Skip to main content

tv   Counterterrorism Efforts  CSPAN  July 11, 2018 3:54am-5:35am EDT

3:54 am
hear about is concerns about crime. i believe efforts to increase the police force have been gaining in this area, but people are still very worried. as the mother of three kids, that is an issue for our family and one of the reasons i chose to run for office. >> be sure to join us july 21 and 22nd when we will feature our visit to alaska. c-span,aska weekend on to listen on the c-span radio app. now to the washington institute to hear from lieutenant general. he directs strategic national planning. effectiveness the of u.s. counterterrorism strategy since 2001.
3:55 am
>> now to the washington institute to hear from lieutenant general michael nagata. he directs strategic planning at the national counterterrorism center. sincecusses strategy 2001. >> good afternoon, everybody. i am matt. i have the pleasure of directing the reinhard program on counterterrorism and intelligence at the washington institute for near east policy. welcome and thanks for joining us for the latest in our counterterrorism lecture series. we realized we have been running the series for a decade and there is a lot to be learned over the past 10 years as we look back at what we have been
3:56 am
doing in counterterrorism, what we have been doing well and what hasn't worked out as well as we look forward to trying to figure out what our strategy should be and to have a conversation about tot that, we are honored have witnessed lieutenant general michael nagata, who assumed his position at the national counterterrorism center in may 2016. previously, general nagata served as commander at the spent a -- a special unified command center and provided -- participated in the first years of combat operations against the islamic state. a career special operations officer with over two decades of military and inter-agency counterterrorism makes arians, he participated in contingency at combat operations in such very locations as somalia, the
3:57 am
balkans, iraq, and syria. we will have general nagata gives some opening remarks, then we will sit back down, i will offer the moderators the first question, a fast curveball to be sure, and we will open it up to q&a from the audience. we will and at 2:00 p.m. sharp because i promised your staff, apparently you have another meeting, that i would get you out of your by 2:32. with no further ado, general nagata. please turn off your cell phone so we do not interrupt the program. [applause] lt. gen. nagata: thank you very much. i would be remiss if i didn't express gratitude to matt and the members of the washington institute for extending me the and meditation -- the invitation to be here today to make brief
3:58 am
remarks, and in gauge and a conversation about what i came here to talk about. as you have already heard, i have been in my position as the senior strategist for counterterrorism at the national counterterrorism center for about two years. what i am about to try to convey to you is a melding both of my own practical operational experience, some of which has been successful, some of which has not, but you know, whether you call it experience or scar tissue, i have a lot of both. also, what i have been forced to inrn in the last two years considering how the united states government in its totality, not just the u.s. military, addresses the problem of terrorism around the world. so what i intend to do today is
3:59 am
discussed those counterterrorism efforts, give my perspective, particularly with an eye towards how our nation strives strategically to protect u.s. citizens and our interests around the globe from the threat of terrorism. after these remarks, i will get to the more important part, a conversation with you and matt. my goals today are to make a few remarks about what i consider to be the state of u.s. ct efforts and in so doing, provide my perspective on what the future of contesting terrorism will require. for nearly 17 years, the united with a in conjunction large number of allies and partners around the world, has exerted extraordinary effort and invested enormous treasure into contesting terrorism and its many forms. as you know, our principal focus has been on the kind of international threat that organizations like al qaeda and isis pose.
4:00 am
during this time, the united states has sent some of its best and brightest to the farthest reaches of the globe to combat terrorist organizations and franchises in their sanctuaries. along the way, we have developed an almost dizzying array of intelligence capabilities, tactical and operational innovations, and technological breakthroughs year after year. as a result, all of us can and should be very proud of all that has been accomplished, not released of which being the prevention of another catastrophic terrorist attack on u.s. soil, such as our nation experienced on 9/11. we rightly grieve those we have lost along the way, and still strive to take care of those who have been gravely injured and wounded in this longest of america's wars. after nearly two decades, and despite all we should rightly be hasd of, i believe the time
4:01 am
come to ask ourselves difficult but necessary questions. despite the capabilities we have developed and the progress we have achieved, why is terrorism today more widespread and complex than when we began? been --terrorism proves proven to be so resilient and adaptive despite our successes and the continuing pressure and might that we and the world bring to bear against it? as one example of why the underlying trends of terrorism, despite our best efforts, are so troubling, is a sobering statistic one can derive from the global terrorism database compiled and maintained by the university of maryland. since 2010, terrorism related fatalities worldwide have increased more than 300%. terrorist attacks with associated fatalities increased by nearly 200%. separately at home, federal law
4:02 am
enforcement has about 1000 terrorism related investigations open in our own communities across all 50 states. i am not trying to suggest that our efforts have been fruitless. the plain fact is, there has been no repetition of a 9/11 style attack on our own soil. that is a signal and an accomplishment. we have revolutionized, and i do not use that term lightly, our own abilities and practices when it comes to illuminating and attacking terrorist leaders and plots. that is a big deal. to's --d, i would like to share with you observations from my perspective as an operational practitioner for several decades, and today, as a d.c.-based strategist. first, where have we been since 9/11? the lions share of our
4:03 am
investment since that day have gone into developing new ct capability and capacity that are primarily oriented on identifying, illuminating, targeting, tracking, and as we say in the ct world, finishing terrorists and terrorist plots. -- bothcipal focus, but tactically and strategically has been developing arab -- our ability to eliminate terrorist leaders and their foot soldiers while identifying and disrupting their attack plans. investments in intelligence community capabilities, a revolutionary -- a revolution in military affairs, and the creation of new federal agencies focused on hardening our infrastructure, defending our borders, and investigating and disrupt inc. violent extremist rets inside our country and abroad. second, where are we now? , as i havehand
4:04 am
already described, we developed an enormous proficiency and expertise in ct that continues to serve us well today. recently, when the exotic spake exploded onto the world state, the united states was grappledy and able to with and begin the military defeat of that entity that would have been possible 17 years ago. on the other hand, the fact that --s suddenly emerged as it as a strategic surprise only four years ago should be a sobering realization for all of us. numbercompelled a large of experts within our ct community to recognize that for all the successes we have had, violent extremism in virtually every form continues to be very resilient. i would like to provide three examples to emphasize this point about the size, capability, and resilience of terrorism today. first is a personal experience. more than a decade ago, i
4:05 am
commanded a foreign fighter task force that focused on foreign fighters that were joining al qaeda in iraq. i vividly remember we were struggling to deal with fighters that totaled in the hundreds. in 2014, rise of isis our best estimates are that in ess off 40,000 -- in exce 40,000 fighters have flocked to its flag. isis has been a strategic high .nd near in at least two arenas -- pioneer in at least two arenas. it is weaponize in and employing available and affordable unmanned aerial systems. much more capable technology systems become more readily available to anyone with a credit card. a terrorist's ability to create legal effect is no longer
4:06 am
dependent on centralized centralized training, weaponization. secondly is this group's innovative use of online propaganda, including social media platforms, to recruit, radicalize, and mobilize individualists -- ended to individuals to violence. no longer is it dependent on face-to-face contact between a recruiter and if her respective terrorist recruit, nor do recruits require guidance given the emphasis on encouraging followers to conduct attacks in their home countries using simple tactics and easily accessible weapons. consider that the truck driver in nice, france, in 2016 was able to kill and maim as many
4:07 am
people with his truck as a large ied pack would have. third, as many of you will recall, we had a notion right after 9/11 that "we will play such an awesome away game that there will never be a home ago, inearly 20 years had to confront the sad reality -- nearly 20 years later, i had to confront the sad reality that despite the enormous effectiveness of our away game efforts, and we should be proud the overall movement of terrorism has proven durable and resilient to our attacks. today, we are contesting an unprecedented scale of violent extremist activities, not just internationally but against a wider array of domestic and homegrown extremism on our own soil. assuming that is accurate, we
4:08 am
are faced with the question of how to make ourselves and our allies more effective in reducing the size, capability, and resilience of terrorism, not just how to identify and attack it. way to preserve today's impressive ability to disrupt terrorism while significantly strengthening our ability to reduce terrorism in all its forms, internationally where it threatens u.s. interest or u.s. citizens and more effectively within our borders. our formidablein ability to attack and disrupt terrorist activities, it is necessary for the u.s. to shift more of its investments in people and capability towards what i will imperfectly call non-connecticut prevention of terrorism. non-kinetic prevention of terrorism. like many of my colleagues, i have been forced to confront the reality that attacking terrorists does not create
4:09 am
successstrategic against terrorism. it is necessary, but it is not sufficient. reducet suggesting we our investments in what we have done in the past 17 years, effectively attacking terrorists, nor am i suggesting we need an equivalent investment cn what we committed to kineti capabilities.tic the organizations that strive to prevent terrorism have neither capacity or the proven methodologies today that could justify such a massive investment approach. furthermore, the federal government has learned it must be very thoughtful and careful in how it supports or even resources or funds prevention programs and activities, especially with respect to our imperative to ensure civil and
4:10 am
constitutional rights, personal privacy, political freedoms, and free enterprise are protected. suggesting is this. we need a much more vibrant dialogue and effort, within our government and across our society, about the degree to which we are willing or able to increase our investments in terms of fiscal resources, manpower, and genuine policy support for at least five related mission areas. becoming more effective in assisting local communities and families in identifying those vulnerable to terrorist recruitment and enabling local actors to either prevent or offramp these individuals or groups by teaching them how to address their needs or grievances without resorting to violence. second, becoming more effective in contesting terrorist
4:11 am
ideologies. , i'm sorry,obal becoming more effective at of theing terrorist use internet as a global command and control system and an increasingly powerful radicalization instrument. fourth, becoming more effective preventing terrorist travel, and fifth, denying the terrorists the resources they need to operate and propagate their ideology. important i acknowledgment thousands of extraordinary and dedicated people within government and across civil society, at home and abroad, are striving to succeed in all five of these arenas today. they deserve the credit that is due them. unfortunately, there is simply not enough of them. the universally suffer from resource shortfalls. most importantly, they would benefit from the kind of
4:12 am
constant and durable policies are that kinetic ct approaches enjoy today. over the past 17 years, identifying terrorists and their plots have required support. not everything we attempted to do in locating and attacking them were successful, but we learn from every mistake. we were really to absorb the setbacks -- we were willing to absorb the setbacks, and persevere because it was so important we learned how to succeed. it will only be through the kind of group this experimentation we were once willing to endure in our kinetic journey that we will
4:13 am
learn how to be equally successful in preventing terrorism. this will ultimately determine if we learn to prevent the creation of new terrorists, as well as we are able to kill or capture them today. i'm going to stop there. i would be delighted to answer any questions you may have, or deal with any challenges you wish to make to any of my assertions. thank you for listening, i appreciate your patience. we will move to q and a. [applause] could have someone will this podium back so i can see people in this side of the room. if you have a question, i will get you on the list. we will get to everybody. >> that was really a tour de force. there are several things that come to mind. i will ask you one for starters. of the five four
4:14 am
non-kinetic mission areas you laid out, in one way or another touch on what is called counter radicalization, countering balance extremism, now some are calling terrorist prevention. the one area, and what i would describe it -- not tactical, that there is still a tremendous amount of debate, especially in this administration. cte i look at what we do on as a country abroad, i see is doing a lot of great things. the state department office that deals with issues. what i look at what we are or not doing at home, you mentioned the homegrown violent extremist threat, there is a lot happening at home. how would you better shape our efforts in the homeland?
4:15 am
is so much i could try to address. i will try to be brief. the thing i am most concerned about, not just inside our own country, but pretty much everywhere around the world, is -- is what i consider to be a strategic deficit. various forms of support for the people, the leaders, and populations most likely to be successful in preventing someone from taking the path to terrorism. those generally are not governmental actors. this is particularly true in our own country. we have this imperative to respect privacy, to preserve the ndeedoms americans enjoy, a
4:16 am
this beingangers of intrusive, unwelcome invasion by the government. deficit i am going to talk about is pervasive. true, at home it is true. girth of effective training and education, and sufficient support for mostly civil society actors, family members, , communityeaders , community leaders of
4:17 am
various types, so that they know how to identify those who are potentially vulnerable, or may have already undertaken the initial steps in what ultimately leads to globalization to violence, and prevent it. go, bothe i internationally and in the u.s., the most frequent lament i get from community leaders, from civil society actors, the people i have described, is where can i go, who can i turn to who can teach me, who can train my people, train people in my community? educators, law-enforcement people, religious leaders, how do we know what we are looking for? once we know we have found, what are the most effective approaches to dealing with it so we avoid globalization of
4:18 am
violence? as allricky in the u.s., americans should know. holding a radical idea, an extreme idea, is not a crime. it is constitutionally protected, necessarily so. the treacly heart -- the tricky part is how to help local actors identify those who are beginning to take that path avoid violating their rights? avoid creating the impression? this is all just a government program to spy on americans, and yet be effective in preventing the final step of violence. it is a very tricky thing. what i consider some of the complex kinetic operations i have been involved in, some have been very complicated and tricky, but i think what i just described is more complex.
4:19 am
>> if you could wait for the microphone and identify yourself. -- other people will quit to use them, we have plenty of time -- other people will get to use them, we have plenty of time. >> michael gordon, wall street journal. stillght against isis continues, particularly in eastern syria. implications the of removing the 2200 u.s. troops from syria at this point in time? what needs to be done to consolidate the gains, interns -- in terms of stabilization and the international community doing enough? i'm going to try to take this in three bites. the last part was consolidate
4:20 am
the gains, if i remember right. the fight against the islamic well, is you know very not confined to eastern syria. it's not even confined to syria. we do have to finish off. we are well on the way to finishing off the remnants of the declared geographic caliphate, that has shrunk down to a small part of the euphrates river valley. there arem is that still plenty of isis fighters elsewhere in iraq and syria. may have adopted primarily insurgent taxes -- tactics, but they're still terrorists.
4:21 am
even when we finish the fight in the euphrates river valley, isis will still be in relatively car numbers -- large numbers in iraq and syria. including something we should all be worried about, a large number of foreign fighters. the coalition has finished off a lot of those people, but there are still a lot left. they have gone to ground in a lot of cases -- places, but they remain a threat. they will still be a threat to those people longed after we have finished off our military operations in the euphrates river valley. the fight is not over, it it is not even over in iraq and syria, even once we finished off the last remnant of the original geographic tell if it -- caliphate. i begged the question, which leads to the other things, what do we do of what remains?
4:22 am
my view is that the role of the u.s. is irreplaceable in dealing with what remains. there are many different formulas one can come up with about what the nature, composition, or size of the american involvement is. some of those are going on today. i don't know what the outcome of those debates will be. my view, and i express this view in the circles that i live in inay, the role of the u.s. maintaining focus on the remnants of isis in iraq and syria is irreplaceable. if we are not the galvanizing after, i think it is very unlike the someone else will do our place -- unlikely someone will fill our place.
4:23 am
if the pressure on the islamic state remnants in iraq and syria is lifted, all you have to do is refer back to what happened in isis,rney from aqi to to realize what the remnants of isis will all become stronger. what can be done to consolidate the gains? you ask anyone in our development agency, any of the civil society act nurse -- actors, you will get the answer i am about to give you. if the government is in -- if the governments in the region are unable to address the original grievances of the remnants into what became islamic state, there will be
4:24 am
consolidation of our gains. we cannot consolidate the gains there. the people in the region have to consolidate the gains. some of them are trying. it is in our interest to assist and support them wherever and whenever we are willing or capable of doing so. consolidation of the gains cannot be done by the u.s.. they have to be done by the people that live there. >> tim andrews, contractor at the state department. you spoke to resources for non-kinetic activities. i was wondering if we drill this down a little bit and look at the noncoercive non-kinetic activities. other than law enforcement. and ask you the question of whether we have our risk for
4:25 am
that kind of activity calibrated properly? we have been willing to take a fair bit of risk on the kinetic side. in my observation over roughly 10 years in this arena, we are not really willing to take risk on the noncoercive non-kinetic side. what can we do about it? >> the short answer is i think it requires us to make different decisions. the longer answer is this. in my opinion, as well as my experience, if you want to see a very vivid example of a term i used in my prepared remarks, policy support, watch what international leaders of all stripes do in the wake of combat casualties among our own forces. as a general rule, what you hear a policymaker say is, this is very tragic, it is unfortunate, did, we will take
4:26 am
care of the fallen, but the best to avenge them is to persevere. we have to keep going, we have to be willing to endure and observe these blows and setbacks. that is a common experience in the military. in these non-kinetic arenas, or noncoercive non-kinetic arenas, often that does not happen. when there is a setback or perception of failure, this is not just true of the u.s. government, governments around the world, the international committee tends to flinch from failure in these non-kinetic arenas. that means we are less willing to accept risks in these arenas then we are in direct combat with the enemy. that is a decision, a choice, whether we are aware we're making it or not. it will require us to make different decisions. i'll close by being more
4:27 am
specific. this policy support can take many forms. the one i just described i would argue is most important, but there are other examples, as well. role as director of doategy ant nctc, we assessments of how our fiscal resources and the capabilities they fund are being used. i doubt it would surprise you to know that a very small fraction of our counterterrorism expenditures go to things like counter messaging, terrorism prevention, etc.. it is a very small investment that we make. as i said in my prepared therks, i am not suggesting hundreds of billions of dollars we put into military campaigns needs to be translated into these arenas, but they can absorb it. we still have a lot to learn in these arenas. there are things we can fund
4:28 am
that blow up in our face, so we need to be careful. they do need people and they do need money. that is also a form of policy support. money,ople and more recognizing some of this won't work. that if we are willing to accept fatalities and keep going, we should also be toling to see an effort counter an ideology, or to prevent the recruitment of an individual or group that may fail very badly. the u.s. government or our partners could get accused of every sin under the calendar, being foolish to being perverse, but if we are not willing to accept that, it begs the question how serious are we in this arena? know everything that
4:29 am
can succeed in these arenas. this is in direct contrast with our kinetics experience. we have years of knowing what doesn't work in tracking down and capturing or killing terrorists. we have two decades of experience. there are probably people in this room who can go back to some of the ways we tried to hunt terrorists after 9/11. we don't do those things anymore because we learned they didn't work. we have not undertaken a similar journey in noncommittal counterterrorism. on the topic of terrorism -- non-kinetic counterterrorism. my answer is we have not tried hard enough to know what works in some ways. of the --le reminded tom severson once replied after he was being showered with praise for inventor thing --
4:30 am
inventing the lightbulb, he said he invented 1000 ways not to have a lightbulb. had i not had all those failures, i would have not had a lightbulb. we have to be willing to undertake the journey when it comes to ct. >> my question is many countries from egypt to bangladesh are often accused of abusing their counterterrorism provisions as part of their efforts to crack down on dissent, which is increasing political grievances, frustrations, and radicalization, how can we hold our partners to focus on the real threats that matter? >> the only reason i am hesitating is i doubt anything i
4:31 am
will say is anything you haven't heard before. it's complicated. i will try to do better than that. there is a tendency, this is not just true of the u.s., it is true of a lot of governments around the world that are confronted with a very dangerous physical threat from terrorism. emergency, in many cases. you don't accept the risk in confronting the physical threat, which means you do accept risk in other places, including the some of ourthat partners or allies around the world may take license with the support we give them in ways we do not want them to.
4:32 am
in my view, we have to confront the question is everything an emergency? is the training of now so important, that we have to inept the risks involved some of our partners going on excursions and new activities or behaviors that we believe make the problem worse? out tendency has been to treat everything as an emergency. i'm going to take poetic license. i have been looking for an opportunity to say something. this audiencer something to take about -- think about. terrorism is a very important problem. any physical threat against anyone's life is an important problem. terrorism is hardly the leading
4:33 am
cause of mortality around the world. i was looking at an actuarial the, i was examining leading causes of mortality. one of the things i noted is i have a higher likelihood of being killed by a household pet than a terrorist attack. i am not trying to equate the two, but it is constructive in terms of this regard. when one considers a number of americans that have been killed by terrorist attacks, we have this awful event that killed over 2000 in a single day. aside from that, the number of americans killed in terrorist attacks has been comparatively small when one considers the number of americans that died in traffic accidents, opioid overdoses, and the like.
4:34 am
it begs this question, is everything an emergency? no,ink the answer has to be but our tendency has been to treat everything as an emergency. unintentionally, we sometimes invite what your question suggests, we inadvertently enable activities, behaviors, or other things that actually ensure that the problem never get solved -- gets solved. >> thank you so much for the presentation. a little bit on the political background. we live -- that as americans we
4:35 am
live with the reality. there has in changes of administrations. i am wondering if in counterterrorism work, at least in offering plans in your insight and strategies, is it affected by administrations? who is the president, what his advisers think, are you affected by the? you doubt it will surprise to say i am affected by it. everyone in government services affected by a change in administration. policy goals, change to some degree, policy preferences i am affected. all of my colleagues are affected by changes in the administration. what has remained constant, i'm going to oversimplify for the sake of brevity, every administration since 9/11 has we're nevergoal of
4:36 am
going to have another 9/11. --m that compared has flowed from that imperative has flowed much of what we have done for 17 years now. whatever we do, we are going to prevent another 9/11. that has been a policy imperative that has not changed. rightly so. said, we've also been very consistent in being primarily focused on those activities that lead to the death or capture of a terrorist. where our focus has generally not been is preventing the creation of new terrorists. that has also been consistent
4:37 am
from administration to administration. we published plans and strategies. one examines the policy support, manpower, and money we committed, it is a tiny fraction of what we devoted to bringing a physical finish to terrorist around the world. that is the balance that i think needs to be read dressed. that is not unique to the current administration, previous administration, or the one in power on 9/11. i don't think the non-connecticut -- the non-kinetic community could have soared the resources that have been showered on the kinetic --e, but the imbalance there's too much in balance. that has to be redressed in my view. >> my name is mark ginsberg.
4:38 am
you indicated social media companies are the soft underbelly of the internet. it has become weaponize by terrorist organizations. social media companies in the u.s. claim they are doing a more effective job helping to reduce the proliferation of terrorist activity etc. door, we areack witnessing how isis is using collateral platforms on facebook, google, etc. to hide in plain sight. given the fact that social media companies are prepared in doing more, if you could get them to do more with a are doing, what would you ask that -- more than they are doing, what would you ask them to do precisely?
4:39 am
>> i think we should give credit where credit is due. i doubt there's anybody in this room who is not aware of the tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of extremist accounts . probably untold volumes fo extremist content -- of extremist content that has been taken off of the large media platforms like facebook. are u.s. companies, some are not. we should give them credit. ofy have done a great deal work to date down the count -- to take down that content. i want to start by giving credit where credit is due. it is also important to recognize that you don't have to
4:40 am
be a company like facebook to create a prolific social media platform. some of the most famous social media platforms, or more well-known, if you look at who is running it, it is close to a mom and pop cottage industry. it doesn't take a lot of people. out attention has been primarily on the big tech companies, not the smaller organizations. importantly, i think there is an unanswered question about taking down content that we have to address before we go back to anybody in the tech sector and say you have to do more. what is the correlation between taking down content and reducing the scale of terrorism around the world?
4:41 am
i am uncertain about that. i would like to believe there is a direct correlation. the more we take down the content, the less terrorism we will have around the world. i am not yet convinced that is true. i have yet to see any empirical evidence that it is true. i am not suggesting we should not take down the content, people get killed with that concept. but i'm not convinced yet that taking down more content makes the kind of strategic difference that i think some people assume it does. i am convinced of this. it may be true, but i am not ready to embrace the idea that it is true. my caution to the people in our government that engage the tech sector, before you ask them to do more, why don't -- should we
4:42 am
not examine how much of a difference it actually makes? things that do don't reduce the scale of terrorism. just as importantly, i doubt this will surprise you, taking down content -- taking down extremist content is a comparatively easy task for these tech companies to do. some of the things we would like to ask them to do that we don't would affect their profit margins, stakeholder interests, their livelihood depends on fostering interpersonal connections on the internet. if we are not careful, we are going to demand things of them they are simply unable or unwilling to do. we may be approaching that boundary already. i think there is a step we have to take. out much of a difference is this
4:43 am
actually making? -- how much of a difference does this actually make? >> my name is larry mandel. i am a retired foreign service state department. i had the pleasure in serving in turkey to work with general nagata. my question is, looking back on it, do you think our joint work with the turks was logic successful -- largely successful? if you had -- are there things you would employ if you had to do it again? >> it is great to see you. i would be remiss if i didn't say thank you to you and all of your colleagues if i didn't thank you for putting up with me during those visits. back is always a dangerous exercise. i'll try.
4:44 am
as i look back on it my personal view is there really was no alternative to doing what i would argue people like you and i, the ambassador, were all trying to do. time necessarye to encourage and persuade out turkish colleagues --our turkish colleagues to take this journey with us. people in this government who completely disagree with me. i don't criticize them. i can understand why people in our government and across the coalition felt regardless of what our turkish brothers may think, we have to do what we have to do.
4:45 am
that was not the tactic i was taking. i had the freedom at the time to take the approach i was taking. look back on it, it is easy to convince myself that what i do works. i do believe it was working. the question i could not answer is could the u.s., the coalition afford the time it would take to bring our turkish colleagues along with us? i still don't know the answer to that. if i had to do it again, would i do differently? no. back.the , no newsoctober 16 confirming. day after day, isis became
4:46 am
stronger and active. to returnant is it back, and how do you describe the security situation over there? what is your opinion of the kurdish leadership in fight against isis? thank you. >> thank you for your question. i was recently in northern iraq visiting some of my kurdish colleagues that i remember from when i was a younger officer deployed to iraq. it was a great reunion. patriot -- i want to pay tribute to the soldiers and officers in the kurdish formations that fought isis in those early days. whenere holding the line many other forces were either unable or unwilling to hold the
4:47 am
line. we should give credit where credit is due. kurdish bravery, kurdish skill measure andmportant capability that prevented a very dangerous situation in iraq. it prevented it from becoming catastrophic. i want to pay tribute to that. i told my kurdish colleagues when i was in northern iraq a few weeks ago. you asked specifically about kirkuk. ishink -- my personal view that kirk cook is going to be both a challenge and a tough case for the new iraqi government once it is fully formed. the election has only recently happened. i don't think we have a final form for the new government. once it is in place, kirk cook will be in early new
4:48 am
place for the government. kurds in the north, and central government have interests in kirkuk. the best people on both sides are trying to find a path towards some kind of joint administration for kirkuk. i have heard people on both sides caution americans and other coalition members that there is significant peril for the entire country if that joint administration agreement is not reached. i agree with them. untilf this is possible the new government in baghdad has been fully formed. this is a story that has yet to be written. mutuallyonable acceptable joint administration
4:49 am
will send -- if it is created, will send a very important signal across both the country that if we are to prevent a return of the islamic state or something like it, there has to be a different political outcome in this part of the world than we have had previously. >> i've just returned from israel, it has been three weeks. my brother's farm was in spitting distance of gaza. a few rockets came over close to us. chair, in that
4:50 am
"irresistible: the rise of addictive technology and the business of keeping us hooked." -- -- obviouslyiran is -- iran is the principal supporter of terrorism. to counter that globally with in africa, south america, we have to do more. we see what is going on. would you comment on that? >> i can try. at the risk of sounding like i am trying to dodge your question, the question about are we doing enough, or is the world doing enough because iran is recognized by many countries around the world as a state sponsor of terrorism, the question of are we doing enough begs a different question, what are our goals? beingld like iran to stop a state sponsor of terrorism. we would like terrorism that is
4:51 am
connected, either directly or indirectly with iran, to caseas. are wen your question, measurably close to that today than we were a few years ago? probably not. that said, our administration has made no secret of it's inte nt and determination to deal iranian malign behavior, including its state sponsorship of terrorists or terrorist like activities. that is our policy boal, to be -- goal, to be much more effective in contesting iran's relationship with terrorist activities. withinrategic dialogue our government is ongoing. i am part of this conversation,
4:52 am
because i work on counterterrorism strategy. it is unfinished work. now, i'mt is underway sure you are aware of some of the sanctions. obviously the withdrawal from the joint plan of action is a component of this. there is much more yet to be decided. based on those decisions, there is still much more yet to come that we have not yet decided. ofare at the very beginning this semester nation's journey to content -- this administration's journeyed to contend with terrorism around the world. it can't possibly be enough yet, because we have just begun. >> secretary of state has given described point plan, by some in the government as
4:53 am
building block elements of a strategy. the secretary is in the region soht now saying things like money is engaging in these malign activities. how does someone like yourself try to translate these big -- into actual counterterrorism strategy? want to avoid turning this into a seminar about strategy development. i will be brief. we try to look at this through two lenses. the enemy lands, what are they trying to do and what -- how are they trying to do it? many things at their disposal when it comes to these activities. they have their own state organs, proxies and service around the world and region at their disposal that they can use to conduct malign activities of
4:54 am
many different types. iran is a global actor, whether we like it or not. they have people that will do their bidding in the western hemisphere. not just in the middle east, they have people in europe and asia. we have to understand what we are grappling with. an ongoing process, just understanding what we actually tangling with. how much are we actually tangling with when we deal with iranian malign behavior? on that score, we have to recognize that they have the ability to retaliate. them, they have the ability to harm us or our allies. we have to take that into account.
4:55 am
it doesn't mean we should shrink from action. we have to be ready for possible reaction. that is also ongoing work. what can we do? what are we willing to do in order to impose costs, send strong signals, or curtail activities? i will use one example. capable potential adversary. we will need exquisite intelligence to be effective in contesting iranian use of terrorism. that has not been where our intelligence committee's focus has been. increasingly, there are other demands. north korea, other nationstates
4:56 am
we are worried about beyond iran . one of the things we have to take stock of is how much of our intelligence community capabilities can we afford to devote against a very complex and formidable potential adversary when it comes to iran? intention with unrelenting demand for those very same exquisite intelligence capabilities are other problems. our limiting factor is not our ability to impose costs on iran, our limiting factor is the ability to know where, when, how, and what the likely outcomes would be. those are all intelligent questions. the ic is meeting itself coming and going with all of the multiple terrorism and nationstate challenge demands
4:57 am
pouring onto the dmi every single day. >> thank you, general, for your remarks and commitment. it is truly appreciated by those of us. i retired after 31 years in the fbi and spent a lot of time in this town. i could not agree more with your statement about newer decisions and risk analysis, and moving away from such high level of risk aversion that nothing gets done. one of the great fears we have has not evolved as we thought it might, the danger posed to ou r country domestically by returning foreign fighters. without getting specific, i'd like to hear you speak to your
4:58 am
level of confidence that we know who they are, where they are, and when they return, our plan is in place and will be effective to the degree that it can be. >> i spend a fair chunk of time worrying about the foreign fighter problem, not just for the u.s., but for many of our partners and allies around the world. i'm going to a conference soon to discuss this. you used the term confidence. we just don't know enough. i used the term in my prepared remarks that our best estimates of that something in excess 40,000 foreign terrorist fighters have joined isis since 2014. it's an astonishing number. the problem is, it is a low confidence number. there's a lot of latency in our reporting.
4:59 am
we sometimes don't know that a foreign fighter joined a terrorist group, or may have even traveled back home until months, or sometimes even years after the travel has happened. that's not because we are dumb or incompetent, it is just really a function of what i said moments ago, there is so much tension on our intelligence committees, so many multiple competing demands, our ability to focus collection and analysis on just the foreign fighter problem is limited. calling intocally question our confidence in making such assessments. our analysts are trained to be conservative in their estimates. the 40,000 number is certainly low. many of them have been killed. a very large number of them have
5:00 am
died during the military campaign in the last four years. that is all for the good, but thousands remain. i'm going to change your question, what is our confidence we can track them from places like iraq or syria, to the next destination, which may or may not be their place of origin? unfortunately, the same answer. our ability to focus on the wiht limited until -- with limited intelligence resources, is limited. by theoften surprised emergence of a foreign fighter that we once knew was in location x, but now has shown up in location y. we're stopping foreign fighter or terrorist travel. it is a necessary component, i
5:01 am
would argue it is one of the things we should do not connecticut, making it harder for terrorists -- non-kinetic, making it harder for terrorists to fly. this is no small task, considering the world is very busy liberalizing international travel. international travel has never been faster, never been more convenient, never been more available, or cheaper than it is now. while we have been busy liberalizing international travel, we have to undertake the challenge of identifying a tiny fraction of that population and preventing them from traveling whatsoever. that is no small feat. it's really cutting against the when we global trans are liberalizing international travel. it is necessary, when you have this ised at this, but
5:02 am
another arena that i do not think gets as much attention as it should. >> in the back, dan green. >> i'm a fellow at the washington institute. i worked at the state department for a while. order the other lessons you picked up in the military or various tours when it comes to harnessing local populations to defeat terrorist groups? even the mr awakening and our role in facilitating that, there are a lot of lessons that are often contrary to how our bureaucracies are designed. often are institutionalized and readily abandoned. >> i will give you a very personal answer. this is deeply colored, perhaps badly biased, but here's my answer. effective wants to be
5:03 am
in harnessing, collaborating functional and effective relationship with a foreign actor of any kind, an international actor of any kind. i don't care if it is a local tribal militia, or a foreign governments military, the key to success is personal relationships. and language about end s, ways, means, and aligning interests are important, i'm not trying to discount that. in the absence of taking the time and making the investments necessary to forge personal relationships with these actors is only so far you can go. after the last 17 years, there
5:04 am
is a small cottage industry of books that have been published about what i just said. titles like drinking three cups of tea, and what have you, the common denominator is that this is fundamentally depend on -- dependent -- it shouldn't surprise us, it happens in american culture as much as it happens anywhere else in the world. you get to the point in developing your relationship with someone, i have my own memories of this, were some local leader is looking at me saying things like what you've asked for is very difficult. normally.ot do this over the months, you have done
5:05 am
things for us, we trust you. , weecause you are asking me are willing to do this. somebody else -- if somebody us were asking me, the answer would be no. maybe it is for show, maybe they are lying to meet, but this has been such a frequent experience that i have come to believe that you have to have your logic, your nation state interest in mind, be mindful of the talking points given. in the absence of a personal relationship, particularly when lives are online, particularly when the stakes are very high. if you don't have a personal relationship with the people you are trying to work with, you will probably never get there. >> i read that somewhere in your book, dan. hand --ic, raise your dave pollock, raise your hand. somethingto ask about that may be a happier prospect.
5:06 am
>> happiness is in short supply. >> i thought you would appreciate this. i'm not sure you agree. it seems to me that in the long term, on the light -- on the ideological front, that there is thatmising potential today did not exist until very recently, which is a change in the policy of countries like in therabia, and others, way that they institutionally propagate islam. in a moremove violent, less generally more enlightened or moderate direction. we have seen that at the washington institute, were we have posted senior clerics from
5:07 am
some of these countries and heard a very different message from what we used to hear. i wonder if you have anyways of assessing whether this has made a difference so far, whether you see that in the longer term it could yield significant benefits to our overall international counterterrorism efforts. is or anything else that strikes you about this phenomenon -- is there anything else that strikes you about this phenomenon? i will start by telling you something you probably have already heard. i can't remember the exact setting. it was a high-ranking leader from china who came to visit one of our war colleges. he was asked the question by somebody in the audience what he got the significance of the american revolution was. his answer was too early to tell.
5:08 am
i'm not trying to be trite, it just immediately popped into my head. this -- at the risk of using a bad analogy, the gordian knot of the variety of causes, grievances, and ideologies that fuel terrorism at the scale we have seen around the world, is going to take generations. sound like anto excursion, i keep on my rather messy desk a copy of george kennan's long telegraph to remind myself it is not impossible to take a generational approach to a problem. it is just rare. i think the world, not just the u.s., is going to have to adopt a generations long approach to
5:09 am
untying this gordian knot of grievances, causes, and ideologies. some of what we have heard from our arab friends is promising, but it is way too early to draw any conclusions, in my humble opinion. i applaud what they seem to be trying to do, i welcome all of it. if past experience is any indicator, some of this will fail. will they keep going when it fails? i asked us that question. when we fail at something, will we keep going, or will we quit? it's too painful, too hard, to complicated, or it will take too long. if we are serious, if the world is serious, we will do what , wege kennan recommended will stay at this for as long as it takes.
5:10 am
a have demonstrated willingness to kill and capture terrorists for 17 consecutive years. it will take even longer to untie the grievances, causes, the ideologies. are we willing to do it? i don't know yet, i hope so, are we are never going to be rid of this problem. >> we have about 15 minutes left, which means this is a lightning rod. i promise to get you -- and lightning round. i promise to get you to everyone's questions. >> it's his way of saying i'm blathering on too long. look at thised to point as an inflection point on your last response. as we see the demise of islamic state's success on the battlefield, do you see trajectory moving forward
5:11 am
consolidation of these extremist groups, or do you see a continuing competition between al qaeda and the islamic state? or is it more decentralized? we see groups pop up like these islamic extremist groups, the drc, but have no relation to to bob desha bob. -- two shabbat. >> i think we will see everything, we are seeing what you just said. you use contemporary examples. i will give you a slightly different answer. i'm going to answer your question by saying here's what i the convergence -- and
5:12 am
unfortunately isis has been a pioneer in these arenas. example foren an aspiring us -- extremists. the power of online radicalization. we have never seen anything like this. no longer does someone trying to recruit a terrorist ever have to physically meet an aspiring terrorist. you don't even have to directly communicate. just get the right video in the and you will inspire without any instruction. no preparation, trainingm, resourcing, a complete decentralization of the recruitment process. it has been astonishingly effective.
5:13 am
we wouldn't be having the conversation we are happen -- we weren'tng if it incredibly effective. we wouldn't be spending all this time. i also talked about in my the ubiquitouss availability of increasingly powerful technology, unamnned aerial systems is not the only example. printer, you 3-d can make a firearm in your basement. that is true around the world. download instructions for a chemical weapon on the internet.
5:14 am
what happens when these things converge as they are converging now? recruitment of a new terrorist no longer requires centralized control, planning, resourcing or direction, radicalizing them and mobilizing them to violence does not require any central authority or connection. an increasingly powerful lethal capability is available to anyone that has a credit card and the ability to follow instructions on the internet. that is the future of terrorism. about theconcerned existence of large, formal structures like al qaeda and isis, but i am more concerned about where this is all headed, a gleeful could be
5:15 am
enterprise that much of our common capabilities are not tailored for -- lethal enterprise that much of our common capabilities are not tailored for. sir?ew: can you speak to some of the u.s. counterterrorism goals in africa? there has been an uptick in political violence in nigeria and surrounding countries and much displacement and widespread insurgency and terrorism throughout the region. you were obviously well-versed in this arena. terrorism in that part of the world is a symptom of a problem. that too many african societies, too many
5:16 am
africans are suffering from, in nigeria, somalia, is all a societal,political, that all underpinnings african nations are struggling to address. cases, notmany successfully. there is no prospect of the united states being willing to mount the kind of large-scale terrorism efforts that we have been willing to mount so far in places like afghanistan or iraq. no one is proposing it. if you were to propose it, it shot down quickly.
5:17 am
we have the rise of the or-state competition we have to do what's -- deal with. we are going to have to find other solutions. some terrorists will have to be captured and killed. the future of counterterrorism in africa could be a testament for how seriously is the international community willing to invest in things that don't involve killing counterterrorist? we will take to questions and you can answer them together. katie, can you pass behind you to the one in the blue blouse? effortsounterterrorism as you describe them today have been incredibly enemy centric.
5:18 am
we have somehow drawn lines that hold theoups same ideology as al qaeda and isis, and the terrorist groups by itself, trying to distinguish them from what i see is a broader movement. moving forward, as we are looking at how these groups are operating on the ground, they are not focused on the united states and the west in the same way we are focused on them. they are focused on the people. if the enemy is focused on the people and the united states is focused on the enemy, is that -- doesn't that create a strategic weakness in our counterterrorism strategy and how do we fix that? >> two quick questions. cat are the best practices to
5:19 am
ounterbalance extremism in a non-kinetic way? how the status of terrorist threats are perceived in the u.s. government, less important than the threat from peer-state competition from china or russia, how do you convince the government that it is important to focus more on non-kinetic extremism? i will try to take these in proper order. your question was founded on the notion that the enemy is focused on population, we are focused on them. that is a problem.
5:20 am
not arguing we should not be focused on that. you are reminding me something that i worry about. i am going to use a specific example as a way of answering your question. there is counter-messaging. some people call it fighting the narrative, contesting the ideology. i dislike the term. we are still using it, so no one cares. seems to imply it is sufficient to criticize the enemy's message. i believe it is necessary. some of their messages are hollow and hypocritical.
5:21 am
we should criticize their narrative and the deal they are offering to those they are either trying to persuade to join their ranks, or simply an effort to cow them into submitting what ever it is they want to do. it is insufficient to do that. they are offering the population they are talking to a begs the question we often falter in answering. what is our deal? what are we offering the same people that is more attractive, thanreal, more persuasive, what the enemy is offering? that is where we often falter. it is very hard to get international consensus on what the alternative to be.
5:22 am
personthink some other like me ought to be and what i think ought to be in other governments around the world are very different. getting even just regional consensus on what a better offer will be has been incredibly difficult, and it has had the unintended consequence of discouraging us. terms of your question about best practices, it reminds me of what my wife often tells me when i emerge from our go ton closet, about to whatever social occasion, and my wife looks down at me and says, will you just try? we have to try. too often, we don't. a year ago, iout
5:23 am
was in a conversation with a pretty important person in our government about presenting terrorism -- preventing terrorism. i said, sir, we need to invest more. his immediate retort to me was, you will have to prove to me it works, firs my response wast. -- works, first. was, we haven't tried hard enough to know what works. i can tell you what works, we don't know yet, unless we are going to try hard enough. fail,are not willing to we are never going to find the road to success. we are so afraid of failure, we are not willing to try. the best practice we could adopt
5:24 am
is try hard to succeed in and are setbacks along the way. -- endure setbacks along the way. matthew: we will take these two questions together, please. general, for being so generous with your time and this wide range of questions. i had a question you personally addressed, but i will follow up. threats ofed the terrorist getting a hold of unmanned aerial systems. given this commercially available technology, what can be done to disrupt the availability of terrorist organizations to get a hold of them? or is this more a question of looking at the battlefield response. is this part of the picture we have to take into account from the battlefield perspective? pass the mic forward,
5:25 am
please. fundamentally, terrorist organizations have change from hierarchical to more network structure. is our best effort of focus on understanding how these networks are functioning? gen. nagata: could you say it one more time? fundamentally, terrorist organizations have changed from our hierarchical structures to more network-structured. where are our efforts best focused as junior analysts? gen. nagata: i will try to take these in order. let me make a quick note.
5:26 am
i ammanned aerial systems, going to stipulate something that i would actually like to be wrong about. we are not going to jam the toothpaste back in the tube. the availability of increasingly powerful unmanned aerial systems, there is no way to roll that back in. it is out there. for those of you that don't know, there is an international sport called racing drums. i was periodically intending to check, i do an internet search for the fastest racing drone i could find. they are propeller-driven and jet engine.
5:27 am
the last time i checked was about four months ago. i went searching for what is the fastest propeller-driven or jet engine drone i could buy with a credit card and have it in three days? anpeller-driven, 200 miles hour. jet engine, in axis of 400 -- excess of 400. it already is a weapon. share of people around the world are using them for peaceful purposes. i am not suggesting we stop any of that. it is like any other technology. actor wants to use it for bad purposes, they can and will.
5:28 am
the thing that i worry about most is that increasingly these theforms are exceeding neurological capability of the human brain to pilot. they are already achieving performance characteristics that exceed what a human being can match on his joystick. people are flying these systems with using a form of artificial intelligence you can put on a smart phone. we are dealing with flying robots. question, are we billing as a government to ling as a-- wil government to innovate faster than the commercial industry? matthew: and it can regulate? gen. nagata: or that.
5:29 am
there was an editorial that came out asking congress to take a look at this. this is not static. this is moving, for no regard with what the united states government wants. on the other question, asking me for advice is always dangerous. there is a lot any analyst can and will learn from what we have in our classified holdings. increasingly, understanding terrorism is going to require us inbecome much more effective learning about terrorism outside of what is available in the classified realm.
5:30 am
we are not particularly good at that. do not get paid or promoted for examining what is out there in the wild. they get paid for promoted and examining what is in our classified holdings. require us tol expand our aperture in ways that make us uncomfortable, to examine a publicly available information that has no quality control. there is a lot of quality control unclassified holdings. on what isre happening in terrorism is to be found there. matthew: general, today you walk into the closet of the washington institute, you tried real hard and did real well. thank you to the washington institute for making this possible. thank you to all of those who were able to join us. have a great day.
5:31 am
[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
5:32 am
in the afternoon, the acting administrator of the environmental protection agency, andrew wheeler, addresses agency staff at their washington senate ters and the finance subcommittee looks at paid family leave. sunday night on q&a. > when she came back, she saw me sitting in the aisle and physically tossed it at me and said no change. i decided right then and there that amendment
5:33 am
ratified. >> gregory watson, the man responsible for getting the 27th constitution he ratify. >> i'll never forget. i was in the library downtown austin, texas. this one jumped right at me. it said no law. compensation for the services of the senators and shall take ves ffect until an election of representatives has intervened and i can remember standing in that book in ing my hand and it was as if had struck. i could feel the pulse and the of it all. i thought, you know what,
5:34 am
instead of writing about the rights amendment and this its ted extension in ratification deadline, why don't i instead write about this memberst that says when of congress want to adjust their salaries, they have to wait election. ext >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. monday night president trump selected brett kavanaugh to fill seat e anthony kennedy's on the supreme court. he was on capitol hill yesterday meeting with senators. here's a look.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on