tv Congressional Oversight of the Intelligence Community CSPAN March 22, 2019 8:01am-9:31am EDT
>> thank you, everybody, dpofor coming on this special evening. i'm mike morell. we host the michael v. hayden center on security, intelligence, and public policy. we're delighted that you're here this evening for this program. the school policy and government is one of our schools at george mason yust and have a variety of programs in public policy, public administration, political science and also international security among others. and we're proud to host a number of public-facing events such as this one this evening put on by a number of our different centers at the university including the hayden center. before we get started, i'd like to acknowledge special guests before we begin our programs.
and this evening i would like to make one special acknowledgement. here this evening general michael hayden and his wife, janine. thank you. [ applause ] general, thank you, we're thrilled you're here. thank you for everything you do for the school, george mason university and our country. we're really proud to have you here and host the hayden center at george mason university. when i've done these programs in the past year, i've always liked to brag a little bit about our international security program having achieved a ranking of third in the country. in the u.s. news and world report rankings. and i told everybody that some place called harvard was ranked number two and we're coming after them. there's a happy ending to the story, as of midnight tonight, when they released the results of the latest rankings, we are
ranked number two in the country. [ applause ] and a lot of it has to do with events like this, programs that we have put on that i think really enhance the visibility of the school and the nature of public debate and discussion that's important for us to be sponsoring such as events like this one. i'd like to introduce now senator mark warner. senator warner? good to see you, mark. mark warner was elected to the united states senate in 2008 and again in 2014. he served as governor of virginia from 2002 and 2006. virginia was ranked as best in business in the united states when he left the governorship and importantly, number one in public education, which i think we still claim. so we're delighted you're here,
mark, and we look parted forwar your opening comments. >> thank you very much. thank you, dean mozell. thank queyou for that introduct. it's great to be here to celebrate. while we are in the district, we're celebrating a great virginia institution, george mason. let me also add my best wishes to general hayden and his wife. as someone that helped tutor me as a new person on the intelligence committee, he's someone who has broad, broad respect from all of us that have any way touched the intelligence community. i think you're going to be in for a special evening tonight. obviously, mike morell who had a long and distinguished career in the intelligence community will be leading the discussion and you'll be hearing from four former members who have as much knowledge in this space as anyone you could listen to. mike rogers, jane harman, bill nelson, and my dear friend, saxby chambliss, who also helped educate me. i've been on the intelligence
committee for eight years. the last two years of which i have been the vice chairman. it's been a wild time. i know our topic tonight is congress and the oversight of the intelligence committee. we know at times congress can kind of get in its own way in terms of intelligence oversight. we have actually three committees that touch our jurisdiction one way or the other. beyond the intelligence community, itself, the armed services committee, and the appropriations committee, one of the things that richard burr, my chairman and i, have been trying to do is make sure that we're better meshed together so that we can provide that appropriate oversight, particularly as it comes in the areas, particularly like space, where that domain continues to become more and more challenging, trying to think through as the administration thinks about a space force, how we think about that in conjunction with the ic's major role in overhead is
one of those areas where i think congress needs to do a little better job of oversight. 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 relatively low bar to get over, but i found the chairman and i while we don't always agree and our members nine times out of ten that we find common agreement and that may partially because we mostly meet behind closed doors and may also be because i think we all share the belief that particularly when it comes to national defense and intelligence matters, in many way partisan politics ends at our waters' edge. in many ways, that's been somewh somewhat tested as we've seen,
perhaps, in other committees. we have in the last two years mostly due to the russia investigation, we've had 12 public hearings. that's more, i think, talking to bill and saxby than the senate committee has ever had in terms of public hearings and, again, while we are not concluded with our investigation, i hope it's shown to be a model on how we can try to make sure we -- particularly as we look at the russia situation, make sure on a going-forward basis, that what happens in 2016 never happens again. and i'm very proud so far and i'm just giving you the quick opening remarks. you're going to hear the whole panel later, but i would like to point out areas where we already have found absolutely bipartisan common agreement. one, we reached a common agreement reconfirming the intelligence community's asse assessment unlike the house, reconfirming the intelligence committee's assessment that in 2016, russia massively interf e
interfered nour elections through hacking of information, manipulating social media, through testing a series of our electoral system and they did so to help one candidate and hurt another. finding that reton fconfirmatio the intelligence community's work is a good first step for that for our process. second, and i think we took some pushing back and forth, but we managed to determine, again, in terms of the russia investigation, that the russians had at least jiggled the door or the window of 21 of our state's electoral systems and in many ways, looking back on 2016, i think we were extraordinarily fortunate as a country because the vulnerabilities that our electoral system had from voter file security, to actually voting machine security, was really a very soft underbelly. and in many ways, we were lucky that the russians didn't, you know, open those doors or open those windows, that they could have and our committee came out with a series of broad
bipartisan suggestions on how ke an improve election security. we have seen in addition $376 million put into election security and i'm happy to report post-2018 that our system is much more secure. although in many ways, 2018 is simply a warmup for what may happen or could happen in 2020. so we need to continue to be on guard. and finally, in terms of where we have found kmoccommon agreem as well is on the role of social media. i think looking back in terms of prior to 2016, in many ways, both the intelligence community and the social media companies were pretty much caught off guard about how these platforms could be used to manipulate information. how we initially thought that the -- our adversaries had looked at foreign advertising and some of that did take place, but the much more insidious way that the russians and their playbook now being out for other countries to look at used was
the creation of fake accounts to try to drive divisions in our society. matter of fact, some of the indications we've seen is that if you look at the nfl player debate, about kneeling of the players before the national anthem, regardless of which side of the argument you're on, whether you're for the players or against the players, we've determined based upon outside investigation that it's about 8-1 foreign-based fake account or bot activity over actual americans who are commenting on that subject. and in many ways, one of the conclusions that we've come to is we look at what the russians did in our elections. we look at what the russians did in the brexit vote that's now become more obvious, what they did in the french presidential elections and you add that all together and it's less than the cost of one new f-35 airplane. so this tool of misinformation and disinformation is going to be an area where the committee is going to have to continue to provide both oversight to the
ic, and hopefully some policy guidance and i think still in the realm of social media, we've got some work to do. one other area that i wanted to highlight for the panel came out that our committee has been spending enormous amount of time on and chairman burr and i are literally in the phase of, in a sense, doing a bit of a road show on this subject, working with the odni, the fbi, and dhs, and that is the emerging challenges from china. i believe we've seen a dramatic transition in chinese government and communist party activities post-2015 as president xi has made a massive consolidation of power and infiltration into many of the chinese leading technology companies, theft of intellectual property. a whole host of challenges that one of the things we're still trying to work with is to get the ic to be more forward leaning in terms of being willing to declassify more of
this information. frankly, just to make sure that we allow the business community, our academic community, and others to be aware of this threat. now, china's a great nation, and the united states needs to find a way to work with wherever possible china on a going-forward basis. but there is also a set of tools and procedures that they are using that, frankly, i think we've been a bit naive to and, again, 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're both extraordinarily important, and they're areas, quite honestly, that i think the role of the committee has been evolving, and it's my hope we'll be able to continue to maintain the kind of cooperative and collaborative relationship that we've been able to show over the last few years. a lot of that was due to, candidly, folks like bill nelson and saxby chambliss who served with me and before me on the intelligence committee.
my hope is that we can see that return to that kind of approach of bipartisan and putting country first, both continuing in our committee but also moving forward on the house committee. having that oversight, recognizing that the role of the intelligence community going forward, role is only going to increase in importance, that needs to be done in a thoughtful, reflective, and as much as possible, bipartisan manner. again, the kind of leadership that general hayden provided for the community for so many years. so, as i mentioned, i am your opening act. i'm now going to turn it over. mark, who am i turning it over to? larry? larry is quoing to cogoing to c present the panel. thank you all for having me. look forward to seeing you. >> everybody, thanks again to senator warner. that's a fantastic for him to make time for us today. as we all know, just given what he talked about, he's a very busy man and he probably has all kinds of documents to go back and read.
so we'll let him go do that and he can get out of here. want to thank you all for coming. apologies. i understand the security line was a little rigorous tonight getting in here, so i appreciate your all's patient in getting in here. for those of you who have not found a seat yet, at this stage of the game, there are some seats down front here that have piece of paper on them. feel free to just sit in those seats. they were reserved for some folks who probably haven't made it or are sitting elsewhere, so please make yourself comfortable. tonight, we're recording this event in a couple of ways. number one, c-span is carrying this event live. so that's great news for folks who live outside the area who are wondering if they could participate in the event. so number one. number two, we're also going to be recording the audio of the event and at some later date, it will be presented in a podcast that our moderator, michael
morell, hosts, called "intelligence matters." it's a cbs news podcast. it's available for download and it's also carried on cbs radio stations nationwide. so please check out that podcast. oversight of intelligence. very, very important thing. it's something that has not been done for a very long time in our republic. if you go back, intelligence oversight really began in a rigorous manner in the mid 1970s in that post-watergate era after the church and pike committees had done a review of the intelligence abuses of our previous history and to these two select committees were established in each house moving forward. the american people at the time decided that having a select committee of handpicked representatives and senators chosen by their leadership to oversee intelligence, that that was sufficient and as long as our representatives were keeping tabs on intelligence, we were
happy. and that worked great for 20 years or so, but you get to the 21st century, and there's been some sand thrown in those gears. you know, number one, there's a vast array of information available to the american people, and the american people are demanding a greater level of transparency into government operations. and so maybe they want to have a little bit better taste for what's actually going on in the intelligence community. number two, the intelligence community has just grown in leaps and bounds. the money, the people, the resources and the capabilities are just -- just enormous, and there's some question as to whether the current configuration can really oversee something of that size and magnitude. in addition, we've seen advances in technology that allow the intelligence community to do incredible things that some perceive as invasive and so that advance ined and reviewed.
we've seen an introduction of politics into intelligence oversight. the good senator talked about the great bipartisan operations taking place in the senate intel committee today, but there are some who might suggest that there were times in the past when politics played a significant role in the review of the detention interrogation program of cia, for example, or even today on the house side with the investigation of the russian interference in the election and the potential of collusion with the trump campaign. so, so something else that needs to be looked at. so at the end of the day, is the current system efficient? is it appropriate? could things be changed? could things be modified? that's what we're going to talk about tonight. so i would like to ask you to welcome our panel. moderating tonight is going to be michael morell. michael morell, forminger act bing director and deputy director of the intelligence agent spip also a senior fellow
at the hayden center. helping us out, we have miss jane harman who is a former ranking member of the house permanent select committee on intelligence and currently the president and ceo of the wilson center. she wins the award for having the least distance to travel to tonight's event. we also have mike rogers, former chairman of the house permanent select committee on intelligence and currently head of his own center that looks at the presidency and congress. we have senator bill nelson here who served as a member of the senate committee on intelligence and i can speak from personal experience as can general hayden that he was a rigorous overseer of our operations, but in a very positive way. and last but not least is senator saxby chambliss who may win the award for having done congressional oversight of intelligence for the longest period of time because he served on the house intel committee while he was a house member, but also served a number of years on the senate intel committee culminating in his tenure as the
vice chairman. so please welcome our panel, and we'll get things started. >> thank you, mark. thank you, larry. thank you to everyone for coming, but most important, i am absolutely thrilled that general hayden is here tonight. i truly believe, i truly believe, that he is the best intelligence officer ever produced by our nation. so, sir, it's great that you're here and it's great to see you're on the mend. if you read your program, you know that we've got some very special people up here. some great expertise, incredible experience. i will tell you that i worked with each one of these folks and
i will tell you that each one of them is deeply passionate about the national security of the united states. so we are very, very lucky to have them. we have 80 years of congressional experience right here. which is really impressive. so, great panel, and the last thing i want to say before i ask them a question, we are going to take as a given that intelligence oversight is important. it's not going to be a discussion about that. oversight in general of the executive branch is important and the oversight of intelligence i think is 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 that they are operating the way they should. so that is going to be a given. so where i want to start is i want to ask each of you, and we're going to go down the row here. we'll start with jane. is how you saw your responsibilities when you were on the committee.
and in answering that question, i'd love to know whether you saw it any differently for the oversight of collection and analysis on the one hand, and the oversight of covert action on the other because covert action at the end of the day is both an intelligence activity and a policy activity. so i just wonder if you made a difference with regard to both of those. >> all right. well, 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 affection and admiration for the haydens. both of them. and i have to tell one hayden story which relates to all this. and that is that when i was ranking member on the committee and pete huxtra was chairman on the house side, he's now our vaunted ambassador, we were invited to dinner at the hayden s. i think mike was then director of nsa if i understand this
correctly and pete and i had just had a fight. i used to call us an old married couple because we'd be fine for three weeks, then we'd have a huge fight, not speak for each other for one week then we'd make up and get back together and hopefully the committee would be benefited by the fact they were working together. at any rate, we went to the haydens having had a fight. poor mike and janine had to preside over this dinner party where we were sitting like this glaring at each other, and they did it -- they, not just mike -- did it masterfully and we made up and went along and it is to illustrate the point that these committees work much better when there is bipartisan cooperation, and back in the day when mike was on the house committee and saxby before him was on the house committee, it worked and i was very proud of my service, and you bet, i think it is a hugely important not only to
have oversight, but to do it well. and to distinguish between the types of collection, i've been thinking about that for two seconds, mike, i was -- because i was ranking member, i was a member of the gang of eight, and i was briefed on the -- the gang of eight is the chairman and ranking member of each intelligence committee and the majority and minority leaders of each house. so it's eight people. and mike hayden was a briefer, certainly, on my watch, for a long time, of the most classified programs in the first term of george w. bush. right after 9/11. and things like the telephone metadata program, which all of you know because you're all smart, the section 215 program, which is soon not going to be in effect. but at any rate, i had access to information that others didn't. so 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 that certainly the gang of eight briefings were at an enormously sophisticated level, and i understood that. some of our orther briefings wee less sophisticated. i think it was pete huxtra said you have to play 20 questions, have to ask exactly the right question of the intelligence briefer to get an answer that's useful. i thought that was a problem, but my answer is that oversight matters and bipartisanship matters just as much as oversight. and back in the day, the committees in both houses, i think, played an absolutely crucial role, and i'm hoping that the house committee will be back in this term of congress and will function on a bipartisan basis. >> mike? >> yeah, again, i think it was absolutely critical to the security to get this piece
right. i looked at it as a review of the policy. some of the platforms ended up becoming very polarized politically when they entered the public debate. i looked at all of those policy reviews. on covert action, we did monthly reviews with our -- the folks who were cleared to get into those monthly reviews on every covert action program. the reason that we did that was because it's the most sensitive thing the u.s. government does and the thing that could go the most wrong if it were not to go correctly and became known to the public. so we were very aggressive about all of that. and then the budget review was very, very important. it was the way that we provided oversight to the 17 intelligence agencies. the 70-plus is the unclassified number, billion dollars of the way we spent money. the review of that policy, the review of how we were using those resources and then we had that element where if there were disagreements or we thought that they were getting outside of the lines, then we had other means of bringing those folks in to
try to -- to make sure they weren't going outside the lines in a polite way or diplomatic way. and the last part of this that often gets missed, i think on these committees, is that we're also there to support the community. we asked them to do really hard, difficult things. and what frustrated me sometimes along the way on the committee is the only time that they got to come up is when we were slapping them about the head and shoulders for something "a" or "b" that went wrong and some of it was serious, some of it i would argue probably not so serious. the last piece to me was very, very important. if we're going to ask you to do this, we need to give you the resources, give you the legal authority then make sure you're staying within the lines. if we do that part, it saves on the trouble at the end. that's the way i looked at congressional oversight when i was chairman. >> bill? >> may i tell a story on general hayden? >> you sure may. >> 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 ru rubharb on waterboarding. i want to go out and kick the tires. i asked general hayden if he would waterboard me. >> oh, my gosh. >> he said, i can't do that. >> but there were a lot of republican volunteers. >> yes, there were. there were plenty. and he said, oh, no, i couldn't do that. i said, well, i can hold my breath for a while. and he said, no, and i kept after him, and finally, he decided he couldn't do that but he at least could send the
people down that 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 general hayden and you, mike, the higher-ups, it was the questions were answered crisply. i found as you get down into the pecking order that there was always an attempt to evade, 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's got 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, and i think that this is a part of government that does not get the accolades that it justly deserves. >> saxby? >> bill, we can still make that waterboard -- general, it's great to see you, man. it's -- i know it's been tough on you. for you to be here tonight means an awful lot to all of us
personally. so thanks for your commitment to our country. you know, the best way to prepare yourself for any kind of hearing that the intelligence community had, irrespective 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 might be, some god-forsaken place that burr and i went one night in assadabad and you talk to these folks who have been out putting their life in harm's way all day long. they were there that night just because we were there. you have a drink with them, that's when you really find out
what's going on out there. and 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're going to -- if we're going to do oversight, and you're right, mike, there's no question about that needs to be done, the way you prepare for that is to really get a feel for what's happening out among the people who are actually doing it. from a -- from a covert action standpoint, covert actions were always fascinating, but they were always complicated. obviously, that's why they call them covert actions. there's nothing simple and non-dangerous about it. they're all actions that put individuals' life 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 and of itself, but it was the mixture of the military and the cia that used to be so complex that trying to analyze whether it was the right thing to do or not and whether money was being spent in the right way, the fact that you had two entities like that working together made it extremely difficult. and at the end of the day, whether it's in the first analysis on what's happening or whether it deals with covert action programs, if you don't trust the leadership of the cia, and i don't know anybody that didn't, then, you know, you're never going to be convinced, and -- and bill's exactly right, the leadership never did anything but shoot straight with us, in my opinion, and the covert actions and the
non-covert actions, whether it was analytics or whatever, we always got the right answers from you guys, mike, and we knew whether or not what you would be telling us was right, and there was never any variance from that. >> you know, it's interesting the points that you make about the more junior officers because i saw the dynamic. you know, i saw junior officers who were more careful about what they said to you than what they said to foreign intelligence services. and i think they were careful bauds they were worried about the -- 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 as evasion, but that is a long-term
problem. it's always been there. i think it takes both the leadership of the committee and the leadership of the agency to break that down. >> but also, they had a narrower mission and so often, when i would ask a junior person, well, what about this? he or should would say, well, i'm only focused on that. and it took a more senior person to have a broader view. >> okay. so let's broaden this out a little bit. this time we're going to start with you, mike. so what's 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 be on the intelligence committee. you can't get everything through osmosis of somebody else reading it and digesting something on a page review. you have to read the raw material. and there's a lot of members, unfortunately, who just don't make that commitment. so i argued if we were going to have somebody before the
committee, we were going to make all those materials available prior to their showing up, even in a classified setting, and i expected members to read the material. and that just sometimes just didn't happen. so if you're going to ask those folks to come up, you need to u understand the material, including, by the way, the broader context. you can't just say operation "a" to find that glass of water and understand what's going on. you have understand the room, the water, the glasses, all those things. what happens sometimes is the oversight gets too myopic. they focus on that one thing that may have gone wrong or that one briefing that didn't go exactly right, versus the whole picture of everything that's going on. and so 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 which means lots of
reading, lots of analytical materials you need to pore through, and then understanding the program and what particular event it was trying to solve or what collection you're aimed at. and so if you get those layers of depth, then i think oversight becomes a lot easier, and, again, it doesn't mean we always agree, doesn't mean the intelligence committee always agreed with the oversight activities. that's going to happen, and that's okay. as i used to say when i would ask for something, no is just a long way to yes. a and, as you know. it's good. it's healthy. it's -- at the end of the day. but, again, to me, if you're going to do proper oversight, and the other pieces leave the politics out of the room. there are plenty of things to fight about outside the door of those committee hearings. plenty to fight about. and i just think we -- we didn't do a great job and i don't think they're still doing a great job of leaving the politics out of the room. if you're in that committee to find the one thing to run outside and say, i caught them
doing "x," you're doing a disservice to your country. that's the part that gets us gummed up on the bad side, on the other side, being informed and being very aggressive about your duties. it is a major consumption of time on that committee because you have to do the reading. you have to do the traveling downrange and talk to people, but i think that makes better oversight of something that's really an important piece of our national security apparatus. >> bill? >> well, i would certainly identify with everything that you 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 intelligence officials because i
believed i was going to say something i shouldn't have said because i wanted to be free to explore whatever the issue was. and i think as the chairman says that rushed to the microphone after the hearings is one of the worst things that can happen, and yet, we're living in that kind of venue where there's almost a demand. you're an elected official. you need to address this. and if you say, i can't talk about that, somebody's going to try to get you to talk about it. and i think that's going to be a continuing problem. >> and -- >> and then just add the insult to injury, the leaks. that has complicated everybody's lives. >> the difference between the way the ssci has approached the russia investigation and the way hipsi has approached it, is it personality-based? is it that simple? or is it deeper than that?
>> well, looking at it from afar, it certainly seems that it's been personality-based, and it's been much too partisan in the house. to the contrary, you see the great degree of cooperation between richard and mark and the senate committee, and i commend them for that. and that carries over, by the way, into the discussions on the floor, when often senators are talking to each other where you can find another senator, it's when you're voting on the floor. you'll often see the little clumps on the floor of the senate of republicans and democratic senators that are on the intelligence committee. conferring, talking. >> mike, jane, do you agree that it's just personalities or is there something special about the house here? >> well, the -- >> oh, look at the time. yeah.
>> the house is a perpetual election machine. understand, two-year terms means you're out there all the time running for election. if you're a member of the intelligence committee and you handle yourself correctly, you can't talk about being on the committee. so it's not helpful in an election to just sit and do everything mike said, which is right, which 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'd say much more than the senate committee, on both sides, want to hit the microphones and be visible, and there's pressure to do that. and when some of them do it, then there's pressure on others and it's a pernicious thing. i just make it -- a couple of other comments about that. i mean, at least from my perspective. the committees always had, back in the day, people chosen who
were suited for the work and really wanted to work hard. and i think the appointments to the committee, especially on the house side, changed, in the last decade or so. and people are put on that committee more for political reasons than in the past. and they are, some of them, more political, on both sides. and i think the lack of bipartisanship has -- or let me start again. bipartisanship has been hurt by that. and the other comment is at least on the house side, there are term limits. and most people rotate off. they don't seem to apply to everybody. i never thought they applied to the chairman and the ranking member. long story if you want to ask me about that. but people rotate off when they become expert. as mike said, it's a foreign language. you have to learn the acronyms and have to learn what the answers by the briefers or even
the comments by the briefers mean. if you don't put in the work, you will never get it. and so, again, it's kind of unfortunate that the expertise of members and the respect for members has declined, and i think we all suffer from that. >> and you can get through this, it's very difficult, but you have to -- i'd like to think i was the greatest chairman of all-time. okay. would have never, ever happeneded that we had any success at all if we hadn't gotten together and we both decided together to do this. it wouldn't have worked. and we would have had the same problems, and true story, as i am sitting here, we had finally agreed, we hadn't been able to get an authorization budget in five years on the committee, and it was all for political amendments that really were designed to score points outside of the doors. nothing that had to do with proper oversight of a $70 billion budget. we couldn't get it done. we agreed.
we sat down. i was chairman. we said, listen, i will stop every republican poison pill amendment if you stop every democrat poison pill amendment, and we shook hands on it, and we both stuck to that, and, you know, that can be uncomfortable, as you all can know that, right? and when we finally got the first agreement on that first budget, we reached -- we were down in the basement of the capitol and we reached over and we shook hands, and the building shook. i wish i were kidding. remember the earthquake? we've decided we caused that on that day. oh, my god, what have we done? i mean, literally, we had to get up and leave the -- leave the -- you know, get out of the building. and two things happened with that. this is the other piece of that. 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 our budget staff brief then we fight about it. that's done. and what that did is it sent a
signal to the staff that we're serious about this. not it can't be just us. it's got to be you, too. and there was some triumphs through that process, and there were some low points during that process. you know, not that we agreed on everything, but over the course of time, i think the team started gelling, understanding that our goal and purpose here was to get this right. doesn't mean that intelligence committee does everything right. it didn't mean that we didn't -- you know, we used to call it the wire brush treatment. >> i remember. >> you know, we took that pretty serious. we took that as a big part of our responsibility. if we were going to do things behind closed doors and not be able to engage the public, then we better take it seriously. and so 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's unfortunate that it's personality-based because i think you can, you know, candidly, you can talk to people in the intelligence community today who say they would rather, you know, go to butte, montana,
in an assignment than go down to the intelligence committee for a briefing. and, you know, this is dangerous. you know, i don't think people understand, this is dangerous. that means it won't be 20 questions, it will be 100 questions. it won't be your top briefers and best analysts unless people are forced to go into the room. that creates a level of tension that's not healthy to getting the right information. so i hope they get back to this. i hope they start leaving. candidly, what a russian investigation on the intelligence committee about finances, there's no place for that investigation. that's a great example. it shouldn't happen there. "a " ", qu "a," they don't have the resources to do it. "b," day have to hire folks to do it that aren't relateded to the 17 agencies. there's other places you can do that in congress. you can do it all day long. that's the kind of thing i'm talking about. you have to take that stuff out of the committee and let the
committee do what it's supposed to do, and it's hard. if you to it right, it's time consuming and difficult and not always pleasanpleasant. so i do think, unfortunately, they've got themselves in this gordian knot where they can't quite get themselves out of it and it's really unfortunate, and i argue not healthy for the intelligence community. they'll pay a price for this over time because something may or may not get caught -- not caught, bad word -- >> addressed. >> addressed. thank you, better word. that's why he was an analyst for the cia. that's why he was so good in front of the committee. >> to be fully -- >> there's one other aspect of this that we need to make sure we state, though, and that is that none of us would have ever been able to be prepared or be able to do our job without good staff. and jane and i were on the hipsi together when 9/11 happened. we were on the subcommittee on terrorism and homeland security.
i was chair. 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. two of them happened to be former cia guys that you remember, mike, and the same thing is true over on the senate side, without great staff on both side of the aisle. senate's a little bit different in that all staff works for the chairman, the vice chairman. even though you may have designees, staff designees, everybody works for the chairman and the vice chairman. diane couldn't hire anybody that i didn't agree to. she couldn't -- i couldn't hire anybody she didn't agree to. and that was a great way for it to work. and i got two former staffers here tonight, hayden milberg and tyler stevens. tyler and i spent a week in the jungles of colombia chasing drug folks around and it's that kind of dedicated, committed staff that gets you prepared chasing
around. we were all blessed with good staff during our years. >> so, the president's rebukes of the intelligence community, 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 the leadership of the community to ensure that there isn't any damage or there's -- you minimize the damage from that kind of thing. how would you think about that if you were still there, jane? >> well, carefully would be one answer. but just thinking about several of these comments. and we're all good friends up here and we've all worked closely together, so you get to start with that. and you also have to start with
the proposition that the terrorists aren't checking our party registration before they blow us up. so, it is really important to have accurate and timely intelligence assessments. i think this. the president is the president. he is the dually elected leader of our country. but he represents the article two branch of government. and congress is the article one branch of government. and congress authorizes and appropriates funds for all of our government business including the business of our intelligence agencies. and 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. that we stand with them and that we understand that the stars on the wall in the main hall of the
cia are about people whose names are declared or not declared who died in the line of duty as the tip of sphere protecting our country. i tear up every time i walk into that building. it's a hallowed space. and we have to protect them. and we have to depend on their making objective assessments of what -- intelligence is a set of predictions. it's not a science -- on what they reasonably expect will happen based on all the information available. that is the only way we can hopefully prevent or at least disrupt plots against us. and otherwise we can't. so, last comment on this. it is -- that's the right question. it's a tough -- it's a tough point. congress has -- 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 in 2004 -- saxby was part of it. i don't know, bill, if you were. mike, were you on the committee? >> just barely. >> mike was a baby. we passed it on a bipartisan basis in both the house and the senate. and what it set up was a joint command across the agency so we would not, again, not be able to coordinate. but it also set up a process for -- a new process for -- preparing national intelligence estimates wech estimates. we had had a colossal failure on the wmd iraq intelligence process, and this includes featuring decents by government agencies, having what i always called an outside book review by a panel of experts, and vetting sources. i mean, this seems pretty obvious, but that wasn't done
effectively before. and now it is. and guess what? nies are so much better. and that's the role of congress is setting the process so that the people who know their jobs and put the country first get it as right as possible. >> saxby, i'll ask you the same question about the president. >> well, i'm not sure what the president expected to hear from his intelligence community when he was inaugurated. but clearly the right kind of intelligence message was not getting through to him. it's okay to disagree with the intelligence community if you're the commander in chief. i wish he would do it more in private, and i remember, mike, you were directly involved in this, the 2007 nie on the iran nuclear program when they came back and said that they had discontinued operation in 2003. we all thought that was crazy.
i remember the leadership questioned that. but you did it the right way. there was never a front page story on "the new york times" about it. so, there's a way to be critical of the intel 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's a meeting with kim jong-un. clearly the dni-led intelligence community found these instances of violation of what kim said he was going to do within north korea. and the president walked in there with all the allegations that he needed substantiated by the intelligence community. and, you know, thank goodness the president has recognized that. so, you know, it's evolving, and
i hope that positive step leads to more positive comments coming out of the white house. >> i hope there's an -- i believe that there is an extra obligation on the part of the leadership of the intelligence committees to rise above the partisanship in working with the intelligence community when there is a disconnect with the white house. and i think you see character when that happens. >> mike? >> i just don't think it's helpful to any degree. i think it's healthy for the intelligence oversight committees, even the national security counsel, even the president to challenge nies. that's great. they're not 100% right every time, and we should challenge the underpinnings of these often. and we often did that.
i think it's a better product, better informed members, better informed decisions when that's over. again, doesn't mean the intelligence committee was wrong, but all 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. and as somebody who does a lot of international travel, i can tell you it has an impact. and people are thinking why would i work for you guys? you don't even believe in yourselves. >> right. >> right? why should i take a risk? if you don't believe in it, why should i believe in it? they don't make the parsing we hear domestically in politics that it's this president or that president, they just see the united states doing x and it doesn't sell well overseas. that's where i think the administration needs to take particular care and caution to say you want to have a disagreement with the intel community, have at it. you should absolutely do that. but there are channels, there are processes to have that
happen. and that's where i would keep it. i do think it has an impact on operations overseas. and i hate to see it and i hate to see the morale. candidly, one president is not -- or one separation or one even leader -- is not going to get them off of their mission and they're not pouting in the corner and hiding under their desk and sucking their thumb. that was me on most of my hearing days. >> no, it doesn't. >> but i will say they're going to get out and do their work the next day. it's just not helpful. we don't want to make their job any harder than it is right now. i hope the president would start to acknowledge that these are his people trying to get it right so he can get it right when he make as i foreign policy decision. >> it also has impact on recruiting. that's another part of this. if the best people don't join our intelligence community, what are we going to have in five or ten years. >> before we go to questions, is
there anybody on the panel who thinks there should be major changes to the way oversight is done? or is it tinkering at the margins at this point? >> i made the point a little earlier about covert action programs where you've got some sort of combination of title 10 and title 50. there needs to be a better way for that to be seamless. and the way you do that is through, i think, coordinating that oversight. number one between the hipsi and the sisi which there's not a lot of coordination right now. but that has to happen. and also you have to have tha forgs..... .... pors.... ... that type of covert action program out there taking place just because of the nature of the on-the-ground conflicts that we're in toda
and number two, we're doing this to ou ves. ves. we are making this so hard and captioning performed by vitac covert actions. i agree with you, saxby, 100%. it doesn't have to be the entire committee on both sides but it >> -- subset of members and then we ought to go -- they ought to go through and look at all of the things that we have to do, they call it chopping and all of this other thing that's now got its own vernacular to try to get some of the military guys to work with the civilian guys to do operation a. by the way, in the middle of it, of some of these covert actions, the law changes, right in the middle of it. i mean, it is the dumbest thing i have ever -- i think you know what i'm talking about. it was the dumbest thing. i said, why do we do this? and then somebody else becomes in charge when, you know, this tiny little thing happens then
it goes to someone else and when that's done it goes back to the other person right in the middle of the operation. >> how is the coordination with the armed services committee on paramilitary 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's a lot of jurisdiction protection that goes on there that -- >> to remind -- >> -- makes it difficult. >> -- unfinished recommendation of the 9/11 division was to set up a homeland security committee with jurisdiction. there are -- because of all the jurisdictional fights. i wanted to add to what mike said. i think it's even more complicated. first of all, there are jurisdictional fights between armed services and intelligence, but there also are implications of which badge people are wearing when they do what in foreign countries.
i mean, what our military does can be construed depending on what the circumstance is as a declaration of war and what our intelligence folks do falls in a different bucket. so we have to be -- you know, we're doing it to ourselves, but it also is -- there are some international signals that we're sending by what we call these folks. i wanted to make an additional point and that is that the intelligence budget is disbursed throughout the whole 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's not having partisan fights does that pretty well, and mike is right, that he and dutch did a good job of getting authorization bills out the door, but then the appropriation of funds goes through a different committee, the appropriations committee,
and some of those folks are in different subcommittees and they don't perhaps get all the nuances. so there has been a long standing argument that the intelligence committee ought to have both authorization and appropriations jurisdiction. of course, the appropriations committee doesn't agree with that, but there was an effort for a time, which i think failed, i'm not sure if it's still in place, to designate a few appropriators to be part of the intelligence authorization function, at least to try to get enough people up to speed so that the process would work responsibly. i don't think it happened. >> okay. so we're going to open this up to questions. it's very difficult for me to see so larry pfeiffer is going to spot the questioner and we will get you a microphone. please ask a question, don't hide a question in a speech or a speech in a question. larry. >> all right.
so we've got some great students running microphones for us on the margins of all the areas where you're seated. what i would ask is that the students work to find you, raise your hands if you want to ask a question and i'm just going to kind of bounce around from student to student. let's start with a student over on that side of the room, find someone, ask a question and while that person is asking a question, somebody over here then finds somebody to get up and then we will do the back. do we have anybody over here? >> yeah. >> don't forget us up here. >> hi. thank you all for coming. i have a question about the contemporary situation. what are your all biggest praises or criticisms as to how the house of representatives currently is handling the oversight of the intelligence community and particularly the russia investigation and the trump administration?
>> good question for mike and jane. >> we need the wisdom of the senate on this, saxby. that's what you would tell me when we were working together. candidly, i mean, i think it's been abhorrent honestly. i think and i have a very different view on this, it got me in trouble as well along the way, but 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, i don't care 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 last few years, even when people -- this just drives me crazy, they come out and run up to the microphone and say i can't tell you what we
just talked about, but i think he's guilty, or i think he's innocent. we have no way to know the back story. that person is a federal official engaged in an investigation, i think that -- candidly i just think that's a disaster for us, for us as americans. so i wish they would get away from all of it. again, i feel pretty strongly that the intelligence committee is not the place to be investigating finances of fill in the blank. 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 kinds of oversight that happen when we were in congress. i know for a fact it's not happening. why? because you only have so many hours in the day, they're spending their time on things that get you on tv but might not be proper oversight and i think eventually we're going to pay a price for this. something is going to go wrong, everybody is going to point fingers, they didn't tell us or they did tell us but i can't remember or they locked my head
in a safe, i couldn't talk about that, either. all of those things are kind of going on right now and it worries me a lot. i think it's dysfunctional at a very high level. >> so earlier you talked about -- mike, talked about jurisdiction and basically said hipsy should not be looking into the question of the president's finances, that belongs someplace else in congress. who makes that call? is that a call on the part of the chairman of the committee? is that a call on the part of adam or is it in the leadership of the house or -- where is that? >> well, it can't happen without the leadership's blessing in that regard, and it is the chairman as well makes that decision. the chairman could say, i'm not doing that. that's just not what's happening. and if you look now every committee is going to investigate the administration. whatever you think of the administration, take that off the table. is this the functioning government that we want? candidly i was pretty vocal about what happened the last two years as well. i was pretty open that i didn't
think that's the kind of government we wanted, either, when it came to this oversight question. so i just think we're going to have to come to grips, what do you want your congress to do, number one, and number two, when it comes to proper oversight, and i think there is a very important role in that, how do you do it in a way that protects people's character and dignity? i'm old fashioned, as an old fbi guy i like due process, i think that's kind of an important thing in our constitution, that seems just to be gone. in the court of public opinion anything goes. and that's what we're getting, you know, churning up in the committees. when 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. i mean, it's getting to the point where you're thinking, all right, i get it. i'm not the smartest fbi agent in the world, but we would call this a clue, you all don't like the president of the united states. got it. check that box. all right. now what else are you going to do? right?
and this is what worries me because you're distorting that committee to a place where it will be really hard to put it back together because even though you have tools and power as a chairman and vice-chairman, you have to earn the trust of the community that's doing this work and has sworn an oath to protect the constitution and protect the lives of the people they're asking to do really hard things. that -- you still have to have trust in that environment even where you disagree and i argue that thing is broken. >> but 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 were watching this. >> i didn't say there wasn't. >> and there was not much oversight of this president. the wilson center is nonpartisan so i really don't want to get into who is right and who is wrong and there may be an overcorrection going on, but i do think watching this from
afar, relieved that i am watching this from afar, heading a nonpartisan organization that i think performs pretty well in that space, that the speaker and the minority leader have an obligation to rein in bad behavior and to try to make the house especially on issues like this put its best foot forward. that is, working to some extent, not working perfectly. hopefully there will be some course correction and the intelligence committee especially in the house will reclaim its mantle under prior times when all of us tried as hard as we could, all of us up here, to not be partisan and to try to put the country first, which is what our intelligence community needs to do. >> next question. >> okay. let's take one over here. >> thanks very much. dave buckley. >> who used to work on the house intelligence committee. he was a brilliant member of the minority staff. >> thank you, mrs. harman.
and also the inspector general of the cia. here is the question -- >> but who is counting. >> -- when you consider all of the activities of the 17 agencies from a committee perspective, how do you decide what gets the attention of the committee in a given year? how do you actually sort through what you're going to focus on in conducting oversight? and the second question is there has been an expansion of the inspectors general within the community, how effective are they in helping you do your oversight? thank you. >> saxby, do you want to take that one? >> sure. well, i mentioned having good staff is so critically important earlier and that's another reason exactly why you have to have good staff. you can't -- 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's going on and all 17
agencies is -- is just not possib possible. but staff does know what's going on, you have different staff members that are responsible for each of those 17 agencies. now, we always started with cia, the nsa or when the dni was created, the odni, because they are at the top and particularly the odni, everything is assembled underneath the dni, so you always start there, but at the end of the day tisch long is here and tisch did a great job at nga. most -- well, i don't know, this audience is a little more educated, most people have never heard of nga but certainly don't have any idea what they do. it's important for every member of the committee to understand what every single committee does, but trying to keep up with the oversight of all 17 of them
is just very difficult, but with good staff you can do it. as far as the ig, we couldn't -- i mean, the federal government would not function properly without good ig work. i don't even consider that oversight work, i consider that investigative work. not just when there is a problem, but you avoid problems with good ig work and we depended on that. >> okay. so why don't we -- is there a question on that mezzanine level up there? >> up here, yes. look up. balcony. >> senator warner asked about the oligarchs interfering. there is a company called new knowledge it's funded by the founder of linkedin, they've been interfering in the 2020 presidential election and they interfered in the alabama senate election. can you say something about
companies like that and, you know, the private money -- the unlimited private money in politics. >> i'm not sure what the question is. >> i'm not following the question i'm afraid. >> can you please rephrase the question? >> so there's government money and then there's private money posing as government money, so how do you differentiate? >> i'm assuming you are talking about the social media effort to influence political campaigns. is that -- if that's what you're talking about let me just take that for a second because i work with the german marshall fund, there is a group that tracks what the russians are doing and we try to make it transparent. so if you go to hamilton 68, i know general [ inaudible ] is also involved in that and it's
great to see you, sir, who has never given up the mantle of that -- best intelligence officer, by the way. whatever happened to him in the last year we are all not sure but he sure got a lot better looking. hamilton68.com. we were trying to track what the russian trolls and bot armies were doing and make it available for the public to get on and take a look so they can make an informed decision. this is going to be a very difficult thing for the country to go through is try to decipher what is legitimate speech, even if you disagree with it speech, and what is speech that is outside -- the origins are outside the country with the shear effort to try to create chaos and other things. i heard senator warner talk about it, rightly so, about what the russians were doing. i argue very effectively. they didn't change the election, they didn't do that, i'm not saying that, but what they did effectively is pit black activist groups against white
nationalist groups because they were trying to raise the noise and the chaos. they tried to pick -- pit muslim groups against christian groups in the united states, and the goal for that was to try to create chaos and anxiety. and what their goal was is to make americans not like each other, and it's pretty hard to argue that they weren't successful in that, given our political climate today. so this worries me a lot, i don't think we have a good handle on it, there's lots of government groups looking at how you get ahead of this and you have to be really, really careful, you don't want to take something down that says -- that is just freedom of -- something that's -- they're expressing themselves according to the u.s. constitution under the first amendment protections, but at the same time you don't want the russians pretending to be an american who is clearly trying to disrupt and create chaos. candidly, we've done some good things leading up into 2016, hopefully -- excuse me, into '18 and hopefully it's getting better between now and 2020, but
it will happen and they are engaged and my fear now is not just the russians, other nation states have also determined, hey, this is a very cheap, low consequence way of causing trouble for the americans, i'm in. that part worries me more than anything. >> and just to remind, it was the intelligence community unanimously that told president obama that the russians were interfering with the 2016 election and he then communicated that information or they did -- you did -- to the incoming trump administration. so they got it right. i mean, the precise dimensions and the evolution of this are past that briefing, but they were right and we should have heeded that warning more effectively than we did. >> bill, you wanted to say something? >> i think as an external threat this is one of the greatest threats that we are going to be facing, the cyber threat.
if you just read dni dan coats' report to the congress this past january, he lays out in a public document pretty clearly what we're facing and we don't know how to get this genie back in the bottle. in a country that of its governmental nature that has to have consensus building, the more that it's difficult to build that consensus, regardless of party, that's certainly been an impediment to consensus building, but on the other things that you've mentioned, race, attitudes, religion, anything that is a wedge, when an external threat can penetrate
our body politic and drive people away it's going to 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 got its act together yet. and i believe that it's still too stove piped and the role of cyber command as part of the protection against the cyber threats i don't think has been fleshed out as it has to be and we better be doing double-time to get ready. >> you know, the dni said at the hearing the russians are continuing to do it, the chinese are doing it now, iranians are
doing it now, the north koreans are doing it now and others he said. >> and others. >> are doing it now. so it is a growing phenomenon that we haven't figured out what to do yet. >> we really did some good intel work, the community did good intel work during the '18 elections, though. it was headed up by nsa and obviously all of the details can't be told, but let me tell you the community did a spectacular job with the '18 elections. >> and, by the way, it wasn't that folks didn't try. >> oh, yeah. it wasn't just the russians. they're 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
her here. >> hi. my name is shika reed and i'm on the executive committee for the d.c. young democrats. i'd like to ask about how you feel -- first of all, thank you for your dedication to this country, all of us, but additionally how do you feel about putin's recent comments and just kind of how our nation has been infighting while there is thi this imminent threat. >> what did he say? >> what was my question? >> no, what did putin say? >> that there are missiles that can reach america like within -- i think it was within hours or within a short time period and that they are specifically directed at the capitol. you've just been making some -- >> how do you see the russia threat? how do you think about putin? what should we do about it?
>> i'm happy to take it. the hypersonic missiles is what you're talking about. candidly there's i think a mixed bag on can he really accomplish it. >> right. >> but the fact that we do know certain technologies like that exist, do they have -- have they mastered how that works in a missile system and if they do and they have that capability, that is a game changing event in counter missile technology. that is a huge, huge thing. if you are a small country, when is the last time you ever bought anything that said made in russia? not often. those little dolls, i think, those are pretty good. >> vodka. >> yeah, vodka. that, too. that's pretty good, too. but you have to have a lot of it, i guess, apparently to make that work. work with me, people, come on. so he's got a whole bunch of problems on the horizon. his population is declining, the
economics of russia are really not very strong. outside of natural resources they just don't have much going on. he knows that and what he has done is invested wisely into things that he knows can project power, submarines, he just launched a whole series of submarines with missile capability that he showed for the world which he wanted to do when he fired those missiles 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 to show that he's doing this. so this guy is a bully for sure and he's going to use all the things that he has knowing of all the things he doesn't have. he doesn't have -- economy is not on his side, he has a great intelligence community. i mean, these folks are very, very good and very effective and very mean. so that makes -- that gives him a little leverage. and cybersecurity is the one place where he knows -- or cyber warfare -- where he knows that he can have an advantage. he can destabilize things, either social media or destructive attacks.
we've seen senator nelson mentioned how it's getting worse. about two years ago we would see about 10% of all nation state attacks were destructive. last year the estimate is at 40%. it's not just russia, it's other ones, too, meaning they're coming in and trying to turn businesses off or break things in businesses or cause economic harm. that's a huge policy shift and it was really led by the russians and others are following suit. so i think we need to continue to meet trouble with trouble, let them understand that 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 focus us together pushing back on putin activities. if you look at where he thinks he is, i mean, 20% of georgia is now occupied by the russians, he owns crimea, he has announced troop movement in the arctic, he
is well renowned for messing in the 2016 election. if he was successful or not doesn't matter, the narrative counts. he's now -- every decision in syria has to go through him and tehran. those are all big wins for him. so the more you allow him to look like he's strong at home and strong internationally hurts us, i think. so i do think we have to get back into the regular order. we know how to deal with tyrants, we have to be patient, we have to do it together with our international allies and we have to 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 economy in the world, at least now, and his asymmetric strength is to meddle in the countries surrounding russia, which is what he's doing, militarily and using weapons like cyber and propaganda. there is a huge russia diaspora in all of those countries.
next month there is a large nato event here celebrating the 70th anniversary of nato and today it's 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's 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, and it is the policy of the united states, certainly mike pence stated it recently, to support article 5. having the secretary general there to talk about it and to answer some of the tougher questions before congress, which strongly supports article 5, is a great way to push back on russia. >> we have just a couple minutes left and i wonder if we could just very quickly go down the row here, saxby, let's start with you. what do you want the american people to know about the women and men of the intelligence community?
>> number one, the intelligence community is made up of very dedicated and professional men and women, not unlike our armed forces that put their life in harm's way every single day. we have some of the most technologically advanced individuals that are members of the intelligence community and sometimes we feel like we've got -- we've got to make sure they're challenged if we're 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 far away 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 gathering or sig and intelligence gathering while bombs are going off all around them, and yet they never -- they never tell you anything except that, boy, isn't it a great country we live in as that other bomb is going off. they're just some of the greatest individuals in the world and it's always been a privilege and a 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, and 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 isn't just us talking to ourselves, it's talking to our friends and allies around the world. some of the most significant intelligence that we get is because of a tip from a foreign
intelligence service. it's because our guys have slowly and carefully built those relationships so that they could get that information. >> mike? >> yeah, ditto completely, some of the most intellectually capable, courageous people you will ever meet are in the intelligence business. and this is important that i think the american people don't 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, but it is always because they believe they are legally right and doing the right thing. so i know there's a lot of suspicion and it's easy to be suspicious of something you don't understand and can't see and can't touch and you can't ask questions of, but i would --
i would say that we ought to stand in reverence of what they are accomplishing for us internationally and the leverage up that they provide the united states of america in a national security space, and if they do it right this is what they know, to a person, they know if they do their job right it isn't about getting into conflict, it's about staying out of conflict. you could have these conversations at those fireside chats and crazy places, you know r know, and when you get a chance to get around these folks it's inspiring to know that they're out there working for the team and they try not to pay attention to what's being said about them, they just try to get up the next morning and go after what they know might be the one day they save either someone's life or save some conflict from america getting into it. that's what always struck me about the people. >> and i would add just two more things. one, they have families and in many caseshe