tv National Intelligence Director Discusses Challenges CSPAN October 15, 2021 9:47pm-10:47pm EDT
also deputy white house counsel in the obama administration. to introduce our very distinguished guest, we are truly >> now to introduce our very distinguished guest we are truly delighted to have with us the director of national intelligence. she is first woman and the first woman ever to lead us intelligence community. and has also held a number of other leadership positions of national security including principal deputy national security advisor and deputy
director of the cia. she got her start and national security as a lawyer. and got a law degree from georgetown law. and to be well represented. serving as a lawyer in the state department and on the hill with the national security council i had the great pleasure of working with her. and also as a distinguished former member of the outstanding committee on national security. i could go on and that is an interesting back story but i will take any more time away from the conversation and i will close by saying anyone who has met her that knows in
addition to being an extraordinary talented dedicated public servant she is generous to put a lot of time and thought into how the people navigate the national security so i cannot think of a better person that we are having today. so thank you very much and i am looking forward to the conversation. >> good afternoon. thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedule and we are so very proud we went to start off with the question
we saw a couple weeks ago to go down to florida to visit the florida international university student fair so many colleges would love to have you do this and i understand it is your first college visit. tell us how did it go and whatfo we are hoping to accomplish? >> absolutely. before i get started on that i want to say how wonderful it is to get to be with you, jennifer and mary who was my favorite boss i worked for her at the national security council when she was legal advisor. i was the deputy and it was an extraordinary privilege. i cannot think of two women who are better suited to guide in national security. you are remarkable. and a piece of the larger community. both women and men and extraordinary people across
the board. and things that i learned out of that time are critical and then to appreciate that. and with that aba has done with the project you are running but also over the years all of the people that have contributed, it is so important to have these moments to be a part of that community and to honestly talk to each other about the challenges that you face in the opportunities you think of your professional career. i benefited so enormously from other mentors over the course of my career. and really i'm grateful to be doing this and i am honored to be here. frankly file should bee interviewing you.
so then the university that i went to was for the intelligence community among thete whole series of universities that have that position in a network we have been developing. and for those who have been interested in the intelligence community and a whole series of different spaces in the intelligence community and those that have an opportunity and those that have worked with us a whole series of different people and i have been incredibly impressed by the talent and it was a signal
and among other things mostly hispanic student body has remarkable diversity i am absolutely committed it is among my highest priorities to be more diverse and inclusive and equitable and and those that are with us. it is a mission issue and to do a diverse community and that is true for a variety of reasons not the least of which if you try to understand having a diverse community is more effective inn that respect and also about the fact thoseut
have a responsibility to reflect america and i am so often seen how bringing different perspectives to the table changes the conversation to reveal decisions we did not even realize we are making and it is a critical aspect of why he went folks a different perspective and experience and knowledge sitting at your table. i really believe that is important to reflect america to serve america. but then honestly with the ethical and legal peace. and then i suspect others would want to work in a diversity inclusive environment and that is something i've been interested in seeing.
coming back into the intelligence community how much consensus among different components as to the importance of having a diverse and talented workforce. so that was all long answer but i had a great time and really met some extraordinary people there and looking for other opportunities around the country. >> and with that diversity a background. and those that are getting into national security law so what kind of experiences should i get or organizations should i work for?
you have worked in the executive branch. so i am wondering what kind of advice do you have or particular places to work. from that perspective. >> it's a great question. and working with a whole series of different institutions and then to have those different places as are the inequities they are likely to be focused on and how to
make an argument more effectively what i thought was in the best interest of the government more generally but also the institution. i thought everyone has a different character. and it is an interesting thing to learn in the executive branch how to interpret a particular provision with the legislative branch we have a different position that is long-held and then you begin to understand that institutional equities that leads to the interpretation. that makes it easier to navigate how you think about the's issues and what the risks are.
and i found that to be true within the executive branch. with theti state department, the white house, the intelligence community, the cia, all of this taught me something. so to answer your question more directly, i do think it's useful to try different parts of the government. there is no perfect way to approach this. for that professional career you are pursuing. but even just getting out of the institution, it is useful because you get a different perspective. if you get a feel for what is the caricature of the state department also you get a
chance to make friends and understand better and that is critical in a friday of other institutions as well that thinking about my own career and so what are the skills you have an opportunity to work on and as a policymaker? what are the skills that i am not as great at? and that different said perspectives with substance if
you're interested in weapons of mass destruction and nonproliferation issues, you may want to work in an office that does work in the regions you think are most interesting to that issue. and to bring it together with what it is you are doing in the institutional peace we have just been discussing. and i found from a legal perspective and to understand the different approaches to the law and with that perspective of international law with the executive branch
and whether or international organizations to be better in the us government position and i have a better understanding of the challenges the international organizations face in the opportunities how you can work with them to further position. and whatever that career interest is. . . . . sometimes when you are the only woman in a room, sometimes people might get uncomfortable. i am wondering, i don't know if you are uncomfortable, and i'm wondering if you can tell me about any of those experiences
and what skills or qualities you have that are successful in these times or circumstances. >> i would be so interested in your thoughts on this, jennifer. there are a couple of things that i feel like i have learned. i feel like they will be worthwhile to other people. there b aren't some people that just react to you for reasons that have nothing to do with you in a sense. you are a woman and they make assumptions about you. or for other reasons. they are so many in some respects. they really come to feel that it is useful to talk about this with other people that you work with. both women and men i found, you
have to kind of check your judgment. i said something really stupid or is it because they were just reacting to me as a woman.in just kind of parse that for yourself. it can be a challenging thing as you are just kind of going through things.fu that is useful to get a feel for how other people have experienced how a person ord event with colleagues that you trust in life, but in other parts of it you picked up on, for me, it is rare that their reaction, if it is a particularly wrong one or not having something to listen to or things like that, it rarely has anything to do with you. sometimes people just have a really bad day.re
something to do with that person if you keep that in mind, if you don't take it personally, but you just power through and accept that there will be some challenges that you can overcome you intend to prove yourself well in those circumstances. i have found a number of places where —-dash you have somebody where i pretend they are an uncle and my family or something liketh that. part of the challenges making sure that you don't stop listening to them, you don't lose respect for them. it is very easy to do when you are being treated a particular way. you know, nothing to do with you why is this acceptable.
it is not. the reality is, you still have to deal with this sometimes. learning to figure out how it is that you can do that while stil getting the best out of them. over time, i have found a lot of the time you can break through personally, in a way that changes the dynamic that actually allows things to go forward. that should not affect how you define yourself or how you are perceiving yourself. i think that that is another aspect of this that is challenging. you cannot begin to accept the way thatep people are sometimes viewing you. you have to surprise them. maintain who you are in those circumstances. it is critical that you also recognize that, you know, a lot of people are not perfect, myself included. i will do stupid things all the time and make a tremendous
number of mistakes. i guess that what i want to keep onon doing is be proud of the wk that i did at the time and that i brought my best to the table. that i work to try to get to the best answer. that i have listen to everybody that i need to listen to and that i am ultimately moving forward on that basis. that tends to be among the most challenging. it is a lot easier to talk about than it is to deal. i have not always succeeded. i have tried to manage it in the way that i would like to. i really do think that recognizing that, you know, how other people are sometimes treating you is not about you and more about them and you can do your best to be as generous as possible. just focus on the work. it often works well. just so many different institutions and jobs. it is very different in
different places. the same government, even the same institution. you can be in one office and to office, for example in one institution. they can both be very heavily male dominated or, you know, a different issue of adversity, other dominated, majority dominated phase. one office culture can be phenomenal and allow you to thrive and another it can be very challenging. i think that recognizing that your experience is not what every other woman or person's experiences ispe important. sometimes they will express caconcerns that you may not have but may be totally reasonable for them. you need to be aware of that and try to make space for that inor many respects. and recognize that ultimately once you end up in management positions, you know, the women that will be listening to this,
hopefully, from a legal perspective will be. but then, you have to make space for the people coming up underneath you and to really create a culture and an atmosphere that allows them to be who they need to be. and that changes over time. i am just so astonished and inspired by the women in the intelligence community. they are absolutely incredible. they are having different experiences than i have had. i want to facilitate what makes sense for them and not just what i remember i needed. think it is critical for us to sort of grow and keep on listening, obviously, to each generation through these experiences. >> i will tell you, that all resignation so much. let me shift and ask you one other backgroundan question. because, another really interesting question, you bridge
the legal and policy hold. and some aspects you were a lawyer and legal provider. i am sure that you have advice for either side with a lawyer who it is devising now speaking legal advice based on both sides of the relationship. >> yeah. it is a fascinating area, quite frankly. one of the things that i felt that we don't spend enough time on is teaching people how to be effective in meetings. b it is a credible. i have lots of views about that. i really think that there's something almost unethical. i think it is an important aspect of our work. a situation where you are often representing other people.
you need to make sure that you are doing the best to represent their work. if you don't say what you think, then who else will say it. it is critical to really try tov bring everything that you can in those moments. i think that it is understanding what your role is at the table. tthis kind of gets to the question that you are asking about the legal policy piece. it is different from policymaker or legal. in each of these roles, you know, i think thinking about what is appropriate and what is not is important. even though i believe that under certain circumstances, you need to actually break those. here is what i mean by that. i remember somebody saying this to me once. they put it in the context of the president because it was somebody working with the president.
it is true in a lot of circumstances. if the president asked you your opinion on something and want to know it, you should tell them. if you are in the room, you should give it to them. i believe that to some extent. i actually believe that there are limitations to that. as a lawyer, obviously, you are at the table to provide the legal field. you are not there for the policy and you are not there to provide intelligence analysis. i think there are a lot of reasons why it is critical for you to understand that and represent that at the table. part of it is you are representing generally, you know , the department of defense, you are the general counsel, you come from the table and you bring the general counsel view to that table. i had that feeling in the context when i was legal advisor or i was trying to represent perspectives and different agencies and departments in that
context. so, you have a responsibility, in a sense. the system, generally, the process that has been set up, i think that that has been set up in mind with a lawyer in the attable bringing those perspectives. so you can incorporate them into the decision-making that is being conducted.uc that is true for the policymaker and the intelligence officer. they each play a role in that sense. bringing forward what it is that they are building or their offices have worked on or their best view in these areas. for the intelligence community, and enormous tradecraft. a key judgment that the intelligence community has come forward with. this is not something that someone decided that morning when they woke up. there is a lot of work that goes into, okay, we have a basis for asthat judgment. we have done our tradecraft. we have a certain level of
confidence we are associating with that judgment. it is hopefully more reliable. something that the policymakers understand in that context. they are able to base their decision making on issues. so, that is one piece of it. another piece of it is that you are, you are in position in which you are providing to that decision-making process the best those issues. if you are representing the military at the table, you are assumed to have an understanding of what he means to achieve certain military objectives and to provide your best advice on our capacity to do so. if you turn to the diplomat in the room and you ask them, what is there military advice, i thinkk that that is a circumstance in which it is appropriate for the diplomat to say i am simply not qualified.do i do not have the experience ath
the military advisor here has. that is not my role and that is not something that i should be providing advice on. i do not want to provide information that would, you know , an award that would be ultimately bias to the discussion in a way that is unhelpful or unacceptable. similarly, intelligence community perspective, there are certainly things that i will not provide similarly and i will say that that is a piece of it. i know that i thought a lot about this as a lawyer. your credibility is at staketh based on what it is you are providing your advice on. if you start to weigh in on the policy discussion, people will assume that your legal advice is tied to your policy views to some extent. even if there is not an actual
conflict, you may do so simply usbecause there is an appearance of conflict. essentially, a point of which people will not trust that you are objective on an issue. that is true for intelligent officers as well. if you are perceived to having a policy perspective there is just less trust on the issue. you almost always are by virtue of the f key judgment. siding with one side of the discussion or the other. i think d that that is another reason for why you want to temper your interest in providing additional perspectives at the table. i certainly thought that that was important in all of these roles. i do think that there is a moment where you are asked youru thoughts on something, it may be an ethical issue. something where you feel that mthere is a moment in which you
are being asked your personal view on an issue that is less about the expertise and more about what you think is the right answer. in those moments, leader sometimes want, you know, those perspectives from the people that work from them. i think that it is important to actually put them out there. it is challenging in many respects. actually saying what you think t is so much harder than what you realize. before you get into these situations and you have to actually do it in a situation that i think always trying to be kind, but be direct and honest about why does that you think that what your view is. you are almost always disagreeingst with somebody who frequently you respect and care about and think it's taking also , a very candid and reasonable view in a situation. anyway, i think that all of those are sort of critical to thinking through this space. the final thing that i will say about the policymaker dynamic
that i think is, you know, i am sure that you have gone through this deal, often, policymakers will not want to make a decision. just give it to the lawyers. that is not okay. vevery frustrating. it can kind of be a punch or a duck on something. i really think that it is important for policymakers to actually say as much as they can. it is not that you should always take a decision on every issue that is put before you because there are moments when a decision is not right or there is more information to be gathered. part of the context for, you are not ready. there are all kinds of reasons for why it may be that important to make a decision at a particular moment. but i do think that it is important to be in sort of a direct if you can and if you can help lawyers really focus on the thing that you are actually
interested in doing and make sure that you are dealing with that. on the other side of it, as a lawyer, i hated it when policymakers would, retirements or celebrations, they would be like, yeah, you know, this lawyer was great because they were yes lawyer. what does that mean? that is a terrible way to talk about it. you have to be able to accept when your lawyer says no. from our perspective that is not legal. also, rarely are things that cut and dry. it is sort of, more likely that you are in a situation where the lawyer is saying, you know, look. here is what is legal and here is what is not legal. a lot of gray space in between. here is where you are taking increasing risks. they may be litigation or some other type of risks or .ongressional variety of other things.
erthose are things to be considered. that is a great lawyer. a great lawyer in my view helps you understand landscape in which you are operating. and, really, helps you to understand among other things what the implications are of your decision beyond the particular decision that you are taking which is so challenging to do in those moments. you often have a group of folks that are in front of you that are looking to make a decision about a particular crisis issue or whatever it is that you are focused on the now focused on the best outcome obviously. here is what we have always done. here is a line that we have not crossed and this is why. how it is that the government operates in institutionally.
they will be important to understanding the implications of your decision. we just had the blessing of wonderful lawyers when i've been on either positions like i am in now or policy positions. our counsel. is spectacular. also had opportunities to be in other institutions like the dod and the department of justice. in my view, he is valued at every meeting. offense made up of really spectacular lawyers. i have not found that to be a problem. i am constantly learning. very lucky in that respect. >> so many of the people that
have lawyers. >> truly. >> let me shift gears. switch over and ask you about what you learned and experienced how about what is the most surprising thing you have encountered? >> i am so bad at this question. it is not so much surprise, but i will say every morning one of the most fun things about the job is reading the daily brief. forro the senior advisors, for e military, policymakers, folks across the government and the national security enterprise. it is always in some respects,
there is an aspect of it that is surprising. a good way. there are just so many aspects of the world today that we are focused on and national security everybody comments on the fact that our definition of national security has gotten bigger over the last several years. increasingly, a variety of different types of expertise critical to the work. of expertise types that areyp called upon. whether it's in technology are the context of climate. it's a whole range of things. a wide, wide range. part of why we need to recruit in such an extraordinary way.
it also keeps things absolutely fascinating. that is a great part with what the intelligence community has to offer. i hope you will. >> a great answer. how about hurdles. have you encountered any hurdles or roadblocks that you've seen in your new job? >> there are a lot of challenges. one of the things i found really interesting, i spent a lot of time on the budget.on i have been learning a tremendous amount on the budget. trying to be a steward of aresources but also think through, in a sense, kind of a
vision of the future with the senior leaders who are managing the various elements within the intelligence community, 17 besides. we kind of get there as we are formulating the annual budget. to think through, what are our priorities. how will be essentially talk about the budget to congress and others and focus it in a way that matches what is most important for the future of the intelligence community. everybody puts china at the top of the list. we call it an unparallel priority. all kinds of ways to talk about it. it stretches across a range of issues for us, obviously. their reality was the main things that everybody agreed upon were structural issues.
the priorities that people identified were recruiting and retaining a talented and diverse workforce at the top of the list. that is a critical priority across the board. another one was investing in science and tech allergy to maintain a competitive edge. lots of ways you can think about that in the context of our work. focused on science and technology for us to do our omission more effectively. in the context of understanding science and technology in order to do effective collection analysis. and revealing in a sense where we are as compared to the rest of the world in these matters. critical infrastructure or other pieces of the puzzle. so that was another big piece for us.
partnerships, not just with the private sector which is what a lot of folks focusing on is a critically important issue for us. i know anybody that has been a government for a long time for our public private partnership. it is increasingly true and we still remain challenged in many spaces on those issues. it is also partnerships with, frankly, other parts of the government, state and local, tribal entities across the country. it is also about partnerships and allies around the world. partnerships with academia, partnerships with a whole series of different entities as we increasinglyle have to think through how are we leveraging what they do and we do with the impact. that is a third piece of the
puzzle. bringing in expertise for kind of long range destabilizing issues into day-to-day work. that has to deal with a lot of things like trends that we see. climate is a huge one. we are really trying to understand, what are in fact the long-term trends and how do we bring the science that is behind that into our day to day work on intelligence. in places where you do not think s about it, necessarily as being part of our analytic work. we want to be. if you are thinking about the impact of, i don't know, the jc poa with iran. is there a climate impact. bringing it into all kinds of things that we may not normally focus it on. also, other expertise, technology expertise, expertise in the context of economics. just a whole series of different
areas that are critical to our day to day work and sometimes do not get lifted up in those context. and then resilience was a big piece of it. for the infrastructure that we have. it is obviously at the top of that list. so are a lot of other things in that context. it is so interesting to me just the sort of overarching view among heads of component that if we are going to be effective in actually addressing the challenges that we are facing today, recognizing how increasingly complex they are, how fast the paces for which we s are facing and how quickly the landscape is changing in many respects, we have to build strong institutions that are adaptable and capable of and moving with that threat. that is critical i think to us, actually, dealing with what is ahead of us in the future. the most important thing that i hope to do while i am here.
>> one of the things that you are talking about was the landscape moving quickly. and i'm curious, the threat environment has changed a lot. not since, you know, the past 10 years. it seems to be in the way it is changing almost. just tell us about your general observations about that. how it is changing and, you know , the sort of closer connection between what you are seeing. the big picture about the environment. >> yeah. it is interesting. the way that you ask the question i like very much. in some respects, but is most interesting is what you are shipping. the threats that we have a long time that we continue to have. thinking about weapons of mass
destruction or issues that are so classic for us in a variety of spaces. i would say a couple of things. one, you know, as you point out, even in your question, the line between what is domestic and international has largely collapsed in many respects. this is something that i think the policymakers have talked about quite a bit. it is particularly interesting how we manage that. you look back on what created the office of the director national intelligence rate was essentially 9/11 and that circumstance. the national director
intelligence for the tourism center. .... .... thing it specifically focused on was bringing together the domestic and international intelligence on terrorism and saying, we want the national intelligence center to produce a comprehensive strateg >> . >> and that brings those two things together. and it is true with terrorism. and it's june a whole series of other areas if you think about influence and even just other types of other
influence, you really can't tell the story about what is happening internationally and other countries are focused on to try to influence the united states. the context what do they see they want to influence or what is the impact? so in many respects we are trying to have policymakers so much of what is happening in cyberis in the united states because so much of the cyberinfrastructure is in the united states.
and the information that we collect for those outside of the united states versus us persons in the united states. and in that we are managing within the intelligence community range of operators so the fbi takes the lead the cia is focused externally. so bring together the picture and then intellectually. and then i different protections and that is a huge piece of it we have to do and then to become increasingly
complicated as we see the interaction what is challenging to pull apart so that is an area that is an interesting aspect of things are shifting and one that so many of us talk about that i fundamentally believe the nac that increasing globalization and mobility around the world, the reality is it happens almost anyplace around the world can quickly become a threat to the united states we have to prioritize and focus on things that are most important to our interest and policy concerns. whether a pandemic and to
recognize to figure out how we collect and prioritize that is a critical part of the job but with the circumstances increasingly we recognize owners and allies are the only way we can be effective to deal with this. not only do you want country on —- countries where the threat first hit to work to address where it is to move out words, that to set up the established structure that even help to provide the indication or warning across those issues a big thing is
something the president talks quite a bit about that consistently not only trying to make sure we think that through as we mentioned are not partnership peace but also trying to provide analysis that helps policymakers understand not only what we see that how h other countries and that is another aspect is not focused on as much for us to be effective with that decision-making. i >> i am strut on —- struck for the different kinds of partnerships and ways of inbringing information together
for those certain priorities. then with that cognition but the world is shifting and now they're going through that and and those that have focused on. >> it is a constant issue i was reading with my british interlocutor and we wererl talking about these issues. the lin partnership but part of that is maintaining vigilance that we continue to do with me believes that is something we have to remain vigilant and working through
how we do that appropriately. but at the same time no matteryo where you put your resources you take on risk. look at the intelligence community we have an almost infinite list of threats and issues we want to cover and we are asked questions about. so a big piece of the game is prioritizing we have a national priority intelligence process that is dictated that they believe are a most important. and we work to ensure that we are effectively prioritizing space and that that bipartisan perspective that we have is on the challenge of china and to think that through. so often this is framed
resources from counterterrorism to china and are we doingdo enough to do that? and it is challenging from a number of perspectives. so we have been doing that for some time thinking through how it is we allocating resources that is a two-dimensional caricature of the debate. so those challenges a remarkable member of the national security have more generally spent a career in counterterrorism.ng and one of the things i found with this is just like when you learn awo new word then you
feel you hearar it all the time when people have spent a lot of time on the middle east in counterterrorism they are more likely to spot those issues and pull them forward than the other issues they are less than your with. there is a transition within the community moving from counterterrorism in the middle east which is a common feature of everybody's career at the senior level of the intelligence community now shifting to occupy other spaces. and what i have seen in the cia that we knew the president wanted more analytic products on the western hemisphere. but yet part of that was folks naturally said that's important with sound pull back
and another piece is a more urgent crisis so if you are in the intelligence community and focused on the more obvious space for you to be pushing analysis so this part of challenge just like with my inbox and ends up crowding out the importance of similarly you have to make a conscious effort to invest of the long-term pieces of competition with china and that is the way that if you have got a crisis and there is potential that is a clear area you raise your hand and as a
consequencere those pieces are more frequently and if you're looking for things to put in the book the fact that the senate often they are well written and then say this looks good. all kinds of things you don't even realize that challenges in ways that are effective to accomplish what you know what that long-term vision. so i have seen already significant shifts from government until now and something we continue to move forward and another part is that we are prioritizing within the basket so where isar the counterterrorism threat that is most important that we invested in and what is that piece and then the biggest bang for our but and then to
>> opportunity zones 8764 tax havens across the country and they gave wealthy people an incentive to put money in those communities in exchange for capital gains tax breaks. we don't know how much money has gone into them as a result of that arcane senate process known as reconciliation which is now a household word the provision that required reporting was stripped out that i would say based on the stuff i said tens of millions