tv Capital News Today CSPAN March 31, 2011 11:00pm-2:00am EDT
a lot of concern that with the action now against libya that somehow we're going to have to readjust the commitment that we're making particularly in afghanistan. as you know, i represent ft. bliss and there are a number of people that have expressed concerns that we're going to somehow shift some of our assets. can you address both supplemental and any potential for having to shift resources from particularly afghanistan? >> we will not be shifting resources from afghanistan. in fact, thanks to the cooperation of the congress, we are just in the process of sending about $600 million worth of additional isr to afghanistan and yesterday in a meeting i approved coming forward with an effort to try to reprogram about another $400 million worth of isr so we will be adding isr
capability to afghanistan not taking it away and we don't a anticipate strike forces. there have been some electronic attack of aircraft that have been moved from iraq to the middle east but in a way we felt was not -- did not present any risk to our operations in iraq. in terms of how to pay for this, there is a -- we are in discussions with the white house right now on this and i share your and mr. bartlett's view that it would be very difficult for the department to eat this cost out of the base budget. there is an overseas contingency operations bill here before the congress and my personal view -- i haven't coordinated this with the white house or omb but i think we ought to be able to find a way to deal with this in
the framework of that bill without adding to the top line number of that bill. i would add, though, just in terms of my interests as secretary of defense and keeping this operation limited is, is the strain we have on our mi military and one of the things people haven't talked much about, we have 19 ships and about 18,000 men and women in uniform helping on the japanese relief. there are going to be some costs associated with that, also, that are going to have to be taken care of. between these two operations, i would just make a final pitch for those who are contemplating deep cuts in the defense budget looking around the world at the commitments and the challenges we have. i think it bears a very careful consideration. >> thank you, mr. secretary.
thank you, mr. chairman. thank you both for your work. >> thank you. mr. jones? >> mr. chairman, thank you very much. mr. secretary, admiral mullen. i must tell you from the last week the american people are so disenchanted, the people in the third district, that the president seemed to say to congress you really aren't a fa factor in whether we do or do not, and i guess that can be debated and i'm not trying to get into that. i get so upset when i hear -- and, mr. secretary, i have great respect for you and secretary clinton on the interviews this weekend. when you say that we can't tell you when it's going to end, i understand that but, you know, there again, we're going to be in afghanistan four or five more years, maybe ten, i don't know. anyway, we're not a strong
nation. we can't pay our own bills right now. i had three wives of marines in camp will lejeune called wonder about a shutdown. their husbands are overseas in afghanistan. they're worried about whether they're going to get a check. they have children at home. that's not really where i want to go. i want to put it where my people see it in my district. this gadhafi is absolutely evil. and yet we take the lead on everything. i don't know where the other countries are. why in the world don't they take the lead on something? and, yes, admiral mullen, this will be a question for you and i have one for the secretary in just a second. if we now have nato in the lead, does that mean we can reduce our military involvement and reduce the spending of these tommy hawk missiles at a million dollars apiece? that would be my question to you.
and, mr. secretary, under what circumstances as it relates to the president's decision to go into libya -- this is piggybacking to what mr. bartlett was asking -- but under what circumstances do you see -- would you see that a president should come to congress before he or she at some point in the future makes a decision like has been made about libya? that the decision is, well, you know, okay, congress. we'll talk to your top leadership. we'll tell them what we're going to do and yet to the people's house there is no consultation at all. and i just think that the american people are just tired and fed up. so my question to you is under what circumstances would you believe that the president should come to congress and make a request for military use in libya? do you see any circumstances other than what's been done so far where a president -- i will
take it away from mr. obama but a leader of this nation, when does the president understand that he has a responsibility to inform congress because, truthfully, we have been left out in the cold. so, admiral, i have my question to you, i believe. i have a question to mr. secretary. i made it clear enough and if you would answer, i would appreciate it. >> the short answer with respect to our commitment is, yes, it will be significantly reduced literally starting today. we went in fairly heavy early but it was -- and actually it was in great part at the request from a leadership standpoint of our allies in europe originally. so you will see us come down fairly dramatically in the next few days and then sustained at a level of support in the areas the secretary has mentioned. the other thing that i would just mention briefly in terms of
can ha confidence in nato, i have sat in this same room over many years and nato has been very badly berated because they wouldn't lead, they wouldn't contribute forces, they wouldn't do things that we would want them to do and we were carrying the load. in this case, it is actually the opposite. nato has taken the lead, done so rapidly, essentially approved its own rules, if you will, and operational plans to execute this mission in record time. and nato has evolved like many of us but nato has evolved in ways where they are really contributing significant amount of capability in all four aspects of the mission, no-fly zone, civilian protection and humanitarian assistance. and i think they will continue to do that. >> the answer to your question is better provided by individual
presidents, mr. jones, because they all make their own judgments on these matters. i think as you all are well aware there has not been a formal congressional declaration of war as far as i can recall since world war ii. there have been different kinds of resolutions, resolutions of support. presidents have sought them sometimes. congress has passed them without the request of presidents sometimes. as secretary clinton has said, we obviously would welcome an action by the congress in support of what the president has done. that would provide an opportunity for debate. but i think that it is -- the seeking of a resolution even short of a declaration of war depends very much on the specific circumstances involved and just to give you an example,
i was asked in a senate hearing several years ago whether i thought congress -- if i thought the president had an obligation to come to the congress if he were to decide to use military action against eiran, and i sai i thought so. because i think the nature, scope and duration of such a potential conflict would require it it. so i think the bottom line answer to your question is that's a judgment call that each president needs to make. >> thank you. mr. andrews? >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. secretary and mr. chairman. first, i hope you would convey to the men and women under your command how proud we are of them, how grateful and how supportive. second, to each of you, particularly you, mr. secretary, thank you for providing a very artful example of candor and duty at the same time. we appreciate and admire the way
you conduct yourself. mr. secretary, if you came to us for your posture hearing in february of next year and you reported to the committee that the strategic mission in libya had been a success, not just the military side but the entire strategic mission had been a success, what would that look like? >> well, i think -- i think a policy success would be the removal of the gadhafi regime and at least the beginnings of the emergence of a more or less democratic government in tripoli. >> admiral mullen testified a few minutes ago that at present, i think i have this right, that the gadhafi forces still maintain a military capability superior to that of the rebels.
if that condition were to persist, and -- well, if that condition were to persist, what's the next strategic move on the military side that would be necessary to achieve that success that you just outlined? >> well, i think i can speak with some confidence that the president has no additional military who was in mind beyond what he has already authorized which is the support of the no-fly zone and the humanitarian mission. so i think what the opposition needs as much as anything right now is some training, some command and control and some organization. it's pretty much a pickup ball
game at this point. and as i got a question yesterday in one of the briefings, the truth is in terms of providing that training, in assistance to them, frankly, there are many countries that can do that. that's not a unique capability for the united states. as far as i'm concerned somebody else should do that. >> i think the administration has outlined a strategy that essentially goes like this, that we'll use the military coalition to create the conditions under which economic and diplomatic and military efforts by the rebels can create success. there are two things that trouble many of us about this mission. the first is a constitutional issue about the way we made the decision to get here in the first place. that's really not your purview. the decision was made, and i think that's a discussion between the head of the executive branch and the congress. the second thing that troubles a
lot of us is that, although we are hopeful that that strategy will succeed, that by setting those conditions, we will achieve the result that you articulated and there will be a new government in tripoli that looks something like a democracy, our concern is what if it doesn't succeed? we don't want to speculate on failure, because that's not a very smart thing to do, but i think there clearly is a concern that we need to have a plan b, and do you have any sense of what the plan b would be if this one doesn't work? >> well, i think that keeping the pressure on gadhafi is -- has merit and is a worthy objective on its own. one of the conditions that i think weighed on the president and on all of us was that with
his military power and his money, that gadhafi's ability to disrupt the democratic transitions going on with both of his neighbors, tunisia and egypt, was considerable. and as his own people rose up against him and he began to suppress them, there were many, many foreign workers in libya that felt themselves at risk. so there are over a million egyptia egyptians, for example, in libya, which is one reason why the libyan -- i mean the egyptian government frankly has been so cautious, because of the lives of those egyptians. degrading his military capability, keeping him under pressure so he he cannot disrupt what's going on in tunisia and egypt, send waves to those countries, all of those things have merit and value on their own in my view.
>> thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. forbes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, if tomorrow, a foreign nation, intentionally, launched the tomahawk missile or its equivalent to new york city, would that be considered an act of war against the united states of america? >> probably so. >> then i assume the same result would be true and the same laws would apply and the same reasoning would apply if we launched a tomahawk missile at another nation. is that also true? >> well, you're getting into constitutional law here. i'm no expert on it. >> mr. secretary, you're secretary of defense. you ought to be an expert on what's an act of war or not. if it's an act of war to launch a tomahawk missile at new york city, would it not be an act of war to launch that on another nation? >> presumably. >> a foreign leader recently made a statement, and i have a
lot of respect for him. the whole world is in an earthquake and everything is shaking. the only thing that keeps you from shaking is the rule of law. many of us are concerned about that. i listened to some of the justifications for the rule of law here. i heard this word. this is okay because it's covered. there is nothing that's covered to change the rule of law. i heard we had a chance for success. there's nothing that success does to change the rule of law. i heard this is a humanitarian crisis. that didn't change the rule of law. syria is in a humanitarian crisis, should they be scared to death we're going to bomb them tomorrow? i heard it's limited to scope and scale. a small war is okay and the big one is not. and then i heard it's okay to bomb the heck out of them as long as we say our goal is not regime change. mr. secretary, for the rule of law, we've got a very simple statute. the war powers act, which you
said you were around when that was written. it doesn't require declaration of war. it requires one of three things. i know you're familiar with them, but i'm going to read them. it says our forces should not be put into hostilities or imminent hostilities by the commander in chief unless one of three things happen, a declaration of war, specific statutory authorization or a national emergency created by an attack on the united states or its forces. my question for you today is, which of those three things took place to justify this act, or if it didn't, is it the administration's position to the best of your knowledge, that they simply don't have to comply with the war powers act? >> it has been the position of every president since the war of powers act was passed that the kind of action that we have undertaken is compliant with law. >> mr. secretary, i would like to try one more time. could you just tell me which of those three provisions, a
declaration of war, specific statutory authorization or a national emergency created by an attack on the youths united sta its forces was applicable? >> it has been the view of every president since the war of powers act was passed that the kind of action we're taking is complaint of the law. >> it's kind of like obscenity, we know it when we see it. we can't put these actions in one of those three categories, therefore the conclusion we have to reach is that the president just feels that he doesn't have to comply with the war powers act and maybe that's what every single other president has felt as well, but i can just tell you in this shaking time, in the rule of law, it doesn't help us when we have these conclusions that the end justifies the means, and mr. chairman, i yield back. >> thank you. mrs. davis? >> thank you, mr. chairman, thank you to both of you for being here.
this is a difficult time, obviously. there are so many activities going on around the world. we appreciate the fact that you're there. mr. secretary, i think that we are all in a position of our words being used against us. in this case, i think the comment that you made about our national interest is one that i wanted to give you an opportunity to clarify, even beyond the statement that you made in closing this morning. could you please do that and, i think respond to the fact that this was obviously, i think, a reluctant move on our behalf and wanted to give you both, perhaps, an opportunity to even respond to that. >> well, i think that what happens in libya is clearly in our interest. what happens in the middle east is of vital interest, and libya and what is going on in libya, i think, has an impact on the rest
of the region, and i think gadhafi, unrestrained, could have had a very negative effect on the democratic revolutions that are taking place across the region. i have -- i think it's also important to bear in mind that our allies, particularly britain and france, but a number of others have come to our assistance in afghanistan. they have put up 50,000 troops, nearly 50,000 troops, because we felt afghanistan was in our vital interest. britain and france and our other allies clearly believe that what's going on in libya is a matter of vital interest for them, and so i think that one aspect of this that hasn't been touched on is that we are stepping up to help the same allies who have helped us in afghanistan. they have now taken over the lead of this. i think this is consistent with
libya being in our interest, because of our allies' interest in it, but also the vital importance of the region as a whole. i think one of the things that differentiates this. we've been dealing with gadhafi for over 40 years. i cannot recall a single instance in the last 40 years in which the arab league has called for action against one of their own members. so you have the arab league. you have nato. you have the united nations all expressing the view that action needed to be taken against this guy, and i think that this is an area where the united state is now reseeding creeding to a supporting role, and i think that comports with our interests. >> i would only add, ma'am, that from the military perspective, it's not up to me or those of us in the military to define our
national interests. it is up to us to defend them. that's really what we do. >> i would not necessarily get into a what if game, but i also want you to, if you could respond, to the possibility that colonel gadhafi could comply with u.n. demands. i'm wondering whether the administration would want to accept the continued existence of his regime. >> i think that the political future in libya needs ultimately to be decided by the libyans themselves. the circumstances under which he would be allow ed to remain are hard for me to imagine, but there are conditions that the president has put down in terms of a cease fire, that would include him withdrawing from the cities that he has occupied, restoring the utilities and so
on, and stopping killing his own people. everything that we've seen to this moment suggests that he's not in compliance with any of those things. >> is it possible that the rebels themselves would not respect a cease fire? that they would want to continue giving a scenario that we don't see today where there is strength behind that effort? >> well, again, i just don't know the answer to that. i think that there are a lot of different diplomatic players involved, even now, with outreach from both the rebels and from various people in gadha gadhafi's camp, and what the outcome of those talks may be. i just can't foresee at this point. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. mr. miller? >> thank you, mr. chairman.
mr. secretary, do you think it's time that there was some type of resolution, either judicial, i guess it would have to be judicial about this conflict on the war powers act between the legislature and the executive body? >> i'm not going to wade into that, mr. miller. that's up to the congress and up to the president. >> did i hear you say that the president would appreciate a vote on a resolution of support from this congress on our nation's involvement in libya? >> that such a resolution would be welcome, yes. >> would you be willing to speculate what that vote would be? >> no, sir. >> could you or admiral mullen discuss our plans, if any, regarding arming the rebels? they seem to be getting their
butts whipped. >> well, consistent with what the secretary said, we know few of their leaders but there's just a whole lot more we don't know. and so we certainly are looking at options from not doing it to doing it. there's a fairly standard way to do this, to train and equip that we are familiar with, but i would also repeat what the secretary said. we're not the only ones that are familiar with this. there are plenty of countries who have the ability, the arms, the skillset to be able to do this. and so there is -- that's in significant discussion and debate right now, but heretofore, no decision has been made to do that. >> what would the effect be on
current activities if we can't reach a budget resolution and this government were shut down? >> well, as i think we've indicated before to the committee, even under the continuing resolution, there are severe consequences already for the department of defense. there will essentially be no military construction for fy-11. there are a number of acquisition programs. >> specifically libya. >> i'm sorry? >> specifically libya. we're not building anything in libya, i think. >> i misunderstood your question. >> if the government were to shut down, what would the effect be on the activities we are currently involved in in libya? >> my understanding of the law you is it would not impact any current military operations. >> why did the president notify
congress, quickly, you said, the next day after he made the decision. what was his reasoning for notifying the congress? >> i think that it's consistent with the actions that i've seen of other presidents of wanting to inform the congress of the leadership of the reasons for his action and to solicit their support. >> and did he get it? support? >> there was not, i would say there was, other than one member who raised the war powers act issue, there really wasn't much discussion. >> what support did he ask for from the congress? >> simply -- well, he wanted them to understand what he was doing, and that there would be public support from the congress. >> we don't understand what he's doing still. and i don't think he has the support of this congress, but that's my personal opinion. i yield back.
>> thank you. mr. larsen. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'll give you my assessment of a vote in congress. it would truly be bipartisan on the yeas and the nays. i think that's kind of where this house is right now. a lot of folks on different sides of this issue in both parties. the reason for this hearing is to get a better idea, try to settle some of those thoughts folks are having. in the spirit of the social media revolution that set all this off in the middle east, i actually tweeted last night telling people that you were going to be here and asked for some questions from folks. i actually got a good one, good one back. it has to do with the opposition. it has to do with the idea that removal of gadhafi will likely be achieved over time through political and economic measures and by his own people, from your testimony, mr. secretary. a question that came back
regarding that issue is how does a disparate operation that is multi-headed or in some respects leaderless, organize to defeat gadhafi without additional help beyond what's being provided right now? if the military mission is just to protect the civilian population and to have -- enforce a no-fly zone, but you have this opposition that has many heads and no leaders, how do they organize? so the specific question i have with regard to that is what specific steps are we taking to -- are we directing to organize these rebels so that we help that objective if that is one of the objectives in libya? >> well, again, as i said earlier, part of the challenge
here is that the opposition is, or the rebels are so disparate and so scattered. the truth is that there was a certain point not too long ago when almost all the major cities in libya were in the middle of uprisings. and there's very little indication of much coordination or contact among them. it was basically a spontaneous uprising in one city and town after another. in many of them, they were able to either turn the gadhafi military or chase them out of town, so the notion that the libyan people can't do that, do this, i think is contradicted a bit by that earlier experience. as i said in response to another question, we really have very little insight into the very
different pieces of this opposition and one of the things that obviously needs to happen is for there to be some unity, but frankly, among them, but frankly, we have little means of doing that at this point. >> and i think that's one of the concerns is that, does the rebellion have legs to it without a lot more help? and so we go through this military mission and at the end of it, still get -- still don't get the payoff, if you will? >> well, i think the degradation of gadhafi's military over time does create the circumstances that make it easier for these people. i mean, we're blowing up his ammunition supplies. he can't reply from a broad -- any of the things that have been lost, so it will be difficult for him to recuperate or to restore his military
capabilities and over time, that will -- that should work to the advantage of those in opposition. >> it's my understanding that the military has yet to make a decision on whether or not to arm rebels, that is to sort of take advantage of the language of the u.n. resolution of 1973. so given that, that there's a decision yet to be made whether you do it or not, can you at least provide, what are the three or four top criteria the administration would use to make that decision? >> well, we haven't really addressed this issue quite frankly up until this point. i would just share with you my view is this is something that a lot of other countries can do. one of the things that i think makes libya different in terms of what's going on there right
now is that the united states is in support of others, and others have been taking a much more aggressive stance in that respect, if you will. my view would be if there is that kind of resistance to the opposition, there are plenty of sources for it other than the united states. >> thank you. mr. turner? >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, admiral mullens for being here. i want to also acknowledge our men and women who are serving. we are also grateful to what they do to keep our country safe. mr. secretary, i want to thank you as others have for your cand candor, because you're answering some very difficult and uncomfortable questions honestly and directly, and i appreciate that. >> i also want to associate myself with mr. forbes' comments concerning the approval process
and the concern that the war powers act has not been complied with and i want to associate myself with mr. miller's comments that i do not believe that the only issue you're facing is an issue of lack of congressional approval. i think there is significant question as to whether or not you have congressional support. i can tell you that i believe that if you placed a resolution on this floor today for a vote for approval, that i doubt that it would pass. i certainly would not be voting for it. i would not be voting for it, mr. secretary, because of the answer you gave us with your candor of who it is that we're supporting. this mission is unclear and the goals are unclear because as your answer is when we ask who are the rebels. you say other than a handful, we don't have much visadvicvisibil you say we don't know. we don't know who they are, we
don't know what their position is with the united states. we don't know what they'll do if they're successful. we don't know what form of government they'll pursue if success. we don't know their geopolitical position with their neighbors. many of us are concerned about overall what would be the outcome here and without us knowing the questions that you've answered honestly and with kandser that we don't know, i think it's very difficult for anyone to say that they could believe that this outcome will be positive. on one of those outcomes i'm concerned about is what does it say from a policy basis. what does it say on a doctrine basis and what does it say on the region. can you please tell me how much consideration was given to the united states' effort for iranian nonproliferation initiatives when this decision was made to go into libya?
>> the consideration to iranian -- >> nonproliferation initiatives, our ongoing efforts on iran with nuclear nonproliferation. >> i can tell you that i haven't heard a single question in this hearing or in the briefing yesterday that wasn't debated intensively during the administration's deliberations on this. so i think all of the ramifications of potential action were addressed. let me just add one more thing. we may not know much about the opposition. >> just a second, before you do that, i really am very interested in what considerations on the issues of iranian nuclear nonproliferation initiatives. you said everything was considered. what was it considered and how was it considered? >> i think the judgment was that it would have -- this action with respect to libya would have essentially no impact with respect to the iranian nuclear
program. >> here's my concern. as you know, when we invaded iraq in 2003, libya had commenced a nuclear program and weapons of mass destruction program. as you know, they cooperated with the united states and tendered, delivered to us the assets of that program, participated in inspections and had been cooperating with us on this issue. my concern is what does it say to iran at this time as they look to our action and whether or not this would harden their regime and put their regime on a faster paced effort for a nuclear weapons program. >> my view is that in terms of what they want to try to achieve in their nuclear program, they're going about as fast as they can. it's hard for me to imagine that
regime being much harder than it already is. >> thank you. your comments about the rebels? >> what i was going to say is we may not know much about the opposition or trebels. we know a lot about gadhafi. in 1983, after we received a number of clandestine reports indicating gadhafi wanted to kill president reagan. we had the disco attack that killed 12 american men that led to the bombing of libya. this guy has been a huge problem for the united states for a long time. the reason the arab league came together and the reason that the u.n. voted and the reason nato has supported this is not because they know a lot about the opposition, but because they know a lot about gadhafi. they know what gadhafi was not only going to do to his own people but his potential for disrupting everything going on in the middle east right now. i think in the eyes of many of the participants in this
coalition, this was more a preventive action to keep gadhafi from pursuing his degradations as much as it was supporting the operation. >> thank you. ms. boldolo. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would like to welcome secretary gates and admiral mullen. at this time, mr. chairman, i wish to yield my time to the gentle lady from hawaii, ms. hannah busan. >> the gentle lady is recognized for four minutes, 47 seconds. >> thank you. secretary gates, are you at liberty or do you know what it's going to cost us or what it has cost us to date, our actions in libya? >> yes. through last monday, it was about $550 million and going forward, in the reduced role that we will be playing we estimate the cost will be around $40 million a month.
>> you also mentioned the cost of japan and the -- i think it was 19 ships we have deployed and 18,000 of our service personnel in the relief efforts and that it also had to come out of a budget. do you know how much that's costing us? >> no. >> do you know if it's around the 500 some odd billion dollars? >> it's significantly less than that. >> you also mentioned that you believe that the amounts would be covered out of the oko budget. is that correct? >> no. i said that was my opinion, that this is a matter still under consideration with the white house and omb. >> but it is going to be coming out of somewhere in the defense budget? >> that is -- i would expect that to be the case. >> if there's no supplemental, assume that, it would still come somewhere out of the defense budget we're dealing with today, correct? >> probably.
>> we've -- >> but if there's no oko, we're also in big trouble in afghanistan and iraq. >> we also know that time and time again, members of the department of defense have come forward and said the cr is just preventing you from making any long term determination or planning. so i'm now very curious about if it comes out of oco, would you be able to cover these costs? >> i think so, yes. >> so secretary gates, that causes somewhat of a problem, in the sense that if we are cutting the budget or if the crs have cut the budget as much as it can, i'm curious as to how you are going to now be able to accommodate a cost of 550 million and 40 million a month plus whatever japan may be costing us out of that oco budget that is supposed to
already be cut pretty close to the bone. how are you going to do that? >> because there's several billion dollars in there that was moved around principally by the congress that we think we can recover that would cover these costs. >> when you say it was moved around by the congress, are you saying it's still within the budget itself? >> yes, but things that we don't need or want. >> as we're looking for money, to say there's a couple billion dollars out there that you don't need or want that the congress is doing, kind of leaves us to wonder where are they so if we have to cut, what are we going to cut? >> i think the congress has already done that with the oco. >> you said there's still several billion dollars you are going to be able to cut. it's not what you want and that's how you're going to fund this. >> i'm saying we could substitute these costs for other costs that are in the oco. >> what are those costs, secretary? >> i would have to get that for
you for the record. >> i really would appreciate that, because i would like to know what that is. you also said and we've heard this constantly that there will be no boots on the ground in terms of libya, that's correct, right? can you also tell me at this present time, do our "allies" or the nato forces or the operation -- what's the new name? unified protecter. are there any boots on the ground at this time in libya? >> not that i'm aware of. >> so we're saying we're not going to put any boots on the ground but neither have our allies? >> that's my understanding. to tell you the truth, the opposition has said they don't want any. >> is there any attempt or do you know if there's any time in the future that there are going to be boots on the ground in libya? >> not as long as i'm in this job. >> i know that's on our side, but do you know if the allies? >> on the allies, i have no
idea. >> there's been no discussion as to when they would put boots on the ground, no? >> i don't think so. >> under what conditions. it could be though we're saying there's no boots on the ground, no one has any intention of putting boots on the ground. it may continue with the air strike. >> as i indicated, the rebels themselves have said they don't want any. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. mr. kline? >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, gentlemen. i want to sort of dig into this nato operation thing and see if we all agree and understand. we have a nato operation in afghanistan right now. is that not correct? isn't that what we have? >> it's nato plus about another 21 or 22 noncontributing. >> exactly, but it's a nato operation and there are other contributing nations, and we have a commander who happens to be an american in this case,
general petraeus running that. he's got sort of an interesting chain of command. he's the central command. general mattis is involved in this, but it's essentially a nato operation. our nato partners there have caveats. i know, mr. secretary, in hearing after hearing, we all felt your frustration as you went and talked to the nato allies in this nato operation and said, you know, you've got to get rid of some of these caveats. we got to get you out in the field, get you out of the wire and get you engaged and get you to contribute more. and as you said, admiral, we have other nations who are on our part in nato who are involved there. now we're involved in another nato operation. we've turned over control of nato as if that's like somebody else, other people, it's not us, but we're part of nato.
we're supporting, in a supporting role here, but we're still part of nato. in this case, this operation has a canadian lieutenant general who is commanding, but he's got a command structure and presumably it goes to admiral s staritis again. i'm hesitant to look at this as though we've turned it over to somebody else. we're involved to a nato nation. the united states has a caveat that we won't put boots on the ground. i'm not being critical of that caveat. i'm trying to put this into context. it's a nato operation, it involves the united states as part of nato. nato forces are involved in this. our u.s. forces have caveats on what we will and will not do. is that roughly correct? either one of you? >> i think, yes, sir, it is roughly, although the caveat issue, particularly with respect to isap, to a point that i don't
even track them anymore because so many of them have been taken off the table by our nato allies. >> i understand. i don't mean to interrupt but i am on the clock. i do appreciate, and i'm sure the secretary appreciates a lot of the caveats have gone away and our nato allies are much more engaged than they were when the secretary was sitting in front of this committee two, three, four, five years ago. i just want to get this in the context that they're different operations but they're both nato. our forces are involved. we're clearly heavily engaged in afghanistan, we have the fewest cave caveats, but we have forces here as well. when you say we've turned this over, that's a little misleading. we are still part of this operation. the nato operation doesn't mean it's some foreign operation. this is a command structure which we're not only a integral
part of but we're the leaders of. >> i mean, we clearly are inlt gral to this, but what the secretary said and what i said is we really are in support here, so the staffs are much more integrated with nato, individuals from nato countries. >> but if i could, we're not supporting somebody else. we're part of this. we have a smaller role than we had until this morning, but we're still part of a nato force. i want to put it in that context, because whoever's flying the planes that are releasing the munitions to destroy tanks and gadhafi forces and degrade his army and so forth, we're still part of that force. i want to -- i'm trying to get at the mission piece of this, and i'll not going to have any time to do this, very quickly, if you look at a city like sirte where you didn't have this
humanitarian crisis, it's gadhafi's hometown, if the rebel forces move into sirte or trying to get into sirte and gadhafi's forces are trying to keep them out, is this part of the humanitarian role? what would be the justification for nato forces of which we're a part for striking gadhafi's forces there? >> i think the civilian protection mission is dominant there. >> but gadhafi's forces aren't killing civilians. >> however, there has been also a privacy issue on no civilian casualties or absolutely minimizing them. that applies to nato as well as it did to us up to this point. >> thank you. ms. tsongas. >> thank you again for appearing with us and answering the many difficult questions that we
continue to have. i think we were all very pleased that the president, in speaking to the american people clarified what his intentions were and what the rational was. i think also, we can feel good steps we're taking in bringing the international community and our arab partners into this process. as always, i think we've seen how admirably our men and women in uniform have performed. i want to revisit the question of boots on the ground. i appreciate so much, secretary gates, your firm commitment in continued reiteration that that is not something you would find acceptable, and i myself want to take this opportunity to say that i could not under any circumstances support the deployment of u.s. ground forces to libya. but i worry that we have a stalemate on our hands and we are already seeing the limit of what can be done from the air. numerous reports have indicated
that within the just past two or three weeks, that president obama has signed a covert finding which would authorize military aid to the libyan rebels. to me, this signals that other options besides the current arms embargo, no-fly zone and air strikes are being left on the table. with two other wars as you both have said and our armed forces nearly at the breaking point after a decade of combat, deployment of our ground forces into libya cannot be one of them. secretary gates, it's my understanding that admiral gortny, director of the joint staff, has indicated that the united states believes it has the authority to put forces on the ground in libya. can you envision any scenario in which the rebel forces -- you've said they don't want us at this point, but a scenario in which they would request a presence of u.s. or coalition ground forces in libya and under what
circumstances would we consider such a request? >> i assume there are conditions under which they would ask for it. i could not imagine the circumstances under which the president would approve it. >> you think it's an absolute line in the sand, that u.s. troops boots would never be on the ground. >> that is certainly the way he has expressed it to the chairman and myself. >> going forward as we transition to nato, and nato were to make a decision that it needed to put boots on the ground, would there be a caveat in place that said no american soldiers could be used in that context? >> presumably. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. conway? >> thank you, gentlemen, for being here this morning. we don't know much about the rebels. what we do know about gadhafi's advisers, do we have any
intelligence as to who his military advisers are and what their current status might be as to remaining loyal to him? seems the best way of him to come out of power if somebody close to him takes it out of his hands? do we have any intelligence to that effect? >> i think we have information about some of those in his inner circle, and but in terms of their intentions, i think we don't have much. what we do have is the evidence of one of his intimates, his foreign minister. >> moususa kusa, right? >> who was in his circle and an encouraging sign. >> you said there are other entities in the world that are capable of training and equipping gadhafi's rebel forces. i suspect the forces only want the equip part, not necessarily the training part, because that
would require boots on the ground. comments this morning in the press at least one attempt to fire an rpg, they had it pointed in the wrong direction. apparently a lot of training needs to go on. since we don't know who the rebels are. you don't want to give weapons to someone who might misuse them somewhere else. if someone else decided to arm these rebels, what would our position be with respect to that? >> well, we haven't -- >> what if it was al qaeda had decided to arm these guys? >> well, we would clearly have a problem with that. i mean, i honestly don't not answer to the question. >> personally, arming those guys is a bad idea, because we don't know who they are. we're doing is protecting civilians. do we need to arm every civilian in order to do that? to protect all the civilians? >> i don't know.
>> we have had boots on the ground in libya. we had the two pilots come out of the air, and the search and rescue mission that is part of the unique capabilities. we will folks on the ground in libya from time to time if necessary in order to fulfill those missions. >> only for a search and rescue mission. >> but they will be there in harm's way to do that. >> very briefly. >> admiral mullen, i hate saying these kind of things, but you made a brag earlier about the way the coalition was put together, the international community, the arab league, you went quite extensive in that brag. it's odd we didn't have the time to solicit congress' intervention or help in that regard. again, that's folks on this side of the table whining about the process, but you did say that and i wanted to push back on that just a little bit. 40 years of a dictatorship doesn't create in place the kind
of civilian mechanisms for running a country. if gadhafi does come out of power, tribal nature of the communities, what do you envision that process, looking like since there is no organized military leadership in place and it doesn't appear to be anyone we know of on the civilian side. what really are the prospects for libya emerging from this regime change in anything that's remotely orderly? >> well, i think that there are several alternative outcomes. one is that somebody from his military takes him out and then cuts a deal with the opposition, so that would be one scenario. another scenario would be the tribes abandon him, and then cut their own deals with each other. another alternative would be clearly our preferred option
which would be that these opposition forces and the tribes come together and begin to create something that resembles a more democratic state that protects the rights of its people. there are a number of different possible outcomes. >> do you see what would be our involvement under any of those he scenarios? >> well, i think our involvement, if asked, would probably be the most likely under one in which they were moving toward a more democratic government. >> we don't have any influence or sway with the tribes. >> have we put any kind of metric in place which government we will support versus which one we will not? >> no. we haven't gone that far yet. >> thank you, mr. chairman. yield back. >> thank you. mrs. caster. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you gentlemen, very much
for being here this morning. i would like you to give us an inventory of gadhafi's military forces and assets. take a step back. libya is a country of about 6.5 million. generally, if you take that 6.5 million, how much in the population are loyal to gadhafi an how many oppose the regime? >> let me take a shot at the second part and come back to the military piece. it goes to part of the discussion that just occurred. what we're seeing on the tribal side is actually, i would call it hedging. even inside tribes, even inside gadhafi's own tribe, there is a split on where this is going and i guess my experience is, taking this to other countries, that's not uncommon. people kind of want to see how
this is going to come out before they vote, particularly, if he is sustained and given his track record for killing as many of his own citizens as he possibly can. with respect to his military 15 to 20,000, he centers the most capable military on the 32nd brigade which one of his sons commands. it is predominantly in the tripoli area although not exclusively. there's another brigade called the ninth brigade, so we have a feel for his center of gravity and his military capability. as i indicated earlier, we have atrited a vast majority. >> you said 20 to 25%. >> 20 to 25% overall of his military capability. the vast majority of his air defenses are gone. >> inventory for us what his capabilities and fire power are
in the air. >> he doesn't have much in the air left. we haven't seen any -- we've seen i think one plane fly since the no-fly zone was effectively in place which was very rapidly after the initial setting of that zone. he's got a significant amount of capability with respect to tanks, armored personnel carriers. >> do you know how many? >> well, i would rather put it in roughly the ratio. he's about a ten to one ratio for him versus -- for the regime forces versus the opposition. he's got the mobility, he's got the training. he's got command and control, communications a lot of which the opposition doesn't have. >> probably very little in the water? >> he's got some capability in the water but it's tied up. they know if they move, they're not going to move again. that message has been communicated to him. so most of his capability is ground capability.
over time, that will continue to be able to be atrited, depending on where it is. i don't expect we would do that in town. that's the civilian casualty piece, but certainly in proximity as has been the case in the last few days. >> say over the past decade, where has gadhafi purchased his weapon tri? if apparently his strength is in the tanks and land vehicles or even in the air, where has he purchased his capability? >> he's got an awful lot of former soviet union capability. >> any western countries you know of? >> i don't know. >> talk about the rebels' capability. you say they are disparate, lack control, how many militarily trained rebels would you estimate? >> the estimate is about a thousand that we have right now, but again, as the secretary
said, that's our understanding, that's principally in the east and so we just don't know across the land how many would stand up at this point. >> you don't have a good feel for who would join the fight or who has joined the fight, how many you could put into that resistance population. >> they are supplemented by a fair number of civilians who don't have a military background. >> right. do you know? can you say how many thousands or not? >> no. >> okay. thank you very much. i yield back. >> thank you. mr. whitman? >> thank you, mr. chairman, secretary gates, admiral mullen. thank you so much for your service. i want to begin by stating what the obama administration has said. their effort is to persuade gadhafi to relinquish power. under that scenario, what happens if gadhafi stays in power? if he does, what's the contingency plan if he continues in that role?
>> i think we have considered the possibility of this being a stalemate and being a drawn out affair. it's hard for me to, unless there's some kind of a significant change in behavior in terms of his own people and so on, it's hard for me to imagine circumstances in which we would be content to deal or tolerate a government that still had gadhafi at its head. i think, you know, it's hard to forecast what directions this business may take. but i think that the administration would have a hard time accepting a government with gadhafi as the head, in terms of
dealing with it. >> so at this point though, there's no contingency plan if he does continue to remain in power? >> other than keeping the pressure on. >> okay. the administration has said too absolutely you're not going to deploy ground forces there. as we watched ten years of war in afghanistan and iraq and know that as we pursue operations there with precision strike and the use of air power, we talk about that being used to prepare the battle space and that coordinated effort there. under that scenario, is it correct that we have nobody on the ground in libya in any way, shape or form, directing or coordinating these air strikes like we have used tactically in iraq and afghanistan? >> that's correct. >> are you satisfied with the effectiveness of that without us being able to direct those operations like we do in other theaters? >> the chairman is better able to speak to that than i am. i think there's some loss with
not having somebody on the ground, but i think that it's more than offset by the effectiveness of what we are doing and by not having anybody there. >> i want to talk a little bit too about the no-fly zone and looking at deployment of marine deployment there, and looking how the sixth fleet is currently being deployed. the u.n. security council 1973 requires inspection of all vess vessels and aircraft in route to and from libya, under that scenario, what role do you see the u.s. navy and the marine corps assumes those elements in 1973 and 1970? >> i would see it, again, nato's part of the mission nato has assumed is the arms embargo. we would certainly support it in
terms of ships that would be under the nato chain of command to support that. i would also note that this particular resolution is the first one that i'm aware of that allows us to actually do this at sea, to board, whether we're invited or not. that's a significant upgrade, if you will, of being able to enforce something like the arms embargo. >> will that stretch our force capacity as far as our naval forces, especially with where we need them elsewhere with say in the fifth fleet and engaging the sixth need in an expanded role. >> no, sir. i don't think substantially in addition to focus on libya, this is a part of the world that also has significant amount of turmoil throughout it, so having a presence of naval capability there in the mediterranean, i think, is a wise decision. >> looking at these scenarios, it's great to have that ability
to board these vessels at sea. let's face it, there's also a contingency that some of them get ashore. what would be the u.s. role if we were to find that out, that under this resolution, there was a violation with these supplies going ashore? >> well, i think, i mean, i don't know if the implication of the question is would we go ashore. the answer would be no. i mean, it is, and this question has come up a lot. it's zero boots on the ground, none, with respect to that. i actually have a reasonable amount of confidence from certainly the arms embargo standpoint that we can enforce this in a way that is maybe not exactly perfect, but it's a very strong embargo that we might be -- i think we're going to be able to significantly impact his ability to break it, although that certainly is a possibility as well. >> thank you. mr. cooper? >> thank you, mr. chairman, secretary gates, admiral mullen,
thank you for your service and above all, thanks to the troops. i have more of a statement than a question, because my remarks have to deal with the congressional role in this process. i don't think it's been mentioned so far today that the senate, u.s. senate, on march 1, unanimously called for a no-fly zone over libya. the house did not have a similar action. that's at least some sign of congressional involvement early on in this process. it's no secret this is a period of domestic tension in this country, politically, but it makes me yearn for the day that politics stopped at the water's edge and we could gather behind the commander in chief. there's a lot of discussion about the war powers act, from some members here. they're still unfamiliar with it. as you pointed out, mr. secretary, every single president, democrat or republican, has questioned the constitutionality of that act. if we had wanted to repair it, we've had years to do so, but
congress has not done that. there's a school of thought and the law that although the war powers act was intended to limit presidential power, it has in fact expanded it. yet we in congress have not amended that act since 1973. many people have wondered about the lack of adequate notice. the leadership in this party was informed promptly after the president's decision. perhaps we should question our own contact with our own party leadership. but that has not been raised at least so far in this hearing. i also think that you can see the president's age, democrat or republican, for almost every year in office, they age almost ten years it seems like. the gray hair, white hair quickly comes. they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. they have privy to many things
that we cannot discuss here in open hearing. i'm all for congress. we are an equal branch, but sometimes we do not take our responsibilities equally seriously with the chief executive of the land. that worries me. because congress should be more than a congress of back seat drivers. more than a congress of arm chair generals. you gentlemen have conducted your responsibilities ably and well under difficult circumstances. i worry that we in this body have not. so i'm hopeful that on a going forward basis, we can examine some of these things, not having declared a war since world war ii. vietnam was not a war. korea was not a war. we need to get our act together in this body, and this is not a criticism of you. you gentlemen in the executive branch are doing ably and well. we need to get our act together
in the legislative branch. thank you for your service. above all, thanks to the troops. in the interest of full disclosure, we need to reflect on congressional shortcomings as well. thank you, gentlemen. >> thank you. mr. coughman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your service also. thanks to the service of our men and women in uniform. when mr. secretary and mr. chairman, can you tell me when the -- when it was clearly communicated to moammar gadhafi that if in fact you do these things that create the humanitarian crisis that you describe, that we will in fact intervene militarily to degrade your capability and to stop this humanitarian catastrophe from happening, as we assembled these forces to include predominantly
our own? when did we clearly communicate those conditions and what specifically were those were th conditions so that if he ceased his activities in terms of, again, attacking civilian targets, that, in fact, our forces would not intervene? >> first of all, he should have seen this coming beginning with the gulf cooperation council resolution, then the arab league resolution. so he -- and the moves in the u.n. with the first resolution and then the second resolution. so it isn't exactly like he was surprised. what the president said in his announcement of his decisions was that -- that for the attacks -- for the ground attacks to cease, that he would have to pull his forces back away from misrata, from one of the towns in the west that was
was -- that he was attacking, restore power and water to misrata and pull back well to the west of ajdabiyah. so he was very specific in those matters with his announcement of his decision. >> so -- but there really were no clear conditions made. were there really clear conditions made where we were waiting for a response from moammar gadhafi on preventing this humanitarian crisis for which we have now are engaging in combat operations? >> he started these actions the minute that the people began -- that the uprisings began in tripoli and the other cities. and, you know, the response was, i think, clearly communicated to
him what was going to happen. >> mr. secretary, i don't believe that this -- i served in the army and the marine corps and i know what humanitarian missions are and our men in uniform know what humanitarian missions are and they're generally in a permissive environment where our security concerns are simply the integrity of our logistical support. this is -- these are combat operations, were intended to be combat operations from the beginning. i don't know why this administration has not been honest with the american people that this is about regime change. and it is stunning to me when the president of the united states and his address to the american people says that regime change in iraq took eight years. and this is going to be different. well, regime in iraq took three weeks. it was the humanitarian crisis that was caused by the vacuum of power in the aftermath of the fall of that regime whereby there was anarchy, looting,
there was massive criminality and then there was an ensuing sectarian civil war for which we were engaged in that has gone on now for eight years. but it is stunning to me that this is just the most muddled definition of an operation probably in u.s. military history, to say what it is and what it isn't. to say this is not about regime change is crazy. of course this is about regime change. why not just be honest with the american people? >> well, first of all, i think that the president has been quite clear in terms of what the military mission is. and that's one of the reasons why we can take the position there will be no boots on the ground. most instances where there has been regime change, where that is the objective of the military
operation, it has taken ground forces to make that happen. but the president has also been clear -- so there is the military mission, which has limited objectives and is limited in nature and duration and scope. and then there is the political objective or the policy objective of the need for a change in the regime in libya. i don't see how that's muddled. >> i yield back. >> mr. loebsack. >> thank you, mr. chairman. first thing i want to say is i really appreciate the fact that we have at least a limited number of airmen from the 185th air refueling wing of the national guard in sioux city who have just been deployed, called up and i have confidence they're going to be doing the job that they're called upon to do. and i want to give them as much credit as possible. often my colleague jim cooper and i don't vote the same way, even though we're in the same
party. but i don't know what he thinks about me, but i think he is one of the most thoughtful people in the u.s. congress and i want to associate my remarks with what he had to say. i think he had a lot of great things to say about the role of congress in this. and i appreciate your comments, jim, very much. that being said, my job still on this committee is to provide at least some degree of oversight of the administration. i was very critical of the bush administration during our involvement in iraq. i'm not at the point where i'm willing to be as critical of the obama administration in this policy. i may never be that critical. i'm still at a stage, like a lot of us, where i'm gathering as much information as i possibly can, given the limited information that in fact, was provided to most of us here in congress prior to the commencement of the operations.
but i will continue to engage in oversight so long as this operation continues. i have a lot of concerns about who the rebels are. i know that was brought up already. i know that secretary of state clinton did meet with them over the weekend. can you talk to us some more about who these folks are, because if, in fact, we have a policy goal as you just stated, mr. secretary, of regime change, then i'm hopeful, though i don't know for a fact, but i'm hopeful that the administration has some idea who is going to take gadhafi's place. and will it be someone among the rebels? will there be some kind of a government that will be made up of a number of different factions that already make up the -- who are these folks and what would be the plan post
gadhafi? >> well, we only really have information on a handful of the rebel leaders that have been in the east. we really don't have any information that i'm aware of who led the uprisings in the cities in the west and there may not have been particular leaders. it may have been largely spontaneous. i think the one thing we haven't talked enough about in this hearing in terms of a post gadhafi period is, in fact, a dominant political reality even under gadhafi. and that is the critical importance that the large tribes play in libya. and the fact that gadhafi, in fact, has been able to stay in power only by balancing these tribes and by giving them concessions and money and taking their interests into account.
so i think in any post gadhafi environment, the tribe, the major tribes of libya are going to play a major role in whatever government comes afterward. >> okay, we're at a point now where nato has taken over the military operation, essentially, though we're a huge part of that by definition. i still don't know what that means exactly. maybe you can flush that out in the coming days. in terms of who would play a very important role with respect to a post gadhafi regime, a construction of that, whatever the case may be, who among the western allies and the united states would play lead role on all of that. has anybody thought about that at this point, i guess? >> as i mentioned earlier, there has been some outreach from the opposition, the opposition was represented at the london
conferen conference. but he represents the group in the east. but there is no -- i don't think we have any evidence that he speaks for those in the west. >> can i just say, because i have very little time and i appreciate that, but i have a lot of concerns about so-called nation building. i understand in afghanistan, they argue we're not engaged in nation building as such, we're engaged in constitution building because the ethnic tribal makeup of the -- of afghanistan is complex, as it is. if, in fact, libya is much more complex than we think it is as well, all i would say in closing and thank you for letting me go a couple of extra seconds, mr. chairman, is we need to be extremely careful moving forward, that we ourselves do not engage in nation building as such, given that the -- what you've already mentioned in terms of libya, the complexity of libya, that's just a cautionary note on my part. and i'll be looking forward to hearing from you.
>> i will tell you i completely agree with you. >> thank you, mr. secretary. >> thank you. mr. gibson? >> thanks, mr. chairman. i appreciate the leaders here today. certainly a difficult and complex situation you're dealing with. a comment first and then a question. the comment, while i certainly empathize with the libyan people, and gadhafi, despottic leader, to be sure, i pose this action. when you look at our involvement in iraq and afghanistan, completing our objectives there, i think it is in our vital national security interests. we need to see that through. it certainly has taken a great degree of our effort to do so. al qaeda existential let to our way of life, we need to neutralize that threat, and the deficit, which is also an existential threat. these things, i think, require us to learn from our experiences over the last decade and to exercise discipline going forward. we talked in great detail about
the lack of clarity and the lebls not knowing a lot about these rebels. for what it is worth, based on my experience, my study and reflection on this topic, when your military and political goals are not harmonized you run the risk of strategic failure or having to go back on your promises. we are where we are today. my question has to do with authorization for going to war. and this is certainly a topic that was of great interest to the founders. we see this in madison's notes on the constitutional convention. we see it in the federalist papers you can read that many many different individual papers. i think suffice it to say the founders were really very concerned about the executive exercising fiat and taking us to war and they really wanted to make sure there were checks and balances to that and we get that through the legislature. and in the constitution that follows. my question to the secretary is, you say the administration is
dp complying with law. what law would that be? >> the administration has complied with the elements of the war powers act that involve consultation and notification. >> so if the congress votes to not authorize, will the administration cease operations? >> i don't know the answer to that because i don't know the legal -- the legal case. >> well, clearly this is a question that the american people need an answer to. let me conclude by saying this, that apart from how the situation in libya turns out and we'll hope for the best, and i say hope because i'm not convinced that we really have a plan to accomplish the political objectives. we have a plan to accomplish the military objectives, but let's hope for the best, but beyond that, i want to associate myself with the remarks from the gentleman from tennessee, and i think that the major action this congress needs to take up is going forward, bringing more clarity on the use of force and
how the legislative and executive branches need to do their duties in concert with their constitution. i thank the gentleman again for commenting and i yield back, mr. chairman. >> thank you. mrs. sutton? >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your testimony. from the beginning days of this effort, the united states led the coalition. and today and we have heard that nato has taken sole command of air operations in libya and the u.s. is not in the lead. so how does that impact the flow of information to congress and the media about our military involvement, given obviously that we are part of nato. just trying to sort all of that out. could you tell us what to expect. >> let us both take a crack at that, but my view would be that it should not impede it at all,
that everything we are doing should be transparent to the congress. >> certainly that's the intent from the standpoint of being inside nato, and those who are -- those who are stationed in -- those in the coalition and those who have positions within the nato structure would be also in their united states hat reporting back up the chain to the secretary. >> okay, so the comments that we have heard through the course of this hearing about, you know, boots on the ground and we talk about the steadfastness that we are not in the united states going to be sending boots on the ground. we have heard comments about they haven't -- they have requested no boots on the ground. we all can envision a scenario where they might change their mind about that, maybe they will, maybe they won't. so we also heard conversation about other countries having the
capacity to make their own decisions about boots on the ground. so when that decision is made, are we going to know immediately and have an opportunity to change our course or how does that work in real time? >> well, since it is a hypothetical, i'm not sure i know either. i'm pretty confident that nato, as an organization, would not authorize boots on the ground as part of this operation. several of the countries have made that clear. and in truth, several of the countries have reservations about any goal associated with regime change. there is unanimity in terms of the no-fly zone and the other missions. so i think that what an individual country may do, i
just don't envision that at this point in terms of boots on the ground, except i can see potentially some there in a training mission with the rebels. we have talked about the need for training and improved command and control and so on. so i can see some individual countries, not the united states, at the invitation of the rebels in there to do training and so on. >> the only thing i would add to that, that doesn't necessarily have to be a nato country. it can be another country, an arab country, that is part of the coalition as well. >> if it is the nato country, does that -- what does that mean for the united states in communication back to this body? anything? >> we would keep you informed about it. >> okay. the other issue i would like some clarification -- >> my guess is we would all read
about it in the newspaper about the same time. >> see, that's my concern is that we read about things in the newspaper and then we get to come and ask the questions and that's, i think, concerning to the congress and i think it is concerning to the american people when they witness that. and i think rightly so. the other question that i have is just a point of clarification about the weapons being used by the rebels. so are we to understand that those weapons are all at this point coming from gadhafi's forces that they're obtaining them from gadhafi's forces? >> this is a country like many who has a lot of weapons. >> right. >> in fact, they are uncovering magazines and caches of weapons that are principally existent in the east and they're certainly from a small arms standpoint, ak-47, the kind of things that they're using there is ample supply. >> i yield back. >> thank you. mr. west?
>> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary, and admiral, appreciate you being here. i want to go back to mr. wittman's comment about the close air support. i spent 20 years active duty in the artillery. and i had the opportunity in combat to direct close air support missions as an air support officer. it is the engagement from an aeroplatform on opposition's ground maneuver forces. one of the critical tenants is to have people on the ground to direct the men. my question is, who is the person on the ground that is directing close air support missions against gadhafi's forces? >> there is no one on the ground doing that. we don't have any jtacs on the ground. we have actually got -- and i'm sure you'll be familiar with this, in some aircraft, facts who are flying in the aircraft specifically, but we also recognize going in that we would not be as effective obviously if we had controllers on the ground. that's certainly understood and
yet we have had, whether it is the abac-10s or some of the air force jets, cf-15s, we have had pretty significant success because the iads are down. we can get down on them pretty close. but that doesn't preclude us from focusing hard on positive identification, which is a real challenge. and particular, as the regime forces in the last couple of days have started to look like, dress like, drive in vehicles like the opposition -- >> that's my concern. >> that's not a surprise. >> yeah. >> and so that has made it, in some cases, tougher. >> so then there is a question of effectiveness and then also the question of how do we mitigate the risk of, you know, eventually dropping bombs on the rebel forces. >> well, it has been -- i mean, again, i think it has been incredibly well executed mission so far to not do that,
specifically. and outside these difficulties, which we -- which we know, the biggest problem the last three or four days has been weather. we have not been able to see through the weather or get through the weather to be able to do this kind of identification. and that has more than anything else reduced the impact. hasn't eliminated it. reduced the effectiveness and allowed the regime forces to move back to the east. >> very well. secretary gates, you know, as the chairman mentioned in his opening statement, you previously made the comment about no vital interests in libya, but, of course, we're there. but, you know, as i look at recent developments all across the middle east, i see some other very key strategic interests. in syria, where we have a sponsorship of hezbollah, and the sheltering of palestinian terrorist organizations that directly threaten israel, and lebanon. and we know that syria has been a launching point for al qaeda to go into iraq and had the opportunity to serve in there i know exactly about that. and they have had the opportunities to kill our soldiers, wound our soldiers and
thousands of iraqis. in yemen, we know we have al qaeda in the arabian peninsula there. and we have the radical cleric who, of course, lived just right across the potomac in northern virginia, al allawi. and then also in bahrain, our fifth fleet. i think of this committee and the american people really need to understand is what bumped libya up above everything else? what put them at the top of the food chain as far as, you know, us saying this is such a vital or national interest? >> well, i think, first of all it was the fact that most of the countries in the region themselves decided that libya had become a threat for the first time since gadhafi had ever come to power. and then -- >> but a threat to them or a threat to us? >> a threat to the development -- a threat to their own people to start with, and a threat to the region as a whole in terms of the changes that
were going on in the region. and they clearly felt that gadhafi had to go. and then we had the british and the french and the -- who had a very strong view that some action need to be taken to prevent a humanitarian disaster. so what these countries were primarily concerned about was, i think, what was about to happen or what was happening to the libyan people. i think the added aspect, the concern was enhanced when dealing with the number of foreign workers in the country and the danger of mass immigration to both tunisia and egypt. there are over a million egyptian workers in libya. and i think the danger of them destabilizing the fragile conditions in both egypt and tunisia became a great risk as well. so it was both the potential for
a humanitarian disaster in terms of many thousands of libyans being killed, but also the risk of destabilization of all of north africa. >> thank you. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> if i could -- >> thank you, mr. courtney. >> mr. chairman, can i just very briefly -- >> very briefly. >> hard to prove a negative, but it is my belief that this action happening as quickly as it did did prevent a very significant humanitarian crisis. and that was a -- obviously, a big part of that. >> very well. >> thank you. mr. courtney. >> thank you, mr. chairman. to go back to a point that mr. cooper made, one thing that moved it up on the food chain was a unanimous resolution in the united states senate on march 1st, bipartisan sponsorship, calling for us to execute a no-fly zone. so in addition to all the other voices from the u.n. and the arab league, congress actually was joining in in terms of calling on the executive branch
to act. you know, and you can get whiplash. >> i would just add, mr. courtney, including both republicans and democrats in the house calling for a no-fly zone as well. >> thank you. i mean, when -- this hearing should be happening and there should be questions asked that, you know, something this big deserves all the scrutiny that we can give it. but you can get sort of whiplash around here trying to keep up with the positions of some people on it. one thing i think we could do that is very useful is to pass a defense budget for the rest of 2011. and, again, i think you were a little gentle, mr. secretary, in terms of saying the impact on the defense department in terms of this operation is not going to be that large because this morning, secretary mafs was at a ship building caucus talking about the fact that we right now have a global fleet that is deployed in the arabian sea, the mediterranean, part of this
operation, in the pacific, providing support in japan, yet because of not doing a 2011 budget, we have availabilities that are now being canceled. and this is a fleet that is at maximum tempo right now and the navy can't reset, like other parts of the military. they have do it as you go here. and i think that certainly these operations, and i know for a fact because one of the submarines that was deployed in the mediterranean is the "uss providence" out of gratton, scranton and florida were part of that operation. they are -- they're pretty out there in terms of their deployment and they need to get refitted. and, again, i just maybe give you another opportunity to talk about the fact that we have got to get this done to, again, just keep the -- all the pieces out there moving, particularly with our fleet. >> it's all of the services in
the navy. it is not just that we're not being able to start some ships that were part of the program. some of the maintenance contracts have had to be canceled. just to your point about availability of ships, as i said earlier, no military construction for fy '11 at this point and every one of the services, we're reaching the point where we may have to ramp down significantly the activities that the depots at red river and elsewhere. so you look at every service and the consequences of the continuing resolution are being felt. >> one thing i would like to add, i have not had this discussion with my boss, but for first time since i've been in this job, which is three and a half years, i know the navy is considering essentially
recommending not deploying some ships scheduled for deployment. so it is just another impact of -- and it is purely financial right now to look at can we get through this year. and what isn't visible in all of this, and i have been around money a lot in my career, is just the contraction going on inside all the services as they play the what if this doesn't happen. and in that regard, very conservative assumptions with respect to executing the rest of this budget. >> we talk about equipment and everything, but just one further thing, just to bring it home to the average service man or woman, the navy has had a policy for a long time of getting six months notice for pcs moves because of the money constrictions they have now shrunk that to two months. so a real impact on families. >> one quick follow-up welcome the handoff to nato today an the
fact that the unique capabilities which the president described in his speech the other night were part of the operation at the outset, the rampdown in terms of cost, part of what is driving that is the fact that we are sort of easing back, again, tomahawk missile attacks, which, again, were the high cost front end parts of this operation. and i mean that explains at least something we can take back to the american people that there really will be a reduced cost because we're not doing the same stuff that we uniquely were capable of doing at the outset. >> that's absolutely right. and it is really not an easing back. it is a pretty significant rampdown over the next couple of weeks. >> thank you. and just for the record, we're all struggling with trying to get this appropriation bill passed for the defense. but we wouldn't be struggling if it had been done last year in regular order when it should have been. mr. thornberry? >> as i have listened to you all
yesterday and today, it seems to me really that we have three distinct military missions here. one is a no-fly zone, two is protect civilians and third is to degrade his military. i guess one of the things i would like to understand is are we degrading his military only when they are engaged in attacking civilians? or are we degrading his military capability somewhat preemptively? >> i think the principle focus is certainly been as he has been on the move. but it's not exclusively, you know, where they exist on the move because there say command and control piece here, which isn't, you know, exist -- which isn't approximate to where the forces are. so substantial degradation there as well. and, yes, we have focused on this, as he's moving forces, as he was to benghazi and came back
through ajdabiyah and focused for the last several days on misrata, the president talked about al zawiya in the west, but t the regime has dug in pretty hard in that city. so it is really in combination and we haven't -- i mean, we have certainly focused on it this way, but i don't think we have been overcautious in terms of representing what he does in threatening his people and taken his forces on in that regard. >> okay. in the rampdown, we're going to provide logistics, intelligence, support, command and control support, what else? >> the logistics is probably more than anything else, it is fuel for airplanes. though there are other countries with tankers out there as well.
the intelligence surveillance reconnaissance aspect of this, the electronic attack, i talked about having the vast majority of his air defenses down, but he's got some mobile capability that is still there. and we, in a very limited number of other countries, have a capability of taking that out when it radiates. so that's -- those are the principle four or five areas where we will support. >> okay. if i could just say a word about the attacks on his military. i mean, what we're trying to do is prevent him from using his military against civilian populations. and so what we're trying to do is hit convoys on the move, hit ammunition dumps, things like that, that give him the capability to go after the civilians because he has shown in every instance where he was able to that's exactly what he's done. >> sure. but you mentioned a few minutes ago, mr. secretary, that other
nations have a somewhat more aggressive stance than we do. i presume that our support logistics intelligence so forth will continue even if the other nations escalate in some way their operations. i mean, we're going to support them. >> having watched this coalition come together, and having watched it debated inside nato, there is certainly some tension with respect to that. i think that tension will continue from the standpoint of what we are going to do to support that, it is in those areas and it will continue to be so. that, i think, doesn't necessarily mean that under any circumstances we wouldn't change that. but certainly for what we can see right now, what i can see right now, we will continue that support. >> seems to me in both areas there is a potential for some growth in this mission that at least we ought to be aware of. mr. secretary, one thing i haven't heard discussion discus
the consequences of this action on the worldwide terrorism threat. do you see ways that this makes the world more dangerous for terrorism, less dangerous, in this setting? what is your -- what can you say about that? >> well, i think the first thing to remember is that gadhafi was a principle sponsor of terrorism himself. and our country has been the victim of that terrorism. and, in fact, he and hezbollah have killed more americans than anybody, except al qaeda in the attacks on the united states on 9/11. so i think -- i think gadhafi was not exactly a force for good in terms of the terrorist threat. you know, the terrorists themselves are saying that these
changes provide them with opportunities. and perhaps that's true, but the reality is, i think the success of changes in tunisia and egypt and places like that, and actually will make it harder in the long run for the terrorists. but they certainly do see opportunities and i think we have to be on guard against that as do these countries themselves that the revolutions don't get hijacked. but i think in the long run, al qaeda is a loser in this process -- in this revolution that is taking place. >> thank you. mr. garamendi. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. and thank you for your testimony, gentlemen. if this question has been answered, just say so, and i'll pick it up from the record. i've been in and out. how are we paying for this?
we know the numbers, 500 plus, plus 40 million going on. how are we going to pay for it, where is the money coming from? >> there is -- right now i am in discussions with both the white house and omb about how to do this. i think it will come from within defense resources, but whether it's just exactly how we do that, we haven't established yet. >> so we're not looking at a new appropriation, but rather a reassignment of money that has already been appropriated to the defense department? >> i think that's likely, yes, sir. >> i thank you and appreciate the detail when you have it. thank you very much. >> thank you. mr. secretary, i know we have agreement to end in five minutes, but we have two more members. would you be willing to take their question? >> i thank you. mr. scott?
>> thank you, mr. secretary. and i want to say this with as much respect as possible, i want to -- if i could just repeat some of the things that i've heard you say over the last few days. success is removal of gadhafi. the goal is not regime change. e dod's job to make it where it is easier for the secretary of state to do that. is that where we are? >> what i've been trying to make clear is the difference between a political objective and the military mission. and the military mission is much more limited than the political objective. >> yes, sir. but the u.s. -- but they both,
would you agree, are -- they're two facets of a u.s. mission or u.s. goal. there is a political -- there is a u.s. political goal and there is a u.s. military mission. the end result that gadhafi would no longer be in charge in libya? >> you could -- well, first of all, i would say we have accomplished the military goal and now we need to sustain it in terms of no-fly zone and in trying to protect the civilian population. you could have a situation in which you achieved the military goal, but do not achieve the political goal. >> yes, sir. i'm one of those that think gadhafi is smarter and more capable than most people give him credit for and maybe the rebels. i mean, look, he's got command and control and an army and they have got neither. so us fighting it with airplanes and saying we're not going to put boots on the ground is a serious concern to me. i want to go back to one other
thing that you said, and i'm a member of congress and so i take a certain amount of offense to the timing of what the president did. and you said it is your position that the u.s. can bomb libya without congressional approval, but you would need congressional approval to bomb iran. who makes the determination of who we can and cannot bomb without congressional approval? >> the president. and in the case of iran, i was asked -- what i was doing was quoting an answer to a question that i received in a congressional hearing when i was asked if i felt if it was my personal opinion that we would need the approval of congress to go to war with iran. it wasn't just bombing. but to go to war with iran and i said i thought so. >> admiral, if i could, we have got a continuing resolution that expires within a couple of days that we don't have an agreement
on. we approached the national debt ceiling within weeks. we're now in iraq, afghanistan, and libya. the president made the decision to go into libya, knowing that we were approaching those timelines with regard to funding. obviously it takes money to do all of these things. at what point when we see the president lead on the issues of the continuing resolution, the national debt limit, and the budget as a whole, wouldn't you ag ability to engage in these operations? >> well, i mean, the question was asked earlier if the government shut down would that affect the operations and as best we can tell it wouldn't in iraq, afghanistan or libya. or elsewhere or japan right now specifically. it is not really mine to answer
what the president should do. i would only say that the concern that you raise is one that is, as i have seen, rout e routinely discussed in the meetings that i've been, in terms of understanding what the -- one, what the challenge is and that they need to be resolved. other than that, i really wouldn't comment more on those issues. >> if i could, you -- one last thing very quickly, you said before the ink was dry we were on the way. well, the ink was dry on friday. congress was in session on thursday. so the decision was made that we were going that way while congress was in session, yet there was a decision made not to even brief the armed services committee. is that correct? >> what i saw was the president consult and meet immediately after the decision was made. i was in the meeting in the
situation room on the phone, and he did that, you know, very much approximate to that decision. >> when was priestbriefing of t armed services committee? >> there wasn't one. >> thank you, sir. >> mr. young. >> thank you, mr. secretary. and mr. chairman for being here today. you know, notwithstanding my great concerns about the constitutionality of the action that we have seen take place in recent days, and with due recognition of the fact that there were certain members of this body and over in the senate that seemed to have bless a no-fly zone, i still wish the procedure had played out differently. i would like to start with a comment related to the nature of the mission and then i'll have a question. i'm a u.s. marine and it has been my understanding that humanitarian environments, i think as was mentioned earlier, typically are things that occur
within permissive environments, certainly not a permissive environment. we have a -- what has been styled a no-fly zone plus. it seems that plus is tomahawk attacks and as i read it, select boots on the ground, depending upon how you define boots on the ground. we sent u.s. marines in for the search and rescue mission. and recent press reports at least indicate there are cia operatives on the ground. so boots on the ground, as i would define it, but perhaps military boots on the ground is what we really mean. my question relates here to the desire to end state and our ability to achieve not only the military objective, but also the political objective which presumably is why we're in there militari militarily. our political objective stated so many times is to remove gadhafi from power, and
hopefully replace him with someone who does have the moral authority to lead, someone who is not a tyrant. and i think it is quite possible, i agree with you, mr. secretary, we may well achieve some narrowly defined military objective and find out the larger political aims have not been realized. and to what end are we fighting? it is the political objectives. we heard here today the rebel forces are not coherent group. and that there are multiple leaders. probably more in the west than there are in the east part of the country. so my question is this. if we're not dealing with the cohesive group here and we're dealing with various leaders, are you concerned that al qaeda or hezbollah or some other unsavory group might take advantage of a leadership vacuum that we are helping to facilitate through our military action? >> i think that in libya that would be very unlikely.
and i would not -- i would not underestimate, in terms of the achievement of an objective, i would not underestimate the importance of preventing large numbers of libyans from being killed by their own government. i mean, that is one of the u.n. security council resolution authorizations. and it, you know, the humanitarian side of this at this point is not so much sending in food and water and medical attention and so on, it is trying to prevent these people from being killed by their own government in large numbers and destabilizing the entire region. >> why do you regard it in the case of libya as an unlikely scenario that al qaeda or hezbollah could take advantage of a leadership vacuum? >> well, because of what i've said earlier. i mean, i'm no great expert on libya, but i think that the future government of libya is going to be worked out among the
principle tribes. and they are the ones that even gadhafi has had to balance and work with. so i think that for some outside group or some element of al qaeda and the islamic maghreb to be able to hijack this thing at this point looks very unlikely to me. >> thank you. >> mr. secretary, mr. chairman, thank you very much for being here today, for being responsive to this committee. thank you for your service and, please, express our appreciation to all who serve under you. thank you very much. this committee is adjourned.
>> our economy is in the tank. our budgets and our states can't -- we're cutting essential services. we were told iraq, eight years and we're still there and the iraqi people are worse off. the rebels -- al qaeda is in the rebels. there is top u.s. officials who admitted there is al qaeda people, plus there is all sorts of gadhafi generals --
>> have we learned nothing after years of war? >> the gadhafi generals have gone to the opposition and they're now in leadership. you're going to trust them? so what are we doing here? eight years later, the iraqi people are worse off than when we got rid of their dictator. this is up to the libyan people. this is up to people to stand up and change their governments, not for the united states. we have a track record, look at afghanistan, look at iraq. we can't afford it. and we can't do it and in the end it won't be good for the people of libya. the people of libya need to liberate themselves. we know that from history. >> you need to leave then or we'll place you under arrest. >> we'll leave then because we certainly don't want to be arrested. >> drop your signs. >> just the american people don't get to ask their questions. >> there is a lot of concern.
senior officials from the homeland security department testified over requests for government files under the freedom of information act. senate republicans called for a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. later, defense secretary robert gates told a house panel that the u.s. military will significantly reduce its commitment in libya. with government funding set to expire next week, we will get an update on budget negotiations. the city of detroit has seen its population decrease over the last decade. the city's mayor will give his
perspective on the economy and the challenges to try cases. "washington journal" at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. later, a look at the nation's latest employment figures. the bureau of labor statistics commissioner will testify before the joint economic committee. that is live at 9:30 a.m. eastern. now, the house oversight committee investigates allegations political appointees delayed requests on certain subjects. darrell issaid -- chaired this meeting.
i hope we will find it was not but is now. it is the policy of the committee to have our mission statement in our opening. with that, the oversight committee, we exist to secure to fundamental principles. first, americans have a right to know the money washington takes from them is well spent. second, americans deserve an efficient, effective government that works for them. our duty on the oversight and government reform committee is to protect these rights. our solemn responsibility is to hold government accountable to taxpayers because taxpayers have a right to know what they get
from their government. we will work tirelessly in partnership with citizen watchdogs to deliver the facts to the american people and bring genuine reform to federal bureaucracy. this is the mission of the oversight and government reform committee. today's hearing follows an eight month investigation into what we believe were abuses of procedures of department of homeland security. this matter could have been resolved in july 2010 when dhs first was confronted with allegations of political interference with foia process. the came from the associated press and others to look into this. the chief privacy officer we believe misled committee staff in 2010 briefings. if not for whistleblower, the truth of the matter may never have come to light. that whistle-blower was asked to
clear her office, lost her job, and title and responsibilities and was moved to a smaller narrower th you responsibility the day after she testified. that concerns us the department is not taking their responsibility to the hard- working men and women in the department to this day. the truth of this matter is the secretary's political staff did approve significant releases. they delayed responses, they withheld documents, they conducted weak searches. nonprofessionals searched their own documents using their phone keywords and did not avail themselves of career professionals who were there long before them and know the system. documents in witness testimony shows that she privacy officer
of's statements from september 2010 are indefensible. yet several of them appear in her testimony at this hearing today. she continues to insist policy implemented in september 2009 was intended to make political staff aware of significant releases. the bottom line is, responses could not go out the door until a political appointee said so. the problem at the department has -- that the department has not accepted accountability for. the disparity between the promise is stark. the committee is committed to getting to the bottom of the abuses of dhs and making sure the politicalization of the transparency issue does not metastasize throughout the
federal bureaucracy. the chair is concerned further that there was a requirement we discovered through whistleblower and documents that one of the most important issues that came was not just the document related to foia but who was sending it? whether it was a political individual or the press. that reeks of nixonian enemies list and this committee will not tolerate that. >> think you for calling this hearing. i've said it again and i will say it again -- before and i will say it again. let me start with what we agree on. i think you and i agree with president obama's decision on his first day in office to reverse eight years of previous
administration policy. to adopt the presumption in favor of disclosure and to renew the federal government's commitment to foia. the process to review certain responses in 2009 and two dozen town was not efficient. sometimes led to delays, and cause confusion about roles and responsibilities that resulted in interoffice tension at dhs. i think we can agree that since then, dhs has made significant improvements but it must continue to take additional steps to fully address these concerns and i am convinced we can always do better. despite some areas of agreement, we part ways when you make extreme accusations that are not supported by the documents. not supported by the interviews. and not supported by the
investigation conducted by dhs. over and over again, you claim that dhs officials are making decisions based on partisan political considerations. in july, you claimed dhs ignore the intent of congress and politicized the process. in august again, you claimed political appointees at dhs had inappropriately injected a person -- partisan considerations into the process. you continue to make these accusations even though the committee has concluded interviews -- conducted interviews and gathered documents that show the opposite to be true. the report released yesterday accused dhs officials of illegal politicize asiaation. it claimed political considerations were important in
the process. without requesting a single document from the previous administration, the report concluded the process is more politicized than when president obama took office. these extreme accusations are and substantiated -- not substantiated. staff reviewed the documents to the committee as well as transcripts of interviews conducted by committee staff. we found no evidence that dhs withheld any information for partisan political purposes. we found no evidence that requests received different treatment based on their political affiliation. we found no evidence dhs officials implemented a process to advance partisan political objectives. in every instance we examined, information was withheld only with the approval of either the or councilice
's office. this is the conclusion of the dhs inspector general. which they published yesterday refuting these allegations. this is what the investigator said. after reviewing information and interviewing experts, we determined the significant request review process did not prohibit the eventual release of information. it goes on to say none of this information demonstrated the office of the secretary prohibited the release of information under foia. obtained creditsttemp this assessment. no officer said the request is for disadvantaged because of their political party or area of interest. our committee has the great
opportunity to help federal agencies as they strive to achieve president obama's high standard. we also have an obligation to conduct oversight that is responsible and fair. i and the long run, as i have said many times, we are just as concerned about government running well as you are. it is just as important to us as it is to you. because we are americans also. we want our constituents to be served well. that is what this is about. this is the all-american way. it is not about the republican way or democratic way. it is about the american way. with that, i will thank you again for holding this hearing and with that, i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. members may have seven days in which to submit opening statements and include
extraneous information into the record. pursuant to khomeni rules, all members are to be sworn. would you please rise to take the oath? do you solemnly swear or affirm the testimony you are about to give will be the trutruth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? both witnesses are in the affirmative. in order to allow time for discussion, this committee has a longstanding policy of asking you to -- that you're opening statements be placed in the record. please stay within five minutes. i do not cut people off midsentence. if i think you get to the end of a paragraph, i will. we expect to have only one round of questioning unless there is a specific request for second round. our goal is to make this factual and succinct.
i will be pretty heavy-handed with people on this side. if someone runs to where you see a red light and they still have not gotten to the question, you may see a gavel. it will not have to answer. fair warning to both sides. we want to keep you within your time. what members to ask questions so you have the proper time to respond. -- we want members to ask questions so you have the proper time to respond. we're not permitted from having votes. if we have boats, we will wait five to 10 minutes after the vote has been called. if the first one is 15, we will recess. as soon as there is a two-person working group, we will reconvene. even if i am not back here, whoever the senior republican is will commence a weekend the, of your time and schedule.
one second. i did not want to make any mistakes on the name even though they are in front of me. the chair recognizes our first panel. mary ellen callahan, mr. ivan fong, the general counsel to the department of homeland security. these first. >> thank you. the morning. -- good morning. i am the chief foia and privacy officer. my office and the minister's policies, procedures, programs
to ensure the department complies with the freedom of information act and the privacy act. i appreciate the opportunity to appear before you to discuss the department's freedom of information act processing and policies, past and present. two years ago, the department faced a backlog of more than 74,000 requests. we began to work to address the issue and have had success. under this administration, we have reduced the backlog by 84%. more than 63,000 requests. in fiscal year 2010 alone, the judge reduced the backlog by 40%. eclipsing the government instruction to reduce the backlog by 4% as well as the goal of a 15 s -- 15% reduction for the fiscal year. less than one-half of 1% of the 138,000 foia request processes
were deemed significant. the requests include those relating to ongoing litigation, but it too sensitive topics, requests made by the media, and requests related to presidential or agency priorities. in these few cases, department management was provided an opportunity to become aware of the contents of the release fought -- prior to its issuance. to enable them to respond, to enable them to respond from -- and to engage the public on the merits of the underlying policy issues. the significant requests -- review process came after several significant foia's released without notice to senior management. there were related to ongoing litigation, records from the
previous administration, and records from other departments. that basic lack of awareness of significant responses hindered the department's abilities to manage and oversee the department. the transition of where we were then and where we are now was not seem less. there were management challenges in implementing the awareness process initially. however, we recognize these problems at the time and have taken significant actions to address them. i believe that transitioning to the share point system last year represents a significant step forward and i believe it is now a system that works effectively and efficiently for professionals in my office and the department. at the same time we were implementing this process, the average number of days it takes the department to process a request has decreased significantly. from 240 days to 95 days.
there have been allegations that political appointees redacted foia's and restricted their release. to my knowledge, no one other than a foia professional or attorney made a substantive change to the proposed release. further, to my knowledge, no information deemed replaceable by the foia office or -- general counsel has been withheld. documents have near the been abridged or edited. i would point the committee to the analysis that makes critical findings including the significant review process did not prohibit the release of information. no requestors were disadvantage because of their party or area of interest.
the office of the secretary is responsible for overseeing dhs operations and is within its right to oversee the process. and dhs has made important progress in sharing openness including through proactive disclosure. we concur with all six of the i.t. recommendations. i am heartened to see the inspector general sees the progress we have made. we're committed to doing more and we look forward to working with the committees on these issues. i would be happy to take questions. thank you. >> thank you. mr. fong. >> i am ivan fong, i am the general counsel for the department of homeland security. i appreciate this opportunity to appear before you and discuss the department, securities freedom of information act policies. as general counsel, i lead and oversee a lot department of more
than a tree hundred lawyers -- 1800 lawyers. i and my leadership capacity, i emphasize the important role dhs lawyers play in advising on and in ensuring compliance with the law. and setting high standards for professional and personal integrity across the department. in the course of performing their duties, headquarters attorneys as well as lawyers in our offices may be called upon to interpret the statute and to apply its provisions to records collected and processed by the office of privacy for possible disclosure in response to foia requests. foia establishes a mechanism that makes records held accessible to members of the public access to the extent the records or portions thereof are protected from disclosure from -- by one of nine statutory exemptions or by one of three
special law enforcement record exclusions. the nine exemptions included reflect congress's recognition the goal of an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society, must sometimes be balanced against other important societal goals such as protecting the confidentiality of sensitive personal, commercial, and government information. this administration has taken significant steps to increase openness in government. in january 2009, president obama issued to important memoranda to the heads of executive apartments -- departments and agencies concerning transparency. in his memorandum, he committed this administration to unprecedented levels of openness in government. and in his freedom of income act -- information act memorandum, he stressed the importance of foia, saying it was a commitment
to ensuring an open government. to reinforce this commitment, the attorney general in march 2009 issued a guidance memorandum that among other things, reiterated the president's call for a proactive disclosure in anticipation of public interest. required agencies to consider making partial disclosures whenever full disclosure is not possible, and urged agencies to create and maintain effective systems for responding to requests. against this backdrop, department lawyers provide day- to-day level of vice to the chief officer, staff, and others in headquarters and components for -- who are responsible t responding to requests for it will provide legal advice on specific request and they do so based on their understanding of the facts and best legal analysis and interpretation of the statute, developing a case law and guns.
with respect to the involvement of the office of the secretary and other senior department leaders in being informed of significant offense, including the release of information, the secretary and her staff have clear statutory authority to ask questions of, review, and manage the operations of all parts of the department, including the privacy office and its elements that handle the process. similarly, the attorney general's 2009 guidance statement said the responsib ility belongs to all this. it is not only legally permissible but sound practice for the office of the secretary to be informed of, and in coordination, to oversee the process. as my colleague has just described, a significant foia
review process has become more streamlined and more efficient. despite challenges in the early implementation of the review, and those problems have been acknowledged and remedied, the office of the general counsel will continue to engage with the chief foia officer and staff to make sure we disclose properly and promptly in the spirit of cooperation that adheres to the letter and spirit of the president's direction. thank you. >> thank you. i will recognize myself for five minutes. is ap on your enemies list, ms. callahan? i will take that as an know unless you want to answer. there has been this talk in your opening statement about political, there were members of d'sress who have r's and after your name. you wanted days to pre release
if ap wanted something or to spin or to decide to take information that was sensitive or embarrassing and get it out in some format you wanted days before the associated press would have what they waited weeks or months for. let me understand this. the words you used because i want to make sure the words are careful. what you said to the committee turned out not to be completely accurate some time ago. you used the word eventual repeatedly. the eventual means that -- eventual means that a right delayed is not denied. do you stand by that position, three or six or 90 days, they are ok as long as you eventually comply? yes or no, please. his eventual good enough? is away of three days, 30 days, or 90 days ok and compliant with foia in your opinion? >> the initial process
-- the initial process -- >> is this acceptable as compliant? you use the eventual but there were clear delays produced by this policy of pre-alerting so political appointees could do what they wanted before i got out in some other way. is three days, 30 days, or 90 days and acceptable to lay and complying with foia? yes or no? >> it did not. >> you were causing delay and eventual should not be a with a word in your statement. the fact is, there were delays. the ig said it did not change the fact you were delaying and if the if were doing -- ig were doing their job, you'd have to
stop the bench will and make a prompt. you were aware there were delays produced. did you do anything about it? did you consider it a problem that three days, 30 days, or 90 days occurred because political appointees were evaluating the sensitivity of a piece of may be embarrassing information or politically sensitive information becoming public? >> i believe it is important for foia responses to be promptly disclosed. i believe also the secretary's office has a legitimate interest. >> you believe a delay in order to evaluate the political ramifications and potentially release something someone has waited for 90 or 100 days, release it before you give it to them is ok under foia? that is what was possible as a result of this policy, wasn't
it? >> that is not what i said. it is important for releasable records to be released. i believe also, the secretary's office has an interest in knowing what is -- >> i asked about the interference. i did not ask about the interest. nobody on this dais will assert that as a request was going out, simultaneously, even the evening before the morning, it was sent to the offices so they would be aware and be able to develop appropriate responses if it appeared on the front page of "the new york times". your offices have them days or weeks or months before hand and in some cases could have spawned the store before the facts were given out. let me move to one other thing. put up slide number one. there will be more slides today.
this one -- is hard to read that. do we have a copy? would you give the witness is a copy? -- witnesses a copy? you have a exemption. on the left, you will see the redacted version. on the right, you will see, and this was the type of information the ap was looking for they felt this policy confound it. -- confounded. this is for you, ms. callahan. were you concerned that the forwarding of a request to political staff would burden the staff? that is one of the things redacted or more specifically, not sure what the confusion is. please note this request is coming directly from the front
office. noaa is brief. -- briefed. could you could you please have them forward the reports so they are needed. that was redacted, so basically you have made a decision. the decision was to forward it. a newspaper agency wants information. what i read here is we are redacting -- it is not about a pre-decision process, but a decision was made. the ap wanted to know and had the obligation to know under freedom of the press if you were doing exactly what you were doing, and that information was redacted. you have a copy of that. please respond. >> with regard to the ap request
about foia, my office was recused, as is the normal process if my office is the direct subject of the foia request. >> mr. fong, the redacted actual substantive information that was clearly exactly what the ap was looking for, you redacted it when they tried to get their information. it was not executive privilege, but it clearly was what they had a right to know and we're finding about here today. would you explain why? >> i was not personally involved in making the decision. my staff, though, has expertise in this area. i cannot speak to this particular redaction or other reductions that were or were not made. i can say there is an administrative appeals process that exists precisely to correct
such issues and such mistakes. my understanding is these records are going through such an appeal, and i believe it would be premature to a pine. -- to opine. >> my time has expired, but i will have copies of all of this delivered to use the you could look through them and know them in advance. i think the ranking member would agree that, quite frankly, it is hard to appeal a reduction because you don't know what you don't know. i yield to the ranking member. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. one of the things i have seen in this committee before, and it is something i am very concerned about, is when people come before us, you don't allow them to you answer the questions that have been asked. i will go to you, mr. callahan. i realize this is not an easy process.
-- i will go to you miss callahan. i realize this is not an easy process, and you are probably a little more of this and people are watching this, and there is a lot after this moment, and you have a reputation. i want to give you a chance to answer the question, tried to, but you were not permitted. you stated that the delays did not meet your high standards, and during the delays that were discussed, or officials weighing partisan political concerns? -- were officials when partisan political concerns, to your knowledge? >> to my knowledge, they were not, and that was confirmed by the inspector general's report. >> what were they doing, to your knowledge? >> the front office wanted to know about significant foia activities and the underlying merits of the debate.
they may not have had an opportunity to review them in a timely fashion. >> was the general counsel reviewing documents for legal sufficiency? so they could meet the standards? >> there were at times some documents that had been identified as being insufficiently or inappropriately processed, and for that they went to the office of general counsel for review as is the typical process. >> were you taking your time in order to "spins stories" prior to the release of documents? >> no, sir, they just wanted awareness of the underlying issues in the foia releases. they just wanted to know what was in the documents. >> i want to thank you, and i
know you mean it, that you have high standards. we understand that you are one person and you have people who work with you, correct? >> that is correct. >> it has been repeatedly said that these individuals make decisions on partisan political factors. last summer he said political appointees were injecting partisan political considerations into the process. in his report yesterday, he said political considerations were an important factor in your foia decisions. these are serious, very serious allegations. but based on our reviews, we could not identify any instances where this actually happened. let me ask you directly, are either of you aware of any thing in the way that dhs withheld information from foia.
quaestors based on partisan considerations? -- from foia requests based on partisan considerations? >> no, sir. >> i am not, either. >> the inspector general said after reviewing information, we determined that the significant request review process did not prohibit the eventual release of information. he also said this, no foia wasicer said request youors disadvantage because of their political party or interests. are you familiar with that? >> i am familiar with that, and i agree with them and i appreciate their injection into this matter. >> our review found that your two officers were not working together as efficiently and effectively as they could.
we found there was real tension between the foia office and the general counsel office. let me give you an example. on march 3, we interviewed a captain to works in miss callahan's officer. -- in ms. callahan's office. she said she had serious concerns about an attorney who handles foia requests, and when she was asked to describe the problem, she said this, "i do not consider him to have expertise in foia. there have been several times i have had to educate him on basic concepts." mr. fong, how the respond to that? -- how do you respond to that? >> i disagree with the view that this attorney in question was not qualified to respond to her
request. as you know, foia is a technical and complex area. it is true that she does not practice in this area full-time, but she oversees a group of lawyers who does, and they have very good judgment and applied his best understanding of the statutes and exercised good faith and reasonable judgments to the questions he was presented with. >> this has nothing to do with political issues? these are two career employees who seem to have difficulty working together, which we see all the time, even on the hill. ms. callahan, how can we expect the process to work when career officials cannot work together? >> we are working to address what are reasonable disagreements among others, and i think it is important to make sure that we put personalities
aside and try to work to solve this problem. we recognize it could be a concern and we are working diligently on it. >> as the leaders of your two offices, it is it your job to get these employees to rise above this and rebuild the trust level? and what is the plan to do that? and how you plan to resolve substantive disputes between the offices in the future? >> i strive to be sure i am a good manager and make sure these issues do not impact the effectiveness of our offices, and i will work diligently to attempt to address that through individual consultations as well as perhaps collective ways to resolve personality issues not dealing with substantive issues. >> mr. fong? >> those who work with me know that i take my leadership and management responsibilities very seriously. i have spent a lot of time in my
almost two years at the department ensuring that our lawyers to work well with their clients and others around them. i have taken specific actions to remedy issues that have arisen. and as you said earlier, this is not unusual for career professionals who care deeply about what they do and are very dedicated, hard-working professionals who disagree at times. and as you said, i believe they should try to rise above their disagreements. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. for the record, we have been informed that the ap's 9-month- old application under the administrative objection has not yet been heard. with that, we recognize the gentleman from utah. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i will refer to the associated press reports, read statements
from that, and get your reaction to them. tell me if you believe they are true or false. if a member of congress sought such documents, employes were told to specify a democrat or republican. >> sir, that is how congressmen are referred to. >> this is a new policy, correct? >> actually is not. it was a policy established in 2006. it is during the weekly report in which we report these elements. >> to the white house? >> actually, to the department, and they may or may not report specific elements to the white house. >> i want to clarify this report. the second sentence of the july 7, 2009, from you, the privacy office foia leadership integrates this into the white house liaison. >> and by integrating it, i
don't know what goes on with the integration process. it may or may not include it. house?was for the white o >> that is a front office process. in the two years i have been here, i believe a member of congress has been listed on it once. >> first paragraph, for at least a year, only security d quarter requests for political records -- be toward requests for political records. >> i disagree with that assessment, as demonstrated in my written testimony. it was a process to provide awareness to the senior leaders. >> probing for information about and deemed itoors, too politically sensitive. >> as i discussed with the ranking member and in the inspector general's report,
there were management challenges with the initial way we tried to do this awareness process. political affiliation, parties of interest but not play a factor. it was logistical issues rather than management challenges, and that was demonstrated. >> it seems to be inconsistent with your directive of july 7, 2009. "the department abandon the practice after the associated press investigated." is that true? >> it is not true. >> let me keep telling, thinking. you have answered the question. i have a short amount of time. "career employees were ordered to provide secretary janet napolitano's political staff with information about people who asked for records, such as where they live, whether they were private citizens or reporters, and the organizations were they worked." true or false? >> this is a process since 2006 to provide awareness into
significant issues that may be going into the public domain. >> "two exceptions require white house review -- spending under the $862 billion stimulus law and the calendars for cabinet members." is that correct? >> anything that has white house equities requires white house review. >> white house equity, what does that mean? >> to the extent the secretary was in the white house, disclosing some sort of the element, this is a typical process of referring foia requests to different departments. that is a standard process. >> "under the e hundred $62 billion stimulus," was that part of it -- under the $862 billion stimulus," was that part of it? is that correct? >> ithat is correct.
>> why? >> i am not a policy person in this area. >> is that a directive from the white house? >> i believe i was instructed by the office of the secretary to do that, and we processed it. >> who directed you to do that? is that a document that you can provide? >> i believe is the deputy chief. >> if it is not in the record, would you provide that? >> certainly, but i think it is in the record with the deputy chief of staff, and we did so. >> my time has expired. >> would the gentleman yield? >> yes. >> who was that one member of congress? >> it was not sent to the white house. >> who was it? >> i believe it was senator
grassley when he was asking for a request. we modified it and answered it three different process. members of congress did not often file foia requests, so it is a relatively moot point. >> we now recognize the former chairman of the full committee, mr. towns, for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. at the meagan, -- let me begin, first, ms. callahan, think fee- for-service. -- thank you for your service. you have asked many questions about the laser responding to foia. can you please explain to this committee what circumstances, with situations might delay you in responding to foia? >> yes, sir. as you know, we take our
responsibility seriously. at the same time, there are several steps that i detailed in my written testimony that describe the process that every foia -- of the 130,000 we received last year, each foia must go through the steps to identify the federal records, the parties who may have information, that we have applied the appropriate exemptions, we have looked at legal issues, and the process has been reviewed to make sure that there is not any information that is inappropriately disclosed or redacted. despite having high standards, the average processing time for foia's in the department is 95 days. that is right now several days more efficient than the department of justice, at 113 days, but it is a standard that we are trying to achieve and surpassed. delays are not appropriate for any foia, and we are trying to
mitigate that problem. >> are any of these delays called by -- caused by political involvement? >> as i described in my initial testimony and written testimony, there were some processes that were involved in the awareness review for the department, but did not involve political activities or instigations as the inspector general indicated. the initial way we started to give the front office of the secretary awareness into some of the significant foia that may make media attention were not up to my standards and we have modify that process. i believe now we have a best practice in terms of providing awareness not only to the front office but also to the other foia officers if there are requests that may impact their equities. >> ms. callahan, can you explain the 2006 directive in which foia requests are referred
to the secretary's office? can you explain that? >> sir, i cannot explain that, because i was not here in 2006, but i understand it is the ordinary process of all administrations to have awareness into significant activities each component. my privacy office provides two weekly reports, one on the activities of the entire office and separately on foia's that may meet the standards for awareness for the front office. but i understand it is typical practice, not only across the administration but the federal government. >> thank you. mr. fong, what can be done to eliminate the delays? >> i think a lot of what can be done has been done in terms of the significant review process, having it on the share point system one day gives time for
awareness, but does not add to the delay of the process of releasing the documents. i think in general, if we were more coordinated as a department, we spend a lot of time as a relatively new department trying to figure out who may be relevant components program individuals, what documents need to get to whom for the foia professionals to review. our lawyers are very busy, hard- working, but their plates are full. it takes time to do an analysis, to gather facts, make judgments. i would also said that while i agree it is important to be prompt, there has been much made of the 20 business days time line, which, in my view, is
a misnomer. if one thinks of it as a violation, it merely provides that the agency must make a determination within 20 business days, after which a requestor may appeal or seek judicial redress if such a determination is not made. there are provisions that permit an agency to request an extension, and, as miss callahan indicated, many agencies take on average longer than 20 business days to respond to a foia request. while we have an interest in releasing promptly, this is a process that courts and others have recognized as the federal government has become more complex, it's inherently takes time. >> thank you very much and thank you both for your service. i yield back. >> i think the former chairman.
>> thank you both for your appearance here today before the committee. ms. callahan, thank you for your service. if you do not have an easy job. it is a complex job, with a great scope of information associated not just with the free flow, but also, at times, information that may relate to investigations or other kinds. it is not an easy job. but the ap has reported that in december, 2009, you found a level of scrutiny that we have had the base established through prior testimony. you understand what i am talking about in terms of the oversight of political appointees. you say this level of attention is crazy. i really want somebody to foia holddamn process.
what did you mean? -- i really want somebody to foia this whole damn process. >> that was to my staff. the initial review was not sufficient, and it had its management challenges. at the time, -- therefore, that is why we had moved to the share point system that mr. fung referenced an i.d. tell that my testimony. we were not technologically able to do that in december of 2009. share point did not come into my office until march, 2010. at the time, i was discussing not the awareness review, because i continue to believe the sector has important equities and having awareness into this -- the secretary has import equities and having awareness into this, but the level of detail and paying attention to what was perhaps not where i would have put my emphasis. >> is it your testimony that was purely process? >> yes.
>> it is just a question of process? >> not questioning the review itself, but the level of detail. >> we have established there is a level of review that goes on in the form of responsibilities for political appointees to have to affirmatively indicate as to whether or not inflation is to be released? >> let me be clear, that process has been modified and we no longer have that at all. that was the initial process, and that has significant management challenges. that did not meet my standards and that is what the process was modified. >> this does not happen at all now? there is no affirmative review? >> absolutely not. barry a fyi -- there is a fyi review. previously, we had no way of sharing them between the front office and through the
components through e-mail. >> are you making the calculations as to sensitive information? let's assume there is no politics but there is a security interest. are you responding to this based significantly on the issue from a foia perspective, or reduction or other issues? at the current system, it may help explain it. -- the current system, let me explain. we have an internet-based system where we up loaded. then the people's with equities review it and other foia officers review it, so it is accessible in a centralized base. in that way, we send out notification and say the request has been made. >> it is a notification process. there is no more thumbs-up, or affirmative, but any kind of person above you? >> that is correct, sir, and that was changed in july of
2010. this is a notification process. people can look at the underlying documents. that has happened a couple times were people have caught the their decision information that may have -- people have caught decision information that may have been sent out. it has only happened a handful of times since july. that is a better process. >> there is no longer any delay as there was in the past or something would have been prepared for release by you and would have taken an additional amount of time to go up the chain before you got the affirmative approval by the political appointee? >> the new share point system has the documents but loaded the next day -- one day, and then it is moved on the next day. that is to make sure that we did not disclose all enforcement sensitive or other decision information inappropriately. >> mr. fong, what level of training or engagement do you
have with those political appointees about their responsibility and their obligations under the freedom of information act who participate with you in the review of these documents? >> i just want to be clear what your question this. when you refer to the political appointees. >> those who in the past had to affirmatively indicates. it is a complex. and you appreciate that. they were doing affirmative indication, and now, presumably, that is no longer the case. my concern with moving forward, notwithstanding if you are still participating, to what extent do those individuals have any say, may be able to reach back and say, do not release that yet? >> of course, that is part of the process then and now that the attorneys in our office who
have experience and expertise in this area stand ready to be consulted at any time, whether it is the foia professionals or the political appointees or program managers to have a better sense of the impact of the disclosure as is required be assessed under the attorney general's guidance manual. all of that information is relevant to making a legal determination, and our lawyers are involved in making those determinations. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i am a little surprised where we have allegations of politicization being made, and i see nothing but pure politics and nonsense. i would hope to be taken seriously as a committee that the majority would begin to act that way and take down that material and approach this with a degree of seriousness with
which it deserves. that said, ms. callahan, i think you and mr. fong for your testimony. i know eventually the ap story said they were not able to substantiate the most serious allegations made in the story are subsequent comments. just to put that in context. but i was concerned what i thought at one point in the ents involvingevtn the recovery act. i asked the interview, and she basically said at one point she thought she was advised that all requests needed to be sent to the white house, but was advised that was not the case. does that conform with your understanding? >> thank you for that, and that reflect -- that refreshes my recollection that is in