tv Amy Mc Grath Kathy Stearman CSPAN July 6, 2022 9:38pm-10:26pm EDT
television companies supports c-span2 as a public service. good morning, everyone. good morning. and welcome to the book festival. i ame a sophomore and/or first guest a native edgewood kentucky was the first female marine to fly a combat mission. her childhood was shaped by love of country, baseball and from thef age of 12,000 nation with fighter jets. please welcome amy mcgrath. [applause] the next guest spent more than 26 years as a special agent with the fbi and today recounts some ofth the global experiences that shaped her life. please welcome. [applause]
you can hear me. i can tell you can hear me. so, amy is going to let me ask the first question and i think you will love it but first i want to sayay to you thank you r everything you've done for the country, for your service. and for all that you've done for young women who follow you and to all those little girls who can look at amy and not ask the question will d i be able to do that, will i be able to fly that, those little girls can say i can do that. and that's because of amy so give her a big hand for that. [applause] so, my first question is this. for me and i would say for most people in this room, we are never going to fly an f818. probably the closest we will
come as watching the tom cruise movie where he is not really flying the plane. so i really want to know, and amy touched on this a little in her book about what it's like to fly in fa 18, but i want to know more. i want to know how that feels viscerally. does it feel like you just want toto like scream or vomit. does your stomach just want to come out of your throat. to tell us what it's like. i want to know. >> first of all, thank you for the kind introduction. and before i get into telling everybody about what it's like to fly nf 18, i want to say something very briefly about kathy who's spent a life of service to the country as well in the fbi when all around the world due to some very dangerous things for us. and also was a trailblazer for me because women in the 1980s
and early 90s that went into these fields were not necessarily accepted. when you read her book you will see how hard it was for her. and it was people like kathy that literally opened the doors for people like me so i appreciate you and thank you and it's an honor to be standing next to you today. but what it's like to fly nf 18 i always tell people number one, you don't have a lot of time to stop and smell the roses. it's not like you're up there and just cowboy stuff. you're very intent, constantly thinking, constantly working. imi tell people it's like imagie playing a soccer match and how physically difficult that is while doing math problems in
your head and doing a radio interview at the same time. all at the same time. when you get out of the jet, you literally opened the hatch of the cockpit and walked out and you are completely drenched. have you ever walked out of like an sat or act and your brain is just fried? that's what it's like after you fly a combat mission. that and your body is just completely like walking off ain soccer field or basketball field after playing a game. it's exhilarating. it's wonderful. i say it's the best job on the face of the earth because it is so challenging in your mind and in your body and the best part of it is when you do a training mission and fly into like las vegas international airport and pulled up next to like matthew mcconaughey's private jet and he walks outoc of his jet and you p
the cockpit like yeah, man. my ship is better than yours. that's the best part. but that's always after you've done your mission. when you're training more when you're i in the cockpit it is extremely intense and there isn'twe much time to think. >> i t think one of the things u just said is the fact you can look over at matthew mcconaughey and say i am way cooler than you will ever be. >> we have a lot in common because we grew up in kentucky and left home and went into very male-dominated environments ands careers in the national security. we've lived in some of the places alexandria virginia, training at quantico. but we both had this dream at a very young age. and i wanted to ask you because you talk about it a little bit in your book. how does that come about? you sort of knew that while, you
knew deep down you want to do something else. can you talk about that? >> i have to say as a little girl i grew up on a big farm, but i t discovered the rest of e world through books. and i think timmy books are everything. ime learned there's something else. there is a lot more out there and i was a lot more determined to see it. so,e stories that take me to other places, and i think that is what gave me the adventurous bug. and for some reason, probably my mom, watching her and the fact she didn't have many choices. she grew up in a time that there were no choices. and i wanted to have choices in my life. so i was determined i was going to do something that other women didn't get to do.
other women didn't really want to do. and i ended up applying to the fbi and secret service and cia. i was going to apply to the state department but i just missed thehe testing date becaue i had been told working for the government and i did grew up very patriotic because my father was in world war ii and he didn't talk about it but i remember my father saying this long before it became a catchphraseea in the last few years. freedom isn't free. the main character he's standin' at night and after it's been a horrific day, he says i want to find myself a quiet little farm
one of these days and just watch things grow. it hit me because my father said that same thing once. why didn't you stay in hawaii which is where he was stationed. i wanted to find a quiet place i could watch things grow and that hit me because i knew that was patriotism talking but t at the same time it's what he wanted so i grew up with that and wound up with a government agency. and that's it. did you have a journal, how did you remember all that stuff? most of the work i did was classified as so i couldn't keep notes.
i would write down words and phrases but i have a pretty good memory. if i had to use a word or phrase to jog my memory, that is how i ended up writing the book, which brings me to a chapter in my book. it's the first one and it's called the foot and in the foot i'm talking about being in sri lanka and i'm working on a suicide bomber case and the suicide bomber was a woman. my thought was what did she believe in so much that she was willing to die for it. at the end i asked the question what is it that each one of us believes in so much that we would die for it and so someone says are you advocating suicide bombers and i said that's not what i'm asking. what i'm saying is what do you
believe in. all the people that went out and marched for the rights for women to vote and all the people who marched forri civil rights. when they walked out their doors they didn't know if they were going ton come back or be killed in the process. then it hit me we ask our military to do the same thing. we were soldiers to walk out the door and go fight for something that they believe in or we believe in. so my question for you how did you resolve that within yourself when youab knew you were going n a combat mission did you think about am io going to come back r did you just go knowing you had to fight for something that you believed in? >> i think that for me to be in aviation is an inherently dangerous job. whether you're at war.
you have to make peace with that early on in training. i have lost friends and most who i've lost along the way were not lost in combat. only a couple. two or three of the ten who were no longer with us most were killed in aviation mishaps. when you look at that, you realize none of it was their fault. they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and the machine didn't work and we are doing really dangerous stuff and it's something that you recognize the very beginning like not everybody wants to do
this. but our country needs people to do it and i'm willing to do it. and if i am going to lose my life in the process, then i did it for the right reasons and i feele like i will look back on that time in my life and that's what i've always felt. obviously you never want that to happen but it's something you make peace with early on. i wanted to ask a little bit about your training because i eluded to read at the beginning when we first spoke that you were going through training and a19 very male-dominated environment in the late 1980s and there were people when you read a book you're going to realize there were people that literally tried to sabotage her
training because she was a woman and i neverhe experienced that. i knew eve in the marine corps there were people who didn't want me there but i can't say that somebody actually tried to sabotage my training or tried to make me fail. i was wondering if you can talk about that and the reason i bring that up as i feel like there is even a difference in one decade because i went through. training in the '90s, caffeine went through training and even having one decade more of integration of women into some of these fields i believe, you may disagree but it's changed some of how our federal agencies have worked because dthings were better and i think things are better now for women they and they were in the 80s and 90s. so i just wondered if you can reflect on that. >> the m chapter that amy is talking about, my first experience was my firearms
instructor he changed my gun so i couldn't hit the target and i knew what he had done. i grew up in kentucky and i kept telling himt they were off. no, no, you just can't shoot. being from kentucky i knew all about kentucky windage and width of that and v the help of a west virginia state trooper that stood behind me and told me where my shots were going i was able to get through but that was my first experience in the fbi. and i think over the years, the fbi has evolved to a certain extent. but unfortunately, one of the things that made me realize when i was writing the book that i was on the right path was i saw in "the new york times" when they were 15 or 16 women who had filed a lawsuit. this was 2019, filed a lawsuit against the fbi because the instructors at quantico were
trying to sabotage their training. 2019. so i thought to myself has it changed? yes there are more women in leadership positions, but i think that there's in the fbi it's still inherently male-dominated. i think unfortunately a lot ofia the negative media the fbi is getting is warranted especially when it comes to those young women who went to the fbi to talk a about their sexual assaut and they were ignored. i personally think, and if this is my opinion, not that of the fbi, they were ignored because they were young women. so what i do now, i've gotten so many e-mails from young women who wantha to join the fbi so ts is what i say to them. you go into the fbi. you dole not let it change you. you change it. and the more women and
minorities that go into the fbi, then the more it's going to change because as you said in the book, amy, you said it so well. let me find it. you basically said when men see women in these organizations and in the positions that they are in, then they will basically realize that women are not minorities. women can do thera job and i'm paraphrasing here. but that is so true. whwhat amy said is so true and what i tell young women is the truth. more women, more minorities need toto be in the marines, need toe in the military, in the fbi. andd as more women bring their influences into the organizations, it will change. it will stop being such misogynist male oriented organizations. so i say to all young women if you want to do this, go for it. if. you want to be a marine
flight jacket, go into it you change the narrative. >> so, one of the things that we both talk about in theks books s our mothers and the influence that our mothers had on us. and you knew really early on the influence that your mother had on you. when you saw her every day and you are so in all by her. i am on the other hand, didn't really understand everything that my mother had given me until i was an adult. but i am fortunate in that the last several years of her life i got to spend time with her and got to know who she was as a person. not just my mom but somebody i expected to be there when i walked in the door and said do you want a sandwich. that was my mom. but i got to know who she was andik what her dreams were. so i would like to ask you tell me about that influence that
your mother had on you. but then part of that question is you have a daughter and she's five. do you want to tell her everything that you've done and everything that you'vehi accomplished, or do you want that influence for her to happen organically like it did with your mother? >> probably organically. my mother was a physician and went to medical school at the university of kentucky in the 1960s one of the first to graduate from medical school and the university of kentucky at that time. so i knew that about my mother growing up and i was proud of her, but i didn'tt really know how much of an influence she had on other people until she got an award. i was about 11 or 12-years-old. and this was in the city of cincinnati so we went across the river and she accepted an award. she gott up in front of a group that was probably three or four
times the size of this group and gave an acceptance speech. here i am a preteen. i went to the back and by myself and just watched. this woman came up next to me and said to me you are doctor mcgrath's daughter, aren't you? she was probably late 30s or early 40s. i looked at her and said yeah. and i she said i want you to knw something. your mother saved my life. and you ought to be really proud of your mom. she's really special and you're really special to be her daughter. and it was that to me was the first time that i ever really realized. growing up, my mother did have a big influence on me. later on when i went into the marine corps and i usually was the only woman in my squadron
were in my unit into certain things would happen. and i would call mom you know, like this happened. what do i do about it. atand should i be worried, and w do i get through this. and my mom would be like they did the same thing to me back in the 60s. just forget about it. move on. so, my mother helped me to be. all the way along the way, even as an adult, because she had been through growing up in that male-dominated world in the 1960s and the medical profession, i was able to basically just plow through some things that mayat have stopped others because mom was just like yeah, it's no big deal. move on, that kind of thing. and she, today, still has a huge influence. and with my daughter, you know, one of the things i loved about both of my parents as they never
made fun of me. i went to a catholic school. girls did certain things into didn't doy whether certain mthings. and they never said to me that's a dream that is not for you. and that is kind of the way that i want to be for both my boys and girls no matter what they decide to do,so you had to be behind them. .. and so i wanted to know if you could touch on why the fbi is even overseas? and then it occurred to me, do i haven't really know what counterespionage is in all this stuff? i was wondering if you could define that for people because
you did that. and then also talk about in your book, the process the fbi did with taking certain things out of your book.ul because i had to go through a similar process, you should know, with mine through the through the department of defense. they look at it and they say you have revealed classified information. so you cannot say this. now, they did not strike anything out of my book. which is great but you must have gone through something similar you have some black lines in there. can you talk about that? quick to answer that first, there are some reductions in my book. because i wrote a nonfiction book the fbi prepublication unit has to review it. they have to read everything. they have any questions they have to set it to a certain unit to say hey is this classified? mine had to go to counterintelligence and counterespionage because that's what i wasso referring to. the things had been marked out
of my book are not classified they said that to me it's not classified but the general public does not necessarily need to know it. and some of it i thought was silly. it's like blank director david petraeus britt cia director. they marked out cia. i said where you doing that? the letter cia are everywhere. they said well, if you have the letter cia in your book than the cia has to review your book. that could add months to your publication. i'm okay forget it i'll leave it there. i'll make this quick it's a much longer answer. the fbi is overseas and over 70 offices. we are basing u.s. embassies throughout the world. if this investigation here in the united states we have a nexus to state china i am the person who works to get that
information or evidence or whatever they need and get that back to the d united states so e can do our investigation and vice versa. the head of the office we are more of a liaison position. if there is a case in a terrorist bombing and other places i covered. once the fbi to help going to go to the fbi if it's warranted we send people over too that country and we help them with their investigation. there's a terrorist attack oversee that as the fbi's jurisdiction for the fbi
investigates it.se that's pretty much what the fbi does overseas. counterintelligence counterespionage we are hurling that's overdue. i like to say the fbi looks for spies but we hunt down spies in the cia they make spies. so in a nutshell that is pretty much it. now, one of the things resistance and escape. amy went to steer training. it's like a cakewalk but you say in your book on page 167, the goal when you get captured, you become like a pow. the goal is only to resist until
you cannot resist any longer. instructors were adamant that we were to come home alive with honor. so my question is, because i thought about this especially the last few years john mccain has been called a loser because he was captured. because he was a pow. i think sometimes to the public holooks at soldiers that are captured. they are forced to read a statement. we know it'sn a lie maybe it dos proceed as a loser. could you speak to that? the public really misunderstands the concept what a soldiers meant do if they are captured.
>> you are fortunate unfortunately captured or shot down is not necessarily your fault. just doing their job. when the wrong place at the wrong time. and c so to call anybody just hs being shot down or captured a loser is absolutely insane. but i think of one of the things they train you to do in survival school as an american is, it does not help our country what you are captured to die in captivity. okay? it does not help us. it does not help the war effort if you come back in a body bag. so the goal is to survive. you don't give away state secrets but uncle sam does not want you to diapered the way to survive purdue not helping the war effort anymore, you areit
captured. so do what you can to survive. do it with honor. you're not doing everything the enemy wants you to do theve torture you to the point you will die, then survive. our country will be okay with that. that is what they train you to do. they do it in the really hard school called h survival school it's one of the hardest things i've ever done. it involves lack of food and lack of sleep. at physical contact and a lot of different types of abuses. we went through survival was a senior officer. senior officers going through do not get treated the best they get treated the worse. as definitely an eye-opening experience. one of things i loved about john mccain and one of his last talks
is that u.s. naval academy right before he passed away. someone asked him about honor and what that meant. as a prisoner of war for many, many years. the north vietnamese offered to get him out early because his dad was an admiral. and they said we can get you out months or years before. basically cut the line of all the other prisoners y that we ae releasing. you'll cut the line and get. and he said no. that is honor. that this honor right there. he stayed as a prisoner of war for many, many years because the rule was the other prisoners who were there longer got out first. and he said when asked why did you do that? he said it could have gotten out i may have died in captivity.
but if i had gotten out early, how would i been out to live the rest of my life? i would have live the rest of my life with no honor. that is with a teacher there that is what i learn. that was ingrained for each month the reasons i stood up and ran for political office because i felt like i had to do something. i had to try. to help more people read amy's book because you actually show people, if you are captured they need to do to survive. that is a sign of strength not weakness. i really hope more people get that message from you. i do not know how we can make that are prevalent in the public bread right now we are so
divided. that opinion that perception is still out there. i really hate to see it, hate to hear that i know that you do too. >> kathy and amy if you don't mind we like to give the audience a chance to ask a few more questions for five or ten minutes. if anyone has a question feel raise your hand i will bring a microphone to you. is anyone have a question? don't be shy it's allll good. i'll start by asking, amy what common question that people ask good that they think they know already but it surprises you every time i asked protect the most common question that people ask me now? are you going to run again? [laughter] client and a supporting role at this point. others help our country.
i guess it is not surprising what would you say is the most surprising question people ask you? >> why did you write your book? it's a question i guess the most it's not what's in the book is why did you write it? that's because you look at these bookshelves you see all these books written by mail fbi agents for this but only been one other female agent who retired as an agent. that was over 20 years ago. you did not see books written by female agents may be that's why i don't know. like a make outo my daughters an hour to see where she goes to school. if you could give her some advice what would you tell her? >> name navy or army? awesome. that's great. i would tell her stick with her. who's going tor be good days, s going to bad days, she's going to look back and never regret
it. >> i see you i am coming, i am coming. pardon me. if you would send up please? >> richard but kathy and of course i lovee it. this is just piddly it sounds like it has to be a lawyer. can you explain that a little bit? but that is question everyone is asked fbi headquarters offices were open. the department of justice actually sends attaches over to embassies as well. they are called d.o.j. attaché or something likee that. when we sent attaches over they
have legal attaché which makes no sense whatsoever. we are from the d.o.j. but not the same unit as the other attaches. we actually went to headquarters and said can we change this can change this, change that paperwork as government efficiency at its best coccyx next question comes from everyone who loves books. when your next projects in terms of books? you have one in the works? if i do plan to write more books. but i would like to write about obscure women from history. the event don't know about.
but i want women to know about part of a short list of women i've discovered ink my travels t my work. who is this woman i've never heard of her?be i want to write about those women. i want people to realize that our histories built by women not just men. writing about me was one thing, writing about another woman is another. literally another story. so i've started and created nonfiction so i can learn the craft of writing nonfiction about other people. it's totally different than writing about yourself. xo, i do not have any projects as far as a book written in recent as in this year or next. i do like to write. i write a lot of op-ed's. all right when there is a spark.
january 6, i actually wrote not only an op-ed but i took my manuscript emmett rewrote the last chapter. i scrapped the last chapter per head into the publisher generally six papen i said no were not getting it printed yet i've got to rewrite. when i see a spark that's when i go out there. i've written three or four op-ed's that have been published nationally, usa today newsweek et cetera. usually it's about current events. orme trying to tie stood by experience and credibility to talk about certain things happening in our country. as far as her new book project, i've got to think about that. i've got these three little kids that are taking up like all of my time. i went soccer and baseball lately. >> couple more questions right here.
>> hello. yd like to ask either or both of you, what do you all think we can do to stop the division of the united states? >> i think what we can do individually, number one we can't inoculate ourselves a little bit against disinformation. and try to help others to know get inoculated from this information. i look at this and i look at a national security a concern. our enemies or look at what's happening in our country. the disinformation is a dividing us exactly what they're trying to push. and it is working. so never in my lifetime but i have ever thought our capitol would be breached. it hasn't been since 1814 and we did it to ourselves.
though i feel like that is what we can do. everyone let's look at politics. sometimes i do to it to raise at my hands is nothing i can do. i'm watching the news and it's crazy. but there is something you can do and that is not give up. it's more than just voting pretty love our country right now you have to do more than just vote. you have too. a brother at a supporting account that you like that believes in the values that you have, maybe it supporting somebody who is not here in the state. maybe it is supporting someone else, why is that so important? because it's about our country. i always try to tell people you can't just sit this one out. if you are a patriotic american you got to stay involved. in support in any way you can,
that's what i would say pretty quick select add to it amy said about this being a national security issue. it is a national security issue. having lived and worked in china and china has my area of expertise for almost 30 years, while we are eating ourselves from within with our division, they are thrilled. the chinese are quietly going around the world and they are getting allies by upper raw materials and they are loving the fact that we are destroying ourselves from within. to national security issue. fighting with each other and try not tohi understand others think across the aisle producer understand each other better. coming to some way we can work together as a country againes because if we don't, china is circling. and that to me is our biggest threat. >> amy and kathy have time for
one more question. >> action of a two-part question. the first part is what was an y example of a trailblazing in your particular organization of the fbi. as males to respect you as a result? the second part of the question, what can they do to better understand and be able to connect with trailblazers in their organization who are females or other cultures? >> can you just repeat the first question again for us?
>> an example where it males able to recognize and perhaps better respond to females and perhaps other cultures as a result of your trailblazing example? >> the question was, give us some examples of when males weru able to accept and respond to you in your career. this isn't true for all women in the military. my experience the melter was fabulous. there were some jerks, okay? there is no doubt. but by and large what i found, how men respected you -- my loved about the military was performance matters.
can you put the on the target on time? you can't mess with that. that target is gone. it isu gone. can you land at the $70 million jet on the back of an aircraft carrier and night in bad weather? hey i did it, can you do it? nobody else is in the cockpit with me. once you have done some of these things, kate make it through survival school is a senior reporting officer the senior officer of the one gets beat up the most? hey man, i did it can you do it? when you have doneyo these thin, the men who are your peers are like yeah man, she is for real. the men who are your superior are harder to change because they have never had it women at peers. it's not because they're bad
people. they have never trained with a woman it. they've never had that experience of going 20 miles an hour hike with the same pack right next year. their whole careers that both men appeared to always the back of their minds are not quite sure. but your peers that train with you, they get it. on that you rise into leadership positions to change the dynamic of the culture. when i went to my first fighter squadron, i talk about this in the book, there is a lot of antics. a lot of locker room step you can read about it is interesting. when i came back at a higher rank, guess what? none of that stuff happened. i wonder why? because now i am the one in charge. and what we found out about that was, guess what? the bomb still at the targeted time. the jets did not turn pink. we still did our job and we did our job without all of that
crab. and we did it better. that is my lesson to folks who arent integrating women in corporations and businesses and agencies. is that you can still be very professional without all the antics and performance matters. >> i agree. for my career as i progressed up the ladder, with a couple of exceptions with my peers, my progress up the ladder that is when i encountered men who did not want me too be there. until i came he said in her book, when more women are in thosend positions, then men will start to look at women and go okay, now we are accustomed to see women in these positions for they do their job and they do it well. and that all that nonsense will go away. i would like to say i'm pretty down with a pink jet.
all have the chinese and the russians off. >> thanks everybody. >> thank you all. >> alright thank you you for coming. thanks for reading books. i have to say it's awesome and thanks to bin kentuckians, you guys are great. excellent every see this book could see my tabs this is how my questions i wanted to ask amy today. i knew i would never get to them so i had to pick out a few. i'm telling you this book is awesome, read it. and then i'm sure they can get in wait to get in touch with you to ask their own questions for. >> thank you all for joining us this morning. a very special thank you for ms. coming cap next join us and enjoyed the book festival. have a great day. ♪ weekends on cspan2 are an intellectual feast.
every saturday american history tv documents america's story and on sunday book tv pinch of the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for cspan2 comes from these television companies and more including charter communications. >> broadband as a force for empowerment. that is why charter has invested billions building infrastructure, upgrading technology and communities big and small. charter is connecting us. >> charter communications along with these television companies support cspan2 as a public service. ask if you are enjoying the book tv than sign up for our newsletter is the qr code on your screen to receive a schedule of upcoming programs author discussions book festivals and more, book tv every sunday on cspan2 or any time online at booktv.org. television for serious readers.