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tv   U.S. House of Representatives  CSPAN  September 22, 2010 10:00am-1:00pm EDT

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adopting children. i know a little boy that was adopted by two men. they live near the state line. same-sex does not matter in pennsylvania. host: when we talk about money in the system, is there a concern, or do you have opinions about giving money to foster families? it is to help for the child, but can it enter into another dynamic? guest: is not free to take care of a child and a lot of foster parents go into this because they want to help. clearly, it is never an easy issue, but there is no other way to do it.
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host: republican, baltimore, good morning. caller: i have a question and comment. i am in baltimore city. my wife and i had temporary custody of the child. the thing that i was complaining about with social services, putting the child doctor's appointments and things like that, it is an enormous financial drain. we went to my lot trying to get financial assistance. they make a plan with you and they do not keep those appointments, people do not follow.
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i would never want to do it through baltimore city. in terms of making it, and with other organizations -- in terms of making it, and -- comment with other organizations. guest: i think that family service abuse could help with this if you wanted to take in a young teenage mother. if your question is about the level of commitment of the workers and their ability, think about how empower they are by public perception and the
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resources they are given. it's difficult, but easy to get down on people. you need to understand that they are really working hard, essentially. i do not know about your case specifically, but overall it is important to remember that social workers are basically doing. more reflective of a lack of having the tools to do affectively what they want to do. with limited tools, baltimore city has cut the numbers of children dramatically. the amount of communication between education and child welfare is very ahead of its time.
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your experience, notwithstanding, i think there is good coming out of baltimore city. host: thank you very much. there is a piece today in "the los angeles daily news." that is all for the program, thank you for joining us. we will now go to the senate homeland security and government affairs committee where chairman lieberman is going to be hosting a meeting about the ongoing threats. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010] .
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>> i was struck yesterday by reading a gallup poll in one of the newspapers that showed a
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significant decrease in concern about terrorism among the american people. now, this is understandable, particularly because of the stress that current economic conditions have put so many american families under, but as the three witnesses know very well, the threat is still all too real. our committee knows that as well. it's our job and yours to be focused on protecting our homeland and our people from violent extremist and terrorists no matter what the state of public opinion is about it at the moment, and that's why, of course, we are so happy that -- and grateful that you are here today. the tragedy of 9/11 is a daily reality for the three of you and the men and women, the thousands, tens of thousands of men and women who work with you
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every single day to ensure that such an attack never happens again. in some sense the three of you oversee a mighty force of literally hundreds of thousands of people that have been reorganized, augmented in the aftermath of 9/11 when the islamist extremist terrorists declared war on us and we responded, taking us into two active fields of combat, of course first in afghanistan then iraq, but involving us in unconventional battlefields all across the world. and quite significantly, which is the focus of our attention today, our homeland and the extent to which this enemy, unlike any we have ever faced, threatens our security, our way of life, our freedom, and is prepared to do so in
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extraordinarily inhumane ways right here at home. let me just share three observations about what i see over the last year, and i know that you will respond to this and other things in your opening statements. since our last threat assessment hearing a year ago, it's clear that there has been a marked increase in islamist terrorist attacks against us here at home. most incidents, thank god and thanks to you and all that work with you, have been thwarted. some really with extraordinary, almost miraculous work taking a shred of evidence, building on it, developing it, and finding the people who were planning the attack and stopping them, capturing them before they did. but the fact, i know you know
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very well, is that three of the attempted attacks in the last year by terrorists managed to break through our defenses. very different kinds of attacks. first the fort hood shooting last november, the christmas day attack in the time's square bombing attempt. and of course in the fort hood case, 13 people died at the hands of hassan. fortunately in the christmas day attempt in time's square, the explosives failed in both cases and no one was hurt. these attacks and others show the full range of threats we now face from lone wolves, if you will, freely operating terrorists like hassan who nonetheless was note vated by terrorists -- was motivated by terrorists, agitators from abroad, to homegrown terrorist cells such as the so-called the
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fort dix pliers to inexperienced but potentially deadly operatives, including american citizens directly trained by al qaeda or its affiliates around the world as the time's square bomber and the christmas day bomber. so that the first fact that comes out at me is that there's an increased pace of attacks against our home lapd in this war in which we are involved. most thwarted, but three broke through. second, since 2009 at least 63 american citizens have been charged or convicted for terrorism or related crimes. to me, stepping back and accumulating that number, that's an astoundingly high number of american citizens who have attacked or plan to attack their own country, our country. in addition to this number, an
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increasing number of americans are now actually in leadership positions in international terrorist groups. most notable is al alaqui whose writings has inspired several plots against the west over the last five years. in the case of the christmas day attack apparently played a direct operational role. adam who continues to serve as the chief propagandist for al qaeda, these are all americans with citizenship status. omar from alabama, convert to islam, featured prominently in recruiting videos and identified as an operational commander. one who grew up in the u.s. and has legal permanent residence status, now a senior al qaeda operative apparently responsible for the planned attack last year or involved in it on the new york subway system. this is quite significant to me
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that we've got this number of americans playing an active role. he know it's small portion of the american public, but it's still a growing number of americans and something to be concerned about in terms of homegrown terrorism and self-radicalization. the third fact is the growing role of the internet in self-radicalization and homegrown terrorism. and which raises the question of what we can do to combat the use of the internet for these purposes. many of those arrested in the last year have been radicalized online, influenced by al qaeda's core narrative that the u.s. is at war against islam, which has been taylored to a american english -- tailored to a american english speaking audience.
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they have adapted their online media strategies to mainstream websites and social networking tools. that's made it easier for people to access extremist material and has significantly raised the challenge to our counterterrorism agencies who we count on to discover and disrupt these terrorist plots. those are three changing, evolving factors that jump out at me and i look forward to your response to them. the bottom line is the fight againstis islamist extremism and terrorism sure looks like it's going to go on for a long time to come. it is the great security challenge of our time. we must confront with in lincoln's words, energy and sleepless vigilance until it is defeated. and again i thank the three of you and all who work with you
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for the extraordinary work that you're doing really 24/7, 365 days a year to make sure that we do succeed in this fight. thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman. nine years after the attacks of september 11, 2001, our government is challenged today by the evolving nature of the terrorist threat. we know that terrorists revise their tactics to adapt to the security measures that we put in place. as we have made it more difficult for terrorists to come in from abroad, we are seeing the escalation of a significant new threat that takes advantage of radicalized violent islamic extremists within our borders.
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foreign terrorist organizations are aggressively targeting these homegrown terrorists to carry out attacks. these home-based terrorists could decide to act independently as lone wolves motivated by terrorist's propaganda but acting on their own. others appear to be acting under the direction of foreign terrorist groups. to be sure overall the united states is far better prepared to confront the terrorist threat than we were nine years ago. since 9/11 we have created new security and intelligence systems to detect, deter, and defend against terrorism most notably through the intelligence reform and terrorism prevention act that senator lieberman and i
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co-authored. we have expanded our intelligence gathering and information sharing systems. we have erased bureaucratic barriers and dismantled silos. we have learned to fight an enemy that wears no official uniform, that has no borders, and that represents no state in the troo digsal sense of -- traditional sense of the word. the results have been significant. terrorist plots both at home and abroad have been thwarted. but the threat has not been neutralized. indeed, it is evolving and ever-changing and in some ways more dangerous than ever. it is a chameleon by design. al qaeda has extended its tentacles into regional terrorist organizations causing threats to emanate from new
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locations like yemen through the activities of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. aqap and the radicalized american who has ties to that terrorist organization were behind the attempt to detonate a bomb on a flight last christmas day and apparently were the inspiration for u.s. army psychiatrist major hassan's murderous attack alt fort hood. -- at fort hood. this committee has been sounding the alarm regarding homegrown terrorism since 2006 when we held our first hearing on the threat of violent radicalization within our prison system. in all, senator lieberman and i have held 11 hearings on this issue. our investigation has predicted a potential wave of future
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terrorist activity in this country. we warn that individuals within the u.s. could be inspired by al qaeda's violent ideology to plan and execute attacks even if they do not receive direct orders from al qaeda. unfortunately our warnings have proven to be prescient. in the past two years our nation has seen an escalation in the number of terrorist attacks with roots based in our own country. in fact, the congressional research service found that since just may of last year arrests have been made in 19 plots by u.s. citizens and residents compared to 21 plots during the 7 1/2 years from 9/11
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, 2001 to last may. that is an alarming significant increase. on the eve of our nation's 9/11 commemorations, the national security preparedness group led by lee hamilton and tom keane issued a timely report entitled assessing the terrorist threat. the report said that america continues to face serious threats from al qaeda affiliates around the world and from home-based terrorists. it warned of an increasingly wide range of u.s.-based jihadist militants who do not fit any particular ethnic, economic, educational, or social profile. it also sounded this grave warning. the american melting pot has not provided a firewall against the radicalization and recruitment
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of american citizens and residents though it has arguably lulled us into a sense of complacency that homegrown terrorism couldn't happen in the united states. initially i remember we thought this was a problem. that western europe would have, but that we would not have because of the differences in our culture. the keane/hamilton report called 2009 a water shed year in terrorist plots in the united states. as the chairman has been pointing out, the statistics are a call for alarm. in 2009 alone at least 43 american citizens or residents aligned with violent islamist the extremist were charged or convicted of terrorism crimes in the united states or elsewhere.
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and this year to date 20 have been similarly charged or convicted. we also are seeing the terrorist threat morph into another stage of development. while we must still remain focused on the catastrophic or spectacular attack on the scale of 9/11, i am convinced that terrorists are beginning to focus their efforts on smaller scale attacks with small arms and explosives such as we saw at fort hood, in arkansas, and in india. we must see the attacks and changing tactics for what they are, separate parts of a more dangerous pattern. the past two years have taught us through harsh lessons that we simply must increase our efforts. as the keane-hamilton report
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observed, it is fundamentally troubling that there remains no federal government agency or department specifically charged with identifying radicalization and interdicting the recruitment of u.s. citizens or residents for terrorism. we must redouble our efforts to better anticipate, analyze, and prepare. we must address what is quickly becoming a daunting and highly challenging crisis. this dangerous reality must be met with better security measures, innovative community outreach, and enhanced information sharing. most of all, we cannot risk another failure of imagination. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much, senator collins, for that excellent statement. secretary napolitano, welcome.
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let's begin with you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. senator collins, members of the committee, for the opportunity to be here today to testify on the terrorist threat to the united states and what d.h.s. is doing to combat it. i'm very pleased to be here as well with my colleague, the director of the f.b.i., the director of the nctc. we do a lot of this work together. as has been alluded to in our opening comments the threat of terrorism is constantly evolving and over the past years it has become more and more diverse. it is diverse filing in terms of sources. it is die first filing in terms of tactics. it is die first filing in terms -- diverse filing in terms of targets. in terms of sources the threat of terrorism is now emerging from more places than it was on 9/11. while al qaeda itself continues to threaten the united states,
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al qaeda also inspires an array of affiliated terrorist groups. some of these like the one in somalia have not tried to attack the united states, they have carried out attacks elsewhere, but they have leaders that espouse violent anti-american ideology. others like al qaeda in the arabian peninsula have attempted to attack the united states in the time's square and christmas day bombing attempts respectively. in addition, a new and changing facet of the terrorist threat comes from homegrown terrorists. by which i mean u.s. persons who are radicalized here and receive terrorist training either here or elsewhere and bring knowledge of the united states and the west to terrorist organizations. a clear trend in recent attacks has been the role of english language and online propaganda
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from operatives like al lack which a united states citizen based in yemen. we are also seeing more diversity in terms of tactics. recent events in intelligence show a trend toward, as you mentioned, senator collins, smaller, faster developing plots rather than larger longer term plots like 9/11. these plots may include the use of i.e.d.'s or teams who use small arms or explosives, both forms have been used abroad. the results of these changing actics are fewer opportunities -- tactics are fewer opportunities to detect and disrupt plots. now, we are also seeing greater diversity in the sense of targets. while some targets like commercial aviation remain constant, others like mass transit systems and chemical facilities are among critical infrastructure that terrorists could seek to strike.
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these elements which make the terrorist threat more diffuse also make it more difficult for law enforcement and the intelligence community to detect and disrupt. accordingly, we are moving forward in a variety of ways to counteract these evolving threats. the steps we are taking are not a panacea, they are substantially, however, strengthening our defenses against terrorism here at home. one step we are taking is getting information where it should be, when it should be there, and in the most useful format. in this threat environment it could very well be a local police officer who detects or disrupts a threat rather than intelligence analysts here in washington, d.c. that's why one of the top priorities for the department is to get information, tools, and resources out of washington and into the hands of the men and women on the frontlines. our centers which connect federal, state, and local law
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enforcement to first responders on the ground play a major role in identifying, preventing, and disrupting threats. we support these centers through d.h.s. personnel who work side by side with state and local law enforcement. we are also working with the justice department on the nationwide suspicious activity reporting system. otherwise known as sars, which standardizes ways for police to identify and report suspicious activities and report it back to federal intelligence so that they can be analyzed against current threat information to identify broader trends. we are supporting state and local law enforcement through homeland security grants, eliminating red tape so these grants can be used to sustain current programs rather than being forced to buy new equipment or technology each year. and also making it easier to use these funds to rehire and retain
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experienced first responder personnel. we are also working to raise public awareness through a campaign with the slogan, if you see something, say something. which was originally used by the m.t.a. in new york with homeland security grant funds. as we all remember, it was a new york city street vendor who tipped off the police about the bombing attempt in time's square and the passengers themselves who thwarted the attack on flight 253. now, we are also working with police and communities to counter violent extremism in cities and towns across our country. homeland security, in fact, begins with hometown security. so we are working with a variety of recommendations made by working group of our homeland security advisory council aid local law enforcement in this effort. specifically, d.h.s. is using proven community oriented policing techniques to develop
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training, hold regional summits for law enforcement to give them the tools they need to work with communities to combat sources of violence and detect threats when they arise. we are also working to strengthen security in several specific sectors. for example, this is not an exhaustive list, just examples, but in terms of aviation security, this next week we expect the international civil aviation organization, part of the u.n., to issue a historic international agreement on aviation security, strengthening security measures and tands around the globe. -- standards around the globe. and we continue to move forward to enhance surface transportation, security, working closely with amtrak and mass transit agencies around the country to integrate our information sharing efforts. the initiatives i have just listed are only a small part of the ongoing work at the
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department of homeland security and with the f.b.i. and the nctc. we are conducting initiatives every day to help secure the country. we are and will continue to do everything in our power to prevent attacks. but i want to emphasize that it is impossible to guarantee that there will never be another attack. we can't simply put the country under a glass dome. what we can do is take every possible step to provide those on the frontlines with the information, the tools, and resources they need to better secure our country. this is the homeland security architecture that we are building. and this is what the hardworking men and women of the department of homeland security are devoted to every day. thank you van hollen for the opportunity to be here. i -- thank you again for the opportunity to be here. i look forward to answering the committee's questions. >> thank you very much,
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secretary napolitano, to a good statement to begin our discussion with. director mueller, thanks for being here once again, and thanks for all the good work that you and everybody that works with you do every day. >> thank you, mr. chairman. senator collins, members of the committee. as you know the f.b.i.'s highest priority continues to be the prevention of terrorist attacks against the homeland. since 9/11 the threat from terrorism has evolved, as you pointed out, in ways that present new challenges for us and our partners. this morning let me focus on the most serious of these threats and give you some idea how we are moving to counter them. despite the significant counterterrorism pressure abroad, al qaeda continues to be committed to high profile attacks directed at the best including plans against europe as well as the homeland. recent investigations have revealed some shift in their strategy for these attacks. in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, al qaeda plots and plans focused on using individuals
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from the middle east or south asia for their attacks. since 2006, al qaeda has looked to recruit americans or westerners who are able to remain undetected by heightened security measures. for example, last year for the first time since september 11 al qaeda successfully trained and deployed an operative to the united states to carry out such an attack, an operative was not able, a u.s. permanent resident, was plotting to attack the new york subways. the threat from al qaeda affiliates has also evolved. as other terror groups have developed greater intent and capability to strike at the homeland. we are increasingly concerned about the threats from these groups operating from afghanistan, pakistan, yemen, somalia, iraq, their threats focus more on homeland attacks now as we saw with christmas day and time's square attempted bombings. of course these groups are also
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seeking to recruit extremists from the west. cooperation between al qaeda and other terrorist groups has changed in the past year. suggesting that this threat may increase. sharing financial resources, training, and recruits, these groups have been able to withstand significant counterterrorism pressure from the u.s., coalition, and local government forces. as both of you have pointed out, threats from homeland, homegrown, violent extremists, also poses a significant concern to the united states. these individuals may be inspired by the global jihadist movement, or use the internet to connect with other extremists, even if they don't receive direct guidance or training from a terrorist group. often they have diverse backgrounds and life experiences, as well as differing motivations. based on cases from the past year, homegrown extremists are more sophisticated, harder to detect, and better able to connect with other extremists.
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in certain cases they are more operationally capable than what we have previously seen. moreover, the internet has expanded as a platform for spread being extremist propaganda, a tool for online recruiting, and a medium for social networking with like-minded extremists. this has contributed to the threat from homegrown radicalization in the united states. we also face a continuing threat from u.s. persons travelling overseas, traveling overseas to conflict zones seeking terrorist training or combat experience. the motivations and backgrounds of these individuals vary, once americans travel overseas and make connection was extremists on the ground, they become targets for use and plots to attack the homeland as we saw with the time's square attempted bombing. in particular, somalia has drawn the attention of american extremists as more than two dozen americans have made it there to train or to fight in
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the past few years. recent disruptions inside the united states show some americans still desire to travel to somalia for extremist purposes. to counter these threats the f.b.i. has joined with our federal partners and with state and local law enforcement and more than 100 joint terrorist task forces. those task forces operate nationwide to dismantle terrorist plots. our partnerships are critical to the understanding of the threat environment and protect our nation and its citizens. in the f.b.i. along with the department of homeland security, nctc is also committed to a nationwide approach for participating in state and local fusion centers. the f.b.i., the national counterterrorism center, and d.h.s. have also joined together on initiatives to enhance our understanding of homegrown violent extremism. we also continue to work with d.h.s. to issue joint intelligence products on radicalization for our federal,
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state, and our local partners. since the 9/11 attacks, the f.b.i. has developed an extensive outreach program to the muslim, south arabian, and sikh communities in order to develop trusses, express concerns, and dispel myths about the f.b.i. and our government. in 2009 we established specialized community outreach teams composed of special agents, analysts, community outreach specialists to assist our field offices, establish new contacts with key communities, and work with d.h.s. to address these concerns. let me conclude by thanking this committee for its service and support. on behalf of the men and women of the f.b.i., i look forward to working with you to continue to improve the f.b.i. and help to keep america safe. i of course would be happy to answer any questions you might have, sir. >> thank you, director mueller. i want to come back to the beginning of your statement. you said something that is significant which is that the f.b.i.'s number one priority
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continues to be the prevention of terrorist attacks against the united states. i know that's the truth. and your statement reminds us of how much our government has reorganized, refocused, expanded in response to 9/11 to prevent terrorist attacks against our homeland. we've got two agencies here who didn't exist on 9/11. homeland security and nctc. and in the case of the f.b.i. an agency that was somewhat involved in counterterrorism but has greatly increased its role. involved with not only law enforcement but prevention. so i hope that is something noticed not only by the american people but by those who would think of attacking us. michael ryder is the director of the national counterterrorism center which was one of the most significant results of the 9/11 commission report and the
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intelligence reform act that began in this committee and past congress signed by president bush. thanks for being here. >> it's my pleasure. thank you chairman lieberman, senator collins, distinguished members. it's always good to be here, especially with director mueller and secretary napolitano. i can tell you there is virtually no terrorist event or issue that comes up that the threat of us -- three of us do not work in a very close partnership. chairman lieberman, senator collins as you have already noted, the past year has noted the most significant developments in terrorism since 9/11. the three attempted homeland attacks during the past year from oversea based groups, and the two lone wolf attacks here in the united states, carlos bledsoe and arkansas hassan surpassed the number and pace of attacks during any year since netch. the range of al qaeda core
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affiliated and allies plotting against the homeland during the past year suggest the threat has in fact grown far more complex and underscores the challenges of identifying and countering a more diverse array of threats to the homeland. al qaeda's affiliates and ally's increasing ability to provide training, guidance, and support for attacks against the u.s. makes it very difficult to anticipate the precise nature of the next attack and from where it might come. the regional affiliates that have grown and al kies have been able to -- allies have been able to compensate to some extent for the decreased willingness of al qaeda and pakistan to accept and train new recruits. and additional attempts by al qaeda affiliates and allies to attack the u.s., particularly attempts in the homeland, could attract the attention of even more western recruits, thereby increasing those groups' threat to the homeland. even failed attacks such as aqap's and ttp's attempts this
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past year due to some extent further al qaeda's goal of foe e-ing terrorist attacks--fomenting terrorist attacks against the west. today al qaeda and pakistan is at one of its weakest points organizationally, i would stress that the group has time and time again proven its resilience and remains a very capable enemy. the threat to the home lapd is as you have noted compounded significantly by operationally distinct plotting against the u.s. by its allies, affiliates, and sympathizers. with respect to regional affiliates, i think it's worth highlighting four of particular concern. first and most notably is al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, and yemen. we suggest it continues to most significant threats and it continues to plot against the homeland. of additional note as both
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senator lieberman and senator collins noted, dual citizen, who played a dig role in the attempted airliner attack over detroit, continues to be a key concern given his familiarity with the west and his participation in aqap external operations. in addition, east africa remains a kilo cal for al qaeda associates -- key locale for al qaeda associates. some leaders share al qaeda's ideology and publicly praise the osama bin laden and asked for further guidance from the group and as director mueller noted, more than two dozen americans, most ethnic somalia, but not all, have traveled to fight there since 2006. of course the potential for those trainees to return to the united states or elsewhere in the west remains a very significant concern. i think it is also worth noting that al shabab has vividly
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illustrated its shipment to attacking outside somalia, most tragically in the waning days of africa's first ever world cup with the deadly attack, series of coordinated deadly attacks in kampala. in north africa remains a persistent threat to the u.s. and western interests, primarily in the form of kidnapping and ransoms, but we are, of course, concerned with their potential to reach beyond north africa. finally, in iraq although the ct success vs. greatly diminished al qaeda in iraq's effectiveness, we continue to see them as a key al qaeda affiliate and having continued interest in attacking beyond iraq. now, as this committee has very effectively noted, despite homegrown violent extremism, it's indicative of a common cause that has undoubtedly rallied some individuals within
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the united states to al qaeda's banner. and plots disrupted in new york, north carolina, arkansas, alaska, texas, all of these were operationally distinct but are indictive of a collective subculture and common cause that has rallied these independent extremists and undoubtedly the internet, as you noted, has been a significant factor in many of these attacks. or plots. now, although we are focusing on al qaeda today, i do believe it's important to note we continue to try to keep our eye on groups like hamas, and hezbollah, that threaten u.s. interests abroad and potentially within the united states. given this very diverse landscape and especially the failed attack over detroit on christmas day, at your instruction and the president's direction, we have implemented several changes to try to address the diversity of this threat. as you know, nctc led the
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director of national intelligences master action plan to make sure analytic resources were appropriately aligned with this new threat and to appropriately allocate additional resources that the congress generously gave the counterterrorism community. second, we created pursuit groups which focus at a very granular level on those issues which might not immediately appear to be threats to the homeland but can as in cases like christmas day manifest themselves in tragic ways. in addition, we have worked with the entire agency, especially d.h.s. and f.b.i. to review watching listing protocols and improve our watch listing effort. finally, we have spent significant time and effort and leadership on developing an improved information technology infrastructure to better meet the demands of increased information sharing with this diverse threat. finally, as this committee knows
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nctc has both an intelligence and policy responsibility for coordinating across the u.s. government. that front, although i don't want to speak about all of those areas, i would like to briefly speak to our efforts to coordinate combating violent extremism, especially here in the homeland. and senator collins, you noted the quote from the keane-hamilton group we were somehow lull food a sense of complacency about homegrown extremism. i will take the liberty of speaking for everyone at this table and tell you that none of us nor anyone in our organizations were lulled into any sense of complacency. to the extent there was complacency, i think it occurred outside not inside the counterterrorism community. what i would note there is some truth to the idea that no one single organization is responsible for countering radicalization. from my perspective that is a good thing. in fact, there is centralized policy oversight of combatant
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violent extremism at the national security counsel. there is centralized corgs -- coordination of those efforts, and there is also a centralized assessment of the effectiveness of those programs at nctc, providing that to the white house. what there is, though, is decentralized execution of programs related to countering violent extremism in the homeland. from my perspective i think that is particularly important because the issue is so complex that no one organization, f.b.i., department of justice, or d.h.s. is in a position to address all of the factors of violent extremism. so i think it can be somewhat misleading to suggest that no one is in charge. i think there is centralized coordination and decentralized execution of the programs which have to be very varied to combat a varied threat. i'm happy to discuss this more on your questions. in conclusion, i, again, want to
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thank this committee, this committee was instrumental in the creation of nctc and department of homeland security. this committee has helped us keep our eye on the ball for violent extremism both domestically and abroad, and i look forward to continuing to work with this committee as the challenges do change and we hope we get on top of this threat. thank you. >> thank you very much, director. we'll do seven-minute rounds of questioning. let me begin with a current situation and ask you to respond to the extent that you can. i'm going from public sources here. there have been public statements over the last month by homeland security officials in europe, particularly france, england, and germany about heightened threat levels. and i wonder if you would care to comment at all, particularly whether the statements and
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actions taken in europe suggest the same for -- that is to say a heightened threat level for the u.s. homeland as well. secretary napolitano? >> mr. chairman, thank you. there have been a number of activities in europe. we are in constant contact with our colleagues abroad, indeed i'll be at a meeting next week on this topic. i think in an open setting suffice it to say that we are all seeing increased activity by a more diverse set of groups and more diverse set of threats. and that that activity, much of which is islamist in nature, is
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directed at the west generally. >> director mueller, do you want to add anything to that? >> mr. chairman, i would largely echo what the secretary said. one thing i would note is that these levels, although they are only apparent to the public sometimes, are constantly up and down for us. we track a lot of things that never become public and we don't want them to because that would undermine our ability to disrupt those threats. september 11 and the period around that is also a time of elevated threat and i think we have worked quite closely with our european counterparts on some specific issues because we don't see anything in particular, but we have to assume any threat against the west can also implicate the homeland. >> i appreciate that response. in fact the three of you are on top of it. let me go to one of the conclusion that is we have all
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drawn which is that the pace of islamist terrorist attacks or attempted attacks against the u.s. in the last year has gone up. the number is greater. i hear at least two causes that i think explain that from your testimony. one is the increase in attempted attacks by global terrorist organizations or by foreign terrorist organizations other than al qaeda who were created for more local foreign purposes, somalia, other groups that related to problems in kashmir and pakistan. that's one. the second is the in-- increase in homegrown radicalization. are those the two that explain this increase that we are seeing in attacks against the u.s. homeland? or is there something more? has there been a judgment made
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at the top of the al qaeda, principle, that it's time to -- maybe director, mueller. >> let me start if i could say and say the third factor quite probably is the examples of mumbai and hassan, fort hood. again the ability to undertake terrorist attack was very few people but launched pursuant to the ideology and desire for -- to expand jihadist extremism. and understanding that launching a larger attack, perhaps more devastating attack, is not worth the additional effort when you can get a substantial coverage and impact with smaller attacks. >> ok. understood. so that not that a large sophisticated 9/11 attack is not possible, again, it's always possible, but that for now the
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direction of the enemy is on smaller scale, more individual attacks that, as they have seen, nonetheless even when they fail, as they did on christmas day in time's square, unsettle our country and receive a lot of attention. so, what about -- the question of why there are more americans involved. is this just the obvious that the process of homegrown radicalization? we talked about this, homegrown radicalization, the use of the internet is growing greater. or is there something else happening here? secretary napolitano? >> mr. chairman, i think that we do not yet have a complete understanding of what would cause a united states person to become radicalized to the extent of violence, extent of traveling to the fattah to train and returning to the united states. but as director leiter said, we
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are looking at what is the continue yume of activity. where is -- continuum of activity. where is the best place we could possibly intervene? what we are doing at the department of homeland security is really working with a community policing strategy. that is to say really educating local police departments, arming them with intel products that we jointly develop so they can walk for tactics and trends to prevent one of those persons from being actually able to carry out an attack. so we have really focused on acknowledging the phenomenon exists. what do we do from a law enforcement perspective to minimize the risk that they can commit something of violence and do it successfully? >> director leiter, you responded in your opening statement to senator collins' reference to the keane-hamilton
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report. they said in their report, there remains no federal government agency or department specifically charged with identifying radicalization and interdicting the recruitment of u.s. citizens or residents for terrorism. but i heard you to say in your opening statement that the national counterterrorism center is that agency. am i right? >> we are the organization responsible in conjunction with the national security council for helping to coordinate what different departments and agencies are doing. i think in terms of identifying people who are radicalized and the factors that go into that radicalization, our closest partners in that are f.b.i. and d.h.s. director mueller can address what they do, but the basic idea is f.b.i. is the investigative piece. d.h.s. is working with state, local, tribal officials, private sector, and awareness and working with the communities. and nctc is trying to piece together the foreign perspective and domestic perspective into
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one cohesive picture where we see that radicalization. >> my time's running out. let me ask you this follow-up question. we have heard from leaders in the muslim american community that different federal government agencies have their own outreach efforts to the community which at times don't appear to be closely coordinated. obviously this community, state for the record, we all know it, overwhelmingly patriotic law-abiding americans, but the problem is coming from a small group of people in that community who can cause our country terrible damage. so in some sense they are within the community the first line of defense in noticing potential trouble. just any of you, give me your response to that. are we adequately coordinating our outreach to the muslim american community and their cooperation with us in this counterterrorism effort? let me start if i could --
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>> let me start if i could by saying, since september 11 we have 56 field offices, 400 agencies in the f.b.i. since september 11 every one of those entities in the united states has been engaged in outreach effort to the muslim community from the bottom all the way to the top. my message to the muslim community is, the worst thing that could happen to the muslim community is another attack. we need your help. law enforcement can't do it yourself. and we through a variety of mechanisms to bring the community in so that they understand the f.b.i., have been doing this since september 11. there are additional areas of activity that have grown over a period of time and i do believe that the coordination is successful with nctc. inevitably there will be particular areas where coordination doesn't go as well as you would like, but i think generally it's good. the other thing to remember is
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that we also have the responsibility for investigating civil rights offenses. and we want to make certain that the muslim community understands whenever there is an offense that falls within that purview we are out there investigating that and making sure the persons responsible are brought to justice. i do believe we have substantial outreach -- we have had it for a number of years. it doesn't mean it can't be improved. but that it's moving in the right direction, but is contributing substantially and in coordination with the other partners. >> i think i should leave that at that because i'm over my time. senator collins. >> i was just going to add, mr. chairman, that if the comment there is too much outreach and not too little, it seems to me we can't do enough outreach in this setting. >> i agree. the comment was it's not coordinated. maybe i'm come back to you on the next round. thank you. senator collins. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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i want to ask each of you a basic question. we have seen a dramatic spike in the number of attempted and successful attacks during the past year and a half. do you believe this is an aberration or is this likely to continue? madam secretary, we'll start with you. >> i think that caution would dictate that we assume it is not an aberration. that we are going to see increased diversification of groups of tactics on targets. and that means we have to continue to work on keeping state and locals prepared and informed. that means information sharing is at a premium. it means we need to involve the entire united states citizenry,
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that's why we have campaigns like see something, say something. it means that we have to be very resilient should one of the attacks actually succeed. >> director mueller. >> as the secretary says we have to assume it is not an aberration. i do think it is in part a contingent on what happens overseas, whether it be in yemen or somalia or pakistan. and that the seriousness and effectiveness of the threat will be reduced in some part with our success overseas. most of the individuals who have been radicalized in the united states have been radicalized by influences outside the united states as opposed to being radicalized by influence in the united states. and to the extent that we can address those radicalizing influences, whether it be in yemen or somalia or pakistan or afghanistan or elsewhere, to that extent i also think it is important to reducing the level of the threat. >> director leiter.
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>> i would agree with director mueller that the outside influences are very, very important here. right now we don't see any great likelihood of those diminishing any time in the future, nor do we see any indicators within the united states of a significant dropoff in radical scation. -- radicalization. what i would say is the silver lining, i hope is, that through greater awareness and engagement with these communities of the risks to their children of traveling overseas to somalia or yemen that the community engagement will over time reduce the likelihood of radicalization. .
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difficult to address. we have a number of ways to do that looking through technology, the money transfers or most particularly the use of sources but substantial problem with challenges to being successful and turning it off. >> should there be greater regulation of it? justice, i have to look at what the -- >> i have to look at what the regulations it is. it gives us some insight into the purpose of the transfers is beneficial to our abilities to stop that stream of funding. >> mr. leiter, in the wake of the christmas day attempted bombing, we held hearings at
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which your deputy, mr. travers, talked about the problems of linking databases and he testified that had information been linked with the cable from the embassy in nigeria with information in other databases it would have supported a watch listing nomination that would have stopped abdu mutallab from flying into the united states. he went on to say that the government needs to improve its ability to piece together this partial information that is in various databases. what was disturbing to me, however, is mr. travers went on to say that there were policy limitations and legal limitations that must be addressed to enable effective information sharing. we have asked over and over and
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over again what are those policy and legal limitations because we want to address them. we want this information sharing which is so vital to be improved so that the vital information can be linked while protecting obviously privacy and civil liberty rights. and we have heard from technology experts that of fed rated linkages is possible, that this is not a technical problem. so what is the problem? what are the legal and policy constraints? >> senator collins, i'm happy to come up and spend time with the committee and walk through them in great detail and will tell you that given the multitude of databases that exists, hundreds of databases that might be relevant to some
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of these challenges, there are a multitude of challenges. i'll give you some specific examples. there are some issues -- i have written a letter to the senate intelligence committee about, regarding foia and which foia reduced the incentive for c.i.a. to provide nctc certain data. as senator napolitano well knows, there are significant policy issues with the european union and passenger name recognition to the u.s. government in retention periods which could inhibit the effective use of operations and investigations. similarly, as i know you're well aware, the complexities of the fisa act and the various amendments to the fisa act had certain limitations on how various persons, the very, very appropriate limitations on how u.s. persons' information can be handled. each of these are examples as
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to how, although we can have a fed rated search, it is sometimes difficult to fully integrate databases in a way that the computers connect information prior to an individual having to dive into a specific database and find that information. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think this is an issue that we do need to work further on. we have talked about it for months, but we've never received the specifics from the administration. >> i absolutely agree with you, senator collins. and we will do that. i just want to pick up on one comment response to senator collins' questions about the threat to our homeland and you said that the extent of the threat really depends a lot on what's happening in places far away like yemen and somalia or pakistan and it reminds us of the -- what i suppose is obvious to you all which is that this war with islamist extremism is really a world
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war. so what happens far away really affects our security here at home. and, therefore, the ongoing u.s. and allied efforts in countries like yemen, somalia and pakistan against extremists is important to what you're doing here at home. in the appearance among the senators present, senator mccain is next. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. leiter, if the united states captures terrorists tomorrow outside the united states, iraq or afghanistan, where would we detain that person for purposes of interrogation? >> senator, i think it would obviously depend on part of the circumstances of the capture, but i believe that he can be detained by u.s. military forces or potentially defeigned by the country in which he was captured. >> it would be detained where? >> or potentially could be
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turned over to the country in which he was captured or his home country. >> a terrorist that is intent on -- that is apprehended and attempting to inflict an act against the united states of america would be turned over to the host country? >> senator, as i said, it depends on many, many factors. it could be detained -- i'm not an expert on law of war and d.o.d. authorities, but obviously if captured by the u.s. military there is an ability to be detained there or in some circumstances host nations or an individual's host country if they are a willing partner with the united states. >> well, maybe you can look into it and give us a better answer. that's not a good answer. mr. leiter, recent plea secretary clinton said that the situation and violence in mexico is now comparable to that of colombia in the 1980's.
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do you agree with that assessment? >> senator, i would actually have to defer to secretary napolitano and mr. mueller. >> let me ask them. mr. mueller. >> senator, i am in no situation of what happened in colombia five or six years to what is happening in mexico now. >> you have no ability to do that? >> well is i am somewhat familiar with what happened in colombia and what has changed in colombia since them. but the structure of the different feuding factions in colombia is different than the types of feuding factions than what you have in mexico today. you had the farca which was involved in narcotics trafficking with an infrastructure -- which is far different than the colliding cartels today. so i'm not certain how you would compare what happened five, six, seven years ago in colombia with what is happening
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in mexico, although i do believe that some of the success of what we've seen in colombia should be -- some of the mechanisms that contributed to the successes in colombia should be adopted by mexico. >> you do agree that there's been a dramatic increase in violence in mexico in all areas ranging from assassination and kidnapping of journalists to assassination and murder of 72 immigrants from other countries, including 14 women? would you agree that the violence in mexico is dramathically escalated in the last three -- dramatically escalated in the last three to four years? >> yes. >> would you say it increases the threat of national security threat on the other side of our border? >> yes. >> secretary napolitano? >> i think that's right.
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and particularly and some of the states of northern mexico, chihuahua, for example, homicide rates are up dramatically. attacks on government. of course, we saw the paper in juarez just a few days ago on the front page editorial saying, "what do we need to do?" >> so wouldn't that lead one to the concern that -- with still hundreds of thousands of people crossing our border illegally that a terrorist act could be committed on the united states of america? >> senator, i think -- >> since there have been threats by the cart tells alone to do -- cartels alone to do so? >> that goes to all of the efforts that are going on with mexico in mexico and along the southwest border. but to the extent, yes. we see groups in mexico, the large drug cartels.
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now, the plain fact of the matter is illegal immigration, while still too high, is down significantly. the plain fact that drug seize yours, cash seize yours and gun seize yours are up -- seizures are up significantly. there is more manpower, technology at the border is going to the border. but it is also true that the situation in mexico is very, very serious and we've seen it escalate in the past several years. >> and does that mean that the situation in mexico has worsened over the last couple of years or improved? >> i think in terms of the violent crime in mexico it has worsened. >> you know, secretary napolitano, there's an old saying about your duties, it's not an hol policy. it's not where you stand, it's
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where you sit. in 2008 you sent a letter to secretary chertoff saying, and i quote, arguing for help on the border you said, "human and drug smuggling rings continue in arizona using or elite. cities as major hubs to transport crossers throughout the country. we wait for real progress on the virtual fence." and we know there's not been progress on the virtual fence. "border communities in arizona will continue to be strained of the millions in border security." then, of course, just last week you said, secretary napolitano said, "he's the governor. he has the ability to bring up national guard if he's willing to pay for them. that's always an option available to the governor. at the same time suing the state of arizona for trying to
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get its border secure by enacting legislation to try to address the issue of illegal immigrants in our state which is a federal responsibility." all that in the backdrop of apparently that there will be new policy or i.c.e., according to fox news report, i.c.e. proposes new policy that would let illegal immigrants grow -- go free. according to a news report in other other news reports, proposed changes in i.c.e. policy states, "it should not offer detainers against an alien charged only with a traffic-related misdemeanor unless or until the alien is convicted." the i.c.e. proposal would prevent law enforcement officers from reporting illegal immigrants identified during the course of a traffic-related stop or arrest to federal
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authorities unless they are convicted felon, they are wanted for a felony, they're part of an existing investigation, they were involved in an accident involving drugs or alcohol or they fled the scene. apparently the draft proposal was posted on i.c.e.'s website last month. could you testify as to what in the world is going on here? >> yeah, sure can. >> good. >> i'd be happy to. first of all, wherery sit has not changed my position. >> clearly you have. >> no. i disagree, mr. -- senator. but what we have done in the past two years is put more resources at the southwest border than ever before. both in terms of federal and providing resources to the states. i'm not going to get into the tid for at that time with governor perry. i think -- tid for tat with
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governor perry. i do think that i.c.e. has put out guidance in focusing on criminal aliens. we will be removing more criminal aliens from this country than ever before. i think that's the right policy. criminal aliens, felony fugitives, those in our country illegally, also endangering public safety. however, i.c.e. has not said in any formal policy that others will not be detained. so i'd be happy to respond in writing to i think the i.c.e. comments that you have. i think they're misconstrued, misinterpreted and just wrong. i'd also be happy to put in the hearing record the entire record of d.h.s. on the border. >> so it is not true that the i.c.e. has proposed that would prevent -- would enact a policy that would prevent law enforcement officers from
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reporting illegal immigrants identified during the course of a traffic-related stop or arrest to federal authorities unless -- >> what it has issued guidance on is to prioritize those who are convicted felons, those who are committed violent crimes, these who are felony fugitives, those who are gang members and our removal of those individuals are at record numbers. >> the question is, would the -- would it prevent law enforcement officers from reporting illegal immigrants identified during the course of a traffic-related stop? >> no. >> it would not? >> no. >> that proposal as posted on the website of i.c. is not true? >> that is not the policy of i.c.e. >> i thank you. i know that you are very busy but from my visits to the
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southern part of our state, they don't see this dramatic improvement, madam secretary. in fact, they're more worried than they've ever been. they see continued home invasions. they see continued requirement for our government to put up signs that say warning to our citizens that they are in a, quote, drug smuggling area and human smuggling y. they don't have the same security that people do in other parts of our country. our wildlife refuges continue to be trashed. the treatment and horrible abuses that are committed by these coyotes and human and drug smugglers who are basically the same now are at least in the view of my citizens, the ones i represent, they have seen actually not any improvement.
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they have seen conditions worse. and they live there. >> senator, may i -- again, i'd be happy to come and brief you personally because we are in constant contact with those very citizens, at least in law enforcement. all i can do is say, look, i measure what we're doing by the results and by the numbers and what should be going up is going up. what should be going down is going down. however, the situation in mexico is very, very serious and it does demand our utmost attention, you're correct about that. >> well -- could i just finally monday? let's get sheriff larry dever in which secretary napolitano says she's in contact with and they tell you they're the law enforcement people, they're down the there on the front line and they say they'll -- >> we will a have sheriff ogden and other sheriffs as well.
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let's get them all up here. >> thank you, both. >> thank you, secretary napolitano. >> let's go to senator brown who can bring some sheriffs from massachusetts. >> thank you, mr. chairman. just as a follow-up to senator mccain. what is the -- do you consider people who cross our border without proper authority or paper to be here illegally? >> yes. >> and if that's the case, especially in arizona and the surrounding area, what's your policy and the administration's policy with regard to when you in fact stop somebody, whether it's through a traffic stop or some other means, what actually happens to those individuals? what's your policy and recommendation and the administration's? >> well, it depends on the circumstances of the stop and it depends on the -- >> assuming the stop is legal. all that law stuff which we all know. what happens? what's the position? are they then subjected to being deported or does it depend on whether they are a
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violent offender? >> no. they will be recorded. they will be put into the immigration system. they may or may not be detained which is -- >> that's where i'm a little confused. they're either here illegally or not. are they supposed to be detained or not? >> it depends on the availability, quite frankly, the seriously of the offender and the availability of bed space. and this is a real problem along the border. we don't have enough beds. as senators who are from the border recognize and we've testified before. there are not beds to detain everybody who crosses the border. and so what happens is some of them who are here illegally -- and that is their offense. they've crossed illegally but they've committed no other crime, they will be put into an administrative procedure. if, however, it's somebody who crossed illegally and they have a felony record or gang member, there's somebody who's a
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fugitive, then we'll be able to seek detention and removal. >> and is there a plan to ultimately secure the border? as senator mccain and others and senator kyl and others? i remember down there visiting, i was surprised. you have almost one section of the country that has a double fence and they're secure. and other part of the state, i'm sorry, is somewhat porous. is there a plan, do you have a plan? i know when you were the governor you had the very same concerns. >> well, and those concerns have been the concerns that i've been acting on as secretary. and we have built a fence -- i think the congress has appropriated enough money for a 700 miles of fence, roughly and we have built all but a few and that's up. but you cants just rely on fence. you have -- and you can't just rely on fence. you have to have manpower and technology. as i told senator mccain, more is on the way.
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>> let me say that i appreciate all the efforts of all of you and our law enforcement trying to battle daily to try to keep our country safe. and that i think is -- aside from our economic problems that we're having, our national security and international security is the number one threat that faces us. and quite frankly we don't get our economy squared away we are going to have some difficulty, i feel, dealing with a lot of the national security obligations that we have not only locally but we have throughout the world and helping our international friends. and director leiter, just eight months ago you indicated that after the christmas day bombing you announced the creation of pursuit teams who chase leads and connecting dots. have you seen any benefits of these teams in place? are there any benefits in fact
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because of that that you've seen and have we caught any intelligence links that we might have otherwise missed? >> senator, they are in place. they are more there are -- there are more than 50 analysts working on them. i would also note that something we add since that last testimony, some of them are merged components with f.b.i. investigative groups to further increase information sharing. we have seen benefit. we have f.b.i. cases that have been open because of pursued group leads that would otherwise have not been uncovered. we've enhanced numerous watch listing efforts that would not otherwise have been enhanced. i think we've done a better job since christmas day of identifying new cases domestically and overseas and enhancing our understanding of individuals. >> would you suggest that d.h.s. and f.b.i. would benefit from adopting that model as well or are they or -- >> i think for the f.b.i., again, the jointness of the groups from my perspective, that is the f.b.i. doing it
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with us. and i think that's the optimal way to do it. we are co-locating members from intelligence components to enhance the transfer of information as we uncover something immediately into secretary napolitano's area of responsibility of sitting screening standards and the like. >> and could you give me an assessment of what you feel hezbollah's terrorist capabilities are as to how they effect the united states? >> hezbollah remains a highly effective terrorist organization and political organization with quite incredible capability, both within the lavant but also elsewhere. they have a global met work of -- network of individuals. they have used things in the past against israel. the big question mark for us has been not their capability but their intent. currently we do not assess there to be a clear intent to attack the united states, but should that intent change they
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undoubtedly have the capability to launch attacks against the u.s. and the west on a relatively global scale. >> i know iran is the chief sponsor of their money and weaponry. >> yes. >> that's still the case? >> that's still the case. >> do you think if there's an escalation between iran and israel we will see more of a threat here in the united states? >> yes. >> and then to shift gears a little bit. how have you noticed that the coordination between the state and local intel shops, how closely does the nctc work with, for example, the boston police department and nypd and those loke a.o.l. -- local authorities because i know the secretary said it needs to be a neighborhood effort, statewide basis, what's your experience been? >> first and foremost, everything we do is in conjunction through d.h.s. and f.b.i. we think that's critical
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because what we heard from state and local, we -- they want to understand who's doing what. what we try to do is take that national level intelligence and work with d.h.s. and f.b.i. to get it down to a level to where it's actually useful to state and local officials. either through jtcs or infusion centers. i'd notice that boston and new york are two organizations where we've always had a close relationship with. i have an new york detective and boston lieutenant who leads an organization that works with -- that is led by d.h.s. but is with nctc. we ran an exercise on information sharing and terrorist threats with the city of boston. >> and if i could just, mr. chairman, follow-up with the -- remaining two folks that are
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testifying. that same question, how are you noticing the relationship between the state and local? i'd like to convey, when we do know of an i shall sue that's happening in our state, i think it's important. let us know. the senators, the congressmen that are dealing with it so we can work with you in concert with the public relations, somewhat, or just getting the word out in a respectful and responsible manner. so if you two could comment on that same question which is between the state and local intel shops, how do they work with you all? and then i would be done, mr. chairman. thank you. >> we have very successful joint terrorism task force in massachusetts. we also have branches in states to the north in which the boston police department, state police and other police departments and organizations contribute to persons who work on the joint terrorism task forces are given top secret clearances.
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they have access to everything we have. whenever there is a threat, it is -- the information is distributed to those who will be responsible for that threat and if it -- is at the top secret level we get it out so it can be more widely disseminated. i ask you to go down and sit with the joint terrorism task force and be briefed not only what the composition of the task force is but what they're looking for. >> i have and i will again. thank you. >> likewise, senator, fusion centers are somewhat different than jtcs. they complement each other and we would be happy to get you briefed up on what's happening in massachusetts. >> that would be wonderful. thank you. >> thank you, senator brown. senator levin. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for holding these hearings as you have so consistently.
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during a similar hearing last year, i asked a question whether or not someone who's in local law enforcement who arrests somebody for suspicion of commission of a crime could call a single place or find out from a single location whether or not there's any information that this person may be engaged in terrorist activities. and secretary napolitano, i think at that time you testified that the ability to fuse that information to get it available to the officer on the street was a work in progress. i'm wondering whether or not progress has been made on that in the last year? >> yes. i think significant progress has been made. and if there were arrests on that basis and the person were to run a name and any other identifiers through either the jttf or the fusion center there would be an ability to cross-check it against different databases. >> and how many databases are not included in information and
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how many are? is there a majority of sources of information 2/3, 3/4 and are we improving that number? >> we are definitely improving that number. there are a lot of databases. i think the search engines have been improved as well. i know at d.h.s., for example, there are at least 47 different databases against such information can be run. >> well, how many are you seeking that you haven't yet gotten? >> let me provide you with that information. >> will you do that for the record? >> absolutely. >> the 50 states now form nearly two million new corporations and limited liability companies each year without knowing who actually owns them. the failure to collect ownership invites wrongdoers to
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misuse it for money laundering, tax evasion or other crimes. it's a subject which this committee has been examining for a number of years now. just one example how corporations that are being misused by terrorists, a man named victor boot, a russian arms dealer, has been indicted in the united states for the following -- conspiracy to kill u.s. nationals, u.s. anti-aircraft missiles, provide material to support terrorist organizations. he carried out his activities in part by using shell companies, including a number of them about 10 right here in the united states. we're trying to extradite mr. boot right now from thyland. -- thyland. in a g.a.o. report four years ago the f.b.i. was quoted saying that u.s. shell companies with hidden owners had been used to launder as much as $36 billion from the former soviet union and were
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involved in most of over 100 stock market manipulation cases. and many other reports have followed since then. corporations have been misused for drug trafficking, financial crime and more, yet, we continue to have a corporation formation regime in this country that does not require people forming corporations to provide information about the real owners. i believe every other country does make that requirement. you have to provide more information to a state in order to get a driver's license in this country than to form a new corporation. and we properly criticize tax havens who create these shell corporations as mechanisms which frustrate law enforcement and yet we ourselves have not taken the action that is so important to law enforcement as law enforcement has testified here consistently. your predecessor, secretary napolitano, michael chertoff,
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testified to this committee about law enforcement problems caused by u.s. companies with hidden owners. here's what he said. "in countless investigations where the criminal targets utilized shell corporations, the lack of law enforcement's ability to gain access to true beneficial ownership information slows, confuses or impeds the efforts of investigators to follow criminal proceeds. this is the case in financial fraud, terrorist financing and money laundering investigations," he said, and he went on to say that it's imperative that business maintain ownership responsibility and to have a set time frame for preserving those records. by maintaining records not only of the initial beneficial owner but of the subsequent beneficial owners, states will provide law enforcement the tools necessary to clearly identify the individuals who utilize the company at any given period of time during the company's history.
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so let me start with you, director mueller. do you agree with mr. chertoff's assessment that it is imperative that states obtain beneficial ownership information? >> i certainly agree with mr. chertoff's assessment of the problem. >> and you believe that the lack of beneficial ownership information for corporations is a -- creates a problem for law enforcement? >> yes. >> secretary napolitano, would you give your answer to those same two questions? >> i would concur on both, yes. >> now, we have a bill, i think both of you know, senate bill 569, that i introduced with senators grassley, mccaskill. it's a bipartisan bill that gives law enforcement access to beneficial ownership information and to require states to obtain and maintain that information. we've been working with the administration, with law enforcement to improve and strengthen that bill. let me ask you both. do your agencies support enacting legislation to require
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states to obtain beneficial ownership information for u.s. corporations? secretary napolitano. >> yeah, i think, senator levin, i think we may have actually seen some draft language on that bill but, yes, we support that concept. >> and i have to defer to the department of justice and whatever view letter is being -- >> do you know what views they have expressed on it? >> no. >> i know that they've expressed support. frankly, i'm surprised you don't know they have expressed support. in any event, you're the f.b.i. and you're the law enforcement agency that would be helped by this information and i would hope that you would weigh in with the department of justice. they have indicated support, but to translate that support into real action so that we can get this done is something else. and your help would be very much valid and i hope you would -- valued and i hope you would take a look at that. >> i understand that. >> would you do that?
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>> yes, sir. >> i think my time is up. >> thanks, senator levin. senator akaka. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, for holding this hearing. i would also like to thank our witnesses for being here today. in the nine years since september 11, 2001, the united states became better prepared to confront a wide variety of terrorist threats. however, the times square bombing and also the airline traveling to detroit remind us that we must stay vigilant. in particular, the united states must confront the threat of homegrown -- homegrown terrorist attacks. an ongoing concern of mine to the panel has been about how well the united states communicates about its core
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values and national identity and policies through people around the world. my question for you -- to the panel is, how are your agencies working with the department of state and other agencies to ensure that our public diplomacy offers a compelling narrative and array of programs that challenge the messages offered by al qaeda and its affiliates? >> we work very closely, senator, with across the interagency and internationally. i think one of the things that's surprised me most as the secretary of homeland security is how many international reach there needs to be to really make the job -- to give full effectiveness to the job. and so we work, as i mentioned earlier, with i kayo on
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international -- icao on international standards. we work with the g-6 and e.u. on exchange of information. we work very closely with canada and mexico, our two neighbors. and so there is a huge amount of interaction at the international level but all designed to minimize the risk that a terrorist could either enter the united states or be plotting somewhere else to injure u.s. interests. >> senator mueller. >> senator, we've realized for a number of years, certainly before my time, that our success is in large part dependent on working with our counterparts overseas. we have over 60 legal offices in embassies around the world which we use as liaisons to our counterparts. we have since the 1970's a national academy in which we've brought in state and local law
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enforcement for a 10-week period for training. we have for many years included our foreign counterparts, whether it be from iraq or pakistan or afghanistan as part of those classes in an effort to educate persons as to what the f.b.i. does but also how the f.b.i. does it and what we do not do. in those relatively small ways but i think important ways we have developed persons that provide the relationship that are necessary to operate in a global environment. >> director leiter. >> senator, one of our closest partners is the undersecretary for public diplomacy at the state department, judith mchail. we work quite closely with her and also the white house to ensure that u.s. messaging and outreach that occurs overseas is consistent with the same message we're also trying to convey to most muslim
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communities. we don't think of a foreign audience and domestic audiences. the audience is one, especially on the internet. so we have worked closely with the white house and we are working with them on follow-up from the president's speech in cairo and also istanbul to make sure that the programs follow-up from those pledges that the president made. and, again, we work quite closely with the state department to make sure that our communities are well connected to their communities in the home countries to convey american values and the experience of american muslims which are often skewed by al qaeda's propaganda. >> thank you. another one to the panel, at this committee's hearing on the failed plot to bring down an airline traveling to detroit, former director of national intelligence, dennis blair, testified that the privacy and
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civil liberties oversight board would provide a valuable service. to date it is not in place. as you know, this board was created by the 2004 intelligence reform act to protect americans' privacy and civil liberties. my question to the panel is -- what is the status of this board being formed and how do governmentwide counterterrorism efforts currently incorporate privacy and civil liberty protections? madam secretary. >> senator akaka, i think the membership of that board is currently being looked at by the white house. i will share with you that we have within the department of huet an office of privacy -- homeland security an office of privacy. it's fully staffed and they are fully incorporated in our
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policy decisionmaking at the outset, not as an -- at the outset to make sure we are taking those values into account. >> directsor mueller. >> we have internally but also through the department of justice individuals that look at the -- our undertakings from the perspective of assuring that sanctity of privacy and civil liberties. >> director leiter. >> senator, we have a civil liberties protection officer that's involved not after the fact but during construction of policies. in addition we have an inspector general within the director of national intelligence. in fact, the president's national intelligence advisory board does work working on civil liberties. >> mr. chairman, just answer this final question and i've always been interested in language skills. so to the panel, my question is -- how are your agencies
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coordinating to ensure that our language skills for homeland security and intelligence meet the needs of our counterterrorism mission? >> senator, we are constantly looking to hire individuals with a variety of language skills. it is a high demand area. i would hope that over time our universities will produce even more but we do that primarily in the hiring process, identify those areas where we need more language expertise. particularly for intel and analysis. and we go and recruit. >> thank you. director mueller. >> to a certain extent we recruit from the same individuals. there are few particular languages we need. in the wake of the 1950's and the like and during the cold war, there were governmental efforts to encourage a
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development of language capabilities. i have seen i think in the last two or three years emphasis in universities and around the country on languages are important whether it be arabic or chinese -- i name two off the top of my head, so i think the universe is growing but not growing as fast as we need it. >> thank you. director leiter. >> i would echo my colleagues' points and simply add it remains a challenge, especially in hard to find languages. i think we got a better job over the past several years of being more flexible in providing resources from one government entity to another during times of crises to cover critical areas. that being said, we absolutely need the notches for the languages, but for the cultural literacy which is associated with the understanding of foreign language. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator akaka. we'll do another round and move
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as quickly as we can. director leiter and others have responded in testifying what lessons we learned from the christmas day bombing attempt and what we're doing to implement those lessons. i want to focus the three of you on the times square bombing and ask you to do a similar sort of postevent analysis of how did shzad break through and what changes have you made since that attempt? madam secretary, do you want to begin? >> yes, mr. chairman. and we had a suspenders approach in finding shazad. we pulled him off the plane to
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prevent him from getting on the plane. however, we have made sure that we have converted all the watch list settings from the airlines themselves. we have accelerated the crossover so that t.s.a. does that vetting. >> ok. how about before? obviously you can build on that. do you think we could have done from actually gutting -- put him in times square with the bombs in it? >> i think the areas that we subsequently learned about and the briefings of shahzad and others that nay have enabled us to look at certain investigative techniques and tools and the like, but they are better discussed in closed session. >> ok. director leiter. >> senator, a very broad level
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for the same reasons that director mueller noted. i will give 2000 areas on successes and challenges. on the success front, as senator brown asked before, pursuit worked. pursuit in conjunction with d.h.s. and f.b.i. helped, i believe, accelerate the investigations. so that sort of activity and not just that investigation but making sure we don't have other things going on. so pursuit worked in that context. second, and can't talk about these in open session, but much what the d.h.s. and f.b.i. does has increased the likelihood that the bomb skills would be ineffective. on the challenges -- >> that's very interesting and encouraging to hear. >> on the challenges, the challenges of even when we know someone is there and traveling back and forth to pakistan, how far can investigations go on so many individuals that have similar profiles, that's an
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ongoing challenge. >> the profile of just going back and forth from pakistan. we have a lot of pakistani americans that go back to visit their families. >> i think that continues to be a challenge for us and one that obviously you're well aware of. >> ok. let me go back to the coordination of what i call the counterhomegrown radicalization effort. i just want to be clear about this because this is really important now based on the statistics we see with more and more americans being radicalized over the internet and through other influences, still personal influences on them. do you feel that you've got enough authority and resources in nctc to effectively coordinate nate across the federal government -- coordinate across the federal government, mr. leiter? >> my answers is always supposed to be no. i don't want to go down that
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easy path. >> you think -- it's clear to you that your authority has recognized that across the government. i know everybody likes more research. i just want to be clear that in the federal government people -- when they ask, hey, who's in charge of trying to run a counteroffensive to homegrown radicalization do they say it's the director of the nctc? >> i think saying in charge is too strong a word. who is responsible across multiple departments in conjunction with the national security council, nctc. i think your prior question to secretary napolitano and director mueller, are there ways to improve outreach coordination -- >> yeah. >> i think they are undoubtedly are. that's one of the reasons why we had discussions are at the deputy's committee, at the white house, to institute some sort of improved coordination function that would still be interagency led. that sort of coordination can
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be done better, but the important thing is washington having a light hand of coordination and then enabling a coordinated face among the federal, state, locals in the field so they can have outreach at a local plelf because local circumstances differ significantly. >> so now let me focus on the counterhomegrown radicalization effort islamist terrorism is a war of ideas. underneath all these brutal acts there is an ideology, an extreme theology that is totally inconsistent with our values. and as we have said here before, we assumed at the outset of this -- i like to think for most -- muslim americans it still is true they're much more accepted,
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integrated, free, successful here than in other countries of their own. and yet there clearly is a group, particularly of younger males, but not exclusively males, that are vulnerable to the jihadist approach about ideas that they get particularly on the internet but also individuals they run into. so how do we coordinate? i know what we're doing with public diplomacy abroad is very different in its way. how do we figure out how to target and get that message out to what is a relatively small group of americans who can nonetheless cause very large damage and pain and death in our country? >> mr. chairman, i think you clearly identified the challenge and i would say it's a different challenge than what we've seen overseas because
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unlike the population of the united kingdom, it's not easily isolated to a single demographic group. >> right. >> quite varied here. but i think the key point i would make is the federal government will be able to do some of this. state and local governments will be able to do a lot of this. >> who does it? is it the department of education? i was surprised, as i said before at these hearings, in the muslim community, who do you have most contact in the federal government, this was two to three years ago, f.b.i. >> i'm -- community, american muslim communities are arcanists. we've seen since 9/11 they have condemned al qaeda and terrorism. we've seen a growth in mainstream muslim communities condemning this. we have to as a federal government enable that and
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amplify that. in the federal government who should be the face of that? my answer is lots of people, including ones watching at this table. we helped coordinate nate about a month ago now a roundtable effort in minneapolis through the department of education with various educators from communities that have significant populations to talk to them about the radicalization problems. citizenship and immigration services is all of these are critical partners because director mueller's folks do a great job but every once in a while people react when the way they don't want them to when the f.b.i. reacts. >> it was a positive answer but they are the most construckive interaction with the f.b.i. do either of you want to add to that about the counterhomegrown radicalization effort? >> yeah. i think -- first of all, i think there is no one way of countermessaging. second, i think we're learning
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a lot about countermessaging. thirdly, as i mentioned earlier, mr. chairman, our focus has been on sharing information and empowering local first responders, be they police, be the others to be first preventers. and to empower them on kind of a community policing theory to be working with specific communities, building those strong relationships, recognizing that they will be more effective locally than anything we can do from washington. that being said, both our civil rights and civil liberties group and others have been actively out around the country having town halls and sessions similar to what director leiter mentioned. some of them are co-scheduled, by the way. that means they're done together. citizenship and integration services is part of the department of homeland security. they have a lot of outreach in
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the community. so there's a lot of that that goes on. i think our key strategy here is to really work through the local first responders. >> want to say anything, director, in defense of the f.b.i.? >> not in defense. i would say, however, that success is dependent on relationships. >> right. >> the agencies have better coverage around the united states. we've got the 400 resident agencies in many of the communities in our 56 field offices. and it is the department of relationships and from those relationships comes the trust and understanding and the ability to see things together. and what we strive to do is build up those relationships in a variety of ways. we are at peace of it. there are other aspects. the war of ideas versus identifying radicalization and moving to prevent persons from
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being radicalized to the point they're willing to undertake extremist events. but it's very important for us and i think we play a strong role in it. >> good. i agree, of course, very important to be proactive and to the extent that you can to coordinate those efforts. thank you. senator collins. >> mr. chairman, when i hear the witnesses describe the outreach efforts, i can't help but think that we have of good people, a lot of good agencies, a lot of activity but there still doesn't seem to be an overall strategy nor accountability built in nor a means of assessing the success. and i think that is what the cane-hamilton report was trying to say. it's not that there aren't
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great efforts going on in various cities by all of your people, but how are we assessing the success and who's accountable for determining if this approach works versus that approach, whether there are best practices that needs to be shared? director mueller, you and i had an interesting discussion about the british approach, the prevent strategy, which has been criticized in some ways and may not work well in our country for constitutional and cultural reasons. but i'm concerned that this is too diffused, that it's too nebulous. i don't know to whom to direct this. mr. leiter, since you responded to me in your opening statement, if you'd like to start and maybe i'll ask all
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three of you to comment. >> well, senator, i'd offer you kind of six prongs of activity that i think do encompass the overall approach to the strategy and the effort here. and i want to stress that nctc is not in charge of this. nctc has a coordinating function in all of this. first -- >> excuse me. that's my point. who is in charge? >> i understand, senator. what i tried to stress at the opening is, i think there is a coordinated policy, which comes from the white house. there's a coordination of efforts in conjunction with the white house through nctc. and then there is an assessment role that the nctc has to provide that assessment back to the white house. and the final prong is that the white house is requiring monthly updates, not just local extremism, but global extremism, to measure the effectiveness of programs. >> director mueller, do you
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have anything to add to that? >> the problem itself is multifaceted with radicalization occurring with persons overseas to a number of areas in the federal government where i'd like to say, ok, who's in charge? put somebody in charge. .
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>> i think it's helpful to ensure the entire agency is on the page of what needs to get done. i think it could be done through a written strategy. i think there are additional disadvantages of strategy. sometimes people can get wrapped around the axle trying to write it rather than do the work we know has to be done. >> secretary napolitano. >> i think i would concur with both directors leiter and mueller. i believe that we know and have had a number of meetings and discussions on c.e.v., we know
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that each of our departments and others are all doing important work. we know there is communication that is occurring between those departments. we know that nctc has some coordinating role. that's a very important one. and perhaps the only thing that is missing out of that is an overarching written strategy. and it may be that at some point we want to invest in that. but i don't think the lack of a single document on c.e.v. should be mistaken for a lack of activity in that area. there's been a tremendous amount. >> madam secretary, i want to go back to an answer you gave to the chairman because i felt it was incomplete and it had to do with the actions that we had taken to catch the time's square
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would-be bomber on the airplane. you said that t.s.a. now vets the list, but in fact isn't t.s.a. doing that vetting only for u.s. carriers? >> senator, actually they have moved and cut over a large number of international carriers as well, including and have prioritized carriers or flag carriers from countries of particular interest. and i would be happy to give you that list. >> so are they doing -- let me pin you down on this, is t.s.a. doing the vetting for all carriers, domestic or foreign? >> they are -- i want to -- they will complete the cutover for international carriers i believe by the end of the calendar year. i will get you that. but they have completed it for
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domestic and international -- all domestic and international carriers that carry the great majority of passengers. but there are a few airlines left that are not yet cut over. >> let me switch to another issue. our country has swellcomed -- welcomed many people from somalia. somalia has been a failed state. we have had many people come into our country and seek status as refugees. given that we very generously welcome people from failed states like somalia, how do we ensure that a smolian who presents himself -- somalian who presents himself at our borders is not a member seeking entrance into our country through our
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refugee system? >> senator, we run names and identities of those seeking refugee status across a number of databases when applications are made. we are working on a system to be able to apply after acquired derogatory information if someone, for example, has lied on their refugee application. be able to go backwards as well as looking at what we have at the time of application. that is a project that is under way and is not complete. >> i think it's a real problem. and something that we need to take a closer look at. >> indeed. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator collins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director mueller, there's a loophole in the federal law that prevents the federal government from stopping the sale of firearms or explosives to a
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person who is on the terrorist watch list. unless that individual falls into some other category like having a criminal record, but being on the terrorist watch list in and of itself is not sufficient to prevent the sale. according to a may, 2010 g.a.o. report, individuals on the terrorist watch list were able to purchase firearms and explosives from licensed dealers about 1,120 times between 2004 and 2010. to close that loophole senator lautenberg has introduced legislation which i co-sponsored which would give the attorney general the authority to deny the transfer of a firearm when an f.b.i. background check reveals that the prospective purchaser is known or suspected terrorist and the attorney general has a reasonable belief that the purchaser may use the
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firearm in connection with terrorism. do you believe that the department of justice should have the authority to block guns and explosive sales to suspected terrorists? and do you believe they should be able to block the sale of guns to persons who are on the terrorist watch list? >> i defer to the department on -- in responding on the policy questions inherent in what you're asking, sir, with regard to that legislation. i could say needless to say we share a common interest in keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists. in the meantime, what we do do is when a person's name shows up on the terrorist screening center watch list, we take what time is necessary to do an immediate investigation as to why that person was on the watch list and what the impact of selling a gun would be to that individual and we'll take what steps are necessary to protect the american public in the meantime. >> you have certain number of hours, i believe 72 hours, is
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that right, to react? >> i believe it is. i have to check. >> have you been asked by the department of justice for your opinion as to whether or not persons on the terrorist watch list should be able to buy guns and explosives? >> this particular issue and references to the legislation have been around for a couple years. i have to go back and check and get back. >> do you have an opinion? i know that the department of justice makes the policy decisions, but do you have an opinion? >> i have said before i think all of us would want to keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists. >> and/or persons on the terrorist watch list? >> and/or persons on the terrorist watch list, yes. >> what about maintaining the records? the f.b.i.'s required to destroy
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the national instant criminal background check system generated approved firearm transfer records after 90 days for those persons who are on the terrorist watch list. would you like to be able to keep those records for longer than 90 days for persons on the terrorist watch list? >> i'm generally in favor of records retention when it comes to communication carriers records or records relating to the person's sales of guns because retention of records gives us the ability to go back when we identify some person and determine whether or not there is additional information we would have in those records that would enable us to conduct a more efficient investigation. >> does your general view in that matter apply specifically to transfers to persons who are on the terrorist -- >> applies to records retention across the board. >> does that include those persons? >> i would generally be in favor of records retention, yes.
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>> have you determined how many firearm transactions by suspected terrorists or persons on the terrorist watch list between 2004 and 2010 involved purchasers who were subsequently charged with a crime? >> i do not know that. i don't dispute the g.a.o. figures that you listed, but i do not know the breakdown of those figures and i do not know, i would have to get back to you as to how many of those were subsequently convicted of a crime. >> would you see if you could determine it's a very specific number of cases, and could you tell us how many were subsequently prosecuted, charged with crimes? >> probably much easier to find out how many were arrested. but to follow it through -- >> that would be ok. that's ok. arrested would be fine. >> ok. >> and finally, there was a
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question which we asked for the record we had a hearing in this committee on may 5 entitled terrorists and guns, the nature of the threat and proposed reforms. that looked at the issue you and i have just been discussing, mr. roberts, the assistant director of the f.b.i. criminal justice information services division testified at that hearing. i submitted questions for the record. following the hearing they were -- the answers to those questions were supposed to be received a long time ago. they would have helped a great deal, frankly, in preparing for this hearing. can you check out the reasons why those answers have not been forthcoming? >> i believe we completed those some time ago. i'll see where they are. >> thank you all. >> thanks, senator levin. thanks very much to the three of you. this has been a very informative , constructive, and of course as always unsettling hearing, but i appreciate very much your testimony and what you're doing.
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the obvious fact is that the war that began on 9/11, although it was actually being conducted by islamist extremists against us before, but it certainly began and our response after 9/11 that it goes on across the world on many battlefields and increasingly we can see from your testimony today and what we know that our enemy -- enemies in the war with islamist extremism are bringing the fight to the homeland of the united states with greater frequency. and they are -- while this started clearly as a war of foreign nationals against us and it is still primarily that they are working increasingly to build alliances or essentially recruit soldiers for their army against us from within the united states.
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so the threat is evolving in some sense to the homeland increasing, but so is our defense evolving and increasing. and certainly gives me and i hope the american people in the midst of this unconventional conflict that has come home within the continental united states in an unprecedented way some sense of confidence. i was thinking as i was listening in the most simplistic terms we are in a fight that we did not start. but now that we are in it, we are damn sure not going to lose it. i'm confident based on everything you and all the people working with you are doing that we will be successful in that regard. it's not going to happen tomorrow. it's going to go on for a period of years, but in the end we are going to try and -- senator collins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i just want to echo your thanks
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to our witnesses and also to the thousands of federal employees who work for them and with them each and every day to try to detect, deter, and defend our country against terrorist attacks. the focus tends always to be on the failures. and we all know from our classified briefings that there are so many successes that the public never hears about. and i just want to acknowledge that publicly here today. i am going to, for the record, follow-up on some issues that we did not get into today. for example, in "the washington post" today there is a story about bob woodward's new book that says that a classified exercise in may showed that the
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government was, quote, woefully unprepared to deal with the nuclear terrorist attack in the united states. i chose not to go into this today because i have a feeling this is something we would need to deal with in a classified setting in any event. but obviously that's very troubling. we have had on this committee repeated hearings on our ability to deal with a nuclear attack, whether it's a full-scale weapon or dirty bomb, as well as looking at chemical and biological attacks. we know the warning from the commission of an attack somewhere in the year world by the year 2013 using a chemical or biological weapon still rings in my ears. and so i do believe this is an issue that we need to pursue as
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well. and finally, in my private meeting with director mueller, i asked him, what do you need from us? eni would -- and i would invite all of you for the record to tell us what changes in laws, what different allocation in resources, what do you need from congress in order to more effectively carry out the counterterrorism mission with which you have been charged and so critical to our nation's security. again i thank you very much for your hard work and dedication, commitment. >> thanks, senator collins. very well done. do any of you want to say a final word? madam secretary. >> no, except i really appreciate thanking the men and women who work in our departments. there have been, to go back to a
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comment you made at your opening, mr. chairman, a lot of them worked very -- and don't get a lot of sleep sometimes. so i really want to express my appreciation to them and i'll try to get some additional information to senator mccain. >> i'm sure you would want to add we all feel do this at great risk frequently to our own well-being and family's well-being. that's true in all your cases. we are doubly grateful for that risk that they take. >> nothing to add, thank you. >> thank you. that phrase was from lincoln who is always a great source of wisdom, a different time of conflict in our country, at home, too, of course, we would fight with energy and sleepless vigilance. i thank all of you for doing exactly that. the hearing -- the record will stay opened for 15 days for the submission of additional statements or questions.
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the hearing is adjourned. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010]
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>> that wraps up the senate hearing looking at terrorist threats to the u.s. of the a program note, we'll have more about threats to the u.s. in just a moment with congressman berman who recently talked about iran's nuclear program. elsewhere on capitol hill, a house subcommittee is hearing from people following the recent salmonella scare and subsequent
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egg recall. among witnesses executives from two farms that produced the tainted eggs. you can watch this live right now on our companion network c-span3. a look at the u.s. capitol here where both the house and senate are in session today. the house gavels in at 2:00 p.m. eastern. a number of bills to be considered today. most concerning wilderness areas and health care issues. all recorded votes will take place after 6:00 p.m. eastern. the senate started business at 9:30 this morning. lawmakers there are giving general speeches. watch the house live here on c-span. the senate over on c-span2. >> with the midterm elections less than six weeks away, follow the key races with the c-span video library, including quick look at congressional districts around the country from our local content vehicles. our video library is all free. any time. watch what you want when you want. >> now an event with house
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foreign affairs committee chairman howard berman. he talks about iran's nuclear program during this half-hour event hosted yesterday by the center for strategic and international studies. >> could i have your attention for a moment, please. good afternoon, i'm john alterman, director of the middle east program. it's a pleasure to welcome you-all here today for one of our more elaborate round tables. and i'm especially delighted to be introducing the chairman of the house committee on foreign affairs, howard berman. imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but washington's sincerest form of admiration is noting one's own most cherished qualities in others. by this measure our speaker today has the admiration of a
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remarkably broad spectrum of powerful individuals. an academic from his district told me he was a huge fan, placing chairman berman as extremely thoughtful and very cerebral. the almanac of american politics describes him as one of the most creative members of the house and one of the most clear cited operators in american politics. the array of people who genuinely describe him as a good friend covers all parts of the political spectrum and he has made significant legislative contributions in areas ranging from foreign policy to global health to immigration to intellectual property to trade. chairman berman who represents parts of the san fernando valley and other areas north of los angeles has been a public servant for almost 40 years. after graduating ucla law school and working for five years as a labor lawyer, he was elected to the california state assembly in 1973. in 1974 he became the youngest majority leader in the history
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of that body, demonstrating the quiet but penetrating political acuemen that has characterized his career. he's been a member of congress since 1982, serving on the foreign affairs committee which he's chaired since 2008 and the judiciary committee. his time in the house has been a time of significant achievements. he authored amendments that reinvigorated the false claims act that now protects and incentivizes whistle blowers who detect contractors defrauding the government. those efforts have saved the united states government billions of dollars. he's been a consistent innovator of innovation, crazy idea after lottery, that allows 20,000 people of year to immigrate not based on family ties or professional skills but only their burning desire for a better life. he's been consistent voice on foreign affairs not only to strengthen the u.s.-israel relationship but taking important positions on india,
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pakistan, sudan, and other issues. what gathers us today is his leading role on iran. this past spring he led legislative efforts to tighten u.s. sanctions on iran with measures signed into law in july that denied banking access to iran's islamic revolutionary guard corps and inhabit investments in trade in iran's energy sector. through his hard work, intellect, and quiet efficiency, chairman berman has won the administrationation of many. as one person said, he's the conscience and dad of the california delegation. in this era of term limits and turnover, howard berman is the constant. he has vast institutional knowledge of issues in both congress and the legislature that is rare these days. it's rare indeed and that's why it's my special pleasure to introduce you to representative howard berman. >> that was quite an
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introduction. thank you. as i looked around the room and saw some of my friends in the defense contractor community, i was wishing you hadn't mentioned my role in the false claims act legislation, but never mind. it's great to be here. thank you very much. it's an honor to speak to the c.s.i. middle east program gulf round table. i csis middle east program gulf round table. i wanted to do it for a number of reasons. a long time, not sometimes less frequently than other times, but since i really first came to congress a longs relationship with csis, used to have these great conferences i was invited to in williamsburg. i think they became violations of ethic rules or something. but they were wonderful.
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when i did it it was by definition ethical. i went to china with a csis group back in the late 1990's, and i have great regard for the leader, john, of the program, and a special appeal was that this particular round table is sponsored by the uae -- u.a.e. and i have come to have a chance over the last few years since i became chairman to work with the ambassador from u.a.e. who is here today with us and whenever i think that there are -- that there's something inherently always going to be conflict in the middle east and nothing can ever happen, i meet someone like that and think there is another way. so i'm honored to be part of his
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lecture. i do want to mention just two staff people who are with me. i have a really excellent staff. my counsel to our committee, shawna winters, is around back there. tending bar. and robert marcus over there, works with alan on my middle east issues. another reason i wanted to come you asked me to talk about iran. and i have become sort of obsessed with that subject. the csis gulf round table is -- seeks to build a greater understanding of the complexities of the gulf region. as we all know, the gulf is not lacking in such complexities. for example, u.s. combat operations in iraq have officially ended but iraq is struggling to form a government
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and build a stable nation state in land with a diverse population and a long and contentious history. saudi arabia, which possesses much of the world's petroleum reserves and is off accused of turning a blind eye to terrorist financing by wealthy saudis, is led by an 86-year-old monarch and its future is clouded by a lack of clarity about succession in the next generation of the royal family. qatar is blessed with natural gas resources which it has turned into incredible wealth. it is home to the u.s. fifth fleet but it also shares a defense cooperation agreement with iran and maintains strong ties to hamas. the small island kingdom of bahrain struggles with a mixed sunni-shea population and aggressive iranian neighbor. despite all these challenges there is one gulf country, iran, that presents by far the greatest challenge and threat to
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the gulf, israel, the united states, and the international community. preventing iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability is an absolute necessaryity for our national interests. as chairman of the house foreign affairs committee, i have made that my number one priority. iran reportedly now has enough enriched uranium to create one to two nuclear weapons and is perhaps only about one year away from perfecting the necessary technology to build and detonate a functional bomb. with such a capability, iran would be virtually impervious to u.s. and western diplomatic pressure and accordingly could pursue its human rights abuses at home and abroad with near impunity. iran's terrorist partners in iraq as well as hezbollah and lebanon and hamas in gaza in the west bank would be emboldened.
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intimidated arab regimes in ire ran's neighborhood would make political accommodation with the new nuclear power in order to ensure their survival. for example, they could succumb to iranian pressure to reject or rescind u.s. spacing rights and iran armed with nuclear weapons would have greatly increased leverage inside opec to cut back oil production which could lead to massive increases in the price of oil. and it would provoke its larger neighbors to pursue their own nuclear weapons program which would effectively destroy the global nonproliferation regime. in worst case scenarios, iran might share its technology with terrorists or it may even use its arms an offensive weapon. that last possibility can't be totally dismissed, especially in the case of a regime that is so ideologically driven and has so little regard for human life that it sent thousands of its own children to their deaths as
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human mine sweepers during the iran-iraq war. israelis justifiably fear for their future if iran became nuclear weapons capable. we need a solution to this problem and it's important that it be a peaceful solution. i strongly supported president obama's diplomatic outreach to iran last year. unfortunately, iran did not reciprocate. its recalcitrants like the discovery of the secret enrichment facility merely deepened international suspicion of its intentions. under these circumstances, we had no choice but to pursue hard-nosed sanctions. the other two options, strikes against iran's nuclear institute -- installations or even worse, accepting iran as a nuclear weapons state are far more risky with potentially dire consequences to u.s. regional
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and international security and stability. the comprehensive iran sanctions accountability and divestment act of 2010, which passed both houses of congress overwhelmingly and was signed into law by president obama on july 1, is an important contribution to the international effort to ratchet up pressure on the iranian regime. to a variety of measures, it aims to force foreign companies and banks to choose between the u.s. market and the iranian market. it specifically takes aim at foreign businesses and financial institutions that provide financial service to iranian entities, including the islamic revolutionary guard corps that are involved in terrorism or weapons of mass destruction. additionally, our legislation targets foreign companies that sell iran refined petroleum or assist iran in developing or maintaining its own domestic refining capacity.
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likewise, it sanctions foreign companies that sell iran's goods or services and help it to develop its energy sector. it also provides a legal framework by which u.s. states, local governments, and certain other investors can divest their portfolios of foreign companies involved in iran's energy sector and establishes a mechanism to address concerns about diversion of sensitive technologies to iran through other countries. we introduced this bill in april of 2009. we were under great pressure to pass it immediately. but my colleagues and i deferred action until the obama administration had sufficient time to pursue this policy of engagement and then to get greater buy-in for tougher multilateral sanctions as reflected in u.n. security council resolution 1929. by deferring action until the security council had acted, our bill has been met with
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significant international acceptance. one important result of that is that the european union, long the source of so much of iran's energy related technology, now stands fully united with us in the sanctions effort. a very far cry from the situation when the original iran-libya sanctions act was passed in 1996. in fact, the european union and others, including canada, australia, norway, japan, and south korea have now imposed their own sanctions. virtually every western energy company has now agreed to cease sales of refined petroleum to iran and to refrain from new investments in iran's energy sector. following the passage of international and u.s. sanctions, most banks in the united arab emirates, an important trading partner with iran, stopped money transfers to iran. press reports indicate that sanctions have cut in half iranian trade with due -- dubai,
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long a critical export center for iran. south korean sanctions have suspended the operations of the iranian bank mallot branch in seoul. it is a known facilitator of iran's proliferation activities and south korea is iran's fourth largest trading partner. so the impact on iran is likely to be significant. based on our suggestion with the korean government, the bank's operations in that country have effectively been shut down for good. japan recently anournsed sanctions that target iranian entities and individuals of proliferation concern, including iranian banks, the islamic revolutionary guard corps, and the iranian shipping lines. these sanctions along with the prohibition on the transfer of proliferation sensitive dual use items to iran and new investment or sale of goods, service, and technology to iran's energy
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sector will deepen iran's isolation from the international, financial, industrial, and energy sectors. japan like korea and the u.a.e. is a major trading partner with iran. i recognize the significant step these countries are taking with their actions. in some cases powerful local business interests have fought tooth and nail against these actions. and i applaud their determination and courage. i know other nation that is are involved in the iranian economy soon choose to make the same sacrifices for the greater good and safety of the international community. in the end, everyone's interests are served by preventing iran from achieving a nuclear weapons cape inter. -- capability. if the u.s., u.n., e.u., and other sanctions against iran are properly enforced, iran will now essentially be unable to purchase vital paragraphs for its refineries -- vital parts for its refineries other than
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through the black market as some of the necessary equipment is available only from western firms. we have seen numerous reports that iran is starting to feel the squeeze. treasury undersecretary stewart levy went into some detail about this in his csis speech yesterday. nevertheless, it is still early and no definitive conclusions can be drawn yet about the impact sanctions may have on iranian government decisionmaking. the obama administration appears serious about pursuing sanctions. secretary clinton has appointed, in fact i should say they are serious about pursuing sanctions. secretary clinton has appointed a talented policymaker, ambassador robert einhorn, to head the sanctions effort in the state department and he has already assembled an impressive staff. in fact was he -- yeah. so you know he's talented. undersecretary stewart levy
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continues his highly effective work in unmasking iranian individuals and financial institutions involved in terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. and warning the rest of the world's financial institutions about them. earlier this month the treasury department designated for sanction the german bank e.i.h. which is one of the few remaining european banks actively facilitating business with iranian banks. treasury's action will isolate e.i.h. from the u.s. financial system. as the international community begins to implement sanctions, it may be that china, russia, and others relying on a strictly literal interpretation of the u.n. security council resolution 1929, may step up sales of refined petroleum to iran and otherwise try to move into areas of iranian energy market vacated by others. indeed, several chinese companies already appear to be engaged in sanctionable
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activities. we need to redouble our efforts to convince china and others that a nuclear armed iran is a threat not only to the physical security of the region, but also the stability of energy markets. i think it's fair to say that in the leadup to all of this, both saudi arabia and the u.a.e. made direct efforts to purr suede china of that fact. -- persuade china of that fact. congress will remain deeply engaged on this issue. i have established a congressional monitoring group that will closely follow sanctions, and meet regularly with administration and foreign officials. we are fully committed to making sanctions work. my goal, however, isn't just to squeeze the iran's economy to make them suffer or punish them, my goal is to try and create a dynamic to change iran's mind. we want the iranian leadership to conclude that its uranium enrichment program and other nuclear weapons related efforts
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simply aren't worth the cost. i believe sanctions are our most viable, effective, and peaceful means of achieving that goal. if as many believe it turns out that iran is committed to its nuclear arms program at any cost, then we'll have to consider the implications of that further down the line. with that, i think i'll stop talking and i don't know if there's room in your schedule for -- >> there is room in our schedule, sir. i think we would be delighted if you had a few moments to take some questions. we have some hand-held mikes. >> actually, i talked so long that i have a little time but not a huge amount. >> i know the chairman's constraints. please identify yourself. ask only one question. and as those of you who have been to my events before, i have a pet peeve, statements ending with what do you think of my statement, aren't really questions. please ask genuine questions the
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chairman can answer. first question. >> financial times. you talked about how sanctions would be an effective. you talked about how sanctions were a peaceful and effective mode of putting pressure on iran. how much time do you think sanctions have to succeed and how important is it to the u.s. administration impose the sanctions on the firms? something it's been reluctant to do. >> to say the least. first of all just one quick, i guess shout out to the financial times, i hate to say it, but they are a great source of information to me on what different companies are doing. that's access to classified information. secondly, i think it is -- i
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think we are talking months not years and i think no one expected that a day after the u.n. acted and we acted and others acted iran would be shouting uncle or let's come to the table. and -- so i am not -- i'm not surprised that at this particular point there hasn't been any indication, but given what our goal is here, i think we -- it's a matter of months. i don't want to get pinpointed too much from now that we have to start seeing this working before people lose faith in this. and a key part of making this effective is just what you alluded to in your question. a sanctions regime which has already caused a lot of companies to trm nate or to --
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terminate their business relationships that i discussed in my talk, sanctions that doesn't lead to sanctions will soon lose whatever deterrent effect it's had. it is essential that investigations begin and obviously where companies choose to change the nature of their commercial relationships, that should be taken into consideration, but where they don't, sanctions should be imposed and not waived. i think the whole credibility of everything else that's going on defends on people expecting that to happen. >> sir, if i could ask you a question. what is your sense of decision process on the nuclear file in
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iran? this is an issue principally of making a decision or making gestures. are you seeking to influence the president? are you seeking to influence a group of decisionmakers? you took the actions you intended them to have a desired effect on audience. what is the iranian audience for the sanctions? >> my assumption is from everything i have been told to expect about iran that at the end of the day different views and pressures are important, but ultimately it's the supreme leader that has to give the go ahead. and when he doesn't, as apparently was the case after that agreement in principle on last october 1, things don't happen. but it's about specific things
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on the ground, it's about the suspension of enrichment. it's about allowing the inspectors to go to places that they are now denied access to. it's about a whole range of -- that's how we know what they are doing. that program is being suspended and ultimately terminated. >> danny, against the timeline that you mentioned to iran possibly acquiring the weapon, if you were a thoughtful, prudent leader in the middle east, you would be thinking ahead to what measures you would need to take let's just say from a deterrent standpoint to prepare yourself. from your position on capitol hill, what would you support, what recommendations would you make to our friends and allies
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in the region and things they should be doing, could do that the hill would be supportive of in the months and years ahead as they prepare for deterrence? when a prudent and sensible congressman get -- would a prudent and sensible congressman get into that? in this venue? i obviously -- i mean i acknowledge that i don't know whether this strategy is going to produce a result. and that a designificance -- decision may have to be made after that. i don't think it makes a lot of sense for me to go off and speculate on what those alternatives are. all i know is any of the other alternatives have serious consequences. only some of which we can imagine. and you've got to drill down on that so to speak. >> patrick lawson.
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you mentioned iran's despicable human rights record. could you talk about what states might do to speak out about human rights violations of iran and to support those working for democrat reform in iran? >> well, the legislation that i spoke in some detail about but never once touched on any of the provisions dealing with this, that legislation modified the codified embargo on iran to allow the export of certain equipment and technologies to the dissidents to enhance their ability to communicate and have access and overcome efforts to snap out their technology. we separately on the other side of the coin imposed procurement sanctions on companies that are
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providing technology of the government to allow them to -- to enhance their ability and facilitate their ability to suppress speech and communication and particularly in the digital world. and i think we have an obligation to talk about those issues. the overwhelm thing i guess i caution about, because there are some in this town who i believe truly believe that the clock for change in iran is on a fast enough -- is moving fast enough to resolve the issue of this regime with nuclear weapons. i start from a different premise that i, unfortunately, whatever
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i might wish, doesn't matter, i don't see that clock moving that fast. so for me my primary focus is on doing what we can to diminish the possibility that -- and prevent the possibility that they have a nuclear weapon. -- nuclear weapon capability. we can't just turn our back on these people. it's not our nature. it's not our way. and we have tried to do things that are positive here. i know there's some criticisms about that, but i do think it's legitimate to go through a careful process of what can we say that can help and be useful, whether it's simply psychological in terms of the people who want a feeling that we are on their side, or in terms of the practical situation
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in iran. >> we have time for one last question. all the way in the back. >> thank you. >> hi, joyce. i'd like to take you to lebanon. i want to ask you about the aid for the lebanese army that your committee has -- >> after you have taken me there? >> we could. maybe after this. but have you been discussing it with your officials, defense ministers? do you have -- do you plan to -- perhaps as a result of the hold, the administration has done an interagency review about the program. they have completed that review.
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they just -- i want to know about that -- what that review concluded. what our goals are. i didn't put on that hold in order to kill the program, i was curious -- i truly was -- i was honestly puzzled about what we are seeking to gain from this assistance and how we square what we want to gain, a program i was a strong supporter off when it originated back in the middle of this past decade, whether we are still able a cheeve those goals. there is a process that we are coming to head-on and i'm not just going to sit there eanch leave it -- and leave it like this. while i have not yet, i have some appointments on my calendar to talk, i have not yet talked with lebanese officials. i believe i have spoken with every lebanese american in this country. certainly in my district. >> speaking of your calendar,
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i'm told your calendar has something coming up. i'm very grateful to you for spending the time with us for honoring us. thank you all for coming. >> thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010] >> did not consider -- >> on capitol hill a house subcommittee right now is hearing from egg producers following the recent salmonella square and subsequent recall of 550 million eggs in august. among the witnesses, executives from two farms that produced the tainted eggs. you can watch this live on our companion network, c-span3.
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and a look at the u.s. capitol here where both the house and senate are in session today. the house gavels in at 2:00 p.m. eastern. with a number of bills to be considered. most concerning wilderness areas and health care issues. all recorded votes will be taken at 6:00 p.m. eastern. in the senate lawmakers are giving general speeches and then debate whether to bring the defense programs bill to the floor. the house will be live here on c-span. the senate on c-span2. one house member joined us this morning on "washington journal" to discuss potential new credit card rules for small businesses. continues. host: congressman peter welch, at large representing virginia. thank you for joining us. guest: vermont. host: did i say virginia? excuse me. huge difference. you are having a meeting with senator dick durbin and the fed
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chairman ben bernanke to talk about the implementation. tell me about your meeting. guest: the rulemaking process by which we are going to implement the credit card provisions that were in the wall street reform act. the chairman has met with a visa and master card, the fed has met with the big banks. and senator dick durbin and i, the principal authors of the credit card reform provisions in the wall street though, want to meet on behalf of consumers and merchants. basically what the wall street reform bill did with credit cards is try to help our merchants, who were getting hammered with the highest credit card transaction fees in the world. they pay about $50 billion a year. a lot of folks don't know this, but if you go and use your credit card -- of course, they are important and good for the economy. a secure transaction for the merchant. good for the consumer. but the charges that the monopolies impose are the
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highest in the world and it is becoming a huge cost to our merchants and really strangling a lot of their viability and profitability. the legislation does a couple of things. one, let the merchant has a $10 minimum. if someone buys a couple coffin, it will have to cause the merchant more. they can say, look, $10 minimum. secondly, all debit transactions, it would allow the fed to establish rates that are reasonable and proportion. keep in mind for the viewers who are not that familiar -- debit transaction is just like writing a check. if i write a check to you or you write a check to me for $100, there is no fee. debit transactions come right out of your checking account. is -- it is just no paper has also it is an easier thing to process. the fees on those have been escalating, adding to the $50 billion cost. and the regulations are about
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giving definition to what is reasonable and proportionate. senator dick durbin and i have the opportunity to meet with chairman bernanke and we are advocating this has to be set to the real cost of these transactions. host: this was something you or work in one as the wall street reform act was being discussed and debated and when it's mature it got in there. guest: that's right. when i was doing these congress in your communities which i do of the local country scores -- stores, the merchants came out and they started shelling of the credit card statements where they would pay 2%, 3%, fear% -- 4% for each transaction. they could not negotiate terms and conditions. the united states is the only country in the world where the credit card transactions have been told lee unregulated --
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totally unregulated, we have the monopoly, which be set and mastercard are. they act like a monopoly do, they said prices. host: tell us about how these costs have been passed on to consumers. you mention how they affect businesses. a lot of the businesses, especially small businesses, said ultimately it hurts people buying goods at my establishment. guest: if every time you switch a fee you will pay -- you pay $10 and the merchant has to pay 30 cents for the transaction, it added up to $50 billion, incidently, and the costs are ultimately borne by the consumer. if we establish reasonable and proportionate rates, it is going to drive down the price. the merchants face competition. when the banks were lobbying against this, they spent $70 million lobbying against this in the first six months of the year. one of their arguments was if
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the merchants get a break in the price, then they will start price gelding -- gouging. as if the merchants to not have to compete with the gas station across the street. competition is pretty brutal in the retail industry. so the retail competition is keeping prices down for the consumer. but for the monopoly, they are not subject to lot of competition so they have to have some regulation to provide a fairness to the merchant and ultimately to the consumer. host: you are also working on capping credit card rates for consumers at 18%. guest: it is pretty astonishing. since the credit card interest rates have become be regulated states have no authority to impose what they regard as a reasonable cap -- deregulated. some credit-card have gone up to 40%. that would make tony soprano blush. blush.


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