tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN September 10, 2013 6:00am-7:01am EDT
was spectacular. a reaction may have laid the groundwork or sent the wrong message. iots, two amateur terrorists were able to paralyze the entire boston pitcher politan area. to close down logan airport, mass transit. to message that may convey terrorists is that terrorism pays in terms of attracting perpetratorsthe and their cause. in terms of having a disproportionate psychological and financial effect on a target audience. the lesson is that terrorism may succeed. i worry that our adversaries may be hanging back in the run-up to our withdrawal from afghanistan in 2014. we may not be out the tsarnaev's were amateurs.
they had no meaningful connection. if they built a remarkably effective bomb, unlike a lot of the clowns and kooks and dreamers and incompetence that preceded them, their bombs unfortunately exploded and we have to worry now that the wherewithal and the means with which to engage in terrorism have, unfortunately, through that those means and methods have now become more promiscuously available to others. thanks. >> i will turn it over to mike to talk about the recommendations. i would like to thank the bipartisan policy. we add assessments and we have
followed with that hallowed tradition. we divided the recommendations for the legislative branch and recommendations for the executive branch. those of you who have followed the work of the 9/11 commission will recognize the first recommendation in which we say that congressman overhaul its oversight committee on national security particularly on homeland security. the principal officers of the department of homeland security 100rt to something like committees and subcommittees and that is an absurd situation. it is fragmentedit means they are not getting the coherent guidance we believe it needs. the second recommendation is congress should hold a series of public hearings on where the united states stands in its terrorism strategy 12 years after the 9/11 attacks. we think this is a appropriate moment for that. some of us on the 9/11 commission thought that congress lost an opportunity in the fall of 1998 after the simultaneous attacks on our embassies in east africa and after president sentence authorization of cruise missile strikes to hold public hearings in which the american public could be educated about what the threat was.
and what we needed to do as a country. that was a lost opportunity. we think we may be at another inflection point given what is going on in the arab world, given that the situation is now different from what it was 12 years ago and the american people would be well served by having a series of public hearings, broad public hearings defining what the priorities are today and what needs to be done and what has not been done and so on. we also say that congress should use the withdrawal of combat troops from the end of 2014 to review the authorization for the use of military force. remember, the aumf was passed in the weeks immediately after the 9/11 attacks. it was a broad granted authority from the executive rent and it was time to take a close look at that and see if the purposes are still being well served and what should be changed. we also recommend that congress
should put the cia drone program on more sound legal footing. we are not saying that congress should dive into the operational details of drone attacks but we think it should be on a very sound legal basis and congress, as a coequal branch of government, should have a big role in that synthesis such a roof found change in our --tional security prost your. posture congress should create an independent investigative toddy. dead body that should be patterned on the national -- investigative body that should be patterned on the national model that should explain how the attackers oblate law enforcement and how we identify lessons learned form it in a bipartisan way. we selected the national transportation safety board as an example because that's a board that goes in after an airline crew -- an airplane crashes and its is respected
around the world for its judgment and evaluations. we think something similar could be useful and helpful here in the era of terrorism. -- in the area of terrorism. we think the administration should repatriate some of the resin are still being held at guantanamo they prost attention facility and use civilian courts to try terrorists. the administration should also create, in our view, an assistant secretary for countering violent extremism at the department of homeland security and provide that cohesion in all the issues in countering violent extremism. there is a role for the legislative branch with that recommendation because they would have to create that position. the government should incorporate lessons learned from the boston bombings into its current emergency response land
to ensure a more measured reaction to tragic but smaller scared -- smaller scale terrorist attacks. the u.s. government should make a concerted effort to track the flow of arms into syria and urged u.s. allies to keep these weapons out of the hands of jihadist fighters to the extent possible. the united states should keep careful track of foreign fighters who have joined jihad is ripped fighting in syria.-- fighting in syria. another recommendation of the united states should remain a military presence in afghanistan after the nato combat mission and's and december, 2014. we have spent some us national treasure and blood in afghanistan. we were able to push al qaeda out. many of them went to pakistan but we denied afghanistan as a place where the terrorists were able to plan and do training for operations. to allow things to revert, i think, would be to deny that big sacrifice we have made over the
years. we think that is important. finally, we call on the government to release additional osama bin laden documents captured at the robot abide compound. a limited number of documents have been released so far -- 17 maybe, a compound. limited number. scholars and specialists andi think the public would gain by knowing more of that information. we think that would be an important recommendation as well. >> with that, i will take deliver it to the -- i will take liberties to ask some questions and then we will open it up to the the audience but we cannot start today without talking about syria. one thing that strikes me is we allegedly have seen chemical weapons used by syrians. is this something we need to be concerned about at home? how do you assess that and how do you think the threat from
chemical/biological weapons has increased or decreased? >> al qaeda in iraq deployed chlorine bombs on 17 occasions. the only -- it is not a particularly effective way to kill people. the people who died in these attacks were killed by the blast. al qaeda in iraq -- al nasra was a splinter group of al qaeda and they are prepared to use chemical weapons albeit of a crude nature. are they behind the seron gas attacks as the assad regime claims? that seems absurd. the number of people killed is beyond the possibility of any terrorist organization. when theseron gas was deployed in the japanese subway, they only killed 12 people.
these are the purview of states, not these kind of groups. i mention al qaeda in iraq in this context because they have shown they are willing to use these kind of weapons at a technical level that they have at the time. i think that is a fact that speaks for itself. >> i think syria is worrisome on some many levels. just focusing on the terrorist level, in the long game, al qaeda has sought to eliminate all its opponents and take power so one can see that the longer the civil war unfolds that the opponents of the assad regime might favor or promise to support. without that support, they could come out on the losing end. i don't think al qaeda wants to take over the entire country. that would not be undesirable but i think it wants to carve
out safe havens and sanctuary in's at -- sanctuaries and that is the oxygen al qaeda breeds. the other thing is foreign fighters. there have not been many americans going to syria. our european allies are streamed about that in discussions with the heads of intelligence and security agencies. the figures vary but in some cases, it is a huge problem. usually you had to go to afghanistan or pakistan to do jihad but you can drive from --rris very easily to damascus drive from parisnow.very easily to damascus now. now. we don't only worry about the foreign fighters going to syria as the situation gets more complicated but i think everyone is worried about a repeat of the past were the foreign fighters return to their home countries. just the sheer diversity and an array of assad's chemical
weapons according to my understanding, their dispersion means that sooner or later they will fall into rebel hands. the problem there is that you have defectors from the syrian military and the chemical corps. in this case, you could have people with considerable training using chemical weapons with the access to these weapons that are not homemade but our industrial-strength, as it were, and perhaps the delivery means like artillery shells. they could be smuggled elsewhere. >> i agree with what you have both said. i want to echo what congressman hamilton said in his remarks that it is difficult to make predictions about the future. with respect to syria, i think
is going to be very important to track as best we can the foreign fighters going into syria. not just the foreign fighters but the weapons they are given and compile as much intelligence as we can on the refugees because there is a vast number of refugees and this could be good pickings for al qaeda to do some radicalization among those populations. i have been around long enough to remember, as some of you do, the support and the provision up editions and arms that the government -- of munitions and arms that the government gave the mujahadeen and we gave them ammunition that was pretty sophisticated and we lost track of them. now, some of those weapons were creating problems, potentially,
for civil aircraft in her personnel -- and our personnel. there is some lessons learned from that program. being able to keep track of these things as best we can is a hard task. one thing we know is once you give weapons to people, they very seldom give them up unless they have some huge incentive to do that. it can create future difficulties. >> it makes sense to talk about the strategy the government is using and is the counterterrorism strategy sufficient? >> talking about the and as a, there is a debate -- talking about the nsa, the vote was very close in the congress on this issue. in the report, as far as we can tell from the public record,
only one case -- what is controversial in the united states is the telephone metadata. americans care less about overseas e-mail traffic. in only one case of the 212 cases since 9/11 came out of the telephone program and it is a trivial case -- a guy in san diego sending money to al shabab, only a few hundred -- aars. fewthat is not something thousand dollars. someone would want to encourage but the government had access to all your phone records for the past five years. no matter how carefully they manage that program, who is to say some future administration five years down the road does not have the same view of the way this eta should be handled?
-- the data should be handled? that would be question one. are we in a situation -- i was astonished by the " new york times" story where essentially any program you use in the united states on a computer has a mandated backdoor into it that the and as a can get into. -- that the nsa can get into. it seems like an un-american concept that everything -- obviously, two people involved in this are well intentioned. i thought you we are doing a lot of the right things.-- i think we are doing a lot of the right things. we had 12 years to get our counterterrorism policy right and we make recommendations in the report but there is no magic wand that needs to be waived over the situation. personally, i am concerned about what seems to be this huge grab of executive power on the issue of our private communications.
it would be one thing if you could say that all the - every terrorism case was because of nsa surveillance. in the report, almost every case made is waste on the typical things that make any typical criminal case. a suspicious activity report in 90%, tip from a family or community member in 33% of these cases, an undercover cop and half of these cases.-- in half of these cases. that's how these cases are made. >> i think the fundamental argument of the report is in the last paragraph which says the threat is changing and our responses and policies and strategies have to change and evolve as well. that is the yardstick we need to measure this against. how, in the immediate future, how serious, how flexible are we to become what has become a more diverse threat?
on the one hand, the number of positives five years ago, nearly three dozen somalis were being recruited in the minneapolis -- st. paul area. that is a phenomenon we have been able to detect and has decreased on the positive side. on the worrisome side, an exemplar of the changes is this to tsarnaev brothers. it attracted attention but not enough attention were there were continued problems in terms of the sharing of information and intelligence between federal, state, and local levels. as the threat becomes more and diffuse, will become more important. what worries they the most -- me the most and where we need to pivot the most is we weaken the al qaeda core and error high- value targeting drone program has been successful but, at the same time, what does that say when al qaeda has been able to
expand further afield at a worrisome dimension? it is active and twice as many theaters as it was three or four years ago. we need a different strategy that does not focus on one arm of al qaeda but treats the entire movement in the same way. >> i think the report is strong on the domestic side -- we have seen a change from initial worries after 9/11 that help that would be planting operatives in the u.s. and that would be a huge problem. what we are seeing now in some ways is more individuals who are self radicalized over the internet but without those direct operational control links to al qaeda. this presents a very difficult law-enforcement problem. you are talking about individuals who may not have a radius criminal records and not
have come up on the radar's go public government or authorities locally or statewide or federally. it is a big problem. in terms of the white house strategy, there has been a big emphasis on the use of the drone which has been ineffective in many ways but one worries about the long-term consequences. i recommended to those of you here who may not know of out of them of the bipartisan policy center hosted a panel four months ago talking about the legal basis and moral basis and the policy basis of the drone program and it is worth taking a look at. governor cain and congressman hamilton assembled a panel of legal and policy experts to discuss those issues. i think they got into some of the longer-term consequences that we really need to consider. we are happy every time we are able to take out some terrible guy who is planning something
against the united states but there are longer-term consequences. >> thanks you for that plug-in that can be found on our website at bipartisan policy.org. >> one of the recommendations that was incredibly innovative was the call for an independent body like the ntsb to investigate terrorist attacks. i have called for investigations into terrorist attacks as one of the 9/11 family members. i remember that fight as well as getting them the resources and time it needed. it was a full-time process to do that. your call for a body to be prepared in case there is a terrorist attack to come in and investigate, that takes the burden off the victims and their families and the public at large to have to call for an investigation. i also think it could provide an
opportunity to remove the polarization of attacks because you will automatically know there will be an investigation and the public will find out what it needs to much like when we have some sort of aviation or transportation tragedy. we know the ntsb will go in and investigate and when they are ready, they will provide us with details and people don't seem to mind letting them do their work. they know there will be transparency afterwards. how did you envision this body being created? can you give us more details? >> first of all, one of my colleagues from the 9/11 commission has fought long and hard about this and has made a similar proposal in the past. in making these proposals, one can see that there will be pushback and it will be controversial. unless you ruffle a few feathers and push ideas out there, it's sometimes hard to make progress.
one can see some obstacles to such a body. when there is a terrorism attack in the u.s., the fbi dives in right away and there is a cloak of secrecy the goes around the investigation. we also think it is important and would serve -- attacks are going to happen in the united states under republican and democratic residents in the future. having a bipartisan approach and a panel that is respected because of its expertise in a number of areas i think would be extremely helpful and useful politically and useful to the american people. >> peter or bruce? >> i second everything mike said. you can imagine the same kind of and attack doesn't have to be successful. you could look into something like the christmas day 253 plan and there were important lessons
learned and there was an internal cia investigation that was a white house for port and there are some things that have to remain classified but given how that was a very politicized event because of some missteps by some people in the administration initially about what they said about it -- you can imagine this kind of body would be very useful. the 9/11 commission is sort of permanent. it would be made up of similar leaders and staff. it would not have to be as big as the 9/11 commission but i think it is a great idea. >> there is a threshold question. what particular event is an act of terrorism? what would trigger the use of this organization? we face this question as we were writing the report in terms of
what we would include in terms of a threat assessment. would cover ecoterrorists and terrorists on the fringe politically or should we concentrate on al qaeda and transnational terrorists which are traditional? there are the initial triggering threshold questions that one would have to consider. >> there is still controversy about the anthrax attacks. i feel the fbi story is the correct story that it was bruce ivins. but if a was a nonpartisan group of experts and the syrian political leaders were involved, controversies like that would be less likely to happen. instead of having the fbi saying this is our conclusion and that's it. >> four years after the fort hood tragedy, we are still debating whether them major who committed the attack is a
terrorist. this would take it away from struggle -- from strictly legal framework. i think it would be enormously invaluable institutionalizing the lesson learned from every terrorist incident. that seems to fall by the wayside. it depends on the same people being in office or being in their positions of responsibility is not always the case. there is a diversity of jurisdictions in the united states which this would enable more cross-fertilization. i think it is enormously important. >> my colleagues know more about this than i do in terms of the middle east but looking at the israeli example in a society that is under attack a lot and they have formulated methods and standard operating procedures for dealing with this and getting back to business and getting back to normality as fast as possible after an attack. the lessons learned aspect of it and trying to do this and that
is credible with the american people has a lot to offer. >> there is often a lot of controversy with terrorist attacks whether al qaeda is involved or not. in the madrid 2004 bombings, there is a debate about that. something like this but -- would be and are mostly important and disentangling the rival claims are false claims that are made from the truth and i went to find if the cell cut or whether it is an affiliate or associate or whether it's in an independent group operating because it is in sync with the al qaeda aims. all of those are important. >> i agree. i appreciate you spelling it out more. i will take one more cash and-- questionfrom me and open it up to the audience. that is -- i will take one more question from me and opened up to the audience. the state department decides if these are terrorist organizations and is it something we need to look at as
groups evolve and we need to input -- evil in our ways to designate them -- and evolve in our ways to designate them? >> there was a big debate whether to designate the hakani group. if we designate them, it is hard to negotiate with people you've designated. is it a terrorist organization or not but it was designated. as a practical matter, does the designation change the way they do business? i don't think so. it's not like they are operating with act accounts you can closed -- bank accounts you can close down. it does not operate like that. >> it depends on the group, i think. as a moral weapon or statement of policy, it is in our mostly important.
groups like the hakani network may not care but other groups were concerned when they were placed on the united states list but on canada and france. it's another important weapon. there are weapons against terrorism that are non-kinetic. is the system perfect and doesn't affect every terrorist organization the same way? no, but it does not mean it does not play an important role against the battle against terrorism. >> i think it should be used when appropriate. >> i would love to open it up to the audience. there'll be a microphone going around so state your name and affiliation and let's keep them short so we can get good questions. i will start off with governor cain right here. there is a microphone coming. >> thank you very much and bank the panel for a terrific discussion. i want to follow up with something bruce said.
you said out qaeda is staking everything on syria. forgetting for a moment what the united states should do in reaction to the gas tax -- gas attack -- there are so many facets to this one. is there a best possible outcome for us? if so, what is it and how do we pursue it? >> in my view, the best possible out, is the one we could have a year or so ago if we had backed the opposition groups, not just to diminish the of deal of the jihadis who were the most competent and ruthless fighters. it would have given us more influence perhaps over these groups than we have now. i think it would have given us greater insight as to what is happening in syria which we don't have today. i still think it is in essence
the same policy, backing the groups in them a couple to al qaeda. -- in amicable --inimicable to al qaeda. al qaeda is it tempting to rebrand itself just as osama bin laden said. he understood that al qaeda had to convey a different image. it is a wolf in sheep's clothing but it is sensitive to public perceptions to the extent that it was not five years ago. we know it is something that is changing and we have to push back hard against. >> let's start with the fact that it does not call itself al qaeda. they understand the branding problem. they had an ice cream eating contest in aleppo and a tug-of- war contest as having town
meetings and showing videotapes of bidding aging with the -- of them and gauging what the locals. in a sensethe report is the first ,time that al qaeda is acting like hezbollah in a massive way and is learning. it is a population-centric strategy. eventually, they will do what they have always done which is involved tell of them-style rule but not doing that right now. which isbut not doing that right now. --taliban-style rule but they are not doing that right now. if you don't do this, what are you signaling to iran? i would say to the critics that if not now, when?
if you don't respond to this, when do we plan to enforce this international law? the president is in a difficult situation in terms of international law. he does not have the un or nato or the arab league in any any full way. by going to congress, it's a big gamble for a president who has taken big gambles in the plast whether -- in the past whether it was the osama bin laden raid. it was a big payoff but if the vote was held today, it looks like he would lose but things can change. the republican party which is seriously concerned about iran and the liberal side of the democratic party which is seriously concerned about issues like responsibility to protect, they will have to do some serious thinking about these issues as they begin to ache about which way they will vote. -- begin to think about which way they will vote.
>> john? microphone is right behind you. >> terrific report. many of your recommendations are self-evidently useful. the one that i think is the most significant and difficult as the one that has to do with congressional race for him or jurisdiction within the congress. it was the 9/11 commission in my judgment that made the most concise comments on the problems with congressional jurisdiction with regard to homeland security. it made some very useful recommendations. i was on the hill at the time with jim turner and we agreed that they reaction within the congress was something of a windup with very little pitch in the end. it was difficult to do. if you could move in this direction, i don't think anyone would dispute if you had
congressional oversight that was more focused, more rational that it would be a major contribution not only to the commission but other national security issues including the nsa surveillance issue of how do you get there? the second comment, you talk about change over 12 years. when i go back to the beginning of my own intelligence career in the late 1970s, i remember the assassination of the ambassador to afghanistan. as analysts looking at that, that was not hard to do. it was a tragedy but we could identify the extremist party within the spectrum of parties in afghanistan. it was not even clear that they wanted to risk killing the ambassador. he was killed in an assault on the hotel where he was. it was ultimately blames more on the soviet trained afghan forces.
that was an analysis, national framework. fast-forward to the towers in 2006. the fbi investigation was what the consensus was that iran was responsible for this act in 1996. we had the general there who was held accountable for not protecting his forces. at that time, he lost his second start. over time, we have come to realize that we underestimated the strength of al qaeda at that time and the underestimating the potential for an islamic identity to mobilize and mobile and motivate forces across the region and ultimately across the world.
national identity for these groups was subordinated to an islamic identity. it took us a long time to realize that. when you look back on kobar towers, it more likely al qaeda than iran. general schweiker got his second start back in 2008. fast-forward to syria and compared with 1979. it was so much easier to establish attribution and today it is virtually impossible to establish attribution because you have the proxy wars and the sunni/shia conflict, militia groups but countless numbers. this is an extremely complicated picture to analyze. does anybody on the panel not understand why the american public is war where he -- his war weary and concerned about
putting our military at risk and does does not understand where the national interest is and why we need to do more in terms of threat assessment to make it clear to people why the risk would be worth taking? >> thanks for that. let me try tackling the first point. i am not an expert on congress. i have worked for those who are and have mentors who are. in the nearly 10 years since the 9/11 commission report came out, the cochairs of the 9/11 commission have lost no opportunity to keep hammering on the point that this is something the congress needs to do. this reform needs to be made in oversight. they have made that point repeatedly. they also said in the room port, i have heard them say this is probably the heaviest lift of any of the reforms recommended by the 9/11 commission.
the best formulation i heard and i live it to experts like jim turner and lee hamilton but i think the leadership of congress needs to grasp that this is a national security issue. i think that's the argument that making these changes in the jurisdiction of committees and oversight is a national security issue that will improve the security and defense of the united states. that is the underlying point in the argument that needs to be made and it needs to emit persuasively and forcefully3 . the 9/11 commission folks ever. -- have repeatedly made it. i don't know if it will happen. i think we can just keep pounding away on that theme. that is my best thinking on it. >> in terms of the national interest, the national atlas-- interestthese days is weighed down with a lot of baggage and
not the least of from iraq and weapons of mass destruction and faulty intelligence. we should not let the past blindness or tether us to not looking coldly and soberly at the threats as they are today. what the report concludes, and i think is definitely the case, is no al qaeda threat is ever completely localized print it is has always transformed itself into a regional threat and spread into surrounding countries. a year ago, we would have talked about boko haram in nigeria. many al qaeda threats have gone beyond regional to international. just this past summer, we see -- our 19re of error 19 embassiesembassies and consulates because of a threat from al qaeda in the arabian and samoa -- in the arabian peninsula.we thought that was a
local threat. this continues to develop while we are enmeshed in taking over -- while it is. enmeshed in taking over parts of yemen. al qaeda has greater ambitions to attack the west, particularly the united states. syria, because of its geographical situation, the crossroads of the middle east and europe because of its contiguous borders with three of our closest allies, turkey, israel, and jordan, means that whatever baggage we have from afghanistan or iraq over the al qaeda threat, we are talking about something with very different consequences with perhaps repercussions that would manifest themselves far faster than a normal al qaeda time cycle. >> right back here. >> i want to build on a comment
that the governor made. the 800 pound gorilla this week is whether or not congress should authorize a military strike. given the impressive area of talent and experience of this panel, i would like you to answer, if you will, a two-part question. what is the threat assessment of near-term retaliation should we strike and secondly, what is the consequences, drawing on your knowledge from the intelligence community and related activities, of our not striking? >> some of the threats i have heard from the syrian officials about retaliation remind me of baghdad during the 2003 -- just you wait,
israel has attacked syria on multiple occasions and there has been no response. it is easy to respond to your neighbor so i think it is a red herring. my personal view is we should respond to the use of these weapons. as bruce has pointed out, we are not re-litigating the iraq war. this is a new situation. if we don't respond in this instance, when we'll we -- when will we respond? >> sam rayburn said to lyndon johnson that he wished all of jfk's wisemen had run for dog catcher and they would understand politics. i think how we do it is important, probably more important than what we do. in some respects, the train has already left the station. israel has retaliated pretty harshly against syria in the past. they just do it and don't wave the flag and take huge amounts of credit.
they are confident their message has gotten across and it is a significant deterrent message. i think what we do will play into the response of the retaliation. in terms of the capabilities of our advertiser -- of our advert sherries to -- other adversaries to mentor retaliation, it is there in hexbollah. it would be enormously consequential. should that be a deterrent? i don't think so but that's something we have to bear in mind. the consequences of not doing anything -- that i cannot answer. it gets into the realm of guesswork and we just don't know. i can also tell you all sorts of bad outcomes given the scenario of has the law if we do something. -- of hexbollah if we do we are caught between
the proverbial rock and a hard place. >> i don't disagree. i think they are very good points. i am mindful of syria of some testimony we had on the 9/11 commission from clinton national security people. we asked them about options they considered for use of force in afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks in the late 1990s. one of the answers we received and some factors they were waiting were the fact that we had a no-fly zone in iraq and we were knocking out airplanes every once in a while. we had taken this military operation in the sudan using cruise missiles. there were various things going on and one thing that was waiting on their minds at the time was that you had two or three military operations going on in the muslim world and you start getting seen as being very aggressive against that part of the world. with iraq and afghanistan, it's
just something that concerns me when i think about it to take on another prospect. i am not saying that is not the issue but that is the underlying issue that one needs to think about. >> [inaudible] >> the homeland security project is working with the energy project on cyber security objectives to look at what we need to do to make sure the grid does not get a tax through cyber attacks. it is not necessarily not related to your question but we keep that in mind here. let's go back here. >> i want to follow-up on this task force tummy tuck. do you
envision -- on this task force. you have use the model of the ntsb. is that the way you envision thes as a post-incident? jtttf is multi agency. >> in large part, it would be an organization that was step in after an attack but hopefully the lessons learned from each incident would provide may be how to avoid future attacks. we have commissions after something bad happens. one could think about a commission for trying to head off certain things from potentially happening as well. >> richard? >> former member of the 9/11
commission, a partner at mayer- brown in washington. i want to thank you for an extraordinary discussion so far this morning and the breadth of the discussion is truly impressive thanks to tom and lee and all of you for this discussion. it seems like the recommendation or streamlining congressional oversight is somewhat quotidian in views of the immediacy of the other issues like syria. however, it is one of the things that sticks in our craw as the 9/11 commission recommendation that never got any traction in congress. i am interested in the tactics of finding a way to reignite
that recommendation and i like very much what mike hurley said about the national security implications. let me suggest that you perhaps use whatever hearings come as a new secretary of homeland security is selected to hammer that point. i would suggest that perhaps one of your greatest allies and our ticket with -- and articulate spokespersons for reform would be janet napolitano who could talk to the extraordinary drain on resources and difficulties that are posed by more than 100 committees and subcommittees to whom the secretary and her staff must report.
i would suggest further that you request secretary napolitano and her staff go into chapter and verse as to the amount of time and the disruption that these burdens put on the department of homeland security. thank you very much. >> those are excellent suggestions are you >> we will keep that in mind. over here? >> i have a recommendation for critique from what i have not heard. as you may know, former senator bob brandt has been fairly outspoken about the role of the 28 pages in the 9/11 report that remain classified discussing the saudi role in the international financing.
i have an open letter from the speaker of the house of the syrian parliament to our speaker of the house john boehner, discussing the saudi role in the financing. we know from intelligence reports that the al qaeda groups that have been vetted by the state department in libya, some of their weapons have been caught shipping over to syria and the al nusra group in has their financing coming from this. perhaps, as well, their chemical weapons and other weapons that they have as well as logistics. it seems to me that if we are going to be shutting down this operation, the key thing to do is to shut down the financing emma the international
financing. that includes both going after the role of saudi arabia in financing these operations but also the role of these banks which are considered too big to fail like hsbc to be involved in laundering drug and terrorist money. if we were to separate the bags -- the banksaccording to glass- steagall standards, you could probably solve that. this is something on the agenda as you probably know. what are your thoughts about that? is it time that we declassified these pages and went with ex- separation to protect ourselves from these things?-- bank separation two percent ourselves from these things? >> that is from the joint intelligence committee investigation not the 9/11 commission. >> congressman wolf this past summer had legislation passed that would set up a commission this is one of the four areas they would look into, the whole saudi involvement question.
as to the financing, i would look -- i would recommend a book that explains some of the genuinely positive achievements that have been made in stanching the flow of the money to terrorist organizations. one does not know how deep the well is that over the past decade cometh as one of of the success stories in the war on terrorism. lex i agree but terrorism is a cheap form of warfare. the most significant al qaeda attack in the west was self financed with credit cards, it cost 8000 pounds. look at the boston attack. i don't know how much it cost that i would be so rise of it wasn't just a few hundred bucks to buy pressure cooker and the necessary ingredients. the notion that if you close down all of this money flow, terrorism would disappear is a false assumption.
by the way, terrorists are volunteers, particularly suicide terrorists. you cannot pay people to kill themselves. there was money involved in 9/11 to carry out that the reason it succeeded is there were 19 willing -- 19 people willing to die and that something money cannot buy. it is an important thing but i think the saudi's themselves have a better sense of this problem. they have put at are controls over their charities. --at they can control is the what they can't control it is themillions of people who come to saudi arabia, many who contribute to some funds that will help somebody and ends up somewhere else. that is a hard thing for them to control. i think the 9/11 commission, you have said in the past this is something that you gave it a b? you gave it the highest grade. this is something where progress has been made.
>> we have time for one more question, right here. >> it seems like the simplest and most effective thing the groups whose leaders are the object of eric targeting killing program would do is to send a lone assassin from this country to perform targeted killing of their own. when john brennan was national security advisor would open the door to his house by himself. michael hayden, former national security adviser was jogging by himself. while we are being strip searched electronically, those in the know are acting as if there is nothing to worry about. does this suggest that the threat from terrorism has been hyped? >> well, this is exactly the reason that terrorism is appealing. it has been appealing for 2000 years because it has
disproportionate psychological reproductions on its target audience. the compact between citizens and their government is a problem. citizens expect governments to protect and defend them. they expect them to do so in different ways than they do against terrorism than automobile crashes. automobile crashes don't necessarily affect people's behavior. people have not given up their cars but we see the pernicious effect terrorism has had on a society on its confidence and leadership and those are important elements especially in a democracy. that is why terrorism is always consequential. i think we should avoid hyping it because that's what the terrorists want us to do. that does not mean we should turn a blind eye to the threats as they exist and deny that they can have a profound impact on our way of life.
>> christmas day, the plan to blow up the flight, 300 people would have been killed on the plane and more on the ground and it would have been covered by the media. it would have affected commercial aviation at a time when the world's economy was not in great shape. it would have to be reconfigured. the financial consequences of such an attack would have been very great. luckily, it did not happen. nobody on this panel is in the business of hyping a threat in any given year. more americans are likely to be killed by snake whites are lightning than by terrorists. however in some years, that was not the case as we saw on 9/11 which had a transformational effect on this country. that's why we produced this report. it is a calibrated attempt to define what the threat of the --
you could make the argument that the right set of circumstances, al qaeda and other groups can perform a self resurrection given the circumstances of the middle east. >> i want to thank you all for coming here today and remind you we planned this to be the first in a series of annual assessments of the threat. we hope to lay will look forward to seeing you next year here to discuss how the threat has gone and everything has been taking care of. i hope that is the case. i want to thank the entire team for making this happen. they did a fantastic job pulling this together and all the staff. i want to thank your three panelists. i want to thank all of the staff that helps them as well. i also want to thank the former president of the 9/11 commission for attending.
congressman turner, thank you for attending and congressman hamilton and governor kean thank you for being here and thank all of you for coming and we look forward to seeing you again soon. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013]
>> defense secretary check hagel and martin dempsey and john kerry will testify about the use of military strikes in syria and will take questions from members of the house armed services committee live this morning at 10 eastern on c-span three. president obama will address the nation tonight to try to make the case for military strike on syria. we will have live coverage at 9 p.m. eastern. coming up in 45 minutes, we will talk with the california congresswoman barbara lee whether to use military intervention in syria. jersey congressman chris smith weighs in on syria and shares the house global human rights subcommittee and later, the former deputy
director of the cia's national clandestine service discusses how the cia gathers and uses intelligence. plus, your phone calls, e-mails, and tweets on "washington journal, co. coming up next. ♪ host: president obama plans to address the nation tonight on syria, and address that will occur after 9 p.m.. this comes after growing support for proposal that will allow syrianian web -- allow a chemical weapons stockpile -- a procedural motion to begin a formal debate authorizing the use of force. our first 45 minutes this morning, we want to get your thoughts on the president's address tonight and specifically what you want to hear from president obama on syria. a number of wa