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tv   Tracy Walder The Unexpected Spy  CSPAN  June 29, 2020 1:26pm-2:36pm EDT

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next she sits down for an interview about her time as a cia special praise officer indeed immediate aftermath of september 11th. she also discusses her decision to leave the cia to become an fbi special agent. the international spy museum recorded this he a vent in february. good evening, everyone. thank you for coming out on this gloomy evening to the international spy museum. ite chris costa. i'm really excited to introduce this program with former cia operations officer, fbi special agent, now author tracy wall de. she joined the cia right off college. she went on to become an fbi
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special agent at the l.a. field office, where she specialized in chinese counter-intelligence operations. tracy lives with her husband and 4 1/2-year-old daughter in dallas, texas. this evening tracy will discuss her memory, the unexpected spy, from the cia to the fbi, my secret life taking down some of the world's most notorious terrorists. tracy will be interviewed by dr. vince houghton. after their discussion, they will open the floor to questions and answers. everyone will have an opportunity to ask questions this evening. we're also going to asked if you're trapped in the middle of a row, put your hand up and we'll be sure you have a mic to answer your questions, but there will be two mics on each side that you can use to answer your question. if you could get out stay where
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you're at. if you have a cell phone -- probably everybody -- please silence it now. i'd lead by example and make sure mine is silenced. i'll kick it over to vincent and tracy. >> thank you, chris. the first time we were introduced to tracy was when our educational team discovered the amazing work she was doing, now a teacher at the school in dallas. we're going to talk about this later, but it's extraordinary what she decided to do to challenge young people i taught at every level just the gumption and challenge of these people is really extraordinary. i probably wouldn't have had college students do what you're
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having them do. she's also on the board of director for a nonprofit organization which we'll talk about as well, which is another way she decided to give back not only to her community, but also to her country. you'll hear about more of this later, but we're going to jump right in. >> if anyone listens to spycast, we just reported a podcast together, so we had a chance to try out some questions before we put it before a live studio audience, as it were. i think one of the most interesting to me. what is the process you had to go through to get this cleared.
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ink there's a lot more you they didn't want you to put out. >> so first, thank you everyone for coming. i feel a lot of my former students -- it's really exciting, so thank you for being here. >> there were 20 women that came before me it took about two years to get their books through. i credit them with the easier time that i had. so it was extremely important are important to me. i wanted to honor nigh nondisclosure agreement when i left. i was hoping that it wouldn't be denied in full. it was not. it came back, though, in about four months after my initial
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submission with four complete chapters was -- the cia is really great. you can e-mail the crb back and forth. they won't tell you why. you have to play a game with guesswork. i resubmitted it, back then chaps were redacted, then a chapter and a half. after i took out one words, they let that whole chapter through, and then publishers and i decided the way it was was intelligible enough for people to be able to read. >> it's tricky. yes, they don't want you to give away what cities the cia is operating in that's not widely known, but you allow the leeway to describe these cities pretty well. there's a modern headquarters right on the river, this is near where a famous serial killer killed five people in the
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victorian era. >> i don't understand why they redacted some of these thing did -- and didn't redact others. i don't understand the process, but some of them in my opinion it's extremely easy to figure out where i am. let's talk about your origin story. it is somewhat different. it has nothing with you being a authority in southern california. it's a fact that a lot of people enjoy kriismt o or national security institutions wanted to do it from an early age. you didn't sit out thinking about being a cia officers. you were reading about the -- or doing middle school things what
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led you to join. >> this would have been when i was recruited. popular culture looks different today. i didn't grow up with quantico or "criminal minds" any of those things i do know i had a -- i would say that was really cultivated when peter bergen interviewed sosama bin laden. when i applied at that career fair in college, that was really the impetus.
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you were already working at langley the morning of 9/11. i sat on my couch 9/11, just pissed off i couldn't do anything about it. so a lot of us had this feeling of my god, we've been attacked, what do i do now? to a agree, you had a disadvantage. you could have wallowed in self-pity, but you have a second to do that and then it was time to get to work.
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>> i think you almost have to compartmentalize those thoughts so you can get on the with the work you need to do, or gather the evident you need. in a way make it helps keep us going. grounds for the war again al qaeda, a work that was created because of the 9/11. you're working in a small group, you turn around and george bush is asking you what's going on? or george tenet or condoleezza
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rice. how daunting was that? you're 23 at the time. >> 21. >> and you have who are we looking at today? that had to have been a surreal experience. >> i was very surprised. i submitted it and thought it could come back redacted, but it didn't. i was read into that program on september 10th, and for me, i was naive and thought we'll never need to use it. it's obviously intense. you're not thinking about the people in the room. if you think about the people in the room, you're not focusing on
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what you're doing so i think you can't process what you're -- he -- he brought us thanksgiving dinner, doughnuts, bagels all the time. he was really great to work with in that environment, but other than tenet, he was the only one we were super-aware of all the time. >> let me ask you this, the -- be yond this space -- you're a southern california girl, you mentioned very overt in the book about what direction you lean politically. i'm not a fan necessarily of certainly administrations, but at the end at that point it doesn't matter.
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so it used to take politicizing foreign policy. this was a moment where it doesn't matter where you came from, everyone was working together without politics. >> that was what was so great when i work there. i grew up in a liberal household, but to be honest, i'm registered independent. the cia sort of helped moved me to the middle in a weird way. they didn't purposely do that. it just helped me think more about the issues not in a black-and-white way. it was sort of a gray. what i really liked about my time there, i served under clinton and bush, and tenet was there under both of them, which was great. what was so great about that experience, i felt at least the people around me, it was very apolitical.
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politics were taken out of. i had some nice things to say about bush, but it waujt about servicing someone's political agenda. it was about my observations at that time in that moment, and that really sort of helped me gain this apolitical insight when it came to foreign policy. >> while you were there, there was an event that people don't talk about much today. certainly since the death of bin laden has been less and less a key moment, that's shortly after 9/11, when united states had bin laden pinned down. you talked about a first person view of what was going on there, i wanted to talk about how that panned out, and of course about the frustrations perhaps you
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must have felt, having a chance to get the guy who caused 9/11, but having him slip through your fingers. >> what was interesting about th that, it was easy to footnote what i was doing and marry it with what he was doing, but it was frustrating minutes. it was a seven minutes on, serve minutes off, because it was so intense. i think people would have thought once we lost him that, you know there would have been cursing, screaming yelling, and that really didn't happen. it was like the air had just gone out of the room. what people did when they went to their offices i'll never know, but in that room, the sail completely went out of it and carried on what we were supposed
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to be doing. >> this will come up again and again throughout the conversation, but when i think about your work, you're operating in eastern time in the united states in langley, virginia, whereas the actual action is taking place sometimes five, five and a half, six hours ahead of where you were, so this is not a normal 9:00 to 5:00 job. you're working shifts that really doesn't allow you to be a normal person. i asked mark morel, when does -- what happened on 9/12? >> he's like, i woke up around
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midnight to start my day. it seems like impossible to keen up over a long period of time. >> i think it is. i think that's one of the reasons i ultimately left, but just an anecdote, i am not a night person, i'm a morning person, so that schedule is always difficult for me. i would always have my best friend to wake me up. it was hard for me to sometimes -- you just have to change your whole body clark. i agree with mike, if it was a proverbial 9:00 to 5:00 job before that, and that went out the wind. >> a relatively stress-free job to arguably the most stressful job, hunting down bioterrorists who are trying to create weapons of mass destruction to kill hundreds of thousands of people around the world. when you moved over to the wmd
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group, what i thought was fun frommy the book is those of us who study mass destruction like years in school,s you spent two weeks and they send you out and say go find bad guys you guys have their ph.d. in nuclear physics or things like that, but we did more kind of crude toxins and poisons, so i think they thought if we -- if it was -- that that would be enough training for us to understand what al qaeda was trying to procure. >> this is what keeps people up at night. boy weapons, how much but through that two-week point in
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school, when you came out were you even more worried about this? >> i think now my poor students that have to do a two-page threat assessment and they know what i'm doing about in my class -- they're still -- that they have to do that. >> i know you want me to say that the cia has foiled them all, but i think it's very difficult to track biological weapons. it requires a lot of stuff. in my opinion, biological questions, you can get them in parts, it's easy. what becomes problematic is maybe people aren't trying to put the entire piece of the puzzle together. i think that's where we're probably going to slip up one day. all you readily need is an air conditions vent.
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>> at worse case, a ship with containers sailing into a port -- >> really, i would guess they're not trying to really procure one because of what you need. >> when you com combine someone -- leech wesleep well t guys. >> you're welcome. you have to be on the ground in areas of the world to understand the culture, understand the people, and so you -- this is really the first time in your career that you started being forward deployed, spending a lot of time in these countries that you can't talk about by name in the book. >> yes, i did. i thought -- some people would
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disagree. everyone has their own experience at the cia and the fbi, i felt very prepared, at least from a cultural standpoint, in those countries. that's one thing i thought they did extremely well. >> prey paring you is one thing. the frustrations you might have experienced, you talk about it in the book being both the woman side of things, you're in developeding countries that sometimes have fundamentalist islam as a connect behind their governing system, but also they weren't quite taking things as seriously as they should have been. >> for me, there was one intelligence service that called us malibu barbie, but it didn't bother me that much.
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my colleagues were so great, this is the one you need to talk to. i always felt very supported by my colleagues. what really frustrated me was times getting cables back, and we knew someone was transiting a country, i'm so sorry, but we don't work on suddndays, and as result you can't locate that person anymoor. >> you have a known bad guy going through europe kwan country, or in a european country, you know where he's at and either they don't work on sundays or there's not enough evidence. they're not going to attack albuquerque albuquerque, but maybe brussels, or a place you're trying to
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warn. this 2002, 2003, that seems crazy. >> i highlighted it and put it in my cubical. it was very frustrating. the iraq war in 2003, this is probably something you don't like talking about, but you had a unique role in the lead-up to the war. not on purpose, your job was to look at the networks that were being developed and figure out the linkage. at no time in any did you say there's any linkage to iraq, but what happened -- i'll set the scene. you see colin powell in front of the united nations, and all of a sudden what's happening. >> just to back up a bit, a lot of times what we would do is
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make charts to keep straight who is at the top of the network and how they are connected. that was a very regular thing we used to do. toxin poison that was getting complicated, so we decided -- it was a really large chart. we have this really could printer, and we would put it on the outside of our cubicles, just so we could always look at it and keep it straight. it was cells, areas in the world that people were working, and someone had come through or office and wanted a copy of the chart. it was given to them. that chart ended up being used by colin powell to sort of justify the invasion. >> it wasn't that chart exactly, right? >> it was that exact chart.
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the title of the chart was changed. it was something i was surprised that they let me put in, but maybe it's because it's resolved. they're i don't know. but the title was something different. >> what was it originally? >> i don't think i can say that. >> okay. what would it end up being? >> it says a rock bio, i mean, if you look it up, that's what it says. >> can you say if the word iraq was on the chart before? >> it was not. >> it was not. how did you not call "the new york times" the next day. >> someone on twitter called me a coward, actually, for not doing that. maybe i am. i don't know. i was 23. i'm not excusing that, but i think for me i have so much respect for my colleagues and for the agency that that's really not the right thing to do, and that really wasn't the right time to do it. i don't feel regret about the
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decision i made, but i know people will disagree with me. i think what we were the most concerned about was all of those people that we were looking for, we were looking for them to include them. and i think that's where we were upset with, great, now, they're all going to go underground, we're going to lose all of our intelligence, and get information on them. we won't be able to perhaps stop future attacks, and so i think in the immediate, that's what we were upset about. >> it's almost impossible in 2020 to, with any kind of, you know, honor, to go back to 2003 and say you should have done something different. it seems ridiculous at this point, so i didn't want to come across. anyone calling you a coward can't put themselves in your
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shoes back in 2003. let me ask you, change directions almost completely because part of what i think is really interesting about especially being posted oversea, and being in this job where you're constantly inside a small room, helping people across the world, are you thinking about day, night, falling asleep, how do you maintain a sense of self? how do you keep being tracy, versus, you know, the ci operative that's trying to catch bad guiys. did you constantly have to kind of stop and say take a step back, take a breath, we'll remember where we came from, you know, root for the trojans, playing a football game or something like that, just a reminder of who you are? >> so, yes, i don't really think i was that cerebral about it. for me, it was more just things
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like planning for the future, like being in a war zone and calling my mom to see if she can make me an appointment to get my roots done when i got home. things like that, but it's okay to be a girly girl. lots of women are that are at the agency, and that's totally fine. i think another thing that i did, i'm very very into the usc very much, and one of the things that i did was i had callers send the bomb dogs that were in one of the places i'm at. somewhere there's a bunch of bomb dogs that have usc trojans on them. >> this segues to the question about your transition, when you leave the cia, you're leaving a high note, catching bad guys, the pinnacle of a 20 whatever-year-old career, you decide to leave it and move on to an entirely different agency
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with an entirely different mind set and focus. why? >> so i loved the agency. it was really positive about it. but maybe that was for the better. i think the ripe old age of 25, 26, i wanted more stability in my life. i don't know why back then, and i wanted, i really was passionate about working counter terrorism, and i thought maybe i can do that but do it, and work one of the large offices and be able to stay there and so that's why i made that switch. >> you're positive about the cia, it's counter intuitive. there are so many books that are saying rah rah, the fbi, and your experiences at fbi weren't all that great, certainly your
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training, which, you know, we're not very far from quantico, virginia, the mythical place, the hrt, and bau, and the marine corps, but that's the training center for the fbi, you went there not in the 1930s or 40s or 50s, but a decade ago. tgs almost like you were there when jay edgar hoover was in charge. it's extraordinary, the kind of ran kor you got at the fbi. >> i had come from the cia where i had no issues between the genders. and i think i was almost naive that the fbi would be the same way. they're all part of the same community, and it could not have been more not like that.
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you used a phrase that made total sense to me. it was junior high all over again, clicks, people back stabbing and the teachers were the ring leaders of all of this. it wasn't just you dealing with a jealous potential coworker, the instructors themselves were pushing this narrative that you shouldn't be there. >> i think the narrative all started on my very first day at the academy. i don't know if they still do this, but you're kind of in a theaterish type of room with desks and everybody has to stand up and introduce themselves. i stood up and said my name and where i used to work, and introduced myself. everyone rolled my eyes, and started calling me a liar, that i never had worked at the cia. you had to come there to do my background check. you can pull up my -- it's really not that hard. it's really not that difficult. so with that narrative, it was
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like before i even could get out of the gate, that's what had happened, and as ridiculous as that sounds, that's what everyone perpetuated the entire time that i was there. it was more than that. >> some of the stories are out of the 1950s, where you did a perfect interrogation exercise and then got chided because your pig of an instructor thought you were too good looking basically. >> what had happened, and again, i don't know if quantico does this, but one of the first things we did was interviewing witnesses. that was sort of the first thing you do at quantico, and they ask that you wear a suit to do this particular exercise, and so i wore a suit that i had worn many times at the cia. i didn't buy new clothes and after i did it, i had no issues with what i had done procedurally in that interview, but what was the problem was
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that my suit made the instructor of that program uncomfortable. so i had to write an apology letter to him. there's a couple versions in the book. >> the first draft of the apology letter, that's where the book becomes pg 13 a little bit. >> sorry. >> it was good. i was hoping you sent one of them to him. >> i didn't. >> really in the end, you have a class full of former, you know, lawyers and people that, to get in the fbi, you have to be high speed, you've got to be, you know, top of your class, you are a cia counter terrorism officer, and you by far had it harder than everyone else, and we talked about this earlier. it wasn't just boohoo i had it harder. so much attention was paid to you that other people, who knows if they're trained to be fbi agents at this point, because the instructors weren't looking at them. >> what had happened, kind of as we progressed through training, you go into hogan's alley, which
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is where you do sort of situational awareness, if anyone is familiar with that, and they would always, always, always, make me the team leader for probably the most difficult exercises on purpose, and i knew it was to see if i would mess up, and you sort of got me thinking about that. did they test anyone else? you have to wonder if other people were qualified as well because there was just so much focus put on wanting you to mess up, and i mean, i didn't, but it was so stressful. i would lose my hair. they didn't let me go back for my grandpa's funeral but let my colleague go back for his grandpa's funeral. it was out of hand. >> they didn't let you miss one day when the other guy missed multiple days. and they said you couldn't miss a single day for your grandpa's funeral. >> as i'm reading this, i'm thinking, maybe this is like an officer and a gentleman moment, they're all standing there with
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tears in their eyes, tracy, we knew you could do it. it's the opposite. they wanted you to fail. what i wonder is they did have access to your file. they should have seen how qualified you were for this. and yet, it didn't matter. >> i think from day one, that was what they decided they were going to do. it was very easy to check all of that information. i wasn't lying about where i worked, and so why they focused on me, i'm not 100% sure i'm going to know the answer to that question, but what was really disturbing, too, when i was there, some of the people that were just as bad were the other women in my class. >> this sounds like an indictment on quantico or the fbi econoacademy. >> everyone has their own experience. >> it didn't stop there. your first duty station, that's the word i use for the military, your first fbi posting was the los angeles field office where
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right away, you're kind of pigeon holed into doing the women jobs also. >> that's not as much what i had a problem with, to be truly honest. when i had first gotten my assignment, and i don't know if they still do this, you go down, open your envelope about where you're going sort of in front of everyone, and i had gone to the los angeles field office and it said the smaller resident agency i was assigned to, and then that created a problem in my class, too, because you shouldn't be assigned to a resident agent. i really didn't care, i didn't ask to be, and i assumed that i would be working counter terrorism because that's what i did. but instead, so much so that the kind of head guy didn't believe that i should be there, and so they said, no, we need her clearance to work counter intelligence, and so i was placed into counter intelligence. that's actually what hass the
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bigger, it was surprising they wouldn't take the back room that i had and put that to use in counter terrorism, not that i'm the best at it, but like i just thought. >> you're sitting in a room with george bush behind you fighting terrorists. it seems really strange that -- but i'm happy. >> the case was interesting. >> the case was great. it's one some people may have heard of. it's that size of case, and that's the case she met. >> it worked out well with my book because he has been tried and convicted. that means we can talk about it. the whole max family had been in the u.s. for actually over 20 years, and some of them had become citizens, and they were working at a company called power paragon and that company was using radar cooking technology for a nuclear class
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submarines and they took that, stole it, and gave it to china. and we found out, and what was really kind of neat is it was every part of a ci operation. we got the dumpster dive, we got to do entry, we got to do all of those things in somewhat of a short period of time. working that case, it was really neat. but unfortunately. >> we're going to make you read the book to find out. >> not so well for tracy. let me ask you, why did you end up quitting the fbi? in a general sense. >> you'll have to read my book to find out what my ffa said to me that ultimately sort of threw
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me over the edge. i wasn't going to leave, actually, at that point, but i came -- i was living at home at the time because it was really close to where i was and saving money, and i came home, and i told my dad. and my parents, they're really great parents but they have always been the kind of people, we're not going to fight your fights for you, you deal with it, you handle it. that's just kind of how they were, and i told my dad, and to say that he lost it would be an understatement. and i think at that moment was when i knew i can't stay here. but the biggest regret that i have personally, and it was funny, so i was writing the book, right, and i was writing a chapter that i had regret that i didn't file a complaint, and i didn't do more. and my mom was like, what are you talking about, you did. i think i had just completely blocked out everything that had happened but i wish i would have pursued it harder. >> for all the great work you
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did at cia and the excellent work at fbi, after leaving you moved on to maybe what you were designed to do all along which is to be a teacher in dallas at the hawk day school, which is where we ran into you in the first place because, again, i couldn't believe it when i heard what you were having them do. can you talk a little bit about the curriculum that you developed at a high school. think about that. these are 16 and 17-year-olds doing bioterrorism and other things. it's crazy. >> i'm looking at some of them. >> i have more than a crazy amount of respect for not only you for challenging them to that level and them rising up to the challenge. >> they're amazing students so it made my job pretty easy. it came out of my first year. they all kind of found out what i did, and it was like question, question, they would hang out in
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my room during lunch or conference periods, what did you do, just lots of questions, and so from there, i realized, wow, we need to have a class on this. what i also realized, too, and this is not a slam on anyone's intelligence, there was a lot of just basic geography questions, you know, and i don't mean that in a bad way. sometimes when russia invaded crimea, it was easy to pull up a map and show my student, i get why they did that. it was easier for them to visually be able to see why they did that. we need to sort of have a foreign affairs, international relations, terrorism espionage course, and so our schools gets a lot of autonomy in the classrooms, and so on top of the ap classes i taught, i created that class. >> and they're doing bio research. >> that's a newer thing. what started is i wanted them to have a product i guess at the
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end of it. and so the cia makes -- conducts threat assessments, so some of them are available unclassified online, and so we just followed our format, and as well as have to assess the likelihood of a terrorist group, they have to pick it out of a hat. i can't which one i did, and the likelihood that they would commit a bio attack, how they would do it, when they would do, and then we send those to our elected officials. now they do a podcast. >> anyone who wants to listen to the podcast, where is it available? >> everywhere. apple, spotify. >> and let me reiterate, these are high school students that are doing these, and it's just extraordinary because these are not -- >> the future of space wars was one they just did. i don't pick the topic. >> these are things you probably would think of in grad school or
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the high level of college. >> they're pretty amazing. >> let me ask you about security. it's something that you have put your talents, your experience to work trying to pull up those. you mentioned the fact that the other women in your quantico class were just as bad as the men. this is trying to remedy some of that. >> that's what is great about girl security. gina bennett, a terrorism icon, she sits on the board as well, and so we design curriculum modules that go out across the u.s., but they also do water game scenarios once a year. they do that. last year was nuclear proliferation in north korea. i think this year maybe election security, but don't quote me on that. it's a way of having a much, well, it's spring boarding off what i did and sort of having a nationwide reach in getting
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girls, they helped come up with mentors. not just in intelligence, but in nuclear research with nsa, really all of the organizations and hook them up with female mentors, and i'm not man bashing but sometimes when you're a woman or a young girl, it's nice to see another woman in that position. it makes, i guess, sometimes the job more real to you. that's what we do. >> so for those of n this audience, and we're going to end up putting this on you tube, so for the thousands of people out there who hear this, how does someone who wants to help the cause find out about girl security. >> go to the girl security web site, it's nonpartisan, nonprofit. if you can donate, that would be fabulous, and then you can also sign up to be a mentor if you're in any of those types of jobs, they're constantly looking for mentors. and again, it's across the
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board. >> to include military, too. >> i've taken up too much of her time. you might have questions for her as well. if you do. head over to the microphones. and line up. we could get going for a while. this is an opportunity if you have any questions for tracy. >> or if you're trapped, i can bring you a microphone. you look trapped. >> okay. it is going to be a little bit provocative. i'm actually working on a novel, and with bioterror and a virus, and it's really creepy to watch what's going on, wondering if you've thought of this, but anyway, what i proposed was that
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a person who was in the military and military intelligence was moved out before don't ask, don't tell, and everything now in civilian life, he teach high school history, and he's brought back into the cia or into intelligence because of a very bizarre bio threat, which may involve aliens and other things, and how plausible is that? how plausible that this would really happen? he would be teaching high school, ap history in dallas. actually set in dallas. he's sent on excursions to investigate this threat, which is a very bizarre threat. >> i don't foresee that as something that would happen, but it's a novel, so, you know. >> all seriousness, moving on to the idea of expertise, there is a real problem potentially of
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brain drain within the agency where you went on to be a high school teacher or fbi agent. when you get people who are at the level of, you know, some of the people you work with and worked under, they are very tempting to companies that want to throw a lot of money at them. that's certainly true when it comes to normal cia ops, or any of those other people. did you ever have a temptation to go that route? >> no. some of my friends did, and my best friend from the agency did. i don't hold that against her at all. i think for me i fwru grew up, d is a professor, both grandparents were in the military. i didn't have any interest, i guess, in going in the private sector. that's just me. i don't shame people who want to. they run in sort of a different
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state. >> hi, thank you for your talk, and thank you for your book. when you're going through an experience like you did at the fbi academy, how do you deal with that emotionally? do you use your anger to spite them with your success, detach emotionally, how do you kind of deal with that? >> that is actually a great question. i don't think people realize, not to get too cerebral or feelings, how much damage that does to someone. i was -- and i talk about it in my book, i was bullied in elementary school, and middle school and high school, but this is different. this is isolation on a huge, huge scale, and it was such falsities that hit at the core of who i was that it was very psychologically damaging. i'll be super honest, i went on
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antidepressants. i'm very open about that and i think a lot of it was because of that, because you're so isolated. i think the one thing that saved me that i know other people didn't have this, i obviously had lived in virginia at the time, so in my room in quantico, i had a car, and so i could go to starbucks or i could just get out, sort of when i needed to. but you feel like you're in this isolated box that you just, like, you can't get out of. i don't know that i have this in the book. i hope i don't offend anyone. probably one of the worst rumors was that i had stage 1 breast cancer tumor removed and i was in the shower, kind of like a group shower. that started a rumor that i had breast augmentation. i haven't. that was a process to go through and be revictimized by that.
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it was on a whole other level, but that was really how i definitely with it. also another way i dealt with it was running. i'm a huge, well, i just had knee surgery unfortunately, but that was the way i dealt with like the stress, to kind of get the stress out, and i don't like to run with people. i never have. so it was kind of just my way of being by myself. but that was it. >> i'm thinking about it now, the fbi are supposed to be the good guys. >> but maybe they are. that was just my experience. >> going in, you're like, i'm joining the fbi, i'm joining the good guys, and then the bottom falls out of that. >> they have not changed. here's the thing, you also have to look at, too, i was writing an article on women in intelligence, and then in law enforcement, and in the research, look, the cia is not perfect. i'm sure there's plenty of people that have had problems there, but the cia has at least been engaging in a dialogue about gender equality, about the
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50s with the panel. hoover did not allow women to be special agents until 1972, but period, end of story. so they're already a lot of years behind. i'm not sure we realize that, sort of how far they are behind in having it be normal that females are working alongside you. >> hi, i just want to say thank you for writing your book. i read it in like a day and a half. it was awesome. for us, this question was the fact that i have the utmost respect for you because i'm going to ask a tough question. throughout your career at the cia, fbi, is it something that you can talk about, what was maybe your biggest slip up or mistake, like something that kind of, you know, haunts you at night when you go to bed? but more importantly, and the
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thing i'm more curious about is the thing you learned from that, and how you transcribed. >> that's an easy question, and it doesn't offend me at all. it's a good question. my biggest failure in my opinion was not speaking out about my treatment at the fbi. i 100% regret that. and because now i know there's other lawsuits that are making their way through the courts and that's devastating to me because in a way i feel like -- i don't want to get upset -- i feel like i could have done something about that. i feel very guilty but what that has taught me now, when there is something like that going on, i speak up right away. i don't stop for two minutes. i think in a way, it helped me, but that was my biggest regret. >> thank you. >> when you regret stuff like that, it's in hindsight, you're using your, you know, the fact is you may not have impacted so
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many lives at girl security if you didn't have that experience at fbi. maybe you might still be an fbi agent right now, and not have a chance to reach out and touch all the lives you have touched and mentor all the people you have without having that experience yourself. we don't know. that's one of the things, shucks, i should have done it a different way, but it's counter factual, you can't change your life, but you look at what you have done since, and maybe that never would have happened if you had gone in a different direction. >> thank you for making me feel a little better. >> we have a young lady over here that has a question for you. >> oh, yay. >> how did you get such an important job at such a young age? >> that's a really good question. so i actually just applied on a whim and basically it was why not, i think was sort of the reason that i did it. i had my resume on me because i was going to drop it off
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somewhere else that day. and i saw that there was a cia recruiter on my campus, and i thought that looks interesting, and so i applied and they called, and so i think my biggest piece of advice is that something that you want to do is don't ever doubt your abilities and whether or not you should apply. i always told this to my students, i'm not going to get into this college, and they know what i'm talking about, and i always said to them, you know, let the school tell you no. don't tell yourself no. so it's kind of same thing with a job. a lot of people they won't call you back, you won't get in. i think because i just didn't care, and didn't think about what would happen if they said no, i think that's what encouraged me to actually apply. >> thank you. >> you're welcome.
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>> okay. so first of all, i have a comment and a question. >> okay. >> the comment is that, yes, you may regret not fighting back at the fbi, but you're a writer. that is one of the most -- that is the biggest superpower in the world because it takes untelling to a national level. you are 10 feet tall and bullet ro proof in that respect. >> thank you. >> the question i have is that i read an article on you that said that you were born with hypotonia. >> and i talk about that in my book, yes. >> in that case, i can't wait to get to that part of your book. but i have it too. >> oh. >> and was later diagnosed with cp.
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so my question for you is what were your physical limitations as a kid, and how did you overcome them because it seems like cia and fbi would be really physical jobs. >> yeah, so cia surprisingly not as much so than the fbi. that's a really great question. i don't know that i have met anyone outside of my family that had it. not a lot of you know, hypotonia is when you're born with very under developed muscle tone. i don't talk about it a lot, because when people see me, they don't think there's any issue. i didn't walk until i was about 3 1/2, maybe, which is very late. and i didn't hold my head up until i was about a year and a half, i don't mean to age myself, but i was born in the '70s, so, you know, we didn't have a lot of information about these things, and the interesting thing is doctors
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still don't know a lot about hypotonia, which is weird. you would think 40 plus years later, we would have moved past it. for me, my biggest issues were with what we call fast twitch muscles. so i can really fast, really long distances, that's never been a problem for me, but at the fbi what became, i mean, i passed but like made just barely by a tenth of a millimeter of a second. the sprint was beyond difficult for me. and so that's really, for me, my only sort of limitation. also, i trip and fall pretty much all the time, which i wear heels all the time. and then for the amount of kind of working out and physical therapy that i do regularly, i don't show my legs, but if people saw my legs, they would be very surprised by them, what
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they looked like. i just do a very good job of hiding it. i think even my students don't know that i had it. i really don't talk about it a whole lot. >> i have a few questions but i will keep them very short. so first day of any new job is probably very frightening to many. i would be curious to know, obviously you can't reveal what that day encompassed but what your thoughts were on the first day at cia and to piggyback on that, i guess where your head space was on your first international assignment because again, i would think that probably, too, was stressful and the third part of my question is how you feel about how tv portrays female cia agents, homeland. >> can i answer the last question first, because i have an opinion. it really frustrates me because i think the women they portray are like deeply, deeply flawed
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and i do think you want to have some dimension to tv characters. that part, i totally understand, but they're like seriously flawed. you know, i think almost to the point of, well, only a crazy woman would do this. that doesn't sit very well with me because i don't see men necessarily being portrayed in that manner. that's how i feel about that. my first day when i entered on duty at cia, obviously i was really nervous. i did not know -- i don't remember sleeping a whole lot the night before but the best thing that came out of that were my two very best friends, who are still my very best friends who were bride maids in my wedding. at the agency, because you're there so much, you rely on your friends a lot. they sort of become your family. one had power of attorney with me, i'm still really really close to them. my first overseas assignment, i
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was really really nervous. you know, i didn't know what to expect. but i did travel with a colleague which was a blessing in that sense because they had gone before, and sort of were able to show me the ropes, so i'm glad that i wasn't -- obviously i traveled later by myself. i'm glad on the first one. >> i'm assuming most of your friends didn't know you worked for cia, so what was your cover, what did you do? >> you didn't always travel. >> i can't really talk about that. >> it's in the book. >> not really, though. >> yes, sir. >> actually, two comments and a question. first, the comment is i just want to thank you for the service to our great nation. >> thank you. >> and second comment is i'm really proud of what my daughter
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could become. you broke the glass ceiling, god bless you. >> you're going to make me cry. >> the question is would you consider coming back to federal service? i know the department of homeland security would love somebody like you, and there are a number to come in as a temporary person or a political. director walder. >> i would absolutely come back to federal service. i miss it. i really do. to a certain extent. i would -- i think, though, part of me -- yes, i would come back to federal service. >> wait, you said that wasn't plausible when he asked for it in the pitch. >> well, no, i think what i think he meant was like the cia would come calling back for me, and i don't think that piece is plausible. >> they should, though.
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>> it's okay. there's very talented people that are there that are doing a great job. >> let me ask you this, though, what do you need to accomplish before you would entertain that, do you have goals you haven't quite accomplished that? do you need girl security to reach a certain level, are you ready for the next adventure at this point, and since you're like 25 years old still and really have plenty of time. >> i'm in my 40s. >> any other questions anyone might have? >> thanks for being here tonight, and thanks for your service to the country. >> thank you. >> what do you see as the biggest threat facing the united states today? >> well, a couple of things. inside the u.s., i think domestic terrorism is a big problem, and i think the fact that it's not prosecutable really right now is another huge
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problem. obviously i can only talk to the fbi from when i was there, right, i can't speak to it right now. but all i can say is that when we were there, i did not feel that it was taken seriously, and why i feel that way is because, again, see, and i don't want to upset men. i feel like sometimes it's a gender narrative. i think some men have gone into the fbi to be on a s.w.a.t team, be on a hostage rescue team, take down gangs, and that's work. we need people to do that. absolutely. but they look at being, you know, on the domestic terrorism squad or the cyber squad or even the intelligence squad as being lesser than. and i think that needs to change. that mentality needs to change because if your whole heart kind of isn't in it, you're not going to do a good job, and i think that's a huge problem, and i think more money needs to be al kited
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-- allocated to it as well. i think needs to be a prosecutable crime. from the outside international, i think a big problem are failed states, and the reason i think that's a big problem is failed states breed terrorists. it's a breeding ground. if you look at iraq, saddam hussein is a bad personment i. i'm not saying he shouldn't have been taken out. dictators love instability, and right now libya has, you know, instability, even south sudan is having instability, somalia, yemen, we know these different countries are unstable, and if you look at those countries, i would guess, obviously i don't have access to classified information but i would guess we're seeing an uptick of terrorist activities. so that's two, i'm sorry. >> i'll ask a question now,
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where do you come town on some of the controversial issues that surround the cia? i know you mentioned one of them in the book when you talk about eit. the intelligence community, writ large, i'm sure your students are asking questions about snowden, about, you know, privacy, about the extent the intelligence agent is getting involved in our lives, and how do you answer those questions that are clearly, they're not black and white. they're really gray. >> i feel it's very black and white. >> i'm sorry. >> i know your answer. when you get into stuff like eit. you talk about it in the book, you are very gray. enhanced interrogation, the so called torture program of the cia. you're very gray in the book. >> people got very mad about that. somebody gave me a one star
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review because she was upset i didn't condemn bush and the program. i can only be honest with how i feel, right, so that was just sort of -- what i tried to do particularly in the classroom, and i think, i don't know, but i think my students will tell you that i me'm pretty apolitical i the classroom. i try to be. i give them the facts and then they sort of can figure it out. but they know how i feel about snowden and the surveillance state and all of that simply because i feel like i have some facts to kind of back up my statements. i usually don't make those statements. i think with eit, the reason that i'm gray is you have to look at why it was done in the first place. eit wasn't to necessarily gain information, right, eit was to make people complacent so we could then get it. >> that's the thing, i was really interested to see, i don't think we should torture, torture doesn't work. >> but torture and eit are not
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the same. >> see, nice and gray. so before we end, i want to thank you for coming here. >> thank you for having me. >> and for the book. for anyone who is not considering checking this book out, you're crazy. it's really one of the most interesting ones. reading it as a narrative is fantastic to kind of get that. i was so mad so many times in this book, the one thing she does is she changes all the names, but god i just wish you had publicly shamed some of the people at quantico because i'm ready to get in my car. >> my publisher's attorney said that was not possible. >> thank you so much for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> and she is going to stay and sign some books afterwards if you want to take a chance to purchase the book and have it signed afterward, i implore you, please, don't rush up here to
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talk to her. we're going to get her out there so she can get through everybody and sign books until midnight tonight. join me in thanks tracy walder. >> thank you. first ladies, influence and image on american history tv examines the private lives and public roles of the nation's first ladies through interviews with top historians. tonight we look at edith roosevelt and helen taft. edith roosevelt along with her husband became the first president and first lady it to travel abroad while in office, when they made a trip to panama. helen taft was the first first lady to ride with the president in the inaugural parade. watch first ladies, influence and image tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span 3.
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every saturday night american history tv takes you to college classrooms around the country for lectures in history. >> why do you all know who lizze bourden is. >> the deepest cause where we'll find the true meaning of the revolution was in this transformation that took place in the minds of the american people. >> and so we're going to talk about both of these sides of the story here, right, the tools, the techniques of slave owner power, and we'll also talk about the tools and techniques of power that were practiced by enslaved people. >> watch history professors lead discussions with their students on topics ranging from the american revolution to september 11th. lectures in history on c-span 3, every saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv. and lectures in history is available as a podcast. find it where you listen to podcasts.
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>> the senate health committee holds a hearing tuesday to get an update on the coronavirus response and plans to reopen the u.s. economy. witnesses include white house coronavirus task force members dr. stephen hahn, dr. anthony fauci, and dr. robert redfield. live coverage begins at 10 eastern on c-span 3. online at or listen live on the free c-span radio app. >> each week american art facts take viewers into archives, museums, and historic sights across the country. we visit the international spy museum in washington, d.c. to tour their exhibit on cold war berlin. our guide is lead cure rator als albin. >> hello, i'm dr. alexis albion, and i'm a


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