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tv   Former Intelligence National Security Officials Discuss Intelligence...  CSPAN  December 16, 2018 6:36pm-8:01pm EST

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a conversation with kevin cosar. be sure to watch washington journal live at 7:00 eastern. join the discussion. former intelligence and national security officials talk about measures in place to ensure accountability from the intelligence community. they also talked about working with the press, relations between the different branches of government, lessons learned from intelligence breaches and the laws among whistleblowers. the george mason university hayden center for intelligence, policy and international security host of this event. >> we are going to talk about people inside the executive branch whose job it is to make sure that intelligence activities are conducted in a legal, moral, and ethical manner. i am one of those are noxious
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hosts. i will ask everyone to stand up for an moment. please stand up. up.d stand up. thank you. i would like you all to raise your right hand. fantastic. i want you to look around at your colleagues and friends and such here. fantastic. now you can all sit down. when you look across the room here, you saw people standing with their right hand up. what i would like you to know is that is what every single member of the united states intelligence community does at their first airport. they stand up, raise their right hand, and they swear and earth. -- does atar an their first day of work. they stand up, raise their right hand, they seawear an oath.
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that oath is to protect and defend the constitution of the united states of america. it is bear true and faith and allegiance to that constitution and the laws derived from that constitution. and it is to well and faithfully discharge the duties of their office. it is a powerful moment for anyone who has ever experienced it. it sets the tone for everybody's career as they move forward in their intelligence careers. that's the number one important thing to remember. number two, the other thing to remember is that they are all human beings, and so they will make mistakes. and there are some who will be seduced by the power that the vested in them. there are some who will unfortunately skew over into criminal behavior. what we're going to talk about tonight are the ways in which the intelligence community protects itself and governs itself against those instances where we are not as expected entirely true and faithful to the constitution. so with that, i want to go ahead and introduce our panel members. i will introduce them one at a time. i'm going to flip my paper over to make sure i get everybody's name and everyone right here. the first person i would like to introduce is the founding partner of a law firm that
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focuses on national security law, free-speech claims and accountability. he has represented many whistle-blowers, again, a very important function in our u.s. intelligence community. these are people who feel that they have availed themselves of the opportunities inside and still don't feel their grievances have been addressed. it is another avenue of approach. please welcome mark. [applause] >> secondly i would like to invite george little to the stage. george little, he and i go back a long ways. he was director of public affairs at cia and a spokesperson for cia, prominently during the leon panetta years as director. he then went with director panetta over to the department of defense where he served as the assistant to the secretary for public affairs. many of you probably remember him appearing on television as the pentagon press secretary. please welcome george. [applause] larry: our next panel member is the former acting general counsel of cia it's chief legal
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officer -- its chief legal officer through probably one of the most turbulent periods in our recent national history. he served as the chief legal officer for much of the time, from 2001 through about 2009. so you can all go through your historical rolodex in your mind and think about all the thicks -- all of the cool things that happened between 2001 and 2009. john was making the legal recommendations to the director of cia and leading staff of lawyers that made recommendations to the officers of the agency as they took on, you know, edgy operations in support of the defense of our country. so please, john, is is also the author of a great book if you haven't had the chance to read it. it is called "company man -- 30 years of controversy and crisis in the cia". if you want to know what a lawyer's life is at the cia, it is a great book to read. please welcome john. [applause]
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larry: next i would like to introduce a real national treasure. lisa has a long and storied career in the department of justice and its components cull -- its components culminating with her being assistant attorney general for national security. she was also a chief of staff to robert mueller at the fbi. during the cocktail hour you can ask her all the questions you want about bob mueller. she finished her government career serving the president of the united states as the assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism. now, she spends a good amount of her time educating the next generation of lawyers at the nyu law school. please welcome lisa monaco. [applause] larry: last but not least, a good friend of mine is michael morrell. he is serving as our moderator tonight. he was going to be a panel member.
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now, he gets to ask questions instead of answer them, which is always great. he is a former acting director of cia and deputy director of cia. but he's very famously known for being i think the only human being that was with president bush on 9/11 and was with president obama on the day of the osama bin laden takedown. a lot of great stories he can tell you during the cocktail hour as well. please welcome mike morrell. we'll get started. [applause] michael: thank you, larry. and good evening to everybody. and thank you all for coming. i just want to start by reiterating what mark and larry said about general hayden. i know that i speak for all of the panel members here in wishing him a speedy and full recovery and wishing the best to him and his wonderful family. we're going to miss him here tonight just as we miss his reasonable voice at this difficult time in our nation's history.
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so, general hayden, we're thinking about you. so, american intelligence agencies are secret organizations operating in a democracy. and the secret part of that makes it difficult to convince the public, which is the democracy part of it, that the intelligence community is number one, operating within the bounds of the constitution and statute and regulations. number two, that it is actually doing the job that it is supposed to do, and it's actually protecting the country, and number three, that it is doing all of that in a way using the taxpayer's money in the way that makes sense, doing all of that efficiently. and at the end of the day, the way you square that, the way you square that, giving the public that sense of those three things is oversight. there are a lot of different mechanisms to oversight.
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you know, the two that we think about the most are congressional oversight and oversight by the media. but there are a lot of oversight mechanisms in the executive branch for what happens inside the intelligence community, and that's what we're here to talk about tonight. we'll talk about congress and the media at future sessions. to get started, let me give you a list of many of the mechanisms in the executive branch for overseeing the intelligence community. number one, there are lawyers. lots of lawyers. there are general counsels at each intelligence community agency. there's the dni general counsel. there's an nsc lawyers group, so a small group of lawyers from the national security agency who get together regularly to ensure that the policy steps of the united states to include those
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at the agencies -- the intelligence community agencies are undertaking are legal. there's the office of legal counsel at the department of justice, which is the nation's lawyer. and ultimately there's the attorney general himself or herself. so a lot of lawyers. secondly, there are inspector generals at the different intelligence agencies. and there's an inspector general at the dni. and some of those inspector generals are statutory, special responsibility to congress. third, there are executive branch oversight bodies. there is the president intelligence advisory board. there is the intelligence oversight board. and there's the privacy and civil liberties oversight board. then there's ad hoc commissions as well, such as the one that i served on for president obama after the snowden disclosures on technology and intelligence collection. and fifth -- fourth, i'm sorry,
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there are whistle-blower provisions. some of those defined in statute. some of those defined in regulation. we will talk about those. and i want to add one more to tonight's discussion because i wasn't sure where to put it in this series, and that's the fisa accord. doesn't fit in media, congress, or the president's discussion, so we're going to put it in tonight's discussion even though it is not part of an executive branch oversight body. okay? a lot of different oversight going on here. so to kick this off, and with all of that as background, let me turn to our panelists, and i want to start by asking john and then mark a simple question, why so much oversight? what brought us here? what's the history? john? john: well, i assume, michael, you are not calling on me because i'm the oldest person on this panel. [laughter] john: i actually joined the cia
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in 1976, as a young totally naive two years out of law school graduate. i was among the first wave of lawyers who were hired by the cia, after the investigations. we all remember those. i was the 18th lawyer hired and to your point, michael, by the time i retired in 2009, we had about 130 and i understand we have dozens more now. so that's the history. not that i personally had anything to do with this, but that marked the beginning of oversight, really. before that in the 50s and 60s, there was none. 1976 marked the beginning of the establishment of oversight committees in the house and the senate. there was the establishment of
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the president's intelligence oversight board out of the white house, to specifically oversee from the executive branch perspective intelligence activity. so, that's how it all started. michael: so, what was it though that brought us to that need for oversight? john: well, i mean, there was just, you know, the thing preversely that drew me to apply to the cia in the first place back in 1975 where the church committee hearings. this was the first time, the year before the new york times first broke the stories about ca jug experiments, 1950's and 1960's -- about cia drug 1960's,nts, 1950's and assassination plots, and there were these sensational televised hearings in 1975 -- actually the
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first televised hearings at that point since watergate. and there was just this revulsion on a bipartisan basis in congress about not only these activities cia had done over the previous two decades, but the fact that no one outside the cia and the few select people in the white house, including the president, knew about them. so there was a consensus really that something had to change. there had to be some sort of oversight. that's how it was born. john: mark, do you want to add to that? mark: they exist because they're needed. and i think john accurately sets forth the history that led to it. the u.s. government typically as i always explained to folks is far more reactive than proactive. it doesn't do a very good job of anticipating something to happen , especially in the intelligence community, and usually then
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reacts to something bad that happens, because of course if it's good, nobody's going to do anything about it. we might not ever hear about it. but there have been and continue to unfortunately be bad things that happen to the intelligence community. sometimes by an individual who does things that they shouldn't have and then there's a reaction. often times, other times by perhaps an agency as more of a leadership issue, in some of the examples that john mentioned that led to additional reform and oversight. and we can certainly talk about whether that oversight works, as i'm sure we will, in dealing with some of the threats, insider threats and outsider threats. and they are both reacted to very differently. of the things i say in dealing with whistleblowers all the time, if you want to talk about some of the people who have -- some say are
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whistle-blowers from within the national security environment, i actually could give you concrete examples of their going public perhaps in a way that they thought was meaningful and beneficial and needed has made it harder for other whistle-blowers who actually want to follow the rules, to abide by the law and go through the system, because of the way the agencies have reacted from an oversight standpoint to prevent another such person and he who shall not be named type situation. i will let one of you guys say their names so i won't be out there in doing it. but, there's a lot of reactions by that where i would have hoped the system could have been improved, but instead, i think actually it's been made worse. michael: we'll come back to that. i want to come back to that. lisa let me ask you about policy , oversight in the intelligence community.
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i want to do it in the context of the generally held view that the obama white house held a pretty tight grip on both the u.s. military and the intelligce -- and the intelligence community in terms of the operations it conducted, and my question for you is do you think that there's a reason that there's a need to more tightly oversee those two organizations than the rest of the government? what's your sense on that? lisa: well, first, let me say thank you to george mason, to the national press club for hosting us, to the school, and of course the hayden center for having us. and if -- i'm going to get to your question, but if i can just add to your prior question, i think the reason we have oversight is in part because and appropriately so over time the legal and regulatory and policy requirements have increased. and i think it is healthy to have an apparatus within the executive branch to make sure
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that the intelligence community and the different agencies that are part of it are adhering to those requirements. i think that's just good government. and we will discuss i think whether that's sufficient. but i think it has been a natural appropriate and i think healthy response to the growth in legal and regulatory kind of mechanisms to make sure that we're adhering to the balance of both the security that the intelligence community and the military and others are sworn to provide as well as of course the protections in our constitution. to your question, i think -- i guess i would take issue with the notion that there is a particular tight grip on either the military or the intelligence community. i think that there is and was in the obama administration a general view that the national security counsel created by the national security act of 1947,
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to be that place where coordination happens within the federal government of all integration of domestic, foreign and intelligence and military matters. there was a view i think i know president obama held it, that the national security counsel ought to do its job as laid out in the national security act and do so pursuant to a very clear process, that he articulated in the presidential directive that lays out -- that was issued i think on the first day of the obama administration and i think rightly was following a template that president bush 41 white house adopted. so that there ought to be a process and careful and clear integration of those interests and a kind of integration of the policy needs and a clear set of goals for that foreign policy and execution of intelligence
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operatns and matters. and so, you know, i think that it makes sense to have that happen with -- to use your words , a pretty tight grip within the white house, because ultimately the president is -- he's one of two folks who are elected at the federal level and who is accountable for all that policy and for all those operations. so i think it is appropriate to centralize that in the white house. that ought to be, however, against a backdrop that it ought not to be an operational entity as learned through some cycles of kind of crisis and reform and response, in, you know, prior years, around contra to name one. so there ought to be that process. there ought to be that structure. it is appropriate in the white house. but it has to be done adhering to a certain balance. >> and i think i would, you know, i think i would add that
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the risks being taken by the u.s. military on a daily basis and the u.s. intelligence community on a daily basis, the risks to the nation, the risks to the organizations, and the risks to the credibility of the nation, i mean almost requires a level of oversight, right, that we're talking about here. george, i'm wondering from your experience -- in part we're doing this to make sure that mistakes do not happen, and we're doing it to ensure the public that all is being done as it should be done. how do you educate the public about all of this stuff, most of which they don't know anything about? george: it's a tough job, believe me. [laughter] george: i spent many years attempting to do so. my success or lack thereof. first, let me echo what lisa said, thank you to george mason, to the school, to the hayden center. i would like to give a shoutout to director hayden who took a chance on me and made me a
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spokesman at the agency after having never spoken to a reporter in my life. [laughter] george: and it was a real gamble. secondly, he's a son of pittsburgh, and i just want him to know that for the remainder of this football season, i'm switching my football allegiance from the washington redskins to the pittsburgh steelers. [laughter] george: that's out after deep affection for him but also a little bit of the redskins performance. [laughter] george: in any event certainly i , hope he's watching. i want one of those towels. what was the question again, michael? [laughter] michael: how do your job to make sure the public understands? george: one of the great lines that director hayden had in one of his speeches -- and you --uded to this, too, michael is that there is allegiance to
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openness and secrecy. the cia office public of affairs there used to be a button that people wore long before i got there but there was still some stashed in a desk, it was a comment with a red line through it, no comment. we made a decision at the agency that that was no longer tenable because there is no natural constituency, let's face it, for the cia. it just does not exist. you have intelligence officers who support the agency. but it's very difficult to have political following and routine support from other branches of government, especially. and so you have to -- we made a decision to actually say more on the record which surprised a lot of people. there's actually a whole lot you can say about the agency's mission, about its people, and about world events. the press is obviously one key way of trying to educate. the press is ultimately not the enemy of the intelligence community or anybody else. the press helps inform the
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american people, and yes, we're adversarial from time to time, in the intelligence community, with the press. but the intelligence community beat reporters who cover the agency and the intelligence community at large are generally very responsible, and if you develop a relationship of trust, understand when there's a bright line that veers on sources and methods, and people or operations that, you know, might harm life or national security. now, that might get harder -- in the digital age or more -- that might get harder in the digital age with bloggers and international press looking at all of this, but the press is a very important component of that education. it took us a while at the agency to get through all the security clearances to finally approve
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anything on twitter or facebook or the rest of it. and the cia does have a digital presence now and does a very nice job of it. don't look at my twitter feed, but the cia does a lot better. and finally, i think that you have to harken back to there's some historians of the agency here, and you have to tell the stories of the accomplished men and women over time who have risked their lives for this nation. and some of those tales can't be told right away. but they can be told as time passes on, and with the appropriate clearances from john and others, in the general counsel's office. and telling the stories of, i'm just going to call him joe, he was still working at the agency, dropped into manchuria during world war ii, and became part of the oss i think against his will and stayed with the agency until i left in 2011 as a contractor.
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spent 70 years of his life in the agency doing incredible things. and you can tell those stories of the men and women of their mission. you can tell world events. you can comment on them. you can have a relationship with the press. and i think that is ultimately the bag of tricks that you have to inform the american people. >> let me just add that when general hayden came to cia, we were more closed. we were less transparent. and remember him making an argument which was quite persuasive that, you know, i think we can push the fence line out in what we talk about. i think we can tell the american people more about what we're doing, give them more confidence in who we are and what we do, and by pushing the fence line out, we can actually do a better job protecting what we have to protect. >> and most americans understand that we need to have at least some secrets. >> and i think we did that during general hayden's tenure and i think we tried very hard to continue it after he left. but i think that's really
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important. >> yeah. >> i want to ask all of you kind of the big question here, which is about effectiveness, right? the effectiveness of this oversight. and so i'm going to go down the line and start with lisa. if you could talk about how effective you think all these mechanisms are. which are the most effective in your mind? do we need anymore? do we have too many? how do you think about all of that? lisa: the way i think about oversight in general and the part that is done by the executive branch is that it generally has two components to it. i think it has a component that checks -- and this is a lot of what i did in the national security division, the lawyers that you left off your copious, your list of lawyers, the national security division lawyers has a wonderful group of
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about 100-plus lawyers whose job it is to represent the intelligence community before the fisa courts. and you know, part of that role as well as the other lawyers that you mentioned is to ensure that the legal requirements are being met. so, think of that in the box of what can be done. is what is being done by the intelligence community consistent with law and regulation? but then i also think about compliance in terms of governance, right? this is, is it -- does it make sense? is it consistent with our principles? is it consistent with who we are? does it follow the policy, preferences of those who were duly elected and who were accountable to the people? and that i think of in the category of should we do it? right? and i think the most effective oversight mechanisms that i've seen in operation both involve
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all three branches of government, and therefore, have the legitimacy that is attached to that, and that touch on both, that are both compliant but also have an element of governance, that ask the question -- and this is what i have seen in my work over many, many years with the intelligence community, across the board, the cia, the national security agency, the different components, the fbi of course, the different components of the defense department, that there is a real effort to get it right, to both satisfy the legal compliance, to ask the questions of, is this something we can do, consistent with our legal obligations, but also to ask of themselves, is this something that we should do, but mostly that comes and there's i think an inherent responsibility of the policymakers to be asking that question. michael: john?
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john: well, call me prejudice, but my pick for the first line of defense is the lawyers inside the intelligence community. and as lisa and michael have said, they have proliferated over the years. lisa: you say that with affection. john: yes. and bemusement. really that is where -- and george and certainly michael know this -- that is where, inside the agency, that is the first place where the real substantive people, the analysts that operate go these days because they have lawyers literally sitting amongst them in every component of the agency. and you know, i observed it over the years. i like to think i helped some in that regard over the years. so, that i would say would be the first line of defense. the second line of defense, and this is a phenomenon that grew
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out of the iran-contra reform, is a rigorous tough inspector general system. inspector generals picked and confirmed, nominated by the president, confirmed by the senate. we have now in all the intel agencies, including the dni. and i will tell you, as a guy who served in the cia office, inspector general for one year, as sort of, 1984, that was sort of a vacation assignment. in by 8:30, out by 5:00. i mean, this new, the idea of these inspector general as being truly independent, i think has actually been a boon, a huge boon. although, you know, those of us on the inside who can tell you from experience, they can be a pain in the butt sometimes when you have to deal with them, but
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i think they have served a huge purpose. the final thing, and maybe this probably jump this above the others, is the congressional oversight. the house and senate intel committees. one of the regrets i have about the agency post-9/11 and all the controversies over, you know, the interrogation program, and i and i holdte, myself partly responsible for this, is that we didn't tell enough people in the congress at the time, at that time of great national peril, what we were doing and more importantly why we felt we had to do it. we kept it to a small group, the so-called gang of eight, congressional leadership. the briefings were episodic, off
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the record, no staff, no transcript, and, you know, i mean, this is the political reality three or four years later, after the original briefings about the program, political tide had turned, and the few members, how do i put this, not all of them stood up and said that they were aware of the program from the beginning. that was actually to be expected. what we should have done is to tell as many people as possible, certainly the full intel committees about what we were doing at the time it was being done. it wouldn't have insulated us, but it would have helped. so that's my last -- michael: john, does oversight get in the way of the i.c. doing its job? john: well, you know as well or
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better than i, michael, oversight can be a huge pain. i mean, you have to, you know, you have to do briefings. you spend half, you get higher up in the hierarchy. you spend half your time briefing sometimes members, but frankly most of the time staff. when you think you're doing the right thing, and the legal standard for reporting to the intelligence committees is all of significant intel activities, the cia is required to do that. i can't tell you how many times we would dutifully go down to the oversight committee staff and say, well, this is what we're doing now, and we think it's pretty significant and they would look at us and say, why are you telling us this stuff, you know? so it's, it can be hugely frustrating. and as i say, the second
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guessing can be, you know, in my experience can be very difficult because it gets personal. but i mean, it's, you know, without oversight, especially in congress, you want to be able to say yes, we not only followed the law, but look, we're going to put you guys in the boat with us. we're going to tell you what we're doing. if you have a problem with that, let us know. so i just think it's great for the country, but for the protection of the intel community, it is indispensable. michael: george, effectiveness. george: so, i agree that there are many, many lawyers who i have spent time with in the united states government and it's been a lot of bonding time. director hayden used to say in
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speeches that there are more lawyers in the intelligence community than there are in some intelligence services around the world. michael: which is true. george: which is true. i think that there are two broader trends that i think are worth talking about with respect to congress. i don't think that we have the congressional oversight piece quite right. now, we can attribute that to interesting personalities in congress or the politics of the day or what have you, but i think there are two broad trends. one sounds a bit silly. one is that, you know, the informal relationships that used to exist, the social relationships that used to exist in washington don't anymore, generally. so, the intelligence community's interactions with congress have become more formal. you march into a hearing room, kind of adversarial by definition, you answer questions, etc., etc. and there used to be a more informal exchange between the executive branch intelligence community leaders and congress,
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which i think helps. director panetta would have coffees on a weekly basis with members of the congress. and i think that helped. but it is something to bear in mind. the other trend i think is a broader trend about our country's politics. it used to be that politics stopped at the water's edge. and now i think that's not the case. and we've seen regrettably more of the politicization of intelligence in the congress which does not in my opinion lead to responsible and informed oversight. michael: to the extent, i'm asking this question to see if you agree, to the extent that those trends are happening, it actually makes the oversight in the executive branches of the intelligence community even more important to the extent that it's breaking down to some degree in congress. george: agreed, agreed. no doubt about it. and there are extensive
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accountability mechanisms in the executive branch which we all have referred to, but i think that we need to get back to a time where congress is the more constructive player in the process. michael: mark, enough, too much? not the right kind? what's your sense? mark z: i will give a little insight on sort of both sides. i would also throw in the judiciary as an oversight mechanism. it is one of the areas that those of us in the private sector can use to ensure a degree of oversight at the executive branch, not as much on the legislative branch, little bit every once in a while. i totally agree with george on the partisanship. i mean that's been part of the problem. and i would say it certainly goes back a long way. i've been in d.c. now for a quarter century. i would say really the last 10, 15 years, post-9/11, and we can blame it on redistricting and all sorts of gerrymandering and stuff like for how it worked,
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that's a different subject all together. one of the problems from a congressional oversight as far as when i bring intel complaints, intel complaints up to the committees, they only have so much staff for one thing and the staff are doing a lot of the work than the members. i mean, every once in a while i get to know a member, but i'm usually dealing with staff. and they as a general rule, in the years i have gone to them, just by attitude, just difference between house and senate. they don't particularly want to hear about individual cases. they want to hear about more of a systemic problem. so i always have to try and say, hey, this client of mine at whatever intel agency is undergoing this issue and it is not just highlighted to them. they are not just being retaliated because them. there's something bigger for the committee to take a look at. and that's difficult to do very often. then the other committees which get lost in the shuffle of any
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type of intel oversight is there are a number of committees that at least by the way they're created have dual jurisdiction over the intelligence community. the judiciary committee, armed services, government reform, certainly appropriations obviously. the intel committees obviously have an agreement when they were created in 1977, 1978, to be the priority, but they are not exclusive. there was a fascinating hearing almost two decades ago about why the cia refused to cooperate with them, and jim woolsey was the surrogate witness because the committee was furious that they were not getting any type of cooperation. in fact, originally the agency had agreed to show up on some sort of non-controversial issue, and then the cia from what it was told me by a staffer the other day talked other agencies
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out of actually cooperating as a group. but part of the problem that also happens that i will tell you, there's a lot of great oversight in a lot of the agencies, in each of the branches. one place where i have been really disappointed, though, is in the inspector general's. particularly in the sense that given the work that i do, in representing aggrieved individual employees, whatever it might be, security clearances, let's put aside that they're being investigated by the i.g. they want to complain about something else within another part of their agency or the i.c. in general, whether it's a whistle-blower or whatever it might be. and i got to tell you, other than having personal relationships, which after 25 years, fortunately i will, with folks in different agencies, it's been very hostile from the outside to try and work with the ig's. you would think the ally i would have inside any of the agencies, intelligence or otherwise, would be the i.g., right? they are supposed to care about
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whistle-blowers. >> think about how it feels on the inside, mark. mark z: exactly. but we don't see it from the outside unless we have a very special personal relationship with someone in the inside that that level of oversight or receptiveness exists, which is a really sad thing, and i would love, and i continue to try to change it. what do i see as somewhat of a success from an oversight? i think one example i can give would be the information security clearance appeals panel within the national archives, part of isu, information security oversight office. this is a classification, declassification entity. it is not dealing with whistle-blowers and things like that, but from an oversight perspective, why do i say it is a good thing? so this is all executive branch members, from a variety of different agencies who if you make a mandatory declassification request to an agency to declassify a document,
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and an agency says no, you can take it to this body, this appeal body of other agencies including the agency you requested it from, and they will sit in judgment over the decision. and something like the last stats that i saw, 71% of the appeals are successful, meaning that that appeals group overrides the agency that said no, it's classified. so a d.o.d. state department, nsc person is saying no to an nga individual who said we can't release this information. that to me is fantastic oversight. and that's all within the executive branch. what i would love to see and especially for whistle-blowers and clearances quite frankly is to have another agency within the executive branch oversee a
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decision process, and there's all sorts of debates we can have on it. but when i really see sound informed impartial decisions made is if i can get it outside of the agency where they have a personal stake involved, either because of friendships or embarrassment or whatever it might be, that's when i start to see the difference. now, that could be congress. that could be judiciary, but quite frankly -- michael: have you found that the dni can play that role, or not? so, be honest here. you are only on tv. george: totally off the record, mark, totally off the record. [laughter] mark z: there have been times where the dni has been fantastic in helping out some cases that i had, without a doubt. i was on a panel with the form general counsel for the american bar association last month, and bob was a great general counsel from the outside when i was dealing with him on issues. i will say, and we can have a
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separate panel on this too, the dni is still trying to figure out what role it plays within the community and how much oversight and authority it will exert upon the agencies. we are routinely bringing cases to the dni i.g. because we're having issues with the cia i.g., and we're trying to get them to function in the way we think or believe congress had created it to be sort of this oversight body, overall, but i don't, i think they still haven't reached a level of maturity to play that role. lisa: can i just add on to this by saying i think people are not aware of the level kind of cross-agency oversight that there is. for instance, the lawyers who used to work for me in the national security division would conduct on-site reviews of what was going on at the national security agency, in the fbi, for the conduct of national security investigations and the appropriate use of the fisa authority.
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so, that was kind of cross-agency oversight. when i was chief of staff to bob mueller, i spent, he and i spent many, many, many hours in front of the president's, at the time it was called the president's foreign intelligence advisory board because they were really pushing the transformation of the fbi into a national security-focused organization, focused on preventing the next attack and the buildup of a more robust intelligence capability. when i was in the white house, after the snowden disclosures, there i said it, we sought outside expertise and created a commission that you served on where the former acting director of the cia served hand in glove with a card carrying member of the aclu and constitutional law professor jeff stone at the university of chicago precisely so we could get a variety of perspectives. >> we faced each other every day and we argued and argued and argued, and we came to a meeting of the minds.
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lisa: and it made for a better product. and it made for a set of recommendations, not all of which that we took to the letter, but it forced us internally in the executive branch to really think through. so those are just three examples of executive branch oversight in different flavors that i was a part of that i found to be quite effective, not perfect, but certainly effective. michael: so let me bring together three things here, because you said something earlier that i agree with 100% which is when you have all three branches of government doing oversight, it's very effective. right? number one. number two, we talked about snowden, right? and number three, we had a discussion about the public. and i'm trying to figure out here how the public fits into the oversight because the snowden disclosures, in particular two of the programs that he disclosed, were two of
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the programs that had the most oversight in my memory, in the history of the intelligence community. lisa: yeah. michael: they had executive branch oversight. they had congressional oversight. they had judicial oversight. they had oversight by two different white houses. multiple national security teams. and multiple fisa decisions. and yet the issue exploded because the public reacted in a certain way. lisa: yeah. michael: how did you think about that? lisa: so i think it comes back to this framework, you know, it didn't just dawn on me and colleagues of mine at nyu, i should give a shout-out who has written on this about this notion about compliance and governance. i think what happened with the snowden disclosures revealed was take for instance, the 215 program, the collection of telephone meta data, subject to
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robust oversight in the executive branch, fisa court oversight, multiple different judges approving of this, lots of oversight by the congress, and inspector general oversight i should note, but when it became public, all of that, the way our constitutional structure was set up, to have all of those branches engaged in overseeing to lend that activity legitimacy, it was not seen that way by the public. i mean, that's an overgeneralization, but so much so that it, that a different law was passed to put it under different authority. so in essence, i think what the snowden disclosures revealed was that this activity was lawful. now there was a court in the district court that had a different view, but multiple courts and all the oversight
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that i indicated, and it was done pursuant to a statute in congress. i think you could say it was lawful but deemed illegitimate in the eyes of many in the public. so what do you do, and what does the intelligence community do in that instance? and i think what the answer is is public debate which is what we ended up having, and ultimately a retention of the authority in the executive branch but changing it to house that information in the phone companies instead of at the national security agent, but that was done pursuant to a congressional statute. michael: george, i am wondering to what extent you thought the public reaction was because we did not handle the issue from a statute as well as we could. george: i don't mean to sound critical of anybody but i member
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in 2007 i first became a and iman of the agency was speaking to my public affairs colleagues. you guys getting your message out to the public, sharing your mission, because your day is going to come. but we are having some tough times at the agency. we were getting some really bad coverage. and despite our efforts to tell people are operating within the confines of policy i did not see that pivot on the part of the nsa and they maintained to give credit to director hayden who was much more open during his time there. but they never really developed a bit of a no comment environment at nsa for a long
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time. and that goes back to the culture and then to even big knowledge it existed. i might be getting the date is wrong but it is close. when the snowden disclosures hit at 2013 and i was at the pentagon at the time watching this unfold, i immediately thought to myself, nsa has no reputational capital in the bank and this will be very bad. i mean it is bad, period. a crisis is when they are coming to the windows and they were coming through the windows. but they have no ability to effectively tell their story and they had missed several opportunities in my humble opinion to defend broadly without going into classified detail publicly, to defend their work, the men and women of the nsa. and it is a vitally important program. michael: so what is more
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important at the end of the day? the mechanisms of oversight or the people, the integrity of the people operating inside of those mechanisms? in other words, could another iran-contra affair happen today even with all this oversight? john, what do you think? john: here we go again. [laughter] i had the slow job to be the liaison between cia and the iran-contra committees. the short answer is there were a lot of unique personalities in the executive branch at that time at the agency, the nsc, and congress. lisa: i think i was not even four. thank you. [laughter]
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john: do i hear the bay of pigs? now i have lost control. but i would just say that the iran-contra affair, since then, the oversight mechanisms have been built up since that time in the inspector general has gotten a position along with the cia general counsel. i don't think it could happen again. i think that the country learned lessons and congress learned lessons. one last thing about it i have talked about publicly before. it's hard to say i'm nostalgic about it but one thing about it was it was this joint committee.
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you remember that, michael. 26 members. 26 members. republicans, democrats, house and senate. one, was a consensus that up, buthad screwed two, try to keep in perspective the misguided but well-intentioned policy rules. that underlined all of it. in other words in those days congress got mad at us, it was on a bipartisan basis. now everybody just retreats to their corner depending on who is sitting in the white house. michael: do you agree that happenng significant can again?
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mark z: not at the grander scale of the iran-contra. and then to be suspected of doing something they should not be doing as the case officer wherever they may be. those were caught by the agencies. whether they were right or wrong as to whether my client was engaged in something. it was not a major controversy in that type of situation but when it became known that it was a data mining . and otherhat d.o.d agencies were doing it controversial depending on what view you have of it. when wee were aspects had congressional hearings on it that agencies were not sure of how they were reacting to one another and there started to be that individual
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intelligence officers were off on their own doing certain operations, than they would of course say what they had been authorized by so-and-so. whether it was put down in writing or not. it was one of those things where now we look back a dozen years later and we talk to some of the people who were the superiors who we said had authorized and had denied it then but now they are out of government service. they will have a beer with us and say yeah, i remember telling you it was ok to do but that was some frustration to say the least. but it can happen, without a doubt. going back a little with snowden, and i really do think the snowden situation, the public reaction was a p.r. failure by the government in not anticipating what would likely happen and how to react. now it is the fifth anniversary
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this past june and there have been very few articles. google what was in the last few months. very few articles talking about snowden in the last five years and what the impact has been since. those in the government will know better than i, but i would dare say the programs are probably stronger and more active now and completely legal because of complete oversight. now congress cannot complain they did not know about it as they did in some of the litigation coming from the snowden disclosure. the key thing from the p.r. standpoint is if we only look at the domestic stand -- surveillance program, we now get the fisa court decision declassified. sure they have redactions but it still goes strong. we could have congressional hearings on it and the program is still growing strong.
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that could easily have happened. we were talking about the program on television. i remember going on msnbc in 2007 talking about aspects as they had started to leak out. instead of embracing it and saying let's reveal some information, the agencies decided, no, we're not going to do anything, and that frankly contributed to snowden, who right or wrong, frankly wrong, to doing what he did for ideological purposes. michael: did you want to add anything? lisa: yes. i have a point -- first, i have complete sympathy for george little and his colleagues in the agencies in not being armed, not being able, really having their hands tied because of the appropriate classification at the time of a lot of these programs.
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it is true the government cannot really turn on a dime to explain these things, but it did force a lot more declassification. michael: let's open it up to questions. i cannot see very well because of the lights. right here. the mic is coming. i think? here it comes. thank you. >> thank you. panel for being here tonight because this is crucial to how we talk about democracy and secrecy and finding that balance. i'm a phd in public policy and my focus is on intelligence oversight. so thank you for being here. so my research question looks at thatthe mechanisms are
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congress, the executive branch and agencies choose to employ for different problem sets. specifically what commissions and why we choose commissions and by congress and the executive branch chooses commissions over the executive agencies using -- as well as the congress committee hearings or staff settings. things i looked at our expertise, accountability for scandals and failures, and agenda setting is crucial. that, what are your perspectives on the focus on your time and why these choose these commissions on independent outside lookers to hold government accountable. why did obama -- lisa: because in the wake of the
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disclosures we fired up all of the mechanisms from the the advisory board and a key club and the oversight board. but we needed to have some outside perspective. from a different group of disciplines necessarily than what was represented on those bodies. so we specifically decided to put together this panel with folks who had served in the government, those would never served in the government, those who came from different perspectives who had different phases of expertise to give us a ride range of views. michael: was there a political aspect? was there a public relations aspect as well? lisa: certainly. there was a recent we thought we needed to get a broader set of views. also because i think president obama tended to take a long view
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on issues. he saw a lot of what was emerging in the snowden disclosures separate from the program but it reflected the public response. stepping back, a number of us inside government in the wake of the snowden disclosures talked about how, had this been public at the time these were being adopted in the wake of 9/11, might the public had digested them differently? 10,in a world where we were 12 years ahead and technology taking on different roles in our disclosed in being a different environment in we needed to grapple with that in a broader context. >> in terms of the national defense strategy commission i once every four years congress wanting an independent view. wanting a different view about the country's defense.
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just an independent view. are we good? first, then down to the far end. >> thank you. i'm a freelance journalist. my question is to mr. rizzo. you talked about the roots of oversight going back to the church committee, which may also because additional subcommittee oversight hearings on the intelligence community's surveillance of civilians that led to watergate. intelligence oversight mechanism that evolved to that controversy up to and including the church, do you feel the at the structure has weathered
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itself well over the time since then? it was a different time and it was a different different set of problems than what we face now. john: the short answer is yes. as you recall the church committee was a special committee set up. there was no intelligence committee at that point. and in many ways it was kind of sensational and a lot of posturing from both sides of the witness table on the dais. but the creation of the intelligence committees, i think we have actually been fortunate with some exceptions over the last 40 years, the heads of the two intelligence committees, regardless of party, regardless
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of whether house or senate, they have been good, responsible, conscientious. there have been a few notable exceptions to that rule, but as i said earlier, i think the intelligence committee structure is not only part of our is a huge i think it insurance policy for the intelligence agencies. it has, i would say evolved very effectively. >> [inaudible] john: i will defer to lisa and michael, but i left in 2009 and honestly in my time i mentioned the intelligence oversight board
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, honestly, i did not view them at the time as terribly rigorous. they were appointed by the president, had a lot of distinguished people on them. but they were not -- i just have to tell you from being inside at not, iint, that was never viewed them as terribly rigorous. michael: at the end, ma'am. yes, i'm courtney fleming. i have worked with a contractor supporting cia and various intelligence communities private and then i did public service. my question is about the mechanism of the ig's office and how they can truly be effective when they report to the head of the cia themselves. they are not really independent at all, in my opinion. they are not statutorily independent.
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i know mr. rizzo, you mentioned at the caa they do have to go through -- the cia, they do have to go through the appointment but they still report to the head of the cia that report to the outside organization. theyw at nga, at one point reported to the head of nga i think that is the case of all other intelligence organizations. can you speak to that? michael: so, i can. so, every i.g. that i worked closely with during my seven years on the cia's seventh floor, i certainly felt they felt they were independent. i felt they felt they could report to the director and that didn't affect what they were thinking. they were statutory that they
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could go directly to the hill. they did not need our permission to go to the hill and they frequently did. so i think they have the independence they needed. my issue with the i.g. has always been effectiveness. i always thought that the audit piece of the i.g. did a magnificent job to audit the various activities of the agency in pointing out where there were problems. i think the inspection part of the i.g. did not ever tell me anything i didn't already know. these were people who were on rotation for short periods of time. you are probably on the inspection staff. >> i was. these were people from the inspection staff probably from a short period of time on rotation they didn't bring any expertise or give me insight into a particular unit.
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and the investigative side i felt they didn't have any resources that they really needed for an issue to get all the facts in one place to make a decision. so my issue was effectiveness not the independence. >> this goes back to what i was talking about before. with the audit that was easy they would check the bad reading machine if people were at work and then to prove that case officers were actually working but that is another story. from the inspection standpoint if i wanted to bring a whistleblower to the i.g., we live in a small town, d.c., coming from new york, as small -- as far as i'm concerned. and the agencies are pretty small especially on the operational side. you have folks going on rotation for x period of years, everybody knows one another or is connected to one another. so if you try to bring a whistleblower over from inside the agency, even though the i.g.
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in my experience sometime did not get along with the director. our member a few cases they were totally at loggerhead which could be good or bad for my client. but to bring someone where the individual doing the investigating have a relationship with the people you are reporting on where they may go back to that office was problematic which is why i would like to see some sort of external oversight at least four whistleblowers so that you can bring someone to get a completely unbiased, independent view of a particular agency. there will be pushback obviously because of the equities but the thing about whistleblowers that always bothers me if you look on paper, the work that i do with a nonprofit that represents whistleblowers for free, we are on the same page. all the laws are in favor of whistleblowers. all of them. the presidential proclamations. you encourage whistleblowers
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until one blows the whistle internally. [laughter] then they feel they are not being looked at a friendly way. it is frustrating when we try to bring people who want to do it the right way, and there are people who want to and then there are people who don't do it at all because they are concerned if they do it the right way they will be penalized. but they are not received well enough. that is where oversight falls short as far as i am concerned. but that is sad because the mechanism on paper is there that's where the people and the relationship comes in. michael: and then you don't feel like you were being taken seriously. mark z: yes. and snowden said he went outside the system because he saw how others were treated. now i could debate if that was legitimate but it doesn't matter because that is what he thought and why he did what he did. michael: back here.
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it is coming. >> i work for the united states army, which parenthetically just beat navy on saturday. [laughter] so my question is a follow-up to mr. rizzo's comment that you wish you had been more forthcoming. let me play devil's advocate. if you had done that what are the odds that somebody who disagreed with you, we are at the press club, would have leaked it and it would have been adjudicated not through legitimate oversight but through the media? i know you -- i am kind of hearing that you think more things need to be weighed by the public, so that's the way we
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>> folks brought their equities to the table. this were to be declassified, what with the impact fee. we would hear from the cia. we would hear from the nsa. we would hear from the diplomatic corps about what the impacts would be. some of those proxies should be at that level. if there were less
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classification, we have over classified. i am not the first person to say that. we could have a more informed debate over what we should release and what we should not. the sign of a good panel is leaving everybody wanting more. there are plenty of the questions left to be asked. we would like you to do that at the reception. we conclude here, i would ask you to exit to the rear doors. i would like to give a head nod to the folks here. anything that went well here is to their credit. anything that went wrong is because of my oversight.
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[applause] some blank note cards available as he exits the rear of the auditorium. and some pens available if you feel inclined to write a note of encouragement. last but not least. i want to thank this wonderful a final round of applause and let's go have a drink. [applause] [indiscernible]
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>> coming up this weekend on book tv, tonight at nymex like p.m. eastern, citizens united president david bossi and former trump campaign manager corey lewandowski discussed their book, trump's enemies: how the deep state is undermining the trump presidency. >> we refer to these people as the november nightclub. they became a fan after he became elected. they did not support his election. they probably did not vote for him. but they found an opportunity to join an administration that was young and inexperienced to further their own agenda. >> he listens a lot to republican leaders.
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i'm not sure he would do that today. i think during that transition and in the first month or two are his his ministration, the learning curve was very steep, just as it is for every united states president. >> watch book tv this weekend on c-span2. when the new congress takes office in january, it will have the youngest, most diverse freshman class in recent history. new congress. new leaders. watch it live on c-span. starting january 3. here is our evening program. features sarah c hurchwell.
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update on brexit and the european union following the postponement of a crucial vote this week in the house of commons. that, a remembrance of the 50th anniversary of the apollo eight mission and the first-ever lunar orbit. ♪ &a," sarahek on "q churchwell discusses her book behold america. you start out your acknowledgment's by saying that this is not a book he plans to write. prof. churchwell:


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