Interviews

Woolsey: Admin cannot keep mouth shut on military operations

On 'Your World,' former CIA director shares his insight after the terror attack in France

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," July 15, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SANDRA SMITH, GUEST HOST:  All right, right now, we have news coming into the newsroom, reports right now -- reporters are chasing down video of a current unrest in Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey.  Gunshots were heard in the Turkish capital of Ankara.  A Reuters witness says military helicopters were seen flying overhead.  

We have a reporter on the ground in Istanbul, Laura Wells from GRN.  

Can you let us know what you know at this moment?  

LAURA WELLS, GRN REPORTER:  Yes.  

Right now, the prime minister has just come on live TV and said that this is an attempted coup.  He said this is part of the military.  He did not say where he is and he only did it through a private network, not the state television, which is very interesting, because state television is not reporting it.  

Also, President Erdogan has not been heard from in six days.  This is unprecedented.  He is in the news at least every other day.  What we have seen in Istanbul, the first and second bridges, those have been closed. The main street (INAUDIBLE) one side closed, reports of 40 buses of soldiers there.

And also, as you said, there was an explosion in Ankara, and F-16s flying low.  The Istanbul Airport is also occupied by tanks, been closed down, also reports of the same in Ankara, the capital.  

SMITH:  OK.  Thank you very much for joining us for the latest on that.  

We do want to bring in James Woolsey.  

What do you make of the latest developments that we're getting out of Turkey now, an attempted coup?

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR:  The most surprising thing, I think, is Erdogan having been silent for six days, as they said in this report, and not saying anything.  That's not like him.  

He wants to give the impression -- and it's true to some extent -- that he is not only the big man there, but he controls virtually everything.  And that is -- it's very strange that he wouldn't be out saying this is an attempt, but we put it down or whatever happened.  

SMITH:  I want to bring a couple of other details that we're getting of this.  

Reuters witnesses in Istanbul, which is obviously Turkey's largest city, also spotting helicopters overhead there.  Broadcaster NTV reporting that both of Istanbul's bridges, the strait separating the European and Asian sides of the city, have been closed to traffic, and it's not immediately clear if all of these events are connected.  

WOOLSEY:  The Turkish military are to some extent in the past have been in tumult because they were very Western-oriented.  They worked very closely with the British and with us and with NATO.  

But with Erdogan coming to power, a lot of that has gone away.  A lot of the pro-Western Turkish officers have been fired, essentially retired early.  And it's not entirely clear what the situation is.  It looked as if, I would say, up until 30 minutes ago, that Erdogan was fully and effectively in charge.  

But there are tensions, and it's hard to say exactly what.  

SMITH:  All right, we will keep our eyes on it for you and update you as anything else comes into the newsroom on that attempted coup in Turkey.  

Meanwhile, we spoke to General Flynn earlier this week, talking about combating ISIS and fighting terror.  And he said we're giving away too much.  We're telling too much.  Here's what he had to say.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GEN. MIKE FLYNN (RET.), U.S. ARMY:  We continue to telegraph to our enemies exactly what we're going to do.  

As recent as a couple days ago, where the secretary of defense telegraphed that we're going to send another 500-plus soldiers into Iraq.  Why do we tell our enemies what it is that we're going to do?  We shouldn't.

Did bin Laden tell us that he was fly planes into the Twin Towers and into the Pentagon?  No.  So, we have to be a little bit more unpredictable in how we operate.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:  What do you think of that?  We're giving away all our secrets and we're detailing exactly who we're sending in and where we're sending them.  

WOOLSEY:  I completely agree with Mike.  

The administration cannot keep its mouth shut on these things.  Had they been in power during World War II, they probably would have made speeches about how well we were doing breaking the Japanese codes.  I have no idea why they do this sort of thing, unless they care more about the public relations than they do about winning the war.  

And that is a very serious charge indeed.  I'm not making it here, but it is certainly something that you have to start thinking about, when you see everything getting disclosed.  Military operations require secrecy now. After the fact, they're supposed to be -- you ought to be able to learn what happened, but during the lead-up and the execution of something, they ought to keep their mouth shut in the White House.  

SMITH:  And we talk about this in the wake of that horrific attack last night in Nice, France, and we continue to talk about who else was involved in all this.  

And we're learning more about the killer, learning more about the terrorist.  We know that he was married and had three children.  We have new video coming in of his wife or estranged or ex-wife -- we're still trying to learn details on that -- being detained.  You're looking at it now.  

Obviously, a bit of violence and resistance there, but you wonder -- and if could I ask you, Jim, what you think that we could learn from her, what they will be asking her.

WOOLSEY:  Difficult to say.  

If they had been apart for some time, he might not have talked to her anyway.  The possibilities run the gamut, from some very useful facts to absolutely nothing.  And it's just too early to tell.

SMITH:  As we do talk about the unpredictability -- and actually when I was talking to General Flynn, I said sometimes it's -- we're telling the enemy exactly what we're going to do.  And sometimes we're telling them exactly what we're not willing to do.  How harmful is that?  

WOOLSEY:  Right.  

Well, Churchill once said that, in war, truth is so important, it must always be protected by a bodyguard of lies.  And Sun Tzu would have said the same thing, the granddaddy strategist of them all, which is deceive, deceive, deceive if you want to win.  

Now, if you care more about the public relations than about winning, you will tell everybody what you're going to do, and it will be very straightforward and they will say, oh, isn't that interesting, and then go on to something else.  

But the people who really matter, the commanders and so forth on the other side, will say, ah, thank you very much for telling me what you're going to do.  

SMITH:  Very nice talking to you tonight, sir.  Good of you to be here, Jim Woolsey.  It's an unbelievable time for us right now, unbelievable news cycle.  

I wish I could get your take on politics at the moment, but...   

WOOLSEY:  Well, I can kind of get in the heads of terrorists and dictators, but I have no skill at all in getting inside the heads of American politicians. Zero.  

(LAUGHTER)

SMITH:  All right, we will leave it there.  Thank you.    

WOOLSEY:  Thank you.  
 
SMITH:  Thank you.  

END

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