On the record
LG: My name is Les Gelb. Let me underline Nancy Bodutha’s point about connecting with us, and connecting with the programs that we’ve launched to deal with America’s response to terrorism. The way to do it is through the Webmaster and getting to our Web site, Councilonforeignrelations.org. It’s not councilonforeignrelations.com, where like Pete Peterson, you’ll get the dating service. (Laughter)
Today, we’re coming back almost to where this subject could have begun well over a year ago to the findings and recommendations of the Hart-Rudman Commission of a pretty good gaggle of national security experts who took a lot of time to examine exactly the kinds of problems this nation is now living with. We’re lucky to have one of the main minds and motivators of the operation, Co-chair Gary Hart, with us this morning. Gary was a US Senator for a number of years and was then and is now one of the best minds in our country on national security issues. He is now Of Counsel with Coudert Brothers.
Also with us—and Chuck Boyd I think is living more with us than he is having a chance to deal with running our operations in Washington—General Chuck Boyd, who is Senior Vice President of the Council and Director of our Washington operations, retired Air Force four-star General, who among his many services to the country was the Deputy Commander in Chief of US Forces in Europe.
We’re going to be talking about how homeland defense can deal with the problem of terrorism. We have a couple of folks here who have looked at it harder than anyone I know. We’ll start with Gary Hart. Please, Gary.
GH: Les, thank you very much. We had hoped to have a number of our other commissioners here this morning, but it is perhaps a kind of curious tribute to the seriousness of our conclusions and findings that we increasingly find it difficult to get members of our commission to travel. (Laughter) I’d like to do two things, try to do two things very briefly, if I may. First, to distinguish the effort of the US Commission on National Security for the 21st Century from the other somewhat similar but different commissions. And second, to focus on our principle…one of our principle findings and conclusions, and that is the one that relates to homeland security.
I think there is a perception, and rightly so, on the part of well-informed people, such as yourselves, that there’s just a plethora of commissions and studies on terrorism and counterterrorism going on. And how do you distinguish among them? In our case, we were tasked, we had a written mandate that was a kind of consensus document from the Clinton White House and former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, who was a commission member and other, that we were to conduct the most comprehensive review of US national security really since the end of World War II. Therefore, we had two and a half years and a staff to do that.
We were to look at the world of the first quarter of the 21st century to try to identify in what ways that world was different from the world in which we were living at the time, the late 20th century, how to respond to that world in terms of redesigning US national security doctrines and structures, and then finally how to implement that design. We published three reports, all of which are now again available to you on the Internet. Hopefully, we may even get the report republished again in some fashion.
But the first of those reports was September 15th, 1999, and that’s the one that contained the now I think famous or infamous warning about Americans losing their lives on American soil. That was eerily almost two years to the day before the catastrophe here in New York and Washington. The second report, which did set out a framework for a new national security policy, came out in April of 2000. The final report, the more lengthy one, contained 50 specific recommendations as to how to implement the principle recommendations of our commission. That was delivered to the president at the end of January, and we briefed senior members of his cabinet.
So we looked at national security and included such issues as the declining science and education base in our country, the declining caliber and quality of people in public service, in and out of uniform, in the diplomatic corps and across the board. We looked at the structures of the executive branch, particularly State and Defense, and the National Security Council, made specific recommendations as to how those should be changed. We recommended overhaul of congressional structures, the committee structure particularly. And that has, like the executive branch, gotten out of control and into bureaucratic fiefdoms.
So our definition of national security was a very, very broad one by…compared to traditional standards. The most I think now important recommendation, and the one I think we, both of us or all three of us, would like to discuss this morning is the issue of homeland security. We really were among the first group of Americans to identify this as one of the major issues of the 21st century, well before present circumstances.
Here I’ll just make one point. Our recommendation was a new statutory agency to be created that would consolidate upwards of 40 different pieces of homeland security presently scattered throughout the federal government. Of particular note were four agencies, but there are a lot of other pieces of agencies. Certainly the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has experience in a mandate to limit and to respond to natural disasters, ought to be at the core of this new agency. The three uniform border agencies, Coast Guard, Customs, and Border Patrol, all in three different cabinet departments, ought to be detached from their agencies, detached from their department, and brought under the direction of the head of this national homeland security agency.
This agency ought to be created by Congress. It ought to be a statutory agency which gets its budget from Congress. It ought to be, all of its component parts—and 95 percent of this agency that we recommend is already in existence—but detached from their current homes and assigned to this new agency and its Director, Governor Ridge. They ought to get their budget from that agency and not from the agency they’re presently in. They ought to be accountable directly to the director of this agency and through him to the president, but also the Congress, as other federal agencies are.
Now, in many ways, it’s understandable people say, Well, this is kind of a wiring diagram inside Washington bureaucratic debate that really at the end of the day doesn’t really matter. It matters a great deal. I think I can speak for virtually the whole commission when I say we feel very strongly that the so-called office, White House office czar, or even the new recommended national Homeland Security Council approach, simply won’t do the job. I think General Boyd can fill in some of the specifics. But this is an important issue and I would encourage all of you to pay attention as it moves forward. The outcome of that could well determine whether this country is prepared for the next attack.
LG: Thank you, Gary. Just three quick points before I pass the torch to Chuck Boyd. First, this meeting is on the record. Secondly, Chuck Boyd served as Executive Director of the Hart-Rudman commission. And third, I’m not a neutral party; I was a member of the commission. (Laughter)
GCB: Good one. I think it may be useful to go into why this commission came out where it did, which although all kinds of people have talked about the growing threat of terrorism, what have you, this commission came to a more specific, more explicit, and a much stronger feeling about the magnitude and scope of the terrorist threat than anyone else did, and in terms of its response, how we would go about responding to it in a more dramatic way than any other of the commissions or studies.
First of all, the men and women that served on this commission were unlikely to begin with, it would seem, to think in terms of a radically changed world. All of them had gray in their hair, all of them had been successful in their lives in the old world, and were comfortable in what they knew about that old world. So to have predicted at the outset that they would make some radical change in their description of the world we’re going to live in, or how to deal with the world, wouldn’t have been a very good bet for anyone.
But we started in a systematic way by trying, first of all, to…I’m an old military guy and the first thing you do is you get the intel brief, try to understand what we know and what we don’t know and then how to deal with both what we do know and the unknown. We gathered up commissioners and some of the scholars and practitioners that served on our study group and dragged them around the world to 27 or 28 countries, talking with everybody we could lay our hands on, people inside governments, outside governments, the usual suspects, members of Parliament and ministers of foreign affairs and ministers of defense and their people. We talked with journalists and academics and police and scholars and businessmen, financiers, and what have you, everywhere we went trying to understand what others thought was going on in the world, what was changing, what’s different now than 10 years ago, and what’s going to be different 10 years from now and 15 years from now.
Europe, Russia, the Caucus, the Caspian base in the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, everywhere we went, we gradually accumulated a sense that an awful lot of people in the world were really very unhappy with us, as a nation, as a culture, not so much for what we were doing, but in many cases, for who we are and what we represent. The words, I think Gary was there and would tell you, reinforce this, it kind of clicked with us one night in the embassy in…or the ambassador’s residence actually in Cairo, when an Egyptian scholar said to us, You’re biggest problem with security over the next quarter of a century will be managing resentment against you. If there was summary statement of all of that period I think that was it.
We dragged all this information home and sorted through it and at our commissioner meetings talked about it and argued with it and gradually came to accept that as a fact, a fact that we were going to have to deal with. There was no threat on earth of the kind we were traditionally prepared to deal with that we didn’t feel comfortable in handling. But this was a phenomenon that none of us had really brought to the table with us and it took a while, it gradually soaked in and we finally…and we published the report, the first report that Gary mentioned.
Then what to do about it. We went into the second phase of our work, which was to develop a strategy to deal with that world that we had just described. And I will say this, that Les was one of the strongest advocates here of a truly strategic approach, developing at the outset a set of national security objectives, what it is we are trying to achieve, and then a strategy for their achievement, in a very systematic way, in a way that it is not done by governments, of recent times anyway. The best model we could find for having taken an approach similar to that was the Eisenhower administration, who had a really systematic approach to the developing of national security strategy.
At any rate, much of that piece had to do with then…and we had great debates and struggles within the commission. I teed up Les one time, against Newt Gingrich, in a debate before the other commissioners. Les took the proposition that we had to have a strategy that was preventive in nature, that dealt with conflicts before they became crisis, or before they got out of hand and spilled overboard or such. Gingrich argued for a reaction strategy, much like the strategy that the nation had followed for 50 years.
In the end, Gingrich—and he wouldn’t mind me saying that here—he capitulated. He said, Gelb’s right. (Laughs) We all moved in that direction and developed a strategy that was an opportunity-based strategy, it was a prevention-based strategy, and it was a strategy that went toward dealing with the kinds of causes of resentment toward the United States. We’re not going to be able to shoot everybody that doesn’t like us. So we’re going to have to deal in some way with ameliorating those things that cause people to resent us or hate us in the first place. Very few people in this country read that document, it was an important strategy device.
Well, now you add together a conclusion that these people had come to, that the world resents us, a strategy that deals with resentment, and where would you put your emphasis? When you get to the third phase of your work, which was to look at the structures and the processes by which the nation provides for its security, what could you possibly conclude other than we’re well equipped to deal with almost everything else in the world except the kind of threats that would be available on our own soil, or projected against us on our own soil. The one place where we are not well equipped to deal with the world is right here on our own home soil. And so, the number one set of recommendations that came out of this, the first seven recommendations, out of the 50, dealt with shoring up the mechanisms that would allow us to be more secure at home. That’s where Gary kind of left off.
I’m going to shut up at this point and let everybody else get involved here. But I think that’s how we got to where we did. It took time and it took lots of travel and information, and lots of internal argument and debate. But anybody else had a group similar to this, that had the same amount of time and the same amount of opportunity, and the same kind of a structured approach, I think would have come to the same set of conclusions.
LG: Thank you, Chuck. Let’s sort of step back and try to explain exactly why the commission came to the conclusion that terrorism is really number one on the hit parade chart, the main worry, along with proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, along with then the thing we had to worry about most. What was being said to the commission beyond people resented us, didn’t like the majority in America, that caused that alarm bell to go off?
GH: It was as much what we saw and experienced and had experienced over the past decade, since the end of the Cold War. I think in my case anyway, I can’t speak for the other commissioners, that the first attack on the Trade Center, the embassy bombings in Africa, the attack on the Cole, I mean, there was beginning to be a pattern formed and it did have pieces of the puzzle evident in it: suicidal tendency, a willingness to kill civilians, a lot of trends away from traditional styles of warfare: civilians attacking civilians, the rules of war that had evolved over the past three or four centuries being abrogated, a tendency towards what Martin van Treffle(?) calls low intensity urban conflict among tribes clans and gangs, non-state actors emerging.
If you step back now and look back over the last 10 years I wouldn’t say there were a lot of warnings. There were a lot of pieces of this puzzle that came together three weeks ago. In looking back, all those pieces now make a lot more sense to me at least than they even did when we finished our report. Not that if we had been smarter or thought more clearly we could have forecast this particular thing, but the trend and tide for what I would call the disappearance of the distinction between war and crime.
LG: Chuck, what do you think specifically set off the alarm bells?
GCB: Well, once we understood the level and the reasons for resentment and then came to the proliferation of technology, the world is changing at a much more rapid pace than I think any of us really realized when we started. The technologies that were proliferating then and certainly going to continue to do so at accelerating rates put capabilities into the hands of state and non-state actors who never before in human history had had significant levels of power that they could use against a rich state. And now they did. Coupled with the fact that there was a widespread recognition around the world that nobody was going to take down the United States in a symmetrical way, in a military operation. The Gulf War had pretty well convinced everybody if you’re going to fight the United States you’ve got to fight the United States in an asymmetrical way.
So a mindset that says, We’ve got to find other ways to deal with the United States other than confronting them with tanks and great capital ships and airplanes, and with all of these technologies that were in the process of being proliferated, cyber technologies among them, all of those things point toward, and where can you hurt the United States the most and the quickest? On our own homeland soil.
LG: Let me continue to put out some of the basic questions on the table and then we’re going to open up for discussion. We also heard from the intelligence agencies that they had specific evidence that the threats were mounting to the United States and here in the United States.
Some of us went to see Bill Cullin during this process and he told us there was no doubt in his mind, based on the intelligence, that there would be major terrorist attacks, plural, in the United States in the coming years. After we finished talking, Bill then went out and as Secretary of Defense wrote a piece on the op-ed page of the Washington Post, it was at the top of the page, and the last line said there are going to be major terrorist attacks against the United States in the United States in the coming years.
I went home that night, turned on the tube to see if any of the major networks or CNN would carry it. Here is the sitting Secretary of Defense saying that, and not a one mentioned it. Not a one. The papers the next day, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, not a one mentioned it. Why? What was going on? Why didn’t anyone do anything about this?
GCB: (Laughs) I think you better ask other people than us about that. I don’t know. Well, part of the trivialization of our society, I suppose…we could go on and on on that subject of what’s news, what the role of the press is and information, informing the American people. The frustration I’m going to say, for me, when this terrible thing happened, was to hear American people say, Why weren’t we warned? Why weren’t we told? And in fact they were. But if the voices here and the ears over here and there’s no medium in between, the voice is in the wilderness. So it wasn’t just us. There were other people saying this.
I think also the radar screen…we spent a tremendous amount of time on this commission debating the two major theater war doctrine in terms of worst structures. I mean, we went at it time and time again. Particularly two or three of us on one side and two or three others on the other, Should we continue to structure our conventional forces for two major theater wars, which had been our fore-structuring doctrine for a decade or more? And it turns out that that’s not irrelevant today, but it’s such a (Laughs)…I mean, when was the last time you heard anybody defending the two major theater war fore-structuring doctrine? The world has changed.
I think we had, in terms of our intelligence collection, our radar turned on in the wrong direction and at the wrong places. There are counterterrorism profile experts who will tell you what the terrorist looks like, figuratively. It turns out these terrorists didn’t look like that. So a lot of conventional wisdom went out the window. We just weren’t ready. I mean our military forces weren’t ready, our intelligence forces, structures, weren’t ready, and our Congress wasn’t ready.
LG: Anyone from the Bush administration contact any member of the commission in helping to set up this new office and agency, get advice, what not?
LG: Why do you think that’s so? That’s a big so. Why is that so?
GCB: I have the wrong initial after my name. (Laughs) I’m in the wrong party. (Laughter)
LG: Chuck’s in the right party. Well, why a failure to reach out like that?
GCB: I think it’s…I mean, we’ve all served in government and it’s hard to…even though the whole reason for this commission was that we would provide advice to a new administration, with the timing such that it would derive with an incoming administration. But it is hard for people inside the government to…that’s their job now, to be deciding what to do, and to say, Well, we don’t have very many good ideas but there’s a guy named Hart and Rudman over here that’s got some good ideas. We’re going to do what they want us to do. That’s pretty tough.
We’ve tried to feed stuff to them, unsolicited, and just say, Look, we don’t need credit for this, the George Marshall approach, you know. I don’t care what, who gets credit for anything, so long as it gets done. But it’s just difficult. I think it’s just difficult when you’re inside the government to take the advice of…certainly advice then has a lot of public traction at the moment (Laughs), and say, Okay, we’re dry on ideas but here are some good ones, we’re going to use them. Let’s talk.
LG: Thank you, Chuck. One last question, which I’ll ask you to respond to all too briefly. I’m sure it will come up in the questions. If you have the chance to talk to Messrs. Bush and Cheney, at all, and say, Here should be the core of our strategy in responding to this present situation, what would your response be?
GH: Well, I think it would be…it sounds a little programmatic, if not trite, to use the words we used in structuring our homeland security idea, prevention, protection, and remediation or response. Try to find out where it’s coming, where the threat comes from, and who they are, and what, how they intend to act, if you can. And refine your intelligence collection as much as possible, illuminate to the degree humanly possible the gaps and seams that exist in our intelligence networks, particularly between the offshore and the onshore CIA, FBI, if you will, and stop them before they get here.
Second, protection is if they’re coming, if they’ve gotten out, to use the president’s phrase, of their caves, and they’re coming, stop them at the border. That’s why we feel so strongly about consolidation of the three uniform border protection agencies in this new homeland security agency. Because that’s the front line. Steve Flynn is the expert and knows as much about this issue as anybody I’ve heard from or talked to.
Then the third…I think there’s step in between which is if they get inside the border and they have weapons of mass destruction, apprehension. We didn’t make that a separate category. And then if the worst possible thing happens, response. How do you limit the damage? How do you care for the people? How do you get structures up and running? Health care, medical, emergencies, emergency response, triage, so on. There you get into the federal system, federal, state and local governments. We’ve seen the prototype here in this city for the last three weeks, what works, what doesn’t work. But there’s not a city in America, including my own, that I think is really prepared for what could happen.
LG: Thank you. What’s your response to that, Chuck, knowing full well that the attention span of the president probably doesn’t exceed those of our colleagues? (Laughter)
GCB: I think it’s first of all recognition that this is a fundamental part of national security, writ large. I’m most dismayed I think in the response of the administration as taking by…setting up some separate and equivalent Homeland Security Council, equivalent they say to the National Security Council, creating a huge new seam. It’s I think exactly the opposite. The idea that homeland security is a fundamental part of national security and can’t be separated out in any significant way, has to be integrated into all that you do.
The three components of a strategy, which Gary has enumerated, require the whole of the national security apparatus to accomplish. The military, certainly the intelligence component, the diplomatic component, and the military component, all on the prevention side, everybody working the prevention problem at its source to include the ability to preempt far from our shores the protection…none of these would fall into a national homeland security agency. That part of a strategy would have to be accomplished with tools and capabilities outside of any kind of a national homeland security.
But as an integrated part on one central advocate at the secretary level, at the cabinet level, who sits on a…who would go to the principal’s meetings, who is advocating for how that…those capabilities and that agency would fit into an overall national security, that’s to my mind the very most important thing.
LG: Thank you, Chuck.
GCB: Beyond that we can go into lots more detail, but that’s the fundamental thing you’ve got to accept.
LG: The floor is open now, usual rules, that as we seek precision and brevity, not poetry in your questions. (Laughter) When I recognize you, please wait for the microphone and identify yourself. Down here.
RB: Ralph Butchins(?), New York University. Your commission addressed the short term, the threats, the reaction to it. Did you get into the roots of terrorism, the how to manage resentment over a period of time? The sort of thing that Tony Blair addressed in his speech this week about the Marshal Plan to help…did you all discuss that?
GCB: Yes. That’s what this second volume that we did was about. We became firmly convinced that the only way you deal with it in the long term is to help the rest of the…that fraction of the world that’s in a relative sense falling farther behind, the globalizing vector has certain nations and certain segments of certain nations all integrating and getting richer at a pace unprecedented in human history. While, I think our numbers we were using at the time were 4.3 billion people on this earth, are still living on $300 a year or less, and if they’re not getting poor in absolute terms they’re getting much poorer in relative terms. The source of resentment is there. While we didn’t produce any of that, the kind of things that make it difficult for those societies to integrate into this globalizing phenomenon are the very things that we could help, we think we could help, along with our…the other members of the developed world.
RB: Did you make any recommendations?
GCB: Yes, of course, lots of them. But they had to do with helping them, these nations, come into the world community and helping them develop institutions, participatory democracies, economic systems that have some chance of success, some kind of a rule of law, and developing institutions relative to justice and fairness. Those are the things, and the developed world has a lot that they can help in that regard. We argued because we couldn’t do it by ourselves. We labeled that a concert for freedom, because we couldn’t do it on our own. We even argued whether we could even be the maestro. One of our commissioners argued that the best we could do is be the first on the list.
But nonetheless, we ended up with the conclusion the United States would probably play a more important role than anybody else, but we had to do it with a whole concert.
GH: We were all troubled by the fact, and we ought to be troubled by the fact I think, there is no democratic government in the Arab world. The absence of democracy in this critical major part of the world, and why that is. Is it cultural, does it have to do with the politics of the region, oligarchic governments that resist power sharing? Does it have to do with the Islamic faith? Why is so hard to foster democracy in countries that ought to be moving in this direction? It’s a big, big problem.
I think we all felt, although we may not have articulated it this way, that a strategy that the administration seems to be moving toward of reducing resources, identifying, reducing resources of those who wish us ill, what the military would call drying up the swamp…the four resources are money, weapons, shelter and recruits. And in the area of…and we’re not going to do the first three without cooperation of the nations in that region. And I gather that’s what our government is trying to do right now, is shut off the money supply, or at least reduce it, the weapons flow, which often comes from our own allies. The money by the way, some of it recycled petro dollars for our energy consumption here in this country.
But you get to the recruits and you get into the Robert Capital(?) of the world, whereas he I think rightly points out, for a 12 year old in a refugee camp barracks life or camp…terrorist camp training is a step up—they get food, they get shelter, they get clothing, they get a cause, none of which they have today—and you make that point about drying up the swamp, and then someone says, as I indicated earlier, none of these people in this attack fit that profile. They weren’t out of the training…they weren’t out of the refugee camps.
LG: Thank you, Gary. Let me recognize Eugene Matthews down here and introduce him as well. Eugene Matthews is a new senior fellow here at the Council for Asian Studies. Eugene spent most of the ’90s living in Vietnam and in Japan as a businessman, a long-time student of Asian issues. Eugene?
EM: One of the things I wanted to ask was during the panel’s deliberations were there considerations beyond reducing the economic disparity between ourselves and others, for reducing the kind of resentment that’s out there? Because having spent the past 15 years in Asia, there are countries that are very similar to us in economic success, so to speak, that do also harbor strong resentments toward the US. And were there discussions, perhaps not in the final recommendations, but were the discussions of how do we get at those problems? I would suggest that also a lot of those people are young, sometimes educated in the US, and still harbor a great deal of resentment. It may not be as acute to go towards some type of physical violence toward the US, but it’s out there and it’s building.
LG: Thank you.
GCB: I think part of what we recognized, and maybe everyone else has to, but
part of the problem is just our own bigness and our visibility and success and emerging as…in the ’90s as the only superpower. So we’re singled out in that regard and highly visible. But I think we concluded…Gary can reinforce this, we even used the term tone matters, how we address ourselves to the rest of the world and the tone we use, the kind of sensitivity to other people’s cultures and their views and so forth, all kind of have to do with style. It is not something that you can, you know, use with programmatic precision but the collective style with which we deal with the rest of the world probably matters. It probably matters a lot.
LG: Gary, do you want to take that up?
GH: Yeah, Americans aren’t good listeners. We’re good talkers, we’re not very good listeners. And we’re not…two places most people in the world see America. One is the embassy, the other is the America business doing business in that country or that area. And it’s amazing if you travel the world, as I do, to see how Americans do tend to live in enclaves wherever they are. We saw this in Vietnam for sure. We see it in Russia, see it…I mean, we form our own schools, the Americans, you know, everybody sends their kids to the American school. We socialize with each other. We don’t get out of the communities and mix and mingle and we don’t listen when we do.
So I think the private sector had got…now in the era of globalization, got a real role to play here. Americans ought to get out of their enclaves, the expats, and get out and listen. It could have a tremendous impact. There is a tremendous level in this resentment business, back to the Cairo embassy, ambassador’s residence, there were a lot of people in that room who were attacking us whose sons or daughters were at Yale or Berkeley and who had just gotten back from having open-heart surgery at Johns Hopkins. So there’s a great deal of mismatch.
LG: Here please.
Question: It’s really a question for Senator Hart. Going back to your opening remarks and the agencies you mentioned that deserved mitigated attention, the one I missed that I’ve been hearing a good deal about the need for, and that is the public health services in this country. I’d like to have you say a word more about that, if you would.
GH: Elements of public health service ought to be brought into the new Homeland Security Agency because that’s critical to the response function, obviously. You’ve seen it here in the city, you are seeing it here, and we’re going to see it in other places. Tragically, from my point of view, financing of public health in this country has been going down for the last 10 or 20 years. That trend ought to reverse itself and we ought to really invest in the public health service and sharpen its function for disaster response. Because it’s going to be critical, particularly if the next attack is chemical or biological, whatever it is. The people in the local area are going to be critical to this.
Now whether the whole…although we’ve reached a conclusion, General Boyd can correct me, about detaching the public health service en mass, moving into the new agency, I don’t think we said that. But certainly some elements of it.
LG: Yeah. Let me ask -, if I may, to chime in on this.
Speaker: The NIH has been well protected and the investments have increased
and we do have a role to play in some of these security issues because there are some major research issues that can be put to use in defending ourselves against terrorist that are committed especially through biological agents. But I would agree with the senator that our investment in public health resources, both domestically and worldwide, have been terribly impoverished. I would additionally argue that one way to deal with resentment more specifically is to try to build some of the bridges to efficiencies in other parts of the world, particularly in the public health arena where we have tremendous opportunity to improve health in many of these countries with direct economic benefit in a way that would be perceived as altruistic, but actually work very much to our own advantage as well as the advantage of those who would be receiving our benefits.
I hope when Harlem Gro Brundtland is here next month that she’ll talk a little bit about the commission on economics and health in which I served that Jeff Sacks(?) has been organizing, because they will present a detailed prescription for how public health services and other health benefits might be provided to the poor countries in the world in a way that I think would at least make some steps against some of the resentment that exists around the world against us.
LG: Very good. We will be putting on programs here as well about the ability of our health care system, federal, state and local, to respond. A question over there?
Question: Senator Hart took the words out of my mouth when he talked about the mismatch. At the time that the report was coming out I had two dinners with another group in Cairo and in Jordan and for two hours with senior diplomats and businessmen I listened to anti-American drivel. When I finally decided to change the topic, and I said, Gee, do you guys have any kids? They said, Yeah, they’re at Harvard and Yale and Princeton and Stanford. And I said, Gee, my daughter couldn’t get in there.
There’s profound hypocrisy in this resentment thing so often. the council for example just did a wonderful study for Palestinian self-government, just the kind of thing you suggested we do to help solve this problem, and it was rejected by the local leaders. How do you get around the notion that so often the resentment we’re trying to deal with is fanned by leaders we’re dealing with that need it for their own purposes?
GH: I’d just correct one thing. It wasn’t rejected by Arafat and the local leaders, it was accepted but then not carried out. (Laughter)
GCB: Well, I read in the paper two days ago some Kuwaiti speaking how fashionable it was, even in a place where Americans were heros within the last decade, to now…the guy said something to the effect that anything that the United States gets on the side of (Laughs) everybody else is on the other side. There’s some political traction I think to be gained by anti-American positions now. I don’t know what really is…why that ...
GCB:…is to be in a dynamic state, moving more and more in that direction. But it is. I think recognizing that one of the recommendations is coming out of…not out of the Hart-Rudman, we didn’t get to this, but just recently that I’ve heard is people bandying about is those nations that are…that there’s strong evidence of supporting terrorism, whether they’re on the list of seven or even others, that we just adopt a policy that no citizen carrying that passport be allowed to enter the United States, and anyone who has that passport are not allowed to stay. So those kids couldn’t come to Harvard, and when it came time for their open heart surgery couldn’t come here and do it. It might tone down some of the rhetoric at least, I don’t know if that’s being taken serious or not. But it’s an interesting idea.
LG: Let’s stay with this subject for a bit, and it’s part of the listening point you were making as well. Sometimes I wonder what there is to listen to out there. Sure, we ought to listen more, Americans are always in danger of not understanding enough about what’s going on in the world. So it’s almost a geographic, psychological disease with us. But when you open up your ears, you often hear nonsense that exceeds that which we say to each other in our own country. (Laughter)
You know, we understand our friends in a large part of the Arab and Muslim world have problems and sit on dilemmas. They don’t want to be overthrown and so they’re very cautious about the situation inside their countries. They tend more to export terrorism than encourage it at their own doorstep. I mean, some of our best friends. And we’ve known this for years. It’s part of what we heard in the commission briefings. Our intelligence community was well aware of this for 10, 15 years. Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates or Germany for that matter knew of terrorist cells, knew of terrorists who…suspected terrorists and more than that, living in their country, they knew of people within their country supplying money to terrorist cells around the world. And we hardly ever said boo about this.
Now, we’re in a position of having to go to them and say, You have to help us squeeze down on these terrorist. And they resist, because they’re afraid of turning the thread inward. IN the case of the Pakistanis, they want to help, their government wants to help us in various ways, but the great majority of that population it seems pretty clear would be up in arms in the event that we carried out military operations from Pakistani soil. So when we listen and we see what’s going on there how does it affect how we should handle these matters?
GH: Well, I think first of all be willing to distinguish between the interests of oligarchic governments in the region and the person on the street. We tend to believe…I mean, the resentment we picked up were from elites. They were the cream of the crop. They weren’t people off the street. I would assume if you went out on the street in Cairo or anywhere else there wouldn’t be a whole lot higher level of cogency, but you would get a different tone and a different nuance to what the taxi driver is saying or the school teacher or the shopkeeper or whatever. And they wouldn’t be clear, crystal clear, on their feelings about the United States. You would get a lot of conflicting rhetoric and impressions and so on.
But I think one of the things we’ve got to do diplomatically, politically and every other way, is not necessarily assume, to be specific about it, that the Saudi Royal Family speaks for everybody in Saudi Arabia.
LG: But then what would you do about it? The alternative to an essentially self-serving and often corrupt leadership in Saudi Arabia might be Ayatollah’s in Saudi Arabia, it might have the same sort of takeover in Saudi Arabia as happened in Iran.
GCB: Well, we may have to go back to the Clinton doctrine or at least reconsider the Clinton doctrine of nation building. Call it something else if you wish, encouragement of opening these systems up to democratic participation. We either believe in that or we don’t. You can’t believe it for every part of the world except where you get your oil.
LG: Yeah. By the way, a number of these questions that we’re talking about up here are dealt with awfully well in the next issue of Foreign Affairs. Jim Hoge and his colleagues have put together a terrific issue, revising it almost on the dime. The issue is led with an article by Fouad Ajami that goes back and tells us what we seldom get the opportunity to hear or read, mainly, what Arab leaders have been saying to each other and their own people. It’s an important datum in our figuring out how to respond. Please, over here.
Question: What we’ve been talking about over the last 15 minutes or so is probably more of a long-term approach, getting to the roots, and trying to figure out why, and how to stop it from happening, from a macro standpoint. If the recommendations of the commission had been followed in their entirety, is there any way that what happened three weeks would have been avoided? And if so, what were those recommendations that could have avoided what happened, specifically?
LG: Chuck, why don’t you take that?
GCB: Probably not, given the timing. But they certainly would have started events and capabilities and(?) train, that would make the nation secure, much more secure over time. The first of which, one of the very first of our recommendations, had to do with the strengthening of the intelligence community, and orienting it toward this threat, by first of all doing a national intelligence estimate, and then i.e., on the subject, which has never been done, establishing a position on the National Intelligence Council with that responsibility and a national intelligence officer for this, for terrorism and the threat to our nation.
So reorienting and to put much greater investment in human intelligence and a variety of other specific recommendations on intelligence, all of which takes time. I mean, you’re not going to get all of that done between January and September. Maybe you get a lot of it in training though between January and September. Then, first of all, having the president at one…our first recommendation is to have the president recognize this as a fundamental part of national security and establish a strategy, develop a strategy. We gave him a recommendation of what he could use as a strategy, but use one of his own if he wants to, but do one. Because there isn’t one. There is no such thing, and on and on.
So could it have prevented the attack? Probably not, but certainly he would have had the country moving in a direction that would make it security. And to finally get around to a national homeland security agency where you’re moving, you’re consolidating all the borders, agencies, putting all of the cyber things that are distributed among the FBI and the NSC staff and the Department of Commerce and what have you, consolidating those and putting somebody in charge that’s accountable and has some authority and has some responsibility. All of those things taken in together would just I think make the country far more secure than it is.
LG: Your question is a fair one, but the commission’s answer, as Chuck was saying, was a systemic one. It’s all the pieces that need to be refitted and pointed in a high level national security direction. Conclusions, recommendations, still hold. We had one attack, there’s more to come, and I think the kind of systemic changes talked about have a reasonable chance and a far better chance than we have now of preventing the attacks in the first place.
But, you know, what we’re talking about in the report is something that ought to be done, whether or not you buy almost anything else in the report, mainly, that you have to end this dopey situation where the intelligence agencies and the operating agencies don’t share information. And that we’re in a position where the CIA and the FBI knew about a number of these blokes. But if it ever got down to the FAA or the airlines so that anyone could do anything about it was preposterous. There are a whole bunch of systemic points like that that need to be acted upon, whether or not you accept the commission’s report on the need for an overall new agency or whether the White House office operation is sufficient.
Our system was filled with a lot of people who were saying similar things to what we’re saying or talking to each other or sharing information that basic. Please, all the way back there.
Question: Given the fact that these terrorists did not fit the current profile that the intelligence agencies have, but they seem to have targeted a whole lot of other people who don’t fit this profile but who are considered to be dangerous to our national security, what can and should the intelligence agencies in our government do about those people that they have identified in this country?
LG: Yes, I’m afraid we’re going to have to make this the last ...
GCB: Well, there’s a system, as you know, that ends up being called a watch list. Some people fit certain criteria they go on the watch list, and by definition that means they’re being watched. (Laughter) The only problem is two of these people weren’t being watched, or they slipped between the cracks somewhere. So part of this previous question has to do with any time you change a human institution, whether it’s federal government, a business, a military institution, the first and hardest battle is to change the way people think. It’s not redrawing the wiring diagrams, which we think in structuring this new agency is important. But it’s getting people to think differently.
For a decade, almost exactly a decade, between the end of the Cold War in August of 1991 and this tragedy, we have been operating, we as a nation and a society and our institutions have been operating under a set of assumptions, a lot of which turned out to be wrong, about the nature of warfare, about the threats, about where the danger is coming from, and so forth. So the first thing we’ve got to do right now is begin to think differently, all of us. Senior military officers, members of Congress, people in the White House, policy makers, policy implementers, people in this room, business people, we have to think differently.
Now, I wish I could tell you the ten things to think differently about but some of them we’ve discussed here. Changing nature of warfare, the way a society responds to an attack on its homeland, those are the things we ought to be thinking about. And when you change the way you think then all of a sudden certain things that didn’t seem important before, all of a sudden have a different importance.
Don Rumsfield has a wonderful phrase, I don’t know whether it’s original to him, he says if you face a problem you can’t solve, make it bigger. (Laughs) It’s, I think, a wonderful way of thinking. Make it bigger and maybe you’ll come up with the answer. Well, we just had a problem we thought was about this size, suddenly become this size. Response to that ought to be everybody in Washington and in this room thinking differently. This is what bothers me about this migrating office and council in the White House that doesn’t seem to be able to identify it’s old thinking.
LG: My apologies to the 20 or so hands raised. All I can say to act on my deep feelings of guilt not being able to get to you (Laughter) is we will be doing this again and again. Our programs will be built around this. The general meetings here, the roundtables, all of which you can find on the Web site. I think the best way to try to keep up is to dig in with one of those roundtables, and we will be digging in on more specific issues here in the general meetings as well.
Before I let you go and thank our panelists, let me take this opportunity to introduce our visiting fellows for this year. I want to do this at several meetings, because you will be doing yourselves a favor if you get to meet them. We have four from the Uniformed Services this year. Colonel Bob McClore(?), United States Army. Would they stand as I introduce them, if they’re all here? Bob McClore, Captain Jeff Niner(?), United States Navy, Marine Colonel Jeff Rutter(?), and Air Force Colonel Chris Miller. Is Chris here today?
Our Murrow fellow this year, Edward R. Murrow fellow, is Calvin Sims of the New York Times. Is Calvin here? I think we’re missing Calvin. And our fellow from the CIA is Guillermo Christianson. Guillermo, are you here? As I said, you’ll be doing yourselves a favor by meeting them. They’re great contributors here. Join me in thanking our panel.