This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," July 30, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JANE SKINNER, GUEST HOST: Well, moving on to wiping out Al Qaeda, of course, been our number one priority in this country since 9/11. But, how about this question — have we been going about the mission all wrong? No question that bin Laden's terror network has been greatly hindered since 9/11 but how to take out Al Qaeda for good?
My next guest thinks he knows how to speed up the process, and get this — does not involve more troops. Seth Jones is with the Rand Corporation, a think tank that often works with the U.S. military, and Rand today, just came out with an eye-opening study. He was one of the lead authors.
Seth, when we're talking about killing off Al Qaeda, you basically say we shouldn't be using our army, we should be using other methods of law enforcement like the FBI and CIA — explain.
SETH JONES, THE RAND CORPORATION: Well, we found that looking at about 648 terrorist groups since 1968, that most of them have ended because of either a combination of police or intelligence, or a political negotiations with groups, not the use of military force.
SKINNER: But what about the effect of using our military for law and order and keeping security on the ground?
JONES: Well, that's different. Where the military is involved, particularly in building local capacity of police and army forces, as it did, for example, in Anbar province in Iraq, as it's done to some degree in Afghanistan as well, that is a fundamental and critical role. In particular, what we found was the role of special operations forces as being fundamental.
SKINNER: When you talk about bigger roles for agencies like the FBI and CIA, I mean, haven't those agencies in this country already adapted post-9/11 and haven't they taken on a bigger role?
JONES: Well, they have played some role. But we found really, about 90 percent of counterterrorism resources have gone to the Department of Defense, not to a range of other government agencies including CIA and FBI. But there are areas, for example, human intelligence, which, I think, we still found major problems in, especially Arab countries, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, in Iraq.
SKINNER: But that is — you're talking about humans or human intelligence. You know, those groups have been so notoriously hard to infiltrate, particularly for, you know, American spies, et cetera. Does throwing more people and more money at the problem, would that necessarily increase the intelligence we get?
JONES: Well, I think it would to some degree. There'd also have to be other steps, I think, loosening in some respect our clearance process and being able to put onboard people from these societies like Pakistan, for example, which our clearance process makes it extremely difficult for them to make it through and get cleared at the secret or top secret FBI levels. I think that would be fundamental as well.
SKINNER: Seth, what have we been doing right? If you take such a hard look at this and find others that maybe weren't doing so well, what have we done so well?
JONES: Well, I think, two interesting cases have been in Anbar province in Iraq, for example, the U.S. military and CIA were quite effective in 2006 and 2007 in working with local Sunnis who massed in to the police forces in places like Ramadi as well as in Pakistan, for example, the military, CIA and even FBI in working with Pakistani intelligence and police forces in capturing some senior al-Qaeda leaders Khalid Sheik Muhammad, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh and a range of others. So, those two are useful — success stories.
SKINNER: One last question for you, Seth. You talked about the phrase "The war on terror" not being a helpful phrase or the right phrase. Why does it matter what we call it?
JONES: Well, I think, it matters in two respects. One is, I think, the use of "war" does imply a battlefield solution, which we found, historically, has simply not been the case. Second, we also found a lot of Jihadi propaganda that linked on to this word "war" and recruiting people with the Jihad or holy war response. So, we found it became very difficult in a propaganda campaign as well.
SKINNER: A lot of stuff to think about. Seth Jones is with the Rand Corporation. Seth, thank you.
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