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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 18, 2011 9:00am-12:00pm EDT

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quigley's office. we are getting ready to drop a lobbyist disclosure enhancement pill this congress next month. it has a lot of the same igthe same ids that tga had. i think there are commonsense things. our goal is not to limit access at all. it's just to increase transparency. just make sure everything is out in the open. and i think lisa touched on this. my boss feels like there's been sort of a crisis of confidence. numbers of among members of congress are at it and all time low. anything we can do to make the public to try to increase that confidence that we are being opened. ..
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lustig thing. please file into your cellphones and every other electronic device so we don't interfere
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with the conversation. you should know that you have the ability to bring your own questions to general petraeus. the general staff will take your questions. they will then be filtered and applied -- [applause] [laughter] >> you said filter earlier. >> i did not survive patrick's day intact. they will not be filtered. they will be put into and ipad which i will quite elegantly lose later and we will have those questions and mine for general petraeus after the first half hour. so again. no filtering. if you want to and are so motivated and are twitter said the as this conversation continues we encourage you to we would you are observing in
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taking this in, mjpetraeus. i will turn it over to our moderator michael o'hanlon. [applause] >> it is a real treat to be here. we all share in the great honor to be with you today. thank you and all your men and women in uniform and all of the families. let me say a brief word of introduction about general petraeus. there will go right into our conversation. the second half hour we will take all of your ideas and thoughts and questions. the general is a 1974 graduate of west point. he had many positions of command and distinguished on as a long way. in 1983 he won the george marshall award of the general and staff command college. you then went to princeton where i got to know him in grad school and did his ph.d. in about
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two-1/2 years which was less than half the time as any of the rest of us. continue to be a principal director. professor at the best professor petraeus then spent time teaching at west point and most of us know the story from that point on wherein the following two decades i will remind you that depending how you count europe he is in his seventh deployment including deployment in haiti, bosnia, 3 deployment in iraq and now his command position in afghanistan. on top of that let me mention a couple awards he has won. many are familiar to you. the distinguished service medal, bronze star and when you may not have heard of. the gold award of the iraqi order of a calm. we have seen a number of accomplishments in this young man's career. and 2007 he was runner-up for time person of the year. still not convinced anyone had a better 2007 than general petraeus and we're very grateful
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for the accomplishment in iraq and what he is doing now. a want to conclude this introduction in a way that is a pro. to thank his family, his wife and children and all the military families around the country but please join me in a proper welcome for general petraeus. [applause]. >> thanks for the kind words, kind introduction and things to all of you for being here. instead of being glued to your tv screen instead of to see what is happening in libya and other areas that are so hot. a privileged to represent those great men and when you talked about here today and with respect to the time it took me to work my phd at princeton and when i heard that of mike o'hanlon was going to do this -- not the time competitive but decided to step up. earlier i wanted to be reassured. handful of presentations here at
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the newseum and want to thank the newseum nation for pulling this together and getting such a wonderful audience but i want to be reassured there's no serving military officer who has done more presentations here than i have. the record is still mine and i will continue to try to defend that particular title. is great to be back in the state with mike o'hanlon. we have done several of these in the past and they seem to work pretty well. the conversation goes where he wants to lead it and where you all want to take it. it will be interesting to see on ipads and everything else. i do have reinforcements ready in the form of power point slides. you know the deal. that is one of the first amendment rights of every 4 star u.s. army general. as i looked at the audience coming here and it really is an impressive group i was reminded
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of a moment in a number of years back when i was a young major working on temporary duty for the then commander-in-chief in those days of the u.s. southern command, jack galvin who some of you will recall when john to be the supreme allied commander and dean of the fletcher school of diplomacy in the mid 80s. we had engagements are ongoing and elsa al gore and colombia and peru and a variety of other places in central and south america and it was quite an experience for young officer and i learned a great deal from. of relevance to this event, as we drove over here i remember watching his interaction with the press and he was really quite skillful. i remember one day in particular watching an especially lively press conference and when it was complete walking to his vehicle and he said what did you think? how do you think it went? and i said seemed to me you got
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all your points across but frankly you never answered a single one of their questions. he responded they didn't test the single one of mine. i am sure that will not be the case today. i look forward to a conversation with a great princeton colleague, the man who i think has said the record for the most obvious 9/11 and has appeared on television by anyone's count 2,000 times and counting and so it is great to be with you again. great to be with all of you and i should note he has been in afghanistan or recently than i have. he just got back and might ago i guess so we will ask him for a day. >> you're concerned about the afghanistan war and you inspire great confidence in your presentation before congress which is an extremely informative and yet i know people are worried and this has
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become a longest war and i want to pick up with my first question from your bio. you joined the military during the vietnam war and wrote your dissertation about the lessons of vietnam and by don't think afghanistan is vietnam but i would invite you to explain to the crowd why it is not at a time when we are now nine years going on ten years in had a fine when secretary gates in a speech in brussels a week ago or so seemed to suggest we will not withdraw many troops this summer and our european allies that they should be more interested in accomplishing mission objectives than in getting out. i really wanted to ask for comment on why this is becoming a quagmire. i don't think it is but a lot of americans have that concern. i want to give you the opportunity to respond. >> first and foremost, there is very little argument about the truly vital national security
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interest that reside in afghanistan and in the greater afghanistan/pakistan region. there's no question about why we went to afghanistan. is because of 9/11. the attacks were planned in how the kaimac camps in afghanistan. the taliban to control the majority of the country. the initial training to place their before they moved to hamburg and u.s. flight schools. we went there because of those attacks and our core objective if you narrow it to afghanistan is to ensure that afghanistan does not once again become a sanctuary for al qaeda or some other would-be transnational extremist and the region does have other groups who certainly have aspirations in that regard. beyond that it is important to recall it as i explained on capitol hill and we had a total of ten hours he of hearings, two
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open hearings, with the senate foreign relations committee the hon closed doors and met with the top four as well, one of the teams i really saw to stress was it is only recently that we have gotten the in puts right in afghanistan. secretary gates says they're a three phases to afghanistan. the early phase we liberated the country, impressive work, and took our eye off the ball, focused on other issues on iraq obviously, that are in guy petraeus in iraq to use all the resources. we came back to afghanistan has we started to get the situation and flocked into a reasonable place on a glide path. the truth is one of the central command out of iraq in the end of october and looked at afghanistan, very deliberate
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manner, it was clear we did not have the organization in place necessary to carry out that counterinsurgency campaign. we learned what we needed to do in iraq and other historical examples. they were not staff probably. we didn't have the resources we needed. since then we have added eighty seven thousand isaf contributing nations and tripled additional funding for afghanistan's security forces and so forth and we didn't have all the constants right. we didn't have a civil military campaign plant or a reintegration strategy or directive to reduce casualties to the minimum and a variety of these other conceptual underpinnings for the kind of campaign we needed to conduct. the bottom line is to achieve our core objective in afghanistan does not have an
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extremist transnational sanctuary. there's only one way to do that which is to help develop capability to secure and govern itself to an adequate degree. the only way to do that is carried out a comprehensive civil military counterinsurgency campaign. comprehensive approach, one that is not just kinetic activities but also includes substantial support for the various civilian organizations that are helping afghanistan build the local governance provisional national government and also to get the economy at those different levels moving as well. we only got that right about six months ago. the serious study and the final months of the bush administration, two reviews in the first year of president obama's administration and the decisions out of those have
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provided the resources that we needed and we worked very hard with various commands to build the organizations that we know where required. we didn't have a reintegration. if you don't kill or capture every bad guy in the country you have to figure out how to react and site -- reintegrate the reconcilables. we didn't have an operational level headquarters were sufficiently robust -- all of this in a country where the perception was we were winning for quite a long time. the truth was that the taliban was regaining momentum from at least 2005 and even a bit earlier. the fact is i was asked to go through afghanistan on way home from a second tour in iraq, a 15 month for to stand-up, secretary of defense asked me to come home through afghanistan. that was my reward. we went out with a team and did this and i went back and we had
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a variety of observations, suggestions and so forth and included by way of power point slide, afghanistan does not equal iraq and laid out the differences. then had the bottom line, i owe it to you to provide broader observations as well. in my view afghanistan will be the longest campaign in the long war. that didn't elicit wild applause because at that time there was a perception well into 2007 we were sitting in iraq wondering why i hadn't taken the afghan job when i had a chance. that was the war we were winning going the way but the truth is it was already starting to spiral downward. the taliban were re-establishing safe havens and it is only in the last six months we have taken away from them the importance safe-haven this of
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canada are and deep country districts and the very important areas that were the real nexus between the taliban, their command and control and the illegal -- and we had challenges where there was a reference to governments that turned out not to be in the box. in the first of march this year there was an election in the community council. it followed a very spirited debate, 75% of registered voters cast ballots with community council and they have a good district governor as well and that is generally true of the other districts as well though there's no question there is serious fighting to be done there particularly as we push further north towards thekajaki
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dam and others. >> i was going to probe on a couple big issues and one would be the afghan government and other forces how their come along. i would also like to ask about pakistan and we will go to the audience. on the first question, we tend to personalize the afghan government allots the personal and president hamid karzai. we see them a lot. he is a person that strikes me as frustrated with the length of the war like many americans and a big emotional about the state of play. i don't want to ask about hamid karzai but the other afghan leaders you deal with. in the military, police force, the cabinet and invite you to explain to all of us a little more of what you see. do you see good reformers? do you see good people? what specific additional point,
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you mention under your testimony you have done a lot. 60% of the combined force was afghan for some of the operations in isaf -- kandahar. how their leadership is coming along and how their ethnic balance is working because some people are concerned about cash tuned tensions as well. >> the ethnic is an easy answer that mirrors in terms of percentages. it is 42% of the army or 30%, there's a challenge that there are insufficient southern pashtuns from other parts of the country. they have an active campaign to fill the gap. they have done reasonably well getting hundred per month. from the southern provinces and that is a considerable increase.
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it also reflects the fact that security has improved to the point that young men can raise their hand, join military and not end up with their families killed or kidnapped or intimidated. that is positive as well. with respect to the government the senior ministers by and large are very impressive. the vast majority are what we term technocrats in that part of the world. most of them western-educated with ph.d.s and a very impressive individuals. many of them are reformers although again you have to operate within a political context as is president hamid karzai with significant constraint. there is a perception at times that he is omnipotent. the executive branches all powerful. he was given considerable power compared to most other democracies by the constitution but the fact is that he has to maintain a political foundation
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that must include his vice president of the northern alliance. the second vice-president brings that. he is constantly having to shore up his political foundation which consists of considerations for both ethnic and sectarian dynamics in the country and get into the tribal aspect of it as well. that does in a sense put right and left limits on the road forward for what they can do in certain respects but the senior leaders again, quite impressive. the challenge, they will be the first to tell you, president cars i -- president hamid karzai will be the first to tell you the institutions themselves, the challenge of criminal patronage networks to those institutions as well which he is very forthright about and wants to deal with. with respect to the human capital you have to remember this is a country that suffered through 30 years of war and when
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it started it was one of the poorest countries in the world. the human capital of course left the country and that is understandable or went to work for ngos or what have you. there is an attraction for a number of these individuals but not enough to populate large institutions legal large ministries to the extent that is necessary by any means. there's a real challenge with governmental capacity particularly when it comes to budget executions. what is the military commander concerned about budget institution? i have a long conversation with hamid karzai before heading back. i am concerned because if we can't get better budget execution as you put more money on budget and remove the parallel institutions that he rightly and understandably express'es reservations about because they do what government should be doing for the people, if you put it on budget it won't get to the people and basic
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services won't be there. his minister of finance and others, they are indeed going to do all they can in the years that lie ahead because this is the key to building institutions to which we can transition. very important task for the afghan people. now there's another issue, this challenge of what he and i agreed to call criminal patronage networks. these are individuals who are crooks, who are breaking the law. they enjoy a degree of political protection from various elements in this political firmament that is out there. they are not acting as individual. they are part of the network. this was the surgeon general, after he heard what this individual was doing which was really immoral not just a legal. stealing drugs, selling them and replacing them with counterfeit. this kind of activity.
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as this was laid out for him as a result of isaf/afghan effort to determined that he fired him on the spot in his version of the oval office and stock to it even though the individual had considerable political support in certain quarters. he fired the chain of command of the national hospital. there are other cases like this that will be big tests. the resolution of the kabul bank issues to dissatisfaction of the imf. you have to get that program going. these are all important efforts in the months and years that lie ahead. the reason he was seized with private security contractors because to some degree these were organizations that were owned and operated by important individuals be brittle some of
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them former war lords. justifies keeping guys with guns and pays their salaries and we were contributing to this and he saw these rightly as competing with the governmental security forces that would be needed to take the country forward. he was right to do that. we have a bridge solution as of two or three days ago to take that issue as resolved. it will take a year and there's a clause for diplomats and so forth beyond that as well. with respect to the afghan national security forces they have indeed grown not just in quantity. 70,000 in 2010 alone. budding quality. i don't want to overstate this. this is hugely challenging endeavor. we joke about it being built in the world's largest airplane while in flight while it is being designed and being shot at. it is very difficult.
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you are building institutions, not just battalions. we are past the point of helping in the fight against the insurgents. this is about building branch schools in centers. is about building enablers and logistics, maintenance, artillery, aviation, fixed-wing and rotary wing, military intelligence, transportation. all of these are necessary. this is why we judge none of the units effective independently yet because although they improve in quality as units as well, they cannot sustain and support themselves. that is the purpose of this year and next year. there is an even less, there are still challenges. one reason marjah was taken over by the taliban is there was frustration with the police. they were praying on the people rather than serving the people.
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no question that integrity and a culture of service has to be indicated in these forces. some of the units have grasped this is very well. others have more work to do but i assure you the leadership of the military people still achieve general staff, general creamy, president hamid karzai, very serious about this. the m o i has replaced dozens of senior leaders and hundreds of lower-level individuals. in general because they were either incompetent, in relative terms, in effective, or in some cases because they were corrupt, carrying out corrupt activities. there has been a lot of discussion about july of 2011 and i have a noted that july 2011 was a messenger
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version. it complimented in the one speech at west point by president obama the message of the enormous additional commitment. i thought it was an appropriate complement to that. it did create a sense of urgency and when you have the lisbon agreement in 2014, afghan forces leave by that time and therefore a sustained substantial commitment by national leaders by contributing nations, that complemented july of 2011 and took any concerns people might have, that july of 2011 was heading for the exit rather than being the beginning of what president obama has termed the responsible drawdown of surge forces at a pace determined by conditions on the ground. that gives you some sense of the government, challenges and building capacity which will be the biggest challenge in the years that lie ahead. we want to achieve the kabul
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conference commitment, 50% on budget. has got to be much greater budget execution capacity. i also had that conversation at some length with the minister of finance together with embassy representatives before heading back here because it is so important. the military and the police making strides. general caldwell and his team have done a marvelous work in many areas including finally biting the bullet and do something we should have done years ago which is recognized we have to help with twitter receive training for the soldiers and police. it is not enough to train someone to shoot a weapon if you can't read the serial number off of the weapon or train a policeman in basic patrolman duties but can't read the license plate off of a vehicle he is supposed to be working for. it was six months ago and now the results are it is 60,000 have actually completed so when
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they get basic military or police training they also get basic literary training. it gets them to a first grade level but as they go to the first stage of noncommissioned officer leader development they get the first grade and it continues on and then you get to the higher levels, the afghan national military academy, over four applicants for every single slot. hugely competitive. they did the admissions process by numbers, not by names, so there could be no linkage of this individual is connected or part of this tribe or that tried. that is not possible even. i mentioned this on capitol hill. the way ahead for afghanistan clearly has to include not just the development of human capital. the biggest contribution to that is basic education. it is very heartening to see
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that this year there will be 8.2 million afghan children in school compared with last than 1 million under the taliban and 47% of those according to the minister of education will be girls compared with miniscule percentage under the taliban. >> time for one last question. i will package two into one because i have a follow-up. on the afghan forces a question about pakistan. the follow-up on the afghan forces, big west has written a well-known book alleging that the afghan security forces don't fight. i want to put that bluntly on the table and ask you to respond. in addition to the leadership you talked about, do they really fight? i don't know if you want to respond. >> they do fight. what is the best measure of that? it is a macabre measure but they die. they fight and die for their country in higher numbers than our troopers. considerably higher numbers.
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beyond that, one i often get asked is when will the afghans step up to a plate and take the lead and usually these questions are posed in kabul. i say we are in kabul. this is five million people. it is one to one quarter of the population of the country and the afghan forces are in the lead in kabul. as we hear president hamid karzai announced transition, a likely candidate for that, it will be announced on the twenty-second. in kabul if you drive around and we do, it is not baghdad. one of the early take aways after taking command is this place is not on the receiving end of three car bombs per day as was the case in baghdad in my second month in command there. very different atmosphere. there are periodic sensational attacks but they are quite
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periodic and kabul has had security period for eight months that has been quite good by kabul standards. it is afghan forces. afghan police are on the streets. that is the space of security. afghan soldiers further out in the outer rings and afghan special mission units are on the streets every single night conducting on average two to three targeted intelligence driven operations which are to be sure assisted by intelligence surveillance or platforms from u.s. military or some of our parter elements or intelligence agencies but it is afghan forces doing the knock on the door. going over the wall and conducting the actual operation with some assistance in relatively small numbers typically. >> let me ask about pakistan. the audience may follow up. in your testimony you appropriately acknowledge the
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great effort pakistani staff made against their own internal talent and in dealing with the tragic floods last year and so forth a. i also was struck and was glad to hear your tone of guarded hope for less about what they might do next in terms of dealing with the sanctuary's. the key parts of the afghan insurgents in. i found myself hoping you are right but wondering how much you argue about the counterargument that the afghans have kept these sanctuaries operational for their own reasons which they might not have backed away from. they think we won't get the job done well enough and want to backup plan. there is not a friendly government that might come in after work or perhaps in a more aggressive way trying to and exert some leverage over hamid karzai and have a hand in any negotiations he might carry out with the taliban to make sure their power is broken. how confident are you that pakistan is going to step up its games this year and next against
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these sanctuaries? >> let me start by saying i think you hit a key point which is very likely among the most important ways to influence what happens over time in pakistan is to continue to make progress in afghanistan. if there is hedging of bets as you say and there are various debates about this and that, is because there is an uncertainty about how are afghanistan will turn out and it is understandable that pakistan should want to have reassurance that the country to its west, given how narrow pakistan is in particular which has often means seen as the strategic depth for a pakistan relative to something happening from india that that country is not again a proxy for india or something like this. not just peaceful and stable but
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it would also be a friend of pakistan rather than antagonistic and that is hugely important and a reasonable desire on the part of pakistani partners. it is important to note over the course of the last two years let's remember that two years ago, i remember enormous challenges, economic reserves are running down and i remember talking about as the price of oil was spiking, the winter of 2008 and other commodity prices were going up i actually went to the world bank of the treasury as a combatant commanders and worried this had security implications and all of a sudden that got sorted out and the taliban pakistani which was taking over and called the northwest frontier province and several agencies in tribal areas
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and they have lost thousands of soldiers and thousands of civilians in a very impressive counterinsurgency campaign to clear swat valley and other areas of what is now called c e cybermontu cybermontuba. most vivid, south of hamid karzai and others. this has been very tough. they have moved the lot of forces to focus on this effort and increased by at least a third of the forces that are out there and taken a number of internal reforms to reconfigure their forces for this kind of network and they have done it and sacrificed a great deal. having said that there is no question. they will be the first to tell you there are other groups causing problems in the region and do over time has to be dealt with. the fact is it is usually important that there is a
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campaign in north waziristan that puts pressure on the taliban. that is good for the homeland. there are these other areas. we often talked about tower over time pakistan does seek its working to come to grips with this dynamic. we funded these groups in the very beginning. that is how we got rid of the soviets in the wake of charlie wilson's war. we should remember that. we have seen this movie before. what happens if you disengage? there are these groups. this is the conundrum of allowing poisonous snakes to have a nest in your backyard. the task of understanding they will bite the neighbors's kids but then they turn around and bite your kids.
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that is how the pajabi taliban has done it. you from several areas are being radicalized in the tribal areas. this is the kind of challenge in addition to various political social and economic challenges that pakistan faces. the kind of challenge they're working to come to grips with. we have close relations with the general piani. i met him twice. we are working more closely than ever on the award mated operations on either side of the border so that they do an operation against the pakistani war posture, if they come across the border as we did this past winter and killed a couple dozen of them who were fleeing pakistani operation. as we conduct operations on our
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side we worked very hard to coordinate those so they know if we are near the border, the same in the south as well, there's a recent operation in the quetta shura province that was important because it was a displaced safe haven and nexus of the taliban and illegal narcotics industry that no longer is in operation. >> over to you and the crowd. >> i will ask you to do something you are familiar with. i will not treat this as a lightning round before the conference of this crew here -- >> lot of questions. [talking over each other] >> you can do a lightning round. >> some of these questions are very good and you'll get to as many of them as you can but it is very hungry to have these questions asked and most importantly for you to answer them. let me start with one thing you said on capitol hill. combat troops could be included in the july 2011 timetable. will they be included and that
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what number and if not in sufficient number to convey the american people that this operation does have a foreseeable end point would that not undermine what the president promised the country? in 2009 at west point? >> you want a specific unit designation as well? >> as specific as you are prepared to be. >> as i explained on capitol hill i am still developing the options. i am doing it with a very small group of individuals. only two other people in isaf headquarters are participating. i will deliver it personally to my chain of command and then on to president obama. we have a variety of criteria by which you assess the different options we provide to him in the course of them leading to a recommendation. i have not yet finalized what that recommendation will be and what the numbers will be. it is very likely there are
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forces in each of those options but we are still working our way through that and we have not finalized it. >> washington post-abc news poll said 64% of americans surveyed in this country do not believe this war is worth fighting. why are they wrong? >> obviously i was struck by that. i did say on cattle hole i am not here to sell the war. i am here to report forthrightly on the situation on the ground and that is the responsibility of military commanders. you have to be aware of the strategic context in which you are operating and domestic public opinion is a very important element of that context as it is in the other 47 contributing nations of the nato/haqqani. it is the concern. both undersecretary florida and i try to remind folks of this. it is important to recall why we
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went there and why we are still there. as i mentioned the front to remember that it is a vital national security interests that transnational extremists, al qaeda and others not be able to reestablish a sanctuary in afghanistan as they have prior to 9/11. >> is afghanistan a teflon country? do you have reason to fear the social or political changes you are instituting will not remain after we depart? >> we are not about social, political, institutional change. we are helping our afghan partners develop what is right for them. that is our goal. we often say -- i remind our troopers this is not about winning hearts and minds for us. we would love to have hearts and minds. everyone wants to be loved but what really matters is arts and minds for our afghan par is.
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they are seeing as legitimate in the eyes of the people. that is what we're trying to do. we are supporting the development of institutions. there are countervailing forces. a number including nancy pelosi, spoke about women in afghanistan and ensuring there is not backsliding. i pointed out to hurt a 10% greater number of women in the afghan parliament than the u.s. congress. it is because there is a constitutional requirement for that but that does exist. i mentioned much greater access of elementary schooling for afghan girls. the same is true of college education. let's remember it is also a very conservative country particularly in their role
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areas. there are these dynamics that are going to pull it in different directions and our job is to support our afghan partners. not to try to troop lead them. >> tuned in provincial reconstruction teams are effective and properly researched? hamid karzai wants to disband them. >> i agree. he is right. parallel institutions do have to go away. they have to go away when afghan institutions can do the important work that provincial reconstruction teams are doing for the afghan people together with a variety of other international governmental organizations. usaid is prominent among them. >> we to questions i want you to address. what is the nature of the goal in afghanistan? are there opportunities for cooperation? >> let me answer that. i think what you see with iran in afghanistan is a degree of conflict, almost bipolar.
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you see on the one hand security services of iran which have been greatly strengthened in recent years as a result of the supreme leader having turned to than in such a significant way to put down the riots and demonstrations in the wake of the hijacked election the year-and-a-half ago. so you have the security services. the iranian revolutionary guard people foremost among them, providing training, funding and so forth to the afghan taliban and we publicly announce the seizure of 48, 122 mm rockets south of the border in afghanistan after they were seized and joined isaf special operation. wasn't a coincident that we were there and it wasn't the win since that those efforts were there. these rockets are more than double the range of the 107s we have seen in the past and double the bursting radius. that is a big concern.
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there's also an effort to use of power to influence various political figures. it was remarked that the chief of staff of hamid karzai was provided a gift as he left the country. president hamid karzai was astute saying we will take money from anyone who will give it to us and we will put it to use for the afghan people. that happens covertly as well and happens with various afghan political figures. tender is the use of soft power to cut off fuel to afghanistan a couple months ago as a reminder how important access to that is had to get there is no desire on the part of iran to see the afghan taliban return to power. iran was a shiite majority state. they don't want to see sunni ultra-conservative supportive of extremists on their soil as the taliban was when al qaeda was there coming back to power in
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afghanistan. so you have this dynamic that does give you some common ground. so does their keen desire to reduce the illegal narcotics industry activity that has enslaved quite a substantial number of young iranians. quite some similar interests and that afghan refugees who have returned to afghanistan in large numbers in recent years people pakistan and others but to get more of those as well they would do it also. >> two questions about the resolution. the stock at funding complicating in any way large or small efforts in afghanistan and specifically the larger -- to cut $51 billion from the 2010 and budget. cuts the state department by 16% and the institute of peace by 100%. what impact will that have on your operations in afghanistan?
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>> vcr --the cr is not complicated efforts that will because the u.s. air force will not buy the additional unmanned aerial vehicle caps we have requested to joint operational needs statement but there are similar examples of that. beyond that at a certain point the afghan security forces fund which will increase this year by the budget will be capped at a much lower level. you heard me on capitol hill state my grave concerns about the inadequate level of funding for state and aide. these are national security issues. i don't want to diminish the assistance of foreign assistance for humanitarian aid but this category is what our troopers who fought so hard and sacrificed so much to achieve need to cement the gains on the ground. it is stake and aide that does
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the bill. we have emergency reconstruction program funding and so forth but we need the state experts and the people and number 2, we need them to have the funding to enable them to do what is necessary to build and complement our efforts and consolidate those gains and support development of our afghan partners and institutions and basic services and so forth. >> haley barbour thinking of running for president in the republican party asks this question. what is our mission? alachua question before me. why does it matter whether afghan specifically is a sanctuary for extremists? they can operate just as well elsewhere. >> the truth is we have to prevent them from operating anywhere. we have sought to do that. the commander of u.s. central command, over 80% of the deployed u.s. special operations forces and a key reason for that is not just iraq and afghanistan
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but all we are doing in other areas including yemen and several other countries in central command. the fact is if we force them to displace from pakistan that is hugely significant because we have to leave infrastructure, relationships, networks, command and control, over 20 or 30 years. just as when the taliban had to leave behind a massive cashes of weapons, explosives we're finding five times more explosives caches that we found before because we are in areas they had to leave or be killed or captured. you have the same dynamic if they are displaced from pakistan. there's no question you have to go after them wherever they are. you want to do that with the minimum amount of what we have to provide on the ground and the maximum amount of helping others
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to use their capabilities against these organizations and enable them to do the job as we do with so many partners as we did with so many partners in the central command region. >> related to something scott dempsey who served in the theater has talked about relating to the district, only by dint of u.s. direct involvement, substantial financial infusion of money of the question with the budget is bigger than afghan's entire gdp. when we pull out in 2014 or whatever date harbor of the afghan government pay for their military and for this this question that is raised by scott dempsey, how we hope to securities gains when they are fueled from his perspective on the ground almost entirely by u.s. supervision and financing? >> first of all i think fed covered give credit to our afghan partners. marjah is another point in
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point. marjah was liberated year ago. it took somewhere between 42 to 4500 u.s. marines, around 1600 now and the afghan forces picked up more of this. they're still engaging but much more in the periphery. as i mentioned they were able to hold the district, that was their election. one power point here at least to allow my team did demonstrate expertise. why don't you show the marjah elections? this is after the great debate which was a neat stuff. this is them running this. there are ten schools open now and marjah and there were zero under the taliban. there are afghans teaching in the schools, not us. we helped rebuild the schools. lots of work in the irrigation systems and markets which used to sell almost exclusively
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illegal narcotics and weapons and explosives. there are now 1500 markets and they sell household goods to clothing. it is afghans. the afghan district, the governor who has done this. is our funding critical? certainly has been in the beginning. over time we have to build those institutions so that they can take that on themselves. they have also got to begin that process of exploiting for the afghan people trillions of dollars of minerals that are in the ground in afghanistan. it is also a fact that they don't have the technology and human capital value chain, transportation chain and so forth that that can come overtime. having said that we are going to be supporting afghanistan as part of the international community presumably as the australian prime minister said beyond 2014 in some capacity but in a very different character and certainly a lower level.
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can we are providing right now. >> this just came in. hamid karzai issue rebuke to the u.s. for the drone attack that killed ten pakistani. how do you respond? >> i have seen hamid karzai's comment on that. i will need to see that and see what the context is. i will leave that for probably the office of defense representative pakistan or some other intelligence partners of ours. having said that, president hamid karzai also rebuked us over the death of nine innocent afghan civilian boys and he was absolutely right to do it. we made a tragic, terrible error. we did an inadequate -- inadequate handoff from the tower that had the insurgents identified to the attack helicopter flying at 10,000 feet that took them under attack,
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misidentified the boys. that is why i apologize publicly, why we took a variety of corrective measures. >> earlier you mentioned charlie wilson's war. do you fear the last scene of charlie wilson's war will play out that what happens with the duration of u.s. combat forces when we depart congress will be unwilling, incapable or inattentive to that need to fund the peace afterwards? >> i finished the most extensive round on capitol hill that i ever had. and a few other hearings over time. in this particular case i don't think i ever met with each of the top four in a two they period as i said, also met with the chairman of each of the appropriations committees and the subcommittee chairs for the foreign relations committee over the issue of state aid funding. there's a clear recognition of
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the importance of the mission in afghanistan. certainly we have to remind the american people and other domestic populations of contributing nations of the importance of that mission but-there is an understanding of it. >> several questions along this line. how do you see the unrest in the middle east and north africa affecting operations in afghanistan and the overall atmosphere afghanistan? >> interesting that we have not seen anything like that in afghanistan. by and large i have not seen the same in iraq either which i continue to keep tabs on for no other reason than people keep sending me stuff. when you invest a fair amount of time in the land of the two rivers when i left iraq i said i will always have iraq and the iraqi people on my mind and in my heart and i meant it. we sacrificed a great deal there and the fact is in iraq the
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demonstrations have been about inadequate basic services. is not about the government or the parliament. it is about their performance and something that malaki recognized. they have a reasonably responsive -- it took some time to form the government. it is seen as their government and so the demonstrations haven't been against that. they had their say. they were able to cast a ballot and execute their democratic right. their complaints is electricity, jobs and other basic services. in afghanistan we have seen very few demonstrations. they are typically about local issues or occasionally some issue that does have to do with
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some components of politics or basic services but no broad activity whatsoever akin to that which was seen in various countries. >> before we wrap up i will have a question. this came in several forms on libya which you may not want to get to but i want to get to a question that possibly is close to your heart in your own sentiments as a leader of fighting men and women. our hospitals are full of injured service members. how do you communicate to the warrior on the ground that the juice is worth the squeeze? >> i have been to -- i always go to walter reed and bethesda when i am in washington. i can't say how impressive our wounded warriors are above all. you generally think i need to give some energy to these guys and give a lift to their morale. they tend to lift our morale more than the other way around.
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we have a wounded warrior right here by the way. he is going to harvard law school and harvard business school at it is too bad princeton doesn't have either of those but that not withstanding a great naval academy graduate, a above the knee and you see. [applause] but he is typical of our wounded warriors. it is clear to me he has taken a rearview mirror off the bus and focused forward and counting the blessings that he does have. absolutely making the most of the opportunities. i do believe our medical facilities are doing extraordinary work for wounded troopers. from the point of injury all the way out with the technology and training we increase the medevac assets, the average was 44 minutes away within the golden hour as we call it to get them into the first line hospital.
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the care is extraordinary back through blood did -- if they stop in germany and on to the national centers here, or where ever. you do get that question clearly and i used to ask it of myself in iraq. and again, i think you come back in afghanistan certainly to this issue of 9/11. i am not one who has the twin towers on wall in my office or something like this but this is a pretty ever-present reminder for all of us. this was not something you could classify as elective surgery or something like that. there was a reason for going there and reason to accomplish the mission we are there to accomplish. ..
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on the enormous capabilities that we have in our military. by the way, we are now getting to the one-year deployed, two years back, so the one to two kinds of dwell time as well with our services. and that's a function of not just having drawn down our forces in iraq although that's the biggest. we're down from 165-k at the peak to somewhere in the high 40s. also because of the increase
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of our force, the restructuring of them, the development of more of the so-called high-demand, lo low-density forces in the special operations community and tell against communities and so on. so there has been real progress there as well. >> general, i want to thank you very much. i hope you in the audience felt i have been adequate representative of you and your questions. we wanted to have a conversation but we also wanted to bring as many of you into this dialogue as possible. we try to do it in most efficient way as possible. general, you're extremely generous with your time and your answers. on behalf of "national journal" i want to thank you the newseum. michael hamlin, thank you very much, from brookings. good day to everyone. [applause]
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[inaudible conversations] >> well, you heard general petraeus close with a couple of answers on questions of about libya. this one day after the u.n. security council authorize ad no-fly zone over libya and the libyan government this morning declaring a cease-fire. we expect to hear comments from president obama before he heads out on his south and central american trip. there are reports that he will make a statement today. we will have those on the c-span networks when and if they do happen. the president will head out this evening from the white house for a five-day, three-country trip beginning in brazil tomorrow. also covering chile and
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el salvador and returning next wednesday. coming up on the c-span networks at noon today are the center for american progress is hosting a discussion on the administration open government initiative. the first panel focusing on the policy aspects of the initiative. the second panel on technology's impact and how people get and use information. that will be live on c-span. in relation to the president's trip, secretary of state hillary clinton will be talking about u.s. relations with south and central america. she will be at the center for strategic and international studies. that will be live at 2:00 p.m. eastern, also on c span.
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>> i put my toe in the water. it is now up to my neck and the feedback that we have gotten from people across this country, tens of thousands, who are willing to volunteer. >> the head of fema says his agency would not be able to handle a nuclear emergency similar to the events unfoiledding in japan. however, administrator craig fugate told a senate committee yesterday the government as a whole is better prepared to deal with emergencies than it was
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before hurricane katrina. also testifying, the former inspector general who assessed fema operations since the hurricane. this is about two hours. >> the hearing will come to order. i thank everyone for their patience. as you know we had two votes on the floor. so we delayed the start of the hearing. i welcome, everyone. we convene this hearing which had been long-planned, long-scheduled on fema's ability to respond to a major catastrophe against the compelling backdrop of the tragically catastrophic events unfolding in japan. an earthquake and tsunami in rapid succession that have already resulted in twice as many deaths as al qaeda's attack on america on 9/11. of course no one believes that the death, and finding
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of the dead is over yet. the earthquake and tsunami have also caused fires and explosions at nuclear power plants that could have nightmarish consequences for japan and perhaps other countries as well. japan has been considered the gold standard of earthquake preparedness because they have had repeated experience with earthquakes but this earthquake registered 9.0 on the richter scale. i always, when i say that, remember that the great san francisco earthquake was apparently 7.6 on the richter scale. so you can imagine the consequences here. the waves of disaster set off by this earthquake in japan have exceeded the country's extraordinary appropriations. -- preparations. so the events of the past week in japan lend a sense of urgency to our hearing today as we ask, how
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well-prepared is america for a catastrophe perhaps one equal to that occurring now in japan? our committee called its 2006 report about fema's response to hurricane katrina, quote, a nation still unprepared, end quote. and we were then unprepared. that lack of preparedness shook the confidence of the american people, who naturally asked why their government couldn't help some of their fellow citizens when they needed it the most? this committee's extensive investigation into the failure of all levels of government to prepare for and respond effectively to hurricane katrina found a long and troubling list of problems, not least of which was that fema in our opinion was not and never had been capable of responding to a catastrophe like hurricane katrina. and here is where i learned
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that when it comes to emergency preparedness and response, two words that i thought meant the same don't. disaster and catastrophe. preparedness for most disasters, which fema was and certainly is capable of, is different from preparedness for catastrophes like caterpillar. after our katrina. the committee drafted and congress passed the post-emergency format of 2006. our aim was to rebuild fema into a stronger, more capable agency. five years later, our i am convinced that fema has in fact become stronger and more capable but is it strong enough to respond adequately if a catastrophe like the one currently in japan struck the united states? i think that's the question
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we want to ask our witnesses today. last september, then inspector general of the department of homeland security richard skinner released a report on fema's transformation since katrina. mr. skinner has since retired from public service after a long and distinguished career but his report, but he is fortunately back with us to testify today. his report concluded last september that fema has made some form of progress in almost all areas where reform was needed but that fema's management, to speak broadly, still needed improvement. well today's hearing is focused on fema, i think it is important to say that response to and recovery from a disaster or a catastrophe in the united states is the responsibility of a lot of other agencies and other people besides fema. other federal agencies, state and local government, the private sector, in fact,
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in some sense every affected american have roles to play and many of them also need to improve their capabilities. on a positive note just recently, the departments of defense and homeland security and the congressionally mandated council of governments recently signed off on a very important plan establishing clear rules for when both national guard and military forces can jointly respond after a disaster. and this means that in a, large disaster, catastrophe, we will have the ability to call on the resources of the department of defense in a more timely and effective manner. five years after katrina, i again conclude we're better prepared for a catastrophe we have ever been but the
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epic disaster in japan reminds us that fema must continue to imas old and new threats loom. some from the nature like the earthquake and tsunami. others from human enemies like the one we faced on 9/11/01. i know administrator fugate and the dedicated public servants he works with at fema will continue to chart a successful path forward. thank you. sort collins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. the earthquake and tsunami that struck japan last week destroyed entire communities, killed thousands of people and caused the release of radiation at nuclear power plants. our thoughts are with the japanese people and with the rescuers and responders, including units from our own country. this horrific natural
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disaster reminds us that we need to do our best to prepare for the unpredictable and that is the focus of today's hearing. in the past year we have witnessed three disasters involving the development and use of energy resources. the proper word, probably is catastrophes, as the chairman has said. first, the explosion aboard the deepwater horizon oil rig last spring led to economic and environmental damages that have yet to be completely tallied. a west virgina coal mine explosion killed 29 people in august and was the worst in decades. and now there is uncertainty and fear in japan about the amounts of radiation emitted
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from nuclear power plants in the area hit by the tsunami. in addition to the humanitarian crisis, the aftermath of the earthquake has raised concerns about the safety of nuclear power at a time when it is being revisited as an alternative to fossil fuels and as a means of lowering greenhouse gas emissions. regardless of whether a disaster strikes our energy supply or another sector of our economy or part of our nation, we need to be prepared. we don't know when the next disaster will hit. we do know that the u.s. geological survey estimates that within the next 30 years the probability is 94%
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that an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude or greater will occur in california. 94% chance of that. we know that innegative -- inevitably there will be hurricanes, floods and tornadoes and we recognize a terrorist attack using a weapon of mass destruction in a large city would certainly strain our capabilitis. today i look forward to hearing from our witnesses how well-equipped the united states is for any catastrophic disaster regardless of the cause. what is the level of our preparedness to protect important energy sources? what are we learning from the nuclear accidents in japan and the gulf coast oil spill in the past year?
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how well are we prepared for a major earthquake in this country? do we have the communication and medical systems necessary to respond to the explosion of a dirty bomb? more than four years ago congress enacted the post-katrina emergency management reform act which the chairman and i authored. that bill was designed to take the hard-learned lessons of hurricane katrina and bring about improvements in our nation's overall emergency preparedness and response systems and our law has indeed improved fema's disaster response capabilitis. from major floods to wildfires we have witnessed improvements throughout the country. in maine i saw first-hand this progress in fema's
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responses to the patriot's day storm of 2007, the spring 2008 floods in arusta county and other disasters since then. fema certainly has become a more effective better led agency during the past four years but nevertheless, questions remain about our ability to handle a megadisaster. i also have serious concerns about fema's stewardship of federal funds. one of those hard-learned lessons from the aftermath of hurricane katrina was that fema's assistance programs were highly vulnerable to fraud and improper payments. our committee, with assistance of the ig and gao,
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documents more than a billion dollars in misspent funds. in some cases these taxpayer dollars were literally gambled away. funds were also spent on liquor, bail bonds, and diamond engagement rings. fema also paid millions of dollars for housing assistance to hundreds of applicants who apparently resided in state and federal prisons. while victims certainly should receive prompt, appropriate relief, fema needs to strike that careful balance between expediting relief and insuring that criminals do not defraud the system and that means having strong internal controls. unfortunately safeguarding taxpayer dollars remains an area in which fema has yet to achieve success.
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a december 2010 report by the inspector general revealed that fema had stopped attempting to recover improper disaster assistance payments made after hurricanes katrina and rita and subsequent disasters. the ig identified approximately 160,000 applicants that had received improper disaster assistance payments totaling more than $643 million. even more disturbing fema's efforts to recoup the improper payments ended in 2007 after a court found its recovery procedures were inadequate. more than three years later a new process for recovering these payments has only been initiated this week. i do want to point out some bright spots in these
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september 2010 dhs inspector general's report. in particular the ig found that fema had made substantial progress. we see it on the chart, in improving emergency communications. insuring that first-responders can communicate during a disaster is vital. indeed, when communications failed after 9/11, and during hurricane katrina, it cost lives. the ig also highlights the effectiveness of the regional emergency communications working groups in each of the 10 fema regions. since i pushed very hard for this reform, i'm very pleased to see the progress that's been made. this october will mark the fifth anniversary of the post-katrina emergency management reform act. by that time, i hope that fema will have made
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significant progress in improving our nation's preparedness for the next catastrophe. finally i want to join the chairman in thanking former inspector general skinner for his extraordinary service, not just to the department but throughout his career to our country. he has certainly been a valuable asset as our committee conducted its investigations and oversights of the department and i am grateful for his aggressive approach to combating waste, fraud, and abuse and helping to improve the management of programs at dhs. so, mr. skinner, thank you for your service. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thanks, very much, senator collins. senator landrieu, you have been so involved in these matters regarding fema obviously ever since hurricane katrina. would you like to make an
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opening statement? >> thank you, mr. chairman and ranking member i really appreciate it. i've got to get back to the floor and managing a bill and unable to stay for the remainder of the hearing so i really appreciate it and i'll try to be very brief but there are a few important things i'd like to share. first of all i think the calling of this hearing is very important and i thank the chair and ranking member. their attention after the katrina and rita and gustav and ike disasters and many other disasters has been important to all of us as we tried to recover along the gulf coast and other states and communities and your efforts have really strengthened fema's management opportunities. but i do want to point to a couple of things that i'm concerned about. looking at the situation, mr. chairman, in japan, reminds us again that disasters of large magnitudes catastrophic disasters, can and will occur and will
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occur. and what concerns me is right now, in this capitol, there are efforts to significantly reduce funding for the department of homeland security, in particular, the funds for fema and for the def fund, which is the disaster emergency fund. it does not make any sense to me that the house of representatives would cut funding from this important program. we now are in the position, mr. chairman, to be able to be asked to use $1.5 billion is needed, just to meet the costs of eligible projects for this year. so we're basically paying for projects of past disasters, using money that we're supposed to be using to prepare for future disasters.
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now i've sent a letter to the president. i would really very much like you and the ranking member to look at this letter, to cosign this letter, if you could because we're going to find ourselves back in the same position we were before katrina struck, which is underfunding our preparedness for future disasters and not being ready when it happens. specifically, and i will submit the rest of the record, the house resolution is cutting $68 million of i-t funds, ranking to senator snowe's point, this is exactly the money that is necessary for fema to keep up their computer software and reporting mechanisms to cut down on fraud and abuse. so on one hand we're asking them to come down hard on fraud and abuse. on the other hand we're taking away their money that enables them to do that. that is not right and it is not fair. in addition, it is projected
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that we are going to run out of money three months before hurricane season starts. this happened last year, mr. chairman. if we don't weigh in with the administration and with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, it is going to happen again. the only final thing i will say, and i'm looking forward to reading the details of the report, there is some encouraging news and mostly because you and senator collins have done such a good job on staying on point, i'm proud that as a subcommittee chair i held literally dozens of hearings in four years on this exact subject hopefully some of the hearings that we held contributed to some of the steps that have been taken to improve. but on the issue of fraud and abuse i just want to submit to the record and i know that senator collins is very concerned about this and i am too, on behalf of many people on the gulf coast, i have to just add to the record. some people are being accused of fraud because they could not provide title to their home or insurance
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documents. i mean in floods and in earthquakes documents are lost. some people are being accused of fraud or put in the column of fraud because they couldn't provide free and clear title to their home. it has been in generations for years. they simply don't have a clear title among several generations. there are some that are in a column or a queue for fraud and abuse because there is mix-up or omission of names like june i don't remember inset of senior or senior instead of junior or boulevard instead of highway as it is supposed to be. i know fraud is a serious issue. i join senator sessions in clamping down, raising the fines, increasing penalties for people that would try to game the system. it is particularly horrible i think to try to game a system in the middle of a disaster. really their penalty should be significantly higher in that regard and they are but we have to be careful
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calling some of these misclassifications fraud when they really aren't in my definition of fraud. and finally when we go to collect this money back, particularly senator snowe, i just want to say that i hope that the money we put into collecting these, you know, these fund back are cost effective because some of these funds were put out in $1,000 or $2,000 and there are hundreds of thousands of people that we may have to track down. i know letters went out this week for 5000. let's just be careful when we seek to get the money back, it is a good expenditure of taxpayer dollars and not just throwing bad money after, good money after bad. i'm going to submit the rest of the record. i thank you very much, to the chairman and to the ranking member. >> thanks, senator landrieu, both for coming off the
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floor while you're managing the small business bill, but also for your leadership of the subcommittee and we'll continue to try to carry forward with your assistance. thank you. let's go to the witnesses. again i thank you for being here, all three of you. and we'll begin with the honorable craig fugate, administrator, federal emergency management agency at the u.s. department of homeland security. good afternoon and, the question is, how ready is fema for the next big disaster? >> thank you, mr. chairman, ranking member collins and senator landrieu. in response to the event, i'm going to try to go through my oral statement here and give more time to questions. i think is really i think a better setting for the questions that you have in response but just kind of a summary, you know, we've been looking at this since i've been at fema from the standpoint of planning and what do we do in a
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catastrophic disaster response? as you pointed out we respond to a lot of disasters. we implement the staff to provide assistance. that is not the same thing as a response that requires a coordinated federal where we actually have a lot of different resources that have to go quickly to an area where we may not have a lot of information. looking at the backdrop what happened in japan, and again, you know, i can't imagine what my counterparts are doing, how they're standing up in. this is what we're in the business for. this is most challenging thing you can deal with. not only losses but our counterparts knowing what they're going through now and challenges that they're facing and trying to step back from that and go what if it happened here and what would we do. so from that approach will be the thrust of my comments. we have been supporting, a you know the lead for our international response as u.s. agency for international development. we are in a support role. two of the teams that have gone to japan to assist in search-and-rescue are the
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urban search-and-rescue teams authorized as part of fema. there are 28 teams which are supported by usic designated for international response. these teams been to haiti. most recently christchurch and recently in japan. we stand by to assist, u.s. aid. japan is a country with many resources although much of the things we offer have not been needed but we stay in support of that. disasters as you point out don't always give us warning don't always follow a season and don't often happen where we expect to have the biggest impacts. . .expected to have the worst impacts. for that reason, a term we use in fema is we can't plan for easy. we have to plan for real. we cannot look at what we're merely capable of. we have to look at what the m y impacts would be to our
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communities and change the outcome. we put a lot of emphasis on the first 72 hours. we see this as key. we saw it in katrina and in other disasters. if aid is not reaching the people that need, it not secure, not able to do the search and rescue, not get there quick enough it becomes extremely different for the outcome of the survivors >> that very clear he said was the intent of congress that we would not merely operate in a st whole system waiting for plus for help are waiting for theongs situation to develop. that theme and the federal family could begin mobilizingort heitg for when we determine something happened or thinkhe itlp's aboud happen, even prior to a formal request from cover.think it's we use that provision numerous times since i've been at fema u numerous times since i've been at fema, from the american samoa tsunami to the flooding in tennessee, to most recently the
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tsunami issues issued for hawaii and the west coast in moving in prepositioned supplies as you directed us to do. >> talk a lot more an that. i think it will be interesting to people who are listening or watching on tv. >> well, previously, this is one of the findings and concerns you raised during katrina. it was not always clear, could fema begin moving resources particularly in tasking our federal family and moving supplies such as food, generators, cots, blankets prior to a greft a governor. in looking at that, you clarified under the stafford act at the direction of the president fema could activate and use the drf, the disaster relief fund to begin sending missions to various federal agencies as well as deploying resources. >> before anything happens. >> before anything happens. >> merely upon, the tsunami warning centers in hawaii and in alaska, began issues tsunami warnings -- >> last weekend. >> last weekend. last friday. actually, i got my call about 2:00 in the morning.
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and this then occurred a little after midnight our time. our regional office, region 9 which covers the pacific was already stood up. we made the decision we would stand up fully fema's support to the west coast and islands and territories. we began moving supplies out of our logistics centers which you've authorized to provide additional funding to have nor plies on hand. >> you got the centers disbursed around the country? >> yes, sir. strategically located around the country so we're closer to the areas we would need assistance. a facility at moffett field in california and began the process of getting supplies loaded up. >> what kinds of supplies? >> in this case we thought the primary event would be destruction along the coast. people displaced, people possibly in shelters. so we have a distribution center in guam, a distribution in hawaii and then the distribution we activated on the west doecoa
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to begin moving shelf stable food and one of the things that came out of the commission on children's disaster, we sent the shelf stable meals but don't send formula or baby foods, it's not help to the young. they mapped their greatest risk from tsunamis. like we do for hurricanes and map the coastal area, along the west coast they've actually mapped those areas at greatest risk for tsunami. we know where the populations areas would be and ra relative whisk. we didn't know how big the wave would be. given the magnitude of the earthquake, the size was one to suggest you could see as much as a 2 meter or almost 6 foot tsunami. this isn't like a wave breaking on the beach. if you saw the videos in japan you get the idea, a six-foot wall of water literally rushing in, pulling in, not going out and how devastating that could be. we also had folks in hawaii that went into the governor's d.o.c. in hawaii as he was activatingen
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evacuating his coast and had supplies ready to go there. this process comes back to the critical moments when we think there may be an event. we had a trigger we knew a major earthquake occurred. we knew the tsunami risk was there, had the forecast but didn't know the impact. we began moving the supplies based upon what we projected what we call our maximum maximum. the worst case impact we'd see along our coast, and began moving for that. again, it's a process that says we have sow understato understa close contact, communicating and doing it as a team. not just fema. talking to the admiral, to the state counterparts. anything they're concerned about or need to adjust. so this process really comes back to, i think, the heart of what you try to get to in post-katrina format.
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fema had to be more agile, able to build a better team, recognize a lot more capacity and capabilities than just what we bring but we have to move fastener these events. at the senator points out, we have to declare when are we stable and when do we need to engage safeties to make sure we're not going things that are no longer necessary. we define outcomes we want to achieve in this additional response such as life safety and life-sustaining activities. it goes back to one of the harder issue. had we can't do that we fault it back to the monetary assistance props because we couldn't get enough supplies in to meet the basic needs and found ourselves with not many options. part of this is working in partnership and also the private sector. the other thing we never did. we always came up way government response to disasters. never realized before that disaster happened in every community there were grocery stores, hardware stores, gas station, pharmacies. we would oftentimes plan our
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response ir. >> reporter:less -- irregardless of what they were doing. now they're part of the fema team and response center here in washington helping us coordinate with them so we don't compete with the private sector. we go where they're not, where they have the difficulties or destruction so we can focus our response on those areas of heaviest devastation, but also in the unique populations as you point out, mr. chairman, i know senator collins' fatalked about this before. people being prepareded. we talk about this as one of our spornts. i want people to understand why we tell people to be prepared. they're going to be heavily impacted areas that should not have to compete with sthoez these of us who could have been prepared an should have been ready. they shouldn't get in line behind us. those people that don't have the resources, that don't have the ability to do these things shouldn't get in line behind us bu we didn't get ready. these type of catastrophic disasters, the government needs
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to focus on the safety and security of the bottomless populations working with the rest of the crew, the organizations and businesses. it's important that the public recognizes to the ability that they can prepare so that those first critical days they're not competing with the most voweler inable impacted populations is key to our success. we talk about are we prepared for a catastrophic disaster? we've made significant improvements whip the tos toolsu have and have much work to be done. looking at the processes that need strengthen to ensure not only can we be rapid and fast as i like to say, we want to be fast. we want speed. we don't want haste, or we have waste and abuse to the system. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thanks, add minister fugate. we look forward to the question and answer period. mr. skinner, richard skinner, thanks for returning to capitol
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hill. it is your report of last september at fema's preparedness for the next catastrophic disaster. an update that led us to plan this marrying a long time ago. it comes obviously in the immediate context of the tragedy in japan. so it's just inevitable that we will be looking at the report based on what's happening there now, but it's a great piece of work. typical of the high standards that you reached throughout your career in public service and we welcome your testimony on the report now. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ranking member collins. it's a pleasure to be here again this afternoon. i don't really feel like i've retired yet and i've been spending a considerable amount of time actually preparing for this hearing, but it is a pleasure and honor to be here. i can't agree with you more. the tragic events that are unfolding today in japan is a stark reminder of hour important catastrophic preparedness is.
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can and will happen here. it's just a matter of when. if you asked me if we as a nation are better prepared than we 20 years ago, 10 years ago, even 5 years ago, the answer to that is, yes, of course we are. we've made tremendous strides, particularly over, like you pointed out, over the last four years since hurricane katrina. if you ask, are we as prepared as we can be or should be? then the answer to that is, no, we're not. fema has made -- while fema's made notable progress over the years it's doing so at least in my opinion at at snail's pace. after 32 years in existence and many years learned from past disasters, such as hurricanes hugo back in the late '80s and eric andrew in the late '90s and katrina in the earthquake at northridge, in the 9/11 attacks, we as a nation should be much better prepared than we are
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today. there does not appear in my opinion to be a sense of urgency with fema to turn words and plans into action. fema is an agency that in my opinion, my observations and my association with them over the last 20 years seems to be an agency that's always in a constant state of flux. at least during the 20 years that i know that i haven't been working with feel moo. many concerns outside of fema and with identified hurricane katrina, and nearly 20 years same, the same identified in its september 2010 update of katrina the disaster preparedness capabilities. they've created task group, working panels and counciling to develop remedial action plans to address these issues that produced libraries full of lessons learned, and draft documents, many shelved and took
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a back seat to the urgency of its missions demand, to respond to the latest disaster. consequently, momentum towards finalization and the implementation of key initiatives were slowed or lost altogether. the four issues i talked about today that concern me the most are, one, the failure of fema to build a strong management support infrastructure to sustain its disaster operations. this includes information technology development and integration. financial management's, acquisition management, grants management and human resource management. these functions are absolutely critical to the success of fema's programs and operations. yet whenever there is a major disaster or whenever fema is required to reduce its budget, these are the first activities to be cut as evidenced by the president's 2012 budget to congress. and the many budget cuts posed by congress itself over the years. this is short-sided in the long
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term will cost increase or raise the costs of disaster operations and disaster programs. it will increase fema's vulnerabilities to fraud, waste and abuse, adversely affect the quality of service the individuals and communities affected by disasters. in january of this year the dhs reported fema's -- i was still at the ig at that time -- we reported that fema's existing i.t. system was not integrated do not meet user needs ar are cumbersome to operate and do not provide the i.t. capabilities needed by users to carry out disaster operations, response and recovery operations in a timely, efficient and effective manner. furthermore, fema doesn't have a documented inventory of a system of support disasters nor does it have a comprehensive strategic plan with clearly defined goals for its components.
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program and field offices we found are continuing to develop i.t. systems independently of the cios office and slow to adopt fema standard i.t. development approach. without modern, integrateded systems, fema's hard pressed to perform at its best as evidenced by the fraud, waste and abuse that has plagued the agency since its inception. it cannot prepare timely and reliable financial reports from which to make financial or informed financial management decisions. cannot readily share critical information with its own ranks or with its federal partners, the federal, state and local levels. it cannot track its disaster workforce. the status of its mission assignments or work peeg performed by its contractors and grantees, at least not with any reasonable degree of reliability. until these issues are addressed people fema's taxpayer dollars wasteful spending and poor performance.
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similar to unneeded travel trailers after hurricane katrina or the millions paid to ineligible disaster assistance applicants or the millions paid to unscrupulous contractors. granted, fema recognizes and is attempting to remedy many of these problems and weaknesses and has actually made headway, because, as you can see, and have heard from the administrator today, the question is, however, does fema have the resolve and wherewithal to sustain those efforts? the ability of fema to do so is fragile. not only because of the early stage of development that these initiatives are in but also because of the nation's economic involvement in the constant destructions caused by the inordinate number of disasters fema must service each year. ness unless there's a sustained commitment, there is a good chance we'll talk about these same problems five or ten years from now. the second issue that concerns
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me is a lack of performance standards in metrics to measure the level of disaster preparedness at all level, federal state and local. in july 1993, 18 years ago, gao reported that fema had neither established performance standards nor developed a program for evaluating federal, state and local preparedness for catastrophic disaster response. until that is accomplished, before the gao, fema will not be able to judge the nation's readiness nor will it be able to hold itself or its state and local partners accountable. in 1998, 13 years ago, fema claimed to be in the process of developing a methodology for assessing hazard risks and escape capabilities. until this day, fema has not finalized this nor the performance of metrics in processes necessary to track and measure emergency management capabilities and performance.
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state and local governments received billions of dollars over the past eight years and are estimated to receive billions more over the years to come. either without a bona fide performance measurement system, it is impossible to determine whether these annual investments are actually improving our nation's disaster -- furthermore, without clear performance stands, fema lacks the tools knows make informed funding decisions. 's in today's economic climate, it's critical that fema concentrate its limited resources on those hazards that pose the greatest risks to the country. third, the third issue that concerns me is the lack of transparency and accountability in the use of the disaster relief funds and prevent fraud, wait and abuse of the funds. literally hundreds of audits and investigations over the years demonstrated that fema programs are extremely vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse, yet fema still has not developed a robust
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program to curtail fraudulent use in its program. the extent of the taxpayer covering year after year, the past 20 years since i've been associated, is unacceptable and needs to be addressed aggressively. unfortunately, there's a long-standing mind-set with fema, with the fema rank and file that fraud prevention is the exclusive responsibility of the oig. many believe that fema's responsibility is simply to doll out funds to individuals and communities affected by a disaster. and it is the oig's responsibility to catch those who have received those funds through fraudulent mean. this flawed mindset a costing the american taxpayers millions of dollars each and every year. fraud prevention is a shared responsibility. in 2007, response to a new i.g. proposal, fema create add fraud
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prevention unit to address the complaints widespread fraudulent activity after four disasters struck florida in 2004. since then, renamed and placed in fema's office of the chief security officer. although the concept behind the fraud unit was sound it is understaffed, underfunded and lacks the latest in fire prevention technology to be effective. furthermore, organizationally buried in the bows of the ages and very little if think visibility between the rink and file. consequently, if utility is not fully unite liesed's feel mae noods to expand its scope of responsibility to includes after disaster relief programs nationwide and mandate fraud prevention training for all employee. this should help strike the balance between providing assistance and ensuring fiscal responsibility. a good model that fema may want to immolate is the one developed by the recovery accountability
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and trans, and also provide fraud and abuse from nearly $800 billion in economic stimulus recovery programs. with nine months of its creation, the board developed and put into place government-wide systems to provide transparency and accountability and to identify and prevent fraud, wait and abuse. ace a result of this, economic stimulus funds have been kept to an absolute minimum. there's no reason why a small agency such as fema cannot do the same. we as taxpayers deserve to know our tax dollars are not wasted and spent on fraudulent activities fop that end i believe fema should review and incorporate many of the precedent-setting measures used by the recovery board in order to assure proper payment of taxpayer dollars.
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i'm concern about the many emphasis placed on community outreach and awareness to provide hazardous projects and litigations. many consider this the core of emergency management. helping to prevent disasters or reduce the effects of disasters when they do occur. in the late 1990s, fema launched and aggressive community outreach and awareness campaign to educate the public about the importance of yid gatien and provide this for public and private sectors to collaborate on the development and implementation risk-based all hazard mitigation strategies and project it's. unfortunately, this initiative lost momentum dupe to the change in administration and the tragic events of 9/11. america's attention turned to fighting and preventing
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terrorism and mitigation faded into the background as an emergency management priority. as a result, fema is now struggling to bort and develop a strategy. to lessen the impact of a catastrophic disaster, mitigation needs to be held, again, as a top management priority. fema needs to relaunch its campaign to educate the public and its mitigation partners about the importance of developing and implementing mitigation strategies an programs. in conclusion, not withstanding the em initiatives under the way. in resolve, sustained effect, sisht strategy and program. fema's increased involvement in routine disasters coupled with the reasons economic downturn and the impact was having on government bfts at all letters,
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could easily derail the many kmishtives currently underpaper. were were -- mr. chairman, i'll be happy to answer any questions you my have. >> thanks, mr. skinner. that was directs as we expect from you. maybe i'd call it the tough love that we expect from a great inspector general. and when we get to the qs and as i'll ask mr. fugate if he wants to respond. our final witness is william o. jenkins jr., director of homeland security and just is issues at the gao. >> chairman lieberman and ranking member collins i appreciate the opportunity to be here today to discuss fema's efforts to measure, and assess, natur capabilities to respond to a
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natural disaster. my comments echo that of mr. skinner. the heart wrenching videos from japan vividly illustrate a catastrophic disaster. the response capabilities of the affected areas are almost immediately overwhelmed and substantial outside assistance kirchs assistance -- katrina response resources from almost every state in the lower 4. basically prepares for disasters required identifying what needs to be done, by whom and how well it should be done. more specifically, this includes identifying one, the nature of the risk faced in the pacific jeer graph gee graphic areas. two, the types and scale of the specific disaster arising, three, desired outcomes in addressing these consequences. four, the capabilities needed to achieve the desired help comes. five, whose should fund, develop and maintain specific
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capabilities, and six, metrics in which needed -- are needed tore deployment. details for who should do and and how the many players are managed an coordinated. training the performed assigned roled and capabilities should be coupled with exercises to test and assess the operational plan and identify areas of strengths and gaps that need addressed. federal government provides more than $34 billion to states, locality it's to prevent, respect, respond and recover from major disasters. post-katrina emergency management gave fema responsibility for leading the nation in developing a national preparedness system, developing measures of desired capabilities and assessing the resources need to achieve them. this is a complex and daunting task. as mr. fugate notes in many public presentations it is a
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task feel may may lead but whose partnership -- as well as the american public's in in december 202, the local state tribal and federal task force of preparedness agreed there was no method for assessing preparedness or to the engs tent federal grants enhanced disaster capabilities and preparedness. they suggested a three-year timeline with an associated task for developing net crick's pt sim -- fema charactered most of the methodologies its developed as guidance or tools that non-federal employees can choose to use or not. one result of this asproech that available data or a large self-reported, difficult to validate and not necessarily comparable across reporting jurisdictions and entities thus making it difficult. a picture of national preparedness. each of the efforts today has
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partially advantaged the ability to find and mischer. however, they have not been -- to access national preparedness as envisioned by the post-katrina act. until it does have an integrate the approach, fema will not have mpment of a disaster preparedness across the nation. nor will it be able to effectively target grant resources to the areas of greatest need and potential benefit. it is said in a a useful way -- with catastrophic response roles an responsibilities. fema embarked in a new initiative calmed whole of community which incorporates 13 corresponds with an emphasis on stabilizing a catastrophic disaster in effect in the first 72 hour. this approach will be tested in the national level exercise this year using a major earthquake on the new madrid fault.
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this whatever approach is used, thag be a designed end. assessing where we are in ability to achieve that and roles and responsibilities are clear and we rigorously test and periodically rei valuate the assumptions on which the sdamp planning is based. according to news accounts, japan experienced a significantly bigger earthquake and tsunami. than the one for which it had planned and prepared for the geographic area hit by the disaster. it faceded coupe la -- any one of could would have been considered a major disaster. all events provide opportunities for learning and assessment'. this is not different. this can be useful in our own future disaster planning and preparations. that includes my statement, mr. chairman and i'ding please to
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respond top questions your ranking member might have. >> thanks very much, mr. jenkins. it was a very helpful statement. were the min traitor, i want to give awe chance to response to the testimony of mr. skinner and mr. jenkins. i want to offer you also the opportunity to file written response to the -- we want to get to other questions. particularly on the various elements of management to respond to what mr. skinner said. >> well, thank you, mr. chairman. much of what is in the i.t. report we're not disagreeing with. i think, again, to say that we're not taking steps, wr are. and to say it's rot a-the results may not were there, but
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an oompg, ampexample. it was basically a piggy bank when i got involved used oftentimeses in way that was not the intent. we found ourselves funding positions that weren't tied to disasters oftentimes used, if something wasn't going right, go look at the drf when it wasn't a disaster. one of our first stepsing recognize what were no longer disaster work. funded particularly from the katrina era that had become something you'd already funded in positions. we worked with they to elimonite -- we had a two-year transition period and were successful do that. the other thing we looked at, the cost of disasters. in many cases we were setting up large numbers of folks to and
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bill built upon a con sthaept was already there. a virtual field office. work from the reach's and avoid that cost. doesn't slow down the response to do the recovery but it does reduce the overall cost how we administer the disaster itself. for fraud and waste we have been working to make sure that we have the acquisition staff. a large percentage of ouring kwa zigs staff is contractors. getting them over and served by. requiring that not only those people that by law are required to have avid training but require all female employees to take training annually. working on, pointed out, huge in response. katrina was not having strong acquisition and having people that can go out and ute nice -- appropriately that we could use in a disaster. and if we do have to do acquisition, these were things
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we haven't done yet. we take a lot to heart. a lot of the implementation are not as fast or smart as you'd like but i think we're moving forward. a big part of this, getting the staff hired and trained. and we're no longer responsible for the day-to-day management. looking at our management structure. in putting a higher priority on the backbone systems require to do the day-to-day businesses, but also support disaster response. sole while i will not disagree with the findings i found, i state it is not a black of record that may not be showing up if we continue to build that capability. >> we'll continue to monitor, obviously. after a period of time, come back and do another oversight hearing. hopefully not in the shadow of a
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catastrophic disaster. somewhere in the world. lt. go to some questions that have come off of what's happening in japan now. this will be obvious to you. fema's not responsible for the safety -- fema has responsibility along with other entities for being prepared to respond to an accident, at a nuclear power plant. the effect of weather was in this case earthquake cts or the terrorist attack on a pawer plants. >> i'm interested since wreev all concerned unnorly about weather reactors. whether the plans per response that you have are affected by the particular designs of nuclear power plants, or whether that gets to a level of -- of detail and nuance that, that's
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hard for you to get to. yerds, whether you evaluate the resto restont -- >> mr. chairman, this goes back to the bindings from three mile island required at that time the new fema created in the reorganization that president carter signed that under the nuclear regulatory commission regulations fema was responsibilities for administers the preparedness program, which was to work with local and state governments, and at this particular program, the terman and base upon finings after three while island. they are not specific to the reactor but to the regulations ang the regulations require that planning for individuals is based upon a ten-mile planning zone around the facilities when
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an additional 50-mile planning zone for what is determined to be ingestion or possibility of food pathway risk. these plans has are din and require to be certify for the plan are conducted on a recurring basis against the standards and regulations. it would be something where the nuclear regulatory commission would make determinations as to modifications to the distances or actions taken. our job is to make sure we work as execute the protective mesh es which may include evag wags, decontamination, health is everying and other that officials would wake in the event that an accident occurred. >> so let me ask you the baseline question. maybe the circumstances answer it, but if an event like t-- if they're heard here in the u.s., would fema be prepared to respond?
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>> given what we're seeing there,s it would go, i think, far beyond what we currently have in our radiological program. fortunately, we built a lot of capability with the national guard, with the department of defense, but also with the local hazardous materials teams that received these grant fundings. particularly when we look at the threat of itch pro vise ed vise capabilities that norcom has to vee spond's in is respond to these team that would be the lead of the nrc. the ability to monitor that as a team effort, ability to do decontamination and support the evacuations. there's a lot more capability that goes beyond what we have and the safety flam couprogram
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could be brought to bear. mainly because of improvised devices or disposal devices. >> that's an important answer and i hope people are listening, i find. reassuring. one is we live in a world with a lot of risks, but the capabilities to respond to a terrorist attack involving here in the united states, those capabilities also obviously can be brought to bear in the case of an accident such as the one, or a natural disaster such as the one we're watching in japan now, which may already is, but may have significant radiological consequence. i think it's very important to state that since -- well, since 9/11, and intensely since katrina, we've developed extra capacity that fema can bring to bear, particularly wing the defense department. as you say, the response teams,
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which are right there and probably apart from local responders, and secondly, specialized skills and specialized units that are stood up at the national level with the defense department to come in and deal with the radiological consequences of such an event. i guess my question is, have i got it right? >> yes, sir. it's what we call a multilayer all hazard approach that many of these teams that were originally designed for commercial nuclear power plants actually give locals the capability to respond to other threats, conversely the funds and building of the teams respond to the threat of a disbursal device that gives us more capability to respond to any i vent that cevent that cann accident. we try emphasize, when we bead thighs capabilities oftentimes we're belding them against known threats or in a case of terrorism. the ability to use them for things you did not expect,
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greater than what you planned come back to the heart of what we're trying to get to. planning for likely maximum events and realizing that it takes the ability to leverage all resources not necessarily has the original plan was but how they could be utilized at part of the team if we saw this type of event. >> finally, i yield, i'm under my time, under northern command, the command of our military, which has responsibility now for homeland security, we have two units, 4,500 people in each one. one active duty. one reserve. they are specially trained to respond to events of this kind and to get there as quickly as possible. certainly with the window you talk about. thanks. senator collins? >> thank you, mr. chairman. administrator, you pointed out that the nuclear regulatory convention would be the lead agency if the united states were
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to experience the kind of accident or level of damage at a commercial nuclear reactor that is occurring now in japan, but fema under the national planning scenarios is responsible for the operational planning under a number of scenarios, one of which is a major earthquake. another is a nuclear attack. another is essentially a dirty bomb. what has fema completed the operational plans for those 15 scenarios that clearly outline the -- outlines the roles and responsibilities of all of your partners? in other words, is it really clear who's responsible for what if, got forbid, we had the kind
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of multiple catastrophe that japan is experiencing right now? >> in looking at the 15, planning scenarios, and i think some of those show that there's actually if i think, collapsing some of it down to one of the things we respond to that are similar and what are the unique authorities that are different across this. this comes back to when we're doing the all-hazard planning and looking at the catastrophic, we're actually looking at an improvised nuclear guise. the earthquake scenarios. and in looking at, what are the total nun r numbers of casualties, impacts and response to support that and going back to the authorities of which federal agencies would have different pieces of that? one of the things you'll note that the nuclear regulation and regulatory agency is responsible for the power plants, but if an event occurs outside of that, that's not a regulated facility, that's actually the department
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of energy that has the lead on the radiological response. it's our ability to go tluz these and look at to see where we have the authorities. 345 make sure they're clear and part is in the exercises. we most recently conducted exercises looking at nuclear power plants and looking at where those authorities are there and what we would operate under. going through the scenarios, that's what we're doing is. going back and submit that in writing because each scenario has various components completed or have been completed for the planning scenarios. >> mr. skinner, mr. jenkins, are the rules an responsibilities clear in your judgment under the 15 that the operational plans is not yet pleaded for? i'm sort of answering my own question, because if it's not
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completed it's unlikely to be cleared. what's your assessment, mr. skinner, i'll start with you. >> first of all, we haven't done a stud ty to determine the clary of this. they were able to determine the responsibilities are becoming clearer, and this is a direct result, i think, of the result of the confusion we witnessed after hurricane katrina and people have sat down in a room, and started more clearly defining who's on first, who has the operational responsibilities and who is in charge. in that regard, after katrina, we have feel comfortable that the clarity of rules are becoming clear. again, a lot of these things are not complete. so it's -- we're really trying to use a krcrystal ball to predt how it's going to play out in the future. in regard to earthquakes, that
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administrator fugate referred to and as well as nuclear tests, results of some of our exercises with regards to nuclear detonation, and hurricanes, major hurricanes, ef-5 hurricanes, those, as a result of that work, we feel that the roles are relatively clear. >> mr. jenkins, do you agree? >> i do agree with that. definitely there's been progress made but one of the issues we're concerned about, and until you get these plans completed, one of the things that's important for state, local and other, what's the fatality of the roles across the scenarios and what are the capabilities that need to carry out those goals and responsibilities effectively? it's really important to know the totality of that. this is what i'm responsible for. this is the kind of capabilities i need to build. >> mr. skinner, you put out a report in december that revealed
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that fema had stopped attempting to recover improper disaster assistance payments that were made after hurricane katrina and rita. and you identified approximately 160,000 applicants that had received improper payments totaling more than $643 million. is this in addition to the improper uses of the $ 2,000 debit cards given out in the wake of hurricane katrina? >> it is. it is in addition to and also does not include those cases of fraudulent activities that we investigated. i'd like to make clear something that senator landrieu made reference to, simply because you filed an incomplete application or have an unclear data on your application does not automatically put you in a
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bucket of a fraudulent applicant. it puts new a bucket as a potential ineligible applicant. >> and there's a difference. absolutely. >> i'd like to make that clarification. >> i'm pleased that you did, because i was going to ask you that very question. i want to ask you a series of questions about that, but since my time on this round is almost expired i'll wait for the next round. >> thanks, senator. thanks for being here. >> wouldn't miss it. i don't think i have, actually. so -- happy to be here, obviously appreciate you holding this. a report published in the, in a boston paper indicates that the bay state nuclear power plant is the second highest in the nation for the potential suffering core damage from an earthquake. any of you familiar with that report at all? >> no, i'm not.
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>> no. >> mr. chairman, senator, i think i'm familiar with the -- is think the ranking of the power plants? >> right. >> the one done by the nrc that went back and reranked the probability of events? >> yes. >> i've seen that report, sir. >> so in light of that, my number two, apparently, you know, has there been any efforts by any of you at all to reach out and make sure that we're squared away? >> senator, we work with what's going on inside the plant, the regulatory part of that, the nuclear regulatory commission, but around each one of the licensed nuclear power plants, fema support local governments to do the exercises they do for certification and exercise in drills for those plants. so unless we -- this really goes back to the report is from nrc. what we do at fema, prior to this report, based upon regulatory requirements to do the exercises and things we exercise against. that's an ongoing program. i'm not sure what the nrc is,
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with this report, what, if anything, would change from that. regarding the plant. >> if pi want to find that out have to reach out to them. >> yes, sir. >> okay. let me just backtrack for a second. god forbid anything like this happens. just take this particular plant, it's near the ocean. very similar situation. apparently number two in the country. how confident are you that if something like this happens in the u.s. that you'll have the ability, and i understand apparently from some of the testimony, what i've read is apparently you guys are in charge. in terms of implementing, you're the go-to people now? is that accurate in terms of dictating who does what and who's in charge? an ongoing plan that's developing? >> in response to nuclear power plant, the inside of the facility is regulated by nuclear regulatory commission. outside of the plant is actually the local and state responders
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with fema supporting them. if you have a scenario that resulted in release, the most important thing to occur is successfully evacuate people away from that plant. those the type of things that the exercise plans work on. these are the things that local and state officials train against, and our role of the federal government, to support them we additional resources required in the event of an evacuations had to take place. those are the thing, and i think from a standpoint of your question, if you would like senators to have our staff, reach out with the state and give your staff and update on what the plans are to look at that and get a better idea of what -- that would be great. i'm concerned, who's in charge? i just see in listening and doing some of the work on it, i have a great concern. it's like the left hand is similar to a katrina situation, is going to be, a lot of breakdowns. i know there's been a lot of improvement. i want to obviously make that well known, but now that we're getting to the point where we
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always seem to be reactionary instead of, you know, obviously keeping ahead of the ball game. i don't want to take the thunder from senator collins' comments about the $643 million fraudulent and ineligible, but -- i'm just going to make a statement which is, i find -- i find it amazing that we just give away millions and millions of dollars and really no accountability. if, in fact, we've improperly paid somebody, then we go after it. you know? we get a collection agency, go after it. get our money. give them one-third, collect it, do what we got to the do. i was in a medicare, medicaid, talking $76 billion given out. whether through ineligible or fraudulent. bottom line, there's a breakdown somewhere, and being one of the newer people here, still over a year away, i'm flabbergasted at the amount of -- a million here, a million there.
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we're fighting for millions. my state could use millions, whether it's headstart programs, the fishing industry. i'm hopeful that -- i'd like to hear, i have to run to another hearing, but i'd love to hear, senator collins, like, where's the money? is it coming back? and why did they give up? i don't want to take away from that but i do have time for one or two more questions. the -- when you talk about the all hazard approach, i think it's an extension of what i was just asking. if you could maybe follow-up again with my office or do it off-line, with everything that's happening -- i've been following it, like, what happened in japan, like everybody else. it's just so devastating. i can't imagine that there's going to be one agency in massachusetts who just says, you go here, you here -- i'm concerned not only in massachusetts but throughout the country if something like this
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happens, i'm not confident yet and i'm hopeful someone can give me the information that make sure that we all know what to do. you know? is it evacuation? is it command and control? is it military? i think it's a combination of everything. can you shed any light on my thoughts? >> in timely, i can start and then like to have an opportunity, senator brown -- >> just do that. i don't want to take the senator's time. >> i want to make one point. >> i think you're asking an important question. >> okay. >> i'd urge -- >> many of our disasters -- we always start with who's going to be the closest responders, no matter how big the disaster. it's always the local responders. we saw this, they can be destroyed, in the disaster itself. we saw this in katrina and in the tsunami. the next is the governor and their team including unimpacted communities in the national guard responding. next the federal government. one of the things that is
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different this committee oversaw the fact previously fema would have to wait to call for help before begin mobilizing federal resources including department of feds. this community changed the law no longer do we have to wait until a state is overwhelm pd even if there's an appearance they may need the help, we can mobilize resources. a key thing, as a coordinated effort with the local official, governor and their team and then the president's team as directed under the homeland security act, stafford act, to coordinate federal assistance so that governors don't have to go shopping to federal agencies to figure who's coming or who does what. this is one thing this committee focused on after katrina. had you to make sure the governor then responsible for coordinating response in their state has that one place that's going to coordinate on behalf of the president, all the federal resources including the department of defense in their disaster. >> i'd love to talk to you off-line. maybe someone from your staff
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and i can connect. >> am i not right that once a year fema and the nrc and perhaps local officials go through a dry run about a disaster at every nuclear plant in the country? or am i -- is that right? >> it's actually a little bit more than that. we do a formal evaluation exercise where we actually grade the operator and the local government, state governments and that's every two years they actually have to be certified. any deficiencies or areas requiring correction have to be addressed. they perform about four drill as year. those could be anything from a decon exercise, we're actually taking vehicles, how you'd watch them down or monitor, the warning systems or other parts of the plan. generally, they also have practices built into that cycle. rather than just every two years do one exercise, there's a series of drills and exercises and then the evaluated exercise is where they're actually graded on their able to perform those functions and again, it's done against those regulatory
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functions that say you have to warn the population in this amount of time, from the time the event escalates. you have to be able to shelter and evacuate the populations with these time frames, be able to do all of these things against the population at risk. it's actually based, who lives there? what's that population? >> right. >> it's adjusted to that particular community and that local and state government response. >> so in the case of the power plant in massachusetts, there is a plan, if something should happen? >> i would imagine if you went to the local phone books you could actually find a map. this is generally how we do stuff, get information out, people know if you live inside this zone, this would be an evacuation zone. you'll generally find outdoor warning systems, sirens, telephone notifications systems, emergency alert system tied to that area. you'll find the local responders have a lot more equipment for radiological monitoring detection than you would normally find. these are things because these
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are, again, point-specific hazards that we plan against and you exercise against, they're very well known to the local officials and the state officials who do that planning. >> thank you. senator? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman and senator collins. thank you for holding this hearing. i also want to extend my thank you for witnesses for being here today. i would like to recognize fema, particularly region nine, administrator nancy ward, for collaborating extensively with hawaii's civil defense and joint catastrophic planning. she does a great job. my home state of hawaii in the pacific territories face unique
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challenges, as you know very well, because of the remote locations and limited logistic base in hawaii. so there is still much for us to do, and i'm so glad that we are having this hearing. administrator fugate, as you know, states rely on neighboring states to provide critical assistance in the event of a disaster. however, hawaii is over 2,000 miles from the mainland. so other states may not be able to provide timely support. fema has a disaster supply warehouse in west oahu, and one in guam. should a major disaster strike hawaii, either damaging the warehouse or overwhelming our
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supplies, what plans does fema have to help quickly resupply the hawaii warehouse? >> thank you for that question, senator, and also i have to thank the state of hawaii and the hawaiian national guard who helped us respond to the america samoa when the tsunami hit there. the challenges, again, as we know, in the pacific, the distances require us to both leverage what we have in the fema warehouses, but also our close coordination with paycom, pacific command and their resources. nancy ward, you point out, one of our regional administrators, starts to talk with counter parts in hawaii or in the territories, in the event we see something coming, again, we know the distances, we know we can't wait. we are looking at how we'll start to ship or fly resources in. this is the close coordination we have, the ability to charter aircraft and work with the department of defense for those most critical supplies. as you remember in america
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samoa, one of the key issues the governor had was generators and couldn't wait for them to come by barge because he had to get his critical systems back up. so we were able to task initially d.o.d. and later extractors to fly the generators in there. it goes back to the authorities. this can be vested. we know we have tremendous distances we oftentimeses have to make decisions when we have requests or all the information to start moving. particularly in the most critical life safety, life-saving supplies, because we won't have time to make up. so those are the contingencies plans. in guam as well as hawaii, we base those supplies on the time 2-it-would take to ship supplies recognizing if they are impacted we would actually be flying supplies as soon as airfields were available. >> well, i'm so glad that relationship with the military really makes a good difference. administrator fugate, as was
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evident in recent events hawaii and pacific territories face the greatest tsunami hazard in the united states. the national oceanic and atmospheric administration manages federal tsunami detection and warning efforts and partners with the federal agencies to reduce tsunami risks. how is fema working with noaa to coordinate tsunami preparedness and response plans? >> we work very closely. as they are the subject matter experts on the hazard and then supporting the states and territories as they map their inundation zones, one of the areas we help them in in their new mexico ready progra tsunami ready programs is in the warning systems. the governor did not have a tsunami warning system prior to the last event, particularly the outdoor notification systems which we saw worked very
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effectively in hawaii during the last crisis. so we continue to work with noaa as they give us the warnings to ti thr >> working with the gront programs we provide for them to build and develop those warning systems is the other part of, again, looking at where we are making progress with these homeland security funds is building warning systems for these types of events that fortunately we had more warning with this one, but you can have the earthquake occur and the tsunami occur after that. the warning piece of this, the mapping, and the understanding of those hazards are key so the locals have the information to where, how far you need to evacuate. the other warning tools enhancing the warning system to warn the population in time. >> yeah. administration fugate, according to census data, nearly 25 million adults in the united
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states do not speak english well. fema must communicate effectively, of course, during disaster response and recovery with the large and diverse population of speakers. what steps has fema taken to make sure it can do so? >> we continue to look at our populations, and one of the concepts that is not new, as a matter of fact, a reflection of what this ciewnt -- community was trying to drive at. english doesn't cut it if i'm deaf and the language i'm born with is not english and i don't understand what you're trying to do and i don't get the
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information i need so we worked closely to look at the languages anded needs and recognize we have to make sure we are providing information in the way that people need it, not what's convenient to us, and so we have worked to provide more and more of our preparedness information in more and more languages and our website and welcomeses in spanish -- websites are in spanish and we identified significant populations that we prepared information in those languages, but most importantly, we understand the american sign language is a language we have to communicate in, and we cannot dependent upon text crawls or text messages to reach that population. >> yes, well, i thank you very much for the work that you are doing and the responses you've given me on my questions. i want to wish you well. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman.
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>> thanks, senator akaka. the reports i've seen, mr. fugate, as a result of the earthquake and tsunami, in japan, there's more than 400,000 people forced from their homes and living in emergency shelters or with relatives apparently another 24,000 are stranded. these are the nightmares we have of katrina with people pushed out of their homes and not an adequate system to give them shelter. i know that fema signed an agreement with the american red cross to join in efforts for shelter in response to a catastrophic disaster. what will be the capacity in most parts of the country? in other words, i know 430,000 is an enormous number, but how many people will under fema's
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current organization will we be able to shelter who have been made homeless by a catastrophe? >> mr. chairman, that's a lot of times based upon the state and the type of hazards they have. in the state of florida where i came from, we had shelter capacity getting up to over 800,000, but we would not expect to use that because rarely would a hurricane produce that big of an evacuation. it goes back who what the general offices talk about. we are talking about preparedness and unless having a number, it's hard to get traction. everything is localized or state-based. when we said we were going to do this stuff, i said put a number against it because i can't measure it. >> right. >> when you look at the improvised nuclear device, that, the most catastrophic thing in a
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metropolitan area, looking at the worst hurricane hitting the most populated areas, the largest earthquakes, the upper end numbers, and we start finding the numbers actually look primary, the numbers from japan were actually, we were looking at these types of numbers. >> potentially over 400,000 or in that range? >> yes, sir. for casualties, require medical assistance, several hundred thousand, and this is why we are trying to plan our ability to move to the areas where we know there's the risk, and also didn't see it coming, but all the sudden it's there. for a million and a half, can we get enough supplies and provide the capacity? you may not be able to shelter people in the surrounding areas because if the devastation is that great, you have to move people where you can shelter them. that's one the advantages of working with red cross and other organizations when we saw in cay
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katrina when we it to move people out of the area and provide that. this is genal in the short -- again, in the short term shelter phase, the medical care, food, water, a roof over their heads until we can see what's next? or if the devastation is not repaired quickly and there's not temporary housing there, you need a longer term housing solution as people make decisions on next steps. >> are we prepared now to temporarily house that number of people? >> i think we can say it's not in any one area. we have to distribute the folks across the country, but this is what we're planning against. what does it take to get there? how do we build that capacity based upon the local and state and fill the gaps? so if you go to certain parts of the country, yes, they have that capability because of the threats they face. what if it occurs somewhere where we were not expecting it?
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we still have the meet the need. this is where we are trying to go with national preparedness. what's the upper number? can you move in supplies to provide food, care, and the basic├žo3 to provide emergency food, medical care, and basic sheltering for that population, and if you cannot bring it to them, can you take them from that area and get them to where you can. it becomes critical when we're talking about housing. this is what we're planning against and also looking at the time frames to do it. >> did you have a response you wanted to offer to that? i noticed you -- >> i agree. fema from the lessons concerned with katrina has taken some very positive steps towards short-term housing, sheltering and short-term housing, and they're also experimenting with different types of housing, and it can be a very complex issue. one of the concerns that we have
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we're witnessing now after katrina and as well as the disasters in florida is not the short -- the sheltering or the >> that's the issues that i think need, still need to be addressed and are still some questions or relationships that have to be built to accommodate the population for its long term housing because these things last two or three years before you can move back home. >> right. thank yous. one of the things our committee has done and feel at variety times we have to ask extreme questions, and we've done hearings and work on what our preparedness would be to respond to as i mentioned earlier, the explosion of a raid -- radiolagic device and how people respond to that can actually
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save tens of thousands of lives, and in some cases a decision not a run to evacuate will save your life, and we heard expert testimony that what's particularly critical, and, of course, it would be critical in the case of an event of a nuclear power plant as well is public messages, so i wanted to ask you, administrator fugate, if you have a status report about where fema is now on the effective messages to the public in the case of a radiological incident. >> people have to understand as surprising it may be, a nuclear detonation is more survivorble than people realize if they know the important steps, so what we started doing, and this was actually done and kind of was overshadowed by this, but we were scheduled to do this. we did a webinar with the
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citizens program and departments of energy and to start talking about messages and talking in place and we did this as part of a webinar to bring up topics that are difficult to talk about. we tried to break this and get over it. look, if this happens, these are the things people need to do. it was a webinar done this week and brought people in to an veermt where we have -- environment where we have subject matter briefing them. using the citizen corp. counsel to message locally, what's effective, and again, there's actually a book with this title -- "how do you think about the unthinkable?" and base that on the fear and actions it takes to survive. we're working with the department of energy experts, the national laboratories, and
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we're conducting this webinar this week on how we work with coms and talk about something very difficult that's difficult to talk about. >> that's a work in progress now? >> yes, sir. >> what -- but obviously you are working on it. i presume you'd use -- train all the local areas around the country to use both existing communication systems, public ones like radio and tv but also, obviously, now use internet and cell phone and the like? >> yes, sir, again, how do we -- this is how we challenge the team. there's a way we communicate the way we are set up to. there's different tools and the people aren't using the same tools we are. how do you start incorporating that in and look at how people communicate versus the way we are prepared to do it, so looking at things in social media and other tools that -- i'll give you a short example because i know that we want more
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questions, but we provide information to the public on web pages. well, most disasters if i'm evacuated to a shelter, do i have a web page to get to? i may have a smart phone. the phones are actually working even in haiti after the earthquake surprisingly, so we said let's sop making people go to a web page. let's change our delivery. we created a mobile fema page. it works well on a cell phone because you don't need to see the charts or the pretty pictures and graphs. what you need is the information about what's happening, and so we've been really trying to look at how people are using the tools, what makes sense, how will they get information and try it put it in a way that's useful to them and not convenient for us. >> good work. that's very sensible. senator collins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. skinner, in your testimony you gave us the depressing news
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that fraud and improper payments have plagued fema for a very, very long time. i remember when i was chair of this committee back in the good ole days that i held a hearing to look at fraud after a hurricane andrew, and we found improper payments and it was senator then bill nelson who suggested we have those hearings. then katrina hit, and we found just terrible, hundreds of millions of dollars in improper payments fraud, and there was abuse. it's troubling to me that you can go back decades apparently and there's still is a lack of attention to this problem. i was thinking about the fact that the president's budget cut
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fema's budget and it cuts it in ways that may actually be harmful because it cuts some i.t. projects out, but what is more disturbing to me is perhaps these cuts wouldn't be necessary if we hadn't lost more than a billion dollars over the years in improper payments. certainly that money could be put to better use. could you help guide us on what should we be asking fema to do? what kind of controls should be put in place so when the next catastrophe inevitably hits, we don't see a repetition of widespread fraud, waste, and abuse? you referred to the work that was done with the stimulus bill, and i agree with you that the
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transparency and the accountability was much better, but what specifically would you recommend be done? >> i think first administrator fugate said precisely that fema needs to be fast, but not haste. with regards to the internal -- individual assistance programs, there's a mind set or a tepid sigh that we have to -- tendency that we have to have the money out on the street within hours, and therefore we will make payments, like payments and worry about the fraud later. unfortunately, fema doesn't have the resources to go back and look and try to get payments that were improperly distributed, so if we -- impose internal controls, that may slow the process up a few hours, but not like days or weeks or months to get payments or like north
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ridge where it took weeks to get payments, but we can make timely payments to those who are deserving, in need, but at the same time offer a screening process and have internal controls and red flags in place to put aside those applications that are in question whether they be just because of poor information or because of its it's a fraudulent application. that's one thing. second thing is i think with the public assistance programs, we can do a better job there as well with regards to providing our oversight. if -- the recovery board under the recovery funds, the $800 billion were able to produce reports when required, anyone who receivers any fundses, any state or local or contractor receives any funds, they must
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report to the recovery board. the system is already in place. anyone can use this system. the department of energy introduced a system years and years ago, and i think it's something fema might want to consider because i believe, and this is what we believe at the recovery board is transparency drives accountability. what you don't have is just one i.t. looking at you, you have millions of i.t.'s looking at you. when the local citizens see where the money is going, how expense is spent, they report in there's something amiss here, that the money is not going where they say it's going or that contractors are receiving treatments or not performing as they should be. that's what drives the kt. if we produce that reporting after a disaster and train the state and locals, and it's not difficult, everyone thought is would be and drive cost up on state and local budgets, but it did not. the technology today now allows you to take that information and
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transform it into very usable formats that can be manipulated to your own personal assessments. a reporter may want to take the data and manipulate it to determine what type of demographics, certain funds are going to. state and local governments can see what types of projects or are we spending money in the education versus highways or airports, things of that nature. it can be now manipulated to meet your individual needs, and at the same time, we, at the recovery board, developed a screening process to assist program managers, and that is when contracts are awarded, we can take those contractors, tyke a look at the grantees, run them through open source information as well as closed source information, law enforcement information, and give you some
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type of a associated -- association whether these firms have association with companies that may have tried to defraud the government in the past, and we can stop those grants and contracts early on before money was spent. once the money is spent, it's very, very difficult to get it back. >> don't you think there's also a deterrent effect when you announce that there's going to be an aggressive effort to prevent waste fraud, abuse, and mismanagement, improper payments? i think one reason that the recovery board was successful largely is it was set up from the beginning and it was very well published. there were websites to track spending, and that enlisted the public to help be the eyes and ears, but i would also argue
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that there's a deterrent impact if you go after some of the fraud. i know fema has argued that it's too expensive to go after some of this quote -- "small dollar fraud" -- that in a accumulative sense is large amounts of money, but, in fact, i think it's worth the amount of money because of the message it sends that it's not tolerated. >> loutly, -- absolutely, and i witnessed that after andrew, north ridge, katrina, a good example is north ridge. we tried to early on to get anywhere from a dozen to two dozen arrests within the first two weeks after the checks went out. when we made those arrests, we publicized it on the radio, television, media outlets, and within days, literally $20-$30
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million was voluntarily returned to fema saying i received these funds in error. same thing with andrew, $11 million was given back. it has a deterrent effect. also, when you're transparent, the last place you want to steal money from is a contractor does not want to steal recovery funds because of the transparency that exists there. we know where it's going. we're watching it, able to do screening, and so that in itself for those contractors who do have bad intentions to steal will often times back off knowing that it's just too risky. >> mr. fugate, you've heard what mr. skinner has said that it is worth going after this money. i realize you were not
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administrator at the time of katrina, but, in fact, there's been a new process that the chief counsel had for recooping improper payments that's listen language wishing since -- late 2008. we received word fema is going to start implementing the new process, but that's a long gap that really sends the wrong message, so i guess i'm asking for you to give a commitment to put in those internal controls. i think it's a false choice between providing the money quickly enough and providing it in a way that guards against fraud. in today's world with the technology we have, that -- it's not an either-or proposition, so i want to encourage you. i'm going to ask you, are you
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going to go after some of these improper payments? >> the answer is yes, particularly those recoupments where we know there was duplication. again, if it was fraud, the idea would agree that sense i've been there, if i find fraud, we're aggressive to refer it, and that i also agree that those who have done this willfully needed to be treated as fraud, but where we've had those with a lack of information, duplication of benefits or not eligible is to seek the reimburressment. i also want to point out the idea was correct in that it has to be speed and not haste. why are we giving them money? what is the need to be met we're not meeting otherwise? it's not the size of scale that it scales up in a catastrophic disaster, but in a flood in tennessee the $100 million in
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the first 30 days, nobody got a check unless they registered, had their home inspection, and received their funds, and, again, we were working on speed. we got the inspectors in there. often times the turn around time was in simple days, so it didn't create the demand to bypass that system. we worked with hud to go into the shelters. they needed housing assistance to get them into the disaster housing assistance programs. i think that we -- it was not to the scale of katrina, be -- but many of the things we want a positive verification and got the inspector there to verify the damages and as we look at the recoupments, did we drive the error rate down with the process and those controls? the other piece is again in responding if we achieve the goal of meeting those basic needs and decrease the need to default to the financial systems
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which generally is a sign you can't get supplies in, have enough infrastructure up, and you're not meeting the needs, you give money to people saying figure it out yourself, that comes back is the aggressive response on the front end and look at the financial assistance not as the primary tool used, but to help them in getting stabilized and moving into the first steps of recovery. >> weren't those $2,000 debit cards just an invitation to improper spending? i mean, look what they were used for. firearms, bail bonds, diamond rings, entertainment. they with respect use for food, water, medical supplies in far too many cases. should we be giving out $2,000 debit cards with few questions asked? >> i think, you know, the senator -- >> you weren't there at the time, i know. >> again, this is something aig
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can go back and say in andrew and other cases if you're not meeting the basic needs of the response that's often times the fall back and that invites challenges to administer. >> i want a hear a no that we're not going to give up $2,000 debit cards. >> we're not doing debit cards, and that program went away, but i have to be cautious in going -- there are those situations where we may not -- an example is the tsunami itself. we may not be able to home inspect, so we have to have other ways to verify people live there. there's recommendations and useful tools like using the type of things you can do if anybody applies for a loan, getting the background information, utility bills, something to verify whereas everybody in the zipp code gets assistance. as people register, we may not be able to inspect. are there other ways to minimize
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the number of people applying for assistance by showing us they were in the area without doing a home inspection, but where we can, it makes it very, i think, efficient to be able to take -- i've asked for help, i have an inspector go to where you lived, verify it was damaged, in a disaster, i think that's a huge step to reduce the level of fraud, and then often times we'll see if it was ineligible for insurance because of duplication because we were in such haste because we took those steps. >> thank you. i apologize for going over. >> no, that was important. the answer was no about the debit card program, and, you know, as i look back to katrina to make a long and complicated story too short, first off, there was an extraordinary natural disaster event as of course happened now in japan, but part of what happened is that all levels of government
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including the federal government and fema did not act quickly and preventably, and as it became clear that that was so, particularly with the television coverage and everybody became horrified about how people were being treated are not taken care of in the golf gulf coast, and in some sense the government overreacted and started to kind of throw out assistance in a way that was just terribly waistful and inviting fraud, and that's just what we got. mr. skipper, do you want to comment on that at all? >> that's what happened in this. same thing after andrew because the calvary was slow to arrive and the best way to treat the situation was to get funds out on the street as fast as possible whether you were eligible or not. >> yeah, and that's where on something you said e


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