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tv   Amaryllis Fox Life Undercover  CSPAN  November 27, 2019 1:00am-1:51am EST

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>> .. [inaudible conversations]
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welcome to the 24th annual book festival and executive editor we are here today to talk to amaryllis fox for this is a wonderful book life undercover we encourage you to pick it up where she will be signing copies. so we have a quex introduction we will leave themem for audience questions please silence your cell phones even before she finished oxford before 9/11 before daniel pearl was captured and killed
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having taken and great risk out of burma when she was when you're out of high school she got a masters in terrorism at georgetown where she developed an algorithm that could predict terrorist attacks based on years of data per 21 she was recruited to the cia to analyze classified cables for government and then advanced operation training training to infiltrate terrorist networks working undercover as an art dealer specializing in indigenous art is not a huge surprise it is a novel coming to life she was under surveillance of the chinese and had they had to talk in code the housekeeper was by the people in the street then the cia was spying
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on the chinese who were spying so they already knew. since she left in 2010 she now reports to cnn, national geographic, and the bbc currently developing this book as a tv series also working on a young adult novel called the business of drugs ladies and gentlemen amaryllis fox. [applause] >> if you could just start talking about the way you started at a very early age. >> yes i think it was a blessing and a kerch i moved every year of my childhood. a lot of that time overseas
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every september i started a brand-new school. and at times that was challenging but it also gave me a sense time and again to be at home in the world with the idea of the differences in wardrobe or accent or cultural habits were really just windowdressing for what is everywhere. and i think that was a philosophy that showed me as a young person really to be drawn to share those stories from those far-flung placess that i would see periodically
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for those that didn't have a chance to run around in the soccer fields with those medifferent folks and that's what led me to be a reporter as a teenager. >> how did you know to go there quex's it sounds like you didn't know where you would land. >> my poor mother back then it was kind of okay to go to a cybercafe once a month for e-mail. [laughter] my last year school was in washington dc and i had really fallen in love with a philosopher andan theologian writing houston smith and wes meek on - - speaking at the smithsonian and was battling cancer. so i skipped high school to
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experience him talking in case it was my last opportunity. i don't regret doing that because it was very powerful studying all of the religious religions to find the notion that we are all part at the hole and that stuck with me and that is good because when i got to school i sawll the dean because my name was on the daily list and was given detention but i also turned up in class to find the final assignments for final papers that nobody chosen it was the situation in burma. moving around a lot i really didn't know anything about this political situation.
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the more that i learned about it the more this one unarmed woman at the time against the authoritarian military regime similar to north korea at the time began to fascinate and inspire me. so in thinking about taking that gap year before university even just to take the year itself i took my prom dress money instead of buying a prom dress i went to a travel agent and bought a ticket to thailand. the idea was to do a couple of weeks volunteering at a burmesee refugee camp and at the end of those two weeks we went back to the airport and i
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was at a gate and everybody was getting ready to board and i had a strong instinct my work there was not done for i said the team leader i think i'm going to stay. [laughter] he was not fully comfortable with but he had other teenagers to usher onto the plane and ultimately letne me g. i walked back out the doors and headed back out to theaded camp. while i was there continuing this volunteer work i met more dissidents that were publishing a democratic newspaper in an opposition using a mimeograph machine. they were preparing for protests planned on september 9h of 1999 to topple the regime
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and they wanted to be sure if here was violence that it was documented with the immortality we feel as a teenager i said i will go. [laughter] so that they stop to issue tourist visa seasonally get in if you had a citizens visa. so i called collect a guy that i had met two was 15 years my senior an investment banker but i met him at a free burma rally while i was researching my final paper and they said this is a long shot but how would you feel about taking a couple weeks off of work and coming to thailand's we can pretend to be married and go into burma on your business visa.. [laughter] which seemed reasonable at the
1:10 am [laughter] but he did exactly that so then we went to bangkok and forged a marriage certificate so we packed bic pens with the idea that we would conceal them to get them out but the protest never happened because the security was so tight. but we did have the opportunity through the dissidents to interview her who was under house arrest to get her words out and we were warned if we did that we would be detained but we did it anyway. and spent two hours with her which were fascinating and extraordinary at the time and we were detained when we left and eventually deported and for me that was the beginning
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of understanding how powerful an hour of truth telling can be in the face of all the military might. >> and here she is as a woman and mother with no arms available to her it was so threatening and was detaining people just to talk to her so truth that the pen and word could be that powerful and so i started my oxford undergrad committed to continuing network to become a journalist. >> so then you finish your last year oxford and then september 11 happens. can you talk about how that changed you cracks?
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>> oxford starts in october so i was my last year i was watching my mom walk across the street with our dog and a neighbor pulled up and said go turn on the tv. i turned on just before the second plane hit. my little sister's were in the cathedral school at that time they weren't sure if that was the target so they were evacuated i remember being with my mom and our dog energy trying to get these two little girls in their school uniforms
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at brock one - - it brought back them everywhere friend laura her sister and her parents rob brought down in the airplane flight over scotlandndlyit my mom waited the days later to tell me after christmas and she told it was better they had all been on the plane because there was no one left to grieve. and it was the first person i knew who had died and i loved her very much and all of that came backit t w to me picking my sisters up afterer 9/11. and then four months after that this journalist danny pearl who i had only met oncewh briefly when he had done an evening for aspiring journalists when i was still a student but i admired him immensely because he wrote with such dignity and curiosity about the islamic world and was the hero of dialogue so after that
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overwhelming scale ofng 9/11 that incredible intimacy with the loss of danny toto the world struck me as terrifying. that this was a different kind of for that not only threatened lives but truth and dialogue and sharing of experiences around the world. so i went back to my dad's advice after laura died he said to me eventually if you don't understand the forces that took her you will be overwhelmed by thewh fear of what we don't understand and then he introduced me to the gwspaper and as a third grader that was completely transformative for me and i read it with real care.
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possibly it wasn't super healthy. [laughter] but i felt these names i couldn't pronounce it seemed remote but at any moment they could jump off the page and take another friend from the air. and learning to understand what their relationships were with one another was important to me so after 9/11 and the violence that came after that including daniel pearl's murder i returned to that id if i would not be overwhelmed by this i had to understand it so that's how i embarked on that thesis project of the algorithm. >> so then the caa approaches you and you take the job and you are looking at cables but one in particular before you
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were overseas realize a man was beaten and starved and was man. you talk about that moment and how you reacted. >> i won't get into operational details iner that more than what's in the book because they have been reviewed and those elements that are necessary have been omitted so i will let it stand as it is written it was covered very heavily in the press but it is indicative of one of the great challenges we all face after 9/11 as americans and allies and also the subset of organizations is
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terrible tension having signed up to serve on behalf of the american ideals and the city on the hill that it was so important to maintain america's position and credibility and the thing that happens after an attack as significant as 9/11 with that fear and velocity based reaction what happens really quickly communication isn't always crystal-clear and it's no surprise so what i think is critical that as a country and
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a community we are mature enough to learn from them and not repeat them and analyze areas we areome better than others we have been quite thorough in our examination whether or not torture as americans we want or can't tolerate or if it's even useful or practical not sure if we are as thorough killing of the drone program it's a work in progress but for all of us to capture that conversation. >> i want to discuss two controversial issues one with the insider trading did you hear anything back or did you
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through publication? and some said it is implausible i know you address that in thehe book. >> one of the difficult things about going through the review process is that there are operational details that have to be changed and have to be omitted for very good reason. so then as you set out to share interactions it's about figuring out which interactions even make sense in which to include or leave out entirely. for me it was important to put up front that changes had to be made but i think it was as
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big of a challenge because this book is about a personal journey not operational beat by beat. we heard a very detailed account this morning. so there are important omissions but for me there isn't just coming of age against the backdrop of the war on terror but also the evolution of a perspective because when i started even with lock a b or 9/11 or killing of danny pearl it wasn't with the view honestly for peacemaking or finding common ground i was young and
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we were at war and we were afraid and it was to wipe every adversary off the map and over the course of a career and interaction and interaction and realizes that's fiction and it doesn't work is not a fulfilling way to live but also risks creating more adversaries than youls destroy. there is a more long-term and holistic way to bring an end to this conflict we have just proven time and again we cannot have violence through violence alone over 17000 years of human history. [applause] >> i didn't expect a book about the cia to be spiritual or philosophy but you point
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out they said remember the other person is you that you say as part of saving lives or bringing liberty to the land can you talk about your own misgivings about that being practical and how that evolved over the years? >> spirituality is a huge part of my journey i mentioned houston smith international law and theology which was an interesting combination but that theological study of each of the worldshe religions of indigenous traditions even non- spiritual philosophies really did reinforce what i
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had heard from him himself that we are all connected or part of one collective organism that cannot exist in isolation. pragmatically we know that to be true and armor activities are never ineffective - - never in a vacuum. so that was something that i learned academically as a young person in the school of hard knocks in my twenties where often times where we as humans on all sides of the conflict will take a short term solution because of the
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illusion we are isolated and the ramifications will come back to haunt us but then in the long term potential he is endangeredac more people than not doing anything to begin with and we have seen that how the alliances over and over with the enemy of our enemies expedient in the short term tht tolerance on all sides for civilian casualties which is such a feeling of future extremist because of the humiliation in these personal feelings to plant the seed of violence and extremism. so for me the simplicity to treat people with dignity even
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when you disagree emerged as very powerful. sometimes i think we can just lessdiscount that that your grandmother's advice just is not pragmatic but it's the most pragmatic thing in the real world i discoveredt l the end time line - - the entire time i was out there i talk about aq khan the founder of the network responsible spreading nuclear materials and technologies not just a rogue state but to nonstate actors in here is someone endangers global security more than anyone else and when he talks about where he took that turn off of life's normal path he talks about being a teenager on afe's train crossing the border to pakistan after
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separation and saves up for a fountain pen. he loves it he fills out the customs card and when the indian guard took the card he said i'll also take that pen. he said no i love it. what we do to stop me and aq khan in his teenage brain at that moment was so humiliated and powerless and angry of this unfairness and the ability one - - inability to do anything about it pakistan will never be powerless again that morphed into this foreign program that so much of the globe was put in danger taking uranium from libya to exchange nuclear components and on and on. of course is not a rational leap to have your pen stolen
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but sometimes we underestimate the power of one moment of humiliation to fuel violence and likewise the power to treat somebody with dignity toto quell violence. >> that sounds like what you usually use trying to get somebody to work with you. at least in the book but did you know the moment when you are hit with that idea? like i know you well enough now? did you find usually that took some time or by the time you brought that up? that they knew well enough? >> yes. and all the reasons that had to be compartmentalized in the book but it is a small process in the field but it starts
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with your first communication with any wine. we are more sensitive torn authenticity than we realize it when somebody manufactures a reason to connect, you feel it and the need when faced with someone who is involved in horrific violence to search from one glimmer of humanity to build a relationship to coax this person to a place where they can prevent attacks is soulful work actually and often is lost in the pop-culture fiction detail intelligence work but really
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all of that is just a safeguard actually it doesn't happen at all can she would be kicked out of the country and blow your covertrme but even wht does happen that's just the point to safeguard the core work which is relationship building its hardest in the world to listen to. >> who do you hope reads the book lexi was the main audience? >> i'm particularly happy when i speak to young women there is a lot of women for all different walks of life but
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they see a national security picture from the reality and don't realize how important their contributions either no women involved in it is so dismissive of the work that women bring to the world that this is an alternative that is based on emotional intelligence and this is what feminine problem-solving has great strength. so i really do hope the young women and people of color from diverse backgrounds you don't see themselves on screen not
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just in the intelligence world but across the board with policymaking. >> i will open it to the floor. if you were operating as an art dealer as part of your career? >> i will not go into cover and operational details for the same thing i said earlier anything around those have to go through review. >> so pretend for a moment that you did.ha [laughter] i have wondered that a business like that might actually produce revenues so when you wrap up the operation who keeps the money? [laughter]
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that were the case certainly not the officer involved. [laughter] but that is one that is granular i don't know if i can go into but i will say that one of the real challenges in this shift to these asymmetrical types that morphed into terror groups and nonstate actors it is necessary to be creative to be in the place you need to be to do the work that needs to get done and to be around the creation of a phil
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organization or a film company but in those cases nothing pulled out by that character. [laughter] >> i appreciate your presentation very much and also what is the most valuable to carry on this kind of work. but a quex question of a reflection the way things have gone since you have left the agency and where we are the world today i guess you wonder where we would get to be better at those issues we are
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confronted with do you have a go other than the people to get involved what can we do as human beings to foster such an environment quex. >> at the state and individual level one of the things that is mostt important is looking at the precursors of stair terrorism investing in the infrastructure and support necessary early on before those conditions for conflict reached that fever pitch and those are what we talk about the academic work as a young person that was clumsy
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graduate schooloo work but one of the things that came up time and again to be heavy correlated the percentage between the livable wage of the border guard for the corruption in theon environment. if there are any such data points we know are correlated and are not easy to fix and then to double down with our investment and soft power with the initiative is very important just about to come
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up to $1,000,000,000,000.1.1 chinese people are building in infrastructure as a shrewd geopolitical move not as a charity. and when we take our resources and commit them in military ventures one of our geopolitical rivals doubles down on softcover then i worry of the contortrt continued moral leadership of our country because a flag on a brand-new train gets a different feelingng locally than a flag on rubble even if it wasn't the target. but in terms of our own responsibilityre at home i think the divisions that played out
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on the international stage that the disagreements are an important part of our democracy and inability to have that respectfully listen to one another were getting to the point where and undermining our own internal instability we have learned that the united mine - - a divided house cannot stand and it's on us to agree with one another without exacerbating the cracks in our democracy. [applause]
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>> i'm interested about the work after you go to the cia because then you were able to show people how to bring their guard down. >> that realization for me that so many of the tools the human intelligence officers are given are around to create relationship with those who most wish us ill and those same tools are applicable and i work now to share them with several different communities
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and prisoners who were looking to make amends or meet their victims or gang members interested to drop their gang affiliation i have a nine -month-old but before that i was going back and forth to the middle east a fair amount working with the people in the camps there with the sectarian violence and giving them these tools that reject the wars of their parents and this is exciting because every generation had to organize itself vertically by geography this is the first where the internet is so involved from the get-go that now they are thelt adults i can organize by
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age horizontally we have seen that and we will see more so to have that ability to communicate withve one another in the moment with a are so disproportionately affected but they are not another link in the chain that is a rewarding and an exciting path. >> we can hear you. just shout. [laughter] >> yes. as hard as it is for parents ever to see their little ones anywhere then a safe room, we
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model what we hope our kids would be in the world and it's so important to empower young people especially young women to roll up their sleeves and engage to be the version that they want to see in the world. often it's the people that are least likely to find personal happiness and intelligence service those that are not there but enjoy that because they are feeling the heavyweight and responsibility and moral complexity that comes with that and even though that wasn't necessarily a prescription for happiness in your twenties, it is certainly a prescription for a purpose for meaning and
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service and we could hope life is long enough to do that and then step back and enjoy time with family and community. >> do i see peacemaking as a challenge? >> absolutely. climate change is the enormous challenge around the world the pentagon actuallyli added it to national security concerns a decade agori now. we are seeing an enormous crisis that is driven by conflict and also by climate change. the competition of resources
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is only escalated as viable parts of the land is decreasing due to climate change in the early days of the syrian conflict and i think it's important to consider it even though it is a slow moving long-term threat one of the great challenges of the human mind and democracy with term limits is the tendency is to pick the long term over the short term with the issues even though every policymaker understands the security ramifications they can sometimes feel they will land for a different policymaker down the road but
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it's important as a country we prioritize that it will take some time to payw off. weso this description that heard of the body killing are there people in the cia or other agencies that are alarmed by the level of detail with the 189 attack. >> it is - - t9 attack i had to change a lot of operational detail in my writing but to tothe extent it was agreed or cleared with the intelligence community first, there was some method to the madness i think the it was to prevent
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the supporters of the ideology to see the final moments as heroic. it is an incredibly somber across-the-board. know death is cause for solid loan dashes for celebration it marks one particular end of leadership under which thousands of families lost people in terror attacks even to the caliphate itself through the actual recruitment of their sons and daughters. it's not a moment for celebration but i think the objective probably was to remind people to whatever extent in the final moments that the character of the person was reiterated by the fact that only did he take his
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life but these other innocent lives with him as was his habit over the last five years so it is incredibly somber when i would have liked to have seen him taken alive and stand trial for what he put so many through. but his suicide vest made that impossible. s thank you so much. [applause] thank you to c-span2 and book tv she will be down signingow t books in the author ten. [inaudible conversations]
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>> one of the most un- addressed issues of this campaign is the human marshals and that the power government has the power to do so. >> it with constituents who never have their voices heard and as an investigator who has blown the whistle on factory farms where animals are criminally abused one of the things i want to focus on is how the public has the right to know what's going on behind these closed doors at chicken farms and pig farms where they
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are criminally abused but also ordinary individuals have the right to rescue these animals from the criminal abuse. >> talking more about gun safety and issues and how we get them off the streets and out of the hands of those who should not have them but most importantly our society of peace and common ground for co- they should definitely be removed. >> and the candidates to bring fairness back into elections. and to make sure the elections are secure and everyone that is a citizen is able to vote
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without having penalties and fines that they can never get out of.
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>> the best advice is do not take your issue seriously you're never too young to have an opinion. let your voice be heard now. >> good afternoon and the services manager for the national archives museum and the producer for the new lecture series. on behalf of the united states


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