The last day of the ASIS International. It's been three (actually four) long days meeting new people, having very interesting conversations about some of the challenges that security practitioners face and attempting to get a handle on all the new offerings from an array of manufacturers. But, this last day starts off with what I hope will be an insightful look into government security policy with a speech by Condoleezza Rice. The majority of this blog post is more or less a transcript (or my best effort) in order to capture her speech for those of you who couldn't be here (or were here and want to review it).
UPDATE: Click here to read SDN's article on Rice's speech.
8:18 She started out with a comment on the theme of the conference "security never sleeps." I'm very grateful to finally get some sleep and not read the paper in the morning and know I have to do something about it.
There was no greater honor than to serve this country.
9/11 was a watershed of an event in the U.S. It was a crack in time and we've never been the same since. Now we have a sense of vulnerability. America had been protected by our great shores and US hadn't seen an attack on homeland, and certainly not against citizens, since days of British attacks. And I would suggest that day necessitated a major shift in how we thought of dangers in this country. Protecting at home was something that we had not done before. Military had commands for every part of world, but no command for US itself.
Now we have the Dept. of Homeland Security and as difficult as it was to put those organizations together, we're better off with it than without. First couple days after 9/11 after recovering from shock we would gather the cabinet folks together. All of sudden we were talking to the Dept. of Transportation and such and we practically needed an auditorium to hold all the people who were required to protect and defend. DHS gave us a single address for doing that. We didn't have a good way to talk to each other, DHS became way to talk to each other. Still a work in progress.
Port security, how make certain that someone hasn't planted in containers radiological or nuclear weapons, the ability to secur our ports was something we hadn't paid a lot of attention to before.
Coordination with the private sector is critical. Trying to protect ourselves at home that was new. When I became Sec. of State I knew how to deal with power conflicts and fully understood challenges from Russia and China. Big powers know how to deal with each other and first crisis in Washington was EPA conflict downed plane in Chinese island. Thought would be dealing that kind of thing. On 9/11 we learned a powerful lesson that it's not the powerful states, it's the failed states that present the most risk. That failed state was Afghanistan. We abandoned Afghanistan and Pakistan and Al Queda plotted and planned. Governments where corruption, it's the same problem that leads to arm runners and drug runners. I can assure you failed states are very dangerous. Heaven forbid if Pakistan starts to look failed with nuclear weapons or the Mexico and US starts looking like a failed state, we have a real problem. US has started to deal with failed states because trying to protect and bring new constructs in government. Afghanistan hard because it's the 5th poorest country in world. There's barely electricity and road networks are terrible. This is a tough fight. If US doesn't find a way to prevent the return of terrorist to Afghanistan we will pay for it. Abandon Afghanistan and attacks are imminent. We're in a long war, not a short one.
At 9/11 I was in my office. When heard about a plane, I thought 'What a strange accident.' President Bush was in Florida and normally I'd be with him, but it was only a short four hour drive. I went to the situation room and was passed a note that the second plane had hit and before I got to the bunker, the plane hit the Pentagon. Began to understand better radicalism. Know have to hunt terrorist and pursue them and remain vigilant and you can't sleep because they're out there trying every day. They have to only be right once. We have to right every time. It's not a fair fight.
Environment that terrorists have created is one of hopelessness. Something woefully wrong that is why our agenda, why our war on terror, has to have a positive answer. Free societies where women are respected and people are free.
We have to help them to come to a more democratic future. As we protect at home and defend abroad, it's necessary to marry power and principle in defense of free peoples everywhere. Sometimes we get tired of tremendous burden of responsibility.
8:34 If you govern from today's headlines, you won't have history on your side. Need to remember time when values and perseverance got us through other times. Another reason America can do this, we're an extraordinary experiment in human history. Melange of people who wanted to be American, and who don't have to be one of anything to be American. When I was Secretary of State, I got to see what people really admired, our military power some admired and some feared, but know too that around world people admire our national myth. The log cabin and the idea that you can come from humble beginnings and it doesn't matter where you came from, but where you're going. We've attracted the best and the brightest. It's the most ambitious people who want to be here. That national myth has to relate to people who are already here. That's the value of education.
Education is key. We as Americans need to be rigorous and have high expectations for our children. If we offer people a democratic and free life and if we to believe in our national myth, the US is going to be all right. We'll need to continue to be vigilant. The reason you and I can sleep at night is because there are women and men in uniform who are willing to defend us and make the ultimate sacrifice. If we refocus our principals and don't get caught up in headlines but look to history for judgment than we'll be alright and if we're alright than the rest of world will be alright, too.
8:45 Question and answer time:
What was it like being a woman in your position?
Found acceptance fine. At some point I'm the Secretary of State and they have to deal with that. You think it would be most difficult in Middle East, but actually found advantage that first of all important women in those societies who are not visible to you. Matriarchs of royalty and a couple of them could not see men outside of families, but I could see them and I would go meet with them and find they're real champions for women. Probably one thing found most heartening was young people. I think important thing to recognize women empowerment world wide. If I could do one thing, it would be to empower women because societies that don't empower women are dangerous.
8:50 Media as unbiased source of information?
I wish they would all quiet their voices a little. If find yourself in company people who say amen to everything you say, than find other company. You only hone your skills hearing people who don't agree with you.
About balance, we've always had rough politics. My criticism of media is the difference between today's headlines and history are rarely the same. Want to know what transpired today without thinking about long term effects. I know you have to report on daily basis, but never forget that today's headlines are going to pass.
If you look only to people who look most like you, there would be no firsts. So I think it's wonderful when role models look like you, but more wonderful if what you recognize in people is someone who inspires you. Now, for me, most important thing is to pass that forward.
8:57 Personal achievements and disappointments?
Funny thing about history, something that may look brilliant at the time, history will tell a different story and vice versa. I hope will be right in saying that we were able to defend the country in a way that allowed Americans to go back to their lives after 9/11. I often say that I'm grateful that another attack didn't happen on our watch. It wasn't for a lack of trying, it was being vigilant that improved our chances.
If American's had remained fearful, if somehow people were fearful and turned on each other than terrorists would have won because they would have turned us into something we were not. Very grateful that able to keep the country secure and allow Americans to return to who we are.
Disappointments? In final analysis, the Middle East will turn out far better place because Iraq is a democratic state and far better place because Iran will have to deal with its internal contradictions. Don't know if it'll be in a year or five years, but the regime in Iran is done. The only memory of younger population is what happened of streets of Tehran and this is just one more brutal dictatorship with no credibility. I'm disappointed there's no Palestinian state. I'm a firm believer in Israel. Fact is, Israel is a positive force in the Middle East and wish I could've gotten further to a two state solution and get Arabs to accept that their problem is that they don't treat women well or give people enough freedom and Isreal is in the region to stay. I always wish we had made more progress but think that time is coming.
International blanket where practically every country in world shares information and coordinates. We didn't have that prior to 9/11. We do have a pretty effective means for counter terrorism across intelligence services and that's a major shift and requires constant tending because our friends and allies don't like fact that information secret and ends up in the New York Times. We leak too much.
9:03 International policing is part of diplomacy. But means that diplomacy not in guilded room with heads of government talking about problems. It's going out there to solve the problems. Better be doing small deeds of diplomacy , though.
9:10 How private security play a role?
Each have individual security role. If put in context of post-9/11 suggest what scary about 9/11 was that attacks weren't missiles. It came out of normal life. They took artifacts of normal life and turned into worst attack in America. Do with bus loaded with bombs, people do with a backpack. It's the daily, everyday stuff around us that's dangerous. I think government can worry about ports carrying radiological material, but security professionals need to help entities and companies and clients worry about how to connect what might seem harmless or ordinary to terrorists who are getting smarter at using it. Cyber-security something that we're way behind in, but also way behind in using the benefits of interest against these guys who use it well. What you're doing in helping the ordinary be more secure, the daily be more secure, the people coming to work be more secure is a major part of the fight on terror and I want to thank you for what you do every day.