tv Journalists Discuss Relationship Between U.S. Intelligence Community the... CSPAN April 21, 2019 4:12am-5:41am EDT
>> and insurance industry perspective on medicare for all and the affordable care act. today a 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. >> on tuesday, a panel of journalists discussed the relationship between the u.s. intelligence community and the press. this event was hosted by george mason university. it's an hour and 25 minutes. [applause]
also attending tonight, former admiral jay jacoby. we have the director of the international spy museum, chris cost of, as well. in the spynterested museum, it is reopening on may 11 or 12? may 11. i have had the good fortune of visiting your space. it is magnificent. if you have not had a chance to go, you are going to love the spy museum. we also have a handful of intelligence community public affairs officials here. amanda in the spy shock from the dni, dean boyd from the national intelligence and security center and 10 barrett, secretary of the cia, so thank them very much coming. last but not least, i want to acknowledge a guy who did fantastic work for many years at cia and frankly spawned a generation of public 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 community is held to rigid account. you can find our events on our 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 actually had a full house, a 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. george mason was the father of 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 which came out in 1776, weeks 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. but i would also offer that we 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 be kept secret but any time we 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. so it creates a national tension -- 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. some administrative notes i want to touch on before we begin, there are two things going on. we are videotaping it to put 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. we will have an audience q and 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." he is the salami in the 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. please check out 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 schar school who have thoughts on national security issues and we can let those thoughts be known.
david ignatius 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." andrea mitchell is a legend in 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 while general hayden has been unfortunately down for the count with medical issues. happy to announce that he will be joining the schar school faculty in the fall semester, teaching courses to our students and continuing to support hayden center activities. let me bring the panel up and please welcome them with your applause. [laughter] -- [applause]
>> good evening, everybody. it's great to have everybody here. 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 do 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? and what he established for everyone who has followed in those roles, which are so critical. i believe in our reps possibility -- our responsibility to the public and our responsibility to the community.
we consider everything we write or speak about the intelligence services, the agency, as being vital to the national security of our country and as involving potentially the safety and security of people in the field. i was so moved by a speech admiral mcraven gave, brought tears dies around the room. -- it brought tears to eyes around the room. it was just an amazing tribute from a uniformed service to the necessity ---- by covert work that is done in the field around the world, 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 strategy in -- 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? any of you. [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. that is not the situation 90 intelligence chief or officer would want to be in. i think one of the things that is reassuring about our country in this 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. so 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. our job isn't to be supportive of them, however much we may admire the job they are doing, but to be critical. if i could say one additional thing, it is really special for us to be here in the presence of general hayden and his wife.
i first met mike hayden when he was director of the nsa, and he 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 -- 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 withde briefings, dinner with reporters, who engaged with them come more is happening now. i wonder if it might not be reconsidered. they are keeping their heads down and i'm curious how inside the agency, how vocal john who areand others are former senior leaders on the current administration held -- how those kinds of statement are being read. understand why they are their heads down. is there long-term damage to that.
to the community of not being out there and not being more transparent. it's a community that's over time weathered many crises and has been the ability -- and has had the ability to emerge and my guess is they will emerge from this. of --ay be -- by some what they are hearing and some of the criticism, but i don't see it as debilitating. >> i think the threat assessment testimony proves they are .ollowing their mission in the classified session they the clearly following guidance and the analysis of the professional and it was professional and brave and they
took a lot of heat. i think it's understandable the need to keep their head down. more transparency in some sort of traditional off the record basis. that said as general mattis where youthe pentagon from myeduced colleagues perspective, to protect his core mission he needs to do that, you can only do a once or twice. this is a very tenuous time for the community and i think any to focus on their job as frustrating as it can be for those in the media. strike you all how similar these professions are to search for the truth, use of confidential sources, protection
of those sources at an external high cost? it really is interesting how many parallels there are. how do you think about that? professions are eerily similar. in the news business, you want to make information public that's not public. you want to draw it out of people and so you look for the people who no important information -- who know information. there are stories for me the took years. but you work at them slowly. one nice thing about being a journalist is you don't get dropped around in different spots. i try to stay in touch with in the middleet
east. trydevelop the sources, you to maintain a relationship of trust with them, you certainly try to protect them. you try to avoid being manipulated by them and their agendas as much as intelligence officers should, although i've seen many cases where they are prisoners of their information rather than masters of it. and then the responsibility we combine with the journalists both the collector and analyst. we collect the information and try to make sense. we write a story that tries to organize the facts with the lee -- with the lead and clarity. our job is to tell the truth. i've always thought there was a between ourus
obligation to our readers. i always think i work for my readers, that's how i should judge with the right thing to do is. in truth we work for publishers. publishers mediate that relationship between our readers and decide what in the end they want to publish. if we don't like it, we can quit. fascinating the media and intelligence business are in this inevitable and appropriate conflict because what we do is so similar. >> anybody else want to comment? tension is ae daily fact of life for us and as david alluded to, intelligence reporting in particular 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, that's not the way it works. they are closely reading congressional testimony to see what hints or things might be in it. are talking sometimes to foreign intelligence services, former. reporters are contacting you all the time, there talking to contractors to try and assemble a picture and the good reporters are approaching the cia our nsa when they already have a pretty good sense of where they are going with the story. they may get beaten back some or not. you are not calling of the cia with some -- on a fishing expedition. you are not going to get anywhere. it's a slow methodical work and
the best reporting takes time. >> after spending an entire career as a journalist i decided to become my own publisher which is a bit of a risk to make that shift but i feel like it has something to focus on that does not always get appropriate context. i think there is a rush to get out a good headline, a good piece of information from a source. it takes a long time to make sure you are reporting that in a way that is possible and will allow people to make informed decisions about how they feel. a lot of these issues are defining who we are as americans. whether it's enhanced interrogations with the nsa is collecting or not collect them. i think understanding the reasons why they are doing that mother iskes it -- my
a barometer of the american people. if she understands the topic i feel good about, asking questions why would the nsa spy on us, i'm thinking let's add pieces of information and see how that changes how you feel. i think that's an important thing that is sometimes missing in the rush to get out ahead. >> the shoe was on the other foot here. , where do most of the leaks come from? [laughter] hill, is of the executive branch? executive branch? policy agency? formers? if you are inside and intelligence agency, you take a polygraph and you get asked
about inappropriate contact with the media. i never thought there were a lot of leaks coming out of the cia. iowa's thought they were largely informers to the media. i'm wondering to what extent you are willing to answer that question. [laughter] >> maybe not. i think the fiction is that everything comes off the hill. let me turn it around and say so-called leaks are pending policy decisions are much less valuable now in the world of donald trump. is --e frankly there there is a slight exaggeration but there is no deputies , no analysis that goes
that gets debated internally because things can change in a tweet. a secretary of state can be fired on a monday morning. that. no preparation for then there are the reverse and canback spends where you find a leak that says there was consideration twice on separating children or reinstitute -- reinstituting separating children and then another leak that says another consideration of bringing migrants to sanctuary cities and then we are told authoritatively that that has been dispensed with because it was illegal and
no one wants to do it i was interviewing a senator on several committees at 12:35 p.m. out yes the truth came i strongly want to do this. all of a sudden the interview i thought was going to be on one subject, the president just tweeted i do want to do this. whether it is to be provocative, appeal to the base, pure emotions whether it is , angry bureaucracy, whatever you want to call it. policy isn't policy until the president announces it and then you can say i never really considered something i was gonna do last week. >> one thing i heard you say with less process there is less touch points to get information from.
>> there are fewer leaks that are credible. you have to be very careful about what you report because he can reverse it with the flip of a switch. >> i'm wondering if you think reporting, maybe peter this is for you. if reporting on intelligence activities is inherently more difficult because of the secrecy then reporting on perhaps other government activities. >> yes. it's the nature of the intelligence community to want to protect its information, to share only what it views as in its interest or that it can put out. up stories very slowly and incrementally and when you ask who leaked -- leaks, it could be everyone and anyone. there is no defined source for leaks.
often what you might think of as a leak is actually the work of weeks and weeks of talking to multiple people that in the end when you read it may look like someone leak that information. that may have been the intuition of the reporter, the experience of the reporter. daily conversations may have triggered something he began to look into. leaks within the intelligence world are like whispers on capitol hill about the latest political development. , it's a different form of journalism. is thesecret kind of source of every leak is a person with an agenda. it doesn't really matter where they come from whether they feel they are filling a whistleblower role or have a constituency they want to get a story out and spun in a certain way. the leak will only give you a
piece of the story and it's the responsibility to not allow to velf to be manipulated et those leaks. as peter said, stories emerge and the agathae christie novel were it turns out everybody had a hand in the killing, sometimes stories are that way. there are so many different sources who inform the process of reporting and then finally you get something that nails it and sometimes that becomes the part on which everything is hung. but all -- there's all this other collateral stuff to the point where you got that one
source. just to underline 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. want to settle scores, they want to advance policy agendas. the cia in general does not leak to the u.s. media, they are not allowed to. that doesn't mean other intelligence services don't. thatnot always clear to us they are behind information we are getting. so i think one thing we need to transparent be more within the limits of protecting our sources with readers about the baggage that comes with the information we are sharing because sometimes that is as important as a piece of information. why someone was so important to put it out -- so determined to put it out. true in thecially
sphere where the tools of surveillance, the ability to collect right here from every cell phone with -- that everyone has is vulnerable to new types of surveillance. thatve been writing about an israeli company as many companies around the world to do it. which means any piece of private information potentially could us hacked and then dished to in the news media. anybody with an agenda wants to take someone down, take the government down, has that avenue. i think it is something we in the news media have to think more about to make sure we are not being used and manipulated by people with this information they have read in their agendas as opposed to our readers and what our readers care about. >> let's keep this theme of secrecy going.
that an individual with a clearance provides classified information to a journalist is committing a crime and we all know i was going to say thanks to james madison, but i guess i should say thanks to george mason, that when you report it, you are not. i'm wondering how you think about your responsibility with regard to handling classified information and may be each one of you should answer this question because i think it is so important. i want to take how you answer that and shift to wikileaks and whether you think whether or not wikileaks deserves first amendment protection. >> i think you have to decide and the public interest is does disseminating that information in danger someone's
life or national security. there have been many conversations over the years with our editors and publishers when there are issues that arise in the government calls and says , david had that day it -- david has had to deal with this, that something should not be published. in my organization we usually air on the side of safety and if we are persuaded there is an interest. one of the earliest experiences i had was during the carter administration when my colleague happened on a sunday night to notice the lights at the white house in the west wing in the activity and went back to work and he really came upon unusual
activity and it was the rescue operation and he confronted jody ifell and jody powell said you go on the air now and discuss activity of the white house, you are endangering everyone's lives but the president will give you the exclusive the minute the operation is over. that's how nbc broke that story when it was over with a terrible outcome. excuse toever an publicize something that will endanger the lives of people in the seals, hours or others. once that threshold has been and you have said there's a really important public interest in the information and we can disagree on some of these instances. some of the prisons in poland
and elsewhere, there were a number of interest -- instances where publication was the right choice. andrea in these conversations with government --icials we take when someone's life may be in danger. when you know the americans in dailym who are in danger so you can personalize it more. for share two touchstones may as a journalist on this question. my late, great
beloved publisher katharine graham. in the mid-1980's she was concerned about the post coverage of national security issues and so she gave a speech as then a young editor which a --e 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 in the government and let them give us an argument why publication of this would be damaging either in terms of loss-of-life or damage to national security. i'm a columnist some out of this world. talk to government
officials as you know and we would have extensive serious discussions. sometimes when government officials tell us that human lives will be at risk, that is stretching things as it turns out. that harms the relationship of trust. if someone says somebody could the second thing i will ben bradlee. he did talk like that, he worked
hard at being ben bradlee. but he had served in the navy during world war ii. he took national security issues seriously in his way and he used to say our readers don't need to know the wiring diagram, they need to know the information because that's part of being an informed citizen. i can remember a couple of stories where he had little appetite for some of those very , that didn't help inform readers. those would be the two baselines for me. what missus graham said and what ben said. hold people accountable but you don't have to put in the wiring diagram. >> i could not say it any better. i think what worries me is we
now live in an age where so many people are calling themselves journalist and they are not the traditional journalist that follow these rules and have these morals in these ethics where they discuss the right and wrong of something. ishink the question for me is that in the public interest now being replaced is that a sexy headline, will it give me a lot of clicks and followers. sadly everybody on the stage understands what journalism is. i don't know if people on the receiving end of the information can easily distinguish anymore whether someone has andrea mitchell's reputation and if that's a reliable source of information when they are flooded with sexy headlines that are fun to talk about with people you know. i wonder -- i worry what's happening with journalism in
this day and age. >> those conversations david described continue. the major roadblocks for us on publishing if a life is in danger, if sources and methods would be exposed, needlessly. we take that very seriously. i would say different parts of the government troll around that lives would be in danger more than others. without talking about particular administrations i've had people of the white house throw that out me and when i thought there was little substance to it. --my experience, the with much more deliberations between -- so that when we hear that from them we take it seriously rather than some political appointee who is
shouting down the phone at me. we have serious conversations about certain stories not like it's happening every day and there are levels of escalation where we know how serious this thing is getting. normally a reporter is talking to cia public affairs then public affairs may wait -- may want to talk to me. if it gets to where they want to talk to the editor, we know we are dealing with something consequential. >> let me say one thing and then we will do wikileaks. what i want to say is that, i don't know how many people know post"but, the "washington had all the snowden documents. every single one of them. they did not post them
everywhere so everyone could -- youem, they physically secured them and made decisions about what you thought was in the public interest. you went to the intelligence community and said we will publish this and gave the intelligence community an opportunity to talk to you. and inat context, contrast to what wikileaks does, i wonder how you answer the question of first amendment protection. let's come back down this way. say, i don't want to decide who is a journalist and who is not a journalist. i think it is a dangerous road we have seen of used in many parts of the world. i certainly don't want the government deciding who is a journalist. so i am very ambivalent about the prosecution of assange. and when i read the indictment, and woven in with this specific
know i charge, i don't don't know a whole lot about, except that they have had these logs for a very long time. the previous administration decided there was not a case there. they decided they could not bring an espionage case because it would implicate other publishers. i would extend first amendment privileges to wikileaks. >> there must be ambivalence on the other side? tossingagree with material out there that puts people in danger. informants, people who are in contact with embassies, as we saw with the military cables that were released. opposed i all major publishers who interacted with wikileaks and argued against it.
to get back to the indictment, we have the government making specific charge and talking about encryption as if this is on the various behavior. i think they have to get their lines straight if they want to go down this road and i am reelected to see people, even if i don't personally like them, that is irrelevant. if they are publishing, and will be prosecutors for publishing, even if there is another pretext that the government is using, then i would oppose it. >> i really admire the way the "washington post" handled it. there was a definite sense of responsibility that came into the process. it was not just put it out and let the world figure it out. i think that the specific someone to hack and
helping them do that is a step beyond what any journalist i know would have done in that case. i don'tld just add that disagree with encouraging someone to hack is not journalistic behavior, but that is an unproven charge at this point raced on fragmentary information. i want to see the case in court and them we can see this. we are journalist, we need all the facts. assange the journalist, the justice department have tried to sidestep this in the way they drew the indictment, focusing on the allegedly role that -- the sange played that as in helping crack a password. but we will have a debate about the first amendment no matter what the justice department's intent was.
this is one on which i feel torn, to be honest. it is often said by people in the aclu that free speech matters, not in the case of the speech that we all love, it matters with extreme speech. nazisl you defense the marching in skokie, illinois. every right-thinking person up -- shutto shut them up. that is the case of testing whether you are really committed. you could argue that assange, who, as a former guardian editor wrote is a difficult person to deal with, maybe he is that extreme test. it is still a first amendment issue. i am still struggling with that. in the reporting that a did when the indictment came out, and as
peter and susanna said, we do need to know. just because the justice department asserted that is true, it does not mean it is true that he helped still the documents. i was surprised by how many andt amendment lawyers spokes people i talked to did not want to defend assange. one example is bruce brown, the executive director for the reporters committee of freedom of the press. a genuinely respected figure in our area who said, "no newsroom person would ever condone what did,lleged that assange actively helping break a law."
similar comments from other people. has earnedo really his spurs as a defender of these issues. similarly cautious. i am going to come back to what suzanne said. we need to know more before we make judgments about the ultimate first amendment issue. >> i think if the allegation is david justn as pointed out, it is something that no journalist would do ethically. full disclosure, i am just stepping down, it is the end of my term for the reporters committee for freedom of the press. i would tend to agree with him on that principle. i have a problem with what is alleged, but it has not been proved. i interviewed the editor from wikileaks the other day on our program and, aside from this considered bys
the justice department under obama and not prosecuted because they did not want to get into this tangle about journalism and first amendment issues, i am also well aware, as we all are, of the robert mueller organization and refers to wikileaks as organization one. as a willing conveyor of jump from the gru. i have a problem with wikileaks as an organization is that robert mueller allegations are established for what they did in 2016. working with foreign intelligence services, and dumping 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. >> what about the tools used and what the intent is, the intent
to inform, or is the intent to influence? >> that is not what we do. -- i want to ask you what advice would you have for young reporters who are just starting on this beat? >> all my gosh, run. [laughter] i am going to completely date myself, i remember being a young intern at cbs news in new york, they had just had an unveiling of the new studio and dan rather came down and said, i understand we have interns in the room, i just wanted tell you there is time to choose another profession and you should do it. i thought, that's the worst welcome i have ever heard in my life. once he talked more, it is a very difficult business. i think a lot of young people, when i was coming up through school, got into it because they wanted to be on television or be an influencer.
for reasons that were not your core, old-school, you are informing decision-making in this country. there is a responsibility that used to come with it that i think is critical. my advice to young people today is to look deep in your heart and ask yourself what you want to do. you will probably not make a lot of money. you won't get people patting you on the back saying great job. people will complain about what you got wrong and never focus on what you got right. if you have the personality to truly overcome it, and to truly push forward for something you passionately believe in, then go for it. you might be that next generation that changes the way we get information in the future. that takes us back to what i think our core values are. >> i love it so much. i don't want to discourage people from having the great, vibrant experience that all of us have, and hope to continue to have.
i would say that it is more difficult than ever in my experience right now. i have covered republican and democratic presidents and administrations and secretaries of state. i have never seen the media treated as a hostile entity. as an entity of the people. i have never seen it read this adversarial. in certain amount of questioning and adversarial relationship is healthy. i don't mean physical, i just mean healthy skepticism. carterter covering jimmy and ronald reagan and both clinton andill obama, i have never seen anything quite like this. it does affect the cabinet secretaries.
i respect that the intelligence waivers are keeping their head it does affectnk the kind of information that is being communicated to the president from other agencies and other sources. that is very dangerous because facts matter. i really worry about that. i worry about our ability to get the news coherently explained to people. said, it has, that never been more important, never and tougher, but the joy the privilege and the responsibility and the excitement of being an eyewitness to history. of traveling around the world and communicating big ideas. great stories. of covering things that one never expects, often horrifying things. we have all been through 9/11.
the tragedy of notre dame. just things that you would never think are going to happen. then trying to rise to a level of explaining it to the public is just profoundly important. person urge every young who really wants a great adventure in life, if they feel a sense of patriotism and responsibility, to go for it. as a practical matter, if someone was coming out of college and told me they wanted to cover intelligence i would say, hold on a little bit. i would encourage them to cover the military, to cover the federal court, to get some experience on capitol hill, to maybe spend a little time overseas. then when you have had some seasoning, and you have started to know people across washington, then come and say
that you want to cover intelligence. intelligence is not a starter job. [laughter] if you look at the best intelligence reporters, they do have experience in the pentagon. they do have experience in other parts of town, and they work their way up to this. i said publicly once about andrea mitchell, one reason i admired her so much was that she never felt that she was more important than the story she was covering. is suchthat is why she a professional, and i think that is the yardstick that i would apply for the person who wants to be a journalist, especially covering this very sensitive nuanced subject of intelligence. humility thatve a you are not more important them what you are covering.
ais is a hard time to be journalist, but a great time to be a journalist. sometimes in our business, like in any business, you wonder if it really makes a difference. this is not a time when we worry about that. jobs,w that doing our avoiding trump derangement, not playing the role he'd love us to play, just doing our jobs makes a difference. questions. please wait, i will call on you if i can see you. please wait for a microphone to come to you. first question right over here. >> good evening, thank you all for coming. lewise is julian kyle
from the illustrious howard university and the american university in washington. in a direct comparison of bobby kennedy to president trump, bobby was at all the universities, all the young white kids really love bobby. bobby quoted poetry. that america'say relationship with the press would be different if we were blessed with people like bobby and his brother. although, anything negative that happened, how do you think we would be different if we never them, and was ever blessed with their presence at that time in the 1960's. >> such an interesting comment. i will respond by saying that bobby kennedy is one of those markss who, as you said,
the age of reasoning in politics. thoughtful, humane man. but, when it comes to national security issues, at the beginning of his time as attorney general, he was the person who, in secret, and the evidence is fairly clear, plotted things like the possibility of killing foreign leaders. up as annedy had come fierce anti-communist. investigativein committees in congress. they were going after communist. came with this intense value. the arc of his changes one of the great stories in modern political history.
in the beginning of his life and career is not a sainted figure. it reminds us even as bobby kennedy quoting this, ask for the footnotes. [laughter] check it out. >> i just want to ask about journalism and the role of outlets might be out red -- outright media. or the daily caller and breitbart. what is journalism today in the current era? what about the involvement of foreign governments in the information intelligence? --ould like to ask you how or rt, for example. russian tv.
how would you give space to those outlets here? >> i think you have a lot of different things there. the intercept is that, the publication i read i admire. they are journalism and some of them have been really impressive. thanis vastly different 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. i think that is only going to get worse. i think people will learn from what the russians did, not only other foreign governments, but i am increasingly in fear that domestic actors will also start use these tactics in political campaigns. then you run smack into the first amendment, of her politics
could just become more and more our politics could just become more and more poisonous. i just would not put the paragraph,n the same even chapter with that discussion. i am from george washington university. thank you for sharing your experience. what kind of feedback do you receive from government officials are intelligence agencies on whether or not releasing information in dangerous those in the field, and how does that change your risk of valuation procedures before publication? before we publish any sensitive story, we do speak to the relevant intelligence agencies. often at some link about the story. we have held back details at the
request of the intelligence what theyo protect view as a threat to life. in most cases we end up reasonably satisfied with the compromise. out, it'story comes not like i'm getting angry phone cia public affairs that we have screwed them over something. thisnk we have discussed in advance. they have a good sense of what's coming. details rarely, i mean very rarely a full story as a result of those discussions. >> david, at one point you said i'd love to know what you know. it is a good place to say that, in my experience, those off the record dinners that you
mentioned, that so many direct one of thetors, reasons those are so important was to build trust. if built trust between the reporters and the leadership between the organization. so that when you had a tough issue to discuss, there was a trust. as three and a half years as deputy director i probably had to ask a journalistic organization probably 10 times either not run a piece entirely, or to take out, or to take it -- or to take a paragraph out, or to take a sentence out. there were many times when people wanted me to make a phone call but i was not convinced either argument. i think because those relationships had been built you were able to get things done that you could not get done if those relationships were not there. >> that is a really important
thing for people in the intelligence community. to understand that that card is a card you play rarely and carefully. there are off the record conversations and we should talk about how we define off the record. off the record is you do not ever report it period. think it means no attribution, or no attribution to a particular agency. or you can ask someone else. what you can't hear it what you should not. those -- can't. which you should not. those conversations stressed the keyword. maybe the current leaders are doing it and i -- maybe i am not invited. [laughter] >> quickly adding that, what happens in those conversations. i have been at the table with michael when you are at the agency. most people don't know what conversations are like, you will pull in 10 or 12 journalists and go through timelines of
information based on what you know and that's what you talked about one trust comes in. that's what happens. they are not secret handshake deals were nobody knows what is going on. they are intended to make sure that the journalists that don't have access to the information that intelligence agencies have, that it is shared to provide a larger picture of context, which is so important. >> over here. i am a retired navy public affairs officer. i think i would like to adjust this question to you, mike. for 25 years my dad worked in this building on the 12 floor . for three months he was illegally wiretapped either cia. it was called "project mockingbird." it was published in the cia family jewels. in the course of the wiretap, it lasted three months, he was talking to 10 congressman,
including the speaker of the house. he was talking to about a half dozen senators. he was talking to white house staff, several people in the cia and over -- and other intelligent agencies. this is a fact. my question is. since 2007, when family jewels was published and i learned about the wiretap in its fullness, i have been trying to get information about it just to fulfill what really happened and learned as much as i could of what took place. have received very little from the cia. my big concern, i am not slapping anybody in the face, this is just a general comment. is the lack of transparency, 56 years later, about such things as a transcript that you know is out there because it's in the
cia documents but it won't be released? to me, this is an opportunity to say why can't the cia understand that this is a fairly significant document and sit down with a person like myself as a requester, and tried to do a more than cursory release of information? especially 56 years later. most of the folks are deceased, including my dad. it is a story i would like to be able to tell to my family, and i think from it cia standpoint, even though it's not a good standpoint, it is something that should be out there. >> there are folks here tonight from cia, i hope one of them
find their way to talk to you afterwards. that's the first thing i would say. the second thing i would say is when general hagan was the director, we actually had conversations with the leadership team about pushing the fence line out. creating more transparency. and talking to the american people more about what it is we do and why we do it. what we get right and what we get wrong. our sense was if we did that, and i think we did that. to the extent that we did that, we gave the american people more confidence in their cia and in their intelligence community. we did a better job protecting the secrets we needed to protect. i do think the intelligence community and maybe the cia has got room to push that ¢ further out my general hayden did. likence line further out
general hayden did. over here. >> our intel community is very interconnected. israelis,mma worldwide. was a correct for buzz feed to publish michael steele's name when they published the dossier? if it was correct, wife? hy? >> may be part of that was what was your feelings on the publication of the dossier itself? >> we chose not to publish it. buzz feed can answer for their own decision-making. so much of it was on cooperated. we don't publish materials that we have not independently cooperated. it is really that simple. >> just to underline what peter said. other newsgton post"
organizations and individual journalists had that dossier for a long time and tried very hard to confirm it, establish whether there was reportable information and we weren't able to. peter put it right. we have standards for what we will publish and what we won't. they are pretty stringent. people think we are out there breaking secrets, they should sit in on some meetings. where, if a world now ,e decide in a measured way brilliant editors like peter and others in our newsroom, that we are not going to publish something, somebody is going to leak it to somebody else. at some point it will get out there. i can remember agonizing decisions about whether to publish details about bob dole's
-- senator dole running for presidency and his private life. we went on day after day talking about this and was irrelevant and did voters need to know? we decided no. it got leaked to somebody else and we wrote a story about the story. that is part of the dilemma. we make the best judgments we can, but it does not mean it will be out there soon and end up running anyways. one example was when we published a story about president trump's discussion with the russian foreign minister and the russian ambassador in the oval office and that he revealed critical intelligence. >> we deliberately did not identify the country and the source of that intelligence. that was a conscious decision. we knew who it was, but "the new york times" had come forward
that they made the wrong decisions. we made our calculation and they made there's, but then it's done. we cannot hide from the fact that that country was named. so it spills into our coverage. when dana priest wrote about the black sites, held back initially the names of the two countries. it was only a matter of time before those names came out and were widely and universally published. >> we've got four or five minutes. it is a question about a question about journalism and intelligence. in march of 2017 somebody called me and said they read a book about hugo chavez and i needed to read this book week as the parallels between trump and chavez were striking. i read this book and there are parallels i saw, but there are
also many differences. but what really struck me was that when hugo chavez first came to power, the political opposition in venezuela had withered away. there was no opposition leader to stand up and chart a different course for venezuela. as a result of that, the venezuelan media became the political opposition. in the coming the political 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,if you look at the there is a lot of public mistrust of journalists. i hope this audience finds this sadly, if you believe the polls, the country
as a whole is not so happy with us. i think that should concern us. thatbothers me the most is we are increasingly in a media readers andwhere viewers want their opinions reinforced rather than challenged. we all were trained to be in the present --ss, and to when i say i work for my readers, my reader is someone who has not made up his or her mind. isis just somebody who trapped. increasingly just turn on cable news, go to websites, you see that they are throwing red meat to people. they say that people you hate are terrible, the people you love our wonderful.
somehow we have to resist that. we have to encourage and train young people to resist it. people are going to get the media that they deserve. in the end, if you click on that , will drive out the good website that is trying to be balanced because it won't have enough money. >> anybody else? >> i just think going into 2020 we have to resist drawing early conclusions. who's up, who's down in the polls. just let things play out and try to focus on policy choices, and policy conversations as much as possible. down the middle as we can be on both sides of the equation. and not feed into the demonization of the media. try to be as resolved as we
can to not show implicit bias. david used to say, there is always -- and now i am dating myself -- he used to say, there is no such thing as objectivity, but fighting what goes into our 22 minute newscast is a subject of choice. you are deciding what goes on the front page and what gets buried. that said, every story needs to be balanced and fact based. to the greatest extent that human beings can without being computers, there is just human error and we have to acknowledge those errors. we have 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 stories that needed to be covered in 2016. there were a lot of mistakes along the way. there was russian manipulation and things we could not stop. we have to figure out how to do that. analysis that was done in a book called "cyber war." looking at the dots and connecting dots between particular things that were said online, and how it could have influenced events. she does not draw a final inclusion except to say there was interference and that it did affect the outcome. a lot of other things affected the outcome, including our misjudgment. including excessive live coverage of one candidate over what another candidate was saying. just because one was more entertaining, clearly. it is a long way of saying we've got a big job.
we are going to be criticized no matter what we do. we have to try to keep our focus on the job and the mission and try not to be distracted. >> i was going to say, i think the minute that it journalist loses sight of your mission, it's gone forever. i have not read the book, but that they lost focus on what their mission was. the core mission of the journalist is to provide a balanced story. it means you talk to people from multiple different perspectives on what they think. the second we lose that, it is an information free for all and never journalism. >> i worry about it all the time. i don't have any particular way out of this. on credibility, the attacks the credibility of the media comes from the top down. the president says we purvey only fake news and we are enemi
es of the people. the former moscow correspondent, -- for someone who has written a lot about russia and the soviet union. i think our editor, marty baron said, we are not at war with anyone. doingk we have to keep what we do and maintaining our standards. subjecting everyone to the same skepticism and scrutiny and service of the public 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, just say, there is a risk that things are becoming normalized. lack of access to the key decision-makers, even the public pronouncements of cabinet secretary is becoming normalized. i have spent two years watching
the ministry role of the state department press corps because we don't have access to the secretary because he does not travel. brought two or three or four people on, now it has been reduced from what used to be 13 to 17 people for 40 years traveling with the secretary of state is not limited to six people. three of whom are technicians. they are great journalists but not correspondence or writers. behind the scenes, for whatever reasons, cabinet secretaries are dealing primarily with one network, and making their own choices. that is diminishing their ability to tell the story of venezuela. to tell the story they want to tell about what they will do tomorrow in cuba. to explain north korea.
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 the lesser force. >> thank you all. [applause] i think you did show people how much professionalism you have and how much credibility you have and how important the work is that you do. thank you all. >> everybody, if i could ask you .ll, we have a great reception if i could ask the audience to exit through the rear doors and the panel members exit through the side doors and you will have a great opportunity to chat with them over age rink in the next room. thank you all for attending and thank you for this wonderful panel. [applause]
experience spending a week in hospital -- in washington. >> we are all here because we want to make a better world for ourselves and the generations after us. younghink right now our people are very inspiring and we are very passionate about our ideals. i have confidence in us that we could come together to reach a consensus that is educated and informed. >> the one thing i can say is that especially as i look around fellowuture leaders and members of this generation is that we are all so involved and we care. if one incredible thing has come from this, it is that we are all awake. >> tonight out -- tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. >> the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
>> ask not what your country can do for you. ask what you can do for your country. >> and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon. >> c-span's newest book, the providing insight into the lives of 44 american presidents through stories gathered by interviews with noted presidential historians. explore the life events that shaped our leaders and the legacies they left behind. c-span's the presidents will be on shelves april 23 but you can preorder your copy as a hardcover today at c-span.org/thepresidents, or wherever books are sold. >> the white house did not
release a weekly address by president trump. the democratic address is by u.s. are positive every angle of -- u.s. representative debbie dingell of michigan. >> hello. i am congressman debbie dingell from the 12th district of michigan. week, the administration did not release a report. intelligence and judiciary committees continue their investigations, democrats in the house are still hard at work to deliver for the people. our agenda, to lower prescription drug prices, to create good paying jobs, develop infrastructure plans, ensure that our government is working. y