tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 9, 2015 2:00am-4:01am EDT
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. 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 mor 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 hope should 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
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 in your wheel house. they had an arrest, responded to a shooting n manchester and had officers go into an apartment, unknown to us, these are his
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 data leaves us vulnerable to some of these 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