Media Availability with Secretaries Carter, Pritzker and Johnson

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter; Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker; Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson


SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER:  Okay.  Well, good afternoon, everyone.

It's a real pleasure for me to be here with my two colleagues, the Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.  Great friends of mine.

But more importantly really exceptionally able public servants.  And that's a privilege for me as secretary of Defense to be able to serve alongside other members of the government as skilled and as experienced as they are.  And that's especially so.

And that's the reason why the three of us are out here today because when so many problems and so many opportunities that -- problems that we face and opportunities we have to grasp as a country cut across the different responsibilities of our departments.  So getting to work together with these guys is a great treat for me.

So also in the theme of today is that so many of the challenges that we have as societies today, and the opportunities that we can grasp hold of if only we can, are ones that require cooperation between the private sector and the public sector.  The tremendously innovative tech sector of the United States, represented by the membership at this meeting today of private sector companies and the government.

There's a long history of that kind of cooperation advantaging America in so many ways.  Advantaging its security but also its prosperity and all the values of freedom and self-expression and everything else that our society stands for.  There's a great heritage of that, part of that enabled by the NSTAC.  I gave them my own remarks, the history of the NSTAC.  It started with that spirit in mind.

So public-private cooperation was one theme of today.  And the other theme was the future.  Looking ahead to the future, whether it be driverless cars or drones or any number of things.  What are the opportunities, but also the challenges those things are going to pose?  And how can we best as a society face them?

And really you know from my point of view, and I think that was seconded in the comments by my two colleagues, certainly I think universally the view of those of us in Washington, the way to address these things as a society is to get together to talk, to share ideas and to innovate together and show the way forward together. We're really committed to that.  That's what NSTAC is about.

So very glad to have you here.  Let me ask my two colleagues, starting with Secretary Pritzker, if they want to add anything.  Then we'll take your questions.

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE PENNY PRITZKER:  Well thank you for joining us.

You know having the secretary of Defense, the secretary of Homeland Security and the secretary of Commerce together with the business leaders at NSTAC I think really underscores the fact that cybersecurity is a threat that is not a traditional national security threat, and cannot be handled by law enforcement, the military or intelligence services alone, which is why it was so important that we all got together.

The American private sector has a fundamental role to play in the way that we address our -- the threats both today and in the future because the cybersecurity of our companies is directly tied to the strength of our economy as well as our nation.  And the vast majority of our digital infrastructure, our financial networks, our health care systems, our power grids and others is owned and operated by the private sector.

So when you step back and think about when the Iranian hackers attacked our banks or infiltrated our controls -- the control system of the dam in New York, they targeted privately owned infrastructure.  And when North Korea attacked Sony Pictures they destroyed millions of dollars in equipment and damaged one of America's largest companies.  So threats of this kind of scale undermine not only the strength of our economy, but the basic functionality of society.

And so today's meeting was really to underscore how important it is that we have the kind of close and constant collaboration between government and industry.  And listening to the venture capitalists talk about the future helps us to envision ways not only for us to work together today, but also into the future.  So thank you.

SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY JEH JOHNSON:  Should I use these?  Do we need these?

SEC. CARTER:  (Inaudible) --

SEC. JOHNSON:  There's some people who are recording.

SEC. CARTER:  -- pick you up.

SEC. JOHNSON:  Okay.  All right.  Just put them in the middle so.

Thank you very much.  The secretary of Defense, the secretary of Commerce and I are here today at the NSTAC meeting.  It is our privilege to be here.  Our presence, the presence of three cabinet officers at this meeting highlights the importance of the work of the NSTAC.  And highlights the need for a public-private partnership in cybersecurity.

I want to take the opportunity while I'm here with my friend Ash Carter to salute the Department of Defense under his leadership, our men and women in uniform, along with the global coalition of which we are a part, in the considerable progress that we have made in degrading the Islamic State.

Over the last period of months we have taken back territory.  We have taken out a number of the leaders of that organization, including those focused on external attacks.  We have degraded ISIL's ability to communicate and refinance itself.  We are, with the valiant effort of our men and women in uniform along with the global coalition, making our homeland safer.

We're here today to talk about innovation and emerging technologies.  Again, that is and must be a public-private partnership.

In my own comments today I observed the uses we're making in the Department of Homeland Security in emerging technologies, innovation when it comes to cybersecurity, and the range of our missions across the Department of Homeland Security.  In cybersecurity we are deploying Einstein 1, 2 and 3A.

As I noted earlier, our goal is to have Einstein 3A deployed across the entire federal civilian dot-gov network by the end of this year.  Probably the principal advantage of Einstein 3A is that it not only blocks intrusions into our federal system.  It is a platform for future technologies for better cybersecurity.

So we are, through innovation, emerging technologies, making considerable progress in our nation's cybersecurity and in our government's cybersecurity.  Through innovation, emerging technologies we are refining and moving to a more sophisticated ability to track the travel of suspected terrorists, suspicious individuals through our customs and border protection technologies.

We are working with the international coalition with our friends and allies in inviting them to partner with us in the technology to track the travel of suspicious individuals.  And so this has got to be a team effort.

We're moving in the right direction.  All of us here have spent considerable time in Silicon Valley because we appreciate the importance of doing that.  The Department of Homeland Security now has a presence here in the Silicon Valley.

Our National Protection and Programs Directorate, as well as our Science and Technology Directorate, and I know the Department of Defense now has a presence here in Silicon Valley, which highlights the importance of working together.  And it highlights the importance of the government and the national security arm of the government having a presence here as well.

We look forward to your questions.

STAFF:  The secretaries have time for a couple of questions.  We'll start with Patrick.

Q:  Thank you very much.

STAFF:  Could you identify yourself, Patrick?

Q:  Oh, sorry.  Patrick Tucker with Defense One.

So, Secretary Carter, today you mentioned some of the cyber offensive capabilities that you're creating to attack ISIS -- (inaudible).  You mentioned the ability to change information in order to, in your words, "fool the enemy" I guess about information that they were looking at.

And it reminded me of something that -- (inaudible) -- testified about the cyber threats facing this country.  He said in the future we might also see more cyber operations that would change or manipulate electronic information that could compromise its integrity.

So my question is what guarantees can you provide today that the cyber offensive capabilities that you are developing in the fight against the Islamic State will never be used against any U.S. citizens or against any U.S. forces, or against any innocent parties?

SEC. CARTER:  Well, these aren't capabilities that only we have.  So don't -- you shouldn't be under that assumption.  So these are capabilities that others have.  And therefore one has to assume, and we do, that people can use cyber tools against our networks.  And including the networks that our military depends upon.

So there's no doubt that that -- and that is why good, strong cyber defenses are essential for us for national security.  So I don't think for a minute that the things we're using, which are not novel, are somehow things that only we have.

But there you're in a situation where we're at war with an enemy that is determined to attack our homeland.  And that engages in barbarism, tyrannizes people in Iraq and Syria, and would like to do it elsewhere.  And at the same time that we seek to destroy them from the air and on the ground, we're going to try to make sure that they can't talk to one another, organize their forces and so forth.

That's going to be an important part of hastening the defeat of ISIL.  And we need to do that.  But we're not using anything that's unique or distinctive.  And therein lies a lesson.  We all have to have good cyber defenses as well.

STAFF:  Dan?

Q:  Secretary Carter --

STAFF:  Could you identify yourself, Dan, for the benefit of the other secretaries?

Q:  Yes.  Dan Lamothe with Washington Post.

I wanted to ask you to elaborate on some comments you made this morning.  You mentioned that you wanted DIUx to work more closely with R&D.  Does that involve DARPA, SCO?  What sort of agencies are we talking about?

SEC. CARTER:  All of them.

Q:  All of them?

SEC. CARTER:  All of them.  Each of our funding agencies, Dan, has different technological interests.  They have different ways of operating.  And in addition to connecting entrepreneurs out here to all of the funding streams and all of the services that part of the intelligence community, which is Defense, which is the lion's share of it, our Special Operations Command, our Cyber Command, all of that.

We're also trying to create some new and more innovative and more agile and rapid ways of partnering with private companies.  Because remember a lot of these companies can't wait six years -- excuse me, six months or a year, which can be a typical government procurement time.

So if we're going to run at the speed of innovation out here in Silicon Valley, we're going to have to do things differently.  So we're innovating.  So we’re also connecting them to the full variety of our current funding sources.  We're going to be creating some new and innovative ways of doing it.

Q:  (inaudible) -- next question?

STAFF:  We got a lot of people, Dan.  Let me move on.  I'm sorry.

Other questions here?  Go ahead.

Q:  Jon Harper with National Defense Magazine.  My question's for each of you.  What is the biggest problem or challenge that you've encountered as you're reaching out to the private sector to try to get them to cooperate more closely with your -- (inaudible)?

SEC. JOHNSON:  Can I start?

SEC. CARTER:  Sure.

STAFF:  Go to the microphone, sir.

SEC. JOHNSON:  I'll talk loud.

Hiring.

(Laughter.)

Hiring.  Recruitment.  Partnering with the private sector and at the same time competing with the private sector for good cyber talent.

The Department of Homeland Security was given added authorities to hire by legislation enacted into law in the end of 2014.  We are implementing those new hiring authorities now.

But we need good cyber talent.  And I think I speak for all of us, particularly in the Department of Homeland Security, to strengthen and enable our missions.

And so I spend a lot of time when I'm in Silicon Valley on the campuses of universities and colleges talking about the need for cyber talent.  And talking to young people about wanting to serve their country and their government for a couple of years in the cyber community before going into the private sector.

So when you ask me what's the challenge?  I would -- that's the number one thing that I think of.

SEC. PRITZKER:  What I've seen is actually a change in attitude for the better in terms of the relationship between the business leadership in the Silicon Valley at all levels and the federal government.  And certainly we see it at the Department of Commerce.

There's a greater desire to engage, whether it's in our digital or our data advisory committees.  There's a greater desire for the venture capitalists we just met with asked us if we would host the CEOs of all of their companies to come back to Washington to better understand the point of view of the government so that the products and services that are being developed by those companies are more sensitive to cybersecurity or some of the challenges that their products and services are creating for the country.

So I think that if you look at all three of our departments, the relationships are very much improving.  The attitude in terms of engagement is far better.  And the willingness to encourage their colleagues to actually come and work in our departments has grown dramatically.  And that is something over my three years in office is dramatically different than when I arrived.

SEC. CARTER:  I agree with everything that's been said.  And I just -- I won't try to add anything, in the interest of time.  I'll just chime onto Penny.

People out here like people in -- innovative people elsewhere in America, are animated by a desire to make positive change and to make a difference.  And when they see what we're trying to do to preserve American -- the American economy and competitiveness in a globally competitive world, to protect our people here at home, and to protect our interests and create a better world overseas.

When they see the importance of those missions and that they can contribute to them, and that there's a user-friendly relationship with the government.  Then they want to make a contribution.

So I'm very gratified by the attitude of folks here.  We have to make that possible by making Washington a place you can work with.  But there's a willingness to do that just simply because the magnitude of the importance that face our society and the magnitude of the opportunities that await us if only we get to them.

STAFF:  I think we have time for one more.  Hannah?

Q:  Hi.  Hannah Kuchler from the Financial Times.  My question is to each of you.

Would you like to see Silicon Valley invest more or less in encryption?

SEC. PRITZKER:  Strong encryption is really critical to protecting our digital infrastructure.  And today our entire economy rests on the back of the digital infrastructure.  There isn't a company that isn't working using the Internet.  So it's extremely important that we have strong encryption.

What we need also, though, is a way that encryption -- not that encryption.  That businesses as they're creating strong encryption can respond if there's law enforcement challenges.

SEC. CARTER:  I second what Penny said, more.  And but it's not Silicon Valley's investing only.  It's corporate America investing in its own protection.

One of the important points that Secretary Pritzker was making in her remarks this morning is because it's hard to measure cyber protection, it's hard to buy cyber protection.  And companies aren't buying enough.  And so you can have all the innovative companies in the world.  But if nobody's buying their products, that's going to be a problem.

Now we are, in the national security community, and I think I speak for my colleagues up here.  But I certainly speak for defense.  We're a big market.  But there's a much larger market out there.  And I think it's fair to say that the -- globally the market for cybersecurity that should exist doesn't yet exist.

But what that says is that there will be a big market for those innovators that get here first.  Many of them are around here.  We know we need it, the government.  We want to partner.

And as Secretary Pritzker has said, we know that strong encryption is part of the solution for the future.  We're going to depend on it too.

SEC. JOHNSON:  The president has said that strong encryption is a necessity.  I think he's also said, and I'm paraphrasing, that there are very few absolutes in life.  And so all of us are very supportive of strong encryption, strong cybersecurity as a matter of security for the American public that we serve.

It is also the case that with strong encryption it becomes harder to detect criminal activity.  That includes communications of criminal activity.  So as a government and with the private sector I think we're all interested in finding the right solution that accommodates both strong encryption and enables us to track crime and to track potential terrorist plots for reasons of law enforcement, public safety and national security.

And so a lot of us are working very hard on this issue.  And I think that it is something that is solvable in a cooperative way.

STAFF:  Thanks, everybody.  Appreciate it.

SEC. CARTER:  Thanks, guys.

SEC. PRITZKER:  Thank you.  Terrific.  That was great.