RUSH: We’re gonna kick off now with a little chat with Bill Gertz, formerly of the Washington Times. He’s now journalist at large, and one of the — if not the — greatest reporter on the Pentagon and the Department of Defense systems, national security of the United States. He’s been around for as long as I can remember, he’s got his new book out. It’s called iWar, like in iPhone, the letter I. It’s iWar: War and Peace the Information Age. Bill, welcome. It’s great to talk to you. It’s been a long time. How are you doing?
GERTZ: Hey, Rush! I’m doing great. Great to be on the show. Thanks so much for having me on.
RUSH: You’re more than welcome. Now, your book covers much, much more than what’s in the news now. Folks, it’s an historical compendium of many of the challenges we’ve had with cyber attacks going back years and years, from North Korea, from the ChiComs, cyber attacks we’ve engaged in, success stories, failures, areas we’re strong and weak and so forth based on Bill’s investigation. But before we get to all that, since you’ve written this book and since you have been studying and reporting on the Pentagon and national security for so many years, as you watch the presidential campaign and now the transition and you hear like we all do every day that the Russians hacked our elections, that the Russians hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails… As somebody who knows about cyber wars and cyber security, how do you, Bill Gertz…? How do you process this stuff? How do you react to it? ‘Cause you know whether some of this stuff is true, legitimate or not. So how do you deal with it yourself?
GERTZ: Yeah. This is an amazing phenomenon. What we’re seeing is what I call information warfare. It’s basically the kind of warfare that’s gonna dominate our society because we live in an information age, and we’re under assault from all quarters, not just the Russians. The Chinese, the Iranians, and I even put the liberal left in the kind of domestic information warfare. It’s a broad-scale assault, and the United States is ill-prepared to deal with it. We just don’t have anything that can counteract these lies and disinformation the way we did during the Cold War.
RUSH: By that, do you mean we don’t have secure systems that would block cyber attacks, that we do not have good firewalls, we don’t have systems in place to be able to identify these attacks when they’re happening and be able to stop them?
GERTZ: Yes. We’ve learned that the internet is basically a lawless environment, and every time we build defenses, the bad guys find ways around them. The real solution is to go on the offensive, and under Obama, he has done absolutely nothing to counteract massive cyber attacks from the Chinese, now the Russians, and also the Iranians and North Koreans. Obama’s view was… He said back in October, he thought, oh, if we do something against the Russians for their hacking, then we start a Wild, Wild West exchange of cyber attacks.
RUSH: Now, wait, Bill. I mean, Obama told us that he called Putin in September and told him to cut it out.
GERTZ: Yeah. (chuckling) Yeah. Uh, obviously the message did not get through to the Kremlin.
RUSH: I wonder why. (laughing)
RUSH: Okay. So let’s get specifics. You are fully aware of the politics. I have to admit I am being a little unfair to Bill because Bill’s book is not, per se, about intraparty politics. It’s about the overall vulnerability of our country to all of this increasing cyber warfare, and he details how we have been hit that people don’t know. In other words, Chinese, Russian, Iranian, even Israeli success stories over the years. But specifically with everything you know, Bill, when you hear the actual phrase in the media “Russians hacked the election,” you know that that’s not actually what happened, correct?
GERTZ: Actually, it’s a combination. In the past, cyber attacks were primarily for stealing information for espionage purposes. That was the specialty of the Chinese. But in the case of the election campaign — not the vote, but the election campaign — the Russians attacked certain political figures on both sides. You know, Colin Powell emails were hacked. General Breedlove, the NATO commander, his emails were hacked by the Russians. And then these emails were leaked to select media that were conduits for Russian propaganda to achieve a certain political goal. That’s the difference here. It’s not just cyber espionage and stealing secrets to help Russian industry or Chinese industry.
GERTZ: It’s really trying to influence.
RUSH: Yeah. By the way, for the Russians, the old Soviet Union, propaganda was the coin of the realm. In fact, Bill, I think if you want to try to categorize any of this as a positive, one of the things that has come out of this is that the Democrats, the liberals, whatever, have had to admit now what they denied for decades. All during the seventies and eighties and nineties, they denied the Soviet Union was infiltrating American universities. They denied the Soviet Union was trying to infiltrate the government. They denied the Soviet Union tried to infiltrate State Department. They denied the Soviet Union was trying to propagandize universities.
RUSH: And now they’re practically admitting it because it happened to them and their computer systems at the DNC.
GERTZ: Yeah, and I could tell you in the early part of the Obama administration when Hillary did her ridiculous reset attempt, the U.S. government throughout the law enforcement and national security community was ordered not to say anything negative about Vladimir Putin. In other words, Putin was their central person that they were trying to reset relations with. Well, and then of course Crimea happened. They invaded Crimea, and things turned south from there. But there’s been no pushback against the Russians. And Vladimir Putin realized that he’s dealing with a patsy in the Obama administration.
RUSH: That’s so crucial to point out because the Obama administration and the Democrats are trying to position themselves as the warriors opposing Putin, and Trump and the Republicans are the ones who were trying to sidle up and defend Putin. Which is dangerous because Putin’s a bad guy, he’s an enemy, and Trump thinks he’s a good guy. When in fact it was Obama who didn’t do anything negative to Putin, who didn’t challenge Putin and who in fact told one of Putin’s aides, “Tell Vladimir I’ll have more flexibility after the election.” They were talking about reducing our nuclear arsenal at that point.
GERTZ: Yeah. The chapter in my book on Russia is titled, “In Russia, President Assassinates You.” This is a guy who has killed his political opponents with impunity and continues to do so. This is a bad actor. I think we’re gonna see attempts by the Trump administration to try to reset relations, but Trump said the other day, look, he may get along with Putin but the chances are that he probably will not. It’s absolutely clear to me that Putin views the United States as its main enemy and is working to undermine and ultimately destroy the United States.
RUSH: And that’s nothing new. That’s been the strategic objective of Russians, and then the Soviet Union, and now the Russians for all of our lifetimes. Do you have any confidence, do you have confidence or not that Trump and his emerged national security team have Putin and the Russians properly understood and in perspective? Or are you worried that they don’t?
GERTZ: Uh, I think it’s becoming clear that he’s going to try to reset relations, but it’s not going to work. I was encouraged by a number of statements by his nominees. General Mattis was spot on in saying (summarized), “Look, we’ve got a major threat coming out of the Russians.” Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, threw down the gauntlet against the Chinese in the South China Sea. He said, “Look, not only do they have to stop this but we’re going to block China from using the 3,000 acres of islands that they’ve built in this strategic international waterway.”
RUSH: As you have studied all of this, do you have any impressions yet on whether or not — and I’m sure this is why you write in the book, actually — how complacent do you think our population has become to threats against our country from foreign actors like Russia, like North Korea? For example, chapter two in your book is about North Korea and their rocket program and so forth. I’ll just share something: When the North Koreans launch a missile that lands 200 miles nowhere in the middle of the ocean, friends of mine joke that the North Koreans are a bunch of inept jokes and nobody needs to be worried about them. But you don’t think that’s the case at all, right?
GERTZ: Oh, absolutely. I think North Korea is one of the most dangerous threats. It emerged as a greater threat under Obama, where he ignored missile and submarine-launched ballistic missile developments, five nuclear tests. There’s been no sanctions imposed on this regime. This is a regime that has been accused of crimes against humanity. Here we are in the Twenty-First Century and this regime is allowed to continue? The reason is that the Obama administration farmed out its North Korea policy to Beijing. And guess what? The Chinese communists in Beijing supported the North Korean communists in Pyongyang.
RUSH: Right. Because it’s destabilizing and that’s to their benefit.
RUSH: I mean, communists are communists even though the Norks may be rank amateurs at it on the world stage. Here’s something else you write in chapter three, folks, which is entitled, “United States: 80% of Success Is Showing Up.” This assertion that you make, especially when I measure it against what we’re hearing today… For example, in setting up this point, folks, the news daily recording the Trump victory and the transition is that the CIA is utterly competent, that the CIA is on top of everything, and that the CIA is desperately trying to get Trump to listen to ’em, and the CIA is infallible.
Now, prior to this, the Democrat Party hated the CIA. Frank Church and other Democrats have tried to impugn and impair their activities. Now they’re best friends. But listen to what Bill writes here: Former CIA operations officer Brad Johnson, quote, “If the CIA were directed to conduct information warfare today, it would be unable to do so because it no longer has an effective and capable directorate of operations.” It’s right on page 77 of your book. Now, in this day and age, how in the world can that be, that we could not mount our own information warfare today if we had to? I mean, everybody thinks the CIA is on top of everything now.
GERTZ: It’s totally alarming. This has been politicization that has been underway for a long time, and it has accelerated under John Brennan where what happened was they took political appointees, turned them into analysts, most of them come from the left-wing academic community anyway.
RUSH: Oh, no. You’re kidding?
RUSH: See, I’ve told you, folks, they politicize everything. They’ve taken political left-wing hacks and turned them into analysts?
GERTZ: Yeah. And then they send them down to this training center near Williamsburg, and they give them a perfunctory course in the directorate of operations —
RUSH: Bill, these are people — (cross talk)
GERTZ: — make them spies.
RUSH: These are people who think the United States is the greatest problem in the world.
GERTZ: Yes, that is the problem. I mean, the academic community, that’s become an anti-American system. They are part of the new left radicalism that made the long march through the institutions. And they reached their zenith under the Obama administration.
RUSH: Now, in practically every answer that you’ve given me about the CIA and our national defense, cyber defense, every answer outside the campaign, I’ve heard you say the Obama administration. It sounds to me like you’re saying the deterioration has occurred during the Obama years. And I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but you’re making it sound like it’s almost purposeful rather than the result of incompetence or inattention.
GERTZ: It is purposeful. One of the startling things I uncovered from some of these leaks that came out during the campaign was that it was a vetting report for Susan Rice, who would go on to become Obama’s national security adviser. And the vetting report said that she shares the president’s view that the United States must engage America’s enemies, literally. It says that was one of the driving policies of President Obama was to engage America’s enemies. So you have the chance to help Iran become a more democratic place back in 2009. Instead, he sided with the mullahs. Same thing with Cuba. Same thing with Russia and China. This is a guy who has damaged national security in ways that are going to be felt for decades.
RUSH: Holy smokes. Well, I mean, a number of us knew it was bad. I didn’t know that they were turning academic hacks into analysts. I mean, the problem with that, folks, literally is these are people who think that the problem in the world is the United States as a superpower. They don’t see the United States as a solution to anything. These are uber-leftists. Here, further in the same chapter — and I know about the CIA — or, rather, the FBI, wiretapping and monitoring Martin Luther King. I had no idea the KGB had penetrated Martin Luther King’s inner circle. What was their purpose there?
GERTZ: Well, that was at a time when they were trying to influence the black nationalist movement as a subversive element to subvert the United States. And they had planted a number of agents within what they called the black nationalist movement. This was disclosed by a Russian defector called Vasili Mitrokhin.
RUSH: What was his name?
GERTZ: Vasili Mitrokhin. He wrote a book called the Mitrokhin Papers [sic], which didn’t get a lot of attention but it was clear that the black nationalist movement was thoroughly penetrated by the KGB.
RUSH: I thought you said Vitaly Churkin, who has been a propagandist as long as I’ve been alive.
RUSH: No matter what regime is running the Russians, the Soviets or the Russians, he’s there. Bill, I’ve got one more quick question, I gotta take a break. Can you hang on?
RUSH: Bill Gertz here, folks, with his new book, iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age. Greatest Pentagon reporter of our lifetime.
RUSH: We are back. Bill Gertz, the book iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age. The Iranian nuclear deal, Bill, there’s some confusion. The Democrats and Obama maintained, I saw him say in his swan song speech that he stopped the Iranians from getting a nuclear weapon. Other people say no, this speeds up the process. What’s the truth, and is there anything about this deal you’ve uncovered that we don’t know that is really eye opening?
GERTZ: Two words: Neville Chamberlain, peace in our time. The Iranian nuclear deal assures that Iran will have nuclear weapons in 10 years or less. This is going to happen. Just as we saw North Korea sign up for the nonproliferation treaty only to use it as a tool to gain nuclear technology for weapons, Iran is doing exactly the same thing. It remains to be seen as to whether the Trump administration will get rid of this terrible agreement.
RUSH: Yeah, I can’t get my arms around it. The president says he just stopped them from getting a nuclear weapon. Now, does he think that he did or is he lying to us? I don’t want to put the onus on you, but this just doesn’t compute.
GERTZ: Yeah. No, they are convinced that an agreement was based on the, quote, the hope that Iran will never seek to acquire nuclear weapons is going to be enough to prevent the mullahs in Tehran from developing —
GERTZ: — quote, nuclear missiles and warheads for those missiles.
RUSH: That’s why the Neville Chamberlain comparison. So you think there’s a good faith belief that the Iranians are good guys and wouldn’t lie to Obama, that’s what they think.
GERTZ: Yeah. And it was the whole engaging the enemy kind of thing, too.
RUSH: Well, in perusing the book, Bill, we don’t have time to get into it now but also he’s uncovered some other information about the San Bernardino attack, how that happened and what it really meant. His book is just chock-full, you know the headlines, you think you know the story, but you don’t in terms of what Bill has been able to uncover. Bill, where are you working daily now? You still submit stuff to the Washington Times?
GERTZ: Yes, I’m a national security columnist at the Washington Times and I’m a senior editor at the Washington Free Beacon, and having more fun than a human being should be allowed to have, as someone likes to say.
RUSH: Hey, Bill, everybody on the phone today is getting their choice of a new iPhone 7 or 7 Plus. Would you like one or the other?
GERTZ: Sure, yes.
RUSH: Which one?
GERTZ: 7 Plus.
RUSH: 7 Plus. Who’s your carrier?
GERTZ: I have Verizon.
RUSH: Verizon. Fine. Okay. I’m gonna send you an unlocked SIM-free — Bill knows this jargon. What kind of phone do you have now?
GERTZ: I got an iPhone 6 Plus.
RUSH: Fine. Take the SIM card out, put it in this new one, you’re up and running.
GERTZ: I’ll be upgrading.
RUSH: Do you have a color preference, Bill?
GERTZ: Anything, gray or silver or dark, yeah.
RUSH: Fine and dandy. I got you covered. Okay, Bill Gertz, thanks again for your time.
RUSH: I appreciate it. Again, his book is iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age. Bill, don’t hang up. We need to get an address where we can send you the phone.