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Transcript: Russ Travers talks with Michael Morell on "Intelligence Matters"

INTELLIGENCE MATTERS - RUSS TRAVERS
CORRESPONDENT: MICHAEL MORELL
PRODUCER: OLIVIA GAZIS, JAMIE BENSON

MICHAEL MORELL:
Russ, welcome to the show. It is great to have you on Intelligence Matters.
RUSS TRAVERS:
It's my pleasure, Michael.
MICHAEL MORELL:
So Russ, maybe the place to start is by having you talk a bit about your career in the IC. And how did you find yourself working on terrorism at the end of the day?
RUSS TRAVERS:
Sure. It was a lot of serendipity. I started out as a military intelligence officer in the Army. And I'd always thought I wanted to go to law school. So I took the opportunity when I got out of the service to come up to DC, went to law school at night, and worked at DIA for several years. I spent some time with the National Intelligence Council--
MICHAEL MORELL:
Do you remember what you worked on at DIA?
RUSS TRAVERS:
I was primarily a Soviet analyst.
MICHAEL MORELL:
Okay, as were many people at the time--
RUSS TRAVERS:
Yeah, it was back in that generation, for sure. And at the tail end of my time at DIA, I was working on Soviet perceptions issues, kind of trying to get in the head of what was going on with change in the Soviet Union. So it was really interesting. And then was selected to go to the National Intelligence Council for a couple years. So I spent two years as a deputy NIO. I went back to DIA as sort of the equivalent of a national intelligence officer for the Defense Department. And--
MICHAEL MORELL:
DIOs I think they were called, right--
RUSS TRAVERS:
They were called DIOs, that's right--
MICHAEL MORELL:
Yeah, defense intelligence officers, yeah--
RUSS TRAVERS:
Indeed. And then my hierarchy at DIA thought I needed to get some current intelligence time. So I went down to the J2. And I spent about three years as the senior person down in the joint staff as the deputy in the J2 office. And from there -- my wife was foreign service. So I was looking for an overseas slot. And so--
MICHAEL MORELL:
And J2 is the intelligence--
RUSS TRAVERS:
It is the director for intelligence on the Joint Staff, right. We went to London for two years, from '99 to '01. And then 9/11 happened while we were there. And I got called back to be one of the deputies at DIA. And I had the homeland security account at the time, and spent a couple years doing that.

And then in 2003, when President Bush announced the stand up of the terrorist threat integration center to bring together CIA And FBI, John Brennan headed TTC at the time. He was looking for a defense intelligence SES. And so I raised my hand, because I very firmly believed that the inter-agency approach was the way to go. So I've pretty much spent all my time either bouncing back between NCTC and the White House since then.
MICHAEL MORELL:
Yeah, and at the White House, you were? Remind us.
RUSS TRAVERS:
I had two jobs. One, I worked for John Brennan as the guy that was working on the WikiLeaks issue back in 2010, went back to NCTC, and then went back to the White House as a special assistant to the president doing transnational issues. I was very firmly of the view that we could utilize lessons learned from the counter-terrorism fight for all other transnational issues. And so I tried to expand on that while I was at the White House.
MICHAEL MORELL:
So Russ, what's the role of NCTC? What does it do every day?
RUSS TRAVERS:
Yeah, it's an important question, because when we were formed, there was already a robust counter-terrorism community. And so the way I try to explain it is in the early days, we were working on the tactical shortcomings associated with the 9/11 problem. Why did we miss it? What were the information sharing issues? Why weren't we properly coordinated and integrated across the government? And so that was really the first. For the first several years, we were focused on that.

I think there is actually probably a broader issue. And that is NCTC, I think, will prove to be the first foray into how the government deals with the downsides of globalization. And so we're really fleshing that out as we work through the counter-terrorism effort, because these problems straddle foreign and domestic.

They don't lend themselves to any one department or agency within the government. And so as a result, NCTC serves that. We straddle the foreign and domestic. And therefore, we support both FBI and CIA. And we draw from information across the entirety of the government. So we have broader authorities than anybody in terms of accessing information.
MICHAEL MORELL:
Russ, perhaps we can dig into the current terrorist threat picture facing the United States and our allies. And maybe the place to start, because it's in the news, is Iran. Can we talk a little bit about Iran and terrorism? Is it a state sponsor of terror? Do you consider the attacks on commercial ships that we've seen acts of terror? How do you think about Iran?
RUSS TRAVERS:
Yeah, there's no question in our mind that Iran is the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism. And the Quds Force, as you may have seen, was designated as a foreign terrorist organization. And the way they will use the Shia militia groups to attack, whether it's political or military targets around the Middle East, is a matter of tremendous concern to us. And so we certainly do view those as state-sponsored terrorism.
MICHAEL MORELL:
And they have a long history?
RUSS TRAVERS:
They do indeed. Decades--
MICHAEL MORELL:
In this area?
RUSS TRAVERS:
Yeah.
MICHAEL MORELL:
Secretary Pompeo has said that the Iranians were responsible for recent attack in Kabul that injured four US servicemen. Is that the way you see that attack?
RUSS TRAVERS:
It is. We can't go very far into that. But yes, we do believe that the Iranians are pretty far afield. And they are, in fact, coordinating many nefarious activities around that area.
MICHAEL MORELL:
And why, at the end of the day, would the Iranians – I think I know the answer to this. But why would the Iranians want to support a Sunni group, the Taliban, right, when they're Shia? Why would they want to do that?
RUSS TRAVERS:
Anything they can do to poke a stick in the United States' eye is something that they're going to do. They want us out of the area. They want to be the hegemony in the area. And we are a counterweight to that.
MICHAEL MORELL:
And then maybe the most important Iranian terrorist link is Hezbollah. Could you talk a little bit about Hezbollah, the threat it poses, not only in the region but more globally?
RUSS TRAVERS:
Effectively the same answer. As you say, Hezbollah's been a problem for us for many, many decades. Nasrallah is a very serious actor. He has cultivated capabilities--
MICHAEL MORELL:
He's the leader of the group--
RUSS TRAVERS:
He is the leader of Hezbollah. We think that they're careful, in terms of their degree to escalate. They don't want warn. I think there have been instances before where there have been miscalculations. And he wants to be careful about that. But he certainly has a very rich set of capabilities to utilize against western actors.
MICHAEL MORELL:
And to remind people, I think this is true. Correct me if I'm wrong. But prior to 9/11, Hezbollah had killed more American than any other terrorist group?
RUSS TRAVERS:
No question. That's right.
MICHAEL MORELL:
Russ, does any other country come close to Iran as a state sponsor? Is Pakistan up there? How do you think about that?
RUSS TRAVERS:
None whatsoever. They are in a category of themselves.
MICHAEL MORELL:
The Pakistanis, though, if we could just maybe unpack that a little bit. All administrations have been frustrated with Pakistan's support to terrorist groups. This administration has done it publicly to a degree that others haven't. Why do the Pakistanis provide support to the Taliban? And then why do they provide support to anti-India groups?
RUSS TRAVERS:
Well, this too goes back decades. The Pakistanis have been, and will forever be, very concerned about the Indians. And they will look at their proxies as an ability to push back against India. They're feeling a little bit isolated themselves. And so they will take every opportunity to push back against any perceived enemies.
MICHAEL MORELL:
Okay, ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Handful of questions here. What's the primary difference between the two?
RUSS TRAVERS:
Well, they've come up through different areas. Obviously, Al-Qaeda in Iraq was an offshoot of Al-Qaeda. And that became ISIS. They do have different theological approaches, in that elements of ISIS have declared Al-Qaeda to be apostate. There are areas in which ISIS and Al-Qaeda will cooperate, for instance, in West Africa. There are areas in which they fight amongst themselves, in Yemen and in Somalia. Given the view of the necessity of a near-term caliphate, which is very much in ISIS's view, Al-Qaeda was much more long-term about this. You have those kinds of differences between and amongst themselves.
MICHAEL MORELL:
So the ISIS threat, how do you see it in the aftermath of the collapse of the caliphate?
RUSS TRAVERS:
Yeah, you know, there's a lot of very good news out there, in terms of ISIS's, as you say, the defeat of the caliphate. They lost a ton of leaders. For a while, they were having a very difficult time exercising command and control, pushing money around. But on the flip side, a lot of that capability is being reconstituted. We're looking at a core of ISIS that is still exercising command and control over--
MICHAEL MORELL:
Reconstituted in--
RUSS TRAVERS:
In Iraq and Syria--
MICHAEL MORELL:
--Iraq?
RUSS TRAVERS:
--and Syria, primarily--
MICHAEL MORELL:
Now Syria?
RUSS TRAVERS:
--in Iraq, and very much of an insurgency forum. But I think it's important to note that they've known that this has been coming for a couple of years. And so they've been planning for it. And so they're operating in insurgent cells. And they probably, at a minimum, there are 14 plus thousand individuals operating largely in Iraq, and to a lesser degree Syria. This is an order of magnitude. More people than ISIS had six, seven years ago at the beginning of the insurgency.

So we need to recognize that that combination, coupled with the inability of Iraq to deal with very dissatisfied Sunnis in the north and western part of Iraq is going to be a huge problem going forward. But in addition to that, the global nature of this can't be overestimated, because they do in fact have individuals in 20 or so countries, networks that range from hundreds of people to thousands of people.

And if you just compare the map, the way it's spreading, particularly in places like Africa, this is going to be a concern for us for a very long while. It's a challenge for intelligence community, because we need to distinguish between and amongst what are local insurgency problems. Or maybe they are a step higher. And they can affect US interests, whether they be private or governmental. And then, at the highest, are they able to reach out and touch the United States? And just imagine the challenge this poses to our community, in terms of collection and analysis of a very diffuse, diverse threat.
MICHAEL MORELL:
In terms of ISIS outside of Iraq and Syria, where are those parts of the world that you're most worried about?
RUSS TRAVERS:
Oh, ISIS Khorasan in Afghanistan is certainly a big concern. ISIS Sinai is pretty active. The extent to which we are seeing ISIS sprout up in Africa is a challenge, because it's not an area that we are particularly well postured to do collection against. There is--
MICHAEL MORELL:
And is this primarily West Africa?
RUSS TRAVERS:
West Africa, but also in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mozambique had an Islamic insurgency problem for 25 years. They have now wrapped themselves in the ISIS flag. And so they're threatening liquid natural gas US interests in northern Mozambique. So we need to be particularly attuned to where the US interests are and the ability of these capabilities to attack us.
MICHAEL MORELL:
Do you have the sense that Americans understand what you just said about ISIS? Because it's my sense that people think, "Problem solved."
RUSS TRAVERS:
I think you're exactly right that they do view problem solved. And we need to be incredibly careful. When I testify now, complacency is the word that I use a lot, because I do worry that we are a bit of a victim of our own success. There's a bit of a fatigue factor, I think, settling in with terrorism in general. And because we haven't seen, obviously, a large scale attack in the United States on the scale of 9/11 in two decades, even attacks against western interests, you have to go back several years to Charlie Hebdo, for Al-Qaeda, or for the Paris or Brussels attacks several years.

And so there's a sense that maybe the problem's gone away. I completely agree that there is a bit of a lull. And that's a good thing. But I think it's, at the same time, there are a lotta ominous trends out there. And I don't think anyone wants to view this lull as continuing in perpetuity. We've got a lot of  work to do. And the key question now is going to be the extent to which we reallocate resources and attention away from terrorism.

I actually am in complete agreement with former Secretary Mattis's national strategy that says we need to focus on great power states and so forth. We just need to be careful that we don't take our eye off the ball when it comes to terrorism, because we've built what I believe is the best example of integration across our government with the CT community. And, well, it's robust. And I suspect there are resources that can be taken away. We need to ensure that we don't go too far and undermine our capabilities and put us back in kind of a pre-9/11 state.
MICHAEL MORELL:
So, Russ, we talked about ISIS, Al-Qaeda. How do you think about the Al-Qaeda threat today?
RUSS TRAVERS:
You know, they've been waiting in the wings. Much like ISIS, we have a command and control structure. We have a half dozen or so affiliates. They are, to varying degrees, in better or worse shape. But in general, we're seeing what used to be very sort of hierarchical. When we were looking at this back after 9/11, we were focused primarily on one little piece of real estate along the Pak-Afghan border.

And now you got North Africa. And you've got Yemen. And you've got Somalia. And so what we're seeing, an interesting case from a few months ago. There was an attack against a hotel in Kenya that was executed by Shabaab. There was an attack a week or so later executed by JNIM, part of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb that was conducted against a West African UN facility.

They came out almost immediately with an announcement that these were both done because of Jerusalem-related issues. It was kind of a marketing campaign that demonstrates a lateral level of communication and coordination that didn't exist before. And so their capabilities are of significant concern, as well.
MICHAEL MORELL:
And if there was a particular Al-Qaeda group to focus on, to worry about, would you say AQAP in Yemen? Or would you say something else?
RUSS TRAVERS:
Yeah, I think AQAP in Yemen is probably the greatest long-term concern for us, yes.
MICHAEL MORELL:
So Russ, let's switch from the actual groups to the homeland, to the terrorist threat here in the homeland. What do you worry about the most?
RUSS TRAVERS:
Well, I think the current threat, as I said, because there is a lull and diminished large scale external ops capability from both ISIS and Al-Qaeda, it is the HVE threat for sure. And that's--
MICHAEL MORELL:
And by HVE, you mean--
RUSS TRAVERS:
I'm sorry. Homegrown Violent Extremist threat. And that's a challenge for us, because it tends to be very individually specific -- the notion of how individuals get radicalized and mobilized to violence. There's a lot of people out there, and a lot of discontented people out there. And so it's a challenge for our law enforcement organizations in particular. NCTC's role in this is very much along the lines of looking at how the radicalization mobilization process works in support of the bureau. And now, we are dealing increasingly not only with Islamists, but also right-wing domestic terrorism problem set. And--
MICHAEL MORELL:
And you guys look at that too?
RUSS TRAVERS:
We have looked at it traditionally when there is a linkage to overseas. And as we as a government think through how we're going to best posture ourselves to do domestic terrorism itself, under our statutory remit, international terrorism is where we are. We have a degree of primacy. The FBI is undoubtedly the lead on domestic terrorism. And so we're trying to support them. It is our view that a lot of the individuals who are, in fact, becoming radicalized and mobilized, it's tactics, techniques, procedures that look a lot like Islamists.

So there's a lot of use of the internet. There's a lot of the same kinds of processes that individuals go through, whether they be individualized or group or societal impact on people. And so we think we can be value add there. And we certainly believe that, to the degree that right wing or left wing individuals in the United States have got contact with those overseas, then that too is something NCTC--
MICHAEL MORELL:
Do we see any of those contacts? Do we see any of those links?
RUSS TRAVERS:
We do. I think it's fair to say that there's a lot more of them there than we have seen thus far, because it hasn't been an area of intense focus for this community for the last 50 years.
MICHAEL MORELL:
Sure, sure.
RUSS TRAVERS:
But there will be much more of it going forward. But that's partly a collection issue, I think.
MICHAEL MORELL:
Yeah. Not only maybe some of it's been there for a long time. We just haven't looked for it. But it's undoubtedly grown as well as politics has become more divisive across much of the world.
RUSS TRAVERS:
I think that is exactly right. And we need to be careful. And we don't want this to become a cause. And to some degree, I'm afraid it already has. Certainly, the individual who conducted Christchurch has become a bit of a celebrity in those circles, much like the kid who conducted the attack up in the Nordics several years ago. And so what we're seeing [is] Islamists sort of react to what's going on on the right wing. We're seeing the right wing react to everything from immigration to Islamists. And that's going to be a challenge for all of us going forward.
MICHAEL MORELL:
In terms of the HVE threat, and particularly as it's motivated by ISIS, have we seen a decline in that since they lost the caliphate or not?
RUSS TRAVERS:
It's a matter of some debate. In the case of the United States, we don't get a ton of these sorts of attacks. Sort of a half dozen or so a year, I think, is the accurate number. Where we have seen a substantial decline is in Europe. 2017 was sort of a high mark. Last year was substantially lower. Part of that, we think, is because of the decline of the caliphate. Partly, it is because the Europeans are just getting better at this. And there's more information sharing and more coordination between and amongst those countries. And so I suspect it's a little bit of both.
MICHAEL MORELL:
Russ, I want to switch back to some bigger picture issues, if that's okay.

And we've touched on these a little bit. And maybe we can go a little bit deeper. The first is how you think about the future of counter-terrorism, particularly at a time when so many other national security threats and challenges need the attention of the IC. And you talked about this a little bit, but may need a little bit more. The CT is a bill payer for those. And how would you advise the DNI, Congress about thinking about risk in that environment?
RUSS TRAVERS:
It's a very timely question, because I think there is a constituency that believes that CT does need to be part of a bill payer for some of these other issues. And I don't necessarily disagree with that. As I said, NCTC was additive to a pretty robust community that existed at CIA and at FBI and DIA and NSA and so forth. And so what we need to do, I think, as a community, as a government, is determine how can we be the most efficiently organized.

Do we have the right constellation of organizations and of authorities to work the CT problem to the extent it needs to be worked? And then also do Russia, China, cyber. It's a pretty complicated world. And so one of the points I took away when I was at the White House was that that transnational organized crime national strategy had just come out in 2012, I think. And it explicitly said that TAC, transnational crime, was robbed to pay terrorism, all right?

When you think about risk, and you think about some of these alternative national security problems, transnational organized crime kills far more American than terrorism ever will. And yet, it is very under-resourced when it comes to collection and analysis. There's a great deal of effort within the law enforcement community. But the national intelligence community has been somewhat less focused on it.

So my guess is, as we move forward, we are going to see some reallocation of resources. And the issue is how do you ensure you have enough analysis, but you're not too redundant? Are we collecting the right things when it comes to the terrorism problem? Again, against a very diverse and diffuse threat, which vastly complicates our efforts. Are we doing the big data thing correctly?

Right now, pretty much every department and agency is going after all the data it possibly can in support of its analysis. That's probably not the most efficient way to do things. But given the way our community is organized and structured, and the authority is constructed, that's the way things are right now. So we've got some really hard questions going forward, I think, because we are all swimming in that ever-increasing size of the haystack. And the needles themselves are getting more subtle. Again in the HVE context, how do you know when an individual is a particular concern?

This is eating the lunch of our colleagues in Europe right now. They will have tens and 20 thousands of individuals they should be following. Which one is more important? How do you prioritize? How do you allocate limited investigative resources? My sense is that we are all going to be struggling with this, which means you probably do run the risk that you're going to have small scale attacks. We are never going to eliminate terrorism. What we're trying to do is get it down to the point where it is a law enforcement problem and we have enough intelligence community focus on it to ensure that we know if it's becoming a greater problem.
MICHAEL MORELL:
So I share that view. Obviously I spent a huge chunk of my latter career focused on terrorism. So I do share the view about being careful in removing resources. And, you know, one of the things that jumps to mind to me, Russ, is how many resources we moved away from the Soviet Union and Russia, and then where we found ourselves, right, in terms of our ability to collect intelligence on what became, and what is today, a crucial issue. So that should be in the back of everybody's mind here.
RUSS TRAVERS:
Yeah. We spend a tremendous amount of our national treasure on the intelligence community. It does seem to me like we should be able to walk and chew gum in all these areas. But it's going require some really hard decisions, I think.
MICHAEL MORELL:
So, Russ, I also wanna ask you about something else you hinted at earlier. And that is, do you think there are lessons learned from the way the IC has tackled terrorism since 9/11 that can be applied to the other big issues that we're facing?
RUSS TRAVERS:
Yeah, I very much do. As I think I suggested earlier, I believe that the counterterrorism community is the best exemplar we have of interagency integration across our government. And the things that we went through after 9/11, I think, have got broader applicability, and gets back to this notion of -- my own view would be -- that the imperative for our community is figuring out how do we deal with the downside of globalization where issues transcend department or agency equities? They probably straddle the foreign and domestic community. All right, so how do you do that? And a lot of it begins with information sharing.
MICHAEL MORELL:
A great example, right, would be foreign interference in our politics?
RUSS TRAVERS:
Absolutely.
MICHAEL MORELL:
It's a great example. Fits all the categories you just said.
RUSS TRAVERS:
And I think that's really important. Because it's not just the traditional transnational threats, cyber, proliferation, counterintelligence, transnational crime like terrorism, but it's also the great power struggle. It's interference in elections. It's also Chinese intellectual property theft that goes on.

So we as a government are still struggling with, how exactly do we deal with these problems? How do we ensure that from our intelligence community perspective that we've got our arms wrapped around them? And what we've found, I think, with the NCTC experiment, is that when you bring the government together in sort of a very large interagency taskforce, we've got 20 odd organizations at NCTC, we've got all of their networks that come together, you have the cultures of those organizations, and then you have reach back.
MICHAEL MORELL:
And you have the authorities, right, too?
RUSS TRAVERS:
That's right. And so, I may be wrong, but I'll bet down the road that we're going to see more of this NCTC-like approach to many of these problems. Because it's, frankly, worked pretty well I think.
MICHAEL MORELL:
So, Russ, another area I want to talk about is politics. You've been at the intelligence business for a long time. How do you think about the IC operating in such a politicized, political environment today?
RUSS TRAVERS:
Yeah. So I do go back to the Carter administration in terms of my service. And at the end of the day, the intelligence community, we provide facts, and objective analysis of those facts. And we try to keep the debate intellectually honest. And it seems to me that if we just keep our young people focused on that, keep their heads down, just do your jobs, I'm incredibly proud of the hierarchy within our intelligence community.

Because I think they've protected the young people, and have been a source of tremendous support. It's hard when the institutions are getting hammered the way they are. I don't think it's healthy. Having done this for 40 years, I look around a community that I'm incredibly proud to have been associated with. These are very bright people who are trying to do nothing more than good government, and be supportive of our policymakers irrespective of party, irrespective of affiliation.

And so long as we do that, I think that whether it's our law enforcement intelligence professionals, or our national intelligence professionals, or our military intelligence professionals, that they can keep their heads up, and they can do good work, and hopefully stay out of the political fray.
MICHAEL MORELL:
Do your young officers worry about this? And how do you talk to them about it?
RUSS TRAVERS:
They do. Our director, Joe Maguire, is fabulous at talking to our young people about, "Focus on the mission, and just leave all the political nonsense to the seniors." And I think it helps. I mean, I think morale is actually pretty high. Honestly, the terrorism community has been, we haven't been hammered the way some parts of our government have. So that's helped some. But in general this is a leadership issue in terms of ensuring that all of our young people are able to come in and do their jobs the way they're supposed to.
MICHAEL MORELL:
Russ, you've been terrific with your time. I just have a couple more questions for you. Looking long term, what do you see as the intelligence community's most significant challenges going forward?
RUSS TRAVERS:
You know, when the IRTPA, Intelligence Reform Terrorism Prevention Act, it overhauled parts of our community after 9/11 was passed. There was a lot of consternation about whether or not it had things right. I think we're going to have to take a look at that moving forward. But when you get down into the the practical issues, data is a tremendous problem for us.

You know, when NCTC started, the iPhone hadn't been invented. I mean, we were dealing with documents off of the battlefield. Now we're dealing with phones and computers. How do we process that information? And how much information is enough? And when do you just stop? And we haven't got that figured out.

I completely agree with Sue Gordon, who's been carrying the guide on for artificial intelligence and machine learning. We are going to have to improve our use of technology to process that information. However, we, again, have got all of our departments and agencies within the community do this differently.

And so when you have unstructured data that's unstructured in different forms, it makes it really hard for machines to help the analysts do their jobs. And so there is some hard thinking that we're going to have to go through, I think, if we have any hope of being able to process that information. I should say, we have come lightyears compared to where we were 18, 19 years ago in terms of our ability to process information and quote/unquote, "Connect those dots."

We're pretty good at it. And we've done it a lot. Whenever there's a dot that looks pretty suspicious, we can pull the thread, and we can work with all of our partners, and good things happen overseas and in the United States. The hardest issue is uncovering unknowns. And that really came to light in 2009 with the Christmas Day bombing. We didn't know that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was an important guy.

And so a lot of what we've been doing over the last decade as a community is trying to figure out, how do you uncover individuals when you didn't know they were important? And then how do you find all the relevant information? That's going to be a problem for us, I think, going forward.
MICHAEL MORELL:
I think, you know, one of the issues is as fast as the community moves on the technology front, technology is moving, in most cases, even faster. Right? So not only how do you get to the cutting edge, but then how do you keep up with the cutting edge?
RUSS TRAVERS:
That's right. And it's not just technology. The fact that technology is going so much faster than legal, and policy, and security issues, they're lagging behind increasingly. So they're getting left in the dust. And that's a problem, again, because these problem sets that straddle foreign and domestic, they've got implications then for privacy, for sovereignty, for crying out loud.

And so how do we decide? In the case of NCTC, intelligence community organization, what role should we be playing in domestic terrorism, purely domestic terrorism? That's a very good question that we're going to have to work our way through.
MICHAEL MORELL:
Russ, one more question. What do you want the country to know about the women and men who work at NCTC?
RUSS TRAVERS:
You know, we got about 1,000 individuals at all ranks, all grades, and background. And I could not be prouder of those young men and women. It's really the reason that I've stayed around way past my retirement eligibility date. Because I so thoroughly enjoy and get tremendous reward from the work that they do.

They give up weekends and holidays. And I think the American public doesn't have a clue as to the blood and sweat that our young people are throwing into this problem set, because they care so desperately. So I'd like to see a greater recognition of just the role that our public servants play.
MICHAEL MORELL:
Russ, thank you for joining us.
RUSS TRAVERS:
My pleasure. Thanks, Michael.
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