Are We Safe?
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THE ASPEN INSTITUTE
ASPEN IDEAS FESTIVAL 2013
ARE WE SAFE?
Aspen Meadows Campus
Friday, June 28, 2013
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
Vice President, Aspen Institute
Director, President, and CEO, Woodrow Wilson Center
Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton
National Correspondent, The Atlantic
* * * * *
ARE WE SAFE?
MR. GERSON: Okay, ladies and gentlemen, we're going to
begin in just a minute. A couple of other sessions are still ending, so we'll
have people joining us. But if can take our seats, we'll start up. We don't
have anything immediately following this session, so we're not under our
usual kind of pressures as you move among our twelve-ring circus here.
Okay, we'll get started. This panel is going to explore what
seems like a very simple question but, of course, it isn't simple at all. Yet,
since 9/11 and again since Boston, it's on everybody's mind. And that
question is are we safe?
I should mention, I learned just a little while ago, for those of
you who are following these programs on your mobile phone
applications, the description of this panel is no longer there, and that is
because it's been declared top secret, so we had to take it off.
MR. GERSON: Some of the complexity about the question, of
course, is due to just time, place and comparison. You know, safe
compared to where, safe compared to when. And some of the complexity
is due to the difference between the perception and emotion, you know,
what fear we have about our security, and the physical reality of just how
safe we are.
Some things may in fact be quite safe but we're fearful of them.
We all know many people who don't like to fly, yet they have no problem
driving to the airport, which is a much more dangerous kind of activity.
And, of course, there are, and we'll be talking about these I hope, the
trade-offs that inevitably exist between safety and liberty, trade-offs really
relating to the kind of society that we want to live in.
We might be a lot safer in the physical sense, of course, if we
had armed guards at every corner and in every school yard, and metal
detectors at every entrance and cameras everywhere, and all of our
communications intercepted. But I don't think any of us would want to live
in a society like that. But there are those trade-offs, and I think at different
times we as a country come to different points on that spectrum. How
much freedom, how much liberty are we willing to give up for certain
degrees of security?
And finally, of course, we will be discussing the objective
question, if we can be objective about it, how safe are we now as
Americans, a dozen years after 9/11, 10 years after the Department of
Homeland Security was created.
We have a fabulous panel to discuss these issues. Mike
McConnell, is Vice Chair of Booz Allen Hamilton, leads its cyber business,
and, of course, from 2007 to 2009 he was the U.S. Director of National
Intelligence, and before that, a career including leading positions in Navy
intelligence and, of course, as Director of the National Security Agency,
He has twice received the nation's very highest honor for
activity in the intelligence arena and proudly has received that honor both
from a Democratic president, President Clinton, and from President George
Jane Harman, CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Center. While in
Congress for nine terms she served, I think, on all the major security
committees and has traveled on congressional fact-finding missions, I think,
to just about every unsafe place on the planet. So she certainly knows
what safety is and is not. She's a widely respected expert at the nexus of
security and policy. And, finally, she is a trustee of the Aspen Institute, so
delighted to have her with us.
And with Mike, I think we're -- in addition to his extraordinary
personal perspective on these issues, we also have the perspective of the
executive branch and its role in these issues. And with Jane, of course, not
only her personal perspective but that of a legislator.
James Fallows is the national correspondent for our partner in
presenting the Ideas Festival every year, and he's been our partner every
year here out presenting the Ideas Festival so is very familiar to all of you.
He's perennially a favorite of our audience for his perspectives, not just
national perspectives but global perspectives. He's reported extensively
And unlike some reporters who spend short periods of time
overseas, he and his wife have actually lived for extensive period of time in
countries that he reports from. And he will provide not only his astute
perspective as a journalist on this, but I think, you know, represent also the
media role in how we all feel about how secure we are, and the media's
responsibilities, and as well sort of respect the public perspective on these
If I can, maybe, I'd like to start with you, Jane, from a policy
perspective. Congress has taken many steps in the last decade relating to
this question. The Patriot Act, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the
Protect America Act, others, many others, the Department of Homeland
Security is a decade old. So I'm wondering if you could just start by
telling us how well you think they have worked, and whether they've made
us safer. Do we have the right overall strategy for this challenge?
MS. HARMAN: Thank you, Elliot. It's very nice to see my
former brother-in-arms, Mike, here, and many of you in the audience
whom I've worked with closely for all these years. I also want to give a
shout out to one of the programs here, the Citizen Artist program, if any of
you have been to these things. But there was one this morning which I
think was, bar none, the most moving thing I've ever been to at the Aspen
Institute. And it included a veteran marine who had both legs blown off
by an IED in Afghanistan and who is now part of a group at Walter Reed
that makes beautiful music. And, of course, Yo-Yo Ma playing the cello
would help anybody. But he was singing.
And I, you know, we have to think about veterans as part of
any answer to are we safe? The people who have put their lives on the
line for us, especially people like this lieutenant colonel are a centerpiece
of what we should --
MR. GERSON: Yeah, it was remarkable. And so those of you
who weren't there, I'm sure the video of it will be contagious and go viral,
and it will be on our website. It was really quite moving, not just musically
but patriotically. It was really terrific.
MS. HARMAN: My microphone has just moved up. Am I
now more vocal? Okay.
So Congress, both panelists here asked me if I miss Congress.
Actually Mike said I have to go back. And my version is, I escaped from
MS. HARMAN: So that's a kind of overview. But actually
Congress's role in crafting some security measures that have made us safer
is a good one. Some of you may be stunned to hear this, but I actually
believe it. And, of course, I'm totally objective since I played a major role
But I was there on 9/11 walking towards the capital of the
United States when I got news about the two planes hitting the trade
towers, and guess what Congress did, we closed the capital and
evacuated all the buildings. Huge mistake on a day when America was
so vulnerable, we thought about protecting ourselves first. And that was a
Later that day, the buildings were reopened, we stood hand in
hand. This really happened, you can check it out, and sang God bless
America. But since then, Congress by and large has played a pretty
constructive role here.
The reason that Mike McConnell was the Director of National
Intelligence is that Congress reorganized our intelligence community in
2004 and created this office, which is a joint command over 16
intelligence agencies, point of which was to try to improve the way we do
intelligence so we could connect the dots. And the DNI's responsibility is
to do that, is to leverage the strength of different intelligence agencies and
build one, hopefully, accurate picture of what our future and what our
threat -- what the threats against America are. So that was positive. And
the -- I believe.
And intelligence reform is a work in progress. But I think as we
go through the years, current director, Jim Clapper, is doing a very good
job. Of course, I serve on his advisory committee. So again, I'm totally
objective. But by and large, that's worked well.
We also insisted that one of the programs that's now fully
disclosed, this Terrorist Surveillance Program which was first implemented
by the Bush administration outside of the law, the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act, be brought under FISA. And FISA was amended in
2008. Congress was involved to create safeguards around how this law
Some of you may disagree with it. And I think we should have
a public debate about whether we need this kind of collection of
metadata both for telephone calls and e-mails and other forms of
communication. But I believe, it's something that's now been disclosed,
which is that this collection of stuff has thwarted a large number of attacks
against our country. And when you look at it, at least the way I had, there
have been five small-scale attacks that have had some foreign nexus. The
Boston bomber episode might go in that package. But there have been
53 or more that have been thwarted. So let me say -- so I think that works
But, finally, let me say this, there is no such thing as 100
percent security. It is impossible. And everyone should understand this
and become more resilient, the way the Israelis are. General Amos Yadlin
is in the audience and he is speaking tomorrow. Show up and listen to
him, he knows a lot of stuff.
But there -- so there is no such thing as 100 percent security.
The other point is where terrorists who are not all sophisticated, some of
them are just lucky, attack us asymmetrically where we're vulnerable. Think
about the, again the marathon bombers. They got lucky. They were able
to build crude bombs that worked based on Internet materials and maybe
some training in Russia maybe, we don't know the full extent of that yet, or
I don't. But at any rate, placing them where they did at the time they did
worked, and so there wasn't a bomb-sniffing dog right in that place that
minute. That's what I mean by asymmetrical, and will always be
vulnerable asymmetrical. They have to be right once, we have to be right
100 percent of the time, so forget it.
But a final comment, and I think some of you in the audience
will really agree with this, and I believe this. Security is about more than
just physical security, it is also about our way of life. And we always have
to ask is our way of life secure, is our constitution secure. And that is why
the 2004 law that created Mike's old job also established something
called a Privacy and Civil Liberties commission, committee or board.
MR. McCONNELL: Board.
MS. HARMAN: Board. Which was designed to be inside the
executive branch monitoring what rules and regulations we put in place so
that on the front end we weren't balancing privacy against security, we
were building in both. And, unfortunately, that Privacy and Civil Liberties
Board didn't get fully functioning until last month. President Obama met
with it about a week ago. And we lost about nine years of having a
watchdog inside the executive branch that I think could have made the
policies which have worked pretty well much better.
MR. GERSON: Thank you, Jane.
Mike, from an executive branch perspective, I just like you to tell
us generally how you think how well we are prepared to deal with acts of
domestic terror. In Boston, there seem to be a great degree of
coordination, cooperation and good communication among federal, state
and local officials, better than it might have been earlier. But from an
overall perspective, how well do you think we are doing?
MR. McCONNELL: For our defense or protection against
MR. GERSON: Domestic.
MR. McCONNELL: -- domestic terrorism, I think we're
significantly better than we were when 9/11 occurred, much better at
sharing information and cooperation and so on. The laws that Jane
mentioned have had dramatic impact.
Now, I have a particular point of view about living inside the
executive branch where authorities and responsibilities overlap or touch, it
generates friction, and there is, there tends to be a lack of information
sharing and so on. Well, a lot of these laws put in place require you to
do that. So the way I would answer the question is, are we safe, we are
safer. Are we absolutely safe? No and the marathon bombing would
The challenge for those of us in the portion of the contribution
that I grew up in is to morph into, to change and to prepare for next.
There is an old saying in the military that every general is preparing to fight
the last war not the next war. And that's true of, generally of
bureaucracies. So the challenge for our community and I think with the
Congress creating the office of the Director of National Intelligence, you
don't have allegiance to a particular agency, you are supposed to be
looking over the horizon trying to determine what's next. And I have some
views on what's next, but I want to make one comment before I turn over
the microphone here. I'm up here with my favorite journalist and my
favorite legislator, and what I want to say about my favorite legislator is I
was in the military for 30 years, she has more combat ribbons than I do.
MR. GERSON: Let's move to Mike's favorite journalist. He
didn't say anything about his favorite moderator, we'll how this goes.
MR. McCONNELL: I reserve judgment for a little bit more.
MR. GERSON: We'll see in a few minutes whether he still feels
Jim, is it possible that the so-called war on terror has actually
made us feel less safe than we should feel? And might it be, you know, as
I said, 12 years after 9/11, 10 years after Homeland Security
Department that we think of domestic terrorism the way we think of crime?
I mean, no one expects, you know, the police to stop all of crime, so.
And as you have said too, I mean two guys with access to the Internet
and, you know, poisonous ideas were able to create mayhem.
So what about this war on terror, and is that the right way to
look at domestic violence, mass violence, indiscriminate violence?
MR. FALLOWS: As you know and I know because we've both
written on this topic, we may have different points of view from many
people in the audience here. Seven years ago I wrote a cover story in The
Atlantic arguing whether it's time to declare an end to the war on terror
and declare victory, that we were being distorted too much by thinking
about terrorism too much, and there were ways to deal with the absolute
level of threat without all the, sort of, all the corresponding problems in
our, that we are creating for ourselves.
I was thinking of two anecdotal illustrations of this, I mean ways
to illustrate there is no, there is no objective way to talk about whether
you're safe or not. I got -- one of the things I do in my line of work is get
proposals for magazine articles or book blurbs or whatever, somebody
sent me a proposal this morning for a new book about how to make
people feel calmer about taking commercial airline flights. And the
introduction said, whilst statistic show that the risk of being dying on a
commercial airline flight is like 1 in 63 billion, that's not enough for
cognitive safety among many people. So, you know, there is nothing you
can feel really safe about.
I had a grandmother who, while technically I am not Jewish
myself, my grandmother could have come from any sitcom of the
complaining Jewish grandmother, and whatever you asked her --
MS. HARMAN: Wait a minute.
MR. FALLOWS: I'm just saying, I'm just saying. That whenever
you asked her how she was doing, the line will be, "Oh, well, not quite so
bad today," and so this was, again, there is no objective way of
measuring are you safe or are you doing well. But I would argue that a
principle that all students of terrorism over the decades and centuries have
observed, which is the damage is not the attack, it's the reaction it
provokes, that we are -- we found ways to make that out, that we have
made -- we have walked into that by magnifying the effect of terrorism,
magnifying the fear we feel internally.
Certainly, the classic example for here, this is the assassination
that tipped off -- touched off World War I, you know one person was able
to kill 20 million people or so with the reaction he provoked. I would
argue that even the 9/11 attacks which were a hideous act of destruction
on our land were more damaging to the U.S. to the reaction then the
event itself, the reaction of the subsequent 10 years of warfare that we
decided to undertake.
And so, therefore, I think the task of becoming resilient, as my
favorite congressman from California Jane Harman said, is that that
involves deciding to dampen down and minimize the attacks that will
continue to occur. And I think the news media have been guilty of
ramping everything up, and the political establishment has been too. So if
the news media and the political establishment could make us to, could
thicken our skin. You know, people are going to be killed in car crashes
while we're here, they'll be killed in murders while we're here, we're not
going to talk about them. Somebody will be killed in a terrorist attack in
the next year and we should not go crazy about it.
MR. GERSON: Yeah, we'll probably come back to that.
MS. HARMAN: Can I just add one thing to that, that is I
thought our reaction to the Boston Marathon bombing was excellent.
Country, you deserve credit for that. It was wall to all TV for days, and all
communities in the country didn't go into lockdown, and the search for
these guys was done competently and appropriately by an integrated
group of law enforcement which had practiced for this. Unfortunately
didn't prevent it but practiced for the response. And so I think we are
becoming more resilient.
And my one last comment on this, the war on terror has always
been a misnomer. Terror is a tactic, it's not an enemy. And by that, that
phrase has inflamed the Muslim community. Not all terrorists are Muslim,
in case anyone missed it, but that's how they hear it, which again
generates a response that creates more terror. So we need to think about
this. And we should never have used it.
MR. GERSON: Let's just stay on that, about inflaming. And
you just gave some pretty good grades to some policies of the
government. Is it possible that some of our policies in fact do more to
recruit terrorists than stop them?
MS. HARMAN: Yes.
MR. GERSON: Drones, Guantanamo Bay --
MS. HARMAN: Yes.
MR. GERSON: -- pick any one you like.
MS. HARMAN: Yeah. Well, it -- two things. I mean, we have
-- even Donald Rumsfeld, I wouldn't put him in my all-time favorite category,
sent one of his snowflakes, this little question things, are we generating
more attacks than we are taking steps to stop them? That was a Rumsfeld
question. And I think sometimes the answer to that is yes.
The tactics we're using, to my mind, have a place in a toolbox
against terror attacks, but we haven't explained the strategy of when we're
going to use them and we stand for effectively. And so some people think
our foreign policy is drone attacks. And if they think that, whether the live
in the U.S. or they live in Somalia or they live in some, you know, outskirt
of -- some place in Yemen, they form an impression of us which generates
more terrorists. We can't let that happen.
That is why we should close Gitmo yesterday, there's a huge
issue with Congress, my favorite place, preventing that, although there are
some encouraging steps just taken by the Senate. Folks, something
happened in the Senate in addition to immigration reform, which is good,
which is it's a Defense Authorization Act, gives more latitude to the
President to place detainees from Guantanamo elsewhere. Of course it
has to pass the House. But at least there's a step in the right direction
On drones, they should occasionally be used. We should
reduce the use of drones. We should put a strict legal framework around
them. It should only be used in areas where there is no other possible way
to get certain people who are planning attacks, and we can prove it, to
harm us. I believe this. I know some of you may disagree. But our policy
against this problem should be to project our values, the rule of law,
opportunity, education for everybody, fairness, things that our country does
stand for. If we practice those things better, some kid in the boonies of
Mali trying to decide whether to strap on a suicide vest will think twice
about doing it.
MR. GERSON: Mike, I think it's fair to say that conventional
wisdom is that, now is that the government has done well enough on
security, and al-Qaeda is now weak enough that an attack on the scale of
9/11 is all but impossible or highly unlikely. And I just wonder if you
agree with this view or whether that kind of talk makes you nervous.
MR. McCONNELL: I would agree that the possibility of and
the probability of an attack has been significantly reduced for many of the
actions that were taken. I've had the privilege of sitting in the room with
two presidents, to listen to them talk about these issues. And the way that --
that was just described about the objective would, may surprise you, but
both presidents wanted to close Guantanamo and both presidents were
very careful about how they would use drones.
The objective, I think, supported by the best -- a majority of
American people is we wanted to bring Osama Bin laden to justice, that
was the mission that was handed to me when I came in, so sort of
coordinate the community to make sure we could do that. It took us a
long time, but we did it.
So the question now, we're a democratic society, we have
values, we believe in human rights, we believe in the safety and security of
our population. So the leadership is going to reflect the attitude of this
country. So if we want to do it the way it was just described, then we
have to be forceful with our representatives and our senators and whoever
we send to the White House that this is the way we want to see it evolve.
MR. GERSON: Jim, I want to come back to you, and you
talked about the responsibility of the media and leaders. And I want to
talk about a different aspect about the responsibility of the media. And
that is what the responsibility is, if at all, to keep national security
information secret when leakers hand it to you on a silver platter. And I
wonder would The Atlantic have published as The Guardian did.
MR. FALLOWS: Let me first explain the general approach and
then the specific case. Whenever there is classified or sensitive information
that as a journalist you receive, there is always a tradeoff is involved here.
And let's use one extreme. Suppose somebody gave you information
about the Osama Bin Laden raid, you know, 24 hours before it
happened, six hours it happened, the harm you could do by publishing
that information you would know vastly outweigh the good you might do
in transparency, because there always is harm if they're real-time
operations. And so every test case in the ethics classes for journalism, yes,
they exist. It involves, you know, who are you hurting by publishing this
information. So we do recognize there are -- there is harm to somebody
that when you're revealing a secret. Usually things are secret for some
kind of reason, maybe a bogus reason, but there's some reason why it
originally was secret.
On the other end of the spectrum you have things where you
think there is some public value by making the information known. When I
was still in college working on the college newspaper there was this guy
who showed up in the, hanging around with the students in the upstairs,
loft of the newspaper room and he had this gigantic stack of papers that
he wanted help photocopying because it was a big problem to do. That
was Daniel Ellsberg.
And so, you know, and the argument, the government at that
time was dead set against him, you know, having the Pentagon papers.
You require -- you recall the Supreme Court case, but it seemed to me then
and now that the benefit in making that information known far outweighed
the damage to ongoing operations in Vietnam or whatever the Vietnamese
or the Soviets or the Chinese might know about U.S. intentions.
My view, which I suspect my friend Mike McConnell might
disagree with, is that there was enough benefit in public recognition,
public debate about these programs to justify some publication. So I'm
agnostic about the person himself. He seems to be a very weird person. I
stipulate there may be real damage from some of this. My perspective is
there is benefit to the public in knowing these programs are going on --
MR. GERSON: I will actually --
MR. FALLOWS: Yes.
MR. GERSON: Mike will not be surprised that I am going to
follow up on this.
MR. McCONNELL: Could I just respond and then --
MR. GERSON: Please, please.
MR. McCONNELL: Let me use a historical example to make
my case here. In World War II we were breaking Nazi Germany codes
and reading the orders to the field commanders before the German field
commanders. Now, the historians have written about this, and they've
indicated it probably shortened global conflict anywhere from 18 months
to two years. So now, I would challenge a journalist to say if you had
that information, in the interest of transparency would you have made it
MS. HARMAN: Could I just add one thing to make it --
MR. GERSON: Yeah.
MS. HARMAN: I mean, I think that the question is who
MR. GERSON: Yeah.
MR. McCONNELL: Right.
MS. HARMAN: Not everything that we classify should be
classified. The executive branch is over-classified forever. The reasons you
classify, the only reasons you should classify are to protect sources and
methods. Therefore, if that really happens and classified material leaks,
people die and our capability going forward is compromised. That's
what classification is for.
Obviously it's broadly used to protect turf, to protect people
MS. HARMAN: And that's a problem we have to solve. But I
would just put something out there before Jim answers, and that is it leaked
that Osama Bin Laden, about 10 years before we got him, was using an
MS. HARMAN: Thuraya.
MS. HARMAN: Thuraya phone, so, you know, the satellite
MR. McCONNELL: Which we could follow him as he moved
MR. FALLOWS: -- who leaked that, wasn't it?
MS. HARMAN: I don't remember who leaked that.
MR. FALLOWS: I thought it was Lieberman.
MS. HARMAN: I never heard that.
MR. FALLOWS: But --
MS. HARMAN: But anyway, I always say how could the
Congress leak, we have no information.
MS. HARMAN: But I don't know who leaked it. But, anyway,
it was --
MR. McCONNELL: I have a response to that but I'll hold it.
MS. HARMAN: So it was published that he was using a cell
phone that we were able to track. What did he do? He stopped using
cell phones and started using couriers. And nobody has missed how long
it took to find the guy through the courier or the chain of couriers. And so
we lost a lot of capability.
And I feel the same way about the Stuxnet virus. Won't
disclose who was doing that but it's certainly been in the press that that
happened. I think that has compromised our capability to interfere with
the -- and slow down the development of nuclear weapons by countries
that I believe threaten our allies and us. So bad that that's been in the
And on this leak, again, it was in the press six, seven years
ago. These programs, you know, all the folks are saying, "I'm shocked, I
didn't know, I didn't know." This was in the press in 2005 and 2006,
and it caused Congress, that was when it occurred to some of us that the
administration wasn't following FISA, to amend FISA, to bring all of this
stuff under strict safeguards with a federal court reviewing this stuff and
Congress being more fully informed.
MR. GERSON: Do you mind a comment before I go back to
MR. FALLOWS: Sure. So I will comment on three brief planes.
Point one, I certainly agree with Mike's proposition. There are times when
they are of operational sensitivity. Of course, the press in most nations will
recognize the importance of guarding information. World War II, you
know, I am sure there were people in the press of both the U.S. and U.K.
who understood the Coventry bombing work, which Churchill allowed
Coventry to be bombed rather than reveal they had broken the German
code, same with Yamamoto and his codes with Japan. I wrote a book
called Breaking the News in which one very, one part was about whether
an American news unit in Vietnam that saw an American platoon about to
be ambushed would they have any duty to warn them or not. So I think
people in the press, even in the press we recognize this.
Point two would be to say, yes, when it comes to information
surveillance we recognize the concept with Stuxnet, whether Osama Bin
Laden leaked, that changed behavior. I think the belief in the press is that
most of these leaks actually come, they are usually voluntarily given either
by executive branch or legislative branch people. That's as you probably
In this, now as we come to the instant case of this guy,
Snowden, whose motives we don't know, the benefit -- so the harm is
knowledge that information broadly is being collected more than many
people recognized it. It seem to me that every spy movie, spy thriller and
documentary over the past 10 years has turned on this basic plot point.
You don't use cell phones. You know, Osama Bin Laden lived in a
compound because they knew that something like this was happening,
and yet the public wasn't debating the actual programs because they
weren't brought to attention. The president has said it's good we're having
this debate. We wouldn't have it without this episode it seems to me.
MR. GERSON: Let me just go back to Mike. Obviously I
know you can't talk about the Snowden investigation itself, but what about
the debate that his actions have sparked about security and privacy? And
do you think this, where do you think that will take us as a nation? And
might there be changes coming from this debate that are actually good?
MR. McCONNELL: Let me just answer by saying I think the
debate is good. Now, let me give you a sort of a simplistic way at least I
think about this, and I am going to go to the constitution of United States,
three article. There are only three articles in constitution, first is to
Congress, two basic jobs, raise money, appropriate money and tell us
how we can spend it, that's the basic job of Congress. The article two is
to President, first responsibility is to protect the United States, its interests, its
citizens and its allies. And the third article is for the judicial branch.
So when I was asked to comeback as DNI, probably no one
would be aware in this room, I tried to amend FISA as the director of the
National Security Agency in 1992. Now, the reason I did is because the
guy I relieved tried to relieve it and to revive it and improve it in 1988
because it was out of date, I mean it was technology had passed it by. It
was tried a couple of other times. So when I came into the government I
had guilty knowledge that we have to change this law.
Here is the circumstance. A terrorist in Pakistan, this is real, a
terrorist in Pakistan coordinating with a terrorist in Turkey to blow up a U.S.
facility in Germany, foreigner to a foreigner to a place in a foreign
country, and where the only place my community had access was in the
United States, and the reason is most communications flow through the
United States. The law said I had to have a warrant.
Now, those terrorists have 100 e-mail accounts, they move
around, they change. So if I get a warrant that takes time, it takes people
off the job to write up the warrant, so what I pleaded with the Congress to
do, which my colleague here helped me do, was let's change the law to
say as long as we're collecting foreign intelligence, foreign intelligence, it's
appropriate regardless of where or how we are intercept it, that was the
basic change in FISA.
So you ask me should people know. We debated this on the
Hill for three years. Negroponte for a year before me, and I had it for two
years. And I think I personally briefed every member on the Hill. We had
open sessions and closed sessions, and it was debated ad nauseum, it's
the law of the land.
MS. HARMAN: But what people need to understand is now
that people are focusing on the fact that foreign communications go
through U.S. servers, they don't all do that, there are other servers in the
world a terrorist a smart terrorist is going to say, oops --
MR. McCONNELL: Go somewhere else.
MS. HARMAN: -- I'm not going to use any company, any
company's e-mail system that's going to go through the U.S. because
they're going to find me. And so they're going to go somewhere else,
they're going to go dark, or maybe they won't use e-mail, and it's going to
be the Osama Bin Laden story again. It's going to take us longer to find
So the program as revised requires the FISA court to review the
system we have set up and it requires an individualized warrant with a
person's name on it any time a U.S. person, a U.S. citizen or legal
resident's either phone line is going to tapped or e-mail is going to be
read, and that is carefully reviewed by the court, very few petitions go
through this court on a yearly basis.
I think Dianne Feinstein said publicly that there are about 300
or so. And the FISA court decisions, or some of them, are going to be
declassified by the President, that's the only appropriate way for them to
be out there. And I think people will be comforted that this rotating court
of 11 federal judges is doing the right thing.
MR. GERSON: Mike, I'd like to come back to a couple other
aspects of this. Booz Allen Hamilton has become an example in part
through this for the government outsourcing of security functions. And part
of this Snowden debate is about whether that's a good idea. And I,
obviously you support the work Booz Allen does in this area, and I just
wonder if you think the country should support that work?
MR. McCONNELL: I won't comment on Snowden and that's
where we've gotten our position, it's under federal investigation, so it
wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment there. Let me comment on the
higher part of your question. A lot of us military guys who, you know,
wore few ribbons, not as many as the congress lady here --
MR. McCONNELL: -- like to beat our chest and say we won
the Cold War. I would tell this audience and anybody who would listen
that the military did not win the Cold War. The free market won the Cold
War. The free market has a way of creating ideas and products and
services, and if you're really good and people buy them you succeed. If
you're inefficient you don't succeed and you go out of business. That
doesn't happen in something like a communist world.
So the military sort of kept them at bay until they imploded
under their own weight because there is nothing to make them efficient.
Now, I -- my belief is when I look out at Department of Defense, having
served there for 30 years, we do -- we are the best in the world, we are
the best in the world, we can go anywhere and accomplish just about any
Everything we use is made in the private sector. Ships,
airplanes, submarines, ammunition, it's all manufactured in the private
sector. So there is some element of bringing the best and brightest of the
free market, innovation, creativity, new ideas in to equip those of us in the
military or whatever function we have in government to carry out our duties
in the most productive way. So in the way I think about it, if you take
away the ability of the government to harness the private sector it would
do serious harm to our collective interest.
MR. GERSON: Let me ask one other question relating to this
which you may or may not be able to answer, and that's the simple one, is
how the people at Booze Allen Hamilton feel about Snowden having
been a fellow employee?
MR. McCONNELL: Let me just say that if you will read
General Alexander's description of the harm and how he feels about what
he calls a traitor, at least those that I talked to in my company reflect a
similar point of view. Now, remember what Alexander said, "This has
caused irrevocable harm to our ability to protect the country." I want to
make two points, most people don't appreciate this. The mission of the
United States Intelligence Community is very clear, protect the country
focused on foreign threats, protect the country focused on foreign threats,
that's what we do. By comprising this information we will be less able to
do that mission.
MS. HARMAN: Could I? Just one thing to that.
MR. GERSON: Yeah, please, and then I want to come back
to you, Mike.
MS. HARMAN: Okay. First it is still not known. And I -- if it,
and when it becomes known I do not know if it should, will be or should
be public how much information Snowden took. I would not assume that
it's limited to the operations of these programs. If he really had, as
reported in the press, a thumb drive, and he moved to Booze Allen for the
purpose of having an environment where he believed he could more easily
extract classified information, and if, let's just imaging, that information has
now been fully shared because they required it for him to stay alive with,
I'm speculating, with the Chinese and the Russians, this is a potential
catastrophe, so wrap your heads around that. I think one thing that
should be fixed, Mike, you make a point about the private sector's role in
our defense, but the clearance system that we have for secret and top
secret clearances is broken. It's a 19th century model; it's ridiculously
labor-intensive, a lot of it isn't even online and updated.
MR. McCONNELL: I would agree with that. I would agree
MS. HARMAN: And for a person in the kind of position he
had, a -- I forget what he is.
MR. McCONNELL: Systems administrator.
MS. HARMAN: Systems administrator where he was the boss
supervising himself in a position where he had enormous access there
needs to be what's called the two man, the two person rule.
MR. McCONNELL: Right.
MS. HARMAN: Somebody else ought to be watching. And
there isn't a huge number of these folks, it's about a thousand, that's again
been reported in the press.
MR. McCONNELL: Right.
MS. HARMAN: And maybe those folks ought to all be federal
employees, and there ought to be enormous amounts of supervision over
them so this can't happen again.
MR. GERSON: Jane, I want to come back. I think it was Mike
who said about, you know, how we're fighting, sometimes we fight the
last war. And I wonder if you think we've focused disproportionately on
aviation security since 9/11, fighting the proverbial last war. And by
contrast, and we're talking about how safe we are, how safe are we by
way of contrast at our sea ports, mass transit, station, you know, stadiums,
theatres, soft targets? Are we fighting, are we still fighting the last war as
we go through all those screens at the airports?
MS. HARMAN: Well, I, you know, the TSA process is analog,
you all know that, and those little boxes are sometimes ridiculous. But
aviation is a place that al-Qaeda had said historically over the years and
still says it wants to attack. And so I do see aviation as vulnerability. And
we've made it much, much safer. We have layered security at airports.
And, again, some of it you don't see, and I'm not going to tell
you what it is because you shouldn't see it. But there are many different
things that you have to go through to get on an airplane, including having
your name in advance go through a database which, if we do the
database right, and sometimes we don't, should at least require you to go
through some kind of secondary check. So I am for aviation security. And
I again think the TSA model should be revised. We should talk to our
friends, the Israelis, who do a much better job of screening passengers
without all that stuff.
On the other areas, we have done a much better job of
maritime security. Congress passed a law which I co-authored a few
years back, which again requires layered security at ports of entry,
especially for goods. I mean, think about dirty bombs coming in through
ports. There are not only sensors now, which are a mixed bag because
they have falls positives, but at the point of embarkation, the stuff in
containers is checked, and there are all kinds of ways those containers are
secured on the high sea. So it'd be very hard, not impossible, for people
to get bad stuff into our country. So we're doing better there.
We're doing better on borders. Well, again I think we -- I've
been watching this debate on immigration. I don't think building a fence
across the southern border is going to make us safer from terrorists; most of
them have not tried to enter that way. The few that have entered our
country through borders have come in more from Canada than Mexico,
but, hey, I guess it gets votes at home or something.
So I, you know, I give us mixed marks. And I think that one
thing we haven't said yet about resilience, and we should, is what is
terrorism? It's a set of tactics design to terrify you. If we educate the public
in advance and they know what to look for and what to do, first of all,
people will find the strange folks next door to them whose houses, you
know, has had a few flash fires, think making bombs the wrong way or
something like that, that's one. But, two, when something goes off they will
have a much better sense of what to do about it and there'd be much
MR. GERSON: Mike, you have a comment?
MR. McCONNELL: I do. I want to build on the comment
earlier about always fighting the last war, and I'd be remised if I didn't say
this. We are very focused on terrorism and the things we discussed here.
The thing that’s looming, that we haven't yet adjusted to, what's coming
and what is going to have, I believe, is having and will have dramatic
impact on this country is cyber security. Let me put that in context.
The information technology revolution has benefited everyone in
this audience. You're more productive, you're standard of living has gone
up, you're more connected, it's more convenient, everybody has benefited.
But it's also introduced a level of vulnerability that's perhaps
unprecedented. In my view it's a strategic level. And I'll do it in --
"threatened" sort of a simple way to say it.
There is a threat of cyber warfare, nation state on nation state.
We got them, they got them. There's a certain deterrent effect in that. It's
not in the Chinese interest for the money supply in United States to be
destabilized. So they have a capability, we have a capability, there's
some level of deterrence there. What I worry about is these countries,
nations states are building thousands, thousands of malware attack tools,
and sooner or later they're going to bleed, they're going to leak, they're
going to be sold in the black market.
Now, someone who is not deterred, and you think of an
extremist group that have a different view, change the world order, they
can attack a critical infrastructure that could be devastating for this
country. Now, there is another aspect that most people don't think about
it. We are being literally raped over intellectual property at the terabit
level on a daily basis. There isn't a corporation, a government entity, there
is nothing in this country that has not been penetrated by Chinese hackers
for the purpose of extracting information, research and development,
intellectual property, source code, next business plan, that's the thing that's
slowly happening to us. And you know the old story about the frog, you
put the frog in hot water, he jumps out; you put him in cold water and
slowly boil him, you cook him. We're being cooked. And what I worry
about is this goes unchecked for the next 10, 15 years.
MR. GERSON: We're going to have questions -- go ahead,
MR. FALLOWS: So point one, the frog is a great -- the cause
of my life for the 10 years. The frog story is true if you can find frogs
whose brains have been removed. There was a scientist in Germany,
you'll not be surprised to hear who found this one time back in the 1800s,
other frogs, normal frogs they'll jump out. So we need to find a --
MR. McCONNELL: Okay, you mean a better way to say it.
MR. FALLOWS: So a couple of brief points on the Chinese
cyber issue, I agree, that really is a first-order importance. And you as it
says -- I was actually in China about a month ago talking with the PLA
officials about this. And the only constructive theme which came out was
the idea of treating the sort of the way we did nuclear weapon or
something. It's too dangerous, all the parties have to find the ways to sort
of step back from it.
One other thing to say about resilience, I think it's the tendency
of the news media to exaggerate any threat that's there. Cable news
discovered long ago that if there wasn't a crime -- a murder in your town
or a tornado there's a murder someplace else. And so to keep people
riveted to the screen, it this constant alarm mentality. And that's the part of
this whole syndrome the media can produce.
MS. HARMAN: I agree, but one more thing to add to Mike's
scary picture of cyber attacks, and that is it's not always nation state on
MR. McCONNELL: Right.
MS. HARMAN: It can be some smart kid, digital-native kid, in
an Internet café in the middle of nowhere who either figures out or buys
one of these exploits. There are ways, workarounds, some infrastructure
systems, that are available on the eBay equivalent, not eBay, don't worry
about that, where you can pay as little as about $25,000, which I agree
is a lot for some terrorists in the middle of nowhere, but it's not a lot for
some sponsor of some terrorist in the middle of nowhere. And then you
can basically go into the backdoor of some infrastructure system that
regulates, let's just say, the electric grid of some city. And so it doesn't
have to be a nation state that's doing this stuff. And we have got to get
much better at this. And it will require legislation to fully implement a
whole of government response. And Congress is dithering on this thing.
This is a bad story about Congress.
MR. McCONNELL: Without legislation to give us the
appropriate framework, the agencies of government will argue, the private
sector will resist, and we're going to have a, what I would forecast as a
catastrophic event. That could be turning a power off on the east coast, it
could be the collapse of the -- of our banking system, it could be the failure
of telecommunications, all that is possible. I'm aware it's possible because
I know the capabilities of the offence side of this, and we're not
omnipotent. So if we can do it, others can do it. And the worry is nation
states are building them, someone is going to get that capability because
it's very portable. It's very easy to move through the net.
And here's something that most never think about. If I ask how
many networks there are in the world most people would say thousands,
hundreds of thousands, or millions. To the nation's code breaker, I got to
be the nation's code breaker for a part of my life, there is one network.
Anywhere on the world you can touch any other part of the world. We're
all riding to the same physical infrastructure. It's a glass pipe that moves at
the speed of the light that carries classified information, government
proprietary information, your personal e-mail, everything that we do, Jim's
story he's filing with The Atlantic, it's all the same piece of fiber.
When you realize the value of the country is moving through
that public switch network what we call the Internet, that's the vulnerability
that's been introduced, and we've got to find a way to address it. And it
will require comprehensive legislation. There are four points, I won't bore
you with them; if you're interested, I'll talk to you after the meeting.
MR. GERSON: Great. Well, I do want to our audience. Is
that Larry (phonetic)?
LARRY: Yes, it is. Are we on here? Okay.
MR. GERSON: Can we get the microphone on?
LARRY: Most of the conversation that you have engaged in
today have been about terror that is a spin-off of what we went through on
9/11, state-sponsored, outside-group sponsored al-Qaeda-style terror.
And yet the experience in the last 10 years is that virtually all of the terror
attacks that we have suffered from and people have died in here and in
Israel and in the West Bank for that matter, Jew on Arab terror, Arab on
Jew terror and almost all terrorist-type events here have been one-off, lone
wolf, angry person with unlimited and easy access to incredibly highpowered
explosives, guns, unlimited ammunition, untraceable.
And it just seems to me that a lot of the conversation and a lot
of the animation that's going on about maintaining the war on terror in our
country is coming from the very same people in Congress who are focused
on maintaining the status quo in terms of people having access to those
guns, weapons of mass destruction at a time when the state-sponsored
terror since 9/11 essentially has not been an issue. So it's sort of a spinoff
on the fighting the last war thing. But I was just wondering, Gabby
Giffords is going to be here, she is my congresswoman, and I was on my
way to see her the day she was shot and six people were killed is Tucson.
And this was a kid who went into a Walmart bought a gun and multicapacity
magazine like he was buying a snickers and walked right up
and shot a whole bunch of people before anyone, even if they had a gun,
could have done anything about it. So I would like to get your reaction of
that, why are we talking about this when this no longer seems to be the
main problem right now.
MS. HARMAN: Well, I think they're both huge problems. And
I used to -- I had an F minus rating from the NRA as a member of congress.
It's the only F-minus I ever got in my life. And I think easy access to guns
and explosives is a bad thing.
Fortunately, the explosives part is being reduced. It is very hard
to buy the right kind of explosives to build a fertilizer bomb like Timothy
McVeigh used in the last century to take down an office building in
Oklahoma. But the guns piece is absolutely right. And there are lots of
people who are self-radicalized, who are not Muslim, some of them are
Muslim, but they're radicalized for other reasons or they're nuts who can
walk into any place and shoot it up. And that is, to me, completely
unacceptable, and it was a tragedy when Congress punted on the easiest
piece of legislation it could have passed to reduce gun violence. We
don't need to talk about gun control which scares people to death; I'm not
against talking about it. But reducing gun violence does require, it seems
to me, having a database of people who shouldn't own guns.
MR. GERSON: Next question.
MR. ROBINS: My name is Richard Robins (phonetic), I'm from
Los Angeles, I'm sometimes documentary filmmaker. I wonder whether or
not you think that one of the potential overreactions to the war on terrorism
is the -- it's been widely reported as the sort of growing fear and
intimidation among journalists and documentary filmmakers who report on
these issues. I'm thinking specifically of Laura Poitras who's been, a
documentary filmmaker who has been detained dozens of times coming in
and out of the United States for the work that she is doing, the people she
is reporting on. And she is obviously quite pivotal in the Snowden, but --
MR. FALLOWS: I'll use the journalists' angle of this to make a
broader argument. I think among the harms the United States has done to
itself by overreaction in the past now 12 years since 9/11 attacks has
been closing in, becoming fearful of closing the gates. In my view, having
lived outside the United States a lot of my life, the only strategic advantage
we have over the rest of the world in the long run is our openness and our
willing -- our ability to absorb the world's talent, that we can have an
outside share of the creativity, the energy, the ingenuity of the world.
And especially in the two or three years after 9/11 there was
this hunkering down, you saw it in exchange program, you saw it
everywhere, and you still see it in some cases like, there are some scholars
and journalists who in my view are unjustly prevented from coming in. So I
would hope that as part of the recovery of some balance and resilience as
the years go on, and as President gave a speech a couple of months ago
saying it was time to declare an end to the war on terror that we will find
ways to open up in that sense too.
MR. GERSON: Next question.
MS. SABEN: This is -- can you hear me?
MR. GERSON: Yes.
MS. SABEN: Hi, Ellen Saben (phonetic). This might be a little
Pollyanna and very broad. But obviously prevention is always better than
solving a problem after it happens. And I'm curious if there are any
examples that any of you can give us of successful efforts, programs on
trying to reduce people, you know, to become terrorists, reduce the
likelihood, reduce the efforts if there is anything successful that's going on.
MR. FALLOWS: I will give -- I am the least expert person on
this, so I will start. Which is that over the -- I think the last decade there
was a lot of analysis of why Germany and Britain were having more
problems with their Muslim minorities than the U.S. appear to be just
because the U.S. had more successfully integrated and provided places
for its Muslims than the U.K. in particular seem to have. So I think that
again absorption of people from a range of backgrounds and providing
an opportunity for them is one, will be one example.
MS. HARMAN: Yeah, I think you -- think about this in a way
you think about gang prevention programs. After-school programs,
opportunity for kids to do stuff, tolerance and outreach for different ethnic
communities, all of these things reduce the likelihood that individuals will
get radicalized, but there always are going to be outliers, always. And
they're not all immigrant kids. I mean, yes, the Boston Marathon bombers
were immigrant kids. You could argue that at least the younger one was
very well integrated, seemed to be, Andy was an American citizen and
popular and so forth, the elder one may be not so much.
But we should do more of it. And there are many community
outreach programs that law enforcement does, again working with
communities in a proactive positive way encourages them to trust law
enforcement. And we have foiled a number of plots because parents have
said to law enforcement my kid is acting weird, something is going on,
and then it's looked into. And fortunately, the kid is deterred from doing
something that would have harmed a lot of people.
MS. SABEN: But as a follow-up, is DOD, is the -- is countering
violent extremism at DOD or anybody doing programs overseas in this?
MR. McCONNELL: Yes, there are programs that are
sponsored by the State Department and DOD to engage. And it's
essentially -- to make your point, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound
of cure. We have stopped some of these things, that's preventative in
some sense. But engagement and dialogue and participation is a better
way to do this. I don't know if you've tracked U.S. military engagement
but literally every country that we have a relationship with, we are very
active with their military, with their society and so on.
I served in the 7th Fleet, its home port in Japan, and we used to
cruise the entire islands and host the mayor and engage with the kids and
have demonstrations and so on, so constructive engagement, giving them
something to do, let them see a role model that respects human rights and
dignity and the things we stand for, that's the best way to do this.
MR. GERSON: Let's take a question from this side --
SPEAKER: Would you return to the issues of who decides and
comment perhaps on organizations like WikiLeaks and Anonymous?
MR. GERSON: Who would you like to answer that question?
SPEAKER: Either Jim or the congresswoman.
MR. FALLOWS: So I think that there was an interesting,
anybody making decisions here is placed in a position of, you know,
God-like jurisdiction that whoever, anybody will fall short of the standard
of deciding the right way. I can tell you that most journalists take this
seriously, and I think you saw that from the news organizations that were
working with WikiLeaks, they tried to say, okay, which of this information is
just too explosive, too personalized, et cetera.
We were in the China when the WikiLeaks dump came out,
and we were aware of a number of Chinese people who were really
compromised by -- that was in those cables, not the part that was
published in the papers, but the part that was then just dumped out by
WikiLeaks. So this actually gives me an opportunity to say something I
was looking for a way to say, that even though I've argued, and I know I
-- my fellow panelists disagree that there was some good that came of
these recent revelations. I should say as a journalist I am impressed and
need to say how seriously the people I know in the intelligence community
and the legislature wrestle with these issues too. I mean, this is --
everybody I know in this world that I've interviewed, they really take
seriously the trade-off between security and protection and privacy. And
so it is a difficult choice. The case I would make against Assange himself
as he seems not to recognize there is any trade-off here, there is any -- and
he's done -- he may have done some good, I know he's done a lot of
MS. HARMAN: Yeah, and I would just add that I support
press freedom, we're not talking about penalizing members of the press, I
hope we're talking about their taking personal responsibility,
understanding as Jim said and as Jim does what the trade-offs are.
But for leakers, let's understand there are -- there are
whistleblower laws, there are channels where you can -- oh, zero minutes
remaining -- where you can properly complain. I would give high marks
to Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, both senators, who strongly disagreed
with the contours of these programs that have now been disclosed by
Snowden, and were disclosed seven years ago by the way. But anyway
he -- they strongly disagreed, and they publicly said we have some strong
objection to some stuff that's going on which they didn't describe. Inside
Congress they made a big case for why these laws should be narrowed,
that's the right way to do it, that's a responsible way to do it.
And, oh, by the way in the WikiLeaks database there are
names and contact information of people we, our diplomats were talking
to in foreign countries which made those people direct targets of folks in
their countries who don't like what the U.S. is doing, it put lives at risk. I
mean, it's hugely dangerous and irresponsible in my view.
MR. GERSON: We actually have time for one last quick
question and a quick answer from our panel. Sue, is that you?
MS. CURRY: Great, thanks. It's Sue Curry, dean of the
College of Public Health at the University of Iowa. We haven't talked a
whole lot about, and I'll just put in a plug, for the role of public health
infrastructure in preparedness. And I also haven't heard anything about
MR. GERSON: Yeah, one thing that I -- let me just follow up
on both preparedness, but one thing I also was going to ask that we
haven't talked about are the risk of bioterrorism loose nukes, I mean these
other potentially catastrophic things, should those be keeping us up at
night, we're trying to find ways to sleep better but something --
MR. McCONNELL: Well, I'll go back to my comment about
fighting the law war not the next war. Those of us in the community spent
lot of our time worried about extremist groups making efforts to get
biochemical or nuclear weapons. You add cyber to that and you can say
instead of weapons to mass destruction it would be maybe weapons of
mass disruption. But there is a concerted effort to see it, understand it,
track it, have some awareness of it. But it's not something that's been used
in a demonstrable way that people can react to other than what's been
released in Syria and apparently at a --
MR. GERSON: Very limited.
MR. McCONNELL: Some limited level. But that is a huge,
huge problem. With the right kind of bioweapon you could do significant
damage. Let me give you just a quick anecdote. We did a war game for
a government client and some commercial clients that wanted to examine
this issue, and we used Bubonic plague. The secret to Bubonic plague
when it's released in prophylaxis, and so you can contain it and so on.
Well, we had the war game and we stimulated the process by causing
Bubonic plague to be released in two places, a military event in Norfolk,
Virginia, and a sporting event up in Detroit between Canadians and the
U.S. and the let the game run. We killed 25 million people because
everybody hoarded the materiel, the prophylaxis.
And then it was to the point where we have to quarantine.
And we had people that were, actually they got so involved in this game,
so, well, we got to quarantine Detroit, so what does that mean, well, we
can't let them out. Well, what happens when a mother is bringing their
children across the bridge and the nurse said we'll have to shoot them,
and then she burst into tears? All right, so we had stopped the game,
stopped the game. What did we learn? Let's play the game again. We
played the game again and fewer than about 10,000 people died
because we learned that mass prophylaxis as quickly as possible was the
right solution to that problem. So learning episodes like that is a way to
understand this problem and address it.
MS. HARMAN: To calm you down --
MR. GERSON: I'll let the last word to our Aspen trustee.
MS. HARMAN: Communities practice for this, that's the good
news. And there are quarantine practices that most communities, first
responders in communities would know how to deploy in the event of
some of this stuff. Most people, well, believe that it would be hard to
mount a large-scale bio attack, but it's certainly not impossible.
It's also possible to make dirty bombs from materials already in
the United States. Let's understand it's not just catching nuclear materials
outside, and I'm not going to give, make some suggestions of what
somebody could do because I don't want to put any good ideas out there
for bad guys.
MR. GERSON: We're out of time, so --
MS. HARMAN: But -- okay, we're out of time, but --
MR. GERSON: No, to do that.
MS. HARMAN: But the last point is, a lot of this, in terms of
putting vaccines in appropriate places, vaccinating people against things
that could happen, then comes the question of immunity in case something
goes wrong. And congress has punted every time it has considered
legislation that would protect those who were trying to protect us in
advance of possible attacks.
So if we're closing on a really cheery note, the United States
Congress, I would like people to think that it has done a lot of things after
9/11 right, but there is a huge unfinished agenda. And it's up to all of
you to bug your members of Congress mercilessly to solve these problems
rather than just point fingers.
MR. GERSON: Mike, please.
MR. McCONNELL: Cheerier note, you're living in the safest
nation on earth, the safest nation in the history of the world. And the
reason it works is because of dialogue like this and citizens who vote,
who make those congressmen do the right stuff. And so engagement in
dialogue is how we say where we are with the right values, and we are
the shining example to the rest of the world.
MR. GERSON: A wonderful way to end. Thank you --
* * * * *
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