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WHEN: Today, Wednesday, October 4th
WHERE: CNBC's "Squawk on the Street"
Following is the unofficial transcript of an EXCLUSIVE interview with Susan Gordon, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and Andrew McCabe, Deputy Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, live from the Cambridge Cyber Summit hosted by CNBC and The Aspen Institute on Wednesday, October 4th.
Following are links to the video of the interview on CNBC.com:https://www.cnbc.com/video/2017/10/04/fbi-deputy-director-we-shouldve-predicted-russian-hacks-with-more-clarity.html.
Mandatory credit: The Cambridge Cyber Summit hosted by CNBC and The Aspen Institute.
EAMON JAVERS: Wow. It's great. It's so awesome that we got to come all the way up from Washington to sit here on the Senate floor. They have a room just like this in Washington, but it's harder to book for events. So we didn't do that.
You have the major announcement here of Sue Gordon and Andrew McCabe and who they are and what their background is and such a fascinating opportunity for me as a journalist to sit here with the two of you because there's so much news going on right now. We need your take on all of it. And for me, it's like a real opportunity and a real treat to get to drill you guys here on stage in the United States Senate in front of all of you.
I want to start if we could, though, with Las Vegas because what we saw this week was absolutely horrific. You know the President is going there today to bear witness and to mourn and to look for some answers. And, Andrew McCabe, I think as we start with you, what can you tell us about why this happened? How it happened? Anything on the motive of this particular shooter.
ANDREW McCABE: And those are the questions obviously that we are focused on right now. I can tell you that we enjoy an incredibly robust partnership with the Las Vegas Metro Police Department. They've done a phenomenal job leading the investigation, leading the response, of course. That's the hard work that we're in right now. Literally, reconstructing the life, the behavior, the pattern of activity of this individual and anyone and everyone who may have crossed his path in the days and the weeks leading up to this horrific event.
I can say that it's unfortunate, but we've developed a particular efficiency in going in after the fact because, as you know, we experience these mass shootings in this country at an alarming rate. And so our folks have developed an unfortunate competency in this area, and we will, of course, bring every resource to bear on the issue.
EAMON JAVERS: We're sitting here on Wednesday morning. So often when you see these shootings the person has some sort of demented motive, you know, and message and -- as evil as it may be, that they want to deliver. On Wednesday, morning for a shooting that happened on Sunday night, we still don't really know why it happened. Do you have any insight at all? And are you surprised that we don't have any idea yet why it happened, at least publicly?
ANDREW McCABE: There's all kinds of things that surprise us in each one of these events. That's the one on this one, and we are not there yet. We have a lot of work to do. This particular -- this individual and this attack didn't leave the sort of immediately accessible thumbprints that you find on some mass casualty attacks. Putting aside the somewhat dubious claims of responsibility that we see in each one of these instances, we look for actual indicators of affiliation, of motive, of intent, and so far we're not there. We don't have those sort of indicators.
EAMON JAVERS: Are you having any trouble getting into his devices? After San Bernardino, that was such a flash point between business and government, which is sort of one of the reasons that we're all here today.
ANDREW McCABE: Yep.
EAMON JAVERS: Is that going to be an issue again?
ANDREW McCABE: We haven't experienced those issues yet.
EAMON JAVERS: Sue, what can you tell me in terms of there was some international travel here on the part of the girlfriend of the shooter. There was apparently an incident where he wired money overseas. Is there an intelligence community component to this? And what are you learning?
SUE GORDON: One of the great joys of the integration of the intelligence community post-9/11 is the fact that the FBI resolute for this has access to our data and our services. So Andy's perspective is actually representative of the whole government.
EAMON JAVERS: Well, I appreciate both of you being on the case because we all want to know what happened here and why and what we can do to stop it.
I do want to turn to cyber, though, which is sort of the topic of the day and the reason that we're here.
Last night we had a private dinner, and I want to bring the larger group in on sort of what we discussed there because I thought it was such an important point. You go to these cybersecurity conferences over the past ten years or so, as I have done, and inevitably somebody brings up the cliché of a cyber Pearl Harbor or a cyber 9/11. And there's a lot of talk about protecting the dams and the power grid, and for ten years the entire cybersecurity industry was focused on this idea of how do we prevent this from happening.
And last year, arguably, we got our cyber Pearl Harbor in the form of Russian meddling in the U.S. election. And it didn't look anything like what the cybersecurity industry was looking for. We were very focused on protecting our stuff, but we weren't as focused on protecting ourselves in terms of our own emotions, our own reactions, the way our attitudes changed to our fellow Americans.
And I wonder if you can give some insight into how that happened with the entire cybersecurity industry looking the wrong way.
SUE GORDON: That's a great question. So let me get a running start. So the first thing is, it is -- we'll talk at some point during this discussion about the evolution of cyber threats. And in the past couple years, we're seeing our adversaries and, quite frankly, criminal elements, non-state actors, all actors, doing more to move from DDoS attacks to economic attacks, the military attacks. And now what we saw with this one is a pretty broad-brush attack from a lot of vectors by a very capable adversary, who knows how to use all its instruments to pursue its national objective.
And this is important to think about. Cyber increasingly is going to be the means by which national or transnational or individual interests are affected. It's just a vehicle that allows great reach and great access.
This was a complete multidomain -- it had a technical aspect. It had an influence aspect. It had a manipulation aspect of the data to create a pretty broad-brush effect.
EAMON JAVERS: But the technical aspect wasn't all that sophisticated. We were worried about the soup to worms and all sorts of things, and it was a spear phishing attack on top of some really sophisticated social engineering.
SUE GORDON: Right, social engineering. And so I think that's right. So back to the Apollo -- the days of Apollo 1 and how did that first happen. It's we had a failure of imagination. I think what we're now doing is not only the cyber actors becoming more sophisticated in the way -- the things they're attacking because it's to their interests, because the capability exists and the knowledge exists and it's being shared, but also our wisdom in terms of understanding the vectors by which -- and I think that's the most interesting cybertrend that we have going on is don't thinking about it as a monolith of cyber to a cyber, a cyber to a device, but rather the effect that is trying to be achieved.
EAMON JAVERS: What's your take?
ANDREW McCABE: Yeah, I think that's a great point, Sue. I think that in some ways we were surprised by the activity, but in other ways we should not have been. Because when you take that cybervector and you overlay it on to what we've known in our counterintelligence efforts for years about this adversary, we sort of should have seen this coming.
The fact is, the Russians has been targeting us with everything they have over the last 50 years in an unrelenting way, right? So we know that the Russians would love nothing better than to sow disunity, disharmony, to break us apart at a social level, interfere with our political infrastructure. So you see that enduring threat on the counterintelligence side, it is just now newly weaponized by cyber techniques.
EAMON JAVERS: And is it still happening right now? There were some reports that in the wake of the NFL taking a knee protest the Russians were putting out hashtags on social media related to that. What do you know about the current activity?
ANDREW McCABE: I'm limited, obviously, in what I can tell you about current activity. But I will say this: I think the experience in the 2016 elections allowed us to diagnose the problem. Have we cured it yet? Absolutely not.
SUE GORDON: To your point, one of the most exciting things that I think has happened is the conversation with the American people and that spreads across the globe.
This is going on, and we're seeing this effect that people are getting much smarter about what they're seeing and the trust that they have and the private sector taking on some of the imperative that they can only pursue.
So I'm with Andy that the thing that we hold most dear, the most strategic threat to the United States, is our belief in ourselves, right? But there are some things that we're seeing in terms of conversation that we're having that I think are beginning to protect the American people themselves because they're more aware of the opportunities. This isn't something that's just happening in a technical venue, but it is crossing across all aspects of society.
EAMON JAVERS: The cybersecurity experts can do security in terms of spear phishing and firewalls and making sure that you're not actually connected to the Internet.
SUE GORDON: More of that.
EAMON JAVERS: Sure. But how do you do security in the context of the First Amendment, right? You are talking about speech, ultimately. As a journalist I'm sort of an absolutist on the First Amendment. I'm a big believer. You can't eliminate that. You can't regulate it, really. So what do you do?
ANDREW McCABE: The First Amendment question comes right to me. I should not be surprised.
SUE GORDON: I will just tuck in behind you.
ANDREW McCABE: Yeah, feel free.
So, it is not that much different than these -- than the horrific attacks we face in the real world, right? That's not going to completely change our behavior. We're not going to stop living our lives because we face threats like the one you saw in Las Vegas or the many that we've seen over the last few years.
It's about understanding our strengths and working together across maybe non-traditional borders to develop new approaches to that problem.
So in this case, the strength of our service providers and our social media companies is that they have developed these incredible platforms that allow people quick and easy access, that allow the broadcast of opinions that's important for our national discourse, our international discourse. We're not going to shut that down, so we need to work with our providers to find how do we make them part of the solution. There is no law enforcement or exclusive intelligence answer to these questions. We've got to work together with the private sector to get there.
EAMON JAVERS: I'm glad you brought up the private sector, because I want to put up something on the screen here that Mark Zuckerberg said this week around Yom Kippur. This is an astonishing moment in American history when you have the creator of a social platform, the likes of which we've never seen in American history, say this publicly about it. He said: For those I hurt this year, I ask forgiveness, and I will try to be better. For the way my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together, I ask forgiveness, and I will work to do better.
There you have Mark Zuckerberg acknowledging that the platform he spent his working life building, his major achievement in history, was used to divide this country, and he needs to do something about it. How is this moment affecting you?
SUE GORDON: One, this is a remarkable statement. I think this is a catalyzing comment. Travers -- is one of those things that Warren has indicated is not going away. It is the means by which we do things, and so to pretend that we can somehow shut it off and go back to pen and paper, it's just not going to happen.
The second thing, this is actually a threat vector that is disproportionately non-governmental. Right? Think about that. I'm going to choose the number 90%, but the vectors are not those which are controlled disproportionately in the United States.
So what this represents is that move. And really, the whole purpose of this conversation is how do we work together to provide national security when it is not just a governmental function, when statute and policy won't be fast enough; or to Andy's point, will we want to supercede the rights of individuals. But the private sector is going to have to come up with an ethic around its behaviors, to recognize the pieces that it controls in its domain.
So I think this is exciting.
EAMON JAVERS: Andy, how do you see this moment with the CEO saying something as dramatic at this? Last night at dinner we talked a little bit about the World War II era in which there was cooperation between American industry, American government, U.S. military. These are different companies, though. These companies very much see themselves as global companies, not necessarily - to borrow the phrase from the administration - "America first" companies. How do you see this moment changing?
ANDREW McCABE: Well, it's a great sign for us. Contrary to maybe popular opinion, we have enjoyed a long, productive relationship with the companies in this sector for many years. That relationship, you know, chills and warms as things develop. We went through a very unfortunate period in the wake of the Snowden disclosures and then, of course, our confrontation with Apple over the San Bernardino iPhones. I see things like this and I hope that we are now edging back into a warmer space where the two come to the table with the private sector to actually work on solutions.
We understand, there is no absolute, ultimate, perfect state of security. But we also acknowledge that the inability of security professionals, of law enforcement intelligence professionals to work with the private sector to understand how data moves, to be able to access data in ways that are entirely lawful and under lawful court orders, those are important polls in this process. We got to strike a balance in those things, and we're not going to do it by kind of shouting at each other from opposite sides of the litigation.
EAMON JAVERS: Just this week we saw that Facebook turned over a lot of the content of the ads they found so far. We have a statement here of what Facebook put up. They said that most of the ads appear to focus on divisive, social and political messages across the ideological spectrum touching on products from LGBT matters to race, immigration and gun rights. A number of them appear to encourage people to follow pages related to those issues. So, Sue, my question to you is, if we as the American people ever get a look at these ads, which we haven't been allowed to see, by either the government or Facebook yet, what are we going to see? How ugly is this?
SUE GORDON: So I have -- American company, our domestic partner, will handle that.
Here's what I would say. I don't really find it surprising that there would be something misrepresentative of this great American nation with all its diversity of viewpoints, and then some from our adversaries to recognize that that's a way that they can have effect.
You know, I think we don't talk as much about the psychological impact of cyber activities, but this is bringing it forth. So I think that's what we'll see. Again, I hate to repeat myself, but the dialogue that we're having about how we do national security and privacy -- and I really emphasize the word "and." If you are around people who set up as an "or" business, they're just not thinking about the issue creatively.
I think that statement, when we had the private sector looking at it, when we can share intelligence, and we're working very hard to be able to share intelligence with sufficient fidelity with the folks in the private sector who are experienced using can use that to add to the data they already had. I think we're going to see that it is more pervasive than we imagined, but not different than what we thought.
EAMON JAVERS: Andy, have you seen the ads?
ANDREW McCABE: I have not reviewed this evidence specifically. I wouldn't discuss it, obviously, with you in detail if I had.
I can tell you that what you are likely to see are things that you have probably seen before. You're not going to be surprised. We've all seen a lot of divisive, inaccurate, kind of slanderous ugly things on the Internet. I have learned that myself in an unfortunate personal way over the last year. So these are going to be products and statements and advertisements right down that same lane.
The difference is where they're coming from. As I mentioned earlier, when we are tearing ourselves apart and torn from one side to the next and in a state of unrest, physically and emotionally, our adversaries are in a better place. That is where they seek to push us. The difference now is they've found a platform that helps them get there.
EAMON JAVERS: So forget security professionals for a minute. How do we process this, as Americans? If I'm someone who has strong views on gun rights or LGBT issues, any of these divisive social issues, I feel very strongly about it, and someone comes to me and says, you know what? You are just parroting Russian propaganda, I will get riled up by that. I will get frustrated and angry by that.
How do we process what we are being told here, that some of this, people who are saying things that we agree with on the Internet, that is Russian propaganda?
SUE GORDON: I think making this that simple would be a mistake. Again, those who would do us harm have a variety of motivations, from their own national interests to actually creating advantage for themselves.
So, to make it a simplistic, "how could I be used as a vehicle for that" is probably not a wise choice. I'll take this as an opportunity to make a paid political -- or a public service announcement. So many of the things that are done to us in the cyber dimension could be stopped through good hygiene; protecting the things you say, protecting your data, protecting your system so those who would use you to be a vehicle of their agenda would be less successful.
EAMON JAVERS: If I see a message I agree with on Facebook and say, hey, I'm going to post that to all of my friends as well, and I'm going to spread that because I legitimately into that message, how can you even bring good cyber hygiene into that conversation?
SUE GORDON: The great value of the American society is an informed populous, and I think these discussions are helping people think about that.
ANDREW McCABE: I think that's right. I think with Facebook's -- the transparent way they've addressed the problem over the last couple weeks kind of helps us get there. It helps us have these conversations that will hopefully, you know, inspire people to recalibrate their understanding of what they're encountering on the Internet. It's very -- it's easy and attractive and comfortable to create these little echo chambers of our own preconceived opinions. We've got to step back and remind ourselves as we do, as particularly our intelligence community professionals do, to always consider the sources and understand how much credence you can place in any of these products, and be a little more skeptical maybe than we have been in the past.
EAMON JAVERS: So you're complementary of Facebook there. I want to put up something else on the screen here.
This is what Twitter said just last week about what they've -- what they've disclosed here. They're saying that we've shared with the intelligence committee staff a round of -- talking about free RT, Russia Today, accounts. They're talking about $274,000 that RT has spent in ads and then naming some of the actual Twitter accounts that were the key here.
But the top Democrat on the committee, Mark Warner, called this woefully inadequate in terms of disclosure from Twitter. Is Twitter doing enough here to disclose what happened?
SUE GORDON: So not -- not my business to tell the private sector what is enough. And the vice chairman of the committee can speak for himself on this.
But we, as a collective -- it is probably true that we as a collective need to do more. We are doing so many different things today than we did two years ago, than we did four years, five, and it is better and it is not enough.
So I wouldn't dare pick on Twitter over this. But I would say as a collective, if we continue facing these attacks -- one of the things that I worry about is in the face of the Equifaxes and the Yahoo!s, that we're coming to think that that's just the cost of doing business. Somehow this is just normal and we're much better about understanding and then somehow we move on. I think that's the thing we ought to embrace. We do not have to accept that we will always be had in these dialogues for good. So it is true that we are doing more. It is also true that we as a collective are not doing enough.
EAMON JAVERS: Andy, is Twitter doing enough?
ANDREW McCABE: Yeah, I think it's -- I'm not going to weigh in on the Senator's comments. I think it's an important first step. Can we do more? Sue's absolutely right. We can do much more. But in 2014, this wouldn't have happened at all. So we have made progress. This is the direction --
EAMON JAVERS: This is the progress.
ANDREW McCABE: I think it is progress. I mean, we can all differ as to how much progress it is or is it a good sign of more to come or is it an insufficient kind of final shot? That remains to be seen. But we're happy to have that engagement and we'll continue to push for more.
SUE GORDON: Another one of the things from the government perspective is, you know, this could be a toe in the water. You know, you describe the difficulties that we've had over the last few years, having an engagement of trusting each other so we can find ways to share it. So I view this as a step.
EAMON JAVERS: You said it's not your job to tell the private sector what to do. And that's sort of the challenge of the moment, right? Because if it's not your job, as law enforcement and intelligence --
SUE GORDON: Intelligence.
EAMON JAVERS: Well, the two collectively.
-- then whose job is it?
SUE GORDON: Ours. You're going to have some conversations today with the policy community in talking about this notion of how we set policy, how we put things around the role of the government, the role of public-private partnership in order to be able to understand the threat we're facing, what we're willing to do as a nation in order to govern ourselves. I mean, these are really important questions.
So just setting a limit and direction on the private sector will be hard. But I do think there are questions about good practices. But it's a dialogue we ought to have, talking to policy folks about this. It's a really good discussion for us as a nation in terms of how far we'll go.
EAMON JAVERS: And how does the fact that these companies are global play into this, right? You know, these companies have customers around the world. They have employees around the world. They have employees at headquarters from around the world. This isn't the World War II era. How does that play into the way they interact with you at the same time they have to interact with intelligence and law enforcement in country after country after country where they do business?
SUE GORDON: For me and then I'll let you say the right thing.
That's the role we've had today.
It's a real challenge. We talked a lot about the psychological effect, but there are -- and supply chain issues with us; insider threat, if you will, all vectors that can be exploited to achieve that.
Globalization is one of those great benefits, and it's one of the great challenges in this area because what's the notion of a trusted workforce? Trusted supply chain. You know, trust in the algorithms that are being developed. Trust in the parts that you have. And so one of the issues with the globalization is trying to establish that trust in -- when the input is so varied and so difficult to control.
So I think it is one of the great benefits in terms of technical advance for this country. But it presents challenges from a cyber perspective because it allows a lot of vectors for adversary.
ANDREW McCABE: Absolutely right. We get it. They have a lot -- they are confronting an array of different agendas and operating environments and legal environments. They have different threats to their systems, to their data, to their employees in many different places. I think we have a clear and important role in helping them address those threats and those challenges.
At the same time, we have a responsibility as security professionals or law enforcement, intelligence professionals to maintain those standards, those uniquely American standards of conduct in this area.
We have a legal structure that we are charged with enforcing and acting under. So we expect these countries -- although we acknowledge that they have responsibilities in other parts of the world, we expect them to live up to our norms of behavior and our -- in compliance with U.S. law and all the ways that that's required here in the United States.
EAMON JAVERS: Obviously there is an investigation into Russian's meddling in the 2016 election that's ongoing. I'm sure you're going to be extraordinarily constrained about what you can say about it. But I'm eager for both of your perspectives on it, especially as we haven't really seen like this in American politics where an investigation is ongoing at the same time the political system is continuing to do everything that it does.
Andy, wonder if you can answer a couple questions just basically about it. Are you a witness in this investigation?
ANDREW McCABE: Of course, I can't discuss the investigation specifically. We, like the rest of the world, kind of stand back and watch the progress of the Special Counsel's team, and I have complete faith in Director Mueller and the great folks that he's assembled to get that work done.
We at the FBI are supporting him with considerable resources and expertise and will continue in that posture until he reaches his conclusion.
EAMON JAVERS: Can you tell us a little bit not about the investigation itself but the structure of it? Is it entirely being handled by Mueller's team? Are the FBI agents who have been detailed to that team, are they a self-contained unit or are there other aspects of the FBI that are working on this in parallel to that?
ANDREW McCABE: Yeah, it's a good question. First, I'll simply say that Director Mueller controls all aspects of the investigation, the investigative direction he deploys, and utilizes his resources as he sees fit.
However, the FBI maintains a critical and ongoing responsibility to address counterintelligence issues, Russian issues, all things of that nature. So, of course, there's an overlap, and we have a robust exchange with the team on those issues to ensure that nothing falls between the cracks.
EAMON JAVERS: One of the flash points as you know with Director Comey and President Trump was this question of loyalty, which is important to the President. Has the President asked you personally for your loyalty?
ANDREW McCABE: I think I've been pretty clear about that in the past. I swore one oath when I became a special agent 21 years ago. That has never changed. No one has ever asked me to change that. My loyalty is to the Constitution and the United States people.
EAMON JAVERS: So the President has not asked you for your loyalty personally?
ANDREW McCABE: Correct.
EAMON JAVERS: Sue, how do you approach this issue? We have this investigation going on. You're an intelligence professional. You spent 27 years at the CIA. At the same time, government continues, politics continue. How do you do both at the same time?
SUE GORDON: I think -- I think those in intelligence have one of the great jobs in national security. We have a singular focus on, my words, three things: Telling the truth, seeing beyond the horizon, and helping people act before events dictate.
This telling the truth thing is something we take seriously. We present, dogmatically, information in a way that we believe is the most complete and without bias and we trust the system to be able to use it. In this case, I think we did an extraordinary job. I stand by the conclusions of the intelligence assessment, that we made one openly available I think is one of the great values to our society and this dialogue. And there's more information that we have provided to it.
But carrying on from an intelligence perspective, continuing to look at threats, continuing to be willing to bring hard truths forward for discussion is something that is, quite frankly, easy for us to do. And the noise about challenging that is something that we have withstood throughout our history. It always makes us look at ourselves and our assumptions. But we are relentless in our pursuit of independence and truth.
EAMON JAVERS: But this is sort of a meta investigation.
SUE GORDON: Yep.
EAMON JAVERS: In the sense that investigation goes into the FBI, the interactions between the President and the FBI. This isn't an investigation of a Robert Hanson or somebody like that who's sort of a one-off and off to the side. This is the very core of who we are and what we do.
So, how do you balance those two challenges?
SUE GORDON: Maybe I'm just a simple girl. But the notion is that we ask questions about the threats facing our nation. We deploy collection in order to gather information that will support that, and we produce reports based on what that intelligence shows, period. Across the whole spectrum.
And as events change and the world and as our adversaries change and things go on, we present that information. I present that information whether there's an ongoing investigation or whether there's not, and we make it available to the people that have the responsibility to use that in the conduct of their mission.
We are ever trying to produce information with more fidelity to allow the decisions we need. But it's a pretty easy call in terms of how you keep going.
EAMON JAVERS: You talk about hard truths. Is this White House open to hearing hard truths if you're dealing with the new cast of characters in Washington and in government?
SUE GORDON: I think one of the great disconnects, in my experience and what you read in the media, is the interest of this President on intelligence. We meet with him almost daily on intelligence, in person, not just in written reports, and have discussions about this. So I think that's one of the great disconnects between my experience in terms of our access to this President for dialogue and what you hear in the media.
ANDREW McCABE: I would completely agree with that.
I think a little -- it's unfortunate that so much attention is constantly drawn towards the Russian investigation. The fact is from our side we have many, many important issues that we interact with in the National Security Council lane with the White House every day. We don't have the luxury of puts those things aside. Those issues have to be addressed and discussed. Our information has to get brought to the table. I found that team to be open and completely willing to address those hard issues and have those conversations.
We then synced up, for example -- I know that the President and his Homeland Security adviser are traveling to Las Vegas today. Their interest in this investigation, where it goes and what it tells us about the threats facing this country, has been consistent and present right from the beginning. And so that's just one example of how we've got to get work done and we do with a very productive team at the White House every day.
EAMON JAVERS: Well, we promised this crowd that we would have an absolute hard out and we wouldn't extend -- I have an entire stack of note cards here that I didn't get to, questions. This is a fascinating conversation. Sue Gordon, Andrew McCabe, thank you so much for your time.
ANDREW McCABE: Thank you.
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