Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, joins CFR Board Member Mary McInnis Boies to discuss Napolitano's career. Napolitano reflects on border control, cybersecurity, intelligence capabilities, and leadership.
The Home Box Office History Makers series focuses particular attention on the contributions made by a prominent individual at a critical juncture in international relations.
BOIES: Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for coming to this latest in the Council on Foreign Relations History Makers Series.
We have with us today Janet Napolitano who is indeed a history maker. The History Makers Series focuses on the contributions made by a prominent individual at a critical juncture in U.S. foreign policy or international relations.
On behalf of the CFR, I would like to thank Richard Plepler and HBO for sponsoring this series.
Our guest today has a—to say it's a varied career would be an understatement. I mean, she—she clerked on the Ninth Circuit. As an attorney in private practice, she was an attorney for Anita Hill during the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings on U.S. Supreme Court Clarence Thomas. We could probably spend an hour on that one.
She was the United States attorney in Arizona. She was the attorney general of Arizona. And she was the governor of Arizona.
She ran as a Democrat in a red state and she won in a state in which both houses were controlled by the Republicans. She was reelected, and as such, she was the first Democratic governor in a quarter-century who had been reelected as a Democrat.
She was secretary of homeland security for five and a half years, from 2009 to 2013. And she's now the president of the University of California System, which has now ten campuses. It includes schools such as U.C. Berkeley, UCLA, U.C. Santa Barbara, U.C. Santa Cruz, and U.C. Merced, a new one.
So this woman goes straight to the sound of the cannon-fire. Now, the guidelines for this meeting are a little different than normal. We are asked to focus on her past experience as that informs and shapes current events.
So Janet, welcome. We're very pleased to have you today.
NAPOLITANO: Thank you. I'm glad—I'm glad to be here, weather or not withstanding, I wore my snow shoes, thinking that I would be in the midst of it, but it's really lovely here today.
BOIES: All right. I'm going to start with a—a real softball, and that is give us your three favorite examples of critical junctures in U.S. foreign policy or international relations where you played a critical role.
NAPOLITANO: Well, let me...
BOIES: Modesty is not part of the program.
NAPOLITANO: I guess not.
You know, in the kind of work that I have done, foreign policy, international affairs, international security, intersects at—at—in different ways. You know, when you're the governor of a border state, you know, Arizona, when I became the governor there in early 2003, was the number one place in the country for illegal entrance from Mexico and Central America by a large margin.
And so, working not only with our federal government but with the country of Mexico in terms of what needs to be done to secure that border and what needed to be done to secure that border, was very important and working together we were—we managed to bring the numbers down and obtain control over that—that long, long, and very geographically diverse border.
When I was the secretary of homeland security, I mean, that job—I mean, that department is twenty-three agencies that were united under one roof after the attacks of 9/11 and there's a lot of commentary now, was that the right decision, the wrong decision? Are the right agencies in there, the wrong agencies, et cetera?
My job was to administer whatever agencies there were, leaving it to other minds to determine did they have the right mix. And we had a number of events when I was secretary.
One I would point to was the underwear bomber around Christmas of 2009. Now, that was an unsuccessful attempt by a man named Abdulmutallab to, with explosives in his underwear, he managed to get on an international flight that was bound for Detroit from Amsterdam, and it didn't ignite properly, in part because it's very hard to get the right kind of explosives in the right kind of way to actually explode on time in an aircraft.
But it opened up the whole issue of international air security because it turned out that we were not checking things at the point of departure overseas. We were checking things as people were coming into the United States.
And we were leaving it to foreign countries to deal with the departure and we dealt with admission into the United States through our customs and other authorities. And we realized then that we had to push boundaries out and really elevate international air security in a very networked way.
So throughout the spring and fall of 2010, we convened a set of regional conferences around the world: Asia, Africa, South America, Europe, and other places, really looking at the rules governing international air security and particularly for us, what needed to be checked before you could board a plane for the United States, and also how luggage was to be handled.
Because I will tell you, when I became secretary, the threat of an aviation incident was still our number one concern and where we had the most threat traffic.
Our work culminated in a United Nations resolution and protocol in the fall of 2010 which is like lightning speed for the United Nations. This is the Council on Foreign Relations. You're familiar with the U.N. They're not known for speed.
But this, you know, I think this demonstrated the international recognition of what we were dealing with. And we put in place a number of things, seen and unseen, to improve international air security. And we did that all under the auspices of legal authority and jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security, not the Department of State or not the Department of Defense.
So, that would—that would be a second one.
BOIES: Before you go to the third, let me stop you here.
You were quoted at the time as saying, quote, "the system worked."
NAPOLITANO: Yeah, that was a particular high point in my—in my life.
Yeah, thank you for remembering that.
BOIES: No, the reason I'm remembering that is because you said at the time that that quote was taken out of context.
NAPOLITANO: It was.
BOIES: And so now you have the chance to put it in the right context.
NAPOLITANO: Let me clarify the record. I did three—this is a lesson for us all. When you're—I was in California at Christmas when the attempted bombing occurred. The White House asked me to go on the early morning shows, which in California means it's really early morning, because you've got to get up at three a.m. to get to the studio in time to hit the timezone here.
And what I was trying to do, and I did it, I think pretty well with two of the three, but the third one was not so successful, was to reassure people that we believed air travel was overall safe. And also to say that the system we had when an event occurred, to immediately get control of all air flights in the air, to know who was where, what was going on, to ground aircraft where we thought we needed to, et cetera, that system went into play immediately and it was the first that time that it had ever really been—it had ever been used and worked.
But when I—I got a little aggressive when I said the system worked on one show, and that got spun into me saying, "well of course it's OK for a guy with explosives to get on a flight." Like, really? No. Not.
That was not the intent.
So you have to work your way out of a misfortunate quote like that. And really the top thing on my mind was pushing the borders out, that we could no longer think customs and border security as the actual physical borders of the United States. We really had to—to think much more globally in that context.
BOIES: Would that individual have been on the no-fly list as at least the list today is constituted? Or do you not know?
NAPOLITANO: I think I shouldn't comment on that. But I can say that things that were put into place post Abdulmutallab would have picked him up in Amsterdam before he boarded the plane for Detroit and he would not have been allowed on the plane or he would not have been allowed on the plane without a thorough examination.
So that's a—a second one. And a—a third one was the Boston Marathon bombing. Now, there, you got into the whole intersection, well how does the U.S. deal with a Russian population here? How do you deal with information or disinformation one might receive from the Russians? What is our capability for continual surveillance on someone, even if we had stronger intel than we possessed on the Tsarnaevs? And we really didn't have anything.
And the FBI had issued repeated requests to the Soviet—to the Russians, excuse me, and had not received anything back. And there, really, my involvement was to say "what kind of—how do we sift through all of the information now that we get?" Because the Internet is a blessing, but it's also, from an intel standpoint, a curse. You get so much knowledge, so how do you discern what's material and important, timely and urgent, versus that which is not?
And I think that's a struggle going on today. It's actually a struggle in terms of surveillance capability and what you do in a free society that we see expressing itself in France and as in they're now going backwards, what was known about the bombers in Paris a couple of weeks ago.
BOIES: But back to the Boston Marathon, you did have information about their—about travel to Chechnya.
NAPOLITANO: About one brother and that he had traveled back. Traveling to Russia is not illegal, and returning is not illegal. And we really didn't have much more than that. So, a question raised by the Boston police was should they have been alerted that the—you know, that that had occurred? And in a perfect world, everybody's co-located and sharing material information and I—you know, it's not a perfect world.
And so the theory, or the theory of operation has to be, what knowledge do you possess, how do you—how do you put some quality control over the intel, and how do you share information that is operational as opposed to there's a—to my mind, if I might say, as opposed to being—I told you so therefore whatever happens is your fault, not my fault. And some of that goes around as well.
BOIES: Well, is that the theory behind the fusion centers in which you're trying to get...
BOIES: ... federal government information shared with state and locals so that there can be...
NAPOLITANO: That was a—yeah, that was something, actually when I was governor, I saw the need for doing something of that sort very urgently. Now, this was in 2003. We had—you know, you had the feds over here, the state here, the locals here. This happens all over the United States.
And it really makes much more sense, particularly in this era of almost intel overload, to have co-location, to have some shared protocols for information sharing, to have regular exchange—not regular meaning a quarterly meeting, but regular, daily exchange where you have people at all levels of law enforcement who actually know each other. That makes a lot more sense, and in the end, is more cost effective.
So we began a fusion center in Phoenix, Arizona, and I think it was the first of its type in the country.
Fusion centers as a concept, it's a great concept. As in all great concepts, it has had some ups and downs. But I think overall, it's still the right concept for the country.
BOIES: So when you began at the—as secretary of homeland security in 2009, what in your view was the number one threat to the homeland, and then let's bring it forward, what is your view as to the number one threat in the homeland today?
NAPOLITANO: It's hard.
I mean, threats are not basketball teams. You know, we don't rack and stack them.
BOIES: But you did say last September, the number one threat today is Americans and Europeans with passports going to the Middle East, training up, or socializing or whatever they do, and then coming back with an intent to do harm.
BOIES: So do you stick by that as today's number one threat?
NAPOLITANO: I think that is a key threat today. I believed it then. And I—I—it's a very difficult threat to deal with. We are a democracy, we are a freedom-loving people. Freedom of travel is one of our freedoms. These are passport holders. They are by and large natural-born citizens, some of them naturalized, but natural—they are citizens of the United States.
They have passports. They're allowed to travel, and monitoring that, the extent to which that should and can be done and how we do that, and then exchange information about that to local law enforcement authorities, those—there are value issues and security issues implicit in those questions.
But it is a big threat and we've seen it now, of course, expressed throughout Western Europe. Passport holders have gone to Syria, gone to Iraq, been with ISIS and the like.
When I became the secretary, aviation was the dominant threat. It remains a serious threat. And again, you know, the United States, we process 2 million passengers a day through 180 some-odd major airports. And to do that, to have passenger through-put, and at the same time mitigate risk as best you can. And also we're not—we haven't even spoken about luggage and cargo. Those are massive operational activities that go on every day throughout the country.
I have to tell you, though, I know it's going on because I had to actually check luggage for this trip out here, because I had to bring, you know, winter clothes. I live in California. And I opened my garment bag and what did I see my—that it had been opened and inspected by a TSA inspector. So, I thought, well good, they're on the job.
How fleeting is fame.
BOIES: So the Department of Homeland Security has approximately 102 congressional committees and subcommittees who do oversight and authorization for the department. How can you possibly operate a coherent organization with that kind of oversight and authority?
And you're no longer in office...
NAPOLITANO: I can say whatever I want and I will.
BOIES: You're not in federal office, so let her rip.
NAPOLITANO: Oversight can be overdone. And where DHS is concerned, it actually is detrimental to the department. I mean, 100 and some-odd two—some-odd committees and subcommittees. The amount of time, effort, energy, money wasted on oversight, as opposed to letting us just do the work is really outrageous.
And this has been said by my two predecessors, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff. It's been said—it's the one recommendation of the 9/11 commission that nothing has been done on, is for Congress to get its act together and reform the authorization and appropriation process for what is the third-largest department of the federal government.
So I was secretary almost five years, as you mentioned. I testified fifty-five times in the Congress. Do you know what it takes to prepare and have a secretary testify? It's a lot of work. It's not just you, but it's all the staff and all the work that has to go on to make sure that you are fully prepared.
Now, I'm more than willing to have oversight and to go through my budget. And when something goes awry, to answer for that. But this sort of thing is—is really unacceptable. I thought the greatest, most recent example was during the recent Ebola outbreak, where the head of the CDC was hauled to Washington, D.C. to do an oversight hearing during the midst of the crisis, as we're trying to ascertain what protocols need to be put in place and what needs to be done in the country to prevent us having an Ebola outbreak here, or even travelers with the virus.
So—and to me, having oversight, even in the midst of a crisis, is illustrative of Congress not appreciating what its role is vis-a-vis the executive.
I have no strong feelings about this topic.
BOIES: Well, as if homeland security as we've described it isn't enough, your department also had oversight of cybersecurity. And my question is: Since 85 percent of infrastructure today in the United States is privately owned, to what extent did the department have the adequate resources and authority to do that oversight and that work? And does Congress need to do more? And if they do, what do they need to do that they haven't done?
NAPOLITANO: Well, you know, you asked me what the number one threat was when I took office, and I said aviation. And—but cyber was—was burbling up. And by the time I left, I was spending well over a third of my time on cyber activities.
Let me—a little bit of background, if I might. In our country, really the infrastructure for cyber has been possessed by and developed within the NSA, which is a phenomenal resource for the country, but it's military. It's part of the DoD.
And so when you talk about, well, what do you do domestically, what do you do with infrastructure that's in private hands, that—now you have this big transition. Well, who's supposed to do it and with what resources?
And a lot of that has been given to NSA and a lot of it's been given to the FBI. But both are still well behind the NSA in terms of the actual technological capacity that they possess. So part of this was just, you know, starting from a baseline and growing, while the threats were changing both in size, intensity. The technology was changing. These are threats very different. Their attribution is always an issue. They can be maybe state-sponsored, group-sponsored, individuals. You know, it's just—it's everything you can imagine.
Now you get to your question. Well, what do we do about threats to hack into—take over, whatever, the critical infrastructure of the United States? And there, unlike any other security issue that I can name, Congress decided to leave that primarily in private hands; to have NIST, which is a subagency within Department of Commerce, work with the private sector to develop standards for cybersecurity. And for DHS to work to install a framework for cybersecurity.
But by and large, what—what you do or not do, et cetera, et cetera, is left in private hands. Now, there are some aspects of our economy that are pretty good. But as we've seen time and again, these are attacks that in some respects are—are almost too numerous, and they're coming at us all the time. And my caution and fear, and I think it was shared by everybody in the government, was that what we were doing was not enough and the structure we have is not strong enough to really give us the best defensive posture vis-a-vis cyber.
I hope we don't have the typical circumstance where a bad—something really awful happens and then people wake up and say, "Huh, we need something better." But I would say today in this hallway, what we have now from a legal and jurisdictional standard, and from a resources standard, is not adequate.
I have no strong feelings about that either.
But I will share with you, it's enormously complicated and difficult, as we have seen with various retailers who have been hacked, with private information; as we've seen with the Sony hack attack. The University of California, we run large hospitals which possess lots of private information of the people's medical records. I mean, just think about how we live our daily lives now, how much information is possessed out there in the cyber world; what uses it can be put toward.
And then think about infrastructure and what happens to a place like New York when power goes down. We also had FEMA, so I was here during Hurricane Sandy. We know what happened in New York when the power went down and what it took to get it restored. Now think, if that had happened in several places around the country all at the same time.
BOIES: Then-Secretary Leon Panetta said that he thinks there will be a Pearl Harbor cyber attack and that it may take that to—for our country to really do what we need to do. Moving to the Sony hack, what practical alternatives do we have to retaliate and punish against an attack where we are confident enough as to its origin that we are willing to do something?
President Obama said we will respond proportionally. What does that translate to you? What are our practical alternatives?
NAPOLITANO: I think in this circumstance, and I'm going to caveat my remarks. I obviously don't possess any intel or anything—inside information—other than what you all have seen as well. But it seems to me the president is, in this circumstance, has to be very, very careful. There are undoubtedly kind of blocking and tackling maneuvers the NSA can perhaps accomplish.
But typical notions of what is an act of war; what is a retaliatory act of war; how do you prevent undue escalation—these are very, very gray areas in the cyber world. The rules of engagement really don't exist yet. And so I think what the president was doing was making sure that we didn't provoke an even greater problem than what the Sony hack originally was.
BOIES: Does the government do the kinds of exercises that the military is constantly doing? Assume this happens. What is the response? And if that's the reply, then what do we do?
This administration, and you had left by then, so I can say this, it seemed to me just from reading the press that the administration was dealing with an issue that it hadn't really thought through how it would respond. And that could be totally wrong.
NAPOLITANO: I would put it differently, Mary. I think there's lots of work being done by many people to ascertain, well, what—what can and should be done, and—and what are the rules of engagement, so to speak? How do you measure proportionality in this respect?
But we're dealing with a situation where a lot of that is still being worked because it's so new. You know, these attacks have been increasing in size and importance. But, again, as I mentioned, when I took over at DHS, it—it was not the number one, or even probably number two or three threat that we were dealing with. I mean, what we've seen is the elevation and escalation. And, you know, government—you have to be careful here, because the law of un—undue consequences can really come into play.
So, it's not that exercises haven't gone on and lots of thinking hasn't gone on. But the final thinking has not yet occurred. I—I know it's going on at the highest levels.
BOIES: Here's an issue that I know you've been working on, certainly since you were governor of Arizona, and probably before, when you were a prosecutor. The House—a House committee last week reported a bill that would require complete operational control of our Southern border in five years and in high-traffic areas in two years. And your successor, Jeh Johnson, said that that was utterly impossible, and Congress knows it.
NAPOLITANO: Yes, he's right.
BOIES: What does it take to secure the border? And what does it mean to secure the border?
NAPOLITANO: I—"operational control" is a D.C. buzz phrase that's used to totally keep moving the goal post about the predicate needed on the Southern border so you can have immigration reform. The plain fact—and I've worked that border my whole professional life, almost. I—as I've been quoted saying, I've walked it, I've flown in helicopters, I've ridden a lot of it on horseback. This is a multi-thousand-mile border. Some of it's mountainous, some of it's river, some of it's absolute desert.
You cannot seal this border. And what operational control, in my view, is coming to mean in the Congress by some is 'seal the border'. It's a border. People go back and forth. They have since the two countries were developed, and before.
What you want to have is the greatest possible observation at the border. You want to have backup at the border. You remember, I mentioned on the international aviation side, moving the borders out? We need to do the same in the United States so that if someone gets through the physical border, there are—there are different places along the way where we have the greatest opportunity to find them.
The variety of people crossing the border is—you know, you have people coming to work, coming to reunite with their families, coming to bring their children to the greater land of opportunity. You have drug cartels and money launderers. And you always have a suspicion that somebody's actually coming in through Mexico to commit a terrorist act, although that is highly, highly, I think, exaggerated politically in Washington, D.C.
So, what do you need? You need manpower. You need technology. You need ports of entry that are big enough to handle the legal traffic and move that legal traffic back and forth, and do it with a reasonable amount of surveillance, much like we do at our airports. We have that com—we have—this country has never spent and invested as much manpower, technology and equipment at our Southern border as we have now.
The Senate Immigration Bill actually had $20 billion and some odd dollars more. Most of us who know the border, have worked the border, but a lot of that money could be actually better spent to achieve the stated objectives. But, you know, it's there. But the phrase, "operational control" that is being used in the House bill is—is a—a politically attractive, absolutely unattainable standard—that's not the right standard. The standard should be, is this as safe and secure a border as we can make it? And are we doing and undertaking those activities?
BOIES: And what can you tell us about the harm, if any, that Snowden's revelations did to the homeland?
NAPOLITANO: Well, I—I don't want to—I'll—I'll couch it this way. And I have many friends who disagree with me on this. But I believe he violated the law. I believe the hideout in Russia on the grounds that the United States is somehow engaged in too much oversight, surveillance—whatever you want to call it, is—is ironic, to say the least. I believe his actions did reveal some critical flaws in how we deal with secret information. Why someone at his level basically had the cyber keys to the kingdom, in a way, I think revealed there's a lot of flaws in that structure. And I know a lot of follow-up work has been done.
And—and I can—I—I—I think it's obvious to all that his revelations have caused some serious rifts with leadership in allied countries with the United States, and that has required the investment of time and energy by the president, the secretary of state, secretary of defense, and others, to try to repair.
BOIES: And my last question will show the versatility of this woman, and why she is a history maker. As I mentioned, she is now the head of the U.C. university system in California.
Under California law, you are not permitted to consider race, ethnicity or sex in granting admission to your university. And you have spoken passionately about the need for diversity in a higher educational institution. How are you achieving diversity in light of that rule—law—it was a proposition—some twenty years later?
NAPOLITANO: It's very tough. And I believe that public universities, in particular, should be diverse. And the gates should be open to all students. And there should be quality of opportunity to get what I believe is the best public university education in the world.
So, admissions? No, we cannot do anything that is based on race, ethnicity, et cetera in admission. But we can do a lot by way of outreach. I mean, we can go to high schools and community colleges in different areas. We use surrogates for race, socio-economic status, unfortunate—unfortunately—actually, being one. So, it's a combination of those things. You know, pipelines in particular, community colleges, high school, particular geographic areas, and—and then looking at surrogates that can get that—that can stand in. It's very interesting in California. This entering class—and we have about a quarter of a million students in the University of California--the entering class this year and the entering class next year, the largest cohort will be Asian-American students, but the second largest will be Latino students, overtaking white, Caucasian. And that is a—that is the first time in California history that that has occurred.
So, demography, you know, there are—our country has been built on immigration. Our country has been built on different waves coming through and all of us descended from one wave or another. I don't see any Native Americans in this audience, at least obvious ones.
So there, I think, we're going to continue to see that. But it doesn't mean we don't need to keep working with that population, because even with those numbers, those attending the University of California, it's smaller than the percentage of Latino students who are high school graduates. So, we still have a delta there.
But these—these kinds of bans, when you think about public education and what public education is for, and that public education at all levels has been one of the real keynotes and one of the key values of being in the United States, that's why so many people try to get here is because they want their children to have equality of opportunity these kinds of bans really run counter to that value.
BOIES: And yet you seem to be doing a fine job working around them.
NAPOLITANO: Well, we're doing—we're doing what we can. We can do more. It's very costly, I will say that.
And—but we've—we've decided and the Board of Regents has decided this is an investment that we in the university want to—want to take on.
BOIES: Thank you. I am now going to open it to the audience for questions. If you have a question, please wait for the microphone. Please stand, give your name, and your affiliation. And we will start with Admiral DeQuattro. Admiral DeQuattro is the Coast Guard military fellow here this year.
NAPOLITANO: All right. Semper Paratus.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam.
BOIES: He was—he was recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate as an admiral, so congratulations and thank you for your service.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mary. Madam Secretary, a question back to the border issue and how you envision the future at DHS. Since 9/11, the U.S. Border Patrol has doubled in size to roughly 21,000, which is about a little less than half the size of the NYPD. The U.S. Coast Guard is roughly equivalent in size to the NYPD. So, looking forward, recognizing that DHS plays a role along with state and locals on the border, what do you envision the size and the shape of DHS?
NAPOLITANO: That's a good question. And—and you know, when we talk about the border, everybody, their attention always goes to the U.S.-Mexican border. There's also the oceanic borders, and there's also the Canadian border. And there's a lot of activity in that regard, and we rely on the Coast Guard there.
On the size of the border patrol is an issue in question. I mean, you could literally, I guess, have a border patrol agent stationed every 100 miles along the U.S.-Mexican border, and, so, that border is 2,000, almost 3,000 miles long.
Put that in your calculator and figure out what that would cost and what that would mean.
Well, we're not going to do that.
So, really, when I mentioned it's manpower and technology, the technology needs to be reinforced—reinforce the manpower. So you have sensors. You have air cover. We were able when I was secretary to finally establish air cover across that entire border.
You have different lighting schemes and different fencing schemes. Not a fence. I'm fond of saying show me a ten-foot fence, and I'll show you a twelve-foot ladder. That's the way that works.
But fencing can help dictate where traffic and flows are, and then where you put your backup.
So what you want to do it get to a place, you know, and there's no magic number. It could be 20,000. It could be 25,000. Perhaps even more. But at a certain point, you have to say what is our goal here, and what is—what are we willing to invest in that goal?
So when you hear a phrase like "operational control," what really—you're getting to that notion of, well, you know, you basically need somebody every 100 yards or so. And that's why I say it's really moving the goalpost.
With respect to the Atlantic and the Pacific, and you as a Coast Guard admiral know this, this notion of what do we do here, and what is the Coast Guard's role, is underappreciated. And, in my view, if I were running the world, I would put more in that area with my marginal dollar than adding a marginal border patrol officer.
QUESTION: Lucy Komisar. I'm a journalist. On the one hand, we've had a lot of problem of failures of cybersecurity. On the other hand, the U.S. has worked to weaken security standards and also demanded back doors so it can get into cyberspace.
So, is this a contradiction?
And do you think now that the danger of cyber—of failures of cybersecurity are so important that the U.S. should revisit its policy and try to make cybersecurity internationally as strong as it possibly can?
NAPOLITANO: I think that what the world will require, if we can ever get there, where cyber is concerned, is a—an international compact of nations, an international convention of some sort, that at least begins to grapple with some of the issues you just talked about and that at least begins to figure out what levels of government need to intersect with—you know, who needs to intersect with whom, where, and what some of the rules of engagement should be. What is a proportionate response? How do you do a proportionate response in cyberspace that doesn't touch other countries or other regions of the world? All of those things.
It's difficult right now, with the current state of affairs, to see that kind of a global consensus developing, although people are beginning quietly or beginning to think about it. But it seems to me you cannot grapple with cybersecurity as one nation by itself. It is an inherently international phenomenon.
BOIES: Mr. Nye?
QUESTION: Dick Nye from Baker Nye. Is EMP a threat to be taken seriously, and if so, what are we doing about it?
BOIES: And tell us what EMP is.
QUESTION: Electromagnetic pulse.
NAPOLITANO: Yeah, it's basically the theory of a mega interference that takes down all cyber, all power, everything. So, all infrastructure is disabled.
Have I defined it the way you would define it?
QUESTION: Or possibly regionally.
NAPOLITANO: Or regionally.
You know, I know that we had—that there was work done on it, mostly from kind of—we're always in the disaster response arena. By the way, FEMA is part of DHS. Thinking worst case, you know, types of scenarios. And if you have cascading impacts, and what do you—the 'what if' kinds of things.
And we would include EMP in some of those exercises. But I wouldn't say that we viewed it as—it was one of those threats that was very, very low risk, high consequence, and we were really thinking about more of the consequence side.
BOIES: It has been speculated that North Korea has that capability. Can you comment on that?
BOIES: No they don't, or no you can't comment?
NAPOLITANO: No, I cannot comment.
BOIES: OK. Fair enough.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mary.
Steve Shapiro and for today's purposes, I'm with Business Executives for National Security, known as BENS, where your interlocutor also holds a court seat, for which we are grateful.
Forgive me for reading. With the changing terrorist threat, whether from returning foreign fighters or domestically radicalized individuals putting ever greater pressure on our domestic intelligence structures, do you think it would be of value to include within the definition of the intelligence community, which has a lot of meaning, those entities that are doing domestic intelligence work today, that are not now included in the intelligence community? I think of CBP, ICE, TSA, Customs and Immigration, and even the Secret Service, all of which are collecting and doing domestic intelligence work but are not in the I.C.
The advantage, some say, would be to allow greater coordination of the efforts of the federal government. Thank you.
NAPOLITANO: I think I would—I would actually view that issue a little differently. I—I do believe, you know, all things change and evolve over time, right? You know, and what is it about the intelligence world that says, well, it doesn't have to change or evolve over time? Nothing.
So, really the question to me is a fair identification of who is collecting intelligence and using it for what purposes and how—and under what rules?
And I think my department was created under the feeling that information was not being shared as efficiently and as real-time as it needed to be. We're talking about the 9/11 attack.
I think Washington, D.C.—it's a lot better now. But some of these old structures, definitions, et cetera, are old, and they need to be revisited. And we need to—you know, CBP is the largest federal law enforcement agency. And it has jurisdiction over the borders. TSA—the intel work done through the TSA with our international partners on aviation security, et cetera—that's real-time use of intelligence.
And a key distinction, I think, that needs to be kept in mind—you have kind of the classic gatherer-analyst, in a way. But the gatherer-analyst is only as effective as those who have to use the intelligence, have access to it, and they are gathering and analyzing in the right areas. And if you're going to do that, you need an intersection there that is very close and very organic. And so, we're—you know, we—we don't speak Greek or Roman anymore. I mean, things change over time.
And from a DHS-type perspective—and DHS is the key federal agency for translating a lot of this into the state and local environment—there needs to be a greater recognition of that in the United States intel structure.
BOIES: I'll give you a follow-up.
QUESTION: Is that an endorsement of the concept?
NAPOLITANO: Well, I...
QUESTION: The theory being that the—that there are so many entities out there doing disparate domestic intelligence work that do not have a plan or—a coordinated mission on behalf of the whole federal government. And this might be a role that's already in statute for the DNI, frankly, that by being dual-hatted, like the Coast Guard or DEA, law enforcement and intelligence. There is a coordination advantage.
NAPOLITANO: Well, let me be careful here. Because I'm not intimately familiar with the actual concept and language in what you're trying to do in terms of that. But what I can tell you is that from an operational standpoint, the reason we spend money on intel—the number one reason is to protect Americans. And the role of the Department of Homeland Security is to protect Americans. And having that intel and recognition in the classic intel world about the intel capacities that we have is very, very important. It's amazing how much information can be garnered just from analyzing airline travel patterns. And—and that all runs through the TSA.
So, again, it's really thinking, what are we trying to do here? What's the best way to do it? And who actually needs to be involved? And by—you know, analysis for analysis' sake is very nice. But intel needs to be useable. Yeah.
BOIES: Yes, sir?
BOIES: Could you repeat yourself?
QUESTION: Thank you.
Not long ago, we were in trouble because we were listening in to Angela Merkel's telephone. So—and I suspect that we have a lot of lines into every part of the other world that's finding us. So, how do you—should I get angry that—when they listen to us? And what should be the rules?
NAPOLITANO: Well, it goes exactly to what I'm saying. Capabilities and capacities have grown much more rapidly than grappling with them from a legal, diplomatic, you know, rules of engagement standpoint. And not speaking to that or what have you, but I think it—your question makes the point that those revelations were not helpful.
I mean, Germany is one of our strongest allies. And this I cannot evaluate because I didn't have access to it. My question would be: who authorized it? What use was it possibly for? And wasn't there any other way to get it—to get whatever information you thought you were going to get?
So, these are basic questions. These are not rocket science. But they need to be asked and they need to be asked at the right levels.
QUESTION: Gail Fosler, the Gail Fosler Group.
I—I'd like to take you back to education, if I can. You sit at the top of an organization that is like a small country. And education is actually at the core of a lot of our security concerns. CFR has done some very fine work talking about the importance of education and the economy, you know, of a strong domestic social economic system.
Now, from your role as the president and coming in from the outside, not being a part of the education community, how do you define—what do you see as the greatest unmet needs in the higher education system? I mean, from—from a service point of view? And to what extent do you feel that you are actually, even with 250,000 students, that you are actually reaching the universe of people that you should be reaching from the standpoint of public higher education?
NAPOLITANO: You know, I'm often asked, you know, why I went to the University of California from DHS. I actually had done quite a bit on higher ed when I was the governor of Arizona. And to me, and I think many of us in the room would acknowledge, America's leadership role in the world is both from a values standpoint and from an economic standpoint.
And both of those things are intrinsically tied in with education, and in particular with higher education. And the role of a public research university, which is to have the doors open to students who can academically qualify to get in, and have seats for them, and have them exposed to working with leading faculty in all different types of—all different types of disciplines from excavations in Mycenae to the newest biotechnological advance—that that has been an engine of social mobility for us, particularly since the mid-19th century and needs to be one now.
And the other thing is is that as we move forward and the world economy increasingly is based on what's called innovation, new things, new products, new uses for products, new technologies and the like, all of those things require basic research to be done. And basic research is expensive and it's time consuming and it doesn't have a P&L statement at the end of it a lot of times.
And in this country, a lot of that work has now been outsourced from the private sector into the universities. And so—and by the way, our security as a nation is built on economic security in part, and on our values, and of course, obviously, then on our military capability.
So, when you add all of that together, I mean, the role of higher education and our need to reinvest in it—because there's been a tremendous amount of public disinvestment-- is very, very keen.
Now, there are lots of interesting questions today about what form higher education takes. You know, there's all the online stuff. And can you have three-year degrees instead of four-year degrees? And all of this. But to me, those are kind of, you know, should not be considered in isolation from the general and important need to say: You know what? We are a country where if you work and you study hard, you will have the opportunity to get a higher education of high quality; and that quality will enable you and your children to move up economically.
I mean, that's kind of been the formula. That formula has broken down over the last decades. The University of California, and what I'm attempting to do there is say: You know what? That was a good formula and we need to improve on it, build on it, but recommit to it.
BOIES: Yes, sir?
QUESTION: Good afternoon. I'm Sid Velandy, Goldman Sachs. And I'm a recovering Marine.
I wanted to ask you about leadership and your leadership philosophy. You've had amazing—as we've heard about over the last hour or so—amazing leadership roles—state chief executive, executive branch, and now the U.C. system. Has your leadership philosophy shifted? How did you approach and prepare for each of those different roles—the similarities and differences in methods?
NAPOLITANO: Well, I've learned—first of all, in each role, I've had—I have made mistakes in each one. And experience I think—in a larger, more complex organization, experience helps a lot. I'm not a micromanager. I think when you're leading a large, complex organization, be it a state, a large federal department like DHS, or a large university, there are certain things they have in common.
You have to be able to have a good team around you, build that team, delegate to that team, recognize that they're going to make mistakes, too. And work through that.
I think you have to be a good communicator. You have to set a vision as well as make sure the trains run on time. And to me, that's the difference between a leader and a manager. A vision and persuade other people that's the right vision, and to work with you toward achieving that.
And then keep things in perspective. You know, the first time I was attacked in the press as being without moral standards, or qualifications for any job, you know, this was when I was nominated for U.S. attorney, I mean, that really, you know, hurt my feelings.
Because I thought I'd be a darn good U.S. attorney and I was, quite frankly. I did a good job there.
So you have to learn to roll with those kinds of punches and not take everything personally. Sometimes you can't avoid it. We are human beings. But roll with the punches, and then you know, a little humor never hurt. A little levity never hurt any tense situation. It can be being, you know, in a room, coordinating the federal response to the B.P. oil spill or Hurricane Sandy, it can be you know, dealing with, you know, a budget meltdown in the state legislature, it can be trying to get adequate public financing for the university and dealing with student protesters and things like that.
So, keeping things in perspective and, like I said, a little levity, particularly from the leader, to me, never hurts any situation.
BOIES: Janet Napolitano, you are definitely a history maker, and I suspect that history will continue under your command and control. Thank you for coming today.
NAPOLITANO: Thank you. Thanks for having me.