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tv   Charlie Rose  Bloomberg  October 9, 2014 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT

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>> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." >> matt olsen is here.
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agency has been tasked with collecting and analyzing data gathered across the u.s. intelligence apparatus. announcing his resignation obama said of him most americans may not know his name but every american is safer because of his service. his career in government includes nsa general counsel and the guantanamo bay task force. he was a federal prosecutor in washington. he has aspired to be a reporter and started that after graduating from college. he worked as a copy agent. i am pleased to have you here. thank you for coming. was wrong with being a reporter? >> it was a difficult road. and work withpost a lot of reporters there, answering phones. i learned you cannot just walk
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in and be a reporter. you needed to go somewhere else and then somewhere else area and i decided to apply to law school. about the national counterterrorism center. >> i just stepped down as director. i was there for three years starting in august of 2011. in ctc celebrated its 10th anniversary. it is a close a 9/11 creation. afterf the broader reform 9/11. the main role is to be the thespensable source for synthesis and analysis of terrorist information. it was founded on this bold idea that every bit of terrorism regardless of where it was collected, overseas or inside the united states should come together in one place.
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,n that you have analysts intelligence officers around the community working on it. >> with this be in response that there was not enough sufficient and communication that might 9/11.omehow or impeded .> it was that observation we just didn't do enough of a job sharing. we were going to do something to solve that. that was what led to the creation. it is one thing to say that it has this role. it has been a ten-year effort to achieve that mission. with partners like the cia, fbi, nsa. >> do believe we are safer today because ofe pre-9/11
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what is happening since 9/11 in terms of developing safeguards? >> absolutely. we are safer today because of the way we changed our approach to counterterrorism. >> terrorism has changed. new >> the threat has not gone away. in some ways it is more complicated than it was before or even five years ago. the threat is persistent and complicated. it is dynamic. we see groups adapt to our efforts. we see them watching us, learning from us. quite adaptive. that is a hallmark of the nature of the terrorism threat. >> obama has said we must define the nature and the scope of the threat of terrorism or it will .efine us
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>> i was there for that speech. to all of theg american people, but also to us thehe community, to national counterterrorism center. that is our job. to be precise and analytical about how we see the thread so we can prioritize, what are the different groups that pose a threat to us? what is the scope of that threat? so we can align our resources in a way that makes sense. benghaziin 2013 post when there wasn't a lot of talk about is this al qaeda or not al qaeda? the answer was -- [indiscernible] i had a pre-scheduled hearing. i didn't have time to think too much about it. right off the bat the chairman of the committee asked was this
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a terrorist attack? absolutely it was. that is but we are treating it as a from the beginning. >> let me see where we are in terms of defining the threat today. >> it is much more complicated than five years ago. focusedore centralized, on the core of al qaeda. the al qaeda senior leaders hunkered down, and limited areas in afghanistan. it is involving a number of different actors. groups that are formerly affiliated with al qaeda. al-shabaab in somalia. groups that are officially affiliated with al qaeda. beyond that, other groups that
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are allies of al qaeda like bo boko haram. groupsextremely violent like sharia in benghazi. these are regional agendas. -- necessarily inter international. are starting up shop in syria. they are a formal affiliate of al qaeda. beyond the diversity of [indiscernible] -- they speak to each other. they share resources like fighters, weapons. they share tactics. they take advantage of porous borders to move people and material. there is a degree of collaboration and cooperation. us where isis came
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from. >> isis is not new. they have been around since 2004 when it was al qaeda in iraq. that is the origin of the group. leader -- zas the arkowi was the leader. and the conflict that erupted there. >> and fermented that sectarian conflict. that led to the sunni awakening of 2007, the backlash. it was aided by our presence there. al qaeda on the run. in 2011 we withdrew. the iraqi government became less effective. >> why?
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they didn't want anything to do with the sunnis? a they allowed for disaffection of the sunni population. they did not take care of trying to create an inclusive government. you had the reemergence of the group in 2011.s we have seen this for the last few years going from baghdad alone, five or so suicide bombings a month, to upwards of 40 suicide bombings a month in 2013. something we have seen grow in terms of the violence over the past few years. >> why are most of them sunni rather than shia? >> we have shia militias and shia terrorist groups. i don't know the answer to that question, why it is more associated with sunni islam.
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>> i don't know what it is that makes them. >> all of the groups i mentioned qaedams of al qaeda, al is the sunni extremism movement that has centered in pakistan outward to all these different countries. what we have seen as its bread, andas gone from afghanistan across north africa all the way west. one of his lower-level lieutenants is the guy who now leads isis. guy >> andwer-level quite capable. >> when did we know that? had some insight.
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i think the general point is ist our insights in iraq limited. we not have the intelligence collection in syria that allows us to have fidelity on the specific intentions. ,> they have surveillance obviously. but we don't have human intelligence? >> it is partly that. we don't have the human source network. i would never state the degree to which we have surveillance. to intercept communications of bad guys. they take steps to avoid that. we a peopletive are
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love the potential to be what he is? known by another name, he is a shadowy figure. we have limited insight into his exact role and whereabouts. point of the question, should we have seen this coming, we saw his role. iraq, isil set up shop in syria. they had a cover group. that was in 2011. we were focused on them. they knew this was a cover organization. these groups split in 2013. and are actually fighting each other. greatf the point there is are a fluid situation.
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we absolutely saw the rise of the group, the rise of violence. the role of the sunni extremists perpetrating the violence. talked aboutper this. one of the challenges we had, and where we denied, and the lack of will with the iraqi forces. that is fair. at iraqi security forces would be in a position to stem the movement of isil. >> talk to me about what you know about isis today. why have they grown? why do they have the size? >> there are a number of reasons why i so rose to the prominence they have been part of the world. the most significant reason is n syria. havens i
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they allowed isil to amass people, arms, gain money and territory. side of the border, on the iraq side it was thatack of inclusiveness led to the disaffection in some of these communities. that is one major reason. the large safe haven. they aren't effective -- they are an effective fighting force. they have a lot of resources. upwards of $1 million a day they make from illicit oil sales. >> hostages. for ransom.p and the propaganda machine that they have been proven to be. >> are they smarter? >> they are focused. they have some individuals who are quite adept at social media.
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they have taken advantage of the internet as a way to recruit. if you look at the numbers, they are daunting. overall,of isil 20-30,000 in numbers in the group. that is the latest. >> 20-30,000. >> you add on top of that 15,000 foreign fighters. on top of the individuals in isil. 15,000 people from other countries to fight with isil. the number is there. that is significant. >> up to 50,000. >> that is the prospect. >> what does that mean in terms of their ability to take and hold land unless there is a significant and equally counterbalancing ground force? >> that is why the strategy the
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president has talked a while about is to boast airstrikes, build capacity of partners, the kurds, to have an effective ground force. opposition.yrian >> right. they say you can't do that overnight. that is going to take time to train these free syrian army. they are the principal court that. they are on the march. they are ready to take the city. >> that is an important city. --ir goal is to establish [indiscernible] they are moving to gather and hold this territory. our sense is there are some vulnerabilities. , this group isgs
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not invincible. we have seen airstrikes put them on the defensive and stop their momentum. they have been effective in stopping momentum. they are going to find it more difficult to govern territory than to just take territory. we can take on the financing. we can get airstrikes on infrastructure. the the ways that will erode their capability. beyond that we have seen over time their message is one of such hopelessness and violence that it bears their own demise. >> it seems to me that for these women joining isis, it is a romantic crusade for them. they have bought into whatever the ideology is. .his is a crusade we are on the march. we represent a religious
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passion. >> my own since on that, i understand that. it has appeal to some people. to counterbalance that takes time but is there is the vast , the rejection of that by sunni leaders. some of them are not pro-u.s. but are totally against the message. like some of them hate each other's -- >> some of them hate each other but they are one when it comes to isil. >> that is what i think they are not invincible. it is going to take time. >> not the government, but private citizens in saudi arabia going against the about purpose
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of their country's government to support isil? >> i don't want to talk specifically. over thee have seen years there have been individuals who have supported extremist groups. some case it has been a significant amount of money. likes it still is. it still is.ow if we do an effective job in stemming the flow and working with partners in the region to put a stop to that. in on theou come intelligence with what the .resident said steve crofton said the point that clapper had made, that we did not recognize how bad the fast isis was, how was going. like i think there were limitations about what we understood.
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guy?gue that >> people that together. are always looking inward to see whether we did everything we could. constante, that is a learned lesson. have we made mistakes? on the question of the growth of isil, i do not think that is the case. we saw the rise of that group. we saw them take falluja. that was well understood throughout the government, including the white house. went toe like flynn congress and testify. >> there is a danger with the intelligence community. .his is important for analysts do not always feel that the pressure to say that every threat is a 10. not the very worst existential threat.
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it is important they have the ability to really define carefully the scope and nature of a threat so we can make wise policy decisions. there is a danger in second-guessing. the pressure would be on an analyst to say and do every threat is the most significant we have seen. arises,uestion then what is our overall strategy? wherever we see them? >> >> or are we saying right now we have to totally focus on isis? >> that is an important point. understandably we are focused on isis. that is the right answer. we need to be giving the threat posed to us in the region. it is in iraq you based threat. but the potential that it could pose a threat to us here.
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the threat to us, i would look at it focused first in iraq. there is an acute threat to us in terms of our in this he presents. there we are threatened by isil directly. in the region, they pose a threat to lebanon, other places in the region where we have interest. the other areas europe. they have put operatives in europe. those operatives could strike european targets for u.s. targets as well. in the united states we don't see an operational presence. we don't earlier this year the head of isil said that conflict with the united states was inevitable and saw us as a strategic enemy. they see that as a longer-term threat. it is a potential threat to us. i need to say that the one issue
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is foreign fighters. there are americans who have traveled to syria. some have thought alongside. >> how many? >> over 100 americans have traveled to syria bastad to travel to syria. >> do we know who they are? >> we do know who they are. some have come back. we keep an eye on them. the fbi director talked about that. the issue is, those guys who come back pose a threat. .mall-scale attacks the homegrown extremist person never traveled. they sit in their basement on the computer reading this propaganda and decide i can blow something up. >> bostoniss guided marathon. >> a little bit of that.
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>> it wasn't a serious issue but it is that same mindset. limit thator us to threat altogether. it is too easy to become radicalized on the internet, pick up relatively unsophisticated explosive devices. >> what we think they are learning in syria? thehe concern is individuals going to syria. 15,000. of that number probably 2000 are from western countries. that is a big number. they go to syria. they become radicalized further. they become battle hardened in the conflict. a get trained on small arms and explosives. , theyally the westerners have western travel documents. it is easy to travel from the u.k., france through turkey into
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syria. that flow people is a huge concern. we are working closely for that. >> they come back. >> we take different steps depending on what we know. there are opportunities to interview individuals coming back in the united states to learn more about what they have been doing. we have other tools at our disposal and we use those. one of the key points now that we are working on is making sure we are sharing that information with our european partners. they knew who they -- they know who we are concerned about. >> and you share them with the local pd. >> that is our intelligence collection and synthesis. it goes through the fbi field office. it includes a significant number of nypd detectives.
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>> the president use language, and some people said we don't want to use that language, that we have to destroy isis. it is more appropriate that we are going to degrade them. >> the president has been clear. isis,mantle, the great term, and toiate destroy them. that is the ultimate goal. >> all isis and al qaeda affiliated groups. >> we are at war with al qaeda. the objective is to destroy them. the longer answer, the more serious answer is we are not going to eradicate every individual who has ever sworn allegiance to bin laden. we are not going to eliminate completely the threat posed by isil. , thate can do is overtime involves a lot of countries, we
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can reduce to an acceptable level the threat that group poses to us. when that threat is no longer one that we see and affect us or our allies, then we can say we have destroyed that group. we have made a lot of headway. been under extraordinary pressure. they are not anything like before. >> the original al qaeda. >> the group of eight brought us 9/11. --we were able to designate we were able to dissipate their organization. somalia,le to look at you destroyed a leader. then all of a sudden they have nominated the next. isone part of that strategy decimating them from the top. that is not the whole strategy. that cannot be the whole strategy. that is what it requires action by the united states where
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appropriate. it requires overtime, a longer-term effort. several years. necessarily put a timeline on it. more than just a couple of years. >> beyond his presidency. >> i think so. >> what is victory? what stages of victory. when we take out leaders, when we eliminate or diminish the safe havens, when we build up the capacity of our partners. and we see a political transition not only in iraq, but in syria. these are stages along the path to victory. the victory that we no longer have extremist ideology moving individuals to join these groups. >> what are we doing in terms of the battle of ideas? if this is an attractive thing
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for some kids to join, wherever friends, how, from do you combat that? is that your job? >> it is our job. it is a part of our strategy. we were quite involved in that effort. both overseas but also here in the united states. focusing overseas, it is understanding the message. analyzing how does that affect people? why does it resonate with some more than others? and the root causes. unemployed young people. moderates andwith strong leaders. to put out a message of hope. >> is that an issue for you? have the moderate leaders spoken out strongly enough? do they have all kinds of limitations on how far they want
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to go because they have other interests. turkey is unwilling to go as far as we want them to go with respect isis because they want doing, to on to overthrowing assad. >> it is complicated. i think anyone walking into this arena needs to acknowledge humility about the complexity of these problems. turkey has been focused on overthrowing assad and has therefore been reluctant. ♪
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>> your previous role as general councilman, how many hours did you think about edward snowden? >> when the leaks occurred last come out of my office and complain and rant about what was going on. my colleagues would say go back and do your job. you are not at nsa anymore.
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but it was my job. some of oureally best information on counterterrorism from the nsa. >> from the surveillance. >> there are instances where it importantgle most source of information about the capabilities of these groups that we are talking about. it is fundamental to understand what they are doing. to do some of the more egregious things we have heard about in terms of hacking the phones. grade doot necessary you now say as the president has suggested, because there were reforms on the table, we went to far? where'd do you come down on that? >> i don't think we went too far. this is an important debate to have.
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a key point is the debate we are having now about the classic debates, security on one hand on privacy on the other, this is not a new debate. it has been going on many years. predated the leaks about the nsa capabilities. lawyers, good confessional have been involved in trying to strike the right balance. one of the key points about what snowden revealed was that those programs that got the most attention were not unlawful. they were legal intelligence collection programs approved by congress, by the foreign intelligence surveillance court. >> and taken to the fisa court. , undertakenrograms
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we are whoer court, we are on this debate. we need to regain the trust. that has been eroded in the way we do intelligence collection. we need to undertake -- >> but you don't think the nsa didn't do anything we shouldn't have done. everything we did was legal? and necessary in order to protect the national security. >> everything was legal. and approved by congress and the court in terms of these major programs. >> do think congress understood that? >> i do. >> they understood. they have no right to say we didn't know because they should have known. >> part of the process was to make these documents available to congress. now in thishere is
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debate, these programs were aggressive. they were designed to be aggressive. especially the metadata bulk collection. thiswas -- i agree at point. [indiscernible] did was the right. >> if they're going to stop it does that mean we shouldn't have been doing it? >> no. the public outcry over this and the need -- >> we thought this was a good idea, and the only reason we are going to stop is because the public is upset. >> i would not be so glib. we were always trying to get this right. there is always a discussion of what is the right thing to do. that program was believed to be necessary by the intelligence immunity. once it was revealed and the president made the decision to
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reform it, and we are going to move forward. the main point is the president it is going to maintain operational effectiveness. even with reforms the goal is to keep it as effective as it was before. >> did it hurt our relationship with any country we have had a relationship with? >> i don't think that these programs -- there were other aspects of what was revealed about the way nsa does collection that interfered. it harms those relationships. you mentioned the german chancellor. >> the answer to the government not doingwe are anymore. wexler the points there, so much of what was revealed had nothing to do with the privacy of americans. it had to do with nsa
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intelligence collections overseas. that is where we have seen erosion in terms of trust and relationships with partners. we have seen a lack of confidence of the american people. we need to go forward. this is not without cause. ahave seen from inside terrorist adversary change how they behave. they were always suspicious that we could collect indications. in the leicester they have been increasingly security conscious about how they communicate. encryption, change e-mails. they change service providers. they have gone dark. >> if they know what we can do they don't do things that we know yet. >> they watch and read the news. they have changed their behavior they somewhat we have read.
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>> has anyone lost their life because of the disclosures? >> i'm not aware of anything that direct. that would be an extraordinary example. what i'm concerned about is our job in seeing these plots unfold. our best chance of stopping in underwear bomb is not at the airport. it is when the plots are being hatched through intelligence collection. it is largely through the collection and interception of their communications. >> there was such an outcry about snowden being called a traitor. the successor to keep alexander done.downplayed the harm >> admiral rogers and his is,essor, my interpretation
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there has been harm. no doubt. but i do think -- they have changed how they communicate. far-reaching damage is the relationship with these service providers. >> they are less cooperative. >> that is a paradigm shift from where we are several years ago. if we went to a company with an order or a lawful directive, there was a presumption that was something you create cooperation on. that has changed. >> unless you can prove you are forced to do this i'm not doing it. >> that is harmful. >> is that their attitude? >> i don't want to speak to generalizing but you can see an example of that. back to your question about the nsa director. i forget nsa.
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it is an extraordinary organization. they will work day and night to overcome these obstacles. they have brilliant people. mathematicians. they will over time be able to make up the ground lost. >> when you look at the power of cyber warfare, and then you think about government and people in the private sector related to governments and all of that, a powerful threat it seems to me. what if it came within the possibility of the kinds of groups that we have talked about ? >> it is an important question. we spent time with in the community talking about how we see a cyber capability among these groups. they are dead set on coming after us. if they had that tape guilty they would use it. they would deploy it against us. cyberattacks, going
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after financial institutions like the one you mentioned. and how vulnerable we are. how reliant we are on these systems internet-based. but at least right now al qaeda and these groups don't have a capability within their means. that doesn't mean to say they somebodyrecruit or pay who does have that capability to act on their behalf. >> that is what is different. when you empty the banks and you can sell oil, selling oil. >> they are quite sophisticated. they are selling oil. >> $1 million a day. you can afford a lot of sophisticated equipment. pay an easier to mercenary attacker to carry out an attack. howway to try to figure out to stop them there. the other important part is
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to increase our cyber defenses here, particularly in the sectors that are important to our way of life. that is another part of what the nsa has been involved in. >> what worries you the most? >> what worries me the most has the aviation targets. one of the groups that has been in the news is the force on group. wexler have received -- >> an active plot. >> this is a group we have been following for a couple of years. they are not isil. they are different. they are better and al qaeda guys out of pakistan and the region who have moved to syria because of the permissive environment in syria.
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the issue is that they have had an external focus. .hey are not focused on assad they are focused on caring out an external attack. against the united states and the west. ,hat plot we stop progressing the impetus for the strikes there. when you asked me what worries me the most, in the last several months it has been that group because of their sophistication and focus. >> what do we know? -- e know that they had >> a group like that in the sophistication they had, my question went to the idea of are the other people we don't know about? what is on our radar? do we have everything fully in
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our scope? like the answer is no. -- likes the answer is no. one of the things this group has qaeda and yemen, they knew it was hard to get to yemen. travelropaganda is don't to yemen. don't medicate with us. wherever you are, carry out an attack. here is the instruction manual. they have proven to be adaptive to our defenses. that makes it hard to know everything. we go back to the boston marathon bombing last year. or the police, a smaller scale attack by one or two individuals using basic devices, a pressure cooker.
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>> there is this idea of a kill list. we have a kill list. who gets on it? who decides? individualsave is we have identified in places like yemen who meet the threshold or standard after a lengthy process for legal action. the president has talked a lot about this and described exactly what that process is and what the standard is. the main point is, the president has been clear, this is my experience. where there is a threat to the united states, and we can identify who was responsible, there is no shortage of willingness to take action. that is but we have seen in yemen. , the president has
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made an effort through the national security council and all those who participate to institutionalize it and make it so it is based on intelligence and whether our standards can capture a person. action if capture is feasible. the only we would have somebody subject to direct action if they pose a continuing right to the u.s. person. that is an important question. imminence has to be defined based on context. it is not just a time since. weis based on the idea that are dealing with groups that hide. that their goal is to kill americans, as many as possible, and do so in the shadows. -- dok at it as when is
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we have an opportunity? are we approaching the last opportunity to stop a plot from going forward? that plot is in the works. we have seen it moving forward. we know it is a threat. we have a window of opportunity. that is the context of limited insights and intelligence collection. this may be our last opportunity to stop that going forward. that is how we think and talk about it. president says yes, go. >> these decisions are brought to the white house. we participate in team these up. conductften asked to intelligence assessment of an individual. what is this person's background? do they meet that policy
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containment posing to u.s. citizens? >> guantanamo. how many people are still there? 149. >> how many are considered hard-core. >> and mine nor degree -- a minority. it is an that range trade fewer than 50. fewer than 50 pretty true hard-core terrorist. process inved in the 2000 and nine after the executive order asking for the agency interview. with unanimous agreement we approve them for port.-
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the biggest problem is yemen. it is the largest country in which the individuals came. of foreigne pattern fighters who went to afghanistan. potentially a threat but the problem is security in yemen is not conducive to repatriating. lots of work to improve the transfer of those individuals and achieve the goal the president said to shut it down. >> have we learned a lot from them? do we understand al qaeda because of those guys? what's initially there were some things we learned. most of them were picked up in 2001-2002. the value of that information has diminished. >> to other things. bergdahl. exchange, didhe
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that bother you? >> known. look. i'm always concerned whenever there is a potential for another terrorist being out there. they were transferred under strict controls. argue with getting an american back. finally, benghazi. why is it such a controversy? , did theyministration fail to say clearly and specifically this was a terrorist attack? >> i think you would have to ask other people why it is controversial. i have wondered myself. within a week after benghazi i was in a hearing and said this
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was a terrorist attack. at a cia mortars annexed. killed four people. >> from washington. >> i was on a secure videoconference the night it happened. all the national security team was on the conference call. we all were treating it as a terrorist attack. there was no sense there was anything other than that. we had multiple different reports from the press and from social media and classified sources there had been a demonstration or protest. this was after the release of that video. there was a protest in cairo and all over. there was, we thought that was in fact the case. it wasn't until sometime later we learned there have not been a protest. >> what does that mean? >> a week or 10 days later.
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we had certain information coming in. >> i am confused. sitting theree the night of the attack and saying this is a terrorist attack. we didn't have articulated. it was not something that needed to be spoken. it was the national counterterrorism center and we were working on it. >> why did the government said this was a terrorist attack? >> i don't think it was a question that we considered to be an open issue. when i was asked that question, of course it was. -- all attacks >> that was not the language susan rice used. >> not all terrorist attacks are the same. they take months of planning or sophisticated. this was not sophisticated. from -- did not arise
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>> there had not been a protest. there had been. that was a side issue. to your initial question, why the controversy? i really don't understand the controversy. >> it is a pleasure to meet you. >> thank you for the >> good luck in the private sector. you are leaving an exciting life behind. >> i'm going to stay involved in these issues. and one to teach at harvard next semester and find some work that will keep me connected to the issues. >> thank you. ♪
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>> i'm john heilemann. >> and mike mark halperin. >> and this is the one where we ring the goop. >> shaking up our lineup tonight, hollywood love obama. and george will deeply hearts chris christie. mary landrieu has side lined her campaign manager. making a move like this less than a


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