Discover the big ideas being explored at this seminal event through the voices of Booz Allen leaders.
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Moderator Rich Wilhelm (right) with panelists (R to L) Sanford Levinson, Pamela S. Karlan, Richard H. Pildes, and Jed Rubenfeld
Booz Allen Executive Vice President Rich Wilhelm moderated a panel discussion titled “Our Constitution at a Crossroads: Does the System Need Reform?” at the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Ideas Festival on July 2, 2012. The panel included Pamela S. Karlan, the Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law at Stanford Law School; Richard H. Pildes, a professor of constitutional law at New York University School of Law; Sanford Levinson, the W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair at the University of Texas; and Jed Rubenfeld, the Robert R. Slaughter Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Wilhelm shares his observations about the panel discussion below.
Today you talked with constitutional scholars about the possible need for reform of the US Constitution. What were the overriding themes?
Something everybody agreed on is that not only is the political environment polarized, but it’s hyperpolarized to where there is no longer a rational center that has any voice. So the prospect for compromise under the current political party structure is not very optimistic.
It was very interesting that the framers of the Constitution did not anticipate or want the formation of political parties. They wanted different, smaller factions and regions coming together to talk about what was going on and then come up with laws.
The view on the panel was that it is the hyperpolarization of the political system that is more responsible for the problems we have now than anything to do with the checks and balances in our system of government.
How is Booz Allen helping its clients adjust to the uncertain, hyperpolarized political and budget atmosphere?
The short answer is we can provide some historical perspective. Most of the people working in government today have never lived through anything like this before. Has this occurred before? Yes it has. Is what is happening now different than what occurred before? The jury is still out on that. But I think essentially we have one thing now that we didn’t have before: We’ve got this monstrous deficit.
Booz Allen Vice Chairman Mike McConnell (right) and Lt. Gen. Mary Legere
James Steinberg (left) and Peter Singer
Booz Allen Vice Chairman Mike McConnell participated in a panel titled “The Technology of War: What Does the War of the Future Look Like” at the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Ideas Festival on July 1, 2012. The panel was moderated by Steve Inskeep, National Public Radio Morning Edition co-host. In addition to McConnell, the panel included Lieutenant General Mary A. Legere, the senior Army intelligence officer in the Pentagon; Peter Singer, a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institutions; and James Steinberg, dean of the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. McConnell, who leads the firm’s cyber business, shares his observations from the discussion below.
So where did this conversation begin, with war or with technology?
Before we started talking about technology, we addressed the question of what war in the future is going to look like. The answer is that in the future, war will look radically different than it has in the past. In fact, it already looks quite different. Recall, the United States has not declared war since World War II. That’s an act of Congress that under the Constitution is reserved to that body. Instead the United States has engaged in conflicts with other nations and with non-state actors without the sort of long lead industrial build up we saw in World War II. That’s another point—there are hostile groups using cyber technology in an attempt to do enormous harm to the United States. Whether those groups are state-sponsored or not, we need to respond appropriately, but those engagements are not war in any traditional sense.
How are cyber attacks and cyber warfare changing the way we prepare to defend the country?
As Lt. Gen. Mary Legere said, there have been significant changes in the operational environment. The threat has expanded from nation states to now include transnational actors and borderless states that seek a different world order. And those enemies have achieved levels of cyber sophistication that threaten our financial, telecommunications, energy, and security infrastructure. With a very small investment, such groups could attack the soft underbelly of the United States. To pick one example: The globe cannot function without a banking system. From a remote location anywhere in the world, an enemy combatant can attack the systems that process and reconcile the transfer of money on the order of seven to eight trillion dollars per day. If the process is sufficiently contaminated or disrupted, business stops—everything stops—because the flow of money is disrupted, confidence is lost, and nobody can be paid.
You’ve mentioned non-state actors. How are other nation states threatening our security?
As the world around us becomes more dependent on the cyber-domain, we need to consider what constitutes warfare inside that environment, and how to secure it. In the past we spent most of our time thinking parameter defense—that is about ways to keep bad guys out. Now we need to consider both outside and inside threats. The Chinese are draining terabits of data out of our industrial complex, particularly research and development, source code, and future business thinking. We are not in a war with them in any traditional sense, so we need to view them as an insider threat seeking to gain competitive advantage without having to invest time and money into their own intellectual insight. What separates the United States from the rest of the world is our innovation, our research and development, new ideas and new thinking. If nation states with cheap labor can steal it at will, they will have our innovation and their cheap labor to out produce us.
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EVP leading the firm's Intelligence business.
SVP supporting the firm’s cybersecurity business and international government clients.
Vice Chairman leading the firm's cyber capabilities.
SVP supporting energy and environment clients.
EVP and leader in the firm's Emerging Technologies and Mission Solutions initiatives in Booz Allen’s Strategic Innovation Group.
Retired Executive Vice President who leads the civil business.
SVP leading consulting services to government health care clients.