tv House Armed Services Committee CSPAN April 22, 2012 3:35pm-6:00pm EDT
>> the public buildings service has a central management division in their headquarters office. that is the office where they allocate the funds out to various regions. >> you can see the difficulty i am having with an agency whose hierarchy, whose structure, is very difficult to understand. do you believe the you were the cfo for the entire agency? what were you the cfo of? >> i believe i was the cfo of the entire agency, but with a decentralized structure in place, it was difficult to have advisability -- >> has that always been the case? whacks it has been that way for a number of years. -- >> it has been that way for a
number of years. it has been decentralized for a number of years. there was a position in the public buildings service that had carried the title. i was very excited about this, as it caused a number of issues at the agency. this was one of the reasons they had taken that step. >> this issue, mr. chairman, of how the agency is structured seems to be a major factor, if we are going to look at how to present this in the future. apparently the moment that she understood, as the conference was held in october and early november, she asked for a
report. do you think that there would have been any way for you to have known, or for the agency to have taken preventative action? the agency worked well with your ig when i came to the action to penalize what had taken place. the penalties were still rolling out. >> we will need to have more oversight. >> how many months will it take you to put these new systems in place? we would like to have you back for a progress report. >> we are already making changes. as part of what i would like to talk about today. we are entering into that now. i think that we're going to use the budget process, which culminates in recommendations
in september, a budget in february, we will use the process to start delving into it. >> the new acting administration -- administrator of the general services administration spent the past week testifying on capitol hill about the $800,000 spent by officials for a training conference held in las vegas. watch the rest of this hearing online, at the season and the library, archived at c-span.org. > for this year's studentcam video competition, we asked students to create videos part of most important to them and why. today we are going to florida to talk to the second prize winner. shad, how're you doing? >> good, how're you. >> how did you choose the
topics part of the post office? >> it was timely. there were many in our community that could possibly have been closed. a lot of activists were coming to our community to draw attention to this issue. we felt very strongly about the post office. we thought that there was something powerful about a letter. we thought it would be important to spread awareness about the post office in our community. >> where did you start, when you started researching? >> it was timely in the news. you might seek congressional hearings, the postmaster general testifying in congress, than we did our own searches on the internet. we interviewed post office workers off the record, because they could not speak on the record. we went to activists and people that started those movements, to
compile the documentary. >> what was the understanding that you took away? >> a couple of different understandings. the first was from the gentleman who said that the post office -- " we learned from him was that it was a place where people can get a prescription medication and they depend on it to pay their bills. lots of people use the post office as a bank. people depend on it for a lot more than just sending mail or stamps. a place where people can get together, where they can take care of their postal needs. there are different needs that can be had -- can be met in a community. the post office is the basis for a $1 trillion economy, and
without the post office as it is today, there's a huge economic loss, and a loss to the community as a whole. >> what surprised you most about the post office you visited in florida? >> its size. it was actually a converted toolshed. it serves a population of 11. a lot of people might say that that is a waste of taxpayer dollars, but that population is entitled to a post office. the only way they can get those services is there. at the end of the day, the best thing about the post office is that it connects the small population to the global world. it is what the post office enables people to do. if you live in a rural community and you do not have access, the post office is extremely important in paying your bills
and communicating with someone who does not live near you. you have to expand. that is what the post office do. >> what was the most important understanding that you took away from this? >> the post office is an extremely important aspect that we have. we had to make sure that it did not replace what it offered to the people. here is a -- >> here's a brief portion of the documentary. >> there is something special about a letter. we all like to get them. an e-mail, on the other hand, has all the charm of a freight train. >> a worldwide movement to save the post office.
we sat down with them. >> [unintelligible] inner-city and neighborhoods. they serve populations that tend not to be on the internet. i was shocked. >> you can see the entire video and winning documentary's at studentcam.org. >> "newsmakers," thomas donahue, marking the 100th anniversary of that organization with a discussion about the u.s. economy, employment, taxes, and
trade. newsmakers, today it 6:00 p.m. eastern, on c-span. leon panetta told congress on thursday that all options remain on the table in removing the syrian president from power. secretary panetta said that syria is not libya and lacked a unified opposition, making it difficult for the u.s. to decide who the hell. martin dempsey also testified at the hearing. this is one hour 45 minutes. >> the secretary has a hard closed time at 12:30, so we are going to be as expeditious as we
possibly can here. the house armed services committee meets today to receive testimony on the security situation in syria from the secretary of defense, the honorable leon panetta, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general martin dempsey. thank you for being here today. the syrian conflict is now in its second year and the situation remains both uncertain and dire. as we convene, a tenuous cease- fire is in place. comes on the heels of horrifying violence at the hands of the assad regime, yet even though assange has committed to the cease-fire, reports indicate that he continues to inflict violence on the syrian people. president assad's years crackdown has been fruitless, including frederick human rights violations, use of force against noncombatant civilians, including children, and
interference with the provision of humanitarian assistance. the estimate for the death toll is 9000. other estimates put the death toll as high as 12,000. just over a year ago, in the midst of the arab spring, the syrian people peacefully took to the streets, calling for the opportunity to elect their leadership's through fair and democratic process. this embodies the essence of what is driving the opposition. the president has stated that the violence in syria must end and that assad must go. it remains unclear how the president will accomplish these goals. in addition to the humanitarian concerns that i believe we all share, i am very concerned about the implications for regional conflict. as recently as april 10, assad back military unit shot across the border into syrian refugee camps in turkey, killing five individuals.
additionally, violence is still in levitan and iraq has begun to behave erratically as it considers the prospect of a sunni controlled government succeeding the assad regime in the western border. moreover, the situation extends a strategic opportunity to deal with known supporters of terrorism in the region. as iran continues to back the assad regime, groups such as hezbollah have enjoyed support and residents in syria. on the other hand, there is much we do not know about opposition. syria maintains robust air defenses that limit military options. therefore, i am not recommending u.s. military intervention, particularly in light of our great budget situation, unless the national security threat was clear and present. these reflections lead me to wonder what the united states can do to stem the violence and
hasten president assad from power. we also need to understand what we are doing to ensure the security of one of the world's largest stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. to paraphrase general petraeus, how does this all end? i look forward to your insights into the security situation and our way forward in syria. mr. smith. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in the interest of time, let me just say that i agree completely with the chairman's opening remarks. the assad regime has made it clear an awful choice to simply kill as many of its own people
as he can to maintain power. it is in international outrage that should be condemned by all nations. i applaud calling attention for this outrage and try to build enough support to stop it. we need greater support in nations like russia and china and they should rise to the challenge and work with us to find a solution to this problem. they clearly have not done enough. i agree with the chairman that i do not see military option for us in this area for a wide variety of reasons. i have a longer statement will submit for the record that explains that. i agree that it has profound impact for a region that was already unstable in many ways. i look forward to the testimony from witnesses today to hear what our best options are going forward to try to contain this
and give this committee a full briefing on where the situation is at and where they see it going, as difficult as the prediction might be. i think you, chairman, and i thank both of our witnesses for their leadership with our country and for being here today. >> thank you. secretary panetta. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for the opportunity to be able to discuss what is obviously a very tense and fluid situation in syria. the arab spring was impacting other countries and then hit syria as well. rather than trying to meet legitimate demands of the people, the regime of the bashar al-assad turned instead to violence. that violence has been cruel and devastating. it has put the syrian people in a desperate and difficult situation. has outraged the conscience of all good people and it has threatened the stability in a very important part of the world. the united states has made
clear that the assad regime has lost its legitimacy, and that this crisis has no effective solution without assad's departure. the president has stated -- recent days are testing whether the assad regime will live up to all of its responsibilities to the syrian people and to the international community. restoring calm to the cities and towns across syria is just one test for assad in the days ahead. assad is responsible for fully
abiding by the transition plan that has been outlined by the joint special envoy, kofi annan. he also faces deep skepticism about his motives, a skepticism based on a long train of assad's deceitful actions today, including broken promises to his own people and to the international community. the united states is committed to holding the syrian regime to its obligations. we are leading an international effort to help stop the violence and support the
peaceful, political transition in syria. even as we speak, secretary of state clinton is meeting with our international partners in paris to determine what additional steps should be taken to make that happen. we know achieving that end is a tough task. from every angle, the situation in syria is enormously complex. there is no silver bullet. i wish there was, but there isn't. at the same time, the situation is of grave consequence to the syrian people. there are many others who are affected by what happens in syria as well, including syria's neighbors, turkey, lebanon, iraq, israel, jordan, and all nations with a vital interest in the middle east.
meanwhile, it is fair to say that iran is syria's only ally in the region. no other country stands to lose more than iran from the eventual fall of the assad regime, which is why iran is supporting the regime material, financial, and technical assistance. we also know that the complex problems in syria cannot all be solved through the unilateral actions of the united states or, for that matter, any other country. they demand a coordinated, international response that is uniquely tailored to the situation we are confronting in
syria. there are, however, certain principles that have guided the administration's response to unrest across the middle east. these basic principles have shaped our responses in tunisia, in egypt, in libya, and now in syria. first, we oppose the use of violence and repression by regimes against their own people. second, we support the exercise of universalist human rights. third, we support political and economic reforms that can meet the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people throughout the region. our policy in syria is very clear. we support a political and
democratic transition that fulfills the syrian people's greatest aspirations. to support that objective, the united states is leading international efforts along five tracks. first, we are supporting efforts to maintain international pressure and advance the political transition in syria. we join with our partners in the united nations security council, including now russia and china, in calling for the urgent, comprehensive, and immediate implementation of all aspects theannan plan. second, we are further isolating the assad regime. we are encouraging other countries to join the united states, the european union, and the arab league imposing strong sanctions against it. the sanctions are putting assad under greater pressure than ever before. we are undermining the financial lifelines of the regime. three united states executive orders have targeted senior leadership, commercial and
central bank of syria. the result is that 30% of the regime's lost revenues have occurred as a result of those sanctions. the u.s. and the eu have imposed a strong oil embargo. the exchange rate has depreciated by more than 50%, and their gdp has been in a serious decline, approaching almost - 8% in 2011, and more now. third, we are strengthening and unifying the non-violent political opposition in syria. the united states is in the process of providing direct,
non-lethal support, including communications and medical equipment to the civilian led opposition. we are taking these actions in concert with similar steps taken by the friends of syria and other international partners to assist the opposition. fourth, we are providing in emergency humanitarian assistance to the syrian people. the total commitment so far is in excess of $25 million. food rations, medical supplies, water, and other relief supplies have been provided. lastly, we are reviewing and planning for a range of additional measures that may be necessary to protect the syrian people. my acting along these lines, we are increasing pressure on the assad regime every day. make no mistake, one way or another, this regime will ultimately meet its end. there are legitimate questions
about what steps are necessary to achieve this end, with some arguing for an approach similar to the one we took in libya. the fact is that our recent experience in libya is helping to inform the approach that the united states is taking toward syria. first, our efforts are strengthened by multilateral, international consensus. that is extremely important to our ability to keep maximum pressure on the assad regime. second, we should maintain clear, regional support from the arab world. the arab world and sell, nations of the arab world, are outraged at the regime and what they are doing to the syrian people. third, we should offer substantial u.s. contributions where we can bring a unique resources to bear. fourth, we should have a clear, legal basis for our approach there.
that clearly involves close consultations with congress. fifth and finally, our approach must keep all options on the table, while recognizing the limitations of military force. we must be prepared to take whatever action is required. in libya, there was widespread international support in the arab world and elsewhere in a clear, security council authorization for military intervention. nato was authorized to act on that. no such consensus currently exists regarding syria. the opposition is also not as well organized and does not
control territory as we saw in libya. there are almost 100 different groups. on the one hand, that indicates that this is an insurgency that is broad based. on the other hand, it makes it difficult to determine who to help if they cannot come together and organize as a single opposition force. we must also be mindful, as secretary clinton has noted, of the possibility that outside military intervention will make a volatile situation even worse, and place even more innocent civilians at risk. the united states has made clear that we are on the side of the syrian people. they must know that the international community has not underestimated either their suffering or their impatience. the defense department's, as we always do, is reviewing and
continuing to review plans for a variety of possible scenarios, should the president determined that further steps are necessary. in the meantime, our only clear path is to keep moving diplomatically with the international community in a resolute and deliberate manner to find a way a return syria to the syrian people. if we remain dedicated to that effort, i think we ultimately can prevail. thank you. >> thank you, mr. secretary. general dempsey. >> i appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today. the regime responded with brutality. serious internal convulsions are having consequences for a
region already in turmoil of refugees are fleeing. spillover into neighboring countries is an increasing concern, and of course, we also need to be alert to opportunistic extremists who may seek to exploit the situation. as well as the need to be especially alert to the fate of syria's chemical and biological weapons. they need to stay exactly where they are. the u.s. is applying diplomatic and economic pressure on the regime to compel assad and his accomplices to stop the killing on their own. thisilitary's role at point has been limited sharing affirmation with our regional partners.
but should we be called on to help secure u.s. interest in other ways, we will be ready. we maintain an agile regional and global posture. we have solid military relationships with every country on serious border. should we be called, our responsibility is clear, provide the secretary defense and president with options. these options will be judged in terms of their suitability, feasibility, and acceptability. we have a further responsibility to articulate risk and the potential implications to our other global commitments. in closing, i want to assure you and the nation that america's armed forces are ready to enter the call, wherever that takes us. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much. the vote has been called. we are five minutes into the vote. i will ask questions and get as much done as we can, and we will break. those of you who desire to leave earlier to get over there to vote, i would encourage you to return as quickly as we can so we can keep this moving
forward. mr. secretary, according to media reports this morning, the french president stated that action should be taken to establish humanitarian corridors. what are your views on this option? have you been aware of that? >> mr. chairman, we have looked at a variety of options as to what could be done, including the possibility of developing humanitarian corridors. again, we are prepared to do whatever the international community and ultimately agrees ought to be done, but clearly we have made plans along this line. >> general dempsey, you stated that syria's chemical and biological weapons need to stay where they are. what can be done to make sure they are secured? >> as i mentioned in the
statement, we are sharing intelligence with our regional partners. in the aggregate, we feel like we have a good understanding of the disposition of syria's chemical and biological weapons. >> one of my concerns has been being said for a long time since the uprising started that mr. assad's days are numbered. what is the path for that happening? as i said in my opening remarks, the assad regime has sort of decided they don't care what the international community thinks, they will kill as many people as they need to kill to stay in power. they are getting some sort of tacit support from important nations like russia and china, and much more direct support from iran.
that makes it clearly different than gaddafi in libya. he had no friends anywhere. he could not get that assistance. with that support, the leverage we need to pull to make sure that the assad regime goes, or my that support not be enough to let them stay? >> i thing that concerns you have indicated are the concerns we all share. part of the problem here is that assad still seems to maintain the loyalty of the military, even though there have been significant defections, the military still seems loyal and they continue to strike back at the libyan people, even as this effort to try to achieve a cease-fire and try to reduce
violence there. we still see continuing artillery barrages violating the whole effort. >> what hope is there to get russia and china to change their stance and actually be more aggressive about fracturing the assad regime? >> obviously that was a concern when they initially voted against the security resolution that would have taken action here, but they have come around. they have supported the resolution that was adopted supporting annan and his efforts to try to achieve a cease-fire. diplomatic pressures being brought on both russia and china, particularly russia. that battle longstanding relationship and that part of the world with syria, to bring pressure on them to exercise whatever influence they can to ensure that they abide by annan plan. so the -- so there is some progress being made on that front. the additional steps that are important is that the international community
continues to be very unified in taking action against the regime. there are additional sanctions that could be applied. we have applied some sanctions and they are putting great pressure on the regime itself. that pressure needs to continue. the third thing i would indicate is that this is a broad based insurgency. i think it is fair to say that the intelligence community feels that because it is a broad based insurgency, yes, he can strike back. he can continue to try to hold on, but ultimately, his days are numbered and openly, he will be taken down. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> the committee will recess know until we are able to return after votes. thank you very much.
testimony noted administration is publicly committed to sending communications equipment to syria humanitarian organizations. i am aware of american companies that can provide the necessary hardware to the syrian opposition groups and humanitarian efforts. what steps does the administration take ensure that potential future allocations are dedicated to the future of u.s. manufactured equipment? what steps are being taken to assure american made technologies are being reviewed and properly vetted? >> i will yield to general them see on this as well. my sense is that most of the in the general dempsey. most of the communications gear we are talking about is made in this country, and that is
primarily the communications gear that we would be transferring to the opposition leaders. >> i have nothing further to add to that. that program is being supervised by the department of state. >> the state department, other than the office of political and military affairs is charged with not providing equipment to these areas. is my understanding that the political military affairs personnel are not actively involved in determining the nature of what equipment should be distributed to syria. seeing as how the department of defense would have more precedent in such a role, what can your agency coordination -- what agency coordination is occurring between the department of state and part of defense? >> congressman, there is ongoing coordination with the department of defense, with the department of state on this issue.
we do have a liaison who is they are working with them. let me give you a more in-depth report as to what the level of that relationship is like. but there is a military liaison that is working with the state department on this issue. >> i have nothing to add, congressman. >> thank you very much. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> thank you, ms. sanchez. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, both gentlemen, for being here once again and for your service to our country. russia has not been very cooperative in moving the un closer to authorizing some form of action in syria. i know a lot of us have been disappointed in one to move something. some members suggest that we use some sort of pressure on
russia to help convince them to be more helpful. for example, we could suspend cooperative threat reduction funds. do you believe that is a good idea? why or why not? >> at this stage, obviously the state department is the one that is taking the lead in dealing with russia, so i am not going to prejudge what the state should or should not use with -- as leverage with russia. at this point, i have to say that russia has been cooperative with regard to support the annan effort. the most important leverage for russia is to try to make sure that they understand that, in fact, their interests are served by taking the steps,
because once assad goes, the interest they have in syria are going to go away unless they participate with the international community. >> if i could broaden the aperture and point out the places where we are cooperating with russia in a very positive way. >> i am not suggesting i am one of those, but i do hear from my colleagues. >> we have to understand in the context of the entire relationship, not just this issue in isolation. we have terrific contribution with the no. distribution network out of afghanistan, counter piracy and narcotics. we have to understand the entire thing in context and deal with them as we would other nations with whom we have a variety of relationships.
>> some have said that if we would just "handle syria" that that would help us in what is brewing with respect to iran, that one of the effects of the military is that assad has one of the largest army ground troops in the area and that buttresses iran's bullying in the area. what do you say to that, that's if we would get involved in syria we could help the people there move onto a more democratic or different type of government, that it would help us to bring the threat of iran down in the neighborhood. >> there is absolutely no
question that if the assad regime comes down, the one country in that part of the world that will be even further isolated is iran. iran knows that, and that is why they continue to provide some assistance to assad, because they know that their interests are in maintaining the assad regime, not in seeing it go down. >> the only thing i would add is, the fall of the assad regime would be a serious blow to iran. i think the general testified before this body to that effect. but saying is the key would be analogous to say it would be solving a rubrics cube puzzle by lining up one side and neglecting the other sides. -- solving a rubik's cube. >> are there any circumstances
under which the u.s. would get involved militarily? what if turkey invoked article 5 of our nato charter? >> if there is a consensus in the international community to do something along those lines, and not easily ensure that the international community is able to get the authorities required in order to make that happen. the one area with regard to article 5 and turkey, article 5 has only been enacted once after 9/11, as i recall. but they would have to make clear that what is happening there really does truly represent a direct threat to turkey. i think this point, that is probably a stretch.
>> thank you. >> mr. jones. >> thank you very much for being here today. mr. secretary, if the situation changes and you believe the use of force in syria becomes necessary, will this administration seek authorization from congress before taking action? >> we will clearly work with congress if it comes to the issue of the use of force. this administration wants to work within the war powers provision to ensure that we work together, not separately. >> mr. secretary, as a former member congress, i have the biggest concern -- and this is not pointed at this
administration. they seem to want to take the authority to decide whether or not they need to go into a country that has not been a threat. they might have evil dictators, they might have problems in those countries, but i have been very concerned. i actually went to the federal courts with dennis kucinich and two other republicans and two other democrats. we went to the courts because of the decision and how it was made. i realize you were not there at the time -- about libya. the american people seem to agree that we in congress have not exerted our constitutional responsibilities when it comes to war. i hope that if there is a
decision, including iran as well as syria, if the decision is made to commit american forces, that the president would feel an obligation to the american people, not the congress, but the american people, to explain and justify why we take that kind of action. again, i am talking about a situation where we are not being attacked. we just see things happening in other countries that we don't approve of. i would hope, and i think he did give me this answer, but if you would reaffirm that if we have to use military force, and we are going to initiate that force, that the president, any president would come to congress and the american people and justify the need to attack. >> congressman, as you understand, this president's as other presidents will operate pursuant to the constitution. the constitution makes clear that the commander-in-chief
should act when the vital interest of this country are in jeopardy. i believe this president believes that if that in fact is the case, he would do that in partnership with congress in terms of taking any action. >> i remember my good friend from virginia asking secretary gates when we went then, and it seem like if they call the leadership of the house and senate, it must of been one call. mr. ford as mr. gates if libya fired missiles in the united states, would that be an act of war. my friend virginia is a very articulate and intelligent gentleman. he never got a straight answer. i hope that you will prevail upon the administration not to
take those kind of actions as they did in libya, whether it is justified or not. i will not get into that debate, but in my opinion, that was really kind of a snub of congress and the responsibility of congress based on the constitution. >> i can assure you that as long as i am secretary, we will not take any action without proper legal authority. >> thank you very much, and i will yield back my 39 seconds. >> your service is both an inspiration to us and a blessing to our country. we thank you very much for it. i want to congratulate the administration on your success with russia and china, moving into a very different place on this issue compared to where they were just a few weeks ago. mr. secretary, i think the data
you gave us about the exchange rate for the syrian currency and the gdp are a reflection of the effectiveness of that coalition. you also know that we do not yet have the level of consensus in the arab world that existed for the libyan problem. what do you see as the principal obstacles to achieving that kind of consensus with respect to the syrian regime? >> i think the arab world is struggling with the same issues that the whole international community is struggling with, which is in order to take additional actions, what, in fact, does make sense? who is the opposition? can we best -- how can we best assist the opposition? cackle would provide the help the syrian people need in order to overcome this situation? what kind of pressures would best be placed on assad in order to force the regime downward?
all of those same difficult, complex issues that the whole international community is dealing with, the arab community is confronting as well. libya, that all came together. in syria, it is still a difficult challenge putting those pieces together. >> this is a hypothesis that the cohering factor in the libyan situation is a sense that gaddafi had completely lost the support of his own people, and no one wanted to be associated with the regime that was illegitimate in that sense. do you think that assad has simply not reach that point with his own people yet, or is there some other factor that is diverting us from that consensus? >> i think is of the factors that i pointed out in my testimony that make this different from libya. the fact that number one, he does still enjoy the loyalty of a good job of the army and the
military. that makes it more challenging in terms of trying to undermine the regime. secondly, that opposition is disbursed. there are a lot of groups there that represent the opposition. in libya, there were some different tribal groups that make up the opposition. they were holding territory. we knew who they were. we couldn't -- we could define what the opposition was that needed assistance. it is much more of an insurgency kind of opposition. >> you mentioned that the phrase is vital national interest a few moments ago. do you agree with the proposition that it is a vital national interest to the united states to discourage regimes
which could serve as an incubator for asymmetric warfare against the united states? >> that would obviously have to be debated on the issue of does it directly impact our vital interests. i guess an argument could be made along those lines. i would think in this case, it is a really important for the international community, if we are going to continue to work with the international community, if we are going to be a partner with them in deciding what additional actions ought to be taking place, it ought to be within the international context that decisions for action ought to be taken. >> how would you characterize the public record of the relationship between syria and hezbollah? >> the public record, and more importantly, the intelligence record that we have, is that there has always been a close relationship between syria and hezbollah, and that hezbollah has always had some level of
protection. >> do you agree with the proposition that the weaker hezbollah is, the better the united states is? >> anything we can do to weaken the terrorist group is in our interest. >> i yield back. >> thank you for being here, and general dempsey, we thank you for your service. you are both good men and you have served your country well. we are honored you would be here and share your thoughts, because today you have -- the risk to the country are huge today. when we talk a bottle national interest, probably there is no greater interest that we have than the rule of law. sometimes we have to ferret that out and see what it is.
uzziah understand, what you have indicated to this committee, -- as i understand, you believe that before we would take military action against syria, it would be a requirement to have a consensus of permission with the international committee before that would happen. is that a fair statement? if not, would you tell me what the proper -- i would like to come back to the question that was asked. i know you would never do anything that you did not think was legally proper, and you said that the administration would have proper legal authority before they would take any military action. i question is, what is proper legal authority? as mr. jones pointed out in the war powers act, it is unlikely we would have a declaration of war, but that would be one thing. we know if there was a national
attack, that would be one of them. the second thing would be specific statutory authorization. do you feel that it would be a requirement to have proper legal authority that if he did not have a declaration of war or an attack on the united states, that you would have to have specific statutory authority -- in other words, the permission of congress, before you take military action against syria? >> we would not take action without proper legal authority. >> i understand, and all due respect, we are trying to find out what exactly proper legal authority is. that is what we have to act under. we do not have the president here to chat with him or have a cup of coffee and ask him. you are the closest we get. we are asking from your understanding as secretary of defense, what is proper legal authority?
with that require specific statutory authorization from the united states congress if we had not had a declaration of war or an attack upon the united states? >> again, that we put on this basis. this administration operates pursuant to the war powers act and whatever it would require in order for us to engage, we would abide by. >> thank you for putting up with me, as i just try to stumble through this and understand it. as i read the war powers act, and has those three requirements. are there any other requirements in there you are familiar with that i am leaving out or not reading? if that is the case, i come back to if there is no declaration of war, no attack upon the united states, and if we are going to comply with the war powers act, would it require specific statutory authority by congress before we took military action on syria?
>> again, under the constitution, the commander-in- chief has the authority to take action that involves the bottle interest of this country, but pursuant to the war powers act, would have to take steps to get congressional approval. that is the process that we would follow. but she would have to take steps to get that approval, but with the approval required if we would take military action -- before we would take military action against syria? >> the constitution and the power the president, the president could deploy forces if he had to if our vital interests were at stake, but ultimately under the war powers act would have to come here for your support. >> you would get the support of congress after you began military operations. >> in that particular situation, yes. >> just one last thing. it is your position that the administration's position would
be that we would have to get a consensus of permission from the international community before we would act, but that we would not have to get specific statutory authority from congress before we would act. >> in that situation, if the international action is taken pursuant to a security council resolution or under our tree obligations with regard to nato, that obviously we would participate with the international community, but then ultimately, the congress of the united states, pursuant to its powers of the purse, would be able to determine whether or not that action is appropriate or not. >> thank you, mr. secretary and general dempsey. i wanted to ask you more about the opposition groups and i think you have been quite clear
that it is a diverse group and hard to read them in many ways, but is there one particular or several issues that you see them either fragmenting or coalescing? particularly as it would relate to trying to broker any kind of agreement with the assad regime short of eliminating it. >> as i have indicated, there are a number of groups involved in the opposition. it has not always been easy to get those groups to be able to coalesce. there are some outside syrian troops that are making an effort to do that. there has been better progress by other countries that have tried to, one way or another, provide assistance, to try to urge those groups to coalesce. there has been little more progress on that front, but it is still a difficult challenge. >> it read back to an earlier
question about what is it seems so difficult to get the countries in the region to coalesce around a single, unifying idea. i think they are cautious about what comes next, and to thread these two themes together. it will affect the relationships. that is not to predict some negative outcome, but it will change. what they are circling around here is, can they get a clear idea of what might happen on the other end of this? these two thoughts are linked, i think you are >> in thinking about some of the efforts we have undergone there in terms of humanitarian missions, how are we protecting knows, if at all?
what is happening in that arena, and to what extent is it going to have a positive effect, or helping to mobilize others or bring the opposition groups together in any way? what effect does it have? >> the humanitarian assistance, obviously the state department is directing most of that assistance, but it is going to programs like the world food program. $10.50 million is being disbursed in food aid. medical services and supplies, food and water, blankets, hygiene kids, about 8.5 million. the international committee of the red cross is providing relief supplies under their authorities at about 3 million. most of that, i think it is
fair to say, a lot of it as probably being done in the refugee area where a lot of the refugees have gathered. there is an extensive number of refugees both on the turkish and jordanian border is that relocated there. >> is there any perception for those efforts that we are there to help the people of syria, that we have ongoing efforts? >> i have been has been made clear that we are trying to do whatever we can to provide that help. now we are making efforts to try to do some outreach into syria itself to try to assist those who have been harmed and try to see what we can do to provide assistance there as well. it is a much more difficult challenge. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
>> thank you, mr. wilson. >> thank you for your service. i appreciate it as a veteran and also a very grateful parent of a son serving in the military. in the context of the instability that you are revealing, i am concerned about the sequestration of the defense budget, which would be a reduction of 8%-12%, beginning next january. you have learned about a hollowing out. people have heard and seen a hundred billion dollars cut and now pending $600 billion cut. it is just total confusion. what message do you have to the american people? what do you want them to know about the effect of sequestration? >> i tried to make clear time
and time again about sequestration and the cuts involved, that it would be a disaster for the defense department. it would truly hollow out our force and weaken our national defense. we are operating -- we are already cutting close to half a trillion dollars. we made those proposals. they are part of our budget. we are doing that over 10 years. it has been a difficult challenge to do it pursuant to a strategy in a way that protect our national defense. sequester is a whole other set of cuts out there. it represents $600 billion across the board meat ax approach to the budget that would impact every area of the budget, regardless of apology, regardless of strategy and blindly strike at every area of the defense budget. we have to work together to
ensure that does not happen. >> in terms of what message to the american people, i think first and foremost that the military is not oblivious to the economic ills of the nation and have done our best to contribute as part of the equation of national power, which includes economic, diplomatic, and military power. all three have to be in balance. we adjusted our strategy after the lesson of 10 years or more. our projection on what the nation would need in 2020. butwe match the budget to its. if we have to absorb more cuts, we have to go to the board and adjust our strategy.
this strategy that we would have hit to adjust to would not meet the needs of the nation in 2012. it is getting increasingly unstable for the reason we're talking about. shulaadding we have done as much had let it recanted given what i know about the future. , who>> this is the they dividend. thisthe world movement is so dangerous. i am very concerned about the national guard. the administration has been proposing a reduction on the ground forces. of a fort leefortunately, that is active a the a la duty. i see a threat to the guard. the concern i have are a hoya
but a reduction in the side of the air guard. how large will these cuts be dax $50,000 reduction fax 100,000? -- how large will these cuts speed? $50,000 reductions? $100,000? >> our goal is to keep the balance. a different amount of it is ready to go in six days or a year. that is how we balance the force. the reason we cannot take any of this reduction out of the garden is that we had growing the who live and his active force over the last 10 years by about 65,000. we had about 8000. when we absorb the cuts, we did not take many of them off of the guard.
we have not grown them. if you are asking me with a but a further reduction in our budget at 30 results in an effect on the army national guard? who or viaps. i cannot tell you how deeply because it would depend on the depth of the cuts. if they keep it in balance, it will affect both active guard and reserve. >> thank you. i see cuts of dramatic effect to that affecting the american family. of nineveh and who>> thank you for your answer on and who live the sequestration. we understand that the defense has to be on the table. we have been there. these cut we're going there is enormous. inyou take 50% out of the
defense. line but butit is something that cannot be overlooked. what we need to understand is that we cannot solve our nation's financial difficulties airport on the backs of the military. the thing that we really need to keep the mind is if we eliminated the whole discretionary budget. we would still be running a half route put dollar trillion deficit. have hitwhat really need to do is fix a a the mandatory spending side of the budget. budget>> thank you. butthank you for being here with us today. a new hallwe have talked about the a year of differences between syria and libya. you who view wolpewe have talked
about trying to identify the different of and if half of influences of the different folks within syria and how tough it is to predict an outcome. and when to pick you on the eight of spot. we have seen that democracy, when you get people the choice, they cannot always use what we buy for them to choose. democracy can be unpredictable as we have seen. and whothis is not a matter of this. of the handballthis is made the best case/worst. case. what kind of relationships with in syria, what would be summoned the things with a book for? >> this happen in a good way and bad way.
these tests and in a politically carefully in terms and and and implementing the reforms that have to be done and you can have assad move out and have a government who would be able to take its place that would be subject to hopefully a vote of the people and implement the democratic reforms that people deserve, that would be the best way for it to play out and it could be done in a way that recognizes the there are
divided populations in syria, but that all of them would be brought into that kind of government. that would be the best way for this to move forward. the various tribes and segments of this population began to assert themselves and you have the beginnings of some kind of civil war that takes place to try to assert who takes charge and that would be the worst development. it could take us in a better direction, so there is a range of possibilities, but the bottom line is anything that takes the
assad regime down is a move in the right direction but it needs to happen in the context of legitimate reforms that serve the syrian people. >> we mentioned the relationship between that government and military is strong. is there a basis for that relationship being strong in terms of the generals staying with whoever it they think is going to come out on top? is there is an area where that might change and the military might withdraw some of the support and make some other things possible? >> i think there are conditions. i would like to think the military leaders in syria would recognize using the kind of violence there using against their own citizens is a fool's
errand and that will at some way jeopardize them as an institution. that could be one of the reasons they're beginning to hold on tighter now is that they have used this violence and if they return to garrison and allow a referendum to occur in change government, they will feel themselves to be at great risk. when i say we, this is best solved by regional actors with our support. there is a scenario where at the end of this, those who are around assad become oppressed and we end up with a prolonged civil war. there is reason to believe the military could come to understand they are on a path to their own destruction as an institution, but the case has to
be made by regional players, less so by us. >> thank you. >> mr. turner. >> thank you for your strong statements on addressing sexual assault in the military. your leadership is needed and i appreciate your strong statements and strong action. we had a meeting yesterday and we understand general dempsey is echoing our strong commitment and we appreciate the efforts. makes a big difference for the men and women who were serving. you have just said the world is becoming increasingly unstable and every day we are upset -- we are within an inch of war. if we look at syria, we know the russia and china have blocked to united nations security council resolutions with respect to syria. that takes us to in issue of a
question with regard to russia and china. we've seen public reports that russia continues to arm the syrian military and have sent russian advisers and deployed naval forces of the syrian coast. my first question is how would you say russia is supporting syria's military today? and china, which unavoidably takes us to north korea. missilerea's recent launch failed and many people side with relief but that is misplaced belief in that we know north korea continues its quest for missile technology. on of service -- on observance of the founder of the dictatorship brought forward their new missile. secretary gates indicated north korea is becoming a direct threat to the united states. i wrote to secretary clinton and
general clapper and ask my letter be made part of the record. my concern is what appears to be china's support for the missile, specifically a launcher system that appears to be of chinese origin. my second question is can you tell me of your concerns of china's supporting north korea's missiles and is north korea a direct threat to the united states? and do we have to be concerned with china and their involvement? >> there is no question that north korea's capabilities with regard to icbms and developing nuclear capability record -- represent a threat to the united states. for that reason, we take north
korea and their provocative actions very seriously. regardless of the success of failure that effort at the launch, and it was a huge failure, the fact is a was a provocation. taking that step was condemned and should have been condemned, and our hope is they don't take any additional provocative actions. the history is they usually turn somewhere else to try to do something provocative and we hope they do not do that. we are prepared from the defense department to deal with any contingency, but there is growing concern about the mobile capabilities on display in the parade recently in north korea. i have to tell you that we need to get better intelligence as to exactly what his capabilities are, exactly what is real and what is not real in order to determine what that represents.
but the bottom line as if they have a mobile capability to be deployedave a icbm's in that manner, that increases the threat coming from north korea. >> the concern is chinese involvement with north korea being able to make these advances that support these systems and russia's involvement with syria. >> we have made very clear to china that china has a responsibility to make sure north korea, if they want to improve the situation with their people and become a part of the international family, if they want to deal with a terrible issues confronting north korea, there's a way to do that and china ought to be urging them to engage in those kinds of diplomatic negotiations. we thought we were making
progress and suddenly we're back provocation. >> beyond diplomacy, as the equipment itself as trade and technology exchanges -- >> i am sure there is help coming from china. i don't know but the exact extent. we would have to deal with the context in terms of the sensitivity of that'd formation, but there has clearly been assistance along those lines. with regards to russia, russia has a long history of providing military and economic assistance to syria. the good news is russia is now working with us to get a cease- fire and hopefully put that in place and they are working with the international community right now. but the reality is russia could have a much more significant impact on syria and on assad if they were willing to assert that. >> thank you, mr. secretary and
general. let me ask secretary panetta -- violence has not abated, it un sanctions have been undertaken but when do we determine they are not successful and move on to plan b? >> that is what secretary clinton is dealing with in paris as we speak, which is to look at the situation to determine what the next steps are with regards to the initiative. there is an effort to try to deploy monitors that can go in and determine whether or not those violations are taking place and there is also a consideration of a peacekeeper initiative to try to back up the annan initiatives. the final decision will rest with the international
community. >> in terms of arms flowing from syria to iran, do we have credible information on what is flowing from iran into syria? >> to discuss that in depth, we ought to do it in the context of an intelligence briefing. >> it general dempsey, i am concerned about the report that native's assessment of the libyan air campaign found that there were numerous problems with cooperation when it came to sharing target information ensuring analytical capability. how are we incorporating these lessons from libya into our current actions in serbia -- in syria? >> the lessons learned were critical and transparent. i was afraid there's going to be this euphoria with libya as a template for future actions that would have taken us down a path
that would probably be ill- advised. i am alert to that and i'm going to brussels next week to meet with nato and one of the agenda items is operation unified protection. we have got to be candid with each other. i assure you i will be about what we can reasonably provide and what they need to provide in terms of isr, the fusion of intelligence and operations, and investments and to make to close the gaps here to fore they have relied almost exclusively on us to provide. i actually see this as a positive thing. >> what do you think are the greatest risks if the united states intervenes? >> on occasion, i have been portrayed as saying this is too hard, but not do it.
that is not the case. if asked to do something, we absolutely have the capability. but as far as my concerns and how they would translate, i have to be clear about the military objectives i was being asked to achieve an i would have to be clear about how those contributed to some outcome that we would all understand and probably agree upon. if the outcome is just stopping the violence, that's one the outcome. just stopping the regime is another. i can build from that outcome. my other responsibilities to balance the risks of the mission. what would be the cost of doing this in lives and equipment? and the risk to the forest. it deployed all over the world.
if i am asked to do something in syria, the secretary says i'd need this developed, my objection is to understand this and articulate risk, not just to the mission, but to the global responsibilities. it is all wood integrated part of my device. -- it is solid integrated part of my advice. >> thank you all so much for joining us in your service to our nation. i will begin with you. i want to follow up on your scenarios in looking at u.s. engagement in syria. he spoke about in gauging the international community and making a decision about the particular engagement. do you envisioned a scenario where the u.s. would act unilaterally, and you look at
the saturation where in any scenario, with the u.s. look at a broader, up perspective on that? when we have boots on the ground and moving into a peacekeeping scenario? i want to get your perspective on that. >> at this point in time the decision is that we will not have in the booths on the ground, and we will not act unilaterally in that part of the world. >> very good. just want to make sure we are looking at those scenarios. >> we see what is happening in syria. we also see the arabs bring in the middle east over the past 18 months. as you look at the scenario, are you concerned about the continual expansion that it may be moving to other areas in the
middle east? what is your perspective on what potentially this whole, if this effort in syria continues? >> again, speaking as the principal military adviser to this body and the president's national security adviser, i do not csee the assad model spreading. i think previously suppressed populations seeing what is around that areo beginning to rebel against the traditional strong man. that is why i agree with the secretary that change is inevitable, i just did not know how long it will take to occur,
but it will occur. i have concerns about that, because i think long-term but we are all eager to see populations that have long it not been reaping the benefits in their country and have been suppressed in terms of religious freedoms and certainly women's rights. i think long-term this will become a stabilizing influence. i think getting from here to there will be a wild ride. i think we are in for 10-15 years of instability, in a region that has already been characterized by instability. >> general allan was here testifying before us talking about operations in afghanistan. and i want to get your perspective. he said that he saw the use of
u.s. power extending past 2015. i want your perspective on that. are you looking to him as far as guidance and his thoughts about how we utilize our current forces as we are drawing down what is necessary past 2013? i think the necessary part of what happens obviously efforts are intertwined. i wanted to get your perspective on that. >> we are listening to general allan. he has exercised of this leadership and dedication and more importantly, he is put together a very good plan for the future with regards to of canada stand. as a printed out, 2011 was a turning point.
we have seen the taliban we did. they have not reorganized and area they have lost. they are resilient, but they have been weakened. more importantly, the afghan people themselves have rejected them. pakistan army is beginning to operate on itself. these events over the weekend told us that that afghan army and police are becoming an effective force to achieve security in afghanistan. more importantly, the transitions are working. 50 percent of the population is now under afghan security and control. the third tranche will take place this year. that will put 75% of the people under archean security and control. the plan that general allan has
developed and that nato supports is to succeed without plan to take us through 2013 he and be able to complete the final transitions in draw down to the end of 2014 puritan beyond that to have an enduring presence that represents a continuing effort to provide support to the afghans. >> thank you. mr. larsen. >> thank you. general them see earlier asked questions about the chemical biological weapons in syria, and i do not want to read characterize your comments, so i will say what i thought i heard. did you say we had sufficient
transparency into the security and location of the syrian and chemical biological weapons catches? >> i did. i believe we have sufficient intelligence of the chemicals related to biological weapons in consultation with close allies in the region. >> thank you. >> the second part of the question is sold what if we do, does that mean we're in a position to do something about it if the circumstances arises where we need to do something about it, and are we willing? who makes that call? >> let me start where you began. as we watch these facilities and monitor -- if you are talking about the vital natural instance
-- -- it seems the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction would be at the top of the list. >> i would agree with that. in terms of the discussion today about syria and the resistance and the violence in syria. if we thought they were born to use the weapons, what would we do? >> because of this classification, let me assure you that we have planning that is updated constantly on the actions we could take, and the planning is being done with allies in the region. i just wanted to assure you on the last point that we have made plans to try to deal with any contingency involving those areas, because we think that
does represent the most serious concern with regard to security. >> we can explore this later in a different venue. i wanted to change the focus a little bit. i want to ask this morning about the story of yemen. two years ago the current cia director was sitting about where you are sitting telling us we did understand there was a difference between a civil war and want is a counterterrorism interest that the u.s. is trying to be supportive of in yemen. a lot has changed with the arabs bring, but i do not know a lot has changed with the u.s. staying out of civil war.
the story this morning about joint strikes, that the cia is looking at changing the strategy and where they go causes me to question, is the cia tail wagging the dog on this issue? we need to have that answer. >> thank you. first of all, with regards to the story in the paper, those involved classified information. i would urge you to get what is behind that based on that kind of a classified briefing. with regards to the larger issue, i understand implications
of what you are asking. from the department of defense perspective, our target represents those al qaeda terrace that involve a threat to this country, and there are very specific targets. this is not broad based. we are not becoming part of any kind of civil war disputes. we're very precise and targeted and will remain pursuant those kinds of operations. >> because we need clarification from the administration of -- administrative perspective if they are changing their view on yemen. >> again, without going into specific details, the position of the administration is our interest in yemen is the same interest we have in somalia, which is to go after those
terrorists who are involved in planning attacks on this country. s. more, no less pure yet to g >> i also want to point out we're working closely with the military and their special forces to increase their capabilities as a building partner capacity endeavor. i sink it is important not to see this as we are only doing one thing and not the other. >> i appreciate that. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here today. real briefly, over the next three months, can you explain to us how you see the opposition?
how do you see this playing out over the next few months? >> syria? >> yes. >> if i could give you a firm answer as to what we saw happening, i probably would not be in this job, i would be somewhere else. it is a tough thing to try to look at elements in play and determine exactly how this will play out. obviously intelligence has provided its perspective on this. the best thing that we can see as a result of the broad base insurgency and results of the international community approach to dealing with sanctions and the pressures and continuing to indicate that he must get done,
as a result of what the u.n. is doing in implementing a ceasefire were you have the support of russia and china, there is a whole series of efforts that are putting incredible, pressure on the regime to do the right thing. this may continue to play out. he will continue to play this out. >> playing off of that assumption and around how the plans evolves specifically over the past year since we have seen the syrian revelation come out? >> what we do and what general dempsey does with the service chiefs is to develop all of the plans necessary for any
contingency, and whatever the president ultimately decide we will be prepared to implement. >> just to give you the view of the region out large. we have a very strong relationship with jordan. obviously is real. we're still 200 military strong in iraq. they have a piece of this as well in the western border. lee met with the president from the region, and they have a huge interest reaching and in northern are iraq. these issues are all intertwined. right now we are in the business of sharing information, at building partner capacity where
we can, and having a credible threat to guard our diplomatic efforts. >> as it related to what happened in libya, and maybe the concerns regarding the war powers act and how we proceeded in that action that of all the conflicts we have dealt with over the past years the one lesson learned is the endgame. also, americans. it is my hope in echoing the sentiments of my colleagues that as we move through you continue to share information with us,
that there will be clear lines of communication on behalf of the military families in the american people. >> i appreciate that concern. we are unified with regards to not proceeding with any kind of military action unless there is clear objective. how long will it take, and ultimately, to we have the legal authority to accomplish what we're being asked to accomplish? that would involve very close consultations with congress. >> thank you. >> thank you. thank you for being here. general dempsey, it looks like
it is the real possibility that up -- that the government might be dominated as the muslim brotherhood seems to be coming to pass in egypt. what do you think the major impacts will be. >> i would not personally predict it would be the muslim brotherhood, but what we know is 70% is of the confessional of islam. they would have detriment -- pretty dramatic shift from a minority government and majority out of power to the majority in power. i think there will based some combination of conservative parties.
among the minority who have been supported by the party, but i think they could be supported -- persuaded to be part of the government. that is the point, in terms of looking at identifying opposition, but also holding them accountable to committing them to a shared government at the end of this thing so we do not end up creating the conditions for a civil war. >> i think that sounds good. >> egypt was a fairly moderate government as far as the arab world goes. they have brought about 40% muslim brotherhood. that is a fairly frightening coalition.
i suppose the question should be asked, what are we doing, and what more can we do to win sure that christians and any of the jewish population are fully protected and will have meaningful roles in building are religiously and ethnically tolerant democratic syria. we tried to do that in iraq. that was not achieved. it is a frightening thing. i direct this to either of you. >> then she pointed out are truly legitimate concerns. if we can build democratic
institutions and to these countries, and to some extent we see it in iraq. we're beginning to see it in egypt and libya. want to build some of these institutions were parties have to participate in have to look at how they can try to meet their responsibilities to the people. it does have some kind of moderating the impact. even in egypt were understand your concerns. i understand there are various segments of the brotherhood that are trying to understand they have the bigger responsibility. they'll have to exercise leadership in regard to every aspect.
in iraq, every time in looks like it is headed toward one direction, we're seeing some of that in libya. there are a lot of forces as a result of the era of spring. one thing we do not want to lose sight of is as a result, we can help redirect those countries. >> you're on the right track. i am hoping we might be able to involve some of the religious and ethnic minorities. it seems the we have the chance and mentoring the issue. >> i agree with what you just said.
>> thank you. it is very great that this is a distinguished veteran. >> thank you. i appreciate the strong leadership. i will talk about syria and a second. i'm curious to hear the feedback. i am recently back from fort bragg and visiting with when the support commands. it is remarkable the level of team work that goes on. i feel that we are lacking in terms of systemic codification of some of the very encouraging
development of the past decade. it can happen that the intelligence committee may be working the line of operations. figure to become a they will bump into each other. and their efforts to bring stronger collaboration in terms of information sharing. given your recent history, i would be curious to know what your thoughts are in terms of reform to bring it closer cooperation to the intelligence committee. >> i have been in this town. i do not think there is a better relationship between the intelligence and the military
operation forces then there is today. they are surely working together. in afghanistan in yemen and other parts of the world, they are unified in the approach. they are working off strong intelligence resources letter being shared. the operations are basically worked out within the operations centers. there is very close coordination this is not involve the participation. they're doing a very effectively. i do think we need to lessons. i think we are right.
when need to put in place the lessons learned. we can make sure the cooperation is one that continues. that is my biggest concern. we are facing al qaeda in terrorism. as we're able to achieve some success, there may be a danger the both of these make often tried to do their own thing. >> the game changing lessons learned are the integration of cyber. i think you're seeing a global network approach. most of our adversaries are not confronting us directly.
to defeat a network, we have to be a network. and have to find a way to a network our capabilities. these are ways that have not had to do before. >> i concur with the assessment. as the go forward, we do not want to over codify to the point that would stifle initiative. am also concern that much of this is based on relationships. this would not come to the end in the event that two individuals may not get along. they still need this to work. i see my time is getting short here. with regard to the unrest in syria, have there been any adverse implications and
ramifications in the province? >> not coming from syria. this runs from saudi arabia through western iraq into syria. there is assistance been provided on tribal relationships flowing into syria. we have not seen any backwash coming. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you for being here today. thank you for your service. chairman didn't say, of thank you for your commitment to our troops and veterans. we shall be adjourned.
correction from top to bottom. >> i was in a meeting where the parade commander, and incredibly effective guide, this is not long after president obama took office, and the state department was out there saying we will give you development money. colonel coward said do not send me any more money, send me contract officers that could oversee this. i need people. i do not need more money. >> douglas wissing on enrolling the enemy. look for the q&a interview with robert carroll to coincide with the release of passage of power. this multi volume biography of the 36 president. >> on friday, president obama
welcomed soldier ride it to the white house. this is a four-day cycling event to help veterans restore their emotional and physical well- being. the president is joined by a secretary of veterans affairs. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] >> good afternoon and welcome to the 2012 soldier ride. to our wounded warriors who have made the trip to the white house, 24 miles to go. 24 miles to go. thank you for your service.
we are so very proud of what you're doing to strengthen ourselves. you learned about physical stamina and toughness and team work while you serve in uniform. all those things come into play when you take on a ride like this. this ride brings back some memories. we're all very proud of you and we are committed to your future success. no one has demonstrated that commitment more than our president. his sense of obligation and responsibility to you and to the other men and women who serve today in uniform and have served in uniform in years past. as most clearly reflected in the straw resources and he has reflected for the department of veterans affairs over the past four consecutive budgets.
thanks to his unwavering leadership, support, and commitment attorneys are being addressed as a priority. simply put, he gets it. he knows what you have done for our country, and he isn't over what appeared if there is no stronger advocate for you. it is by great personal privilege to introduce to you our commander in chief, the president of the united states of america, barack obama. >> thank you. thank you so much. good afternoon, everybody. welcome to the white house. thank you for that introduction. thank you for your service and everything you do for our veterans and our wounded warriors. we also have senator tom udall and congresswomen korean brown with us.
this is the fourth time we have had the soldier right here in the south lawn. 34 miles over the last few days and another 24-mile ride tomorrow. so i decided to give you a little break and maybe a little extra fuel to get you back on the road. the reason i ask this group to stop by every year is because this is one of the most inspiring events we have at the white house. as commander-in-chief, i can take sides. but i know the army is represented here. the navy is represented here. we have some airforce. we have some marines in the house. and we have some coast guard. and there are some folks here who do not wear a uniform, but to work just as hard to sacrifice just as much as they do -- we have some military families in the house.
[applause] i know you're all doing this ride for different reasons. maybe your athletes try to get the juices flowing again. many some of your turn to see how far you can push some of you doing for camaraderie and the bond that comes from doing together what you're going through. but all of you are here because you believe in living your lives to the fullest. the reach of the opportunities to seize the opportunities we have been blessed with. you ride because you can and you ride for those who cannot. that is what this is all about. that is what inspired chris hani to hop on a bike to go cross- country to raise awareness for returning troops and wounded warriors.
chris came up with the idea of working as a bartender in long island. that is probably the best idea to come out of bars. [laughter] at least that has been my experience. [laughter] today, there are sold derides all across the country to serve as a reminder that all of us can do our part. i see you are all decked out in the stars and stripes because i want everyone who sees this ride go by to know that they are in the presence of heroes. some i have had the chance to meet before. i first met matt sloan when he was in a hospital recovering. he was in pretty rough shape. we hosted a dinner here recently and he had gained 40 pounds and was preparing for the wounded warriors games.
i offered him to dinners after he finished the first one kind of quick and he readily excepted. after he finished the first desert kind of quick, i offered him another one. it is the most anybody has ever eaten in the white house. [laughter] we have capt. ludwig smith here today. this is our first time back on a bike. she will be riding in tandem along megan spiker harris, who works with the wounded warrior project. it is good to have them both here. and then there are the shy brothers, eric and devon. when eric enlisted in the army, devon made a promise that, if he got hurt, he would finish with his brother started. eric was struck by a sniper and then given enlisted. now there ride a specially made tandem bike with devon leading
the way. they are taking on this latest challenge the way they have done every other, together. these men and women are inspiring. and it is also inspiring to me the families behind them, the moms and dads and brothers and sisters. the sons and daughters were standing by them through good times and bad paired your heroes, too. and michele and i look forward to any time we get to spend with military families. go out and cheer and say thanks, salute, and show your support. as commander in chief, a promise to do everything i can to make sure you get the care and benefits you deserve, that you have earned.
all of you who have served your country. that is why it is now time for your country to serve you. that is what you deserve here in america, to take care of our own. we're proud of you. your country is proud of you. and now we will see how you do taking the last round around the south lawn. but you have to take it on the horn. i don't want anybody cheating. [laughter] on your marks! but said! [horn] [applause] [cheers and applause] ♪
part of the constitution was important to them and why? today's second prize winner selected article i. >> i count on this. >> i am a 100 percent signed disabled veteran. i have been coming here for 30 years. >> i have heard [inaudible] several members of my family have worked for the post office for as long as i can remember. i am not sure what they would do. >> there is something that is so inexplicably powerful about a tangible link with another human being.
however, due to increasingly popularity of the internet, the post office has suffered a loss. it can be attributed to when the government made a decision to front load the retirement funds for the post office workers. >> many individuals throughout the country of express concerns about the potential post office closings, as it could in fact those heavily dependent on the post office. >> quite honestly i think there needs to be basic services surrendered to the american people, especially in light of the expenses. i constantly think about how much money is wasted in war. 60 billion has been misspent in
the iraq and afghanistan war. this is opposed to a $2 billion loss over five years, for the u.s. postal service. >> the more important question is what would happen for the rest of americans, particularly rural? does anybody think you would be able to send a letter from the florida keys to nome, alaska for 44 cents if government was not there providing that universal service mandate? none of us do. >> may i help you? >> i would like to cancel my mail. >> not all americans depend on the postal service as a means of communication. >> what about your bills? >> what about your cards and letters? >> email, fax machine.
telegram. >> all right. >> we value a letter over an e- mail any day. we of a lot of things that need cutting, but post offices are not among them. there is something special about a letter. we all like to get them. an e-mail has all of the charm of a freight train. >> she started a nationwide movement to save the post office. we sat down with him in new york to discuss the various reasons. >> many of the post offices that wanted to close are in inner cities. and under developed neighborhoods and low-income neighborhood spirit and they
tend to serve populations that are not on the internet, seniors who walked to the post office and depend on the post office for their medicine, so security checks. >> the post office is especially important in isolated communities. we traveled to is that this smallest post office. l li the person who delivers his mail from the post office has a daily route that stretches across three counties. >> [inaudible] i do understand when a decision needs to be made like that, but as soon as you say something like that, now i am thinking and our mentally.
bank of all the gas that is being wasted. pollution that is created from how many people that now have to move instead of one unit coming to one destination. i think it is wiser to have one of postal truck coming to one that location and people being able to get that, as opposed to people going to a different location. >> if you have a post office with 300 employees in it and you close that, it does not affect the 200 employees, it affects the families and businesses around the post office. the post office is about one trillion dollar economy in this country that employs 8 million other people. as the close, a lot of the community around those will be affected. ♪>
it is written in article i, selling cars they have the ability to do something about the situation. the post office is something americans need to provide a vital service, and without it, americans cannot operate. six days a week. a constitutional provision is sitting in my mailbox. i cannot imagine life without it. go to c-span.org to watch the winning videos and continue the conversation at our facebook and twitter pages. twitter pages.