tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN January 28, 2013 10:00am-12:00pm EST
force are you talking about? caller: he put a bill through that he would-- a police force r everything. that is already in, that there will be a security force. host: not something you have heard about? guest: it sounds like something domestic. i'm not sure -- familiar with anything in my domain which resembles that. host: ron from philadelphia, pennsylvania, on the independent line. caller: the president of the host country -- if they do not protect the embassy -- why don't they send buddy to help them -- send somebody to help them?
>> they can make a -- guest: they can make a recommendation. if an ambassador makes a recommendation like that -- i have never seen anybody resist that. where you get more friction will be if you get people who are nervous in washington saying everybody should go home and the ambassador is saying we can handle this. it is too important to leave. that is one of the big dangers of -- in what has gone on in the discussion of benghazi. to my mind, that will make senior politicians in washington, not in the field, so afraid of having a casualty and their being attacked politically that they will force our diplomats deeper into bunkers where we will not be able to do our jobs and we will be functionally stupid and we'll will not -- we will not be given good advice. host: this is one of the issues
you brought up at the benghazi hearing. guest: i think it is one of the biggest dangers, that we will treat security as an absolute. that this will happen whether future administration is republican or democrat -- the danger is that you force, you scare your senior politicians so badly that they don't want to accept any level of risk. at that point, you start saying, the people in the field cannot make decisions. they have to stay behind their walls. but then they will not know who they are dealing with. they will not know what policies make sense. and there are very few foreign service officers, spread out all over the world, and they are your best line of defense against ad policy. -- bad policuy. host: we want to take our
viewers to a live event at the brookings institute. it is the evolution of joints -- a force operations command and the pursuit of al qaeda in iraq. it is a conversation with general stanley mcchrystal, also featuring mike o'hanlon of brookings. thanks so much for joining us on "the washington journal." [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] mf good morning, everyone. welcome to brookings. thanks for coming out. it is an unusual treat, even at a place where we have such amazing events, to have general stanley mcchrystal here today. i am mike o'hanlon, one of the members of the 21st century defense initiative. we are hosting this event with bruce riddell, who runs the -- first readout -- bruce riddell .- bruce ridedel,
general mcchrystal build up an organization into what was the state-of-the-art capability that ultimately led not only to our topic of today, the tracking and ultimate killing of the al qaeda terrorist zarqawi, but also many of the procedures that led to the finding and killing of bin laden. the success of joint special operations command is one of the most important stories in the broader war on terror. we are honored that roos will be -- bruce riedel will be interviewing general mcchrystal this morning. this is based on the recent book, which i hope you a purchase, which we are proud to be discussing, my share of the task -- "my share of the task," its describes the role of not only command, but also other military personnel and international personnel that he worked with.
just a couple more words about our panelists. bruce was a 30-year cia veteran before joining brookings in 2006. at the cia, he did a number of things >> including working at -- number of things, including working at nato headquarters. he was an advisor to four president. -- presidents. he led the afghanistan-pakistan review. bruce has written two books in his time here. a third is about to come out. the first two were about al qaeda. the search for al qaeda and the deadly embrace. the new book coming out next month is "avoiding armageddon." it is about the us -- pakistan -- u.s.-pakistan relationship. general stanley mcchrystal spent 34 years in the new oteri. he was -- in the military.
he was the director of the joint staff. in military circles, this five- year. of -- five-year period of joint special operations command is what makes them memorable and historic. the reality is that he has done more to carry the fight to al qaeda since 2001 than any other person in this department, possibly in the country. after that, bob gates got up, and the secretary of defense called him one of the finest men at arms this country as ever produced, then continued over the past decade, no single american has inflicted more fear and more loss of life on our country most vicious and violent enemies than dan mcchrystal -- stan mcchrystal. that makes him sound pretty scary. well he was certainly scary to our enemies, he is an amazing -- while he was certainly scary
to our enemies, he is an amazing american. i want to share a very brief vignette. his emphasis on reducing civilian casualties was one of the most important aspects of the strategic initiatives that he brought to bear when commander there. i had the honor of seeing president karzai in the spring of 2011, a few months afterstan had -- after stan had come home. president karzai said, please tell general mcchrystal that we appreciate his service, that he is such a friend to the afghan people, that i always appreciated the concern he had for the afghan people as he did his job, dealing with a vicious enemy. these join me in welcoming general stanley mcchrystal to brookings -- lease join me in welcoming -- please join me in welcoming general stanley mcchrystal to brookings. [applause]>> thank you for
coming. it is a privilege to be on the platform with you. thank you for that very generous introduction. we are going to have a conversation for the first half or so of the hour and a half that we have. i will ask the general a bunch of questions. at about 10:45, maybe later, we will open it up to questions from you. it is an honor to have you here today. this is the maiden voyage of the brookings intelligence project. the brookings intelligence project is a new effort to try to resolve the riddle of intelligence successes and failures, the it name of why intelligence is sometimes brilliantly -- the enigma of white intelligence is sometimes brilliantly successful and other times -- of why intelligence is sometimes brilliantly successful and other times spectacular failures. one of the great successes is
behind for zarqawi -- the hunt for zarqawi. why should we care about a dead jordanian? legacy remains with us today. the terrorists who this month attacked a natural gas facility in algeria, al qaeda and the islamic -- they almost worship of -- worship abu musab al- zarqawi. he is a more popular icon even then osama bin laden. the man who carried out and planned the attack in algeria is a self-described devotee of sarkar we. he sees himself as very much -- of zarqawi. he sees himself as very much an acolyte of the late zarqawi.
al qaeda in iraq has produced an offshoot, the almonds rough -- the al-musra front. he may be dead, but he is still with us. i would like to ask for your impressions of zarqawi, looking back now. how serious and dangerous a figure he was half a decade ago. why he was at the top of the list of people to go after during the war on iraq. >> it is a pleasure. i am a devotee of mike o'hanlon and a friend for a long time. thanks for being here. it is great to see you, bruce, one of my heroes in terms of intelligence. to be interrogated by the cia -- i will try not to break. [laughter]
abu musab al-zarqawi was from a lower middle class background. he became radicalized while in prison. then became associated with al qaeda near the end of the mujahedin. in afghanistan -- mujahedin period in afghanistan. he had been in iraq before, but he appeared on our radar screen at the end of 2003. he had already started to build an al qaeda in iraq infrastructure that leveraged sunni fear. it is pretty important to view how we saw it. i took over in the fall of 2003. i went to iraq. i got there in october. immediately, it was obvious to me that the situation in iraq was much worse than it appeared
from from afar. i was coming out of the pentagon. it was clearly unsettled. it looked much worse than we had thought. the first hope was that if we got saddam hussein, that would solve the problem. we made an effort to do that. in december, we picked up saddam. it became obvious that, as one of my guys described, a bunch of former miss -- regime guys were not really running the beginning of the resistance, the beginning of the insurgency. zarqawi had started to build a network that took trained people, or iraqi sunnis -- trained people, iraqi sunnis, who had been dislocated from their position in society, sometimes government, sometimes military might and they were terrified of the shia, which was going to be dominant in the future. you had this combination of factors that was fear of the
future, frustration against foreign invaders, and then -- not as much religious extremism as sometimes is perceived. it was not really an al qaeda religious movement. it was a political movement, but he got leveraged by some very clever work by people like abu musab al-zarqawi. we were very sure he was there at the beginning of early 2004. we started to track his work. in the spring of 2004, when falluja became the first spot in the country where they held ground -- they actually, al qaeda and the sunni, elements working with them at that hope oh -- point, held at bay the forces for a couple of months. it was pure what they had built was not only thoroughly
passionate, but it was also extensive. zarqawi was an interesting role. to get to the heart of the question, there was a question about -- an issue about did he really matter. the answer is yes, he did. he mattered in a big way. zarqawi became an organizational leader eared he also became an iconic leader -- a leader he also became an iconic leader -- zarqawi became an organizational leader. he also became an iconic leader. he was very low-key, very charismatic. he was an effective, in-your- face leader, but he would also leverage the ability to use mass media. he would put out these radio or internet talks where he would praise groups around the country. i remember we captured one of -- he was praising different groups, essentially going
geographic area to geographic area and pumping up the morale of each area. it was pretty powerful. it made him look like he was controlling them all, which he was indirectly doing, but it was also very motivational. it made them feel like they were part of a bigger entity. he latched them to that very effectively. he started to become the actual, operational leader, and the moral leader, and that increased over time. his goal was to create a civil war. his strategy was to get a sunni- shiite schism to erupt into a civil war. arguably, he succeeded before we killed him with the bombing of the mosque in the spring of 2006. that was the fuse that started what looked and felt up close like a civil war. he became hugely powerful.
although we killed him in june, what he had done carried on after that. >> you just described it as you do in the book, that he created a network of networks. in the book, you lay out how your task force then had to create a network to go after the network. your network was a classic example of the intelligence cycle at work. can you give us a sense of how that network worked, how it evolved, what the pieces of it were, and, ultimately, the speed with which you were turning things around from collections exploitation? >> sure. i grew up when we thought of terrorist groups as narrowly bounded, with a few people in them. if you are able to decapitate
it, you cause the problem to stop. at the beginning of the war against al qaeda, as bruce knows well, we started with a strategy +7.led 2 that was osama bin laden, zoller he read, the others -- if you take out -- as i went he ---- zawahiri, the others, if you have a bounded number of people, you go after them like a deck of cards. you eliminate them, problem solved. that does not apply to a networked enemy. if you think of what a terrorist group has to do, if
you see a car bomb go off in baghdad against a target, somebody had to have chosen the target. somebody had to have built the car bomb. somebody had to have assembled all of the components to the car bomb. somebody had to find somebody to place the car bomb. if it was driven, he had to find a suicide bomber. somebody had to make that car bomb worthwhile. what i mean by worthwhile is typically, they would film it and put the film out so they got much greater value out of the explosion. if you start to think of all these -- you are talking about leadership at the top, command and control, communications, fairly rapid, logistics, sometimes very significant amounts of logistics, when you have 14 car bombs going off a day in baghdad, it is a big logistics chain. talking about recruiting, assessing, training, and moving people into position. you've got a human resources part of this thing. you are talking about security
elements that are doing your counter-intelligence to make sure you are not penetrated. it is a big organization that has got all the functions of a very comfy lex organism. -- very copmlex -- complex organism. it becomes extraordinary effective because there is a reach everywhere. if you think all you have to do is get mr. big, you miss the point. you cannot just say, well, i'm going to stop car bombs or just do this. we went back and looked at the strategic bombing survey of germany after world war ii -- world war ii. there is no single thing. you have to destroy the enemy's
network. which meant, for us, you had to go not at the very top, but down to the people who actually do work. field grade officers and senior co's. you had to carve that out and destroy that and then let the network collapse. to do that, you have to have a network that layers on top of that. we do not naturally do that in u.s. organizations. we have a tendency to be more stovepiped. there are military organizations, special operations, conventional forces, political parts, public affairs -- we tend to be fairly bounded. the special operations part traditionally never did public affairs eared we would never talk about what we did eared unlike al qaeda, who would do an action and then leverage that -- public affairs. we would never talk about what we did.
unlike al qaeda, who would do in action and then leverage that, we do not do that. similar to the intelligence community, they were loath to share that with other parts of the force. the idea is to protect sources, methods, and whatnot. instead, we will just give people enough information to go do something. what we found is you cannot do it that way. you cannot have the blind man looking at the elephant -- we had a network that was not wide enough -- not only wide enough to have a different type of capabilities. we learned it had to be lightning fast. when we started -- when i became involved in the fall of 2003, and i write this in the book in a fair amount of detail. i went to visit our elements in the battlefield. we had about 14 or 15 locations. we had a big headquarters at
the baghdad international airport. there would be a team of 15 operators, an intel guy, and a tac-sat radio. their physical pipe, their bandwidth back to us was limited. they could send e-mail and make phone calls. when it came time to send imagery, send large documents, it was painfully slow, so they did not. similarly, when they tried to draw on those things from our headquarters, you really could not. we might have one intel person for it. they are so busy they don't have time to leverage all the information that the headquarters intelligence is making available, nor do they have time to send it. have these two elements -- you have these two elements not joined. an element would do a raid and capture whoever. they would get phone, computer
documents, whatnot. those would be put in a bag, either a sandbag, one of the burlap sandbags, or a plastic garbage bag, and they would be shipped back to headquarters with a tag on them that says here is the stuff we captured. by the time it got back to the headquarters, it would be stacked up. it would be exploited, as we call "read." i went in one room. there were stacks of these plastic bags. there might have been a map that says this is where zarqawi is today. we would not have known because we were not reading those things until literally weeks later. a lot probably never got read. our ability to exploit computers was painfully slow. we had to send them to someone else. as a consequence, everything you got is delayed. speed became the relevant -- if you could not do it fast, there was almost no point in doing it.
if you could not interrogate someone you captured from a target, there was no point in doing the rate. you were better waiting until you could interrogate -- the raid. you were better waiting until you could interrogate. a successful mission is an operational stroke of genius anything that fails is an intelligence failure -- stroke of genius. anything that fails is an intelligence failure. [laughter]operations were something we did to get more intelligence. intelligence is what -- i would say that intelligence operatives is what our operators became. people who were traditional shooters -- by 2005, 2006, they thought of themselves as intelligent people who carried guns. it was an amazing difference. >> you describe the formula -- find, fix, finish, exploit, analyze.
can you explain how the cycle works? >> you have to find a target, know about it, fix it in real time, get it at a certain place. you have to finish, capture, or kill that target. you have to exploit whatever you get from them. you have to analyze what you have gotten. it is sort of like a progressive assembly line idea. and it makes sense. you start with it. whatever you get, the analysis -- if you draw it in a circle, that takes you back to the find. the problem we found is that is a targeting cycle that has been used. what we found was if you take each of those elements and they are performed by different organizations, if the find element is done by some human intelligence and some signals intelligence, by different agencies, then it is passed to
the people who are going to fix it, often done by aerial platforms, predators and things like that, or we sent agents out to see it -- if they are done by different agencies, by the time this one gets it the way they want it. everybody wants to give a perfect, finished product. it is slow. there is a cultural difference in the way it is passed. you do not get 100% clarity of information. then you fix it in real time. they say, ok. now i will pass it to the finish force. have these blanks in the system. they are time delays and information delays. information loss. the finish force, theoretically, is this group of big shouldered, brave guys who sit in a room. but he kicks a door open and they go, number 10 north street . they don't know anything about
number 10 north street except they are off to go there. when they go to do it, they may be told, pick up this guy. don't have the context or understanding -- they don't have the context or understanding. they don't know exactly what they're looking for. we learned that the most important part of the operation was exploit and analysis. it is what you get out of it. it is what you know. the people who win the next war will not be the people with the most of anything except who knows the most. it is who understands fastness. it will be a fight for knowledge. -- who understands fastest. it will be a fight for knowledge. our finish forces were the best in the world. we were the best in the world. we could go anywhere, win any firefight, extraordinary. but that turned out not to be the problem. the problem was understanding what we got and driving that into more targets.
we learned that, first, you cannot have a truncated system with different organizations controlling parts of it. one, because nobody is completely responsible. i'm doing a great job of finding. it must be somebody else's problem. you have to have a holistic thing which is all contained with somebody driving it, plus the sense that everybody is responsible and everybody gets credit. that is harder to do, but that became the core of making our network work. that became the cycle. when we started -- if we hit a target on day one, it might take too -- take us two weeks get to a second target. by 2006, we were doing three turns a night off of the intelligence from the first target. the second two targets, we would know nothing about, but we would have grabbed the information, digested that, and turn that into an opportunity and moved. that became the big revelation
for us. >> you not only had to do this in the field, but you also had to work with the great enemy -- washington. of all the different agencies involved in government, collection and analysis -- you talk about the cia. you have a great sentence in which you say, "the cia was your most productive partner, but also the most infuriating partner you dealt with." after 30 years, i can endorse that 100%, especially the infuriating part. i would like you to explain what you meant with regards to the cia. >> sure. i start off with the thesis that nobody is either irrational or evil. there are a few people who have challenged that pieces. for the most part, people operate rationally. if you look at the war on terror, it is an exercise in collaboration, integration, scintigram -- synchronization.
that is why nine/11 happened. -- 9/11 happened. we were not able to put all the information together. there are several levels to it. first, there are organizational cultures. every organization has its own culture. the military has many cultures inside it. if you pull out -- that altogether, there is a general culture. sort of big, sort of kinetic, a little bit like a big puppy with big paws, not as refined as other intelligence agencies. you have the cia, which is more refined, more professional intelligence, a bit secretive, which is understandable, does not play well with others, which is understandable, and there are cultural equities to be protected. there is a worry that if we spread these things and we bring other elements in, what
is going to happen is we will lose some of our effectiveness. we will lose our ability to do exactly what it is we have to do. as a consequence, you had this constant cultural tension between the cia, in that case, and joint special operations command that you have to deal with. you are trying to pull these elements together because they need each other. the rate to about a bad -- raid to abbottabad in 2010 could not have happened in 2004. it was reportedly a cia commanded and controlled operation. all the pieces were there in 2004, but we did not have the cultural piece. we had to start to pull pass forces together that had all the elements in them. you start by bringing people -- full task forces together -- to forces together that
had all the elements in them. had some participants that would come and we would form -- we had some participants that would come. we would form an interagency task force. who they had sent to contribute work who they wanted out of their offices where ever they were. [laughter] there was some pretty amazingly poor talent. on the other hand, other agencies would send superstars. some agencies would send people and say, whatever you do, don't give any of our information, our equities away. the thing about forming a real team is that everybody has got to give away some of their equities. it was a multiyear process for us, breaking down walls. they get rebuilt really quickly. we had to build a lot of personal relationships. some of my closest friends in the world are people that i
started this process with. it took us a long time to develop bonds of trust. what worries me about peacetime -- you sort of all go back to your own corners. or is not the forcing function. there is not a burning platform that says we have got to cooperate. you all believe in the idea of cooperation, but it is not something you believe in. it is an active thing you do. it is not magnets that come together. it is magnets in opposition. it takes people to hold them together. i think that will always be the case, but that is the big challenge. >> as a footnote, over 30 years, i saw time and time again how the creation of a new entity in the cia was always the place where anyone who did not work out was immediately shipped off to that vitally important new entity, which started with the d team instead of the a team.
at me start with some of the specific weapons or of this intelligent struggle. -- let me start with some of the specific weapons of this intelligence struggle. the drone problem -- program is becoming increasingly controversial. one of the things i think your book does well is help us orient by understanding that it started really in a rack. t-- in iraq. can you talk a little bit about how important the uav became for your operations, especially the operation to find zarqawi? >> bruce knows the background. the predator -- i will refer to a bunch of different aircraft's, -- aircraft, some manned, some not. let us watchor
something from above with tv cameras. you would have a certain number of hours in a day. we were not quite sure how to use them. you would try to go cover and operation. the beauty of doing a raid is -- you needed 120 people. 20 were going to go on the target. 100 were going to provide security, support, command and control around the target. when we could see around the target with clarity all the time, we suddenly realize we did not need 100. we could just put 20 on the target. that used fewer aircraft and fewer people. instead of hitting one target with 120, we could hit six targets. huge change. that knowledge, that situational awareness was a huge difference for us. the second thing it did was we learned very rapidly, looking
at the operation was important, but setting up the operation was more important. target development is really what we started to learn. we did not know that initially. we did not perfect that for a time. there was an operation in falluja in -- fallujah in the summer of 2004. the only way we could get inside effectively was to watch from above. we started the process of very focused target of element on places to learn the pattern of life. we would watch the same house or the same vehicle. we would chart this and begin to develop an understanding of what was happening. suddenly, you know who hangs out together. you know the relationships. we had an operation called big ben at i cover in a lot of detail -- called big ben that i
cover in a lot of detail in the book. we were able to follow the vehicle back for information to a house inside fallujah. we became can going that it was -- we became convinced that it was a cahche of weapons. was one of the first times we had identified a target with that kind of -- it was one of the first times we had identified a target with that kind of precision just from aerial observation. we nominated it for us to do a ground raid there. at a point, the decision was made not to do that because of a firefight likely to ensure, but we were given authority to do the precisions weapons strike >> a bombing -- strike, a bombing raid on the target.
we made the decision. in the morning, well after light, we conducted a strike on the house. when it hit the target, we were watching -- my stomach is in knots. not only is it important to take out the weaponry, it was really important to prove what we could do. of course, you are worried about collateral damage, civilians, and whatnot. we got the explosion from the bomb. there are 2 or 3 seconds o f nothing. evenly, secondaries go off for about 20 minutes. it is extraordinary what we have hit in that place. that was almost a validation of what we have had -- what we had been doing. we had used moving-target indicators to develop pattern of life, follow people, vehicles, and things, identify targets to hit.
increasingly, our precision went up. the place -- percentage of time in which we found, captured or killed our target, was extraordinarily high. it went up the whole war. in august, 2004, my force did 18 raids, which we thought was breakneck pace. august, 20056,, augus we did 300 raids, 10 per night. the accuracy of our intelligence was higher. the effectiveness was higher. it was a fascinating correlation. the more full-motion video we got -- if you double the amount of full-motion video unmanned aerial vehicles we get, and we were in competition with other organizations for this, we will more than double our effectiveness against the enemy. they did and we did. we went up more than twice when
we doubled it. it shows you the effectiveness of those particular systems. >> you were, of course, fighting a great court -- cultural war. an unmanned aerial vehicle, by definition, has no pilot to give a medal to. how do you make sure that the guy who is coming up with the preciosion plan to make sure the right drone is in the right place at the right time gets as much credit as the soldier who actually pulls be -- or the pilot who actually drops the bomb? >> you hit a cultural point that was really key. flownf the uav'sw were from the united states. after the operation, they are not in the mess hall with you. you are not getting that cultural touch. at the beginning of the war, we
had quite a disconnect. at one point, we are watching this target. suddenly, the uav turns around and leaves it of course, i am losing my mind. i would have choked the guy, but he was thousands of miles away. [laughter] we asked, what are you doing? he said, weather is coming in. i don't want to risk the unmanned aerial vehicle. i said, i don't give a shit about the unmanned aerial vehicle. let it crash. he had been given different criteria. good person, making good decisions, absolutely wrong decision for what we needed. it would better -- be better to have flown the thing and let it crash. we started putting our liaison sitting next to them, wherever they were flying from in the united states. we started doing video teleconferencing. we started knitting them together mission why should and culturally -- mission-wise and
culturally. they have to get credit. if they do a good job, they have to understand they were part of the operation that did it. i went to england in about 2007. i went to their equivalent. i sat across from a young female analyst p ritchey described her part -- analyst. she described her part in targeting an individual. her eyes were burning like embers. i had not seen the passion and pride. she felt like she was as central as if she had stood over his dead body, and she was that important. it was the cultural reach helping to understand that everybody is responsible for success and failure. as brilliant as the uav drone system is -- >> as brilliant as the uav drone system is, at the end of the day, there has to be
someone who tells it where to fly. in many cases, it is a human source. zarqawi, it isr clear that the debriefing of a detainee was vitally important to the outcome. we know from certain movies floating around now that detainee interrogation is a very important issue. that raises the question of how you interrogate detainees. in the book, you are about as clear as anyone i have ever seen. you say torture is "self- defeating." you described the very elaborate steps you took to make sure that any detainee in your chain of command was not abused and was housed in a facility that was -- was not a five-star hilton, but it was an appropriate facility.
at one point, you said to your troops that anyone who was involved in detainee abuse would be court-martialed and expelled from the task force. why did you feel -- why do you feel that torture and how you handle detainees appropriately is so important to winning this conflict? >> that is a great question. let me first give -- people talk about the issue of whether torture works in getting people to talk. that is almost an academic argument. i'm sure that sometimes it does and sometimes it does not. i don't know. but you really want people to cooperate because they have some reason to cooperate, not just the aversion to physical pain or fear here when a person has first been captured -- or fear. when a person is first captured, they are frightened and disoriented. you want to use that. you don't want them to feel
particularly comfortable or sure about their future. at the same time, you do want them to come to a conclusion that they want to provide information. if the individual who ultimately helped us locate the spiritual advisor -- it took weeks talking to him. day after day after day. we were working on his sense of family, his shame at being part of something that was as destructive as al qaeda in iraq, killing so many innocent iraqis. we were working on a lot of emotions, but we were not threatening him or using -- abusing him. i'm very convinced that was the right note. -- mode. once you get some witty to cooperate for the reason they think is good, that is important -- once you get somebody to cooperate for the reason they think is good, that is important. torture corrodes and individuals sense of values -- sensees an individual's
of values. it is difficult to see your self as morally right once you cross that line -- see your selself as morally right once you cross that line. it also starts to corrode the force. the force starts to believe that certain things are ok. understand, there is a great pressure on forces, pulling teeth -- you toward killing people and potentially mistreating detainees. it is easy for us to sit in washington, d.c., and say we would never do that. when you go into these torture chambers and see what some of these guys have done to each other and to captives, when you see your partners, who have sometimes been tortured and executed, it is harder to stay away from that pull. let's make sure we are not too
theoretical about this, but you have to. it corrodes the force to look at the -- it corrodes the force. it starts you down a path i don't think you can come back from. the most imaging thing that happened to us during the entire war on terror was abu grape -- -- -- -- was abu ghraib. this was proof positive that all the things said about amerco was hard and fast -- about america was hard and fast, captured in photographs. the prison guards were not effectively supervised. that is what i believe. but it invalidated a lot of the impressions in the propaganda that -- but it invalidated a lot of the impressions and the propaganda that al qaeda put
out -- but it validated a lot of the impressions in the qaeda puta that the alqae aq out. they used abu ghraib to light the fire. if you are doing that or even if you are perceived as doing that, i think it is extraordinarily damaging to your cause, long term. and you have to think long-term. you cannot think what feels best today. >> one of many great things about your book is that you tell us the historical figures that influenced your thinking. i was really struck by one. here you are, fighting in the middle of the desert, the 21st century. you looked for inspiration and leadership to horatio nelson, a
naval commander two centuries before. you say in the book that he -- his leadership style became the leadership style that made your net worth -- your network succeed. can you explain why horatio nelson is so important to us 205 years after the battle of trafalgar? >> absolutely. i've always been interested in him. the more i read about him, the more i understood the similarity. unlike some of the competitive navies, the french or spanish, in the british navy, a british naval officer had to stop as a midshipman. he had to be able to do -- start as a midshipman. he had to be able to do every job on the ship. they were not the aristocracy given commands -- giving commands. they were middle-class people who became highly professional.
and competent. their crews were built on being highly professional and competent. as you know, to a degree, cruise benefited when they captured or destroyed any ship -- crews benefited when they captured or destroyed any ship. to a degree, they became entrepreneurs of battle. what nelson understood was they were self-motivated and extraordinarily competent entities. what he had to do was move them into position where those motivations and those talents could be put in position. he did not have to fight the fight. he did not have to micromanage. he had to build them into confident, competent, capable, self-contained crews and leader s, maneuver them into position where they could have the effect that he wanted, and then do it. that was very similar to where i found myself erie although we have great -- myself.
although we have great communication infrastructure and there is temptation to micromanage. i could watch every one of our operation simultaneously as we had all these screens up. and we had the ability to put all of our radios into our computer network, our toxic -- top secret computer network. technically, i could talk down to squad level in any force we had, even when we had 19 strikeforce is operating, on any target. i could talk down to the most junior leader. i never did that. technically, i could. what i found was that is not the way to succeed. it is not even the way to succeed to tell them exactly what to do. in the normal hierarchical akram that i have been brought in -- background that i had been brought in, sometimes you know why, sometimes you do not. that was too slow.
what we did was we turned that upside down so that my function was to provide context to them, make them understand the bigger fight, make them understand what is important, then tell them, generally, what i wanted to have happen. at their level, two things happened. one, they were much more effective because they could adjust to the battle. i did not tell them what targets to hit or when to hit them. in the process, they also owned it. think about it. if somebody tells you exactly how to do something, you just go do it. if somebody says, i want you to solve this problem, it is your solution. you have a certain amount of pride in what -- and you want your solution to come out right. i think nelson did that. i learned a lot from studying him. >> one more question before i open it up to the audience. you also say this in the book. in many ways, we may have gotten zarqawi too late.
he had already -- he had already set the trap and ignited the fuse. looking back -- and hindsight is always 20-20 -- what could we have done better in 2003 and 2004 at the opening date that would have kept us -- opening dat -- at the opening gate that would have kept us from what it became? >> the first is that we did not know enough. we did not understand the forces at work. we did not understand the situation. saddam hussein had this thing held together with chewing gum and bailing wire. when those things were unhinged, not only did sectarian frustrations come up --they
were not a civil war waiting to happen. when you cut everything else, you suddenly caused things to happen. you are a civil servant who lives in baghdad. you have a job in the government. you are in the -- you lose your job, either because you are a baptist -- bathist, or because things happen. it is 125 degrees in the summer. you don't have electricity. you have no job. you have a wife, several children. deborah things have happened. one, you did not like saddam hussein, but you had a job here you could take care of your family. you did not have foreigners driving around, looking as though they are occupiers, whether they are or not. you get all the negatives of seeing a foreign opposing power , none of the positives of having saddam hussein off the
throne. life got worse. as resistance started and violence occurred, you could not be protected from that. the worse it got, you now have all of these physical and economic problems and life is not safe. at least under saddam, if you did not oppose the government, you had a certain guarantee to your life. so, we took away the positives -- the few positives that saddam hussein gave. we introduced a number of negatives. we allowed other negatives to rise up. we did not offer clear hope. in the spring of 2003, we have a certain. of support -- period of support from the iraqi people. they started, in the late summer and early fall of 2003, not to believe that things were going to get better, that it was going to get worse. people started to do what was rational behavior.
they started to do things with the sunni resistance or to join the sunni -- shia militia. it looked like it was going to batten down for a fight. we could have done a number of things to try to do that better. we could have put a much more professional effort in working with the government. the government, as you know, did not exist in the spring of 2003. we could have put more security in place. the worst thing about putting any kind of occupying foreign force in somewhere, if you are going to put any, you better put enough. you put enough to create the negative and you don't create the positive -- they would have liked order. there were a number of things. it also goes back to we did not know enough. we did not take it seriously enough early. when this thing started to get ugly, we did not -- we, the
military, we, the intelligence agencies, we did not look at what we would have to do for a long war. learn to speak arabic. have professionals who would deal with this for a long time, not just people coming in for one to her and not gaining expertise. the army did not really get a lot better -- in for one tour .ndno not gaining expertise the army did not really get a lot better at it until 2006 erie . >> time for your questions. these again if i your self. -- please identify yourself. >> thanks for everything you have done and continue to do for our country. one thing you alluded to is the problem with tribes. you were a key implementer of breaking down the tribes within special operations.
along the same lines, breaking down the tribes between conventional forces. what they are trying to do right now is a huge initiative, a balance tween direct and indirect support -- between direct and indirect support. any comments? >> i think he is on the right track, which does not surprise me. the tribal part is so much more powerful and dangerous than we think. you have all these great organizations that are very good at what they do and what they want to do, but that does not mean they fit together. early in the war, we would do these wonderful special operations raids into an area where a conventional force had responsibility. we do great ear and we would very happy with ourselves, -- we do great. we would be very happy with
ourselves. but the impact in that neighborhood had to be dealt with by the conventional forces. that would cause them more problems than the problem we solved, at least arguably. if they did not understand the context of what we were doing in the bigger picture, they see it as all negative. we think we are on a mission from the president. therefore, what we do is more important than what they do. until we started to marry those together, we did not get synergy. part of that was just pride. part of it was cultural background. my community was very secretive. we were very proud of that. over time, we found out that doing things in secret sometimes is worse than opening it up quite a bit. that was part of it. how you break down those is very interesting. people have got to believe it is in their interest to do that. at one point, i forced our very secretive, highly trained
organizations to do exchanges. take a shooter, put them in the other for six months. i was told initially that just could not work. you cannot bring a seal to work with army guys, or whatever. but we went ahead with it. he had become one of them culturally. it helped us get over the hump eared what we had to do with other agencies is trade hostages, as we called it. [laughter] it is about relationships at the end of the day. thanks.
>> gerald chandler. i would like to follow on your last question. we have saved american money and lives -- would we have saved american money and lives if we had not disbanded the iraqi army at the start? >> >> had weakened the iraqi army on payroll, you would have solved a couple of problems. you could have taken it and remold it to what you wanted. you would have had to do some work on it. but now when you put these now frustrated people back into the labour market in which there was no labor, you produce someone who is dissatisfied, and employed, and have their pride hurt. that was a significant mistake. >> with over to the side. the lady right over there.
>> what is your opinion on what is being done in the field with the civilian population? and what the you see with what happened in algeria with three american hostages killed? >> if you're going to get insurgents our population, the only people that can really do that is the population. the population has to be unwilling to support the insurgents, or terrorists, or whatever you want to call them, because there is a fine line between the two. people do not do things that are irrational very often. if people feel that they are coerced by insurgents or if they feel that the government will
not meet their needs, then they are much more apt to allow the insurgency in. one of those challenges with fallen counterinsurgency, french, american, whatever, you have a difficult time connecting with the people because of a cultural divide. that is a big hurdle to jump over. it is inconvenient for counterinsurgency forces to do that. you would rather not. you'd rather do what feels comfortable militarily. you would rather be in your bases. he would rather have units that are just friends or just american or just canadian. but the problem is, that is not more effective. the population house to not fear you. they are to believe that you are there in their interest. if you think about a western soldier, they're in their combat uniform, body armor, helmet, they usually have a radio with a boom mike.
there are a protection. if they are big, now they look cute. now they come into your village or your home at midnight and they do not speak your language. suddenly, it looks like a martian puritan -- like a martian. it is very frightening and you cannot explain -- you might have an interpreter a long, which we did, but even that is difficult. you can look terrifying to the population. they have to believe that the power you have is in their interest. that is the key thing. if you go back to what happened in algeria recently and what is happening in molly.com of that is going to be an interesting problem -- what is happening in mali, that is an interesting problem. these are all areas that are important to france and important to the west. what is a relatively unpopulated area in northern mali has a
geographical said the begins. somebody has to control it that is not an absolute safe haven. i think people were surprised by the algerian response. i was not. in my mind, the algerians fought a very bitter counterinsurgency of their own, a very bloody counterinsurgency. and the algerians have no interest in showing to a potential terrorist that they need western help and that they are willing to be weak. in fact, and i certainly would not say that the government of algeria was happy to have hostages die, but i think they sent a very clear sign -- a clear message to terrorist groups that they are not going to negotiate, that they are not going to play games, that they are capable of doing this. whether that is the perfect approach or not depends on who you are providing the government of algeria wants to make sure that people know that algeria is
not a place where terrorist incidents will pay off and they sent that pretty clearly as a message, i think. >> i have two questions. the first is, going back to iraq and afghanistan compaq clearly, you came out of iraq with a lot of useful lessons. but there are also things that you say in retrospect actually hindered you doing things there. the second question is following up on a previous one. the economists did a cover this past week saying "afr icanistan." do you have a comment on aspects -- on that? >> my role was largely with the
task force i have focused on destroying al qaeda in iraq. the we were very much there to dismantle the network. as i mentioned, we did it for a number of years. at one point, i think it was max boot who came to visit us and we were hitting targets and getting good at what we did. and he said, you are getting great at what you do, but it is strategically irrelevant. of course, i had my feelings hurt at the time prepared [laughter] but you know, he was largely right. what he was saying is, you can do this forever, and you are tamping down, you are holding al qaeda in iraq from being as effective as they could become law but we will not succeed unless it is married with an effective and wider campaign. that was absolutely right. what really happened when the surge was implemented is another
line -- a number of factors came together. there was the exhaustion of the sunnis, the effectiveness of our operation, the rise of the weakening, additional coalition forces, and there was a reinvigorated counterinsurgency effort. those things came together and suddenly, the operations we were doing not only remained as tactically effective as they were, but suddenly started to have strategic in fact -- the strategic impact. when we did something in an area, it did not erode. our work with the intelligence forces was more effective. when i went into afghanistan, i came into that believing that the end of the day, you have to win a population. there is no other sustainable, long-term outcome that can work. to do that, you got to protect the population, you've got to do things that convinced them to support their government, and indirectly the isaf forces.
and you needed to do the strike may since -- the strike missions, a quarter of a number of missions, but not just to pound on the enemy. it is like erosion. you've got to plant things to stop soil from eroding. i became convinced that was the right solution there. i was informed by my previous experience, or impacted by my previous experience there. ouattara the question? -- what was your other question? >> the second question was on mali essentially, and the economists call in its africanistan. are they the same or not? >> i am not prepared to say that they are the same. it is a pit and -- a big piece of ground with multiple obligations currently operating.
the fear is that it comes -- become another somalia, and that it becomes an government territory where bad things can happen. i do not think it is exactly somalia either. but the idea that uncovered areas, and -- on a government areas, that things can happen. -- in areas that are not governed, bad things can happen. what we've got to do is establish enough governments there that they do not have that ability. >> i cannot help but comment here. the economist title is the classic military mistake of fighting the last war over again. what i think we are seeing is not our enemy, al qaeda, is showing a remarkable adaptability and they are adapting to a new environment, which is the arab spring, taking advantage of it to create what i would call the third generation of al qaeda, or al qaeda 3.0.
if you want to learn more about that, go to our website. let's go back to questions now that i have advertised for myself right here. >> my question has to do with prt teams and their attraction with troop engagement teams. to address the martian problem, you want to put a civilian with a group of men and women like that to maybe soften them up. there were attempts in afghanistan to do just that. have there been any highly successful programs of that nature? aside from the efforts of some very brave prt team members that are being discussed for future engagement, should the u.s. population have the appetite to go into another country a and try to connect with that again? >> the great question.
there is a tendency to want to wipe the white board clean. there's a certain group that says counterinsurgency does not work, and therefore, we will turn to something else. a little bit like, i could not reach the grace, so they must have been sour. -- i could not reach the grapes, so they must have been soured. counterinsurgency is always hard. that is why there is an insurgency in an area, because there are problems. but you always do counterinsurgency. everyone likes to go back to world war ii. it was clean and good and we crushed nottie germany and then we came home. no, we did not. we did the marshall plan. that was counterinsurgency for years to make sure it did not erode or return to fascism or communism. in the civil war, with the reconstruction, and that was
problematic, too, but you still have to do something to make society have some staying power. the question is, you have to know what you are doing with counterinsurgency. it is by definition a nuanced effort. what the insurgents want you to do is overreact. it is just like the matador with the ball. the inserting goes to the area and waives the caper by typically do in violent activities. what they want the security forces to do is to bomb the area or to surround the whole block and search everybody's house. if you bomb it, you first read all the people. if you search all the houses, 95% are innocent, but nobody likes to have their house searched. now the civilians are irritated. the insurgency wanted to do that unless -- until you have lost credibility, or you have created so many antibodies with the people that
is bad it is nuanced and it takes a long time. what america has not been good at is investing in those things that take a long time. i remember before afghanistan i wrote a book about the east india company in northwest india, later the pakistan area, but in the early 19th century. they sprinkle these young men out there to establish bases and to build units. their first tour of duty was 10 years and had to learn what they called hindustani first. then they got leave and they went home to england and they got married and typically came back. if you have people in dealing effectively in an area, you got to think that way. however one says lawrence of arabia, the spring guide to one out and dealt with the arabs.
there are different views of his effectiveness, but the point is, he was in the area before the war started. he had been an archaeologist, knew the language, he knew what he was dealing with. did you parachute's someone in from the joakim does not speak the language and is going to be there -- from milwaukee who does not speak the language and is going to be there six months, will they be affected? not often. -- will they be effective? not often. it will take real dedication of people. you how to create a cadre of people willing to do it. a cadre of people willing to accept risk because you cannot protect everybody. the reason it is done so much by the military now is because we have skewed funding and other things. we need to have a wider capacity with u.s. business. are we willing to do it? i don't know. i'm not yet seen it.
i see some talk about it, but not yet seen that on the ground. although, there are some exceptions. there are a number of people that i have worked with that do it. lee, but they are too few in number. -- i do a brilliant -- that do a brilliantly, but they are too few in number. >> i am a former marine. december 5. -- semper fi. my pessimism increases because it looks like we're shoveling sand against the tide. there is a book that goes to that insurance issue that you just address. the premise of the book is that we are not thinking long term. we do not have the fortitude to stick with it. >> i do know been west. i have not read the book. i agree in part with what he
says and disagree in part. the long term is to stick with anything is what is key. in the region now, afghanistan and pakistan, what they want to know was whether america is going to stick their. they do not want to know how many troops will put on the ground. that is not what the measure. the measure based on whether we will turn around and walk away. pakistan wants to stay there, but they are not sure that it -- that we will. if they believe that we will come all there calculus is different the problem is, we do not like the idea of saying that we will be here for a long time, even small numbers of people. president karzai, i remember on one day i said of how many americans do you want here? he said, i want american business. and i want you here to make a profit, because if you will make a profit here, you will not want the relationship to go bad.
a very perceptive. where i disagree is where he said that we are not taking the gloves off and not pounding on the taliban hard -- hard enough. where i disagree with that is, the soviets killed 1.2 million of people out of 24 million people. how many people mathematically to react to kill? -- do we have to kill? it doesn't work that way. when you go to work, there are other effects. you start destroying people's houses. if the taliban comes into our house and start shooting at us, we have the legal right to level the house. if you have to through -- to survive, do it. if you don't have to come back away. people said we were being solved.
if i blow up that house, even if the taliban are in it, the people who own the house if they are lucky enough not to be in there and when we blow it up, they do not feel liberated after word. afghans use to tell me, there are three outcomes, either you win, the taliban winds, or we get stuck in this protracted war. they have been at war for 34 years now. they said, we would like you to win, but our second guest is that the taliban wins. but we cannot stand is that the war goes on forever. pretty interesting and rational behavior. i do not think afghanistan is impossible. i do not think it is ever impossible. but i think is very hard. we need to understand exactly what we want out of afghanistan. we need to have a very clear set of objectives for what we want. and do not think of afghanistan, as bruce has written about so
eloquently, think about the region. because when we are gone, the region will still be there. and we are worried of northern mali now, and the whole region has potential issues before the world. -- for the world. >> let's go to the back. over there in the corner. >> general, what is your opinion on the campaign against al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, in yemen? is it on the right track? or is it going to the decapitation strategy that you talked about earlier? >> i'm not an expert on it now. i have an opinion sort of from afar, i give you that up front. i think you do have a positive effect. you can have positive effects in striking and meet the drones, or whatever you do, kinetics strikes and things like that, because you can disrupt the
organization and take out key leaders. i have never seen it where it is decisive. i have never seen where you can do enough drone strikes to destroy an entire network, or decapitate it enough so that new leaders do not rise. i hope that is not the whole. i think it has got to be a supporting efforts for other activities, hopefully by the government of yemen. what we have to understand about drone strikes is for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. every time you shoot inside a country, there are some who are happy about it and some who are not. often, those who are not happy about it are not directly affected by it. if you look in pakistan right now, those who are most opposed to american drone strikes are not those who are close to the strikes. they are those who are outraged by the idea of sovereignty being violated.
that is something we got to think about every time we do something. there is always a day after. and you will always deal with the long-term impact of what you do. i do not believe we should not have that as a tool in the arsenal or the capacity that we have. but i think we need to have a very thoughtful, long-term policy on what happens the day after everything we do. i think that applies everywhere in the world. how would we feel if the mexicans came north and took a drone strike in texas, even though we were going after a drug leader that we did not like, that we thought was evil aspects part of us would say, it is good that we -- that we thought he was evil? part of this would say, it is good that we got him. the other part would say, why didn't you just tell us? you have to understand what is going to people's minds.
-- through people's minds. >> as you have said, we did not know enough and did not understand enough. can you explain what you envisioned when you implement the afghanistan program? and how that could be adapted to other regions, wherever we go next? >> i became convinced in my to -- my first tour in afghanistan in 2002 that we did not know enough, that we were clueless in trying to figure out is extraordinarily complex thing. and then all of my years in iraq and then again in afghanistan as well. and in the fall of 2008, i come back from my special operations command. i was director of the joint staff. i had been reading about the area and understood that despite all the time i was there how little i understood. and i like to read history. i became convinced that unless we had a cadre of people that understood the area and had long
term relationships with people, it would be difficult to be effective. arar the white board at my office, mike flynn, now the director of the dia, and major general scott miller and i said, we've got to create audra of people who speak the language, have repetitive chores, have relationships and can influence things. the term afghan hands came from the idea of the china hands, people who are involved for a long time. we got the chairman of the joint chiefs, admiral mike mullen, to support and we got the secretary of defense to support it. we got a great plan and it will take awhile to implement. we ran right into service bureaucracy. what we ran into was people going, wow, if i put a man a
woman into the program, they will be tied up for five years and they will not be competitive. they will not be good marines or air force officers or whatever. we cannot put talent in that program. i said, we've got to put down in that program. once this war is over, they will be lost because they will have wasted five years of their lives, and this war is not going to last that long. here we are in the ninth year at this point. we ran against personnel resistance. in every one of the services. the very grudgingly identified a certain number of people and they started putting people in the program. the program was managed -- i was managing the afghan and of it and had people working for me, but i was responsible. we did not implement it as well as we should have. it was going to get better over time. but a certain part of the people who came over or not volunteers. and they had been volun-told.
[laughter] t e lawrence did well because he had a passion and wanted to do it. a percentage of them did, but it percentage did not. a percentage of the people could not learn language because they would not try and were not smart enough. but it is almost to your question exactly about the civilian part. we have to be willing to make the investment prepared -- investment. we have to be willing to say it is worth as long-term investments because is not caught -- if not, you cannot operate effectively. you cannot go in there with people who do not have a long- term commitment to the outcome of the area and expect to have a good effect. >> we have time for one last
question. right here. >> general mcchrystal, thanks for being here. i make current student and also author of the book "the first 100 days in afghanistan. we see that the u.s. does not have an enduring part -- presence in iraq and is going to devote one now for afghanistan. what is the position for that? what are the resources for it? >> what do we want? that is the first in a raft of u.s. policy-makers. what is our geostrategic objective in that region? if we cannot articulate that, then just saying we do not want al qaeda there is probably not broad enough. we need to be able to identify for ourselves what we want, and then we need to see whether it is aligned with what we're willing to pay, in terms of
people, in terms of money, in terms of pain, i guess you would say. i'm not 100% sure we know about. there is some discussion about it, but i'm not sure we know it. that will define what happens. we have said that we want a stable afghanistan, a stable pakistan, with a reasonable relationship between the two. and we want no al qaeda in the region and what not. but the question is whether we're willing to commit the resources long term. and part of that is just focused, not as a surrogate troops or money, but how engaged we are willing to be -- not necessarily troops or money, but how engaged we are willing to be. i have mentioned that the afghans are scared of 2014 not because there is no progress, but because there has been and they are afraid they could lose it.
they are worried and of the rise of warlords and civil war and what not. is in our personal interest to work for stability pretty seriously in that region. but i might have a different willingness of commitment and the nation has. the policy makers have got to get together and make that decision. i and the afghans can protect their sovereignty now if they have the confidence to do it. they have an army, a police force, but they are not facing a huge army. they are facing a taliban and that is fragmented. it is a different challenge. their problem is confidence. when you do not trust things and you do not trust the future, you take a very irrational actions to protect you and your own produce and money to buy and things like that. when in reality to make the country or an organization were, everyone has to make a commitment to doing the things together. it is the confidence thing that
scares people more than anything. if they have a peaceful transfer of power in 2014, which they are capable of, and they have a government that appears as though it is improving -- it does not have to be great, but they just need to believe it will be better this year and then next year, and that sort of thing, then there is a chance if will come out well. if they do not, that will determine the direction. >> thank you. thanks again. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013]
we have more live coverage coming up here on c-span. at 12:15 p.m. eastern, we will look at health care costs, most of by the alliance for health care reform. and we will look at the impact of the affordable health care act on costs. that will be live at 12:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. a group of bipartisan center --
senators will hold a news conference ahead of president obama's expected announcement on immigration proposal taking place tomorrow in las vegas. that will happen at 2:30 p.m. eastern. the u.s. house is out this week and members are back in their home districts. the senate in this way, gaveling in at 2:00 p.m. you can see the senate live on c-span2. here are some new faces.
>> we have completed a platform that is ingested. it sends information to a patch that you wear on your torso. it sends information about the medicine that you swallow, like your heart rate, respiration, body activity. it is a panel of physiological well as metrics. and then it communicates through bluetooth cellphone. it sends it back to the application. >> we have had all of these
incremental, amazing changes in the past five years. now we are poised to make some great leaps in these complex diseases. our understanding of cancer in the last by years has dwarfed the last 25 and in the next 10 years will take us into some amazing advances. >> we will be alive again in about 45 minutes for a discussion on health care at 12:15 p.m. from capitol hill pretend until then, a discussion on president obama's use of executive power from this morning's "washington journal". host: george washington university law professor jonathan turley joining us to discuss his views on president obama's use of his executive powers as he begins his second term in the white house. why don't you start with your take on obama's inaugural address last week and what you described in your "usa today"
column as a difference between civil rights and civil liberties under this administration? guest: the inauguration speech was picking up a very common and almost mantra in the obama administration of achieving equality, which is a noble and important goal. i think the most significant thing about the inauguration speech, which are particularly thought was wonderful, was his reference to gay-rights and to the gay movement. it established his commitment to equality. i want to note that he has not been particularly aggressive in supporting gay rights in his first administration. his administration in court argued the same arguments as the bush administration. he still refuses to make clear his position on key legal aspects of gay-rights. and so, the first term obama was not nearly as passionate as that speech would suggest.
but what was missing once again was a discussion of civil liberties. i think it does reflect this great schism in the democratic and liberal community. i wrote a column two years ago about how barack obama has destroyed the civil liberties movement by dividing it. he does not have a good record on civil liberties. he adopted an expanded on many of george bush's executive powers. i think that democrats and liberals tried desperately to ignore that aspect of his record. but the fact is that barack obama is the president richard nixon wanted to be. host: imperial? guest: yes. george bush tried and could not. richard nixon tried and could not. barack obama did it. he has unprecedented unchecked power. many democrats cannot get
themselves to oppose president obama on presidential power. the result is very dangerous. we have the president who is the most powerful president in history. he has rights and powers and privileges that we have long denied to prior presidents. those will remain when obama leaves. i think the democrats will hate their silence during this time. host: give us some specifics on the instances you are referring to me talk about his power? guest: there are a number of them. he has argued for unilateral authority in the way that other presidents suggested but never got away with. this includes things like war powers. this week the presidents and is debating whether to intervene in the syrian civil war. the last term, intervened in the libyan war and said that he did not happen to get authority from congress, that he alone would define what is war. if he decided it would not be
called war, he would not get authorization. democrats rolled over on that and so did republicans. we cannot get review in court. probably the most notable, besides the expansion of surveillance laws, reduction of privacy rights, is the "kill list." president obama came out in his first term and said that he has the authority to appeal any u.s. citizen without a trial or charged if he believes they are a threat to national security. that he has that unilateral authority parody's sent out his -- unilateral authority. what was astonishing to me in his first term is that he sent out his attorney general who presented a policy, went to north western law school with a huge audience of judges and lawyers and he announced that the president believed he could kill any one of them at any time if he believed they are -- it is in our national security interests and those interests are so compelling. the amazing thing is not the speech but what followed was
applause. you had a room filled with lawyers and judges and they actually applauded a president who said i could kill anyone of you without the charge, without a conviction. host: i want to take you to a comment by sam walker in a recent piece last week in the huffington post. he is a historian, civil libertarian, criminology professor. he writes -- obama shares with his predecessors and dedication to a profound duty, not wanting to risk another pearl harbor or 9/11 attack.
so he seems to be writing that there are some reasons for him doing this. guest: there are always reasons. it borders on a form of constitutional defamation. people suggest the constitution is too limiting. the greatest response to that is we are still here. we're not the first generation that has had threats. and i know people are afraid. but we have a constitution that is the most successful form of government in the history of the world. the country has the ability to protect itself. every president asserting unprecedented or abuse of powers says i'm doing this for you. it takes an dedicated and balance citizenry to say don't put this on us, you took an oath to uphold the constitution, that limits your power. there are two threats to freedom, one from outside and
one from inside. the framers of the constitution said the greatest threat we face is the concentration of power in the hands of one or a few. we now have a level of constitution -- bill level of concentration of power in the presidency that is dangerous. i think there's almost a cult of personality. liberals have destroyed resisted this type of concentration, fought for civil liberties, but they have become decoupled from that foundation. i think they will come to regret that. this will not be our last president, but these powers are likely to remain. it's very easy to expand presidential powers and very hard to get them back into the bottle. host: this from john whitehead, also with "the huffington post" -- this was a quotation from barack obama when he was running for the presidency in march, 2007.
guest: it's hard to see that in his first administration. his record is shameful when it comes to presidential powers. his unilateralism. he does not show a respect for constitutional law. when he was first inaugurated, i voted for him. i wrote a column saying i supported him. i'm from chicago originally and i'm very familiar with barack obama. but i want people in my column saying i think you are making a mistake of who this person is. he's not someone that is shown in his lack a great commitment to principle. he's had a great commitment to programs. that is to his credit that he believes strongly in programs, believes in helping people. he has not been that wedded to principle. he was not that way as the senator or in state government. and he is a very practical person, but that practicality can be dangerous. when you circumvent the limits of the constitution. host: what do you think when you
see this headline -- guest: this is a great irony. democrats were all over george bush, rightfully so, about his expansion of the national security system. but he was really an amateur in comparison to what obama has done. obama's expansion of the national security state in the united states is really breathtaking. he has given everything that has been asked from the security establishment. that has resulted in the erosion of the separation of intelligence from the military. it used to be weeks of the cia would only do intelligence work without a military arm, but the military would focus on military aspects and not intelligence. that has blurred. the cia is now demanding their
own fleet of drones. they have a quasi military units. militaries' expanding its intelligence operations. we are seeing this type of lending across-the-board where intelligence and security services are getting windfalls from obama. he made the decision early on. the best example was when he first came into office and went to the cia and announced that no one at the cia be prosecuted for torture. many of us fell off our chairs because he had admitted waterboarding is torture and he went to the cia and said don't worry, no one will be prosecuted for torture. we all looked at that in disbelief. we have treaties that go back to important events like nuremberg that require us to investigate and prosecute things like torture. but it was an early indication from obama and he was going to carve out a national security and leave it in the hands of these hawks, people like john brenan and others.
host: jonathan turley is a george washington university law professor and also writes for "usa today." host: he has been the lead counsel in several notable cases including one involving area 51 workers, nuclear couriers at oak ridge, and four former u.s. attorney general during the former a page and procedures. let's go to north carolina, on the republican line. caller: good morning mr., turley. it is very refreshing to hear what you are saying. doesn't seem like too many people, especially the mainstream media, is giving this topic of an imperial presidency. our i could listen to you and talk to you all morning but number one, the recent washington, d.c. appeals court ruling on the obama "recess appointments."
if you could speak to that -- one other question -- regarding tying gave rise to the -- tying the game right to -- tying gay rights to the civil- rights movement, i'm sure you know who charles krauthamer is. as a conservative, i want everyone to have civil rights and be treated equally. he feels there is a possibility, we as a nation and the supreme court and the gay- rights movement, could make this a mistake that we made four years -- 40 years ago ago with roe v wade, that we did not allow the democratic process, the legislative process, the social process of debate and acceptance and so on to run its course.
we trust that with a ruling by -- we have trumped that by a ruling by the supreme court and we have been in the streets for over four years and probably will be for another 40 because we did not allow the legislative process to continue. if you did speak to those, thank you very much. guest: on the recess appointments -- host: what was the decision the caller was referring to? guest: the president's appointments during a recess period or unconstitutional. he waited for congress to be out for a couple of days and pushed through four confrontation -- controversial appointments to the new labor relations board and of -- and it includes the cordray appointment. the recess appointment clause was created for a different purpose. when i testified in congress, i said i believe that all these recess appointments or --
were unconstitutional. the court of appeals actually agrees with that position. it unanimously ruled that the president violated the constitution with those appointments. this is another example of unilateralism by the president. the recess appointment clause is designed because congress was off -- was often out of session for as long as nine months for this was a bit -- a time when people travel to washington, d.c. and more only in session for a short period of time but the government had to go on. during those lawyer -- long recesses, the president should be able to fill offices. there were relatively few federal offices so if you had a big vacancy, that was a big hole. the president could afford -- could appoint but someone and then they could vote on every will have a problem anymore but the president have been using
the recess appointments clause to try to circumvent the senate which has never been its purpose. i believe what the president did was wrong. cordray, who i respect, was blocked, that was part of the system very the senate was an easy about this new agency. the president mobilize -- the president openly circumvented that are host: this is the consumer protection bureau? guest: yes. the problem democrats have is that we cannot be a hypocrite on presidential power . i presidentialcordray and i -- by like richard cordray and i think republicans were wrong to block them. principle sometimes makes you do things you do not want to do and too often, people blame the republicans. host: from twitter --
guest: his option is to work with the senate. people make this sound like this is the first time that ever happened. it was the democrats that developed of this technique. pro-forma sessions, you cannot have business. is not just an empty session. in this pro-forma session that the president said congress was not there, they actually did do substantial business. they passed a very important piece of legislation. these pro-forma sessions are with the congress defend itself -- a way that congress has used to defend itself, from presidents exercising their authority. we don't want this breed is not good for the system. we have a divided country. that is reflected in congress. that means they have to work together. you cannot approve people circumventing the system just because you don't like the apartment. -- the opponent. if you allow that to happen, the next president might not be of your choice and you will be a hypocrite to object and then.
host: lots of comments from that from the sunday shows yesterday. senator bob corker was on fox news yesterday saying that all the decisions that has been made from -- for those appointments were made and now can be called into question. guest: i think they could. when i testified in congress, is it your making a terrible mistake because this is flagrantly unconstitutional. you will cause a pile up. i was speaking to the democrats that they have to prevail on the president not to do this and they did not. the democrats supported the president even though they took the opposite position during the bush administration. host: lincoln, neb., on the democrats' line -- caller: good morning, i would like to have some information on how you feel about the president try to circumvent the american people with gun control legislation. thank you. guest: what the president is
doing is using executive powers to take steps without legislation. he suggested he would do that to a greater extent but so far, he has really done marginal things. there is a suggestion he will do things more substantial. this raises the tough question. on immigration, the president came out and instructed the federal agencies not to enforce certain immigration laws. many of us were surprised by that because here is the president that ran on opposition to the george bush signing statement legislation saying he was opposed to presidents changing the meaning of legislation through congress and they had to respect the legislation now obama has gone one step further. he says he will instruct for that legislation simply to not be enforced. this raises a significant question for the american people of whether they are at all concerned that a president here is effectively negating
federal law. on the gun issues, the fear is that he may do the same thing, he may use executive power as an alternative to legislation i think that is a huge mistake. we are a divided country when it comes to gun control. the supreme court ruled in the heller that this is an individual right. for the president to come in to do this, outside of legislation, would be a serious problem. even in the legislative process, it will be tough for things like the feinstein bill. she is talking about bans on types of semi-automatic weapons. she will collide directly with heller. the supreme court has said that the second amendment allows for some reasonable limitations. i think that gives a certain amount of room for legislation. when you talk about prohibition, then it becomes a closer question under heller.
host: lancaster, calif., independent line -- caller: i would like to talk about, you know, the president and the dream act, that he circumvented congress and signed the nafta agreement with truck drivers. he said then that he is no king and that the congress and senate would have to do something. he went and had an signed an executive order which is for foreign nationals which was a job back for foreign nationals which is the only job act he has ever done. that was criminal. -- those were criminals. these were not united states citizens which is a week, the people. we need to get our house cleaned up, stop arming foreigners all over the world and keep our gun rights for the american
citizens. guest: in terms of immigration, as i mentioned earlier, there is that lasting controversy about whether president obama could do, as he did, and say that certain federal laws do not have to be enforced. that raises separation of powers questions. as to the constitutionality of what the president is moving towards in the immigration, this week, it appears he has bipartisan support. it appears congress is going to pass significant immigration reform and that reform looks like it will fall much of what -- it will follow much of white president obama once. -- much of what president obama wants. if that goes through, that is perfectly constitutional. you get the government you vote for, that you deserve and this is the government you have.
if you oppose the republicans in the senate for reaching this agreement, your recourse is to replace those members. host: going back to your comments about the president paused use of drones and how he fights the war on terror -- guest: every president has said he is facing problems that his predecessors did not have to face and that is why he is asking for more power. three people have to be highly skeptical of that. -- a free people house to be highly skeptical of that. drones an important technology. they are not so vastly different nor is the war on terror so vastly different as to excuse the creation of an imperial presidency. this president, at least his administration, has said they will reserve the right to do drone strikes in countries that are posed to them.
-- that oppose them. even countries that we are not at war with. the american people dismiss the concerns are countries that raise his objections. we can debate whether pakistan is probably saying they want -- privately saying they wanted droned attacks, but publicly, they have denounced them. these are acts of war under any definition. we cannot believe that, as a country, has unilateral status. it is called american exceptional lesson. what the rest of the world hears is hypocrisy when we say we have a right to use our drones whenever we think our national interests are at stake. i recently spoke to the parliamentarians of nato. these parliamentarians were very supportive of american drone policy and many of the nato countries are developing their own programs. i asked in english baroness, what will she say when china or
iran vaporizes someone on the london bridge because they believe they are a threat to their country? what would you possibly say to object when the argument for drones that we now have the authority to take out anyone or anything in other countries that threaten us? it is anathema under international law. after world war two, we developed an international law that developed stability where countries have to take steps before they go to war. they cannot act unilaterally. the obama and bush administrations have torn that structure down. what is left is the state of nature. the american government that played such a key role in developing this international law is returning the world to a state of nature where the strongest country does whatever it wants. you have to ask yourself -- what happens when we are no longer the strongest country?
what happens when there is another country that has drones and wants to use them in the same way? host: from twitter -- guest: on fortunately, that is the view of many people and i am not saying it is wrong. there are good people in congress, people who care, but there are frankly, a lot of bad people. there are some uniquely bad people there who do not really think about these issues. i work a lot in congress. if you rely on congress to protect your rights, you know nothing of history. congress has never been a protector of civil liberty. what is dangerous now is that you have a president with the democratic party who is a certain these unconstitutional -- who is a certain these unconstitutional -- is