National Security Experts Discuss: “Are We Safer?”

A composite image on a blue background of five public program participants on a Zoom call.

Presented in conjunction with the third annual Summit on Security, this week the 9/11 Memorial & Museum presented the public program “Are We Safer?”

Moderated by former U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, panelists for this program included former Acting Director of the CIA Michael Morell; former Congresswoman and now Director, President, and CEO of the Wilson Center Jane Harman; Admiral William H. McRaven, U.S. Navy (Ret.); and NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller.

The speakers discussed evolving national security threats to the United States and how we can make nations and citizens safer. In the clips below, Admiral William H. McRaven and Deputy Commissioner John Miller both emphasize the importance of education and media literacy in achieving this goal.

McRaven Video Clip

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“What's the greatest threat to national security? K-12 education. Because if we are not educating the youth of America, having them understand the cultural differences, having them learn to speak different languages, you know, having them be exposed to different ideas, then we're not going to build the cadre of national security experts, foreign services officers, CIA officers, military officers that understand the problems that they are grappling with. You only do that through great education. And my biggest concern on the national security front isn't, are we going to have the next best drone? It's, are we going to have the next man or woman who can think through these complex issues?”

Miller Video Clip

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“We were that much smarter coming into this election as a public, to be careful about what we read and believed on the internet and to look at the source. Was it a troll, was it a real person, did the Facebook account exist? As an industry, the Facebooks, and the Twitters, and the Instagrams, to do better vetting of the machines that were just pumping out propaganda with no one, really, behind them except a foreign power. And-- as intelligence agencies, to be able to pick up on that. I think a combination of those things together is why that was less of a factor this time. And in the background, of course, you've still got all the QAnon conspiracy theories and the people who are doing this on their own, but we can make enough trouble for ourselves without the help from foreign adversaries. And yet, despite all that, who else did we see in the game? It wasn't just the United States that looked at what Russia did and dug into it, you saw the North Koreans in the game, you saw the Iranians in the game with 92 Iranian websites shut down just a month before the election. You saw China in the game. And everybody was in the game operating for their own narrow interests. So we take two lessons away from that question, which is one, we're never gonna let it happen to us, the way it happened to us the first time, because we can see it coming. And two, everybody else is now in the game so this isn't going away. It's just going to be something that we have to get better and better at managing.”

Check 911memorial.org/programs to learn of forthcoming programs like this one.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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