tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN August 11, 2015 6:00pm-8:01pm EDT
let's turn to you across the gulf in the position that they may be having different reactions. they may have taken this agreement. how does it impact their relations with the u.s. and iran and their identity identity in a clear arm rate issues related to this what are your thoughts on the reactions and actions? >> i look out at the audience and i see so many friends have told me that i have been doing this for too long. i want to start off in all of the years that i have been living in and writing about the middle east a recently learned that the fact that i want to start with discussion by just leaving it with you. islam make law provides which is levied on the nonbelievers in an
islamic community. one of the act acts consolidating their control over arabia tack in the early years in the 20th century by the king was to levy a the nonbelievers and to me if you want to understand the collective attitude about shia, that tells you what you need to know. keep that in mind as we go through the rest of the discussion. last fall, i attended these advanced consecutive days. on the first they were for merck officials from the defense department and the national security council. and basically all of them said the same thing. we, the united states, have an
unshakable no doubt about it commitment to the security and protection of our friends in the gulf and you find it in all of our doctrines in the posture statement in whatever you want to read become of the the committee called for a meal defense review and all the documents were turned down in washington. this was the gospel according to us. you would have thought at some point they were talking about israel. this was the general saying you can take this to the bank which became a sort of quote. the next day i went to a different one in which the participants were in the region and it became apparent that they had heard all of this. they had run over and they didn't believe it. it was a fundamental dissidence between them and us.
there were others in the gulf that were indeed a preemptive about the way things were going into the probable with a possible course of the discussions with iran. now the members collectively commanded doctor anthony i will wait for you to shoot me down on this, the country is collectively have decided to believe that whether they really do or not, you know what they tell each other over coffee at three in the morning or scotch at three in the morning, i don't know. and they are not going to tell me anyway. but beginning with capitated in the summit in may - camp david
in the summit in may could see that they've made a decision that the iran deal was going to be done and they were not going to do a full on this. they need us more than we need them and that is clear especially because of the new realities in the market but only because of the new realities of the market. and there was a joint statement. in the second week of may they said that they all recognize that a well-crafted agreement with iran could be beneficial to the security throughout the region. and that's why the statements that they issued last week and recently when the secretary was there was not a surprise. now that the deal is done they simply re- iterated the position that they have taken knowing that it was going to be done. it seems to me what happened is
that countries have decided that that issue is behind them so they will take the united states at its word for all of these new security arrangements that we've committed ourselves to the first manifestation is a patriot sale in saudi arabia which came out not long after. and they are going to work with us the best they can and better with each other to try to come front some of the problems in the region. some of them are feeling much better and they are the ones that matter the most. they are feeling better about the situation. i don't know whether they've really turned the corner but that deadly destructive stalemate that followed the onset of the bombing campaign in march now seems to have been broken with the retaking of the airbase to the north and the return of the vice president in
the fourth, and you can now see the possibility of the very least, finally getting back to the negotiating table in yemen. you also see it in that reinforce attitudes about syria. i don't want to get into a turf war. i don't think that was a coincidence that he suddenly showed up. we are all familiar with the link they provide between the golf and iran. i don't know what they said. they haven't talked to me since he was the ambassador here in washington 20 years ago. but all of a sudden, it was full of airplanes going here and there, and you can see i think what i would describe as a sort of collective waking up.
let's work with the americans and with each other to address these whether they can get their act together, i don't know but they certainly are going to have the military equipment and capabilities to do what they think they need to do. and the american commitment i just read this morning what were you reading in the press that pulls all this stuff together. finally let me say one of the arguments bandied about in the united states during the discussion about the treaty mostly raised by people who in my opinion don't fundamentally understand the golf or saudi arabia was that the treaty would set off a nuclear arms race in the golf. i don't believe for one minute that that's true. and i've been writing this until
people are bored with my writing it for more than a decade and my reasoning hasn't changed. it is true that the countries have a stated commitment some were acting on to create a nuclear powered. and they have a very big plans. and they need nuclear power because they are burning as much as 30% of their own oil. saudi arabia matters the most on this subject. the self preservation of the state have decided and
recognized. they can't do that as a confrontational state which they free and give the people services and don't fulfill their aspirations for a better life. the house has committed itself to a future of full integration with the global economy. there is a reason why the biggest foreign investment plans and operations in saudi arabia last year with the chemical and electric not to say nothing of the candy company. they don't want to be the north korea of the golf. they understand perfectly well that position as a full partner in the world and the commitment to surpass germany of extra oh
chemicals cannot be fulfilled with their nuclear outlaws and therefore they won't do it. that's my opinion. let's turn to turkey. there's a lot going on internally and on the borders focusing a bit on the nuclear deal with iran and what is the spectrum of the opinion they are and how does the government see it and what are the pros and cons. how might it affect turkish government policy. his back he mentioned if you want to understand the saudi's and if you understand turkish politics coming come you have to understand the kurds. so from the domestic policy that is the key to understanding the behavior.
on the nuclear deal, they share the western objectives on the nuclear program but it has promoted an engagement instead of isolation against sanctions and that is why in 2009 and 2010 back in the old days when done foreign ministers worked into turkey wanted to play bridge between the west and iran. they voted against sanctions in the united nations and turkey is happy about the deal. the first reason is economic. it's a huge market for the turkish groups and providing the trade agreement with iran and
the close energy ties with iran services for turkey. and turkey has been mobilized to start investing so that's the opportunity for the turkish business. but also they have an object if to a nuclear iran arguing that that could change the regional balance of power. so that is in the policy and that's why business organizations, pretty much everyone is quite happy about the nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions. but they have strategic concerns about iran. and the first one is the rising influence in iraq.
they've always argued that a stronger iran would have more power and would step up the support for iraq we shouldn't be destabilizing factor in the iraq he policy. so that's why they've been against the influence and similarly, in syria the rising influence is undercutting the policies, and the second concern is closer ties between washington at the expense of turkey. they haven't been on the same page. they have had conflicting pre- orgies and objectives and they
are involved in the policy in iraq as well so they think that if washington and they have closer ties because of this nuclear deal then they could undercut the policy. mainly turkey is supporting the toppling of the regime from the get-go since the uprising started in 2011, turkey has been late august, 2011 turkey has been supporting the opposition and has become an operational hub for the position and has invested heavily in the coalition so that is the strategic number one and yet the united states is seen as this threat so that's why there's been a lot of tension between washington and they are upset
that turkey is not fully onboard on the coalition and very simply, turkey has refused to open the engine for strikes against the islamic state and the u.s. and other western allies have complained that turkey hasn't done enough to stop the crossing using the turkish territory. so there's been a mismatch and they haven't seen eye to eye so now they fear that washington and iran could cut a deal in syria although they've been trying to mend fences thinking that it could also join the newly emerging front end of the third concern is in syria and
that isn't a new concern for decades in the 1990s turkey had a zero solutions with the strategic relations because they always feared that iran was to destabilize turkey. and after the conflict started, it became another vulnerable because the regime supported and a loud about leadership to return to the country, and so they should become no more complicated because of the conflict and recently there has been a cease-fire since 2013 between turkey and the pkk. but more recently, the two sides
resume violence and now they fear that iran could play the card again and the media last week reported that iran approached them and promised support that it has provided. if they join the fight and this is a huge concern behind the attack was in response to those, turkey has done several things. they've been under the old kingdom but after he died, it's with the saudi's in an effort to come to the rising influence.
and also, turkey has been pursuing since 2014. they are supporting groups like the radical islam group added that and that is partly in response to the effort to the influence. and recently, turkey opened the base. the main reason most of the nuclear deal obviously. there was an attack by an islamic state but caleb 32 people, the activists. so that was a turning point. but part of the reason they want to maintain ties with washington. so i think that they are stating
these several steps. but still, i think when it comes to iran, they have peaceful relations to almost for centuries since 1639. so turkey on the one hand is very concerned about the rising influence. but i don't think that it's willing to completely alienate. that's been the policy. on the one hand they have close relations economically and close energy ties and and any other and despite the different circumstances, they could be able to manage a working relationship and it would remain. >> thank you for the detailed information.
let me turn to the ambassador for impact on the long-running conflict in this - syria and iraq. >> it's nice to be here thank you for the invitation. when you start, speak for five or six minutes on. how will this affect iraq, and through this reminded me of a story of a british archaeologist invited to give talks about his archaeological research in the far east. he said to his friend how can i possibly explain everything that
i know in a mere 20 minutes and he told them we will speak slowly. [laughter] >> washington is consumed with the issues of the nuclear deal in the politics. the problem is they actually do not evolve around iran or the united states. the problems in iraq and serious involved grievances among the communities that are long-standing and predates this nuclear accord and they are going to go on well beyond it. i think a bigger question would be is there a prospect in their co-optation. let me look at that this for a couple of minutes. when i think of the war against
the islamic state i think of it in two ways. the eastern front and the western front. on the eastern front. first the pressure on the state are growing exponentially now. they are pushing more and more to seek independence because they are not getting the payments they were promised and there is not much progress beyond the reconciliation. they are part but not the most important part. they have close allies and they
are particularly close to something very capable" and some of which are in the terrorist designated list like hezbollah who killed hundreds of americans during the military presence. i don't think they are willing to give up those allies and themselves the other political have political ambitions. they still do. in fact if you are watching the news, the leaders are calling on the members to join the demonstration that has been taking place in baghdad and other cities protesting the services such as electricity and water.
the leaders are very capable and smart and ruthless. in the absence of reconciliation between the militias. on this date problem because the islamic state is basically for its losses and one of the political entities is to distrust the state to be able to recruit and replace the losses and the fight goes on. if the americans saddle up too closely to the militias, they
will actually help the state recruit. the administration is very aware of this and they've been careful to hold the militia to refuse to provide air cover when they attack the sunni arab government they cooperated with the allies on the ground in iraq in the future is not clear yet. they would have a greater margin of maneuver.
there is a stalemate. the outside regime is moving. there is no sign that they are backing off their support for the outside regime. just last week the foreign minister was visiting and promised that they would stand by his friend in the region and then took a shot and said it is up to the other countries in the region and here in the gulf to change the policies that are stabilizing. there is, however, some diplomatic frequent flyer mileage being extended with visits being traded and there is
even a report not confirmed that one of the most important secret intelligence service officials visited saudi arabia last week which would be a remarkable visit if it had occurred but it hasn't been confirmed. they are about to put forward a peace proposal for syria which would include a call for the new national government. it would include a change to the constitution syria to better protect the rights of the minority communities, that it would include a promise of free elections at some point in the future and the foreign minister visited last week and then went
presumably to talk about the saudis about this. i don't think this is going to go very far in part because of what they were saying. so far they haven't signed into this although i noticed they are about to visit to talk to the turkish foreign minister and they will be on the agenda. the turks had a lead in all of this because of their support to the ambassador and i have to say based on my many discussions with the armed opposition i cannot imagine that they would trust them and that even if they did, they would never accept him stay on as a part of the transition government. ..
trying to take on this whole state. which are three, four, 500 miles instead it seems there be a deeper question about some kind of diplomatic orientation with i ron. that will require the iranians to expect, the opposite opposite reason jean is now losing the war and there would have to be a transition. it's not clear when the iranians are going to get some really leaf but they are going to be able to make that confession. i make that conclusion. in short, the grievances and events on the ground don't ask
expect immediate exchange for american iranian. thank you. >> thank you very much robert. let me come back to each of the panelists with one quick question each and then turn it over to the audience. we'll go back to alex and give us a excellent view of the big picture. if you dial down a bit and into the conversation's statements relating to the regional park, what is the specter of opinion relating to it iran relations with saudi arabia particularly in the gulf state and their new language, any new proposals. i know the prime minister made some of those but on the hard-line is there any idea that this deal might signal new era? in relation to turkey they have a longer history of economic cooperate. are you seen any new language
that relates to their regional partners? >> thank you paul. let me go back to last week, to give you a flavor of the contradictions you here with iran. which frankly doesn't help the iranians in terms of making friends or convincing anyone. we. we had on one hand 54 minister talk about we need to talk to saudi arabia. specifically talk about yemen and also in this kate talk about the situation in bahrain. but then we look at the strongest language you can imagine between saudi arabia, israel, and you sit there and scratch your head and said you know if you really try to make
new friends and you decide that you want to walk away from this, this is not going to convince anyone. you you are going to leave many people around the world, without question. should i take someone like i ron which has been the question for the last two years are these people actually going to make a difference? are they just being used by harmony for the purpose of removing the sanctions but then once that is done then the fears of the skeptics will will sort of live itself out. i see the division, you have the people you mentioned i mentioned some of them, oil minister, is key to the cabinet because the iranian economy depends on that oil revenue and in the future more so natural gas. so he is a key if you want to
maintain the economy and if you want to maintain political stability you need to do something with the economy so he has that job. he obviously is in" cooperation with the president was successful in getting a deal. he was successful in reaching out to your pains. now another issue is how does iran come back to the world's energy markets. this is a country with 18% with 18% of the world's natural gas, with 9%% of the worlds oil today, producers explored a third of what it did a few years ago. there is a a lot of catching up to do. in the conflict with the gcc there is an elephant in the room with saudi arabia. so i look at the as soon as they play this card, they played it carefully and with some skill
and michael places. if not they're going to be basically hearing the same argument that they are runny people have been hearing the past two years which is are you being quietly supported by the saudis? how can we be dealing with saudi arabia, what are you thinking? that is the argument that they will be hearing. that that only happens if the fight within the islamic republic becomes where they are looking for ammunition to hit one another. i can give you one scenario, if pres. ronnie doesn't play this whole sanction. in a smart way, remember the potential of this deal 800's affiliate subsidiaries have been making money in iraq, some 11000
contracts might not be on the table for this. so they are fearful about whether they're going to be hit in their pockets. if they can play this game successfully they may lose out. i don't know if they're going to play it, but if if we talk about the region specifically saudi arabia because if we like it or not that is the giant iran has to deal with first and foremost. and incidentally the only one that they mention by name two years ago. now if they pick this issue up it's a very contentious with saudi arabia, perhaps he has what it takes to move forward there's a lot of steak no doubt about it. >> and if i may ask a bit about the dynamics within the ccc about a year ago there is a lot
of internal things with the gcc a new leadership within saudi arabia, cooperating with turkey a number of gcc states have a lot of economic interests interests now and potentially with the sentients free iran, to what degree do you see the gcc being cohesive in this. and does that make a difference, how is how is it playing as a group? >> the short answer is i see them being cohesive rhetorically. but not in terms of actual policy. keep in mind the only thing more tedious of i waiting through the iranian press is going back and reading the charter of the gcc. which i have done. the words defense, military, and security do not appear in the charter of the gcc. it was in it and quasi-
political organization from the beginning and there have been various attempts over the years to hang sort of military doodads on the structure. you may recall, you might remember this that sometime late last year there was yet another announcement that the gcc was going to form a unified military command. there may be people in this room whom know more about that than i do. if that military command has shown any signs of actually coming into existence i haven't seen any, the gcc countries do not have, and never have had unanimity abuse about iran. the split between the uae and saudi arabia with guitar was not
about iran. it was about the muslim brotherhood mostly in egypt. i. i think they managed to paper that over, it was the prime minister of qatar who did most of the talking and they are sort of being forced into accepting it at long last this kind of american superimposed military superstructure, in which they need to all hang together or they all hang separately so to speak. it's. it's true that even in the darkest days of the relations between the outside world and iran you could go to dubai and café on dubai creek and look across the bank of iran function in broad daylight. so you can go out on the golf and see that someone gets a phone call when the iranian
custom officials go home for the night and all of these boats gone into from the omani side of the straight and they all go over to smuggle goods into iran and. one last word on this, there is no unanimity within the gcc about each other. don't get the saudi started on the subject of kuwait and its parliaments. that's just one example, so they're going to hold their noses to deal with each other and what they have to do for self-preservation, that's not the same as being a kindred spirit in my opinion. >> thank you very much, turkey is in a time of political change they were planning on changing
the constitution and the kurds didn't work out all of this is very much in play, how do you see not just the deal but much of what you talked about, how do you see that impacting the domestic politics which soon will also determine the new power structure and the new vision, how do you see it impacting turkey. >> i think the syrian conflict and i said this many times, the searing conflict in 2012 so they said syria it is not a matter for us. in fact what he meant was syria is a young place so yes syria is not a matter of form policy. we have now aside from that the
turkish communities on both sides of the border, the organically their family ties, and whatever happens in the reports of syrian origin so whatever happens in syria has a direct and play on turkish policy. so when their reports that there's a meeting between iran and the p u.k., in syria that turkey thinks that ironic syria they have views that take a long time and that this is way turkey changed that was the main driver of turkey's policy. so now if the card being used by iran and syria iran and syria.
and recently it was a military official who is very critical of turkeys bombing so this all concerns in turkish mines that iran is going to abuse and use the card. and of course for iran there is more at stake. by using the card and pounding it in iraq, but 100s of thousands of members when they are talking about fighting against, it's positive against pkk mostly.
regionally there's a response to what is happening most in syria and iran. so what kind of impact will it have? i think it is a great thing that he finally opened things at the airbase and seem to be fully on board on the coalition against the islamic state. they see the kurds as a bigger threat. domestically there appealing to the domestic boats on tran but if there is any bombing on the turkish resort or the mediterranean that is really going to weekend and it could
weaken his prospects of forming a majority government or capturing more votes. >> thank you. robert i know you resign from the government for good reasons, let's say you are back for a week there's been a egg diplomatic achievement with i ran, you were involved in geneva one in geneva too. sec. carey had to put on a table a roadmap for the next year and a half to make efforts on the syrian crisis, diplomatic, what advice would you give to the processes are they are completely dead? are there possibilities of cooperation with russia on anything?
>> the syrian regime wasn't willing to do anything. the syrian opposition actually put forward in writing, well year and a half ago to the united nations a proposal in writing that they would be negotiating a national unity government and even bashar's future was was worth negotiation. they did not have up precondition, that was a year and half ago. at this this point, so much as changed and there's so much more blood has been shed. my own sense has said as they have made advances on the ground it is now probably going to be a lot harder to
extract concessions from them. so so going forward, i noticed the new united nations doesn't think they can get to a conference anytime soon, geneva three if you will. the establishment of some working groups between syrian to discuss things such as security, political transition, refugees, and reconstruction, topics which all syrians are concerned about on both sides of the conflict, but which don't involved in actual political negotiation set up. that i think is a good way forward. i think at the same time it's more important than ever given that turkey, saudi arabia, qatar
, are clearly helping the syrian opposition more than they were a year ago it's really important to get back on the same page with them, with the goal of eventually getting to a negotiation that military victory is probably some time away, it's not impossible to imagine now. it would be better to negotiate a deal, that means the secretary is going to have to be back on airplanes or inviting counterparts to washington to talk specifically about re- enforced intentions with three hard, and others about what's going on on the ground. there's no harm in talking with the russians and they've made some progress with the russians
in terms of getting the russians to agree with a united nations turk council setting up an investigative team to determine who is dropping chemical weapons now on the battlefield in syria. the russians were refusing out for a long time so the fact that they have agreed, that is a good step. more engagement with russians without any expectations of breakthroughs. this is a. this is a time instead to manage allies, to get in sync for the day when we can see some light from the iranian and russian side and get to the table. >> well thank thank you let us now turn to the audience, please say who the direction is to and introduce yourself. i will start start with the lady in the back. >> hi thank you, mike question my name i work for the state
department,. regarding syria and iran it has been said that iran really runs the show in syria or at least runs the regime, so there have been critics who have said iran would use the steel to funnel lots of money and arms, and more fighters into the conference regime side. i wanted to know your thoughts on that. >> thank you. >> i'm in analyst and former diplomat. i wanted to ask mit has learned that some turks have joined and i wondered if that is a big factor in why turkey is why they have finally decided to declare war on isis or was it
starkly the bombing? >> thank you, you, the gentleman in the front. >> i have a question for both tom and bob, do you think an iranian deal will make a. [inaudible] >> i have a question regarding whether the gcc countries need to support them, this is mixed the gcc countries were key to 22 arab arab countries for leadership, 57 islamic countries for leadership, to with regard to islam, they are the epicenter of prayer pilgrimage and virtual
devotion, that's important for us. three we have 80 years of of investment in saudi arabia and vice versa, were not about to turn our back on that. for saudi arabia rabia has a good or rations rather than bad relations with iran, syria and lebanon then it has had negative ones. lastly in regards to geography, saudi arabia alone is a continent more more than a country with 13 neighbors. last year they had 100 30,000 troops that had joint maneuvers that are larger than any of the other exercises they have had in history. i don't think the european union is unified on things like the euro or with regard to greece
and a number of other issues, so i think we do need them immensely, they need us immensely and the implication that one needs the other more than the other i think is not true. >> the gentleman in the back. >> thank you my question on the future of u.s. and israel relations, also the relation between the west and israel. is the ability of the peace sign to reach a deal with iran also due to the growing sanctions between the u.s. and israel and particularly obama's administration? secondly what does this deal mean for the future of their
relations? >> thank you let's go back to the panelists are with robert. >> so in answer to your question , it's very difficult for me to imagine that in the short term the iranians will not use some small portion of financial resources that they require as part of the sanctions relief over the next year and a half. they will not use some portion of those resources to help lebanese, which really now is fighting full out in syria. the number of casualties now is in the hundreds and it's beginning to approach the casualties from 2006. and that they would actually use some of those resources to shore up the
offside government both economically and also in terms of more material and that could be both material supplies and pain salaries of shiite fighters that they recruit from countries like pakistan and afghanistan, and and iraq to go and fight in syria. i would recommend to you the wash i'll report the washington institute put out a few weeks ago about the casualties among expatriate shiites in syria, hundreds have been killed in the last year and a half. that's because of because of the iranians. i would expect the iranians to. i think the prospect of sanctions for iran means there
are likely be an increase in fighting in syria in the short and immediate term. >> in response to the question why turkey finally joined the anti-islam stay coalition, coalition, i think the bombing on july 20, it was a turning point. there is 3232 people got killed in turkey could not respond especially at a time when there is a potential early election. when policies are already very unpopular turkey had to respond. i think it almost became a safe haven way for turkey to join and yet you're right turkey is quite vulnerable, there are now 1300 turkish nationals fighting in
syria and. i i think turkey there is a long border with syria and syrian refugees the main reason is again the turks. turkey is quite uncomfortable with the u.s. decision to airdrop weapons and co- bonnie, and in return they asked for u.s. to establish a safe zone within syria and that is a way of, the safe zone is right in the middle there are three different kurdish enclaves in syria, the kurds managed to link
up those two, so turkey has been worried that the kurds are now forming a kurdish court or which could have access to the mediterranean and that is a nightmare to turkey. so turkey decided if he can convince the americans to establish a safe zone in between those two turkish enclaves then it could prevent the turks from linking up those enclaves and that was the deal and that was the condition and that's how they decided to open that base. the short answer is yes they know it's vulnerable but on the other hand turkish question played a larger role in turkey's decision.
in the late spring, the saudis finally for the first time in many many years designated a resident ambassador to go to baghdad and represent saudi arabia. the chosen person was a military intelligence officer last seen in beirut. now thanks to phoebe barr i had the pleasure sometime last year of meeting a career iraqi
diplomat that was just retired his last post was iraq's ambassador in saudi arabia, so saudi arabia was in a position where iraq had an ambassador and saudi arabia but they didn't have one in baghdad. saudi arabia have an ambassador in tehran didn't have one in baghdad raided didn't make any sense that king abdulah was immovable on the subject. i think now the saudi's are less immovable but at the same time remember that on the border between saudi arabia and iraq they are building a fence that donald trump would be proud of. [laughter] >> alex anything you would like to respond to the questioning? >> that is what a clarify the point it made about the she is in saudi arabia, they are given to the kingdom of saudi arabia's going against the shia's is one of the hardliners and tyrone are putting forward to even if they
did the they life of ayatollah rafsanjani who is the godfather still making the argument on a daily basis in this case, we made it back in the 1990s. iraq could, after a nasty 1980s and saudi arabia backed saddam hussein reached out to saudi arabia by the early 1990s. if they could do then why couldn't they do the same experiment? >> argument would be saudi arabia simply too much an opponent and arrival in the context of what iran is trying to do originally a globally. again i want to emphasize one of the few, have the countries mentioned were in the election campaign in 2013 where there was a need to really make some serious change with saudi arabia. perhaps if you want to play the game of wishful thinking say
he's been busy in the last two years with a nuclear issue but now the nuclear deal is done hopefully in terms of saudi arabia again is going to be a two-way street. there'll be compromises made on both sides but i would hope if they didn't go down that path that would be good news for the region. >> maybe if all the questions weren't answered you might want to corner some people. we have a few minutes left. let me start with the gentlemen here and move quickly. the gentleman right in the front here. >> over a year ago the u.s. government officials asked whether they would accept iran and syria and that includes a compilation of groups.
[inaudible] ambassador for dementia in the needs to keep at arm's length in iraq but in syria we support groups that directly fight against the iranian backed fighters. if the u.s. were to suddenly announce cooperation with iran with syria should the syrian upper -- see this as the end end of her torque will support in the united states? >> turning to your stream right, adam. >> allen with the middle east institute. the discussion today has been premised on the assumption that the iran deal survives congressional scrutiny so what are the regional dynamics, the regional ramifications that congress kills the deal? >> you had to throw that in the
last two minutes. [laughter] >> we have another hour and a half. >> let me go to the back there. the last row or the row before last. >> michael hudson georgetown university. there has been a lot of focus on isis in this associated group and i was wondering this it may be for ambassador ford but others might respond. is there kind of a tacit sons that isis is on the defensive and will it weather away or on the contrary is there some reason to think isis and the associated groups are offensive and they have all sorts of possibilities not just in syria and iraq and other neighboring places? >> thank you. a lady in the third row. >> the microphone is coming your way.
>> i have been married to an american diplomat for close to 50 years. they served in the middle east and africa and my question is for the israel or the israeli lobby seems to think they are trying to kill this deal. i wish somebody would explain to us what the hell is going on. >> i'm going to have to cut it that. i'm sorry there are constraints of time. let me start with you alex and throwing out the possibility that you sort of hinted at. if the congress particularly the vetoproof opposition if it really falls through what he think a scenario would look like >> from khamenei's point of view that's not a bad place to be because sanctions are pretty much grumbling. post-ukraine russia suddenly makes more overtures to the
iranians and the iranians are considering russia and a more serious manner that never has done given the history of suspicion between iran and the russian empire. basically what that does for khamenei who has always had a much narrower focus in terms of what is it going to be at the end of this deal, if you take khamenei to be this cliché transactional guy he just wanted to have sanctions removed and american walking away from this deal basically what it does is brings that international sanctions regime against iran. again, and he couldn't be caring less about u.s. sanctions. on his party couldn't care less. he's been dealing with sanctions for three decades. what he is suffering from or the international sanctions since 2012 so from his perspective he doesn't have to worry too much. obviously the economic agenda coming back to the in
international mainstream they would not be too happy because that's really going to put the brakes on from their perspective. >> thank you alex. tom there was at question in the first round in a question on the second round. any thoughts on that? >> there are a few questions about how israel and the nuclear deal -- >> look, in the unthinkable event that the nuclear deal does not survive in congress, i haven't read one word of useful commentary from any outfit in the gulf about that possibility. because it's unthinkable and also because their government having accepted if they are not about to challenge it at this point. but the answer that question might lie more with israel that
than it does with the members of the gcc and the gulf states. they now have to take us at our word that whatever else happens iran will not be permitted to get a nuclear weapon. how we would prevent that would be up to us in the absence but what would happen if the israelis were to decide that the failure of the steel then meant that they had to take some kind of unilateral military action? the consequences of that would be enormous but in my opinion almost entirely unpredictable. >> thank you tom. gonul any from this round of questions you want to respond to? >> i can take the question whether iran -- i think it is recruiting more and more from turkey and i think
it's harder for the islamic state across the border. turkey said supporter protections and working with iraqi country to stem the flow of foreign jihadis but i think right now the islamic state is stronger in turkey and now that the turkish government decided to wage a simultaneous war. just last weekend, just last week issued a threat, the islamic state issued a threat to turkey that it would be very easy to destabilize turkey. turkey fully joins the islamic state it would -- that is what the statement said. so i think it is a stronger position in turkey but i don't know how that would translate for the disasters in syria. >> robert. >> in answer to professor
salem's question on the islamic state, think in syria they are on the defense in the northwest on the province. they have had to fall back quite a bit that they are on offense in other parts of the country in the center pushing towards the west. they are actually getting fairly close to northern suburbs of damascus although there is plenty of fight left in regime units around damascus. i haven't talked about the islamic state simply because i see no way to manage the isis challenge, the islamic state challenge without having unity government in both countries. i don't think the united states can put tens of thousands of combat troops in iraq. i certainly hope not.
i spent five years in iraq trying to get troops out of there and i don't think any foreign state including iran is willing to commit tens of thousands of troops in these countries are big enough in this space that the law -- islamic state occupies it. so the real question is can these two very broken, very broken political entities find ways to achieve national unity and rally more people into the islamic state? a body on their rack side is trying to do that but iranian backed militias have really put some wrenches into his effort and on the syrian side i see no sign that bashar al-assad is more interested in the fight against the islamic state than in the preservation of his family's hold on power. >> thank you and our time is up.
next, and security secretary jeh johnson talking about homegrown terrorism, isis and immigration imported security issues. in conversation with new yorker correspondent brian sub three at the annual aspen security forum. this is 45 minutes. rosco -- [applause] >> thank you very much and thank you for the aspen institute for having a bad. very lucky to have a secretary, and security jeh johnson. i'm not going to go through his biography. you all have in your pamphlet. as i was preparing for this for two things that struck me as the most interesting, and it's difficult to know where to start in an interview with the secretary. he has legal counsel at the pentagon was involved in the most fraught issues that the obama administration in heritage from the george w. bush administration. as many of you know he was
responsible for helping resends the "don't ask don't tell." he was the last legal word on every drone strike that was outside of the main theaters of war when he was at the pentagon. he was in charge of the fraud issue if bigger how to shut down the prison at guantánamo. the list goes on and on. with that background you realize why you were the guy which another institution with a lot of problems you inherited but what i want to ask you given that background do you think if we went from the pentagon where you were on offense in the war on terror to homeland security you are almost purely playing defense so i do start out by telling us what lessons you learn dealing with the issues at the pentagon and what are the
differences in those two positions that you had going from the pentagon to this sprawling dhs with hundreds of thousands of employees, pieces of the federal government that don't belong together. tell us a little bit about the transition. >> a big question. first of all lessons and impressions. 19 months into the job i work with terrific people. first of all i want to also mention that it's great to be back at aspen. this is my third year in a row. appreciate all the great work that goes into preparing this. clarke and wolves put on an terrific program along with the others. many good friends here. a lot of people in this room are my personal heroes and i had a chance to meet our terrific dhs team. secretary frank taylor our new
secretary for management are tsa administrator pete neffenger who was confirmed just a couple of weeks ago. hope everybody here has had a chance to meet these extraordinary people along with our other dhs people here. so you are correct, part of what i did as a senior legal counsel at the department of defense was to sign off on a lot of our counterterrorism operations legally and i took that very seriously. i looked at each one of them very carefully and that was on offense, taking the fight to the enemy overseas. homeland security by its nature is defending our borders, sending our aviation, defending maritime ports, defending cybersecurity.
it would seem as if we are on defense and there are in fact ways and which we can be on offense and so i am pushing our people very aggressively on a lot of different things. for example preclearance capability, aviation security. i want to see us build more aviation security on the front end of a fight coming from overseas into the united states. i want to see us to the customs capability on the front and other louse point of departure airport so that we have more information to screen people and we know what we know about them before they get on a flight bound for the u.s.. there are a lot of airports that have indicated an interest in working with us and i want to build more on that. cybersecurity which i expect we will get into, we are on an accelerated timetable to build
their additional capabilities into block more intrusions in the federal civilian dot.gov world and to enhance our continuous diagnostics and aviation practices. i want to get to 100% of the federal civilian dot.gov world by the end of year. we are on an aggressive mission to make our department function most efficiently. that's something that her undersecretary of management and i are doing. he is a retired executive from johnson & johnson and though we have a lot of initiatives out there and i and many respects believe that part of my job is frankly being on offense to stay one step ahead of a lot of the threats that we know we face. >> you have talked about what you call the new normal. tell us what the new normal is and what is the new normal in the context of the threat from isis?
>> well over the last 14 years since 9/11 we have seen core al qaeda greatest everybody knows aqap, the al qaeda affiliated elements of al-shabaab which while i was at dod we were focused on. in our counterterrorism efforts. we have done a lot to degrade core al qaeda there are good efforts. we have done a lot to degrade aqap and al-shabaab there are good efforts. the global terrorist threat now is as everybody knows and as jim talked about last night has evolved and it has evolved in a very significant way from those groups to more groups, isil been the most prominent example obviously and it has evolved from terrorists directed, terrorist attacks to terrorist
inspired attacks. i disagree a little bit with jim last night and that i think that the distinction between terrorists directed and terrorist inspired is a significant one that the american people need to understand. to understand why we are where we are in our efforts, and so if you catalog the terrorist attacks and attempted attacks in this country and in europe for example, they almost fit neatly into one of two boxes. the terrorists directed attacks with an operative who has been recruited, trained, directed overseas and exported to someplace else to commit a terrorist attack, to terrorist inspired attacks which very often, most often involved a homegrown or even home born threat. and the individual never even
comes face-to-face with a member of isil or a few but is inspired through the very effective use of social media to commit an attack or attempt to commit a small attack and i think the american people need to understand how we have evolved to this new phase because it does involve a whole of government approach. it does involve a lot of domestic taste efforts in addition to the good work of the fbi and in addition to taking the fight to the enemy overseas. we are doing a lot of things that dhs. we have enhanced our federal protective service presents in a lot of the federal buildings around the country. there is a presence right outside here that i don't think was here last year. that's in addition to the three wild bears that were out my door last night. [laughter] we have enhanced our aviation security overseas.
the last point of departure. we are with frank taylor's leadership enhancing the information sharing the stage and local law enforcement which i think is crucial. garden city is a perfect example of the importance of sharing what we have seen and what we know the state and local law enforcement so that they have the big picture. we have enhanced our cb engagements domestically countering violent extremism which i know we are going to talk about little bit more. that is a personal pirate of mine. i've personally met with large numbers of muslim leaders in this country and communities around the country. i think that's critical. >> first of all i appreciate your security detail. we are in the suite next to yours so when the bears, -- i want to talk about the difference between the threat from al qaeda and the threat from isis.
isn't the lone wolf for the random inspired gunmen a better problem to have been the capabilities that al qaeda has with itself erected threats that plot spectacular attacks or do you sea ice is moving in the same direction and eventually that is what they will want to do? >> let me answer it this way. we are facing the prospect of smaller scale attacks given how this whole thing is evolving, but we face this prospect of that day-to-day in a lot of places in this country. as i think jim pointed out, abdulazeez was not on our radar and i would not have considered chattanooga tennessee be a high-risk area, and so we are facing smaller scale attacks
that are harder to detect day-to-day today. the alarming longer-term phenomenon we have to be concerned about with isil is anytime a terrorist organization with that little resources in excess of 30,000 fighters with foreign fighters pouring into syria in and that level of depravity establishing territory an attempt to establish a caliphate and iraq and so bad face to base trains send operatives. that is a huge homeland security concern to a number of nations and so that is the longer-term phenomenon that we see and we are very concerned about which is why we are taking it in addition to the basic homeland security concerns that we see
day today. >> now let's talk about encountering violent extremism. the first question i have about that which you hear from many many republicans and is a criticism of the term itself why do you and the obama administration describe violent extremism and refuse to use the phrase islamic extremism? what is this distinction you are trying to get out there like. >> i believe strongly and i hear this over and over again from muslim leaders in this country, that to refer to isil as islamic extremism dignifies them at occupying some part of the islamic faith, which is about peace and so when i go into the cb engagements -- to. >> tell them what you are talking about the cve it
engagements. i did not invent this. this is something our department and fbi and other departments in the federal government have been doing for some time but i've taken it on as a personal mission. we go to these roundtables, these discussions with groups and he wear from 50 to 100 people. i've been to boston, brooklyn new york, northern virginia, maryland, chicago, columbus, in the atlas, los angeles, houston and i want to get every single metropolitan area, major metropolitan area in the country that has a significant muslim population to talk to the muslim community leaders about helping us if they see somebody going in the wrong direction. as jim said last night it's almost dies the case that there is someone else who knows and we have seen success stories where somebody in the community has intervened and we need to see
more of that. we go out and do these things and it's a two-way conversation where people in the community has lots of issues they want to talk to me about. i'm responsible for for the important of our immigration laws for example and things that happen at airports and they want to talk to me about things and i want to talk to them about us helping them in our public safety homeland security efforts in the messages your homeland to. i think people are that message. i think we have made a lot of progress in building trust and building relationships and almost eyes of the local sheriff and police chief with me and the local fbi office and we are building trust. we are getting some pushback. there is actually a c. cve effort out there countering violent extremism initiative and as mike reiter went out yesterday you are having an impact.
so we are made in progress. i would like to see us take our efforts to the next level. we talk a lot about the counter message. the counter message actually does exist and it needs a larger microphone. counter messaging is not something directly for the government that it does exist. there are some imams that have done some good work. need a larger microphone and so one of the things i want to do in the next spaces in a gauge frankly foundations, philanthropies to support this kind of effort here in united states. we want to engage the high-tech set your in helping us with the messaging. i think cve is fundamental to our efforts. at these engagements, whether it's a molly american to minneapolis or syrian americans are pakistani americans the one thing i hear consistently, aaron
specter of the socioeconomic groups and they are not a monolith, is isil is trying to hijack my religion rate we can't let them do that. and so if you call it islamic anything we are dignifying this terrorist organization with occupying a part of the islamic faith which muslims in this country i know push back very strongly on. >> isn't the government denying the fundamental religious component of this kind of extremism by not using the word islamic? your analyst i assume and the government are trained to understand the religious dimensions of this kind of violence. to some people it sounds like political correctness and that's a missing an important component to what's going on if we don't describe this and if we don't understand this component. >> i could not disagree more. i sold --
>> it is called the islamic state. >> many people believe that they do not deserve to be called islamic or a state. i sold i think would like to be referred to as islamic extremists because what they are saying and what they are doing occupies legitimately some form of islam which is about these. and so domestically i think it's critical that in order to build a relationship and build our level of corporation with the islamic community here we have two say to them look we understand that what this depraved terrorist organization is doing is no part of your religion. >> some people believe that what we are witnessing in the middle east is a civil war within islam. that is not your view at all?
>> i think isil believes that's what it is doing is driven by their religion. the muslims that i know and that i've spent a lot of time with in this country believe just the opposite and so it's important to remember that islam is one of the largest religions in the world, and this band of terrorists and criminals does not represent what the overwhelming majority of muslims in this country believe islam is all about. >> let me ask you about violent extremism in general and whether we overstate the threat from jihadist him in the united states. we had two very tragic event read and -- recently won in chattanooga and one in charleston of course. "the new york times" recently reported on very interesting
findings from the new america foundation that showed since 9/11 there have been more attacks by violent extremists who were white supremacist than people who were islamic extremists. which challenges a lot of the assumptions especially a conference like this. how does dhs drapeau -- grapple with homegrown extremism that according to some is reporting recently local law enforcement is more concerned about than anything coming from the middle east? >> local law enforcement should be concerned about mass shootings, rampages multi-victim acts of violence. a lot of our grant making it the h.s. they put out over 2 billion a year in grants to state and local law enforcement. it goes to readiness first responder equipment, active shooter training that can be
useful in a four idea of different mass casualty situations. a lot of the first responder equipment that was used at the boston marathon for example was funded by our department but a lot of that same equipment could he just as effective and is just as useful in any mass shooting event here respective of the motive. our mission that dhs is largely protecting our borders, land, sea and air. chief fissures here. here is esrt for the u.s. border patrol but given how the threat has evolved we also have to pay attention to the effectiveness of terrorist groups ability not just to send an operative physically in this country but to send that message into this country's through social media through the internet and that is a mission of both those dhs on
law enforcement must undertake and must be mindful of. >> what should the u.s. government be spending more resources on tracking, identifying white supremacist groups who are -- should we spend more resources on that than we are right now if the numbers show that more americans have been killed since 9/11 from a sort of threat rather than jihadist some? >> i believe we do spend and we do in best considerable resources and tracking violence, white supremacist groups, violent domestic-based groups that have an extremist purpose and we do so very effectively. we have to be mindful of that raid the cornerstone of our department's mission is counterterrorism and it has evolved to a place where we have to be mindful of the overseas
terrorist organization inspired attack here by a homegrown terrorist here it is part of our mission. this goes to the point of your question. given how it's evolving it is moving more closely to the purely to plastic-based act of terrorism so there's a mission there for both dhs and law enforcement obviously. >> you were talking about isis and controlling territory in the middle east. the 9/11 report, one of its core recommendations was never ever should the united states but a group like al qaeda or one of its affiliates like isis which obviously we didn't know about at the time gain territory. never let it build a steam. that's when it had the resources incorporated capabilities to launch a more spectacular attack against us. you were at the pentagon were major down the troops in iraq.
ray or deanna said this week that we could cap quote prevented the rise of isis if we would have left more troops in iraq. you believe the obama administration could have prevented isis? >> i don't really like to engage in second-guessing. i fully support the direction that we have taken in our efforts overseas. i do believe that any time a terrorist organization sets out the caliphate or establishes territory that needs to be a huge national security homeland security concerned because it provides the basis for doing a lot of bad things and it's difficult to root out once they have that kind of quibble quibble. the best approach is to keep these guys on the run and hit them where they live and hit them where they trained. we have done a lot of that in
the last number of years and we need to continue to do that. >> is there a military component to defeating isis that we have not pursued that you would pursue? >> we continue through john allen's good efforts to build and support an international coalition to take on isil. we continue to dod's good efforts to work with the iraqi security forces to train them so in that respect that is the national security military piece of this that is necessary to degrade and defeat isil. >> i want to ask you a version of the question that was asked director commie last night about iran. iran under the current agreement iran is about to receive over the next year a huge influx of cash are myths accounts.
this is the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world. how if at all is dhs preparing for the changes that are about to take place and iran? a lot of people predict that iranian hardliners that are not happy with this deal was sort of made a show of aggression. how is dhs preparing for that if at all? >> i will give you a version of jim comey's answer. you're through our intelligence component in the intelligence community we keep a close i on overseas threats that we see are emerging from a number of nations. one thing that strikes me that and i have been at this for six and a half years, we have since 9/11, long way in the love of sophistication in our
intelligence community and our ability to track and attack potential threats to our homeland from overseas to the point where very often it's an exercise in sorting out what's real versus the noise. so we have developed good capabilities to text plotting, to detect efforts to do something bad in our homeland. we do have the problem of going dark as jim talked about last night very definitely and we have to find a balanced solution to that problem but i think the good news here is that our intelligence capability since 9/11 our ability to connect the dots is pretty sophisticated. >> which is why a number of us are so concerned about how this whole thing is evolving because we have to now be concerned about the homegrown threat which is harder to detect in many respects.
>> let's switch to a topic for the temperature is a little lower and it's easier to talk about, immigration. [laughter] there has been a lot of discussion in public recently as you may have seen if you have turned on "cnn" about illegal immigrants coming into this country and committing crimes. what are the facts about that wax what are the numbers and what are the trendlines about undocumented immigrants and crime in america right now? >> interesting fact is a few years ago you took it whole of the american public and asked do you believe that more or less people are coming into our country illegal then 10 years ago? 55% two years ago said more when in fact it's far less. because we have invested so much
as a nation, as the government and border security over the last 15 years, we have got more fans and we have got more technology. chief fisher has way more people. the border patrol is the most funded it's ever been that our nations history. apprehension on the southern border which are an indicator of total attempts across the border have gone down dramatically. >> is that the best indicator? >> that's the best indicator we have of total attempts. there was 1.6 million i'm on a mission to put these facts out there paying over the last several years it's been down around 450,000. this year is considerably less than it was last year and at the if the current pace continues this year will be the lowest number since the early 1970s of total apprehensions on the southern border. that is a good thing.
>> the economy is improving so you would expect illegal immigration would be increasing. >> that is correct because normally apprehensions are correlated to how our economy is doing fair economy gets better more people want to come here. our economy is getting better but apprehensions are going down. at the same time there is a report that was released today by the migrations policy institute which is a nonpartisan entity that indicates that there are realignment of our priorities where focus more on the criminals. where focus more on the threats to public safety and that is the direction the president and i want to take on resources so we want to get at the criminals who are undocumented and remove them as opposed to somebody who has been here for years and has committed no serious crime. part of that effort is this new
priorities enforcement program which we have created which replaces the securities program which has become hugely controversial such that a lot of the communities didn't want to work with us anymore. san francisco, the killing of kate's final is a tragedy but it's also in my judgment exhibit a for why we need the new priorities enforcement program. >> whose fault is it that her killer was released? >> there is a very elaborate timeline to what happened here. the fact is she was reported five times. she was prosecuted for unlawful entry three times. he was serving his sentence in the federal bureau of prisons
for his last unlawful re-entry. our immigration enforcement personnel that a detainer on him he was then transferred by dod to the san francisco sheriff. we put a detainer on him there which was not honored and he was released. our new program if it works effectively and i believe it will, web rot about different results where the sheriff would have given us notice that they were about to release somebody who is undocumented and he would have gone straight to us and he never would have hit the streets. that is what the new program is intended to do, to replace the old controversial program as an effort to promote public safety. we have had it out there now and we are working with jurisdictions. we are getting good reception. this is the poor san francisco. we are getting good reception from a lot of mayors and i believe we are going to be in a
better place. donald trump is going down to the border today. he has asked to meet with i.c.e. officials there. would you tell your employees to be with him and in general what would your message be to him about what he does or doesn't understand about the immigration problem in this country? >> well, i'm not in the business of giving advice to candidates for president. a lot of people go to the southern border. a lot of members of congress go to the southern border and i want them to see the good work of our immigration enforcement personnel and their border patrol and the facts are that apprehensions have gone way down we have invested a lot in border security. we are much better order security number used to be and the undocumented population in this country has stopped
growing. he used to be up to over 12 million. the best estimate is it's now 11.3 million. it has stopped growing and getting older. more than half of that population has been here over 10 years. we have to reckon with that population. they are not going away. note administrations going to deport them because we don't have the resources to do that. they're becoming integrated members of our society. we have to reckon with them one way or another and a lot of states undocumented have licenses. we have to reckon with this population and i want to see smb are focusing our enforcement resources on public safety. that's what we need to do. >> let's take questions from the audience. >> which by the way i have a harder time doing if congress does not repeal sequestration.
when my friends and congress are here later this week i hope someone will ask them how do you expect homeland security to do all the things that you want them to do if you are decapitating a budget? >> joshua probably is a follow-up on donald trump. >> thank you josh rogan "bloomberg news." thank you for your time today and thank you for your service. i want to ask about closing guantánamo. we all read the articles in the white house talked about yesterday. it's going to be a new initiative. we are going to try to close on time on the next 18 months. there've always been two big obstacles. one is can we safely release or repatriate our recital the
detainees we are going to let go and that's something you know what closely. the other one is can we safely prosecute and keep the ones we can't let go and that's something you are dealing with as homeland security chief. what is your responsibility? what is different now? as we read the defense department has been very wary of signing off on any of these releases. you have been sympathetic to that position. what is the likelihood this is actually going to happen in? >> a population at one time i'll win this administration came into office with 242. it's now down to less than half of that. with the appropriate security assurances we have moved a lot of the detainees to a lot of different countries. we have around 110 or 115 or so left at this point. these are probably the toughest cases.
in my view and in the view of a lot of other people, there is going to come a point soon where it really makes no sense from a fiscal standpoint to keep this very -- to put aside their recruitment tool, what it represents to the u.s.. >> is it still a recruitment tool? >> while it has been handed in my view continues to be a black mark on what this country should be about and we want to close it that in addition to that the numbers are getting so low that it really doesn't make any fiscal sense to keep this hugely expensive facility opened in cuba. we have to have a plan for transferring the remaining detainees to the united states with the appropriate protections consistent with law and those
that can be prosecuted are being prosecuted and we should continue with that and eventually those that can be transferred should be transferred with the appropriate assurances. but it's an issue we have to grapple with and it's costing us millions and millions of dollars to house these people in cuba and their better and more effective ways to do that in nine states. >> do you think president obama will be able to make it on his promise? >> i know from numerous conversations that this president is very committed to closing guantánamo bay and does not want to leave this to his successor whoever that may be. >> thank you very much mr. secretary. steve shapiro. many of the attendees and you know that i work with an organization called band, business executives for national security and we have recently finished a multiyear study with respect to domestic security processes and procedures and
structures. the boarding -- boring aspects of the domestic security world that you live in. one of our major findings is that you know there are dozens of domestic entities that participate in domestic security and intelligence and they are across-the-board. many of them are near agency and many of them are not. there's no real central enterprisewide leadership for coordination of all of these well-meaning and hard-working entities and agencies. in that regard as gmail and maybe the audience knows there's something called the intelligence community which is a defined legal term that includes approximately 17 of these entities many of which or sum up which in fact on the domestic side including the fbi, dea and the coast guard for example that there are a number of entities are forming domestic security and intelligence that are not included in his defined intelligence community meaning
the director of national intelligence doesn't have the ability to help coordinate and shape a unified mission plan. those include in your agency alone customs and border protection's office of intelligence immigration and customs enforcement offices. >> let's get to the question. >> you know where i'm headed. could you consider the inclusion of those five or six dhs entities that are now outside of tic to be included? >> i think there is an intelligence capability of order security for example that is unique to border security such that it doesn't necessarily need to become part of a larger imax e. their components within my department that have intelligence capabilities unique to our own set of missions. having said that we are in my department moving away from the stovepipes.
we have unity of effort initiatives that i announced a year ago to bring more centralized decision-making when it comes to budget acquisition. we created something called the giant requirement council and an acquisition form initiative. we have reformed in the initiative. it's part of our overall unity initiatives. one of the other things we have done which goes to your question is a southern border campaign strategy which is modeled on the combatant command approach where we bring them to bear all of the assets of dhs and some part of the country to border security. as a result and now the joint task force ease that is concerned about the maritime approaches to the southeast. we have a joint task force west headed by commander robert harris that coordinates all of the assets of dhs and the southwest on border security and
that's the direction that i have charger leaders to go with, more centralized strategic focus on how we do our job. the department is a huge department with 22 components but it's been around for 12 years. so i want to see us bring together in a more strategic way our border security efforts, our security intelligence efforts are budget making our acquisition decisions. that's the overall we are moving and we had made a lot of progress over the last year. my top priority in addition to our substandard mission is management reform of our department so that it runs and it works more effectively and efficiently are the american people. this is one of the things we are doing to bring that about. >> we have time for one more. is that catherine? this'll be the last one. >> thank you very much catherine
heritage "fox news." how many americans have successfully reached syria? i understood upwards of 250 now and isis has a compelling message. what is the u.s. guardsmen -- governments message and why is it more effective? >> well, catherine the last number that i saw of those who have left or attempted to leave is 180 but i believe the publicly disclosed numbers higher. it's probably around 200. i'm not sure the exact number. but the message that isil puts out combines violence. it combines -- it has a very western appeal to it. it says join us. it lends itself as a form of islam that i believe is
illegitimate and it has a lot of appeal to a young person who may be prone to violence who is looking for a cause. and so there is a counter message that is being developed i think that part of that counter message has to be more than just don't do this, this is bad. there has to be a positive aspect to that counter message to show people a different way in which they can channel their energy. and so i believe that message is being developed but it needs a broader platform. i think that's fundamental to our overall homeland security efforts. >> you have a few more seconds. >> thank you. the last thing on to say to this very distinguished group is my overall assessment of where we are in our efforts and in the threats we face as this is what
i say continuously to audiences. we have to find the right elements to strike between basic physical security whether its aviation security, border security even in the world of cybersecurity where absolute cybersecurity means to go on your system and there is no access to the outside world and you are going to live in a prison. nobody wants as owner free society we have got to strike the right balance. the most important part of our homeland security is preserving the things that are great in this country so in every message to the public that i deliver about where we are i say the public should continue to go to offense to celebrate this great country whether july 4 or otherwise because the nature of terrorism is that it gives nowhere if the people refused to be terrorized so things like the
boston marathon it's not accident that in this country we come back twice as strong with even more runners the following year and there are examples like rollover. the u.s. military in oklahoma city and that's truly the greatness of this country so all of us i hope you are in many respects leaders, i hope you'll continue to encourage the public to freely associate, freely travel and celebrate this great country. thanks a lot. [applause] >> thank you mr. secretary. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]