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Transcript: Bill Priestap talks with Michael Morell on "Intelligence Matters"

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In this episode of "Intelligence Matters," Bill Priestap, the former head of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division, speaks with host Michael Morell about the evolving counterintelligence challenges facing the U.S. Priestap, now a Centennial Fellow with Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service, explains how nation-state adversaries are extending their reach beyond traditional espionage channels to target diplomatic, military, business and academic sectors to collect intelligence on U.S. targets. Priestap explains why the lack of immediacy that is characteristic of "gradual" espionage efforts means some of the damage it can cause is undetected, and tells Morell why the academic sector may be particularly vulnerable to the theft of secrets.

Here are some of the highlights:

On the counterintelligence threat today:

  • "[W]e have a huge bullseye on our back. And if we think for a second that governments in China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, that they wake up in the morning and think, "Isn't it terrific that the U.S. is so prosperous and is the sole superpower?" Well, at least in my experience, that is not what they wake up doing."
  • "[O]bjectives have expanded, the people the nation states utilize has expanded in kind. And so instead of just using spies in the people they recruit, today our adversaries are using people from all walks of life, businessmen and attorneys, scientists, professors, students, journalists, you name it. Whoever might be able to get access to the things the foreign nations want."
  • "[T]his is a new normal that's going to exist for decades and decades. Meaning the threat isn't going away. And if anything, it's likely to only get worse."

On politics at the FBI:

  • "I was there for 21 years. And on not one occasion can I remember somebody's political affiliation coming up in a conversation. People don't ask about others' political affiliation. And people don't advertise what their political affiliation is."

The full transcript is below:


INTELLIGENCE MATTERS - BILL PRIESTAP

CORRESPONDENT: MICHAEL MORELL

PRODUCER: OLIVIA GAZIS, JAMIE BENSON

MICHAEL MORELL:

Bill, welcome to Intelligence Matters. It is great to see you. And it's great to have you on the show.

BILL PRIESTAP:

Thank you for having me on.

MICHAEL MORELL:

I think this is a very important episode, because we're going to talk about a topic about which many people don't have a good understanding. And it's an important topic. And it's the counterintelligence threat to our country. But before we get to that, I want to ask you a few questions about your background and about your career, okay?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Okay.

MICHAEL MORELL:

You spent 21 years at the FBI. How did you end up there?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Actually, Michael, before I answer that, if I may, for your listeners, I just want them to know that you know as much about, or actually you know more about national security than anybody I've ever met. And so it's a real pleasure to be here today and talking to you.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Well, thanks. I would challenge your predicate about me knowing more. But it's great to have you here.

BILL PRIESTAP:

How did I end up at the FBI? I wish I could say I was one of those young people who knew exactly what they wanted to do when they grew up. I was not one of those kids. Instead, the only thing I knew for certain is that I love sports. But I actually--

MICHAEL MORELL:

Where'd you grow up? Where'd you grow up?

BILL PRIESTAP:

I grew up in Michigan.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Okay, you're not a Michigan fan, are you?

BILL PRIESTAP:

I am.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Oh no, Bill. (LAUGH) I'm an Ohio State fan. This is never going to work.

BILL PRIESTAP:

Now that I did not know about you, Michael. (LAUGHTER) I question my judgment on getting on here. But the long and short of it is I wasn't a particularly good athlete. But, again, I so love sports. So what did I do after graduating from college? I went into coaching. And I was a high school and col

lege football coach.

That said, I also wasn't sure that I wanted to spend the rest of my working life in sports. And so I also went back to school. And I earned a law degree and a masters in business. In effect, I was just trying to keep my options open. I was at the University of Michigan with the football program when--

MICHAEL MORELL:

Oh, this is getting (LAUGH) worse actually.

BILL PRIESTAP:

When I met an FBI agent. And the FBI agent absolutely loved his job. And it basically enticed me to start looking into the FBI. And the more I looked into it, the more intrigued I became of it. And the other thing I did is I went to the head football coach, at the time. It was a man by the name of Lloyd Carr.

And I let him know that I was having some second thoughts about making a career in the  

field of athletics. And to my surprise, he encouraged me to pursue the FBI. And I thank him for that to this day. The only thing I'll say though is that the year after I left Michigan, they won the national championship in football. (LAUGH) And so I never got to be a part of that national championship effort. But in the end, I think it all worked out for me.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Can you walk us, Bill, through your career, your initial training, the different issues on which you worked, the responsibilities you had as an officer? As an agent, I guess, is what you guys would call it.

BILL PRIESTAP:

Sure. So let me start with training. I, like all FBI agents, began my career at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. And what do they do there? They teach you how to be an agent. And so I learned all kinds of things from a variety of investigative techniques,

how to interview and interrogate people, how to drive fast and safely, how to shoot a gun, how to collect evidence, so on and so forth, a whole variety of things.

I found the environment just really, really stimulating. I love to learn. And I was being exposed to things that I had no experience in. It's also a pretty secluded place. And they keep you really busy. And so you're able to really focus on why you're there. And, again, just by and large, it was a wonderful learning experience for me. I want to make clear I didn't find it fun at the time. (LAUGH) But when I looked back on it, I find it extremely, extremely valuable.

MICHAEL MORELL:

So your early assignments?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Yep, so I guess I basically break my career into thirds. And the first third of my career was spent on what a lot of people think of as the traditional FBI

investigation. So for me, that was, you know, violent crime and organized crime matters. And my first office was Chicago. And that was a wonderful experience as well, in that I got exposed to a side of society -- if you think of it as the underbelly of society -- that I hadn't really been exposed to thus far. And so I learned an awful lot--

MICHAEL MORELL:

Were you there with Congressman Mike Rogers?

BILL PRIESTAP:

I was not. He was there just before me. But interestingly, he's from my home town. And so I've known him for years and a wonderful man.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Yeah, absolutely.

BILL PRIESTAP:

After 9/11, I was moved over to counterterrorism, along with many, many other FBI personnel. And so the middle third of my career was primarily spent working Al

Qaeda issues. From Chicago, I had gone to FBI headquarters and then on up to New York City where, again, I worked those counterterrorism matters. My first managerial role there, I actually had what they call a taskforce squad. I won't get into the numbers, but it included people from 20-plus different federal, state, and local organizations.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Is this the Joint Terrorism Taskforce?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Yeah, so I had one of the squads on the Joint Terrorism Taskforce. But what it really taught me, it's hard enough to manage and affect your own people, your own organization's people. But boy, when you're having to be responsible for people from a lot of different organizations, let's just say it was a steep learning curve. But, again, another great challenging experience that I look back on very fondly. And then t

he last third of my career is when I got into the counterintelligence field. And I spent my years working that topic both in New York City and in Washington, D.C.

MICHAEL MORELL:

So Bill, how tough is it to get a job at the bureau? Are there many more applicants than there are positions? How difficult?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Let me start off with, it can't be too tough, (LAUGH) because I got in. I don't know exactly what the numbers are, but in things I've read, I've read that somewhere between, like, 5% and 6% of applicants end up getting accepted. So the long and short of it is there's a lot more applicants that apply to the organization than actually get accepted.

MICHAEL MORELL:

And what makes an applicant stand out? What's the difference between a successful applicant and one that's not successful?

BILL PRIESTAP:

No, I thank you for asking that. Because I'm asked that by a variety of young people today who are interested in the organization. And the first thing I tell them is that they have to excel in whatever it is they're doing. So the FBI wants to attract people from all walks of life.

So it isn't that there's one career or background prior to joining the FBI, you know, that the FBI is looking for people or applicants to have. So, again, whatever you choose to do, please do it well. But then secondly, if you have a skill that a lot of other people don't have, you become even more valuable.

So sometimes that's speaking a language, and which again maybe not a lot of others have. Today, of course, a lot of the computer skills that a lot of the young people are developing are so in demand, but that includes in demand from organizations like

the FBI.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Because of cybercrime?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Oh, absolutely. But again, so sometimes they're after specific and unique skills. And that, you know, can be a mathematical skill or scientific skill. It could be a whole variety of things. But the other thing that the FBI is always looking for in applicants is a track record of exercising sound judgment.

And I can remember applying and dealing with the FBI's applicant coordinator. And she was assuring me, you know, that, "Hey, if the FBI only hired perfect people, they wouldn't exist. In other words, there aren't any perfect people." But by and large, have you exercised sound judgment, you know, through your lifetime in effect? And if you've done that, well, you're going to be of interest.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Bill, what would you want people to know about the men and women who work at the FBI?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Well, obviously, I'm no longer a part of the organization. But I can still say I'm immensely proud to have had the opportunity to work with the men and women at the FBI that I worked with. Some of the smartest people that I have ever come across worked at the FBI and helped me on countless matters.

I like to think of my cohorts at the FBI, they're the type of people you'd want as a friend. They're smart. They're trustworthy. They're hardworking. Probably most importantly, they're absolutely dedicated to upholding the FBI's mission, which is to protect the American people and uphold the constitution.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Bill, what would you say to those Americans who think that the FBI is a political

organization serving the partisan interest of one party or another?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Michael, I would just tell them that that was not my experience. I was there for 21 years. And on not one occasion can I remember somebody's political affiliation coming up in a conversation. People don't ask about others' political affiliation. And people don't advertise what their political affiliation is.

And I'd also emphasize that FBI employees take extremely seriously the obligation to be objective collectors of facts. With the key word or one of the key words in that of course meaning "objective." And if your coworkers ever think you're not being objective in a given investigation, operation, what have you, they will call you out in a millisecond. The culture just is not going to tolerate partisanship, period.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Okay, Bill, let's spend the rest of our time talking about the counterintelligence threat. So when you use the words "counterintelligence threat" what do you mean?

BILL PRIESTAP:

What I mean or think of is certain foreign nations' efforts to take advantage of or undermine the U.S. primarily through intelligence or intelligence-like activities.

MICHAEL MORELL:

And talk a little bit more about that. Some examples maybe.

BILL PRIESTAP:

Yeah, so I guess I'd start with that at its core I think of counterintelligence being about nation states jockeying or jostling for influence and power in the world. And so if you think of it is as just kind of an ongoing, never-ending competition amongst nations, certain nations are doing a variety  

of things to try to get a leg up on other nations. And it really runs the gamut of what those activities can be. It can include things like espionage. But it can also include things like economic espionage or malign influence. It's really a whole gamut of activities.

MICHAEL MORELL:

So Bill, I've heard you say that the counterintelligence threat has evolved significantly over time. Walk us through that. What was it historically? What is it now? And why has that evolution occurred?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Sure. So let me start I guess with what a lot of people refer to as the traditional counterintelligence threat. And a lot of people think of that as meaning in effect spy versus spy. One nation's spy is trying to get advantage over a nation. And obviously, the opposite going on as well.

Well, what foreign nations' intelligence

services or spies are after are the non-public intentions, plans, and capabilities of the government that they're focused on. And what they figure is if they can get those non-public intentions, plans, and capabilities and share them with their government, their government will have a leg up on our government on the world stage.

Well, that threat hasn't gone away. And I'd argue it's as prevalent today as it's ever been in our nation's history. But what has happened is foreign nations have decided that, "Hey, for us to get the advantages that we want over the U.S., we just can't rely on our spies, our trained intelligence services, and the people they recruit. We've got to engage in a whole variety of other activities with a whole variety of other people to achieve a whole variety of other objectives."

So let me really quickly start with the objectives. If in the past on the

traditional threat it was about obtaining our state secrets, well, today the goal is again to gain advantage in any way possible. So certainly a military sense, a diplomatic sense, but also an economic sense, a technological sense, a scientific sense, an information space sense. In some cases, even an academic sense.

So the objectives of the adversary have greatly expanded. Well, because the objectives have expanded, the people the nation states utilize has expanded in kind. And so instead of just using spies in the people they recruit, today our adversaries are using people from all walks of life, businessmen and attorneys, scientists, professors, students, journalists, you name it. Whoever might be able to get access to the things the foreign nations want.

And then that broad range of people are engaging in a far broader range of activities then, again, just trying to

obtain our state secrets. And so it's not just traditional espionage that they're engaging in. They're engaging in economic espionage and proliferation activities and malign influence activities and so on and so forth.

MICHAEL MORELL:

So Bill, who are the primary adversaries in this space to the extent that you can talk about it?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Sure. So I agree with what the last couple of DNIs have kind of termed the "big four", which is China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. And they're not the only adversaries, but to me, they're the big ones.

MICHAEL MORELL:

And how has that changed over time?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Oh, I think it's changed and it will continue to change over time. And if you just think back to the Cold War. Now

obviously, I was not in government then, but it was my understanding that an inordinate amount of the United States' intelligence community resources at that time were focused on the Soviet Union, where today, frankly, we don't have the benefit of being able to utilize an inordinate amount of our resources focused on one country. So instead we're focused on a variety of countries.

MICHAEL MORELL:

But you mention Russia, China, Iran, North Korea. Is one of those more worrisome than the other? Is one of those more effective than the other? How do you think about that?

BILL PRIESTAP:

So I guess I think about it this way. They're all really worrisome. But they are worrisome differently, because they excel and focus in different manners. In just one kind of side example, but North Korea, what I've been reading of late, they've really become, like, expert but new age bank ro

bbers, targeting financial institutions to obtain in effect moneys -- and at least some media reports say -- to advance some of their weapon systems.

MICHAEL MORELL:

A lot of ransomware?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Yes.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Cyberattacks?

BILL PRIESTAP:

And like activities. But as a result, it's an area the North Korean government has decided to focus. And they've gotten particularly good at it. Where others might focus more in different areas. And they get very darn good in the areas they're focusing. But please make no mistake, they are all worrisome to me.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Bill, I'd love to have you give us a couple of specific examples of the threats we've be

en talking about. And I know that you can only talk about cases that have been made public through indictment or prosecution. And maybe we could break those examples down into the traditional threat that you talked about. And then maybe the new threat or nontraditional threat. So maybe the first traditional. Would China's hacking of the Office of Personnel Management database fall into that category?

BILL PRIESTAP:

So yes. And it's my understanding that some government officials have alluded to the fact that it's China and the Chinese state apparatus behind that attack. So if we assume that's the case, you have a state actor engaging in an operation, certainly in my mind, to obtain state secrets.

Now in this case, it's not the intentions, plans, and capabilities of the U.S. government. But it was information, personal background information about actually in

some estimates tens of millions of U.S. government employees. And so obviously, that would provide whomever obtained that information an awful lot of insight into U.S. government workers. And I'd argue those are state secrets. So Michael, to answer your question, that absolutely is an example of what I refer to as the traditional counterintelligence threat.

MICHAEL MORELL:

There's also been, I think, three recent arrests of U.S. citizens for spying for China, including a CIA officer. And it seems almost that that's becoming more frequent than our arrests and prosecutions of people spying for Russia. Seems the Chinese are being very aggressive in that area. Is that your sense?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Yeah, I guess I think of it this way. That they're certainly getting more aggressive in that area. And in that, the examples you

just mentioned, that is kind of the textbook definition of the traditional counterintelligence threat. Meaning state intelligence services trying to recruit Americans to provide state secrets to a foreign nation.

MICHAEL MORELL:

So Bill, some examples of the nontraditional. I've heard you talk about a couple of them over the years. And I was hoping you could share a bit about, number one, the charges brought against Iranians in March of 2018 for a widespread hacking campaign.

BILL PRIESTAP:

Yes, so the Department of Justice indicted, if I recall correctly, I think it was around nine Iranian citizens who were affiliated with a company based in Iran. And what these individuals allegedly did, they engaged in a long -- at least months long if not couple years long -- cyber hacking campaign. And th

ey targeted it was upwards of hundred-plus U.S. universities, a hundred-plus universities in tens of foreign countries.

I want to say -- and please don't hold me to these numbers, but -- it was something like 40 U.S. and foreign private-sector, meaning corporations, they targeted as well. They targeted the United Nations. They targeted the Department of Labor. If I recall correctly, they targeted government databases of two U.S. states.

I mean, just wide-ranging cyber targeting. And there was one estimate I read that they obtained I think it was just from the universities alone over 31 terabytes of information that they obtained from the universities, to include as you can imagine gobs of intellectual property, meaning sensitive research that those universities were working on.

It's my understanding that some of the

hacking was done on behalf of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but that not all of that hacking was done for that. And so, to me, it's almost a perfect hybrid example of both their traditional and nontraditional counterintelligence threat.

MICHAEL MORELL:

And then there was in January 2019 multiple charges against Huawei.

BILL PRIESTAP:

Sure. And once again, Department of Justice announced in an indictment in, I know it was early 2019, against Huawei. I don't believe, again, either this case or in the Iranian example those cases have been adjudicated. And so all the information in the indictment, at this time, is simply allegations.

But it's my understanding that at least one of the indictments involving Huawei charged Huawei with I think it was theft of trade secret conspiracy among other things. And

basically it appears that Huawei was trying to obtain trade secrets from T-Mobile USA. And it's actually a fascinating case. I read the indictment when it came out.

And it appears that T-Mobile had this robot that basically tested cellphones and helped improve cellphones before cellphones would be sold to the public. And basically, the robot would detect problems with the cellphone so they could be corrected so that when the phone was sold it was a better product. And then T-Mobile didn't have as many phones returned to it and, of course, saved a lot of money, because fewer customers were returning defective phones.

So the bottom line is that this robot was really valuable technology to T-Mobile. Well, Huawei's a Chinese company. It's the largest telecommunications equipment maker in the world. And one of the things it does, it makes cell phones. So they wanted basically the phone testing robot as well.

So they first tried to legitimately obtain it. They tried to buy it from T-Mobile. T-Mobile wouldn't sell it to them. They then tried to lease it from T-Mobile. T-Mobile wouldn't lease it. Once they knew they couldn't legitimately obtain the technology behind the robot, they engaged in a months-long campaign to steal whatever information they could about the robot, because they wanted to recreate it in China for their use.

They had some access to T-Mobile USA's lab, at least according to the indictment. And so they would surreptitiously take measurements of it, take photographs, send it back to China. But at the end, they still couldn't obtain everything they wanted about this robot.

And so what a Huawei employee did is he truly broke off an arm of the robot. And this robot was located in T-Mobile's lab. He  

breaks off the arm, puts it into his bag, and leaves. (LAUGH) T-Mobile, of course, learned about it a couple hours later--

MICHAEL MORELL:

The arm was missing. (LAUGH)

BILL PRIESTAP:

--and confronted the employee. But by that time, he had gotten it back to wherever he was staying, taking photographs of it, taking measurements of it, sent all that stuff back to China. But, again, just the aggressive, brazen, relentless nature of the theft is concerning.

MICHAEL MORELL:

So Bill, you see the counterintelligence threat as a very serious threat to our nation.

BILL PRIESTAP:

I do.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Why?

BILL PRIESTAP:

I guess it all comes down to I see foreign nations chipping away at the United States on a regular basis. And let me start with saying that I can't quantify the costs to the U.S. associated with this threat. And please keep in mind that economic espionage is just a piece of the overall threat. I've seen U.S. governments that say that economic espionage alone costs the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Annually?

BILL PRIESTAP:

I'm sorry, annually. So if you add economic espionage with all the other things that are going on, again, incalculable damage to the U.S. And what I guess I hope your listeners will keep in mind is that since 1991, when the Soviet Union fell, the U.S. has been the sole superpower on the face of the Earth.

What I'm trying to get at, we have a huge bullseye on our back. And if we think for a

second that governments in China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, that they wake up in the morning and think, "Isn't it terrific that the U.S. is so prosperous and is the sole superpower?" Well, at least in my experience, that is not what they wake up doing. They wake up trying to say, "What can they do to take advantage of undermine us?" What I'm trying to, again, say is we have foreign nations gunning for us and our role in the world every minute of every day.

MICHAEL MORELL:

And you've argued, Bill, that as a society that we have tended to underestimate the counterintelligence threat as, say, compared to terrorism. Why?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Yes. And I believe we do continue to underestimate it. In my mind, it's because of two main reasons. And it's because the threat is nonviolent usually and gradual in nature. And let me start with nonviolent.

Whether it's terrorism or gun violence, but when we as human beings in effect see blood in the streets, see the victims of those activities, as human beings, we have a visceral reaction to that and want to do everything in our power to ensure it doesn't happen again.

For whatever reason, because counterintelligence, again, isn't a violent threat usually, when we hear about it, whether it's in espionage or economic espionage or, again, malign influence, there just isn't that same human reaction, that outcry that, "Boy, we must prevent, you know, these type of things from ever happening again."

And related to that is, again, the gradual nature of it. When someone suffers from an act of violence, there's immediate negative impact. Yet, when somebody suffers from a counterintelligence threat, let's say a foreign adversary steals cutting edge

technology from a U.S. company today, that U.S. company doesn't feel immediate impact.

And it's because the information stolen has to be taken back to a foreign nation. It has to be studied. It has to be understood. And only then can it be utilized. And it has to be utilized slowly, kind of over time. So even if it's used to compete in the open market with the U.S. company it was stolen from, it doesn't immediately cut into that U.S. company's profits. But it doesn't mean long term that it can't cut into those profits in a major, major way. But the long and short of it is the immediacy of impact is not felt. It's a very, very gradual threat.

MICHAEL MORELL:

So Bill, does this mean that we both as a government and as a private sector uninvest in what we need to do to protect ourselves against the counterintelligence threat?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Well, I certainly think we can do more. And that would include spending more. And I often think of this as, like, an addict. Meaning, like how an addict needs to recover, and whether it's alcohol, drugs, and you name it. From what I've read, for an addict to begin to recover, they have to first admit that they have a problem.

And I'm just not convinced that enough people in American society have admitted or acknowledged that we have a grave problem on our hands in regards to the nation state or the counterintelligence threat. But to me, it begins with acknowledging that fact.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Do you think there's enough knowledge of it within the U.S. government? I mean, clearly at the FBI and CIA and the intelligence community people get what you're saying.

BILL PRIESTAP:

I think, Michael, that there's more acknowledgement of the gravity of the threat  

than at any time that I saw in my career. So we're absolutely going in the right direction.

MICHAEL MORELL:

What about in Congress?

BILL PRIESTAP:

In Congress? Absolute acknowledgement.

MICHAEL MORELL:

What about the private sector?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Far greater awareness, in my experience, than there was previously. But still not to the level that needs to be. So think of the larger, the more sophisticated, more complex an organization it is, the greater their understanding. But I worry there's so much innovation coming out of smaller companies, more startup, new companies. And, to me, many of them are not as knowledgeable. Or if they are knowledgeable about it, they're not doing things to take the threat into account.

MICHAEL MORELL:

And do you think that the government has a responsibility to help educate the private sector?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Absolutely. And I know a lot of government components or organizations are already doing that. But there's certainly more that can be done.

MICHAEL MORELL:

In fact, Bill Evanina's group at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is actually very aggressive at this. Bill's an FBI agent.

BILL PRIESTAP:

Yep, exactly, one of the organizations that's doing everything it possibly can to get the word out.

MICHAEL MORELL:

And, Bill, if you were in an auditorium with a group of CEOs and you were talking to them about this, what would you say to them? Cl

early you would talk to them about the threat and the threat to them, right? But what would you tell them they need to do about it? How would you help them think about that?

BILL PRIESTAP:

I guess, first, I'd let them know that this threat isn't some flash in the pan. In other words, this is a new normal that's going to exist for decades and decades. Meaning the threat isn't going away. And if anything, it's likely to only get worse. So first and foremost, they've got to take that into account.

Secondly -- and it's easy for me to sit here and say this, because I'm not in their shoes -- but especially for the big public organizations, you know, that have all the quarterly earnings reports and whatnot, I would try to impress upon them that our competitors, our nation state competitors, and some of the companies that they're

competing with that receive support from the foreign governments. They're making long-term, long-range decisions to try to position their companies for that longer-term success.

And so I'd try to convince our executives that as much as possible, while still trying to abide by all the things they have to do with quarterly reports and earnings and whatnot to really try to plan for and position their organizations for long-term success so that their organizations can continue to succeed even when the CEOs are no longer affiliated. In other words, they've retired with the companies.

MICHAEL MORELL:

What about college presidents? A little bit of a tougher audience in talking to them about the counterintelligence threat?

BILL PRIESTAP:

Yeah, and I'm really glad you ask this. Because I've had a number of questions with

people in academia about this very topic. And there's an esteemed academic -- actually he's retired from academia now, but he's a good friend of mine -- and he told me a long time ago, but his words really stick in my head.

And he said, "Bill, academics, their ethos is to share knowledge for the good of mankind. And so when you're trying to tell them that maybe they shouldn't do that, that can be very, very difficult for them to accept." Well, first, I want to say that people in academia, in my opinion, they have as worthy a profession as there is.

I mean, again, think of the ethos of trying to improve mankind through the sharing of knowledge. But what I'd want them to know is that some of the people they're sharing knowledge with are not using what they're learning for the good of mankind, even if they tell you that they're going to use it for the good of mankind.

And what I'm talking about is when somebody might take knowledge and utilize it to repress their own people or take given research to improve their military and other intelligence capabilities. So again, I love what academics are in business to do, but not everybody approaches it, in my experience, in such a pure way.

MICHAEL MORELL:

Bill, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us. This has been a fantastic conversation. Thank you.

BILL PRIESTAP:

My pleasure. Thank you.

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *

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