Transcript of the General Meeting in Washington, D.C.
CB: Ladies and gentlemen, before we begin this program may I ask everyone here to please join with our President and citizens around this nation in observing this special day of remembrance for the events of Tuesday. Let’s take a moment of silent prayer please, and stand up if you would please. (Pause) Thank you. Let’s continue please eating, and we’ll begin.
I’m Chuck Boyd, for those of you whom I do not know yet, the new Director of the Washington Program for the Council on Foreign Relations. And this is the second event of our fall program, one that was not intended, at least at this time. But given the events of Tuesday, everything has changed in the world and everything has changed in the Council on Foreign Relations as well. And in our mission in trying to be useful in the overall mission of discussing the great issues, international issues of our time, nothing can even come close to the magnitude and the importance of this.
Some three years ago at the initiative of the Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, and the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, a Federal Advisory Commission was established to look at how this nation provides for its security in a more comprehensive way than had been done in the last half century. The Secretary of Defense funded that effort and, in conjunction with the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisors, selected 14 prominent Americans to serve on that Commission, and provide the guidance and the strategic direction, and ultimately all of the important policy choices that would be made by the Commission.
Senator Warren Rudman and Senator Gary Hart led that, co-chaired that Commission. And with a staff produced three major pieces of work, one describing the world that they believed that this nation would live in over the next quarter of a century, a second defining the national security strategy appropriate to that world, and, third, a volume that looked at the structures and the processes by which the nation provides for its security, and made recommendations on how they might be altered to meet the realities of the world we now live in, in pursuit of a strategy that they had recommended.
Two of the other important members of that Commission are with me here at this table today, Newt Gingrich and Lee Hamilton. And it’s almost embarrassing to think that I could introduce four public servants so well known to this audience and to this nation. But I would just remind you of a couple of things about each. Senator Rudman, a 12-year member of the United States Senate, prominent in committee chairmanships and legislation that bore his name and will keep him in the history books for a very long time. And maybe most importantly of all, a combat infantryman. Senator Gary Hart, also 12 years of service in the United States Senate, author of 12 books, recently completed a Ph.D. from Oxford University at an age beyond 50. (Laughter) Newt Gingrich, a 20-year member of the United States Congress, Speaker of the House, strategic brain behind the Contract With America and the emergence of the House Republican leadership in the House in 1994, and, as I said earlier, the man in whose brain this idea for this review occurred. And Lee Hamilton, 34 years in the United States Congress, chairman of six committees, and most recently of the International Relations Committee of the House, and a man with such a list of honors in his life that it takes pages to list them all.
I can think of no people anywhere who have thought more about the problem that we now face than these four men, who are better equipped to talk to you about them. And I’m going to ask them to do so each in turn. And after that we will open it up to our traditional question and answer period, with one salient difference. The press is here today, as you undoubtedly noticed, and our traditional Council rule of non-attribution doesn’t apply. These men are on the record today for everything they say. Senator Rudman, would you begin please?
WR: Chuck, thank you very much. I must say that when Newt Gingrich had the vision of this Commission, I doubt very much if he and President Clinton in their wildest imagination would have thought or assumed that 14 very experienced Americans would sit and look at America’s challenges to its security in the 21st Century, and unanimously agree that the single greatest threat to this country in the 21st Century would be precisely what we all saw happen in New York and in Washington several days ago. One of the most striking things to me about how we finally concluded this three plus year study was that, after all that we had heard and seen, we together came to this conclusion.
For those of you that have not had an opportunity to read the report, I want to read a few lines to you because they represent the collective judgment of the 14 people that Gary and I had the privilege to co-chair. We said, “One of this Commission’s most important conclusions in its Phase One Report was that attack against American citizens on American soil causing heavy casualties are likely over the next quarter century.” And then we said, “These attacks may involve weapons of mass destruction and weapons of mass disruption.” We went on to say, “The United States is today very poorly organized to design and implement any comprehensive strategy to protect the homeland.”
We then laid out seven key recommendations out of the 50 recommendations in the entire report covering the whole plane of government, from defense to intelligence to state to treasury. And here are just several. One, “The President should develop a comprehensive strategy to heighten America’s ability to prevent and protect against all forms of attack on the homeland, and to respond to such attacks if prevention and protection fail.” We said, “The President should propose, and Congress should agree, to create a National Homeland Security Agency whose responsibility for planning, coordinating and integrating the myriad government agencies that criss-cross this government with varying levels of responsibility and accountability.” We also said that “The President should, with the assent of the Congress of course, the transfer of Customs, Border Patrol and Coast Guard to this new agency, while preserving them as distinctly separate organizations.” That gives you a flavor of some of the things that we said.
Let me conclude…because we’re only each going to take three or four minutes before answering your questions…with an observation. Of course those of us involved in this have been besieged by the media in the last 72 hours, and of course the media likes to play the blame game. So let me say parenthetically that if every recommendation that we had put forth had been adopted and efforts made to put it into place, there was not enough time between March of this year and the day before yesterday to prevent this. But we certainly can say this, that although some people in this government did pay attention to this report, I do not believe the attention was at the level it should have been. But that shouldn’t surprise any of us.
Those of us who are old enough, even though I was very young to remember Pearl Harbor, remember this nation had no defense forces worth the name, and we were galvanized into becoming the greatest super power in the world, and so remain. Unfortunately, we Americans I guess sometimes have to get hit with a two by four to get with it. I have no doubt that we will get with it.
CB: Senator Hart?
GH: Great nations, like great individuals, are tested in ways that ordinary nations and ordinary people are not. Given what we’ve seen of the American character from the extraordinarily brave rescue workers in New York to the thousands and tens of thousands of Americans queued up in Denver and all across this country to donate blood, I would not want to be in the shoes of those who perpetrated this attack. But our purpose here today is not to discuss retribution or to look back. It is in fact to propose measures of prevention.
I think we must assume that the events of Tuesday were not the end. I am afraid they are just the beginning. They are in fact the introduction to a totally new century. We have seen the nature of warfare change from that of nation state against nation state, to that of urban conflict carried out by tribes, clans and gangs, against whom we find it very difficult to declare war. As Warren has said, on September 15, 1999, this Commission in its first report reached the following conclusion. And the title of that report by the way is “New World Coming.” That first conclusion reads as follows. “America will become increasingly vulnerable to hostile attack on our homeland, and our military superiority will not entirely protect us. Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers.” That was two years ago almost to the day.
On January 31st of this year we delivered to the President and his Cabinet our proposals as to how to deal with this new world. And of course, as Warren has said, principal among those was to create something like what we called a National Homeland Security Agency to direct under one command, one civilian command, the 40 or more disparate agencies or elements of agencies that have to do with the protection of this country. When we proposed this we heard a lot of complaint from people in this city who said, “Well, the bureaucracy will not accept it.” I wish those people would step forward today and address the American people and explain why it is more important for one agency to keep one of its bureaus than it is to protect the people of this country.
I think we must assume further attacks and, although I hate to say it, I think those attacks will come sooner rather than later. Warren has appropriately said that had all of our recommendations been adopted not in March but February 1 of this year, eight months ago, we do not know whether this attack could have been prevented. If it could have been, we do not know whether further ones can be. But we do know that we are not prepared to prevent them or to address them once they have occurred. I would think the gravest mistake this country could make this week and this year is to place retribution ahead of prevention and protection. We can do both.
Just to give you an idea of the magnitude of the problem we face, let me just quote very briefly one or two sentences from our final report about the size of the problem of our borders. “The high volume,” and I quote, “of conveyances, cargo and passengers, arriving in the United States each year already overwhelms the Customs Service capabilities. Over $8.8 billion worth of goods, over 1.3 million people, over 340,000 vehicles, and over 58,000 shipments are processed daily at entry points. Of this volume, Customs can inspect only one to 2 percent of all inbound shipments.”
Finally, the National Homeland Security Agency we had proposed addresses the problems of civil liberties of our citizens. We do not need to sacrifice those liberties to get security for our people. We can also, and have addressed, the issue of the role of the military by particularly highlighting the importance of America’s second army, its original militia, that we now call its National Guard, the citizen soldiers who are deployed all around this country. I hope, on behalf of all of us, that policy makers in the administration and in Congress will now begin to act one way or the other on these recommendations.
NG: Let me pick up on what Warren and Gary have been saying. First of all, what the Commission concluded is that the threat is much bigger than what we’ve lived through this week. I think it’s very important to understand that. As horrifying as this is, as painful as this is, this is much, much smaller than what, looking out to 2025, we felt was possible.
Second, we concluded that the threat has the potential to be permanent in that there will be no decisive elimination of the potential for terrorism. We can defeat the current groups, we can defeat the current factions. But ten, 15, 20 years from now, it is the nature of a worldwide economic system and the nature of the worldwide pattern of activities that some people will believe that their beliefs are worthy of killing others, and that they will seek with the declining cost in weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological and nuclear, that they will seek to find effective ways to cause even larger levels of death. So if you were to build a scaling process and go back to the terrorism of the ’70s where one airplane or two or three airplanes by themselves were a huge issue, and now you’re up to airplanes hitting buildings. And the stage after this will be chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
Therefore, our point being you have to have a permanent institutional response to this kind of a threat. There are several steps the President can take in this kind of a setting, and the Congress can take. The first is for the President to establish homeland security as the highest priority of his national security strategy, that has implications for resources, for the entire planning process. But it strikes us that if you mean as seriously as we meant in March that there will be the potential for a weapon of mass destruction causing 20,000 to 100,000 casualties at a time going off in American cities, you have to take coping with American homeland security as your highest requirement.
In addition, the Vice President in his “Review of Homeland Security” due in October, needs to develop a comprehensive strategy for homeland security which has three different components, prevention, protection and response. And I would argue from my years in the Congress…and again I’ve got three colleagues here with the same experience…the President will never have a better opportunity to realign the bureaucracies into coherent organizations than he will have now.
And we consciously made the point that we need an organization built around the Federal Emergency Management Agency for homeland defense, precisely because the Defense Department could easily find itself engaged in an offensive campaign overseas. And you cannot manage psychologically, and in just sheer human capability, two campaigns of this scale simultaneously. I mean, it is after all the Federal Emergency Management Agency which has the day to day operational responsibility for building the relationships.
If you’ll notice, most of the reconstitution underway right now is civilian. It’s the New York fire fighters, it’s the New York police, it’s the Arlington police and fire fighters. And therefore we think FEMA is the appropriate building block, but we would then build several agencies around it to create a Cabinet level Homeland Security Agency. Let me say also, there is legislation in the Congress already, bipartisan legislation by Ike Skelton(?) and Mack Thornberry which we believe forms the base for this kind of reorganization.
And let me also suggest that the Congress itself should organize select committees on homeland security modeled on the Intelligence Committee, and should recognize that that select Committee, by definition, has a jurisdiction which covers a wide range of current committees. Because there is today no central organizing place for members to go and have accountability across the board.
LH: Thank you very much, Chuck. Good afternoon to all of you. Let me make several very quick comments. First, the impression I have is that I think probably most of the experts on terrorism are on that side of the table and not this. It’s an extraordinary audience, Chuck, that you’ve brought together here.
On the basis of the report, let me make a few comments on what steps I think we should take now. First of all, I think we should support the President of the United States. This is a defining moment for President Bush. I think the American people want him to succeed, and I think they are rallying behind him. His task is to assuage the grief that Americans all feel, to unite the country in the world in effect with an effective response against terrorism. He’s the leader, he deserves our support as he seeks to do that difficult task.
Secondly, with regard to the phrase “War on Terrorism.” I suppose it’s an appropriate phrase, but I must say it causes me a little concern. Most Americans when they think about war think about a very decisive victory along the lines, I guess, of victory in World War II. I’m inclined to think that the War on Terrorism is more like the War on Drugs. That is to say, I think it is a permanent war, that it is an ongoing war. That even though we achieve a victory or two here or there, that does not necessarily ensure the defeat of terrorism.
In thinking of responding to the egregious acts that have occurred, we must avoid haste, we must identify with certainty, as much certainty as it is possible for us to put together, the source of the attack. I think it is important to recognize that although military action is essential and is important in our response, retaliation cannot be carried out solely by military means. Bombs alone will not destroy fanaticism, and they might even fuel it. So our effort to retaliate must be sustained over a period, a long period of time, and it must include political and economic, diplomatic, as well as military means.
A few other comments that I will not elaborate on, but I think they’re important, I think there would be broad agreement on them. We must strengthen dramatically our defense of the homeland, and that means putting a lot more resources into borders and airports and cities, and protecting the critical infrastructure of the country. This country and our communities in it are far more vulnerable than most Americans realize, and we must make them conscious of that vulnerability and begin to take steps to correct it.
We must of course upgrade our intelligence. Everybody now agrees we need to put more emphasis, as the report does, on human intelligence, and perhaps that has lagged. But it is also true that human intelligence has a very, very difficult task, some would say impossible, to penetrate these kinds of closely held, closely knit groups that may be the source of terrorism.
I think we will have to review our priorities in defense. And the key question here for me is whether terrorism is now the most serious threat to our security. If it is, then it means that a lot of changes will have to be made in the way we allocate resources in this country. There are a lot of things out there. An army could invade us perhaps, airplane hijackers, ballistic missiles, computer hackers, chemical, biological, nuclear warfare. What is the greatest threat that we confront? Right now almost all of us would answer “Terrorism.”
One of the great problems you have in American foreign policy is sustainability, carrying on a policy for a very long period of time, because there are so many things that will crowd in on the agenda. We’re going to have problems with Russia, we’re going to have problems with China, you’re going to have more problems in the Middle East, it goes on and on and on. Can you maintain the focus on terrorism that everybody seeks, wants, as of today?
Finally, the point Gary made, we simply have to uphold and protect our Constitutional rights at a time when the national security is threatened. If we allow the terrorists to alter our values, our way of life, then we hand them a victory. And we would always keep in mind the tension that exists between national security on the one hand and civil liberties on the other. The country has handled that pretty well in the Civil War and the First World War, in the Second World War. It will be an immense challenge to us in the days ahead.
Finally, we transformed Pearl Harbor from a Day of Infamy, one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the country, and it motivated the country to produce the Greatest Generation and one of the finest hours in the country’s history. Our challenge of course will be to do the same as we confront terrorism.
CB: Thank you. Let me pose the first question to this panel before I open it up to everyone else. And afterward, when I do, I would ask you…one of the traditional rules of the Council on Foreign Relations…and, Stan, identify yourself, if you would please…and wait for one of the roving mikes that will be available to you.
But the first question it seems to me that’s worth thinking about, was that this Commission arrives at its conclusions about the dangers that the nation would face in the first phase of its work, because you saw rising resentment around the world against the United States, and because of the proliferation of technologies into the hands of a wide array of states and non-state actors who never before in history had had significant power with which to hurt a great nation like ours. What was it that drew you to the conclusion that much of the world resented us, and that the resentment was on the rise?
WR: I think all of us want to address that based on our experience. For doing so however, there are many distinguished Americans in the room today, not the least of whom is a good friend and former colleague, United States Senator Jim Sasser, former Ambassador to China. This Commission didn’t…Lee rightly says that there are a lot of experts here in this room. And many of you…I hope many of you…we talked to. This Commission took two and a half to almost three years in order to reach out. This wasn’t just deliberations inside the Beltway. We listened to America, we listened to as many experts as we could find, including a wide variety of people, sociologists, demographers and so on.
We also traveled. We went to I think 24 different countries, different groups of us, individuals and small groups. One group went to Europe, throughout Asia. One group went to the former Soviet Union, tried to get to Kazakhstan, unsuccessfully as it turned out. We listened to the Middle East, we listened to a lot of people. We all came back with one message, there is great resentment of the United States. I remember an evening in the Ambassador’s residence in Cairo where 200 of the leading citizens of Egypt were there, the top people in the country. They spent two hours just beating us to death, after a great deal of effort on the part of this country to help that country. So there is resentment out there, and it is fueling the fanaticism that Lee mentioned.
On the other hand, a careful reading of this report will find a remarkable thing. We didn’t…unlike what we’ve said today…we didn’t just emphasize the negative, the dangers. We emphasized the opportunities. And Americans are brilliant at many things, not least of which is turning lemons into lemonade. There is a chance for the President of the United States to use this disaster to carry out what his father…a phrase his father used I think only once, and it hasn’t been used since…and that is a new world order.
Think about this. We already have the support of NATO in a remarkable historic departure. If we have to do conventional ground operations in Afghanistan as one option for example, what if the United States Army went in with the support of the Russian military. What if we had the…
WR:…the nations that we have considered possible future enemies into the Western camp? A tall order, but it might be done. And I think this is a unique opportunity.
NG: I want to draw, Chuck, a distinction between resentment and hatred. I think we are inevitably resented…we compound it…but we are inevitably resented for the same reason the British were in the 19th Century. We’re the largest, most powerful, wealthiest society on the planet. Our culture sort of drifts around the planet. And for those of you who are my age, you find parts of our culture hard to bear as an American. It’s harder if you’re not. So there’s a certain natural legitimate resentment.
It’s compounded, as we noted in the report, because for 40 years no matter how clumsy we were, the Soviets were worse. And so people could shrug and say, “Okay, I’m irritated with the Americans. But, my God, look at the alternative.” Once we lost the only peer competitor, the sensitivity, the irritation has risen. And I thought, frankly, President Bush in the debate last year was right in talking about more humility, more caution. That’s not the way in which they went through Kyoto, but I thought the debate was actually right. The debate was more correct than some of their initial activities. But that’s resentment. It’s dangerous in the long run. It worries me if we don’t develop a better style. That’s resentment.
What we were faced with on Tuesday is hatred. There’s a big difference. There are people, and have historically always been people, who are fanatics. For whatever reason, for whatever ideology, they believe they have the right, in fact the duty, to kill others in order to impose their particular fanaticism. And I think it’s very important to draw the distinction between the legitimate right of civilization as a civilization to suppress fanaticism, and either literally destroy it or, at a minimum, eliminate its capacity to cause pain. And the fact that living on a planet with lots of other humans, we have to learn to manage our sheer scale and our sheer weight in a way which minimizes resentment. I think they’re very, very different problems.
GH: Chuck, I think I can best answer your question by telling our audience and all of you an anecdote of something that happened to me at almost the end of our deliberations. As some of you may know, I was privileged to serve with George Mitchell on the Sharm el-Sheikh Commission on the Middle East, now known as the Mitchell Commission. And in December as we were pretty well winding up our work, we had a very interesting trip to the Middle East in which one entire afternoon and evening were spent at Yassir Arafat’s headquarters on the Mediterranean, meeting with him, his leadership, and then at his request, with 125 of the leading Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank, representatives of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, universities, lawyers, students, doctors, educated people, sitting in a room about this size at a big table, in which the five members of the Commission, George, myself, Javia Salano(?), who was known to many of you, Vorst Enyaglund(?), the Foreign Minister of Norway, and President Suleyman Demirel of Turkey…Former President.
I was stunned, and it takes a lot to stun me. I listened to vituperation and hatred against the United States from educated intellectuals, as well as from people I consider to be thugs. And the genesis of those feelings in the Middle East is obviously directed at what they believe to be America’s wrong headed foreign policy in the Middle East, and our values and what we believe and whom we support. And I left that meeting, and I remember coming back and telling Chuck Boyd the story. That if you wanted to see the face of terror against this nation, I saw it that night. And that’s not going away.
LH: Chuck, my comment is that Newt is exactly right, you have to draw a distinction between resentment and hatred, and you have to understand the intensity of the hatred. It’s a hatred that is quite prepared to see thousands of innocent lives snuffed out, and you have to have a lot of hatred to perform those kinds of acts. It’s a very uncomfortable question for Americans to address, why do people hate us. We all think we’re pretty nice people in this country, and our values are very good, our policies are sound and rationally developed. And it’s just an uncomfortable fact of life to sit down with people, if you’ve had the experience, many of you have, who just hate you. And I think in thinking about how you deal with terrorism, you’d better address that question, whether you want to or not.
There are people in this town today who want to obliterate the terrorists, bomb them into kingdom come, whatever that means, and that might on occasion be what we have to do. But no one should think by doing that kind of an act you will remove their hatred of the United States. It will fuel it and it will create another generation to come after us. So let’s have the military response, let’s have all of the other responses. But let’s understand that when you’re dealing with people who hate you and who are willing to kill thousands of your innocent countrymen, you’re dealing with a phenomenon that you’d better try to understand at its roots, if you are eventually going to root it out.
NG: Chuck, can I just comment for a second? Lee said something that I think I want to explicitly either disagree with or say in a different way and see if in fact we do disagree. It’s very important to distinguish between terrorism based on individual or very, very small group acts, and terrorism which can only function with state sponsorship. The operation against us on Tuesday could not have existed in a world in which terrorists were not harbored, protected and financed by states. Yes, you can get a car bomb somewhere. But if Iran doesn’t pay for Hesbolah, Hesbolah doesn’t have very much money. If there aren’t places that sustain Bin Laden’s forces, if he doesn’t have three training camps in Sudan, if he doesn’t have refuge in Afghanistan, it’s very hard to be successful. Can you do Oklahoma City? Yes. We saw it happen from an American, not a foreigner. Can people who hate you have some impact? Yes. But organized, systematic terrorism, and terrorism we describe, weapons of mass destruction, require states still to this day, with only a few exceptions. And if you looked at the one effort in Japan to use seren(?) gas, done by people without state support, without training, without practice, it is a much more sufferable problem. And what we have today is a definable problem. And I would say what Lee said from a different angle. (A), if all we do is bomb some people, we are very foolish. We need to defeat these organizations, and we need to force the states that sponsor them to quit sponsoring them or replace their regimes. (B), for the Middle East at large, for Muslims at large, we should aggressively be reaching out economically and in other ways to create a better future. If you were a Palestinian whose child was faced with a future Palestinians currently face, you would be in despair.
The United States historically has been a country which offered hope as well as threat. In the end we rebuilt Japan and Germany and Italy, we didn’t just bomb them and walk off. And we have to find a way to reach out to the non-fanatics and say to them, “We want to work to create a better life with you.” This has got to be a serious strategy at a regional level, and not just a series of random military pinpricks. But I don’t think we should kid ourselves. The United States of America and its allies, if they want to, can break the back of state sponsored terrorism. and probably do it within two to three years.
CB: Yes, Ma’am?
PS: Thank you. Paula Stern, the Stern Group. State sponsored terrorism. There’s a spectrum of states that we will have to deal with in different ways. You mentioned Afghanistan, you mentioned Sudan. We’ve seen in the paper discussions about our bilateral relationship with Pakistan and the level of cooperation we want from Pakistan. And NATO was mentioned as well. I’d like to know if you could comment on what we should be expecting in terms of cooperation from most states like Saudi Arabia, specifically how they can step up, and countries like Switzerland in terms of financial access. If you could kind of go through the spectrum of different state relations in categories as to how we should as a nation, the United States, expect to get the kind of necessary cooperation. And I’d like to ask a second little question which is in terms of protection. What should the nation be doing now as far as gas masks, anthrax inoculation, and other variety of issues of just flat out protection? Israel has dealt with these things before. How should we be learning from, if you will, best practices in other countries like Israel?
WR: Well, let me just take your questions and give you a short view, a very pragmatic view. I do not believe, in spite of all of the public statements by some of the leaders that we’ve heard from in the last 48 hours…or we’ve heard about their conversations through government officials…that you can expect any level of cooperation from any country in which that cooperation would essentially destroy the regime that cooperated. So let’s understand that. There are certain places in the Middle East that cooperate with the United States on this issue, that it means death to the sponsors of the cooperation. So I’m very pragmatic about that. I would expect a full level of cooperation from our European allies, from our Asian allies, and also from other countries that we have relations with who will have great difficulty, but who will eventually come down on that side. So that’s a short answer to your question.
As to precautions, I’m not sure that I’m prepared to get to that point yet. Because, you know, someone asked me this morning, “Did your Commission specifically in your brainstorming come up with the scenario of airplanes flying into buildings?” Well, no, not exactly, but we came up with nine others, which I’m not going to discuss here. And the fact is that what they’re going to hit you with is that which you are probably not prepared for. I learned that in the military.
GH: I was thinking as you asked your question about Pakistan, because I think that’s going to be a critically important country. And your question was how could they cooperate. Well, I think the United States has to present a government like Pakistan with very specific requests. We want over flight rights there. We want the ability to shoot missiles over Pakistan. We may want the ability to store military equipment. We may want to use Pakistan to permit American troops to cross Pakistan on their way to Afghanistan. And most certainly in a country like Pakistan, you want to know what their intelligence knows about what’s going on inside Afghanistan.
So I think in approaching these countries you have to have very specific requests. And many have said in this instance they’re either for us or against us, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that. This is a real tough test for Pakistan, because if they do the things we’re asking them to do, they’re going to have people in the streets rioting against the government’s action. But we have to convey to them how terribly important it is.
On the question of protection just one very quick comment, and it’s obvious. I have been impressed, I know you all have, with the extraordinary number of skills that are necessary to deal with the tragedy at the Pentagon and the World Trade Towers. You need all kinds of skills, and communities are just not prepared for that. You can’t go into the rubble in New York City without having structural engineers who can tell you what’s going to stand and won’t stand. And you’ve got to have all kinds of first aid and medical personnel. So just every community has to sit down and ask themselves the question, “How well prepared are we, and what can we do?” And I think the federal government probably can give some guidance on that point, but the Governors have to be very strongly involved here in assuring that the communities are doing all they can to prepare for these tragedies.
WR: The second question is so present on every American’s mind, I think I’m going to depart, if I may, for just about a minute from my panel, and ask one of the consultants to our Commission, Commander Steve Flynn of the United States Coast Guard, and a Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations at the moment, who I think knows as much about borders certainly as anyone we were able to find anywhere in the country. He has a couple of quick things I think he might tell us about immediate steps the nation might take.
SF: Well, thank you, General. Steven Flynn, the Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. I think one of the things that was clearly deliberated upon with the Commission was homeland security is in part about how we protect ourselves from ourselves, as well as just protection. That is, one of the clear consequences we see of the current incident, the tragedy on Tuesday, is that we feel so helpless, because the systems that we use to police and filter bad from good clearly weren’t up to the mark. And for the want of an alternative, we are shutting down our economy right now in the form of shutting down our transportation system. We have three airlines that I understand today are saying potentially they’re going to go Chapter 11. Chrysler said they had to close their plant yesterday because goods couldn’t get across the border.
The fact of the matter is we are of course a powerful country because we’re an open one that basically has to manage the movements of an extraordinary number of peoples and goods. Four hundred eighty-nine million people crossed our borders last year, 120 million cars, 11.5 million trucks, 5.8 million containers. Who could inspect all those and how we go about inspecting those is the serious heart of the matter.
But what we see is in the absence of a system to do so. We’re faced much like the Brits were with foot and mouth disease. When you cannot essentially identify livestock that is disease free, you cull the entire livestock in order to sanitize and start again. We’re faced right now with a transportation system and borders that we can’t have any confidence can adequately police itself. And so our only choice seems to be to freeze it, to shut it down, sanitize it. And the economic consequences of doing that are going to be huge for this country.
WR: List three quick things that we can do.
SF: Two or three things. What we clearly…instead of looking for the…going out necessarily at the source itself, what we need is a capacity to validate that which is legitimate as legitimate. We can’t do that right now, so we have to stop everything. And there’s a way particularly the private sector can do to engage itself much more at point of origin to validate who they are, to share information with regulators and enforcement folks in advance before they arrive at the border, so you can decide, “Yes, you are who you say you are, and your risk is relatively low.”
The purpose of doing that is so that you can focus your limited resources on that which is high risk, because you always have limited resources. There’s a level of transparency that needs to be within these flows that allow us to make an assessment, that when we have intelligence we can act on that intelligence.
WR: Can we do that within the next two, three, four months? Can we establish the kind of filtering system that…(Overlap)…
SF: We can establish a process to get us there. A core issue is that the agencies who have most access to that information are USDA, Customs, Coast Guard and so forth, that aren’t linked to our national security apparatus. And they don’t even share information on each other. Just a quick example, you would think data points. If we have a suspect ship with a suspect cargo with a suspect crew coming in at a time when a liquefied natural gas tanker is coming to the Port of Boston, you would want to look on that. But those four data points would never connect.
WR: So that’s something the President can do, and he could do it as an organizational thing, and he can do it right now.
SF: I’d certainly…
WR: With the help of the Congress. Good. Thanks, Steve.
CB: Who did I hear first?
DG: David Goldman, formerly of the State and Energy Departments. This morning we saw in the papers Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz talking about ending states that sponsor terrorism, and the President alluded to doing more than just going after a specific individual. Does the panel believe it would be advisable to build new coalitions, as Senator Hart referred to, to overthrow the governments of Afghanistan and Sudan? And if so, what do you do about Iran?
NG: Let me take a position that will probably stimulate some dialogue.
WR(?): I’m sure. (Laughter) You never fail to.
NG: No, but I think this is an extraordinary test of America in the world. I mean, again I’m going to say my view, but this is not the Commission’s view. We are at war. It’s not a question of do we want to declare a war, we are at war. We have been at war for a long time. The Cole being attacked was an act of war. Our young men and women being killed at the airfield at Kohbar(?) Barracks was an act of war. We have opponents who are open about this, they don’t hide. What are Bin Laden’s goals? It’s not just Israel. It’s to drive America out of the Middle East. He says it openly. As long as we are buying oil, as long as we are there, we are an infringement on his fanatical beliefs.
So let’s start with that. If we are at war, we have the capacity. We may not think it’s desirable, we may not think it’s worth the cost, but let’s be clear what we’re talking about. We have the capacity to replace the government of Afghanistan probably without putting any American troops in the country by simply paying enough Afghans who don’t…The Taliban would not win a popularity contest. It is a ruthless, vicious dictatorship imposed in a country, and it’s in the middle of a civil war. And if we said tomorrow morning, “We’re prepared to pay up to 100,000 Afghans, and train them, if we had the support of Pakistan and Tajikistan,” the odds are pretty good that the Taliban would lose, and lose fairly decisively.
If we were to say on the Sudan, which is a much more accessible country than Afghanistan, the current regime is a vicious, slave owning regime which has killed southerners, Africans, has killed well over a million Africans, is a despicable regime, and it has two choices. It can kick out all the terrorists or it can cease to exist as a regime. I think the idea of anything short of that being our goal, after losing thousands of Americans in our own cities, is lunacy. And I agree with whoever said earlier, to go in and bomb them and not replace the regime is insanity. What it’s going to do is create another generation of martyrs who are then prepared…you’ll presently have the Bin Laden brigade working to get germ warfare.
So I think our goal has to be to say to the world, “We will not tolerate state sponsored and state supported and state harbored terrorism.” Secretary Powell has said it, the President has said it, Under Secretary Wolfowitz has said it. If we mean it, if our words have meaning, then we have to be engaged in a coercive strategy, not a consensual strategy, for those regimes which are dictatorships repressing and killing their own people, and prepared to sustain terrorism as an explicit state policy.
CB: Go ahead.
GH: One of the things that I think we proved to ourselves in the Cold War is that we’re not very good at thinking beyond step one. When we replace a government or when we take a government down, one way or the other, we’d better know who the replacement is. And if it is our replacement, we’re probably going to have to support them in some ways that we may not want to do to keep them in power, and we’ve learned that lesson.
One of the great ironies of course is that we’re not talking about a country, we’re talking about people, some of whom we trained to fight the Russians, and equipped. Trained and equipped. So our policy in the Cold War was the enemy of our enemy is our friend. I think we’ve got to question that assumption very, very carefully in the next few months.
LH: Chuck, let me make a couple of comments. First of all, when I read Paul’s statement this morning, my immediate thought was, well, I want to call him up before the Committee and question him about him as to what he meant. (Laughter) But I realized I can’t do that anymore. (Laughter) I’m not quite sure what he means by ending a state. But in any event, it needs explanation. What does he really mean when you’re talking about ending a state?
The second part is that I agree with the President, that if a country is harboring terrorists, then they become a potential target. But we have to understand what we’re saying there. North Korea, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, you’ve got a lot of countries out there, and I probably haven’t named them all, that are harboring terrorists or have been accused of it. Are you going to end all of those states? And how are you going to do it? Are you going to replace all of those regimes? I don’t reject the idea of going after a country that harbors a terrorist. But we have to understand that it is a very complicated question.
G: General Alowmee(?). I sat on a panel which has been patting itself on the back. I’m a non-expert on a panel that’s been meeting periodically to look at the terrorist activities, headed by a former Secretary of the Army, Jack Marsh. And we thought we were doing pretty well until Tuesday, and now we have to look at this with a great deal of humility. That while we were looking at the individual terrorists, and maybe some people who were sponsored by a large organization, I think it’s now clear, as some people have said, that these are larger organizations than we perhaps thought, and that they must be supported, at least they’re harbored by some governments.
Now, my point is that in the last couple of days I’ve heard a lot of comments on the TV that we should reorder our priorities. And I don’t disagree with that, I think that we have to put a lot more attention behind the terrorists’ actions, you know, seren gas, biological warfare, chemicals and so forth. But the comment I’ve heard is that in doing this, we should take that money which some critics say is being wasted for ballistic missile defense, and put it against these kinds of attacks.
Now, my question is, would you agree with me that these terrorists now being harbored by some large countries and perhaps supported by them, have now reached another level and can escalate their activities, so that emboldened by what they saw they could do with 18 people here in four aircraft, they might very well say, “Let’s take this to a next stage, and let’s hit Los Angeles, or at least threaten to hit Los Angeles with a Danz-Nodong(?) missile or something like that.” Well, my question is, am I wrong in my logic that we face a possible new step? And while we should not decrease effort to combat terrorism, that we should not decrease our defense against an imminent, or at least a possible threat, which the Rumsfeld Commission says is real?
NG: General, let me just start it by saying I think you’re exactly right in your question. But the premise people make is I think a false premise. We were in a peace time military setting on Monday. We had slid below 3 percent of our gross domestic product dedicated to national security for the first time since before Pearl Harbor. If we were to simply go up to 4 percent…and by the way, under Eisenhower in the ’50s we were at 9 percent of our gross domestic product paying for defense. If we were simply to go up to 4 percent, that is, 96 percent of American economy would be for non-defense activities, 4 percent would go to defense, you wouldn’t force choices at this time.
And I’m just suggesting that the word “war” which the President has used, the Secretary of Defense has used, the Secretary of State has used, is a very important word. In wartime if you can’t afford to put one percent of your gross domestic product to having a military activity capable over and above your peace time activities, then you’re not a serious country. I mean, we’re not taking this problem seriously.
But the second part of what you said is exactly right. It’s not a problem of North Korea developing a missile. It is a problem of a worldwide market in which other countries buy these things, and then may or may not decide to give them to terrorists, who may or may not decide to put them on ships. And if you look at the Rumsfeld Commission’s report on the missile threat, which was a unanimous report, back three years ago, it’s a very sobering document. And again I can’t overstate this. What we saw this week was a tragic but small harbinger of the world that could be on us in ten to 15 years.
WR: Ed, let me just also respond briefly. In this report we did address that issue. And what we essentially said was that we were not going to…obviously did not have the expertise or the time, you know, to flesh out a full recommendation on what national missile defense ought to be. We said it was important. And we said as it was technically feasible it should be developed, and we said that would be up to an administration to decide.
What we also said however was that with all due respect to that, we felt that as of today and the next few years, this was probably a larger threat. And the reason, if you look at Commander Flynn’s work that he did for us, and I don’t want to get too specific, but there are a lot of ways to develop a nuclear weapon to an industrial center of America that are far easier, safer, without a return address, than a ballistic missile.
CB: Yes, sir?
LH(?): Ed, I think the Commission agreed that we are going to have to put substantial additional resources into national security. That was a unanimous view. And it specifically supported ballistic missile defense. The question you raise for me is probably the toughest question in government, and that’s the question of priorities. You have all of these threats out here. We can name ten or 12 threats that this country faces. The tough question is going through that list and prioritizing them. We did it with regard to terrorism, we put it at the top. Some people agree with that, some people don’t agree with it. The tendency in government, particularly in the Congress I guess, is to try to appropriate money to do everything. And to some extent we can do that, because we have vast resources. But there are…
(END OF TAPE)
M:(In Progress) is do you want to put most of your resources into “defend against?” And that’s a very, very tough call. But it’s the business of government to make that judgment and to set it out. But will it take additional resources? Do you have ballistic missile defense? Yes.
CB: We have a gentleman here who helped General Eisenhower, President Eisenhower spend nine percent of the GNP for national security, and I think he has a question. Sir, Mr. Bouwie(?).
RB: My name is Robert Bouwie. I have a question for Senator Rudman. It bears on the distinction made by Mr. Gingrich about resentment. If you would, and it’s about the meeting you had with the Palestinian. If you had been subjected for 30 years to brutal repression, to taking over your homes and your territory, and all the other things which have been attended and supported by the United States, what would your feelings be about Israel and the United States?
WR: Well, sir, let me simply say that if I would accept your facts, then I would feel exactly as they feel. I don’t accept your facts. Sir?
RB: That’s a dodge.
WR: No. That’s a direct answer. I know where you’re coming from. I know where you’ve come from, for a long, long time.
MM: Murray Martyr, the Niemann(?) Foundation at Harvard. I’d like to ask if the Commission considered this question: The need to pool the knowledge and experience of previous administrations. We have an enormous asset in the wealth of knowledge that exists in our previous administrations. I point out to you that with all your calls for facing the reality of a new world order, if we need a new world order, we need a new set of people with experience to draw on those concepts. We should have at a minimum something like a presidential advisory council established, non-partisan. I would point out that the present administration is floundering in trying to formulate a new foreign policy for the existing problems plus re-examining the basic premises of American domestic policy. It cannot simultaneously come up with a new world order. Did the Commission not give any consideration to this issue?
M: Well, I just suggested one way that we might use this disaster to achieve that end, or, at least, explore the possibility to take some of these countries that we have at the very least held at arm’s length and challenge them to help us. And whether you base a new foreign policy on that or not remains to be seen. This is a tentative idea or suggestion (Overlap). But we are not the only people threatened by terrorism. I was on a panel a day or so ago that was based in London, and there was a multinational group, and I had to, as the only American on there, I had to listen to a British gentleman preaching moderation. And I let him go on and on about how we shouldn’t overreact, blah, blah, blah, and then I said, “Sir, wait till this happens in London or Paris, and let’s talk again.”
So, we’re the big target. We’re the primary target. But we’re not the only target. You want to disrupt things? There’s always Tokyo. There’s always London. Always a lot of other places. And by the way, the NATO countries are serious about helping us. They may suffer that penalty for doing so, and it’s going to change a lot of attitudes over there about, again, who’s side are you on, how moderate do you want to be about this issue? And so forth. I think what I said earlier is, I believe, very important, and that is, and our discussion here today reflects it. Most of what we’ve talked about is retribution. We also have to talk about prevention and protection and whether or not the possibility exists to turn this tragedy to our advantage long-term.
NG: Sir, I didn’t frankly understand one part of what you were saying, and that, first of all, I find the notion of trying to lecture Cheney and Powell on how to assemble a coalition in the Middle East a little daunting. I think they have had some limited experience at getting 28 nations on the same side, including the Syrians and the Egyptians and a number of others once before.
I also note that Qadafi condemned the terrorism, which I thought was an interesting change from the world of 15 years ago, that Putin has indicated Russia will actively be supportive, that we actually had had an American Special Forces Unit, this is in the open press, in Tajikstan, acclimating itself to the region and studying options before Tuesday, that the Pakistanis have been openly saying they will cooperate with us. We’ll find out what that means in detail. But it struck me that between…from the NATO conversations to what Secretary Powell reported yesterday about his conversations with the Islamic States Association to the things I just said. They seem to be reaching around the world pretty rapidly gathering a wide range of people together, and I’m not so sure that, I mean, I’m not quite sure what, in terms of experience, the last time you had an administration nine months into its term that had a team with quite this level of experience at this sort of thing.
CB: I’ve got a question back here. There we go. Thank you, sir.
HC: I’m Herman Cohen, Retired State, and now, consultant. I have a question on homeland defense. Whatever happened to Team B-concept? It seems to me, after the first World Trade attack a few years ago, shouldn’t there have been a bunch of guys sitting around, saying, “If I were a terrorist, what would I do next? Where are the vulnerabilities? How would I get into it?” But I think this has faded. Hasn’t it?
NG: If you’re referring to the notion that in the late 70s, the CIA, for example, appointed a Team B to critique their analysis and the job of the Team B was to look at an alternative set of explanations, I’m going to say something which may be strongly disagreed with by some. I don’t believe the last administration wanted a Team B. If you listen to Jim Woolsey who was on television last night, who was the first CIA Director who pointed out that after he was summarily out of office because, in fact, they didn’t particularly want a Central Intelligence Director who was telling them every day how bad, how dangerous things were, they actually signed in a rule that U.S. intelligence agents should not attempt to recruit people who might be human rights violators. This came out of the Guatemalan experience.
Well, let me suggest to you that the notion you’re going to penetrate a terrorist organization within a legal framework in which you cannot talk with people who might be human rights violators is mildly out of touch with reality. So, for this admini…the last administration to have created a Team B would have been to tell them a whole range of things, which, candidly, having been in the room, a number of us were telling them regularly just to be told that they didn’t want to deal with it. I don’t think having a further sophisticated professional explanation that Bin Laden was dangerous would have had any impact on the last administration.
WR: One quick thing. We used a Team B on the Hart-Rudman Commission, by the way, in the form of a futurist named Peter Swartz(?) from Global Business Network, the man who had developed the methodological approach for scenario development used by Royal Dutch Shell in the early mid 80s and later has become adopted by most scenario developers I know. And they came in and critiqued our look at what kind of a future we’re going to live in and criticized our work which brought about modification. Senator Sasser, I believe, has a question. Sir.
SS: Thank you very much, Chuck, and I want to express my appreciation to this distinguished panel for the work that they have done and I was just remarking to some of these colleagues that I served with, it’s propelled them back into the public eye, and I’m delighted to see them there. I think all of us who served in public life know that our leadership now is going to be under tremendous pressure, political pressure, to retaliate in some sort of way.
Now, I think Senator Hart hit the nail on the head in my judgment, when he said, we should focus on prevention, more so than retaliation. And to use John Kennedy’s analogy, we may be embarking, I think we are, and embarked on a long twilight struggle against terrorism in this country. Senator Rudman referred to the hatred that he had seen in the Middle East among the Palestinians. Perhaps their hatred is justified. I don’t know. In any case, our country’s Middle Eastern policy is not going to change.
I mean, those are the facts. It’s been what it has been for over a half a century, and it will continue to be what it has been, in my judgment. Now, we’ve talked about some cooperative effort. Certainly, the industrialized countries of Europe are with us. But we can reach out, I think, even more, because these forces that terrorize our country are a threat to so many other countries. I’m familiar with China, for example. In the province of Shun Jing(?), the Taliban is operating there.
And the Chinese are very, very apprehensive, and I think there’s an opportunity, in fact, it’s probably already happening, intelligence moving back and forth between the Chinese and ourselves in that regard. The Taliban is also a threat to Russia, Chechnya. They’re operating there. And the Russians, I think, we can reach out more to them. They’re a threat to the present regime in Pakistan. They can put hundreds of thousands of people in the street there. And let’s not forget. This Taliban regime is the one that murdered three Iranian diplomats and an Iranian journalist. And certainly, Bin Laden, if he’s the culprit, and we seem to think that he is, he is not just after us, he’s also after the government of Saudi Arabia and other moderate governments in the Middle East.
So, I suppose, my thought is to this distinguished panel: Can we not use this, what has occurred here as a further catalyst to reach out and develop intelligence in conjunction with these other regimes that are threatened? Now, one final word of caution, as I see it. If we start talking about replacing states, then many of these countries that we’re reaching out to, like China, or, perhaps, like Iran, even like Pakistan that we’ve had sanctions against and have just recently sanctioned the Chinese for sending them what we thought were missile technology, we start talking about replacing states, they start looking over their shoulders, and they start wondering if, perhaps, somewhere on down the line, they could be replaced.
So, if I have a question with this long, rambling statement, it would simply be: What about cooperation as opposed to trying to…we can’t do this alone, in my judgment. Terrorism particularly emanating from these Muslim fundamentalists who hate Israel and hate us for supporting Israel and hate the moderate regimes in the Middle East, we’re not going to be able to do this alone, in my judgment. I’d like to get the panels views on that.
GH: Well, two observations. Ambassador Sasser probably is a living witness to the kind of resentment that is produced by bombs going astray. So, you want to make people resentful? Bomb the wrong target. Second, we’re not here to debate Middle East policy, and I don’t think that’s the centerpiece of the problem. Separate myself a bit from my colleague, Senator Rudman. I don’t think our policy in the Middle East ought to change, either. But having said that, that doesn’t mean that our policy should be: Israel right or wrong. It’s a little like saying: My mother drunk or sober. We can be critical of settlements policies. WE can be outspoken as we have been on some occasions about some things that our allies do. We do not have to be uncritical. And when our allies make a mistake, we should criticize them, as they do us (Overlap).
SS: Gary, I have to correct the record. I agree with that, and the Sharm-Al-Sheik(?) Commission was very critical of a number of Israeli policies and thought that they were fomenting the violence there. So, we have no disagreement.
NG: Can I…I’m sorry. Lee wants to say something.
LH: Jim, I think your point is very well taken. I think the President has a remarkable opportunity to step out and lead and bring many nations together in the fight against terrorism, and he will be aided in that effort by the fact that many countries are themselves worried about terrorist attacks in their country. The analogy is often made to the first President Bush and the coalition he successfully put together in the Gulf War, for which he deserved a lot of credit.
In some sense, I