2, eight months that he's been in office has he maintained this framework or has it been jetsoned? >> i think it's useful to distinguish two things, the question here was about -- or i responded with a -- the policy that we adopted and operated under when it comes to
addressing terrorist threat emanating from what we call outside of areas of active hostility, so outside the hot battlefield of afghanistan or iraq and syria. with regard to your question and the statements from the president and for instance, the isis campaign, i think it's been pretty clear and the statements from the military and others have been that there has been a greater delegation of authority for the exercise of certain operations, special operations' raids, decisions to deploy troops further -- further down range as they say in iraq and syria and that delegation has gone on and that that has been quite fruitful in terms of the pace, tempo of operations. brett mcgirt said in a briefing recently that some 30% of the territory that has been -- that isis has been pushed out of occurred in the last seven or
eight months. so i think you can't argue with those kind of metrics, that that delegation probably has had something to do with it if you listen to the commanders. and i'm not opposed to that, because i think every commander in chief should be able to take a look at how he is managing the operations, right, and sitting down with the commanders to decide how are we going to handle this the decision making and our national security apparatus, but i want to make sure, i think we should all be concerned if the -- if there's no process to that decision making. in other words, if the experts aren't being consulted, if there is not a clear process for deciding where should that authority be delegated too. so the long and short of it is, i think the delegation down
probably has born some is fruit in the tempo of operations and that is -- that's a good thing in terms of what it's done in the isis campaign, but there's got to be some rigger around deciding where you draw that line. >> let's do another question from here. >> my name's miranda. i have a question. president obama notably said of countering violent extremism, ideology are not defeated with guns. programs have on rooting out ideologic reasoning behind violence specifically with the lone wolf actor you mentioned previously. how do you quantify whether or not they're effectively achieving this purpose in the future? >> so that is a huge, huge challenge for us.
metric. you're really asking about metrics for things like cbe pramds. this is one of the things that has been the biggest question mark in how -- how we use these programs and how much we expand things like the office i mentioned the counterand violent extremism with set up. one of the ways i think to arrive at better metrics for this is to do more and see -- and research what that yields. we haven't done enough research. we need a lot more research on what causes radicalization. we've got some theories, right and experts in this will it's from the law enforcement end, from the social scientists and others. they've got their theories but i think we got a lot more to learn on what causes radicalization. how do we understand what that
process looks like? what are the best ways of going about combatting isis and its narrative? what is going to be the most resonate counter narrative to what isis is putting out? what are going to be the best programs that work in different types of communities? we got to do more so we can learn more and so the answer is not to shut those things down. >> thank you very much. my name's ted. i'm a student in the law school and also an alum of the undergrad program. touching on the trump administration's strategy in afghanistan. in his recent book a world in disarray, there are two possible strategies in afghanistan. one, which he endorses is focused on counterterrorism, mainly drone strikes and second focused on building institutions, presumably with more boots on the ground. given your understanding of the
situation in afghanistan, which strategy do you think best serves american interests and what do you make of the trump's administration strategy there? >> so the answers going to be both, which is in essence what i think we were doing and which i think president trump has now continued and doubled down on in his most recent speech. building up security and security institutions in afghanistan whether it's afghanistan or yemen for that matter or libya for that matter, those institutions have got to be in place if they're going -- if that partner, if that state is going to be able to spawn a capable counterterrorism force that's going to be able to address the threat before it comes to the homeland. so i think we -- the obama administration, the bush administration all had the theory of we should be working
with partners to address the threat where it is before it comes to us. the ingredients to that, though, means you have to have a partner who has to be able to exist in a secure enough environment for them to operate and as i told another group i spoke to earlier today, those same security -- same security apparatus in this country have to feel confident they're going to get paid and it's not a corrupt system otherwise why would they continue to put their lives on the line. so it's all a continuum. we can't really look at this in isolation. >> i lusen to trump's speech very carefully, we're not doing nation building in afghanistan any more, so are you saying that he was not being fully forthright on that issue or -- >> no. i think you can look at president obama's speech who also said we weren't doing nation building -- >> what is building up
institutions means? isn't that nation building? >> no. i actually disagree, right? i think you can look at some of the things we did in contrast in trying to supplant and do the work of the state, for instance, in iraq and aftermath of the iraq war, supplanting and doing for the state as opposed to supporting training, advising and assisting those apparatus to get them off the ground. doing nation building is i think -- there is a distinction between working with partners and building up their capacity. now, in the latter you've got to have enough risk tolerance depending on the situation that you're in and the situation in that country. we, as the united states, have
to have a sufficient risk tolerance to be there to support those security forces to take one example, to be willing to go on that joint raid with them, to give them the confidence to conduct that counterterrorism operation, all of that you then run the risk -- are you going to get drawn in and this is the constant debate and battle that we face as a nation, as a national security community. so i do think there's a distinction to be drawn but i don't think you can really separate out the counterterrorism capability from existing enough in a state that has enough security institutions to allow it to survive and thrive. >> katelyn, do you have a question from our online audience? >> yes. so we are live streaming this event. i will ask one on behalf -- he wants to know could the current
societal risk be used against us and capitalized on by terrorist organizations? >> yes. no, i mean, it's a great question and it is a very clear answer. a former colleague of mine wrote a piece in just in the last day or two talking about how our polarized environment, whether it's rhetoric, whether it's politics does contribute to and feed into the divide that our enemies and our terrorists enemies would like to see and if that's not reason enough to get us to come at this differently i'm not sure what is. >> thank you. question from the top. >> hi, thank you so much for being here tonight. and also i just wanted to say it's really awesome to see a woman whose so successful in national security. i really appreciate that. i'm -- my name's leah. i'm a sophomore and a student in
the counterterrorism policy class and i know hindsight is 20/20 in terms of north korea if you felt that there's more that you could've or would've done with the obama administration to address the nuclear threat there? >> thanks for your question, thanks for being here. i think that the professor here may have stacked the audience with some of -- you're right that hindsight is 20/20, i think it's a constant balance and question about where to apply pressure unilaterally as the united states on pivotal actors like china, right who really do -- experts are fond to saying all roads to the solution of this go through china. they're the single biggest trading partner with north korea, they're the ones most concerned about a
dissolution on the peninsula there, so could we have calibrated more or less at various times the pressure that we as the united states as opposed to in a multilateral applied to china, potentially, but you can't be -- this is one of the great things about this area that we're all talking about and that you all are studying or many of you are studying, you can't -- it's not easy. you can't look at these things in isolation and it's going to be a multi-layered problem at any point in time that you're looking at any one of these questions. so i think you're right at the start. hindsight's always 20/20. >> i want to sum up by asking one final question. i'm sure we're not going to get all the students who i planted in the audience in on that. i didn't tell them what to say, i can assure you that. the question is about a careers and being a student here and
national security, interested possibly in a career and of course you had a long and fruitful career really starting right from the start in public service. a, what should they be thinking about doing now to prepare themselves for that, and for those who are going to be getting their well earned degrees either graduate degrees or undergraduate degrees in may and let's say they're a little -- they don't have the same ideologic bent as the current administration, should they factor that in when they're trying to decide whether to pursue at least federal public service right now or what should they think about? >> so on the last part of the question, this is -- it's a highly personal decision about how you weigh what's important to you from a policy perspective and where you're going to work if you go into public service at the federal level or at any
level but in the current environment. i think you should know what your lines are, right? is there a particular issue that is so important to you that you couldn't be part of a policy implementation or policy development along a certain line and know what those lines are, have a hard conversation with yourself about what you want to be apart of. don't be scared off of public service because the current moment is one that is scary to you or depressing to you or makes you uneasy. i think the recipe for those things invariably is to engage, to think about it, to get yourself educated, to engage with ideas you disagree with and so now i'll get to your first part of your question, really, folks who i talked to earlier today heard me say a little bit of this, but, you know, i like
to tell people who ask me how do i get this or that job and what should i be doing now, i give you a very liberating answer, rest assured you are not forgetting to do something right now. you are not missing a particular path because there is no one path. you've got to be open to opportunities that come your way even if they look like they were outside of your plan. that ought to be a clue that it might be fruitful and expose yourself to different ideas and different pursuits, to ideas that you disagree with. follow people on twitter that you disagree with, engage with ideas that get you out of your comfort zone. don't stay in your own echo chamber because you may find that there's a whole different world that you're interested in either to engage with more, to combat, to fight against or refine your own thinking.
so be open to different possibilities, don't think there's one track. that's what's great about being in a place like duke. you can find out all those things now. >> with that wonderful answer, i'm left with two more tasks. the first is to give you a very small token of our appreciation and i imagine that when you wake up in the morning and you turn on some of the -- whether it's cnn or "morning joe" or whatever you watch and you're seeing some of your successors, whether it be h.r. mcmasters or tom bossert dealing with questions and getting hammered by the press and choosing between leech bed options that you have a nice big cup of coffee and you say to yourself, i'm glad that's not me. >> yes. >> and so when you're having one of those cups of coffee, i hope you'll remember us from the duke sanford and counterterrorism
coffee travel mug and i'm second duty is to ask all of you to thank lisa monaco for enlightening us this evening. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you. senate republicans announced today that this week's agenda will not include a vote on the latest republican health care proposal as previously expected. senate republicans made the announcement after meeting with the vice president behind closed doors this afternoon during their weekly lunches. as of yesterday, there were three republicans who publicly
opposed the health care bill, meaning any path forward would likely fall short of the 51 votes that were needed. republicans were hoping to pass the measure before budget reconciliation rules expire at the end of this week. as a result, any health care legislation beyond that point will now require 60 votes to pass. as always, you can follow what's happening in the senate live over on c-span2. later this afternoon former national intelligence director james clapper talks about his career and the role of the intelligence community. he'll be sitting down for a conversation at george washington university. we'll have live coverage at 6:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span3. this year's theme is the constitution and you. and we're asking students to choose a provision of the u.s. constitution and create a video
illustrating what it's important. our competition is open to all middle school and high school students. grades 6 through 12. students can work alone or in a group of up to three to produce a five to seven minute documentary on the provision selected. include some cspan programming and also score opposing opinions. $100,000 will be awarded in cash prizes. the grand prize of $5,000 will go to the students or team with the best overall entry. this year's deadline is january 18th, 2018. for more information go to our website student cam.org. now part of last week's american era convention in washington. part of the event included two democratic u.s. house candidates in michigan and california. they talked about their reasons for seeking elected office and outreach efforts to muslim americans, latinos and millennials. this is just under two hours.