tv Washington This Week CSPAN September 27, 2014 3:30pm-5:01pm EDT
kind of meaningful dialogue with congress. the congress is not there, literally. the question becomes as things develop on the ground in the next six to eight weeks, the president will fill increasing pressure to go alone just because of logistics. the real question becomes, what happens after the midterms? does the congress go to work -- we have not heard the white house formerly -- formally endorse it. >> does the president have enough authority to act right now? >> i think he does. to jerry's earlier point, before the beheadings the american people -- the two major "usa today" polling, 48% people, the economy was the top insert followed by health care, the
budget deficit, 38%, education, 31%. immigration was at 14%. the beheadings were enforcing mechanism. congress planned to be in session only 12 days after the summer legislative recess. the beheadings compressed the calendar in terms what the president can do and what congress wanted to do. what congress really wanted to do was pass a short-term extension of the budget and then get out of town and focus on the elections. i would take a little the difference with rachel's point. the congress does not want to take tough votes is not a new concept. districts are more gerrymandered than before. if you look back at lincoln's time, they avoided votes because it was too politically difficult than and it has not changed since.
>> before we go further, we will have to have a debate about who we are actually fighting. even an important citizen might be very confused without a scorecard of who are the threats. i would like to bring tim starks in here. you had clapper and the intelligence committee briefing lawmakers about what they considered were dangerous threats, pressing threats to the united states. >> you are right. it's very difficult for the average person to keep track of these groups. it's difficult for the intelligence community to keep track of these groups. people might forget that al qaeda in iraq is a forebear of the islamic state group that has become such a big threat. the bipartisan policy center is going to be releasing a report
tomorrow that has a chart of where all these groups are. they say that looking at 2008 compared to now, al qaeda and its affiliates are operating in 16 different countries, which is double what it was in 2008. that includes wildcards of groups that could pop-up, or if there is a big deepening of a conflict in israel-palestine -- that some other group might capitalize and become a danger to the united states. the one that was getting a lot of attention this past weekend. that is the one the clapper said was in the vicinity of dangerous. yet, you also still hear about al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. a good number of experts, the chairs of the committees will say that is one we need to worry about. they have a track record of trying to carry out these attacks on the united states,
and inspiring them among homegrown terrorists in a way that other groups don't quite have since 9/11. that is another big one. there are a variety of other groups -- some of them are weakening, but they can be revived. it goes back to the point about the islamic state. >> you pointed out last week that the action against islamic state may inspire these groups to step forward in an opportunistic way. talk about that. >> if you took the u.s. officials, they worry about the islamic state to some extent. in terms of near-term danger, one of the things they worry about more of the groups you are talking about, but also the fact that they may have an incentive they did not have a couple of months ago to man a strike.
the islamic state is sucking all the air out of the extremist world. if you're running al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, you suddenly have a need to prove your relevance, you're still here, you still matter, how do you do that? maybe you pull the trigger if you can on a big strike against the west. maybe not necessarily here. you make the point, we are still around too. that is a legitimate concern. it is also a testament to see how much the islamic state has changed the game in a short period of time. you raise the question of who are we fighting against. there's also a question of who are we fighting with against the islamic state, and do people see the threat the same way? this disagreement here as to whether the islamic state poses the greatest threat or not.
that is part of the confusion that has everybody feeling nervous. the one thing that is clear in that polling a new get a sense of just listening to the conversation on the hill in the last couple weeks is that to the extent americans had decided steadily over the last seven years that the threat, the 9/11 threat against them and the homeland, that has receded in the last month. >> would be beheadings be a most significant driver in the uptick? >> yes. based on the public all in, you can't see a similar spike. you see it drift up and down, the fear factor, but nothing like what happened in august. >> you have a spike in fear, you have multi-pronged threats, a congress that is not debating. congress has given way to the sitting president on the war action for a generation now. aren't we experiencing a slow-motion constitutional crisis?
>> yes and no. the yes is in some ways, we are experiencing the same constitutional crisis we have been experiencing since unilateral dishes making -- decision-making. at least for the moment, the president has plausible if not self-evident statutory arguments today. the president has suggested that authority to go after isis for the moment can be derived from the statute congress has, entirely because isis is the successor to al qaeda's legacy. it is not implausible. the moment when this becomes a real constitutional crisis is when you have a thread for which there is no plausible statutory authority, -- threat for which there is no plausible statutory authority. that could easily happen.
i'm just not sure we are there yet. >> you are releasing a paper later this week on the varying views on the right, on whether the president should seek new authority. >> we are releasing a paper on isis and whether or not an isis-specific aumf would be appropriate. the reason that most were actions happened in a specifically designed aumf -- we break out the five constituent parts of that and say if the congress is not convinced of the president possibly go arguments, -- the president's legal arguments that isis grew out of the 2004 [indiscernible] even though he is dead, there is this break from the core al qaeda but you cannot make the case, then congress needs to -- the president should be
proposing and amuf. it is a must read. when you read both of them together, you really get a good sense of what is happening in the legal academy. he gave a speech at my alma mater on constitution day, and he talked about how the constitution is under stress over the last decade because of the various machinations from the bush administration and the obama administration. he gave various examples. there is some merit in that argument. i agree with steve's point as well. >> it is worth stressing the very different constitutional question we are grappling with today versus 5, 10 years ago. the question is not what happens
when you have a president legally defy an act of congress on the grounds of statutorily unconstitutional. the question is what happens when you have a president who is convinced that some force needs to be used to quell a threat to the united states, where congress apparently agrees, where there seems to be more than the majority in both houses, but where they just cannot get their heads together whether for political reasons or logistical reasons or for other reasons unknown to us. that is the constitutional crisis that worries me, which is not when you have congress saying one thing and the president saying something else. it is when you have complete agreement among the political branches that a refusal to do with the constitution requires, which is at some point to pass new legislation. >> i might take slight disagreement with you on that. there might be instances for
action -- there is still such a great division within the democratic party and republican party that is easier for congress to not do anything. it is easier for them to say, let the president go right now unless something gets out of hand and they don't like what he's doing. this issue of congress willingly ceding authority to the president is interesting. it is in the interest of constitutional dynamic. we had a story today that this would be the most do-nothing congress of all time, unless they pass 100 bills in the lame duck session. it is interesting how much you see a president go to congress and say, i want something, and till he starts taking about ramifications of congress saying if we don't like it quite a way you do -- quite the way you do --there was a period of time in which the cia wanted to be more
open about working with congress. i asked him, what do you think about the authorization bill that is coming up. e very privately use curse words to describe how much he did not care. >> something subtle but interesting happened in the last few weeks in regard to the relationship between the executive and the legislative branch. president obama came out and said, it think i have the ability to act here. but i invite you in congress to please authorize something, get with me here, do something. the executive branch -- some of us have been doing this for a long time and the tendency of the executive branch is to say to the legislative branch, stay as far away from me as humanly possible. please go away. he did not say that in this case. he said, please authorize
something so there is a sense we are moving together here. they did not really. the authorized training and arming the syrian rebels with no dollar signs attached. that is a different dynamic between the two branches. >> with kosovo 1999 congress had [inaudible] the vote was a tie. 216 to 216. we are not talking about a has the -- house that had resolution before. >> biscuits to jerry's earlier point about the interesting polling where the american people were saying, we want you to do this and when the president did this, they did not reward him for it. the american people are looking for a government that can do something successfully abroad. they are worried they are not going to see it. you get this funny back and forth where they say, we want you to do something that we don't really believe you're going to succeed and we don't want to fail again.
that is an even bigger problematic dynamic than the constitutional dynamic, this loss of faith in the american government to act effectively from both parties. >> part of the reason that happened, which i give credit to the president for doing because that is a healthy way of signaling to them, let's work together, is because of what happened last year on the serious situation -- syria situation. it was like two teenagers trying to figure out who is going to ask the first one out on a date. he did not really want to put forward and aumf proposal and congress did not want to reward him by doing one. what would happen if it was an election year -- who knows. it is very clear to me that i saying what he said, he's very open to and aumf.
i think they realize there is this vigorous debate in the legal academy, and they are widely open. >> it was a speech last may, not this most recent may but last may where he said the same thing. >> anti-repeal the old one. >> -- and to repeal the old one. >> not long after, defense officials testified to congress, we are good with a aumf as it is. it is certainly a very different situation than last year. >> knows the price --no surprise there. can we go back to august of last year? did obama make a mistake in asking for that vote? can't do business as usual, very forceful was his speech.
>> it was a pivot point. almost everything that happened in administration foreign policy is to some degree or another judged against the backdrop of what happened that week in august. the white house doesn't like to hear that, but i think that is true here. it's true in terms of relations with congress. it is probably even more true in terms of the way people abroad see the u.s. and see the obama administration. what the president has done with the islamic state coalition building is starting to pull back some of that. it was a big moment, and it did affect lots of things that happened in the year subsequent. >> having been involved from afar, there were not the votes. they just did not have the numbers. they did not want to bring it to a vote.
they do not have the numbers because the constituent was running against that vote. i don't member the numbers for every single senator -- remember the numbers for every single senator. it was overwhelming. there wasn't a beheading video at that point. you eventually have to go back to the american people if you are a member of congress. >> you did say the american people are uncertain there would be a successful -- that we will have a measure of success. i want to go back to something written about. these ad hoc coalitions can fail. what is the prospect of success with this coalition? >> i'm not privy to the classified documents on this one, and i really hope that it looks better than it does from
the outside. from the outside, most militaries are not set up the way our military is, to actually protect the people in the country and the territory of the country. based on that, we give them money and try to train them, but their fundamental purpose is different than what we want them to do. that is a real problem. >> absolutely. some of these states we're dealing with, you would have seen a lot of confidential information about, are you any more confident? >> this is not a partisan issue. we note -- need the coalition to win. one thing we have not talked about here is leadership. a president, any president in his sixth year needs to regroup, needs to reassess the people around him or her and needs a clear vision for the next two years. this is one of those classic cases in point where the president needs to leave --
lead. he needs to lead. there's a lot of different types of folks voting. that is an opportunity, i think. put together the right type of winning legal argument, political argument for us to win. the administration needs to be more forthright, honest and direct about who this coalition is and what they're going to do. it's going to be very hard, because there will be things they can't talk about red -- about. americans are used to turning on cnn and the next day seeing the crosshairs and bombs going off. we are not seeing that. we are like, what the heck is going on? there is an emotional aspect here that people are not getting what they are hearing. >> steve, do you think we need a new legal framework on partners?
>> yes, but -- >> we allude to this before with the kind of countries we are talking about in listing in this coalition against isis. when you talk about the assad regime in syria, we talk about iran, how do we feel comfortable that the fact that the enemy of our enemy is suddenly not so much our enemy? if we need a new framework, it would be good if we can exert some leverage and put strings on the aid we are providing and the support we are seeking. we need them at the moment, perhaps as much as they need us. as long as that is going to be true, it will be hard for us to impose conditions. that will create a very bad structure where the kind of support that we need, especially in the middle east, will come from countries who are not going to say, do it and we will improve our human rights record or we will do it unconditionally.
we are in a relatively weak position. i think we do need it, but i do not think we are going to get it. >> when obama backed down, he said he was dispatching john kerry. with our partners in peace. john kerry this morning, he seemed to be describing the islamic state as a state. that they controlled territory they have, a funding flow. >> i don't know. whether the u.s. government is on the precipice of recognizing it is a dangerous proposition. first of all, is going to pissed off that territory that is
claimed by another state. i can't imagine we have recognized the islamic state. sovereignty, right to act in self-defense. i don't know if america has hail in some kind of moved to a recognized statehood or we were focused that this is a group we are going after, not because they are a standard terrorist group, but many groups control wide swaths of territory. territory changes the game. it gives them more security from action by other countries. i don't know this beginning of anything other than a nomenclature change. >> people are not being able to see the normal atmosphere and
imagery of war. maybe that was carried trying to create that. >> the consequences are so dire. to draw an analogy, this is the one bridge linking would not cross. they would never recognize the confederacy as a country grade when you do that you confer legitimacy. >> talk about the practical effects that are partners in jordan and turkey. we're seeing a lot of reaction. this is in your wheelhouse. do we have not a lot of time to make an effect of pushback to ease this crisis? >> the refugee crisis, we are seeing it now. suddenly it is real to us. this started years ago with the syrian war.
it has been a serious issue in lebanon and turkey, the destabilization of those states is quite real. there are little boys and girls growing up in those camps. what are they seeing on their tvs? their parents hopeless in the face of something. the more years they are in those camps the more you are going to see a generation growing up with this normality. we know now not just the emotions but the brain, brain science is telling us the violence that causes in people. impulse control. you don't want generations growing up in refugee camps and not being able to work, and seeing that. we are going to see that for this generation. we want to deal with this soon. we have been trying from a humanitarian perspective. we will need it more.
>> what kind of a drain is that on a country like jordan? >> i have no idea. i am not jordanian. i can only imagine from what i have seen and what i talk to my friends in the military am i have served for 23 years. that is debilitating. if you look at the people in the last week, it makes katrina and the numbers of people fleeing new orleans look like not much. they were being shot at or afraid american isis groups were going to come after them. i share rachel's concern and agree with what steve said. i don't think secretary kerry meant literally that they are as state.
i think it was more of a colloquial expression. >> talk about has any of this had purchased on lawmakers? the idea of the refugee problem? >> it is a big part of what our future expenses might be. in addition to the humanitarian impact there is a sense that this is something we are going to the wrestling with. we are already talking about $75 million. the pentagon said when we started wrapping this up, the crisis can add to these kind of costs. when seery was out of control, now that it is even worse and spreading, it is going to be even more of a problem. >> tim is right. there is something bigger happening here.
the combination of the refugee crisis and the fact that isis claim swaths of territory great huge countries are being changed. the border between iraq and syria does not exist. the demographic of lebanon has changed. the demographic composition of syria is a mess. none of those states as we are speaking now and overtime are going to exist the way we thought of them five years ago, 10 years ago. what are the consequences of that? the adult states of the region need to step up. the real countries, egypt, turkey, iran, israel, saudi arabia. countries that are pointed have functioning governments are going to have to step in and in what form that takes i don't know.
they practically are not existing in the form we have always thought of them. >> there are several bitter ironies about this situation. he wanted to get out of iraq now we are back in iraq. saying that his predecessor, the incumbent had put two wars on a credit card. we are doing that again. do you want to talk about how unsustainable that is? >> once they come back after the elections, once they get back in the house and senate with the new congress, that is going to be a very major component of what happens when we are looking at the overall budget. the defense budget. the mandatory cups. when you have this attempt to move everything back into the base pentagon budget, that is
being reversed. it may have to be. to the arguments as to why it has to be. he is going to be doing a war on a credit card. >> we have many national security issues. we are going to move on to them. i will go back to jerry on this one. do people in these administrations acknowledge the president may wind up being -- in the spot that it was indicated he might be an and robert gates said over the weekend that you cannot turn back the islamic state or these various groups without some sort of combat troops? >> i am not sure it is right. i think what the general said last week, which got mangled in the translation, he said there has to be boots on the ground if you're going to roll back military, which is what the islamic state is. i don't have the american boots.
just somebody's boots. that is where we are right now. he can maybe somebody else? there is skepticism. that doesn't mean the answer is no. >> the adult states in the region, the syrian free army is up to the job? >> i don't know. >> if you need -- if any of you have discerned an answer, let us know. national security is broader than what we have been talking about. let's talk about other manifestations, and the politics. you have written about the possible political realignment on the issue of privacy. how lester's attempt at a rollback on data collection was an indication of a possible emerging new alliance. i think everybody had something
to say about that. >> this goes back to the point, one of the things that i was pushed off the radar was surveillance. this was an issue that was sparked by the snowden revelations. there was clear impotence for some change. it wasn't the good old-fashioned left-right divide. it wasn't the good old-fashioned left-right divide. one of the things we saw was a stray but not unpredictable of libertarian wing of the republican party and the liberal wing of the democratic party. it was actually more divided. this is a possible moment that hasn't happened yet.
part of what isis has that has pushed it into the distance. by next spring congress is going to have some sort of surveillance reform. we are going to have to have some legislation come out of congress. the house has passed the usa freedom act. the senate has a bill. the real question is is there going to be a meeting of the minds before this congress goes home? the different said that comes back will be pushing for the same deal. the real question is is it going to be democrats republicans? -- democrats vs. republicans? or the liberals and libertarians? against the more conventional hearts of the parties. we will see. >> do you think this is a political alignment and get something done?
>> i think things are moving so quickly we have no way of knowing read when steve wrote it he was right. then you have the beheadings and isis. you have these things that are happening. you see for example the libertarian wing of the republican party pulling back on their statements, their desires for certain policy. you see rand paul's lawsuit against the nsa on hold. it serves a political purpose. what is going to happen is, god forbid any terrorist attack happens here in the country, if it doesn't, you're going to have a renewed sense of realism, that we needed some form of surveillance. let the adult in the room. we have to do something. we need some form of boots on the ground in iraq, not us probably for now.
but who? how do we that these folks? -- vet these folks? are we any good at it? we saw what we did with iraq and afghanistan training afghan national army people. we had green on green, blue and green. all sorts of insider attacks. that is going to happen and dampen the spirit of what we are doing. we can't let it quench the resolve to get it done. >> there is one option we have not talked about. the courts. you talk about the rand paul lawsuit. the urban arguments -- there have already been arguments to the 215 program. they are largely overlooked in colorado.
it is entirely possible the more they drag their feet on these matters the more the court may be pressed to some action. i'm not holding my breath the supreme court is in a hurry to restore privacy protections. it was no greater a liberal than chief justice roberts who wrote the majority opinion, a case about searching cell phones, how much different the data is that we store in our cell phones, how the technology changes the privacy analysis. if the court means that, congress may drag its feet long enough to leave no other place but to jump in. >> before then we get a multiplicity of opinions along the way. here in d.c., there is going to
be argued later this fall. by next spring we will have two circuit court opinions. we will have a district court opinion on 702. it's going to percolate and take a while. if congress really does go the narrow route, to look at 215, the courts may finally feel compelled to do something. i think that the district court split on the fourth amendment question. i assume both of the appeals courts are going to resist. there is a narrow way out. that fits nicely with congress having to reauthorize the statute. >> if someone calls me for foreign national my data is
collected. >> the question is, where is it happening? is it authorizing certain intelligence agencies, to mass collect information going through foreign servers so long as they are targeting non-us persons. they probably are picking up your phone calls accidentally. >> given the talk that we have spoken about foreign threats, fear of terrorism, is it possible that once again busy concerns will be overwhelmed by this wave of concern about it?
>> the younger generation doesn't share many privacy concerns. it will be interesting is see where it goes. a lot of issues are being overwhelmed by talk in washington, and the immigration debate has not gone away. in certain subsets of the population, it is important. that issue is still very real. i was in dallas getting my plane rebooked and the woman behind the counter was talking about on honduras. she was with the church. that was the issue people in texas are thinking about. for those issues, they are not going away. congress has kicked the can for a long time.
the courts are getting involved to some extent. they are going to have to take on those issues. to make a broad analogy, one of the things we're looking about is what we know about violence. if you have cartels fighting each other and a government comes in and fights one of them, you don't does weaken the one cartel, you start violence between the cartels. everyone wants their turf. you start a succession crises. you get more violence. you have state on cartel violence. you metastasize the cartel violence. we are about to do that in the middle east. i think the american people are going to notice just they way they notice what was going on at our southern border. they were scared of the border states. >> the problem hasn't gone away.
has it faded as a concern? child migrants. like immigration? >> it has not faded. if you ask people what they worry about the immigration worry is high. it comes and goes. there is a tendency in washington to conclude two months ago that congress wasn't going to deal with it so check it off the list and put on the back burner. the polling suggests that is not the way america looks at it. it is on their minds. that is not to say there is consensus about what to do. the country is almost as divided as washington. in terms of what do we worry about? >> do lawmakers worry about it? >> this will be what happens if the senate changes control kind of question. just to give you a sense of how things can change. it would have been a easy
prediction to say they are going to renew. once the nsa coalition got vocal, it got to the point briefly in july before the isis and islamic state issues become a big deal, there was an amendment on the floor, 30 house republicans voted for it. i don't know that would be the same if they came to the floor today. that goes the question of what happens if the senate changes controlled. the bill would be very different than the one they were looking at recently. there will be a different emphasis on terrorist travel. that might push it further.
the way people might change on surveillance reform is so interesting. the senate is more conservative on the notion of being going after the nsa bill. the senate has more traditional national security worries than the libertarian house members. >> there are material differences between the usa freedom act that passed the house and the version introduced by senator leahy. those differences were down in favor of private civil liberties. the house bill changes the status quo much less. it responds to the concerns in a much more superficial manner.
i think that is going to be a loss. it means legislation is not going to accomplish much. >> do you agree? >> those same concerns may not be around. i agree with the name. i think it is silly. the only institution that is better is the pentagon. i think that when you are talking about the immigration piece, you saw jeh johnson testify. folks were asking, how many people from not south america were crossing the border? he had to agree that there were folks from yemen and other
countries that came across. there is no evidence that isis is trying to come into mexico and pay a coyote and cross the rio grande river. there are 3000 plus americans who have passports, and western americans who can just come in. you might be right that the house version prevails. you might see the leahy bill have legs. i think it is way too early to tell. >> the fact that we're even having this conversation, that we are on to what happens in the spring underscores just how all-inclusive isis has been.
i would never have thought the bill wouldn't be done by the midterms. this was a agenda item number one. it look like the reason why senator leahy had spent all summer signing onto a bill was to get it between the midterms. isis has taken over the politics of national security. >> it is amazing how much people have come to a basis at the same place. you can hardly get lazy and -- leahy and feinstein on the same page. all of a sudden they were moving close to each other. >> let's move on to other hotspots. secretary of state kerry was lauding the achievement in afghanistan unity agreement. are we overselling?
>> you would have to ask the copresidents that question. i guess i would cynically answer everything that has been promised in afghanistan for 12 years has been oversold area i'm not sure why this would be different. to the extent the administration had a view, there was a reason for it. anything that followed president karzai was going to be an improvement. if that is your standard, this is progress. it is progress compared to what seemed possible a couple weeks ago. i think the hard question now begins. what is the understanding about security arrangements? will it exist? if it does will the u.s. act on it? those are questions that now start to be discussed.
>> i was going to say, talk about afghanistan. >> his son is a close friend. i hope this works out. he has good reason to worry. the best case scenario is a frozen conflict in afghanistan. you give everyone some time to breathe. you can start getting a functioning government. he wrote the book literally on fragile states, a thoughtful man. he makes some shrewd political judgments, like bringing a warlord on his ticket, which he needed to do to win an election. if anyone can do it, he can. i don't believe in putting our eggs in the basket of a champion. we need to look at how do you
shape institutional arrangements with status enforcement agreements to ensure peace? the history of these things is that conflict can break out over time. >> it sounds like optimism in that. i'm glad we have it. let me just throw this out to everyone. has europe and the u.s. reached the limits of their restraint on vladimir putin? should we be worried? >> no. i don't think we have reached the limits of our restraint. should we be worried? i guess. >> what is your view on where we are at? he has played an opportunistic game early in the summer pushing forward on that. we are distracted and politically frozen. should we be worried?
>> if you asked 50 people walking down the street showing -- to show me where the ukraine is on a map most couldn't point it out. people understand beheadings and videos. people understand terrorists events. i don't think people have much of a concern about putin being putin and doing what he was designed to do. reach out and grab more territory and protect his people. or what he perceives to be protecting his people. part of that will, the fact that that is true will motivate congress. congress is interested in this. the president now realizes what
putin is about. the congress has realized what putin is about. if you put these in question to me, i don't know where it is going to end. there is a point where sanctions when they are so extreme have a law of intended consequences. i don't know how far we can push it before they say back off. there is the iranian equations. >> i would've thought the shootdown was the spark that ignited the powder and got folks to pay attention. it got the american public's attention for four days. it got the european attention for longer. the question is going to be,
what is europe going to do? i think it is rare to see the dutch get exercised by anything. i thought that would have been the moment. >> some of that comes from how dependent is europe is on russia. it is easy for us to be ahead of europe. one of the interesting things, how republicans are talking about it. they are talking about ukraine as an example of the failure of the president's leadership. they are not saying -- there is a narrative about the president being a failure. they can use this as a checkmark.
>> i think one of the surprising things is the way europeans have not headed for the exits on sanctions. putin created a golden opportunity for them to do that. he creates a cease-fire, the terms that he dictates. he said here is a cease-fire. the europeans don't do what i think they would do, let's back off. maybe it is not enough, but it is harder for it is for us. but they did. i think by standards of european behavior in similar crises that is pretty good. >> i agree. >> the other interesting thing,
the energy debate. colorado is a big new energy state with gas and oil, to exports of oil and natural gas. we have all sorts of issues with, can we export this? what europe decides to do with its energy equation, how much it wants to stay dependent on russia now that it sees how russia is using it. that is going to start playing in to our politics and european politics. >> his opponent, they have introduced their bills. they were trying to outdo each other on energy. >> you literally see the fracking and mining going on as you drive down the road. >> rachel talked about the problem gerrymandering. the one place that is not an
issue is the senate. even if they find colorado, in these senate races down to the wire. are we going to see one side try to raise national security or civil liberties? >> before we throw it open to questions we have the matter of iran. >> by november we are supposed to have a deal or not have a deal with them. what happens then? it is anybody's guess. then the elections can affect that in a big way. let's say we have a deal. there will be a push by the administration to reduce the sanctions we have on them. that probably will be pushed into next year if that is the case. if there is no deal you may see
an immediate lame-duck push to put some sanctions on iran. the president promised no deal. we are going to sanction them. if the republicans take control what the president wants next year gets much harder. nobody wants to be seen as the people who eased up on iran. it is a position that is much less popular with republicans. there are things that the iran issue could come in next to the general issue of the defense budget, the top things that we are dealing with with the 114th congress. >> i'm struck by the decided lack of optimism that the administration announced.
most of people put it below 50-50. the real question is what then? you inevitably have to move further down because everybody has said that is the alternative. you have to do it. congress will more than happy to oblige. the administration is in a tougher spot. there is this isis problem. it is complicated. >> it makes this even harder. >> you have a really interesting 2016 campaign issue. >> it is not going to be a huge issue in the midterms. it may be a couple of small topics. it is going to be something the congress deals with reluctantly. they are going to have to deal with surveillance reform. they are going to have to fund all these enterprises.
the real elephant is how this starts to shape the primary fight and 2016. especially on the republican side. there is going to be a real split between an old school goldwater republican candidate and somebody with more libertarian roots. that is where you could see national security become an issue. >> it is always much more of an issue in the republican -- in the presidential elections. you have 2002, everybody was thinking about the issue. more or less you have not seen it be a dominant issue. we have seen in presidential elections. we will see it more. >> that is where the debate
should go. >> the american public deserves a debate. i think we are going to get one. it will be interesting between the libertarians and goldwater republicans. you will see a similar split on the left. we will get interesting discussion. it will be a pity if the discussion boiled down to care for. -- character alone. are you tough enough, not tough enough? we are in a different world where that kind of strength is not what we need. we need spiderman more than the incredible hulk, a moral light -- more light and flexible strength than just beating your chest. i don't know if that is what we are going to see. >> as rachel is implying, when you say we're leading from behind, it becomes a political attack point. it is not a successful one. when you articulate a new policy it does get dangerous. >> it does.
it's not new. i do agree with steve. this spring and up to the summer recess will be a very robust period of debate regarding national security. everything from the torture rendition report, when it comes out. i think it is going to come out. you will have the military commissions case. you will have a surveillance reform. i think you will really know we are in the thick of it if there is an appetite for revisiting the budget control act and the sequester. twice now they have raised the cast but they haven't lifted its. -- caps but they haven't lifted
its. if they want to pull that band-aid off and really look at that and the administration makes a case, we will see whether if that happens, then you will know that everyone is all in on this debate. >> this is the beginning of a long season of debate in washington. i have wanted to remind everyone of 2 things. we are going to have cocktails. i hope you will join us. cq roll call team of homeland security has produced a briefing which is being gifted to everyone who has come here tonight. we have some time for questions. >> there are microphones on the aisles. >> there is a lady there.
>> as you pointed around the world and focus on the middle east i was wondering if you would take a few minutes and talk about the president's pivot towards asia, and my concern that it will be based on a coalition of our congress to look like budget guys who have played golf. my observation, things are getting more dicey between two of them. >> i was in japan, begging the folks i was talking to to make nice with south korea. we would like to do something with you. can you come together? you are right. there is not a lot of love between those countries.
it is not cutting a lot of water there. we didn't even touch on asia. it is the biggest part of the world. it is quite volatile right now. i would be surprised if i get through my lifetime without a war with asia. i don't see it happening without a lot of massaging. >> thank you for introducing that. let's talk about the pivot to asia. it seems to be he will leave office with it incomplete. >> i used to be an english teacher before i went to law school, talkers are not good doers. most people would say there is a pivot to asia? when? you have chinese jets circling our jets.
chinese navy expanding exponentially. chinese making editorial claims. -- extraterritorial claims. they are building. their economy is slowing down. i think the obama administration may not be a pivot, but we need to do that. what is in the front page of the paper is isis, russia, and this is further support for the argument that we will probably see a big debate about the defense budget this spring. whether you need to refund and recapitalize from these decades of war. >> susan rice is giving a speech this week on southeast asia.
the government tends to react to what is happening right then. they don't tend to plan long-term. we need to be prepared. others say china is doing a lot of hacking. that doesn't seem to make a lot of news. it doesn't mean there isn't some groundwork being laid. there was an interesting provision that was saying we need to reestablish jungle combat training because we used to have a dedicated base in panama and we don't have any more. the thinking is we are going to be in some kind of war at some point with some asian nation. let's be prepared. >> what happens to the pivot to asia? it was an attempt have been obama doctrine, a new way of thinking, and a counterpoint to chinese way of thinking.
>> the term pivot was unfortunate. everybody will agree on that. it implies we are not going to do this because we're going to do that. what it was supposed to be, slowly shifting resources to a part of the world becomes more important while other parts become less important. to some extent the pivot, called something different, is still happening. as we end 2 wars in the middle east we can stop paying attention there and start paying more attention here is a nation. -- here as a nation. people can shift their thinking. >> i saw another hands.
>> thank you. tom friedman's column talked about a struggle that was going on within the islamic state that helped explain the recent events we have seen in the middle east. he said that was an attempt to define their future. i would welcome comments on that. >> i have spent time reading islamic state literature. what is really fascinating and sophisticated, there is a very vigorous conversation going on within the people who are part of the movement about what they mean. why they are different from al qaeda in particular.
there is a notion that they have embraced as a group that says al qaeda was wrong. they thought that attacking the west over time would wear down the opponents of islam and he would create the conditions to have a caliphate. -- you would create the conditions to have a caliphate. here, you do the right thing and you stop people who disagree with you. i think that as the islamic state movement grows there are bound to be people who have different thoughts about, are we going too fast or too far? we are going to get whacked. i can't imagine there isn't an interesting debate about the beheading videos. it is hard to know. my point is, there is an interesting public window into islamic state if you just go look at what they say themselves. it reveals a lot. >> i would add, this is not a
new phenomenon. if you read andy mccarthy's book "the grand jihad," he traces not only the birth of the predecessors of al qaeda, but the general schools of islamicists. those who adhere to some form of violent jihad. isis is the most recent and radical version of that. the other is a version that says no, you don't. you set up currency. you get more mosques. you send students into various universities. we do it through lawful means. the two are at each other's throats. his piece is what is going on between this side of the debate.
>> you can broaden this even bigger. back in the 1950's when the movement got going, it was modernity. why were they not catching up? why were they behind the west? how did they deal with the sense of humiliation and lack of agency? he came up with all sorts of reasons. one way that the arab world was dealing with that was the arab spring was a healthy move in my view toward taking agency and saying you have your violent folks over here, they tried to regain the ball and move forward. they failed. we are going to do there is through democratic means. the pity that that movement and most countries didn't succeed, we and others didn't do quite enough, it was an internal issue
in terms of how much they could exceed on their own, one of the -- succeed on their own, one of the pities is that now we are back in a world of hard-core islam rather than another way forward for how to deal with that sense of humiliation. >> i saw another. >> a question from twitter. it is a great one. will veterans issues play into the midterms? >> that is another that they tried to play out on the republican side as a comp tends question. -- competence question. veterans are politically popular for obvious reasons. they should be popular. you have not seen a lot of pressure from republicans on that other than another example how this administration is that
-- bad at leading generally. >> it is a hard issue. north carolina has come up a lot in kay hagan's race. if you look at the actual vote the democrats have voted money for veterans and so forth. the republicans have not backed those votes. we have the v.a. scandal. it went in different directions. a lot has been done for veterans. it's a hard thing to argue. i doubt it will make a huge dent in races. you have a couple where you have veterans running. seth bolton won an upset. they will use it as a character issue. >> i don't think that was specifically v.a. scandal. it was a political person. i would say the market has priced that in.
>> we have room for one more question. >> there is a gentleman. >> there is another area, talk about whether ebola is going to be such a destabilizing influence there will be real national security concerns. this may not be as much in the -- a midterm issue but i'm curious if people have thoughts about what the long-term might look like. >> it is an issue in one race already. mark pryor's senate race. he had an ad where he criticizes opponents vote on the issue of health care, biomedical defenses.
it seemed to backfire. >> this is going to be an area where there is not going to be a strong push, but there is going to be a need for money especially if we tried to stabilize regimes in liberia and west africa. all this is the question is where is the money going to come from to handle all of these crises at once? >> i think some people may try to use it as a wedge or an issue on the race. by saying obama is sending more people to africa to fight ebola then he is to iraq. it is silly. it is silly for the simple fact
that if this disease is not addressed by civil society, and it spreads, it has a factor magnitude for destabilizing all sorts of not just africa, the world. military members who spread diseases in the past. they killed tens of millions of people. that hopefully won't happen today. i think the administration is well within their moral right to lend a hand and take a lead role. >> i agree. i was in west africa. this is going to be treated as an issue of medical need. this is a governance issue. why are people not letting medical officers take their sick? they are not trusting the government.
why don't they trust their governments? there are good reasons. getting serious about how we help these governments is is important because this is what bad governance gets you. people who don't trust their governments who start insurgencies and don't let their sick be taken by health care workers. we are starting to see those problems metastasize. the difference between isil and ebola is less than you might think. >> final question to that gentleman. >> i would like to go back to iran. if the current negotiations fail, you talk to the inevitability of sanctions, which is accurate. what about the inevitability of war? patience is wearing out. what is the odds that israel or the united states launches an attack on iran?
>> that is a heavy question. there is a constant agitation for war with iran in various corners. often on the republican side but not entirely. this is a pretty big thing the president has made here. maybe he has been mitigating the fear of war by talking about just how difficult the deal will be. it would be hard. there is a next level of punishing sanctions that are worse than what we have done. we can go harder on sanctions. we can go pretty hard on sanctions. i think you will see more agitation. we have been talking about the iran nuclear program for decades and how worried we are and how we may need to attack. it is hard to imagine for me.
>> there is a legacy question. the finalists have been chosen for the presidents library site. this is a president who came into the presidency with two wars. i think it is now probably clear to him that he is not going to be able to end both of them, not going to be totally out of afghanistan and iraq. he doesn't want to have a third war. he doesn't want the number to go up to the time he leaves. i think tim is right. anything the administration can do to avoid new conflict on trying to do whatever they can to declare victory in one conflict.
>> they promised that iran will not get a nuclear weapon. it may be hard for us to ever know that iran has a nuclear weapon. to get themselves more room to negotiate, they have been harsh in their description how we are not going to let them have a nuclear weapon at any cost. which implies the threat of force. >> we also promised to close guantanamo. >> government doesn't always keep their promises that is right. >> you are right. there is no appetite in this administration for military conflict. the question of pressure exerted from outside forces congress from israel, others, it depends on how negotiations conclude. there are various ways that could happen. they can end with the notion that we got really close. we are not going to extend.
if not for the crazy ayatollah we would have gotten there. maybe we should see if he dies off. the amount of pressure to do something militarily will depend a great deal on what that in game looks like. -- end game looks like. >> there is understanding that a military solution doesn't end the problem. you mow the lawn, it grows again. the boots on the ground is unthinkable. bombing only gets so far. why start down that road? >> i agree with everybody. i would add that if there was any action whatsoever it would not be up to the israelis. -- whatsoever, it would not be us. it would be israel.
we would do everything we could behind the scenes to encourage them not to do that. i agree. there isn't any appetite three -- appetite. you see the evolving definition of what sanctions are. we will keep ratcheting pressure. there is no appetite for war against iran. >> the politics are complicated enough, when it comes to israel. it is a different matter altogether. >> on that tenatively peaceful note, i would like to once again congratulate you on the first anniversary. [applause] i would like to invite all of you to join us for cocktails in a few moments. i would like to thank all of you coming tonight.
my name is david ellis. thank you. i would like you to join me in thanking our guests. thank you. [applause] house and senate in recess until november, this morning costs "washington journal" looked at how lawmakers are reacting to ongoing airstrikes against isis and the possibility of increased military action. members of congress calling for members of congress who are on break to come back and debate on iraq wars. tom cole was one of those members of congress. in thery that appeared "washington times" a couple of days ago highlights this. the author of that story joins us on the phone. she is a capitol hill reporter for the "washington times." good
morning. could you talk about this story and one representative coal was calling for? guest: he is saying the president should call congress back. it is a shirking of their responsibilities to be home, campaigning on break now while these strikes are going on. president to call congress back to d.c. >> is he the only member of congress calling does that breakn lines of who is calling for this type of action? >> there are actually several members of congress who do want to come back to d.c., some of the republicans, it does vary across parties and there are democrats and republicans calling for the same thing and repetitive cole and president obama should call us back and most of the democrats are saying that it's boehner's responsibility and the speaker never should have let congress go home without a vote on these
strikes. >> where does the speaker stand on calling the congress back and debating this issue? >> he actually has said earlier in the week that there is not going to be a vote in the lame duck. he is not planning on voting until 2015 because he doesn't think it's appropriate to have this debate when there are all these potentially outgoing members of congress and thinks you should wait to get the new class of people. >> jacqueline, what exactly would congress, what are they looking for this debate? what are they looking to talk about and what is the end result if congress were to come back and do this very thing? >> well, they have already voted on whether or not to arm and strain the syrian rebels and passed that so that is no longer an issue for them. the issue is really these strikes in syria and iraq on some things the iraq authorization in the early 2000 still extends but most agree that obama can't just go to war,
that there is now no more immediate and present danger so they do need a new authorization to strike in syria. >> and just to be clear, even for the calls of these individual members of congress to come back, there is no indication from leadership that this is going to happen. >> no. i mean, i think exactly the opposite, the perspective in leadership has been we will wait a while to do this. >> from the washington times, jacqueline is the capitol hill reporter for the publication and saying congress should come back and debate new authorization for iraq and
>> as always, we will take your calls and you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. >> the bipartisan policy center hosted a recent discussion on national security threats, with terrorism expert eater bergen and former advisers to the state department and national security council. shortlycussion occurred after the u.s. began airstrikes in syria against isis and al qaeda linked group. this is an hour and 20 minutes. thank you very much for being here this morning, and for being invested in our nation's security. withre all very familiar our panelists, but i will give you a brief thumbnail sketch of
each of their backgrounds. and we will launch into today's discussion. there could not be a better -- as we would say in tv -- news of discussionfor this than what we have seen overnight with the targeted strikes in syria, and not only the , but the of isisk group that has been very focused on launching plots against the united states and specifically the aviation sector. they left is peter bergen, director of the international security program at new america. he is a cnn national security analyst here at as many of us know, peter has written more best-selling books about al qaeda than anyone else. thank you for being here today, peter. peter'simmediately to she is a lecturer in strategic studies at the john hopkins school of advanced international studies. thank you for being here. left,ry's left, -- mary's
he is with the brookings institution. peter, i would like to begin with you. when we look at the overnight strikes, what specifically got my attention was the degree to which we had information about a specific group within syria. for a layperson, what is the core group and how does it reflect the current threat against the u.s. domestically and also western targets overseas? the invitationr to write this report. i went to acknowledge my co-authors in the audience. emily schneider. the group -- u.s. intelligence officials had been tracking a group of guys which they with aed as people lengthy history in terrorism for over a year.
people coming from the federally administered tribal regions in pakistan to syria who are sort of an older generation. -- we mentioned the group in this report. it is an ancient word for the area that is now afghanistan, iran. this is al qaeda central. fact that ifrical you think of isis as being al qaeda in iraq, has never attacked an american target outside of iraq since 2005, when they attacked three american-owned hotels. in terms of a group that has a real desire, ability, track record to attack the united
states, the group is a group, and much more than isis. we had a new audiotape from one of its leaders inciting people in the west to do lone wolf attacks within the last 24 hours. >> this is the concrete threat to the u.s. isis has not crossed that threshold. >> that is true. it has been nine years since al qaeda in a rocket launched the attack on the three american-owned hotels in amman. it was a spectacular failure for them read -- them. [indiscernible] leader of al qaeda released an unusual statement for him mama almost like an apology. i think that is exactly right. this is the group that has the track record. there are indications they have ,inked up with peeper -- people
and they are sharing bomb-making expertise. >> >> i want to bring marion, because one of the things i have learned through my reporting, there is a bomb maker in yemen -- this is the person who is the expert with nonmetallic explosives. he was behind the underwear bomb that failed in 2009 over detroit. also the printer cartridge bombs the following year. i think my panelists would agree the u.s. intelligence community believes that he has been very persistent in trying to develop or evolve technology to circumvent the new security put in place. mary, my question to you is, given we understand that he has trained apprentices to go into syria, what is the intent? is it to find mules to carry the bombs? in layman's terms, how would you explain ?