The fourth webinar of the North American colloquium will discuss new approaches to countering nationalist extremism in North America. February 11, 2022.
0:00:00.1 John Ciorciari: Buddy, it's Very nice to see you here. I'm John Ciorciari, I'm the director of the International Policy Center and Weiser diplomacy Center at the Ford School. And I'm happy you could join us for this, the third session in our series for this year's North American Colloquium, of which we are gratefully carrying out with our partners at the University of Toronto, and autonomous National University of Mexico. Thanks to Alsama Belensi and Dane Elison, our staff for organizing this and other events in the series. The first of which talked about the origins and drivers of nationalist extremism in North America in October, and the second in December, which discussed the current threat landscape. Today, we're joined by a great panel of experts to talk about the third topic in our series, and that is the policy tools and frameworks available for countering nationalist extremism in Canada, Mexico and the United States. We're gonna talk a little bit about how each country's laws and security institutions have evolved since the year of 9/11 to deal with new nationalist threats, and also what is some of the limits of existing policy approaches are and key debates surrounding them.
0:01:10.4 JC: Our panel includes three experts in the topic representing the three countries that are part of the colloquium, first from Mexico, Raúl Guillermo Benítez Manaut is a professor at the autonomous National University of Mexico, one of our partners where he's worked with in the Center for Research on North America since 2000, he's the author of numerous books and many scholarly articles on security and geopolitics in Latin America, particularly focused on North and Central America, and among many other roles, he's been a visiting scholar or a visiting professor at the Woodrow Wilson Center in DC at Columbia at the National Defense University and American University. We also are joined by Richard Fadden, who's a senior fellow at the University of Ottawa's Graduate School of Public and international affairs. In 2015 and '16, he served as the National Security Advisor to the Canadian Prime Minister. He previously served as Deputy Minister of National Defense and as Director of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service. He's served among many other roles also as Deputy Minister for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and is extremely knowledgeable, of course, about the full range of national security considerations facing Canada.
0:02:24.5 JC: Last but not least, we have Tom Warrick, who's joining us from the DC metro area, where he is the non-resident senior fellow at The Atlantic Council with its Middle East programs in the Scowcroft Center for strategy and security. From 2008 to '19, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary for counter terrorism policy at the department for Homeland Security. He also previously served in the State Department on a variety of roles covering the Middle East and international justice issues, he's worked on national strategies involving counter-terrorism and a wide range of national security issues in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. He also spent 17 years as an international lawyer in private practice, representing companies investing in the middle of East and elsewhere. To this excellent panel, we can add my colleague, Javed Ali, Professor of practice at the Ford School, who himself is an expert in the topic, having served as Senior Director for counter-terrorism at the National Security Council at the FBI, and the National Counter-Terrorism Center, and other roles during this two decades of government service. Javed will moderate today, and let me hand it over to him before he pass to our speakers for their opening comments. So thank you all for joining.
0:03:37.1 Javed Ali: Right. Thanks John, and to the team at the Weiser Diplomacy Center for putting this third iteration together. And as he mentioned, we've already covered two different aspects of this topic of nationalistic extremism over the past couple of months. But now, we're gonna try to move the ball a little more into the current realm and look at the policy and legal and authorities landscape, and obviously, we have three different views from different countries represented here so it'd be really fascinating to dig into that, and there are a number of different avenues we can explore in this conversation, we've got formal remarks from our three speakers, but then I've got some questions or themes I'd like people to dive into. Well, we'll see how the presentations come out, but whether it's issues about the legal aspects, bureaucratic and organizational, how the world of intelligence and counter-terrorism is tackling this topic, and I would think there's different approaches in different countries, and then I think they are really important ones too but the role of the private sector and non-traditional stakeholders and what they are doing in this space.
0:04:52.9 JA: Before again, there's no one single solution set that's gonna deliver all the results. So we really look forward to the conversation. Also, I'm glad to be joined by our guests, as he mentioned, I'll just say, Tom and I go way back from our days in government service, and then even though Tom and I have since left the past few years, Tom and I have continued our collaboration, Tom, I brought Tom out to Michigan to speak. Unfortunately, we couldn't make that happen. For this session today, and Tom and I also do a lot of writing on different national security issues to include domestic terrorism and extremism in the United States, and we just published an update a couple weeks ago, Tom. And then Richard, I don't think we had the pleasure of meeting when we were both in government, but I definitely met a lot with your staff at CSIS, both in Washington and trips in Ottawa I always enjoyed my collaboration with CSIS, so I look forward to hearing from you. And I don't believe have Raul online yet but... So we'll change the line up a little bit. Obviously, [0:06:04.6] ____, once Raul comes in, we'll make sure to get him included, but Richard, why don't we start with you first, the view from Canada and the current kind of legal and policy landscape when it comes to nationalist extremism, and then we'll turn to Tom.
0:06:14.6 Richard Fadden: Okay, thanks very much. Glad to start. In starting, I just wanna stress that I'm not an academic, so I'm not going to come up with a unified theory of domestic extremism and how we deal with it. So what I thought I would do is try and provide a little bit of the context in which domestic extremism is dealt with in the decade since 9/11, and to do that, I'll go back a little bit in the past because I think that's really important to understand where Canada is. So what I'd like to do is to go through maybe a half dozen of what I call meta-points, meta-issues, issues that affect other components of dealing with domestic terrorism. And I should stress as well that I'm gonna generalize, I only have eight minutes or so, and if people find that I'm generalizing too much, please don't hesitate to point that out during the Q&A period. Also in the Canadian context, and I think also in the context of the United States and Mexico, domestic extremism is of no particular interest beyond a certain point, unless there's an element of violence involved. There are a variety of constitutional limits on what you can do with people who are just rambling on about things or if they're thinking.
0:07:27.5 RF: So that is also one of the underlying issues. So the first meta-point I'd like to make, which I think is particular to Canada, is that Canada and Canadians do not feel particularly threatened. And I know that's an extraordinary thing to say in today's world, but I think it's true, we certainly don't feel threatened in the same way as the United States does, as some of our five eyes partners do. And I think that has an overarching impact on the selection of tools and how aggressive we are...
0:07:57.4 Raul Benitez: Hey, good morning.
0:08:01.1 RF: In dealing with domestic extremism. There are variety of reasons for this, not the least of which is our location, we're surrounded by three oceans and the United States, this is helpful in having us not feel threatened. I think the other reason is, is we have not had an extraordinarily large number of cases of domestic extremism, they are a list and you can find them virtually anywhere, and I'll come back to how we define these. But guiding almost every policy tool selection is this fact that we don't feel as threatened as many other countries do. And I think that is something that we must never forget. I said, I'd talk a little bit about the past. Canada, aside from 9/11 where we were, I think closely linked with the United States, has only had really one mega domestic extremism case and that was the FLQ crisis in 1970 when the federation itself was threatened.
0:09:00.0 RF: Aside from that, the cases have been fairly specific, fairly particular, and though I don't mean to diminish them because some people have been killed and died because of this, but I think it's important to remember that. In 1970, all of our policy tools were in one statute, the War Measures Act, which is one of the most sweeping grants of legislative authority that the West has ever seen. It's based on a 1914 British statute, and that sort of started us off with, you can virtually do anything anytime you want with no real parliamentary oversight. The enactment of our charter has changed this and the War Measures Act was changed in 1985 by the Emergencies Act, which allows for the declaration of public order emergencies, which would cover extremism of the sort we're talking about. And then the only other statute of real importance that deals with this is the Anti-Terrorism Act, which was adopted by parliament shortly after 9/11. So that's the legislative framework, even today, we use the Emergencies Act and the Anti-Terrorism Act, plus a couple of more specialized statutes, and we don't change these very much or very often.
0:10:11.7 RF: My second point would be to make is that no extremism is purely domestic. I think that's true everywhere, but either you have actors or inspiration or resources coming across the border and I think this causes policy makers challenges, because not withstanding that the legislation applies to both domestic and international terrorism, there's a great deal more sensitivity attached to what's going on in the country. So no extremism is purely domestic, I think that's really important. The other element that I'd like to add or consideration I'd like to bring out is that extremism, domestic extremism is considered to be a national security issue. Now, that may seem obvious, but I can remember at the time that we were working on the anti-terrorism act just after 9/11, we had a real debate in Canada about whether you should just rely on the criminal law writ large and not go the route of creating anti-terrorism legislation.
0:11:14.1 RF: And in fact, one of the characteristics of our legislation in this area is that the substantive offenses dealing with terrorism by and large, are found in the criminal code. And what the anti-terrorism act did in 19... Just after 9/11, was it created special powers of investigation and inquiry, created a couple of more specialized crimes, and that's basically what we've had to deal with both domestic and international terrorism. The practical effect in Canada of viewing this issue as a national security issue is it makes it virtually exclusively a federal concern. This has the... Again, practical effect of keeping the provinces, civil society and the economy somewhat at arms length. My own view is that's a mistake, and that national security is actually should be taken at face value, it's not federal security.
0:12:13.6 RF: And I think most federations go through this exercise of trying to decide how much the federal authorities are going to deal with thing as opposed to asking municipalities, counties, provinces and civil society. In Canada, we still find it somewhat difficult to share classified information with other orders of government, which complicates life, I think a great deal. We also find it somewhat difficult to share with the private sector, although we're getting better. Its always seemed to me that it's very difficult to ask for help from civil society or the private sector, if we're not willing to share to some degree, classified information with them. And that remains I think a distinction that is very clear between Canada and the United States, Canada and the UK, I don't know enough about Mexico to say. But both the United Kingdom and the United States, much more open when it talks about terrorism and things of this nature, and to some degree, it limits what governments can do.
0:13:13.4 RF: The other thing I wanted to mention, the other element I wanted to mention was the choice of the instrumentality of the crown, as we call it in Canada, what bureaucratic element are we gonna use to deal with extremism? And I think in part by happenstance in Canada, we've effectively chosen it to be the police and intelligence and security agencies. I argued when I was still working that this is actually a mistake, they obviously cannot be excluded. But when you consider that people are going out of their way to avoid dealing with government, as they believe in the extremist approaches to life, the last group of people they're likely to talk to are the police and security and intelligence agencies. And I argued, I must admit unsuccessfully, that we really should involve Civil Society, school boards and a whole raft of other social institutions in dealing with domestic terrorism, much more than we did. At a minimum, if you view these issues of extremism on a spectrum, going from somebody has a thought to somebody blowing up somebody, if you're on the prevention side, using non-law enforcement and our Intelligence agencies is probably gonna get you further than if you don't.
0:14:29.0 RF: I've talked already a little bit about the use of the general criminal law as opposed to terrorist law so I won't do that, so I wanna try and stick to my few minutes that I'm allocated and I'll stop just a second. Since 9/11, we haven't changed legislation a great deal, there's been a few pieces of specific specialized legislation. But basically, what we've tried to do is adjust to the extent possible through the use of discretion on whether or not we want to do something. I think the other issue that all of us have is the question of definition of extremism. We go... We're hot and cold on this, we've had a number of incidents in Canada which could easily have been categorized as simply criminal activities which the police for one reason or the other, or the government for political reasons, have called terrorism. I think we need to work on this a great deal more than we have. My last substantive point or general Meta point, is that we don't talk about these things in Canada. Even the United States, talk about it, arguably too much from our perspective, but in Canada, we rarely talk about national security. The last two federal elections, foreign defense and security policy were hardly mentioned, this makes it very difficult to develop a national consensus on what tools you can or cannot use.
0:15:46.9 RF: And as a result, when there's a crisis of one sort or the other, governments tend to respond with the tools that they have on a relatively ad hoc basis, I'm exaggerating a little bit to make my point. But if you don't have a national consensus on what you... What terrorism is, what extremism is, it's very hard for governments to move forward and to develop new tools. So I'm gonna stop there, simply to say that what I've tried to do is give you a bit of the context that the Canadians have used to think about the policy options, the policy tools that they could use. The Meta issues that affect virtually everything else. Last point is, in this country, as I think in the case of Mexico and the United States, extremism per se, is an interesting academic pursuit. If you don't have an element of violence, it's very difficult in Canada to do a great deal, you can monitor people a little bit, but you can't do a great deal more than that. So if that's okay, I'll stop there and I look forward to questions later on. Thanks very much.
0:16:48.0 JA: Richard, thank you for that great run down of the six Meta Points. And lots of really interesting insights on how Canada has tackled this over the last few decades. And I think those of us who follow this issue really close we can already see the similarities and distinctions with the US framework. But look forward to getting to this more in the Q&A. Okay, Tom, let's turn to you. And again Tom, you've had lots of experience and insight on this, not only in government, but now out, so I look forward to your comments.
0:17:23.9 Tom Warrick: Yeah, so thank you very much. I'm actually gonna start in a couple of places where Richard, I think very helpfully highlighted Canada's particular approach to this, and so I'm gonna highlight some of the contrasts, even though there are obviously a great many similarities in the cultural underpinnings out of Anglo-American law between UK, Canada and United States, which come out of a roughly similar legal traditions, but have evolved in different ways politically in the many decades over the last two and a half centuries. The first point I wanted to make is that for the United States at least, there are underpinnings of our approach to domestic radicalization and nationalism that are actually, relatively constant. The most fundamental of these is obviously the US Constitution, and in particular the evolution of thought as embodied in Supreme Court decisions, is actually where I would start rather than looking to statutes.
0:18:35.0 TW: Because constitutional decisions have very strongly shaped the US approach towards the idea that freedom of speech is a constitutionally protected right, but this does accord with what Richard said, where it crosses the line is where it gets into violence. The Supreme Court over the past 50 years has actually changed its position. At one point, government could take action if there was a clear and present danger, that's about 100 years old. As this changed over time, it became more permissible for speech to get closer and closer to the line under certain Supreme Court decisions, many of them stemming out of protests during the Vietnam War, was the idea that it had to be more than mere advocacy of violence. It had to be very specific in particular before it would consider crossing the line.
0:19:38.4 TW: That has pretty much stood the test of time. The approach of a number of Supreme Court decisions in the 1970s up through the 1980s laid out a path that many Americans had thought, in the years after 9/11, were relatively well understood. But that gets me up against the second theme I wanted to mention, which is the political polarization going on in the United States and some of the active steps taken in pockets of the Trump administration, put together, suggest a period of unsettled uncertainty here in the United States. And this is producing several competing themes to the relatively constant baseline trend about the direction that things are going in. And so at one level, as scholars or practitioners, we can speak about the constitutional bright line between free speech and violence as if this is something that is unchanging. I mean, after all, the words of the First Amendment to the US Constitution are well over 230 years old now. But what we're seeing is a situation in which the relative stability is contradicted by statistics showing a surprisingly high percentage of Americans, but more Republicans than Democrats, favoring the idea that violence is acceptable to achieve political change.
0:21:24.6 TW: And so this is one of those things that makes for a very interesting academic colloquium but actually gives a great deal of concern to policy practitioners. What should be done in this kind of environment in order to try to reduce the likelihood of people resorting to violence or resorting to, I'll call it, broadly unacceptable measures to try to either influence electoral outcomes or political decision-making? If we go back to the period right after 9/11. After 9/11, when the threat was Al-Qaeda and, later, ISIS-style terrorism, there was a brief period of a few years in which there was a fairly broad consensus that the US needed broader legal authorities to collect information that would allow the United States to defeat an international terrorist threat from Al-Qaeda and groups of similar persuasion. This is how you had the USA Patriot Act. You had broad expansions of the rights of the National Security Agency, NSA, to collect information including, coincidentally, on Americans. You had the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security. You had the purposeful refocusing of the Federal Bureau of Investigation which, starting in the days of Ronald Reagan, had prided itself as being the foremost organization going after organized crime, making the pivot after 9/11 to being a counter-terrorism organization.
0:23:17.0 TW: But gradually over the years, through a combination of international efforts led by the Department of Defense and the US intelligence community, the threat of ISIS or Al-Qaeda-inspired terrorism was significantly reduced. And it became apparent that, instead, there was a surprisingly strong effort by white supremacists to carry out violence inside the United States and outside of it. The links between and among these various movements and groups are recognized to be very loose, very fluid. There are groups that do exist but lone wolf perpetrators, whether it's Anders Breivik in Norway or individual shooters in places like New Zealand or in the United States, led to an increased concern about how we should deal with and respond to domestic terrorism. The United States has a statutory framework for international terrorism. Material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization is itself a crime, leading to the commonly expressed and somewhat accurate view that if you so much as give a cup of coffee to an international terrorist, it makes you a terrorist as well under parts of US law dealing with immigration policy. But there is no domestic terrorism statute. Instead, you see on things like, for instance, the FBI's website, a detailed description of what domestic terrorism is. And there is, in fact, a definition of it that's broadly consistent with the definition for international terrorism.
0:25:01.1 TW: But then when you look at the US Criminal Code, as with Canada where there was, as Richard said, an effort to look first to already existing criminal statutes, in the United States the same thing generally applies. So we have a definition, but we don't have a separate statutory offense. I've talked to members of Congress who say in the current political environment, it's virtually impossible to think that this is going to change for the foreseeable future. And I think certainly as long as the US Senate maintains its present approach to the filibuster, under which it takes 60 senators to agree that debate should even move forward on a bill, and the very real practical concern that, in effect, the political parties significantly diverge on domestic terrorism threats, prospects of this changing at the moment are highly unlikely.
0:26:04.1 TW: I do wanna see if I can drop into the chat a few reference documents. Actually, I think I'll do this, if I may, by sharing my screen. Where... Hang on a second. I have to find... Well, I'll show you what we all have here. We'll go to this. Okay, so in the early weeks of the Biden administration, coming off of a period in which the Trump administration had a two-tiered approach to how it treated domestic terrorism, at one level, there were things like the national strategy for combating terrorism, which Javed Ali and I worked on which had paragraphs noting the existence of a domestic terrorism threat. You had things like the Department of Homeland Security had a strategic framework that it put out in October of 2019, in which it called out white supremacism as a terrorist threat, but nevertheless in large part because of statements made by President Trump, there were questions as to the seriousness with which the US government was treating the threat of white supremacism.
0:27:29.6 TW: When the Biden administration came in, they issued a national terrorism advisory system bulletin. This is the one from April of 2021 based on the one that was issued on January 27, 2021, and this is what really lays out the idea that constitutionally protected thought is not a legitimate subject for the security institutions of the United States to come down on it. It is defined by when there is either actual violence or the imminent likelihood of violence, and so the NTAS bulletin is a fundamental aspect of the... What I call the underpinnings of how you have the distinction between constitutionally protected thought and violent action. In a number of places, the way the intelligence community is organized under executive order 12333 and this, especially for those who aren't as familiar with it really is the easiest to read charter of what intelligence organizations in the United States are allowed to do.
0:28:41.9 TW: And you will see, for example, when you get into the sections about the department of Homeland Security, for example, that it is allowed to... Start with the FBI. So the FBI has the ability to run confidential sources, but places like the Department of Homeland Security can only collect publicly available information, and so these are limitations that obviously are different from the way for instance, the British government approaches things, there is no MI5 equivalent in the United States. Instead, those kinds of responsibilities are not only divided between the federal government on the one hand, and state and local governments on the other, they are divided differently between the FBI and DHS.
0:29:35.1 TW: I would commend to you John Cohen, who is the Assistant Secretary for counter-terrorism at the Department of Homeland Security, he was also the acting head of the DHS Office of intelligence and analysis. His hearing on November 3rd, 2021 went through the Biden administration approach to domestic terrorism, including the way it drew on the NTAS bulleting that John and others were the primary authors of. I would commend also to your attention the testimony of Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on September, and although this was intentionally an all threats briefing, it does put the domestic terrorism threat into perspective.
0:30:30.3 TW: Most recently, and this is what I'm gonna spend my last two minutes on, DHS released a fact sheet on all that they are doing to counter domestic violent extremism, I should say rather plainly, this was put together just prior to the January 6th anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol, many of you may have seen that Senator Ted Cruz got into a bit of kerfuffle at one point calling this a domestic terrorism attack, and in that respect, if you look at the FBI website you would see this does check all the boxes, but nevertheless, he was resoundingly criticized by commentators such as Tucker Carlson, and then went on television and tried to backpedal what he said.
0:31:18.1 TW: Within the Biden administration they're highlighting the actions that they have taken. They re-established a DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis unit on domestic terrorism that had been abolished early in the Trump administration, they have set up improved information sharing, trying to get information, particularly on extremist groups that have either a track record or a tendency towards violence. They've issued NTAS bulletins, as I've said, they have changed the focus of and then expanded their efforts on community grants to try to help local communities prevent domestic terrorism, and they've increased funding for that. Throughout the government, there's an effort to try to focus on getting people who are in the government not to have violent extremist views. This is something DHS is doing. It's also a major focus at DOD where Javed and I have written on this before, and it's an even stronger problem in some state and local law enforcement agencies as our friend and colleague, Mary McCord and others have written.
0:32:38.3 TW: And so there are a number of these efforts that are underway, the crucial thing in all of these, that we actually don't know the answer to, is how much is it going to take to actually end the threat? In other words, we've succeeded in changing the threat from ISIS and Al-Qaeda, it's now enormously diminished from what it was on September 11, 2001. What will it take to achieve that kind of a result now? And frankly, this is one of the issues for discussion, 'cause I don't think the answer to that is settled. The mere fact that you have a significant portion, a majority of the American people recognizing that the attack on January 6, 2021 on the US Capitol was an act of violent extremism. Whereas a significant minority still thinks that this was somehow the responsibility of Antifa and government agents acting under false flag, shows you that this is very much an issue that the United States is gonna be grappling with for the next several years. So Javed, headed back over to you.
0:33:49.3 JA: Tom, thanks for that lay down. Also, I was having flashbacks to the DHS bulletins 20 years ago, or almost 20 years ago. When I joined DHS, I actually wrote the first few or a handful of those DHS bulletins and anyone who remembers that from back in the day... With the crazy color-coded system, I mean, that was just... We are so far beyond what we were trying [chuckle] to do then, I think it's a little more nuanced and informed now, but yeah, the whole use of those bulletins for DHS it's... We've come a long way from when I started. But thanks for sharing that. Okay, so Raul, we certainly have time for your remarks, so thank you for joining us. So if you could, please, in the next 10 minutes or so, give us the view from Mexico on what the policy in the legal landscape looks like when it comes to this issue. We know the threat is different, so I'm curious to hear your remarks.
0:34:57.1 RB: Thank you very much for the invitation, John. I'm very glad to be here with you debating the theme of the terrorism in North America. In Mexico, the problems of terrorism are very different than in the US and Canada, because in Mexico, we developed a very high-level state-level nationalist ideology within the state. This has a hundred years, and the main differences in Mexico is that ideology. And the civil society in Mexico, in all the political allies, they are different. But it's bigger in the last 100 years. In 1938, they had the idea that we had to close the borders and move, they think of the strategic things for the country, and then the government, the military government in Mexico has prepared the oil.
0:36:14.4 RB: And the enemy is the foreign company, are the oil foreign companies, mainly from the US [0:36:26.4] ____ was to support the military effort of the coalition war. And with this, they start a very pragmatic nationalism in relationship with the United States. Well, and this has changed at the end of the century, with the NAFTA, with the globalization. The globalization put on the... The most... Changed the closest economy there, and we don't have threats from the domestic front in Mexico. The challenge from the left, the arid left is minimal. And in 1994, [0:37:21.4] ____ in Mexico, but this is not a real terrorist tools, it is a kind of ideological movement in Mexico, and the government organize a new speech to the negotiations with the indigenous organization who organized the appraisal. In the last five years of the 20th century, changed the domestic military ideology, who has a very hard nationalism in Mexico, to move the idea of changing the ideology to change the security of the country with the United States and Canada. And mainly with the United States. And the US government try to establish the [0:38:18.9] ____ with Mexico in many [0:38:23.5] ____ in the front of the occupation with the military to develop capacities to face different things.
0:38:35.5 RB: But slow by slow, the criminal organizations start to be the terrorist challenge, and the Mexican government [0:38:45.9] ____ change of the [0:38:49.2] ____ of the ruling party and moves to a [0:38:53.8] ____ agreements [0:39:06.5] ____ with the Mexican [0:39:11.5] ____, the most important tool to [0:39:16.1] ____ in the case of Mexico this was to enforce the borders, mainly to have exchanges of information of the airports. And the US help the Mexican government to modernize all the technological system of immigration in Mexico and this works very well in our country. Well, in the 10th Century, the criminal organisations increase their power in Mexico. The issue of terrorism and extremism inside the society with similar organisations organized in criminal, issue is very important because have connections with the US, and they have branches in the US, they have branches in Canada and branches with Colombians. And this is a big problem for the Mexicans, because Mexico don't have the intelligence to face... [0:40:36.4] ____ Cooperation with both wars in US and Mexico, the start with the media initiative 2007 and developed since 2008.
0:40:46.2 RB: And this was the principal tool for police to organize a crime organizations in the country. At the societal level, the democracy is the new speech who was spread in all the political elites, lefties and the center elite. Also the old political party has shift to support the democracy in the country. And with this, the nationalism goes to political elite and many people inside the political elite in Mexico shares the idea that of by national security and financial security. The NAFTA works very well in many, many years, at least 20 years for the Mexican economy but the new challenge in Mexico is to face the new nationalism from the presidency. And Donald Trump has a very anti-Mexican speech mainly against immigrants and a big debate in Mexico because they say, "Well, in the US government, we have an enemy. An enemy of the Mexicans in the United States," and this causes a big debate in the Chamber of Deputies in Mexico and on the same the US Mexico relations. In Mexico, also we have a change of government but in another direction to the left [0:42:39.5] ____ with his party.
0:42:45.2 RB: With this, we have two opposite in both countries, also we have the change of the government with the Prime Minister Trudeau. And we have the three ideologies in North America, the moderate, a kind of [0:43:06.9] ____ leader in Mexico unlike this leader in the US. But the first and second years of Donald Trump with Mexico were very, very conflictive. Then Donald Trump starts negotiations with the Mexican government [0:43:34.7] ____ of the trade alliance with the Canadians. Well, what happened with nationalism movement in Mexico? The Mexican president start a confrontation with Donald Trump in his first month of his government in January, February and March of 19, 20. Donald Trump starts a speech against the trade, against the Mexicans, and this causes a big shake and debates in Mexico on what will be the direction of the NAFTA, but with the direction of the relationship with United States and Canada, and because the criminal organization cuts the border open for them, but the open is not, the border is not open for the people in Mexico. Will be not open for the trade in Mexico. And this causes a big conflict in Mexico at the middle of 2019.
0:44:43.3 RB: Donald Trump and president looks or rather starts negotiations. And this negotiations works well, and Mexico support the [0:44:57.0] ____ of the controlled border for the foreigners and helps the stop of immigrants from south, from change this speech to Mexico and Mexico change this speech to the United States and Canada. And the negotiations for the trade starts again. Well, what is happening right now? Mexico don't like the pressure of the United States towards immigrants. In the United States immigrants support a lot, the Mexican economy with their remittances. Mexico needs the... An open board there for them, but has problem, other immigrants, immigrants who came from Asia and Africa, et cetera, et cetera. But the criminal organizations works a lot in violence against the government. The violence between them, the violence against the US government to defend its own interests. And the violence created by the criminal organization in Mexico is the terrorism in Mexico.
0:46:17.3 RB: This is our big problem and [0:46:21.3] ____ in Canada and the United States. My ideas, I have to tell you this hypothesis. The current Mexican government has a high level of [0:46:41.2] ____ the president looks well, has a lot of support of the Mexican population. And his speech a lot on negotiations, not directly with the organized crime organizations, indirectly, he [0:47:03.3] ____ more violence, et cetera, et cetera. This speech don't like for many, many Mexicans who want justice and also in the United States government don't like this kind of speech of the Mexican government, and has promise to deal with the criminal organization, because with the [0:47:28.9] ____ Mexican conditions are the same but... Than before. The criminal organizations they are no... More or less the same before [0:47:50.8] ____ and their last two years. Because of all this the Mexican government don't have a strategy to face the criminal organizations, the United States governments try to help and to change the assistance to the Mexican government, to have an [0:48:13.5] ____ for the Mexican security.
0:48:15.1 RB: But this is the problem. Mexico tried to don't, hear the US speech against Mexicans between the supremacists, the United States, et cetera, but it is very difficult to work with this, for example, to end Mexico has many problems with the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, because he has a very, very aggressive speech against Mexico, against the Mexicans. He wants to build a wall in the water, et cetera, et cetera. And these kind of issues don't help to have a common strategy between the two countries against terrorism and criminal terrorism. And the idea inside... Put a new nationalism against the United States, even Mexican have different approaches to the United States. One, on the one hand, the government came from the left, the government don't like the US imperialism, and on the other hand, some very important officials in Mexico has the idea that negotiate with the United [0:49:45.9] ____ we need to confront the organized crime organizations. Thank you very much, John, thank you very much Mustafa, Thomas and Richard.
0:49:57.9 JA: Raul, thank you for that really comprehensive view on the landscape in Mexico, both on the threat side, but also on the policy and the legal side. As you noted that you're facing a very different environment than certainly the one here in the United States, but even when compared to Canada. But that does raise a host of interesting questions. John, I think we've got about 10 minutes left, right? If my clock is correct, in terms of the session. But we have at least one question in the chat, and for those of you who are still online, I would ask you to put your questions in the chat too. So let me turn to the question from Drew Fagan. And I'll just read it out loud. And I'm just seeing, we actually have, hopefully, about 20 minutes, so now it's tight a bit. But again, we've got time for Q&A. So please would welcome additional questions.
0:51:00.5 JA: So Drew, your question is, as I had discussed, and everyone provided their individual perspective on the sort of state of play in Mexico, Canada, United States, but your question is about, "What about efforts like coordination and mutual engagement? Is there the potential for some kind of continental security," in your words, "on this topic?" And you, Drew, in your question, you raise the notion of the Proud Boys, who interestingly as Richard knows, Canada has designated as a terrorist organization under Canadian law, but we have not in the United States because we don't have a list of domestic terrorist organizations. So I throw that out to our panelists, in terms of this issue about kinda tri-party coordination and mutual engagement on this topic of nationalist extremism and if so, what would that look like?
0:52:00.0 TW: I'll start and I am interested in Richard's and Raul's thoughts as well. It's probably necessary, Drew and Javed to disaggregate the kinds of groups that we're talking about. Some of the sort of white supremacist groups that exist in the United States have analogs or offshoots in Canada, not quite so much in Mexico, but Richard mentioned the frustration that I think many American law enforcement officials feel towards law enforcement cooperation with Canada. That cooperation tends to be very good in specific criminal cases where there is a strong investigative predicate for why US law enforcement would be asking about where was a particular individual on a day, if they are trying to nail down a factual case.
0:53:01.6 TW: But Canada tends to have very strict standards that limit its sharing of information, tell us who's been sending suspicious texts and emails, and so something like that, the cooperation is something that folks in law enforcement in the United States sort of gnash their teeth about how difficult it is to get cooperation with Canadian counterparts. That said in the United States, people can be difficult as well when the sharing is sought in the other direction, but most of the feeling, I think, is towards recognizing the greater restrictions that Canadian authorities have on sharing of information in a number of ways. With Mexico, cooperation has been particularly up and down. Much of it tends to focus on counter-narcotics coming north and on arms guns, weapons and other kinds of explosives going to the south. So violent extremism is not the security challenge that drugs and guns are, and so that's what tends to get most of the attention from law enforcement between US and Mexican authorities.
0:54:26.5 JA: Alright, Thom, thanks for that.
0:54:28.1 RF: May I jump in?
0:54:29.2 JA: Sure.
0:54:31.6 RF: Well, first of all, I agree with Thomas's point that sometimes we can be difficult. Having said that, I think there're a couple of points, is there a real prospect of trilateral active cooperation? I think that would be an uphill battle. I think in part because of the differences between the situation in Mexico and in Canada, but I also think we need to distinguish a little bit what we're talking about. I found when I was working anyway, that Canadian officials never, ever declined to share information with the United States on active threats.
0:55:12.4 RF: If I'd ever heard of one of my officials refusing to do that, I would have fired them. So I think we need to distinguish on the one hand, relatively active threats with ongoing long-term, RCMP or FBI investigations, which sometimes it seems to me can go on for decades. And then the sharing of strategic information or intelligence, which I think is pretty good, probably could be better, but we do share some information, we do share some activity with Mexico, but the differences in approaches seem to be so significant that there was not a great deal of it. I can remember when I was still working, one of the big challenges in terms of sharing with the United States was The Patriot Act. We'd share something with the CIA, and the next thing we knew it, somebody in the State of Michigan who was admitting somebody into the United States said no, because they misunderstood the information which we shared with the CIA, which the Patriot Act require them to share.
0:56:11.5 RF: I'm generalizing to make a point. But one of the issues that we find very hard to deal with is it's very difficult to share, except at discreet criminal investigations it's very difficult to share with the United States, Agency X as opposed to sharing it with the United States government. And that does create problems for us because of one of the requirements of Canadian law that you don't share information unless there's a specific locus of interest, and I think if we dealt with that, it would be easier. And anyway, I wanna come back to my disaggregation point, which I think Thomas also mentioned. Threat information, criminal law investigation and general strategic sharing, I think goes on at various levels. I think they can go on without heads of government or heads of state being involved.
0:57:03.7 RF: I do think on the other hand, that as one of the points I made, there is no such thing as something that's purely domestic. It just ain't there. And we do find it easier to share if there's an international component, so we've declared Proud Boys to be a terrorist organization, there are other organizations that I think could make their way onto that list, easier to share once that happens, because from our perspective, there is an international link, the United States. So I think I'll stop there, but worth working on.
0:57:36.0 JA: Richard, thank you for that. Raul, anything on this notion of tri-party coordination and cooperation when it comes to nationalist extremism from the view of Mexico?
0:57:48.7 RB: Yeah, well, right now in Mexico, the intelligence institutions are controlled by the military, and this is good. On the one hand, this is good because the military has all the information collected on the criminal organizations. But on the other hand, this is not very good because the military don't like, for example, the relationship with the United States, when they focus so [0:58:28.8] ____ was the case of the secretary of defense in Mexico two years ago, and create a big, big conflict with the Mexican... Between the Mexican Federal Government and the US Federal Government, because the action of the DA. And the way that the US agencies work in Mexico is a big problem for us. And another thing is the question of the arms, the traffic of weapons, etcetera, through the border. Because the Mexican government said that the US law and the amendment is against Mexico, and the US government don't have tools to control the way that they are selling arms.
0:59:17.8 RB: And the Mexican government all the time in the last 10 years, are talking about the US Government don't do nothing to help us to stop the traffic of weapons, and they put some demands in some courts in the United States in Massachusetts right now, etcetera. And this is a big issue where the two governments don't have a shared idea to work together to face the same problems. In this case, the military in Mexico has the idea that the Mexican national security problems are in the hands of the Mexicans, and the US government only works for its own interests. In some cases, help, and in some cases, are against us. This is the general idea. But the common idea in Mexico, civil society, journalists, etcetera, etcetera, is the idea of the border.
1:00:26.5 RB: The idea that the White supremacism is against the whole Mexico, and in some states like Texas... Texas because it's on the border, or Arizona, etcetera, don't like the Mexicans. And all the people talking about, why in the US don't stop this kind of speech? Obviously, in the US, the political system is very different than the Mexican. But this is the key issues. And the question of the freedom of speech, Jordan wrote a comment in the chat. In Mexico, the question of the freedom of speech, the role of journalism, etcetera, is very different than in the US. The Mexican President many times in the last months talks against the journalism in Mexico. And if journalism against the criminal organizations is working and mentioned corruption inside the government, these people are against the government and the idea of the government of the President. And this is a big problem because it causes a big difference between the political leadership and the civil society in Mexico.
1:01:44.3 RF: May I make a small point?
1:01:46.7 JA: Absolutely.
1:01:48.7 RF: Just going back to the initial questions, it seems to me that one of the things that we haven't mentioned, laws and culture are important, but so are relationships. And I found when I was working at any rate, that to the extent that you had officials working in the same area for a while, you could do a great deal in terms of sharing and coordination without violating anybody's laws. And one of the challenges we have... And this is not a criticism of the United States, you're a super power, you're huge. Sometimes just finding the right agency to talk to is as significant as the substance that we wanna talk about.
1:02:23.4 RF: I mean, just to give you an old joke, when Tom Ridge initially came to Canada after 9/11, he brought a delegation of 45 or 50 people, and in the end, we were thanked for giving them the opportunity to meet each other. So again, it's not a criticism, it's just reality. But you can understand it from our perspective, that is actually a real problem, finding who's the lead, who are the incendiary organizations, and then developing ongoing relationships. I think relationships in this area are important in intelligence sharing and security, 'cause you have to have a measure of trust that's somewhat greater than for example, you're talking about the sharing of information about homelessness. Anyway, I just wanted to make that point. Thank you.
1:03:07.0 JA: Tom, did you wanna jump in on that or did you want to address Jordan's question in the chat as well?
1:03:17.4 TW: Well, no, I think one of the more significant challenges that I think we're gonna see in the next few years is going to be determined if the United States proceeds on a path that is divergent from the path that the Biden administration has chosen. I really do think that there would be Canadian reluctance to share certain kinds of information that previously would be considered uncontroversial, if the United States adopts positions that are wildly at variant with current norms, not just in the United States, but with Canada as well. We're facing similar things, by the way, in the areas of arms and counter narcotics efforts with Mexico that just happens not to be in the domestic violent extremism area. And this I think highlights the importance within the United States of trying to keep law enforcement and other national security institutions as non-partisan as possible.
1:04:30.3 TW: This has been a conscious approach of the Biden administration, just like it was a conscious approach of the Bush administration or other administrations of either party that I could name going back throughout my professional life in Washington. But I do think that there's going to be and should be significant concern that this kind of approach needs to become even more institutionalized, lest we lose the kind of cooperation that we have come to take for granted with our Canadian, and in other areas, our Mexican neighbors. Javed, you and I both worked in different capacities on trying to ensure that the United States could prosecute several terrorists who were, at one point, British citizens, for the murder of Americans in northern Syria during ISIS' control there.
1:05:29.5 TW: And we saw how the US approach, not just on the death penalty, but in other areas, made it significantly harder for Britain to cooperate. That was one well-publicized, very visible case, but as Richard indicated, and as I indicated in my remarks, a lot of the cooperation between the United States and Canada, just like cooperation between Mexico and the United States exists at the working level and is considered routine. And if the United States strays too far from the professionalism and approach that have, I think, benefited all three countries in their mutual security efforts, then there is the risk that we could lose the benefits of the partnerships that have been built up with great effort over many years with our Canadian and our Mexican neighbors, that would be a loss to US security, it would be a loss to the security of the North American continent. And so I think that's something that ought to give pause as we look at the long-term course of our own national security institutions here in the United States.
1:06:40.2 JA: And I'll just reinforce those points that both you and Richard and Raul admitted, that the importance of these personal relationships and being the glue that sometimes binds organizations together, you can't underestimate that, and it takes so much time and effort to build those relationships and to build the trust, 'cause it doesn't happen automatically, and once people rotate out or go into different roles, then it's hard to kind of start anew again. Really good conversation, I wanna thank everyone for your time. John, I know we're getting close to the end, and at least for the students here at Michigan, there's probably several who've gotta run to their next class, so why don't I, John, turn the mic back over to you and maybe you can bring us home with some closing remarks and then a view for the next session as well.
1:07:27.7 JC: Thank you. And that was a great conversation. I learned a lot and I hope all of you did. Let me just say very quickly, in addition to the thanks, how well I think this leaves off for our fourth session, which is going to occur on February 11, we'll advertise that broadly. They will be about new approaches to thinking about countering nationalist extremism. One thing that was interesting to me that was common to all three of the countries, even though they differ in many ways in their relationship with nationalist extremism, is the importance of how the challenges and threats are framed and described and conceptualized. And all three countries, our expert speakers mentioned ways in which the framing and the exposition of the threat has led certain tools, certain institutions, certain laws to be applied to nationalist extremism. Those are not necessary choices, for example, doesn't have to be approached as terrorism, doesn't have to be approached as a national security threat. One of the speakers from our second session in December, Cynthia Miller-Idris had a few pieces out this week, advocating a reframing of nationalist extremism as something more akin to a public health threat, than a national security threat.
1:08:46.6 JC: And I think that in our fourth session, we can explore further, what are some creative ways to consider revising or reforming the existing set of tools and frameworks that we have to be able to meet these challenges as effectively as possible? And so, very indebted to our three speakers today for a really engaging in an informative discussion of the tools and frameworks available, and for setting us on a great course to wrap up our series next month with the discussion of some new approaches. And so thank you all for coming very much, we hope to see you again at our next session, and have a great afternoon.
- Trump administration
- National Extremism
- International Security
- foreign policy
- Biden Administration
- Juan Carlos Barron Pastor
- Dr. Ghayda Hassan
- Erin Wilson
- University of Toronto's School of Public Policy and Governance
- Munk School
- Javed Ali
- John Ciorciari
- International Policy Center
- Weiser Diplomacy Center
- North American Colloquium Extremism and Nationalism
- North American Colloquium