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  Mike Pompeo on National Security  CSPAN  October 27, 2017 1:56pm-3:10pm EDT

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>> a 14 foot swag over the front door which is carved with lilies and flowers and griffins and acorns and everything you can think of. it's very lush over the front door. probably the finest example of carving in america for 100 years. >> american history tv all weekend every weekend only on cspan3. cia director mike pompeo now on national security policy including cyber security and threats from isis, iran, russia, and north korea. also the modernization of intelligence gathering capabilities. [ applause ] good morning, everybody. i hope everyone's doing well. i want to thank cliff, mark, and the fdd team for hosting this incredibly important and timely national security forum. obviously i want to thank
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director pompeo for taking time out of his incredibly busy schedule to take time to reflect on the national security issues of the day. there's no secret here. i'm not an unbiased journalist. i'm a fan of this director. i worked on his transition. frankly, i love the man. so i believe in the concept of putting your biases out front before beginning the questions. but mr. director, welcome, it's great to see you again. >> it's not a condition of my appearance you that be the moderator, but it all worked out. >> thank you, sir. i appreciate it. >> you know, the director is a soldier, a lawyer, an entrepreneur, congressman, and is doing great work at the cia. what i think we want to do today with the audience and with those joining us vi alive stream is talk about not just the issues of today that are in the newspaper, but some of the trends and issues you have to deal with as the director of the cia and in the intelligence
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community. we often get captured by the media and you obviously not only have to deal with that but deal with how we're think being our national security five, ten, 15, 20 years out. i want to make sure we talk about some of those issues. there's no question there's a sense of dislocation in the world, a sense the map is shifting in some ways, that power itself is shifting including with the role of nonstate actors. major issues before us, north korea, iran, major policy shifts with the fall of raqqah as the capital of isis. china's party congress happening as we speak. lots going on in the world. and so let's get into it. mr. director, first talking about iran, the president gave his speech on october 13th reshaping u.s. policy on iran. i think the first question is this is why was that speech and that shift necessary and is iran
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in violation of the jcpoa or what's the animating principle behind this shift? >> thanks for the question and let me say thanks to fdd for hosting this. thanks to clifford for inviting me here. i look forward to a great conversation on lots of topics including certainly this very important topic, the threat of the islamic republican of iran presents to the united states. i think that's the right way to enter your question. we often focus a lot on the jcpoa and i'm happy to share the intelligence elements that are buried there, but the president has come to view the threat from iran is at the center of so much of the turmoil that bogs us down in lots of places in the middle east and the hezbollah and the threat it presents to lebanon and isreal, whether it's the shiite militias. you can see the impact they're having today in northern iraq, the threat they pose to u.s. forces in an incident last week.
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the list of lawniiran transgres is wrong. from an intelligence perspective, we shared that with the president and he thinks we need to reconfigure. >> there's been a lot of focus on the deal and whether or not there's certification under the u.s. law that require the president to certify every 90 days. what's -- what's your sense of where we're headed with the deal? because there has been so much focus, especially from our european allies on the centrality of the jcpoa in context of the relation with iran. the president seems to be shifting that in the policy and i think the administration seems
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to be not just pushing on the deal or around the deal, but how do you explain your view of the jcpoa and the role it plays in the policy? >> i think that's true. i will leave and i think this is fact, i don't do policy in that same way today. general mcmaster being a little bit. you give him all the hard time you want. but i will say this. the missions that the president laid out with respect to the deal was to ensure that there were no pathways for the iranians to achieve a nuclear capability. so not put a president in the future in the same place this administration is with respect to north korea. to close down all the various avenues. and so there are many pieces to that from an intelligence perspective. we need even more intrusive inspection. the deal put us in a marginally better place, but the iranians have on multiple occasions been capable of presenting a continued threat through covert efforts to develop their nuclear program along multiple
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dimensions. the missile dimension, the weaponization effort, the nuclear component itself. so we need to make sure from an intelligence perspective that we're able to do that and the president has given us the resources to go achieve that in all the various tools that we have or the various legal authorities. and so when the president stared at the deal and asked us what this meant inside of iran, two years, three years, the difference of a breakout time across a handful of months, it didn't seem satisfactory to him. that's not no surprise. he's tweeted about it. it didn't seem satisfactory to him. so he asked us to evaluate how we might present a more comprehensive effort to pushback against the force, the irgc, the iranian regime itself. the notion that the entry into the jcpoa would curtail iranian
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adventurism or their terror threat or their malignant behavior has new proven to be fundamentally false. >> has the opposite happened? have they gotten more aggressive than you would anticipate? >> so it depends on which dimension. they've been developing their missile system pretty consistently for an extended period of time now. in terms of testing, about the same as where they were pre-jcpoa. but their desire to put guided rocketetry in the hands of hezbollah, the effort launching missiles or attempting to launch missiles to the emirates and into saudi, these are new and aggressive and show no signs of having been curtailed by the commerce they've achieved through having the europeans back in the game in iran. >> now, it's not new that they've been engaged in this adventurous sort of activity from a u.s. perspective.
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when we talk about pushing back, what does that mean from your perspective? because i reflect on the head of the irgc, the revolutionary guard corp sort of showing up in all the wrong places at all the wrong times from a u.s. perspective. he was just in kirkuk in the middle of this conflict. >> i'm aware of that. >> i figured you were. how do we pushback? they seem to be pushing on all of the pressure points. and what does that mean for us to be able to confront and pushback? >> all the tools that are available of u.s. power. so i'll begin with a handful. we could talk about this for a long time, but i'll begin with a handful. it has been far too inexpensive for the iranians to conduct this. we should raise the cost of that. the agency has an incredibly important role there providing the intelligence basis to help
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not only us but our partners in the region which is the second piece. we need all of our partners. sometimes i hear talk about jcpoa and our partners, and barely a mention of the saudis and -- we need them all. treasury too has an important role. ron, you lived this in your role as treasury. the secretary is aware of the tools in his arsenal. think about this today. imagine you're a -- the iranians have complained a great deal that they haven't seen the ben knits, the economic benefits they expected. but imagine you're a european ceo or board of directors or a lender. the intelligence community struggles to figure out which companies are controlled by the icgc. it is a difficult, complex intelligence undertaking to sort out which entities are
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controlled by the force, which ones have shareholders. it is intentionally opaque. but as much as 20% of the iranian economy is controlled by them. imagine you're a business person deciding whether it was appropriate to take that risk, whether the return was there for your company. i think we can make it even more difficult and i think in order to pushback against all of these nonnuclear activities, put aside the nuclear issues and the deal, to pushback against these nonnuclear activities is something the president is intent on doing. >> let me ask you a couple more questions. i think the iran policy, the jcpoa debate are sort of windows into other trends and factors. how have our allies or even adversaries reacted to that speech in the policy shift? you hear what -- you hear what you hear publicly s. the. is there a different line privately? >> i can't share a whole lot
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there other than to say there is consensus of the iranian threat. again, just to push aside for a moem t moment the nuclear threat, not to diminish that is the perspective to keep them from achieving a nuclear capability to launch weapons, but there is enormous consensus, global consensus to pushback against the iranians there. i've certainly heard that in private conversations with my intelligence counterparts, them desiring to work alongside us to build out the intelligence picture such that we can deliver to all of our policymakers the best information in the right places. the levers so they can decide when which ones they want to pull. i have not heard a single one of them deny the core of what president trump said in his speech which is that iranian behavior is threatening not only the united states but the west at large as well. >> i want to segue to a couple of other issues feeding off of this speech.
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the speech highlighted two things that i think went largely unnoticed. one was the discussion of iranian support to terrorism and of course we know the typical sort of argument around that and the data we have, hezbollah, hamas, proxies in iraq. but the president mentioned al qaeda and the taliban as well. i thought that was interesting in part because we've known all along there have been links between the two. the treasury department has designated actors who have been in iran and supported. the 9/11 commission raised the question frankly that was unanswered with respect to iran's potential role on 9/11 and the president actually raised it quite openly which i found to be really startling and interesting. can you talk about that, the iranian al qaeda lengths that the president mentioned? >> i can't say a whole lot more than he said.
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but i think it's an open secret and not classified information that there have been relationships, there are connections. there have been times the iranians have worked alongside al qaeda. we actually say is going to release here in a handful of days a series of documents related to the raids that may prove interesting to those who are looking to take a look at this issue a little bit for the. but there have been connections where at the very least they've cut deals so as not to come after each other. that is they viewed the west as a greater threat than the fight between them along the ideological lines. the intelligence community has reported on this for an awfully long time and something we are very mindful of. with the defeat of the real estate proposition in syria and iraq for isis, we watch what's going on. you've got isis folks, al qaeda folks up in the north. we're watching to see if there
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aren't places where they work together for a common threat against the united states. >> let's take that threat, because it then goes to this issue of the fall of raqqah and the diminishment of territory that isis controls. but it also raises the question of the scramble for territory and what american interests and even presence looks like as isis is hopefully more quickly defeated. what is your sense of where american presence and influence goes in syria and iraq now that isis seems to be on its way out or at least less in control of territory better said? >> you know what? i'd prefer to leave the policy piece to that in terms of how the president is going to think about that to others. but let's be clear. we have one stated policy from the president that's very clear with respect to south asia and the threat that not only the
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tally ban -- taliban presents. the president has made an unconditioned commitment that is no timeline commitment to defeating the threat to the west from radical islamic terrorism in afghanistan. i'm confident that the intelligence community will continue to deliver an understanding to the president such that he can shape the policies he's going to follow in syria to pushback not only against iran but the syrian regime and to ensure that the body government in iraq is successful as well. >> from the director's perch, what's the ideal scenario from your perspective in terms of an a ability to operate in these places? obviously afghanistan gives you that with the troop deployments and without a timeline. but what does that look like in iraq and syrian context, especially when we're not
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committed to nation building? that's the president's stated policy. what does that look like from an intel chief's perspective? >> we obviously benefit when there are larger u.s. footprint in the places we're trying to collect intelligence. there's no doubt about that. but there are a bunch of places that we operate even as we sit here this morning in the confines of a nicely air conditioned hotel. that we're got folks out in harm's way untethered from a whole lot of help from american support doing really good work to get information. our intelligence collection mission won't change whether there's a big u.s. footprint, small u.s. footprint or no u.s. footprint. we will have to figure out a way to achieve that, regardless of what the u.s. posture is in any of those particular places. >> you mentioned the afghanistan policy in south asia. secretary tillerson is going out to india. gave a speech yesterday talking about the importance of that
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partnership. the chairman of the joint chiefs a few weeks ago talked about pakistan and some of the difficulties we've had obviously with the pakistanies, the ties, relationships, maybe even facilitation of terrorist actors that have been dangerous for u.s. troops and interests. thinking about that part of the world and the role that you play, what is the right steady state for a relationship with pakistan at a time when we're obviously doubled down on afghanistan, are committing to india, but seem to be confronting pakistan a bit more soberly these days? >> i think history would indicate that high expectations for the pakistanisingne willing should be set at a very low level. our intelligence would indicate the same, that is i think we
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should have a very real conversation with them about what it is that they're doing and what it is they could do and the american expectations for how they will behave. look, they're an important country sitting in an important place. secretary tillerson's statement i think is right about our desire to have a constructive relationship with the pakistanis. but equally the president has made very clear we're going to do everything we can. the united states is going to do everything we can to bring the taliban to the negotiating table in afghanistan with the taliban having zero hope that they can win this thing on the battle field. to do that, you cannot have a safe haven in pakistan. the intelligence is very clear. to achieve the objective that the president has set forth in afghanistan, the capacity for terrorists to cross along the border and freely hide in pakistan with prohibited in our capacity to deliver that. and so our mission is to ensure that that safe haven does not exist and i hope that we can count on the pakistanis in help
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with achieving that. we had a great outcome last week when we were able to get back four u.s. citizens who had been held for five years inside of pakistan. that's great news. and what's the right descriptor? i am hopeful that our relationship with them will deliver to us the things that america has as our vital interest in that region. >> i want to go back to the iran speech. not to talk about iran per se, but open a window into north korea. because another interesting thing that the president mentioned again largely unremarked was the concern about potential links not just on missile program but other links between iran and north korea. in fact, in the speech he said he was going to ask the intelligence community to look into this and to report back to him. what are your concerns about the links between iran and north korea and the issue of proliferation at large?
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>> there is a long history of proliferation ties between north korea and iran. sometimes one of the parties haen haven't figured out how to pay their bills, but i digress. >> sometimes we try to make it harder for them to pay their bills. >> there's a long history there, deep conventional ties between the two countries. these are two nation states that don't have a deep export control provisions within their own countries. and so it is a wild wild west exercise. we do have an obligation to ensure that we account for that as an intelligence community and then do our best efforts to ensure that we don't have capabilities transitioned between the two. it could be the case. i can't say much, but you can imagine that even of the countries would have relative expertise in certain technology, certain capacities, and there won't even be dollars exchanged but rather there will be expertise or technology
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exchanged as well for the betterment of each of their weaponization programs, their missile programs, and then their capacity to do explosive testing on nuclear devices as well. yes, the president's comments were -- if you say unremarked, the intelligence community noted that he has asked us to deliver him solid information and we are hard at work to do that. >> let me take that thread and ask this. are you concerned that we're in a state of greater risk with respect to proliferation? not just with respect to iran and north korea, but with respect to sort of the global community of proliferation? given both lack of governance in parts of the world, concerns over who will acquire nuclear capabilities? are we sort of an iq con moment in 2017 with respect to proliferation? >> it's a good question. it's at the top of the president's mind. he talks to us and urges us all to think about these
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proliferation issues in every venue, not just north korea and iran, but pakistan. every place that that risk is there. there is the intentional proliferation and the risk that proliferation will take place with others conducting their own espionage activities, so we're conscientious of both. when you stare even just at asia and you watch as north korea grows ever closer to having its capability perfected, you imagine others in the region also thinking they may well need that capability to protect themselves. yes, we're deeply aware of the proliferation risks and working diligently both to deny the incentives for that in other countries and then on the hard side of things ensuring that we're watching as this proliferation activity, the communication begins to take down the network that would deliver that proliferation as well. >> you talked about the north korean capability. we've all watched the tests and we've read the newspapers around
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the quickening of their missile capabilities. we've seen the nuclear tests which seem to be bigger and potentially more dangerous. we've obviously heard their threats. what are the remaining markers for their capabilities? is it simply re-entry of an icbm capability? is it the miniaturization of the nuclear device you put on the tip? you know, are we perilously close to them having perfected all elements of an ability to hit the u.s. with a nuclear capability? >> i can't give you the details, juan, but this is an accurate statement. they are closer now than they were five years ago. and i expect they will be close n er in five months than they are today absent a global effort to pushback against them. each test continues to develop.
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kim yo kim jong- kim jong-un engineers. they are intent on completing that chain of activity. it is the case they are close enough now in their capabilities that from a u.s. policy perspective we ought to behave as if we are on the cusp of them achieving that objective. there is always also some risk. intelligence is imperfect, especially in a place like north korea that we will be off by months or a couple of years in our understanding. it's the case we've actually done good work. this is before my time. done good work at tracking this program through the years. but when you're now talking about months, our capacity to understand that at a detailed level is in some sense irrelevant whether it happens on tuesday or a month from tuesday, we are at a time where the president has concluded that we need a global effort to ensure kim jong-un doesn't have that capacity. >> right. this raises an interesting
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question for the intelligence community. because it raises the question of how definitive you need to be in terms of when they've reached that capability and what -- i'm not asking you to be the policymaker here, but from a policymaker's standpoint, the question is what point do you assume or have to assume for the sake of national security that they do have that capability? and then that begins to shift your policy options and goals even? >> it does. it's one of the things that our team is incredibly mindful of. when i took over as the director, in a few weeks i created an entire missions center to attack this problem set broadly speaking. the korean nuclear problem set. and we are diligently trying to refine that answer so that we can give to policymakers a shorter window with which to face the conundrum of do you have to assume that they're all the way. it it's a challenging target, one that we have spent an awful lot of energy on and will continue to each day.
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but to think we'll have gr granularity in days and weeks is something we won't have. you have to build backwards from the timelines we layout for the president. >> do you think that the perception of the threat from north korea changes fundamentally at that moment not just in terms of their ability to potentially hit the u.s. but in terms of their posture in the region and what they're willing to do or not do? and so i think i'm asking this question. do you think that the threat from north korea changes fundamentally at the moment that there is consensus that they've reached that capability and if we managed what that looks like, aside from a missile that can potentially hit guam or seattle or new york? >> you know, i'm not sure it changes dramatically. given where we find ourselves today, they are so far long in that. it's now a matter of thinking
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about how do you stop the final step and then beyond that, it's one thing to be able to deliver a single missile along a certain set of trajectories to a certain destination and another thing to have a country with the capacity to not only process the material at a high volume but deliver missile systems, technology, guidance system, all of the pieces to develop a truly robust capability to deliver those types of weapons. so even once you hit the he could do it once moment, there's great risk that proceeds from the continuation of the development of those programs that far exceeds the moment that there's a consensus resolving around whether he could reliably pull it off for a single missile system. we should be mindful we talk about missile systems that could reach denver and miami and new york. there are enormous interests in south korea and japan and asia as well.
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we shouldn't just focus solely on this icbm threat, but the conventional weapon systems in the hands of this man and the other elements of their nuclear program and other delivery technologies of those deliver systems. we tend to focus on this missile trajectory issue. make sure from an intelligence assista standpoint we have not lost the -- we're staring at every tree to make the forest, not just a particular tree. >> can i ask about a separate grove? >> you can ask about anything you want and i'll choose not to answer anything you want. >> i'm loving this by the way. "the new york times" had an interesting and important article about north korea's cyber capabilities and how those have increased over time, 6,000 cyber analysts, how they spread them around in southeast asia and other places. can you speak to how serious
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this cyber threat is from north korea? they've attacked the south korean banks and the dark seoul attack in 2013 c. they've obviously been implicated in other heists. how serious should we take the cyber threat along with other threats from north korea? >> another tool from kim jong-un as he thinks about how deliver his instate, his continued capacity to go to sleep. he has shown a willingness to use it at a pretty robust level, although not a level yet that i would describe as a catastrophic attack that is something intended or creating a risk for his regime. but as they measure, they've done this with their missile program as well, you can watch them measure western responses to attacks. they attack.
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it's not always the case there is an overt response. but there is a response that is perceived by kim jong-un and he is trying to measure, trying to figure out where the lines and the boundaries are from not only u.s. policy but policy of the other states that have been attacked as well. we're very mindful of it. they have a very robust capability. it is cheap. if you compare the amount invested in their cyber program compared to the amount of money invested in their conventional weapon system programs or their nuclear programs, it is pennies on the dollar. and its effectiveness, if you were looking at it from a business perspective, an incredibly high roi for that relatively small investment. >> it gives them the ability to profit, obviously. it also gives them the ability to reach out beyond their borders and disrupt if not destroy. >> it does. that's interesting. the actions that they have taken, however, very clearly have had some impact on the global community as well. we haven't talked much about this yet, but the chinese
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actions have been most welcome and frankly when i came in to my new role in january of this year, i think if you had told the intelligence community that we could have expected the chinese to do all the things that they have today, there would have been great skepticism inside of our building. there would have been spekepticm around the world. the team that i lead is working to identify the places we can help the world get maximum economic leverage against kim jong-un. >> we've put a major amount of stock in the idea of chinese pressure and influence on pyongyang. you just described what seems to be a shift for china. can you give a couple examples of what china has done differently or in a way you think is helpful? and do you think they've made a fundamental sort of shift in their policy? or is there yet more to come for
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them? >> i hope there's more to come. president xi spoke for three and a half hours yesterday in a way that assorted chinese prominence on the stage. i hope they'll take this opportunity to demonstrate that truly are going to be globally important players in reducing a threat like kim jong-un. the behaviors we've seen have been good. they signed on to security council resolutions that were certainly far in excess of what had been done in previous administrations. both u.s. administrations and chinese administrations. the trade has greatly been reduced. still imperfect or still gaps that we're all working to help identify to ensure we get that piece better and tighter. but they have also communicated around the world they are intent on helping us resolve this in a way we all want to resolve it.
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we all want to resolve it without resort to a military activity. the president is intent on that as well. we're going to pull every arrow until such time as we conclude there's no alternative at that point. the president's made it very clear he's prepared to ensure that kim jong-un doesn't have the capacity to hold america at risk by military force if necessary. >> mr. director, another point of friction with china, north korea is potentially one of them. is there'ir own cyber activity. has china's behavior in the cyber domain altered or changed in the last nine months? >> i don't know they know the answer to that one. they have along with the iranians and the russians world class, premier cyber capabilities, defensive cyber
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capabilities as well as the capacity to conduct offensive cyber operations as well. they are also the chinese are also incredibly active with what i'll call cyber theft. that is there is a trail of tears about the american intellectual property that has been stolen by the chinese much to the benefit of the chinese military and chinese commercial capacity as well. the president's been pretty clear about this. it's unacceptable. he's tasked all of us who have a role in that. certainly the intelligence community to have a piece of that to do our best to pushback against it. i don't know the answer to your question about timelines. they still have a robust capacity and are out there working the problem very, very hard. >> a final question on china with the party congress happening. is there anything that you're looking for to come out of this congress that either signals greater or lesser power on the part of president xi or that
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would signal something different about the trajectory of china and u.s. china relations? something you would anticipate coming out of this? >> so we're watching this very closely. we're watching not only the party congress, but we're watching the runup to it as well. to watch the ma shin nations, the guy who used to do criminal work are off working on this other politbureau. the agency has openly made clear we think president xi will come out in a dominant position with incredible capacity to do good. we hope it leads to -- taking down threats and not increasing threat profiles from lots of different actors, not just north
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korea. >> i want to draw our conversation back to terrorism and some other issues in the news. before that i want to talk about intelligence capabilities. because your first speech at csis, i was honored to be there as well. you talked about the role of wikileaks as a nonstate foreign intelligence service and adversarial service. you talked about the dangers of leaks. you've also talked about the need to preserve capabilities like section 702 of the patriot act. do you want to talk about -- first of all, section 702 which is set to sunset, do you want to talk about the importance of that authority from your perspective? and then i want to ask you questions about whether or not we're falling behind in terms of our capabilities given what everyone else is doing. >> it's interesting, juan, i came into this debate five on years ago now when i first joined the house intelligence committee, this debate about
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u.s. intelligence authorities, what capacities they'd have. the history of the terrorist surveillance program and the patriot act and how that all came to be, we're now 75 days away. should section 702 expire in december from going back to a pre-9/11 mindset in terms of how we conduct our intelligence sharing across the enter agency process. you'll recall the deep criticisms of the intelligence community for not sharing, for creating stove pipes and walls and barriers. it's variously described what section 702 was designed and intended to do was knockdown those walls. the concerns seem to be, this is about data lawfully collected. this is information collected as part of a lawfully constructed foreign intelligence collection program. every court has looked at it as much. and so now the question is do you want to raise the barrier for intelligence community officers to go in and use that
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data effectively to tie together various threat streams? i've seen is it in my time, the incredible importance of section 702. we think about in the ct environment because that's what it was created for. but it's very important. we talked about stopping north korean coal shipments. our capacity to interdict ships at sea is fundamentally tied to section 702's capacity to take this information, this foreign intelligence that's collected and share it across all the various agencies that are involved in that type of undertaking. so i'm very hopeful that congress will renew it and they'll do it in a way that is consistent with the post 9/11 threat environment, not just the ct, but all the threat. it is a central pillar of american intelligence collection and we need it. >> do you think that whole debate has been skewed by the fact that it's seen so much through the 9/11 lens, through
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counterterrorism and doesn't look at all these other threats that are implicated by section 702 and information sharing? >> it's why i talked about the other uses that i have. i think it's been used as a post 9/11 ct tool. i also think it was skewed by edward snowden and by those leaks as well and this notion that somehow this information of being used by the intelligence community, whether that was the agency or the fbi or others in a way that was unlawful. it's simply not true. there is enormous oversight not only from in the role that i had where there was a quarterly report that i read with great interest. but by the courts as well. there's enormous oversight for this information. i'm happy about that. i think it is completely appropriate that oversight remain in place. but the tool, the data collection tool and the ability to query is sesessential and i e
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we don't talk to a pre-9/11 understanding to how we created that risk so that we never have another day like that. >> going to the issue of leaks, there seems to be sort of a torrent of leaks including from the intelligence community where people are able to take, steal, distribute data. are you worried that there is sort of a momentum to this that we really can't stop it? in that regard, are you worried that we can't keep secrets anymore and that our adversaries are not just seeing what we know and understand, but getting sort of the secret sauce of our capabilities and using it against us? >> since the very first day i became the director of the cia i put it at the center of my mission set to make sure the secrets we stol weren't restolen. or worse yet, given away by either someone who worked for
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us, either formally as an officer at the cia or a contractor or frankly anybody else who had access to the information we've worked our reare rear ends off that we collected and was so unique it not be shared. the technology barriers that have been so beneficial to so much in the world make this an incredibly more complex problem set, but we're good. we're america. we're the cia. we can protect our stuff. we will devote the resources. we will make sure the people who work figure the agency have an understandi understanding of what that means. i would share those obligations extend far beyond your time as a cia officer. i just urge everyone who has sworn to protect this information to understand that their obligation far extends beyond the day that you turn in your badge at the cia.
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it is so central . if we don't do this well, we will deny american policymakers with the enormous unfair advantage that the cia was designed to provide to them. >> this issue of leaks also blen blends in to what appears to be an age of asymmetric information warfare, info ops seems to be part of what the russian campaign was in 2016 campaign to use information ops, cyber capabilities. we're learning more and more about, you know, buying of ads and use of bots on facebook and twitter. are we in a new period or era of info ops that is hard to manage and can we compete in that space? >> yeah, we can compete. you have to first rule of competing is you've got to try. >> are we trying? >> you've got to get in the game. and so look, we have some disadvantages there. we operate a democracy. it is far easier for isis or for
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the russians or for other nefarious actors that don't operate in a democratic environment to exercise these active measures. we have rules, deep rules, important rules, appropriate rules about how we ought to use them. and we need to make sure that they're current. we need to make sure they fit the model that exists today. your point, juan, is an important one. it's not just the russian info ops. i talked about these nonstate actors. it's not just wikileaks. i may have overemphasized. they're an enormous threat. we're working to take down that threat to the united states as well, to reduce the threat from all of it. but hezbollah, isis, al qaeda, none of them sit at the u.n. these are all nonstate actors, each of which has not only cyber capacity but they look and feel like very good intelligence organizations. they run assets.
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they run counter intelligence programs. they lure dangles. all the trade crap that you read about from the excellent work that the agency has done and the competitors, our state competitors have done for decades and decades you now see being adopted by these nonstate agencies. the rules we have in place in the intelligence community today do not reflect this change. we modelled on a nation state model as we developed our collection authorities. and so we are well along the way at refining that to make sure we have the right rules policies and understanding about these nonstate threats so that we can a play the same good work against them that we do against our state intelligence adversaries as well. it's important. the world has moved. we have to be sure that we move at the speed that it does and against it as well. >> are we able to keep up technically? do you think we're able to stay ahead of the curve given all the attempts to expose what our
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capabilities are and what very sophisticated actors are trying to do to snus? >> you talked at the beginning of what our challenges. i ran two small businesses. there's always the cries it for the day. there's always the demand for the thing that is two or four months out. continue to invest in people and technologies that will deliver in five or ten years from now after the director that occupies the incredibly privileged role that i have today. we're making sure that we have that. we are every bit their equal. but we've got to make sure today that we're not equal. it's nothing satisfactory about being a peer competitor of anyone. it's not in our tradition in the intelligence community. we have always withinbeen the l the most robust to deliver that unfair advantage. we're going to continue to do it. the blessing is we've got lots of incredible technology. home grown.
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u.s. technology that will help us deliver that and great partners all across this country, patriotic businesses that are very, very helpful in helping us figure out how to stay at the cutting edge, to move at the speed of our adversaries. i'm intent on making sure that we use all that great skill set and all the great people that we deliver here in the united states and away, that our adversaries can simply never match. >> let me ask one more question sort of about the information age and where we find ourselves. there's a lot of talk about fake news, the info ops sort of take full advantage of truth. au autocrats like putin and assad when confronted with accusation often say prove it. in this world, especially with intelligence being seen as a proxy for evidence, are truth
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and credibility now strategic assets for a country? >> absolutely. there's no doubt about that. my first significant experience with this was the event in syria where the president chose to take out a target in syria as a result of the syrian use of chemical weapons, bashar al assad use of chemical weapons. the russians deny it. the syrians most certainly do. it looks like the folks who have as one of their charges taken a look at this, looks like they're going to conclude the same thing that the cia officers concluded in about 70 hours. in about 70 hours we had in our hands solid evidence that not only were they chemical weapons, although at the point we did not know exactly which chemical had been used, but we knew where they had been delivered. we were on firm footing with respect to who had delivered them and we were able to deliver truth to the president of the united states about what had
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taken place. in spite of all the twitter accounts and all the stories and all the denials from lavrov and his team, we knew. tree truth matters. our obligation is to deliver to tha to t that to the secretary of defense each and every day. we have the capability to do that relying on twitter feeds and news reports will prove wholly insufficient when policymakers to make some of the most difficult decisions they face. >> going back to terrorism. nonstate actors. raqqah has fallen. mosul fell. lots of questions about what comes next, obviously. but let me ask you about the state of isis. because isis certainly their physical caliphate in that part of world is diminished, but they've been able to reach beyond their borders into europe obviously with attacks. their members or who claimed
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members have taken over a town in southern philippines which has taken a lot of blood and treasure and attention in the philippines. so isis has moved beyond iraq and syria. how do you perceive the threat of isis and even if we are able to diminish them in the heart of the middle east, what comes next? is there a son of isis, a son. f >> you'd be getting against hiss torral fact, whether they call themself isis, whatever you want to call the remain, the fall of the caliphate is great news. it is a historic achievement to be sure but it's partial at best. you talked about all the places isis operates. philippines, southeast asia, the
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list is long. i want to talk about the things they are capable of doing wholly apart from the regions in which they operate. they still have the the capacity to control and influence citizens all around the world. technology enables it and their desire to even do these small scale attacks. i've spent a lot of time with my british counterparts. they have suffered this more than we have. small scale attacks, motivated, pick a term. i hear people talk about lone wolf. i prefer not to use that because it is seldom the case that i completely individual. it's almost always the case that the ideology that drove them was driven by someone who had great intent to deliver that idea into their head. it is an incredibly difficult adversary. those have shorter lead times. the tools we have developed to take down networks are less likely to be successful although in many cases have achieved the
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end of taking down particular plots. but i think we would all be foolish to believe that the fact that the command post and the thousands of folks operating the particular geeing on r-- it's s real. >> this goes back to the question i was asking earlier. do we have to have physical presence in some of these places to ensure that isis doesn't roar back or something doesn't replace it that's going to be just as menacing five years down the road? >> i don't think there's a singular answer to that. i think there's a place where u.s. presence matters an awful lot. but there's places we can achieve our ends by asking our partners to take up the mantel. but we can provide tools,
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intelligence collection tools, law enforcement tools, all the things that you do to take down these terrorist threats, we can provide them and hope that our partners can take down that threat where it resides such that the eternal capacity is diminished, the threat to the united states from the region in which the threat is being launched is diminished. >> i want to talk about partners, because i think it raises several interesting questions. first is you've spent a lot of time traveling, meeting with your counterparts in your early tenure. have relationships gotten better from your perspective? are there new relationships you're trying to forge? is there anything interesting you can talk about whether it's from your trip to turkey or your trips to the middle east or trip dun to mexico? are there things that are emerging in the partnerships that are of interest that you want the public to know? >> the fact that you know my travel schedule so well suggests our clandestineity needs some
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level of work. but you didn't catch them all. >> i try to keep some quiet. >> i don't know how to answer that other than to say that many of the places i have traveled, my counterparts and i'm meeting with my intelligence counterparts for the most part, have welcomed our agency's reengagement. it's no secret i have asked our officers and they are thrilled to be doing it to reengage in ways that are out in the field, we're prepared to accept more risk to achieve high payoff returns for the president so we can deliver him the important information. we in turn ask our partners to support that increased level of activity, the traditional espionage that the cia unfortunate do to keep america
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safe. so every place that i've gone and talked to them about what it is i want my team to do to help the united states and in turn to help security in their country, we have been incredibly welcome. it is something they had noticed in absence of and understanding of being at the cutting edge out on treatment's front tier collecting the right information to deliver to u.s. policy makers such that we can collectively take down threats all across the world. >> do you think we're aligned properly with our partners on the big ticket items that seem to be concerning the administration, iran, north korea, russia, terrorism? do you have the right coalition and partners and capabilities aligned? >> so, it varies i think. look, with respect to iran we had to rebuild that.
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the previous administration has a different view of iran. so our intelligent process expert with respect to the region had to change as well. you know, with respect to north korea, i think we have refocused a lot of the world's attention on that issue. i think president trump's focus on that has caused others to reengage, i don't mean just in the region but those all around the world happing us against the north korea target. i think it varies but country. and, let's beclear, we don't do policy but we respond to the president's priorities. when he lays out the national intelligence framework and we oerkz or talents and skills so we can deliver to the policy makers what ever they need. >> are we good enough with dealing at non-state partners? this raises in part the question
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of how we deal with the situation in the kurdish north and iraq. are we able to balance our need for both state and non-state partners? especially in the different part or the wofrld where we need intelligence. >> one of the glories that i do is that these intelligent relationships often survive between these two countries. if the diplomatic relationship is great and glorious, the folks who do security and intelligence understand that we have to be there everyday. whether there's a trade spat or an economic dispute or something that's taking place between the two countries politically, that we still have this incredible obligation to deliver security for our two countries. so, even in places where you talked about what's going on in northern iraq, even places that
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are challenging, our officers understand that the work to develop things that are additive for both offers ourselves and our foreign liaison policy remains. >> couple more questions then i'll open up to a couple questions, that we have time for. when thinking about your role as director, when you came in there was the morality of the intelligence community, one was the president revalting that. second was do you organize in a way continuing with what your predecessors put in place and what does the cia look like in the future. for those interested in the intelligence community and the cia can you give them insight to what you're taking -- or what's
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taking place and give them your moral of the cia? >> let me start here, for those of you who are interested in finding a patriotic time to spend your time, is the place to go. we've been blessed for a long time to have some of america's talented people come join this mission set. the agency is deeply political. i represent one quarter of the political appointees at the cia, that is different and important. what does that mean, what does it translate into? it translates into an organization that has watched this presidential transition take place and endorse a president who deeply endure the work product. i brief the president daily days of the week.
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i've seen him consume and answer difficult questions. i've watched him challenge us in a place where we've gone back to validate our work. a good strategy without resource is just wishful thinking so we've now laid down a strategy for how we're going to -- we're going to the hardest places with some of the hardest organization people to crush it. whenwy do that the president has promised he'll have our backs and resources. resource isn't just money, it's the authority we need to execute that. so, the understanding of the policy process that delivers this work. and so, the president's put an enormous burden on us to deliver for him and i'm confident he's going to give us everything we need to do and our team will
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execute that mission in the finest tradition of the intelligence agency. you asked about the modernization idea, there was much talk about how the previous director made these changes. when i came in my department gina and i started at -- stared at what was there, much of those make sense, much did not. we tried to fix what was there. i've asked everyone saying, do not print the order chart out. the finest companies in the world are restructuring their team every day. they find a customer, a problem set, find the resources to match it and slam the resources of the problem until they prove their objective they cannot. my only -- or a mission center, whatever we call it, if it's not working, break it, tear it down, rebuild, start with mission not
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with ore chart. the organization of the team will fill itself out. about how the bad guys are going to regret they ever challenged the united states of america. >> that's a great recruiting message. that's awesome, that's awesome. let's open up for questions. i think we got david clark from afp please. let's start with david. >> hi, thanks for organizing this. i've heard it in a few places in the town in the last few days. the bigger picture in the event.
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-- rivalries in the region the neighbors in the area seem to have treated isis of other problems and advancing their own agenda. dowy understand what we are, turkey, afghanistan rkt russia and the various state make fors. thank effort.
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you see an effort to convince him that it is not in his best interest to continue down that path. to continue to have a nuclearized north korea is something that we are working diligently to change his mind. call it diplomacy. call it deterrence. call it what you will to change his mind to head down a different path. [ inaudible question ] >> yeah. i'm not sure i understand the question. the mission statement from the president is very clear. i've talked about it earlier. it is to prevent him from having the capacity to hold the united states at risk with a nuclear weapon system. with respect to if kim jong-un should vanish, i just -- you know, given the history, i'm just not going to talk about
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that. someone might think there was a coincidence if there was an accident. and it's just not fruitful. we have a clear u.s. policy. it is an effort to diplomatically and economically challenge the north korea regime in such a way they won't get to that. >> one last quick question. >> katherine. chief intelligence correspondent at fox news. i wanted to pick up on the thread with isis that juan raised. the acting secretary of homeland security was in london and said that she believes isis has its eye on a major plot in the lines of 9/11. how severe is the threat facing the united states right now? how advanced is the development of nonmetallic explosive devices to bring down jets heading to the united states? and have we disrupted any plots in their final phases? >> those are such brilliant questions that i am not
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permitted to answer them in any level of detail. but let me take a run at it and then you can tell me i didn't answer them and we can both agree that's the case. so isis capacity to conduct an external operations remains but i wouldn't put isis -- i think you started your question isis. i wouldn't put them in a singular bucket. the arabian pe sinninsula -- yo seen homeland security take some actions, security measures surrounding that. those are in response to perceived threats. i think measured appropriately. but make no mistake about it, the sbeintent still remains.
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the capability remains. and we worry that there is capability that we just don't see. you know, we often talk about the things we know. i always remind everyone to remember the things that we simply may not see. call them an intelligence failure if you will, but this is difficult stuff in far away places and the capacity to put things online and for a bomb maker in asia to learn something from a bomb maker in sahel, they'd never have to actually get on a phone or communicate is a challenge for the intelligence community to figure out how that technology may have transferred. i don't want to get into the particular tools and techniques that they may or may not have, but suffice to say we're focused on it. it is clearly the case there are terrorists around the world who are intent upon using commercial aviation as their vector to present a test to the west.
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>> i think that's going to be it. thank you for your time. please thank me in joining the director. it's been hon on aan honor. thank you, sir. [ applause ] >> thank you very much. >> coming up this wednesday, google, facebook and twitter executives will talk about russia's social media influence on last november's election. the senate intelligence committee hearing will get under way at 9:30 a.m. eastern on cspan three online at or listen with the cspan radio app. those executives will move over to the house later in the day. that will be live wednesday at 2:00 p.m. eastern. also here on cspan3. more now from the conference with national security adviser
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h.r. mcmaster on the administration's security to protect the u.s. from global threats. some questions about the niger attack that left four american soldiers dead and the ongoing investigation into the incident. >> good afternoon. please be seated. welcome back to the afternoon session. my name is juan zarate. i'm the chairman of fdd chairman on finance. if you were here this morning i was privileged to be able to sit down with director pompeo for what i thought was a really interesting conversation. i hope you as well. bear in mind that we are not just the people in this room. great good-looking crowd by the way. but we're being liveea