AUSTIN, Texas - The U.T. Alumni Center was packed and the speakers for Tuesday’s panel discussion were once major players in counterterrorism.
Since the 9/11 attack, it was noted much has been done, but the threat remains.
"Despite nearly two decades of US lead counterterrorism operations, there are nearly four times as many Sunni Islamic militants today as there were on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Nick Rasmussen as he read from a recent analysis.
Along with Rasmussen, who leads the National Counterterrorism Center, the panel featured former National Security Council member Farah Pandith, retired Admiral William McRaven, and former CIA Director John Brennan who explained past strategies have only forced terror organizations to scale back.
"What has happened with some of these groups, they have burrowed into some of the local environments, for example Al Qaeda in Yemen is basically engaged in a Civil War inside Yemen,” said Brennan.
Before the panel discussion took place, the group addressed how quickly things can change in their line of work. They discussed some big events that took place within the past 24 hours.
On Tuesday morning, National Security Advisor John Bolton was fired. In a social media post, President Trump stated it was because he has disagreed strongly with Bolton's advice.
Brennan, who has often criticized the president, scoffed at the idea of being offered the job. He also declined to talk about a spy he once had in the Kremlin who was outed Monday by a national media outlet.
Rasmussen, however, condemned the report.
"Doesn't serve our interest as Americans to have that kind of information in the public domain,” said Rasmussen.
The Taliban is another hot topic. The group debated whether the President should continue peace talks. Trust and the belief there will always be conflict was a common thought among the four.
Brennan and Rasmussen also objected to a recent attempt for a meeting with President Trump.
“The thought of raising those negotiations to the negotiations to the Presidential level at Camp David on the week of 9/11, is outrageous and absurd,” said Brennan.
Democrats, who are debating for their party's nomination, were also called out.
"I would ask you to think about the fact that we do not have any of the candidates who have outlined a strategy to fight hate and bigotry in our country and it’s about time they did,” said Pandith.
That concern was repeated during the panel discussion. It was predicted domestic terrorism will take resources away from fighting international terrorism.