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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  December 9, 2015 3:00pm-7:01pm EST

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and to see momentum build. president obama is committed to doing what it takes as opportunities arise, as we see what works and as the enemy adapts until isil is defeated in a lasting way. the president has consistently supported the recommendations from me and general dunnford. and we know he is prepared for us to bring in more, and we will. at the same time that we're constantly looking to do more in this fight, the world must do the same. the international community, including our allies and partners, has to step up before another attack like paris. france was galvanized by the attack on its capital. and intensified its role. britain has now expanded its air campaign to strike isil in syria. italy has deployed its most elite police units to assist in iraq. germany is now making additional
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contributions and the netherlands is actively considering doing more as well. but we all -- let me repeat that all -- must do more. turkey must do more to control its often porous border. saudi arabia and the gulf states joined the air portion of the campaign in the early days. only the air part. but have since been preoccupied by the conflict in yemen, both in the air and on the ground. and just this past week, i personally reached out to my counterparts in 40 countries around the world in the coalition and asked them to contribute more. in many case contribute much more to enhancing the fight against isil. the types of things i've requested from our partners include special operations forces, strike and reconnaissance aircraft, weapons and munitions, training assistance, and other items.
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meanwhile, as the chairman noted, russia, which is publicly committed to defeating isil, has instead largely attacked opposition forces. it's time for russia to focus on the right side of this fight. before i conclude, i'd like to respectfully request the committee's attention to matters that bear upon our security and its responsibilities. first, over a month ago i submitted a request to the four congressional defense committees, including this one, to releasehold holds on the syria equipping program, that is some $116 million. we need these funds to provide and transport ammunition, weapons and other equipment to further enable the progress being made against isil in syria by partners like the syrian-arab coalition. all four committees have failed to act on that request, and i
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ask you to release these holds urgently. we should not be impeding the very momentum we're trying to build. next is the necessity to fill key vacancies in the defense department's critical leadership positions. i have appeared before this committee as noted six times over the last ten months, four times on the middle east and twice in just the last six weeks on isil. while this committee has held 58 full hearings over the last year, only three have been confirmation hearings for dod civilian leaders. dod currently has 16 nominees awaiting the constitutional advise and consent of the senate. 12 of these 16 are still awaiting even a hearing, including our nominees to be sec t secretary of the army, the undersecretaries of each of our three military departments, army, navy, and air force, and
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the undersecretaries of both intelligence and personnel and readine readiness. these should be filled by confirmed nominee especially in a time of conflict. i welcome that the process is now moving, and i urge it to move quickly for our nominees. finally, as i conclude, i want to commend this committee on last month's budget deal which is the kind of deal i called for back in march. it was a consequential agreement for the nation's security. as current funding for the government is set to expire, it is vital that the two houses now conclude work on funding all of the government consistent with the budget deal. now is not the time for more gridlock. i thank this committee in advance for your efforts because funding this budget deal is what our national security demands.
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and it sends the right message to our troops, our allies and our enemies in this time of broad global national security challenges and especially in this war. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in response, mr. secretary, in response to your last two points, one on the funding. we just received that request last week. but you know very well it's a result of the absolute failure of the expenditure of what was judged then to be $43 million and 4 or 5 people were trained. we don't want to approve of something like that again. we want to -- we want to -- if you want that kind of funding to train and equip, we want to know what the plan is and we don't want to see repetition of testimony by the head of central command who said, well, we've got four or five less and we've spent $43 million. we've got an obligation on the taxpayers. on the nominees, there's four pending before the united states
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senate today and there is four more who will be having hearings this afternoon which takes care of half of yours. and i'm not going to waste the time of the committee to go back and forth about threats of vetoes that in the view of the majority of this committee were totally unjustified on the part of the president, including the failure still -- still -- despite your appearance in my office with the president's counterterrorism person that you were going to send me a plan. you were going to send this committee a plan on the closure of guantanamo. we still haven't gotten that plan, mr. secretary, so if you're a little bit concerned about a lack of movement, i've been a little bit concerned on the lack of movement in guantanamo for the last seven years. so, i will do what i can to get the four that are pending before the senate today confirmed by the senate, and i will -- we will be having a hearing this afternoon on the four additional
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ones. so -- >> thank you, mr. chairman. appreciate that. >> mr. secretary, on the 1st of december before the house armed services committee congressman asked if you've contained isil. do you agree with general dunnford? >> i agree with what general dunnford said. >> if we've not contained isil, how are we to believe that we are succeeding against isil? >> i think that we are building momentum against isil. i'm going to be very careful about describing the -- i've described the trajectory of that success all around iraq and syria. some actions we're taking in libya. it's not my principal responsibility, but i met yesterday with the secretary of
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homeland security, the director of the fbi, the director of national intelligence and other officials to talk about what we could do more to strengthen the defense of the homeland as the department of defense. but in our principal responsibility, which is to take the fight to syria and iraq, i've described the actions that we've taken just since i appeared last time and i think they are building momentum. >> thank you. how long do you think it will be before we retake mosul or raka? >> with respect to mosul, mr. chairman, it is hard to say because it -- that depends much on the progress of the iraqi security forces, which i described in building themselves into a more capable combat force. with respect to ramadi -- >> raka. >> oh, raka. well, raka, there the -- and you noted this yourself, mr. chairman. the syrian kurds to the north
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have done an excellent job of clearing their territory. we're -- >> you're not going to go into raka and you know and i know that. >> they're not going into raka. it would be the syrian arabs. >> the point is, mr. secretary, we've got attacks on the homeland, the united states of america. we've not contained isil, and we have no timeline -- the timeline i was given when senator graham and i went over there was at least the end of next year before mosul. and there is no plan -- no strategy -- to retake raka, and i think it's pretty obvious to all that as long as they have the caliphate base, then they're able to orchestrate attacks such as they've successfully achieved in the last several weeks, whether it be ankara, russian airliner or san bernardino. here we are -- and you described some measures that are probably
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very helpful, but with no timeline of which to take out the caliphate from which there are many things happening including, according to news reports, developing chemical weapons. so -- and this is why i'm really puzzled this morning on one of the news shows former head of the united states army, chief of staff of the united states army, general ordierno said we ought to have an american contingent of troops on the ground. i frankly don't understand the logic in your statement about, well, you certainly have the capability to furnlish a u.s. component in such a ground force we've not recommended because it would be a significant undertaking. i agree. we would have to do it largely by ourselves, i do in the agree. it would be ceding our comparative advantage? we'd be -- and the meaning -- in the medium term it would seem to americanize the conflicts.
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somehow does anybody really believe that if the united states struck back against the people it just slaughtered some americans in san bernardino that somehow that would encourage them? what encourages them, mr. secretary, is success. and they have a pretty serious record here of success just in the last several -- couple months since you were here. so, i do not understand why in the world you wouldn't want as general keen, the architect of the surge, the successful surge, and other military leaders, including this morning former chief of staff of the united states army, a small component of american forces with an international force which could be, if the united states had the credibility, could be gathered and then go in and take out this caliphate. as long as the caliphate -- i know of no expert --
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i want to raise a question about the innocent crime victims and i've had legislation on that issue that crime victims can get.
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but they were asking you to implement a parole program for those on the visa waiting list. can you tell us what is delaying implementing this program that is so vital to immigrant crime victims so that they can participate in the criminal justice system and render justice. and what comes to mind, of course, first is the domestic violence, the issue of being taken advantage of, robbed, assaulted, raped, and based upon their vulnerability and their inability to testify. can i give you a series of questions. u-visa and how long it's been taking to implement it. i would be very interested in that. we had the director from department of justice on eoir dealing with immigration courts. but i also know that you work
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with -- your responsibility is to deal with asylum seekers coming into the united states. and i just wanted a sort of forceful, if you can give it, confidence of the vetting process that you have for those refugees. some landed in houston on monday. and i hope that the response in houston was a celebratory one because of the recent discussions they happened to be from syria, all the news cameras and stations were going to film or record their coming into the state. i might say that we have been taking refugees in the state of texas for a very long time, and i'm delighted that the state of texas abandoned what was an illegal action to attempt to stop the refugees from coming in. but i'd be happy for as forceful and vigorous as you can. my last question, which is one that i may want to probe a
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little bit more. but i really want to track the -- and let me be clear, over the years i've seen a number of our men and women who have worn the uniform who have brought in their fiances from the place which they had taken up arms. these were wonderful marriages and this was a wonderful tribute to the diversity of people. but in the absence of the terrorists and this individual, i cannot help but having discovered publicly that this person had been radicalized for one or two years. as to where we were in that visa vetting program. because it hurts the program, and it should not. but she went to very conspicuous places. she was an educated woman, which is unusual -- when i say unusual, in terms of how far education is allowed to go in some communities.
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so, if you can at least give me some framework. and as i understand it, her point of departure was saudi arabia. and so i'm very disturbed that she even got into the united states and received a fiance visa. and maybe i should ask the question, and i can receive it in whatever form. but how long that process took. so, if you could just start quickly with the u-visa and then the asylum question, the refugee question, and the ku visa program. >> as to the u-visa program, we've been working on the developing that policy. i know that there is eagerness and urgency, and we will continue to work expeditiously and i appreciate you urging us to get it done. >> you keep me updated, please. >> yes, ma'am.
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>> the committee. thank you. >> as to refugee screening. i would point out that we have admitted 785,000 refugees since september 11th and 3 million since the beginning of the modern refugee program let alone how many we admitted prior to the modern program. not quite 20 of those 785,000 have been arrested on charges related in some way to terrorism. so, it shows historically how that process has on the whole admitted people who came here to be law-abiding, hardworking citizens raising families just like all of us here. notwithstanding that, we have continued to tighten up the vetting. it is an intense, redundant, multilayered process. it involves three interviews, one by unhrc and state
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department contractors and one my officers who are trained in-depth in country conditions. not to mention extensive background checks that are done tapping from intelligence community resources, law enforcement community resources. and the key point of evidence here is, in fact, individuals have been denied, individuals' cases have been put on hold, either because of derogatory information that was found as a result of those background checks. >> yes. >> which -- or because of things that were discovered during t the -- during the interview process. finally, as to the fiance -- >> before you go to the last one. in my review of the process, there are at least 21 steps, some of those probably are yours, some of them are the state department. but what you're suggesting is, it is a layered review, and just as a testimony of which members don't give, i have in my state, texas, impact, catholic
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charities and interfaith ministries of which i used to be chairman of the board, all have been engaged in refugee resettlement over the years. and i have to strain myself to find an incident out of the refugee resettlement program. you have an ally in me, but i think it is important for the american people to know how stringent the vetting process is. >> i appreciate that observation, congressman. i think it is important that the american people understand how intensive a process it truly is. in particular when people are coming from war-torn environments, terrorism-plagued environments like syria. >> thank you. >> finally, as to the fiance visa program. i appreciate your observation that most people -- most of the relationships that are part of that program are legitimate relationships between people who love each other and are trying to start a life together.
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in fact, one of the things that i focused in most of today's hearing on the fact that our security posture really needs to be for all visa categories. we're examining the fiance visa program. we're looking for different points where we can make improvements in that process. we're looking retrospectively at those cases. and learning whether -- identifying whether there are gaps we need to address. >> well, may i just pursue a line of questioning? when you say reviewing it, i mean, what would you look at? i mean, if you want to look at the present circumstance objectively without going into the details, you have a person that seems to have traveled to -- or came from very challenging areas. and she wasn't marrying a former military or a military person. and it seems that there needed
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to be more assessment, longer period of time, than what we did. >> those are exactly the issues that we're delving into right now. i can't speak to the specific case. i'm constrained from doing that. but those are the issues we're digging into right now. >> let me finish, if the chairman would indulge me for just a moment. >> i've indulged you 3 1/2 minutes over the allotted time. can you assure me this will be your final question? >> i can do so. >> thank you. >> thank you so much, mr. chairman. the ranking member and myself went down to the border a summer or two ago dealing with central american families that we still maintain were fleeing horrific conditions, persecution. and they are in the asylum process, which is seemingly delayed, and they are now in detention in a lot of numbers. we've made some progress.
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but what are you doing with those families that have basically been documented that they are fleeing murder, pillage, drugs, heinous acts, and they're in detention as opposed to moving through the asylum process. >> actually, what we have been doing is moving with the credible fear and reasonable fear screenings as quickly as we can. we are processing times are now below nine days. i think we're down to around six or seven days right now to conduct those screening processes. again, if there is a positive finding, then -- then, you know, they move forward into the -- into the nta process with the immigration courts. if there's a negative finding, they go home. they're removed. so, we are moving=djç expeditio in that process. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> mr. chairman, i have two items to put into the record if i might. a letter dated may 7, 2015, from
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mr. leon rodriguez to a number of organizations dealing with the question of the "u" visa and the numbers of women who experienced domestic violence sexual assault, dating violence, who need to come under the "u" visa and fneed to be moved quickly. >> without objection. >> i have an op-ed, dated december 1st, 2015. i would like to ask for it to be placed in the record. >> without objection. the chair will now recognize the gentle lady from california for any concluding remarks or observations she may have. >> thank you, mr. chairman. just a couple of comments. i note that the agency is now posting on the website waiting times in months by -- kind of like the visa bulletin for asylum cases. and it's backlogged in every office.
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but i can't but notice los angeles is twice as long as any other area. so, i'm hoping that efforts will be made to not particularly let l.a. just completely fall off the cliff. 50 months is -- i mean, it's all too long, but that's really unacceptable. i wanted to comment briefly on the open source issue and also consolidating information on asylum. i remember the first asylum case i ever worked on was an iranian who was in the united states when the fundamentalists took over and the shah was deposed. and he was jewish. and open source data, i mean, they were machine gunning jews in iran, and that was a key element to making his case. so, the fact that there's open source information doesn't mean that it's not helpful. i've always wondered why -- and i'd like to, you know, suggest
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that this be done, not only it should be done in the immigration courts as well. why don't we consolidate country information and update it, you know, every day? i mean, you can read in the paper that last month gangs murdered all the bus drivers in san salvador and left their bodies in the buses. there's more information. there are things that are material that should be available and shouldn't have to be made part of the record in each and every case. there's background data and the assurance of the facts ought to be made available and then applicants can add to it if they wish, but just the background data ought to be provided. i wanted to mention also that discrepancies in an asylum case does not equal fraud. if you have a woman, as sheila and i when we went down to visit
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asylum applicants in dilli and karns and we met a lot of women, many of whom had been raped and abused. and honestly, if you put i was raped on x-date on one document and a different date on another document, it doesn't mean you're making it up. i mean, you need further inquiry, obviously. but the fact that there are discrepancies when people are fleeing chaos and violence does not indicate fraud. i think it's important to note that for the record. i also was concerned by your comment that it's completely hands-off with officers making determinations. and i think it should be hands-off in terms of political interference, but officers can make mistakes and there needs to be some way to correct it. not that they're bad people. but i remember getting requests for evidence on whether a
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particular petitioning company existed, and it was microsoft. that doesn't mean the application should be approved, but i could tell them that microsoft did exist as a company. we had a request for evidence on whether the job description of a former prime minister of a european ally of the united states was legit. i mean, these are things that were just bone-headed mistakes and there's got to be some capacity to fix that, not just say, well, we can't interfere. and i'm hoping that it's a management issue. it's not more than anything else to make sure that mistakes are made. every congressional office gets complaints, and each one of us has to respond and send them to you for correction, and there should be some way to deal with that in a systematic way to make sure obviously that it's not political interference but that errors are caught and corrected if that is the case, because usually people contact us when
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they've run out -- they don't know what else to do but call their congressman. and finally, just a comment on the syrian refugees and the amount of information available to them. i think comparing the syrian refugees to the iraqi refugees may be a mistake. because the fact is we know more about the iraqi refugees than any other refugees ever. because most of them were our translators and they're people that we know first hand, we have extensive contacts with them. i think the real comparison is, you know, another type of refugee and we don't have people on the ground. the challenge is how do you find out the truth because the situation is so hazardous you can't have american officials in the field. and the truth is you do that by creating crowd sourcing in a
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sense, i mean, by re-creating an entire history of an area and then seeing if -- what the person is saying is true or not true. and we're going to make mistakes, but we're not going to -- we're not going to be reckless in that decision making either. so, i want to thank the chairman for giving me the additional time so we'll be even. i would just finally note that the -- if you read the fifth circuit decision on the administrative actions taken by the secretary of homeland security, it was really focused on the administrative procedures act and whether the administrative procedures act applied in these discretionary actions. it wasn't really a finding of unconstitutionality. i just thought it was worth pointing that out for the record and with that i would yield back, mr. chairman. >> director, i want to thank you for your patience. i want to make a couple of observations and then i want to end it by allowing you to answer
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an open-ended question. the first observation i want to make is for folks that are following this issue, and i would -- i would argue, and i know you would agree, a lot of folks are following this issue nationwide because of what happened in california and, frankly, because of some comments made by other administration officials with respect to the refugee program. there's a justifiable, legitimate sense of angst. and i am glad to hear that you did not confine your remarks today to just the k-visa process. that you understand there's both a prospective and retrospective need to evaluate all the visa processes. so, i want to -- i want to thank you for that. i want to be -- i want to say this delicately but as firmly as i can. i realize that we learn a lot post-tragedy.
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it would be great if we could learn some of these lessons pre-tragedy. we just have a tendency to want to focus -- i read more articles today in the last couple of days about the k-visa program than i have probably read in the last ten years. it would be great if it did not take something like what happened in california for all of us, frankly, to redouble our efforts to make sure -- the first objective should be to prevent it from happening. not to figure out what happened afterwards. i have no reason to quarrel with the statistics, the crime statistics, that one of my colleagues shared with you. i don't know whether they're accurate or not, but i have no reason to quarrel with them, other than to say this, the margin for error is very, very, very small, in fact, it's nonexistent. we can get it right a lot of the time. we can get it right the overwhelming majority of the time, but there's still risk. and at some point as a country we're going to have to weigh and balance the risk with what we perceive to be the reward of the
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program. what i want to do at the end is i'm not going to ask you questions that i know you cannot answer. but i do want to put the questions on the record, so i don't expect you to answer them. i realize that you cannot answer them. but i want people to have a sense of what i think congresswoman lofgren and i would both like to ask. she's willing to wait until the bureau concludes its investigation. i'm a little maybe more skeptical of whether or not it can't be done now. but regardless, i would like to know if a female terrorist did travel to the united states in july of 2014 on an approved k-visa. the media reports are that she did. if the director of the fbi can say certain things, i would think that that could be either confirmed or not confirmed. at which consular post was the visa issued.
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are the reports correct that one or more of the addresses she listed on her visa application wrong. and it can be mistakenly wrong or it can be fraudulently wrong, and it's important which it was, if either. did she undergo an in-person interview with a consular officer, and if so, how long did that in-person interview last. when did she first apply for the k-visa. what does the investigation consistent of before you get to the in-person consular interview. were her neighbors interviewed in the country of origin, her work history, school, employers. you know, it strikes me, director, that this country is conferring a privilege on people to allow them to emigrate here. therefore, we should be able to ask to see whatever information we think would be relevant to
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that inquiry, whether it is cell phone records if that's applicable in a country or whether it is interviewing neighbors. i want to make this one observation. not going to press you. you say you can't answer the questions. i get that. i respect the fact that prosecutors and law enforcement officers oftentimes cannot comment on whether or not an investigation is even ongoing. i would tell you that people like consistency because it breeds confidence. and our president has on at least two different occasions commented during an ongoing investigation. and i try not to criticize him gratuitously, but when you comment on an ongoing investigation, as he has done twice, on the merits, the facts, and then you ask administration officials to come before congress and in my judgment correctly note that they could
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not comment on an ongoing investigation, it breeds a lack of confidence. i don't think the lack of confidence is with you. i just think the president would do well to take the same advice that you have received, which is if you don't know what you're talking about, it's better to say nothing. with that, we're all going to go back to our districts at some point hopefully in the next week or so, and i think we're likely to be asked are we safer than we were a month ago. are we safer than we were six months ago with respect to what we've learned about the visa. i want to let you close us out by giving an assurance, if you're able to, that we've already taken steps to at least make us safer than we were the day before the incident happened in california. >> thank you, chairman, for that
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invitation. again, without going into -- able to go right now into the specific details, there are affirmative steps that we are preparing to take now that will certainly enhance our visibility into the backgrounds of at least certain categories of individuals who seek admission to the united states. i think as we complete our process of review, we will be able to talk in greater detail as to what that means. >> when and if you learn that it is appropriate for the ranking member and i or anyone else who is interested to review that file, we would like to do so. i don't want to interfere with an investigation, but i also don't want that to be cited as a reason if it's not legitimate. so, if it's brought to your attention that it's okay, ms. lofgren and i will be happy to come to wherever the file may be. >> understood, chairman. thank you. >> with that, we want to thank you, again, particularly for
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accommodating our vote schedules and for answering all the members' questions and the collegiality is which you always interact with the committee. with that wrxwrx, we are adjour.
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during this hearing we've been asking for your thoughts on facebook and twitter. the question is should the u.s. increase legal immigration restri restricts. steve writes i think there should be a temporary halt to all immigration until our borders are secured and immigration reform is in place. and vickie says if you let your fear dictate change in the way
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you've always done things in this country, you've let isis win. you can continue to let us know what you think at and at twitter @cspan. james comey went before the senate judiciary committee today. his testimony focused largely on the terrorist attack in san bernardino and the threat from isis and homegrown terrorists. he answered questions from senators for almost three hours and we'll bring you that entire hearing this evening on our companion network c-span at 8:00 p.m. eastern. every weekend, on "american history tv" on c-span3, 48 hours of programs and events that tell our nation's story. saturday afternoon at 2:00 eastern, historians and authors on the life and legacy of stokley car michael, a voice for equal rights and the black power movement in the united states and an organizer for the
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all-african peoples revolutionary party and they are joined by charles cobb. >> stokley called the sit-in movement an apprenticeship in struggle. and i think he's about right in that. no matter where you come out five years later, i mean, stokley, you know, eventually moves africa, embraces pan-african socialism. other people embrace the democratic party. >> then at 8:00, on "lectures in history" history professor elizabeth gray on the use of opium and laudanum in the 19th century and public opinion of its abuse by men and women. >> the attitude toward women drinking at the time was that this was very inappropriate, that a woman should not drink. why would laudanum be something that she could look to as an alternative? >> and sunday morning at 10:00 on "road to the white house rewind" we look back to the 2000 campaign of al gore as he tours the state of new hampshire.
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>> and for the last 6 1/2 years you've seen new hampshire change from a time when you were losing 10,000 jobs a year to a time now where you're gaining 12,000 jobs a year. and that's partly because we've had fiscal responsibility, president clinton and i put in place an economic plan that has balanced the budget and turned the biggest deficit into the biggest surplus. >> al gore went on to win the democratic nomination but lost the general election to george w. bush in one of america's highly contested presidential elections. "american history tv" all weekend, every weekend, only on c-span3. defense secretary ashton carter today said the u.s. is prepared to provide attack helicopters and military advisers to iraqi security forces as they battle isis. the secretary's remarks came in testimony this morning before
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the senate armed services committee. arizona senator john mccain chaired the hearing.
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>> well, good morning. the committee meets today to receive testimony on the ongoing efforts of the united states to combat isil as well as u.s. policy toward iraq, syria, and the broader middle east. we welcome our distinguished witnesses and thank them for their appearance today as well as for their continued service to our nation. this morning our hearts are with the loved ones of the 224 people
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killed aboard a russian airliner over egypt, the 43 people killed in bombings in beirut, of the 130 people killed in paris and of the 14 people killed in san bernardino. each one of these atrocities committed or inspired by isil has occurred in just a month and a half since the secretary last appeared before this committee. a year and a half since he appeared. and all of these things have happened. whatever illusions anyone may have had that our national security was not at stake in the conflict in iraq and syria or that isil was somehow contained these attacks make it clear that isil's threat against our homeland is real, direct and growing. that we are not winning this war, and the time is not on our side. americans have never been more worried about being attacked that at any time since the months that followed september 11th, 2001. today's hearing is essential to
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help the american people and their elected representatives understand what the department of defense is doing to protect our nation from this new terrorist threat. the administration says it has a strategy to destroy isil, which has called, quote, an indirect approach, unquote. this means that instead of taking the fight to isil more directly, the administration seeks to build up local ground forces in iraq and syria to support them with u.s. and coalition air power, to enable our local partners to liberate their own lands and to create conditions for lasting political settlements. much of this is what many of us have been advocating for years, and to be sure we are making some progress as i recently saw on a visit to iraq with senator graham, the recent operation to retake synjar was important. iraq forces are closing in on ramadi, though they still have not finished the job, and our counterterrorism operations are taking a lot of isil fighters off the battlefield in iraq and syria. all of this represents tactical
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progress, and it is a testimony -- testament to our military and civilian leaders as well as thousands of u.s. troops helping to take the fight to isil every day. however, significant challenges remain. the iraqi government is weak and beholden to iran, the training of iraqi security forces has been slow, and the building of support for the sunni tribal forces even slower. at the current pace, u.s. commanders estimate that isil will still control mosul at the end of next year. in syria, what the administration calls its strategy looks more like a hope. we will not destroy isil until raka, the capital of the caliphate, falls. but there's still no ground force that is both willing and able to retake raka, nor is there a realistic prospect of one emerging soon. the syrian kurds could take raka but won't. and the syrian sunni arabs want
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to but can't. partly due to our failure to support them. what's worse, our military and diplomatic efforts are misaligned. russia and iraq are doubling down on bashar assad. russia's air strikes are still overwhelmingly directed at coalition-supported groups and more talks in vienna will not convince vladimir putin to abandon his idea of russia's national interests in syria. we need leverage to do that, but nothing we are doing, military or otherwise, is creating the necessary conditions, both in putin's mind as well as on the ground in syria, to achieve a favorable political settlement. as a result, the conflict will likely grind on. isil will grow stronger, and the refugees will keep coming. meanwhile, isis is moving across the region. in afghanistan, lebanon, egypt, yemen and, perhaps most worry g
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worryingly, in libya. short, the threat is evolving and growing faster than the administration's efforts to counter. the broad shortcomings of the administration's approach has to do with two assumptions it appears to be making. the first is that time is on our side, that we can afford to play out their indirect approach for years while isil continues to hold key terrain. time has never been on our side in this conflict. and it certainly is not now, after sinai, paris, and san bernardino. the second assumption is that we should not put u.s. forces on the ground, because that's what isil wants. it is true that isil seeks an apocalyptic conflict with the west. but another key pillar of isil's ideology is the creation of the caliphate. so, as long as isil can claim to possess its caliphate, it projects an aura of success that is its most powerful tool of
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radicalization and recruitment. there are no local forces that are able and willing to destroy isil's caliphate on the ground, and if we will not commit our own forces, then we are accepting the existence of the caliphate. accepting the existence of the caliphate. on sunday, president obama once again resorted to the straw man argument that his critics want to invade iraq and syria with 100,000 u.s. troops. no one, no one is calling for that. what we do need in iraq are several thousand additional troops to facilitate the troops. call on air strikes from forward positions and conduct counterterrorism operations. once isil is destroyed in iraq, we must keep a residual force there as we should have done before. if we leave again the threat will return and we'll have to intervene again. iraqi aqis must-win the peace b
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the u.s. has you a nike role to help them. to do so we must be present. in syria, the u.s. needs a coherent strategy to defeat isil. our military efforts must create the conditions for this outcome. america must work with its coalition partners to establish and probltect zones. to deny assad regime the power of barrel bombs and impose costs on russia for targeting minor opposition groups. we need a multinational ground force, primarily made up of sunni, arab and european forces but with a strong u.s. component to do what no local force or will. we take raqqah. destroy isil's caliphate in syria and prepare for a long term stabilization effort. beyond iraq and syria we need to
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seize the initiative and roll back isil's regional expansion. this will create a greater forward presence of u.s. intelligence teams that can map its networks and destroy them as part of a broader strategy to support countries in building just and inclusive governments. finally, mr. secretary, we have known each other for many years. i know you to be a skilled and dedicated public servant. i think you are performing to the best of your abilities. it is true you have made four appearances before this committee as secretary. but when you were nominated for your position you agreed to quote, appear and testify upon request before this committee. since your last testimony, as i mentioned, we've seen isil launch or inspire attacks in the sky over egypt, in beirut, in paris and here at home in san bernardino. we've also heard the administration roll out additional actions that it clamts are needed to address
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this threat. if we're truly at war against isil as the president says, then we will continue to expect the secretary of defense to provide regular updates to the senate armed services committee on the progress of that war. this is your responsibility to us, so we can perform our responsibilities on behalf of those who elected us. senator reid. >> thank you very much. this morning's hearing is extremely timely after some very disturbing events after isil claiming bombing on russian airliner, attacks on people in paris and deadly attack in san bernardino. our hearts go out to the victims of these terrible and senseless tragedies. as the president outlined in his speech to the nation on sunday it's critical the u.s. led 60 plus nation coalition to defeat
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isil pursue a multidimensional approach. the united states and coalition partners are working to degrade isil. to cut off financing, cut off isil controlled territories and cut off isil's murderous ideology. such an approach will require the careful coordination of military, intelligence, diplomatic and law enforcement efforts combat isil across the departments of the u.s. government and within kourlgs. recently the administration announce ad number of steps to intensify military efforts in iraq and syria. these included deployment of forces to assist local forces and most recently announced by you secretary carter of the intent to deploy in full coordination with the governor of iraq a targeting force to assist the iraqi and kurdish
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security forces. coalition partners have stepped up their contributions in their fight against isil. i welcome and i think we aldo these continuing efforts to re-evaluate and enhance our military campaign and would be interested in any further steps that may be under consideration to intensify the military pressure and i think we all agree that that intensity that's to be increased significantly and rapidly. at the same time, a sustainable defeat of isil in the region requires ground combat forces be local forces. though u.s. force can and they should provide critical advice, assistance and enable us to assist these forces and go where they must go to assist these forces. putting large numbers of u.s. troops on the ground as has been suggested by my colleagues in iraq and syria could play directly or indirectly into isil's propaganda war. it's also clear a sustainable
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outcome is only possible by inclusive governments and political transition in syria that puts an end to the brutality of the assad regime. russia's engagement will continue to reduce the chance of a political solution so long as russians are focused on attacking the minority opponents. we would be interested in hearing from our witnesses the status and to train' ekwap our forces in iraq. having trained them help them seize territory and hold territory taken from isil control. general, i hope you can address whether we have the right command structure operation and whether our military commanders are there to have the flexibility they need to carry out the campaign plan.
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finally the committee would be interested to get an assessment from our witnesses the fact it's christianitying to the expansion of isil. and what the department needs to counter this threat that is bourgeoning throughout the region. again, thank you to the witnesses and thank you, mr. chairman. >> welcome secretary carter and gener general selva. >> thank you for inviting me to discuss the campaign with paul selva. chairman dunford is currently visiting our troops deployed around the world this holiday season convang eying thanks to . i soon will be doing the same. and chairman, you're right, we are intensifying the campaign
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and have in the six weeks since i appeared before you. last time and i'm happy to be here today to describe what we're doing. it's very much along the lines of what you just described, that is forces to accompany, to call an air strike, to conduct counterterrorism strikes and train and equip so i'll describe those actions which we're taking because the attacks in paris and san bernardino were an assault upon the civilization that we defend. isil requires and will receive a lasting defeat. the president has directed us to intensify and adapt the military campaign. i'm sorry, had directed us to intensify the military campaign before the paris attacks and the necessity of accelerating our efforts as we're doing has only been made more plain by the recent attacks. we are urging others in the
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region and around the world to do the same. because those attacks further highlighted the stakes that not just the united states but the world has in this fight. the defense of the homeland must be strengthened to be sure. but it is absolutely necessary to defeat isil in its apparent tumor in syria and iraq. also to take necessary action wherever else in the world this evil organization mesta disease sizes. achieving these objectives leveraging all our components of our nation's might, diplomatic being military and law enforcement, homeland security, intelligence, economic informational. that's the right overall approach for three principle reasons. first, the strategy takes the fight to the enemy where they are, which we must do. second, it seeks to develop
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capable, motivated local ground force as the only force that can assure a lasting victory. u.s. and international coalition forces can and will do more to enable them but we cannot substitute for them. and third, it seeks to set the conditions for a political solution to the civil war in syria and for inclusive governance in iraq, both of which are essential because those are only durable ways to prevent from and isih-like organization from developing there. the defense department is responsible for the military campaign which is the focus of my comments today. through our and coalition partners the military campaign will deny isil any safe
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territory, kill or capture its leadership forces and destroy its organization. all while we seek to identify and then enable motivated local forces on the ground who can expel isil from the territory it now controls, hold it and govern it and ensure that victory sticks. militarily we're taking new steps each week to gather momentum on the battlefield in syria and iraq. i'll take a few extra minutes this morning to give as much detail as possible about the new thing we're doing, applying multiple pressures on multiple fronts simultaneously to accelerate isil's defeat. the reality is we're at war. that's how our troops feel about it. because they are taking the fight to isil every day. applying the might of the finest fighting for the world has ever known. in northern syria, local forces
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with our support are fighting along the line, engaging isil in the last remaining pocket of access into turkey. meanwhile, a coalition of syrian arabs that we helped equip in northeastern syria are fighting alongside kurdish forces and have recaptured important terrain most recently pushing isil out of the town of al hall and 900 kilometers of territory. they are moving south to isolate isil's capital of raqqah with the ultimate objective of collapsing its control of the city. to build on that, president obama, on mine and chairman dunford's advice ordered to go into syria to support the fight against isil.
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we have intelligence gathering, targeting and enabling local forces. where we find further opportunity to leverage such capability, we will not hesitate to expand it. next, in the south of syria we're also taking advantage of opportunities to enable fighters trained and equipped by us and other coalition partners. to conduct strikes inside syria. we're also enhancing jordan's border control and defenses with additional military assets and planning assistance. turning to northern iraq, units with the help of u.s. power, air power and advisors have retain the town of sinjar cutting the main line of communication between raqqah and mosul two large cities under isil's control. to move people and supplies isil must rely on back roads where
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we'll locate and destroy them. elsewhere in iraq, we have about 3,500 troops at six locations in support of iraqi security forces. there we've been providing increased lethal fire and augmenting the existing training, advising, and assisting program and we're prepared to do more as iraq shows capability and motivation in the counter isil fight and in resolving its political divisions. after a frustratingly long time we're starting to see some movement in the operation to recapture ramadi. over the past several months the coalition has provide specialized training and equipment including combat engineering techniques like instride reaching and bull dozing and munitions like at 4 shoulder missiles to stop truck bombs up to the iraqi army and its counterterrorism service units that are now beginning to
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enter ramadi neighborhoods from multiple directions. in fact, in the last 24 hours the isf retook the anbar operations center on the northern bank of the euphates river. this is an important step but there's still tough fighti ing ahead. the united states is prepared to assist the iraqi army with additional unique capabilities to help them finish the job, including attack helicopters and accompanying advisors if circumstances dictate and if requested by the prime minister. i mention all this because it represents how we've adapted in the way we support our iraqi partners and i want shows that training, advising and assisting helps. and works. we'll do more of what works
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going forward. what we're focused on making additional tactical gains the overall progress in the sunni areas of iraq have been slow much to prime minister's abadi and our frustration. with respect to sunni tribal forces we're urging the iraqi government to do more to recruit, train, arm, mobilize and pay sunni mobilization fighters in their communities. we continue to engage the iraqi government at all levels to move forward on this critically important isil campaign including working with police to ensure there's an iraqi hold force to sustain future gains. next, in full coordination again with the government of iraq, we're der employing a specialized expeditionary targeting force and put more pressure on isil through a
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variety of raids and intelligence gathering missions. this force will also be in a position to conduct unilateral operations in syria. in iraq, the force will operate at the invitation of the iraqi government and focus on defending its borders and building the isf's ability don't duct similar operation. we'll not be discussing specifics of this expeditionary targeting force or its operations in an unclafd setting to protect our forces and to protect the element of surprise. we want this force to make isil and its leaders wonder when they go to bed at night who is coming in the window. chairman dunford and i recognize in principle there are alternatives to the strategic approach we have adopted to drive isil from syrian and iraqi territory including the introduction of a significant foreign ground force. hypotically international.
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while we have the extra about it to furnish a u.s. component, we have not recommended this course of action for several reasons. in the near term, it would be a significant undertaking that much as we may wish otherwise, realistically we would embark largely by ourselves. it would be conceding our ability instead of fighting on the enemy's terms. in the medium term, by seeming to americanize the conflicts in iraq and syria, we could well turn those fighting isil or inclined to resist their rule into fighting us instead. as chairman dunford testified last week, quote, isil would like nothing more than a large presence of u.s. forces on the
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ground in iraq and syria so that they can have a call to jihad. and lastly, in the long term there would still remain the problem of securing and governing the territory. these must to be done by local forces. so in the end, while we can enable them we can't substitute for them. next, momentum on the ground, that i described in syria and iraq has been enabled by greatly increased ecology air strikes. additional strike aircraft we deployed in turkey along with improved intelligence allowed us in november to increase our air strikes against isil to the highest level since the start our operations in august of 2014. moreover, because of improved intelligence and understanding of isil's operations, we intensified the air campaign against isil's worst sustaining oil enterprise a critical pillar of isil's infrastructure.
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in addition to destroying fixed facilities like wells and processing facilities, we've destroyed nearly 400 of isil's oil tanker trucks, reducing a major source of its daily revenues. there's more to come too. we're also improving our capability to eliminate isil's leadership. is in i last appeared before this committee in late october, we've removed two more key isil figures from the battlefield, namely jihadi john and i sill executioner and i sill's leader in libya. like previous actions these strikes serve notice to isil that no target is beyond our reach. and as our military campaign intensifies on the ground and in the air, the defense department is also developing more strategic options in the cyber domain. these, then, are just nine areas
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of the adaptations we've made over the past six weeks to accelerate this campaign. and to see momentum build. president obama has committed to doing what it takes as opportunity arise, as we see what works and as the enemy adapts until isil is defeated in a lasting way. the president has consistently supported the recommendations from me and general dunford and we know he's prepared for us to bring in more. we will. at the same time that we're constantly looking to do more in this fight, the world must do the same. the international community including our allies and partners has to step up before another attack like paris. france was galvanized by the attack on its capital. and intensified its role. britain has now expanded its air campaign to strike isil in syria. italy has deployed its most
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elite police units to assist in iraq. germany is now making additional contributions. netherlands is actively considering doing more as well. but we all -- let me repeat that, all must do more. turkey must do more to control its often porous border. saudi arabia and the gulf states join the air portion of the campaign in the early days. only the airpo part. just this past week, i personally reached out to my counterparts in 40 countries around the world in the coalition and asked them to contribute more. in many cases contribute much more to enhancing the fight against isil. the types of things i requested from our partners include special operation forces, strike
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and reconnaissance aircraft, weapons and munitions, training meanwhile, as the chairman noted, russia which is publicly committed to defeating isil has instead largely attacked opposition forces. it's time for russia to focus on the right side of this fight. before icon clued i would like to respectfully request the committee's attention to matters that bear upon our security and its responsibilities. first, over a month ago i submitted a request to the four congressional defense committees including this one to release holds on the final portion of funds in the syrian ekwipg program, that is some $116 million. we need these funds to provide and transport ammunition, weapons and other equipment to further enable the progress being made against isil in syria
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by partners like the arab syrian coalition. all four committees have failed to act on that request. and i ask you to release these holds urgently. we should not be impeding the very momentum we're trying to build. next, is the necessity to fill key vacancies in the defense department's critical leadership positions. i have appeared before this committee as noted six times over the last ten months. four times on the middle east and twice in just the last six weeks on isil. while this committee has held 58 full hearings over the last year, only three have been confirmation hearings for dod civilian leaders. dod currently has 16 nominees awaiting constitutional advice and consents of the senate. 12 of these 16 are still awaiting even a hearing, including our nominees to be secretary of the army, the
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undersecretaries of each of our three military departments, army, navy and air force and the undersecretaries of both intelligence and personnel and readiness. these positions should be filled by confirmed nominees especially in a time of conflict. so i welcome that the process is now moving and i urge to it move quickly for all our civilian nominees and also for our senior military nominations that will be made early next year. finally, as icon clu conclude io commend this committee on last month's budget deal which i called for back in march. it was a consequential agreement for the nation's security. as current funding for the government is set to expire, it is vital that the two houses now conclude work on funding all of the government consistent with the budget deal. now is not the time for more gridlock. i thank this committee in
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advance for your efforts because funding this budget deal is what our national security demands and it sends the right message to our troops, our allies and our enemies in this time of broad global national security challenges and especially in this war. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in response, mr. secretary, in response to your last two points, one on the funding, we just received that request last week, but you know very well it's a result of the absolute failure of the expenditure of what was judged then to be $43 million and four or five people were trained. we don't want to approve something like that again. we want -- you want that kind of funding to train and equip, we want to know what the plan is and we don't want to see repetition by the testimony of head of central command we have four or five less and we spent
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$43 million. we have an obligation to the taxpayers. on the nominees there's four pending before the united states senate and four more having hearings this afternoon which takes care of half of yours and i'm not going waste the time of the committee to go back and forth about threats of vetoes in the view of this committee that were unjustified on the part of the president including the failure still, still despite your appearance in my office with the president's counterterrorism person that you were going to send me a plan. you were going to send this committee a plan on the closure of guantanamo. we still haven't gotten that plan, mr. secretary. so if you're a little bit concerned about lack of movement, i've been a little bit concerned about lack of movement on guantanamo in the last seven years. i'll do what i can to get the four that are pending before the senate today, confirmed by the senate and i will -- we will be
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having a hearing this afternoon on the four additional ones. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. secretary, on the 1st of december before the house armed services committee congressman forbes asked general dunford quote have we currently contained isil. general dunford, we have not contained isil. mr. secretary, do you agree with general dunford? >> i agree with what general dunford said, yes. >> so if we have not contained isil, how are we to believe that we are succeeding against isil? >> i think that we are building momentum against isil. i'm going to be very careful about describing -- i've described the trajectory of that success all around iraq and
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syria, some actions were taken in libya. it's not my principal responsibility but i met yesterday with the secretary of homeland security, the director of the fbi, the director of national intelligence and other officials to talk about what we could do more to strengthen the defense of the homeland as the department of defense but in our principle responsibility which is to take the fight syria and iraq, i've described the actions that we've and the since i appeared the last time and they are building momentum. >> thank you. how long do you think it will be before we retake mosul or raqqah? >> with respect to mosul, mr. chairman, it is hard to say because that depends much on the progress of the iraqi security forces which i described in building themselves into a more capable combat force. with respect tor ramadi.
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>> raqqah. >> the syrian kurds to the north have done an excellent job of clearing their territory. >> we're not going to go into raqqah and you and i know that. >> no, no. it's the syrian arabs. >> the point s-mr. secretary, here we are with attacks on the homeland, the united states of america, we have not contained isil and we have no timeline, the timeline i was given when senator graham and i went over there was at least tend of next year before mosul and there. >> -- there is no plan, no strategy to retake raqqah. as long as they have the caliphate base then they are able to orchestrate attacks as they have successfully achieved in the last several weeks, whether it be russian airliner,
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southern beirut, paris or san bernardino. you describe some measures that are probably very helpful but with no timeline in which to take out the caliphate for which there are many things happening including news reports developing chemical weapons. so this is why i'm really puzzled. this morning on one of the news shows, former head of the united states army chief of staff of the united states army said we ought to have american contingent troops on the ground. i frankly do not understand the logic in your statement about, we certainly have the extra fwoilt furnish a u.s. component, we've not recommended because it would be a significant undertaking. i agree. we would have to do it largely by ourselves. i do not agree. it would be ceding our
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comparative advantage in the medium term it would seem to americanize the conflicts. does anybody really believe that if the united states construction back against the people that just slaughtered some americans in san bernardino that somehow that would encourage them? what encourages them, mr. secretary, is success. and they have a pretty serious record here of success justin last couple months since you were here. so, i do not understand why in the world you wouldn't want as general, the architect of the surge the successful surge and others military leaders including this morning former chief staff of the united states army, a small component of american forces with an international force which could be if the united states had the credibility could be gathered and then go in and take out this
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cal fit. as long as the caliphate, i know of no expert that doesn't believe that as long as this caliphate exists in raqqah they can orchestrate attacks and maybe move to libya. so maybe you can help the committee out again that this would somehow cede a comparative advantage if we went in with a large arab force, the turks and egyptians and going there and take those people out. there's 20,000 to 30,000 of them. they are not giants. so, someone has to convince me that air power alone and special operation forces are going to succeed in the short term in order to prevent further things such as san bernardino. i would love to hear your response. >> a couple of things, mr. chairman. first of all, to your main point about more american forces and i
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would say special forces, but others as well that train, advise, assist and accompany, they are not special forces, we -- >> i was talking about a multinational force. >>, there mr. chairman, as i indicated, i too wish that particularly the sunni arab nations of the gulf would do more and going way back -- >> they are willing to do so if there's a united states commitment. >> i've had lengthy conversations. >> so have i. >> i have to say that i have consistently emphasized to them that they have a unique role here, and also insofar as they are concerned about iran which is another concern they have and, by the way, that we have also, totally different but serious subject also, that what i emphasized to them is that we
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don't like it but the iranians are in the game on the ground, and i very much would like and we would very much welcome, we repeatedly said this, working with those countries on the ground because we believe, as you noted, that they would have a distinctive advantage in a ground fight. with respect to the europeans, the europeans have generally speaking offered to do more within their capabilities and capacities. i will note here and this is uneven across europe, but in general i am quite concerned with the level of investment that europe is making in its military and alliance and partnership, therefore with the united states. there's much more that their economies would enable them to do and that their history, as
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standing up for the same kind of civilized values that we stand up with really require of them. and so while we're getting more from the europeans and i indicated i asked for more, i would like there to be still more. so in that sense i completely am with you. i just -- i simply on the basis of my urgent and persistent consultations with them, unless have less high hopes perhaps than you that they would assemble. we would welcome that. >> could i just say i your gently and fer conveniently ask you for a strategy that you can tell us when we're going to take month sushlgs when we're going take raqqah and when we're going to wipe out this caliphate. i have not seen that. general, dew point to add
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anything? >> sir, i would add three points. i would agree that defending our homeland is the top priority. >> that's helpful. >> taking the fight to the caliphate is what is going on today in iraq and syria. the combination of increasing the momentum with the moments in iraq as well as in ramadi and partnering -- >> again, general, there's no timeline for raqqah and mosul which is the basis of the caliphate. >> so the fight on the ground defines the progress we will make against the caliphate. we have put significant pressure on northern syria. we have taken with syrian arab coalition partners have taken significant ground in the north and in the east of syria. they are using the equipment that we have provided to put pressure on isil's main lines of communication between raqqah and mosul to provide a timeline we deny the fact that the enemy on
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the ground gets a vote but they do not have freedom of maneuver. they do not have freedom of operational -- >> general was able to orchestrate an attack in san bernardino, california. my time has long ago expired. senator reed? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, we all come to the conclusion we need american forces on the ground. the question very ge n genericc is what do we do. we have some examples. in enduring freedom we sent in specialized teams of u.s. personnel and air power and together with local force were able to disrupt and then ultimately defeat the taliban. in iraqi freedom we sent in conventional forces, we won a
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swift and brilliant conventional victory and then confronted instability and counter insurgency. it would seem to me that you're tending to favor the former model which is to have specialized troops in there with our air power, et cetera and the constraining factor right now is the local forces on the ground, particularly arab forces, not kurdish force but arab forces. i am told there's about 100 new syrian fighters that have been trained and on the ground that have the potential. can you elaborate on those comments? >> i can. first of all, with respect to the afghan experience, i agree with you, general, analysis of the history of those two. that was a circumstance in 2001 and 2002 where we were able very rapidly and extremely effectively to leverage a pre-existing indigenous force
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namely the northern alliance which we had over the previous decade or so built up in order to fight the soviets, and they actually succeeded in expelling the soviets from afghanistan. that force, that organization and other organizations of the so-called mujahedeen we quickly link up with again and by providing them, enabling them exactly in this manner, they would -- they would advance. that would cause the taliban to expose their positions and we could cream them from taxpayer. so that was -- the air. we would like to replicate that in this current circumstance. we're having to build those force and they don't exist in the same way that they did in the northern alliance. with respect to the new syrian forces and i want gets back to the funding issue. we did change our approach to
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training and equipping syrian forces. our early experience there was disappointing. i said that. i always told, i'm very honest about things. it didn't work out very well because we were trying to build units from scratch. and what -- the new approach and the one we're asking to you fund and we're providing -- i'm willing to send up a team today to brief you further on what we're looking for, but we need this agility if we're going fight a war. i blade you to take the briefings and the reasons we're requesting this money. it's different from told program. we learned our lesson. we're doing something different which is this. we're taking units that have already formed and have undertaken combat isil. the syrian arab coalition is an example of that. and instead of making, trying to create a brand new force or recruit a brand new force and then put them, including by being on the ground with them,
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but especially ekwiquipping and providing them with air power and amplifying air power and this gets to the chairman's question about a timeline for raqqah. if we make them successful as they move further south -- remember these are syrian arabs not kurds, the chairman rightly noted wouldn't be appropriate for us to attack largely arab raqqah, that they and their success will build a snowball that accumulates more fighters as they go. as that accumulates and there's more of them we'll do more to fall in behind them with the objective then of them taking raqqah which would be a very important victory in the heart of isil territory. >> thank you. general, quickly, the command arrangements, gentlemen following us now the joint commander with operational
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control both in iraq and syria i understand, are you satisfied and general dunford satisfied that you have the best framework for command now to integrate all of the dod elements and ancillary elements you need? >> yes, sir, the joint task force command structure in baghdad that covers iraq and syria is more than adequate to cover the military maneuver that's required and to orchestrate the forces that are required and has the support of central command headquarters as an oversight and supporting headquarters. >> they have the flexibility to make critical designates in a timely way without second guessing up and down the line? >> yes, sir. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate your remarks. there's a great deal of frustration, secretary carter, and concern that we're drifting and reacting and don't have the
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kind of plan that will lead to success, number one. number two, i understand now the president says he wants an authorization of force but because of the difficulties and bungling, i think, that we've seen so far, we're going to have to know what you're going to do. how you going to do it. how it's going to be successful. that's not clear. it's not clear to the american people. it's not clear to congress. not clear to our european allies. our allies in the middle east. or our enemies. that's a problem we've got. just very real. secondly, i think that secretary gates was correct to say we need an overarching strategy, the whole deal with islamic extremism maybe 20, 30, 50 years. we used the word containment to deal with that. however that does not mean in a long term strategy of
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containment of extremism we don't have to act decisively and militarily now. i just think and i shared with you that i believe that the defense department is underestimating the significance of the refugee crisis, the impact it's having in europe, exact it's having in the united states, what's happening from all this disorder and the flee of human beings and the deaths that's being caused and the humanitarian disaster that's out there. so, it seems to me, does it not, to you, that a prompt, decisive action to create safe zones in syria where people don't have to flee their home country, can be kept safe there would be positive as a matter of humanity and as a military possibility? >> thank you, senator.
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i'll begin, including on the safe zones and then perhaps ask the vice chairman to add. he's done a lot of work on that as well. i will note with respect to the amf, that we have -- i'm not a lawyer but i'm told and i'm glad, otherwise it would be a problem -- we have the authority, legal authority to do what we want to do and the a amf as i've testified that the president submitted would also allow to us do everything we need to do in this campaign. >> just don't blame congress for not rubber stamping it immediately if we don't understand -- >> it's okay. i even mentioned that just for that reason. you're right, and i associate myself with you about acting decisively. i do recognize that there may be decades of combatting radicalism in general. but we need to go after isil in its parent tumor in iraq and
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syria now and urgently and so i associate myself with that, that point of view. refugees is a tragic matter and, by the way, just a reminder that only about half of the refugees are actually from syria and there are also importantly from libya, from afghanistan, from throughout africa and while there are women and children caught up in this circumstance, the great bulk of them are young people mostly male and professionally oriented that are looking for work. that's why german companies are at the train stations recruiting them off the trains. that's a reality. what does it mean for the countries from which they come. it's a huge talent drain as well as a humanitarian issue.
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we have to get an end to the civil war in syria and get a government that can govern decently and assad's government is not that. with respect to safe zones we have thought about that. i certainly thought about that a great deal. i'll begin and describe the concept of a safe zone could be to create a patch of syria that where in people inclined to go there could go there and be protected. they would need to be protected because you can foresee that at least isil and other radical groups and quite possibly elements of the assad regime would undertake to prove that it wasn't safe. and so it would have to be made safe and that takes us back to the question of what's the appropriate force of that size
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to protect a zone of that size. in our estimate it's substantial and, again, i don't see much as i wish otherwise anybody offering to furnish that for us. i also think, we've thought about who might want to reside in such a zone. i think it would be undesirable if it became a place into which people were pushed. say from turkey or europe, expelled, so to speak into this zone. i don't know what the people who now live in the zone think about other people coming into the zone. that would have to be taken into account. we have thought about it. we've not recommended that because it's an undertaking of substantial scale wherein my judgment the costs outaway the benefits. >> before you answer, a major european ambassador told me that
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the europeans have recommended that and the united states has said no. is that correct? >> no european defense leader has indicated a willingness to do that and contribute to a force to do that. >> i asked him twice. i said you recommended that and the united states is the one saying no and that's what he said, yes. >> i haven't observed that, no. >> thank you. if you would disagree with any of these statement, i'm going summarize a letter about what is the situation in the fight against isil. number one, isil is losing territory, correct? i won't go into all the details that delineate the territory they lost because i don't want to take the time but it's available to any member of the committee or any american. secondly isil is losing
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leadership, correct? >> yes. >> we have, in fact, taken out more than 100 of isil's leadership, including the special ops taking out their chief financial officer where we gained a great deal of intelligence what was funding isil and secondly air strikes take out their online recruiting campaign. the cyber caliphate. and also the top commander in libya, correct? >> and jihadi john the executioner. >> they are losing funding? >> that's correct. >> coalition air strikes have destroyed hundreds of oil transport trucks justin last 30 days, zple. >> true. >> in addition to oil operations infrastructure that we have taken out with our air strikes? >> true also. >> so, one of our colleagues who is not here today which is interesting considering this would be a pretty important hearing if you're running for president, he has said quote,
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this is senator cruz has said we'll utterly destroy isis. we'll carpet bomb them into 0 bring via on. i don't know if sand can glow in the dark but we'll find out. how many women and children would be involved if we carpet bombed the areas where isis is currently a stronghold? what are we talking about in terms of lives lost of women and children in those areas? does anybody have an estimate? >> senator, i'll let general selva speak to that. that's not our approach and we're very effective from the air but we take some pain -- >> we're surgical. >> we're able to be effective while minimizing collateral damage. >> one of the reasons the locations we took out was so important we now forced their transport trucks out into the open where we can find them and take them out whereas when they are in the city center we kill thousands of innocent people,
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correct. >> senator, our process to be as deliberate as possible, as careful as we can with the intelligence that we have and to discriminately strike targets and avoid civilian collateral damage. that's our process since day one. it's prove convenient ven very . >> isn't the biggest danger to the homeland this ability of this extreme jihad viewpoint being transferred to americans and then become radicalized and do what these people did in san bernardino. isn't that the biggest threat to our homeland? >> senator, it's clear from isil's strategy that their objective is to cause us to engaging what they believe is an apocalypse with the west. anything we do to feed that particular frame of thinking
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counters our national security. we have to be careful how we prostitute a campaign that appears to be an in. discriminate attempt to attack isil and the population that surrounds it. >> if we did indiscriminate carpet bombing of a major area and killed thousands of women and children, would you assume that would have some impact on their ability to recruit misguided barbarians like this couple that took out more than a dozen people last week. i would have to assume it would put their recruiting on steroids. >> senator, i would avoid anything hypothetically. what i would say is the process you described as your hypothetical question is not the way we apply force in combat. it is not now or ever will be. >> ever? >> no, ma'am. >> if we cleared out raqqah, which i have no doubt that our military could do, if we could clear out raqqah or ramadi, do
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we have any local force capable prove providing security on the ground in those locations ongoing? >> senator, i can't talk specifically about raqqah because we don't have that kind of intelligence on raqqah. in the case of ramadi, there's a sunni, predominantly sunni police force that's ready to fall in behind the force that's attempting to take ramadi back and the intention of the iraqi government to put that police force in place. i don't at this instance that have numbers. i can provide them for you if you want them. >> in raqqah are we aware of any force that's available to secure and hold raqqah if we were able to take it out or would we have to stay as long as it took? >> the forces that we're aware of at this point are the syrian democratic forces that are working with kurdish partners that are willing to put pressure on raqqah. it's not clear that that force is large enough to be the whole
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force and the security force that would follow. that is one of the reasons that we have advocated and gotten authorities to put special ops forces into syria to build that depth of intelligence to understand which forces are available, to put increasing pressure pores into raqqah. >> thank you very much. >> you don't want to neglect world war ii general selva as far as carpet bombing is concerned. senator sullivan asked to take precedence over his colleagues. >> having a mic issue. mr. secretary, general good to see you. i think one of the things that you're hearing here is a common
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theme really from all our colleagues is this sense of urgency. so you're laying out the strategy. and i think some of the elements that you high liked in your testimony look like they are useful elements of strategy but there's a strong belief there's a lack of sense of urgency here. i think one only had to watch the press conference between with president obama and president francois hollande . you saw one leader who was very urgent, he was going around the world, trying to get our allies motivated on this and you saw another leader, unfortunately our president was very passive. and i think no matter what the strategy is, if there's not engaged american leadership, serious leadership that people believe we're in there and committed to the strategy we can't do any of these things. we talk about an arab army force. they are not going to follow unless they believe we're fully
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committed. so i think that's one of the elements of the frustration that you see among the members on the committee today. let me ask you in terms of strategy, now this is a bit of a difficult question, but let's say that there's another san bernardino event but maybe much bigger in our country. maybe 200 americans killed and isis directed attack on americans. would we keep the same strategy right now or would we keep the strategic patience as the white house calls it, assuming you had a crystal ball and you saw that come two weeks from now or three weeks from now where 200 americans are killed. your satisfied this should be the strategy? >> stars the military campaign is concerned, senator, i just want to say, i share your sense of urgency, and --
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>> it doesn't seem the president does and i think that's a real common, even members of his own party have indicated that. >> he has encouraged, general dunford and me and we have encouraged all of our subordinate commanders as was asked, as was said before to propose ways to accelerate the campaign and he's approved all of the ones we proposed so far. we expect to propose more and to gather momentum in this campaign. with respect to others following -- >> let me ask this, the question, if you can address the question i asked. assume there's a paris-like attack, 200 americans killed. god forbid it happens, right? none of us want that to happen. but let's say that happens. it's directed by isis. would you go back to the president saying keep the same strategy? >> look, senator, if i had more
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to recommend to him to accelerate the defeat of isil in syria and iraq i would be doing that now. >> isn't that key question that we want to make sure weisis-liko we should be doing everything now so we don't have to be motivated to do it once it happens? >> i think -- again, on the military campaign, it is, as i said, with respect to homeland security, and here i'd have to refer you to -- >> but they're all related. >> of course. and so forth. i know that you all are considering various provisions of the law that affect visa waivers and so forth. i think there are probably some improvements and steps that can be taken in that direction. and if there are, again, i would refer you to secretary johnson and director comey and attorney general lynch and others on that. >> well, mr. secretary, i think it's important, we can't wait for an attack, a big attack.
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we've already just had one. on our country to get the president engaged and more urgent. i think that's the frustration that you're seeing. let me ask a related question on urgency. do you believe that the longer isis holds territory, that that increases risk to the homeland? do you think that's a -- so, if they hold more territory and they continue to do so, does that increase risk to our citizens here at home? >> whenever a terrorist group finds safe haven somewhere from which to plot against the united states, that's a -- that's a danger to the united states. we've been pursuing such groups for -- since 9/11 and actually before, and we have to do that with respect to isil today, so, yes, that's absolutely right. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you all for being here.
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i appreciate your service, too. secretary carter, the frustration, i can just speak for the constituents in west virginia, all the good people and all the military that we have from west virginia. we're just -- they asked me the question what's the end game this time. is it going to repeat what we did before, are we going to get bogged down for ten years again and american and women and our national guard people put on the front line in jeopardy. so, if isis and/or assad would fall, if we're able to make that transition, how do we prevent that being filled by another terrorist group? because, you know, we started out with the taliban we heard about first. then al qaeda. then all the spinoffs of al qaeda. and then isis came about. so, they believe that basically when you cut the head off, you can't kill the snake. and that's what they're concerned about. how do you ever have an end game that has any type of normality -- or normality from
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that area, if it's even possible? >> well, i've been speaking obviously mostly of the military campaign and the urgent need to crush isil. you're asking a very good question. and i said the political line of effort is fundamental here. because in order to have what you're correctly identifying as the end state that will keep the peace in the long run, there has to be first of all in syria a political transition from assad to a government that includes some of the opposition, the moderate opposition, that's been countering him and preserves some of the structure of the government of syria so people can have a government there that functions and in is decent. and in iraq, a government along the lines that prime minister abadi says, and i believe he's genuine, he's trying to create there, which is one he calls it i think a decentralized iraq,
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namely, one in which the different sectarian elements of iraqi territory, namely sunni and shia and kurds, can remain one state but have enough autonomy within their different areas that they're not going at each other. that's absolutely fundamental. >> mr. secretary, if i could ask this question. i think the perfect if -- have we identified anybody, any group, that we think can take over if assad is put aside to where the -- i mean, are we able to come to an agreement -- and we have to come to a agreement i assume with russia, because they're much involved in that. iran seems to have an awful lot of input into that. and are we three going to be able to come to agreement of a new leadership that will bring the so-called friendly rebels in and everyone turns their efforts towards isil? >> i'd have to refer you to secretary kerry on that matter. but i think that's exactly what he's trying to do. and in addition to the three parties you mentioned, namely us
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and the russians and the iranians and, of course, the russians and the iranians are on the -- working in the wrong direction at the moment, so it means getting them turned around. but also i might note, all the gulf -- sunni gulf states that we've talked about otherwise would need to be involved as well. and that's the end state that will keep the peace in syria. >> can you give me insight? i understand that they're currently meeting in saudi arabia now talking about all of these things that we're talking about right now. why hasn't the ypg or the syrian kurds been involved in these talks? why do you think they haven't? which seem seem to be the most effective ground troops in syria right now and leading some charges, and they're not even being asked to be at the table. is that because we're trying to please the saudis and not upset the turks? >> can i get back with you on that question? i don't know diplomatically. we are obviously in touch with
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them. secretary kerry knows that and is involved with them, i simply would have to give you a considered answer. >> we've been talking about what do we to for the visa waivers and i've had a lot of conversation with different people from that part of the world basically located in west virginia. and they understand that we have to have a much tougher, much stronger vetting process or they don't want to relax that at all. the other thing they would be acceptable to is biometric scanning. and i'm thinking biometric scanning, people can change their name and appearance, they can't change who they are. and to me i think the american people would be a lot more comfortable if we go down that path and says there will be no more visas coming to this country unless you've had biometric scanning and we know who you are. that's something that's accepted, i think, is it -- is that something that you think in your thought process would be feasible? we could do without -- >> i really would need to defer you to the department of homeland security and so forth on that, senator. it's a very good question. i just simply don't know a good
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answer. >> thank you. >> i want to thank you both for being here. general selva, could you tell us what percentage of u.s. sorties are returning in the fight right now against isis without dropping munitions? >> madam senator, it depends on which day and which targets we're talking about, but roughly 40% come back every day not having struck dynamic targets with weapons still aboard. >> so, let me ask you this. we asked central command recently whether or not the department of defense, j-techs, are operating outside of operation centers. and basically what we heard back is that they weren't. and so i would like to hear from you, secretary carter, and you, general selva, i mean, we know that the -- one of the things that makes our air strikes even more effective are the forward air controllers on the ground calling them in. and what is our position, in
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fact, on embedding j-techs, whether it's with the kurds or iraqi forces so that we can more effectively bomb isis and take out the most productive targets to defeat them? >> first i'll note a very good memory i have of your coming to the pentagon with a number of j-techs months ago. >> we met with the j-tech associations and thank you for doing that. >> thank you. they are great people because they represent veterans of a great capability and we talk about american comparative advantage, this is one of the things we're uncomparably good at and that is very effective. would we do it. the answer to the question is yes. i want to be careful about what we're doing actually today as i speak, but we are doing that, accompanyi accompanying and people who have
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those and, by the way, other skills, intelligence skills and other skills that allow us to leverage a local force and make it much more powerful by bringing in the full weight of america's might behind it. and it's the j-techs and those kind of skills that create that connection between a motivated, local force and the might -- the might -- of american power. general selva, you want to say anything? >> senators, in areas where we're not able to accompany to the nearest point of contact, we have actually trained syrian arabs, members of the new syrian forces as well as our iraqi partners to provide the kind of precision target identification that's necessary and that we're passing that through j-techs to be vetted in op centers. >> i'm glad to hear this. because what we were hearing before they were only in the op
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centers. and obviously when possible getting them into the battalion level is going to make the difference so we can train all the other people we want, but we know our guys are the best and women who do this and that they're going to be able to call in these air strikes and we got 40% returning we can increase that percentage dramatically by having the right information on the ground. one question i've gotten a lot of is, you know, i saw in your testimony, secretary carter, that we've taken out fo400 isis fuel trucks at this point and i appreciate there were 116 of those taken out with the help of a-10s but why did it take for us so long for us to go after assets like the fuel trucks knowing where they were? and i know there are a lot of people asking that and are we going to be more aggressive going after these assets going forward. >> yes, we're going to be more aggressive. what made it possible was intelligence that we didn't have before. and that is what allowed us to identify those parts of the oil
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infrastructure that are being used to fund isil. and we greatly increased our insight into that infrastructure in recent months. and this is one of the ways that as our intelligence -- which i have to say when i started out had a lot of improvement to be done there in terms of collection and graininess of data and so forth is getting a lot better, and that is also a huge enabler. because when they call in air strikes it's based upon an intelligence foundation. that is what made the critical difference in our ability to go after the energy infrastructure. >> so, i don't want to interrupt, but i need to since my time's almost up on a really important topic before we leave and that's iran. we've now been informed that iran made another missile test on november 21st. we know previously they made a missile test on october 10th in violation of existing u.n.
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resolutions, and as far as i can tell in raising in with the administration, nothing has been happening. no response. and these are certainly our own ambassador to the u.n. has said the october 10th clear violation of the u.n. resolution. you and i have talked, secretary carter, about the importance of stopping them from having icbm capability, yet they continue to test in violation of u.n. resolutions. what's our response? >> well, what we're doing in the defense department and you may remember we discussed this shortly after the nuclear deal was made with iran is basically we continue to deter iran, to counter its influence to have a military presence in the region which is oriented not only toward the urgent need to defeat isil in its homeland but we also have to remember we need to deter and counter iran as well.
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and as far as its ballistic missile program is concerned, as you know we're making some improvements in both our qualitative and quantitative, in our missile defense system that's principally oriented toward north korea at the moment but also a capability relevant against iran in the unfortunate event which -- say sometime in the future they were able as we discussed earlier to field an icbm. on the specific matter of this missile test, i refer you to the state department on that. but on the military side, we are continuing unchanged in our need to deter and counter iranian influence in the region. >> let me just say this. i'm all for, i've been long supporting enhancing our missile defense system in this country. but there already are existing u.n. resolutions that they're in violation of that in testing these missiles and if we don't
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respond to their violations in a very forceful way, then this agreement, we might as well, you know, tear this jcpoa up because it doesn't matter. because this issue is already a demonstration of them really backing off on international commitments with this agreement pending. >> before i recognize senator donnelly, mr. secretary, you may want to correct the record. we all knew those field trucks were moving back and forward. we've seen them. we knew it. the decision was not made by the white house to attack them. i think you may want to correct the record because i certainly knew. >> not a matter of correction at all. i can clarify if that would help. that is the case. and the -- what the air commanders were able to do is identify those trucks -- in a classified setting i can
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describe exactly how that information was obtained -- which were directly supporting isil. we have and continue to try to withhold attacks upon that part of the general infrastructure, energy, electricity, water, et cetera, that is also necessary for the people of syria. and we're trying to peel off that which is -- which isil uses and command and controls for its own revenue source. we're now able to make that distinction which is what enabled the air strikes chairman. with regard to where that intelligence came from and so forth, i'd be happy to have somebody come up and tell you in a classified manner. >> i'd be glad to, but i repeat, we knew those fuel trucks were moving back and forth. we saw them. and through isr, and the decision was not made in the white house to attack them or not. you can't tell me they were moving all that stuff back and forth for over a year and we didn't know about it. i mean, it's just not possible
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given our technological capabilities, but i'll be glad to hear additional information. but i was told directly in iraq that we didn't attack them because the decision had not been made to attack them, and they didn't want to harm anybody. so, i'll be glad to call those people the liar that briefed me that were doing those attacks. senator donnelly. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, you said before that none of the european defense ministers has offered to provide troops to creating a safe zone. have you asked any of them to provide troops for creating a safe zone and to provide an area for syrian refugees? >> we've talked to them about all kinds of capabilities -- >> did you ask any of them to provide troops to help create a safe zone? >> we believe that a -- the costs outweigh the benefits of the safe zone so that is not something --? so it's safe to say you've not
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asked them? >> i've not asked them for forces for that undertaking. i've asked them persistently for forces of all kinds for undertakings where we think the benefits outweigh the costs and there are many of those. >> what are the answers you're getting from the french, the english, the saudi, the jordanians? >> it varies. the french were truly galvani galvanized. i spoke several times to the french defense minister. he came here to the united states and we talked and they're doing a great deal more. i'm sorry about the circumstances that galvanized them but i appreciate the help. >> my understanding is if you asked the french minister for troops for a safe zone, he would probably offer them. additionally -- what i'm trying to find out is i believe, also like you and like others, when isis holds ground, it makes it more dangerous for our own country because they have a safe haven to work out of.
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and so i have confidence that we're working in iraq to move them out of iraq, and then we look at syria. and so we talk about 100 people in training. they have 20,000 on the isis side. how do we get to raka and when do we get to raka when we are training 100 people? where do the other people come from? >> the people that we are now not only training, in fact, not even principally training, but equipping and enabling are syrian arab forces that are work -- that are working with the kurdish ypg in the northern part of syria. they are prepared to advance. they already have as i indicated advanced south. we are enabling them, we're doing more to enable them. and as they do more, we will do yet more to enable them. >> do we have any --
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>> and they're the right force to do it if i may say because they are syrian arabs. >> i was in saudi arabia and they said we want to put troops in to help. maybe they told you something different. maybe they didn't want to actually do it. they said they want to put in troops to help. king abdullah said they want to put in troops to help. so, you have other groups that want to help as well. do you not want their help or do you not think that they -- >> we welcome everything king abdullah is doing and are very grateful to it. and as i said i've spoken to the saudis and i remind you that we had a -- the gulf cooperation council leaders to camp david back in -- geez, i think it was april or so and specifically talked to them about the creation of a sunni-arab combined force.
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and -- so -- and that has not materialized among them. >> why haven't you been able to get that off the ground? and isn't that the force that -- >> well, it depends from one to another. i would prefer to speak about part of this -- these things privately. >> thooat's fine. >> but one thing that's very clear in the case of the saudis, just since you mentioned them, has been the yemen situation. which has preoccupied a lot of the time and energy of their forces as well as their leadership. >> i also spoke with some of the sunni tribal leaders today. they still have extraordinary humanitarian needs. do we have a plan to work to meet those? because they still have people who are starving. >> yeah, there is. it's a state department aid and
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various international donors are part of that. i can't speak to that authoritatively. secretary kerry could. but it's important to note from the military point of view, from our point of view, because it's an important part of holding territory once it's taken. to give you an example, when tikrit was retaken, it was important that order be kept, that services be restored, and that humanitarian assistance be rendered and that's why people are moving back into tikrit. >> i apologize, mr. secretary, i have a vote i have to get to. i just want to finish up by saying this. it is strongly believed by me and many others that as long as raka is held and other areas are held it dramatically increases the chance of another attack in our country. when we ask when are we going to move them out, it's not because we're trying to find a date, it's because it's extraordinarily dangerous to the citizens of this country that they're there. the sooner, the better that we clear up the clutter with the
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saudis and jordanians and move on that city. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, you mentioned the targeting force. what impact do you expect that force to have on the battlefield? >> i'm sorry. well, i'm hoping it has a very great effect. that's what it's designed to do. i believe it will. we envision a variety of missions -- i want to be careful what i say here. that range from interdicting individuals on the move, leaders on the move, to the kind of -- well, let me give you two examples where we've already employed this technique. because, again, i want to be very careful about operational security here. this is a no-kidding force that
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will be doing important things. but i think it would help everyone to understand, if you remember the raid that killed abu saef that's an example of the kind of thing that this force could do. another one was the freeing of 70 prisoners, isil prisoners, in which a very heroic action was taken by a soldier -- >> correct. >> -- joshua wheeler. >> we've seen two raids. >> so, that's the example of the kinds of things that can be done. and it puts the leadership on notice. it will get valuable intel jennings. it will free people in the case of that kind of mission. so, there's a variety of missions. >> correct. if i can, we've seen those two raids in the last year and a half. with you anticipate that we're going to see a greater frequency
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with this force in the days and weeks and months ahead? >> that's absolutely the intent, madam senator. >> and i would hope we could have general conversations. i realize the sensetivity of this force, but i would hope we could have general conversations about them so we could lay out truly what the goals are when we're talking about the force. do you have any immediate goals in mind? for this targeting force that you can speak about in general terms at this point? >> in general terms they fall in the categories i describe, intelligence gathering, interdiction of leadership, key nodes, facilitation and certainly for you we can discuss more in a classified setting also. but that's the kind of thing that -- it's actually a really
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to me -- to all of us, a very flexible and potent tool. we'll learn from experience by using it. one raid builds on another. the abu saef raid built on this because we gained understanding. >> you said you'll do more of what works going forward. so, i hope in a more classified setting you can lay out those goals so that we can have something to measure the success or failure of these raids in the future. i was also interested in knowing as the number of raids are increasing, will general mcfarland receive any authority to help to plan and order these raids be carried out then? >> yeah, general mcfarland is overall charge of the campaign there. i've made that very clear.
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and i have great confidence in him, and it's why i created that role so that we would have one senior leader in charge of the entire campaign covering both syria and iraq. and that is general mcfarland who is extremely experienced. >> will he be able to approve those raids by himself or will he need to come to you or the president? >> in many cases this would be something that he in general -- i think general austin you remember also in the chain of command. otherwise if they come to me for approval of things that they think requires my approval, that's fine, too. but there will and there has to be a certain amount of delegation of authority here so that -- because for one thing one expects that raids build upon themselves, so you can't -- you're going to want to strike
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again after you've struck once on the basis what you learned from the first strike, so we need to have some significant authority in there. >> when you said it's fine, too, if they come to you. don't you have that laid out? >> we do. >> what a certain plan would be that would require the general, then, on come to you? >> yes, we do. it's based on their judgment about whether approval at my level is required. i mean, that's generally true. it's perfectly appropriate in this case. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> on behalf of chairman mccain, let me recognize senator kane. >> several references have been made to a letter that i received in early november from general austin which laid out a series of steps that had been taken. i'd like to submit that letter into the recorder, please. >> without objection. >> mr. secretary, it strikes me that this is an exceedingly
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complex challenge, i guess that's pretty obvious. but part of the problem is we want to defeat isis but we want to do it in a way that doesn't propagate their ideology around the muslim world and that really makes it very difficult. i think the san bernardino attack is a good example. there's no evidence that i've heard that that attack was directed by isis. instead, these people were self-radicalized and took it upon themselves to perform these heinous acts. the question is, how do we -- how do we keep moderate muslims, the vast majority of the 1.6 billion muslims in the world, from falling into the isis trap? and isis has made it clear that part of their strategy is to provoke us to westernizing this conflict and making it a war of america and the west against -- against islam and, thereby,
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pushing hepush ing heretofore moderate muslims in their direction. the question becomes how do we take raka, for example. my understanding there's no inicallication to use a contingent of u.s. troops but there's a recognition as the president has already acknowledged that there are places for u.s. troops in a special forces kind of setting. is this the kind of calculation that you're making? >> that's exactly correct, yes. >> how do we -- the gap in the strategy it seems to me from the beginning -- and i say gap. that's not a criticism. that's just the fact. is where do we get ground troops in syria. ground troops are available in -- arab ground troops, muslim ground troops are available in
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iraq, the iraqi security forces and the peshmurga. that's why it seems to me the whole issue of getting rid of assad is a key part of this calculation, assad is the lightning rod that in effect created isis in part. and if we can work with other parties, particularly russia, to move assad off the stage, then you've got an arab army, a muslim army in syria. it's the opposite. all of the opposition except perhaps al nusra and the syrian army. that's why it seems to me that's a key part of it. but the question our colleagues are asking is time. somehow we've got to accelerate the timetable. we can't wait years for assad to leave and return the guns of the opposition and the syrian army on isil. do you share that? >> i do. i mean, as you can hear, i'm all
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for urgency and acceleration of the military campaign. and i'd like to see that, too, on the political side. it's trickier, secretary kerry is trying to work towards that end. but it's exactly as you say, if we could get a political transition that brought the syrian armed forces, that part of which it would be appropriate to carry forward into a new syria plus the moderate opposition, you'd have a force that could both clear syrian territory of radicals and eliminate the civil war, which is what fuels the violent -- this extremism in the first place and have a governance of syria that syrian people deserve. >> but there's one piece of this, and you mentioned it, you listed a long series of things that we needed to do and at the very end you said information. and that's where we're losing right now. i heard recently that isis posts 90,000 posts a day in social
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media and just reading a piece about a young man in the u.s., 17 years old, who found this isis community online and he's being encouraged to move forward. and i know it's not in the department of defense, but this country has to do a much better job, it seems to me, were of countering the story that isis is telling to attract young people across -- across the world. we're not only engaged in a military war here. we're engaged in a war of ideas. right now i think we're -- it's somewhere close to a stalemate on the military side, but we're losing the war of ideas. >> may i just note, senator, that it is for that very reason that yesterday i got together with the secretary of homeland security, the director of the fbi, the director of national intelligence and we were talking exactly about that, the information war. you're right. it's not principally a defense thing. we don't operate here at home. we do operate in the
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cyber domain. i alluded to that. and, you know, we're at war and we have authorities to use our cyber command in this case. and are identifying opportunities to do that. at the same time i have to eight, the fbi, the department of homeland security and the director of national intelligence are working intensely. they were before san bernardino. they're working now, and hence it's exactly this question. are these people who are -- who are -- >> if we win -- >> -- with a keyboard in the united states. >> if we go into a town in syria and lose 10,000 kids in france or belgium or florida or ohio, that's not victory. i'd hope in the councils of war you will continue to press that point of view. >> will do. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. on behalf of senator mccain,
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senator wicker. >> thank you, mr. secretary. good to have you back. i do echo what senator mccain said, hope you come back more often and share with us your thoughts. let me let you be explicit on the issue of bashar assad. because i hear and i read in the paper, for example, december 7th, bloomberg said obama no longer seemed sure assad should go. is that true? do you believe that mr. assad should explicitly be removed from power or is there a growing feeling that perhaps we ought to team up with assad? >> i think, and i don't want to speak for him, but i think what secretary kerry is trying to engineer is the departure of assad in a way that everyone can support, which by the way includes the russians who have a lot of influence with assad, so it's important to see if you can get them on the right side of history here. and that accomplishes that, and
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this is important, quite apart from the atrocities that assad has committed, in a way that removes him while the structures of the syrian state are still relatively intact. because to get back to what senator king was saying a moment ago, we do want -- we do need there to be after assad a government of syria that is inclusive, that involves the forces that have been fighting each other, fighting isil and governing the territory desently. that is exactly the transition that secretary kerry is working on. >> much like we needed in iraq after the successful invasion. i think i understand what you're saying. but let's -- let's get your testimony on this. to your knowledge is the
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president still resolute in saying that assad should go and that a solution is not that we should begin to work with him? >> a political transition in which assad leaves power and is replaced by a more inclusive form of government is the outcome that we're trying to see. >> and a political solution in which assad stays in power, is that acceptable to you? >> i think -- no. >> is it acceptable to the president? >> well, what secretary kerry is trying to arrange is -- >> i understand what your testimony just was. but i'm wondering, we need to get this on the record. and the americans need an answer to this. is -- is the president steadfast in having a goal that includes mr. assad being removed from power? >> well, that's the path that he
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has, that's the kind of political transition that he has secretary kerry seeking, yes. >> would you agree it would be very difficult to convince syrian rebels to fight only isis if -- and not assad, if that were a direction in which the administration should move? >> we actually have experience in exactly that matter -- >> and what is your experience? >> the experience is that it's easier to find fighters who are intent upon fighting assad than to find ones that are intent upon fighting isil. >> do you believe mr. assad should be removed from power? >> yeah, i think that to have a decent government there that is -- that brings the moderate opposition into a governance there is going to require the departure of assad. the how, the when, the where and so forth is something that
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secretary kerry is negotiating. the civil war's gone on a long time and he's been a lightning rod in that civil war, and if we want to get it behind us and defeat isil and get peace in syria, i think that's going to be necessary, yeah. >> well, very good. i may try to follow-up with some questions on the record there. let me ask you about no fly zones. i understand we've had some testimony today about safe zones. and i'll ask you first, mr. secretary, and then if you want to -- if you want to ask the general to add his thoughts, that would be good. safe zone -- no-fly zones would allow syrians to stay in their own country instead of seeking to become refugees anywhere. they would allow syria opposition leaders to exercise sovereignty over syrian
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territory. do you and our coalition partners have the pilots, personnel and equipment required to establish no-fly zones? and in particular, i think maybe earlier when i was out of the room there was an attempt to get you to discuss the coalition partners that might be able to enforce this. and do you believe president putin would challenge our air dominance there and the clearly defined no-fly zones that we would be seeking to enforce? first you, secretary carter. >> sure. no-fly zones that's something i've discussed before the committee before. that's not a step we have recommended. again, because the benefits
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don't warrant it in light of the costs. i can explain more, but i'm going to ask general selva, who has done a lot of work on that kind of thing to comment further. and with respect to the russians also he can comment on the memorandum of understanding there and the working relationship we have with the russian military in the air over syria right now. >> fair enough. general? >> senator, we have the military capacity to impose a no-fly zone. the question we need to ask is do we have the political and policy backdrop with which to do so? and i don't mean that in the case of our government but in the case of the governments who would challenge the no-fly zone. so if we're asking the question could we do it, the answer is yes. are we willing to engage the potential of a conflict -- a direct conflict with the syrian integrated air defense system or syrian forces or by corollary a
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miscalculation with the russians, should they choose to contest the no-fly zone. and those are the questions that have been posed, asked, and answered. and so military capacity, we have the capacity to do this. we have not recommended it because the political situation on the ground and the potential for miscalculation and loss of american life in the air in an attempt to defend the no-fly zone don't warrant the no-fly zone, given the fact that on the ground the forces would still contest the safe zone on the ground. >> well, i'm way over my time. but let me just say that the secretary mentioned the cost and benefit. and when i think of the benefit that we could have had in the united states not to be faced with this refugee crisis, the benefit to europe if we had given syrians a place where they could live in their own country
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safely away from the barrel bombs and the attacks on civilians, it just seems to me that the benefit of doing so even now, but certainly having done so over time, would have been so enormous that it would have -- it would have justified whatever cost we might have had to risk. so, thank you very much for your answers. and i appreciate the chair indulging me. >> general, i must say, it's one of the more embarrassing statements i've ever heard from a uniform military officer that we are worried about syria and russias reaction to save thousands and thousands of syrians who are being barreled remarkable performance. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. secretary, and general selva, for being here. mr. secretary, you noted in your testimony that russia, which has publicly committed to defeating
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isil, has instead largely attacked opposition forces. and you said it's time for russia to focus on the right side of this fight. what's it going to take to have russia turn its attention to fighting isil rather than propping up assad? >> i can't speak for the russians, but i have spoken to the russians. and i have explained to them why their actions are wrong-headed and counterproductive even from the point of view of their own security. because it fuels the civil war in syria which we've discussed, which is the underlying cause of the radicalization that gave rise to isil, which is the very thing they fear. so, their actions are -- the phrase i use is pouring gasoline on the civil war in syria. >> i'm sorry, mr. secretary. so, is russia fully engaged in
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the discussions to end -- with us, with secretary kerry and some of the other parties that are -- that need to be at the table in ending the civil war in syria? are they fully engaged in that? >> i don't want to speak for secretary kerry in that regard, fully engaged. they are certainly engaged. he is talking to them along the lines that we discussed along with a range of other parties that will be necessary to final political transition here. >> i think there are a lot of people who are -- who agree with the assessment that ending the civil war in syria is one of the keys in enabling the united states as well as russia and our other partners, some 60 plus, to focus on defeating isil. i think that that is generally acknowledged, and i certainly agree with that. one of the advantages that isil is its ability to recruit young
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men and women and influence actors around the world through its online media campaign and san bernardino is just the most recent example. in your opinion, how can we counter this to overcome the effectiveness of isil's online presence? and i realize this is an issue that should be addressed not just by perhaps not even mainly by you but fbi and the director of national intelligence, homeland security with whom you met. so, what do we have to do to debase isil's ability and its success in motivating lone wolves in our country and all across the world in committing terrorist acts? >> well, you're right. here at home the fbi and the department of homeland security and director of national intelligence are working along those lines to identify those who are self-radicalizing or plotting using the internet.
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and i don't want to speak for them. i can only tell you that they're intent upon solving that problem. there is a role, i would say not in that fight, but it is related to the fight we are waging, because it's why i think it's important to strike at and eliminate the parent tumor in syria and iraq. because that's part of the creation of the narrative that fuels the internet which fuels even lone wolves. and also where we are able to, to eliminate people who are trying to recruit our people. i think the chairman referred earlier to the elimination of junad hussein. he was somebody who was trying to recruit americans to attack americans. no doubt about it. so, there are some things even we can do -- not only even we,
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we can do as the department of defense to assist in this, but it's a big effort by director comey and secretary johnson and director of national intelligence, director of central intelligence on this effort. now, it began well before san bernardino, but san bernardino illustrates why this is no-kidding important thing to do. >> would you say the debasing the ability of isil to motivate lone wolves, people who don't even have any direct contact with isil, but who have access to their ideology and through the internet, that is more of a whole of government approach that we need to take, that includes law enforcement and community -- local law enforcement as well as people in the community? >> yes. this whole campaign really is a whole of government campaign, has to be. in today's world, all these pieces need to be connected. >> mr. chairman, my timer is not working so i have absolutely no
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idea how much time i have left. >> negative. >> well, in that case i will stop here. i just have one last question. we talk about defeating isil, and really what does that look like? i mean, what does defeating isil look like? including the preventing the ability of them to encourage the lone wolf actors all across the world. >> in iraq and syria, which as i said is necessary, not sufficient, but necessary, it means destroying their organization, their leadership, their ability to control territory, their ability to have a source of revenue, and their ability to claim that they're anything but a bunch of barbarians. that's what eliminating them, and that's the end state that we're seeking in iraq and syria and, of course, to make that
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stick gets us back to what others have been -- have been talking about, the political dimension of it, but from the military point of view that's the objective. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i'd like to return to this question of no-fly zones. general selva, your testimony is that the united states has the military capability to impose a no-fly zone over syria? >> yes, sir. >> a little over two weeks ago turkey shot down a russian aircraft for violating turkish airspace. how many russian aircrafts have violated turkish airspace since that incident? >> none that i know of. >> do you think we can infer a lesson from vladimir putin's conduct in the aftermath of that shoot-down where he had repeatedly violated turkish airspace beforehand? >> i would be very careful in inferring his thought process to that particular set of circumstances because what the russians have done as a consequence of the shoot-down is to beef up their integrated air defense. they've brought surface-to-air
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missiles around aleppo, they have worked with syrian partners and the syrian partners now have their radars active which they didn't have a few weeks ago. so, i think it is that set of consequences when we think about no-fly zones that we have to factor into our calculus, if a no-fly zone is to be defended and it is to have effect on the ground, the consequences of activity by surface-to-air missile systems and air defense aircraft have to be factored into the equation. we have the capability to deal with those. the consequences of direct confrontation with russia or syria. >> thank you. secretary carter, i notice you were smirking at my question. can i get your take on that? >> no, i'm sorry i was smiling at the general's observation hardly. >> i'm not redubuking. >> i was smiling at inferring vladimir putin's intentions.
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he rightly said it, it's a little hard to know. >> i would submit that he repeatedly violated turkish airspace until turkey defended its air space and he's not done so since then and maybe we can learn a lesson from that. also want to return to the point that senator ayotte was discussing about the oil trucks that we struck shortly after the paris attacks i believe it was a little over 100. can you explain why that didn't happen earlier? i mean, why that didn't happen six months ago, a year ago? >> there are two principal reasons. first is the development of the actual intelligence as to the contribution of those particular routes to the finances of isil. with respect to the chairman, those are -- that black-and-gray economy in oil across the region -- >> sorry, i understand. the that. i understand the intelligence can often be hard to develop especially when you don't have the presence on the ground. but i don't understand why it's hard to develop intelligence about tankers leaving refineries
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in isil-controlled space. >> the second point, senator, in an effort to minimize the civilian casualties the drivers of the trucks are not necessary adherents to isis ideologideolo. >> i understand that. >> so i actually visited with a unit that prosecuted the attacks on the bulk of those vehicles and they used a set of satactic and techniques and procedures that warned the drivers in advance so they could flee the trucks and destroyed the trucks in situ and we are looking to do the exactly the same thing in order to degrade the infrastructure for production. >> i strongly support that and i'm aware of the ttps you're discussing but those are things our air force have done a long time to minimize civilian casualties. we didn't develop them in the last month. we could leaflet civilians 6 or 12 months ago. >> they are not new ttps but the
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place to use them are a product of the intelligence we developed from our understanding of the oil infrastructure and distribution network that supports it. >> i'd like to talk about now the rules of engagement decision making authority. one constant thing i've heard from senior commanders down to low-level troops in my travels in the region and here in the united states that decisions being made in the middle part in the last decades are being made by three and four star generals or even civilians in washington and the rules of engagement have been incredibly restrictive as an example this oil tanker truck example. secretary carter, do you care to comment on what i've been hearing from troops directly on my trips? >> i'll start and i do want general selva to represent professional military judgment in this matter. so, i'd like him -- give him the opportunity to speak as well. the commanders there, the air commanders, have told me -- and
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i'll let -- and general selva and general dunnford have reported to me about limitations on the effectiveness of the cai campai campaign. and i have asked whether rules of engagements are a limiting factor in stopping them from being more effective. just two things i'd say about that, and then i'll let general selva go into more detail. they have not changed over time. and by the way, these are not things that are approved in washington or anything. these are things that are done by the air operators in theater, which is appropriate. the thing that have really enabled our air -- well, let me turn it around and say the things that have limited it from time to time, our air campaign, have been first of all, annoyingly weather. that was true month, month and a half ago for a couple weeks.
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but then more -- and that's important. more fundamentally has been intelligence. and we've gotten a lot better intelligence picture now, and, therefore, able to conduct more effective strikes which is one reason we're able to conduct more strikes, absorb more air capability. because we could get it from incirlik from which the sorties are shorter, absorb more capability from the french and others and put it to good use because we could develop the targets. i always say it's better to have more airplanes than targets than targets than airplanes and so on some days a sortie goes out for dynamic targeting as opposed to deliberate targeting -- deliberate targeting the bombs are almost always dropped 90%. dynamic targeting you go out and hope that a target that you think will develop does develop. that's an important thing to do because it's what stops isil from being able to use the roads
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safely, having to drive at night with their lights off, all that kind of stuff. and you don't always find those targets and so sometimes the airplanes come back with the bombs on it. it's intelligence that makes all the difference. general, please. >> senator, i haven't met a soldier, sailor, air man, marine that wouldn't ask for loser roe in any active fight. but having consulted with the commanders from the jtf all the way up to central command, i know of no rule of engagement restrictions that have prevented us from striking targets and that prevented our forces from being as effective as they could be on the ground. i've consulted with all of them. >> thank you. i'm over time. but if i can have one moment to ask a more lighthearted question of general selva. for 60 years norad has been tracking santa over the skies of north america can you assure the boys and girls of this country that norad is fully able to track santa.
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>> i don't have particular intelligence but i know the reindeer have been fed their oats and are able to deliver the gifts to those who have been nice and not naughty. >> it's a welcome reminder that our airmen and soldiers and sailors and marines whether in norad or around the world are keeping us safe and defending our values and what makes this country great. >> not to extend the questioning and the answering but i did spend my thanksgiving with our troops in iraq, in baghdad, taji, and i can report that their morale is high and they did phone home and talk to the people who love them. >> thank you very much for reminding us of the services and sacrifices of many, senator, and on behalf of chairman mccain, senator nelson, please. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary carter, i gave a speech recently and showed the map of syria and iraq and the area that isis used to occupy,
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that it no longer occupies. and the area that it occupies now that it did not occupy, and the difference is dramatic that you all have shrunk the territorial occupation of isis. and you are to be congratulated on that. but at the end of the day, as you all have already testified, syria is not going to be able to contain isis until at least there is a plan for the exit of president assad. now, when that occurs, what is the arab force, that is going to be on the ground with the guidance of our special
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operations forces, what is -- give me a concept of what that makeup is of that arab force. >> well, it's a very good question, and it gets to the issue of the end state of the campaign here and the critical political ingredient, because a political transition in syria is essential to a durable end state to this, because it's the civil war in syria that started this whole business in syria. and that would mean -- and at that time the -- the force that is now not available, because they're fighting each other, but that could fight isil, is the combination of syrian forces and the moderate opposition that is now fighting the syrians. if there's a political settlement. in the meantime we're using forces, some kurds up north, the ypg, and we're trying to accumulate additional sunni arabs who want to take their
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homes back from isil. but the civil war is meanwhile using up a lot of combat power that could potentially be used against isil. >> so, you really believe that once there's a path for assad to leave, that syrian government forces, which include alawites, which are shia, are going to join up with the opposition sunni forces, to go after isil? >> the political transition is exactly to have a syria that is once again multisectarian, for sure, like all those states over there with all the complications that go with that and that we see in iraq, but that, as an alternative to sectarianism, and the continuation of sectarian civil war, yes. >> right. so go over to iraq. is that anti-sectarian? is it working? with the forces on the ground
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that we're supporting from the air? >> well, first of all, prime minister abadi, i've spoken to him frequently, i'll have an opportunity to speak to him in the coming days, when i, too, will be visiting our troops in theater. it is committed precisely to that kind of news from iraq. i believe him. i've talked to him. whether he can pull it off in baghdad is obviously a difficult matter for him. we are supporting him in that regard. because we believe that the alternative, which is further sectarian division, civil war, cleansing, and so forth, we've seen that before, and if he can keep his vision of an iraq which as he called a decentralized. so it's not everybody under the thumb of baghdad, because he
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knows the kurds and the sunnis won't go for that. but still the ability to retain an integral state that keeps peace within its borders that's what he's committed to. that's the end state we also want in iraq. >> right. >> so it's possible that with assad leaving syria, you could get syria under control, but everything could go haywire in iraq? >> they are two separate dynamics. there's one thing i'll mention that i mentioned when i was with you six weeks ago, and we have -- and has subsequently come to pass. i was talking about the importance of getting the town of sinjar. you're talking about territory. but a lot of that territory is empty. the towns that matter. the critical cross is at sinjar. now what is sinjar? sinjar is a place in between mosul and raqqah. and the -- to cut isil in to a
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syrian branch and stop them from cross-feeding, is is the objective of taking sinjar. and so in the end, the political end states are different for syria and iraq. >> understood. mr. chairman, if i may just one quick question, because the department of defense has asked for $116 million reprogramming to keep the effort of general nagala's training program. do you support the restarting of that program? >> i urgently support that funding. but i don't describe it in the documents we sent you don't describe it as a restarting of the old program, as i described earlier, we learned from the old program. it had some success, but not
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nearly what we had hoped for. and i have told you that, for me, that was a disappointment. and, i'm very up front about that. but what we're asking for is that is funds that were previously earmarked for that, to approach that we think is more effective, which is precisely one of the ones i've been describing today. that's why we would urgently like that fund. and i just, you know, i mean, people decry micromanagement, but micromanagement also comes from -- can come from many sources and i would urge you please to avoid that, give us that funding that we've requested. we submitted the paperwork, i know the chairman said a week ago, and i apologize if it was that recently, my understanding it was more than that. but this is a war. and i simply urge you, i know you're very busy people with lots of things to do, but if you could please give that your earliest attention. >> we will, mr. secretary. we also obviously as i mentioned
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before, would like to know the details of how it's used, and i think that's appropriate. i thank you. >> fair enough. sfl thank you, mr. chairman. gentlemen, thank you both for being here today. on november the 12th, the president answered the question ask isis gaining strength by saying, i don't think they're gaining strength. and i believe we've contained them. now two weeks before that interview in ankara we saw two bombs kill 102 people, in the sinai we saw 224 people lose their life when the russian jetliner was downed. on the day of his interview, in beirut two suicide bombers killed 43. and then the day after his interview a wave of six terrorist attacks killed 130 in paris. and then on december 2, 14 americans were killed. right now, in another committee hearing down at judiciary committee, i stepped in for a minute before i came back here,
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director comey said that america's at its highest threat level since 9/11. so i'm trying to square a statement made by our president on november 12th that they're not gaining strength and that we have contained them with a comment that you made in the opening, i think, in response chairman -- the chairman's question about how we contained them. what am i missing in terms of you saying that we haven't contained them, the president says that we have. and they're not gaining strength with the events that we've just summarized there. secretary carter, i'll start with you, and then general. >> well, we have to defeat isil. >> i agree with that. but a part of it is -- excuse me, because i want to try to stick to the time, a part of it has to do with the president acknowledging the current
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situation. do you agree with his characterization that they're not gaining strength? >> the president has asked me, and asked our military leaders to give him recommendations and to keep giving him recommendations to defeat isil. that -- and he has approved all the ones that we've taken to him, we expect to take more. and i think -- >> secretary carter have you told the president that they're not gaining strength, and that we've contained them? >> i have not used -- general dunford said last talked about fact cal containment versus strategic containment, if we're going to use that word. i kind of like the word defeat myself. senator? >> general, i want to ask you a question about some of the airstrikes. i know that you were talking about rules of engagement, and it seems to make sense to try
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and protect the civilian drivers and the tankers, et cetera. back in june the military officials acknowledged that 75% of the planes flying combat missions returned without dropping their weapons. you, in response to senator ayotte's question said that that's now about 40%. what's changed? >> senator we've increased the number of deliberate strikes, preplanned, designated targets, as opposed to having airplanes looking for dynamic targets in the environment. we have sufficient air power in the region to accomplish both, but in any case it's dynamic targeting, some of those airplanes are always going to come back with their ordnance because targets don't present themselves. >> thank you. and a former deputy director mike morel of the cia made a comment that we didn't go after oil wells, actually hitting oil wells that isis controls because we didn't want to do environmental damage and we didn't want to destroy infrastructure. are those still key factors in whether or not you go after isis
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targets? >> i don't know of the rules of engagement that he's talking about. but as we developed deliberate targets, we do bring environmental considerations into the factors that we consider. but they do not limit us from striking the infrastructure. they just change the way we strike it. so we try to do as little environmental damage as possible, but still limit the capacity of the well to produce. >> and, secretary carter, maybe just to close out with this, just to go back to the brunt of the problem. if we make a distinction between tactical and strategic containment, but if we shift our global perspective aware from the narrow focus of maybe tactical what we're doing in iraq and syria, is there any grounds of describing isis as contained? >> i'll let general dunford, who's not here, speak for himself. i describe and i think we need to be concerned about, we've talked about metastases to the
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homeland and the necessity of getting the apparent tumor. what we have not discussed as much the necessity of going after isil elsewhere. i mentioned libya. we took out its leader in libya. we're going to have to do more in libya. isil is becoming a magnet, for groups that previously existed in some cases, but that are now rebranding themselves as isil. but it's worse than that because they're also gaining energy from the movement in iraq, and syria, which is why we need to destroy them in iraq and syria. but this is a worldwide phenomenon. and i've talked to -- recently talked to some leaders in southeast asia, actually, about many things. but one of the things they raised is concern about little patches of isil, and self-radicalization of the kind that we find. so in the internet age, and
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social media age, terrorism doesn't have any geographic bounds. so i think we have to recognize that while we need to attack it geographically on the ground in syria, and iraq, that is necessary, it's not enough. >> thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you to your -- to our witnesses for your service and your testimony. secretary carter do you agree with the recent study done by the rand corporation suggesting that it would be wise for congress to pass a new authorization for use of military force against isil? >> i haven't seen that study, senator. i have testified in favor of the aumf that the president has submitted. i welcome that. it's not necessary, literally in the sense that we're able to conduct our campaign -- >> the study, i would just encourage you to take a look because i think it backs up your
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position. it reported two days ago, says that an authorization by congress would send a message of resolve to our allies, would send a message of resolve to isil. it would send a message of resolve to the troops. and rand, which is, you know, not biased on the legal analysis said that at a minimum the connection of the battle against isil for the 2001 and 2002 authorizations requires, quote, legal gymnastics that it would be wise to clear up. secretary carter, what message does it send to the 3600 troops that are deployed overseas in this fight at the holidays, and to the families of the 11 service members who've lost their lives in operation inherent resolve and five others who've been wounded that congress has been unwilling to debate and vote upon this war in the 16 months since it started? >> i think that the passage of an aumf, as you indicate, and it's one of the reasons why i testified in favor of it, would be a signal of resolve and
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support to our troops. therefore, i think it is desirable. by the way, it's a signal of resolve to our enemies. i should say that's not the only thing. i think when you visit them, as some of you have done in the last week, when you hold a hearing like this, and show that you care what they're doing, when you go back to your bases, at home, and tell them how proud you are of them, family members that are back here, all that stuff is incredibly important. they need to know we're behind them. and, you know, i always tell our people i'm 1,000% behind you. >> let me ask if this would add to it. our chairman, senator mccain, was quoted last week, now this was not an approving quote, this was a critical quote in the same way that i am critical of the current status of affairs where congress has been silent for 16 months, the quote was that a congressional vote to authorize war against isil doesn't seem
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forthcoming now because of politics here, and that it quote, may require an attack on the united states of america to force such a vote. would it be wise for congress to wait that long? >> again, i'm -- i am in favor of the one that the president submitted. i think on balance it would be a positive thing. and a sign that the country's behind the troops. and providing it allowed me, and general selva on our military leaders to do what we think is needed to defeat isil, provided it does that, i think the signal it sends of resolve by this country is a good thing. >> at least three nations on the u.n. security council, england, france, and i'm very sorry to say, russia, have submitted to their legislative bodies for a debate and vote their engagement in military action in syria and iraq, and other nations such as
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germany have done the same. the president started the war against isil 16 months ago yesterday. there's only been one vote in the senate with senate foreign relations committee vote a year ago friday. there hasn't really been action in the house. i just hope that we would follow -- i hate to say this, i hope we would follow the lead of other nations whose legislative bodies have decided it was important enough to have a debate and vote on this before the public. second issue i want to just bring up, and this is more just kind of an observation for you. senator mccain was the first to call for the no-fly zone and at the time that he started that i didn't agree with him and the reason i didn't is that there were testimony from general dempsey and others here that to do a no-fly zone would run the risk of running across the syrian air defenses. to many of us on the committee that argument fell away when the administration came and proposed an aerial attack on syria after the use of chemical weapons against bashar al assad and when
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we reminded them hey wait a minute, you said syria has really tough air defenses the administration testimony at that point was yeah, but we're not worried about them. let me tell you why i think the absence of humanitarian zone is going to go down as one of the big mistakes that we made, equivalent to the decision not to engage in humanitarian activity in rwanda in the 1990s. with respect to syria, there's been testimony from the military to us that the syrian air defense system is really not all that great, and that we could take care of it. and with respect to russia, russia voted for security council resolution 2139 in february of 2014, calling for cross border delivery of humanitarian aid into syria, without the permission of bashar al assad. there are few guarantees in life but i can pretty much give you this one. russia would not intervene and try to mess around with us if we were engaged in a humanitarian effort that was premised upon a u.n. security council resolution
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that they actually voted for. and since february of 2014 we've had the ability and the legal rationale to enforce that resolution and we haven't. and millions of refugees have left the country. if we had done that then, i think we'd be in much better place now, and i think we can still do it and we'd be in much better place. so just in terms of the argument, here's why we don't think it's a good idea. previous testimony to the committee by folks from the pentagon have undercut the argument with respect to syria and russia. mr. chair, i don't have any other questions. >> thank you mr. chairman. mr. secretary and general thank you for your service. the president addressed the nation sunday night. did you hear his address, mr. secretary? >> i did not. i read it. >> do you believe that we're at war with isil? >> i do. >> do you believe they're at war with us? . the answer is yes? they would hit our homeland if they could. >> that's for sure.
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they say that. and they indicate that openly. >> is there any place on the planet that you would take off limits when it comes to fighting isil? >> no, i don't think we can do that for the reasons as i said earlier. they are metastasizing everywhere. and everywhere there is information media, there are going to be people who go online who maybe have never been to syria or iraq or even know where they are, but they only have their screen. >> right i agree with you. i think that's a very good answer. there's no place on the planet we should gave them safe haven. number two, when could it comes to time in terms of this war, when will it end? >> as soon as we can possibly bring it to -- >> five years, ten years? does anybody know? >> well, i think that -- >> you want to put a time limit on how long we should fight it? >> i think in war, it's good to have plans. i think it was eisenhower -- >> here's my question, are you
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willing to put a time limit on how long we can fight isil? >> i think we have to fight isil until isil is defeated. everywhere. >> i couldn't agree with you more. when it comes to means, do you believe this country should use all lawful means when it comes to fighting isil depending on what the circumstances dictate? >> sure. >> do you think raqqah, syria, will be in the hands of isil by january 2017, more or less likely? >> i'm sorry, you said which one? >> do you think raqqah, syria, will be in the hands of isil -- >> oh, i very much hope that it won't. that we -- >> you think it's more likely -- >> it not be in the hands of isil and that their control will be substantially lower -- i can't guarantee that. you can't guarantee anything in war. >> we all agree. we all hope that we're not going to get there on hope. you're a good man. i'm not trying to fight you here. here's what i've done. i'm making an offer to our president that i believe this war is going to go on for a long time after his presidency, i
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believe that they're going to go wherever they can on the planet and that we should stop them wherever necessary. and when it comes to means we should not limit this commander in chief or any other commander in chief when it comes to means. do you agree with that? >> i do. >> so i have an authorization to use military force, senator mccain, not limited by geography. could you put it up please. it's not limited by geography, time or location. it represents a theory that this president, and future presidents need to have the same capabilities against isil as we gave -- that existed after 9/11 regarding al qaeda. so i agree with senator kaine that the congress should be involved. i'm answering the request of the president to get involved. and here's the question. as secretary of defense could you support an authorization using military force that has no limit on geography, time, or lawful means when it comes to destroying isil?
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>> well, i'm not going to invent a new aumf here. this is the first time i've said it here, i'm sorry to say. i did support the president's aumf for two principle reasons. the first was because i thought it could, exactly as you say, permit us to conduct the campaign that we need to do to defeat isil. that's critical. it did have a time dimension, which i -- >> from a military point of view, general, do you think having a time dimension is probably the wrong signal to send to the enemy? >> the contact for the time signal makes a difference. i would prefer not to have one. >> okay. >> so i could say to them i'm going to prosecute you anywhere i find you. >> that's what i want to say. i want to say to this president that i want to give you the tools, that time is no factor when it comes to destroying isil and location doesn't mean a damn thing. we're after you wherever you go as long as it takes, whatever is required to defeat you. that's a statement i think america needs to make. is that a fair statement?
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mr. secretary? whatever it takes as long as it takes, wherever we need to go to destroy you when it comes to isil? >> well, i mean, that's okay from the point of view of conducting the military campaign. but you have to get the votes. >> no, i know. >> and i -- >> i'm not asking you -- >> -- to craft what can be passed. here senator, i testified in favor of the aumf the president submitted. >> would you vote for this? >> i don't know. i'm seeing it for the first time. >> well, as secretary of defense you supported -- >> i support an aumf that the president submitted to support the authority to wage the war that -- >> that's -- >> needs to be waged. >> do you support the concept, the authority that this president should have no time limits placed on his ability to fight the war? do you support that concept? >> well, i think the aumf submitted only recognizes that his term of office --
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>> i'm not asking you about his aumf -- >> -- in a year. >> right i agree with that. do you agree that the next president whoever he or she may be should have an aumf not limited by time? that's just a smart decision from the military point of view. you agree with that? >> well, it's not -- >> are you as secretary of defense telling me that you want to put limits in terms of time regarding -- >> i'm trying to explain to you why, as he explained to this committee before, why i understood that there was a three-year time thing -- >> i'm not asking you about -- >> -- as a provision. and it was not for a military reason. it was in deference to a future president. you can agree or disagree with that. that was the reason why it was included in there and that was a political reason. >> right. >> having -- >> from a military point of view -- >> not a military -- >> listen to me, please. from a military point of view, you don't want time limits? >> i don't think we can -- >> from a military point of view you don't want geographical
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limits? >> yeah, i don't -- we can't have -- >> and from a military point of view you don't want to take means off the table that are lawful -- >> and that are useful to this campaign. >> so to the congress, if you don't like what this president and future president does in terms of fighting isil, defund it. that's your job. i am making a simple proposition to this president that i will give you whatever you need in terms of my authorization to go wherever you need to go as long as it takes to use whatever available tools you have within legal limits to destroy this threat. mr. president, are you all in or not? as secretary of defense seems to be indicating this is good military policy. to my colleagues on the other side, if we produce an authorization to use military force restricted by time, means or geography, you're sending a message to the enemy i will not send, you're restricting our ability to defend this homeland which is an imminent attack is coming. i want to have this debate like senator kaine has suggested and it is imperative that the congress get off the side lines.
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the campaign and i may have a different outcome but you're absolutely right. let's have a discussion. let the enemy know without hesitation there's no limitations on time, means or location when it comes to destroying mr. isil. mr. president, embrace this authorization for you and future presidents because the country needs it. thank you very much, mr. secretary, and general for your fine service. >> senator blumenthal? >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your service, mr. secretary, general. thank you for being here. i just come from a vote on the floor, but before that a hearing of the judiciary committee where fbi director comey was testifying about many subjects, related closely to the subject matter of your testimony, even though the geography may be different, the threat is the same. and clearly the strategy for confronting that threat of terror has to be coordinated,
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and targeted, to what poses the danger to our nation. and my feeling is, i agree with you. the reality is we are at war. that's the stark, irrefutable reality, and more needs to be done. more aggressively, more intensely, and more effectively, in using our special operators, advising local forces, supplying and equipping them, providing them with intelligence intercepting communications of our adversaries, and cutting off the flow of money, which is their life blood. and the pace of our present activity seems inadequate. now we may differ on that point and you have more on-the-ground
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knowledge than i did, but the american people are growing impatient and apprehensive. i think that statement, in fact, is an understatement. so i would like to see our strategy become more aggressive, and intensify in combatting this threat abroad, in the theater where we confront isil, and at home we are confront terror in our neighborhoods and streets. and where the adversary is just as real and potentially growing just as alarmingly. are you satisfied that the intercession and coordination between those two efforts in the middle east and elsewhere in the world, and internally at home is
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sufficiently aligned, and coordinated that we have the most effective strategic approach? >> i met just yesterday with director comey, also along with the director of homeland security jeh johnson, the director of national intelligence james clapper, john brennan's out of the country, but his -- somebody from cia was there and other agencies, working to do exactly what you rightly know -- say is necessary, namely to align our efforts overseas, which involve exactly the ingredients that you name and you're right, and we are looking for opportunities to do more by using precisely the tools you described. we're finding them and we're strengthening and gaining momentum in the military. which we need to do, because we need to defeat isil over there as soon as possible.
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back here, we have -- it's a different kind of challenge but it's related. director comey's working extremely hard and skillfully on that. and the purpose of my colleague meeting yesterday was precisely to make sure that we're all aligned. and we'll continue to do that periodically. and there are things, by the way, that we can do at dod, even though we don't operate here in the united states the way the fbi does in terms of striking their information infrastructure, the same way we strike their energy infrastructure, their command and control, and so forth in iraq and syria. >> i thank you for that answer. i agree totally that the efforts need to be aligned, and, in fact, better aligned more seamless than they are now in terms of intelligence sharing, and intelligence gathering, but also working with our partners in the region, because the troops on the ground need to be local. we cannot send american troops back to that part of the world
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in massive numbers with a combat mission. there's always a danger of mission creep even in the small number, but i remain dissatisfied that the number of special operators on the ground may be insufficient. and the pace of sending them there may be too lengthy, and that local forces like the peshmerga have shown that a robust effort involving all of those ingredients that are planned to be sent can make a difference if they're timely, and sufficient. and i agree finally that an authorization for the use of military force is absolutely essential. the reality is, we are at war. and the president deserves a declaration of war.
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that declaration may define the kind of conflict that we see, and provide a forum for debate about the limits we may want to put on them. but at least it will provide a framework for public support that the president needs. for this continuing war. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you to both of you for all you do for us. to keep us safe. i want to start by echoing some of the concerns that have been stated by my colleagues senator kaine and senator blumenthal. like them, i feel like for constitutional reasons we ought to be following the process in the constitution. for some of the reasons mentioned by senator graham i think it's important to have the debate and the discussion about the extent of our involvement there and that's another nice
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process associated with following the constitutional structure. >> after the failure of the initial train and equip program in syria, the department of defense seems to have shifted its focus to equipping forces that are already on the ground in syria, such as the syrian kurds, and arab groups that we have somehow, in one way or another, using methods that i'm not familiar with, deemed to be moderate. or deemed to somehow have interests that overlap with ours. mr. secretary, could you explain to us how specifically we're vetting these groups? how we decide who ought to be the beneficiary of this program? >> so you're basically right. that is the shift we made.
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although, you know, we're still willing to do -- we're open to lots of different possibilities with our train and equip program. >> which is now basically an equip program rather than the train and equip program. >> no we take some of the people out for training. we're willing to do that and we have training sites. we'll take selected individuals, not the whole unit, and give them specialized training on how to connect with us and our enablers. so there is a training aspect to it. you're right, fundamentally it's enabling groups that exist rather than trying to create brand-new groups. that's the essential correction, i say. course correction that we made. and you asked how they're vetted. they are -- it is their leaders that are vetted. rather than down to the individual level. and i can get you a description of that, and general sellva maybe you would like to say something about the vetting process in general? >> we have indications of syrian
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arab coalitions convinced leaders to come to the iraqi side of the border. we have vetted them through public and classified databases for their relationships and prior conduct and we have spent time with them on the items that the secretary talked about, how they link to our forces, how they communicate back. their progress, and our relationship is transactional where we supply them with ammunition and the advice required to strike specific targets, and then we watch that progress. >> once we decide to equip a particular group, it sounds like it's made on a group basis, based in part on our assessment of their leaders, what degree of command and control do we retain over the group in question over its leaders, and specifically perhaps most importantly over the supplies that we give them? >> i could go into much more detail in a classified environment. but at the surface level we don't exercise command and control. we exercise influence. and the influence we have is their connection to the enablers
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that we provide. our support through air power, advice, and training. >> do the groups that we're supporting in this capacity, specifically the syrian kurds, and the syrian arabs, do they, or to what extent do they share the same political goals, and the same vision for syria in the future? >> today they share the goal of wanting to take their homes back and defeat isil in doing so. that is necessary and sufficient to get at the fight in eastern syria, and working our way back towards raqqah. >> are you concerned about the possibility of their goals shifting? i mean, is it common in the region for some groups to have one focus one day and have a priority shift, perhaps one day having interests that align roughly with our own goals, and
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with preserving interests that are important to national security that might change later? >> if you'd allow me to discuss that one in a classified setting on how we manage that relationship it would be much more useful than doing it in open session. >> okay. can you tell me roughly how many people are involved in this right now? how many units or how many members they have? is that something we can discuss in a nonclassified environment? >> yes, suffer, the syrian arab coalition we brought out roughly 40 of their leaders. i'm sorry, 20 of their leaders, did a full vetting of their allegiances and their prior conduct. they brought to the battlefield roughly 1600. the number varies up and down slightly from that number based on who is engaged in a fight but roughly 1600 fighters that have worked their way through roughly three villages or three towns write now in eastern syria, they started in a place called al hassaqqah, they have taken al hal and beginning possibly a third target that i'd like to
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keep private at this point. >> okay. my time's expired. thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you so much for your testimony today. this is extremely helpful to our committee and thank you for your extraordinary service. in yesterday's hearing commander jeffrey egger says that while our military victories against isil would affect their ability to recruit new fighters how we conduct the war will also affect that ability. specifically he said having ground troops go into syria is what isil wants. on monday a "new york times" article pointed out that in 2003, al zarqawi had called the iraq war a quote blessed invasion. because his apocalyptic idea is non-muslims will come to syria and bring about the end of the world. do you believe that a ground war with western troops would help or hurt isil's recruiting, and which countries are best
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positioned to fight isil on the ground in your opinion? >> the forces that are best positioned to fight isil on the ground in both iraq and syria would be local indigenous forces, particularly sunni forces. because the isil representation and the territory they occupy is mostly sunny territory. therefore, outside of -- well, no in both iraq and syria, iraqis and syrian local forces, that's why we're trying to work with them. that's why we're trying to put a political end to the civil war in syria so that the syrian stop -- syrians who are not isil, are not isil sympathizers, are not under the thumb of isil right now can unite to defeat isil. next in line, and this is
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something that i have urged, and the u.s. has urged now for some months, would be for more of sunni arabs from the gulf states to become involved, not necessarily occupying territory but participating in enabling local forces -- >> have you had any luck there? >> well, they have -- participated for the early days in the air war, i'm generalizing a little bit here. and not generally disinclined to participate on the ground and of course now with the yemen conflict, got preoccupied with that. but -- >> general? >> ma'am, i think it was zarqawi
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who said bringing americans to this fight is a blessing to the radical islamic view that isil portrays is exactly right. what we don't do enough of is talking about who isil is. >> mm-hmm. >> and what they do. they're barbaric. they are -- they subjugate women. they subjugate children. they engage in extortion. they are not creating a caliphate that's consistent with islamic teaching. they're creating a caliphate that is a consistent with their narrative of western sub jugation and extremist islam, and it's about their power, and enriching themselves. and so we need to tell that truth. if we fall into the trap ofl radical islamic fight length extremists baiting us into a ground fight we're actually doing exactly what they want us to do. because we work through and with partners that we can find that are willing to fight, they'll
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have the effectiveness. >> can we be more aggressive with our al ryes in the region, particularly sunni arab allies to do more? i don't -- haven't seen our success there yet. so i'm wondering if you feel this leverage there to get that result. >> we have had support from turks, from the jordanians, as well as from a small number of our sunni partners. this is a place where we might exert some additional effort. >> just quickly on turkey since you raised it. obviously turkey is critical to the fight, because isil, what do you think were turkish calculations in shooting down the russian plane? and has it affected our ability to work with russia and turkey? >> i can only tell you what i learned from consultation with my turkish counterpart the day of the shootdown. i actually was in turkey that afternoon after the shootdown. they believe, and executed against a incursion into their airspace. what i pressed him on, though,
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was securing the turkish border from end to end. there is roughly a 90 kilometer stand of the turkish border to which isil still has a fair number of smuggling lanes that are relatively open because isil controls the syrian side of that border. the turkish have redoubled their efforts. they've opened up their terrorist no-fly list and a variety of other techniques to help seal that border. much beyond that, if we could do that in a closed session or private conversation. >> that would be fine. secretary carter do you have anything you'd like to add? >> no, i think general sel virginia said it very well. turkey is -- shares a border with both syria and iraq. that border has been use d as a principle border through which fighters flowed in both directions, and we've asked the turks to do more.
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they have done some more. we're helping them do yet more. but it's critical they control their border. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> well, of course, isis wants more than anything else to preserve their caliphate. no one is arguing today that there should be 100,000 troops. although the president and obviously you would like to set up a straw man. it is clear that with without american participation and leadership there is no strategy to take raqqah, which is their base of operations. where they're planning and orchestrating attacks, we just saw the manifestation of it, including working on chemical weapons. mr. secretary, i would -- i would beg you to call up general keane, general petraeus, secretary gates, secretary panetta, even former secretary of state hillary clinton, ask all of them, and they will tell
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you that a safe zone could have prevented the millions of refugees, and the horrible consequences of at least a quarter of a million people barrel bombed. and for you to sit there, general, and say that we'd have to take our syrian air defenses is either a stunning display of ignorance, or, again this whole aspect of aborting -- or making the problem seem so huge that we can't handle it. all we have to do is protect a no-fly zone. we don't have to take out a single airplane -- air defense capability of theirs. all we have to do is tell them if you fly into this area you're going to get shot down. which we can do with patriot batteries. and everybody knows that. and that's why general keane and secretary petraeus and secretary gates, secretary panetta, and even secretary clinton have said that these things are doable. it's really saddening to see that basically business as usual
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while thousands and thousands of syrians are slaughtered by this horrible barrel bombing. which also was accompanied by acts of chemical weapons. so, i leave this hearing somewhat depressed. because clearly there is no strategy. to take raqqah. there is no motivation to set up a no-fly zone, which even as i say hillary clinton has supported. and every military leader that i know that was architect of the surge says you can do it without much difficulty. but we are seeing again what we've seen from this administration for the last four years, since some of us advocated it, saying that it would be too hard to do. ignoring the fact that as long as bashar al assad continues to do this horrible barrel bombing, they're slaughtering thousands of innocent civilians, men, women and children. where is our moral -- where is
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our -- the traditional of the united states of america? we went to bosnia after they ethnically cleansed 8,000 people. this guy has killed 240,000. and yet it's too hard for the most powerful nation on earth to set up a no-fly zone. this hearing is adjourned. fbi director james comey spoke about the san bernardino, california, shootings today at the senate judiciary committee. we have that hearing tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span.
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>> i've always felt there was more than a story of lady bird than anybody had covered. certainly than i wrote about when i wrote the book on all first ladies. she became, i think, the first modern first lady. she had a big staff. we shad a very important project. we wrote her book as soon as she left the white house. she really invented the modern first lady. >> sunday night on x&a, historian discusses her book lady bird and lyndon. she incorporates recently released pages of the former first lady's diary giving an inside look at the marriage and political partnership of lady bird and lyndon johnson. >> lady bird johnson i think is a perfect example of the conclusion i came to which was those women saw something in those men, the ambition, the opportunity to really climb and make a mark in the world, and
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they married them, in spite of parental objection. so she's a good example of that. and that's why i decided i had to find out more about her. >> sunday night, at 8:00 eastern and pacific, on c-span's q&a. new york congressman spoke about gun violence and terrorism from this morning's washington journal this is 40 minutes.rati >> dockman joe crowley is vice chair of house democratic caucus and congressman against the backdrop of done trump's comments this week about muslims traveling to the u.s. i want to ask about your recent visit to a mosque in your district and what you're hearing from those individuals about americans' attitude towards muslims in the country right now. >> well, i thought it was tive - important, as a representative, i think we all have an religi obligation, regardless as to what political persuasion we are, what religion we may be,
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that we may have, or what our ethnic background is, to really make every effort to reach out to our constituency.el i think thereecte has been a disconnect in many respects between the elected officials, and primarily particularly leaders within the islamic t it community here in the w united states. so i thoughtnd it was importanto go to talk to them, to meet with imams, as well as to listen to t students, in my district who were at the school in woodside queens, at the same school that i visited two weeks after 9/11 to hear the concerns of the thr community, and this attempt to m really get a sense of what they're feeling right and it really was remarkable, to hear how people are really feeling, listen to the children and they were loud and clear si with >> have you back in touch with some of those folks since donald trump's comments, and since we a started seeing headlines like this on the front page of "usa
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today," new attacks on u.s. muslims?th story quoting spokesman for the council for american islamic relations saying we don't o literally have time to issue a statement on every incident and right now, because they're coming in so fast and furious, and the leading republican presidential candidate can say bar all muslims coming to and g america and knowet that he can t more support for it is truly frightening. >> i think it's a real issue. there's no question about it. i mean, listen to young childreg say how they're being teased going to school, how they're te beingat bullied. how they're being treated i rudely. i think that sends a real loud t message. no, i haven't been back since last friday. obviously i came down to washington on monday. but i know from last week, one of the questions that was asked of me of a young boy as i was kind of leaving, why does our government hate our religion? and i said our government doesn't hate your religion.aid t we have -- there's no hatred for the religion itself. so it's kind of difficult
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sometimes to speak to children about what's happening around them. during the conversation, i did note that, you know, a lot of the demagoguery that's coming from the republican -- entirely from within the republican party, presidential nominees, and just started individually yelling out trump, trump, trump. it's not lost upon them what ise being said.e conseq and i think words do have consequences. and i think we're seeing some of the fallout from that now. there is concern for their own s safety and i think that's tragic. >> do you think the imams about the role that american muslims have in standing up to say this is our religion, and speaking out against isis and others who try to view islam? >> yes, i did. i think part of what we're dealing with is a lack of a hope-like figure or a chief rabbi figure, so to speak, within or, you know, the
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community to kind of identify with and go to but i did talk t. them about the need for them to continue to speak out and they have spoken out.tspoken there are folks within my quest community who have been outspoken. it's a question of who's listening to them. so what i felt was really strong was their desire to cooperate. one of the questions was given to me, will they be monitoring the mosques. and i said well, you know, i think during this time, it's ish important to establish communication and cooperation.on i don't think there's a need to monitor mosques. i do think there is a need for , american citizens if they see something or if they hear turn something that they think is wrong, potentially turn into an act of terrorism they need to report that. they need to communicate. and that's something we need toi do by building that trust back, by building this communication h connections, that may not exist, or aren't as strong as they ought to be.r
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>> joe crowley, democrat of new york is our guest. he's the vice chair of the democratic caucus. if you have questions or comments. plubs 202-748-8001. democrats 202-848-8000. independents 202-848-8002. and folks are dialling in want to bring up a separate issue. monday marked a sad anniversaryt in this country threeo years since the newtown shooting. you're somebody who continues te push for gun control reform for more gun control. where do you think that movemenm has come inin those three years? has there been much movement? >> it's been remarkable, there has hasn't been any legislation passed in the house of representatives.d moment we've had moments of silence. i made the comment yesterday at a press conference our flag at been at half-staff more recently than it has been at full staff. and every week there is a new ht tragedy that occurs. and i think the issue of what is terrorism, what is not, i think it's all in the eyes of the
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beholder. when there's a gun in your face that's terrorism. it doesn't really matter where it's coming from or what the . motivation is. but certainly, i think given erd what happened in san bernardino. there are some steps we can start to take now. doesn't mean we have to be the panacea, it has to be everything all-inclusive, but certainly, when 70-plus nra members, 80% plus of gun owners believe that we need to end access to peopleh who are on the terrorism watch list, that is certainly a placet to start.olleague and it's unfortunate that my republican colleagues, and you know, quite frankly because of the nra, and outside interests, refuse to even have a hearing oh this.eywith t refuse to create a committee to deal with this issue, a health issue that's really a crisis in the united states. and i think that's more than unfortunate. >> let's bring in a caller. frank is in memphis, tennessee,
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a democrat. good morning. >> caller: good morning. how you doing? >> good, frank, go ahead.out th >> caller: what i was trying to find out about this gun control thing is i don't understand howi can a person with -- again the s congressmen they don't be realli outspoken about it. they be so outspoken about -- ts and you know he a democrat. how come you all don't be that loud spoken about the president and y'all party and don't standn up for him you know when he saio things about you know gun control. i don't see y'all be put enough behind like the republicans. probably going to be real loud you know y'all sit back and nonchalant -- you know.
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-- you know. >> well, frank, i do stick up n for the president whenis i thin he's right. and i think in this particular issue he certainly is right. we do need to pass legislation that addresses the issue of gun violence in t the united statese democrats have been very outspoken, if you were paying attention yesterday, many people pay attention -- or enough people pay attention to what happens on the house floor, but there were a series of procedural votes that were taken to bring focus and attention on our attempt to bring about some rational gun legislation to deal with the issue of preventing weapons getting into the hands of people who are on the no-flyl list, or on the terrorism watch list. republican colleagues continue a to refuse to even bring that small aspect of gun control to the floor. and i think that's unfortunate. >> is this something that you could procedurally push in to the debate over the omnibus h spending bill to perhaps hold up
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that bill, which a government et shutdown would happen if it's not actually passed to try to ot force thoseho measures in someh into that legislation? >> what we have done is, just to begin signing a motion to discharge, that is to move a bill, the king bill, sponsored by peter king from long island, co-sponsored by democrats and republicans, a bipartisan bill, we began the motion to discharge yesterday by signing that.we are we're calling upon all people of goodwill, regardless of r. political persuasion from the house, to sign that bill, to get that bill to the floor. there are a number -- we don't control necessarily the riders e and what is included or not included in the omnibus. and that's just one of the -- s that's the one t bill that neede to be done before we break for the end of the year. we're quite frankly fighting hat against many of the riders that the republicans are putting in, whether it be on the epa or planned parenthood on a myriad i ofng issues that they're tryingo
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do to actually legislate through the appropriations process. it i and if the government does shut down it's going to shut down it because they're going to shut it down for their own political reasons. waiti >> now, arkansas is up next. lines for republicans. good morning. >> caller: good morning. >> good morning. >> caller: yeah, you know, i uli understand this congress' job to pass laws. i like that.gress to ask the gentleman what good does it do congress to pass laws g. we're a country of laws, e immigration laws, and everything, the president head of homeland security, the wholeo bunch, all they want to do is just pick and choose which laws they want to enforce. and i just don't understand
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and gun laws -- it's not a gun that kills a person. it's the man holding it. i am a veteran. gun s i've owned guns since i was 8 ed years old. i've never killed anyone. here in the states. or caused any violence, and i just don't understand why y'all think we need more gun laws. we got more gun laws than we can deal with.e all we have to do is enforce >> i appreciate the call. i think there is a way in which we can construct commonsense gun control without violating the secretary amendment.t. i haven't said that i want to violate or overturn the second amendment. what i want to do is find a rational way to deal with the issues that we're facing today.e thousands of people are dying each year, because of gun violence. and access to guns. you're right it's not the gun itself that does that, it's the person holding that gun. denying people with severe mental illness, denying people r
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with criminale records, denying people who are on a terrorist watch list, on a no-fly list, i think makes common sense, to t deny those individuals further access to legally obtained to legally on sta legally obtain weapons and to kill people.that in terms of your frustration, we're all frustrated. you know, the president's frustrated, too, that he has a congress, a republican-controllrepublican-c ed congress in the house and senate that refuses to work wito him to address the issue, immigration reform, for instance. the senate, controlled by the democratic party, passed commont sense i thinkio comprehensive es immigration e reform. the house sat and sat and promised to address it. speaker boehner then promised to address it, but never once brought up any immigration reform at all.
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and so, i think the president recognizes the need to address some of the critical issues of the day. has taken action legally within the confines of the executive orders he's issued, to address the issuesfa that the american people are facing because republican congress continues not to address those issues. >> newberry port, massachusetts is next. good morning, gjejerry. >> yes, hi, thank you for cspanv i wantede an to ask about the vetting process. if you have an individual that is apparently no terrorist ties, but claims by the matter of faith to believe in sharia law, which i think most people would agree is not compatible with democratic values.a would we consider to let that person in if they're a as matteg of faith, believe in sharia lawo and p i guess my second questio regarding the vetting press, when the burden of proof when the government proves that a wa
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person iss a terrorist or is t burden of proof on the individual to prove they are not a terrorist? it's unclear when the republican friend was on, who has the proof in regard to vetting? >>g i think in terms of who was allowed to come in, there's a process, a vet iting process th exists today. to obtain a visa. i think you may be speaking more directly, jerry, to the issue of who is eligible for refugee status. there is an 18 to 24 month hat i period, if there's any question to what their purpose and reason for seeking that asylum or refugee status, they're denied entry into the united states. they get to be clear about that in terms of the burden of proof, we have one today, the no fly
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list, individuals who are placed on that list, when they go to the airport, it may be an inckc venus, but our society has determined that some may have to be inconveniencenconvenienced. that's the same type of criteria that we use to determine who is on the terrorism watch list. an individual may find their name on the list. ted kennedy was on the no fly list. had to go through ho a procedure to remove his name, but it was removed. >> it was a w mistake in the fit place. true. that can happen. there's no question that could happen. but there is a vehicle by which a person can extract their name from that list and i would suggest in the same way that it may very well be that
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individuals are placed on the terrorism watch list who don't belong and they could have their name extracted as well.good m >> to chris cal, new bedford, massachusetts.i >> good morning. i agree with this guy 100%. considering all that has gone on, all of the traumatic thing, comprehensive gun control is exactly what we need. because the distdain for president obama and it's not fair to the rest of the country andin i want to say i agree everything this guy is say iing. >> this guy appreciates your call. >> president after the oregon shooting said the gun debate is a debate that should be tha politicized. said he would come out and speak after every one of these mass
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shootings. has that moved the conversation or made it more politicized by people retreating to their individual corners? zbling at some point, you have tono call it for what it is.itit simply ignoring or not recognizing what i believe is at the root of this, there's a politics at the root of this, ni question about it, but as these events pile up, the bodies pile up, i think more and more his an americansd including gun ownere areno looking at this and sayin enough. you have to stop this. what happened in oregon. in california. what happened in colorado. i mean, every week, every week, my colleagues stand in the building behind you and for a moment of silence. there's too much silence in the house of representatives and in the u.s. senate. too much inaction.uch on this issue. that is killing americans. and we need to find a way n forward in a bipartisan way not
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in a commune torre way, in a way which we can work to find the solution to this. doing nothing is not a solutiong we have to find something. that prevents terrorists from getting weapons legally. look, they're going to try to we get them any way. we should try to cut off as many avenues to that as possible and we're not doing that. >> john's waiting line for republicans. good morning. >> good morning.gang >> just a comment about all this gun legislature, the gang bangers and drug dealers and all the people that use firearms on a daily basis to commit one homicide here, one shooting there, that adds up to these numbers, they don't go tli a standard channels to get a gun and by banning an assault weapon, all you're going to do is boost the cartel in their endeavors into this poor border
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situation where they're just ur going to flood them across or whatever they can get across our border and back into the country. all they're going to do is makei kingpins richer, so, and inconvenience is honest american who wants to bear arms.beyo >> there's no doubt. no question. that the issue of gun violence goes beyond terrorism or -- if you're a young kid in the inner city and you're confronted by two thugs with a weapon, that'se terrorism. no doubt we need to find ways to address all these issues. but we can't even get this legislation passed that will address john in this case, people who are on the terrorism watch list. that's what this bill is all about. we can't solve this problem
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first. one person here, two people there. how about 14 people in one e, 1 place. 12 people in another. you know, the numbers are staggering.e when people who have access to a semiautomatic weapons and machine guns are tearing e people's lives apart and not the just the victims themselves or the gun violence, their families. their communities are torn apart. there is a one off here and two off here that add up, but some are incredibly large events that are unsettling.good m >> virginia, line for democrats. good morning. >> good morning. i >> how are you? >> i love your calm demeanor anl
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i wish the -- have such a calm demeanor, but he hasn't. but what i'm trying to say right now, the democrats are prescribing their wrong solution to the present problem right now. the problem now is the -- gun control -- kill ed, who were supposed to do something about r it. when adidn representative was s in arizona, so, we should come to the conclusion that republicans are not willing to . do anything about gun control.
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but for now, it's about terrorism. let me make a couple of o points. people are saying that christians and gays and that, their 60s, the kkk used christianity as a tool to repor. crime and the federal governmen does that ustime. this time, through the issue of our religion, muslims are using the idea to terrorism. now, anytime i go to a -- i ina might be liwrong, but look at t lady. a lady in california. you have a six month old baby.yl you left your baby at home, then went to a party to kill innocent people. what are we going to say? we are going to get -- and that is how


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