Aspen Security Forum transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for the Aspen Institute, and the accuracy may vary. This text may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Aspen Institute programming is the video or audio.

2018 Aspen Security Forum Transcripts

  • A Chat With The Director of the FBI
    The FBI Director describes the Bureau’s role in national security generally and cyberterrorism and counterintelligence specifically.
    Christopher Wray, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Host: Lester Holt, Host, NBC Nightly News
  • Securing the Homeland
    The Homeland Security Secretary briefs us on the security challenges the nation faces and how the Department and its partners, domestic and foreign, are working together to meet them.
    Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security
    Moderator: Peter Alexander, National Correspondent, NBC News
  • Defending Democratic Institutions: Election 2018 and Beyond
    Though the motivation and the effects are disputed, nearly everyone agrees that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and security experts agree that it is already interfering in this year’s mid-terms. Though efforts are underway to stop them, what more can be done to put an end to Russia’s interference in our elections and democratic institutions?
    Monika Bickert, Head of Product Policy and Counterterrorism, Facebook
    Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President for Customer Security and Trust, Microsoft
    Michael Chertoff, Former Secretary of Homeland Security
    Jeannette Manfra, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Cybersecurity and Communications
    Kim Wyman, Secretary of State, Washington State
    Moderator: Michael Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent, Yahoo News
  • America First
    From pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate accord, to questioning the value of NATO and imposing tariffs on European allies, to renegotiating NAFTA, to tearing up the Iranian nuclear agreement, to promising to pull troops out of Afghanistan and Syria in the not too distant future, President Trump is upending 70 years of foreign policy orthodoxy in pursuit of his “America First” agenda. Meanwhile, a rising China and a revanchist Russia are working feverishly to fill the void. Does the President have it right or is he taking the nation – and the world – down a dangerous new path?
    Thomas Friedman, Foreign Affairs Columnist, The New York Times
    Jane Harman, President, Director, and CEO, The Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars
    Hugh Hewitt, Host, the Hugh Hewitt Show Peter Westmacott, Former Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the United States Moderator: William Kristol, Editor-at-Large, The Weekly Standard
  • A Look Over My Shoulder: The DNI Reflects and Foreshadows
    Legendary CIA Director Richard Helms titled his memoir, “A Look Over My Shoulder,” to describe his extraordinary career in the intelligence community. As that book title suggests, perhaps the spymaster’s toughest task is to try to peer around corners to get a sense of threats that are now seen only dimly, if seen at all. Having been surprised by the speed with which Kim Jong Un developed the nuclear capability to threaten the United States and the extent of Bashir al-Assad’s remaining chemical weapons stocks, to cite two recent examples, what else is on the horizon that could pose a danger to America and our interests around the globe?
    Daniel Coats, Director of National Intelligence
    Moderator: Andrea Mitchell, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, NBC News; Host, “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” MSNBC News
  • There’s a War Coming
    So predicted no less an authority than Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller, a man not prone to drama or hyperbole. Though he seemed to be speaking specifically of the prospect of a hot war over Europe, he might as well have been referring to the prospect of a war among the US, Russia, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states in and over Syria. Secure in power once again, Assad has demanded the withdrawal of American forces and raised the specter of conflict if they do not. President Trump appears eager to confront Iran militarily if it responds to his scrapping of the nuclear deal by increasing its regional meddling and/or resuming its nuclear program. Meanwhile, Israel has struck Iranian forces deep inside Syria and Lebanon. How likely is such a big power war and are there ways to counter it diplomatically?
    Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States
    Tony Blinken, Former Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Former Deputy Secretary of Energy
    Moderator: Jim Sciutto, Chief National Security Correspondent, CNN
  • Confronting Global Cyber Threats
    The nation’s second most senior law enforcement official describes the work of the Attorney General’s Cyber-Digital Task Force and makes an exclusive policy announcement. A panel of prominent former government officials and industry leaders reacts to that announcement.
    Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, US Department of Justice
    Thomas Bossert, Former Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
    Greg Clark, CEO, Symantec Lisa Monaco, Former Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
    Moderator: David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent, The New York Times GREENWALD PAVILION
  • “Taking Our Fate Into Our Own Hands”
    Thus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel famously summed up Europe’s reaction to Trump’s America First agenda. For the first time since its founding, the strength of the NATO alliance is being questioned. Would a President who said that he was elected to “represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris” really go to war to save Vilnius? And, it appears that Europe is as much in the President’s crosshairs for trade imbalances as China. In short, is the Trans-Atlantic partnership, the bedrock of the global order since WWII, being consigned before our eyes to the dustbin of history?
    Emily Haber, Ambassador of Germany to the United States
    John McLaughlin, Former Acting Director and Deputy Director, Central Intelligence Agency
    Elisabeth Millard, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
    David O’Sullivan, Ambassador of the European Union to the United States
    Moderator: Terry Moran, Chief Foreign Correspondent, ABC News
  • Cold War
    Relations between the US and Russia, and Russia and the West as a whole, are at their lowest point since the Cold War. What are Putin’s aims, and can he be stopped in his quest to achieve them?
    Nina Khrushcheva, Professor of International Affairs, The New School
    Victoria Nuland, Former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
    Andrew Weiss, Former Director, Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs, National Security Council
    Moderator: Julia Ioffe, Correspondent, GQ
  • A New Nuclear Arms Race
    Reminiscent of the Cold War, the US and Russia are racing to develop a new generation of more powerful nuclear weapons, making the prospect of cataclysmic war more realistic than at any time in generations. Can the nuclear arms race genie be put back in the bottle?
    Bonnie Jenkins, Former Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs, US Department of State
    Frank Klotz, Former Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration
    Franklin Miller, Former Senior Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control, National Security Council
    Andrew Weber, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs
    Moderator: Michael Gordon, National Security Correspondent, The Wall Street Journal
  • “Taking Our Fate Into Our Own Hands” (Part 2)
    Three more key European countries and an American expert give us their perspectives on how to respond to Putin, given President Trump’s decision to conciliate him.
    William Browder, Head, Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign
    Vadym Chernysh, Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs of Ukraine
    Mikk Marran, Director General, Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service
    Andrew Pike, Director of International Communications, 10 Downing Street
    Moderator: Courtney Kube, National Security & Military Correspondent, NBC News
  • China Rising
    Having consolidated power and extended his term, President Xi Jinping is now the mightiest Chinese leader since Mao. And, his rise to political primacy coincides with a moment in history when China itself is rising – economically, militarily, and geopolitically. It coincides, too, with a moment in history when America is both withdrawing from the global stage and riven internally by toxic partisanship. Is China on its way to becoming the new global hegemon and, if so, what are the geostrategic implications?
    Michael Collins, Deputy Assistant Director, East Asia Mission Center, Central Intelligence Agency
    Marcel Lettre, Former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence
    Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, Ambassador of Singapore to the United States Susan Thornton, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
    Moderator: David Ignatius, Columnist and Associate Editor, The Washington Post
  • Emerging Technologies
    Representatives from the “brave new world” of artificial intelligence, drones, robots, quantum computing, and data analytics explain the promise and peril of these emerging technologies and the security implications they entail.
    Teresa Carlson, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services
    Stacey Dixon, Deputy Director, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity
    Will Hurd, Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
    Samuel Visner, Director, National Cybersecurity FFRDC, MITRE
    Moderator: Cecilia Kang, Technology Reporter, The New York Times
  • Pentagon Policy
    The chief formulator and coordinator of national security policy within the Department of Defense surveys the scene and explains the role DOD plays in making and executing national security policy in support of US interests around the globe.
    John Rood, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
    Moderator: Barbara Starr, Pentagon Correspondent, CNN
  • “Victory” in Afghanistan and Iraq
    Strategy guiding the US-led military mission in Afghanistan – now in its seventeenth year – remains essentially the same, and a political resolution remains out of sight. In Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr, a man responsible for hundreds of American deaths early in the war, has returned to center stage as a self- professed political reformer and fervent nationalist. In short, “victory” in both Afghanistan and Iraq remains as hard to define and illusive as ever. What would “winning” these wars look like now?
    Adam Schiff, Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
    Thomas Shannon, Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
    Samantha Vinograd, Former Director for Iraq, National Security Council
    Juan Zarate, Former Deputy National Security Advisor for Combatting Terrorism
    Moderator: Kim Dozier, Contributing Writer, The Daily Beast
  • Southern Discomfort
    Thanks to the autocratic Maduro regime, Venezuela is in political and economic free fall, with thousands of its citizens fleeing to other countries in the region and threatening to destabilize them. Autocracy is ascendant in Honduras as well. The once regional powerhouse, Brazil, has been consumed by a crippling corruption crisis for years. And, Mexico continues to be plagued by political and economic corruption and drug-fueled violence. Meanwhile, US immigration policies are alienating our long-time friends and partners, and China is making inroads where we have long dominated. Can we get US-Latin American relations back on track?Sergio Silva do Amaral, Ambassador of Brazil to the United States
    Cynthia Arnson, Director, Latin American Program, The Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars
    Roberta Jacobson, Former Ambassador of the United States to Mexico
    Nestor Mendez, Assistant Secretary General, Organization of American States
    Moderator: Enrique Acevedo, News Anchor, Univision
  • And the Army Goes Rolling Along
    The Secretary details the steps he is taking to keep the Army on top of its game in the fight to secure the land of the free and the home of the brave.
    Mark Esper, Secretary of the Army
    Moderator: Catherine Herridge, Chief Intelligence Correspondent, Fox News
  • The “New” Mideast and Regional Counterterrorism
    Led by a dynamic new Crown Prince, Saudi Arabia is modernizing its society, diversifying its economy, and moderating its version of Islam. It is also asserting itself militarily in the region to an unprecedented degree, with the Yemeni campaign the most notable example. Meanwhile, in Egypt, the once ascendant Muslim Brotherhood has been suppressed, and President Sisi is cracking down hard on militants in the Sinai. ISIS has lost nearly all of its territory but remains a serious threat to the region and the international community, and its defeat is a prerequisite to a viable political solution in Syria. Arab nations are making common cause with Israel in attempting to counter Iranian regional adventurism. In short, like the desert sands, old alliances, enmities, and aspirations are shifting. What are the implications for regional counterterrorism?
    Edward Price, Director of Policy and Communications at National Security Action
    Nathan Sales, Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism, US State Department
    Moderator: Dina Temple-Raston, Counterterrorism Correspondent, NPR
  • Peace on the Peninsula?
    Is peace at hand on the Korean Peninsula? Denuclearization and reunification, miraculously, now seem possible. Is this prospect real or a mirage?
    Vincent Brooks, Commander, United States Forces Korea; Commander, United Nations Command; Commander, ROK-US Combined Forces Command
  • Countering Threats Old and New
    US Cyber Command recently became the Department of Defense’s 10th Unified Combatant Command, reflecting the imperative to counter the increased cybersecurity threats from across the globe. How will the men and women of US Cyber Command meet the challenges presented by this brave new world of warfare?
    Paul Nakasone, Commander, US Cyber Command; Director, National Security Agency
    Moderator: Gordon Corera, Security Correspondent, BBC News

2017 Aspen Security Forum Transcripts

  • Securing the Homeland in the Post-Post 9/11 Era (PDF):
    Nearly two decades have passed since 9/11, and today’s terrorist threat environment is much more complicated and menacing than that posed by Al Qaeda back then. The new Secretary of Homeland Security explains how he is grappling with the challenge and the Trump administration’s plans for meeting it.
    John Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security
    Moderator: Pete Williams, Justice Correspondent, NBC News
  • Active Measures: The Kremlin Plan to Beat the West without Firing a Shot (PDF):
    President Trump maintains that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election. Was Vladimir Putin one of them? If so, beyond influencing the American election, is Russia working to undermine the entire Western liberal democratic order? If so, what can and should we do about it?
    Peter Clement, Deputy Assistant Director for Europe/Eurasia, Central Intelligence Agency
    Evelyn Farkas, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia
    Julia Ioffe, Columnist, The Atlantic
    Moderator: Jim Sciutto, Chief National Security Correspondent, CNN
  • Is NATO up to the Challenge of the New World Order? (PDF):
    The Kremlin has never been more aggressive and overt about its aim to undermine NATO. At the same time, there are other epic challenges – terrorism, cyber threats, the war without end in Afghanistan, and the parallel threat to the European Union – to name only a few. Is an alliance that has been the bedrock of the international order for 70 years capable of rising to the challenges that beset it on every side?
    Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration
    Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven, Assistant Secretary-General for Intelligence and Security, NATO
    Piotr Wilczek, Ambassador of Poland to the United States
    Peter Wittig, Ambassador of Germany to the United States
    Moderator: Gordon Corera, Security Correspondent, BBC
  • War by Other Means (PDF):
    From the Stuxnet attack on Iran’s nuclear program, to the North Korean attack on Sony, to the latest attack on multiple countries spanning the globe, nation state-led cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure is the new form of asymmetrical warfare. The panel will discuss the intricacies of this brave new world.
    Jeff Greene, Senior Director, Global Government Affairs and Policy, Symantec
    Bob Griffin, CEO, Ayasdi
    Joshua Skule, Executive Assistant Director for Intelligence, Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Clint Watts, Senior Fellow, George Washington University Center for Cyber & Homeland Security
    Moderator: Shane Harris, Senior National Security Writer, The Wall Street Journal
  • The View from Langley (PDF):
    The new CIA Director has his work cut out for him. Contrary to its depiction in spy novels, intelligence is more of an art than a science. So, advising policymakers on national security threats is not easy under the best of circumstances – let alone with the multiple threats we currently face. It is even harder when there are crises on every side. Director Pompeo explains how he is meeting the unique challenges he faces in his new role.
    Mike Pompeo, Director, Central Intelligence Agency
    Moderator: Bret Stephens, Columnist, The New York Times
  • No Room for Error: Advising the President on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (PDF):
    Ever since 9/11, homeland security and counterterrorism professionals have been kept up at night by knowing that the odds against us are overwhelming. They have to “get it right” day in and day out; terrorists need to succeed only once and the consequences of even one strike can be devastating. The new Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser explains how he wrestles with this elemental struggle.
    Thomas Bossert, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
    Moderator: David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent, The New York Times
  • Under Assault (PDF):
    Two former top leaders in the US intelligence community assess today’s top external and internal threats to national security.
    John Brennan, Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency
    James Clapper, Former Director of National Intelligence
    Moderator: Wolf Blitzer, Anchor, The Situation Room, CNN
  • At the Helm of the Intelligence Community (PDF):
    The Director of National Intelligence weighs in on the national security events and intelligence challenges of the day.
    Daniel Coats, Director of National Intelligence
    Moderator: Lester Holt, Anchor, NBC Nightly News
  • SOCOM: Policing the World (PDF):
    While this Administration’s approach to foreign crises mostly differs from that of its predecessor, there is at least one conspicuous exception, a heavy reliance on Special Operations Forces. Their commander explains the role SOCOM and SOF perennially play in responding to flash points around the globe and building partner-nation capacity to provide for their own defense.
    Raymond “Tony” Thomas, Commander, US Special Operations Command
    Moderator: Catherine Herridge, Chief Intelligence Correspondent, Fox News
  • Tank Talk (PDF):
    The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs explains our current strategy and how our armed forces will carry it out in the years ahead.
    Joseph Dunford, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
    Moderator: Andrea Mitchell, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, NBC News

2016 Aspen Security Forum Transcripts

  • A Chat with the Secretary (PDF):
    In his final months in office, the Secretary of Homeland Security gives us his assessment of the state
    of the nation’s security.
    Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security
    Moderator: Thom Shanker, Assistant Washington Editor, The New York Times
  • Central Command: At the Center of the Action (PDF):
    The new CENTCOM Commander surveys the Mideast battlefield.
    Joseph Votel, Commander, United States Central Command
    Moderator: Richard Engel, Chief Foreign Correspondent, NBC News
  • Directing National Intelligence (PDF):
    One year after his debut at the Aspen Security Forum, the global threat environment facing the United States is even more complicated, murky, and dangerous. What further challenges, and potential opportunitieJohn Allens, does the DNI see ahead?
    James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence
    Moderator: Jim Sciutto, Chief National Security Correspondent, CNN
  • A Candid Conversation with the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (PDF):
    In a rare interview and his debut appearance in Aspen, the CIA Director surveys the global security scene and tells how he sees it.
    John Brennan, Director, Central Intelligence Agency
    Moderator: Dina Temple-Raston, Counterterrorism Correspondent, NPR
  • The View from the West Wing (PDF):
    President Obama’s chief counterterrorism and homeland security advisor shares a view from inside the White House on the evolving threat posed by terrorist groups and violent extremism, as well as how the Administration leverages all elements of national power to address that threat.
    Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
    Moderator: Walter Isaacson, President and CEO, The Aspen Institute
  • The Russian Bear on the Prowl (PDF):
    Putin continues to taunt the US and Europe at every turn by testing NATO’s resolve, propping up Assad, provoking Ukraine, and even doing what he can to further complicate the migrant crisis.
    Heather Conley, Senior Vice President for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic; Director, Europe Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
    Elissa Slotkin, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
    Moderator: Massimo Calabresi, Deputy Washington Bureau Chief and Senior Correspondent, Time Magazine
  • Africa: The Next Hotbed of Terrorism (PDF):
    From ISIL and Al Qaeda in Libya and Mali, to Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroon, to Al Shabab in Somalia and Kenya, has the long suffering, but recently promising, continent become the latest breeding ground for terrorism?
    Jennifer Cooke, Director, Africa Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
    Carter Ham, President, Association of the US Army Cyril Sartor, Deputy Assistant Director for Africa, Central Intelligence Agency
    Moderator: Eric Schmitt, National Security Correspondent, The New York Times
  • The Great Mideast Crackup: The Inevitable Comes to Pass (PDF):
    For decades analysts have predicted that the Mideast would eventually be rent asunder by pent-up resistance to the lack of political, civil, and economic opportunity; sectarianism; and the contradiction between the modernizing effects of globalization and religious and cultural fundamentalism. From Egypt to Yemen and in between, we are seeing the crackup before our eyes. Meanwhile, after depending on the United States for their security since time immemorial, in the wake of our indecision in Syria and the nuclear deal with Iran, the Saudis and other traditional American partners in the Gulf are going their own way. What comes next, for the region and for our relationships there?
    Lukman Faily, Ambassador of Iraq to the United States
    Shibley Telhami, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, University of Maryland
    Moderator: Peter Bergen, National Security Analyst, CNN
  • ISIL and Al-Queda: Lethal One Upmanship (PDF):
    ISIL and Al Qaeda, and their various affiliates and offshoots, are vying to be the biggest and baddest terror groups on the world stage. What does this deadly competition for global primacy portend?
    Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL
    Nick Rasmussen, Director, National Counterterrorism Center
    Moderator: David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent, The New York Times
  • Europe in Crisis (PDF):
    The migration crisis is reshaping the face of Europe, literally, and it poses a grave security challenge to the continent, the region, and the world. What more can be done to address this problem of near Biblical dimension? And, what has the crisis, and other political, economic, and military shocks, affected the decades-long project of European integration, and what are the security implications of those effects.
    Gilles de Kerchove, Counterterrorism Coordinator, European Union Marie Harf, Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Strategic Communications, Department of State
    Peter Westmacott, Former Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the United States
    Peter Wittig, Ambassador of Germany to the United States
    Moderator: Michael Crowley, Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent, POLITICO
  • Cyber’s Role in America’s Security Arsenal (PDF):
    What role should cyber tools play in securing the nation, both offensively and defensively?
    John Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security
    Michael Daly, Chief Technology Officer, Cybersecurity and Special Missions, Raytheon
    Steve Grobman, Chief Technology Officer, Intel Security Group
    Vinny Sica, Vice President, Defense and Intelligence Space Ground Solutions, Lockheed Martin Moderator: Evan Perez, Justice Correspondent, CNN
  • War Without End: Counterterrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan (PDF):
    As President Obama exits the White House, the Taliban are recapturing territory and carrying out terror attacks even in the heart of Kabul. Pakistan remains a refuge for both the Taliban and Al Qaeda, even while professing to be our partner in fighting terrorism. What can the next Administration do to turn things around?
    Ryan Crocker, Dean and Executive Professor, George Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University; Former Ambassador of the United States to Afghanistan
    Hamdullah Mohib, Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States
    Rizwan Sheikh, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, DC
    Moderator: Kim Dozier, Contributing Writer, The Daily Beast; Global Analyst, CNN
  • The New Normal? (PDF):
    Paris, San Bernardino, and Brussels—are these kinds of attacks (relatively frequent attacks carried out by relatively small cells and on soft targets) the “new normal?” Our increasing ability to prevent catastrophic 9/11-scale attacks may make less lethal but still devastating attacks even more likely than ever.
    William Bratton, Commissioner, New York City Police Department
    Robert Griffin, General Manager, Safer Planet, IBM Analytics
    Peter Neffenger, Administrator, Transportation Security Administration
    Michael Steinbach, Executive Assistant Director, National Security Branch, Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Moderator: Shane Harris, Senior Intelligence and National Security Correspondent, The Daily Beast
  • Pacta Sunt Servanda (PDF):
    Now that the nuclear deal is done, will Tehran uphold its end of the bargain? And, will the agreement lead to Iran’s reintegration into the international community or will it continue to be a state sponsor of terror and a regional sectarian provocateur?
    Frank Klotz, Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security; Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration
    Cliff Kupchan, Chairman and Eurasia Practice Head, Eurasia Group
    Bernadette Meehan, Former Spokesperson, National Security Council
    Danielle Pletka, Senior Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy, American Enterprise Institute
    Moderator: Margaret Warner, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, PBS NewsHour
  • From Pyongyang to Brussels—Frying Pan to Fire? (PDF):
    The new Commander of European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, formerly Commander of United States Forces Korea, discusses the arguably even greater challenges now facing him in Brussels.
    Curtis Scaparrotti, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO; Commander, United States European Command
    Moderator: David Ignatius, Columnist and Associate Editor, The Washington Post
  • Countering Violent Extremism (PDF):
    What turns a young man or woman into a terrorist? What are the drivers? What are the triggers? What are the warning signs? And, how can violent extremism be countered?
    Monika Bickert, Head of Global Policy Management, Facebook
    Ed Royce, Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs; US Representative (R-CA)
    George Selim, Director, Office for Community Partnerships, Department of Homeland Security Jessica Stern, Fellow, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health; Co-Author, ISIS: The State of Terror
    Moderator: Noah Shachtman, Executive Editor, The Daily Beast
  • Seeing Around Corners: The Intelligence Professional’s Challenge (PDF)
    Four intelligence professionals grapple with the perennial puzzle of the “unknown unknowns.”
    S. Leslie Ireland, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Intelligence and Analysis
    John Scarlett, Former Chief, Secret Intelligence Service, United Kingdom
    Gregory Treverton, Chairman, National Intelligence Council
    Moderator: Brian Bennett, National Security and Intelligence Reporter, Los Angeles Times
  • Intelligence-Led Cyber Security: Operating Globally While Balancing Risk and Speed (PDF):
    The panelists cover issues relating to people, process, and technology from their respective private and public sector perspectives.
    Jay Healey, Senior Research Scholar, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University; Nonresident Senior Fellow, Cyber Statecraft Initiative, Atlantic Council
    Sean Roche, Associate Deputy Director for Digital Innovation, Central Intelligence Agency
    Patrick Walsh, Senior Vice President, iSight Partners; General Manager, ThreatSPACE
    Moderator: Ryan Lizza, Washington Correspondent, The New Yorker
  • Congress and the War on Terror (PDF):
    How do various leaders on Capitol Hill view the war on terrorism? How do they grade the outgoing Administration? With no progress on a revised authorizing resolution, how do they grade themselves? And what policies should the next Administration pursue?
    Mike Rogers, Former Chairman, House Intelligence Committee
    Adam Schiff, Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; US Representative (D-CA)
    Moderator: Greg Miller, National Security Correspondent, The Washington Post
  • The Security State (PDF):
    Can—and should—GITMO finally be closed? Can—and should—terrorists be tried here at home and in civilian courts? What obligations do private companies, and private citizens have to provide support to the government in its efforts to combat terrorism? Should victims of terrorism be able to sue nations, even U.S allies, they believe to be complicit? Have we gotten the balance between security and liberty right? And, are we overemphasizing a military response to global threats and under emphasizing democracy, human rights, and socio-economic development?
    Karen Greenberg, Director, Center on National Security, Fordham University School of Law
    Elisa Massimino, President and CEO, Human Rights First
    John Negroponte, Former Director of National Intelligence
    Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Contributor, Defense One; Author, Ashley’s War
    Moderator: Ken Dilanian, Intelligence and National Security Reporter, NBC News
  • Peril on the 38th Parallel (PDF):
    North Korea continues its underground nuclear tests, and there are indications that it has succeeded in miniaturizing a nuclear warhead. Sanctions and threats have seemed only to embolden the volatile young leader in Pyongyang. Can Kim Jong Un be stopped before he turns the peninsula, and the region, into a nuclear wasteland?
    Jane Harman, President, Director, and CEO, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
    Jean H. Lee, Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
    Katharine Moon, SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies and Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; Professor of Political Science and Wasserman Chair of Asian Studies, Wellesley College
    Moderator: Gordon Chang, Columnist, The Daily Beast
  • The Fight for Geopolitical Supremacy in the Asia Pacific (PDF):
    China’s buildup of air and naval capability in the South China Sea shows no signs of abating. If anything, the pace since last summer has accelerated, and the Chinese attitude is more belligerent. Will the economic slowdown, signs of political instability, and US and allied military pushback give China pause or will it double down in the historic race for regional hegemony?
    Jonathan Pollack, Senior Fellow, Center for East Asia Policy Studies, Brookings Institution
    David Shear, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs
    Moderator: Gordon Lubold, Pentagon Reporter, The Wall Street Journal

2016 Aspen Security Forum: Global Transcripts

  • The Complexities of Todays Security Challenges (PDF): The Director of the FBI has said that the Bureau has counterterrorism investigations underway in all 50 states, underscoring the gravity of the “insider” terrorism threat in the United States. Simultaneously, terrorists from abroad, especially “foreign fighters” from among ISIL’s ranks in Iraq/Syria, are seeking to enter Western countries, including the United States, to carry out attacks. Complicating matters further, technology innovation is advancing so quickly that terrorists are leveraging these advancements, making it easier for them to plot and plan undetected by counterterrorism professionals. Director Comey will address the complexity of today’s security challenges and how and the FBI is working both at home and with global partners to confront them.
    James Comey, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States
    Moderator: Brooke Masters, Companies Editor, Financial Times
  • The Nuclear Deal with Iran (PDF): Europe is at a crossroads. As discussed earlier, the continent’s security is being tested by an increasingly aggressive and assertive Russia to a degree not seen since the Cold War. As the attacks in Paris and Brussels underscore, ISIL has Europe in its sights. The civil war in Syria and the establishment there of the capital of the “Islamic State” has spawned a human and economic crisis that has serious political, economic, and social consequences for Europe. And, this is not to mention the continuing economic strains of the Eurozone and the challenges of continued political integration. These Euro-experts will explore the dimensions of these challenges in detail.
    Peter Ammon, Ambassador of Germany to the United Kingdom
    Robin Niblett, Director, Chatham House
    Rob Wainwright, Director, Europol
    Moderator: Matthew Kaminski, Executive Editor, POLITICO Europe
  • The Continuing Struggle for Afghanistan and Indo-Pakistan Relations (PDF) The Long War in Afghanistan continues, more than a decade after the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent American invasion to dislodge the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Yet, in the wake of America’s withdrawal and NATO’s refocus on its core mission of deterring Russian aggression, the Taliban is back with a vengeance. Meanwhile, both the Taliban and Al Qaeda are still active in Pakistan, posing, respectively, a local and global security threat. This session will explore these challenges, as well as the prospect of a further rapprochement between India and Pakistan and the degree to which the Afghanistan/ Pakistan dynamic complicates that rapprochement.
    Sumantra Bose, Professor of International and Comparative Politics, London School of Economics; Author, Transforming India: Challenges to the World’s Largest Democracy
    Michael Clarke, Former Director-General, Royal United Services Institute
    Hina Rabbani Khar, Former Foreign Minister, Pakistan
    Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal, President’s Special Envoy and Ambassador of Afghanistan to Pakistan Moderator: Catherine Herridge, Chief Intelligence Correspondent, Fox News
  • Homeland Insecurity (PDF): In the age of terrorism and Twitter, the “homeland” is inherently unsafe. In free societies, there are unlimited targets, and limited means of foiling plots before it’s too late. Making bad matters still worse, the “viral” nature of social media and the anonymity of the Internet make recruiting terrorists all too easy, and stopping them much, much harder. What, then, are those whose job it is to protect the “homeland” to do?
    Charles Farr, Chairman, Joint Intelligence Council, United Kingdom
    Alejandro Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, United States
    Pauline Neville-Jones, Member, House of Lords; Former National Security Advisor and Minister of State for Security and Counterterrorism, United Kingdom
    Moderator:  Frank Gardner, Security Correspondent, BBC
  • NATO-Russia: Cold War Redux (PDF): Putin’s Russia is acting much like the Soviet Union: invading and annexing its weaker neighbors; probing NATO’s defenses in the air and at sea for vulnerabilities; building up its military; and violating arms control treaties. Are we in a new “Cold War,” and, if so, is the alliance up to the challenge? America’s Ambassador to NATO, a warrior-diplomat, and two veteran Russia watchers, will attempt to divine Russia’s intentions, assess its capabilities, and analyze NATO’s strengths and weaknesses in this time of unsettling uncertainty.
    Samuel Greene, Director, Russia Institute, King’s College London
    Douglas Lute, Permanent Representative of the United States to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
    Roderic Lyne, Deputy Chairman, Chatham House; Former Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Russian Federation
    Moderator: John Gearson, Director, Centre for Defence Studies, King’s College London
  • Countering Violent Extremism: The Security Challenge of our Time (PDF): How does a person become radicalized? Once radicalized, what leads someone from radical thinking to violent action? What works to counter extremism? Three noted experts grapple with these elemental questions that lie at the heart of an effective counterterrorism strategy.
    Richard Barrett, Senior Vice President, The Soufan Group; Former Chairman, United Nations Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force
    Gilles de Kerchove, Counterterrorism Coordinator, European Union
    Mark Simmonds, Chief Operating Officer, Counter-Extremism Project
    Moderator: Ciarán Devane, CEO, British Council
  • Reflections from the Intelligence World (PDF):  President Obama famously dismissed a couple of years ago as a “JV team,” and now it is at the very top of the lengthening list of American, and Western, security concerns. In retrospect, the Administration’s mistranslation of the Russian word for “reset” can be taken as a metaphor for a fundamental misunderstanding of Putin’s intentions and Russia’s capabilities. While the invasion of Iraq in search of WMD is the most infamous, there are numerous examples of “getting it wrong” on fundamental questions of intelligence and, thus, policy. Two noted intelligence experts discuss the challenges facing analysts in today’s ever more complicated security environment.
    John McLaughlin, Former Acting and Deputy Director, Central Intelligence Agency, United States; Distinguished Practitioner in Residence, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
    John Scarlett, Former Chief, Secret Intelligence Service, United Kingdom
    Moderator: Gordon Corera, Security Correspondent, BBC
  • Counterterrorism in the Age of ISIL (PDF): President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron’s top advisors on homeland security and counterterrorism take us inside the Oval Office and 10 Downing Street to give a sense of the advice they give to the Commander-in-Chief and Head of Her Majesty’s Government each day as to the security challenges facing the US, the UK, and the world.
    Paddy McGuinness, Deputy National Security Advisor, United Kingdom
    Lisa Monaco, Deputy National Security Advisor, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, United States
    Moderator Kevin Baron, Executive Editor, Defense One
  • A Conversation with the Defense Secretary (PDF): The Secretary will give us his perspective on how the Strategic Defence and Security Review will inform Britain’s response to security risks, including the terrorist threat from ISIL/Daesh and other groups; the challenges facing NATO ahead of Warsaw, including its relationship with Russia; the geopolitical challenges facing Asia-Pacific; and other issues including cyber security.
    Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence, United Kingdom
    Moderator: James Harding, Director of News and Current Affairs, BBC
  • Cybersecurity: The New Frontier (PDF): Cyber is the new security frontier. There is cyberwarfare, cyberterrorism, cyberespionage, and cybercrime. There are state actors, non-state actors, and “blokes in their basements.” Though cyber threats have been with us for some time, and they are growing in intensity and severity, we still lack clear rules of the road to govern how best to confront them. And, the line between offensive and defensive is blurry. This panel will attempt to make sense of this muddle.
    Stewart Baker, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP; Former Assistant Secretary for Policy, Department of Homeland Security, United States
    Shami Chakrabarti, National Council for Civil Liberties
    Moderator: David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent, The New York Times
  • Defeating ISIL (PDF): The Obama Administration’s Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL and France’s National Intelligence Coordinator discuss the strategy and progress made in degrading and ultimately defeating this global scourge.
    Didier Le Bret, National Intelligence Coordinator, France
    Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, United States
    Moderator: Mark Urban, Diplomatic and Defense Editor, BBC
  • Shadows Across Africa (PDF): From Boko Haram in the West to Al Shabab in East, Africa is plagued by terrorism, endangering not only the continent’s security, but the progress it has made in recent years in terms of political and economic development and social cohesion. This session will explore Africa’s security challenges and the prospects for successfully confronting them.
    Mohamed Abdullah Mohamed, Founder and Secretary-General, Tayo Political Party; Former Prime Minister, Somalia
    Alexander Rondos, Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, European Union
    Moderator: Karin von Hippel, Director-General, Royal United Services Institute
  • The Nuclear Deal with Iran (PDF): Does the nuclear deal with Iran presage a fundamental change in the relationship with the West, with the eventual cessation of support for terrorism and regional meddling as its supporters fervently hope? Or is it a discrete thing that will ultimately only enrich the country and empower it to be more of a security threat in the future, as its detractors predict? This session will discuss and debate this key question with global geopolitical implications.
    Sara Bazoobandi, Associate Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Program, Chatham House
    Peter Westmacott, Former Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the United States; Senior Fellow Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
    Moderator: Deborah Haynes, Defense Editor, The Times of London

2015 Aspen Security Forum Transcripts

  • The View from the White House (PDF): The President’s Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor tells us what keeps her up at night and how she is working to make us all safe.
    Lisa Monaco, Deputy National Security Advisor and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
    Moderator: Mike Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent, Yahoo News
  • A Look into SOCOM (PDF): The Commander of Special Operations Command discusses his unique band of warriors and how they are protecting America’s interests around the world.
    Joseph Votel, Commander, US Special Operations Command
    Moderator: Catherine Herridge, Chief Intelligence Correspondent, Fox News
  • Beyond the Build Leveraging the Cyber Mission Force (PDF): The head of the National Security Agency and Cyber Command discusses cyber warfare, cyber terrorism, and cybercrime, and how we can best defend ourselves against what most experts believe will be the cyber equivalent someday soon of Pearl Harbor.
    Michael Rogers, Director, National Security Agency; Commander, US Cyber Command
    Moderator: David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent, The New York Times
  • Iraq/Syria: Worse Now Than Before? (PDF): This panel will explore ISIL’s rout of security forces and the mess that Syria has now become, pondering the overarching question of whether the admittedly brutal stability of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq and the pre- revolutionary Assad regime in Syria were more in line with American interests and whether, as a consequence, the best outcome now is as close to the status quo ante as possible.
    John Allen, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL; Former Commander, International Security Assistance Force and US Forces Afghanistan
    Lukman Faily, Ambassador of Iraq to the US
    Daniel Glaser, Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing, Department of the Treasury
    Moderator: Eric Schmitt, Senior Correspondent, The New York Times
  • Law and Order: How will the Lynch Justice Department Confront the Terror Threat (PDF): There’s a new Attorney General in town, and she has her own set of priorities for the Administration’s remaining time in office. In this session, Attorney General Lynch will outline those priorities, with a particular focus on what she sees as Justice’s role in the proverbial “war on terrorism.”
    Loretta Lynch, US Attorney General
    Moderator: Andrea Mitchell, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, NBC News
  • Herding Cats: Synthesizing the Intelligence Community (PDF): More than a decade after its creation, the Director of National Intelligence gives an accounting of ODNI’s progress to date and the work that remains to be done.
    James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence
    Moderator: Andrea Mitchell, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, NBC News
  • Homeland Security in the Age of ISIL (PDF): Just when we thought that Al Qaeda was all but defeated, ISIL has risen to take its place. And, this terror organization is so brutal that even Al Qaeda has distanced itself from it. In this session, the Homeland Security Secretary will explain DHS’ role in combating ISIL.
    Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security
    Moderator: Ryan Lizza, Washington Correspondent, The New Yorker
  • The Complexity of Today’s Global Threat Environment (PDF): In this session, FBI Director Jim Comey will assess the diverse range of threats to the U.S. homeland and share his strategy for countering them.
    James Comey, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Moderator: Wolf Blitzer, Anchor, “The Situation Room,” CNN

2014 Aspen Security Forum Transcripts

  • “This We’ll Defend” The Army’s Role in Defending the Nation Against Today’s Security and Fiscal Challenges (PDF): The Chief of Staff surveys the foreboding global scene and explains how the Army can rise to meet the threats facing us, despite fewer troops and less money.
    Gen. Ray Odierno, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army
    MODERATOR: David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent, The New York Times
  • Bringing into Balance the Military Instrument of Power (PDF): The President famously said at this summer’s West Point commencement that “U.S. military action cannot be the only or even primary component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.” With a war-weary public and a declining military budget, but no end of security threats from one end of the globe to the other, what should be the military’s role in countering these threats?
    Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Department of Defense
    MODERATOR: Lesley Stahl, Correspondent, “60 Minutes,” CBS News
  • Assessing the Department of Homeland Security (PDF): Are we safer today than we were when DHS was created more than a decade ago? What progress has it made? What more must it do to secure the homeland?
    Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security
    MODERATOR: Dina Temple-Raston, Counterterrorism Correspondent, NPR
  • The Global Threat Picture as the Defense Intelligence Agency Sees It (PDF): The Director of the Pentagon’s intelligence agency gives us his take on the security challenges of the day and a preview of those to come.
    Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency
    MODERATOR: Evan Perez, Justice and National Security Reporter, CNN

2013 Aspen Security Forum Transcripts

  • Counterterrorism, National Security, and the Rule of Law (PDF): The tension between a free press and national security. The tension between security and liberty. The tension between our values and our security needs. The tension between what the law demands and what the national defense requires. These and other “tensions” will be explored in this session with past and present combatants in these perennial struggles.
    Raj De, General Counsel, National Security Agency
    Neil MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia
    Anthony Romero, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union
    Jeh Charles Johnson, Former General Counsel, Department of Defense; Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, & Garrison
    Jane Harman, Director, President, and CEO, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
    MODERATOR: Mike Isikoff, National Investigative Correspondent, NBC News
  • Clear and Present Danger: Cyber-Crime; Cyber-Espionage; Cyber-Terror; and Cyber-War (PDF): The nation’s point man on cyber threats, National Security Agency Director and the Pentagon’s Cyber Command Commander General Keith Alexander will discuss cyber-threats and the steps being taken to combat them.
    Gen. Keith Alexander, Director, National Security Agency; Commander, U.S. Cyber Command
    MODERATOR: Pete Williams, Chief Justice Correspondent, NBC News

2012 Aspen Security Forum Transcripts

  • At the Point of the Spear: The Role of Special Operations Forces in America’s Post-9/11, Post-Iraq/Afghanistan Defense Strategy (PDF): The commander of the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command will discuss the ever expanding role of “SOCOM” in counterterrorism operations around the world, and the outsized role Special Operations Forces are now playing within the Pentagon, in partnership with the intelligence community, in defending the nation and protecting our global security interests. With the end of the war in Iraq, and the ending of the war in Afghanistan, not to mention the present budget crisis, the era of huge deployments of invading troops appears to be over, at  least for the foreseeable future. SOCOM is now front and center within America’s national security establishment, and this session will explore the ramifications and implications for America’s security post-9/11 decade and beyond.
    Adm. William McRaven, Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command
    MODERATOR: Wolf Blitzer, Anchor, “The Situation Room,” CNN
  • American Wars and Foreign Policy – Iraq (PDF): The long war in Iraq is finally over, at a huge cost in blood and treasure. Was it worth it?
    Christopher Hill, Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq
    Jabir Habeb Jabir. Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq to the U.S.
    Paul Wolfowitz, Former Deputy Secretary, Department of Defense
    MODERATOR: Kim Dozier, Intelligence and Counterterrorism Correspondent, The Associated Press
  • American Wars and Foreign Policy – Afghanistan and Pakistan (PDF): The still longer war in Afghanistan is ending, at an even bigger cost in blood and treasure. At the end of the day, will it have been worth it? And, as for Pakistan, is it friend or foe?
    Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan
    Eklil Hakimi, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the U.S.
    Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, Special Assistant to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan
    Sherry Rehman, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the U.S.
    MODERATOR: Steve Kroft, Correspondent, “60 Minutes,” CBS News
  • Securing the Nation’s Largest City (PDF): As Mayor Bloomberg has often said, when you catch a terrorist, he always has a map of New York City in his pocket. New York is, and will likely always be, at the very top of terrorists’ target list. How does Ray Kelly manage to keep New York City safe?
    Raymond Kelly, Commissioner, New York Police Department
    MODERATOR: Walter Isaacson, President and CEO, The Aspen Institute

2010 Aspen Security Forum Transcripts