Jeh Johnson: US leaders must focus on 'lowering the levels of extremist speech'

On 'This Week' Jeh Johnson, former secretary of Homeland Security, and Tom Bossert, former Trump Homeland Security adviser, meet with chief anchor George Stephanopoulos after the New Zealand attack.
10:57 | 03/17/19

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Transcript for Jeh Johnson: US leaders must focus on 'lowering the levels of extremist speech'
Let's bring in two officials who have dealt with these threats in the white house. Jeh Johnson, the former homeland security secretary for president Obama, and Tom Bossert who served as homeland security adviser for president trump. Let me begin with you, Mr. Johnson. You heard the statistics that Pierre led out there. Are we equipped to deal with this threat? George, first of all, thanks for having me. We are equipped as long as we stay focused in my judgment. Efforts against this kind of violent extremism begin with good law enforcement, good investigative techniques, but we need to also rededicate ourselves to identifying violent extremism at local levels through community organizations and the like, but then as you noted at the outset, this is an issue that also includes social media. Social media now, there are very, very few barriers to entry and frankly standards for exit, and so it's incumbent upon social media providers, internet service providers to be vigilant when it comes to hate speech, content that violates their very own terms of service. I think there is a role for our leaders to play in raising the level of civil dialogue in our country and lowering the levels of -- of extremist speech. Americans do listen to their leaders, and so as we enter this election season, I believe that the voters should demand that a prerequisite for political office is that our leaders adopt a more civil tone in what they say. People do listen to their leaders and they are influenced A lot to tease out there, and Tom, let me get to the second point. Mr. Johnson brought up this role of social media. One of the chilling things for this attack, it was up for 17 minutes on Facebook before it call down. We're really seeing here Facebook and YouTube becoming force multipliers for terrorist acts. What do we do about it? It's extremely difficult, and I think the difference between content which is hard to monitor and police and video traffic, might need to be explored a little here, and I have thought about this here quite a bit, George. I thought it might be time to think about delaying or forcing those providers to delay live broadcasting or livestreaming. A lot of benefits can come from individuals broadcasting from their telephones, but there is no downside from forcing a delay to the broadcast. It will require some time and money, but I think it's something we should consider. Is that something you think can be done, Mr. Johnson? I believe it can be done. I think we need to be careful in not having government agencies -- and I know Tom appreciates this -- going down the road of regulating speech or regulating political debate. There is a line that has to be drawn there, and I think first and foremost, it has to begin with the self-regulation by those who provide access to the internet. Tom, one of the things that your predecessor in the white house says is this needs a whole government approach to take this on, generally domestic terrorism has been limited to the FBI. Is that something thank you president trump might be resistant to? I don't think he's resistant. I think what we heard him voice was a common kind of difference between how Pierre reported this and how I looked at it as a policy maker and how secretary Johnson had to face this. I don't think that there is a comparison between the size of the threat between ISIS, which was a much larger, more organized threat to which we dedicated trillions of dollars and a global effort to reduce the outcome of violence, but they're also morally repugnant and difficult challenges. We don't want to downplay it, so I think what the president said is it's a smaller threat. I hope he doesn't maintain the position that it's not a threat at all. Some resources are needed. Clearly this is a trend that needs to be addressed. The FBI is not alone in this. The United States is different with our decentralized law enforcement, but the department of homeland security and other government officials all have a role. I think Lisa was right. And Mr. Johnson, we're also seeing, you know, a breakdown really in the sharing of intelligence about these kinds of threats across national borders. Well, sharing of intelligence is vital. I can -- I can testify from personal experience that intelligence sharing across governments does save lives, does interdict terrorist plots, but coming to extremism, this is something where I think intelligence communities need to take a hard look about ways in which we can see common friends -- trends and common threat streams. If I can go back to what Tom was saying, I do believe there is a role for the department of homeland security when it comes to countering domestic-based violent extremism, and it's something I spent a lot of time on when I was in office. And was that picked up on, Tom, in your days in the trump white house? Yeah. There was a lot of reporting on that, George, and I think as I said earlier, the reporting ended up missing the real debate we were having, and it was the amount of to money and the amount of threat. We were engaging in some kind of distribution question of how we allocate our resources which are scarce to some degree, against all the different threats. We have got 70,000 people a year dying of drug overdoses. We have got people not dying at the highest rates that we saw since 2001 and before from terrorist attacks and that's because we were applying resources. So I think that this administration stands ready to invest more money. The question is how do we do this? Secretary Johnson pointed out, not trampling on people's constitutional rights. We're ready to spend more money if it's effective. The other thing this brings

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