Secretary Chertoff discusses geopolitical risk with Elizabeth Vargas on NewsNation

EV: How do you advise clients who are doing business in China?

MC: First, how do you protect your cyber assets and intellectual property? Second, how do you protect your people if you have people in China? And third, do you want to rely on China as your sole source for critical elements of your supply chain, or would you be wise to go elsewhere if the Chinese turn off the flow of your supplies so you are not compromised?

EV: Are you surprised we have not seen more in the way of Russian cyber attacks on the United States since the invasion of Ukraine started?

MC: The Russians would have to consider carefully what our response might be to a cyber attack. We are very capable. If they tried to take some of our assets offline, we could double down and do quite a bit of damage to them. They may be reluctant to further expand the scope of conflict.

EV: Will the level of Russian meddling be even higher in 2024?

MC: Disinformation is a bigger issue. We are in a strained period for our democracy. Even Americans themselves are sometimes playing games with the truth. What the Russians will do, hiding behind the shield of their friends and allies in the United States, will be to promote more and more accurate and focused attacks on our information systems and what we believe.

EV: You make a living assessing risks around the globe. What keeps you up at night?

MC: I worry about whether our institutions need to be buttressed. This goes back to the disinformation point. We’ve seen democracy under attack all over the world. We’ve also, to be fair, seen individual citizens going into the streets in Iran or China and demonstrating and having the courage to voice their demands for freedom.

How do these issues resolve? I know there is a certain amount of mistrust about institutions.

We need to make sure that we pull together as a country. That we recognize whatever our political differences, we have a common allegiance to our flag and to our constitution and to the American ideal. And we have to have leaders in both parties step up and continue to drive that message home so we don’t wind up sabotaging our trusted institutions and our unity of effort in defending the country.

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