tv Congressional Oversight of the Intelligence Community CSPAN March 11, 2019 6:34pm-8:04pm EDT
underway now. >> you will hear from four former members who have has much knowledge as anyone you can listen to. i have been on the intelligence committee for eight years, the last two years of which i have been the vice chairman. it has been a wild time. our topic tonight is congress and the oversight of the intelligence community. we know at times congress can get in its own way in terms of intelligence oversight. we have three committees that touch our jurisdiction themselves. one of the things that richard, my chairman and i have been trying to do is make sure we are better measured together so
we can provide that appropriate oversight but it comes in the area of like space where that domain continues to be more and more challenges trying to think through as the administration thinks about a space force with the ic's major role in over head is one of those areas where i think congress needs to do a better job of oversight and i think probably the panel will be partially addressing that tonight. i also want to take some pride and i say this with some trepidation, that the senate select committee on intelligence may be the last bipartisan committee standing in congress at this moment that unfortunately is a low bar to get over. but i found that the chairman and i while we don't always agree and our members, nine times out of 10 we find common agreement and that may be
because we mostly meet behind closed doors and because we all share the belief when it comes to national offense and intelligence in many ways politics -- and in many ways that is tested as we have seen on the other committees we had in the last two years mostly due to the russia the investigation we had 12 public hearings and that is more i think talking to bill than the senate committee has ever had in terms of public hearings. while we have not concluded i hope it's a model on how be can make sure we can look at the russia situation make sure on a going forward basis what happens in 2016 never happens again. i am proud so far and giving you the quick opening remarks, but i would like to point out areas where we already have
found absolutely bipartisan agreement. one we reached common agreement reconforming the intelligence community's assessment that in 2016 russia interfered in our elections through hacking of information and manipulating social media and testing our electoral systems. they did so to help one candidate and hurt another. second, and i think we took some pushing back and forth but we managed to determine in terms of the russia the investigation that the russians had at least jiggled the door or the window of 21 of our states electoral systems and in many ways looking back on 2016 i think we were fortunate as a
country because the vulnerabilities our electoral system had from voter file security to voting machine security was really a very soft under going and we were lucky the russians did not open those doors and windows they could have and our committee came out with a series of broad bipartisan suggestions on how to improve security. and i'm happy to report post 2018 that our system is much more secure although in many ways 2018 is a warm up for what they happen or could happen in 2020. and finally in terms of where we found common agreement as well is on the role of social media. i think looking back in terms of prior to 2016 in many ways both intelligence community and social media companies were
pretty much caught off guard about how these platforms can be used to manipulate information. how we initially thought that our adverseys looked at foreign advertising and some of that took place but the much more way that the russians and mr. play book being out for countries to look at was the creation of fake accounts. if you look at the nfl player debate about kneeling for the national anthem, regardless of what side you are on we determined based upon outside the investigation that it's about eight to one foreign based fake account or activity over actual americans commenting on that subject and one conclusion we have come to is we look at what the russians
did in our elections and the brexit vote and the french presidential elections and you add that together and it's the less than the cost of one new airplane so this tool is going to be an area where the committee is going to have to continue to provide both oversight to the ic and hopefully policy guidance and i think that is in the realm of social media we have work to do. one other area i want to highlight before the panel came out and that our committee spent an enormous amount of time on, working with the fbi and dhs and that is the challenges from china. i believe we have seen a dramatic transition in chinese government and communist party
activities post 2015. the president made a massive consolidation of power and infiltrating to many chinese leading technology companies backed with intellectual property and a whole host of challenges to get the ic to be more forward leaning in terms of being willing to declassify this information to make sure we allow the business community, academic community and others to be aware of this. china is a great nation and the u.s. needs to find a way to work with where ever possible china on a going forward basis. but there is also a set of tools and procedures they are using that frankly i think we have been a bit naive to and this is an area where the committee hopes to continue to pursue again both oversight and policy direction on a going forward basis. i highlight those two areas because they are important and they are areas that i think the
committee has been evolving and it's my hope we will be able to continue to maintain the kind of cooperative and collaborative relationship be have been able to show over the last few years. a lot of that was due to folks like bill nelson who served with me and before me and my hope is that we can see that return to that kind of approach of bipartisan and putting country first both in our committee and moving forward on the house committee. having that oversight, recognizing that the role of the intelligence community going forward its role is going to increase in importance, that needs to be done in a thoughtful and as much as possible bipartisan matter, the kind of leadership general hagan provided for so many years. i am your opening act. i will turn it over to larry. he will come up and present the panel.
thank you for having me. look forward to seeing you. >> thank you again to senator war engineer. that's fantastic for him to make time for us today. he is a very busy man and he probably has all kinds of documents to go back and read so we will let him go do that and get out of here. i want to thank you for coming. apologizes, i understand the security line was rigorous tonight getting in here so i appreciate your patience. for those who have not found a seat yet, at this stage of the game there is seats down front that have pieces of paper on them. feel free to sit in those seats. they were reserved for folks who have not made it or are sitting elsewhere. tonight we are recording this event in a couple of ways. number 1cspan is carrying this event live so that's great news
for folks who live outside the area wondering if they can participate in the event. so number one, number two, we are also going to be recording the audio and at some later date it will be presented in a podcast that our moderator is hosting called intelligence matters, it's a cbs news podcast available for download and carried on cbs radio stations nationwide. so police check out that pod -- please check out the podcast. oversight of intelligence. it is something that has not been done for a long time in our republic. if you go back intelligence oversight began in the rigorous manner in the mid-1970s in that post water gate era after the church and pipe committees did review of abuses of our
previous history and these two select committees were established in each house moving forward. the american people at the time decided having a select committee of hand picked representatives and senators chosen by their leadership to over see intelligence that was sufficient and as long as our representatives were keeping tabs on intelligence we were happy and that worked great for 20 years, but you get to the 21st century and there has been sand thrown in the gears. number one there is a vast array of information avariable to the american people and they demand a greater level of transparency into government operations. maybe they want a better taste for what is going on in the intelligence community. they have grown in leaps and bounds. the money, the people, resources and capabilities are just enormous and there is some question as to whether the current configuration can
really over see something of that size and magnitude. in addition, we have seen advances in technology that allow the intelligence community to do incredible things some perceive as invasive and so that advance in technology needs to be checked and reviewed. we have seen an introduction of politics into intelligence oversight. the senator talked about the bipartisan operations taking place in the meeting today and some might suggest there were times in the past when politics played a significant role in the review of detention program of cia or today on the house side with the the investigation of the russian interference election and the potential of collusion with the trump campaign. this is something else that needs to be looked at. so the current system, is it
efficient and appropriate and can things be changed and modified? that's what we will talk about tonight. i will ask you to welcome the panel. moderating is michael morell, former acting director and deputy director of the cia and senior fellow at the hayden center. we have ms. jane harmon a former raining member of the house committee on intelligence and she wins the award for having the least distance traveled for tonight's event. be have mike rogers former chairman on the select committee on intelligence and head of his own center that looks at presidency and congress and senator bill nelson who served as a member on the committee of intelligence and i can speak from personal experience he was a rigorous overseer of the
operations but in a positive way. last but not least is senator chamblis who may win the award for having done congressional oversight of intelligence for the longest period of time because he served on the house committee while he was a house member but also served a number of year on the senate committee in his tenure of the vice chairman. welcome the panel and we will get things started. i am absolutely thrilled that general hayden is here tonight, i truly believe that he is the best intelligence officer ever produced by our nation answer it is great you are here and it is great to see her on the mend.
if you read your program you know that we've got some very special people up here, some great expertise, credible experience. i will tell you i've worked with each one of these folks and i will tell you each one of them is deeply passionate about the national security of the united states. we are very lucky to have them a great panel and the last hem thing i want to say is we will take as a given that intelligence oversight is important. it will not be a discussion about that. oversight in general of the executive branch is important [ inaudible ] i think is a particularly important because the community is made up of a group of organizations that are secret organizations operating
in a democracy and there has to be a process to assure the american people they are operating the way they should. that will be a given. where i want to start and i want to ask each of you and we will go down the row starting with jane, how you saw your responsibility when you are on the committee and in answering that question, i would love to know whether you sought any differently for the oversight of collection and analysis on one hand and the oversight of covert action on the other, because covert action at the end of the day is both intelligence and a policy. i just wondered if you made a difference in regard to those. >> good evening everyone and welcome to the building where the wilson center lives and thrives the reagan center and let me first express my undying infection and admiration for the hayden's, both of them and i have to tell one story which
relates to all of this and that is when i was ranking member on the committee and was chairman on the house side, he is now an ambassador we were invited to dinner [ inaudible ] and i think mike was then director of an essay if i understand this correctly and pete and i had just said, an old married couple because we will be fine and then have a huge fight and not speak to each other for one week then we would make up and get back together and hopefully the committee would be benefited by the fact that we were working together. we went to the hayden's having had a fight and poor mike and janine had to preside over this dinner party where we were feeling like this and glaring at each other and they did it, they not just mike did it masterfully and we made up and went along. it is to illustrate the point that these committees work much
better when there is bipartisan cooperation. back in the day when mike was on the house committee and sen. saxby chambliss was on the house committee it worked. i was very proud of my service and you bet i think that it is essentially important not only to have oversight but to do it well. to distinguish between the types of collection i was thinking about that for two seconds. because i was a ranking member i was a member of the gang of eight and the gang of eight is the chairman and ranking member of each intelligence committee and the majority and minority leaders of each house. it is eight people. mike hayden was a briefer certainly on my watch for a long time. the misclassified program one of the programs in the first term of george w. bush right
after 9/11. things like the telephone metadata program which all of you know because you are all smart, it will soon not going to be in effect but at any rate i had access to information that others didn't, i don't know how to distinguish to answer you but i would say that i took all of it very seriously and i thought certainly was a sophisticated level and i understood that. i think who said you have to play 20 questions, you have to ask precisely the right questions of the intelligence briefer to get an answer that is useful and i thought that was a problem. my answer is oversight matters and bipartisanship matters just for as much as oversight. back in the day they committees
in both houses i think played an absolute crucial role. i am hoping the house committee will be back in this term of congress and will function on a bipartisan basis. >> again i think it was absolutely critically important to the safety and security of the country to get this right. i looked at it as a review of the policy and not just covert axon action some others became very polarized politically when they entered the public debate. i looked at all of those policy reviews on corporate action we did monthly reviews with our folks who were cleared to get into this monthly reviews on every covert action program. the reason we did that was because it is the most sensitive thing the u.s. government does and the thing that could but go the most wrong if it were not to go correctly and became a norm to the public. we were very aggressive about all of that. than the budget review was very important and it was the way we
provided oversight to the 17 intelligence agencies the 70+ billion dollars of the way we spend money to the review of that policies and they reveal happily of how we were using those resources that we had that element if there were disagreements or we thought they were getting outside of the line then we had other means of bringing those folks into try to make sure they weren't going outside the lines . whether that be in a polite way or a diplomatic way. the last part of this that often gets missed i think on these committees is that we are there to support the community. we ask them to do really hard difficult things and what frustrated me sometimes along the way on the committee and the only time they got to come up is when we were slapping them about the head and shoulders or something that went wrong and some of it was serious and some not so serious. [ inaudible ] very important. if we are going to ask you to do this we need to give you the
resources and legal authority and then make sure you are staying within the lines. if we do that part it saves on the trouble at the end. that is the way i looked at congressional oversight. >> may i tell a story on general hayden? >> you sure can. >> first of all it is so great to see him looking so good and thank you for everything that you taught me. there was one time that i asked him to do something and he didn't want to do it. we were in the middle of the rhubarb on waterboarding. i am accustomed if i'm going to fly something i want to go out and kick the tires so i asked general hayden if he would water bored me. he said i can't do that, there were a lot of republican volunteers on that. >> there were plenty.
and he said oh no i couldn't do that, i said i can hold my breath for a while and he said no. i kept after him and finally he decided he couldn't do that but he at least could could go through point by point what exactly they did and hopefully i was a little better informed than going into that political discussion. i found that dealing with people like you mike the higher ups it was, questions were answered crisply but i found as you get down into the pecking order that there was always an attempt to invade and thus a
lot of my discussion on the committee was more interrogation of trying to get the answer out of somebody. i think that needs to improve because there has to be that communication between the overseer and the executive agency. i was such a big fan of what the intelligence community was doing, i would go to some far- off country and go out and ride with the agents to try to learn what it was all about so that i would have a better perspective in order to make decisions. i think that this is a part of
government that does not give the accolades that it justly deserves. >> bill we can still make that waterboarding happen. it is great to see you and we know it has been tough on you and for you to be here tonight it means a lot to all of us personally so thank you for your commitment to our country. you know the best way to prepare yourself for any time any kind of hearing that the intelligence committee had your perspective of the level of leadership or under leadership you had there was to be out in the field and sit around at night in kabul or baghdad wherever it may be some godforsaken place that we went
one night in islamabad. you talk to these folks that had been putting their life in harm's way all day long, they were there that night just because we were there and you have a drink with them and that is when you really find out what is going on out there. that kind of background gives you the preparation for being able to ask those questions mike. as you well know about what is really happening, if we are going to do oversight and you are right there is no question about what that needs to be done. the way you prepare for that is to really get a feel for what is happening among the people who are actually doing it. from a covert action standpoint, covert action actions were always fascinating
but they were always complicated. obviously that is why they call them covert actions. there is nothing simple or nondangerous about it. they are all actions that put individuals lives in harm's way on a regular basis for some extended period of time. what always bothered me about covert actions was not the one the cia did in of itself but the next year of the military and cia that used to be so complex that trying to analyze whether it was the right thing to do or not and where the money was being spent whether it was being spent in the right place the fact that you had two entities like that working together made it externally difficult and at the end of the day in the first analysis on what is happening or whether
covert actions programs, if you don't trust the leadership of the cia, and i don't know anybody that didn't , then you are never going to be convinced. bill is exactly right, the leadership never did anything but shoot straight with us in my opinion. covert actions and the non- tran19 whether it was analytics or whatever, we always got the right answers from you guys and we knew whether or not what you would be telling us would be right. there was never any variance from that. >> that is interesting the points you make about the junior officers because i saw the dynamic. i saw junior officers who were more careful about what they said to you than what they said to foreign intelligence services. i think they were careful because there were they were
worried about the getting stuck in a political sandwich, right? getting stuck in politics in some way, and i think it came across to you, it came across to you, that is a long-term problem that has always been there. i think it takes both leadership and the committee and the leadership of the agency to break that down. >> also they had a narrower mission and so often when i would ask a junior person, what about this? he or she would say, i am only focused on that. it took a more senior person to have a broader view. >> let's broaden this out a little bit. this time we will start with you mike. what is the difference between good and bad oversight and what does it take to get really good oversight? what are the key ingredients?
>> well i think members have to make a special commitment candidly to the intelligence committee. you can't get everything through osmosis of someone else reading in and digesting something on a page review. you have to read the raw material. there is a lot of members unfortunately that just don't make that commitment. i would argue that if we are going to have someone before the committee we will make all of those materials available prior to their showing up, even in a classified dissenting. i expect members to read the material and that [ inaudible ] happen. if you are going to ask those folks to come up you need to understand the material, including by the way the broader context. you just cannot say operation a to find that glass of water and then understand what is going on, you need to understand the room in the water, the glasses and all of those things. what happens sometimes is oversight gets too myopic. they focus on that one thing that may have gone wrong or that one briefing that did not
go exactly right versus the whole picture of everything that is going on. to me the best oversight is that downrange oversight where members go downrange and spend some time with people doing the work on the front end, the pointy end of the spear. understanding the geopolitics of the region, that means a lot of reading and a lot of analytical materials you need to pour through. then understanding the program and what particular event it is trying to solve or what collection you are aimed at. if you get those layers of depth then i think oversight becomes a lot easier. that does not mean we always agree, it doesn't mean the intelligence committee always agrees with the oversight activities, that will happen and that is okay. as i used to say when i would ask for something no is just a long way to yes as you know. and that is good and it is healthy at the end of the day but to me if you are going to do proper oversight -- leave
the politics out of the room. there are plenty of things to fight about outside the door of those committee hearings. i just think we did not do a great job and i don't think they are still doing a great job of leading the politics. if you are in that committee to find the one thing to run outside and say i caught them doing this, you are doing a disservice to your country. that is the part i think it's us stuck on the bad side and on the other side being informed and being very aggressive of our duties. it is a major consumption of time on the committee because you have to do the reading. you have to do the traveling and talk to people. i think that makes better oversight of something that is really an important piece of our national security apparatus. >> i would certainly identify with everything you just said. let me amplify on the politics. the politics gets in the way of
good intelligence and certainly good oversight. i never did like to go to the public hearings with intelligent officials intelligence officials because i was afraid i would say something that i shouldn't have said because i wanted to be free to explore whatever the issue was. i think as the chairman says that rush to the microphone after the hearings is one of the worst things that can happen and yet we are living in that kind of venue where there is almost a demand for an elected official you need to address this and if you say i can't talk about that, somebody is going to try to get you to talk about it. i think that is going to be a continuing problem. just to add insult to injury
the leaks. that has complicated everyone [ indiscernible - low volume ]. >> the difference the way they have approached the russian investigation is it personality- based? is it that simple? is it deeper than that? >> looking at it from afar it certainly seems that it has been personality-based and it has been much too partisan in the house. to the contrary you see the great degree of cooperation between richard and mark in the senate committee and i commend them for that. that carries over into the discussions on the floor but often senators are talking to each other where you can find another senator on the floor you will often see little clumps on the floor of the
senate of republicans and democratic senators that are on the intelligence committee. conferring and talking. >> do you agree it is personalities or is it something special about the house here? >> -- >> the house is a perpetual election machine and understand two terms mean you are out there all the time running for reelection and if you are a member of the intelligence committee and you handle yourself correctly you can talk about being on the committee. it is not helpful in an election to just sit and do everything mike said which is right, that is do a lot of reading, do a lot of work and disappear so a lot of members recently on the house intelligence committee, i would say more than the senate committee on both sides want to hit the microphones and be
visible. there is pressure to do that and when some of them do it there are is pressure on others. it is a pernicious thing. i just think it is a couple of other comments about that at least from my perspective. the committee has always had back in the day people chosen who were shooting for the worst and i think the appointments to the committee especially on the house side changed in the past decade or so. people put on that committee more for political reasons than in the past and they are, some of them are more political on both sides. i think the lack of bipartisanship has, let me start again. i partisanship has been hurt by that and the other comment is on the house side there are term limits and most people
rotate off. the rules don't apply to everybody and i never thought it would apply to the chairman of the as a ranking member but people rotate off when they become experts and as mike said it is a foreign language. you have to learn the acronyms and you have to learn what the answers by the briefers or even comments by the briefers mean and if you don't put in the work you will never get it. i get it is unfortunate that the expertise of members and the respect for members has declined. i think we all suffer from that. >> you can get through this, it is very difficult but i would like to think i was the greatest chairman of all time. i would never have he we had any success at all if we had gotten with him and we both decided together to do this. it would not have worked and we would have had the same problems.
true story as i am sitting here we had finally agreed to get an authorization budget in five years on the committee and it was all for political amendments that were designed to score points outside the doors, nothing that had to do with proper oversight of $70 billion budget. we couldn't get it done. we agreed and sat down with the ranking member house chairman and i said i will stop everywhere, can amendment if you stop every democratic amendment and we shook hands on it. we both stuck to that and sometimes i can be uncomfortable. when we finally got the first agreement on that first budget we were down in the basement of the capital and we reached over and shook hands and the building shook. i wish i were kidding. remember the earthquake? we decided we caused that on that day. oh my god what will we done? we literally had to get up and leave and get out of the
building. two things happened with that, this is the other piece. we also did something pretty unique at the time. we said our staffs are going to brief budget matters together at the table in front of all of us. no more you get your budget staff brief we get hours and we fight about it. that is done. what that did is it sent a signal to the staff that we are serious about this. it has to be you too and there were triumphs through that process and there were some low points during the process. we didn't agree on everything but over the course of time i think the team started gelling and understanding that our goal and purpose was to get this right. it doesn't mean the intelligence committee does everything right -- and we took that seriously and as a big part of our responsibility.
if we are going to do things behind closed doors and not engage the public then we had better take it seriously. i do think you can do it but you have to have both parties willing to do this and it is personality based in that regard i guess. i think it is unfortunate it is personality-based because i think candidly you can talk to people in the intelligence committee today who say they would rather go to montana on an assignment then go to the intelligence committee for a briefing. this is dangerous and i don't think people understand. this is dangerous. that means it will be 100 questions not 20. it won't be your top breeders and best analysts unless people are forced in the room. that creates a level of tension that is not healthy in getting the right information. i hope they get back to this and i hope they start candidly what a russian investigation about the finances into is no place for that investigation. they don't have the resources
to do it and they will have to hire folks to come in to do it who aren't related to the proper oversight of the 17 agencies. there are other places you can do that in congress all day long, that is the kind of thing i am talking about. you have to take that stuff out of the committee and let the committee do what it is supposed to do and it is hard. if you do it right it is time- consuming and difficult and not always pleasant. i do think unfortunately they got themselves in this not where they can't quite get themselves out of it and it is really unfortunate. i argue not healthy for the intelligence community they will pay a price for this overtime because something may not get caught or discovered or addressed. thank you. that's why he was so good in front of the committee. >> [ inaudible ] >> there was one other aspect of this that we need to make sure we state and that is that
none of us would have ever have been able to be prepared or do our job without good staff. jane and i were on the together when 9/11 happened we were on the subcommittee on terrorism and homeland security. i was chair and she was my ranking member. we did some really good stuff in the aftermath of 9/11 but we had great staff working hard for us too. i am happy to be a former cia guy as you remember mike and the same thing is true on the senate side without great staff on both sides of the aisle, the senate is a little different and the all staff works with the chairman and vice chairman, even though you may have designees, everybody works for the chairman and vice chair. diane couldn't hire anyone i didn't agree to and i couldn't hire anyone she didn't agree to
and that was a great way for it to work. i have two former staffers here tonight, tyler stevens and i were in the jungles of columbia chasing drug folks around. it is that kind of dedicated committed staff that get you prepared for who the witnesses ought to be and what the questions are that you should be asking. we were all blessed with good staff during our years. >> so the residents rebukes of the [ inaudible ] intelligence committee public rebukes, what advice would you have for the current leadership of the two committees about how they should think about that and how they might want to work with a leadership of the community to ensure that there isn't any
damage or you minimize the damage from that kind of thing? how would you thing about it that if you were still there? >> carefully is one answer but just thinking about several of these comments and we are all good friends up here and we have worked closely together. you have to start with that and you also have to start with the proposition that the chairs are marking our party registration before they blow us up. it is important to have accurate and timely intelligence assessment. i think this. the president is the president, he is the duly elected leader of our country, but he represents the article 2 branch of government and congress article one branch of government. congress authorizes and appropriates funding for all of our government business,
including our intelligence agencies. i think it is enormously important for congress on a bipartisan basis to send a message to the intelligence community and all of us did it when we were on the committee. all of us did it. we stand with them and that we understand that the stars on the wall of the cia are about people whose names are declared or not declared who died in the line of duty at the tip of the spear for protecting our country. i tear up every time i walk into that building. is a hallowed space and we have to protect them. we have to depend on their making objectives and assessments of, intelligence is a set of predictions not a science on what they reasonably expect to happen based on the information available. then the only way we can hopefully prevent or at least disrupt plots against us. otherwise we cannot. last comment on this.
that is the right question and it is a tough point. congress is not supposed to second-guess my view intelligence assessments. we are supposed to help set things up and fund them so that the best assessments are made. that is why when we did intelligence reform sen. saxby chambliss was a part of it, bill i don't know if you were. mike were you on the committee baby? we passed it on a bipartisan basis in both the house and senate and what it set up was a joint command across the agency's. [ inaudible ] not be able to coordinate but it is also setting up a process for a new process for preparing national
intelligence [ indiscernible - low volume ]. we had a colossal failure on the iraq intelligence assessment. this process includes things like featuring descents by government agencies, having what i called an outside motor vehicle by a panel of experts. then venting sources. this seems obvious but that wasn't done effectively before. now it is and guess what? i nies are so much better and that is the role of congress. it is setting the process of the people who know their jobs put the country first and get it right as much as possible. >> i am not sure what the president expected to hear from his intelligence community when he was inaugurated, but clearly the right message was not getting through to him. it is okay to disagree with the
intelligence community, if you have a commander-in-chief i wish he would do it more in private. i remember mike you are directly involved in this the 2007 and ie on the iran nuclear program -- nie on the iran nuclear program. they said they discontinued operation in 2003 , we all thought that was crazy. i remember the leadership questioning that but you did it the right way and there was never a problem front page story on the new york times about it. there is a way to be critical of the intelligence community and a way not to. i do think that there was a lot of redemption on the part of the intelligence community that just happened recently and that is the meeting with kim jong un. clearly the intelligence community found these instances of violations of what he said
he was going to do within north korea. the president walked in there with all of the allegations that he needed, and substantiated by the intelligence community. thank goodness has recognized that. it is evolving and i hope [ inaudible-static] more positive comments. >> i hope, i believe there is an extra obligation on a part of the leadership of the intelligence committee to rise above the partisanship and working with the intelligence community when there is a disconnect with the white house. i think you see character when that happens. >> i don't think it is helpful to any degree.
i think it is healthy for the oversight committees, even the national security council and even the president to challenge nie's. they are not 100% every time and we should challenge the underpinnings of these often. we often did that and i think it is a better product and a better informed decisions and members when that is over. again that does not mean someone was wrong but those challenges should happen. publicly doing this is not helpful for the work of the men and women who are overseas trying to get other folks to work on behalf of the united states as well. as someone who still does international travel it has an impact i can tell you. people are thinking why would i work for you guys you don't even believe in yourselves? why should i take a risk? if you don't believe in it why should i? they don't make the person we may here domestically in politics whether it is this
president or that president. pages see the united states doing and it doesn't sell well overseas and i think that is where the administration needs to take caution. if you want to have a disagreement with the intel community have added. you should absolutely do that but there are channels and processes to have that happen. that is where i would keep it because i do think it has an impact on operations overseas and i hate to see it. i hate to see the morale, they are tough candidly and one administration or one leader will not get them off of their mission hiding under a desk and sucking their thumb. that was me most of my hearing days. >> [ inaudible ] >> i will say they will go out and do their work and it is just not helpful. i argue we don't want to make their job any harder than it is right now and i would hope the president will start to
acknowledge it. these are his people trying to get it right so he can make a good decision when he makes informed policy decisions. >> recruiting is another part of this. if the best people don't join our intelligence community what will we have in five or 10 years? >> before we go to questions is there anyone on the panel that things this should be causing major changes to oversight and the way it is done? is it tinkering with the margins at this point? >> i made the point earlier about covert action programs where you've got some sort of title 50. there needs to be a better way for that to be seamless. the way you do that is through i think coordinating that oversight between the hipsee and apparently that is not a lot of coordination right now. that has to happen. also you have to have that
strong interaction between the pentagon and langley because they will be, there is going to be more and more of that type of covert action program out there taking place just because of the nature of on the ground conflicts and this will be the same type of conflicts we have in the future. there will be more covert action programs but they would be military and there will be military interaction with the intelligence community and it has to be more seamless. >> i was just going to jump in there one of the most frustrating things we in the house did both the national intelligence budget and the military intelligent budget in the same place which was helpful because it gave us extra insight into military activities but we said it maybe is time not for a title x or a
title 16 in the slice of trying to get these covert action programs to function well and have proper oversight and i will tell you why. the legal complications for taking unit a and making it work with you to be in place see was almost comical. i thought we are doing this to ourselves, nobody sees this and we are doing this and making this so hard and so complicated that it is a wonder any of these things work when they are done. most of the effort is in the back half of the operation and so i do think we have to change these covert actions and there has to be a way and it doesn't have to be the entire committee on both sides but it has to be maybe a smaller subset of members. they need to go through and look at all of the things that we have to do, they college hopping in all of this other thing its own vernacular to get military guys to work with civilian guys to do operations.
in the middle of some of these covert actions the law changes right in the middle of it, it is the dumbest thing i have ever -- i think you know what i am talking about. i said why do we do this and then someone else becomes in charge when this tiny little thing happened and it goes to someone else and when that is done it goes back to the other person right in the middle of the operation. >> services committee on military operations? >> not as good as it should be, that is absolutely true you would think that it would be seamless there but it isn't. there is a lot of jurisdiction protection that goes on. >> to remind the largest unfinished recommendation the 9/11 commission was to set up a discreet homeland security committee with jurisdiction. there are homeland committees in both houses and with minor
jurisdiction because of all of the jurisdictional fights. i want to add to what mike said i think it is even more complicated. first of all there are jurisdictional fights between the armed services and intelligence but there are also implications of which badge people are wearing when they do what in foreign countries? what our military does can be construed depending on what the circumstance is a declaration of war and what our intelligence folks do fall into a different bucket. we are doing it to ourselves but there are some international signals we are sending by what we call these folks but i want to make an additional point and that is the intelligence budget is dispersed throughout the federal budget. there isn't just one bucket for intelligence operations and it is very difficult to oversee it
and authorize funds for a variety of things. the committee when it is not having partisan fights does that well. mike is right he had touched the good job of getting authorization out the door but then the appropriation funds to three different committee. the appropriations committee overseas that and some of those folks are in different subcommittees and they don't perhaps get all of the nuances. there has been a long-standing argument that the intelligence committee ought to have both authorization and appropriations jurisdiction. of course the appropriations committee does not agree with that but there was an effort for time which i think failed to designate a few appropriators to be part of the intelligence authorization and function at least to try to get enough people up to speed so that the process would work responsibly and i don't think
it happened. >> we are going to open this up to questions it is very difficult for me to say so larry pfeiffer will spot the questioner and we will get you a microphone to ask a question. please ask a question, don't hide the question in a speech or speech in a question. >> we have great students running microphones for us on the margins of all the areas you have seen. i would ask the students work to find you raise your hands if you want to ask your question and i will bounce around from student to student. let's start with a student on that side of the room and find someone to ask a question and while that person asks a question do we have anybody over here? >> don't forget us up here. >> thank you all for coming. i have a question about contemporary situations what
are your biggest praises or credits as to how the house of representatives currently is handling the oversight of the intelligence community and particularly the russian investigation and the trump administration? >> good question. we need the wisdom of the senate on this. candidly i think it has been honestly. i think and i have a different view on this it got me in trouble as well along the way. i think if the government is going to issue a subpoena or issue a report that condemns any american, i don't care who they are or if you hate them, love them or something in between, they have a huge responsibility to try to get it
right. guilt by inference is a dangerous thing in a democracy i think. so if you think about all of the activities over the past few years even when people it drives me crazy they come up and run to the microphone and say i can't tell you what we just talked about but i think he is guilty right? i think he is innocent right? we have no way to know the back story and that person is a federal official engaged in an investigation. i think that candidate is a disaster for us and for us as americans. i wish they would get away from this and again i feel strongly the intelligence committee is not the place to be investigating finances and there are other committees for that work. they need to get back to the regular oversight. i know for a fact that they are not doing the kind of oversight
that happen happened when we were in congress. i know for a fact it is not happening. you can only have so many hours in the day and they are spending their time on things that get you on tv but might not be proper oversight. i think eventually we will pay a price. something will go wrong and everyone will point fingers, they didn't tell us or they lock my head in the safe i couldn't talk about that either. of all of those things they are going on right now. i think it is dysfunctional at a very high level. >> earlier you talked about jurisdiction right? he basically said we should not be looking into the question of the presidents finances. that belongs somewhere else in congress. who makes that call? is that heart of the chairman of the committee or is it in the leadership of the house? where is that? >> it can't happen without the leadership [ indiscernible - low volume ] in that regard.
it is the chairman as well making that decision and the german could say i am not doing that. every committee will investigate the administration and whatever you think take that off the table. is this a functioning government we want? candidly i was pretty hopeful about what happened the past two years as well. i was pretty open that i didn't think that was the kind of government we wanted either when it came to this oversight question. so i think we will have to come to grips, what do you want your congress to do? when it comes to proper oversight and i think there is an important role in that how do you do it in a way that protects people's character and dignity? as an old fbi guy i like to process and that seems to just be gone and in the court of public opinion anything goes and that is what we are turning up in the committees the ways and means committee now has an oversight committee to
investigate the president. the intelligence committee has an oversight committee to investigate the president. it is getting to the point where you're thinking i get it, i am not the smartest fbi agent in the world but we will call this a you all don't like the president of the united states got it. now what else are you going to do? you are distorting that committee to a place where it would be hard to put it back together because even though you have tools and power you have to earn the trust to know the community doing this work and has sworn an oath to protect the constitution and protect the people. you still have to have trust in that environment even when you disagree and i argue [ indiscernible - low volume ]. >> just to remind as mike said there were abuses or misbehaviors in the last administration the so-called midnight run to the white house was pretty jarring for many who
are watching. >> i didn't say there was. >> and there was not much oversight of this precedent. is not might nonpartisan so i don't want to get into who is right and who is wrong, but i do think watching this from afar relieved i am watching this from afar, i think it performs pretty well in that space, the speaker and minority leader have an obligation to rain in bad behavior and make the house put its best foot forward. that is working to some extent but not working perfectly. hopefully they will be some course correction and the intelligence committee especially in the house will reclaim its mantle under prior times when all of us try to be
as partisan -- do not be partisan and to try to put the country first which is what our intelligent community needs to do. >> next question. >> dave buckley thank you. >> who used to work on the house intelligence committee and he was a brilliant member of the minority staff. >> thank you. also the inspector general of the cia. will you consider when you consider the agency activities how do you decide what get the attention of the committee in a given year? how do you sort through what you will focus on and you said expansion of the inspectors general within the community, how effective are they in helping you do your oversight? >> do you want to take that?
>> sure. i mentioned having good staff is so critically important earlier and that is another reason why you have to have good staff. you can as a member i don't care how much you read or how much time you spend in the field trying to keep up with what is going on and all of a sudden it is just not possible. staff does know what is going on and you have different staff members that are responsible for each of those 17 agencies. we always started with the cia, nsa or when the dni was created because they are at the top and everything is assembled underneath the dni. you always start there but at the end of the day tish long did a great job and i don't
know this audience is a little more educated. most people probably never heard of nga and certainly don't have an idea of what they do. it is important to every member of the committee to understand what every single committee does to try to keep up with the oversight of all 17 of them with good staff you can do it as far as the ig the federal government the government would not properly function without that good work. i don't even consider that oversight i consider that investigative work and not just when there is a problem to avoid problems with good ig work and we depended on that. >> okay so why don't we, is there a question on the mezzanine level up there?
>>. look up, the balcony. >> senator warner asked about the oligarch thing and there is a company called by the founder of linkedin and they have been interfering in the 2020 presidential election and the interfered in the senate election. can you say something about companies like that -- the private money the unlimited private money in politics? >> i'm not sure what the question was. >> i am not following the question. >> could you please rephrase the question? >> there is government money and then there is private money posing as government money, how do you differentiate? >> i am assuming you are
talking about the social media effort influence political campaigns, if that is what you are talking about [ inaudible ] a group that tracks what the russians are doing and we try to make it transparent. if you go to hamilton 68 [ indiscernible - low volume ] great to see you sir who has never given up the of the intelligence officer and i always said whatever happened to him in the past year he sure got a lot better looking i do know that. we are trying to track what the russian trolls are doing and then make it available to the public to take a look so they can make an informed decision. this will be a difficult thing for the country to go through to try to decipher what is legitimate speech even if you disagree with the speech and what is speech outside of the origins or outside of the country with the sheer effort
to try to create chaos and other things. i heard senator warner talk about it and rightfully so about what the russians were doing. i argued very effectively i'd didn't [ inaudible ] but what they did effectively is pit black activist groups against white nationalist groups because they were trying to raise the noise and chaos and they tried to pit muslim groups against christian groups in the united states. the goal for that was to try to create chaos and anxiety and what their goal was was to make americans not like each other and it is pretty hard to argue they were successful in that given our political climate today. this worries me a lot. i don't think we have a good handle on it a lot of government groups are looking how to get ahead of this and you have to be really careful you don't want to take something down that is just free that they are expressing
themselves at the same time you don't want the russians pretending to be an american who is clearly trying to disrupt and create chaos we've done some good things leading up into 2016 and excuse me into 18 and hopefully it is getting better between now and 2020 but it will happen and they are engaged hate this is a cheap low consequence way of causing trouble for the americans. i'm in peerk that part worries me more than anything. >> to remind it was the intelligence community unanimously that told president obama that the russians were interfering with the 2016 election. he then communicated that information or they did he did to the incoming trump administration. they got it right the precise
dimensions and the evolution of this are past that briefing but they were right. we should have heeded that warning more effectively than we did. >> i think as a threat this is one of the greatest threats we will be facing, the cyber threat, if you just read dni report to the congress this past january he lays out in a public document pretty clearly what we are facing and we don't know how to get this genie back in the bottle. in a country of its governmental nature that has to have consensus building the more that it is difficult to build that consensus regardless
that has certainly been an impediment but on the other things you mentioned attitudes, religion, anything that is a wedge when an external threats can penetrate our body politic and drive people away it will be increasingly difficult to govern this country and that to me is one of our biggest threats. by the way i might say that i don't think the department of defense as part of the overall cyber effort has gotten its act together and i believe it is still too stovepipes and the role of cyber command as part of the protection against the
cyber threats i don't think has been flushed out as it has to be and we better be doing double time to get ready. >> the chinese are doing it now. the iranians are doing it now and others are doing it now. >> it is a growing phenomenon that we haven't figured out. >> the community do good intel during the 18 elections, it was headed up by nsa and obviously all of the details but let me tell you the community did a spectacular job. folks did not try.
and it was not just the russians. they are coming at us from lots of different directions. but, we were better prepared this time, and our folks really did a good job. >> all right, let's go over to my right over here. >> hi, my name is sheikh a read, and i am on the executive committee for the dc young democrats, and i would like to ask about how you feel. first of all, thank you for your dedication to this country. additionally, how do you feel about putin's recent comment, and just kind of how our nation has been in setting while there is this imminent threat. >> what did he say? >> what was that question? >> no, what did putin say?
>> there are missiles that can reach america within, i think it was within hours or within a short time period. they were specifically directed at the capital. he has just been kind of making some -- >> how do you see the russia threat, how do you think about putin, what should we do about it? >> the hypersonic missiles is what you're talking about. candidly, there is a mixed bag, can he really accomplish it. but the fact that we ran out of certain technologies like that exist, do they have they mastered how they work and a missile system that is a game changing event. encounter missile technology. if you are a small country, when is the last time you bought anything that said made in russia? those little dolls i think are pretty good.
the cut, that too, that's pretty good, too. you have to have a lot of it i guess to make that work. work with me people, come on. so, he has got a whole bunch of problems on the horizon. his population is declining. the economics of russia are not strong. outside of natural resources, they do not have much going on. he knows that. what he has done is invested wisely into things he knows can project power. submarines, he just launched a new series of submarines with missile capability that he showed for the world which you wanted to do, when he fired those muscles version of our tomahawk missiles into syria. he wanted to do that, he wanted us to see it, he wanted the world to see it. this guy is a bully for sure. he is going to use all of the things he has, knowing all the things he does not have. economy is not on his side.
he has a great intelligence community. these folks are very very good and very effective, and very mean. that gives him a little leverage. and cyber security is the one place where he knows, or cyber warfare he knows that he can have an advantage. he can destabilize things. either social media or destructive attacks. we have seen senator nelson mentioned how it is getting worse, that about two years ago we would see about 10% of all nationstate attacks were destructive. last year the estimate was at 40%. it is not just russia it is other ones, too, meaning they are coming in and trying to turn businesses off, or cause economic harm. that is a huge policy shift and it was really led by the others russians and others are following suit. you need to meet trouble with trouble, let him understand we are not backing away. continue to offer sanctions
where it makes sense. and we have to build our international alliances in a way that focuses us together, pushing back on putin activities. if you look at where he thinks he is, 20% of georgia is now occupied by the russians. he owns crimea, he has announced troop movement in the arctic. he is world-renowned for messing in the 2016 election. if he was successful or not, does not matter, the narrative counts. every decision in syria has to go through him in tehran. those are all big wins for him. the more you allow him to look like he is strong at home, and strong internationally, hurts us i think. i do think we have to get back into the regular order. we know have to deal with tyrants, we just have to be patient, and do it together with our allies, and be aggressive about pushing back when he tries to get out of line. >> and we have to play to our
strengths. our economy is so much stronger than any other in many in the world, at least now. and his asymmetric strength is the middle and the countries surrounding russia, which is what he is doing, militarily, and using weapons like cyber and propaganda. so, next month, there is a large nato event here celebrating the 70th anniversary of nato. today it is on the airwaves that mitch mcconnell and nancy pelosi are inviting the secretary general of nato to speak to a joint session of congress. my view, that is a really cool idea, a really cool idea. because nato is the world's best defense alliance. we are a member of it. most people in this country support article 5, which is the common defense provision. it is the policy of the united states, certainly mike pence stated it recently, to support article 5. and having the
secretary general there to talk about it, and to answer tougher questions, before congress, which strongly supports article 5, is a great way to push back on russia. >> we have just a couple of minutes left. i wonder if we could just quickly go down the road here, i would like to start with you. what do you want the american people to know about the women and men of the intelligence committee? >> number one, the intelligence committee is made up of very dedicated, and professional men and women, not unlike our armed forces who put their lives in harm's way every single day. we have some of the most technologically advanced -- that are members of the intelligence community, and sometimes we feel like we have got to make sure they are challenged if we are going to keep them. and let me tell you, in the days that we live in today, they are challenged every single day.
but, it used to always amaze me , the caliber of the individuals that you would meet in these faraway places that are in the middle of nowhere, and yet, these people who nobody knows their name, they have no uniform. but, they are performing human intelligence gatherings while bombs are going off all around them. and yet, they never tell you anything except boy what a great country we live in, that a bomb is going off. they are just some of the greatest individuals in the world. it has always been a privilege and pleasure to get to know those folks. young and old, even you, mike. we were glad you were there. >> that is certainly accurate, what saxby said. i would add that the work
product is usually accurate. and, the american people ought to know that. and, they ought to know that that work product, being accurate, is not just as talking to ourselves. it is talking to our friends and allies around the world. and, some of the most significant intelligence that we get is because of a tip, from a foreign intelligence service. it is because our guys have slowly and carefully build those relationships, so that they could get that information. >> yeah, i did a completely, some of the most intellectually capable courageous people you will ever meet are in the intelligence business. this is important, i think the american people do not know, because sometimes politics creeps in. they all took an oath to the
constitution of the united states. i never met one person that talked about the opportunity to circumvent the laws of the united states, or the constitution to do what they do. never happened. now, sometimes they bump into things. it is always because they believe they are legally right in doing the right thing. so, i know there is a lot of suspicion, and it is easy to be suspicious to something you don't understand, and can't see, and can't touch, and can't ask questions of, but i would say we ought to stand in reverence of what they are accomplishing for us internationally, and the leverage that they provide the united states of america international space. and if they do it right, this is what they know. they know if they do their job right is is not about getting into conflict, it is about staying out of conflict. you can have these conversations of those fireside chats and crazy paces, like miriam shaw, or fill in the blank. when you get a chance to get around these folks, it is
inspiring to know that they are out there working for the team. they try not to pay attention to what is being set up about them, they just tried to get up the next morning and go after what they know, to save someone's life, or save some conflict from america getting into. >> i would like to add two more things. one, they have families. in many cases, their families do not know where they are or what they do, because those things cannot be disclosed in order to protect them. and, those families are heroes, too. and number two, leaks get people killed. if we reveal sources and methods, for example those in foreign lands who are working with us, they get killed. and when people's identity is disclosed in inappropriately, they get killed. and, if our methods are shared inappropriately, and this has happened, too, with the public or with others, and those methods are compromised, we
don't have the tools to find the plot, to find out the plots next time. so, there really is a reason for the intelligence committees in the house and senate to do their jobs well. and, to fund, authorize and find the right activities by our intelligence community and support the people in it. and i think the point of this conversation was about that, intelligence oversight. and just a big thank you to all of those currently serving in congress and their staffs who are, in most cases, working to get it right. they really deserve our support. >> thank you everybody for coming. i would like to invite you to the next event, which will be the final in the series we have been doing on accountability of intelligence. it will be looking at the media's role in intelligence. we will have the great andrea mitchell there, we will have david there, we will have peter
fenn, national security editor of the washington post, and suzanne kelly who is ceo of cyber brief, which many of you are familiar with, an online resource. i know michael has enjoyed this evening very much, it is a very rare opportunity for someone in michael's position to turn the tables on his former inquisitors. and, i stand in awe of the information we got tonight. i don't think there is a man or woman in this room who is not going to walk out the wiser for having spent this last hour and a half with these great americans. so, please round of applause. >> great job as always. >> thank you. >> please join us for the reception, exit through the back doors, get yourself a drink, have something to eat, and look forward to chatting with you out there.
coming up on c-span three, a house panel looks at your sentence structure, and the need for a bipartisan congressional approach to passing an infrastructure bill. after that, supreme court justices samuel alito and keegan testify on the court's $90 million budget request for 2020. then the alabama state of the state address, by governor king iv. next, a house panel of investigating the need for u.s. infrastructure. the chair and ranking member for the committee testified on the need for congressional action, a bipartisan approach to passing an infrastructure bill. congressman richard neal chairs the hearing. >> good morning, and welcome to our witnesses and audience