Spymasters: Can We Kill Our Way Out?

In today’s political climate, discussions of modern terrorism and the role of elite spying organization have become increasingly controversial. How far should these organizations go in order to protect our nation from terrorist threats? Have these organizations become para-militaristic?

On Wednesday, a distinguished panel of national security experts spoke on these questions. Excerpts from The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs was shown to illustrate some of the examples that panelists will used frame their arguments. The discussion centered around the lengths that America’s spymasters should go to protect our nation from terrorist activity, the development of international spying organizations, and whether said organizations will become a secret army. The nature of modern terrorism was also debated, as well as how our nation should adapt to this new threat.

Rand Beers ’64 is a Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama. Previously, he served as Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security a position to which he was appointed in September 2013 after serving as Acting Deputy Secretary. Rand served on the National Security Council Staff under four Presidents as Director for Counter-terrorism and Counter-narcotics (1988-1992), Director for Peacekeeping (1993-1995), Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs (1995-1998), and Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Combating Terrorism (2002-2003). He was national security advisor for the Kerry campaign (2003-2004). Rand began his professional career as a Marine Corps officer and rifle company commander in Vietnam (1964-1968). He served most of his career in the Department of State, including as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional Affairs in the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, focusing on the Middle East and Persian Gulf (1992-1993). He was Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (1998-2002).

Andrew Card, Jr. served as president of Franklin Pierce University from January 2015 through July 2016.  Prior to this, Mr. Card served as Executive Director of the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Texas A&M University from August 2013 until December 2015.  He served as Acting Dean of The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from July 2011 to August 2013.  Mr. Card, appointed in November 2000, served as Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush from January 2001 to April 2006 as the second longest tenured White House Chief of Staff. Prior to his tenure as White House Chief of Staff, Card managed and ran the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.  Before that, Card was Vice President-Government Relations for General Motors Corporation. Mr. Card served as Deputy Chief of Staff and then as the 11th Secretary of Transportation from 1992 to 1993. Prior to that he served as Special Assistant (1983 to 1987) and later as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for President Ronald Reagan (1988) where he was liaison to governors, statewide elected officials, state legislators, mayors and other elected officials. 

John E. McLaughlin is Distinguished Practitioner in Residence in the Merrill Center for Strategic Studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University. Mr. McLaughlin served as Acting Director of Central Intelligence from July to September of 2004 and as the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from 2000 to 2004. Prior to that, he was the Deputy Director for Intelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency, Vice Chairman for Estimates and Acting Chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Four months after the break-up of the Soviet Union, he became Director of the CIA office – Slavic and Eurasian Analysis – that was responsible for CIA’s analysis of the fifteen independent states that emerged from the USSR. While Deputy Director for Intelligence from 1997 to 2000, he created the Senior Analytic Service, and also founded the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis. Mr. McLaughlin is the recipient of the Distinguished Intelligence Community Service Award and the National Security Medal. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Diplomacy, a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution (Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence and the Center for Middle East Policy in the Foreign Policy Program) and Chairman of the CIA Officers Memorial Foundation. He also serves on the Board of the OSS Society, CIA’s External Advisory Board, and the Aspen Institute’s Homeland Security Advisory Board. He is a Board of Trustees member at the Aerospace Corporation and the Noblis Corporation.

Moderator Chris Whipple is an acclaimed documentary filmmaker, writer, journalist, and speaker. A former Peabody and Emmy Award-winning producer at CBS News 60 Minutes and ABC News, he is the chief executive officer of CCWHIP Productions. He is the writer and executive producer of The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs, a Showtime documentary, which Newsweek called “the closest thing we’ll get to a televised Truth and Reconciliation Committee.”

The Spymasters Panel: “Can We Kill Our Way Out?” took place on Wednesday, October 26th from 6:30 to 8 pm in Filene Auditorium. This event was co-sponsored by the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding.

Submitted by Olivia Bewley ’19, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant for Public Programs

The views and opinions expressed and any materials presented during a public program are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Rockefeller Center or constitute an endorsement by the Center.