tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 8, 2015 8:00pm-10:01pm EDT
>> i want to welcome our distinguished panel here. our witnesses. thank you for your time and thoughtful testimony. thank you for your service to the nation. when i took over chairmanship of the committee ten months ago, the first thing i did was reach out to senator carper, another person of integrity, and suggested we develop a statement. we came up with one that is simply to enhance the economic and national security of america. it starts the ranking member, chairman and the committee on
agreement. and it directed the activity of the committee. the other thing we did was establish, we have come committees in one, homeland security and government affairs, but on the homeland security side, what the hearing is about, we established five priorities. border security, cybersecurity, protecting the infrastructure including the electical grill, doing what it takes to fight terrorism, and the fifth p priority is directed toward the secretary but doing everything we can to help you achieve your goal and mission of the keeping the nation safe. i want to thank you for your service. it is what this committee is trying to do.
your testimony follows what our list of priorities are. these threats we face are real. they are not diminishing or receding. they are growing. you are three men of integrity that take your duties and responsibilities security. thank you for that. i want to thank the senators here. i am looking for a very informative hearing. i will turn it over to senator carper with that. >> i want to start off by calling an audible. i was thinking, secretary johnson, in the last couple weeks we have been visited by pope francis up and down the east coast, all over the place, millions involved, we have been visited by the president of china and president chi, and a big entriage.
the thing that is remarkable about this and i think you will touch on this in your testimony but i want to just add a word in as well. when the secret service screws up, and they have, we call them on it. and when people make mistakes there needs to be accou accountability. you believe in that and we do as well. the pope's president and the visit of all 70 national leaders to came to our country, for it to come off unhinged is amazing. it gives me encouragement folks of the secret service are hard working and most want to do the right thing. better days lie ahead. they didn't do it by themselves. state and local law and others.
when someone does the job well bravo. since 9/11, i guess the most threats came from osama bin laden. he is dead today and al-qaeda is dismantled. unfortunately isis in syria and yemen have filled the void. isis has perfected as we know using social media to spread online propaganda. that means we cannot rely solely on our military to identify terrorist threats. we must examine why people are joining these groups and that is not easy. we will have to counter violent extremism and and we have focused on that.
i think this is a priority for everyone on the panel. moreover, if we are truly successful in counter the isis message, we must remind the world of the principles and value our country stands for. we have a long history of granting refuge and a moral obligation to continue this mission by taking syrian refuges. the pope reminded not just the golden rule but when verse 25 when i was a stranger in your land did you take me in? there is a moral imperative. it is for us not to be blind the this really awful situation and also to realize there is a somewhat role to play a role. we are doing a huge role and leading among the world providing emergency aid to folks
that are displaced. there is a tension here. how do we be consistent with matthew 25 and do that in a way that protects us from extremist who may want to come. i met folks in the capital on cybersecurity and we finished remarks and i said everyone take 15 seconds and say what you think should be our priority between now and the end of the christmas. >> they had two answers. >> one was don't let the government shutdown. and the other thing they said was cybersecurity, and we have the opportunity, we worked hard in the leadership with our chair and committee to do just that, to make it possible, last congress, for dhs to have the tools to do a better job. to make sure we focus on information sharing in a smart
way. the federal government in real time comes to the dhs portal and shares it with everybody else so there is no loss of time. so those are the kind of things we will take einstein and build one, two three, and put it on steroids and i think you are doing a lot of good thing in your department, mr. secretary, to help build on those tools. last thing i want to say is this. a week or two ago, senator johnson and i were invited by you, along with tom rich, former secretary/governor with whom i served as governor, and invited us to pennsylvania and it is a day i will never forget. i want to thank you again of that. it can remind us of what can happen when bad people want to do bad things to our country.
it reminds me the strength and courage of the 40 people on the plane who refused to went down without a flight. i am always going to be grateful to them and grateful to you for reminding us what service is about. thank you. >> thank you, senator carper. i would like to thank you secretary johnson for inviting us as well. you gave a great speech, everybody did, but the moment that stood out in my mind is when they described what the passengers did. they took the bullet as the final act. i mind recommend, anyone who hasn't gone to shanksville, go there. there is a powerful panel there. we have phones where you can listen to three amazing voicemail messages from the people on that plane concerned
far more about their loved ones they are leaving behind then selves. something so american. it is the tradition of the committee to swear witnesses in. so rise and raise your right hand. do you swear the testimony you will give before this testimony will be the truth, the whole truth, and manage but the truth, so help you god? >> yes. >> thank you. our first witness is secretary jeh johnson. he is the fourth secretary of the department of homeland security. prior to leading this, he was general counsel for the department of defense, general counsel for the air force and assistant attorney for the southern district of new york. secretary johnson. >> thank you. as you will notice, last month the three of us attended a sombering situation in
pennsylvania. today, 14 years after 9/11 it is still a dangerous world. the events of 9/11 were the most devastating and prominent example of terrorist attacks of those who are recruited, trained and directed overseas and exported to our homeland. the 9/11 highjackers were acting on the orders of al-qaeda's external operation chief who was in turn carrying out the direction of bin laden. likewise with the attempted underwear bomber and the attempted other plots over the years were efforts to exploit terrorism in the united states and were directed by terrorist organization overseas. the response to these attacks and attempted attacks on the homeland was and is to take the fight directly to the terrorist
organizations at locations overseas. but today the global terrorist threat is more decentralized, more complex, and in many respects harder to detect. the new reality involves the potential for smaller scale attacks by those who are home-grown or home based and not exported and who are inspired but not directed by a terrorist organization necessarily. it is no longer necessary for terrorist organizes to personal recruit and train people in secret overseas and export them to the united states to attack. today, terrorist organizations with help of the may recruit and inspire people to do attacks in the homeland. there are organizations that
publish instructions to make bombs in a magazine. we are concerned about terrorist fighters answering public calls to leave their country in europe and elsewhere to travel to iraq and syria and take up the extremist fight there. many will try to return to their home count re the same motive. the recent wave of attacks here and in europe reflect this reality. the boston marathon bombing, the attack on the government building in ottawa, the attack on the charlie hebdo head quarters in paris in january of 2015, the attempted attack in garland in may of 2015, and the attack that killed five u.s. service members in chattanooga, tennessee in july of 2015. what do these attacks have in
common? they are inspired or directed by isis and are home-grown terrorist. we are concerned about the lone wolf. we devote substantial effort to the study and understanding of these threats and will continue to further our understanding of the pinnings in all forms. what we hope to do is set forth in my remarks and i will not elaborate here but i will conclude by saying two points. one, i applaud both the house and senate for the good work that has been done on cybersecurity legislation. i applaud the fact it has been bipartisan. as senator carper noted, wrbl
there is an urgent need for help from this congress in the area of cybersecurity. the need for cybersecurity legislation has, in my judgment, been amply demonstrated over the past 12 months, so i hope the house and senate can come together and pass legislation, go to conference and have the legislation become law. the last thing i will say is that homeland security is part of national security. it is the frontline of national security. our job is much more difficult to protect the american people if congress does not repeal sequestration. we cannot deliver for the american people all of the homeland security they need and want if we have to work with a sequestered budget. so i urge congress in as strong term as i can to consider repealing sequestration.
thank you. >> thank you, secretary johnson. i will say i continue to press leadership to bring cybersecurity on the floor of the senate. it is amazing what you accomplish if you agree on the things that unite us instead of exploit our differences. we agree on this and i am happy to have your help. our direct is director comey. he serve as the southern district in new york, deputy attorney general for the public service, and director general for organization. >> thank you for this opportunity to appear before the committee especially with my two friends and colleagues here with
whom do so much work trying to protect the american people. i am not repeat what is in the written statement and i think jay captured the challenge we face well. his description of a new reality is dead on and i want to ampify -- amplifies it. isis has broken the core al-qaeda pair dime by using social media to broadcast a twin prong hall to thousands of followers around the world including many people in the united states. they send to messages. first, come to the caliphate and participate in the final battle of good and evil on god's side. if you cannot travel, kill where you are.
kill anyone. but especially people in military uniform, law enforcement and with video that would be the best. it buzzes in the pocket of troubled souls all day long. twitter is worth a lot of money because it is a great way to sell books, shoes or movies. it is great way to crowd source terrorism. isis investigated and earlier we saw payoff in hundreds of investigations in all 50 state of people consuming this poison or killing where they are. the challenge we face, the folks at this table, is finding the needles in the nationwide hay sack and assessing where they are on consuming and acting and
disrupting them before the act. it gets harder. what isis has been doing is when they find a live one, someone who might be willing to kill where they are, they will move them off twitter where with lawful process we can see the communication and move them to an end to end messaging app that is encrypted so the needle disappears once it is most dangerous. with a court order, the way we collect content of information, we cannot see what is being said between the recruiter and someone who said they will kill where three are. this is a problem we call going dark. i can assure you secretary and
johnson are for encryption. but we must also protect the people of the united states and find the needles and stop them, we must find child predators, kidnappe kidnappers, drug dealers. i don't what the answer is. but i keep telling people the fbi is not an american force on mars. we belong to the american people. the tools are what the american people give us through you. when one of the tools you are counting on us to use to protect you is not working so much anymore we have to talk about it. there has been a lot of conversation. the administration is not seeking a legislative remedy now but makes sense to continue the conversations we are having. people in industry are good folks. how could we solve this problem?
we are talking industly, foreign partners, with everybody who cares about these two values has to be involved. there is no clear answer. an important start is to remove the venom and understand we share values and care about protecting people and care about safety and security on the internet and how do we maximize both values? it a hard thing but america does it hard when they implicate our most fundamental values. i thank the committee and my partners at the table and we will continue the conversation with the american people. >> our next guest is director rasmussen. he is the director of the national counter terrorism center. he was the deputy director and had various functions on the national council staff and key positions within the department of state. director rasmussen.
>> thank you, chairman and ranking member carper. i want to stress how well and ali aligned we are with our our colleagues. we see the information the same way and work together. the chances of a spectacular large scale attack in the homeland carried out by an overseas terrorist group has been reduced over the last several years. we collectively achieved that outcome through aggressive action in south asia and other places around the world and through the creation of a robust homeland security and count
counterterrorism infrastructure we developed over the decade. we can work with satisfaction that we worked to reduce the threat but there is quite a bit to be concerned about in the landscape as mentioned. and that landscape is more challenging than others in some ways. it is clear the terrorist operation paradime has shifted and it is shifting in ways that are challenging when trying to disrupt the threats to the homeland. there are more threats, coming from more place and using more individuals than any time. let me spell out what i mean. i will start with the islamic state in iraq. in our judgment, isil has overtaken al-qaeda as the leader of the violent movement and the group views us as being in conflict with the west. that is being played out in syria, iraq and a number of other locations around the world where isis declared a province
and they include many areas overseas including potentially southeast asia, indonesia and possible the philippines. there are three concerning issues of isis that make me reach this conclusion. the first is isis' access to extensive resource and that is man power military and money. the territory control they exercise in large portions of iraq, syria and some province iers. and third and a pool of individuals to the western countries, those who traveled to iraq and syria, and those remaining in their own country.
these are the key features we would expect to see in a threat to the homeland. secretary johnson talked about how we are coming to view the threat from isil and we are seeing that as having isil involved along a spectrum of activity. at one end, we see isolated individuals as the director mentioned who draw inspufrom isis' use of social media and that is true even if they are not guiding their action. there are individuals who may receive direct guidance from isil members including leaders in the organization. this spectrum is difficult to penetrate and understand because of the collection difficulties director pointed to. we see them operating between
the two ends of the spectrum and that is creating a fluid picture. beyond the threat on isil and the threat it pose do is the homeland, you would expect why devoting substantial attention to isil. we would not downgrade effort on the al-qaeda related threats we face either, however. when i am asked to identify my number one terrorism threat is i decline to answer. i would not want to suggest our focus on isis comes at the end of focusing on al-qaeda and other terrorist organizations. we are watching for signs of their attack capability being restored. al-qaeda's core leaders have been degraded but we continue to track and investigate any indication core al-qaeda is engaged in activity plotted to
arm the homeland. al-qaeda in the arabian peninsula was highlighted for good reason. it is at top of the list given the relentless effort to focus on the homeland. our work is made more difficult in yemen as well. we are watching poke -- folks in syria as well. our efforts have been successful and some of the most important figures of concern have been taken off the map but there is more to be done. we are looking closely for signs of intelligence that will give us a hint of what they are planning. the third and final area is the growing use of simple opportunity driven attacks by
homeland extremist. if you go back to 2009, we were seeing less than two or three incident as year, last year it rose to a dozen and to date this year it doubled. we are not through the year yet. while it is difficult for us to put numbers on the population of the extremist, there is no question the population increased in size over the last 18 months. you could say they injected new energy and life into the population. isil knows it can have an impact by motivating individuals in their own direction to act and support and carry out attacks. i would like to say we stress again and continue to work, detect, and defeat and disrupt full aspects. we are committed on the focus remaining on al-qaeda and all of
its affiliates. i will stop there. >> the purpose of the hearing is to highlight these threats so as a public we face this reality, as director and secretary mentioned, we are very concerned about anything classified. second johnson said today the threat is more decentralized more complex and many ways harder to defect. and mr. rasmussen, the array is broader, wider and deeper than any time at 9/11.
mr. comey, it was said there were 46,000 overt isis support accounts. twitter has been taking some down. but they basically pop up with another game and handle. you talked about social media and those individuals following isis there and it being moved over. can you give us a sense of the numbers that you are concerned about engaged in social media? i want to talk about your information to track but how much information do we have about the people that have been inspired into encrypted counts? >> probably the best number i can give is dozens. >> as long as i can talking to you, i know secretary johnson has gone into the communities to
try engage the communities and i don't think this is classified but i remember hearing in a briefing that the members of the communities themselves think we have a complete handle on this. we know who among there might be inspired by isis and that is completely false. would you agree that is an assessment? >> i agree with you. i think jay has been the leader getting out there and talking to the folks woo don't want their sons and daughters going to the caliphate which is a nightmare or killing people and surrending yourself for a prison sense. we say i must be understanding or he may be having a bad day.
we are trying to get folks to tell us when the hair stands up on the back of your neck. we will check it out so no one is smeared. if is something you may save your child's life and the life of innocent people but that is a challenge for us >> there was a new york time article that explained an fbi operative having hundreds of conversations with a gentlemen from garland and the operative spent hundreds of thousands for the fbi operative. talk about the effectiveness of that. i am putting myself in the position of a parent whose son is being engaged by the fbi,
talked about the caliphate, and the fbi swoops in saying did you talk about travel to ciancia -- cianc -- syria -- and the person is then arrested. have we thought is that the best way? we >> i think it is important we try to understand where folks are from consuming to acting. we will continue that work. but knowing we have to do that work i hopshould motivate parents of the units. no one wants their children to go die in the nightmare that is the caliphate or locked up because they violated the anti-terrorism laws of the united states. it is another reason why good parents need to talk to us and know what kids are doing. one challenge we face as parents
is you want to know where your child is going physically. you want to know if your child is going to hang out at the mall but you don't have a sense of where they are in the line. when you see things that are troubling help us engage and keep kids from being in a place that they have to be locked up. we have done a lot of work to build off ramps and a parent intervenes so we can help that child soh so they don't have to become someone we have to lock up. we are making progress. but it is something we have to continue to push on. second johnson, you have been a leader. i am surprised if only a couple dozen people have been inspired
in social media and moved to encrypted amounts. talk about your engagement within communities but your assessment of that number. >> well, first of all, by the nature of the existing threat me face we are concerned about people who self radicalize by reading things on social media without direct communications between somebody in the homeland and somebody overseas. there are very few people who in a position know about it. parents, perhaps, a brother or spouse, someone living in that immediate home with that person, and by the nature of that problem, we don't often have advance opportunities to arrest
and prosecute which is why this is important to intervene and lower the bridges and encourage people this is hour homeland too and help us help you with public safety. we have been out there doing this. i think we have seen a lot of good reaction. some criticism which means our efforts have having an affect. >> just real quick, director rasmussen, director comey talked about the balance between civil liberties. you talk about the difference in spectrum. where are we today?
in terms of civil liberty and security. >> the kinds of insight we useded to have into more complex al-qaeda linked plotting is not available to us. i think as the director said this is going to be the subject of an ongoing conversation with the private sector and the parts of industry that hold critical
nodes of communication. many actors are exercising their craft on the platform. we have opened the conversation and there is a lot of ground to be covered without the federal government dictating situations or choosing a legislative framework at this point. >> i know it is complex. you are right. this has to be a conversation we have. we have to look at the reality the threats we are facing are growing. we have to discuss this in a serious fashion. senator carper? >> let me preface my questions
again with how much we appreciate your commitment to e defending us and the hard work your teams are doing on our behalf. communicate and compromise and collaborate are the three answers i hear to what makes a marriage work. i see the three c's with you. keep it up. we don't always look at the root cause but it is important to us. we want to see why people would risk life and limb to go from getting the border to face an
uncertain future. when i look at the cyber threats directed at the country over the years, one of them is the chinese. they know what is going on. they know full well their enitites within the country. we underwrite the cost for them. i want to commend secretary johnson and everybody else who is involved, the president and others, who were involved in convincing the chinese it was time to mend their ways. i am not sure what the prospects are for proceeding this but the agreement struck is a very encouraging sign. i didn't think we would get that so i applaud you.
there is a mechanism in place, secretary johnson, going forth that involves you and the attorney general to build on not them saying and doing something, but them doing it. would you talk about that for a minute, please? >> yes. when the chinese were here, for the president's visit and about two weeks before, we had frank conversations about cybersecurity, cyber norms that we believe nations should embrace, and there is a lot of good things on paper but the question is will the chinese a awill do what they agreed to. so having conversations with us
on a regular bases with one hoping to happen this year and why planning a date to do this. time will tell about whether or not the chinese will live up to what they said they were going to do. actions speak louder than words but i am pleased with what is on the paper. >> i talked about matthew 25 and where were you when i was missing.
and i want to ask you what you can do to make thur sure the threats are addressed? well, just to highlight one thing in particular, given the nation of the terrorist threat and how it has evolved, i think it is important for us to share as much intelligence as we can with state and local law enforcement. i think jim's people do a great job at the federal level of detecting terrorist threats almost on a weekly, if not daily bases. i have been impressed with how their methods have evolved to match the threat. things like the garland, texas
attempted attack show why it is critical to get out information so they are aware of what we are seeing. >> mr. comey? >> with respect to the potential syrian asylum -- >> we are trying to do the right thing. and we are trying to do the other right thing. we have learned a lot from going back and redoing it. we are more effective as a national intelligence security committee at screening folks. there is so such thing as no-risk project and i don't want
to talk about such because i don't want the bad guys to hear. >> with regard to syrian refuges, i agree with what jim said. we should do the right thing by accepting more. but we have to be careful. i am committed to making sure we main thin this process. >> director comey, you mentioned encryption and backdoor ways to make sure we are protecting against criminals and mentioning conversations are underway. can you tell us more about that? >> there is a conflict of values we care about.
industry is not a monolith. there are services being provided. but there are people that care about the safety of america, privacy, and civil liberties. the rule of law and public safety and we are having conversations with european allies, and how can we together come up with a framework that makes sense, embraces the law and encompasses both values. and state and local law
enforcement is important pause all of the things cops and sheriff's have to work are affected by the fact that encryption went from an option available to sophisticated person to a default. so cops and sheriffers are facing this problem. people stripped a lot of venom. >> we are always being asked what is important for us to help. and this is important. >> thank you, senator carper. >> quick comment and suggestion on the senior refuges we let in
the country. we can do dna testing and that would be helpful. but syrian-american families can be responsible. financeally. >> i will start with you and the ranking member talked about folks being on twitter and going dark. and you talked about technology and legality. the question i have is do you have adequate resources. this can go across the board. but do you have adequate manpower to stay ahead of these guys technology wise?
>> the answer depend os on a number of things. climbing out of the hole left by the first sequestration. and i don't know if this summer is normal. but we were following dozens of people all over the united states 24/7 and that is only easy on tv. so we had to surge sources from the criminal cases to cover this so folks didn't kill people and woe disrupted a lot of those people. our great colleagues in the military have had success at this. i don't know if what we will experience will be the new normal. >> i agree with everything jim
said and his assessment of the growing dark problem. there are cases where the ability to trap individuals is hampered by the means of their communication. >> can the technology take that da darkness to light? >> with had help from the private sector. >> collaboration and communication has been talked about. are they brought up to speed? give me the lay of the landscape. >> i think it is in a very good place. i think they would be the best to check but i think the joint
terrorism task forces and fusion centers are connected and the new reality is not washington focused. these troubled souls are everywhere. so they get that. they are engaged. and i think they would tell you they are hearing earlier and more completely from all of us at this table what they need to know. >> it takes more than military to reduce the threat it was said. would you agree that? >> and your role sis in reducin the domestic threat. that is your primary
responsibility, right? >> yes, sir. okay. as congress wraps up, what would you prioritize they need to do for you to do your job? they need to get done soon for? >> for sequestration ending so i can do all of the things the american public needs us to do for homeland security whether that is cybersecurity, aviation, border, it is going to be difficult to meet all of those priorities if we have to work with the sequestration budget. >> has there been a comparison with terrorist actions in this country in other countries in the world?
are we more targeted? >> our wrurp european partners have a larger population of those actors. i think we are better off than close european partners but that doesn't make me feel fang about our efforts and the level of resources we need to track all of the individuals. but our european partners are more challenged because they bring to the table less capability not just in their fbi
equivalent but they are hooking to us to help figure it out. >> is that because they are choosing not to fund it? >> i think it is the rapid emergence of the threat. i think, as it would not be surprising, comfortable to deal with their threats as they understood it. the threat has changed in a dramatic way and it creates a new set of challenges. >> this isn't within your purview. but is there anybody, it seems to me what is going on in the middle east now, and it extends far beyond that is crazier than i have ever seen it in my life time and i don't think that is
an imagination but there is stuff going on that makes no sense. is there anybody trying to find the root causes of why everything is going upside down? you are dealing with the threat on this end? is there anybody trying to ask the questions of why these guys are so effective? i know it is communication, internet and all of that. but maybe there isn't. what reason for this stuff? is there something going on in the world that we could have impacts on that would delegitimize these folks? >> we could have a whole hearing on this. it isn't directly within the purview of us three. my immediate reaction to your question is that there needs to be more of a global message and
a global theme the counter the isil message to the muslim world about what the islamic state supposedly represents. so my judgment is that in order to try to counter what we are seeing, the volatility we are seeing in the middle east particularly iraq/syria, is a more amplified global message about how in the muslim world, in particularly, their efforts and energy should be directed toward younger people in a positive, constructive way. >> thank you for the jobs you do. >> by the way, secretary johnson, i agree. sequestration was a stupid idea but priortization is of spending is a way to fix this.
senator ayotte. >> thank you. we in new hampshire, secretary johnson, are facing a public health epidemic with heroin abuse. we have had a situation where we had 60% increase in drug deaths. recently, mr. secretary, i know that you thank you for reviewing the transcript of the hearing we had in new hampshire of this committee, which was where we had the cp d commissioner there, dea acting administrator there, and the director from the national drug and control policy. they testified but we heard from the police chief of our largest city, nick wilard said something
device our southern border campaign strategy, 0 consolidate strategic effort to bring to bear all the resource of my department. which includes people and narcotics. it's immigration, customs enforcement, hsi, and we are generally moving in the direction of a more coordinated strategy, which includes the dea and other element of law enforcement. eventually i'd like to do the same thing on the northern bored
sore we're less stove-piped in our approach to both borders. and my hope is that at some point the congress will codify our southern border campaign strategy into law and give us the additional resources we need to further work on this effort. obviously interdiction is the key. >> and director comber, one of the things we know that the people who are addicted, law enforcement is telling us, rightly so, we can't arrest our way out of this problem but the want to focus on the kingpin is, on the cartels. we saw some secretary johnson what he said, the interdiction piece. hough it its -- how is the fbi working to go after the kingpins who are getting more and more people addicted in our country. >> the answer is working speakly closely with dea, our strategy
is folked on transnationalam organized crimes, to drive up the cost for them to lock up them and their lieutenants to make it harder for them to try to get drugs in, interdiction being a separate piece of the strategy, and we're working hard at that every day but it's an enormous problem because of the shift you talked about. >> one of the issues the chief raised, and we talked about with the dea. just want to see if you had any insight. chicago a -- has a mold they're working on, and i don't know if the fbi was part of the model. it has partnership, as i understand it. doj, fbi, dea and local authorities, and our authorities are interested in, could we bring a similar mod toll work together along -- model to work together with a task force in new hampshire? i want to get your thoughts. >> the model -- i can't remember what the nearest task force is to new hampshire, maybe one in
boston. i can't recall. but that's a huge feature of our work, drugs is note to bureau's specialty but we have social capabilities we can bring to bear so we bring it to bear, which is both mostly -- and also -- >> i would ask you -- when i had administrator raleigh in new hampshire, i would ask you, director, can you work with us on this, -- chief will yard said he is pleased with the help from the fbi but are there better ways to do this and work together in a cohesive faction. i want to ask about this issue of -- i know in your testimony director comey, you talk about the estimate that 250,000 americans have traveled or attempted to travel to syria
to participate in the obviously the conflict, and we're worried about obviously their participation in the jihad, and one thing i wanted to ask about is i understand, director comey, that we have had an effort where we have been arresting people across the country aggressively, and is a understand it we have had close to maybe 50 arrests related to these issues. maybe the person didn't travel to syria but have some connection where they're at least perhaps attempting to travel, a connection to isis. can you tell us what is happening? i think it's important for the american people to understand that this is happening quite frequently. your department is trying aggressively, working with home leaned security to arrest these individuals. what have you been doing across the country in terms of arrests? >> we're trying to -- the arrests are part of our strategy to do two things to incapacitate
people who might otherwise travel over to the so-called caliphate, and then become much more dangerous to us. i know some folks say just let them go. maybe they'll get killed there. well, maybe they won't, and when they -- >> we certainly don't want them coming back or going to hurt our partner thursday europe. >> that's the future we'll be talking about the next three to five years. we want to send a scary message, because what we see in the travelers is they're getting incrementally younger, and more females. think it's a great way to find a life. we're trying to send a message that it's a nightmare there, especially for a woman, but that if you play around with this, you'll enup in jail for a long stretch to, to try to change that behavior. >> who are you arresting? what is the background of the individuals? you said more women. are you encountering younger people? is this just centered in one community or something we're seeing across the country? >> the challenge is there's no
geographic center to it. in part because of the crowd sourced way the message is going out and there are kids and adults seeking meaning in the life, troubled people all over the united states so it resonates with those groups. there isn't a particular demographic either as to location or age. the syria travelers arranged from 18 to 63. but what we noticed -- this is early so this isn't a high confidence read -- seems to be drifting younger with more girls. by girl is mean women under the age of 18 with whole this message on social media is resonating, and i'm -- my hope is -- it's not just hope -- i may see some early signs in the data that the message is getting out to families and young people, first it's a nightmare in syria. >> of course. women are raped. it's horrific. >> it's hell on earth, and this isn't some joy ride that you will get in serious trouble if
we get wind of it and you will go to jail for a long stretch, and we are degree -- both of those things are important in drive thing numbers down. time will tell if we are making progress. >> thank you. this is obviously something we're all very concerned about. appreciate you all being here. >> thank you, senator ayotte. thank you for your leadership on this heroin issue. about a border security hearing the general said we're on interdicting 5% to 7% of drugs, indicating hour unsecure our border is itch than to thank secretary johnson. we attacked about the boffedder metric bill. -- the bored metrics bill. i'm happy to -- we have been working on helping you codify your strategy so happy to ramp up the efforts and work on the years of agreement. senator.
>> thank you, senator join son for mentioning the northern border, it's a big balloon, press one one area, it stresses another area went have huge work force challenges on the northern border, recruiting and retaining work force, and so we have been working with opm, working with your office and i want to thank you for e the attention. senator aexploit have a bill that has -- ayotte and i have a bill that will hopefully require a new look at the northern border, so -- director, i don't means to pickup but i am going. to have you ever gone indian country permanentfully. >> yes. >> where. >> i've been to navajo, pueblo. >> ever been 0 a great plains
reservation? >> i have not. >> pine ridge. >> my children go to pine ridge every summer. >> i want to tell you, there is no place in the united states where you have more responsibility than indian country, and there is no place where we don't have a cop on the beat. we -- we can talk all we want about what is happening in places like new hampshire, when gil was the drug czar he came out and spent four hours listening to the challenges of native american leaders and dealing with drugs, cartels, an easy place to hide because jurisdictionally it's a no man's land and there's no cop on the beat, and a native american woman said to him we are an endangered species. and we have huge and critical problems, and the fbi, i think, is failing, in meeting the challenges. certainly in my part of the
world, in protecting native american people. we have record numbers of rapes of small children. we have record amount of drugs. 40% of tribal chairman told me 40% of all the children born on one of my reservations i meth-addicted. so i'm begging you to help. i'm begging you to seek an opportunity to participate and to bring first law enforcement and bring your counterparts at dea and really start focusing, because as we talk about the structures -- and spent a lot of time as north dakota's attorney general. when people said where its the fbi gets along with the rest of the states? i'd rates my -- raise my hand. he have a terrific relationship but you lose and fail in indian country, and you can't protect a
whole state when you have a huge amount of land and a huge opportunity for people peddling poison to basically go undetected, invisible, and not even -- any threat at all of prosecution right there on the reservation, and people who can move are moving, and people who can't move are being exploited, and so i'm wondering if within the fbi and within the department of justice and your counter-agencies, whether there is an opportunity to really do more surge work in indian country, especially in my part of the world. >> the answer is, yes. thank you for that. it's not picking on me because i agree with you totally, and i'm so grateful for your passion because have had a bunch of meet little on this as director. i my children just returned from
hed red shirtable and my girls said, you have to do something. but it's like -- i describe it as a crime scene without representation. no one speaks for these places, to to hear you speak for this is a wonderful thing. i'm done some, not nearly enough. i pushed additional resources to miami device, which covers you. i changed the way we assign and recruit agents to indian country, to get more talent there, but i have to do more, and so watch this space. i'd love to talk to you about it again. >> i would welcome the opportunity to talk about what we need to do because if -- a lot of people don't understand jurisdictional challenges. i spent a lot of time trying get mous so we can get drug task forces and this is back when we worried about far less influx of white powder heroin, methamphetamine is epidemic, and
the challenges are not only in the public health arena, and we need a cop on the beat and that's the federal officials. you have prime si here. and so i look forward to work with you on those issues so make sure my community has the same level of public protection as any other american, and right now, i've got huge land mass, one cop. and a big river in between, and no way to get across the river. to protect people, and so these challenges are in alaska, they are in -- as you said on the navajo, and so i want to thank you for your willingness to have this conversation. i want to tell you, we are passionate about it. senator tester and i have talked over and over about this.
and we would welcome you in north dakota. thank you. >> senator portman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you all for being here and for your service. on the issue of opiate use, particularly any part of the country we have the alarming statistic in ohio it's in the one one cause of death. greater than auto accidents, which is typically the case. i was able to speak at the rally on addiction that occurred on sunday evening here, and then spent the week with some of the individuals who came in from ohio, and i do believe this is a -- at epidemic level. and the rates are higher in the rural communities than the urban. and i focus more on the demand side and treatment and recovery side, but law enforcement plays
a critical role and we need your help in ohio. we have some programs working well. and i appreciate your commitment to that today. switching gears for a second, secretary johnson, you stated the threat of foreign terrorist fighters requires the comprehensive efforts of all of partners, agencies, allied nations will continue to adapt to this evolving threat and take the necessary action to protect the american public. i would ask this morning, director rasmussen, if you could give us some information on these foreign fighters, and specific live my concern is the visa waiver countries. can you tell us how many foreign fights from visa waiver countries have traveled to syria to date. >> i have to get back to you with the breakdown by cease a with aber but if you can go back to before the conflict began, and look in aggregate, the
population of individual whose we sales have traveled to the conflict zone is upwards of 28,000 right now. that is an aggregate so does not mean that today as we speak there's a pool or population. its captures and covers activity in both directions, individuals who died on the battlefield, individuals who have come and gone, individuals who left and gone to other onward third locations. from the west, and that would largely capture the visa waiver countries you're talking about, we assessed that total is somewhere in excess of 5,000 with the number of u.s. persons as the director indicated being approximately 250. so that's the broad breakdown of the numbers as we have them. the greatest supplier countries come from the immediate frontline states as you imagine because travel is so easy. then the next outer ring, which would include southern and western europe, the population
numbers are significant there as well. >> that's a shocking number 5,000, and just so people understand, these are countries with a visa waiver program with the united states where they can come to the united states without going through normal process to get noon immigrant visa. these are countries sending foreign fighters into syria. the concerns they would then go back to their country of origin and then be able to come to the united states under a visa waiver, and 5,000 is obviously a huge number, and a huge concern. if you wouldn't mind, what i'd like to do is ask you to get back to me on a more specific number from the visa waiver countries, and specifically the lack of information sharing. we have programs with some of these countries where we try to share anxious but the passenger name recognition datable to some countries sending us some of these foreign fighters. can you tell us about that or anybody else on the panel how that program is working and what else can be down get better data
on these people? >> senator, let me start. i agree with you about the concern of foreign fighters coming from countries from which we do not require a series sample which is why last year we required additional data fields in the database, those who want to come here and then in august of this year, we identified a number of security enhancements we could obtain from countries in the program so that we have a much better idea of who is coming here from those countries. they include, for example, the requirement that these country make better use of ap and i pnr data, that they use the interpol database for stolen passports on a more regular basis. we increase the use of federal air marshals on flights from the countries. a whole series of security enhancements we identify and have obtained from these countries for exactly this reason. >> what more do you need?
what more can we help you with? anything legislatively we can do to ensure we don't have these foreign fighters slipping into the country? >> hspd6, the presidential directive, gives us a lot of authority in this area, and if countries want to be in this program, they should agree to these security enhancements. that's been the mechanism for our seeking greater assurances on that. but this is a concern of mine, and i'm always asking my staff that exact question. any legislative authority we could use -- >> let us know, and on the name recognition data my understanding there's concerns there. is there anything we can do to tighten that up as well? maybe we can get back to us with a specific answer. on the syrian refugees in general, as you know, spent time focus on the issue of special immigrant visas for enter thor serve with our troops in afghanistan iraq. we have had a hard time for
interpreters to go through the citer process. i'm skeptical what i hear about 10,000 syrians coming into the country having an expedited process to screen them. having gone through the experience with the interpreters. could -- so i would ask you today, and director comey, you expressed concerns about this as women in the public media. how are we going to deal with this? 1600 syrians by the end of fiscal year 2015 are going to be admitted. don't you think that always create others threat to the homeland, and if you do think that from your -- again, the comments from the public media you have a concern about that. what are you going to do about it? >> well, yes, senator. there is risk associated with brinking anybody in from the outside but especially from a conflict zone like that. from the intelligence community's perspective, as i said, think we developed an
effective way to touch all of our databases and resources to figure out what we know about individuals. so that's my piece of it. i don't think that's a cumbersome process mitchell process. my concern is there are certain gaps, i don't want to talk about publicly in the data available to us, but i can't speak the rest of the process that may be part of what you're talking about. >> well ex-think there's a significant gap but a our intelligence in syria is so bad wimp don't have the information we need to process these folks. i think we need to figure this out quickly, given the fact we have made this commitment. but i don't know, director, rasmussen, do you have more to add to that. >> the intelligence picture of this conflict zone is not as rich as we would like it to be so that would with us -- obviously when you screen and vet you screen and vet against available intelligence holdings. the more you have, the more likely you can catch derogatory
information that would cause you to review potential case more closely. so we -- i think the director is absolutely right. we have a much more streamlined and effective estimate to make slur -- sure our intelligencing brought to bear but you can only vet against what you have. at least we can identify where more questions need to be asked even if intelligence isn't available. >> well, my time expired. i appreciate it. i think this is a huge issue and before making these commitment is hope there were some dialogue with certainly the -- you three gentlemen and i hope we can come up with a screening process that is better than the ones we have had on the interpreters, particularly with less intelligence on the ground. >> senator langford. >> thank you for your work to protect the nation. it's extremely important, and i want you to hear from the folks
in oklahoma. we appreciate the work you do. we understand very well, as jeh johnson was in oklahoma, director comey was in oklahoma not long ago. we understand extremely well the threats we face. so i just want to hear from us we're grateful for what you're doing. i whatnot to ask you secretary johnson, about the cyber security bill. can you explain why that is so important right now? that the threats but the specific language and what you need on the cyber security bill. >> yes, sir. two principle things come to mind immediately. one, explicit congressional authorization for dhs's ability to monitor, identify, and block unwanted intrusions in other federal agencies through our einstein system. the very tour of the einstein system it has the ability to brock intrusions and is a platform for greater and better technology in the future.
>> that's the federal system, not private systems. >> correct. number two, greater incentives through law for the private sector to share information with the federal government when it comes to seiber threat -- cyberthreat -- those are the two principle areas. there's always the data breach notification requirement, enhanced penalties. >> voluntary congresses or mandatory -- >> we believe encouraging voluntary cooping with the private sector is -- cooperation with the private sector is the way to go. >> the private sector in that cooperation, has jim comey mentioned earlier, fbi doesn't come from mars. we're all american citizens and it's finding the way to work together. i want to shift to what some other folks talked about. we talk about the threat from
isis. it's spectacular. we talk about a couple of dozen folks here that are major concerns that are here. last year we had over 10,000 deaths by heroin on the streets of the united states. hotel rooms, houses, on the streets, homes, people quietly dying from heroin and narcoterrorrist moving into the boredders and distributing this incredibly toxic substance dues the nation. and whether it's heroin, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, it's a very strategic move happening, and it's extremely aggressive and seems to be accelerating at pace we haven't seen before in many areas of certain types. we seem to have new locations these drugs are coming from at well. can you help me understand the coordinate it strategy deal withing isis and those threats on american spoil the threats from nark to terrorist around the world, budget both the distribution and the
interdiction and new groups. how are we coordinating to take that on? >> senator, can start from the enforcement perspective. your description is completely accurate, and i actually worry that our country is not getting it the way you described it. i recently -- the acting administrator of the dea, a great leader, sent over his team to brief my on their current view of the threat, and it is breathtaking. cocaine use has gone down since 2006. that's good news. all the rest is -- not just bad news, it's awful. and so the strategy from the enforcement perspective is, try to disrupt the traffickers. try to lob them up, the kingpins in mexico, and to disrupt the gangs and organized criminals they're using to distribute in the united states. go being with trying to drive up the price. heroin is so cheap and pure, it's a tidele wave watching over
children and kill thing because they don't know how pure it is. so drive up the cost by looking up as many people as -- by locking up as many people as can. >> on the interdiction front, i think the key is a working -- good working relationship with the government of mexico. my department and i personally spend a lot of time with my mexican counterparts itch bland to go there next week. this will be a topic. we have our joint task forces here, but working with the government of mexico, is obviously key, and i agree with you we need to do a better job in this respect because the problem is getting worse. >> it's accelerating. we seem to have supply from new areas as well. are you seeing new players internationally trying to get supply to the snot. >> uh-huh. >> mexico is obviously a very close neighbor. they're pushing through north america to canada.
oar there locations you can say this is a new region but they're trying to transport to the united states? >> the big focus is mexico. what happened is the mexican traffickers have figured out they can do better by instead of bringing crow almostan heroin they're growing it in southern mexico, and refining it themselves elm the just shorten their transportation routes and they can sell it at a lower cost and high are purrity. and the piece is methamphetamine. they're not bringing it from colombia. so the center, ground zero for the plague on -- across the drillings is mexico. >> let me give you a little good news. the united states coast guard, we sent the national security cutter, uss stratton, on a four-month mission to central
america. while they were out four months they interdicted $1 billion worth of cocaine, including large seizures off of submersibles that the cartels manufacture and rub in the high seas between south america and central america. so, we want to continue those kinds of missions. >> what is the -- to be able to continue that kind of enter knicks it's not coming from central america so trying to fine think police kaz. methamphetamine protection is going down in the united states but rising rapidly in mexico so we have found effective ways to limit the flux the united states. but now it's just being push out. so, how are we handling trying to limit production there and work through the process, visiting with the mexican counterparts is a good step but the fields continue to grow -- >> better coordinated law enforcement. >> -- the location to pick up supplies and do methamphetamine
and international connections for those. how can we help? >> greater coordinated law enforcement between our two governments. that's the key. and we do that on a regular basis but we need to do more. >> thank you. thank you for your work. keep your eye on that. we deal with that across at the country. you know that well the focus can't be off international terrorism, and their plans and intentional focus to penetrate the united states but the narcoterrorrists are penetrating us every single okay, and to be able to find a way to go through that. one other quick side note, mr. chairman, secretary johnson, your department has been very good working with the state of oklahoma and dealing with the real i.d. we're trying to work through the final details. you have again gone on a waiver on that. we have been addressing that as a state and i appreciate your waiver as we try to get up to speed. >> thank you.
the thing i emphasize there, we're progressing in our efforts to enforce the law, and there will come a point where we have to set some real deadlines so i'm pleased at the progress that we have been making in working with state officials in oklahoma. >> thank you. >> senator langford, director rasmussen, in your previous testimony you talked about the fact we have taken a number of these terrorists off the map. i want to get your assessment of the unfortunate reality is you take them off the map and they're repoliced. both leadership as well as the flow of foreign fighters seems to continue largely unabated. can you give me your sense how effective the people we're killing are being replaced? >> i'll do the best i can in open testimony, senator. mr. chairman. one of the ways we look at this as an intelligence community is try to identify who brings
unique capability to the terrorist enterprise, whether that's prod a legallership level, high value leadership target, some of whom may have a very specific set of skills, programs in the weapons of mass destruction felled or use of explosives, someone who has shown ability to organize and orchestrate significant large-scale plotting activities. those kinds of individuals will be worthy of focused intelligence collection and whatever disruption capabilities we can bring to bear. probably want to leave it there. >> what about the flow of foreign fighters. >> the flow of foreign fighters, there's nobody who is satisfied that we have yet turned the tide in terms of getting that flow to have crested. i will say, though, if there is a goodness story some in this foreign fighter story, itles that the level of information sharing that some of which secretary johnson was talking
about, particularly with our european partners, is much more robust than it would have been if we had -- at the point we entered this crisis. >> the purpose of this hearing is laying out the reality. the reality is we have not stemmed the flow. talk about the significance of the caliphate and the territori'. there's an excellent article written by graham wood that was eye-opening for many people in washington. we talked about that. can you talk about that significance, lay out that reality, and why part of our strategy that to be to deny them that territory to end this caliphate? >> there's a couple of different features of the isil's declaration of a caliphate that make it particularly concerning. one, as you yourself suggested, mr. chairman, it becomes almost a magnet to attract individuals who are seeking meaning work are seeking to participate in a global jihaddist enterprise and that is up like al qaeda, who was often running their enterprise as a clandestine
movement with a very, very rigorous vetting process before allowing individuals inside the fold. i isil is issuing an open invitation on social media for people to come to the caliphate and join so in terms of size and scale, the declaration of the caliphate gives us concern because it provides that magnet. beyond that somewhat amorphous effect, the creation of a caliphate and the control of physical space gives a terrorist organization the opportunity to gather resources, to operate potentially in a safe haven environment, and while they are managing other prositars they can pursue more aggressive storm operations. maybe of the sort al qaeda did traditionally. that is part of the caliphate that gives me the greatest concern, is the physical space in iraq and sir use that you pointed to with your question. >> so the goal of the strategy,
with that in mind, needs to be to deny them that territory. if you're going degrade defeat isis you have deny them that territory. >> i agree. >> i did immediate with this young woman who has had the courage to come forward and tell her story in terms of combating on social media these young women who are actually inspired to go to syria and iraq to join isis. that would be a pretty powerful way of doing it. just to economy. secretary johnson, we have held eight hearings on border security now. we'll hold or ninth in a couple weeks we'll issue the majority report of our conclusions from the hearings. i think we are in agreement -- because we talked about this -- i'm a manufacturer and always looking for the root cause, think we agree that the root cause of the unsecure border is our insash shabble demand for --
insatiable demand for drugs hat given rise to the drug cartels 'owho are combining we transnational criminal organizations, terrorist organizations and, that's what we need to address. one reason i pointed out the fact that the general said we're only interdicting five percent of the drugs on the southern border women have to lay out that usually and harsh reality. i'd like to give you, secretary johnson, the opportunity -- you talked about the strategy you're trying to employ you want this congress, and a lot of this through the committee to help you codify. can you describe what your strategy is in kind of summary detail here, and i am completely committed to work very closely with you and your department to codify this in a step-by-step proof. find the areas of agreement that unite us and can you lay that out and give the priorities? we started with you need information to solve problem.
so the border security metrics bill. we'll try to get that passed and on the president reside desk as soon as possible. then what are the next steps and what is your strategy? >> in termites pure border security, senator -- in terms of ordinarier security, more tech knoll, more surveillance to pursue a risk-based strategy so we good after the threats where they know they exist. more surveillance, more technology, which is reflected in our fy16 budget submission. we need help in terms of speeding the process of deportations and asylum applications and immigration courts, more resources to accomplish that so that the time it takes to litigate is not as long as it is. but frankly, you mentioned the root causes in this country. i want to mention a root cause that exists in central america. last time i was on the bored are
i talked to a seven-year-old girl whoame all the way from central america, all by herself. to texas. and more surveillance is not going to deter a seven-year-old who is fleeing poverty and violence in central america from coming up here. so, my judgment is that we have to address the underlying causes in the country. we talk about addressing the underlying causes for refugees in syria. we have to do the same in central america as well. and so the administration's asked for a billion dollars to invest in central america, and i hope the congress seriously considers that, as long as the conditionses in this countries are as bad as they are, we're going to have the types of numbers that we have coming from central america. and so i want to invest in a small, efficient, border strategy which includes surveillance and technology othe border and we have to address the underlying causes, too. >> if we do survey and deexpect
we apprehend and process and then distribute, that sends a powerful signal to central america. if you get to america, regardless of what the laws say. if we don't sent people home that's going to incompletion the flow. it's the problem right now with syria. we just have the president of germany in. the more europe accepts acceptse refugees from the compassion has people, the more they accept in, the more of the four million that are with placed outside will flow into europe. the more of the 7.6 displaced within syria will become refugees and flow into europe. so we have the examination in our countries to take people. but we have to recognize what insend advertise for illegal immigration and we'll be going to central america. are there governing structures, leaders like we had in colombia, that will actually take the
money andite properly to improve conditions or basically wasting the money? we have to address as part of our border security strategy, assessing the fact of our insatiable demand for drug, and every incentive in our law for illegal immigration, the number one is work. let's have a functioning guest worker program. so that there's a host of issues but we can control things here. i don't know how much we can control in central america. we're compassionate and want to help. so let make sure addressing the incentive inside the laws and ajude addiction process, incentivizing people coming to this country and end the incentives. >> i don't disagree with what you're saying but i do believe, having spent my 22 months also secretary of homeland security intensely focused on this problem, that a large part of
the solution is addressing the conditions in central america. >> if we can make those economically prosperous zone north the havens for drugs andy, i'd agree with you. >> thank you, mr. secretary. find out what works, do more of that. and if we go back and look at colombia, 20 years al, failed nation. we sported, funds, they had good leadership, and leadership from the privity sector and bit by bit they turned things around there. so somebody has done this before. i would say with respect to central america, the movement all have to folks to our country, especially last year, and there is a root cause. and you nailed it. what the chairman says, there's a lot of with come in that as
well. it's not -- a lot of wisdom in that as well. it's not a choice of one or the other. we need to do both. the question is, can we back and chew gum at the same time? i think we can. nick, i'm going to get wow you goo the game here. does the name jessica stern mean anything to you? >> yes, sir. she is a terrorism expert who in the academic world right now but she has former government service. >> her husband does, too. her husband, chet atkins, was a former colleague of several of us in the house of representatives for a number of years and she has actually testified here. i think at our hearing on jihad 2.0 earlier, and had a chance to meet with her and her husband a come months ago. she gave me a book bat isis, and win she had written a decade ago if the older book focused on what is it that causing
estranged ailin nateed men to -- alienated in this country to -- faith-based organizations that are morphing into terror organizations and the grew that into visits all over the world, palestine, afghanistan, iraq, all kinds of places, and what she was trying to do is drill down on root causes what is causing these mostly guys to leave their countries and go off and form an outfit or join an outfit like isis, and she concluded this. here's mostly men without much meaning in their life. people who are -- they think of us as a great satan, a lot of immorality. the prospect of adventure, real meaning in their life, the prospect of when they die, they go to heaven.
before they die they have all these wives, and for people there's not much happening in anywhere life, she said, they're ripe for the plucking. did she have it right there? the root cause, why all these people want to come from all over the world and to join us with isis. >> thank you, senator. she certainly has part of it right. the words you're using on her behalf i can co the same analysis our analysts across the community are engaged in. but i would -- i meant to add this win one of your colleagues asked earlier about underlying causes. if you look at each and every one of us around the world that are particularly fraught right now or where isil seemed to pick tag hold is sectarian conflict. when there are in those locations significant unresolved sectarian issues -- i don't
need to go goo the details how that play odd nut iraq and syria between the sunni and shia communities -- that just creates a much more fertile ground for the isil narrative to take hold. that, as you develop -- as you consider mitigating strategy, that add as layer of complexity what you're trying to do. you're not simply setting up a condition where you're good against evil or good guys against bad guys. if you're terrorist population of concern is enmeshed in a conflict which the answers were not easy or if they were easy they would have been seed upon by previous syrian or iraqi governments. all i'm saying that adds a layer of complexity to a somewhat more simple narrative of personal alienation, and i'm not saying simple in a derogatory way.
>> they're -- they don't have a lot of money anywhere lives and one thing hear is being paid to get some money out of this, and they -- can you give us an unclassified assessment of isis' finances? are they running a deficit? having trouble paying their bills? what are some of the facts and how do these impact they're ability to be successful in. >> that's a very good question. at a gross aggregate level we believe isis is a were financed, well-resourced organization. the early stages of the conflict we assessed at some some of the resource base in which they were relying was not necessarily going to be replenishable or a recuring. you can rob a bank or the central bank in iraq once but you can't rob it again and again and again simple think we had
hoped that over time, isil's ability to generate additional resources would go down more dramatically than its. they have shown an ability to muster ways to use the natural resources present in the territory they control, principally oil, and exploit that for financial gain. and actually developed their own manufacturing capability and in a sense run an organization like a state. and so i think unlike the al qaeda financial picture, which we were dealing with, where you were worried about specific fundraising activities in certain capitals around the world and money flowing to pakistan to fund terrorrivity hack 'tis. this is much more self-generational by isil as it functions like a state, including using taxation and also extortion, also criminal means as well. >> one last quick question, mr. chairman. this is one for secretary
johnson. i understand you established a new office of violent extremism, and could you just take a moment and share with us what this office will do differently from dhs's existing efforts? >> a couple of things. one, this office and this director will report directly to me. i'm consolidating all the personnel within the department in headquarters who work on cde, in that one office, under the supervision of that one director, and, three, we want to eventually use this office to extend its reach into the field so we have more reach in the field. when you imbed people in the communes you get good results. and i want this office to focus on taking our efforts along with the fbi other agencies to the next level, and is giving the counter-message a larger platform and encouraging leaders in the communities, along with the tech seconder, to get together and do that, encourage
philanthropies and develop some of our own grant-making in this specific area. >> thank you. thanks to each one of you. thank you. >> senator baldwin. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ranking member. i want to thank all three of you for your service, and i was here for your testimony. i had to step out and so at the risk of getting into some of the territory that has been covered in my absence, i apologize for that. but i wanted to dove tail on some of the requests senator carper asked in his first round relating to the syrian refugee
crisis, and in particular a number of you testified that we are getting better at the vetting process over time, but we're not error-proof -- 100% error-proof yet. there was also, i think, chairman johnson talked about prioritization in terms of family members, of syrian americans, et cetera. i guess in this public setting i'm wondering if you can outline for me how we make this process more efficient and swift without sacrificing the thoroughness and quality, and if you can talk a little bit, secretary johnson, about the prioritization process so the degree it exists, that deal with family members. i would assume the vetting for a child is different than a vetting for an adult, and other ties to the united states. recognizing that we are currently in a public setting,
please tell me as much as you income this setting. >> yes. there are several agencies involved in the process. the uscis, state department, and when a refugee is referred to us, they're referred to us by unhcr. so unhcr will have done some of its own vetting, not necessarily the security vetting that we would conduct, and in referring a refugee to the united states in particular, it's my understanding they do so because there are family connections to the united states, versus some other country. so by the tomb they come to us, unhcr has judged them to be a good candidate for resettlement in the united states. once they're with us the state department meets with the individual. miaouing someone will personally interview the refugee.
there's a pretty extensive background check now that includes vetting against a lot of other databases and agencies, including law enforcement and intelligence. it's better than it used to be. and the good news here is that unhcr has already identified a number of refugees that they believe would be appropriate for reset independent the united states. so we're not -- resettlement in the united states. so we're not starting from scratch. unhcr has identified a number that of suitable for resettlement in the united states. there's where we start. is there reference made to 1600 but we will finish the year close to 2,000 so we got through the ones we focused on in fiscal year 2015. we should be very naval the security reviews for each of
these. i agree with the excessment expressed earlier that this is a population of people that we're not going know a whole lot about necessarily, coming from syria. so, we're going meet our commitments with the resources we have, but we will do so carefully. >> thank you. mr. rasmussen, you talked in your testimony in your written testimony, about the increasing competition and conflict between the taliban, isil, and al qaeda, as a dynamic that you are working to understand more thoroughly. you also mentioned that the conflicts between these groups me a in some respect distract from their western targets. i would like to hear from you what are the questions that you're asking?
you said you don't have all the answers. what are the questions your asking, and in some ways i've always worried that conflict between these groups could lead to a competition to be more spectacular than each other, and that of course gives us great concern. >> the conflict plays out in a number of levels. first, there's an ideological level conflict and competition taking place between al qaeda and the affiliated grouped that still remain affiliated to al qaeda in yemen, al-shabaab. competition between them and isil for preeminence in the marketplace of ideas among global extremists. so that's a very -- at a high altitude. but on the ground in certain
locations there's actual on the ground physical conflict between isil or isil-related groups, with the taliban in afghanistan, for example, where actually there you have individuals who in other circumstances might even comrades in armeds but in this circumstance are fighting and engaging each other on the battlefield even as afghanistan national security forces and u.s. coalition forces are present in the teeter -- feet their as well. i take your point you don't want to create a competition for ever levels of violence, but the conflict on the batfield, it does tend to be all-consuming for a terrorist organization to fight a ground work against other extremist adversaries in a lace like afghanistan. so we're watching carefully to see if the isil province in afghanistan turns its attention
from that effort, to gain ground on -- to gain on the ground against the taliban -- turns from that project to something aimed at us, particularly something with an external focus, something looking at the west, akin to al qaeda over the last dozen years. so, i don't necessarily want to call it good news or that we are heart heartened, but we realize that terrorist organizations often have finite capabilities and don't necessarily have the ability to prioritize never equally. the more they're engage inside that kind of effort on the ground that is often very see source intensive, the less capacity they have to carry out the more -- >> in your verbal testimony this morning you talked about isil having overtaken al qaeda, and you pointed to access to resources and territorial control and control over basically more people.
is there still a very sharp distinction between isil and al quite with regard to their aspirations to control territory? and how does that relate to the risk that the organizations pose to our homeland? >> from al qaeda's perspective, isil's declaration of the caliphate is illegitimate and premature so they differ fundamentally on a central premise of the isil agenda. at the same time i wouldn't draw some huge distinction between the two groups as they look at the legitimacy or virtue of attacking the west in whatever way they can find the capacity to do so. now, they are not making common cause with each other because of the followal and leadership
cleavages, but at the same time we worry and watch for individuals who might migrate across organizational lines to cooperate with each other for specific purposes driven efforts just because someone is isil or al qaeda one day does not mean that is -- you're laminated badge from the organization may not lost very long. you may find yourself changing teams, changing sides, and that's why i say about the isil gaining preeminence, success proceeds success and more individuals have flowed in the direction of isis and isil for that reason. >> thank you. mr. chairman, i note i have exceeded my time already. i have one other question that i wanted to hear from the witnesses. i would ask unanimous consent to commit it for the record. >> that's fine. we'll keep the record open. so thank you, senator baldwin. it is another tradition of the committee, at least since
chairman carper was chairman to give the witnesses to make a closing tent. things you want to remark after the questioning. so start with you, director comey. >> i don't think i have anything. i thing we covered a comeplex set of topics in a good way. so i'm not sitting thinking there's something lingering. >> thank you. i appreciate that. secretary johnson. >> chairman, senator kearn, i have protected our constructive working relationship. i appreciate the tone you have set at these hearings and i appreciate your friendship. >> director rasmussen. >> the only thing i wish i could have more time. on the governmental affairs side of your committee's hat, think you would be pleased, as senator carper said, will wow howe well our organizations are working together. as many of you know, nctc is an organization that relies on contributions from other
organizations. our life blood in addition tower permanent employees, is found in the contributions of other organizations, and just a couple of weeks ago i had the opportunity to host director comey as he spoke to 60 or so fbi detailees who are doing trick work. so, jugs to say there's always room for improvement in the way we work together. we're constantly striving to get better but i'm proud of my work force and also the work forces that i get support from the dhs and fbi. >> thank you, director. ...