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tv   Washington Journal JEFFREY RINGEL  CSPAN  February 16, 2018 3:35pm-4:03pm EST

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the internationalist, a radical plan to outlaw war remade the world and hadley with her book we need to talk: how to have conversations that matter. watch live coverage of the savanna book festival saturday at nine eastern on c-span2's book tv. >> now it's a discussion on the issuing of security clearances for trump administration officials. from this morning's "washington journal", this is about half an hour. >> host: joining us from new york, jeff ringel who is a former fbi agent is here to talk about a couple issues and we will start with the shooting in florida. it's reported that if you look at the front pages of the newspapers for example, the washington post, wording signs, scrutinized in florida . a call to the fbi and concerns voiced by neighbors
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in school fueled debate over law andfirst response. what's your reaction to that? apparently he said on youtube i'm going to be a professional school shooter. the youtube user was nicholas cruz. the fbi was alerted to this, what your reaction ? >> guest: i haven't received today's papers but the fbi gets lots of leads that come into the office from people who see something they don't like and they reported to the fbi. from what i understand the fbi tried to identify nikolas cruz on what was that, facebook or youtube and they could not. there are different steps, different levels of investigation and there are o different investigative steps that can be taken in each one of those levels and so in this case somebody reported the youtube, the fbi can do so much work but it's underneath in the assessment phase and they couldn't use
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legal processes such as grand jury subpoenas or search warrants to get further into identifying who nikolas cruz was. >> host: explain that more. washington post has after that it was made, to fbi agents interviewed the caller who was ben bennett the next day.they checked the law enforcement data for anyone by cruz's name but could not identify the person who left the comments. when you say you can only do so much. >> guest: there are three levels of an investigative steps the fbi can do. in itthis case the caller, he called and i think from you said mississippi. that's an assessment. the opfbi can use public databases or fbi databases, law enforcement databases to run that name or run that handle or to run anything that can hopefully identify who cruz was.
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by doing this, they can see if there have been similar reports on a person named cruz who's already been identified and that would give the investigators more to delve into when they are doingtheir investigation but without any real concrete information , and i've seen this in investigations i've had where people make very generic, bland threats , but they don't identify which tunnel, what plan or where or how, there's not a lot the fbi can do. i think the fbi did everything they could legally do by their procedures to try to identify it and when they can do nothing further, that's when they have to close that lead out. >> host: the washington post notes five months later you walked into that school in florida. what is missing when the fbi is trying to connect the dots ? because here's the wall street journal. front page, the shooter showed warning signs. he left behind warning signs that seemed to have gone
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unheeded. concerned neighbors call the police classmates said he was upset with guns and call security considered him troubled . why are that information not given to the fbi or the fbi cannot act on it when they are doing, when they are following up on the tip? what more needs to be done? >> guest: when people are going to law local law enforcement and saying my teenage neighbor is troubled, that's all they tell the police, the police really don't have much they can do. they can talk to the individual if he's underage. they make need to have a parent involve in that incident, so they can do some of their investigation but if the information is going to local law enforcement, law enforcement is the first place this can be addressed. because when you talk about althe fbi, we're talking it across state lines internationally. if local law enforcement is being pulled this individual is troubled, then the school,
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security, local police can possibly come up with a plan to talk to cruise, try to figure out who he is and what he's up to but again, until certain tripwires are cross, law enforcement sort of have their hands tied. they can talk to the individual, look at the individual. the fact that crews went out and purchased 11 and a lot of people talk to law enforcement that was monitoring him, that would be one of those tripwires cross based on what they were saying, he purchased the gun. now law enforcement can be more proactive and get more investigative steps. >> how is local law puenforcement know that he just had a gun? >> would that be the fbi telling him? >> know, because the fbi has not told him. when somebody buys a weapon, there should be a background check. just basically a check at the gun dealer have to do to make
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sure the individual doesn't ba have a criminal record. that will go through stages. the fbi database on criminal records. >> but that is all.the fbi doesn't crack people who buy weapons.they just provide the background check for a criminal check on gun purchases. or the gun dealers. and it sounds like he was able to go in, violentand leave that day but there was no way. like there are other states . >> and i know criminal record, they have background check via the database. >> and you know, the fbi is contacting local law enforcement saying your are the people in your area who purchased 11. at this point, cruz was under the radar to everybody other than locals who interacted with him and see him as a disturbed individual . nobody else knows who he is at this point as far as law enforcement. >> host: for these local people, his neighbors, if they were alerted to him, the school officials, is there something that they can do
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that gets somebody like him on the radar screen, so that if he goes to buy a gun, that that information is alerted to somebody. >> i understand what you're saying take a step back. you have an angry 19-year-old, and an 18-year-old. neighbors don't like him cause he's angry. he hasn't broken any laws. he's authorized to buy that weapon. he has no criminal record and even though people may not like what he's saying, he's not been deemed mentally incapable by any authorities. he doesn't have a criminal record. those are sort of the two places that law enforcement would look and beable to stop somebody from purchasing a weapon . and even though on the social
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media, nobody tracking this people through social media, before hand because again, i want to say they have an investigation on him,nobody's looking into his social media or what he's saying or what he's doing . >> you've given your experience about mental health laws in this country. the usa today says if somebody is adjudicated mentally defective or has been committed to a mental institution, he or sheis prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law , but getting somebody adjudicated, mentally defective or committed, do you believe there are enough laws on the books for the process to happen? >> i don't know enough about the mental health laws. but taking a step back when they had the virginia, university of virginia shooter, the young student who did very well in school, he went out and killed a
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bunch of people, don't know how long ago that was. if we were to put a black mark on everybody who goes to counseling because they are going through stress because they are having a problem, just thinking about former military people who o have come home and needed some counseling to get back into society because of ptsd or because of the stress that they encountered while overseas . if you all of a sudden we were to say now that person is on our record and forever they are not going to be authorized to get a weapon or they're not going to be authorized to get a security background track because they had mental health problems, that's going to prevent people from seeking help that they need so it's somewhat of a double edged sword. i think there can be more steps, more steps put in there for purchasing weapons. i would like to see a longer wait period between when you go into purchasing weapons
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between when you can take a weapon out of the store. also , other restrictions, but the mental health problem is something that except for law enforcement to address and it's not for government to address because you're stepping into people's individual rights at some point. >> the usa today says from 1998 to 2014, the fbi rejected over 15,000 potential done buyers because of background checks on mental health adjudication. about 4.4 percent of the 1.2 million background checks thatresulted in denial. >> let's go to ronnie in southern pines . good morning to you, you're on the air with jeff ringel. >> good morning. i have a question and then a comment. the question that i have is in somebody from tennessee on instagram e, didn't they get into it with the fbi and let them know that the individual who had been posting these
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horrendous posts on instagram? >> si'm not privy to the current investigation. i think i read something roller to that but i can't say for sure. >> you think that background checks work? >> guest: background checks for weapons? >> host: yes. >> guest: i think it's just one step of many that need to be done. i think at the very least, background checks will stop people with convictions from getting a weapon and possibly people who had abuse charges leveled against them. i think that is one step that needs to continue, yes danny, silver springs, republican. >> caller: good morning. i think the missing piece in this epuzzle is the mental health institution. everybody knew cruz was a
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ticking time bomb.what they needed to do was involuntarily lock him up in a mental institution. the institution mental institution evaluated him for drugs until he was seeming to be well enough in the streets. when you strengthen our mental health infrastructure, look into it, that's the missing piece. if they would have locked him up involuntarily, humanely and everything, then we would have fixed that problem and i think that's the missing piece. >> host: jeff ringel? >> guest: that's interesting, when you're going to lock up somebody involuntarily. now you're getting into a whole double right issue. and i know our government i think under reagan, we got rid of all the mental institutions and so that's a big thing to do. i do think that each state needs to offer better mental
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health services to its population, but again, that's costly and who's going to get in and that's not necessarily going to stop everybody. that's not going to say cruz wouldn't have availed himself of these services in getting back to involuntarily esadding people into the mental health facilities, , they can do that in some locations. i think here in new york they get 72 hours of involuntary, i don't want to say incarceration but where they can involuntarily put youinto a mental health institution to assess you but after 72 hours, they have to let you go . >> host: chattanooga tennessee, democrats . >> caller: good morning. i was, i know most of the time there's a problem that florida is doing so in this case i think there's a problem with florida guns and the fact that he was in this
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world all along by himself, i think that even the chair, i'm hearing on the tv they know there's more that can be done in the area of supporting people who are out here in this world and right now i'm hoping that someone looks into bullying and has a hotline for that also because i don't know if he was bullied or not but i do know that the young man as though was absurd. >> do you have any thoughts about bullying that online social media, how social media is being used in our society and what impact that has on criminal activity or crimes being committed? >> my opinion and i think social media makes everybody, or gives people the capability of being a keyboard hero. people can say things without actually having to face the person or avmake the statements everybody can be re-brash and
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so insult people online. and say things they would never say to a person face-to-face because that would just be difficult. i think also, social media sometimes is used to help promote from obscurity to being infamous. individuals that are lost and are looking for some thing, they use social media as their last hurrah to get their last shot at fame. i see that often in things with a lot of like the jihadist terrorists that will at the last minute claim to be isis or al qaeda and they go from obscurity being page news for seven days because of that. >> let's switch gears and talk about security clearances. that we invited you want to talk about that. might you explain for our viewers the process or somebody to begin security clearance and what that means and what level of clearance
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is available? >> guest: sure. security clearance basically authorizes a person to have access to read, write classified information. the differentlevels of classification could be confidential , whichmeans whatever being written . if it's released to the public or if released to the wrongperson could have , could damage the us national security. secret is the next higher level that results in the release of that information to rthe wrong individuals would create damage and then top-secret, that information is released, that would result in, i forget the exact terms but extremely grave damage to national security so there are different levels of information that the security clearance holder has access to. in order to get a security clearance, it depends on
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which agency you are working for. if you're working for the military, the dod will do your security clearance and background check. if you're working for something in the department of energy, they are responsible your security background check. anybody coming out of the executive branch, the white house, the personnel as well as federal judge appointments, us attorney appointments, those would be handled by the fbi. the fbi will basically take the sf 86 which is the form that every applicant needs to fill out. it's very long, detailed report that the clearance seeker needs to complete and the person needs to put down everywhere they live in the last 15 years, that there's no break in time there. they have to list the fast seven years employment, they have to list any foreign contacts, any foreign
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business, any foreign travel. you have to list on your family members. you have to list your spouses and ex-spouses. you have to list your financial situation, military service. basically a background on who you are because background check is done to make sure that youare trustworthy, that you're a person with good character.so that we can with the nation's secrets . >> and does the fbi interview all the people that you list on that form? >> yes we do. what happens is that 86 will go to, they're all being driven out of fbi headquarters and it will go to a field office. in my case i'm in new york so they were investigating me, it would go to the new york field office and then the new york field office would be responsible to cut leads out to the other field officers and follow up on people that i listed on my sf 86 they would have to go after my brothers out in colorado and my sisters out in washington
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and my cousins out in texas who would then be approached by fbi and in those field offices and be questioned about my credibility, my trustworthiness and anything about me. >> why would they for example interview a landlord.th >> somebody who doesn't have day-to-day contact with a person, what are they trying to get at. and what types of questions are they asking people. >> so if you talk to my landlord, did i pay my rent on time? do not cause problems, throw wild parties? are there incidences where police be called to my apartment and why? where their problems with me, did i consort with suspicious people that looks funny? was my schedule, was it you know, normal or was a person that went out and mysteriously in the middle of the night. things that landlords, their
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great people to investigate because they don't know me possibly personally but they've observed myactions and that's what the fbi wants to see . who am i and what am i doing? >> i want to show our viewers and how you react to the fbi director christopher ray on capitol hill on tuesday. here's his exchange with senator ron wyden of oregon, the security process timeline for the former senior staffer rob porter. >> a background investigation process involves a fairly elaborate set of standards, guidelines, protocols and etc. that have been in place for 20 years. and i'm quite confident that in this particular instance, the fbi follow the established protocol . >> so it wasn't the white house informed that this could in fact affect his security clearance? >> i can't get into the content of what was briefed. >> what i can tell you is that the fbi submitted a
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partial report on the investigation in question. and then a completed background investigation in late july. soon thereafter, we received requests for follow-up. and we did the follow-up period and provided that information in november and then we administratively closed the file in january. and then earlier this month, we received some additional information and we passed out on as well. >> representative, what do you make of the process or timeline of the fbi's background check on rob porter? >> sounds good. >> it sounds thorough and i'm
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sure it was thorough. one unpoint that needs to be made is people have got to understand it's not the fbi issues a security clearance. the fbi is working for the client. in this case the client would be the white house. the fbi does background investigations and verifies and that's all the information found on the fs 86 and during the process, they're going to be talking to multiple people do get a better idea of who the person is that is looking for the security clearance . at some point, if the fbi and this is what i've asked people who done this for, they clarified it for me. at one point in the fbi has completed their work or has come across thing that causes concern, they will go back to the client and say this is what we found. just so you're aware of it, you have to make a decision that you're the one who's going to issue the clearance. ioso in this case, i think they were talking to the two ex-wives and there are indications or accusations of domestic abuse. that would be something that the fbi would definitely note back.
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running to ground, make sure that is accurate, that's not what we call a poison pen, not somebody who's angry that there is validity to the complaint . that the allegation can be substantiated some level. and then they go back to the client and say this could be a problem again, the fbi does not issuethe security clearance . >> and if you have a criminal , in this case the different accusation, there were no criminal pardons against rob porter but if you did have them, are you automatically disqualified for that. >> that should disqualify you. the general standard is in a case where there is an allegation or there's anything that impinges upon your good character, something that makes you possibly prone to blackmail, or just shows again, bad character, the party that is sponsoring your clearance should drop it.
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>> host: you don't have to be convicted. >> guest: it's all up to the person who is requesting the security clearance. i think i read yesterday that six people were on interim clearances in the white house and had just been let go. the white house should want us to make sure that everybody that they bring in our pristine , with no problems th because if something were to happen at a later time and information is lost or if the person who was pushed through and given a clearance despite warnings and the fbi investigation, if that person turns out then violate the security procedures, it just makes everybody look bad. and it opens the people up for criminal charges. >> host: caller in louisiana, democrat. >> caller: my call goes out to the kids. i don't understand how these people can be in this position with this
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information about security, without having a security clearance, it doesn't make sense to me. if president obama ran the government , [inaudible] >> host: jeff ringel, the newspaper has this headline. 100 white white house staffers are still without security clearance a year after the election, is that unusual? >> guest: i would say that's unusual. the use of interim clearances is not unusual in and of itself. when a president comes on board or people coming to the government, these background checks take two's months to nine months generally, they can take longer depending on if you are a person who has a lot of things to be investigated so they could take longer. but they should be wrapped up after about nine months . the white house are the ones who are issuing the interim clearances and then the fbi
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is going out vetting the information and then coming back to the white house saying everything looks good. make your decision. but to have that many people still on interim clearance, they should have their clearances by now. >> host: jeff ringel, former fbi agent, we thank you for your time and joining us for this conversation former presidential candidate mitt romney announced todayhe's seeking the senate seat of retiring senator or in . we may hear more about his selection tonight when the former massachusetts governor and two-time republican presidential candidate speaks at the lincoln day dinner, utah county republican party fundraiser in utah. watch live coverage at 9 pm eastern on our companion network, c-span. and saturday night on c-span its former florida governor and presidential candidate jeb bush. he talked about school choice and education savings
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accounts. taking at the american enterprise institute later this year, mister bush discussed his efforts at florida governor which included implementing the first statewide school voucher program. watch his comments tomorrow at 8 pm eastern over on c-span. >> live coverage of the savanna book festival on sunday at nine eastern includes robert latta with his future war, preparing for the new global battlefield. scott shapiro with internationalist: our radical plan to outlaw warmaking remade the world. glenn headley with her book we need to talk: how to have conversations that matter. watch live coverage of the savanna book festival saturday at nine eastern on c-span2's book tv. >> the foundation for defense of democracy posted a discussion recently on the syrian conflict and the us turkey rio

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