tv After Words Nada Bakos The Targeter CSPAN June 23, 2019 9:01pm-9:57pm EDT
[applause] >> book tv continues now on c-span2. television for serious readers. >> next on book tvs afterwards, former cia intelligence analyst looks at the inner workings of the agency. she is interviewed by democratic representative, andre carson of indiana, a member of the house intelligence committee. afterwards is a weekly interview program with relevant guest hosts interviewing top nonfiction authors about their latest work.
>> welcome, welcome, finally, you have launched a book, an exciting book, you have been on tv for the past several years, you have inspired movies, you are a rock star. >> actually i have not inspired any movie. >> there have been characters created around the work that you and some remarkable women have put in. >> some other woman. >> it's phenomenal. you are breaking glass ceilings. >> there were predecessors before me who did a lot of that work, when i joined the agency there were not a lot of women in the operations field in that position. >> walk us through what inspired you to write the book in tell us the mission. >> so, i joined as an analyst on the di side, or ei sign.
really my intent when i was joining was to have a job wreck work overseas. >> i have always wanted to travel. i wanted to see other languages and cultures and i got lucky and they called and i got in in a completely different role. so, by the time i became a targeting officer i had been there for a little while and the job that i took at the time was in the operation side. >> now, tell us about the role that you initially took on. >> the first job i actually had was a role in hr and organizational development. i was hoping the operational side allocate resources and try to understand how they could best structure and modernize their workforce. >> were those skills transferable? >> well, that was not how i started my whole academic and
professional career. i just ended up there. my academic background was in economics. >> you are from montana originally. so, did you always want to grow up and be an intel? you could have joined the circus, a rock band, why the cia of all places? >> i we might've been a have backups here but i don't have the vocal. >> i really didn't focus on the cia. when i was younger i thought about law enforcement. but, i was focusing on living overseas. i happen to see an ad in the economist and i was in my late 20s and i went ahead and applied and got a phone call. >> that is awesome. now, have the background in economics, you had a global world of you i am assuming. you wanted to be part of the global conversation so when you came to the agency were you
disappointed when you got there? were you surprised that some things? what did you expect? did you expect to be jumping out of a building? >> because i was under the illusions of hollywood i didn't have expectations. i have been in the workforce long enough, i had turned 30 i knew most institutions just had a bureaucracy you had to deal with, everyday people walking around in every building. i wasn't expecting -- >> tell us about the culture of the agency. >> it is pretty diverse. you have to be able to blend into other countries. it attracts people who are interested in global positions and living internationally and people who are mindful of other cultures. if you are moving through another country and are disrespectful you draw attention
to yourself. >> tell us about the minds of the people you were supposed to track. you think these folks start off with this mission or they become radicalized over time? what kind of rationality they set within themselves to justify their actions? >> thankfully there have been a lot of studies at this.about extremism regardless of what kind of extremism. there is a spectrum of why people join organizations. not everyone who joins an extremist idealization become extremists. the united states has a long way to go to reflect on what is happening internally. as far as that idolized ideology goes it seems like every area is unique in that. >> your hunting terrorists, what was the conrod re- like did it become the official squad or did you bond together because of a
male predominated mystery. >> when i joined as a analyst it was really based on skill set and if you can write a brief a policymaker the gender inequality was really more on the operations side. so,. >> the distinction is, the analyst on the analytic world, their job is to digest all the information coming in whether from our operation officer, other intel agencies or technical collection, they're taking in that information, digesting it, pulling out pieces and then write products or give briefings to policymakers. that's what you think of when you see hollywood but it's never that sexy.
>> i can tell you during my time in the department of homeland security the analyst did the bulk of the work and we have analyst from the fbi and other agencies there and this was at the beginning of facebook and myspace. a lot of folks were creating fake profiles but the best analyst there was this distinctive thing to anticipate movement and action and create profiles is so fascinating. you think women are unique in this regard in terms of anticipating human behavior and being able to be leaders with regard to men relying but you talk about gender equity but in the law enforcement and intelligence space women have yet to give their fair due
because of the decades of discrimination. >> normally i push back on that narrative a little bit. just think regardless of either gender you can be good at a job and your skill set is unique to the individual but i do think that there has been studies that women who the emotional maturity tends to be a little bit further ahead. but we all have different skill sets. the women that started out in the terrorism center, that units they were doing that job because it wasn't sexy work. they were not being rewarded for that before 9/11. it was hard and arduous and detail oriented and i think that's why they were just okay without having that sexy
position. >> there have historically, and i know the cia has recently changed the small allowing analyst in officers or agents on the fbi side to train together at least for the initial few weeks, is that a good idea? >> i think it is a good idea. i think it is useful for all agencies to understand what each other does. i think it's useful to be able to share in the lessons learned. the cia has spent a lot of time and energy into developing their schools and all their training programs. i did work with law enforcement and there is a huge distinction between cia and law enforcement. i worked on a joint terrorism task force for a while cia is charged with analyzing information on foreigners and
also charged with conducting operations overseas that had to deal with foreign entities. what they don't do is arrest people or as you know collect information on u.s. citizens or u.s. persons so, there is a huge distinction where law enforcement is about upholding the rule of law and cia is focused on spying on other countries and i guess they could say there like the opposite. >> one is tasked with enforcing the law the others tasks with breaking the law. >> having said that, there has been some controversy some feel like that should be a responsibility slowly given to the military.
>> i think the agency does a great job i think that's where cia shines. they understand the analysis and have been under collecting this so it's a finely tuned program and a sense of they understand how to lessen the collateral target. i don't know who needs to own the program itself. i don't have a great and clear answer for that. i just know that each agency is good at one or two things and i think we need to be focused on who is best to carry out the mission. >> i bring that up partly because everyone knows where most people know who osama bin laden is. there is another figure that you had a connection to with your
service, zarqawi. tell us about your experience tracking him. >> so, i was charged initially i was charged with looking at in evaluating whether or not iraq had anything to do with 9/11 and al qaeda. as an analyst we had been writing products and briefing them in the bottom line was iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and al qaeda. there is not a connection there. after the invasion when i became a targeting officer and zarqawi had rose to prominence because he had been attacking targets inside iraq and then eventually joined al qaeda and created al qaeda in iraq, my job was to dismantle the network and leadership. so, it is similar to be in an analyst, but you are operationalizing information. >> a lot of what we do in life
manifests itself in our personal work. you have had some defining moments in your life, you have lost your grandmother, i lost my mom you lost your mom, how does that impact you positively and negatively and how has that shaped you to be that a great person you have become. >> they have had a huge impact in shaping my focus in life. my mom and my grandmother love to travel. they instill that curiosity in me. my grandmother wanted to learn something new but loss and grief is something we don't talk about enough and trying to read books about how do you breathe and it has a huge impact even as an as adults. >> where you most like your
grandma or your mom? >> i am probably most like my grandma. she was strong-willed. >> in your strong-willed. >> how did she express yourself? >> probably more eloquently than me. she was hilarious she had our dry sense of humor and very articulate, great lady. >> and she is from montana. >> she is from montana. first generation. >> tell us about your dad. >> my dad is also from montana. he also is second or third generation farmer that lives in montana. >> did you pick up any skills from the farming experience? >> yes. when you get stuck in a field and a tractor by yourself at 12, you figure out how to fix
things. >> so you got your macgyver skills from your dad, you're a bit of a contrarian and underrated comedian from your grandmother what did you gain from mom. >> from my mom, probably empathy. my mom was a child, a social worker so she was great with kids she was always the person who is hugging you, super annoying. >> one would say how could you be empathetic and work for the cia, it's a contradiction. >> it's not. you can have your own moral compass and work for any organization. you can ask that about people who work for tech companies
because they are often in the news as well. it's up to the individual what is your own moral compass and stick with your own integrity. >> in the book you describe zarqawi is terrorism incapability from pre-iraq all the way up to numerous attacks when actually he was responsible for what happened in iraq. take us through that journey. >> from the beginning of his notoriety he started out as a street kid in jordan and he was getting into trouble, he had criminal convictions, he had been in and out of jail. he ended up in prison with i radicalized -- at the time who basically ended up radicalizing zarqawi initially. that for him was a sense of belonging and sense of purpose
prior to that, his sense of purpose was drinking and doing all the fun stuff he is not supposed to be doing. so, for him, that path that extremist it provided community and mission. as soon as he latched onto that he was totally focused and was starting to galvanize the network since the early 90s. he moved into iraq prior to the invasion. he was co- located in northern iraq with another terrorist organization and he was focused on creating these rudimentary poisons essentially at the time the u.s. government knew he was there they would talk about colin powell's speech he had
what i diverse group but it wasn't this cohesive unit in a hierarchy structure like al qaeda had. >> what lessons can we learn from the war in iraq now that we are talking about going to war with iran in dealing with weapons of mass destruction is a -- aggressive intel, perhaps looking at weapons of mass destruction and really pressure from top political in the bush administration in looking at the intelligence and reporting process. what are some takeaways from the iraq war. >> i think some of the biggest takeaways for members of the public is the question. regardless of if it's an anonymous statement, ask for
receipts. ask for de- classifying reports as much as possible so that we can understand the reasoning in detail behind i also think during that time period perfecting the soundbite to change the narrative really took a huge, huge role in the iraq war and galvanizing that support it's a snowballing effect. they said the same thing over and over on tv it just has an impact this must be the truth regardless of what else is being said. >> we talk about wars in our country, the iraq war vietnam, so many, often times our troops and as a politician if you go to any place and say bring back our troops to get a standing ovation but often times folks are
overlooked you talk about troops suffering from ptsd, how many unsung heroes are there in the intel community that suffer from ptsd and are we doing enough to address that in the real we. >> i think there is probably a lot of people like me who do not realize they had ptsd. it wasn't until i hit rock bottom that i have the understanding of what it was. it's being able to do the everyday normal thing. i didn't realize until we slow down and out of the agency that this is something we have to deal with and we had been dealing with. i don't know how many people it impacts but i'm home being at least acknowledgment is that this will happen and you don't have to be in a war zone but just constantly inundated with
graphic imagery and your role then is to make sure the policymaker understands it or stop that from happening. it has an impact and if we can get ahead of that a little bit we will be much better off. >> it's not just in the war zone and i can relate to that seen it's about maybe the organization and the culture of being vulnerable. i spoke with the cia official the other day. she is a trailblazer and she mentioned that the culture is changing up at where you have this superhero mentality but wraparound schedules are being provided for officers and analysts to be able to seek help and get treatment for it is no longer a bad thing to be open about depression or any other
illnesses. are we doing enough? what should be done. should we look at management? my philosophy is everyone should look for a tyrant at least once if you survive. if you survive maybe you'll become a tyrant but you could also become a more passionate leader. >> i think they can be. i'm relieved to hear that they're focusing on having a wraparound service. there is a huge stigma of even acknowledging that you might need some therapy. and there were people who really felt like they were retaliated against while i was there. just the mere fact that they were in therapy. i'm glad to hear there is an evolution hopefully taking place i hope it's enough but the culture is definitely going to need to embrace this and change and shift the focus of mental
health being such a stigma around therapy and acknowledging you need helps. it's another organ our body. >> is something i am passionate about having a mother who suffered from schizophrenia, i understand how is very tough when you have stressors or you have managers or coworkers and if you are not strong enough and assertive enough you can allow these folks and you are fearful to the.of even seeking help what would you say to anyone considering a career in the cia's? >> it has changed a little since i have been here. i know the competition is fierce. i think about if i would have been applying now there's no way i would get him. i'm listening to grad students talk about what their -- they
are getting cream of the crop at this. >> i mean, i hope it's not all ivy league or we would be missing a whole pool of people who could add value. people that are really focused and driven to participate in national security their goals and languages they are bringing it's incredible. >> you talk about struggling with panic attacks, irritabili irritability. >> so, how long has it taken you and perhaps you're still struggling with some of the
after effects of those panic attacks and then irritability and maybe even the ptsd in a very real sense carried on and how much of that have you carried with you and your new chapters? >> it has certainly changed me going forward. i am a different person today than i was prior to even acknowledging that i had it. >> are you more suspicious of people? >> no. >> i consider it to be pragmatic. some people. >> its years of therapy. it's a lot of hard work really intense at first but there is light at the end of that tunnel and some of those symptoms go away but i think it is forever changing as far as your outlook on life.
things that you appreciate. i appreciate the little things in things every day that i would not have before. >> like what? >> going to starbucks. >> leaving the house, enjoying time with friends, just doing things that maybe it's old age, i don't know. doing things that are much simpler. >> being able to take your phone into a room without having to leave it in a secured area. >> that is nice. >> being able to talk on the phone. >> talk about what i do. >> gossett. >> what did you miss when you are overseas. >> things that normal folks take for granted. >> well, in iraq i missed coffee. >> is at a time when i was first there we were not in an area that had access so i was eating
and marty's and eating sun tea which is but i love coffee. >> we talked about glass ceilings, i can remember a time working at the intel fusion center representing these believes that there is this sentiment among police officers and analysts that the analyst did all the work, the police agencies at least the big ones they took all the credit, it's common it's a common -- particularly you, folks were getting accolades and you're like hello, i'm over here, do you see me. how frustrating must that be? you can sign up to be invisible to some degree but you still need that a girl and that a boy
and you want to be validated for your work and what you do, you want to feel appreciated. how annoying and frustrated that must be. >> the analyst at the cia are at the pointy end of the spear, too. it's a different situation. they are not subject to having tests for case officers to relay information to the agent. they're in charge of their own world which is communicating with the policymaker. they are the ones taking the case officers information in deciding if it goes into the presidents daily brief. i guess there you have some power in some cases they are still struggling with how they fit analyst into how they partner with them or work with them. after working with the joint terrorism task force i can see how these distinctions are operational for law enforcement.
it is very different type of work. >> to still stay in touch with some of your old buddies. >> everyone is scattered, it's difficult to talk, you can't talk openly, you can't discuss what they are doing at work. >> it's incredibly difficult to have a family or relationship, tell us about that dynamic , having coming from a military family and gone to iraq and afghanistan visiting our troops and speaking constituents, they talk about ptsd, a lot of dear john and tear chain letters, what did you see? a similar kind of thing? . . .
and th the state department is d at helping espouses with contracting or the government. >> guest: is very case dependent. in my case there was not anything in the option. my husband worked in technology and part of what he was doing at the time would fail. so he was really walks into do i move and transition into a different role and interrupt my career or do i leave?
so at the end, i ended up quitting my job. that's kind of dynamic creates an imbalance in the relationsh relationship. >> i think it is based on the cold war and even post world war ii paradigm that seems to modernize and i don't have all the answers but i think that there is something that needs to shift. >> guest: it could be great for some relationships. take this to the plaintiff where you are now and where you are
are you going to run for office, or you going to do more consulting or be in instructor? >> if you have an answer for me, i am all ears. i'm still exploring where i can have an impact and that is what drives me. it's hard once you leave to find that mission and fulfillment it's sort of an extraordinary place to work in that sense. >> there are six agencies, picked one. maybe i will just run for offi office. are you going to make an announcement? i would start by running as a representative maybe.
you never know, this is your big break. would you consider being an instructor and have you explored the options? >> guest: i would've needed to finish a phd. the book is exciting. >> host: what do you want people to know about this great piece of work? >> guest: it was the government review process. this book three years to get out because it went into the renewal process and needed to be renewed by other agencies and that isn't necessarily broken. as the chairman of the
subcommittee over counterterrorism and counter proliferation i need with the cia regularly. regularly. if that's something is that somg up? >> guest: this process is broken and it's inner agency steps. they had no way to get it back there are no deadlines in those. they don't have the ability to say we need the date. i had no way of sitting down and talking with anybody for filing a lawsuit so i could get them to the table to discuss what it is we needed to change. >> host: were some details left out and were you still disappointed about this? >> guest: i was able to bring the story around the essence of
it. >> host: we don't want to give the book away but for those that are curious about the target or for netflix and those that want to do a movie based on the target. >> the subtitle is but it's ultimately about. it's those three elements. >> host: why would you even challenge the white house? >> guest: i had a bold chief. our team was as i mentioned before charged with evaluating whether they had anything in al qaeda and the administration was looking for that angle. not everybody was in the administration. we were looking for that angle and regardless how we answer
that question when we answer the analysis, the question kept coming back in different forms and i think it was probably frustrating for some members of the white house and for us it was a lot of work because it didn't matter what he said. >> host: some in the bush administration were set on the scenario, political expedience perhaps. >> host: >> guest: absolutely. there were different shops set up to support the narrative, and i think that our analysis was being put against another that wasn't based on truth and fact so it was pretty difficult and stressful for our team day in and day out tell us about the
dog. >> guest: we adopted him in d dc. he's a rescue dog about 2-years-old. the first thing he did is run up the stairs. so that's in the book. if you want to know how she gets down, you have to buy it. >> host: you still have dogs. >> guest: one is a shepherd which is a breed from turkey and they are very independent and if you want a dog that wants to boss you around, he's grea he id will literally argue with you.
>> host: which one is mom's dog? just a charmer. >> guest: pretty much. i think so because he's super smart. >> host: who is your favorite? you talk about the dynamics in your book. how does it even takes place? >> guest: at a time in iraq separate from military planning, there were different task forces depend on who would lead at the time so they were either based on one task force or branch of the military or another and most
of the time they don't go around those. some case officers will go along but in this case when we first got there it was like a sort of wild west. i ended up on a couple of those because if they had done some of the initial analysis and what was to expect, i was not at all prepared for anything like that. >> host: in chapter seven, you wrote about something that frustrated your work and in fact you call it a backward looking request and these are deviations that seem to be quite prevalent in your work. they took you off course but
take us through that letter and how did it impact the work of your colleagues? >> guest: it was after the letter of the invasion and if was talking about connections between the regime and members of al qaeda. there was a lot of discrepancy that there were so many inaccuracies there was no way that it could be true that our job was to not go in with preconceived bias. we also had the letter in the 80s and if so analyzed by another agency and we were able to use the information that had been validated to refute that.
>> host: i don't want to give too much away but you said something this includes the un bombing which is prominent. you were one of the first to start drawing connections to. how did you make that connection, was it a group effort or how much o of that was driven by the instinct? >> guest: i have a colleague in the book that was helping o out, and that one really stands out to me as one of the incredibly egregious bombings
killing so many people that were inside of ira iraq it was incomprehensible to me that this is going to be his mo and it was an entire team effort. my colleague was in iraq at this time helping piece together the information and i was doing the analysis that ended up turning it into a presidential daily brief to inform the administration. >> host: what goes into a presidential daily briefing? what kind of work goes into that it's important one that is tasked it is a tremendous honor. did you feel honored like they are not going to listen to me? >> guest: for a while the
turnout of the branch was coming out every week, but those are difficult because you are on the cutting edge of what is happening but you are still able to analyze the information and make sure that there is truth to veracity to hold up to questioning and that you are giving very accurate information but it still has to be at the forefront of whatever the issue might be so those are, it is an intense process in front of thousands of people. >> host: i have a sneaking suspicion you have a fascination with turtles. you even name one of the chapters a bucket of turtles. >> guest: some of my titles come from why old boss and if it wasn't for him -- list that you
are inspired by the very popular book that became a movie. >> guest: are you talking about zero dark 30? >> host: you tell us. >> guest: because i was not part of the bin laden process that isn't at all based on me. >> host: but the book of turtles. >> guest: that wasn't either. i'm positive. >> host: i don't want to get you in trouble. >> guest: so, it was a bucket of turtles and my boss would always say life around here is like a bucket of turtles everyone waiting to get to the top, not very well. we had a few frustrating days and that is what i try to portray the book is the realistic walking through what it's like to work there and
incredible and amazing the colleagues you are working with it is just absurd things that happen at the time. >> host: that seems like a very slow process. >> guest: basically. not very effective. >> host: what did you do on your weekends or days off, did you work on a rotating shift? >> guest: in the initial invasion we were on a rotating shift. i went in with a colleague and of those that were going out like the presidents briefing we worked in early shift to do that and after that it was based on the work itself so for a long time we were putting in 12, 13, 14 hour days.
>> host: now you ar you're goink to the cia. >> guest: to make sure you are not stepping on any that were still left around the areas. >> host: but on your off days shortly use you still came intoe office. >> guest: there was no off da day. >> host: why would anyone want that kind of career for themselves after listening to you? >> guest: i think being there especially during the wartime is unique and it doesn't always have that piece tha the peace te before and after 9/11.
it isn't always obviously like that for the united states in general and we don't take these steps likely. if you are at all inquisitive about the world, national security objectives and supporting policymakers it is a fantastic place to work. >> host: how much access is in the military budget? you often hear members of congress talk about cutting back on our military spending. do we need to cut back or are we not spending enough tax >> guest: i think that it's fair to take a really in-depth look at how the military spends. obviously from news articles, more recently the accountability that wasn't happening especially at the time with contractors, that is inexcusable to me there
is the reason they shoul no rear hand over money without the responsibility. i can remember a lot of guys leaving the police department and going to work with the contractors but also at that time there was a lot of resentment among the enlisted folks in the military. they are still getting three square meals a day and they are making like six figures. >> guest: that is problematic and creates an inequity that shouldn't exist and then asking them to do that alongside people who are now making three times as much for semi-similar positions but that can be problematic. they work during the time. code that i was there.
>> host: if you had an opportunity to go back and work for a contractor, would you do if? test coverage depends on the role. >> host: were you ever heartbroken messaging teenagers oversees in uniform? >> guest: u.s. military? absolutely. driving around in seeing these really young marines draped over their humvee trying to get a little bit of sleep. putting th a face on resources t we need to how much, and is it worth if?
should america be the world's police? did he have that kin we have thf responsibility in recorded history people are critical of the cia as it relates to intervening but yet we are critical therefore it was okay or not necessarily okay especially for us there's a distinct difference in how the agency conduct their work. this information campaign engaged in i'm not excusing any things that they have engaged
in, but it's our national security to start with and for us we can't dismiss it if we always said we did this earlier, we would have no national security objectives. >> host: is it true that a lot of countries and leaders criticize us publicly but privately they beg for assistance and help? >> guest: you might know better than i do at this point. do you think there is truth to that? >> host: iem for world peace but keeping people safe can be a muddy business and the boundaries can become hard to determine when you are dealing with countries that practice normalized production who don't
have our core values of some argue we don't have values but i still say that it's important. can we have a broad discussion about the spending and can we have a deeper discussion about our excessive presence globally without question at the end of the day i think it's important to know what other people think because if we are not protecting ourselves, shortly as it is evidenced folks would infiltrate the country an and do it a lot e damage than we have seen. >> host: i wholeheartedly agree and the question on whether or not we should be the world's police the question is what kind of world do we want to live in and what kind of values do we want to support is it's making suritmaking sure we alwae right place or we are going to focus on the tide of humanitarian disasters we have
to figure out what is our priority at this point. it doesn't have to be a single priority just like there's a myriad of national security objectives. >> host: thank you so much. if you want a good read, promote your ow own told them what you t to tell them. >> guest: it's available at your bookstore and amazon, barnes and noble, hopefully it's an entertaining read and i hope a lot of young women choose the path to national security. if you want to read about a real-life captain marvel, go get the story. thank you so much this program is available as a podcast. all programs can be viewed on the website at booktv.org