tv Journalists Discuss Relationship Between U.S. Intelligence Community the... CSPAN April 16, 2019 7:07pm-8:36pm EDT
>> good evening, everybody, and welcome to breaking news, intelligence and the press, another in a series of events at the hayden center for intelligence, security and public policy at george mason university. i am mark roselle, dean of the school of policy and government at george mason university. i would like to act knowledge general michael hayden and his wife, jeanine. general hayden. [applause] we are very proud to put on
a number of these wonderful events for the community and for our university scholars and students and others. so thank you for coming. the schar school of policy and government is one of about 10 schools here at george mason university, we have a number of professional degree programs. our international security studies program has been ranked second in the country. we are proud of that. we have a center for security and i understand they are taking a group of students this weekend to gettysburg for a tour, and several of those scholars are also going to be going to south korea for a series of lectures next month. so we have a number of
interesting events going on at the schar school. i hope you take some time to look at what we do there, and please take the time to attend these events that we do in arlington, virginia and fairfax, virginia. to start the program the director of the hayden center will introduce our distinguished panel. : thanks, everybody, for coming. i would like to acknowledge a few special guests. assistante current secretary of state for the bureau of intelligence and research, alan mccarthy. wonderful to have a current employee working in the intelligence mission attending our event. former diaing, director admiral jake jacoby. thes costa, director of
international spy museum. the spy museum is reopening may 11. i've had the good fortune of visiting their space. it is magnificent. if you haven't had a chance to go to the spy museum, you are going to love the spy museum. we have a handful of intelligence community officials the pressbarrett is secretary for the cia. thanks very much to them for coming. and i want to acknowledge a guy who did fantastic work for many years at cia and frankly spawned of publiction affairs officers, a guy named bill harlow. if you get a chance to say hi to bill, please do. we have that having a series of events this year with a theme focused around the accountability of intelligence.
in today's debate there is a lot of questions about intelligence, and are they being held accountable? we in the intelligence business believe the intelligence rigidity is held to account. ourcan find our events on youtube channel. we did an event that focused on the relationship between the president and his intelligence community leaders. please check that out. we did an event that looked at the internal mechanisms of the executive branch that govern how we conduct business, focusing on the general counsel, the inspector general, et al.'s boring but here in d.c. we atually had a full house, very well attended event. we did a great event a month ago with former members of congress that looked at the role congress plays in overseeing intelligence. tonight's event looks at the role of the press.
a lot of people say, you must take the press. there are times they piss me off, no doubt, but there is nobody in the intel community leadership that doesn't believe there is a great value in the role of the media and overseeing our activities. a great man in american history, his name is george mason. ofrge mason was the father many of the protected liberties in our constitution. many attribute goes to james madison, but james madison was the young student at the feet of the great george mason. and george mason and the great virginia declaration of rights 1776, weeksut in before the declaration of independence, article 12 says freedom of the press is one of the great ballparks -- one of the great bulwarks of liberty and can never be restrained
except by despised governments. we look at our press freedoms and when we look at our intelligence activities, we are an open and free society. we believe the press should have unfettered access to everything going on in our government. we i would also offer that as a society have agreed there should be things kept secret. some members of the crowd are going, you are an intel guy, of course you think things should time wesecret but any get together and form a communal group, we agree there are things that should be kept secret. you look at things like matrimony. we all agree a wife cannot testify against a wife, a husband -- a wife cannot testify against the husband, a husband cannot testify against a wife, there are secrets in the family unit that should be protected. we look at congress, congressional markup sessions are secret. the result of a congressional
markup is made public but the markup itself is made secret. so we have agreed as a society there are things that should mirror -- things that should remain secret. our intelligence is nest should remain secret, executive orders, legislation protects information and allows senior officials including the president to identify those things that should be classified. tensioneates a national -- a natural tension between freedom of the press that we hold dear and the need to protect secrets that exposure would ultimately lead to a weakening of our country. where going to talk about that tonight. we have a great panel. notes i wantrative to touch on before we begin, there are two things going on. it to puteotaping it on our website and our social
media to encourage you, if you haven't found us, find the george mason center and visit our website. we also have c-span. c-span looked at this event and thought, this would be interesting to put on c-span tonight, so speak -- so c-span is covering our event live on the main c-span channel, which is something we are very proud of. i would like to think there are thousands of people around the nation in the world who are going to benefit from this discussion tonight. andill have an audience q a. i would ask you identify yourself. there will be roving microphones, wave your hand and you will get to ask a question. wait until you get the microphone. i would love it if you identify yourself by name and an affiliation you would like to announce, let us know what that is. we ask that you not make a speech, get to the point, ask a question and we can answer the question. with regards to our panel, you
have a program in front of you but i want to mention a few things. we have peter finn, national security editor of "the washington post." in thehe salami sandwich, standing between the reporters who want to report stuff and the editors who make hard decisions about sensitive material that showed i should not be disclosed. we have suzanne kelly, publisher of the cipher brief. thecipher space brief.com, it's a fantastic website, they have a stable of experts who write articles for that website that informed the national security debate. i'm very happy to announce the hayden center has developed a partnership with cipher brief. we will give students an opportunity to publish articles
on the cipher brief, the idea being that we have a great cadre of sharp, young people at the char school who have thoughts on national security issues and we can let those thoughts be known. is a columnist of "the washington post" who writes on national security, intelligence, and is the author of a lot of great spy novels, one of which was made into a great movie starring leonardo dicaprio and russell crowe, "body of lies." a legend inell is washington reporting, she is on nbc news, chief foreign affairs correspondent end is also the host of "andrea mitchell reports." i can hardly think of a time when andrea mitchell wasn't
involved in reporting on intelligence activities in the united states. we have michael morell, our moderator, former acting and deputy director of the cia. he has been gracious in this last year in helping the hayden center as a senior fellow, he has moderated several events hayden has been unfortunately down for the count with medical issues. happy to announce that he will be joining the schar hayden hasn school faculty in the fall semester, teaching courses to our students and continuing to support hayden center activities. andme bring the panel up please welcome them with your applause. [laughter]
>> good evening, everybody. i want to thank all our panelists. i think we are bunk to have a great discussion. i want to start with what larry said. people in the intelligence community who i worked with at the senior levels really do believe the media plays an important role in overseeing intelligence activities for the purpose of ensuring we are doing our job, living up to the constitution and laws of the united states and values of the united states, and to ensure we are using taxpayer money in the best way possible. not everybody in the committee believes that, but the vast majority of leadership dies.
that is why this is on the program. we are going to start asking you, andrea, if you actually think about that point, that you play an important role in overseeing the community as you ?o your job everyday andrea: i just like to say how pleased and honored we are to be here, general hayden and missus hayden. and bill harlow, what can i say about bill harlow that hasn't been said i people praising him, and what he contributed? forwhat he established everyone who has followed in those roles, which are so critical. i believe in our reps possibility for -- our responsibility to the public and
our responsibility to the community. we consider everything we write or speak about the intelligence as being the agency, vital to the national security of our country and as involving potentially the safety and security of people in the field. moved by a speech admiral mcraven gave, brought tears dies around the room. tears to eyes around the room. as he put it, people who don't have the armor, don't have the tanks and don't arrive in uniform and don't have any exit -- exit strategy.
a lot of us have been very concerned over the last two and a half years over the way the intelligence community has been described in public, as we have become so politicized and polarized by the investigations and what followed. yes, we think about it. as a white house correspondent years ago covering ronald reagan, i would walk through those gates every day and think about my responsibility as a reporter, whether covering foreign or domestic policy, to communicate to the country, to the world, to the voters, the citizens of our country, what our government is doing, and in particular in the international security arena and for our intelligence services. >> let me pick up on your point
about pressure on the intelligence community the past two and a half years. how do you all think the intelligence community has handled that? what grade would you give the leadership? [laughter] let me start off. this has been i am sure a traumatic time for people in the intelligence business, being directly or indirectly criticized by the president. situation 90he intelligence chief or officer would want to be in. i think one of the things that is reassuring about our country period, it's like being in an airliner that is bumping around and you think you
are about to lose it, it is the professionalism of our intelligence communities, law enforcement, the way they keep doing their jobs. and when i travel overseas and talk to people in foreign governments, that is always what they focus on, the continuity and consistency of american power. it must take enormous discipline and self-restraint to do their jobs in such a politicized environment. we don't make their jobs any easier in the media, nor should we. supportive't to be of them, however much we may admire the job they are doing, but to be critical. if i could say one additional special for really us to be here in the presence of general hayden and his wife.
i first met mike hayden when he and heector of the nsa, met with journalists and tried to talk within the limits of what he could. i remember when he was the deputy director of national intelligence, and then when he was cia director. through a long career mike hayden tried to balance secrecy, his basic job, with trying to be accountable in conversations. so, mike, it is great to be here in your presence, at your center. thank you. i will just add one thing. i started covering the intelligence community as a reporter about a decade ago. i have noticed a transformation in those 10 years, and a big push to what used to be very closely-health information, and a wall in terms of sharing
information with the press being chipped away at in a good way. it started when keith alexander was at the nsa. for the first time he was allowing intelligent screws into the nsa, giving more information. we had similar issues with the cia, when all of a sudden before they wouldn't give comments on thing come -- comments on things, giving you more information to provide context around some things that were happening, that they did not give before. so u.s. media consumers were left not getting all the facts. i have seen a big change and that just in the past 10 years or so. >> i think the current rector is setting the tone for how they are handling -- the current director is setting the tone for how they are handling the white house at the moment, which is to keep their heads down and do their job. i think gina haspel has made one public appearance. she has another one coming up on thursday, a good day to do it. [laughter]
there is very little director-media engagement at the moment, in contrast to previous directors who had press briefings, had dinner with reporters and two engaged with them a little more than is happening now. and i understand why that is itpening, but i wonder if might not be reconsidered. the only counterpoint to what you said is, they are keeping their heads down. i am curious how, inside the agency, how vocal john brennan and others are who are former senior leaders on the current administration, how those kinds of statements are being read inside the intelligence community. >> we all understand why they are keeping their heads down. that makes sense. but is there long term damage to to the community, for not being out there and being more transparent? peter: this is the community
over time, has weathered many crises and has the ability to emerge. my guess is they will emerge from this. some of be scarred by what they are hearing and some of the criticism, but i don't see it as debilitating. andrea: the threat assessment testimony proves they are following their core mission, and to speak to the unclassified session, they were clearly following the guidance and the .nalysis of the professionals and it was professional and brave, and they took a lot of heat. it is understandable that they need to keep their heads down. see moreove to
backgrounding and more transparency and some sort of traditional, off the record deep route -- off the record or deep generalnd basis, but mattis showed at the pentagon, he really reduced access to the press corps at the pentagon for my colleagues, but he realized to protect his core mission he needed to do that, because raising your head, you can only do that once or twice and we have seen what the result is. so this is a very tenuous time for the community. they need to focus on their jobs, as frustrating as it can be for those of us in the media. does it strike you have similar these professions are, search for the truth, use of confidential sources, or texan of those sources at extraordinarily high cost --
protection of those sources hightraordinarily cost. how do you feel about that? david: the two professions are eerily similar. in the news business, you want to make information public that is not public, you want to drive people read so you look for the people who no important information, and you develop relationships of trust with them. sometimes people read so you lok it takes months. i can think of stories for me that took years, but you work it slowly. one nice thing about being a journalist is that you don't get dropped around in different management spots. i still try to stay in touch with sources i met 35 or more years ago. youou develop the sources,
try to maintain relationships of trust, you certainly try to protect them, you try to avoid being manipulated by them and their agendas, much as intelligence officers should, although i have seen many cases where they have been prisoners of their information rather than and then your responsibility, we combined in the journalist both collector and the analyst. we collect the information and then try to make sense of it and we write a story that tries to organize the facts with a lead, and obviously, our job is to tell the truth. i always have thought there is a for us between our obligation for the readers, i always think i work for my readers, that is how i judge
what the right thing to do is, but in truth we work for our publishers. thatshers mediate relationship between our readers and publishers decide what, in the end, they want to publish. if we don't like it, we can quit. but i think it is fascinating that the media and the intelligence business are in this inevitable and appropriate conflict, because what we do is so similar. >> i think the tension is just a daily fact of life for us. as david alluded to, intelligence reporting is built on fragments of information that are slowly collected and assembled. people have the illusion that some wonderful source walks up to reporters and gives them
exclusives. and that is not the way it works . they are closely reading congressional testimony to see what hints might be in it, they are talking to people on the hill, talking to people in embassies, sometimes foreign intelligence services, they are talking to farmers, were -- talking to formers, you know they are talking to you all the time, and the good reporters are when theyg cia or nsa already have a pretty good sense of where they're going with the story. now they may get beaten back some, but they may not, but you are not calling up cia on some fishing expedition, you are not going to get anywhere. this is slow, methodical work. and the best reporting is built over time. after spending an entire
career as a journalist, i decided to become my own publisher, which was a bit of a risk, midlife, to make that shift. but i feel it has allowed me on my colleagues at cypher brief to focus on something that doesn't always get appropriate context. i think there is always that rush to get out good headlines, a piece of information from a source, but it takes a long time to make sure you are reporting that in a way that is responsible end is going to allow people to make informed decisions about they -- about how they feel about the issues that define who we are as americans, whether it is enhanced interrogation or what the nsa is collecting or not collecting. i think understanding the reasons why they are doing that is why it makes people like -- my mother is my barometer of the american people. if she understands a topic, i feel pretty good about it.
if she asks me, why would the nsa spy on us just like that, i think to myself, let's add some information and see how that changes, how you feel about it. i think that is an important think that is sometimes missing in the rush to get a headline or appeal to your editors are your publishers. >> the shoe is on the other foot here. [laughter] wherecture, big picture, do most leaks come from? [laughter] hill, is it the exec -- is it that hill, is it the executive branch, is that the policy agencies, is it formers? if you are inside an intelligence agency you take a polygraph or be five years and you get asked about inappropriate contacts with the media. so i never thought there were a
lot of leaks coming out of cia, i thought the leaks were largely cia to formers, to the media. so i am wondering to what extent you are willing to answer that question. [laughter] andrea:. maybe not. [laughter] not.el: maybe isrea: i think the fiction that most leaks come off the hill.ff the leaks of pending policy decisions are much less valuable now in the world of donald trump, because frankly, this is a slight exaggeration, but there is no interagency process. there is no deputy to the committees, there is no analysis that goes up and gets debated internally, because things can
change in a tweet. secretary of state can be fired at 8:40 in the morning on a monday morning, and we had no preparation for that. there had been lots of threats along the way and lots of tension. and then there are the reversals and the backspin's and -- the backspins, and you can find a leak that says there is consideration twice on separating children or reinstitution of separating children, and then another leak that says there has been consideration of bringing andants sanctuary cities, then we are told authoritatively , supposedly, that that has been dispensed with because it was illegal and nobody wants to do it. and then i was interviewing a senator on several of the committees at 12:35 p.m. live,
-- the truth came out, yes, and trump came out, yes, i want to do this. and i said, excuse me, senator, the president just tweeted he wants to do that after all. so whether this to be provocative, to appeal to the base, whether it is pure politics, whether it is emotion, anger at the bureaucracy or the deep state or whatever you want to call it, policy isn't policy until the president announces it, and even then he can say, i never really considered something i said i was going to do last week. michael: with less process, there is less touch points for reporters to get information from? but there are fewer leaks that are credible. you have to be very, very careful about what you report, because he can reverse it with a
flip of the switch. michael: i'm wondering if you think reporting, and peter maybe this is a place to start with you, if you think reporting on intelligence activities is inherently more difficult because of the secrecy, then reporting on perhaps other government activities? peter: yes. it's the nature of the intelligence community to want to protect its information, to share only what it views as an its interest -- as in its interest, or what it can put out. people build up stories very slowly and incrementally, and when you look at leaks, it could be anyone and everyone there is no defined source for leaks, and often what you might think of as a leak is actually the work of weeks and weeks and weeks, and talking to multiple,
multiple people, that in the end it may look like someone leaked it mayformation, but have been the intuition of the reporter, the experience of the reporter, his daily conversations may have triggered something that he then began to look into. i don't believe that leaks within the intelligence world are like whispers on capitol hill about the latest political development. it is a very, very different form of journalism. suzanne: the source of every leak as a person with an agenda. it doesn't really matter where it comes from. whether they feel like they are filling a whistleblower role or constituency they want to get a story out and spun in a certain way, the leak is only going to give you a piece of the story. and it is the responsibility to not allow yourself to be
manipulated. i wonder sometimes if that is being done to the extent that it should be and that it once was. david: stories emerge over a long time. you know the agatha christie novel, where it turns out everybody had a hand in the killing, sometimes stories are that way. there is just so many different sources who informed the process of reporting, and then finally you get something that nails it. and sometimes that becomes the hard fact on which everything is hung, like a suit hanging on a hanger, but there is all this collateral stuff that led you to the point where you got that one source. underlining what suzanne said, because i think it is really
important, every piece of information that comes to us in the news media comes with some spin. people do have agendas. they want to settle scores, they want to advance policy agendas, the cia in general doesn't leak to the u.s. media, they are not allowed to, but that doesn't mean other intelligence services don't. and it is not always clear to us that they are behind information that we are getting. one thing i think we need to do better is be more transparent within the limits of protecting about the baggage that comes attached to the information we are sharing. because sometimes that is as important as the piece of information, why someone was so determined to put it out, and if you don't know that it is sometimes hard to evaluate the situation. that is especially true in this period, when the tools of
surveillance, the ability to collect right here from every cell phone everyone has, is vulnerable to do techniques of surveillance. we have been writing about that with an israeli company that does this, but there are many companies around the world but do it. which means that any piece of private information potentially could get hacked and then dished to us in the news media, anything. anybody with an agenda who wants to take some of you down, wants hasake a government down, that avenue. and i think we in the news media need to think a lot more about it, to make sure we are not being manipulated by people with this information that they have grabbed, and their agendas, as opposed to what our readers care about. michael: let's keep this theme of secrecy going. the individual with a clearance who provides classified
information to a journalist is committing a crime. i was going to say thanks to james madison, but i guess i should say thanks to george mason. how you think about your responsibility with regard to handling classified .nformation how yount to take answer that question and shift to wikileaks and whether wikileaks is deserving of first amendment protections. but let's talk about the responsibility in handling classified information. andrea: you have to identify the public interest. the threshold question is, does disseminate that information in danger someone's life or national security? and there have been many
conversations over the years with editors and publishers when ande are issues that arise, the government, sometimes at a very high level, calls and says that something should not be published. and we usually air on the side of safety at my organization, if .e are persuaded one of the earliest experiences i had was during the carter administration, when my colleague john palmer happened on a sunday night to notice the lights at the white house and work,ing and went back to came upon unusual activity, and it was the rescue operation. he confronted jody powell and
jody powell said, if you go on the air right now you are endangering everyone's lives, but the president will give you the exclusive the minute the operation is over. that is how nbc broke that story , when it was sadly over and it was a terrible outcome. but there is never an excuse to publicize something that will endanger the lives of people in the field, hours or others. has been threshold crossed and you have satisfied yourself that there is a really important publican first -- really important public interest think danarmation, i priest's work in the past on the prisons in poland and elsewhere, there were a number of instances where i think publication was the right choice.
that: i agree with andrea in these conversations with we takent officials, very seriously any argument that someone's life might be in danger. the benefits of having that youonflicts is know what danger looks like, it is not an abstract, and you know that americans in uniform are endangered daily, so you can personalize it more. i will share two kind of touchstones for me as a journalist on this question, michael. late, great my publisher, catherine graham -- katherine graham.
missus graham in the 1980's was concerned about the post's coverage of national security issues. speech and ing this speech missus graham said that if one of her "washington post" journalists had a piece of information we were considering publishing, we had a responsibility to go to the agency that might be affected and let them give us an argument why publication of this information would be damaging, either in terms of loss of life or damage to national security. now i am a columnist, so i am out of this world, but when i was an editor we took that seriously. so we would talk to government officials, as you know, and we would have extensive, serious discussions, but we would
reserve the right, as miss graham insisted that we had to, to make our own final judgments. sometimes when government officials tell us human lives will be at risk, that is , so that harmsgs the relationship of trust. if somebody tells you somebody could die and it turns out that was overstated. second thing i will briefly mention is from my mentor ben bradlee. ben,l have an image of and he was that way, he worked hard at being ben bradlee. the navy during world war ii, he was a combat
veteran who took national security issues seriously in his used to say, our readers don't need to know the wiring diagram. they need to know the information, because that is part of being an informed citizen. i can remember a couple of stories where he just had little appetite for some of the very that he thought, we were blowing secrets needlessly that didn't help inform readers read missus graham said you have to talk to people, and ben said you have to tell the truth, hold people accountable, but you don't have to put in the wiring diagram. itanne: i couldn't say better, andrea and david have already hit the, would it be in the public interest and are lives in danger? we now live in an age where so many people call themselves
journalists, and they are not traditional journalists with institutions that follow these rules and have these morals and have internal borde -- internal boards where they discuss the right and wrong of something. the thing that i worry about, is the question, is it in the public interest now being replaced by, is it a sexy headline and it is going to give me a lot of clicks and followers? and sadly, i don't think people on the receiving end of that information can easily distinguish anymore whether someone has andrea mitchell's reputation, or david's or peter's, and if that is a reliable source of information, when they are flooded with interesting, sexy headlines that are fun to talk about with people you know. so i worry about what is happening to journalism in this age of, just get some information out there and we checked the facts later. david those conversations described continue.
and the major roadblocks for us in publishing our fa life is in danger, if sources and methods would be exposed, we take that very seriously. different parts of the government throw around the, lives will be in danger more acilely than others. i have had people at the white house throw that at me when i thought there was little substance to it. in my experience the intelligence community uses that card much more carefully, much more occasionally, and with much more deliberation, so that when we do hear that from them we rather very seriously, than from some political appointee who is shouting down the phone at me. but we do have serious
conversations about certain stories. it is not like it is happening every day, and there are levels of escalation, where we know had -- where we know how serious this thing is getting. normally a reporter is talking to cia public affairs and public affairs may want to talk to me, but if it gets to the point where the director or the deputy director wants to talk to marty baron, the editor, then we know we are dealing with something consequential. that doesn't come along once or twice a year, may, but it is not frequent. michael: "the washington post" had all of the stone did -- all of the snowden documents, every single one. they didn't post them anywhere. they actually secured them, physically secured them. you went through them very carefully and made decisions
about what you thought was in the public interest. things, you went to the intelligence community and gave the intelligence community an opportunity to talk about that. that context, and in contracts -- and in contrast to wikileaks, i wonder how you would answer that question. peter: i don't want to decide who is a journalist and who is not a journalist. it is a dangerous road we have seen abused in many parts of the world. i certainly don't want the government deciding who is a journalist. so i am very ambivalent of the e,osecution of assang particularly when i read the indictment woven in with this specific acting charge that i don't know a lot about, except that they have had these laws
for a very long time, the previous administration decided to widen the case they are they couldn't bring an espionage case because it would implicate so is than publishers, would extend first amendment privileges to wikileaks. that is my position. the ambivalence is that i disagree with tossing material out there that puts people in people who are in contact with embassies, as we saw in the diplomatic cables and military cables that were released, and that was opposed by all major publishers that interacted with wikileaks and argued against it. to get back to the indictment, we have the government making this specific charge ended than
talking about protecting sources , and using encryption and other things as if this is all the farias behavior, so i think they have got to get their line -- as if this is all nefarious behavior, so i think they have to get their line in order. even if i don't personally like them, that is irrelevant. if they are publishing under going to be prosecuted for publishing, even if it is a pretext or a fig leaf the government is using, then i would oppose it. suzanne: i admire the way "the that, aon post" handled definite sense of responsibility that was part of their process. it wasn't just, put it all out there and let the world figure it out, which we have seen with other hacks. someone toouraging hack and helping them do that is a step beyond what any journalist i know would have done in that case. disagree with encouraging someone to hack.
it is not journalistic behavior, but that is an unproven charge at this point based on fragmentary information. i want to see the case in court. then we can make an informed decision. , the lead was,n "is julian assange a journalist ?" the justice department to strike to sidestep this, the way they wrote the indictment, focusing on the alleged rola sound played in helping steel invite -- focusing on the alleged role ass in helping steel intelligence information. it's often said by people in the aclu that free speech matters.
the speechcase of that we all love, at matters with extreme speech, the aclu defended the nazis who were marching in skokie, illinois. every right-thinking person would want them to have been up, but that is the case when you are really committed. you could argue that assange as a former "guardian" up, but thar wrote, is a really difficult person to deal with. maybe he is the extreme test where you say, even so, with these facts it is still a first in the reporting that i did when we dodictment came out, need to know, just because the just department asserted it does
not mean that it is true that he helped steal documents. by how manysed first amendment lawyers and spokespeople i talked to who did not want to defend assange. one example is bruce brown, the executive director for the center for freedom of the press. a genuinely respected figure in our area, who said, no newsroom lawyer, and i know this is very true, would ever condone doing what it is alleged that he did, helping a source break a law, actively helping, that is the allegation. similar comments from other people. a lawyer who has really earned his spurs as a defender of these
issues. similarly cautious. i'm going to come back to what suzanne said. we need to know more before we make judgments about the ultimate first amendment issue here. i think if the allegation is proved, then, as david pointed out, it is something that no journalist would do, ethically. i'm just stepping down at the end of my term at the reporting committee for freedom of the press. i would tend to agree with them on that principle. i have a problem with what is alleged but has not been proved. i interviewed the editor from wikileaks the other day on our program, and aside from this case, which was considered by the justice department under obama not prosecuted because they did not want to get into a tangle about journalists and
first amendment issues, i am also well aware, as we all are, b mueller indictment, which refers to wikileaks as organization one, is a willing the gru.from i have a real problem with wikileaks as an organization if the mueller leaks are established for what they did in 2016. working with foreign intelligence services and dumping in a targeted way particular data that has been tailored to influence an american election. that is not what journalists do. on the broader issue of wikileaks, not this case, these are not journalists. >> talk about the tools used and the intent. was it to inform or some other purpose? >> to influence. that is not what we do.
>> before we go to questions, what advice would you have for young reporters who are just starting on this beat? >> run. [laughter] -- i'm going to completely date myself, but i remember being a young intern at cbs news in new york, and they had just had an unveiling of the new studio and dan rather came down and said i understand there are interns in the room, there is still time to choose another profession and you should do it. i thought, that is the worst welcome i've ever heard. once you talk to dan a little bit more, it is a very difficult business. a lot of young people when i was coming up got into it because they wanted to be on television or because they wanted to be an influencer, for reasons that were not that core old-school, informing decision-making in this country.
there is a responsibility that used to come with it that i think is critical. my device to young people today would be to look deep in your heart and ask yourself what you really want to do, because you're probably not going to make a lot of money, get people patting you on the back, saying great job. more often, people will complain about what you got wrong and those other realities. if you have the personality to overcome it and push forward for something that you passionately believe in, then go for it. you might be the next generation that changes the way we get information and that takes us back to what our core values are. and don'tit so much want to discourage people from having the great, vibrant experience that all of us have and hope to continue to have. now, it is more difficult than ever in my experience. i have covered republican and
democratic administrations and secretaries of state. i've never seen the media entity, asa hostile the enemy of the people. >> how about the intelligence community? [laughter] be thise never seen it adversarial. there is a certain amount of adversarial relationship that is healthy. , but afterpticism covering jimmy carter and ronald reagan and both bushes and bill clinton and obama, i have never seen anything quite like this. it does affect the cabinet secretaries. that thepect intelligence leaders are keeping their heads down, but i think affect the kind of
information that is being communicated from some other agencies and other sources and that is very dangerous, because facts matter. i really worry about that. i bring about our ability to ferret out the news and get it coherently explained to people, but i have to say, that said, it has never been more important, never been tougher, but the joy and the privilege and the responsibility and excitement of being an eyewitness to history, traveling around the world, communicating big ideas, writing great -- one tries, great thates, covering things one never expects, often horrifying things. we have all been through 9/11. the tragedy of notre dame. things that you never think are going to happen. then trying to rise to the level
of explaining it to the public is profoundly important, so i would urge every young person who really wants a great adventure in life if they feel a sense of patriotism and responsibility to go for it. just as a practical matter, if someone was coming out of college and told me they wanted to cover intelligence, i would say hold on the little bit. i would encourage them to cover the military, cover the federal courts, get some experience on capitol hill, spend a little time overseas, then when you have had some seasoning, and he had started to know people across washington, then come and say that you want to cover intelligence. intelligence is not a starter job. if you look at the best intelligence reporters, they do
have experience at the pentagon, in other parts of town, and they work their way up to this. i said publicly once about andrea mitchell, that one reason i admired her so much was that she never felt that she was more important than the story she was covering. i think that is why she is such a professional, and that is the yardstick that i would apply if a person wants to be a journalist, especially covering very sensitive, nuance subject of intelligence. you have to have humility. you are not more important than what you are covering. to be aa hard time journalist, but a great time to be a journalist. sometimes in our business, like
in any business, you wonder if this really makes a difference. if you are doing something that matters. this is not time when we write about that. jobs,w that doing our avoiding trump derangement, not playing the role he would let us to play, just doing our jobs takes a difference. it is a great time. >> lets you questions. please wait, i will on you if i see you. microphone tor a come to you. first question here. >> good evening, and thank you for coming. my name is julie and kyle lewis from the illustrious howard university and the american university here in washington. i will get straight to the point. in a direct comparison of bobby kennedy to president trump,
bobby was at all the universities, all the young white kids really loved bobby. , how wouldd poetry you say that america's relationship with the press would be different if we were not blessed with people like bobby and his brother, although you know, anything negative that might have happened, how you think we would be different if we never had them? if we weren't blessed with their presence at that point in time? thank you. >> it is such an interesting comment and i will just respond by saying bobby kennedy is one who, as youures said, marked the age of reason in politics, a thoughtful, humane man.
to national comes security issues, at the beginning of his time as attorney general, he was the person who, in secret, evidence thingsly clear, plotted like the possibility of killing foreign leaders. kennedy had come up as a fierce anti-communist. in investigative committees in congress, going after communists. he came to this with an intense, in some ways troubling values. the arc of his career, the way he changed, is one of the great stories of modern political history, but it is interesting. this is not in the beginning of his life and career a sainted figure and it reminds us even with bobby kennedy, ask for the
footnotes. check it out. right here. >> i just want to ask about journalism and the role of the what ist media, journalism today in the current era, but about the intercept or the involvement of governments in the information intelligence? -- rtd like to ask you for example, russian tv, how would you give space to those outlets? >> i think you have a lot of different things there.
the intercept is a publication i and they aree, journalism and some of it has been impressive. that is vastly different than talking about foreign governments or foreign operations. it is night and day, in my view. we have seen what happened in 2016 and how easily the current media environment can be manipulated. is only going to get worse, unfortunately. i think people will learn from other russian state, not only other foreign governments, but i am increasingly afraid that domestic agencies will use these tactics, then you run into the first amendment and, our politics could just become more and more poisonous. that is what i think is the challenge going forward. i just would not put the
intercept in the same paragraph, even chapter with that discussion. >> over here. thanks for spending your time coming out and sharing your experience. my question is, what kind of feedback do you receive from government officials on whether or not releasing information endangers those in the field and house that change your risk evaluation procedures before publication? before we publish any , we do speak to the relevant intelligence agencies, often at some length about the story. details at theck request of the intelligence what they viewct
as a threat to life. upmost cases, we end reasonably satisfied with the compromise. out, we the story comes are not getting angry phone affairsom cia public that we screwed them over or something. i think we discussed this in advance, they have a sense of what is coming, and we have shielded details, though very as a resultl story of those discussions. said i, ipoint, you would love to know what you think. i just went to say that in my experience, those off the record dinners that so many directors did, the reason -- one of the reason those were so important is to build trust.
to build trust between the reporters and the leadership of the organization so that when you have a tough issue to discuss, there was a trust there. i probably, during my 3.5 years as deputy and acting director had to ask a journalist or organization probably 10 times to either not run a piece or take a paragraph out or take a sentence out. my batting average was 1000. when were many more times my people wanted me to make a phone call but i would -- i wasn't convinced by their arguments. i think because those relationships had been built, we were able to get things done that you couldn't of those relationships were not there. >> i would just add that that is the important thing for people in the intelligence community, is to understand that that card is a card you play fairly and carefully. >> with those off the record
conversations, we should talk about how we define off the record, but the way i was raised is off the record is you never reported. some people think it now means no attribution. >> you can go and ask some one else about it. >> right, you can get what you can. but those conversations over the years, trust is the key word. i think, following up on what peter said, current leaders, maybe they are doing it and i'm just not invited -- [laughter] >> i think it is worth quickly adding that what happens in those conversations, because i when you at the table were at the agency, michael, and most people don't know what those conversations are like. you will pull in 10 or 12 journalists and go through timelines of information based on what you know, and that is for the trust comes in, but that is what happens.
they are not like secret handshake deals were nobody knows what's going on. they are intended to make sure that the journalists who don't have access to the information toshared again to be able provide that larger picture of context, which is so important. >> over here. retired navy public affairs officer. i would like to direct this question to you. worked inears, my dad this building and in 1963, for about three months, he was illegally wiretapped by the cia. it was called project mockingbird. it was published in the cia family jewels, but in the course of the wiretap that lasted three months, he was talking to 10 congressman, including the speaker of the house, he was talking to a half-dozen
senators, he was talking to white house staff, several people in the cia and other intelligence agencies. this is just a fact. my question is, since 20 -- 2007, when the family jewels was published and i learned about the wiretap, i have been trying to get information about it, just to fulfill what really happened and learn as much as i can about what took place. receiveday, i have very little from the cia. i'm notoncern, and slapping anybody in the face, this is a general comment, is that the lack of transparency 56 years later about such things as a transcript that you know is out there, because it is in the cia documents but won't be to me, this isss
an opportunity to say, like this cia understand that is a fairly significant document and sit down with a person like and do a more than cursory release of information, especially 56 years later, sources and methods, i assume are pretty much out the window. most of the folks are deceased, including my dad, but it is a story i would like to be able to tell to my family and i think historically, from the cia standpoint, even though it is not a good story, it is something that should be out there in the public domain. >> i will say a few things. one is that, there are folks here tonight from cia and i hope one of them find their way to talk to you afterwards. ,he second thing i would say is when general hayden was the director, we actually had
conversations with the leadership team about pushing this line out and creating more transparency. talking to the american people more about what it is we do and why we do it and what we get right and what we get wrong. our sense was that, if we did that, and i think we do that to a large extent, to the extent that we did that, we did give the american people more confidence in their cia, in their intelligence community, and we did a better job protecting the secrets we needed to protect. i do think the intelligence community in general, and baby the cia in particular has got room to push that farther. over here. >> our intel community is very
interconnected. americans, the british, israelis, worldwide. was it correct for buzz feed to publish michael steele's name when they published the dossier, and if it was, why? that was,just part of what was your feeling on the publication itself? >> we chose not to publish it. buzz feed can answer for their own decision-making, but so much of it was uncorroborated and we don't publish material that is not independently corroborated. i would underlined what peter says. post, otheron organizations, individual at the dossier for a long time and tried to confirm
it, establish whether there was reportable information and we were not able to. peter put it right. we have standards for what will publish and what we want and their stringent. people think we out there breaking secrets, they should sit in on some meetings. we live in a world where, if we ,ecide in a measured way brilliant editors like peter and others, that we are not going to publish something, somebody is going to leak it. at some point, it's going to get out. i can remember agonizing decisions about whether to publish details about bob dole running for president, his private life. we went on day after day talking about this wasn't relevant or
voters needed to know, we decided, no. it got leaked to some of the else and we ended up writing a story about the story. that is part of the dilemma. we make the best judgments we can, but that doesn't mean it's not going to be out there soon and we'll end up writing about it anyway. >> one example was when we published a story about president trump's discussions with the russian foreign minister in the russian , he revealed critical deliberately we did not notify the country of the source of that intelligence. that was a conscious decision. we knew who it was. hoursw york times in 24 had come forward, they make their own decisions. we made our calculations, they made theirs, but then it's done.
hide from the fact that that country was named. similarly, dana, when she wrote about the black site, held back initially, the names of the two countries. it was only a matter of time before the names came out and were widely and universally published. >> i get the last question here. it is a question about journalism and less about journalism and intelligence. in march of 2017, somebody called me and said they were going to write a book about hugo chavez and i really needed to read this book to hear the parallels between trump and chavez. and there werek parallels that i saw, but many differences. what really struck me was that when hugo chavez first came to power, the political opposition
in venezuela -- there was no opposition leader to stand up and chart a different course for the future of venezuela. as a result, the venezuelan media became the political opposition. in becoming the political opposition, the venezuelan media lost all of its credibility with the venezuelan people. i just wonder about how you think about that story in relation to what is happening here. david? polls,ou look at the there is a lot of public mistrust of journalists. i hope this audience finds is us credible,finds but if you believe the polls, the country as a whole is not so happy with us. i think that should concern us. is thathers me the most
we are increasingly in a media readers andwhere viewers once their opinions reinforced, rather than challenged. trained to be in the present --ss and to when i say i work for my are not my readers someone who has made up their minds. --is summit who is trying increasingly, just turn on cable news, go to websites, you see people you hate are terrible, the people you love our wonderful is a way to get clicks. thatow, we have to resist and we have to encourage and train young people to resist it.
people are going to get the media that they deserve. thate end, if you click on horrible website that has got all the spin, you will drive out the good website that is trying to be balanced, because it won't have enough money. >> anybody else? >> i just think, especially going into 2020, we have to rawing earlyg -- d conclusions. now in anyeaningless case. let's try to focus on policy choices, policy conversations as much as possible. and be as down the middle as we can be on both sides of the equation. and not feed into the demonization of the media and just try to be as resolved as we can to not show implicit bias.
as david brinkley used to say, there is always --, now i'm dating myself -- david brinkley used to say, there is no such thing as objectivity, but finding what goes into our 22 is ae evening newscast subjective choice. you are deciding what goes on the front page. it gets buried. -- what gets buried. every story needs to be balanced and fact-based to the greatest extent that human beings can, .ithout being computers there is human error and we have to acknowledge those errors. we have to somehow try to maintain our credibility with the public. it is more important than ever. i think there is a lot to be said for the way we did not cover the real story that needed to be codthere were a lot of mis
along the way. was russian manipulation and things we could not spot and we have to figure out how to get that, like the forensic analysis. she does not draw a final conclusion, except to say that it was interfering and i think it affected the outcome. a lot of things affected the outcome, including our misjudgments. i think live coverage of one candidate over what another candidate would say. because one was more entertaining, really. we have a big job. we are going to be criticized, no matter what we do. we have to keep our focus on the job and mission, and try not to be distracted. >> i would say exactly to that
point, the minute that you as a journalist lose sight of your mission, it is gone forever. i have not read the book, but that is what happens. they lost focus on what their mission was. balancedo provide a story, which means you talk to people from multiple perspectives on what they think. is ancond lose that, it information freefall and there is no more general -- free for all and there is no more journalism. the credibility, the attack on the credibility of the media coming from the top down. we have the president saying that we fake news and we are enemy of the people -- enemies of the people. resonance fors someone who has written a lot about russia and the soviet
union. editor marty said we are not at war with anyone. dohave to keep doing what we and maintain our standard, subjecting everyone to the same skepticism and scrutiny, not in service of our agendas. if we keep doing that, in the end, i have to be optimistic that there will be a good result. >> finally, there is a risk that things are becoming normalized. lack of access to the key is becomingers normalized. watching theears diminishing role because we do not have access to the secretary because he does not travel.
they brought three or four people on. now it has been reduced -- what used to be 13 to 17 people for 40 years traveling with the secretary of state is limited to six people, three of whom are technicians. they are not correspondence or writers. behind-the-scenes, for whatever secretaries are dealing with merely one network. they are making their own choices, but that is diminishing their ability to tell the story of venezuela, to tell the story that they want to tell about what they are going to do tomorrow in cuba. korea.ain north there are some really important policies that are not being adequately explained because the principles are refusing to deal with the news media.
that is their choice, but i think we are less therefore. it.- lesser for >> thank you all very much. [applause] i think you did show people tonight how much professionalism you have and how much credibility you have. how important the work that you do is. >> everybody, if i could just ask you -- we have a great reception planned for afterwards. if i could ask the audience to exit out of the rear doors and allow our panel to exit out of the side door. you will have an opportunity to chat with them over a drink in the next room. thank you for attending. thank you once again for this wonderful panel. [applause]