tv Capital News Today CSPAN September 24, 2010 1:12am-2:00am EDT
our opportunities to determine where and what was the exposure of which units -- we are losing the opportunity every day. this is the tough part of the business, i did find that exposure and being willing to do something -- identifying the exposure and being willing to do something about it. >> we have a severe problem in my state on the olympic peninsula with access to our veterans. many lives miles and miles away from care. there are very jammed facilities. i want to talk to about dealing with some of those folks who are not getting the care that they need. i will contact you. >> i will be happy to have that discussion. >> thank you very much. >> thank you.
this is a very difficult discussion, because we are asking the secretary to play god. i happen to think you are doing a great job, that you are not god. none of us are. in the old days before we knew what we knew today, everyone recognizes that if a soldier was wounded or lost a leg or arm, there is no debate. that was a cause of war. that soldier got all the care and benefits he or she needed. the difficulty is that the world has changed significantly as a result of chemical exposure. let us not forget that when agent orange was first used, our friends said it was benign and it was not a problem. am i correct? >> to my recollection. >> i am sure the military would
not have used this chemical if they had known. at the end of the gameday, a pon our own people. who is smart enough to know exactly the impact? because they were exposed to agent orange, if they combined it to a genetic predisposition. could it have led to another illness? of course it could have. who is smart enough to make a correlation? i am not. i doubt you are. it is not saying the u.s. soldier put your life on the line. we will give you the benefit of the doubt. we are going to assume that if
you come down with an illness that we can relate the exposure in this case to agent orange. we will make the presumption. i think that is the right presumption. in terms of agent orange, our history on the subject as the government had not been good protocagainst vietnam vets. one of the things i would like to ask, to the best of my knowledge -- i was in vietnam a few months ago. it was a hot spot. to the best of my knowledge, i believe that we have really not in a thorough study of agent orange on the vietnamese people to learn from
their exposure what it means to americans. i do not think that was an accident. i think in the years after the war, the attitude was the less we know the better we will be. the less we know that means and people come forward and say "i am sick" we can say "we do not know anything." doesn't it seem strange to the people who were most exposed have not had a study? this somewhat to comment on that? >> i am not familiar with studies on the people of vietnam. there may have been said these. i am not personally aware of them. i will have a liggett that and
provide you with an answer. -- i will have a book at that and provide you with an answer. -- look at that and provide you with an answer. a steady continued through the year 2000 -- a study continue through the year 2000. it lost priority. we have just restarted our efforts to begin the study again. it is looking at the long-term affects of agent orange on vietnam veterans. >> it some money on the panel could answer my question. -- if somebody on the panel could answer my question. when we look at the impact of where agent orange was dropped on the vietnamese people to learn their suffering? am i missing something? wouldn't that be a scientific quest? >> the answer is yes.
could it be done is another channel. we are not able to prices leprey identify the veterans that wherere exposed on the bubble on the same as the the average 1a level on the same -- that exposed on the same level as the vietnamese. >> all right. does anybody -- that was the point i wanted to make. i think we have put the secretary in a difficult position. i think he has done a great thing. we ought to give him the benefit of the doubt. >> thank you very much. >> thank you.
in an attempt to clarify the decision process and to clarify may be paying attention to this, one of the set of unknowns we have been working in to bring some validity to this process, i've looked at these studies that you mentioned in your testimony. you are correct. all of them did and just for age. there is a great variance in the control factors -- and ju adjusr age. there is a great variance in the
control factors. i am struck by the fact that i do not know of any extensive study that has looked at vietnam veterans as a whole. it was a study that was begun and interrupted in the year 2000. are you aware of any other studies that have examined vietnam veterans as a whole? >> this is a long-term study of vietnam veterans that i believe began sometime around 2000 or shortly thereafter. they began to lose momentum. in an effort to answer some of the questions, we recently read initiated an effort to create that long-term -- we read- initiated an effort to recruit the long term -- we recently
read initiat-initiated an efforo create that long-term outlook. >> we were trying to trace the dioxin chemicals. wouldn't there be a way to still examine tissue damage in the sorts of things -- and in these sorts of things we could determine among a control group? >> it is very attractive to look at that type of delineation. it is not possible. there are many different numbers out there regarding what the half life of tcbd is. it is very variable from
individual to individual. when you look fat tissue damage, if there is no way to say that this damage -- when you look at tissue damage, there is no way to say that this damage was caused from smoking or what. once it is damage, it is damaged. >> let me suggest something else. as we were discussing in the office, when we were first looking at this issue in 1978, one of the discussions that we read having on the staff -- we were having on the staff was to take veterans from specific unit that we would know had been in the areas where dioxin had been sprayed and into a
comparable study with them as opposed to other -- and do a comparable study with them as opposed to other vietnam veterans. is that something you are considering doing? >> i'll get more into this and provide you an answer of exactly what transpired in the previous study. i think you and i are in agreement. we need an effort to curry create better data. it is not preconditions. we have veterans after suffering from these -- this does not change the conditions. we have veterans after suffering from these diseases. >> when your of looking at disability compensation on this issue, has there been any
discussion about these other risk factors as a component of evaluating one's disability? do you measure the overall disability of the individual despite smoking and all the other conditions such were mentioned? >> at this time, i think the inside are helpful. i think it is difficult to figure the contribution of these various confounding factors. all we know is that tcdd attacks the vast litter -- vascular turture of animals. we know there is a contribution.
we do not know to what degree it is more significant than others. >> you are basically taking the medical condition and assigning it. >> and assigning it to the conditions overall. >> rather than breaking out one component of it. >> that is correct. >> i see. of like to understand your motivations -- i would like to understand your motivations in regards to the 28th report in the association between herbicides and heart disease. was this -- where their new studies that came into effect? -- where their new studies that came into effect?
ere there new studies that came into effect? >> there were two new studies that drove that preponderant of associatioce association to a sr degree. there was no information. >> was a new research or evaluations? -- was their new research or valuations? >> there were new studies. >> there were two additional studies. they were published after 2006. most of the animal studies and the data that was available was published after most of thafter6
committee have their elections. you have these consistent studies. you have animal experimentation. you have a known biological mechanism. you have a dependent response. >> you are saying there was actually new research that had been conducted. >> yes. >> the clock is beating me here. one final question. do you believe this authority should remain with the secretary of veteraveterans affairs? do you think it should be given to congress in the future? >> whether it should be left to
congress? >> the decision will authority as it now exists in the stat sheet -- the decision and authority as it now exists to the state. >> i never presumed to express to congress how to do their work. congress had an intent. we can see what transpired. there were no presumptions to treat vietnam veterans until 1991. in 1991, a 12th of presumptions
-- there were 12 presumptions. if the intent of congress was to move from where we were and causation was not working and we needed another mechanism, i think the will of congress was met. congress and achieved what it wanted. we can discuss how the modified that progress. -- how to modify that process. it will require the kind of work that i have been through for nearly a year now th. besides being descriptive of what congress discuss them to do, any reference to cost is
discussed. that was not oversight. that was clearly the intent of congress. it is the secretary's decision. congress reserved to itself the decisional authority of where and how to pay for that decision. i think there is significant involvement on the part of congress and oversight. it that needs to be adjusted, i am more than happy to have that discussion. congress has decided to fund these three determinations. i think congress had an opportunity to review my
decision and decide to do its part. >> with respect to funding, if a disability is service connected, it will be funded. that is the united states of america. >> thank you. >> thank you. i think he had been contingent of some tough decisions. -- you have been conscientious of some tough decisions. patterns need the benefits they earned and deserve -- veterans need the benefits they earned and deserve.
in the meeting that we had on tuesday, you mentioned that claims for heart disease are rebuttable in certain cases. i want you to walk through the attitude you envision they have in determining the heart disease. who is responsible for what? you have someone who smokes a couple a pack of cigarettes a day and drink alcohol. they come to you with a problem. is that rebuttable? is it a situation where they are in? >> let me just ask you to talk
about how we distinguished this hard disease from other -- this heart disease from others? >> thank you. scheming card diseasit is the de hardest not get enough oxygen to meet its needs. generally, that is symptomatic. that would constitute a of a disability. as clinicians, we confirm that shortness of breath is due to epistemic heart disease.
a lot of things can cause chest pain if they have a normal stress level. >> can over use of tobacco and alcohol create a system occurred disease -- create epistemic heart disease? if they served in vietnam and they gotta regardless of their lifestyle, it is our problem? >> yes. we cannot parse that out. >> with respect to the rebuttal a presumption, they claim examiners in the regional officers are not making a medical opinion like that. if there is clear evidence of risk factors or heart disease,
when they request the examination, it is appropriate for them to ask the clinician in light of this risk factor. is it as likely as not that the current disability is due to herbicide exposure? we will then award benefits based on what the commission says para. >> it to be very difficult -- it would be very difficult for a doctor to say it was herbicide exposure. >> i do not believe so. >> it is difficult to parse out.
we do know from the studies that the iom is rigorous enough for us to give weight to them. six of the studies were strong and specifically as a dividend in making the tie between herbicide exposure and epistemic heart disease. we have to make this connection. >> i understand. i understand this is very difficult.
i understand there is a number of veterans out there that tried to get through the door and cannot. i know you have worked on it. i think that is the whole point. i think everyone who earned the benefit should get it asap. as we try to limit potential fraud, is there a rebuttal process if someone comes in that served in vietnam and maybe everyone was exposed to agent orange -- it appears they come in with estimate -- epistemic hard disease in a surge in vietnam they will get it. is that correct? >> that is correct. there is one individual that
recently made a comment that he is receiving agent orange benefits. he paused in the airport in saigon for eight hours. i do not know if this is true. that is the report. if someone sulfide and isulphids like this, we will take a look. >> -- self identifies like this, we will take a look. >> thank you. are there any further questions? >> i have one. it deals with the administrative costs. one estimate say it to cost about $1.6 billion over the next decade.
do you agree with that estimate? >> i think you are referring to a 10-year cost estimate that has been provided. i am just reading the notes. the note that applies for epistemic heart disease of $1.6 billion read that multiplied the total administration costs of 1,880,005 unde $74 by 8%. i think we have a calculation error. i do not know how that becomes $1.6 billion. >> if these figures are
correct, i would expect to try to reduce the administrative overhead. >> thank you. >> i really appreciate your being here today and with this panel. i believe there is much of value added of through transparent in discourse. -- value added through transparent discourse. i want to thank this panel very much for your responses. thank you. >> thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010] >> robert gates spoke to reporters today. he says we are making progress
in afghanistan. his speech is next. later, president obama addresses the united nations general assembly. he will testify tomorrow about the allegations that the new black panther party intimidated voters in philadelphia during the last election. ben bernanke will talk about the 2008 financial crisis and the current stated the u.s. economy. live coverage from princeton university and for 30 p.m. eastern. >> i under estimated -- at princeton university at 4:30 p.m. eastern. >> i underestimated the job. i suddenly leaped.
>> newt gingrich as his tenure -- on his tenure. that is sunday on c-span. >> robert gates talked to reporters about afghanistan and is asked about bob woodward's latest book. >> good afternoon. i would like to give a brief update on our efforts to change the way we do business. yesterday, our top military and
civilian leadership discuss progresed progress . it included our 10 combatant commanders. it is critical that they be involved in shaping all aspects of these initiatives, especially those with the military capabilities. their contributions reflect their report generarole. they need to be involved in developing both options and recommendations. this is a team effort. these leaders recognize the need to shift resources from overhead to real military capability. they believe in the specific measures announced.
we must, must make every dollar count to make sure our military has the capabilities needed in a dangerous world. there are contracts for the f-35 fighters. the department has reached agreement to use a fixed price incentive the contract for the purchase of them for the u.s. military. this type of contract shares the cost of overruns between the government and industry. it shares the rewards when they come in under cost. the pre-unit price we negotiated a is 15% or 20% below the independent cost estimate prepared earlier this year. it'll enhance the productivity
of the program. we need to see more of these type of contract to provide more value and better programs to the american taxpayer and provide good business opportunities. >> this is a question for both of you. this is a context of the woodward book. a year after the afghan strategy review, can you both say without reservation that the strategy is sound enough to justify the expenditure of american lives? >> yes. i would not sign the orders if i did not believe that. >> a follow up on that question.
the internal division were doing their duty. how does it affect the war effort? >> once the president made his decision last december, everybody at the senior level was on board in terms of going forward with the strategy he approved and executing it to the best of our ability. that continues to be the case. >> as has been said many times, we think we have the inputs right. we are seeing some signs of progress. with the right strategy and resources, we are starting to move forward. this has been a difficult year.
we knew it was going to be that way. yesterday's we had terrible losses. -- yesterday we had terrible losses. we believe we are in a position to move forward with this strategy and look at the execution over the next many months in terms of exactly how we are doing. >> why did you decide to speak with bob woodward? >> i was probably the last person who spoke to him. i think out the last person he spoke to during the previous vote. i timed it to the point where the book was already in the galley and that time. -- at that time. i think he had specific questions about overall issues
about the strategy. we did not get into any specifics about issues or anything like that. i had his questions in advance. they were about tone and atmosphere and the roles of the president. these are issues i had spoken to public yoly. >> briefings were shared with him. how is this different from another publication? >> i do not know about that. i guess i would get a question. there are three points of light to make. -- i would like to make. the first is, conflict.
the second is about senior officials. it is that testimony aharmoniou. the third is, presidents are always well served when there is a vigorous debate on important issues. i think this debate was constructive. i learned things in the course of that debate. my position is changed or were adjusted. -- positions changed or were adjusted. >> the american public support for war in afghanistan is waning. for them to see what appears to be back fighting and backstabbing in the way the policy was arrived at, how can you expect the american people
to have confidence in the strategy and in american leadership to carry it out? >> there was a spirited debate. people were often passionate about the views. once the president made his decision, but they have been working together to execute the strategy. >> do you expect another spirited debate at the review in december? it seems like many of these issues are settled. when the next review happens, will we have a fundamental debate on the principles? what'll december of a flight? >-- what will december to look liklook like? >> i think the questions of the,
do we need to make any adjustments? are we on the right path? i have not gotten the sense that any basic changes are likely to occur. i suspect we will find some areas where we can make some adjustments to try and in hand what is going on now. -- and enhance what is going on now. we have tripled the amount of civilians. we have 30,000 american troops all in. all the inputs are there now. now it is a matter of execution. >> i think you have it exactly right. there certainly could be adjustments. we can make the strategy is
sound. a lot of things have changed dramatically from last year. it looks to how it has been implemented. >> the woodward of books makes allegations that the to review where upset with all the lieutenant-general -- makes allegations that voted you were upset with the lieutenant- general. is that accurate? >> we have not read the book. >> are books like this helpful?
do they expose what we like? would you prefer to be operating in the dark? >> i think they say it answer is of a " no commen"no comment." i do not know what decision has remainebeen made or will be mad. >> why do you think the senate was an able to go forward? >> i do not want to get into procedural issues. our decision is similar to the
chiefs and respect we believe legislation. fundamentally, i'm not going to comment on procedural issues. >> can you talk about your meeting last week in russia? how optimistic are yeaou about your relationship with russia and the prospect of moving forward? did you discuss the arms sale with him? >> we did not discuss the saudi arms sale.
i do want the chairman to speak to this. i do want to speak with this relationship he has built. he has played an important part in military relationships. he gave me a pretty detailed review of the changes he is making in the russian military and where they are headed. we talked about a range of issues. i think ti baranked him for ru's help. we talked about a broader range of things. i think there is an opportunity to move their relationship
forward. i think it has been important. >> if there is something in this area for lisbon, i think it'll be in the diplomatic and not military arena. >> i will go back a few years. we have both worked hard to stay engaged and in touch. we've got to the point now where we have a work plan to move forward over the next several years. that does not mean there are not
challenges. nato is working to strengthen the relationship between nato and russia. there are a few challenges supported. they have been very supportive. it is given as more flexibility. we are focused on looking at the terrorist threat. it is a huge concern. >> since august 31, the u.s. military has been involved in at least three major operations.
the iraqi government still has not reconciled. other than that ceremony, what [inaudible] >> i'm sorry? >> [inaudible] bill >> the mission of our forces had changed. we have always acknowledged that we will continue to partner with the iraqi security forces and counter-terrorism operations. we are now essentially advising the board grades. -- the brigades. our mission is for them to be responsible for security. our primary role is to advise.
>> that does not mean there will not be events that involve combat arms. our forces there are there to protect those americans that are there to support the iraqis. over the course of the last year and even as recently as this morning, our leaders have talked about the iraqi security forces doing well. perfect? no. we are focused on that. we think the most important parts that are in front of them