The Oath with Chuck Rosenberg
Jim Miller: Hawkeye
Chuck Rosenberg: Welcome to The Oath. I am Chuck Rosenberg, and I am honored to be host for another compelling conversation with fascinating person in the world of public service. My guest this week is Jim Miller, the former Under Secretary for policy at the defense department. In that vital role, essentially the number three position in DOD, Jim was at the forefront of some of the nation’s most important and most difficult national security issues. But, I’m getting ahead of the story—Jim’s path to the Pentagon began in the middle. He was the only boy in a household of five children, in a middle-class family, in the middle of the country, in Waterloo, Iowa. A brilliant student and a superb athlete, Jim made his way to Stanford, where a mentor, real name, Lincoln Moses, inspired him and guided him into public service. Jim’s work at the Pentagon included some of the most challenging national security questions that confront our country. As a key advisor to three secretaries of defense: Bob Gates, Chuck Hagel, and Leon Panetta, Jim guided reviews of nuclear weapons policy and ballistic missile defense policy, and led the formulation of national defense strategies for space and cyber space. Recently, and after my interview with Jim was recorded, he resigned his position on the prestigious Defense Science Board. In an open letter to the current Secretary of Defense, Jim noted that peaceful protestors, exercising their First Amendment rights outside of the White House, were dispersed, quote, using tear gas and rubber bullets, not for the sake of safety, but to clear the path for a presidential photo-op, end quote. Jim also wrote that though the defense secretary, quote, may not have been able to stop this appalling use of force, you could have chosen to oppose it. Instead, you visibly supported it, end quote. Jim is a deeply principled and thoughtful man. And his story is engaging and inspiring: a boy from Iowa, from the middle of the middle, serving his country at the highest levels of the Pentagon. Jim Miller, welcome to The Oath.
Jim Miller: Chuck, great to be here with you.
Rosenberg: I appreciate your time today. You grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, the fourth of five children. Tell me about that.
Miller: Chuck, growing up from Waterloo, I had a pretty idyllic childhood. This is post World War II America, middle of the country, middle of the middle class, walk two blocks to school as a, as a grade schooler, three blocks to junior high, four blocks to high school, so I worked my way up.
Rosenberg: Now, you were one of five, but the only boy you have four sisters, three older and one younger. They treat you Okay, Jim?
Miller: Well, I think a couple of them would say I was treated more than okay. A period of time went by the moniker “King James,” with a couple of my sisters. I felt that that was a little overstated. Prince probably would have been more appropriate.
Rosenberg: You said that growing up in Waterloo was idyllic, but there were quite literally two sides of the river. The West Side in which you lived, and the east side, which was primarily African American. Talk a little bit about the two sides of the river.
Miller: That's absolutely right. Waterloo was in significantly, still is a racially divided town, African American predominantly on the east side, predominately white on the west side, East High and West-High would play football games and there would almost always be fights. Now, when I was in sixth grade, Waterloo was integrated. That's when the busing program started consistent with when it started nationally as well. And there was just a lot of subtle racism. I could see it, I went to school with some incredibly talented African Americans. I saw what they lived, some were basketball teammates, some were classmates. Two of my classmates, African American classmates, went on to play pro football. They and most of the others were tremendous successes. They had a much harder path than I had. And it was evident from sixth grade on that that was the case. I was very fortunate. And I could see directly in the struggles that they had and the subtle and sometimes unsubtle racism that they faced, that they had a much harder path. than I did.
Rosenberg: How did it manifest itself, Jim?
Miller: The subtle pieces would come when there were unreasonable expectations, whether on the basketball court or in the classroom, of my African American colleagues, sometimes those expectations were inappropriately low, and sometimes they were inappropriately high. And that's a sort of a subtle racism, if you will, that I saw, but treating my black friends and classmates differently than most whites were treated. This was not something every teacher did, but something that a good number of them did as well. And sometimes there was more explicit racism. When the schools were integrated, when I was in sixth grade, there was a knifing at the school I ultimately went to West High School, and there were kids who had been brought up as racist, and there's no doubt that that was real. It faded over time, and it got pushed into the background.
Rosenberg: Talk a little bit about your mom and dad.
Miller: My mom was a full-time homemaker as one might imagine with five kids. And let me say my sisters were two, three, and four years older than I, and my younger sister is four years younger, so five kids within roughly 10 years, and she's devoted her life to raising us and raising us, right. My dad was an insurance agent, was a great dad. And he set high expectations for everybody. And he took no guff from anybody.
Rosenberg: Jim, you were a very good High School athlete, but you're also a very good college athlete. What's interesting to me is that the sport in which you ultimately excelled, tennis, is not something you would expect from an Iowan perhaps, and certainly not something that you would pick up at the age of 13 as you did.
Miller: Well, Chuck, a quick story about that. John Dillard was a tennis pro at my parents Country Club, who saw me going by in the summer to go play golf and he bet me that if he could win around 18 holes, then I would take tennis lessons from him. If I could win that round, I would get a free soda. Every day when I came out to play golf, of course it was a total setup. He was a scratch golfer. He crushed me and I therefore took tennis lessons and started at age 13.
Rosenberg: And got pretty good, didn't you, Jim?
Miller: I had the opportunity to play first at the local level then state then regionally and nationally before I went to college, I was just good enough not to be recruited by anybody, including University of Iowa.
Rosenberg: But good enough to be ranked number two in your state.
Miller: I got to the finals of the State High School championships my senior year and lost to a person who became a great friend, John Stoffer. John played number one for Duke for most of his time there on scholarship and he beat me badly.
Rosenberg: From West Waterloo High School, you end up at Stanford University along the way from home. How did that happen? Were you a good student in high school?
Miller: I was a fairly good student. I think my classmates were probably as surprised as I was when I was admitted to Stanford. And Chuck, my assessment was that I must have been admitted to Stanford because they thought it was really funny that someone would try to play tennis in Iowa. And so, they wanted to see what that person looked like up close.
Rosenberg: Did you like it there?
Miller: I loved it. It was completely different, obviously from anything I had experienced. The furthest I had traveled before then was down to Oklahoma to play a tennis tournament. I'd never seen California, had no idea what a beautiful campus Stanford had, and I had no real idea how to study. And so, I had a little bit of work to catch up on for my first quarter there, in my first year.
Rosenberg: And to be clear, you weren't recruited to play tennis there. And for folks who don't know about Stanford and its legacy in tennis, it is one of the best programs in the nation
Miller: Chuck, the tennis team that year was probably the best team in the history of college tennis. For my freshman year, “Johnny Mack” was coming in as a freshman he played number one.
Rosenberg: John McEnroe.
Miller: John McEnroe, a guy named Matt Mitchell had won the NCAA championships and singles the year before as a sophomore, and he came back as a junior and he was fighting to play number two and Peter Rennert, who won the national championship in singles two years later, was hanging on by his fingernails to play number five or six, so a very tough team. I walked on, I won the tryouts, and Coach Gould told me: “Well done, Jim, but we're not taking anybody this year.”
Rosenberg: And so, you try it out again the next year.
Miller: I tried out again the next year, I can be a slow learner, sometimes Chuck.
Rosenberg: Or stubborn
Miller: Or stubborn, I'm definitely stubborn, there's no doubt about it. Won the tryouts again the next year and this time, Coach Gould put me on the team. And when I got to play with some of the top players, I realized it was possible he had been right the first year.
Rosenberg: That you didn't belong.
Miller: That I was competing above my level. These guys were terrific players.
Rosenberg: Did you play McEnroe?
Miller: I never did. John was in my freshman dorm. We played intramural sports together. Coach Gould, I think never knew that or would have been quite unhappy. But we played intramural football and soccer and basketball.
Rosenberg: Your coach didn't want the best tennis player in the United States, and by that I mean John McEnroe, not Jim Miller, to be playing intramural football.
Miller: That is exactly right. And John didn't really care. But john was going to do his own thing.
Rosenberg: But you made the team.
Miller: I did. And it was a, it was a great moment and a moment where I realized that while I was behind on the schedule I had hoped to meet by making the team my first year, starting my second year, and so on, that I had a shot. And it really was extraordinary and I’m deeply appreciative to Coach Gould for making that choice.
Rosenberg: Was he a mentor to you, Jim?
Miller: He was a mentor and he remains a good friend. We were doing a Zoom with a number of our teammates just a couple of nights ago. So, we've stayed in close touch.
Rosenberg: You end up on a Stanford team that wins the national championship. I think you want showed me that you have a national championship watch
Miller: Stanford Men's Tennis has won more championships than any other men's tennis team than most other schools in any sport. Let me just stipulate that--during my four years of undergraduate it won the Nationals a couple times, and I was not a starter for either of those teams.
Rosenberg: But as a graduate student at Stanford…
Miller: So, I get on the team my sophomore year, I have a shot my junior year, I don't make the starting six and then I quit the team my senior year to give a spot for someone else to walk on, and so I could focus on my studies. Come back to graduate school at Stanford, the team is doing poorly that year, and I happen to be living with the number three player, a good friend, Scott Bondurant. We go out and hit some balls and he suggests maybe I should try to walk on for the third time.
Miller: So, on a Wednesday, I have a challenge match against the number seven player on a Thursday, I then play a challenge match against the number six player then I win both of those on Friday. I'm suddenly a starter against UCLA on Saturday against USC. And I played number six singles and number three doubles for the rest of that season after I'd given it up, and it was just a dream that dropped into my lap.
Rosenberg: And did that team win a national championship?
Miller: No, it did not. That team had a great second half of the season, but we didn't even make the Nationals that year, the team had been in such a hole and lost our last match to cow and that was the end of the season for us. Great disappointment, but still terrific experience.
Rosenberg: You've said that you learn lessons that applied for the rest of your life from Stanford tennis, what were they?
Miller: Chuck, on the positive side, it was to keep fighting, keep trying, and to learn how to win with grace when you had that opportunity, but also to lose with grace, and that there's always going to be another day. On the negative side, a big lesson I learned came in my junior year when I thought I was going to be one of the top six, and I came back from a terrific summer with a lot of good wins. And I decided I needed to focus on developing my weakest shot, my backhand, and I spent that fall working on that backhand, and that backhand got better and better. And I felt really good about it. I felt like I'd been very clever. And then, when I got into the challenge matches with some of the better players, my back end was just good enough for me to lose a long rally, and my serve invalid game wasn't sharp enough. And what I realized afterwards, pondering why I had lost three matches in a row to guys I thought I was going to beat, it was I had not built on my strengths. I had not reinforced what I was good at. And that was a lesson that hurt at the time, but that has been incredibly valuable to me in my professional career.
Rosenberg: Coach Gould wasn't your only mentor at Stanford, you had a number of wonderful professors, but one in particular with whom you were very, very close.
Miller: Yes, Chuck. I had tremendous professors. And at the top of that list was Lincoln Moses, and Lincoln Moses looked the part. If you can visualize Abraham Lincoln and Moses being melded together into a white haired, bearded individual with flowing locks, that was Lincoln Moses professor of statistics. And I happened to be taking a course with him in my final quarter at Stanford and his course on quantitative methods and their application of public policy was an inspiration. And so instead of going to a wall street job, which I planned to do, I started summer school in statistics, something that most of my friends and family thought was pretty close to insane.
Miller: First of all, to graduate Stanford and then start summer school instead of starting a job seemed kind of odd. And secondly, to do that, in statistics, which to many seems like a field of drudgery, if you will, seemed particularly unusual
Rosenberg: And a friend and a professor and a mentor to for many years until he passed away in 2007.
Miller: That is exactly right. Lincoln was a Quaker, meaning that he believed in nonviolence. And when I went into national security, he didn't so much as raise an eyebrow or ask a question, except “what can I do to help, Jim?”
Rosenberg: Sounds Like you're lucky to have somebody like that at your side at Stanford.
Miller: Yes, indeed, very fortunate.
Rosenberg: Could he play tennis?
Miller: He thought it was great that I played tennis. There were a couple of times when I missed midterms because we were on the road, and I may have forgotten to tell him about that, but he was kind enough to let me make it back up. And in one case, I put all of my chips on the final after having missed two midterms while we were traveling around.
Miller: And shockingly, probably to both of us, I aced the final.
Rosenberg: Good news. What did you want to do with that? I mean, where did it lead you? You mentioned you had thought about business school. I believe you thought about law school, but you didn't do any of those things. You ended up following a public policy path. What is that, and why?
Miller: When I interviewed for jobs on Wall Street and for consulting jobs, I found them mildly interesting, but not at all inspiring. And I was struggling with what I wanted to do next after graduating and how I could possibly, not just have an interesting job, but have a meaningful job. And this course with Lincoln Moses really inspired me and inspired me to want to learn more about the field of quantitative methods and to look to apply them to public policy and to try to make a difference in the world.
Rosenberg: And so, Lincoln Moses sort of handed you off to Harvard. Have I oversimplified it?
Miller: That's exactly right. I was a course or two away from my Master's in statistics. And the choice was a PhD in statistics or to go into public policy for the masters and ultimately, the PhD. And Lincoln pointed out that a PhD in statistics was equivalent to a PhD in math. And we agreed that I could probably accomplish that, but it wasn't my forte, so we thought we'd take a chance and focus on the policy side. So, Lincoln handed me off to one of his best friends, Fred Mosteller, at Harvard, who was one of the top statisticians of the 20th century. And Fred took me under his wing,
Rosenberg: And you stayed at Harvard for both your master's degree and for your doctorate.
Miller: That's right.
Rosenberg: So, how did you get roped into a career in national security?
Miller: Well, Chuck, as you know, because you were literally there, in the 1983 to ‘85 period doing the master's program, it is the height of the Cold War, President Reagan is an office, there's a lot of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. And I thought as a as a citizen going to a public policy school, I’d learn a little bit about it. And it so happened that there were terrific professors, Joe Nye, Graham Allison, Al Carnesale, and many others. And I decided to take a couple of courses in that field just as a concerned citizen, and I got the bug. And I've been in national security ever since
Rosenberg: I do remember Jim, from our time in graduate school together, that I didn't do well in a quantitative methods class. In fact, I didn't even get a grade on my midterm. It was returned to me by a wonderful Professor with three words at the top, written in ink in his hand, “please see me,” which I knew was not a good sign. When I went to see him, he apologized to me because he thought he had let me down because I didn't do adequately in his class. And it was you who tutored me for the last six weeks of the semester and got me through.
Miller: Chuck, I remember that well. It wasn't that I was a great tutor is that you actually were a good student. You got it very quickly once we got down to the details of the issues.
Rosenberg: We can agree to disagree, but I still think I graduated from the program there because of you, so thank you.
Miller: I'm undeserving, but I'm grateful for your praise.
Rosenberg: So, you leave Harvard with a PhD, and you end up going to work on Capitol Hill.
Miller: Yes, Les Aspin was a representative from Wisconsin, he was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He had been one of the whiz kids in the Pentagon, as a civilian official working for Robert McNamara, went back to Wisconsin, was elected and rose to become chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. And he decided he wanted to bring in a graduate student, a fresh graduate student as a fellow and one of his senior people came down to interview at Harvard and elsewhere. And although I hadn't intended to go that path, it sounded incredibly interesting. So, after meeting with Lou Finch, who became a good friend, went to work for Les Aspin on the House Armed Services Committee staff.
Rosenberg: Was that the first time you took the oath?
Miller: It was, indeed, and it was memorable.
Miller: So, it's 19 years The Cold War is still in a sense raging, but we're already seeing signs that the Soviet Union has a chance to either reform or to fall apart. The stakes are incredibly high. And to come into government service at that point in time with huge debates on missile defense and new ICBMs. And what US policy toward the world and Soviet Union should be was just an incredible experience and to work with not just Aspin but other committee members and great senators, like Sam Nunn was just an unbelievable experience.
Rosenberg: Did they work in a bipartisan fashion?
Miller: For the most part, it was bipartisan, but you have to understand that there were strong views on the far left and on the right, and that the middle could be treacherous. Les Aspin actually lost his chairmanship because of votes on the MX missile and the Contras at one point in time.
Rosenberg: And Is that why you left the hill?
Miller: No, no. After four years on the hill, I had just the most amazing experiences and greatest learning opportunities one can imagine, had the greatest respect for my colleagues on both the Democratic and Republican side of the aisle, but it was time to move on. We had a one-and-a-half-year-old, our oldest daughter, Allison, who had been quite sick and gave us a bit of a scare, we thought, thought she might be taken, and just decided we needed to rebalance our lives.
Rosenberg: And how did you do that?
Miller: Well, sorry, I'm just thinking, I'm thinking about Alison and getting a little bit emotional.
Rosenberg: But she's fine now.
Miller: She's fine. It was scary.
Rosenberg: I remember that.
Miller: It was scary. She was hospitalized. And I remember driving home from the hospital thinking she is probably going to be disfigured. And then I just kicked myself because I thought, “come on, Jim, that disfigured is not a problem, we can deal with that kid might not be alive tomorrow morning.” So, Adele and I decided we needed to and wanted to have a reset, and I had the great opportunity to go down to Duke to teach. It was a one year visiting appointment. I overstayed by four years, had a great five years at Duke University, Terry Sanford School of Public Policy.
Rosenberg: But you were eventually drawn back into government into federal service, this time in the executive branch at the Department of Defense.
Miller: It was February 1997, and Adele and I are having dinner in our home in Durham, and the phone rings about 9pm. It's Ted Warner, a friend who was an assistant secretary at the Pentagon with whom I stayed in touch. And he says “Jim, I’d like you to come take a job as Deputy Assistant Secretary, I'd like you to start soon. And why don't you and Adele talk about and get back to me tomorrow?”
Miller: It was extraordinary, because I had had an offer for the same level position four years previously from Les Aspin, and from Deputy Secretary Bill Perry, who was also a mentor of mine back at Stanford. And I turned that down in order to go have family time. And Adele and I talked it over and decided this was an opportunity that we should take. And so, we moved back up to Washington.
Rosenberg: So, when you came back into federal service, this time in the executive branch at the Department of Defense, what were you doing, what was your job?
Miller: Being a Deputy Assistant Secretary within the policy part of the Office of the Secretary of Defense is one of the best jobs in government. My job was to lead the review of war plans in support of the undersecretary and Secretary of Defense and to develop defense planning guidance and review the services programs and budgets to give a sense of are we going in the right direction? We would develop scenarios and test defense program and budget against those scenarios. And at that time, the big focus was to major theater wars.
Rosenberg: Explain that: “two major theater wars.” What are you trying to determine as a planner?
Miller: Right, so this is in the post-Cold War world, Russia is not seen as a threat. This is well over 20 years ago, and China has not yet risen anywhere near to the point it has today. And the focus of the Department of Defense was the ability to effectively fight another desert storm like conflict in the Middle East and at the same time, if necessary, fight a conflict in Asia. So, think in terms of Iran and North Korea as two key scenarios, and we want it to deter those conflicts. It was a time as today, when North Korea was dangerous, led by someone who was an aggressive leader, and where Iran had been in turmoil. And there was a real sense that there's a possibility of conflict. So those two major theater wars, you need to fight one in the middle east, one in the Pacific, and be able to do both at the same time. The
Rosenberg: The planning shop at the Department of Defense is huge, so is the Department of Defense of course, can you talk a little bit about the sort of the scope and size of DOD and of your planning shop?
Miller: Well, the Department of Defense is, you know, as a whole has several million active duty and reserve officials plus civilians. It's enormous. The Pentagon itself is essentially a small city. Now, my staff had only a handful of people working on war plan review, but the combatant commanders, what we used to call the “sinks,” commanders in chief had large staffs that would develop war plans under the broad direction provided by the President and the Secretary of Defense and our team's job was to review those plans not just for whether they met the specific goals guidance, but whether they made sense and whether there were appropriate decision points in them for the Secretary of Defense and the president to manage the conflict, and to be prepared to give direction at key points.
Rosenberg: Did you like the work?
Miller: It was incredible work. And it was the first time that I've been not just part of a team, but led a team. And this was a team of incredibly talented civilian and military officials, including military officers who went on to be admirals and generals, and including civilians who went on to be Deputy Assistant Secretaries of Defense as I was at that time. It was a group with extraordinary talent, and it was a tremendous time to be working on these national security issues.
Rosenberg: One of your mentors, one of your friends who I think you met at that time was a woman named Michèle Flournoy.
Miller: Yeah, Michèle was a fellow Deputy Assistant Secretary and we had overlapping portfolios. We became close colleagues and close friends almost immediately. And to give you a sense of Michèle's perspective and approach: at one point in time, my office was tasked to do something that could have gone to either office to develop a roadmap for What was called “transformation,” preparing the military for new challenges. And without even my making requests, you offered to send three of her top people to my office to work on it indefinitely, nothing about turf, nothing about asking for a favor in return, she just did it.
Rosenberg: And she remained a friend and mentor for years. In fact, to this day,
Miller: Yes, indeed, Michèle would later become Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Clinton administration, and so was my direct boss, and she was terrific in that role. And she was my boss when I would come back into the Pentagon later as well.
Rosenberg: You came back to the Pentagon in 2009. You had been there until 2000, spent eight or nine years out of government, and in 2009, when Barack Obama becomes president, you return to federal service.
Miller: Yes, Michèle and I had a great plan and we'd worked it out with our mutual friend, Kurt Campbell. Kurt was the CEO for the Center for New American Security, Michèle was the president, I was the director of studies. Michelle and Kurt, were going to go in to government and I was going to stay out. No plan survives first contact, as they say, and when Michèle's choice for Principal Deputy Undersecretary fell through, she asked if I would come in and serve at least for a period of time as her deputy.
Rosenberg: How did you feel about going back to government for a third time?
Miller: I felt incredibly honored for the opportunity. I felt daunted by the challenges that we would face including overseen major reviews on the defense program on nuclear weapons, on missile defense, on space, and cyber, but I felt incredibly confident in going into work for someone who might trust it and had the highest regard for Michèle Flournoy, and similarly, someone whom I had met with and had tremendous regard for, Secretary Bob Gates.
Rosenberg: So, Michèle is now the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, a job that you will later inherit from her and one of the biggest and most important jobs in the Department of Defense. What is that portfolio, Jim?
Miller: The Undersecretary for Policy has been sometimes called the state department within the Defense Department, and that's a key part of the job. It has a number of regional offices indeed a deputy assistant secretary responsible for each region of the world. But it also has a number of functional offices on nuclear weapons and missile defense on cyber and space and so forth. And so, both regional and functional portfolios go there to be the lead for the department and writing guidance and oversight, and then the high level strategy from national security strategy to national defense strategy and so forth. So, from high level strategy down to implementation, including of the war plans in the services programs, the responsibility for all of that activity was in policy.
Rosenberg: So, Michelle is your direct boss. And when you return, Bob Gates is secretary of defense, say a few words about him.
Miller: Bob Gates was and is an extraordinary analyst, an extraordinary leader, and just an extraordinary person. I recall when I went into interview with him for the position of Principal Deputy Undersecretary, he immediately went into a very strategic conversation about where the country was, where the department was, and would be. He anticipated even at that time in 2009, that we would hit budgetary problems that what he called the “river of money,” running underneath the Pentagon was going to dry up and noted that he wanted to take steps to prepare the people and the institution for that type of challenge.
Rosenberg: You said he was a great leader. Describe that for us.
Miller: Chuck, let me try to describe his leadership style with two different levels of analysis, if you will. On the first, Secretary Gates had an agenda. He knew what his priorities were, whether it was to bring in more capability to fight the counter insurgencies that were underway with UAVs, and with so called MRAPS, the vehicles that would protect our troops better. And the second aspect of film that tells a lot, he knew that nobody went home in the Pentagon until he left. He made a point to go back to his apartment virtually every day at a reasonable hour by say six o'clock, because he knew that everyone else would stay till he was gone. And then he worked through the evening at home.
Rosenberg: You also worked under Leon Panetta.
Miller: Yeah, it would be hard to find two people who seem more different on the surface than Bob Gates and Leon Panetta. Leon Panetta would give you a bear hug. Bob Gates would give you a nice firm handshake. Leon Panetta would curse like a sailor, Bob Gates was literally top Eagle Scout, very different on the surface, exactly the same person underneath--committed to doing what the right thing is for the country and great leaders, both of them. I have the highest regard for both of them.
Rosenberg: And now, Leon Panetta has already been a guest on The Oath. He was our inaugural guests for season three. And he is in fact, just an absolutely lovely man: warm and kind and funny. He was very fond of you, too. When he became Secretary of Defense, you ascended to the position of Undersecretary for Policy, Michèle Flournoy had left, you inherited her job, and you were his Undersecretary for policy, right?
Miller: That's right. Michèle had given me a heads up that Secretary Panetta was likely to ask the question in one day, Jeremy Bash, whom I think, you know, Chuck, Jeremy Bash, walks down to my office and tells me “Secretary Panetta would like to speak with you. He's going to ask you a question. The answer is ‘yes.’ Are you ready?” So, we walked down to Secretary Panetta’s office, he asked the question, I said, “Yes,” and I got one of those great bear hugs. And it was just a great moment.
Rosenberg: In Leon Panetta’s book, Worthy Fights, he writes about you and Michèle. Reading from his book: “Flournoy and her deputy, Jim Miller, who would later succeed Michèle is Undersecretary for Policy, were two of the most critical advisors I had during my time as secretary.” Now, I don't know if he means by critical that you've criticized him a lot, or that you were vital.
Miller: Both Michèle and I would tell Secretary Panetta, Secretary Gates and any others exactly what we thought, but I hope that he meant it in the ladder sense, Chuck.
Rosenberg: He meant you were vital. He told that to me when I had the privilege of interviewing him that you're not only one of his favorite people that he had ever worked with, but also one of the smartest, and I don't think he was making that up, Jim.
Miller: Well, it's mutual.
Rosenberg: When you're Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, what is it that you do on a day to day basis at the Pentagon, and on behalf of the Department of Defense?
Miller: About 10 to 14 days a month, you're on the road benefit and a curse of the Undersecretary for Policy is there as a plane committed to you so you can travel overseas meet with counterparts meet with the defense ministers--or a deputy defense ministers for larger countries--and to work on that international agenda. The blessing of having your own plane available is obvious, the curse was that it meant that you would work the entire time on the flights and you could do classified as well as unclassified work. So that was 10 to 14 days a month, a lot of time in the Situation Room, and then a lot of time working within the Department of Defense, as well working with the combatant commanders, with the service chiefs and secretaries, and with others, to try to implement the President’s and Secretary’s vision, and to protect national security.
Rosenberg: And say a few words about how policy is made at the very highest levels of the Executive Branch. Our listeners are very smart, but may not be familiar with that process.
Miller: Every administration develops policy through a slightly different process, but all of them use the basic structure that was created the National Security Act of 1947. And that involves a National Security Council chaired by the President, beneath that, a principals committee chaired by the National Security Adviser, and then a Deputies Committee, which typically meets on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day to hash out policy and below that a number of working groups with Assistant Secretary or Deputy Assistant Secretary level folks. And the formal process sounds like it's very vertical top down, and career direction is given and then results come back up the chain for approval. The reality is, it's much more fluid than that. And oftentimes, people who are relatively junior in organizations can make a big difference by having good ideas.
Rosenberg: But it sounds like a cumbersome process is it able to move quickly if needed?
Miller: The process is built not to be cumbersome, but to allow thoughtful analysis to enter into big policy decisions. It can move fast, I saw it move fast for multiple military operations, including going after terrorists, where there would be a brief window open, and we needed a presidential approval, and it went fast in many other instances as well, it can move fast. But it means basically starting at the Deputies level or higher, and then getting the rest of the organizations in line.
Rosenberg: So, between multiple meetings a day when you're in the Pentagon, and 10 to 14 days a month on the road in the air traveling from country to country to meet with your counterparts, sounds like an exhausting job.
Miller: Chuck, I like to say that my two years as Undersecretary were the best 10 years of my life.
Rosenberg: Do you miss it?
Miller: I miss the people the most, extraordinary people within my organization, within policy, within the Department of Defense, and among the US government as well. My partners in the Situation Room, I miss the people the most. Working on issues of national importance every day is an incredible opportunity. And I'm grateful for that opportunity.
Rosenberg: What is it like to be in the Situation Room? What is it like to brief a president of the United States?
Miller: The first time in the Situation Room is incredibly intimidating. And for the Deputies meeting, the deputy national advisor would be at the head of the table. I would be next to him with the Deputy Secretary of State across the table, and then half a dozen or more others, deputies of other departments along the table. And these people are folks who are smart, professional, deeply accomplished, people like Deputy Secretary Bill Burns, like the deputy security adviser, Denis McDonough, Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, Avril Hanes, these are people who I knew and I knew were fantastic people but also smart as a whip, and capable of getting things done.
Miller: At the first moment, somewhat intimidating and knowing that my job was to not just do what Jim Miller wanted to do. And not only do what was right for the department, but also make sure that I carried the interests of the Secretary of Defense and his perspective, whether it was Secretary Gates or Panetta or later, Hagel, into that meeting, and that we were of one mind so that when it said yes in the Situation Room as a deputy, and I went back and told the Secretary of Defense, the response would be “okay, that sounds right Miller or not, “okay, get a new job. Miller.”
Rosenberg: You also had the opportunity to brief the President of the United States several times. What is that like?
Miller: He first time that I had the opportunity to brief President Obama was in the Oval Office, and we are near the end game of the Nuclear Posture Review.
Rosenberg: What is the Nuclear Posture Review?
Miller: So, each administration, as it comes in does a number of major reviews of policy from overall defense posture for the Department of Defense, to nuclear posture, meaning how many nuclear weapons do we need, how do we deploy them, how do we talk about them to assure our allies and deter our potential adversaries? And this review was dealing with this full range of issues. Now, President Obama had given a big speech in Prague in April 2009 and would receive the Nobel Peace Prize in large measure for his efforts on nuclear nonproliferation and his commitment to seeking a world free of nuclear weapons over time. And so, this review was really President Obama's review. And I was the lead for it the Department of Defense, I had the opportunity to brief him in the Oval Office and to attempt to come to closure on the final three issues that had to be resolved for us to complete the review.
Rosenberg: And what were those issues?
Miller: Chuck, I can I can tell you two of them, I guess I could tell you the third, but then I'd have to kill you, as the expression goes.
Rosenberg: So, in that case, just tell me the first.
Miller: The first one was the weighty one. It's question of what should our declaratory policy be? And specifically, should the President of the United States say that under no conditions, he or she would ever use nuclear weapons first. So that's called a no first use policy. And we were considering whether that should be the United States policy.
Rosenberg: And not only United States policy, but publicly declared as United States policy.
Miller: Indeed. Publicly declared and with repercussions for both how our potential adversaries and how our allies view the United States commitment. second topic was how to deal with China. It's only two years ago, but at that time, China was just emerging as a great power. It had a few hundred nuclear weapons compared to many thousands in Russia. And so, how does one treat China in the review? And so those two issues and a third, we won't talk about. We're on the table, President Obama very quietly asked the most thoughtful questions one could imagine. In fact, he has several questions that I hadn't imagined. And it was a moment where I think I exuded the utmost common confidence. And there was a part of me that wanted to follow the path of the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, if you remember that, and run down the hallway and try to jump out of a window.
Rosenberg: Now, that wouldn't have worked very well at the White House, right?
Miller: I probably would have been shot on the way out, but if I had admitted to a window, I would have just bounced off there. They are bulletproof.
Rosenberg: Meaning also Miller proof there's no escape.
Miller: It was extraordinary. And I did have the thought as we were talking that this is just like my oral review for my dissertation, only way harder, and it's much less clear that I'm going to pass.
Rosenberg: Now, I had the privilege of briefing president Obama once, and I was struck by the fact that he is a remarkably good listener that he doesn't interject, he doesn't talk over other people, he's quiet and he absorbs information, which takes a great dose of both humility and confidence.
Miller: I can remember multiple occasions in the Situation Room where President Obama would kick off the National Security Council meeting and would go through the agenda printed over to others for conversation, typically to the National Security Adviser whether it was Tom Donilon or later Susan Rice in my time, and then just listen, and occasionally ask a question. An hour and a half would pass, sometimes two hours, and then President Obama would say, “okay, I've heard the issues. Here's how I propose we proceed, tell me what you think.” And then he would go through, typically, four to eight key points about what us strategy and policy should be, often raising, not just perspectives, but options that hadn't been thought of before. And it was just extraordinary. He did so without notes, and he did so--because you said Chuck--he did so by listening quietly. And by thinking deeply about the issues, and always, in my experience asking, what's the right thing for the country.
Rosenberg: Smartest guy in the room?
Miller: By far the smartest guy in the room, but he didn't rub your nose in it. He was friendly, he would do it was necessary to put you at ease. I think his matter was probably why I didn't run out of the Oval Office the first time I had that opportunity.
Rosenberg: Jim, one of the issues you had to confront as Undersecretary of defense was a 2012, sequestration and furlough of your employees. What is sequestration? And why did it require such dramatic sort of personnel reductions?
Miller: Sequestration was a byproduct of the so-called Budget Control Act. And the Budget Control Act came about because the Obama administration and Congress could not agree on appropriate levels of defense spending and domestic spending. And as part of the Budget Control Act, they said, “Well, if we don't make a deal within the next year, then both domestic spending and defense spending are going to get cut.” And Secretary Panetta called it a crazy meat axe approach. And I think that that was accurate, and if anything, generous. So, what happened when sequestration hit, is that suddenly the funds that were being used to pay for operating expenses for the military to pay for both civilian and military personnel were slashed. And we were required to furlough a substantial fraction of the civilian workforce of the Department of Defense for a period of weeks, it turned out, but when we did it, we didn't know how long it would last. And it was, it was a very tough time.
Rosenberg: Has to be deeply unsettling for those employees.
Miller: We had young parents who had just saved up to buy a house, and who didn't have enough money to make it for more than a few weeks. Of course, their, their colleagues and all of us did what we could to assist in those types of situations. We had extraordinary personal challenge that people had to overcome. But the only complaint I ever heard was, “please, Dr. Miller, why can't we come in and work? I understand that we're not going to be paid. Why can't we come in and work? What about that policy initiative? What about that meeting for the secretary? What about everything we've done to build relationships with these countries? Are we really going to put those on hold? Just let us come in and work,” and sadly, I was unable to do that because the law required that when people were furloughed, they couldn't even use their Blackberry, if you can remember what blackberries are. They couldn't communicate with work. They were off of work until further notice.
Rosenberg: It's got a rankle you to hear the way the federal workforce is sometimes described, given what you saw at the Pentagon and the commitment to these men and women to their country and to their work.
Miller: Chuck, from my first job on Capitol Hill, House Armed Services Committee, both tours in the Pentagon, throughout my time in government, I've worked with people who were committed to doing the right thing for the country, who were patriots, and both military and civilian personnel who are willing to literally put their lives on the line for their country. And they deserve, not just to be paid, they deserve respect and our everlasting gratitude.
Rosenberg: I think folks should know, who are listening to this podcast, that those men and women are still serving in the Department of Defense and the State Department and the Justice Department and the intelligence community, throughout government.
Miller: People are continuing to serve, and they continue to be worthy and deserving of our strong support.
Rosenberg: Jim, during your tenure as Undersecretary, I want to take you to a particular day, September 11th, 2012, 11 years to the day after the attacks of 9/11. Where are you, what happened?
Miller: We'd had a moving 9/11 ceremony that morning. That afternoon. I'm in Secretary Panetta 's office. I'm meeting with Secretary Panetta, with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marty Dempsey, with US AFRICOM commander Carter Ham, General Carter ham, and my deputy assistant secretary for Africa, Amanda Dory. There's a big map of Africa out on the table. And we're talking about US policy towards Africa, and specifically, dealing with the terrorist threat in Africa. That's where we are that afternoon of 9/11, 2012. Secretary Panetta and Marty Dempsey have a meeting with the President in about an hour. And as we're sitting around the table talking, John Kelly, Lieutenant General John Kelly, who was Secretary Panetta, senior military aide, and who would later be DHS secretary and chief of staff to President Trump, John Kelly burst in the room. He says “there's something going on in Libya. There's something going on at that bin Ghazi consulate. We don't have the details yet. But we expect more to come in in the next couple minutes.” And so, when we first got news of Benghazi, we literally had in the department offense, exactly the people around the table that you'd want to deal with the issue: the secretary, the chairman, the AFRICOM commander, the most expert person on Africa on the civilian side, my deputy assistant secretary, and myself as the Undersecretary for policy and a big map of Africa laid out on the table.
Rosenberg: And what happens next?
Miller: So, within moments, we have Carter Ham, General Ham’s Deputy on the phone, and he's explaining the situation in Gaza, which is uncertain and evolving rapidly. But it's clear that there are violent protests. And it's clear that there's significant danger to people at the consulate. So, as we gather additional information real time, both from Carter Ham’s team and from the intelligence community, which is coming in to brief in the secretary's office, we discussed the possible military options and there weren't good military options for conducting strikes at that point in time. We walked through all the possibilities, and Secretary Panetta and Chairman Dempsey get in a car to go over to see the president a few minutes later with the most recent possible information, and with the president having been apprised of the situation as well. With in about an hour of us first hearing about it, the President had ordered a repositioning of US forces to be prepared to take action and to defend American interests in lives in the region.
Rosenberg: And tragically, four Americans were killed in Benghazi that day.
Miller: It was indeed a tragedy. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed, and they went down with the hard fight. It was a very tough time for American interests and for American diplomacy and for Americans everywhere.
Rosenberg: What's your takeaway from Benghazi and what happened that day?
Miller: One of the direct implications of Benghazi was a laser like focus from the National Security Council on the posture of US embassies and consulates in dangerous regions across the world. And that's something that the State Department pays close attention to and that the military also watches closely, but we did a very deep scrub on that for the coming days and weeks, and changed the position, not just because I've Benghazi, but because of the reality that we knew others might want to imitate that type of attack. And so, we really look to buttoned up and tighten security at embassies and consulates, at least 18 locations around the world.
Rosenberg: And the truth is that men and women, both in the military and in the civilian workforce, the Pentagon, at the State Department, at the Justice Department, and the intelligence community serve in very difficult and dangerous places around the world.
Miller: They do indeed, they do, indeed. Every day, not just on 9/11, 2012, but every day of every year, we have people across the world, some of the military, some of the State Department, many and other departments and agencies who are literally putting their lives on the line to make America safer and to advance our interests. And my hat's off to all those people, my deepest gratitude to them.
Rosenberg: Leon Panetta told me, when I spoke with him, that the hardest thing he ever had to do as Secretary of Defense is sign deployment orders, putting men and women in harm's way. And coupled with that, the personal letters he wrote to the family of a fallen soldier--that was the hardest thing he had to do. You must have seen the toll it took on him.
Rosenberg: I did. I was in virtually all of those deployment orders meetings, and they were somber affairs. Secretary Panetta would ask hard questions of both, why do we need to have a deployment there? And on the other hand, is it sufficient to provide adequate self-defense for the people who are on the ground and putting their lives on the line. And I happened to come in to see him a number of times when he was writing those letters. And it is, it is heartbreaking even now to think about it.
Rosenberg: I know you were very fond of Leon Panetta. And you happened to be with him on his last day as Secretary of Defense. Can you talk about that?
Miller: Sure. So, Secretary Panetta had stayed on a bit longer than he originally planned, as it took longer for Secretary Hagel to be confirmed than expected. So, it's finally Secretary Panetta, his last day, it's about an hour before he's going to walk out of the Pentagon for the last time the Secretary of Defense and he decides he wants to take a walk. around the grounds and of course, he wanted with him his companion, Bravo, his wonderful golden retriever. So, Secretary Panetta, and I walked with Bravo around the Pentagon grounds, talked about life, talked about the issues of the day, Bravo took care of some business while we were out there and came back in, and Secretary Panetta walked out of the Pentagon, there was a line of people, it had to be several thousand along the quarter of the “E” Ring, which is the outside ring of the Pentagon, where his office is. Going down to the front interests, the river entrance, they cheered him on. And he had a hero's departure, as was well deserved for his time as Secretary of Defense. And also for his many years of extraordinary public service. It was an amazing moment.
Rosenberg: And if you were to be in the E Ring of the Pentagon, where the official portraits of the Secretaries of Defense hang, what would you see in Secretary Panetta’s official portrait?
Miller: You would see Secretary Panetta, his best friend, man's best friend, Bravo with him, it perhaps goes without saying that to see only portrait hanging in the halls of a secretary of defense with his dog, and I imagine it's the only such portrait of a senior official anywhere with his dog. Bravo was a terrific dog and was a calming influence for us all when we were in intense times. Bravo was a sweet friend to a tough, compassionate and brilliant leader, Leon Panetta.
Rosenberg: Sounds like you've had a lot of wonderful mentors in your life, Jim: Lincoln Moses, Michèle Flournoy, Leon Panetta, your mom and dad.
Miller: Yes, indeed, very fortunate. And I've had a lot of luck. But much of that luck occurred because I had people who were not just watching my back, but giving me hints about how to do better and how to do well and how to do good in the world.
Rosenberg: When you talk to young men and women today, people who are interested perhaps in a career in national security, what do they ask you? And what do you tell them?
Miller: Chuck, some of the young people with whom I meet, at least for the first time when we meet, will say “how did you succeed? How did you get that job? How did you become Undersecretary?” And what they're really asking is “how do I become a senior official? Then how do I climb that ladder? How do I have a successful career?” And what I tell them is you're asking the wrong question. The question you ought to ask is, “where can you do good? Where can you make a difference? If you're not currently in a position where you can make a difference in the world? Where might that be? Where would you have the greatest passion? What's the job that will get you up early in the morning every day and cause you just to want to go in and make a difference?” Go with your passion, go with where you think you can make a difference. And focus on doing a great job in the job you're in.
Rosenberg: Be in the present and don't worry too much about the future.
Miller: Exactly right. Exactly right, Chuck.
Rosenberg: When I was an assistant US Attorney, I used to love Sunday nights. And when I was US Attorney, I would describe it as the “Sunday night test.” And I would always tell folks, find a job that passes the Sunday night test, meaning that Sunday night is the best night of the week because on Monday morning, you get to go back to work. And I know that sounds a bit corny. And I know a lot of people have jobs that they don't like, let alone love. But if you find something where you can pass the Sunday night test, and I think you're truly blessed
Miller: Chuck, I've had that great opportunity, that great blessing multiple times in my career. I know exactly what you mean, that desire to get back in and make a difference and help your team make a difference is something that is possibly not unique to public service, but just the centerpiece of public service.
Rosenberg: Say a few words about the men and women who worked for you when you were Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.
Miller: Michèle and I had the great good fortune both to inherit a tremendously talented policy team and to be able to bring in about 50 additional people as political appointees, from relatively young people to quite seasoned, senior diplomats like Sandy Vershbow, who had been our ambassador to NATO and our ambassador to Russia. The team that we had the opportunity to work with was absolutely top notch and every day I think about members of that team who made huge contributions to, not just the Defense Department, but to our nation. There were two people who helped me through confirmation: Natalie Quillian, then Natalie Howley, and Colonel Ross Brown, army colonel, their job was to get me prepared for confirmation and to get me through this--essentially through the Senate. After they did that, they became my special assistance, and their commitment to public service, their ability to give insight as to what was more likely to work and not work. And their complete focus on doing the right thing and building a strong team was apparent, literally from before the first day I stepped into the job as principal deputy, and was apparent in them, and so many other people with whom I worked in policy and the department and throughout the government.
Rosenberg: You know, I found that and so many of my colleagues in the Justice Department, not everyone, there were a few people who didn't pull their weight. But overwhelmingly, the men and women were drawn to that work for the mission and gave more themselves than one could ever imagine.
Miller: I couldn't agree more. There were literally a handful of people who were either checking a box or trying to just climb the career ladder. They stood out as exceptions to the rule and their peers knew who they were and just worked around them as necessary. The other folks still got the job done.
Rosenberg: You said that being Undersecretary of defense for policy is the best job in government. Is it something you'd like to do again?
Miller: That's a great question. For someone focused on the defense side of national security and a policy wonk, I think Undersecretary of Defense for Policy is, as you said, literally the best job in government. My focus now is on trying to help other people succeed in government. And at the same time, if I felt that there are unique contributions that I could make, I'd be honored to serve again. I know that I couldn't say no.
Rosenberg: You said that you still want to contribute. In fact, you have as a thinker as an author, for instance, over the last couple of years, you have authored a number of reports regarding relations between the United States and Russia and whether the nuclear stability that existed between our country and Russia was at risk, is it?
Miller: The United States and Russia are both developing advanced, non-nuclear weapons: long range strike missile defense systems, cyber capabilities, outer space and counter space capabilities, and are beginning to embed them with artificial intelligence. And this is creating new dynamics that could play out in the event of a crisis between the United States and Russia, and similarly could play out in the event of a crisis between the United States and China. The US military needs to develop this wide range of new capabilities, but just as we made adjustments during the Cold War, we need to think through how to bring these capabilities into the force in ways that will promote strategic stability. And that means in a crisis, neither side has any incentives to go first.
Rosenberg: You also authored reports questioning whether the US and Russia could avoid war and whether the doctrine of mutually assured destruction had eroded to the point where a first strike nuclear option by either side became more viable. What is mutually assured destruction, and has the first strike nuclear option become more viable?
Miller: Mutually assured destruction is a situation, not really a doctrine. It's a situation that we're in because both the United States and Russia, previously United States and Soviet Union, have the capability to totally destroy the other side's military, economy, and indeed, society through nuclear strikes, even if they go second. So, that's the situation that we've been stuck in since the Soviet Union achieved nuclear parity in the 1960s. That situation has been accepted by both sides and is the basis for strategic stability. Both sides know that if they attempt a big first strike, the other side can respond with overwhelming nuclear force.
Rosenberg: Now has that situation eroded?
Miller: In my view, strategic stability is very strong today. Both sides have overwhelmed mean second strike capabilities and the question is really what may happen over the next 10 to 20 or more years as new capabilities come into force. The Russians have deployed several new systems that really are of concern, including one called Status Six, or “Poseidon,” which is a nuclear-powered torpedo of intercontinental range, which has a multi megaton--in other words, giant warhead, intended to be able to destroy cities on the west coast of the United States. President Putin has talked about this system publicly. It's that kind of system that creates words in my mind about what the Russians are thinking,
Rosenberg: And how do we address that as a nation?
Miller: Three things, Chuck: first, we need to keep diplomatic relations with Russia, even as we have these periods of intense friction and even with sanctions on them, and we need to continue military to military contacts, so that channels of communication are open. Second, we need to ensure that we continue to invest in new capabilities, including capabilities are sure our second strike that includes nuclear command and control as well as the strike systems. And third, we need to continue, in my view, to push on arms control where the New START treaty allows the US and allows Russia also to conduct inspections so that each side has confidence in the capabilities that the other side has deployed, and has confidence enough to reduce the risk of misunderstanding and misperceptions that could lead to stumbling into war
Rosenberg: And explain what the START treaty is please
Miller: Strategic Arms reduction treaty. The New START treaty is between the United States and Russia and it limits each side so called strategic nuclear arms, its intercontinental ballistic missiles or ICBMs. It launched ballistic missiles for submarine launched ballistic missiles or SLBM, and its heavy bombers. And there's a limit on overall numbers of deployed delivery systems, ICBMs, SLBMs, and bombers, and there's a limit on the warheads associated with those systems. Most importantly, the New START treaty has data exchange and verification provisions, so that each side can have a better understanding about what the other side is doing, and really reduce that risk of misperception that could be dangerous in a crisis.
Rosenberg: One of our guests on the oath was Jim Stavridis, who I know you know, he was the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, and the only Navy Admiral, his case, four-star Admiral to serve in that role. Historically, it had been a role filled by four-star army generals. Is NATO still relevant? Is it still important? Does it still matter to us?
Miller: NATO is still a vital importance to the United States. Part of it is to ensure that Russia knows that any aggression against NATO countries will be met by an allied response. And an additional big part is that NATO has been a force of stability, more broadly, not just in the region, but across the globe. When we were hit on 9/11, as of 9/12, 2001, it was a NATO operation. NATO was conducting peacekeeping operations and really work to provide stability in southern Europe and in other regions as well.
Rosenberg: Jim, it's such a pleasure to have you on The Oath. I've admired you for a long time. I've respected what you've done. It's a privilege to have been your friend for nearly four decades.
Miller: Chuck, it is entirely mutual, and I'm grateful for our friendship. I'm grateful for your contributions to national security. And I'm very, very pleased to be just a small part of this terrific podcast series that you're putting on.
Rosenberg: Thank you, Jim.
Miller: Thank you, Chuck.
Rosenberg: Thanks to Jim Miller for being my guest on The Oath. Jim was the former Undersecrety for Policy at the Defense Department. In that role, Jim was at the forefront of some of the nation’s most important and difficult national security issues. Jim was the key advisor to three secretaries of defense. Jim is a deeply thoughtful and principled man. His story is engaging and inspiring. And though his story may have begun in the middle, a boy from a middle-class family in the middle of the country, he ended serving our nation at the highest levels of the Pentagon. I had mentioned in the intro to this episode that Jim recently resigned from the Defense Science Board as a matter of principle. There is a link to Jim’s resignation letter in our show notes. If you liked this episode, please let us know by leaving us a five-star rating on whatever app you use to listen and ask your friends to subscribe. We are available on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Tune In, and every major listening app as well as msnbc.com/theoath. If you’re listening on a smartphone, tap or swipe over the cover art of the podcast. You’ll find our episodes notes including some details you might have missed. If you have any thoughtful criticism, feedback, or questions about this episode or others, please email us at email@example.com that’s all one word: firstname.lastname@example.org And though I cannot personally respond to every email, please know that I read each one of them, and that I appreciate it. The Oath is a production of NBC News and MSNBC. This podcast was produced by FannieCo, with Fannie Cohen, Nic Bannon, and Rob Hebert. They are a wonderful team and I am fortunate to work with them. Olivia Cruiser provided excellent production support, as always, our associate producer is Allison Bailey. And Steve Lickteig is our executive producer. This is The Oath with Chuck Rosenberg. Thank you so very much for listening.