tv U.S. Senate CSPAN June 13, 2011 8:30am-12:00pm EDT
>> you've been watching "the communicators," c-span's weekly look at people and policymakers impacting the telecommunications industry. if you missed any of this program from the consumer electronics association's technology fair, catch "the communicators" again tonight and each monday night at 8 p.m. eastern here on c-span2. >> coming up, two panels from the recent national convention of the american-arab anti-discrimination committee. the first examines civil rights issues facing the muslim community in the post-9/11 e rah. that ease followed by a discussion on political uprisings in the arab world. later, the senate returns at 2 p.m. eastern for general speeches until 6 p.m. with no roll call votes expected. >> today agriculture secretary tom vilsack speaks about global
food security ahead of the g20 agriculture meeting in paris later this month. he's expected to address thousand scientific innovation can address the needs of a growing global population. you can see the speech live from the national press club at 1 p.m. eastern on our companion network, c-span. >> connect with c-span online with the latest schedule updates and video on twitter, continuing conversations on facebook, political places in washington and beyond with foursquare and programming highlights on our youtube channel. c-span and social media, connect today. >> the american-arab anti-discrimination committee recently held its national convention in washington d.c. one of the panels looked at muslims in the u.s. and the civil rights issues they face in the post-9/11 era. speakers at this 90-minute event include a former counterterrorism director for the fbi's washington, d.c. field office.
>> good afternoon, and thank you for coming to the civil rightse panel at the adc convention. i want to apologize for anyonepl in the room at a prior panel ano the audio sound, as you can tell from years before, we're takingg a little bit different attempt at a set up. got rid of the typical table ano so forth, so bear with us as we move forward in a new direction. today's panel, the civil rightst panel, is entitled "a decade of challenges." we're going to take a close look at what challenges face the community post-9/11 and what worked and what didn't work ande what direction we are heading ag we move guard into a new -- forward into a new era of civil rights and, really, a focus on the relationship between the community and law enforcement and what is entailed in the future. and for the sake of time, i will not read the bios from the book. rather, i will introduce each
panelist, and they can say a tw to three minutes about themselves and can the work thet do, and then i think we can jumt right into questions. first, to my immediate left is mr. michael rolince, and next t him is ms. deborah ramirez andmi alejandro beutel. mr. rolince, if you'd like to -i >> jump right in? >> jump right in. >> sure. i think without notes, and ii started to think to myself, um, should i put down some notes, sketch out some thoughts, and then i thought, well, you know, if you've been doing this by virtue of background, i spent 31 years in the fbi before i came out five years ago and went to my current and went to my current firm what i do a lot of consulting back to the government. so as i said, i have a booze allen cards and an fbi cufflinks and a dhs badge on my lapel. so i can touch all the bases here, but the fundamental reason
i came really hasn't changed over the course of 10 years that i've been doing community outreach and trying to figure out what is the right mix and the right message between law enforcement and the community. and as i read the title is community role in a changing world, i think we all agree it is a fascinating, turn on the television anytime day or night what's going on, particularly in the middle east, can't help but fascinate anyone when you see what is driving that. is not necessary or even close to the counterterrorism rule that came out as much as it is human rights issues and people just want a different life for a lot of different reasons. it doesn't change the challenges that we have here in this country. one of the things i like a lot about being in the private sector is i can talk to openly and freely and it's usually me. i'd like to think i was that way before, but i'm passionate about the need to get this right for certain reason. even in the last decade, when i
grew up and got more mature i started thinking the two things i focused on were how do you unlimited duplication of effort? there are parts of this that dhs should do in conjunction with the fbi and in conjunction with others in the committee. and at the end of the day when i was such a big fan of the joint terrorist task force, or any task force for that matter, at the end of the day what does the government look like. regardless of where you came from, how do you on your tax dollars spent the way it looks like good government. we have plenty of examples of what good government doesn't look like, but if you narrow the focus to this, i think there is a way forward. as i tell people not to use the park 51 debate as my barometer of just how far we have not yet come. probably the most disappointing day in my life the last 10 years. i've listened to all the bs from this site and nonsense from the side and very little in the middle about solutions. like i said it gets kind of
depressing but it keeps me focused on it. and i wrote an e-mail to someone last night talking about the challenge, and i used to talk about how much i disdain the dos analysis whether it's the person or a second grader sing it only because it sympathize what is in my mind a very, very, very difficult challenge. if you look at something with a bunch of dots on it like we did in fourth grade you don't need to pick up the pencil to see what it looks like. we all agree it's harder than that. this is a lot harder than that. as much as i called his heart, i spent time last week by myself walking the roads in belfast. by myself. the last time i was there 12 years ago i was in an armored personnel carrier with a police escort. for them, if you understand or read about or followed the troubles from 69 forward, the 3600 test and army soldiers, for
them to get from there to here, that's hard. so it kind of puts this in perspective. thanks. >> good afternoon. thank you very much for inviting me here. it's an honor to be here. i work at northeastern university school of law as a professor. and my research focuses on what are the best practices and promising practices for building collaborative and effective strategies to combat terrorism and hate crimes. and one of the most effective strategies is for the community that is the arab muslim sikh community to work collaboratively with law enforcement to develop strategies and terrorism. a lot of my work is focused on the successes of this model and how community kids from the muslim and arab community have supported terrorism, and how
collaborative strategies have effectively protected the committee from hate crimes and hate incidents. >> thank you. first of all, abed ayoub and abc, thank you very much for inviting me. my name is alejandro beutel. i am a government and policy analyst. it's a real pleasure and honor to be here today, particularly in order to discuss i think an important issue with respect to law enforcement engagement and communities in general. and so, hopefully can add a little bit to the organization. in the past has been extensive work over a bout i was a 20 year period on the issue broadly of national security. beginning with things back in 1993 with our founders, to the present day with publications such as building bridges,
strengthening america which outlines the sort of partnership that debbie has talked about and that mike has actually engaged in personally. and other things like the post-9/11 terrorist incident database which tries to put some real facts and figures to be injected into a debate that far too often is really just dominate more by talking heads and anecdotes that really don't accurately reflect the situation on the ground. somberly looking forward to a very lively conversation. >> thank you. first quick question, deborah, why is building trust so important? i know we did work on a report that highlighted his. so why is it so important? >> i think it's important because if it's been is going to work collaboratively with law enforcement on issues of hate crime prevention and prevention of terrorism, the first building block is trust. so let me give you an example,
imam for the adams mosque in northern virginia saw that there was someone at his mosque spending a lot of cash, didn't have a job and want to use the mosque as their address. summit of mosque came to him and said this is the situation, what should we do? if there is not trust, the information and we'll get to the fbi. and any good government model, you would want there to be trust so that the imam would know who to call at the fbi and he does as a result of this collaborative strategy that is being done with michael rolince and others in washington, d.c.. he knew to call. that person knew him, had met with him on many occasions. and information got to the fbi and the fbi investigated it appropriately. and responded appropriately. that's what we want. so i think that's the building
blocks. >> and mike, from a government perspective during your time with the fbi internally, how a priority is building trust? >> -- how high is a priority in building trust? >> i never thought about it since i live. i can't think of a single time in 31 years in the fbi that i solved the case on my own. i can't think of a single other agent who would say anything other than that. and if you're old enough, most of you remember the downside of that it made death by look like a disney on its own. and nothing could be further from the truth. it's one of the reasons i really like the joint task force concept. but my standard routine and, and it didn't really very much at all when i went looking for an open, any community can weather was working drugs are violent
crime or counter intelligence or counterterrorism was not not not, i'm with the fbi and i need your help. every time. slam the door in my face, fine, not five but that was an option. if you'd done your homework before you knock and the door to you ought to know roughly what the response is going to be. and in 99.99% of the time in the fbi knocks on the door, no one goes to jail. it takes a while to get to the understanding of what a community views based on what their personal expenses are, where their family may have immigrated from, what part of the organized crime world, in new york they support. whether or not they're moving trucks our bodies are prostitutes or human children across the border. so, once you understand that you on the other side of door is different than yours with a
badge and a suit and tie on, i think you come to an understanding that you need that support no matter what you are working. is not different in the arab american muslim sikh community in michael rolince severe than it is in a lot of the other communities. with the exception of the role the media has played in my view of painting this community that it did not do during my career with the fbi and other communities. my view is some in the media, not all, at the expense, with a lot of people, really want to get it right, but turn on the television, you don't need to name channels on either side of the spectrum, there's not a lot of healthy, hopeful, optimistic problem-solving dialogue. i think if you disagree with that i would love to have that conversation. >> thank you.
alejandro, to question. if you could touch on this point mike just brought up about the media and what will it is placed within the community and what impact it has, and also from your findings at your time with mpac, working out of your finding? >> i think looking at the issue of the meeting itself, there are cases where there will be good stories that will help to bring and shed light upon various communities, but i think our assessment generally is that it has tended to cast somewhat of a negative light upon a lot of the arab muslim south asians me. this isn't even just a personal assessment but if we look at organizations, media watchdogs like media tenor, they had an interesting study, they do this every month.
for september 2010, what they found was in the lead up to 9/11 was that there was 40% of the story that came out on these commuters, especially muslim communities, were actually negative and there was comparatively few that were positive or even neutral here so, the tilt in many ways looking at this from a systematic perspective, from a larger picture perspective is that it tends to be a big negative. now, why is that the case? there are multiple reasons why. and that's a separate conversation unto itself. but one of the things that certainly i will say is there needs to be more education on all sides and more engagement on all sides and more conversation. and i think that is something that needs to take place is a lot more communications, particularly between a lot of these communities organizations,
journalists and media outlets. now, and this goes to part of the problem here is that because of this dynamic, it does not actually accurately reflect the reality on the ground. so, for instance, as a mentioned earlier we have a steady calder post-9/11 incident database. and what we have done in this study is, based on a number of reputable sources rating from the congressional research service to the anti-defamation league and whole host of think tanks and mainstream media analysis and compilation that we put together. we have been tracking every attempted attacks threatening the nest egg since 9/11 by all kinds of ideology, not just al qaeda, not just focusing on muslims but across the board. but when focusing statistically on the issue of al qaeda and its
affiliates, one of the interesting findings, and this goes to trust and this goes to even what mike is saying, is that we found that two out of every five of these plots by al qaeda that is threatening our nation, since 9/11, has been with the assistance of arab and muslim communities. the level of assistance has been so robust in many ways for people to be willing despite the great relationships that takes place is that we have a statistically even more so, is that since december 2009, nearly two-thirds of all such plots that have been out there, okay, have been foiled due to the interest of such communities. imagine for a moment, i want people to just think about this very briefly, that if there was even more trust within these communities how much more productivity could ask to come out of this. i'm not even making this on a value issue for a moment.
but on a policy perspective. one of the things that i do like to point out as well though is that ultimately at the end of the day when you see the amount of help that communities are willing to put out, it says i think one analyst had made mention and written in one of his books that the constitution itself and the values enshrined within the constitution are perhaps our greatest shield against terrorism. and so when people tried to make this argument that there is a rights versus security dichotomy, i'm a little bit skeptical. my personal view and my assessment is looking at the data very carefully is that really there is no -- that does not need to be any major trade-offs between our rights and our security because really the two go hand-in-hand. >> and i want to stop there but have a question for deborah. the old adage, we are treating for our security.
and you think that has made our country safer? >> i think that's a very important question. and i guess at the heart of what i've learned since 9/11 in working with the arab muslim community, working with law enforcement trying to develop this partnership model, looking at how they can support terrorism and protect the committee from hate crime, at the end of this period, because it is now 10 years, i would say this. in a season of darkness after 9/11, we were told that if we traded off their rights we would be safer. and by their rights, i mean the rights of the arab muslim community. and i think we are losing the battle in the court of public opinion, because the facts that
alejandro have detailed are not widely known. and so people believe that they are safer if we deport, if we demonize, if we profile, if we target, if the fingerprint community members. winning back i think the truth -- when, in fact, the truth that really matters is the battle for the hearts and minds of moderates worldwide, the community needs to be by our side. but that message is not being heard. the message about how the community has been working diligently since 9/11 to thwart terrorism and to denounce it is not being heard. the message about how many kids have resulted in terrorists arrest is not being heard.
and so, how do we as a community get our voices to be heard, which goes to your point, mike, about the media. why are all the media stories very prejudice, they have a lot of stereotypes, they are not fact based, they tend to be short answer is, in the short answers are about a victory mosque near ground zero rather than talking about community center and the history of it. why is that? and i think the reason is that there is a lot of prejudice, there is a lot of stereotypes out there, and the dominant discourse is controlled by only a few voices. so, what do we do about that? how do we get our voices heard?
how do we get our message out? and after 10 years of trying to do that, i have come to the following two conclusions. number one, until and unless we win the battle in the court of public opinion, we will lose everywhere else. this is a democracy, and if people are misinformed or uninformed about this community and its role in a post-9/11 world, then we cannot express, expect the white house or the department of justice, or congress will have the political capacity to embrace us, and to work with us. ..
and i am here to ask for your help. we need some help with minor funding and we need the community to be willing to speak on the record as part of a documentary about their truth, their story and their experiences. and i think when we do that, we will begin to transform the dialogue in the same way that al gore did in "an inconvenient truth" and the dynamic in the transformation of the discussion about educational reform was
affected by productions "waiting for superman." so, i would say in terms of lessons learned because that is part of what we are dealing with 10 years after is that we have the responsibility to make our voices heard. >> thank you. in 2009/2010 the eeoc reported a significant increase in the number of complaints received from the arab-american community. in 2010 we have probably one of our highest totals for intakes in complaints we worked on, topping over 700 for the year. it would seem 10 years after 9/11 we would begin seeing a decrease in this rhetoric that actually we aren't seeing in -- are seeing a increase. is this something blamed on the aforementioned media or other things? how can this be countered through the cooperation and dialogue with federal agencies and the community?
>> i guess, as a former math major i would say my first response would be you have to be careful about numbers because you can get any number on whatever argument you want to make so without knowing how much time and effort and energy and work went into resolving each and every one of those complaints, it would be a a a hk of a statement of 95% of them were proven to be founded on a basis of fact and truth and some wrong was done versus the overwhelming majority watched out so it is hard to say what that means. being the optimist i would like to say that it means that more people feel more comfortable than they did in the past bringing forward their voices, their concerns. there is someone out there who is listening. i asked three women in northern ireland last week and i was fascinated by the consistency of the theme that the police don't
response. in northern ireland there is such a gap between, and belfast in particular, the people's perception of the police, the police perception of the people and who isn't accepted and what community. i almost couldn't get my mind around trying to live in an environment like that so we talked about it and i asked each one, if your purse was stolen on the way home and you weren't hurt what would you do? each of them said they would call -- they absolutely would not accept -- expect the police to show up. one woman said which is a police challenge, and then i would call the people i know. she is 45 or 50 years old and within 20 minutes i would have my. they said to me, what would you do? that was the fact of life. >> and i have a name and phone number so those people? >> i said what would you do, mike? i said i would call fairfax
police and in 15 minutes there would be a cruiser in my driveway, i have no doubt in my mind. i have lived there and work there and i pay taxes they're my kids go to school there. granted is the most effective and well trained but the thought, and i realize there are communities in the united states and i'm not speaking for anyone. but again, i think we have a , long way from where we were, a long way from where we were. one of my proudest moments of my life was and you can probably tell where my politics are but a stat -- sat with my daughter in a starbucks today after an election and there were tears in my eyes telling her even though i did not vote for the current administration, there were tears in my eyes telling her how proud i was of our country and how farm we had come that we would put an african-american in the white house because i was old enough to remember when i was her age this country was on fire. i remember the race riots like they were yesterday and they are burned in my memory. the fact that we would do what we did on that election night, regardless of your politics,
that is immaterial, that we are that far along. are we anywhere near where we need to be? know we are. i think the black community and the hispanic community and the arab-american muslim community there are a lot of communities out there that are happy with where they are, and to dovetail and debbie's point you would be hard-pressed to note that debbie and i are friends and we get along because we don't agree on almost anything other than the need to do this. and i think that this is, how do we collectively take this forward. in your brochure it says defining our role in a changing world. we get the changing world. our role and i think it is talking about you, not me. i think i know what my role is and i'm trying to move that roll forward. there are people in this audience and it is not polite i guess to name names like george and some others who spend their every waking moment trying to get this right. oftentimes with the appropriate
tools and oftentimes not but i would put that back on you and when i walked into a form like this i guess they told me there at the cameras here today but 10 years ago they said absolutely of cameras. we are going to do a community outreach program in the communities would come and voice concerns. it was a 7:00 at night and the whole room was lit up like a christmas tree. abc was there in nbc with their analysis or was there. the person on the camera jumped up and his ranting and raving at maney said why is there no representation in the di in my community? my response was that is my question to you. i am not so sure that is just my problem and it is whether it is women in the fbi or blacks in the fbi, arab-americans and muslims in the fbi. i think a community has an equal responsibility to change that equation and that came up in a form in northern ireland. why is the constabulary now call
the police force of northern ireland staff at an 80/20 partisan to catholic. the people around the table who were mostly academics, were looking at the police in saying so what is up with that? and my police response, what are you doing about it? these are your sons and daughters. you want to be convincing to take a stand and step up and be part of the solution. not just for your community but the greater community, for the county, for the state for the nation. i i have always seen this is a two-way street and i really think, don't want to sound like the fbi because i've been gone for five years but i guess it is the world i have come from. i'm a pretty blue-collar kid had i have always believed in giving back to your community. if i go to my grave and my children have been given back to the community i've done something wrong as a parent so i would challenge u.s. the community, those of you who come from, whatever community come
from. it doesn't have to be about this issue. what he doing about it? >> thank you. alejandro one issue oftentimes you and i discussed is the fine line between building trust, recruitment and actually discussing issues impacting the community. what challenges do you see in that arena because there seems to be problems from some community problems. we are only approached when dealing with national security. >> right. well i think in a sort of roundabout way, one of the things that everyone i think here can agree upon is that this relationship, and my canted directly a few minutes ago that a relationship is a two-way street. it takes two to tango and being latin american i can appreciate that.
but, in that relationship, there needs to be that trust and come portability. on the community side of the equation, one of the things that i have frequently heard from community members, when having been engaged with law enforcement in the past, has been that they only talk to us when there is a counterterrorism concern. and, for some they may see it as well there is a very specific targeted focus that we are trying to look at and that is one way of looking at it. the other way to look at it from the perception of many community members is that you are only talking to us because you are afraid that we are going to blow you up. and that is, that is the perception and forgive me for being a little bit lunch but
these are words verbatim. i'm not even putting words in people's mouths but verbatim that have been, that have been told to me in the past. now i think as relationships have matured over time, there has been a growing understanding in a wide variety of offices within law enforcement and such is the fbi or even you know u.s. attorneys offices and state and local pd that there needs to be sure there is a comprehensive and holistic approach and engagement with communities, because number one, these communities are american communities. we are part and parcel of this country. for instance speaking for myself, yes, i am a muslim-american but i am also the son at the jewish italian father and a catholic hispanic mother. and guess there are all three religions in the family.
[applause] so you know, in just trying to talk about that for a moment here, regardless of a lot of people's backgrounds there is a sense of being very very american here and that this is our country, this is our home. and so what we are simply asking as being americans is that we are treated as any other american community. obviously there are legitimate concerns about national security and it is my personal opinion and the opinion of many of us at mpac that these need to be discussed in a frank but respectful manner. there is no going around it. that needs to be talked about. national security issues are not the only thing that should be discussed with communities because first of all these communities to share the same concerns on national security, number one and number two is that our communities are
affected like anyone else. human trafficking, child sex predators, internet fraud, the financial crisis even. a lot of these things are things that affect our communities and we would like, a lot of our communities would love to talk to the fbi and to a lot of other, a lot of other law enforcement agencies about these issues. and again, there is a two-way street. everything that mic has set up to this point is valid and what i'm also saying is a lot of what the committed -- community member sentiment are also valid. we have to bear in mind for so many of these community members, they calm from countries that well, they are literally on fire right now and the reason why they are on fire at the moment is because there has been a long-standing issue where law enforcement agencies really weren't about enforcing the law
but a about enforcing the winds of the dictators and engagement with law enforcement communities is not because there is a hatred of law enforcement but ecosphere is an almost trauma in many cases for a lot of these members and a certain skepticism that if i talk to these people what is going to happen to myself or my family? again this isn't even my personal sentiment or even the academic studies that i've talked about which i'm sure devra could talk about at great length, but these are the things that community members have said to me, the average bot, within a lot of these communities the average joe's and jane's. that is what they told me so this is something we need to keep in mind going forward is that there needs to be this cultural competency and there needs to be a very very broad, much more holistic and comprehensive engagement that even when we need to talk about the things such as national
security, there will be that level of trust and comfort that those kinds of conversations can be facilitated much more easily rather than a certain level of tension and awkwardness that may take lace in certain circles. >> just to touch on that point as a grassroots organization week frequently sent out surveys and clearly the number one issue impacting our membership raises the economy and jobs, followed by education and health care. so it is definitely the same issues we feel affecting everyone. but that being said, what is the best way if you were to give a tip or two to the community what is the best way to approach the fbi or any government agency and say hey we want to talk about x. y. and c.? >> z.? >> let me go back on something that was said and actually i'm looking for the silver lining up a time but if your survey shows that it is the economy and education and jobs, my memory is
not as good as it used to be whatever the fourth one was but it wasn't hate crimes. and again i want to take that as would that have been the same response coming up on 10 years ago or nine years ago or eight years ago, so i would like once again to think that indicates to me that perhaps not definitively but perhaps progress is being made. we used to be able to say and i can't say this anymore because of last week's news, and the first page of every phone book in america is the local fbi office. dinosaurs like me have a phone book in my house somewhere. that is gone by the wayside but similarly if you don't know or don't have a point of contact or friend or relative that knows someone in the fbi, here is my first thought. why don't you? if there is the potential for violent crime, hate crime,
robbery, burglary, extortion, the whole nine yards, you ought to at least know who in your law-enforcement community, doesn't have to be the fbi. granted the fbi might have -- over at investigations but just as you what's known your children not to know how to dial 411 or where the nearest fire department is volunteer or otherwise i would suggest in this day and age you want to know how to reach the law enforcement at some level. i happen to be one of those people may be because i grew up in a home of a police officer and have great faith in the local police. throughout this country have all different levels of confidence competencies as you do an fbi fbi field offices but i would start with a trusted law enforcement officer, sheriff, state trooper agent. it really would not matter to me because let's face it, the average person and i just had this conversation with someone this morning at the department of homeland security, what is
activity that is a precursor for an act of terrorism? i said to that person let me take you back to my favorite anecdote that a made up partially, it may me take you back to that broken out in the post office in northern virginia where two of the hijackers purchased phony driver's licenses. was that act a precursor of an act of terrorism? sure it was. i could take you there today and buy a driver's license and the question you would have to ask is in my buying a driver's license to get a job so i can send it back across the border to my family or my buying a driver's license i can get a plane ticket so i can get behind the cockpit and crashed a plane into a building. most times you don't know and you won't know until after-the-fact. once again no one is better i would say anywhere in the world than the fbi at putting something together after it happens. the hard, hard, hard part is figuring out how do you get there before it happens with all of our civil rights and civil
liberties in check? that is not an easy thing to do so my point is when something happens in your life that you feel necessitated calling someone to default position on terrorism is the joint terrorism task force. let's face it, you can look at something and say ah-ha that will lead to an act of terrorism which is why i think you ought to know how to be in touch with whatever the local law enforcement authority in your community is. >> alejandro i know you came up with this earlier but if you have anything you want to leave us with on this issue. >> before i do mosey on out of here, you know again first of all thanks to you and abc for inviting me out here. i guess the thing that i would want to leave us with though is a sense that with even though things are tough for a lot of our community members, is that
there is i think a lot of goodwill and hope that we should be trying to look for and look towards. because at the end of the day, i know even that people like mike, and mike who have been serving in the fbi for many many decades have also been trying to serve with distinction and with honor, trying to uphold the values of our nation as well. and i would like to thank and i would like to encourage that their continued to be of movement towards open and frank dialogue and communication and discussion so that more trust can be built, because communities have perceptions and ideas and fears and hopes and dreams. so do law enforcement people too. people are people regardless of what profession they are and, so my hope is that there can be
more communication to break down the barriers of misinformation and sometimes mistrust that may take place. hopefully with that over time, think there can be an arrival at common solutions to common problems that really a lot of us feel we are all facing. maybe some different angles but that we are all trading to arrive at the end of the day. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. >> and the second mike alejandro was referring to is our friend mike german. thank you for all of your support as well. devra, all being said it sounds wonderful but there are definitely some challenges we face and in building the stress of moving forward and there are models that fail and models that do work. particularly in your experiences stand in a way of developing these relationships? >> one of the two best models
that exist out there for how this would work, when you say how would someone know who to call, is the model in dearborn with adc, the u.s. attorney attorney's office, and there they meet on a regular basis. they have been meeting since 9/11. they know one another. they help to do outreach into the community. everyone in dearborn who was part of the arab or muslim community there knows how to communicate with the fbi, with local police. they raised issues on a regular basis. they have common ground. they are developing collaborative and effective strategies. the same thing was going on with mpac, the largest muslim community working with sheriff baca and the fbi out in l.a. and there are a lot of successes,
and again they are meeting on a regular basis, not just when there is a conflict, not just when there is a terrorism investigation but in order to address the concerns of the community in an open way and on a regular basis. then the question is, is that -- is that model is working in chicago, in d.c., l.a. in dearborn, in new york to some extent, why is it not a nationally coordinated strategy that is funded and with training? and that is the peace we are trying to put in place now. there are these ad hoc efforts but there is no national court making center. there is no national strategy for dissemination of s.
practices, challenges and how you overcome them and what tools templates and protocols could be -- we share on a national basis instead of having each ad hoc effort operate independently and reinvent the wheel. i think the challenge at this point is how to create a national strategy. the white house and other national law enforcement organizations to openly embrace this community and to say we are going to treat this community is partners are not as suspects. and there is too much islamaphobia, prejudice, stereotypes still there for that to happen. and so i think one step is to keep a the dialogue going. certainly to continue to invest energy and ad hoc efforts but in
terms of the movement forward, we have to develop the political capacity and the political will for americans to know and understand important role that this community has been playing. and if we are going to harness the full strength of this model, it needs to be a national training center. >> and i have to agree. anything we do there does. >> but maybe you can talk about dearborn and what you see. >> i think the model you are discussing is the business program which started shortly after 9/11, and we have similar programs here on a national level with their interagency meetings. and both doj -- plays a role now at bringing together community members to the table and
bringing together government agencies to the table to really talk about issues, to talk about with i.c.e. and dhs, whomever an open area and an in an open forum which really does seem to work and oftentimes there are disagreements and oftentimes there are agreements but it is a really good program and for something like this to go national would definitely be a great benefit to the community. that is one of the better programs in one of the better strong programs we have seen. but mike from the government side, what challenges have you faced? we know that shortly after 9/11 there may have in the mistrust in building the relationships but recently have you heard of challenges that may have been appearing? >> at almost come all the way back from where i guess what broad w. and i together was we
started over a disagreement over part of the post-9/11. came together around the foshee to shared with you. my first exposure to the community came in what is referred to as candidates night sponsored i think still every year by the zogby group or the american institute in northern virginia for anyone running for any kind of office who was welcome to come. i was brand-new to the washington field office in specialized in joint counterterrorism. tom major was the chief of police and there were a number of local school board positions. you came and you talked. the first thing that amazed me was how many parents brought their children. i thought, that is just amazing to try to orient in acclimate people to having a voice in the community. the other thing that astounded me was, and it was, can't remember. we will stay all night until
everybody has questions they want answered. two hours worth of q&a. every single question, accusation, and it does, diatribe was directed at the fbi. every single one and i was the fbi for the night. and we stayed and i walked out of there thinking, do you know something? we dispatch fbi agents to pakistan, afghanistan, jordan and the west bank. i don't know anything about the community and my own backyard. this is about nine years ago in the spring of 2002. and it just astounded me how ignorant i was. that led to the conversations over the course of time with debbie on how do you do it better than we do it? we start the arab-american advisory, fbi advisory committee and jim zogby came and someone in whom i have the highest respect in the highest regard, and i consider a real pillar, a
personal friend of mine. a number of others, trying to think,. i know i will leave somebody out it doesn't matter. we got it so right in my view at the washington field office that we said why don't we take this in detroit into new york and chicago and l.a. and dallas and houston? why don't we do this? debbie and i partnered for the next several years putting this concept together. my whole thought was this. you can't have an sac and i came into the fbi as a gs to clerk so i know where i come from but you can't have an sac talking every issue with every single community member. i want to get to the heart of that last question michael was i
want everyone of you, whenever you had an issue or a challenge or a problem, you knew it was an fbi issue what gs tenth street agent you could call to help work through and get that resolved. that was my goal. it might not happen in my lifetime but it shouldn't be mary rose or jim zogby calling. got to be you calling someone whose salary you pay from your taxes to get your situation resolved to go that is where i wanted to drive try this and i think debbie's concept is the one thing that would get us there. and i still believe that. i still honestly believe that is the way to go. ..
>> what challenges are you particularly facing because we are hearing quite a bit of the somali community, and we are trying to work, i addressed that issue, but if either one of you want to address what challenges are we facing now in your community?>> it ed to >> it used to be i think the law good sense enforcement had a pretty good te sense and a thumb on the pulse of the community through community policing, throughand having officer on the beat. thit jumps out at me whether it's white collar crime, pornography, or new wave imgrants or maybe not new wave being recruited, radicalized on the internet i think poses a brand new challenge that nobody's seen before, and the repreeted
instances where this is happening has gotten the attention of i think all of law enforcement. one of the more interesting conversations i had with a member of your community whose name i'll leave out of this came when we were talking about what we referred to in the newspapers as the five guys case, one of several cases that began over in northern virginia and evolves into a case where the community came forward, and one of the community leaders said to the parents of the kids after it turned out they called and said we're playing basketball, and then the next call said we're in jail in pakistan, and the community leaders sat with the parents and said you want the kids back, you better call the fbi. it has a sad ending to it. the upside is the community realized it, and the fbi was there, and one of my best friends said he was going to spend christmas, which was two
years ago, working. these kids were not going to be out of trouble, but work to get them back here. all you had to do was follow it to realize what the relationships are and are not between our two countries, and ultimately the pakistanis moves and they are not back here, but doing 10 years in pakistan. if there's a conversation you want to have with one of your children, talk about prison in pakistan for ten years. this stuff is nod hart or easy, but this parent looked at me and said, you know, this child that was out there and now is a student at howard university in dental school, that's my son's best friend. i'm not sure talking to you and the fbi is the answer. i think we need to be talking to our children. i was so moved by that that he realized that right there in his own backyard, in his family, you know, it's one of those that
could have been my kid. when i look at my friends. in college arrested i think often that could have been me; right? i'm not sure it's unique to the knew wave, but i think the challenge is to know our children. it's not necessarily counterterrorism message, is it? just know what the cirn are doing -- children are doing and be actively and involved in their lives. >> thank you. anything about your community? >> i think that all communities have to be at the table, and i think that when law enforcement meets regularly with the community whether it's an immigrant community or whether it's a nonimmigrant community, when they know the community, when they have contacts in which to evaluate information, when they've, you know, law enforcement frequently says to me when i'm doing training or
putting forth this model, how are we going to know who to trust? i said easy, you make mistakes. trust the wrong people, and then that tells you who the right people are. i know that from being a u.s. assistant attorney and working in crime, narcotics, and police corruption areas that you have to, if you're going to develop the information, investigate the case, go to the community, and some people you will be able to trust and some you won't, but you have to begin the process. you can't fly blind, and so i think the more that law enforcement is informed and knowledgeable about their community, the less mistakes will be made and the more effective law enforcement strategies will be. >> thank you. mike, you mentioned a word that seems to be pretty much a running theme in the early part, 11 things from representative king from new york, and that's radicalization. there seems to be a lot in the
community that feel that this word is just being used and arab-american muslim communities. we see the hearings representative king, and from your experience, radicalization is not an issue that's only target and present in our community, but it's an issue across the borders, isn't it? >> it's an issue, and then the question becomes then whose job is it? i think community wide, that question has not yet been answered, and i was having this conversation again with george and kareem and others earlier in the day, and the challenge of free speech, and if you looked at the new prevent strategy that came out of the u.k. and david cameron's speech of awhile ago, the more recent strategy talks about -- i'm going to make this up, but basically taking on all
levels of extremism, and then had begs to question, well, i'm not sure an extreme view is necessarily in some direction and from a law enforcement perspective, against the law let alone is necessarily a bad thing. if i'm extremely opposed to violent crime, call me an extremist, but i think the challenge becomes who owns this? is it that parent i just talked to? if you talk to friends and colleagues in the fbi about countering violent extremism, they say that's not our job, maybe your job in the consultant world or as an educator or a psychologist, we're not the mind police. people want to hear that's the fbi's thinking. this is a hard concept to get your mind around this whole process as how does someone go
from -- from arizona ten years before the 9/11 plot is hatched, has a pilot's license, living a decent life. how does he go from that? what are the series of conversations that lead from that life to put me in 77 to fly into the pentagon? how do you get there? i'm fascinated by the process, but what i think we in the community, and i consider myself part of the community because i'm trying to figure this out and help the government figure it out, but if you have, again, it's back to deb by's approach that if dhs does this ale -- all well-intentioned, the fbi doing this, and no one is doing this, although that's the conversation with kareem, maybe people are doing the broader umbrella coordinated view of it, maybe we can get to something that makes sense, but i think we're on the front end of
solving this whole thing. there's no easy answers. i've never been on a forum where the audience didn't get to participate. i don't know if it's structured that way on purpose. here's the bottom line, i think there's a way to get a hold of us or in touch with us through the program if we don't have questions we don't get to to do. that's my radicalization. again, don't put these dots on a wall because no one's figured out how to figure this thing out yet. >> thank you. actually, we were going to open it up to question and answer. let's try to keep our questions brief so we can fit in as much as we can. >> [inaudible] >> i was going to say, my ears are not going to do that. >> [inaudible] is it on? >> there you go.
>> my question is this. i think there's a lot of conversation about encagemented and what is in our communities in terms of participating with law enforcement, becoming part of law enforcement, reporting crimes. i think the issue i have with these discussions is not that i disagree that think law enforcement is bad all the time and never engage with law enforcement, but i think there's a conversation that goes one way, and i say that because there's not this parallelled discussion about all the policies that have a chilling effect on our communities that make them not want to participate with law enforcement, and look upon law enforcement with suspicion, anything from the types of informants placed in mosques and other community centers and fbi guidelines making people feel under threat, and the country policy, the bulky clothing policy at the airport, the fact that members of our communities feel it's very difficult to come in and out of the united states like most regular americans. they get extra questions, extra detention, lots of extras, and
when we have these discussions, we talk to government, and they say we need more engagement from the community and the community has to be involved in cracking cases, but where's thereto government's responsibility to ensure that we can live like the rest of america? >> do you want me to start? >> yeah, i'm trying to figure out which part of this is george's responsibility and what's the rest of the government's. [laughter] george left, so there you go. i guess i have a fundamental disagreement with the premise that this is widespread, and the reason i say that is i bet i travel as often as anybody here, and i usually try to be the last
one on the airplane for a couple reasons. one is i want to see for myself how many people are being pulled aside and asked questions, and when the whole patdown concept came into effect and it blew up, i happened to be -- the good news was i went to speak at a conference in hawaii, the bad news was i flew back the day before thanksgiving that aswore i would never do. i approached john before he went to run tsa, and i wanted to make a statement. i had traveled internationally three times in nine different cities in the country, and i never saw lines move as effectively and efficiently as they did in that stretch. all the hoopla out there, i didn't see it. again, i'm going to do the math with you. when you kind of give the assessment and thank you for
bringing your child to this forum, although i'm sure what i'm saying is not registering -- [laughter] that's wonderful. if you do the math, i mean, what's our vision of a tsa inspector at the jail, it's the 6-year-old in the stroller, it's the unfortunate -- i'm looking for the word -- groping of an individual in hopes of finding perhaps or the device in the underwear. not enough conversation in my mind about what is your government doing to find -- do you think that was the only device? was richard the only shoe bomb? my focus is on where are my tax dollars going to find that next device? my understanding on rudimentary on the process going through airports, but you're not going to get that patdown unless something else is triggered, and i think the good news, and
actually this was part of john's display because you can get to a point that we can move people through commerce. do we know that attacks using airplanes were successful beyond anyone's wildest imagination, my included? yeah. failure of 9/11? failure of imagination. never would have believed it, maybe in a movie, but john talked about the orange disk which if you've seen it now is a technology that will highlight what is it on your person, a stick figure, that's causing this alarm or timer to go off. it takes a picture, and you show the traveler. i did this last week. oh, my gosh, i forgot to put my phone in the basket. you don't hear that story, but i think the government is moving as fast as they can as economically as they can to solve these problems.
is there a disportioned number of arab-americans pulled over in airports? i'm not going to argue there's not. i don't have an easy answer to solve that, and in the times i was pulled over -- my son was secondary, and my view to him was whether you're secondary or someone else is, my personal view is that's okay. if that's done for the safety and security of everybody on the plane, that's okay. what i have a problem, and i also have staff at the terrorist screening center so i do know a little bit about the subject. i have had a problem when the same person is pulled over time and time and time again, because let's face it, it's the same person. i listened to pat hughs who was running before karen wagner how he was finally pulled off the
list through a process. he's an entire free star pulled over every time. why? because there's a patrick hughes stone cold killer out there somewhere. yes, the system has its problems, but i'd like to tell you from personal experience that the government that i consult with and that i worked in is working to solve those problems, so i understand what you're saying. i'm a little hesitant about the math as i always am, and when debbie was saying, and i was a fundamental disagreement, and i wish david was here because he's more entertaining than i am, but when you use broad sweeping generalities about wanting to take away all their civil rights, no, we didn't. from the day the embassies were bombed until september 11, a three and a half year period, is your government servant, i had five weekends off in three and a
half years, five weekends, three and a half years no no overtime, no church time, no family time, no community time. bear with me if i'm personally insulted when people say people in the fbi were not doing then and now everything they can do to keep you safe. i'm insulted by that, by that analogy. quite frankly to those who worry about their civil rights and liberties being abused, i hate that word, when they find three incidents out of thousands and thousands and thousands of cases, your phone records get bundled with your phone recordses coming from kwest in denver. you're a target. you can't believe how interested i'm in your phone records. yours, i don't have the time or interest. i don't care. they send the records to the fbi bundled like that, is that the
fbi's fault? if the fbi does the right thing and separates them and says thanks, but no thanks, you might be an interesting guy, probably not. she, on the other hand, i'm real interested in her for all these reasons that fit with the attorney general guidelines that need to be met to open the investigation. if i sound like an advocate for and defender of the u.s. government, that's exactly what i am. >> i just want to take my moderator hat off for one second and speak in my role as the legal director and the fact of the matter is in this is when we are trying to build trust in the relationship, there's issues in the community that are driving a wedge. >> right. >> i mean, most recently there's a case out of chicago with community members that are deeming as a discriminatory prosecution, and a witch hunt of activists. we can't control the messaging
or media, but when you see example after example, programs such as the forth and country program, tsa guidelines, it's difficult for the community to think and your guard will always be up. i would like to think, and our members would like to think that everything is okay, and we are advocates of the u.s. government too, and i think, you know, to give up our rights, it may sound in a broad sweeping statement, but it is the way a big number of our community members feel, particularly with the example -- >> okay, i get that. i got it. >> it's not just the federal level, but local levels such as the irvine case across the country. >> okay, back to the map. you named four cases. if you can name ten times that
cases, that's 40 cases out of 40,000 cases that go back to 9/11, so mathematically, your argument does not add up. >> well -- >> let me finish. i want to go back to what she said about the of mosque. i don't wear my religion on my sleeve. if someone is a terrorist in my church or a child to nothing fer, fbi, state police, city police come into a church use every tool in the tool box to get that poisen out of there, and if it's an undercover agent, fine, that's what i pay taxes for, so for anyone to say because they are using a legitimate investigative tool that went there a process both inside the organization and across the department of justice, whether you agree with the technique or not, is immaterial. the point is it's being done in accordance with rules, regulations, guidelines, and the
law. are there aberrations and mistakes? absolutely. this is not an organization of people who don't make mistakes, but it is an organization that sets the bar to perfection. for law enforcement to take a tool out of the tool box because people don't like it, i won't go there. >> you put the small number of 40 or whatnot, that still has significant impact. >> absolutely. it should be zero, it should be zero. i'll throw out the other number i like to use. i do believe they show up every day and know right now today, the reason they work the same hours because when something goes wrong tomorrow, something blows up, and somebody dies, nobody points the finger at the local police or the dhs, but
they point the finger to the fbi. whereas michael jordan, greatest player in the history of the game, 52% of the shots he took in the gimme. when your bar is perfection, you're going to make mistakes. when i walk into an office, and i say this in all sincerity, i bring you 31 years worth of mistakes. you can't name a mistake i haven't made, but i like to think i grew from that and that's the reason i'm passion note about doing this, but law enforcement in in country, and i think you're all well-educated into what law enforcement in a lot of other countries looks like, as was said about democracy, it's the worst form of government in the world except for all the others. my, from growing up in the fbi, and still now consulting, i got to tell you, i appreciate the fact that it's wrong, at times and it's unfortunately, but i would say to you that's exactly
what the media has done taking an issue that you may disagree with in spending it and whipping it, and all the sudden you got this park 51 lack of a dialogue, so i apologize on behalf of the fbi at times when they get it wrong, but they get it right a heck of a lot more than they get it wrong. >> did you -- >> i want to be brief because i know this is your chance to ask questions, but some of the research that i've done is in great britain where they have a national prevent strategy and they are working regularly with the community, and these issues have come up. once you have a national strategy in place that's coordinated and there's training, then their home office, the equivalent of the department of justice every year comes out with a report that says, okay, what are the policies, the big policies or laws that we have in place that are facilitating this national
strategy of prevents in great britain which is focused on getting the community to work with law enforcement to thwart terrorism? there's a low against the glorification of terrorism, and it's come up in every forum, and law enforcement is finding it difficult to talk to the community. the community is worried if they say something that glorifies terrorism, they are going to be a criminal suspect, so that law then gets put up as one of the things that is twharting or interfering with the partnership model, and the hope was if we created an international model that each of these forums would not just deal with the grass roots issues, but would also deal and there's some collection of these with issues, laws, protocols, policies in place
that are twharting the process and that that would be part of how you would move forward. >> thank you. albert? >> i'm albert, abc member. thank you, all, for coming. i want to reach my hand out and ask you to help us in a different case. >> sure. >> i don't know if you're familiar with the case, but it's a 26-year-old murder case, a terrorism case, october 11, 1985, this is from the fbi website, a million dollar reward out there, maybe we can work together on this, but he was the west coast director of abc, opened up the door on a horrible morning and was blown to pieces. we have made zero progress 26 years later, so if there's something you can do, maybe booze allen can help us work with the fbi. we worked with the directors, but the case is outstanding. in that year, according to the
fbi reports, more than 50% of the cases of terrorism in that year were what they called jewish terrorist organizations, and this is to us perhaps the most important outstanding case, and that tool box you referred to, hopefully can help us with can, and i'd like to offer my services and i'm proudly -- most of the people here to move this thing forward if you can help us. >> october 11, 1985? >> correct, sir. >> can i have a copy of that before we go? >> i'll give it to you right now. >> thank you. thanks. >> questions? >> another question -- about the victims that were rounded up and they found up
they were really innocent. if the u.s. government, i'm not talking about the fbi, probably not an fbi question, but if the u.s. government said these people were innocent, apologize to them, restore their names, restore their business. it would go a long, long way of the arab-muslim community to cooperate with the fbi, with everybody, okay? however, after the 9/11, the pakistanis and others that were rounded up, they were sent home just they missed one time to go and follow the immigration to register, had businesses here, had families, had children -- >> i'm sorry, are you touching on the registration?
or the immigration arrests? >> the role of the government, okay, how do discourage the american -- the arab-american community to cooperate with them and, you know, telling about things or suspects or something. i may be i have a suspect about this person, but i'm not sure, okay? why should go and tell about this person which if he found innocent, still he would be destroyed. okay? >> if there's a question, for the sake of time -- >> the question is clear. is it because if needs innocent people that were suspects later on they found that were innocent, okay, they were not terrorists, they had nothing to do with terrorism, but the
government stomped on them. >> i just want to answer -- >> if the government apologized to these people and restored their napes, it will go a long way in the arab-american community. >> i know what you're saying, and you're not going to like my answer, but i'll give you an answer. i got it. -- also, all these terrorists in pakistan are willing to sacrifice themselves to blow up americans -- >> i got it. let's get the answer first, and thank you. once again, if your question is all these people, how do i answer that as opposed to, hey, mike, what about him? i can get to this, but when you say all these people, i'm going to talk about the 762 individuals, each of whom was arrested for an immigration
violation, a specific violation of the a specific sentence and verb that i testified to. you can find it in front of the jew dish senate committee and was asked a million different questions. with respect nay all muse -- weren't they all muslims? my answer was, i honestly don't know. it's not a question of what is your religion. it's not a question i ever asked anyone in 31 years. i don't care. when the name gani appeared on a paper and the pocket coming across the board, i didn't know if he was an african-american, jew, palestinian, catholic, atheist, it didn't matter to me. the boston globe took me on years later for taking on the algiers muslims. if you were illegal, think about it, what does that word mean? it is not michael rolince's fated no matter -- fault. you put yourself in that chair
on september 12, of the 762 individuals who in this heat of passion call what you want, the immediate aftermath of 9/11 were arrested by the immigration and naturalization service, and now ins, how many of those were found not to have violated, and i will concede your point, you're 100% right, not one of them was found guilty of crime or attached to terrorism, not one. you are right on that point. how many of those 762 were wrongful arrests? none. not one. >> i think that the programs we want to touch on is the registration program. there was significant steps taken in the past month or so to delist the countries which is a welcomed step eliminating the
process as a whole, but that's just the beginning, and when you're discussing and others are discussing, we need to see e e rectification and see these individuals that have already been deported, already been acceptability back home, -- sent back home. it is an issue. we are taking it very seriously. >> that issue was separate from the 762. i hear you. i think the government has done -- i'm not sure how you want an apology worried, but there's not too many people add vote kateing for an immediate reaction policies implemented by the former immigration naturalization service ten years ago. i might be wrong on my interpretation of today's processes and laws, and i understand that there was a tremendous negative impact in this country from students who
were here studying and the fact that our education system is something that people all around the world want to take advantage and should be able to take advantage of and they went back on school break and they couldn't get back inment i get that. i think a great number of things that harmed individuals and reputations and careers clearly took place. i'm not going to argue that at all, but in terms of when you get into that slice of pie i was involved in that i'm aware of, i mean, the numbers are what the numbers are. would those same people be arrested today for those same violations? absolutely not. when john ashcroft said one day you're going to jail, there's ten million people out of status, that's not the answer. if you want to have this debate about immigration in the country, we should have it, but we can't keep kicking the can down the road.
the 10 million number, and now is 12 million, and soon when my kids are my age, it's 50 million if we don't do something about it. the irish and british stood up and said enough is enough. 30,000 deaths is enough, stop it. you're not getting anywhere on that side of the issue. i think on the immigration that's where we are. if it's too hard, it's just going to get worse. do something about it. i take your point and you're right on a spectrum of those people. you are absolutely right, and others i have a little bit different thought. >> i just want to make two points, but one is what you're talking about what law enforcement does when there's an emergency a and the heat of passion, and a lot of people are going to get hurt from it. what we're talking about is a
more strategic intelligent policing strategy informed by the community and because it is strategic, not taxed and cause the kind of harm that you're talking about. >> [inaudible] >> after words there's -- after wards there's not a process -- >> we don't want americans to be hurt or to be terrorized in the country. sometimes you may start something to prevent terrorist acts. we understand that, but when you do this, and you catch innocent people by mistake, it is the afterwards. these people that you got, and
they were innocent, treat them right, apology to them issue restore their names, and publicize it. in this case, you showed to the arab community that you have a passion for them, that the innocent of them were not targeted, were not neglected or stomped on. there were so many people that were sent to syria, to egypt, to algeria to be terrorized over there, and were innocent. the u.s. government didn't care you have to encourage the arab community to help you. when there's somebody innocent, you have to treat them right. >> i thank you for your comments, and i understand, and, you know, we are running a
little over, but i just want to close with one final question, and that is moving forward after, this is the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and moving forward, what do you see in store? do you see milestones or further achievements we should aim for working together? what challenges do you feel do lie ahead particularly this september? take a couple minutes. >> i'll let debbie take this because i've taken enough time. i know there's other questions. i have to leave to be someplace later, but i'm willing to stay for another hour if people have questions and want to continue this dialogue because it's an important dialogue. i'll let you take that. >> i'm very hopeful. i think the season of fear has abated what you might call heat of passion, and i think we are more rational, had a transformative moment, and i
think it is -- [inaudible] >> you were on a roll, too, deb. >> i know. i think it's a transformative moment, and that means for those of you in the audience and for the adc, it is an opportunity in which at a time in which we are not confronting national security trauma or emergency in which we are not reacting. at this moment in time, proactively, what can we create? i'm very hopeful and optimistic about the possibility of creating a much more strategic and intelligent response and the infrastructure that we need to engage the community and work with them as partners opposed to suspects. >> thank you, and in closing, i would like to say at adc,
there's an array of issues that we will continue working on and the fight for our civil rights and justices has not stopped, and it will continue, but it will continue with open dialogue, and we will butt heads and disagree with government agencies and may disagree with each other, but there are times where this relationship is needed, and more often than not, it is needed. >> okay, i'm going to throw in a closing comments because it highlights what i'm challenging you to do. a lot of the first people to come to that table ten years ago at the washington field office in a neighborhood in northern virginia, dc, knew nothing about the community. i'm embarrassed to say how little i knew. one of the people who came to the table and educated me from the adc, and walked through this process and now sits in one of those organizations in the cross hairs of everyone else at the tsa. i'd like to recognize him in
this group for what he's done for the last ten years so -- [applause] i consider him a personal friend to mine. when i say, what have you done, he looks back at me and says, well, look what i've done. that's my challenge, not for everybody, you know, you will not get rich in the government, but there's a lot that we can do, and both sides of the fence, and i take my hat off to him and others for continuing to fight the good fight, and thank you for coming and listening to this. thank you for the dialogue, and it'll go on. it will continue to go on. thank you very much. >> thank you. . noare, we no longer have to share an office like we did for a year. he didn't like my music tastes much, but a lot of work done in the last ten years, a lot of players vouched, but -- involved, but we will continue. thank you again, thank you to the panelists, we appreciate
it. we look forward to the times to come. [applause] >> the next panel is in the room. [inaudible conversations] >> comeing up on c-span2, many froe national -- more from the national convention of the discrimination committee with a discussion on political unrest in the arab world. later, the senate's back at 2 p.m. eastern for general speeches until 6 p.m. with no roll call votes expected today. >> the house oversight committee holds a hearing today examining the justice department's compliance with subpoenas. the issue stems from congressional requests for information about a gun tracking program. according to recent reports, the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms has knowingly allowed u.s. guns to be trafficked into
mexico. live coverage of the hearing begin at 1 p.m. eastern on our companion network, c-span3. >> now, back to the american-arab anti-discrimination committee's national convention in washington. this panel features a discussion on political unrest in the arab world. speakers include the deputy assistant administrator for the middle east at the u.s. agency for international development. this runs about 90 minutes. >> welcome. i'm jeff ghannam, and i'm flighted to be participating in -- delighted to be participating in what is sure to be a compelling discussion on the uprisings in the arab world. >> and open it up to questions and answers and to hear your viewpoints as well. a few, um, minor notes, of
course, in the program ralph nader is listed as being a member of our panel this afternoon, but instead he will be appearing at the grand banquet tomorrow night. he will be the keynote speaker. also one of our guests has been unable to attend this afternoon, and we may be joined in part by khaled mattawa who is also anticipated on this panel. but we're going to get started right now because we're running a little late, so allow me to set the backdrop for our discussion this afternoon. clearly, we're all familiar with the arab revolutions and the uprisings which have presented the people of the arab world with unique opportunities to advance and realize their aspirations for equality, freedom of expression and association as well as political, economic and legal reforms.
we're here this afternoon to also explore whether the largely peaceful protests on the part of the people -- and i emphasize people -- in tunisia, egypt, libya, yemen, bahrain and syria and the violent reactions to those protests by autocratic regimes have changed the way arabs are viewed by the global community and, by extension, change the perceptions ofge t arab-americans in the united-ame states. let's not forget that throughout contemporary american history and even more recently arab-americans have routinely been the target, unfortunatelyvr so, of animus, discrimination and have fought stereotypes because of events that take place in the middle east as well as on u.s. soil. the even when the events haveu. nothing to do with arab-americans. the community and its membersria fall under suspicion. no one will forget the aftermath of suspicion following the
horrific events of 9/11 which wi still linger. so i pose a question to our distinguished panelists: how do the events in the middle east impact perceptions of arab-americans? we are here at the anti-discrimination committee, so this is a very pertinent question to be asking ourselves, and is the community doing enough to nurture the arab t awakening at home and abroad? how can we help? >> very good question. and the answers will cover a wide variety of interesting area. i am ashley ansara, i am board of director for the adc and also the president for recent si health -- regency health in orlando, florida, and i'mo delighted to be here, and thank you for inviting me.
i never thought that the system in egypt would collapse when i am alive. i was very surprised. and took me by surprise because i was in egypt during christmas time visiting my family, and i came back to the u.s. in january 12th, and then the revolution happened january 25th. and my daughter called me and m said, daddy, what the hell did you do?add [laughter] so i said, well, i have to go back. and i've been in egypt three times since january, just came back last tuesday. so to answer your question just in a short statement, i think egypt is different today than i ever thought that it could be. to a lot of people from outside,
sound like there is chaos. unorganized crimes happen c somewhere in egypt, but i would like to assure the audience here that egypt is safe, egypt is beautiful, and egypt is moving forward. give us some time. we need some time. the egyptian -- [inaudible]seas overseas are delighted to go back to egypt for either investment or intellectual communication with intellectuala back in egypt. but i believe egypt as an example and i think many other n countries in the middle east will follow the steps as we can see today.e that's a short answer.tod >> okay.ort it's, um, appreciated.kay. how can arab-americans help the egyptian revolution? >> the arab-americans are
egyptians, they're all egyptians. we really consider that the middle east is somehow affectedi by the egyptian history and by the egyptian scientific discoveries a few thousand yearv ago.we we never considered ourself as egyptian, we consider ourselves as part of the entire region. you could be syrian, lebanese, egyptian, we are all the same people. but what we would like to say t the rest of thes arab-americans in this country, that come andy, visit. t come and visit egypt.me a we are part of the revolution.we bring your children, bring your family, bring your friends.g yo come and see with your own eyese what the newspaper and the cnnat cannot translate. i guarantee that you're going to see different egyptians today. they are very proud, they arey
more lovable than ever before,m even theiro jokes have been now millions of jokes every day. the taxi cab drivers smile at your face and ask you, where are you going? tell him, i would like to give you tips, and he will look at you say, we don't want tips anymore. thank you. >> really? >> so there is a lot of thingsf happening in egypt today. >> that's quite a change. no tips? >> no bashish. >> that's a different egypt.ev >> and that's what i'm hoping for. f >> tell us, now, not everything has gone so well. throughout the arab world thingd have actually gone quite wrong in lots of places. it's been called the arab spring, it's been called the arab awakening. b frankly, i don't see it as the arab spring because spring with blood is not pretty. what can be done to enable americans to help, to support the democratic institution
building?inst khaled, you joined us. b we welcome you to the panel. can you, would you like to givel a brief introduction and answer or contribute to that question?r >> yes. o i'm from libya and more from libya the last year than ever before.by wea live in a continuum of american-arab-libyan, etc., libyan-american, and we, you know, we waver. it kind of switches.swit if we were to measure our identity meter or, we know that as arabs -- americans of arab descent, it changes. but the last few months it's been watching tunisia, watching egypt, being very proud of one's heritage and one's people and of libya specifically so. i've been living on facebook the last few months. the difficult part perhaps withi
libya is, of course, it's a military conflict now. and it is a military conflict between civilian population that had armed itself and now supported by nato and the regime that wants to continue killing until it regains power or stays in power and so on. i think, i think the nato involvement was needed. if nato was not involved in march, we would have seen anvo horrible massacre in benghazi. and the recourse to arms the libyan people have resorted to was not something they have chosen, it is something that they had to do.to and we're grateful for the u.s. and french and british and italian and european
involvement. i know that that's very -- i wasn't for the war in iraq, i wasn't supportive of the u.s. action there. it was contrived and imposed upon iraq while the involvement was something that the libyan people called for. and remain calling for.emai and it seems that thee population, the libyan population in the liberated area are emerging as pro-democratic space for civil society, foreate greater expression of freedom and human rights and, of course, there is a desire to run things in a collective manner asire opposed to the way they were run whichop is based on one person's ideas, his philosophy and his
criminal thugs who run the country. it seems to me that, unfortunately, arab-americanss don't know very much about libya, but we've been in the news lately, and i would say b that the coverage has been largely fair. and few can make a distinction at least that the areas under gadhafi's control journalists and media has no access to anything. and the areas that are, that have rebelled against gadhafi are open, media can go anywhere and look into libyan society. so it is a military conflict, but i think the choice is clear as to who to side with on this. nato's bombardment of gadhafi's sources has been accurate. the death of civilians has been almost nonexistent even though the gadhafi regime has reported
onad some. and perhaps a matter of weeks or months, and things will changend into a country that has, that's in its own people's hands.n there will be problems, of course, because of the lack of all institutions. i mean, in libya even the boyf scouts were a government organization. there is not a single independent group. in tripoli now if you are caught with internet in your house, you are detained. and so on. so this regime has to go, and libyans are coming together to replace it with something better. the hope is that the fabric of the country is strong enough to withstand the divisions that are, perhaps, natural to the population. but it seems like a new identity
is emerging. you can't, you know you can't pay extra money for a cab driver in the city of misurata which has been an amazing city. no one will ask you for moneywil when you take them. in egypt taxis are nicelys priced, in libya taxis are for free. that's new. basically, people are much more engaged into what their future will be.ir f they're engaged in every facetvy of it. in benghazi the 120 ngos started by libyans in the past three months. people are doing all sorts of interesting things. even my family who are business people are all involved in aid, in humanitarian work, in media. basically, we've just moved onew
notch from being business peoplp into being activists. >> khaled, what can the united states do? >> you know, what the united states, i think the obama administration could give the national transitional council money because there is no money. i don't know if you know, if you've heard of dr. halid, a libyan-american who used to teach at the university of washington who left his post in mid-quarter and joined thee revolution and is now the finance minister.e he doesn't have money. m he doesn't have the libyan monee that needs to go to feed the he population.e so that would be something that the u.s. administration, thedmi obama administration needs to, needs to help the people with now because there is ae is humanitarian crisis in the mountains. there are 100,000 libyan
refugees in tunisia. there is limited shortages for electricity in benghazi, and the country's being run, basically, on a 200 or quarter of a billion dollars a month which is very limited. so at least -- release the money that rib ya has in europe and the united states, that would be helpful. >> excellent. he brief introductory note, could you give two lines of your biographical data? >> it's in the book. i'm in the book. dat [laughter] >> assistant professor at the university of michigan, ann arbor. yes. >> i'm a writer and a poet and literature professor.e >> hady amr, from usaid, tell us us more about your perspective. >> thank you. ok i'm pleased to be here.rs
i firstt attended an adc convention more than 20 years ago and last spoke here some teo years ago. i'm really pleased to be here among folks that i know well. and, you know, when i thinkn i about that time period, the change in 10-20 years, and i think about my son. my wife and i had our first child this year. and i think forward to 10, 20 years from now.0 y i think about an arab world thah i hope will be one that is freer, more prosperous, more, mo democratic, more dignified, more participatory for its citizens. and i also think about annd arab-american community that ca also grow in its participation i in civil society here at home and in partnership with the arab world. so, i mean, as i'm reporting ini the context of information in the arab world and also in this context with adc, i hope we have
a growing partnership of thea arab-american partnership with the positive transformation underway in the arab world and in partnership with our government, the government of the united states of americawi which i represent. so my name's hady amr, i'm the deputy assistant administrator'a for the middle east at usaid which is the united states agency for internationaltern development, the part of the united states government thaterm manages our foreign aid. and, you know, we talked about the arab spring and the songs of freedom in the arab spring from tunisia to libya to, you know, egypt, bahrain, yemen, syria. um, i wanted to offer some thoughts on the transformation from the perspective of this white house and this p administration about the changes going on in the middle east. first of all, from the u.s. e government perspective, yous. know, we believe that we are
inspired by the people in the middle east. >> [inaudible] >> you can't hear. raise the mic, can you hear meu better?e is that better, guys? okay. so, you know, we're inspired by the changes taking place in the middle east and that they're being driven by the people ofeg the region ministration are as f. first and foremost, we oppose the use of violence by governments against their citizens and citizens against the government. the second is we stand for universal rights of all people in third we support political and economic reform that responds to people in the region. i wants to return to some specific remarks by some of the regions in the country. today the situation here is particularly troublesome and our united states government concerned with the crackdown on
security people. our president, president obama has been very clear in his speech on may 19 that things cannot return to the way they were in syria before the protest started three months ago and as changes happening the president of syria needs to understand its community part of the change, or not be part of the process. and our government is watching foley to see and carefully to see how things progress. finally, on syria, as across the arab world we support the rights for syrians to speak their minds and the white house is disappointed to find that a certain division is not performing here today. but i want to turn to remarks of some other countries. the united states at agents for international development provides about 1.5 alien dollars dollars -- louder?
wow, i am yelling. i feel like i am yelling. a little bit to the center? okay, terrific. is it better? i am practically yelling. [laughter] which is not my style. maybe there is a different microphone. usaid provides a billion -- $1.5 billion in international assistance teacher across the arab world, rocco -- morocco, egypt, iraq, yemen as well as territories in the west bank and gaza. we provide that assistance for sustainable development in low income countries and since the beginning of the uprising in particular we have shifted our assistance in egypt to be more responsive to the needs of the people in egypt, so we put out instead of just negotiating one-on-one with the government of egypt, we have put out
pro-cramming that can be responsive for example and democracy in five areas which include civic engagement, elections, transparency, accountability and civic or dissipation. in tunisia even though we did not have a program on the ground, what we did was we launched about right now an approximate 10 million-dollar program from usaid on political inclusion, training and elections. in yemen where we have an approximate 50 million-dollar program what we have done is we have again continue that program in the context of health and education, democracy and governance as well. thanks to the contributions of the american people, your tax dollars, we have been working to help in partnership with folks across the arab world and what we like to do is bring and the arab-american community and to
our work. for example we launched a partnership a few years back with american charities for palestine where we have been able to put a thousand laptops in schools in the west bank and it is that kind of work that we like to do going forward. so those are some introductory remarks. i can get into issues country by country as we go forward. >> and a general license let me pose this question, and we can also open this up a little later to the audience, but is the arab world ready for democracy and what does democracy mean to the arab world in a state of post-revolution emerging new governments and uprisings flaring up throughout the region? >> thanks for that question. first of all whether not the arab world is ready for democracy is a question for the people of the arab world and i think they have made it pretty clear to me from what i can see, they are ready to participate in decisions that affect their lives.
for us, democracy is not just an election. democracy is a process of ordinary citizens participating in the decisions that affect our own lives. so yes they are and yes they can. >> will they develop democratic institutions that will be pivotal to the establishment taking root of democratic sapolis? >> again it could be a long-haul. is going to be a long road and it will be different in every country. there are different democratic traditions in each country and i think our her colleague's -- [inaudible] will be helpful in guiding, shining light on that for from our perspective, consulted of processes lead to positive outcomes and that is what we want to support. >> khaled do you think libya is ready for democracy and what i did take to bring it to the point where it could begin the
road towards developing democratic institutions? >> well i can speak for libya and general. i think the issue of democracy, and arab culture is in general, is a question. are arab-american communities and associations ready for democracy? do you know and arab community organization that is run democratically? that is one question. and we can even raise it is the question about the song and the syrian singer that was brought up as a good question. [applause] as an arab-american writer, and i speak for myself, and many other writers and artists in america, i think that this invitation was a travesty. it seems to be an issue of communication. i've i have spoken to many people about this at abc, and there might be some issue of miscommunication perhaps, but
our organization has lost its public commissions battle and we appear undemocratic. maybe not that we appear undemocratic and that is part of our -- so if you think the arab world is ready for democracy, well it seems like we don't handle it very well here in our own organizations. so i am highly troubled by what had happened and if i may sing you a song that. >> could i just said the program note that the musician in question who will not be appearing tomorrow night is a syrian musician and whose popular song has caused some controversy. >> is going to be much more popular than it ever was.
i was not a big fan of it. i didn't mean for you to hear it. >> if i may just another quick programming note. declined as a result of the musicians participation. [applause] we would have appreciated hearing from her but that was her decision. >> i've been troubled all day weather to come or not and i came because you are here and because of my colleagues. i am really troubled. my country is i and i am a country. your love is a fire in my heart. when will i see you free oh my country? when will the sun of the noble rise in your skies? when will the -- for loyalty and
love? when will your earth be fed by the river of virtue? nourished by the martyr's blood and the stronger will? the people crying out, freedom to the nation, freedom to the nation. oh my country, cradle of humanity, the light of civilization, land of the prophets and the martyrs. we call out to the god of heaven to lift all harm off of you my country, my people and all humankind. [speaking in native tongue]
you know, yemen got a taste of hell before going there on its way out and hopefully -- syria and the rain and the rest of the ill missions that we come from. [applause] >> tell us what do you foresee for egypt, elections are slated for the fall parliamentary elections. where do you think the future lies for the egyptian revolution? >> let me, allow me to say a couple of things first. >> go right ahead. >> before we go back to egypt. [laughter] you have a very good voice. you should sing it. in your son's wedding. [laughter] >> how about tomorrow night? >> i want to invite you tomorrow night to sing tomorrow that song. >> it i would hate to ruin it
for the singer's. >> let you just had a couple of statements and i agree with you. you are a professor of political science and i may doctor so we have different opinions about certain things. i see the arab-americans are very mature and very democratic and very civilized at least in this country. i have been here for 40 years, so the arab-americans, are they a reflection to what is happening in the middle east? >> i don't think so. and i have multiple discussions with my friends and i neighbors and my children as well. what we saw in the middle east is not the media in the west say happens overnight. by and the product of bell
nasser, in egypt in 1952 and he died and anwar sadat came after and then anwar sadat was assassinated and then mubarak came. none of the egyptian people accepted the revolution was going to be the standard of the egyptian culture. we had several issues with the revolution and the consequences of the revolution, especially when the communist party came to egypt and. >> in 1952? >> yes, 1952. the 25th of january revolution is the youth, the young people. they were not afraid to say no to mubarak and his regime. the old people there, the 50s and the 60s today in egypt, they would not do it without the
young people. the young people, the funny thing is, these ministers in egypt and the prominent business people and politicians, their children are the ones. they go home and the revolution was again of their parents. you know it was so funny and i don't want to name some names of local business people in egypt. they go home and a talk they talk with their children. why in the hell did you go to tahrir square today? the boy will say why not dad? i'm going to be there for whole week. his father's going to lose his job and is going to lose hundreds of millions of dollars of transaction that occurred during mubarak time. so, it was a boiling situation and they were waiting for something to happen and what
really triggered the situation was tunisia. and that man that burned himself just to feed himself and his family, that was a heartbreaking story to all of the arabs in the middle east. yes, and then when the egyptians heard that and all of these young people and the media started to communicate with facebook and twitter and so on they are really the owners of the revolution. and the question is, how are the old people in egypt going to cope with this open mind? it is a huge question. you have got people in the last 50 or 60 years, that used to do things one way. now all of a sudden their children are coming up with a totally different way. that is why the prime minister of egypt, he is not doing a good job because there is a huge --
between the 50 and 60 and 80-year-old cabinet members and they cannot communicate with the rest of the revolution. >> he even even given parliamentary elections are slated for the fall today's "washington post" has a story about the movement. what is your sense of its power and its coalition with the muslim brotherhood and will egyptians turn toward a more fundamentalist form of islam and approach their new government in that way? >> i would like to take this opportunity to ask the usaid to finance $30 million to do a web site, e-mail, electronics. >> 30 million? >> $30 million for electronic voting for the egyptians. then i will go back to the -- okay? but i would like to take this
opportunity to ask my audience here who really say yes we need the money to do electronic -- [applause] >> how might electronic voting change the outcome? >> i'm not sure how many objections are here but even if you are an american here, please allow me to say that in a country that is 50% illiterate, how do you expect democracy to be established? you cannot have democracy and illiteracy in the same room. number one. number two, india -- india is a different story, totally different story. number two, how do we characterize the civilization of such a country is by how effective the women are in leading their society. these are the two factors that we need to look at. to answer your question, the
salehi yes because you about 3.5 million egyptians to go to saudi arabia to work there as teachers and farmers and so on and so forth and after 25 years to go back home to egypt and they bring with them the saudi culture. >> it's an economic issue. people provide jobs, build your own economy, build your own society. >> besides, why we are afraid of salehi and muslim brotherhood. we shouldn't. the question should be, can we make the muslim brotherhood more open-minded like we do here? why do we have to ask ourselves are we afraid of someone to attack us? it should be the opposite. and why are we afraid for our shadow? i consider the muslim
brotherhood and the salafi are the shadows of the current regime. the regime is gone. now we have new people. there is no shadow any more. the question is today how we can make civilized society. >> i think the response to that is the more these groups are in the open, the more their ideas come and the more they will be up for debate. you may have heard of tahrir and tunisia. they are very obsessed about -- and so on. he said we will have democratic elections and give tahrir wins there will be no more elections. so that guy of course laws. he said okay, you are done for. so he declared his agenda very clearly. tunisia was probably more liberal than elsewhere.
in libya -- libya will give it to them. the issue is whether our organizations operate in the open or not. you know extremism, where where did osama bin laden and that? he ended up in one of the least literate places in the world up in the mountains know extremism and illiteracy combined and also working and the dark comes together. but once you open up the space and these ideas come, what does the cell if you want to? it is not something most egyptian societies would wish for. it is not and then what kind of programs do they have to solve unemployment? what do islam must have for unemployment? what do they have for housing? they have to have a program. >> they don't have an agenda.
>> exactly they don't have a solution. >> they don't have a solution or an agenda. i think i would like to add that islam as a religion has been hijacked. and i think the question for the west and us, you are asking what arab-americans would like to do. we have an obligation toward mankind in the middle east. they misunderstand the religion and what democracy is all about. they misunderstand americans to be honest with you. i go to egypt and i see a lot of people saying my god, america is bad and so on and so forth. i think we have a huge task ahead of us. the usaid and the united states government were sponsoring a regime of mubarak for many years through his government to reach the people. i think it should be how can we reach the people without having the government in the middle to take bribery and commission?
>> that is right. [applause] first of all on the question of elections, the u.s. government and usaid is absolutely committed to partnering with the people of egypt and the government of egypt to nurture and create artistic vittori systems to enable the people of egypt to transform their lives in a democratic and modern way, and so there are dialogues going on and we are working together to do that. as to the specific idea you have, we would be pleased to talk about it afterward to move forward but absolutely we are partnering in that regard and in fact you know, in response to the transformation in egypt and the departure of president mubarak usaid shifts, as i alluded too early shifts the way it does programming to make it possible for ordinary egyptians, for nonprofit organizations in
egypt to apply directly to usaid within a framework that i outlined and particularly again in the area of democracy so they -- civic engagement is one area and election and political processes is another area. access to justice is another area and civic participation is a fifth area. in the area of economic growth because we believe that, you know, we believe that in addition to democratic systems we also need to nurture the economy at this time of transition. we have set aside significant portions of money to also work in five areas which include youth employment, microand small enterprise, local and community development, private-sector partnerships and poverty alleviation so again it is in partnership with the government but at the same time successful by the people. with held town hall meetings across egypt in english and arabic in cairo and upper egypt and we have had i believe over a
thousand people and hundreds of nonprofit organizations participate in this process. what we envision again is an arab world and an egypt in this case led by the people of egypt to create the country that they want to go that is what this administration believes in and that is what this president believes in and that is what usaid believes and. >> well, that was very nice. i think --. >> it is what is in your heart. you didn't do it in bahrain. u.s. bahrain to die. and palestine. in your heart, you know the arabic expression. i would say the u.s. will work with democracy if it goes in tandem with u.s. interest even
though president obama said himself you know these democratic changes, we have to work them even though they may be counter to our interest. so i think obama is smart enough to realize these democracies in the long run will be good for the u.s. and for those countries, but he also realizes there may be some short-term in midterm tensions. >> before we open it up to the audience. >> may i just add one thing about arab-americans? what we can do is arab-americans is -- this incident about the song in the end it ended up being a incident of protecting the syrian regime from itself. you can experience anyway you want. the result is a d.c. doesn't want a song that protest the syrian regime. i think we as an organization -- it is hypocritical of us to lobby against israel and not to say a word about our efforts. not to say a word about -- not
to say a word about any of it. [applause] how do we live like this? how do we live with the idea of having principles for human rights, for all of mankind, for all of our arab can and to say no we only want them in america. we can't work in the arab world. i know all of you are watching what happens in tahrir and tunisia. you tell me that this doesn't matter to adc? it doesn't make any sense. so in a sense, from being only a lobby against israel if you will four for our own interest here in the u.s., we need to now become a lobby for the arab population and this will make us stronger. we will have a wedge between oppression and these regimes if we continue by upholding the american principles that we live
under. then we can do some work. but cozying up to these regimes is really embarrassing and it is time to stop it. that is enough. [applause] >> thank you very much. would like to open up questions to our audience. please come forward, state your name, your affiliation and if you may stand up, and it appeared away such that the cameras can focus on you. thank you very much. go right ahead. >> first of all i want to thank khaled for singing a song for us. >> i didn't sing it. i just read it. [laughter] >> tomorrow morning. >> okay and i want to say it is just outrageous the fact that adc did not have one speaker from syria to talk about the atrocities at the syrian government is committing every
day towards the syrian people and it is just really embarrassing. being the president and the chair i think and not allowing the syrian singers to talk about the musicians, to give the syrian people a contribution and just to support the cause, think this is outrageous. this is one thing i want to say. >> do you have a question? >> yes, i want to ask. >> could you state your name and where you are from. >> i am from syria, from damascus. [applause] i want to ask mr. amr what is the united states willing to do to try to take the syrian government and the current regime and probably try to stop those atrocities and mass murders that have been committed every day? >> thank you.
so, let me preface my remarks which will be limited, with the following which is that, which is that i work at the united states international development which is not, which is not the foreign-policy arm of the united states government so there is you know, there are policies in the government so i can share with you you a few remarks but it is not the role of the usaid to state u.s. foreign-policy. begin of the united states is clearly condemning the government's mass murder and the rest of its people. we have recently opposed additional sanctions on the regime including president assad and his inner circle and we stand by the syrian people who have shown their courage and demanding a transition to democracy. president assad is the choice that he can lead the transition or get out of the way. that has been clearly stated by the president of the united states, secretary of state of the united states but in my
position i'm not at liberty to elaborate further on the existing state of the administration. >> please take your name and where you are from. >> my name is samir. i was baptized presbyterian where'd -- was invented in 1945. i've been here 47 years. i am a syrian artful draft dodger. my prayer is that the brothers and sisters here, arab-americans, will form an american task force for syria, just like we had an american task force for palestine, american task force for lebanon, because syria is a special place like egypt is a special place. all those places over there are special places.
and so, with this body here, and with the other bodies that you all belong to, let's form a task force for syria and because ralph nader wrote only the super rich , let's draft ralph nader starting now -- he is going to be here tomorrow. let's draft ralph nader for a peace party in syria and in three years dr. bechard is supposed to be coming up for renewal. maybe we will have an election. we will have a two-party system in syria and we will have ralph nader as president of syria.
so the question is for you and usaid, can we have some -- funding for this project? we have an air of peace party in syria where arab-americans who are like-minded bill draft ralph nader. >> just tell them no. just say no. [laughter] >> what i can say is -- what i can say, what i can say is that when the time comes, the united states will be ready to stand by and support democratic transition throughout the arab world, country by country. >> next question, please. >> i am from detroit. i'm a long-time activist and i just want to make an observation that i came here excited about
analyses of the arab spring and iac a gloom actually. on the bright side, i am excited about the arab spring. is the most phenomenal, the most wonderful event that we have witnessed, that i've witnessed it. [applause] i don't see that discussion on the panel at all and i'm really shocked on the composition of the panel. no slam to adc. ica dissonance to what the arab-americans believe. i see dissidents to at the arab people believe. i don't need to beg money. i would don't want a idea money. i want democracy in my land, among our people. and all the values and all the statements and all the statements of a.i.d. that you can pronounce here,
$1.5 billion, $3 billion to israel and the occupation continues, is hollow. it is hollow. i don't need your money. i need your principles for support. i thought obama would come and do something different. it turns out he's just another bush, vis-à-vis israel and palestine. okay the question. how many water wells has the a.i.d. repaired in gaza? that were destroyed by israel? and why would they be allowed to be destroyed in the first place? these are the questions that i don't even want to ask. i'm just sharing that out loud. i believe that i reflect the sense of this audience. [applause] >> how many water wells, was that the question?
i don't have the data but i would be happy to share them with you. afterwards. >> question please. your name and affiliation? >> my name is trent taylor. i'm from kansas city, missouri. i would like to echo the comments made before me but i do have an actual question. this is for mr. mattawa. on different notes that similar, first, as a student of history and as the news observer, i am wary of the military involvement by outside forces in both egypt and libya. while in different contexts, i am speaking to the egyptian
armies role as the caretaker in the current regime and more specifically in libya, the role of nato which has exceeded its original mandate to maintain the no-fly zone is now more of an act that combatant in bolivian conflict. my general question to both parties is, what are your thoughts on the possibility that these military forces may hijack the democratic revolution? >> thank you. >> thank you. son tally in egypt, i have met with him and tomorrow i am having dinner with the egyptian ambassador in washington and
the. from a conversation which i had with the provincial candidates in cairo, including mr. broady mr. broady -- baradar a., it, the fear is there but it is not strong. the military would like to go back as soon as probably january, february of 2012. now, we have not seen a leadership that comes from the army, a young leadership to satisfy the needs of the egyptian people for a leader. i don't see that. i see many civilians, presidential candidates that and fill in the position. the army is the army. i don't think the egyptian people are willing to accept any
military regime to run the government anymore and i think it was very clear during the january 25 revolution. .. youth. turned out to be there's a lot underground, and i would like to add that the muslim brotherhood has an organization in egypt, did tremendous job to assist the youth to succeed in the
revolution. and without them i don't think this could be possible. that there would be chaos. let me take this just for the to audience. the muslim brotherhood, it's ac combination of ngos and political system. it is 80 years old. it has been involved with every small village and town in egypt. . we have places such as the ymca. in america we ymca basically in every town. we don't have the muslim brotherhood youth hostels. you're very much involved with everyday science. that's why we have deep roots and grassroots among. lots of people in the west, while the muslim brotherhood is
going to destroy the christianity or destroy the church and so on. there have been violations. the violence was three weeks ago and the leaders that the people that they want to enter. and there were young people, muslims and they told what happened. it was organized crime. it was totally organized crime and world money exchange, money laundering and summary dealers. >> of army in the interest of time, thank you for that insight. very complex situation in egypt this certainly can't be wrapped
up in just a few minutes. let me turn back to our audience. state your name and affiliation. >> i'm from san francisco, originally from palestine and i represent u.s.-palestinian network. my question is at the beginning of this discussion can be imagined it would take a long time in egypt to get stability, especially very set in and way, just from the resolution happened. it's interesting because this is a good question about the muslim brotherhood. it's a very organized group of people. is it going to take a long time because we were trying to, you know, gather or organize the other voices in together leadership that represents -- to
represent the egyptian people? or how his leadership coming around? how do the grassroots people choose a leader bolick and the muslim brotherhood already established for years and years. thank you. >> i think there are several. one, as you may have noticed the constitutional referendum that happened in egypt, which many people have -- had to revisit because people wanted deeper form of the constitution. there were those who wanted the constitution pretty much to remain the same or have very few amendments in it. so in a way, it's not that different with the army. it was to emphasize the mesenteric or in do not really want to specular eyes were
democratized in a deeper sense. they want to be able to prosecute people who are sorted same things that that are not except to vote religiously, et cetera. so right now when he shipped it seems like they are sort of working out a deal, which could in fact satisfy the u.s. can get is kind of -- sort of a democratic work. it would be like turkey in the 70s or so, we have started a a -- the military doesn't want to change because the military is a middle-class. if you go to future and cairo to anywhere, you will see club after club, the officers club, they go on vacation all over the
country. some of them are millionaires. they own apartments that they rent out. so the military, even the middle don't really want a lot of change. they didn't want mubarak. so now it doesn't mean they want to be read. and they want to consolidate the country religiously, but they want themselves to be divine. the military to waziristan has a younger generation, mostly americans who are maybe used to the idea of separation of power within the military and government, but the top, which is the soviet, maybe not. but again, the leadership of one in the 70s and 80s and they operate like a soviet confidant.
so they are not that democratic. so there is bad. then you go back to libya for a second, which is to say it has begun painful and may remain painful. i think the idea of wishing for leadership to emerge is probably one of the worst things we can impose. it's not really have charismatic leaders who will attract people. now when i listen to god. i can't believe we believe that. so let us be more open until something emerges. and then we are to thank god we have a very boring leadership. they cannot keep us from falling asleep and that his work for a while. politics needs to be the ark of the possible, but ultimately needs to be a quiet partner.
there are lots of things to hatch up and not these countries. the unemployment -- i mean, after the violence. in the outcome if we we have freedom of expression and openness about the prophecies, we will all benefit. these events are important because new identities are being born. when you have people in libya, when are you in february, that's when the. in egypt, new lies have begun. but it doesn't mean that it's not going to be painful. all kinds of people are quickly emulate the more open and more fluid. we should sort of role that the changes. you know, democracy in america took a long time. >> remember how he died?
another leader, another founding father killed him. things take time. so why do we went to errors just like that when you guys can relate. so give us time, but also let's insist on openness. >> thank you. very well said. [applause] we think you're looking for leadership that is technocrat. a tremendous need for the technical skills that it takes four countries and new versions of government. >> in the end, they may -- technocrats have a different view. you know, they have souls, to. >> bring out the personality. >> by me just say we enjoyed
reading your technocrat. >> question, please. >> hi, my name is matthew zone and i'm a student at washington lee university in and turning out washington on middle east affairs. the abu dhabi center released a report on public opinion in egypt since revolution. within that report was the statistic that over half egyptians, the 52% oppose any kind of u.s. economic aid. that's not even including political aide, which is about 75% opposed. naturally, that might be because of a sickly to view at the u.s. involvement in the middle east and perhaps the full understanding town where it is going. how does usaid tend to improve how egyptians perceive and how individuals throughout the middle east perceive its work and perhaps our different channels or aid and development,
more multilateral, multinational channels with other option. >> thank you for your question. first of all, you know, we recognize that we have challenges, but we recognize -- and they're a diversity of opinions. the government stands ready, as i said earlier to partner with the society that one apartment. we had the egyptian societies seeking a partnership in the areas of election. and we recognize there are others and we stand ready to work with people in egypt and the government egypt to shape a better future for all. we've already made this change, so we have shifted from a peer of bilateral program associated with the government to one where we articulate hey, we are setting aside this amount of
money, $50 million to work in democracy and government. these are the areas we want to work in. we want your ideas. we want to be seeking proposals for me to tell us how you would like to spend that money. we've done the same thing in economic growth. so, that's an intentional way that we have shifted how we are doing our work. anything from what we can tell from the massive response we got from people all over egypt, not just from alexandria, teams that are tremendous for pursuing that pathway. we know it will take time and you know, we stand committed with the people of egypt to create societies that are democratic, the increase in employment and are prospered. >> i would like to add a
comment, too. i think your question is very family. i hear for many egyptians that they would like to ask her for the u.s. government to stop the usaid program. i have a dialogue with many of them. and then, one of those guys that i believe in the mission of the united states of america as a democratic nation. that's why were here. that's why i'm sitting where i am today, because i believe in this country. and if i something differently, then i would eat hypocrite. and i hear some hippocratic remarks that the government in the middle east, so i think we're confusing, we are mixed up. but they did to the egyptians,
we note that since it has been very good education. the usaid money that came from the jet were sent to the infrastructure, whether as well as, health care, sewer system, underground facilities. >> i didn't pay them. >> i didn't pay you to say that. >> i think we are as americans, we should say what good things and i think we should be fair. now is an egyptian american i am proud of the contribution and a thank you for the u.s. government contribution to each other. >> and the taxpayers. >> this is all about money here. that is why we are here.
but regarding the usaid money, it has been very positive, the egyptian lifestyle of today. >> let me go back to questions. >> im director at the the center for responsive policy. i am palestinian. we heard mr. on and we have been hearing officials said the united states that are announcing the use of violence again it's people. i am not regard of asking why does slate are not silly if it's good enough or not good enough and what can be done because i believe at the end it's the rule of the people and democracy and other people is appreciated their role and democratic rules by other countries. to my question, and i know you're not responsive on the foreign policy, but i'm asking for your opinion is why we never
heard any announcing a fusing of violence from the israeli government against its people. it's other people against the people unless we are supporting in syria. thank you. [applause] >> again, a thank you for your question. i think the president has clearly articulated his views -- the views of the united states government pursuing peace between israelis and palestinians into a palestinian state based on a 1967 borders with land swap. that is the position of the united states government. >> question please. thank you. >> yes, thank you. my name is none higher sheet i am actually a physician and a community activist. i am from atlanta and originally from lebanon.
and you know, i want to acolytes think some of the other participants here, the excitement we have. of course we are here for the arab american committee. we been up to fight terror for civil rights as arab-americans, but i haven't yet heard, at least on the u.s. level a strong voice by the community and one solid voice supporting arab uprising. we are here to discuss -- the issues are complex or not here to solve everything. we urge you to sport how is this an arab-american community support the arab uprising? this is what i would like to mention? what are we really doing? for example, from the usaid perspective, are we supporting education? for example, to strength and democratic systems in the arab world. i worked in egypt for two years. i know what level the education system is not. the other thing, are we
supporting women? the role of women in yemen and egypt has been extremely amazing. i mean, when she went to prison, she really turned up the whole situation. what are we doing to really educate these women about how to be better democratic forces? there was a question earlier about whether the arab world is ready for democracy. of course they are. are we ready for them to be a democratic nation? but then, my question is, democracy is an exercise. democracy doesn't develop overnight either. if we want these countries to be strong democracies, we have to help them. it's our role as arab-americans to really do this kind of technology transfer. i wanted to ask mr. ansara if
they would support arab-americans working together with other periods in the air countries to do that because i think we have a lot of capacities here, not to be overestimating our capacities, but as mr. -- i'm sorry, dr. ashley ansara said the mobile have the benefit that we are thankful for the opportunities they got in this country. i think we have to give back a little. we have families, a lot we care about culture wise, family wise on all aspects of the airport and i think we need to mobilize as a community tour together with the government to actually provide this kind of support. we cannot just blame the government. it is our role to do that. [applause] >> at usaid we have to work with the government. >> we work with governments. why don't answer the question that will help with the follow-up question.
first of all, for decades, partnering with the government and people of the arab world's work on education, health care, agriculture, roads, infrastructure, civil society, really across the board in some dramatic ways. and it really to ask you to her website. and also, we have a table -- a registration table we can get a lot more information -- a lot more information. you asked the question about, resigned to partner with the arab-american community to help transform society in the middle east? the answer is absolutely yes. were already doing a been a computer program attack without and we also have something called development grant program and office of development partners, where we are willing to work with american ngos, willing to work with and just in the arab world to apply for u.s. government funding to undertake
projects on their society. we have a vision for what actors in what countries those processes can be done in. it's available at our website and the folks on a table upstairs in the registration area should be altogether more information on it. but the answer is yes, absolutely yes we want to do that. it's a passion of ours, passion of richey shah, the head of usaid, with new ngos. if you haven't worked with usaid before coming to get a double welcome because we have a special program to help new institutions that haven't worked with usaid to learn the system because it is a complex and domain situation, that yes absolutely. >> i will add to that. i think in the end, usaid would
be an expensive u.s. foreign policy and as much connections can be made between ngos, unfortunately they are slow and they are bureaucracies and they don't always have a lot of money. and i think what we as arab-americans, we should really skip over this and so on. there's the idea of something without orders. eric without borders. there are ways that can be done. the peace corps -- how many americans go? >> u.s. government has a catalog. >> will you allow me? [laughter] i don't know. >> i have a lot of friends.
but you're right. your point, which is interesting as arab-american participation in civic engagement is important. >> if you want to go, go there. there's lots to do. civil society is blossoming into arab countries. in syria, not to end it will have hopefully the regime. libya in north of egypt. there is something going on. really explain on their own. without having to go through them. but i think civil society is really where it's at. the idea will promote the culture and ideas coming across, within our culture, not just individual. what happens in a lot of these programs, remote sordid american
elite, what happens in european or american family want these people to create a communities. and now it is much more possible than ever. >> the air up community needs to usaid all the time or have the time, but something can be done. you just have to make sure the money is here otherwise to go after you. >> finding money is always the hard part. they've got one more question before we wrap it up. >> apparently that's me. i am from north waziristan. i don't know where to start, but we arab-americans are proud of what we are. we are proud of the american system that gave us the opportunity, which is life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. so this is great. this is to direct their ansara.
we came here we were given the opportunity. so we put that aside. now let's take the other side. this life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, which is the american motto does not apply to a lot of people. the usaid is the more field that really so does the air people to live under the mubarak's and the salé and so on. so essentially, i wish people would revolt, not only against the people, but against those building the road here and allow the mubarak to skip over his people over the last 30 years.
i resumed this site, so i think the revolution really should have multifaceted. one of them is to change regimes to become independent. the other world is undergoing and realistic and domination. they really cannot change much. what is happening on the middle east is these resolutions are being hijacked by the usaid money and we wanted to change it. but we accept the election of the brotherhood to mehran egypt? i tell if because they killed millions of people in algeria because they refuse democratic elections. they refuse the democratic election of hamas. so we are looking for who they wanted in power. and if that person does not come to power, they will not accept
it. so my question is, when are we going to really move forward and understand it this way and function according? >> thank you. [applause] i'd be happy to answer. >> we just have a few minutes. >> i really hear you. and this is funny because i came from a family of seven children. i am the oldest. i immigrated to america 40 years ago. one of my brothers died in 1973. and i went there and i can imagine the face of my father. my other brother is a higher key minister. and my sister is one of the leaders of the women's muslim
brotherhood. so what kind of family and really makes you wonder? thanks to mom and dad because they brought us our life to make ourselves free. that's why we have supplied my household. but to answer your question, the mistake is not the united states government. the mistakes that corrupt people from its own is more corrupted and allow them to come into our homes. each country has its own strategy, israel has done strategy, united states, korea, china, saudi arabia. but in this country, we are demonstrating the society and the refusal of some people within a society who destroy the society problem, that our own
problem. we should rebuild our home to other countries for saudi arabia correct good the government. >> let me allow remarks. >> we are to monitor and be careful with how americans can operate. every poor country is corruptible. it's very easy. you can't tell you poor man not to take a bribe. you know, in egypt, prices go up for you because you have hard currents. people want it. so you can't say this powerful country is not to blame when it comes than with money. so you know, poverty causes
these problems, but we need to monitor what happens in the u.s. and in suits that transparency occurs in the arab world from here because with the u.s. has failed in the last 30 years is by doing what's right in terms of human rights and torture. an income of the u.s. sends people to be tortured in the arab world. i mean, who's fault is that? >> it's our fault. our political government is corrupt. how many people are in egyptian. >> so why should we blame america that they brought some prisoner back to egypt. >> here we go. now we're saying both. what i'm saying -- what i'm saying the emphasis for wider generation has succeeded because there was no leadership. that's why it succeeded. >> well, you know, if we had the
leadership in that revolution it would be failed. revolution is how far can we go without a leader. >> thank you. we're going to wrap it up. >> i want to offer a few concluding remarks. first of all -- >> i got one last comment i would like to make. >> allow me to hear the last remarks, sir. we may allow a last question but questions were closed. >> no. i just want to say the president of the united states was clear in his remarks on may 19th about inspired we've been as a government and how hopeful we are on the future for the united states -- for the people of the arab world. and -- >> but we can help him remain inspired. >> as the president of the united states said on may 19th, we are inspired by the people of the arab world and we hope there will be citizen-led transformation to positive societies in the arab world.
on a personal note, i've enjoyed my participation on this panel. i want to thank the panelists, the audience. i'm glad i came. i've learned a lot and i want to say again united states government and usaid stand ready to partner with you, if you're interested, to help transform societies in the arab world. we have special programs for ngos that have not worked with u.s. government and we're ready to work with you if you're interested. we've even -- we've opened up a booth upstairs so that we can help begin the dialog. and i hope you can visit with us and move this forward. >> as arab-americans, we really need to keep up the work for human rights and transparency all over the arab world. our position of saying we will have better conditions for us here in the u.s. and we want to be tenacious against israel, not
that he can with be and then we say nothing about the atrocities or torture or rendition. it's a farce. and it needs to stop. and we need to really stay with our conscience all the time. thank you very much. >> on behalf myself, i thank those for joining us this afternoon. thank you for your participation and your spirited interaction. we thank you all very much. >> thank you. [applause] >> very good. [inaudible conversations [ plastic plastic >> tom vilsack is attending the g20 agricultural meeting and today he'll talk about global food security and what he hopes to accomplish at next week's meeting. you can see live coverage on
today's comments at 1:00 eastern on c-span. the house oversight committee holds a hearing this afternoon on whether the justice department is complying with congressional subpoenas about gun trafficking in mexico. c-span3 will have live coverage at 1:00 eastern. and congress returns at 2:00 eastern. the senate will spend the afternoon on general speeches turning to judicial nominations tomorrow. >> the national oceanic and atmospheric administration has released new policies allow seafood businesses to start fish farms in the gulf of mexico. noaa administrator jane lubchenko talked about the impact on the oil spill on gulf seafood. the hour-and 20 minute event took place at the smithsonian
museum in washington, d.c. >> good evening. my name is cristian samper i'm the director of the museum of natural history and i would like to welcome all of you to this evening's event, both our panel that will be looking at the gulf and its seafood one year later and the broader event and demystifying the ocean food and its bounty. it should be interesting, on the one hand interesting, hopefully fun, at times depressing and after this event, delicious. [laughter] >> in september, 2008, we opened the new ocean hall here at the museum of natural history which was a wonderful project we collaborated with noaa and many of the leading organizations here in the country.
since the hall opened, more than 10 million people have been through to see it and it is our way of sharing our knowledge about the ocean and this planet with millions of people and hopefully raise awareness about those two-thirds of the planet and our intimate connection with it. it's part of our whole ocean initiative that we have been working on for a number of years using our collection, using our science and our partnerships. and tonight is an opportunity to come together here at your national museum to address some of those really important topics for society in this panel. let me start by acknowledging a lot of the institutions that have supported the event tonight. starting with noaa which has been our collaborator and partner with the museum. actually, more than 100 years. wagman's food markets which was a sponsor of this event last year as well. monterey bay aquariums seafood watch program that's back with
us again and it's been one of the leaders of seafood stability in the nation and this year we have a new sponsor, the gulf states marine fisheries commission whose support has enabled us to bring six chefs from the gulf states that will join some of d.c.'s best chefs tonight after the panel. now, i mentioned before that the museum has had a very close collaboration with noaa for many years. as a matter of fact, going back almost 100 years and taken to a whole new level of collaboration and education outreach. we're delighted to have with us tonight to give us some opening remarks the administrator of noaa, dr. jane lubchenko. now, jane is a very distinguished marine biologist. she has been a member of our advisory board here at the museum for a number of years and then she was appointed administrator of noaa a few years ago. it's a great pleasure to have you here, jane. and if you would like to give a
few welcomed remarks, please join us. [applause] >> good evening, everyone. it's great to see you here. welcome to the smithsonian program event here in baird auditorium. tonight's program as cristian has indicated is designed to tantalize your mind as well as titillate your taste buds so i hope you will have good things both at the program and afterwards. this intellectual appetizer that we're beginning with will offer you a look at the gulf one year later. and i'm very anxious to hear the views of the members of the panel. by way of opening remarks and a keynote address to get us going, let me begin by sharing, teeing off what cristian has mentioned on information that bears on
tonight's issue as well as our program. i referred to the strong partnership between the smithsonian and noaa that goes back over 100 years. it was actually created in 1871 as the u.s. commission of fish and fisheries. it was the very first federal agency concerned with natural resource conservation and science. its first commissioner was none other than spencer baird for whom this auditorium was named. the same spencer baird who is also assistant secretary of the smithsonian institution. now, can you imagine doing both of those jobs today. 40 years later, collaborations with the smithsonian remains strong. we shared the largest collection of fish with noaa's fishery systemics laboratory working closely with scientists. and our partnerships extend to a
wide variety of areas in marine sciences and conservation a relationship that is evident throughout the wonderful fabulous ocean hall. this reflects with this partnership with ocean and conservation and it's appropriate we do so here in the baird auditorium. turning to the subject of tonight's event, last april the deepwater horizon exploded onto the scene in the gulf. an unprecedented environmental disaster, the deepwater horizon spill over thousands of shoreline and released into the gulf itself. 10 days into this spill, i met with more than 100 fishermen in plackman's parish who feared their way of life and the gulf that they know and love. they knew better than anyone that oil seeping in the lar have
i might mean an uncertain future. their connection to the bayous, the gulf waters and their concern about losing it were palpable. and they were right to be concerned. many of them have suffered deeply. their businesses and their communities -- many of them have been devastated. fast forward to today, although the vast majority of oil in the gulf is now gone, oil lingers close to shore in many coastal areas in louisiana and in isolated places on the sea bottom and the effects on the gulf ecosystem and communities will undoubtedly be felt for years. a cooperative natural damage assessment -- natural resource damage assessment is well underway but indeed it will be years before we have a clear picture of the full impact of the oil on the gulf ecosystems
and, therefore, on their communities. but while we wait for full information about the damage done and the future implications, we do know the status of seafood today. all of the federal waters in the gulf that were once closed to fishing and it represented at its peak 37% of federal waters in the gulf, all of that is now open to fishing. and it's open for the very simple reason that the seafood therein has been extensively tested and oil for dispersant and contamination and found to be safe to eat. noaa, fda, and the states tested seafood extensively prior to re-opening these areas. and they continue to ensure the safety of seafood today through additional surveillance and testing. and if new oil appears that may be a threat to seafood safety,
we will not hesitate to close waters again. but our focus on the status of seafood in the gulf should be about more than simply answering the question, is gulf seafood safe from oil and contaminants? the larger focus must also include what are we actually doing to ensure healthy fisheries, healthy gulf ecosystems and healthy sources of seafood. the foundations of the unique culture and the very special attraction that the gulf offers to so many visitors to the region as well as to the local inhabitants. indeed, the health of the gulf is really inseparatable from the health of its coastal communities, economies, and their culture. our efforts to support a healthy gulf are multiple from ending overfishing to habitat restoration to making gulf coast ecosystems economies more resilient to devastation from
disasters such as hurricanes, floods, oil spills, climate change and ocean acidification. devastation from hurricane after hurricane, katrina in 2005. rita on its heels, gustav and ike in 2008. it gives the consequences of losing their barrier islands and their coastal wetlands. losing the protection that those places once afforded as people in the gulf call them speed bumps for hurricanes. it hurricane season about to begin, and with the devastating power of the mississippi river tragically apparent it has never been more critical to take a hard look at what is essential to building gulf coast resiliency and rebuilding the wetlands and barrier islands that provide protection. now, restoration is not a silver bullet but it can help on many
levels. past experience shows that restoration yields significant economic as well as environmental payoffs creating jobs and further opening the way for travel and recreation adding income for restaurants, hotels and coastal economies. and healthy ecosystems provide major benefits such as hurricane protection that i mentioned, pollution control, and improved consumer confidence in seafood, benefits that stretch far beyond the gulf. as we begin the long road to environmental and economic recovery in the gulf, noaa is pursuing efforts on multiple fronts to help with progress. thus far i touched on seafood safety, ending overfishing and habitat restoration, all of which are key elements in a vibrant future for the gulf and i'd like to touch briefly on one additional component that complements these, and that is
aquaculture. the farming of marine plants and animals has huge potential to provide healthy seafood, create new jobs, and contribute to reducing the trade deficit. however, it is vitally important that aquaculture that will be done in a future that's environmentally sound. i'm pleased to announce that today noaa and the department of commerce release our new aquaculture policies. these policies establish a framework intended to encourage sustainable domestic aquaculture, support coastal communities and important commercial and recreational fisheries as well as help restore species and habitats. we are committed to developing a national shellfish initiative in partnership with the industry to take specific steps to increase commercial production of shellfish and promote innovation in the industry. and to implementing the gulf of
mexico fishery management plan for aquaculture which includes the regulatory infrastructure needed for offshore aquaculture in the gulf. we hope that both of these initiatives will have profound and lasting effects on the environmental and economic recovery in the gulf and on agriculture was culture development throughout the nation. and with that, i am pleased to turn the program over to our moderator tonight, mr. richard harris of national public radio. thank you all. [applause] >> thanks for that wonderful warm-up introduction for us. come up here because you have a seat up here and welcome one and all. we have about an hour to talk and i promise i won't hold you over. we will get off to the food and wine at the end of the hour, but
i think -- i think there's -- there will be some lively thoughts to share here before we go. and we will -- we will proceed at pace. so i will start by introducing the panel and peppering them with a few questions and then we do have a few microphones in the aisles and after a little while, i will welcome everyone here to join in the conversation. there are a couple of scattered seats down in front if people want take a moment and come down here. if you're standing and you want to sit, there's some opportunities to do so. anyway, let me start by introducing this really quite impressive lineup of folks to talk to us today. we'll start on my -- on your far left, don boesch who is a professor of marine science and the president of university of maryland center for environmental science. he's a biological oceanographer. i actually met don more than 20 years ago because he was running
a lab down in louisiana called l your honor mcon and he was professor of marine science at louisiana state university so he's had -- he really knows the gulf and he knows chesapeake bay and he was on the president's oil spill commission so he's served in many key positions and he's a wealth of information. to his left -- see, i forgot to wear my watch and i usually tell right from left. anyway, it's a familiar face to you. i hope ted danson you may have seen him on tv once or twice. he was in coney island earlier day shooting his hbo thing. really early in the morning so -- but he's amazingly fresh for having had a tough time. but he's here actually because he's become a very passionate ocean activist. and he actually works for the organization called oceania, very closely and he's actually
written a book called "oceania" so ted has hollywood in his blood but i think he also has ocean in his veins so he is joining us for that reason. to his left is lucina lampila, who is a associate professor and associate scientists at louisiana state university and she has been diligently running up and down the gulf coast since the oil spill looking at seafood safety issues. and has -- will be participating with us on those grounds. to her left is patrick reilly. patrick is a shrimp fisherman, but he's more than a shrimp fisherman he's also as general manager of this outfit called western seafood company he's actually from shreveport, texas, not louisiana but that's still the gulf coast but he's been instrumental in developing some of the apparatus to help make shrimp fishing less damaging to
sea turtles and other sea life that are there and he's quite involved in that and mike voisin is down on louisiana in that foot that louisiana sticks out in the gulf of mexico. are your oysters being served tonight here -- >> yes, sir. >> so you will have a chance to taste his oysters in the food hall when we are done here. but i'm delighted that he's here and you've already heard from dr. lubchenco. so there we are. and let me start actually by turning first to don boesch and saying, okay, it's been a year since the oil spill, how do things look? i mean, when we saw the videos that brought back all those memories of how horrible everything looked a year ago,
you know, what's the state of the gulf right now from the position of an oceanographer? >> well, nature is a wonderful thing. and it's treated oil in the organic substrate and micro grew and devoured that oil. and as professor will you be chen co said it's no longer there. there's a number of issues that are no longer there about lingering effects and she indicated there's the natural resources damage assessment to very carefully quantify the impact and there's lots of ongoing studies and agree to which those impacts are long term. we're going to quickly recover but i think in general, as scientists thinks the gulf handled this remarkably well. significantly with respect to what everyone is here tonight to enjoy is gulf seafood. as a scientist, when this spill was happening and all the concern about this contamination problem and potential risk to
human health, who studied oil spills i'm aware that fish, for example, have mechanisms to take these compounds, the ones that we're most concerned about called polyaromatic hydrocarbons and it could be incorporating tissue, fish have very important members and not incorporate them in the muscle, the part that we eat. from the start the risk to seafood that could be contaminated seafood that we would ingest to begin with. only small amounts of the seafood that could be exposed. and then i have to say from the standpoint of the ocean commission, we studied not the effects of the spill so much as the governmental response. and what we saw was a quite remarkable effort led by noaa to make sure that we have a state
process. there are these areas that were closed just as a precaution. not any real evidence that there was any contamination. and subsequently a very detailed testing that's going on to see if we're using the best chemical methods we have that we can detect contaminants. and with thousands of samples at this point and very little indication there is contamination. and we can feel safe that seafood is safe and enjoy it tonight. >> you go out in the gulf, i assume, catching shrimp and so. what is your perspective from somebody actually on the water? >> in the areas we're harvesting from, just after the spill -- >> we can't hear. [laughter] >> we'll do a little buddy breathing here. >> this will do the trick. [laughter]
>> thank you, mike. >> well done. >> anyway, just after the spill and, of course, the quick response by noaa and other state officials, you know, closing of areas affected by that, you had very wide buffer zones for safety reasons and whatnot. not only the areas if they were directly affected but also very wide perimeter. we never saw any effects of oil in our product and since those closed areas reopened, we never saw any effects of oil on that product. and we as a fishery we're typically offshore, we are almost out 350 feet of water and up to really the beach of texas. we don't really get that close in louisiana. but we never saw anything. >> and the shrimp fishery back in full swing again. >> the shrimp fishery never
left. >> but do you not take a hit last year? >> we took a hit of overall volume because we had production units, vessels, basically shut in. they either joined the vessel of opportunity program helping with the cleanup or they chose not to fish overall because some of the near shore vessels didn't have access to their near shore waters to fish. and southern louisiana on bays and right there on the beach, right there that shrimp left estuaries they did not have the opportunity to catch up and, frankly, we didn't have the number of larger boats participate in the fishery this last year. and our own case in shreveport even though we're on the far western reaches of the gulf, after our texas closure, which is a 60-day -- typically 60-day cooperative closure between texas parks and wildlife and noaa fisheries, we generate quite a bit of volume from boats
that come over to texas to fish the opening after, you know, typically july 15th and we would generate 1 or 2 typically 20 to 30-day trips out of these larger freezer boats generating 60 to 80,000 pounds apiece. we took a little bit of hit there, about 40% of our volume historically. we weren't able to capture because those boats could not make it over. >> but the shrimp as far as you can -- >> from a biological standpoint, no. >> my quote about you, did you have trouble selling oysters after the spill? >> actually right after the spill it was interesting because a lot of people got real hungry for seafood and they thought the oil was accounting the beach and they wouldn't get any seafood for a period of time. so it was almost like when johnny carson said there was going to be a shortage of toilet paper, everybody ran out and bought toilet paper and there
was a shortage of toilet paper. we sold our freezer inventories and then we were closed because of the impending oil. noaa, i want to compliment dr. lubchenco. they did a fabulous job. the government's response to this was above and beyond what responses i've seen in other events in the gulf, in my 40 years in this business and they did an excellent job of being on the ground and helping us with those challenges. the oyster community took a real hit during the event because the governor of louisiana decided to open some freshwater diversions. we had floods in nashville about two weeks before the event and that water was coming down the mississippi river similar to this year. and it was to push the oil offshore. and to keep it offshore. now, we have 7500 miles of coastline in louisiana. if you go in and out every day and around every lake, only about 400 miles were oil. now, you could get to them with cameras and you saw a lot of
them down at grand isle and then at the mouth of the river. >> but all that freshwater was not welcomed by the oysters, i take it? >> we had about 50% of our oysters died and that's three-year classes of product that died. so we were down 50% of production this year and last year and now this year with the floods we were down another 50% or about 25% of our traditional production which is about 250 million in shell pounds much of oysters the year. we're the gorilla of oysters, 500 pounds of oysters and louisiana is of that. >> you got to wait for the oysters to grow up and you have to wait for the oysters to grow up or full raw. >> we'll be back better than we were before. and we got knocked down in katrina. knocked down in rita, knocked down in ike, knocked down in gustav, knocked down with the deepwater horizon, knocked down with the great floods. i know this isn't talked about the flood