tv Public Affairs CSPAN August 11, 2013 5:00am-6:01am EDT
>> all the veterans who have done so much for our country. security, it has to be looked upon the backdrop since what has happened since september 11. the current threat that we see emanating from the middle east is a reminder of how real and constant the threat is. when we get into the foreign aspect of it, we have a president who spent the last campaign and most recently gave a speech in early may where he basically said al qaeda had been decimated, implied the war against islamic terrorism had been won, and we could retreat to a pre-9/11 mindset, saying there would be occasional thugs around the world who would give themselves an islamic title, if al qaeda had been decimated. it was wrong for several
reasons. it was wrong to say it in the context of the campaign. it was wrong to say it in the context of a major speech. he implications of that are if you go before the american people and tell them the war is over or almost over or al qaeda is on its last legs, it makes it very hard to defend it weeks later when the nsa program has expanded so much. sideyou want allies on our , standing firm against islamic terrorism, after the president says the war is almost over -- i support the nsa program. we went through the nuances. apart from the isolationist the blameart from america first crowd in congress, one of the main reasons why we have a hard time maintaining support for programs such as the nsa is because the president has undercut us. he speaks in a schizophrenic way. he should be the one out there on national television. he should be the one of there,
instead of talking about phony scandals, he should be talking about the speeches he has made about islamic terrorism and tell us why the nsa program is so important. [applause] we are up against a situation where people considered republicans or conservatives are defending a program of left of center president refuses to defend it himself. the country has to come first. that is why i believe a program such as the nsa, that as the basis for today's program, is so essential. let me talk about privacy versus security. menace of communist the 1940s and 1950s, we face an enemy which is overseas and right here in our own country. willing enemy which is to carry out attacks in our own country. during the cold war, the soviets were not going to do that. a new that would mean all-out war. because the enemy is asymmetric, it is not as easy for us to respond.
maintain as much of a security level as we can without infringing on civil liberties. within the nsa for instance, let me put it up front -- no americans are having their phone calls listen to. no american is having his e-mail looked at by the nsa. what are the nsa does is collect metadata, which is phone number to phone number. every call is made. no names. all that information is stored. let's put that in the context of what is happening today. there is this threat. i have seen the intelligence. knew -- i'mwhat i trying to say that everybody who has looked at this and analyzed it, this is the most precise threat we have seen since -- if not since september 11, certainly since 2006 one there was the liquid explosive plot coming out of london it would've blown up 10 airliners over the
atlantic ocean, killing thousands of americans. this plot is very specific as to the enormity of the attack, the catastrophic nature of the attack, that they want to carry out. there are also a series of dates in there. as far as the credibility of the sources, the quality of the intelligence, it is there more than any i have seen in 10 years. this is not connecting the dots. this is having two large blobs. it is not difficult to do. as we are looking to see if it is in the middle east -- that is why the embassies could be close down -- it could also be worldwide. if they are talking about an attack of this magnitude, would it change the direction of the world to blow up an embassy in the middle east, or would it be more so if they simultaneously carried out attacks in western europe and the united states? it is very essential that we find out where this attack could be carried out. let's assume that we have phone
numbers coming from the middle east. we want to find out who that phone number has contacted in the u.s. that is when the metadata would be used by the nsa. they would take the number from overseas and drill it down into these millions of phone calls and phone numbers that they have stored. we know our gore gave lockbox a bad name in the 2000 election. he was talking about social security. these numbers are in a lockbox. they drill down on those numbers. they will find if there is any number in the u.s. that has been contacted by that number overseas. and they can go to that number and call a hop and go to numbers that phone number has been in contact with in the u.s. to see with the background is, to see if there is any other evidence involving any of those phone numbers and the individuals. as the only time the nsa is allowed to go in to drill down on those numbers, when there is probable cause or reasonable
suspicion that is connected to an overseas plot. that is what happened with the subway bombing in 2009. from that, they can then see hopefully it as part of an overall schematic of combating terror, who could be involved in this current plot that we knew was coming from overseas? of the nsa substance program. i think it is wrong when we have people who are subsonic -- who are supposedly conservatives going on television saying, the government is spying. the government is following me everywhere i go. i somehow attribute it to the nsa. the nsa is not the irs. let's make that clear. i would not for a moment give these powers to the irs. the nsa is probably under more surveillance -- which is ironic any otherthan operation in our country today. it is watch on a regular basis i the fisa court.
i do not think we need a fisa court. has thethe president power as commander-in-chief to carry out these operations. that is what president bush claimed in the early to thousands. that is what the court has said. the reality is we will have a fisa court. in any event, it is monitored on a regular basis. 30 day reports. six month reports. if when they are tracking -- last year, only 300 times were they had to drill down a numbers -- if they make a mistake and put the wrong digit , they have to do a full report on that. they have to purge everything they got. they have to file a report with that one explaining human error that was made. that is the type of scrutiny that it is under. my experience on the intelligence committee with the nsa was, what we heard over the last several years before any of
this broke, with all of the allegations being made about security over the last 12 years, the nsa hardly ever came up. they were attacking dick cheney, george bush, waterboarding, the fbi and others, and the nsa has been unscathed. the only time it has really come up as a matter of debate in the intelligence community was people from the nsa humming forward and saying what a rough time they were having with the fisa court, how hard it was for them to get orders, how hard it was for them to follow up on the information. this is not a rubber stamp. it is constantly scrutinized. it is scrutinized by the house intelligence committee and senate intelligence committee. i realize by going to the american people and saying, congress is taking a look at it, that is not a vote of confidence. people on that committee, and people on the intelligence they take very seriously. mike rogers is conscientious.
dutch ruppersberger is as well. the stuff is looked at very carefully. i do not see any significant violation of civil liberties. i do not see any significant -- -- in 2009, balance i, i was at mayor bloomberg's home sunday night in september of 2009, entertained the lord , rupert murdoch was there, all these partial people, and even tina brown -- you know how powerful it was. kelly -- we go over to the corners are talking, -- corner and start talking, and i was not aware of the attack that was going to happen that night or the next day. it was the only time i've ever
seen ray kelly so concerned. we knew he was coming from colorado. we didn't know who else who was involved in new york in this. this was a plot that would've killed hundreds if not thousands of people on the new york city subway system. that plot was solved or stopped to a significant extent by the work that the nsa did. did the nsa do it by itself? no. it worked as part of the overall mosaic. it was a key component of it. had it not been for the nsa, he would not have known everybody involved in the plot. we could've had hundreds if not thousands of people killed on the subway system in new york the next day. whateverbalance out violation of privacy there was -- i do not see it, tracing overseas phone numbers to phone numbers on record in the u.s., the same information you have in a phone book almost -- the other side is saving hundreds of people from being burned to death in subway tunnels, to me, that is a balance worth having.
. know john will come up here i know he will give us his side. we are not that far apart. we have to make it interesting. in any event, let me say that what is important for you to realize, he have a real enemy that wants to kill us. it is an enemy that can strike in many places. it is not the core al qaeda that was focused in 2001 in pakistan and out qaeda -- and afghanistan. whether it is al qaeda in iraq peninsula, al qaeda operating in libya, syria, and other names, this is an enemy which is there and wants to destroy us. we have to use every weapon at our disposal. i believe the balance we have struck is what we have to have. we connect changes or nuances, but the underlying premise is if we let our ground -- -- if we let our guard down for a moment, we could be destroyed. thank you very much. [applause]
actually, you're pretty entertaining. that is one of the best descriptions i have heard about what the nsa does. [laughter] i'm a libertarian. libertarians have been very skeptical. you say, no one is listening. why would i believe you? why would i believe my government? you say there has been nooks significant violation of civil liberties. actually, i have looked for them for my show, and i am in trouble with libertarians because i kind of agree with you. i cannot find them. libertarians talk about, this is a terribly dangerous slippery slope, this secrecy, the vastness of the data, but i cannot get worked up about it. i already assume that media matters is listening to my phone calls.
at foxconn legally read my e-mails and listen to any call i make at work. i give my information voluntarily to facebook and google. it is out there. happening, abuse was why would that be such a terrible threat when lives are at stake? lino.eing called a [laughter] libertarian in name only. you are a traitor to the libertarian ideals. i cannot even finish her article on the nsa. i am disgusted. i'm sorry, i'm not a good antagonist for the other speakers tonight. -- this morning. i do not even know what time of day it is. [laughter] i do consider myself an expert on safety and relative risk. , somethingot to say is off to me.
i know i am in the minority opinion on that here. the congressman talked about the real and constant threat. onid a show years ago based my experience as a consumer reporter called "scaring ourselves to death." i think the homeland security state is scaring america to death. yes, there is a real and constant threat, but how big is it? the department of homeland security probably was invented after 9/11 to oversee 22 .xisting previous agencies they more than doubled spending. are they more efficient? i doubt it. pete earlier talked about reforming the bloated the -- iraq received. i think that is like teaching a cat to bark. the bloated bureaucracy. athink that is like teaching cat to bark. as a consumer reporter, my
specialty was relative risk, and what brought this home to me was when a producer came to me with a story from trial lawyers, like where most stories come from -- we have a story about bic lighters. they killed four people over the past four years. many more have been horribly burned. i had gotten sick of taking stories from the trial lawyers. i had woken up to their scam by then. whatld point to a list of killed people in america. plastic bags kill 40 americans every year. or bathtubs. this,scare people about they will be scared when the elephants come.
at the 9/11ook threat, war is the friend of the state. crisis is the friend of the states. in the economic field, we had a credit crunch. people in power said, we would have economic collapse if we did not bail out the banks. if we do not let a few men spend a trillion dollars of your money. crisis grows the state. that is an enemy of freedom. 3000 people died on september 11. more than that. it has been 12 years. let's assume it happened every 10 years. 300 deaths a year. that would be horrible. but we live with risk. 35,000 deaths on the highway. 100 deaths today, odds are. 3000 americans die in house fires. a $10 smoke detector is a wonderful thing. that is a place to spend money. 1000 americans drown, and the
media gets it wrong. they warn you about sharks. 100 americans are killed every year heating dear -- deer. where does terrorism fit into this? almost nothing has happened in 12 years. it may happen. i do not presume to know. the rest of the panel is much more informed about this. over my career, i looked at scare after scare that has led to the growth of government and limits on freedom. certainly economic freedom, massive amounts of money is --ked for the war against lawn chemicals, dangerous and radiation cell phone -- we forget these scares. terrorism stays with us. the cancer epidemic, food , aitives, pesticides, ddt
wonderful insecticide that stops -- thatand hurts no one was alive. now we are told plastic bottles are killing children. warming, says the left, is the biggest threat to america, bigger than terrorism, bigger than the country going bankrupt. kids are not allowed to play alone anymore because the media hyped the risk of kidnapping, which almost never happens. plane crashes. hyped by the media. you would say it has to be if -- youne doesn't crash could say, that is the amazing miracle we should cover. when the plane crashes, we go crazy saying, we are here at the scene, live, we do not know anything, but we will keep telling you that live for hours. they used to get trying to do me get me toed to try to do stories on airports.
when we do that reporting, more people drive to grandma's house. that kills people. wrote of risk ought to be paid attention to. relative risk ought to be paid attention to. i think we have lost that. one example is the tsa. before the tsa, we did have these rugged contractors paying people minimum wage and people on airplanes. they obeyed all the governments rules. small knives were legal. the unlocked cockpit doors, they were legal. , this9/11, congress said isn't good enough. we have to have this run by government. on daschle said, you cannot do notionalize if you federalize. that made sense to me at the time. we were scared. when you are scared, it is hard to make good judgments. now it is 12 years later. we have the tsa.
how is that working out for us? we have all had problems. you could say, maybe it is a necessary thing for safety. we volunteer to fly. we should expect some discomfort. it is part of the trip. except the law did allow some cities to opt out. san francisco did. to do the only big city that. recently i sent a producer to san francisco to talk to passengers -- what does it like going through this privatized airport security? was weird.it the screeners are friendlier. it was faster. the tsa tests of them now and then. in safe pipemuggle bombs and so forth. they caught them 75% of the time. angeles, they found them in 25% of the cases. screeners are friendlier and faster and better at their jobs. why is that? it is because it is tried it. it is the way it is done in israel.
government support, private contractors competing. you can fire the contractor. you cannot fire the government. a contractor could get rich. he does things like give workers a day off, or contests, who can search the luggage the fastest? they play music. they give out awards. they are better. other airports hear about this. they want to opt out. the one up by glacier national park in montana where the tsa is in charge -- people do not want to go to glacier national park in the winter, they want to go in the summer -- but government being government, tsa maintains staffing levels equally all year long. in winter, the tsa stands for initials, for its thousands standing around. in summer, there are long waits. airport manager tries to opt out. the law says, if you ask the department, you can opt out.
homeland security sits on these for over a year and then finally says, no. we do not think this is advantageous to the federal government. wouldn't burger king like to say that to mcdonald's? my point is, the bureaucracy grows, you cannot teach it to be efficient. the growth of the homeland security state is a great threat to our economic future and our freedom. butorism may be a threat, it is one of many. we should keep it in perspective. thank you. [applause] wait, i'm supposed to introduce the next speaker. i'm such a narcissist. then we should all sit up here.
judith miller is one of the speakers. she is a fellow here at the manhattan institute and writes about the balance between security and civil liberties. she won a pulitzer prize for her reporting at the "new york times" on terrorism. gary bernsen is an air force veteran. he has a long cia career. he lived several counterterrorism deployments, including our response to the east africa bombing and 9/11. he was commander of cia forces in eastern afghanistan. >> should we all sit down then? >> since we haven't heard from
judy and gary, let's hear from them first. >> think you very much for coming here this morning. and bill thank pete for organizing this very timely on amportant conference crucial subject of interest to everybody in this room. youso want to thank all of who are serving or have served for your service. often,ot do that too even on a monday, tuesday in august. data came as pete king from long island, from the tip of long island. there is no spying on americans. we do not have a domestic spying program. i am quoting the president of spoke tod states as he
a usually reliable source of information, and where many americans get their news -- i'm speaking of jay leno. i did not actually see it because i was in bed, but i read the transcript. those were the two assurances he gave us about the national surveillance agency. well, i'm sorry, mr. president, and with all due respect to somebody i greatly admire and do trust, pete king, i am in the skeptical camp. i remain skeptical because the president said a number of other things in this interview which i encourage you all to read -- he said, first of all, that the reason we need this program as it is, in its current form, is that after the boston bombing, law enforcement needed to be
brothersee who the two were talking to, whether or not they had been speaking to anybody in new york, for example. they wanted to roll up those people, get to those numbers quickly. what troubled me was the reference to after the boston bombing. my supposition is that if the brothers had been living in new york, there never would have been a bombing because it would have been watched. somebody who had gone to russia who had a report from the russians that he was being radicalized and in fact was a radical would have had more than an fbi interview or two to satisfy the curiosity of the nypd. something and rounding up other people on cell phone numbers and e-mails after an event is not good counterterrorism work. i was also skeptical because he
said he was talking to congress about changes in the fisa and in the fisa oversight system. he did not actually say he was willing to consider any or endorse any. i think change -- i'm going to disagree with my friend pete king -- i think change is long overdue. there is no reason why the head of the supreme court should be appointing every justice on the fisa court, a court which has never turned down a request for information by the government. back fornt a couple amendment, for changes, but basically, it is a rubber stamp. there is no reason why we cannot know more about the types of cases being brought to that part. i'm skeptical because i know that with the best of intentions
governments gradually accumulate power. while i might trust pete king and even president obama to respect the balance between civil liberties and national security, i'm not sure i'm going to be able to trust the next president. that is why we have a constitution and the bill of rights. i'm speaking to you today as someone who considers herself a kind of national security hawk. i endorsed the patriot act. i thought we needed it. i think we still need to do more to protect american citizens. i do not think guantanamo should be closed, because i want to be men, i take dangerous want to take them somewhere that is not in the united states where i know they can be safeguarded for trial. the terrible thing about this
indictment is that we do not have the man responsible for benghazi. we are not likely to get him unless he has an unfortunate traffic accident in libya, it could happen. [laughter] in there the problems way in which the president has adopted his approach to national security. it is, as pete king says, schizophrenic. finally, i'm skeptical because i know firsthand the enormous power of the government. when it turns and focuses on an individual. i'm not speaking of having to go to jail to protect a source. i'm speaking of the search and the subpoena and the ultimate delivery of my telephone records from my office shortly after i got out of jail in connection with another case that the government was investigating. i know what it feels like to have everything looked at. i do not think i posed any kind of threat to national security.
finally, i want to be assured that the reuters story that said the drug enforcement agency, which had requested and had gotten access to the nsa records , is not actually spying on me. i want to be sure that the new york times story is not correct when it said that half a dozen other agencies had requested access to the national security metadata to pursue various crimes. i want to be sure that even if the nsa is not spying on me, another branch of government may be without sufficient oversight. that is why i think the time has come for a look congressionally and in the public at this balance between what we do to stay safe and what we are doing to protect our civil liberties. i welcome this debate. i am delighted and honored to be here with such esteemed panelists. thank you. [applause]
thank you, judy, for those thoughtful remarks. >> 15 years ago today was the attack in east africa where our overseas in nairobi and our salon were attacked. a lot has happened in the last 15 years. in august 1998, no one thought that bin laden was a threat. the unit had been ordered to be shut down a week earlier. report, i thought of valiantly within the agency to keep that open. off -- i waswent the chief of hezbollah operations. a travel to east africa and the subcontinent. we capture the individuals. they confessed to being bin laden's people. much would help us in afghanistan in 2001 with the
invasion. i am not a supporter of the collection of metadata and the way they are doing it right now. i would say that where there are opportunities for abuse and humans involved, there will be abuses. at the billou look of rights, if you look at the fourth amendment, it is very easy to think, they are violating the constitution, but if you look at the law, which is maryland versus schmidt in 1979, it was a case that stated that there should be no expectation of privacy if there is a collection of registries. that is numbers from the phone company. you have the constitution and otherw fighting each right now. i would feel much more comfortable, and i think those who have a libertarian streak, would be more comfortable if we have the phone companies hold the data for five years, the
government pays to hold the data, and then when we want to go into the data, a fisa judge has to let us in. i do not think we should lose that data. i agree with peter king. you have to have that data at times. the question is, how cumbersome will this process be? sometimes you need to move quickly. we need to have a balance. i think the balance is the point i just stated. right now what we are looking at are two things -- right now, you do have the al qaeda 2.0 coming at us. many of these organizations, these al qaeda affiliates, are led by gitmo detainees, people we have and people we released. thatve two administrations are releasing these people. shame on them for letting these people go. [applause] those are international organizations and militant organizations operating that are
attacking our sons and daughters who are now fighting. how qaeda is a problem. it will continue to be a problem. this is a decade-long problem. it is something that we have to be prepared for. liberty andalance security. the other piece we ought to look at, which no one is speaking about, is the resurgence of hezbollah. lebanon, thegod in shiite organization that attacked us in the 1980s and took many hostages, after 9/11, i stepped it back -- they stepped it back. they saw the veracity with which america went after the taliban and al qaeda. process, hezbollah shifted from doing terrorist operations to creating may be operationt criminal on the planet. they are receiving between $200 million and $400 million a year from the iranian government.
they have increased their capacity in crime and terror. a year and a half ago, the iranians and hezbollah made a decision to reinitiate. they have lost their infrastructure and capacity with a lot of people. hezbollah is back in the game. they are larger. though we criticized the clinton administration in the 1990s for being too law-enforcement- centric, we are going to do use the law enforcement model again for hezbollah as they are large criminal organization. we might not have been able to convict al capone for murder, but we were able to get him on taxes. enforcement means we will have to use. we will be entering into a new phase in the struggle. it is going to be two phases. we will be struggling against hezbollah and al qaeda, these two new groups simultaneously, and the third part is, we are
doing this in an environment with less resources. economic security is very important. if we cannot get our economy working properly, you will not be able to feel the forces, whether they be military or national security forces in terms of intelligence. we've got a lot of challenges. at think there are some compromises we can find to get ourselves through these issues that we are having right now. we canely in the end, put ourselves in a good position to defend ourselves. thank you. [applause] can you hear me ok? to pick up on the point judy made -- let's get off the legal , exactly how the fisa court might be reconstituted -- i was struck by the point, are we depending too much on the
nsa? and have we -- what is the right way to say this? have we not done enough on some of the human intelligence here and abroad? is the problem with an essay not that it will violate our civil liberties, or that we are deluding ourselves into thinking that we are collecting this metadata and following things better than we can? judgment of how we are doing in general? is the nsa necessary but also art we depending on it too much? [video clip] >> i think it is necessary, but is only a part of the overall mosaic. nothing beats having human intelligence. the nypd, unfortunately, that is not being done at the national level. let me give you a case. there is no guarantee it shouldn't occur. it would not have occurred here in new york.
the fbi was told by the russian government that the older brother had been radicalized. there is no reason to believe the russian government. it certainly warrants an investigation. -- spoke to his mother and father. they never spoke to anybody at the mosque under attorney general guidelines, the fbi is not allowed to question anybody in a mosque. they are not allowed to do that. also, the fbi never told the boston police department that they have this information on the older brother. yet the boston police had for detective's with top-secret clearance on the effort. they were under the impression they were being told everything. they were never told about the older brother. if that happened in new york, because of ray kelly, the fbi gives the -- gives the nypd information whether they like it or not. [laughter] jggf.ice officers on the
we make sure we get all of our information. the nypd does have sources. they have sources everywhere. the boston police have great commissioners. they have sources everywhere. if the fbi had gone to them, they would've figured it out. outolder brother was thrown of his mosque in february of last year because he had become so radicalized. did the fbi never found that out. the boston police did never -- not think was significant. you have to put political correctness aside. you have to realize that islamic terrorists are going to come from the islamic community. we can go through elisabeth knit groups. -- through a list of ethnic groups. that we have to use common sense. the fbi is not allowed to because of the attorney general's guidelines. >> comments? >> i will let you take one shot
at that. for those of us who want to defend the strong, hawkish view on national security at home and abroad, how much should we be for reforming some of these major institutions? 10 years later, his homeland security right? if it is true that tsa has to have the same kind of people in the winter and summer -- >> i think we do need tsa. i think we should also take the private sector to have competition. i think the tsa has not been sufficiently managed. is always good to be waste and abuse when you have a federal bureaucracy. much more could be done to keep it under control. it has not. we have had problems at the newark airport. there is the overstaffing in some areas. understaffing in other areas. tsa needs better upper management. then there is the whole question
-- we do have to have something there. there should be more competition between the private and the government. : security should not hold back when these air pants -- airports want to use private security. the examples that john gave are on target. again, the community reacts differently. when i was on the homeland security committee, we passed legislation last year out of the house which would make it easier for private airports to use tsa. the daily news accused me of selling out to private security companies. it almost created and hysteria. not that many people in government want to take that on. i are on the same page there. >> defending the media? [laughter] >> no.
i am ignorant on the subject. i would love to have the panel explained to me, how does it work that we have 5 million americans that hold security clearance, how do we expect to keep anything secret? secondly, where are the bodies? with all of these people wanting to murder us, and when you can make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom come and the internet is making this easier every day, why hasn't it happened? why do more people die in bathtubs? >> on the first question, i will have to go back to pete and gary. >> one footnote. what about snowden? someone like me who is inclined to defend the agency and its other parts, how could that happened, and have people been disciplined for that? there has been no impression that any bureaucrat has been called to account for letting snowden have the access he did. >> he never should've been hired or cleared.
i understand they are investigating the organizations that did clearance on them. the problem is that the intelligence community, whether it is an essay or the cia, they have tried to cut costs by hiring contractors because contractors are cheaper than long-term people who have careers because they have retirement and all that goes with that. versusfficiency security. we have lost terribly on this. the loss of the intel that snowden has surely provided to the chinese and to the russians, whether he wanted to or not -- they were checking his hard drives -- it is probably worse than everything else combined. the greatest understatement in the field of intelligence was that this guy was some young hacker. holy cow. these were massive losses that have occurred. they will probably need a 500 men task force just to review all the intel and figure out what has been lost. what will happen now, our
opponents will take that stuff, they will categorize it by country, they will try to figure out who the sources of those -- understand something -- there is human intelligence that gets transmitted over nsa as well. they will be able to distinguish what that is. the signalust intelligence stuff. at risk.a lot of units this is horrific. it occurred because they were trying to go on the cheap. they were not acting securely. they were trying to act sufficiently -- efficiently economically. we need to be more like jewelers and less like walmart when we are doing the intelligence. it is large problem. they need to have a downsizing, not just because of costs, but because of security could we have too many people inside the box. >> you have covered this for a long time, judy. what is your sense? is it worse than it was 10 years ago? >> in terms of security?
>> in terms of standards and clearance? [indiscernible] there is too much reliance on contractors. i agree. i want to do with the issue that john raised, which is numbers. numbers of people who die in bathtubs. terrorism is different. terrorism unnerves a society in a way someone dying in a bathtub does not. it is not just a question of numbers. the reason we are so much safer today is because everything that the bush administration did and the obama administration continue to do, while talking about transparency and not doing -- hasactually degraded actually degraded and decimated al qaeda. [indiscernible] about really serious
getting a weapon of mass distraction. when we focus on 9/11, we tend attacks,cus on anthrax less than two ounces of anthrax in letters that shut down the capital, changed the way we get our mail, killed five, infected seven -- 17, put hundreds of thousands of people -- two ounces. veryrist groups today are interested in weapons of mass destruction. we forget that. we are not just talking about the boston bombing, as herbal as that was. we are talking about groups -- as terrible as that was. we are talking about groups that are incapacitated for the moment which will regroup and continue to search for the largest and most effective way of killing the largest number of us. that is why when pete and john talk about the threat, yes, the threat exists. it is less now because of all of
the measures we have taken and all of the money we have spent, but if we stop doing that, my problem is, i think we can do it in a way that preserves civil liberties, which are now in danger of being sacrificed. we do not have to. we just have to do the other stuff that we know how to do better. greatest threat facing the united states is biological terrorism. worse than anything else. it is insidious and silent. it will present a whole new set of challenges for us. better off with much greater capability on that and take the loss of an aircraft -- defund one aircraft carrier battle group to position ourselves and defend ourselves. i know a lot of people like to complain. do not close the post office. if we have a biological problem, we will deliver the medicine to all of you with the post office. you do not want to be going to gymnasiums or cafeterias to be getting this.
be somethingce may that saves a lot of lives in the end. you have to think about this sort of struggle in different terms. >> now i am worried. [laughter] >> how about ups? why do we need the post office? osama bin laden was caught on tape saying he wanted to bleed america to the point of bankruptcy. -- -- if 250,000 people take that us and because of some poison in washington dc, it is our own overreaction that a self-destructing. security, a total budget of $40 billion, a lot of things combined into one -- we're not talking about that large amount of money. picture, -- you said, be aware of the bodies. if we hadn't stopped the time
square plot, the london , there are three or fourth -- 3000 or 4000 people right there. there are any number of others that have been stopped. i wish the rest of the country would use the nypd as a model. there is so much done as far as cooperation between the government and suppliers and distributors and merchants so if somebody goes to buy explosives, devices,buys certain that is taken to the nypd and they can follow up on it. i would just say 3000 bodies is terrible, but that is 3000wide, when every year die in house fires in america. if there was a successful dirty bomb attack, it could neutralize an entire city. one dirty bomb going off in downtown chicago or boston or times square would cripple the
economy, besides killing a number of people. it would bring the national economy to the halt. -- to a halt. >> one never knows what would've happened or could've happened if we hadn't done certain things. that argument is abused sometimes to defend everything. i am struck by that. my personal view -- i will step back for a moment -- we underestimate the degree of safety and security we have achieved and the degree to which we have helped others around the world, not just by homeland security, but by forward leaning and strong foreign policies and defense policies. what worries me is the combination now of maybe some problems at home and a general sense abroad that we are in retreat and we are withdrawing and the cuts to the defense budget and the no troops left in iraq and the drawdown in afghanistan and redlines in syria, but not enforcing. , syria,f these things how the nsa should be set up on
if you look at them in isolation, it is a little misleading. a pretty friendly ambassador from the middle east -- not as friendly as israel, but wants the u.s. to be strong -- i saw him about 10 days ago, and he is a very calm, measured, experienced guide, and a genuinely worried. he said, what is going on? you guysit looks like are not serious. it looks like all you guys want to do is get out and settle down and shelter in place. the embassy closures, which i am , the image that that gives, closing 22 embassies throughout the region come all the way from west africa to bangladesh, and then extending the closure for a week, and they are well fortified -- are not serving as embassies anymore, they are like fortresses -- we are closing
those. we cannot defend them adequately? the image that is out there is bad. it is becoming a self fulfilling prophecy. osama bin laden famously said that people follow the strong horse, not the week course. we are a strong country. i do worry that we look like a relatively weak horse going in the wrong direction. that makes things very dangerous. [applause] all of us have different things we would like done. for the most part under bush and cheney, everyone was operating in the same direction. under president obama, it is schizophrenic. i thought it was disgraceful and he had the investigations of the aa interrogators -- for number of years, every cia interrogator had to buy personal liability insurance to protect themselves against investigations. that is the mindset you are putting people in. with all the hypocrisy we have, during these attacks in the middle east, if some cia guy got
a hold of some islamist and held his hide underwater to find out where the attack was coming from, they would say it was great three years -- the next day. three years from now, he would be indicted for war crimes. we have to keep in mind we are always at war with islamic terrorism. what we do overseas, they have a lot more leeway than we do not. they'd should not worry -- they should not worry about eric holder looking over their shoulder. >> one question and one comment. asked, areident was you telling americans, do not trouble the summer? he said, no, i'm not saying that. all i'm saying is you should get in touch with your embassy and exercise caution. excuse me -- he just closed the embassies. once again, schizophrenia writ large. the reason he goes on jay leno is he doesn't like to take really tough questions from people who are going to follow up on him. pete, i want to ask you a question on the issue i raised
in my opening remarks, which was, we've had these two reports that while the nsa is not abusing the metadata that you believe is essential and john believes is essential, what about these other requests from agenciesthe six other that were written about? governmentk that the knows at this point exactly what is being done with this information, and would know in the future? know the answer. i will be honest with you. my understanding is that information could not be shared with anybody unless there is a court order. even then, i'm not certain it could be done. the fbi could not use it unless there is a court order. there they have to have probable cause great i will have to get back to you on that. >> i would like to say something about the embassy closures. oversy closures have spent two decades. when these embassies are closed, they are not completely closed. they are closed to the public. justst cannot know -- we
do not want 1000 people in the street waiting for a visa when a car bomb pulls up. kenya at thatd in bombing. they were not americans. you have a responsibility with local government to work. should they close all of these places? holy cow, they over did this. this was for politics. was shocked to see yesterday that they stated the specific intercept -- they named the specific people. based on that intel and that specific country, they are going to close 20 embassies? overreaction to understand that when embassies are closed, american citizens can still get in. you can call, and they will let you in. embassy officers are in their operating. it is closed to the public. people are coming and going. believe me. they are not shuttered. not at home afraid. people are still operating. the state department issued a
travel alert. not an advisory, which they do often. a blanket travel alert for 31 days. it is really unusual. really unusual for them to do actually. i think it is a useful question, what is the need for a travel alert? shouldn't we be worried about traveling? what does that mean? it is ridiculous. the state department doesn't issue travel alerts very often at all -- there have been very few, especially of this breadth -- local governments hate it. they make representations to the ambassador. you are killing our tourism. come.ans will not europeans have to follow up. they do not come. it is not a little thing for the state department to do it. it convinces me that they really thought this was a serious
threat. idea thater hand, the this administration's message, on the one hand, we are really worried, this is a serious threat, and then the president thinks it is appropriate to go -- lays golf first, then he his team -- goes on jay leno and sort of says, you should go ahead and travel. it is either a very serious threat, or it is business as usual and we can go about business as usual. the president went to camp david and played golf. but there were two threats by the state department warnings issued in 2011. the anniversary of the attack, and then when we killed osama bin laden. >> think of how rare that is.
september 11, specific threat. the anniversary. if you killed bin laden, you would expect something. this is pretty and usual. -- pretty unusual. >> but embassies are closed quietly and have been for the past couple of days. this is just politics. to convince the american public that they are on top of things. -- quiterently, frankly, it has had a painful effect for our allies. we have time for a couple of questions. i think there is a microphone. i'm supposed to ask you to make your way to the microphone. we will take a question or two. >> is the mic working? can anyone hear me? great. >> we will hear you. >> i will test it again. let me elevate my voice. that is better.
there was an article in "national review" a few weeks hadby a commentator who done an economic analysis of these issues, which ihought was interesting. a different perspective. that thevation was cost of a life saved -- these are the terms in which defense analysts sometimes think -- is about $20 million per life saved , if you compare the cost of our defense establishment, about $20 million or american life saved did -- saved. the nsa's program was costing in the range of around $100 million per life saved. his point, apart from the important issues that the panelists raised, was that it is important to -- to do a cost- benefit. it is important to see which methods of counterterrorism are most cost-effective and are to thelives at less cost
american taxpayer, which i think is the part -- is the point john and judith were making. said, --appropriately the question is, what is the reaction to that -- the questios -- is it appropriate to do that kind of analysis? is it important to say that it is too expensive and other efforts that may be more effective? >> the most cost effective is human intelligence. it is the cheapest, you get the more bang for the buck, you get intentions. but you need all of it together. you need the signal intelligence , you need all of these things from dod, you need it altogether. the least expensive is human. >> they don't know how many lives were saved by definition, we don't know what was the third, how many lives were saved by having more nuclear weapons than we needed presumably in a cold war? that is the