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tv   Texas Book Festival  CSPAN  October 27, 2019 2:00pm-2:51pm EDT

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i have a book all knock off ten or 20 pages when i get home. but i don't travel ever without a book. >> find out what other members of congress are reading by visiting and search what are you reading. >> starting now live coverage of the texas book festival from austin with former cia operative fox, on her time on the agency. . . .
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>> she will be signing copies, courtesy of book people. i will give a quick introduction then i will ask a few questions and leave the last 10-15 minutes for audience questions. we've got a microphone set up in the front and another one in the back. please silence your cell phones before we start. so we don't have any surprises. even before she finished studying in oxford, before 9/11, before her writing mentor danielle pearl was killed. having taken a great risk, a message from donors out of burma when she was your out of high school. she eventually got a masters in conflict and terrorism at
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georgetown school of foreign service where she developed an algorithm that could predict terrorist attacks based on 200 years of data. at age 21, she was recruited for the cia which she analyzed ãfor governments. working undercover as an art dealer, specializing in travel and indigenous arts. it's not a huge surprise to hear her book called, - - come to light. in shanghai, her husband, who is also a spy or under surveillance for the chinese they had to talk in code all the time. the place was bugged. except for one bathroom. and then if it weren't enough of a hall of mirrors, we find out the cia was spying on the chinese who were spying on them. since she left the cia in 2010, she's offered insights to cnn,
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national geographic channel, al jazeera and the bbc. apple is developing this book as a tv series starring bree larson with fox as an executive producer. she's working on a young adult novel and upcoming netflix documentary series called the business of drugs. ladies and salmon, amaryllis - -. [applause] >> i think it was a blessing and a curse that i used moved every year of my childhood. a lot of that time overseas. birthdays in september and every september i was there at a brand-new school and not know anybody. and at times, it was challenging. but it also gave me a sense,
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time and again of being at home in the world. this idea of the differences in wardroom or accent or cultural habits were really just window dressings being that you could drop a soccer ball in any part of the world and make friends. the same humans and archetypes exist everywhere. i think that was a kind of philosophy that drove me as a young person to be really drawn to journalism. to being able to share those stories from these far-flung places with friends who i would see periodically when we came back to the states.who had a chance to run around the soccer field with different folks. and that was what led me to the type of news reporter as a teenager.
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>> what drew you? how did you know to go there and then - - you sound like it went, not really knowing where you with land. >> yeah. my poor mother. this will the days when it was okay to go to a cybercafe once a month and email. she didn't really know about it until it was over. my last year of high school, i was back in washington d.c.. i had really fallen in love with a philosopher and theologian writing. houston smith. he was speaking at the smithsonian and i heard he was battling cancer. i skipped a day of high school to go and experience him talking in case it was my last opportunity. and, that take itself, i don't regret doing that because it was very powerful. he talked about the fact he studied every one of the world religions and nonreligious
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philosophies and found the notion we are all part of one whole was at the core of all of them. and that really stuck with me. when i got to school the next day, my name was on the daily list. i went and saw the dean was giving a bunch of writing detention. but i also turned up in class and found the final assignments or papers had been handed out. i got the one nobody chose. which was - - and the political situation in burma. i had grown up moving a lot but i really didn't know anything about this political situation. the more i learned about it, the more this one unarmed woman's peaceful fight at the time, against this authoritarian regime.
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which was similar to north korea at the time. begin to fascinate and inspire me. and so, and thinking about taking a gap year before university. actually, before deciding to take the year itself. i took my prom dress money that my mom gave me and instead of buying a prom dress, i went to a travel agent back when there was such a thing. and bought a ticket to thailand. the idea was to do a couple weeks volunteering at a burmese refugee camp on the tired side of the border. at the end of the series, we went to the airport in bangkok, this volunteer group and i. i was at the gates. and everyone was getting ready to board and i just had this really strong instinct that my work wasn't done. i said to the team leader, i think i'm going to stay.
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what she was not remotely comfortable with because i was 17. but, he had other teenagers to usher onto the plane and ultimately, let me go. i walked back out the door and headed back to this camp. while i was there, continuing this volunteer work, i met more and more of the burmese - - that were publishing a democratic newspaper in opposition. from the jungle. using a mimeograph machine. they were preparing for protests that were planned for 9/9/99 to topple the regime. they wanted to make sure if there was any violence, it was documented. i said i'll go and document that. at the time, they stopped
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issuing student or tourist visas. you can only get in if you had a business visa. which i had no access to. i called collect, a guy i had met who was 15 years my senior and an investment banker. but i had met him at a free burma rally while i was researching my final paper. i said to him, it's a long shot but how would you feel about taking a couple weeks off work and coming to thailand so we can pretend to be married and go into burma under business visa? which seemed reasonable at the time. [laughter] >> he did exactly that and we went to bangkok where you can get a forged anything and we got a forged marriage certificate.
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we packed bic pens and bios with the idea we would wrap the film around them in order to conceal them and get them out. the protest never happened because the security was so tight at the time. but we did have the opportunity through these dissidents to interview - - was under house arrest at the time and try to get her words out. we were warned if we did that we would probably be detained by the military. did it anyway. spend two hours with her which were fascinating and extraordinary at the time. then we were detained. when we left.and eventually deported. for me, that really was the beginning of understanding how powerful an hour or two of truth telling from a single human being can be, even in the face of all the military and
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might in the world. >> you said you were able to successfully smuggle that message out. >> that's right. a woman and a mother with no arms available to her. and was so threatening to this regime that they were detaining people just for talking to her. that was an electrifying idea. that the truth and the pen and the word could be that powerful. and it really made me start out at oxford doing my undergrad, committed to the idea of continuing in that work in becoming a journalist. >> when you're finishing your last year at oxford, 9/11 happened. and, i was just wondering, can you talk about how that changed you? you were sounds like my very close, you were in dc. >> i was. oxford starts in october sums going into my last year. but i was home. and i was watching - - my mom woke our dog in a park across
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the street and a neighbor pulled up in a volkswagen rabbit. set to go turn on the tv. i turned the tv on just before the second plane hit. and my little sisters were in the cathedral school in washington d.c. at the time and they weren't sure whether the cathedral was a target so they were evacuated. i remember being with mymom and my dog in our cheap , trying to get these two little girls in their school uniforms, standing and evacuated on the sidewalk outside school. it brought back the first loss of my life which is a dear friend of mine, laura. who in third grade was on the flight that went down over lockerbie, scotland with her sister and parents. their whole family. my mom waited until three days later until after christmas to tell me. she told me it was better they had been on the plane because
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there was no one left to grieve. and it was the first person i knew who died and i loved her very much. all of that came back to me taking my sisters up after 9/11. and then four months after that, this journalist danny pearl who not only met once briefly when he had done an evening for aspiring student journalists at a bar in dupont circle when i was still a student. but i admired him immensely. because he was in his early journalist who wrote with such dignity and curiosity about the islamic world and was really a hero of dialogue and pluralism. after the overwhelming scale of 9/11, the incredible intimacy in a way, of the loss of danny to the world, really struck me as terrifying.
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that this was a new and different kind of four. not only friend lives but truth and dialogue and the sharing of experiences around the world that danny represented. and i went back to my dad's advice after laura died. i really struggled with it. my dad said to me eventually, if you don't understand the forces that occur, you will be overwhelmed by the figure. we fear what we don't understand and he introduced me to the newspaper. as a third grader, that was of completely transformative thing for me. i read it with real care. i think possibly, it wasn't super healthy. but i felt as though, these characters whose names i couldn't pronounce most of the time, seemed remote. but that at any moment, they could jump off the page and
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taken one of my friends from the air. and learning to understand what their relationships were with one another and how they gave rise to violence was important to me as a kid processing laura's loss.until after 9/11. and in the violence that came after it, including daniel pearl's murder. i return to that idea. if i wasn't going to be overwhelmed by this, i had to understand it. that's what i embarked on on that thesis project, that algorithm. >> and then the cia approaches you point you take the job and you start looking at tables. there was one in particular. before you were - - when you realize i'm in had been taken in the instar. was the wrong man. and i'm wondering if you can talk about that moment and how
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you reacted and the people around you reacted? >> yeah. i won't get into the operational details on that anymore than they are in the book because they've been kind of reviewed and elements that were necessary have been omitted. i will let it stand as it's written. that particular case was covered very thoroughly and widely and heavily in the press. i think that it's indicative of one of the great challenges we all faced after 9/ we all, i mean, americans and allies. but also a subset that we are serving in government and military intelligence organizations. which was this terrible tension between having signed up to serve on behalf of the american
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ideals and city on a hill and moral leadership that were so important to maintaining america's position and credibility and friendships in the world. and in this thing that happens after an attack as significant as 9/11. which is fear and velocity, things happening quickly. communication isn't always clear. no surprise that mistakes were made. what i think is critical now is that as a country and community, we are mature enough to learn from them and not repeat them and analyze them. i think we've done that in some areas, better than others.
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we've been quite thorough in our examination of whether or not torture as americans, we want or can tolerate. and whether it's in fact even useful and practical aside. i'm not sure we've been quite as thorough about things as extrajudicial killings in the drone program. >> i wanted to discuss two controversial issues that have come up in the butt. you said there's a lot of cia insider training which has raised questions about the cia's stamp of approval.did you hear anything back and what did you hear back before publication? the second part is there were people who criticized scenes as being implausible. you addressed that before but i wanted to give you an opportunity. >> sure. one of the difficult things
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about going through the review process. there are operational details that have to be changed and operational teachers that have to be omitted. you set out to share the interaction that not listens into your over the course of her career. it's about figuring out which interactions make sense, given those omissions to include and which to leave out entirely. for me, it was entirely to put up front that changes have to be made. but i don't think it was as significant a challenge or big of a problem for me. this book is about a personal
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journey. when that particular operation happened. we heard a detailed account. there are important omissions. but for me, this was about not just coming of age as a wise and mom in my 20s against the backdrop of the war on terror. but also the devolution of the perspective. when i started. 9/11, the killing of this journalist that i respected so much. it really wasn't - - i was young and we were at war . and over the course of her career and interaction after interaction, i realized that
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was just fiction. it doesn't work. not a very fulfilling way to live but it also risks creating more advertisers than you do ã adversaries then you destroy. there's a long-term and holistic way to bring an end to this conflict. we just have proven time and again we cannot prevent violence to violence alone. over 17,000 years of human history. [applause] >> that sort of brings me to my next question i didn't expect a book about the cia to be such a spiritual book. this idea of how human beings want the same things. you point out graffiti in pakistan. that says remember the other person is you. which is really at the core of most religions.
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i found deep down, most targets want to be part of saving lives. can you talk about your own misgivings at times about that being practical and how that evolved over the years. >> spirituality has been a huge part of my journey. i mentioned kiersten smith as a teenager. at oxford, i studied international law and theology which was an interesting combination in the way they informed one another. that the illogical study of each of the worlds religions and indigenous traditions. even non-spiritual philosophies, really did reinforce what i had heard from - - himself which is that notion as you say, the other person is you or we are all connected and part of one
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collective organism. that cannot exist in isolation. we know that from a scientific point of view. we all share this island in space. our activities are never in a vacuum. - - [indiscernible]. that was something i learned academically as a young person. but i think in the school of hard knocks in my 20s, where often times, we humans on all sides of this conflict will take a short term solution because of the illusion that we are isolated and the ramifications won't come back to us. and find in the long-term, it's actually potentially endangered more people than not doing anything to begin with.
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we've seen in terms of our alliances over and over again with the enemy of our enemies. the arming of groups that are expedient in the short term. intolerance on all sides of this conflict for civilian casualties. feeling of future extremists. these personal feelings. what it plays in planting the seed of violence and extremism. for me, the simplicity of treating people with dignity, even when you disagree with them. emerged as a very powerful lesson. sometimes of they think we can discount that as your grandmother's advice. not pragmatic in the real world. but it's actually the most
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pragmatic thing in the real world i discovered when i was out there. i tell the story of - - who is the founder of the network that is responsible for spreading nuclear precursors. nuclear materials and technologies. not just to rogue states but to terror groups and nonstate actors. here is someone who's probably done more to endanger global security than almost anybody else. and when he talks about where he took that turn off of life's normal path. he tells the story of being a teenager on a train. crossing the new border to pakistan after separation and he saved up for a fountain pen. and he loved it. he filled out the customs card and when the indian guard took the card, he said, i will also take that pen.instead, no, i love this pen.
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you can't take it. >> he said what are you going to do to stop me? >> and all ãin his teenaged brain at the moment felt so powerless and aware of this unfairness and awareness of his inability to do anything about it. he said i'm never going to be powerless again. that morphed into this program that has put so much of the globe in danger. taking uranium from libya to make a pakistani bomb. on and on. and of course that's not a rational leap from having your pen stolen. but i think sometimes we underestimate the power of one moment of humiliation to fuel violence. and likewise, the power of one moment of treating someone with dignity to quell violence.
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>> sounds like what you use when you're trying to get somebody to work with you. did you feel like, at least in the book, you kind of have to speed things up. did you know the moments always to hit people with that idea. to say we believe the same things. i know you well enough now that we believe the same things. did you find it usually took some talking into? or by the time you brought that up, where they - - did they know you well enough that they were like, yeah. >>. [indiscernible] i think we are more sensitive to authenticity than we realize. when somebody manufactures a reason to connect, we feel it.
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and the need, even when faced with somebody who is involved in sometimes horrific violence, to search for some limber of humanity in order to build a relationship over months and years to coax this person to a place where they can move to helping prevent attacks rather than participating in them. it's really soulful work. it's often lost in our pop culture depictions of intelligent work because of the roof gymnastics and roof juggling works better on the screen. but all that - - first of all, - - doesn't happen at all because you get to that of the country immediately. but even the - - that does
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happen, is not the point. it's just there to safeguard the actual core work which is relationship building with those, it's hardest in the world to listen to. >> one more question and then we will get to the queue and day. who do you hope read this book? who is the main audience for it? is there a particular group of people? >> i'm particular happy when i speak to young women. i think there's something in there for all different walks of life. young women i think, see a different kind of national security picture from the reality. and don't realize how important their contributions are and can be. what we see on screen is this either no women involved or the femme fatale, thigh-high boots,
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door kicking perception. and it's so dismissive of the release substantive work. that's based on emotional intelligence and intuition and multitasking. these are things that feminine problem-solving often has great strengths in. i do hope that young women and young people of color and young people from diverse backgrounds who don't see themselves on screen in this work, realize that actually they are the ones thatwe most need . not just in the intelligence world but in government, the military, across-the-board and policymaking. >> i want to open it up to the floor.
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we've already got somebody up. that was quick. [laughter] go ahead. >>. [indiscernible] >> i'm actually not going to go into cover into operational details for the same reason i said earlier. which is just that, anything around to those details have to go through review. i willleave it to the book . >> assuming for a moment you did, i have wondered that a business like that might actually produce some revenues. when you wrap up an operation like that, who gets to keep the money? [laughter] >> let me just say, if that were to be the case, it certainly wouldn't be the officer involved. but that's one that's granular
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that i don't know. i couldn't go into. i will say, one of the real challenges in this shift from the kind of traditional warfare of the early part of last century to these asymmetrical fights that have morphed into terror groups and nonstate actors. challenging states. is that it's necessary to be really creative about how to be in the places you need to be in order to do the work that needs to get done. argo is a great example of a movie for those who have seen it. around the creation of a similar film organization. film company. to go in ostensibly to location scout in iran and was pretty well produced. but in those cases, there definitely wouldn't be any
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profit drawn. put it that way. [laughter] >> you have another one? >> - - i really do like the traits you see as people most valuable in carrying on this kind of work. a quick question for you. just a reflection. seeing the way things have gone since you left the agency and where we are in the world today, i'm sure you must in your own mind, how we would get to a place where we would feel better with the kinds of issues we were confronted with. you have any kind of prescription or direction other than the type of people you'd like to see get involved in it? are there some things we could do more universally as human beings to foster such an
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environment? >> absolutely. i think at the state and individual level. at the state level, i think one of the things that is most important is looking at the precursors of instability and terrorism and conflict. and investing in infrastructure and support that is necessary and much more efficient and cheaper in terms of life and treasure. early on, before the conditions for conflict reach the fever pitch that requires a military response. those are things we talked about the academic work i did as a young person looking at predicting terrorism. that was the quite clumsy graduate school work of a kid. but one of the things that came up time and again in the data is being heavily correlated was
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the percentage beneath livable wage that a border guard gets paid and the potential for graft and corruption in a given environment. that there are many such data points that we know are correlated with instability and our not easy to predict but significantly cheaper in both lives and cash. i think studying those is very important. doubling down on our investment and soft power overseas in general i think is really important. china's the ãinitiative is very important i think as americans to know. just about to come up to $1 trillion. and the million chinese people on the ground in two thirds of the world countries to invest in the building of infrastructure. not as charity but as a shrewd geopolitical move.
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and when we take our resources and commit them in military ventures. while one of our rivals is doubling down and self power that way. i really worry. i worry for the continued moral leadership of our country. because a flag on a brand-new train gives a different feeling locally than a flag on global. even if it was a legitimate target. so i'd like to see us do more of that. and then, in terms of our own responsibility individually here at home, i really think that the division that i used 2c played out on the international stage are starting to crack from the
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inside. our ability to listen to one another is getting to a point where it's undermining our own internal stability. i think, every school kid learns the quote, a house divided cannot stand. our adversaries have learned it too. [indiscernible] >>. [applause] >> have another question. >> we will keep waiting for people to come up but in the meantime, i'm curious to hear about your work after you left
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the cia is itself you were able to transfer your purpose. we are showing people how to let your guard down. can you talk about the projects you've been working. >> it's an interesting realization, especially after i have my daughter. so many of the tools that human intelligence officers were given in that part of training and in the field are around learning to create relationship or commonality with those we most fear. those who most wishes ill. and those same tools are applicable outside of geopolitics in all kinds of aspects of our community. i work now to share them, especially with young people. but with several different communities. prisoners who are looking to make amends for meet their victims or the survivors of their crimes. with gang members were entrusted and - - their gang
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affiliations. before i had my nine-month-old, i was going back and forth to the middle east a fair amount and working with young people in the camps that have been affected by sectarian violence. and giving them these tools. because they really are at in each that can reject the words of their parents. - - at an age. this is an exciting generation because unlike any other previous generation that had to work as - - organize itself vertically. internet has been so involved in their life from the get-go that teenagers and adults are the first generation that can organize themselves vertically. i think we will see more of it. two armed young people with the ability to communicate with one another in the moments when
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they are so disproportionately affected by the conflicts their parents have started. and say we will not be just another link in the chain. there is another way to do it. i think that's a rewarding and exciting path. >> go ahead. you can come up to the microphone. >> we can hear you. >>. [inaudible question] >> you know, yes. i think as hard as it is for parents to ever see their little ones anywhere other than a firm. we model what we hope our kids will be in the world. i think it's so important to empower young people to roll up their sleeves and engage. and be the version of this country they want it to be. in the world to be the version
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of their community they want to see. i think often, if the people least likely to find personal happiness in government service and intelligence services are the ones we see most doing it. the ones aren't necessarily there because they are feeling the really heavy weight and responsibility in moral complexity and loneliness that comes with the work. even though that isn't necessarily a prescription for happiness in your 20s. i would wish happiness to my little ones. it is certainly a prescription for purpose and meaning and service. we can hope that life is long enough to do that and then step back and enjoy time with family at a different kind of service and community.
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>> the question was, do i see peacemaking as a challenge - - climate change as a challenge to peacemaking? climate change is an enormous challenge to stability and peacemaking around the world. the pentagon added it to its list of security concerns i think over a decade ago now. we are seeing it in a migrant crisis driven by conflict but also increasingly climate change. the competition for resources is only escalating. as viable land in many parts of the world is decreasing. we saw links to climate change in the early days of the syrian conflict which has now been - -
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for so many years. i think it's important to consider it, even though it's a slow moving or can seem a slow-moving, long-term stress. one of the great challenges of the human mind and certainly of democracy, especially with term limits is the tendency to have their short-term thinking over the long-term. climate change is one of those issues. even though every policymaker understands the security ramifications, they can sometimes feel like they will land for a different president and a different policymaker down the road. but it's really important as a country, we prioritize that and letour policymakers know that we support them prioritizing it. even if it will take time to pay off .
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>> given the kind of grizzly, glandular description we heard about the - - killing. do you think there were people in the cia and other security agencies who were alarmed by the level of details that was made public? or was that just me? >> it's certainly unusual to have that much granular detail disclosed. as i said earlier, [indiscernible]. to the extent that it was agreed or cleared with the intelligence community first. there was some method to that madness. i think the ice objective was to attempt to prevent supporters of the ideology, as seeing the final moments as heroic. an incredibly somber thing across the board. no death is cause for celebration. this is one that marks the end
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of one particular era of leadership under which thousands of families lost people to terror attacks. two displacement because of the caliphate itself. to the actual recruitment of their sons and daughters by the ideology. certainly not a moment for celebration but i think the objective there. that in these final moments, the character of this person was reiterated by the fact that not only did he take his life, but it took three innocent lives with him. as was his habit over the last five years. i would've liked to see him
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stand trial for what he put so many through. >> that's all we have time for today. thank you so much, amaryllis. [applause] thank you to the book festival, to c-span2. amaryllis be down at the signing and the authors tent. thanks everybody. [inaudible conversations]
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>> we are halfway through our live coverage of today's texas book festival. later, you will hear from authors on president trump's relationship with the fbi. and gun control. starting in humans, a discussion on racism. - - starting in a few minutes. >> here's a portion of tonight's "after words" program with rand paul of kentucky, discussing his latest book, "the case against socialism". >> in the abstract, they say we will have fairness but you have a conception of fairness and you have a perception of fairness. representative omar may have a perception bed but for her to invoke hers on us. this is where it breaks down. and this is where i think why maybe it's become popular. they conflate fairness with things like charity and being
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your brother's keeper. i believe we should be our brother's keeper. i believe in christianity and the idea we should take care of our people.that doesn't have to do with government. they believe and they conflate. charity is if i take your money and give it to someone else. charity is if you give up your own money. but it isn't very charitable in the way the government does it. ultimately, the more you want socialism, if you want a little of socialism. the balance may be tolerable. but if you really want to take the property. when - - came to take farms, truly there is a point which people rebel. the only way you can get it is through violence. you have to kill people. that's what happened under stalin. millions. from that, we try to develop the question. i taught a course in george washington on the dystopian
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novel. is violence - - or is it inherent? is it inevitable that you will have violence? i think the more socialism, absolutely, it's inherent. people will resist. i interact with a lot of folks who tell me as a young conservative, how can i motivate my child or grandchild to embrace the principles that have made our country great? i would say the book really does detail both arguments the socialists make and it goes into a good historical context. good global context. the question is, when do we move past that tipping point? you cited a harvard study that says or than half the people under 29 have a favorable view of socialism. and we crossed the rubicon what do we have to win back the argument with people who have
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embraced that? >> i think we're in danger of it. every generation has to renew the water of the tree of liberty. i think that's true with socialism and bad ideas. the big lie that out there right now in the big sort of superficial platitudes they throw at you is they say, well, the intellectuals used to like stalin but then we learned he was bad. that's not the socialism we want. we used two like castro. bernie was a big fan of castro. we used to like chavez but what we really like his sweden. we love scandinavian socialism. it's the kinder, gentler socialism. the big part of the book is sort of disproving that. [indiscernible] one of the main policy things that bernie wants


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