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tv   [untitled]    March 8, 2012 11:00am-11:30am EST

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prosecutors, 1,200 public defenders i believe in last fiscal year that received assistance urnder that program to help pay off student loans, et cetera. this budget does not have funding for that program this year. so i guess, my concern there would be that we want the best and the brightest out there trying cases, and on both sides. again, this is both defenders and prosecutors, and our criminal justice system, it's critical we have good representation on both sides. and i'm afraid that we're going to lose a lot of talent if we don't have a program like this, and i was wondering if you share that concern, and what you -- what steps you think we can do to try to keep the best and the brightest, you know, coming onboard? >> no. i do share that concern. we want the best and the brightest to come and take what are low-paying jobs on the prosecution side, on the defense side. these kids, these younger
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people, if i can call them kids now, out of law school and with enormous amounts of debt, and i don't want them to make career choices based on how they're going to repay those loans as opposed to following their passions. and take their great skills to become members of the justice department, state and local prosecutors offices or on the other side, to be good defense attorney, and that is one of the things that i am concerned about. so, you know, we have a tough budget and you're right that money is not there to the extent it was in the past, and so to the extent that we can work on ways in which we come up with creative things to do, to make sure that those career decisions, especially those first job career decisions by people coming out of law school is not a function of their financial concerns, but really is a function of how he want to help build a better society. >> thank you. and madam chair, i don't have time to ask nor question but
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would like to make an observation. the chair of the subcommittee here yesterday took a leadership role in a cyber security exercise in a classify setting, and we appreciate her leadership on that, and getting all of us to go and participate in that. it was very informative, very interesting, and i know that the department of justice has been very involved in what's going on with federal government, cyber security issues and all the task force and everything you're working on, but also hope that you will not neglect the private sector as well as state and local governments, because they have a role to play in this as well. >> that's exactly right. this is not something the federal government can handle by itself. this is a national security issue. certainly. but it's also an infrastructure issue which involves our state and local partners, and then one looks at just the amount of theft that occurs, intellectual property theft in particular so that the private sector has to be involved as well.
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we have to come up with mechanisms, means, by which all of those various components talk to one another. if we ultimately want to be successful in what i think is the most pressing thing that we're going to be facing in the coming years. >> thank you. thank you. >> thank you, mr. attorney general. i want to go back to the excellent question senator pryor raised about the impact of sequester. could we have that answer in more detail in writing so that everybody would have a chance to study it and go over it in programs and so on? so we can really grasp the full consequences. >> yes. >> i'd now like to turn to senator graham. >> thank you, madam chairman. i'd like to add my vice to what you echoed in senator pryor. sequestration as set up would devastate the department of justice, our ability to defend ourselves and destroy the military and surely we can find a better way to do it than that. i think you're dead-on.
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this is san ill-conceived idea of cutting money blindly, my view. now, you're were in south carolina a couple days ago? >> yes. >> yesterday. glad to have you. hope you spent money while were there. >> i did. >> but the national advocacy center in columbia you visited, what would you tell the committee about the national advocacy center in terms of being of value to the nation? >> an invaluable resource -- >> did y'all hear that? okay. i'm sorry. go ahead. >> i mean it is. it is an invaluable resource for the training that goes on in the justice department. it is one that, you know, i think -- could actually be expanded. i'm concerned we're not interacting with our state and local partners to the extent that we once did in doing training with them. we're trying to bring into the advocacy center people from the defense side as well. it's where people learn to be good trial lawyers. learn a variety of skills. learn their ethical obligations.
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in addition it's an invaluable resource. >> we appreciate you visiting and a place where cyber security is probably the issue of the 21st century and whether it's crime, an act of war, depends i guess who's involved, but a lot of local law enforcement folks probably have no idea how to handle this and didn't would be a good way to kind of educate the country as a whole, and class collaboration between the university of south carolina, i appreciate. we took about 200 department of justice jobs out of washington because after 9/11 we were worried about having every part of our government in one city, and we moved those folks down to the south carolina and columbia and you lease ad a building fro the university, saved about $35 million. i want to applaud you for trying to be creative to decentralize the doj, if we're attacked here we don't lose all our national assets and a way to save money.
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>> we also have that relationship with the university about the rule of law component as well. and i think that's been a good synergy. >> to my colleagues, and i've been to afghanistan, like many of you, and we're trying to develop a rule of law program in iraq, afghanistan, africa, you name it, without some basic rule of law. no country can develop. and all the lessons we've learned the hard way from making mistakes but finally getting it right in many ways, we're trying to create a center at the university of south carolina for those who have been overseas can share their thoughts about what worked, what didn't. you could train before you went. department of justice, department of agriculture, department of defense, this is a team. this war require as team concept, and we're trying to reach out to the islamic world and create partnerships with lawyers and attorney generals and judges in the islamic world so we can understand them better and they can understand us. i'm excited about it and appreciate your support. now, justice scalia came out yesterday or the day before
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talking about, he thought it would be wise if we looked at our federal criminal code. particularly in the drug area. and see if we could reform it. i think he's right. i think we've federalized way too many crimes creating work for our judiciary that could probably be handled better at the state level. what do you think of the idea of revamping the federal criminal code and looking at maybe undoing some of the overfederalization? >> i've asked -- when i came into office, i've set in place a number of working groups to look at that problem. that issue. are we bringing the right people into the federal system? are the sentences that we have for the crimes that are federal ones appropriate? >> like crack cocaine, and we finally fixed that, but that was sort of an indefensible sentencing disparity. >> right. i think the bipartisan effort that resulted in the lowering of that ratio from 100 to about 16-1 was something that was long overdue and i think was a great
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example. people don't focus on it, but it was an example of, you know, republicans and democrats getting together and doing the right thing. not only for the system but certainly it was morally right as well. >> and an area where we may disagree, we'll talk about the law of war later. we don't have time here. but the recess appointments made by president obama a while back to the nlrb. is there a situation similar to that in the history of the senate, or by a previous president, of appointing someone to a federal agency under those circumstances that you're aware of? >> well i mean, if you look at the 23-page report by the office of legal counsel, they go through a variety of presidents. they look at the laws, existing tradition and the conclusion they reached given the length of the -- of the recess, 20 days or so, that the appointments were, in fact, appropriate. it is obviously something that the courts are going to
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ultimately decide, but i think that the olc opinion was accurately described. >> thank you. senator alexander will have a discussion with you. i take a different view. i've leave that discussion to him. maybe last week a plea bargain with the military commission detainee who was one of the ksm close confidants and i know mark mart sn the chief prosecutor, and you've got a good defense team down there. i do support article 3 courts, terrorism trials where appropriate. i want to acknowledge your support for military commissions in appropriate circumstances, and with your help, i think we've got these things up and running, and i look forward to more action coming out of guantanamo bay to get some of these people through the legal system. so thank you for that support and to all those at guantanamo bay doing their job, you're going a great service. particularly the defense counsels i. think that's right and i think people should
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understand that when i sent people down for military commission treatment there, the revised commissions that exist, as i said in my speech at northwestern, many of the elements of due process that we consider vital to the american system. i think we have great defense lawyers down there. the military system doesn't get the credit it deserves for the fair way it deals with people and under the direction of mark martin a person i've known for some time, i think we'll be proud of the work they do. >> thank you very much, mr. attorney general. we're now going to turn to senator feinstein before senator pryor leaves, thank you for mentioning the cyber exercise and all who participated. next week we'll hear from the fbi and do an open hearing and then a classified hearing. you'll get -- this would be an opportunity to ask many of your cyber questions and go into the level of detail. i think the committee would
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plipli like. so, thank you. senator feinstein. >> thanks very much, madam chairman and welcome, general. i wanted to say the comments of senator mikulski and senator hutchison. i think the -- died before he knew this was a faulty prosecution. that elevates this to a new height. so i think this investigation is really important, and i think that actions have to be taken, and i just wanted to express that. what -- i wanted to follow-up on senator brown's comment. it's my understanding that more -- there's more oil available in the united states than demand calls for. and as a matter of fact, surplus is being sold outside. this, i think, would bring to special attention the issue of
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speculation, and i hope the study that you're doing is going to take a good look at the financial marketplace with regard to its ability to impact price in this way. >> well, as i said, the oil and gas working group that we formed last year as part of the president's financial fraud enforcement task force has been meeting. it just happens that they are having a call today, meeting, either tomorrow or on, the full committee will be getting together to look at the full issues you've raised and the issues that senator pryor raised. >> good. thank you. as you know, title 7 of the foreign intelligence surveillance about the expires at the end of the year. this allows for electronics surveillance of targets outside the united states. senator mikulski and i both serve on the senator intelligence committee, and we've done extensive oversight of the government's use of these surveillance authorities.
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and look forward to working with you to make sure congress can reauthorize title 7 well before the end of 2012. we need to maintain the collection of critical foreign intelligence and provide certainty to intelligence professionals in that regard. for members of this committee, that don't follow this issue closely, could you explain the need to reauthorize title 7 of fisa, and the efforts taken to protect the civil liberties and privacy of americans as this title is carried out? >> well, the surveillance authorities that are in the fisa amendments act are absolutely critical to our national security on a day-to-day basis. i authorize fisas, head of the national security division does, sometimes the deputy attorney general. it is a critical tool we have in keeping the american people safe, and so the administration
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strongly supports the reauthorization, and as you indicated, hopes that it occurs well before the end of the year so that the certainty that is needed by the men and women who are in our intelligence community will have some degree of assuredness that those tools will remain there and that our fight against those who do harm to the united states can continue. >> thank you. i also want to thank you for your enormous help and the help of the fbi with respect to national security. the fbi now has some 15,000 people located around the united states essentially doing intelligence work. so that transition has been affectively made. director muller at our worldwide threat hearing indicated to us in the past year there have been 20 arrests in the united states of people in this country planning or participating in attempted terrorist attacks, and as you mentioned in your reasons
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testimony, omar farouk mutalib was recently sentenced to life in prison. now, i also want to say that even though its specific activities are classified, in your written testimony you mentioned the high value detainee interrogation group, or the h.i.g. as we call it. i can say that we've seen the excellent intelligence, the h.i.g. is producing, and earlier this week, also four principal members were charged with computer hacking and a fifth member pled guilty. now to my questions. it's twofold. i think we have to begin to look for a redund danes and duplication of effort.
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we now have a counterterrorism center, we now have homeland security with intelligence, and we also now have the fbi, and so i hope you will take a look at that, because the dollars are precious, and we're already experiencing cuts in the intelligence budget. so here's my question -- what are, in the national security area, your budget reductions? what will that mean for counterterrorism, and are there any gaps in our efforts? >> no. i think that we have adequate amounts of money contained in the budget that we have requested. if you look at the amount of money that has gone to the fbi for the national security sphere i think since 2001 about a 300% increase. i mean 300% for the justice department. for the fbi, 400%.
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a really substantial increase over the course of the last ten years or so. and even with the flat budget that we essentially have for the justice department and its components including the fbi, i think we have adequate amounts of money to keep the american people safe. and i will tell you to the extent that i feel that is not the case, my voice will be heard. we have no greater responsibility than keeping the american people safe. >> good. thank you very much. thank you, madam chairman. >> senator feinstein, we look forward to working with you on that part of it. senator alexander? >> thanks, madam chairman, and general holder, welcome. it's good to see you. i was thinking about a conversation we had during your confirmation about griffin bill for whom you worked and i know you admired him. i certainly admired him. i was a law clerk when he was judge and one of the things he said and i've heard you say, too, i think, is that the attorney general is the lawyer for the united states, not just the lawyer for the president.
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in the following up senator grahams questions i wanted to ask you a question, as the lawyer for the united states, if the president called you up and said, general holder, i noticed the senator's gone into recess for lunch. i've got a supreme court nominee i want to appoint. can we put him on the court without their advice and consent what would your answer be? >> gone to lunch? that would not be a sufficient recess. >> what if he said they're going to lunch. they're going to recess for lunch and for dinner. they won't be back until tomorrow. would that be a sufficient recess? >> well, i mean, i think what we're getting at, if you look at that olc opinion. >> no. i'm asking your opinion, mr. attorney general. >> i associate myself with that olc opinion. >> meaning you agree with it? >> with the olc opinion? >> yes. >> you do agree with it? >> yes. >> meaning the president can decide, not the senate, when it's in session for purposes of advice and consent? >> one has to look at the
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reality. the totality of the circumstances and determining whether or not the senate is actually in session as that term has historically been used and the determination made by olc was that given the -- >> well if we look at that, mr. general, was your deputy solicitor wrong when he told the supreme court in a letter that, two years ago that the senate may act to foreclose recess appointments by declining to recess for more than two or three days at a time, and was senator reed wrong in 2007 when he really devised the plachb for pro forma plea-day sessions because he said he heard that president bush was about to make recess appointments? senator reid said on july 28 -- well, november 16, 2007, with the thanksgiving break looming the administration is informing he want to make effort is recess appointments. as a result i'm keeping the senate in pro forma to prevent appointments until we get back on track. we don't need to go in recess,
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be on pro forma session, president bush didn't like it but respected it. so are you saying that the president, not the senate, can decide when it's in session for purposes of a recess appointment? >> i think one, what we have to do and what we have done in this olc opinion is look at history. look at precedent. look at the law. used some common sense when it comes to the approach whether or not the senate is actually in session -- >> was senator reid wrong? >> well, the determination we made here was that with respect to those, that 20 days in which those pro form pa sessions were occurri occurring, those were in fact -- >> the senate decided it was in a three-day session according to the formula. was reid wrong an about that? >> i'd have to look at that period, but given the facts presented to the olc in this instance i think the determination they made was correct. >> so the president may not -- i don't see why the president couldn't look at the senate and
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say, i'm going to send up a supreme court justice and i'm going to skip advice and consent. i'm astonished by this, really. and i would think democratic as well as republican senators would honor the reid formula that president bush honored. that the senate did the very same thing in january, and the president nevertheless made four appointments during a time when constitutionally he shouldn't have, according to all the precedent that i've seen. >> the only thing i'd correct is that the determination was not made by the president. the determination was made by the office of legal counsel and then shared that opinion with the president, and the president made the decision as to what he wanted to do -- >> he made the decision not to respect the senate's decision about when it's in session or when it's not, which to me is a blatant lack of regard for the constitutional checks and balances and something we ought to avoid. may i ask quickly a question, last year the department found money to support the work
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against meth feoh fete mooen. i flict you for that. it's getting increasingly higher. in our state, the highest number of meth lab seizures in the nation. money's running down, state's increasing funding. will the department be able again to try to help states that are working on this as you were able to do last year? >> we are certainly going to try to do as best we can. one of the things we've certainly seen with regard to the cleanup of meth sites, there have been a number of these container activities, and i think, i think this is right. tennessee is actually a leader in that effort. >> yes. >> there have been a number of states that have come up with things and instead of it costing,s 3ds 00, $400, $500 it coming down tos 20ds or $30. the experience we've seen there is something to extrapolate and use in other parts of the country as well. >> thank you, general holder. thank you, madam chairman.
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>> senator? >> i think -- >> oh. i'm sorry. wait. wait. it's a little rock 'n' rollin' here today. >> thank you, madam chair. >> attorney general holder, good to have you here. if i could just follow-up a little bit on what my good friend from tennessee, senator alexander said, on the recess appointment. there is an easy way out of all of this. require a little cooperation on both sides. and i suggested this in the judiciary committee, that the president -- resubmit the nominations and republicans agree to have an up or down vote within a week or two weeks. the president did this even though you had -- knew there was
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more than 50 votes. normally what it takes to confirm somebody available, my friends on the other side of the aisle were blocking having a vote. i understand the president's frustration, but i think the easy way out of this is simply if the republican leadership would agree to an up or down vote say within a week or two weeks. whatever amount of time is needed for debate. and resubmit them and have an up or down vote. that takes care of all the problem. i just would suggest that as an easy way out. it's not as much fun on the talk shows, but -- now, mr. attorney general, the department administers many programs that help victims in law enforcement including ones i've been heavily involved in. the violence against women act programs, and as you know a senator and i have a
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reauthorization bill on that. cops grants. the bullet-proof vest partnership program. government accounting office has says there's appliance of duplications and inefficiencies in some of the grant programs. will your department work to make sure there are, if there are any duplications that they be removed and that we -- we go forward? because these are good programs but there's only so much money to go around. >> that's exactly the problem we have and we have to make sure the limited amounts of money to go around and make sure there's no duplication. managers from ojp, cops, the office of violence against women regularly meet to coordinate programs and activities and one thing people should not assume is that because of see the word "victim" in a number of things we do in the department that necessarily means that the money is being, is being -- that we're
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duplicating efforts there. they have very distinction responsibilities but we are working to make sure that the money we have is being used in an efficient and appropriate way. >> and one of the things i'm very proud of, from my team here in the senate, is a bill that i wrote with then senator campbell on bullet-proof vests. so much so that i've walked down the street in denver, colorado a year ago, a police officer came up, asked if i was, who i am. i said, yes. he just tapped his chest and said, thank you. but we've been told by the galo that there's some funds that have not been obligated on the bullet-proof vests partnership grant program. law enforcement, especially in the smaller communities where they do not have the budget to
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buy the bullet-proof vests which are $500, $600. can you check to make sure these funds are de-ologist -- deobligated or are obligated? >> yes. to the extent jurisdictions use the unused funding, and have the time period with which they can draw down ex-tended so that we can get these bullet-proof vests out to these officers. >> and i would reiterate what i told you when we chatted earlier this week when i was in vermont, about your speech earlier this we week, guided drones and targeting of u.s. citizens. i still want to see the office of legal counsel memorandum, and i would urge you to keep working on that. i realize that's a matter of some debate within the administration, but --
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>> that would be true. >> please, keep my staff and me updated of the progress of the review of the nypd surveillance of muslim-americans. >> we will. >> and lastly, i wrote to you secretary of homeland security janet napolitano to encourage you to hold marriage-based petitions for same-sex spouses in advance in light of the administration's decision to no longer defend the constitution the defense against marriage act. it may be granted in individual cases, i hope you'll reconsider the administration's position. we have a case i've written to you about francis herbert and -- married in vermont lawfully. we have a number of states where same-sex marriages are legal,
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but then they run up against the immigration problem. so, please, review that. >> i will look at that case and will get back to you, senator. >> thank you. thank you, madam chair. >> excellent points, senator leahy, and thank you very much. senator lautenberg? >> thanks very much, madam chairman and welcome, attorney general holder. the job doesn't seem to be getting easier, and i'm not blaming you. i'm just sympathizing. not so much that i won't ask for more, because we're doing with less, and we see it in my state of new jersey. 246 gun murders in 2010. 12% more than the previous year. we've had layoff it's galore, and from cities that can't afford

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