National Security

Discussions on National Security with the Obama Administration, FBI, and More

May 2, 2016  • Aspen Institute Staff

Aspen Institute Radio featured highlights of conversations from the inaugural Aspen Security Forum: Global, which took place in London last week. Today’s episode features top-level government officials discussing counterterrorism, the state of NATO’s relationship with Russia, and the challenges facing analysts in today’s security environment.

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FBI Director James Comey

The director of the FBI has said that the Bureau has counterterrorism investigations underway in all 50 states, underscoring the gravity of the “insider” terrorism threat in the country. Simultaneously, terrorists from abroad, especially “foreign fighters” from among ISIL’s ranks in Iraq/Syria, are seeking to enter Western countries, including the United States, to carry out attacks. Complicating matters further, technology innovation is advancing so quickly that terrorists are leveraging these advancements, making it easier for them to plot and plan attacks undetected by counterterrorism professionals. Comey addresses the complexity of today’s security challenges and explains how the FBI is working both at home and with global partners to confront them.

Reflections from the Intelligence World

President Barack Obama famously dismissed ISIL a couple of years ago as a “JV team,” and now it is at the
very top of the lengthening list of American and Western security concerns. And while the invasion of Iraq in search of WMD is the most infamous, there are numerous examples of “getting it wrong” on fundamental questions of intelligence and, thus, policy. Two noted intelligence experts discuss the challenges facing analysts in today’s ever more complicated security environment.

Counterterrorism in the Age of ISIL

In this conversation, Lisa Monaco, Obama’s top adviser on homeland security and counterterrorism, takes us inside the Oval Office to give a sense of the kind of advice she gives to the US commander-in-chief each day as to the various security challenges facing the United States and the world. And the UK prime minister’s deputy advisor for national security gives us his perspective on these issues.

NATO/Russia: Cold War Redux?

Putin’s Russia is acting much like the Soviet Union — invading and annexing its weaker neighbors; probing NATO’s defenses in the air and at sea for vulnerabilities; building up its military; and violating arms control treaties. Are we in a new “Cold War,” and, if so, is the alliance up to the challenge? The US Ambassador to NATO, a warrior-diplomat, and two veteran Russia watchers attempt to divine Russia’s intentions, assess its capabilities, and analyze NATO’s strengths and weaknesses in this time of unsettling uncertainty.