tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 12, 2015 6:00pm-8:01pm EDT
enforcement intelligence and national security community at screening folks. that said, there is no such thing as a no-risk enterprise, and there are things -- deficits that we face. i'm not comfortable talking about them in an open session. i don't want the bad guys to know -- >> i understand. thank you. >> no if i could. >> please. >> with regard to syrian refugees in particular, i agree totally with what jim said. we should do the right thing by accepting more but we have to be careful in doing it. we have improved the process for vetting from a security standpoint the refugees who are aid mitted in this country, and i'm committed to making sure we maintain that process. >> thank you. director comey, you mentioned encryption to protect against criminals and you mentioned confidences are underway. can you tell us about that? this is real important. >> we're having increasingly
productive conversation wiz industry. i think in part the isil threat focused everybody's minds mindsd understood we're not making this if. there's a conflict between safety, security, and public safety, and so industry is not a monolith. there are lot of different services and products itch found all people care about the safety of america and also care about privacy, civil liberties, and so we're talking about how can we accommodate both values. this is about how can we get you in a position to comply with a court order. not looking for volunteers or to sneak in. how to get to a place technologically, legally, where we can get you to comply with court orders. that's the companies. the really important conversation with our allies reason the world who care both about the same values the rule of law and care about safety, public safety. and so we're having good conversations with a lot of our european allies hey can we together come um with a
framework that would make sense, embrace the rule of law and the last group, state and local law enforcement. this is a problem that affects state and local law enforcement most of all because chiles buddh cause, domestic violence cases, car crash cases, all of those things that cops and sheriffs and d.a. work with are affected by the fact that encryption is an opening available to sophisticated people, to a default. and so cops and sheriffs trying to figure out where this child went are increasingly encounter devices they can't open with a search warrant. so we're engaging them in the conversation, too. this affects every community in the ute. there's no simple answer but that's what i meant when i said the conversations are ongoings and have gotten healthier. polks are not questioning each other's motives because we recognize we care about the same stuff. >> i'll close with this quick note. i was also secretary join son, what can we do to help.
i would say this is an important issue and some things could help, let us know. >> thank you. quick comment, suggestion on the prioritization of the refugee woes led into the country. if set as a criteria, family members. do dna testing, and syrian american families can be financially responsible. so i think it's setting criteria for prioritization of who we let in that would be helpful. senator tester. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you all for your sobering testimony. i'm going to start with you, director comey, and the ranking member touched on it about folks being on twitter and then go dark, and you talked about technology and legality, and you talked about working with the private sector when you responded to the ranking member. the question i have is do you have adequate resource friday
this can go across the board. you work on it, too, jeh. but do you have adequate resources and manpower to be able to technologically stay ahead of these guys? >> a tentative yes, and here's why i say tentative yes. the answer, yes, depends on a number of things. the fbi's able to hire out of hole we were left with from the impact of the last sequestration, almost 3,000 vacancies. we're climbing out of that hole. the second thing is i don't know whether what we failed this summer is the new normal. this summer we were following dozens and dozens of people all over the united states, 24/7, and that's only easy on tv. so to do that we had to surge resources from the criminal cases to make sure we covered this so these folks didn't good kill people and we disrupted a lot of those people, and our great colleagues in the military did great progress of decaying the ability of isil in their
caliphate. i don't know this summer will be the new normal. if it is i will have a resource mismatch and will kole back and ask. >> jeh, is your agency in the same boat? >> i agree with everything jim said. i also agree with his assessment of the going dark problem. there are demonstrable cases where we have seen that our ability to track individuals of suspicion is hampered by the means of communication. >> i would just ask, technology -- can the technology take that darkness to light? >> with help from the private sector, yes. >> okay. collaboration, communication, has been talked. i think it was you and nick talked about across the board you co will be operate and -- collaborate and communicate well. how about state and local loft? are they brought up to speed? are you concern about
information getting out that you don't want out so they're not brought up to speed? give me the lay of the landscape. i don't care which one you want to talk about. >> think it's in a very good place, and i think they would be the best people to check with on this but i think our joint terrorism task forces are fusion centers around the country. our connected in ways they weren't before, and chiefs and sheriffs understand that the new reality, as jeh said issuing is not a washington focused or new york focused, the troubled souls are everywhere, and so they get that and they are engaged. i think the would tell you that they are hearing earlier and more completely from all of us at this table, what they need to know. >> so the channels are there to know information down and back up. >> yes. >> okay. the ranking member also talked about -- he said it takes more than military to reduce the terrorist threats. would you guys agree with that
statement? >> yes, absolutely. >> your role is in reducing the domestic threat. that your primary responsibility, correct? >> yes, sir. >> okay. so, as congress wraps up this year, -- and any one of you guys can answer this but probably you, jeh -- what would you prioritize congress needs to do, two or three things, for you to be able to do your job, that we need to get done soon. >> repeal sequestration so that i can do all the things that the american public needs us to do for homeland security, whether it's cyber security, border security, aviation security. it is going to be very difficult to meet all those of priorities if we have to work with a
sequester it budget. >> has there been any comparison with terrorist actions in this country and other countries in the world? are we more targeted or is it the same threats around the world? go ahead, nick. >> thephone question have all described, untethered actors who potentially are connecting to isil by consuming their media and maybe seeking to act on their own, we have our concerning population of those individuals as the director described, as we all described. our european partners have a much larger population hoff those potential actors, several of them quite a bit larger. so by relative comparisons on scale, i think we are in a sense better off that some of our close european partners. that by no means makes me sanguine about our -- but our
european partners are even mow challenged because the bring to the table often considerably less capability than we do not just in their fbi equivalent or homeland security equivalent, minister of -- but the whole counterterrorism and homeland security enterprise often considerably less well developed than ours and offer looking to us for help to try to help figure that out. >> is that because they choose not to fund it? >> again ex-think it's -- the rapid emergence of this new variant of the threat, i think they became -- as would not beviesing, comfortable with their capable to deal with the kind of al qaeda threat and al qaeda affiliate also they afford it. the threat has changed in a drastic way as we tried to outline, and create as new set of challenge, some of which are resource intensive for law enforcement and intelligence organizations, especially in smaller countries.
>> this isn't within your purview but there is anybody -- it seems to me what is going on in the middle east now, and extended far beyond that -- is crazier than i've ever seen in my lifetime, and i don't think that's an imagination itch think there's stuff going on that makes no sense. is there -- at least from my perspective makes no sense. there is anybody that trying to find the root causes why everything seems to be going upside-down? you're dealing with threat on this en. is there anybody that is trying to ask the questions, why these guys are so effective? i know it's communication, internet and all that. but there's got -- maybe there doesn't -- there is a reason for this stuff? something that is going on in the world that we could have some impacts on that would delegitimatize these folks? >> we could have a whole hearing
on this and you're right, it's not directly within the purview of the three of us. my immediate reaction to your question is that there needs to be more of a global message and a global theme to counter the isil message to the muslim world about what the islamic state supposedly represents, and so my judgment is that in order to try to counter what we're seeing, the volatility we're seeing in the middle east, particularly iraq, syria, is a more amplified global message about how in the muslim world in particular their efforts and energy should directed towards younger people in a positive, constructive way. >> thank you all for the jobs you do. >> thank you, senator tester, secretary johnson, i agree with
you, sequestration was a really stupid idea but there's a way of solving this, called prioritization of spending. i agree, homeland is a top priority. senator aat. >> thank you, chairman. i want to thank all of you for being here and what you to do keep the country safe and your leadership, and i wanted to start with a question for you, secretary johnson, we in new hampshire are facing a public health epidemic with opiode and heroin abuse, and we have had a situation where we have had 60% increase in drug deaths, and recently, mr. secretary, i know to that you -- thank you for reviewing the transcript of the hearing that we had senator shaheen and i had in new hampshire, of this committee, which was we are -- we had the cbp commissioner, gill can ily cow ski, and the office of national drug and control
policy. so, we also heard from the police chief of our largest city, nick willard, and he said something that is important, which is they had an arrest recently -- they responded to a shooting in manchester, and they had officers going to an apartment, unnonto us previously -- here's his words -- and we found to it be a drug house. from that we did an investigation that led to lawrence, massachusetts, and from lawrence, massachusetts, directly to mexico. so, now we know that there's a mexican drug cartel, the sin -- see sinaloa drug cartel in new hampshire and that's alarming. it's really cheap on our streets and this is a very complex problem. there's some very strong bipartisan legislation we're working on here across the aisle, but secretary johnson,
can you tell me what more we need to do to interdict more drugs, especially heroin from mexico, and how are you working with mexican authorities on this issue, and also other departments, including the fbi, the dea, because this really is a public health epidemic. >> well, first, senator, thank you for conducting that sealed hearing. i found the testimony and your remarks from that ebb -- enlightening, and you put a spotlight on a serious problem in new hampshire. from my perspective interdiction is the key, at the southern border. and what we have done in my department is device our southern border campaign strategy, a consolidated, strategic effort to bring to bear all the resources of my department on the single problem of border security, which includes people and narcotics. so, that not just cbp.
it's also immigration, customs enforment, hsi, and we're generally moving in at the direction of a more coordinating extra which includes the dea and other elements of our law enforcement. i'd like to do the same thing on the northern border so we're lest stove-piped in our approach to both borders and my hope is that 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 comey, i wanted to ask you, one 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, butter they want to focus on in the kingpins and on the cartels. we saw some -- secretary joynson, what he just said their interdiction piece, but how is the fbi working to go after, for
example, the kingpins of these enterprises that are really making the money and getting more and more people addicted in our country? >> the answer is working especially closely with dea of-under strategyes folk focused on international organized crime to drive up the cost for them to look up them and thunder lines, to -- and irlieutenants to make it harder for. the to get drugs in, but it's an enormous problem because of the shift you talk about. >> can i ask you -- one issue that the chief raised and we talked about with the dea -- i just want to see if you had any insight -- chicago as a model that they're working on, and i don't know if the fbi understood was part of that model, which was bringing -- it has a sort of a partnership as i understand it. doj, fbi, dea and local
authorities, and our authorities interested, can we bring a sim lag mod toll work together with the task force in new hampshire? i want to get your thoughts on that type of model. >> yes. the model -- i can't remember what the neares task force is to new hampshire. maybe one in boston itch can't recall. that a how much feature of or work. the drug is not the bureaus specialty but we have certain capabilities that we can bring to bear, so we tend to bring it to bear in those task forces, >> i would ask you -- when i that the administrator riley in new hampshire issue would ask you, director comey, can you work with us on this and administrator riley exit that from the dea, too, to just make sure -- i will say that cheap willard says he has been pleased with the help he is getting from the fbi but there are better ways to do this and make sure we're working knowing a cohesive fashion? i appreciate that.
i wanted to ask about this issue of -- i know in your testimony director comey, you talked about the tilt that 250 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 this country very aggressively, and as i understand it we have had maybe close to 50 arrests where -- that are related to these issues. maybe the person didn't travel to syria, but they 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 homeland security to arrest this individuals. what have you been doing cross the country in terms of arrests being made? >> 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 some folks say just let them go, maybe they'll get killed there. maybe they won't, you're we don't want tom coming back. >> that's the future we'll be talking about for the next three to furious. we also want to send a scary message, because what we see in the travelers, they're getting incrementally younger and more females think it's a great way to fine 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 end up in jail for a long stretch, to try to change that
behavior. >> can you give us a sense who are you arresting in whatting this background of the individuals? you said more women? are you encountering younger people? is this just centered in one community or is this across the country? >> the challenge for us, there's no geographic center to it. in part because of the crowd sourced way that message is going out there and are kids and adults who are seeking meaning in theirlift -- in their life, troubled people, and it resonateses with those groups. what i meant was we're -- there isn't a particular demographic either as to location or age. syrian travels ranged from 18 to 63. what be noticed is it seems to be drifting younger with more girls. by girl is mean women under the age of 18 with whom this missionage on social media is resonating. my hope is -- it's not just hope. i may see some early signs in
the data that the message is get ought to families and young people that, first, it's a nightmare in syria. >> of course, women are being 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 her strong stretch, and both things are important in driving the numbers down. time will tell whether we're making progress there. >> this is obviously something we're ail very concern about. we appreciate you all being their. >> thank you, senator ayotte. and thank you for your leadership on this heroin issue. if you remember during the testimony one over border security hearings, general mccaffrey said we're only interdicting five% to ten percent of illegal drugs from the southern border, indicating how unsecure our border is. i want to thank secretary johnson. we talk about the border metrics bill. the language will be done next week so hope any we can get that
passed. i'm happy to -- we have been working on helping you codify your strategies, so happy to ramp up those efforts and work on those areas of agreement. so thank you for that. senator heitkamp. >> thank you, mr. chairman. so much to talk about' and so little time. thank you, secretary johnson, for mentioning the northern border. it's a big balloon, press on one area, it's going to stress another area. obviously we have huge work force challenges on the northern border. recruiting and retaining work force, and so we have been work with opm, working with your office, and i want to thank you for the attention that you folk fess. senator ayotte and have a bill that will hopefully require a new look at the northern border. so i will leave it there. and director, i don't mean to pick on you but i'm going to.
have you ever been to indian country personally? >> yes. >> where? >> i've been to navajo, pueblo. >> okay. have you ever been to a great plains reservation? >> i have not. >> pine ridge? >> my children to 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 cop on the beat. 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 the native american leaders in dealing with drugs, cartels, and easy place to hide because jurisdictionally it's a no man's land and there is 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 -- the tribal champ told me 40% of all the children born on one of my reservations is meth-addicted. so, i'm begging you to help. i'm begging you to seek an opportunity to participate and to bring federal law enforcement and bring your counterparts at dea and really start focusing, because as we talk about, the structures of law enforcement -- spent a lot of years, eight years as north dakota's attorney
general. when people said where is it the fbi gets along with the rest of the states? i'd raise my hand. we have a terrific relationship with the fbi and local law enforcement put be lose and we feel in indian country, and you can't protect the whole state when you have a huge amount of land and a huge opportunity for people who are 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 with 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. and 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 i've had a bunch of meetings on this as director. my children, when i became fbi director, just return from red shirt cable and my two girls said you have to do something you. wouldn't believe what it's like. i understand in a pretty good way what it's like and i describe it as a crime scene without representation. no one speaks for these places so to hear you speak for this, senator, is a wonderful thing. i've done some, not nearly enough. i've pushed additional resources to the minneapolis division 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. so watch this space. i'd loaf to tack 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 to get mous sew welcome get drug task forces and this is when we were worried about far less innumber of who it powder thursday of heroin, methamphetamine is epidemic, and the challenges are not only in the public health arena, because -- indian health isn't equipped to handle this. but certainly in law enforcement, and we need a cop on the beat, and that is the federal official. you have primacy here. and so i look forward to working with you those issues and making sure that this big part of my community, which is native american people, have 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.this. we would welcome you in north dakota. thank you. >> senator portman. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you all for being here and your service. on the issue of opiate abuse, particularly heroin, the growth area in my state of ohio and around the country. we now hey the alarming statistic that in ohio it's the number one cause of death-greater an auto accidents, which is typically the case. i was able to special at the rally on take that occurred sunday inning and then spent the week with some individuals who came in from ohio. ithrough do believe the is an
epidemic level at this point, particularly certain parts of our state, and by the way, the addiction rates in our roo communities are higher than the suburban communities now according to the latest statistics we have. 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 effort odd partners, agencies, ally nations will continue to adapt to this evolving threat and take the necessary action to protect the american public. ask, director, if you could geoff us some information on these foreign fighters and specifically my concern is the visa way waiver countries. can you tell how many foreign
fighters from visa waiver foreign countries have traveled to syria to date? >> i'd have to get back to you with the brokeup but in aggregate if you go back to period when he conflict again well over three years now, the population of individuals we assess have traveled to conflict sewn is upwards of 28,000 right now. that's an aggregate 0, so does not mean today there's a pool or population inside iraq and syria that captures and covers three years of activity and also captures and covers activity in both drecks. individuals who died on the ball feeds or have come and gone or have left and gone to other third locations. from the west, and that would largely capture the visa waiver countries you're talking. we assess that population, that agency degree good at tote --ing a degree galt total is in the --
that the broad breakup of the numbers as we have them. the greatest supplier countries come fro the frontline states because travel is so easy. then as you get into the next outer ring, which would southern and western europe, who the population numbers are significant there as well. >> that's a shocking number, 5,000. and just so people under we're talking about, these are countried with a visa waiver program with the united states where they can get into the united states without going through the normal process to get a series sample these countries are sending foreign fighters into syria. the concern is they go back to their country of origin ask then be able to come to the united states under a visa waiver. and 5,000 is a huge number, and a huge concern. if you wouldn't mind, what i'd like to do is and you to get back to me on a more specific number from the visa waiver countries, specifically i have a concern about the lack of information sharing; we have proms with some countries where
we try to share information but the passenger name rex mission data leaves us vulnerable to some of the countries, sending us some of these foreign fighters. can you tell us about that how the program is working and what can be done to get better data on these people. >> senator, let me start. i agree with you about the concern of foreign fighters coming from countries for which we do not require a visa, which is why last year we required additional information 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 that 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, a requirement that these countries make better use of api and pnr data, that they use the interpol
database for stolen passports on a more regular basis elm we increase the use of federal air marshals on flights coming from the countries. a whole series of security enhancements that we identify and are obtaining from these countries for gallon this reason -- for exactly this rope. >> what more do you need? anything legislatively we can do to ensure we don't have these foreign fighters slipping into the country? >> well, hspd6, a 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 has 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 can -- >> let us know. on the pang name data
recognition, is there something -- on the syrian refugees in general, as you know, secretary johnson, i've spent and time focusing on the issue of special immigrant visas for interpreters who served with our troops in iraq and afghanistan. we have had a hard time going through the security clearance who had already gone through a cleaner process. so i'm very skeptical of what i hear today about 10,000 syrians coming into country and having an expedited process to screen them, having gone through the experience of the interpreters. so i ask you today, and director comey also, you have expressed concerns about this is a well, i've noted in the public media. how are we going to deal with this? 1600 syrians by the end of face school year 2015 are going to be admitted. don'tow think that creates a threat to homeland, and if you do think that from your --
again, the comments i've seen in the public media you have a concern -- what are we going to do about it? >> well, yes, senator. there is risk associate eddie bringing anybody in from to the out, but specially from a conflict zoning e zone like that. i think we have 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. my concern there is that there are certain gaps they i don't want to talk about publicly in data available to us, but i can't speak to the rest of the process. that may be part of what you're talking about. >> well, think there's a significant gap because intelligence in syria is toso bad. right? really don't have the information we need to process these folks. i think we need to figure this out quickly, given the fact we made this commitment. but i don't know, director, was muse send do you have mow -- rasmussen do you have more to
add? >> you certainly highlighted as a matter of comparison the intelligence picture we have of this conflict soap is not as rich as we would like it to be. when you screen and vet, you screen and vet against available intelligence holdings. the more you have, to the more likely you for catch derogatory informing that would cause you to review potential case more closely. so, we -- i think the contributor is right. have a much more streamlined and effective system to make sure all of our intense gel holdings are brought to bear but you can only review against what you have. we are actually building that fact into the way our an lists look at the picture -- analysts look at the ping tour as well so we can identify where more questions need to be asked even if intelligence isn't available available. >> my time expired. but this is a huge issue and before making these commitment is hope there was some dialogue with certainly the -- you three
gentlemen and your organizations and i hope we can come up with a screening process that is better than the one we have had on the interpreters, particularly with less intelligence on the ground. >> senator lang ford. >> thank you for your work to protect the nation. extremely important, and i want you to hear from the folks in oklahoma, we appreciated the work that you do. it's incredibly valuable elm we understand veil well, as jeh johnson was in oklahoma not long ago, director comey, we understand extremely well the that we face. we're grateful for what you're doing. i want to ask you, secretary johnson you mentioned before about the cybersecurity bill. can you explain to the committee the why on the cyber security bill. not the threats but the specific language and what you need on the bill. >> yes, sir. two principle things come to mind immediately. one, expresssive congressional authorization -- explicit
authorization for dhs resident ability to monitor, identify, and block unwanted intrusions in other federal agencies through our einstein system. the virtue of the i'm stein system, it has the ability to block intrusions and it is a platform for greater and better technology in the future. >> that's 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 psychber threat indicators. so that -- cyber threat indicate years. that is in the penning legislation now before the senate and that a very good thing. those are the two principle areas. all the data breach notification righter but those their two principle thing wes need. >> voluntary cooperation or mandatory cooperation with the private sector? >> we believe that encouraging voluntary cooperation with the private sector is the way to go. >> that a key aspect. i would agree on that. the private sector and their
cooperation -- the fbi doesn't come from mars. we're all american citizens here and it's finding ways to work together on this. it's extremely important. i want us to be able 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 from narcoterrorrists, moving into our boreds and distributing this incredibly toxic substance across our nation so whether it's heroin, cocaine, whether it's american american, methamphetamine, it's a strategic move and extremely agrees and if seems to be accelerating in a pace we haven't seen before in many areas. we have in locations that these drugs are coming from as well.
so can you help me understand the coordinated strategy, not only dealing with isis and those threats on american soil but the threats coming coming in from narcoterrorrists reasons the world, both their distribution networks, interdiction, and i if wheeling with new locations and groups to bring it in. how are we coordinating that among the agencies to take that on. >> senator, i 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 dedea, great leader, sent over his team to brief me on the current vue of the threat and it's breath take can. cocaine use has gone down. all the rest is awful. and so the strategy from the enforcement perspective is, try to disrupt the traffickers. try to look them up, both the kingpins in mexico, and is where
this is coming from, and to disrupt their -- the gangs and organized criminals they're using to distribute in the united states. the goal being to try to drive up the price to be honest. what is happening is heroin is so cheap and so pure that it is a tidele wave watching over the children because they don't know how pure it is. so drive up the cost by locking up as many of these peoples we can, and i can't speak to the international pizzas well as maybe others could. >> a good working relationship with the government of mexico. my department and i spend time with our mexican counterparts. i plan to there next week. this is a topic. we have our joint task forces he but working with the government of mexico is obviously key and 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 result seeing new players internationally that are trying to actually get supplies to the united states? >> uh-huh. >> mexico is obviously a very close neighbor. they're pushing through north america, to canada. are there other locations you have seen on the horizon that you would say, this is a knew region we have not debt with dash death with -- haven't dealt with. >> the mexican traffickers figured out they can do better bit -- instead of bringing colombian heroin and transport to the united states, they're growing it in southern mexico. so, it's just a business i'm they just shorten their transportation route. the drop their cost to sell it at a lower cost and high are purity. so the other piece which is a plague in the -- is methamphetamine. think making it in huge factories in mexico.
they're not bringing it from colombia or anymore. so the center, ground see record for this plaguing -- ground zero for this plague is mexico. >> the united states coast guard, we sent the uss stratton on a fourening month mission to central america. they interticket ticketed. $1 million worth of cocaine, including large seed suze off of submersibles that the cartels manufacture and run in the high seas between south mrs. and central america. so -- south america and central america. >> what is the -- to be able to continue that kind of interdiction? it's not coming from central america and trying to find the locations, methamphetamine production, i believe, is going down in the united states but rising rammedly in mexico. so we have found effective ways to limit the production in 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 your mexicoian counterparts is a good start but the fields continue to grow that there are both with poppy and marijuana and the production and the locations to be able to pick up basic shy, do methamphetamine and the international connections for those. how can we help? >> greater coordinated law enforcement between the two governments. that's the key. we do that on a regular basis but we need to do more. >> ty, keep your eye on the ball because that is something we deal with on our streets across the entire country all the time. you know that very well. the focus can't be off international terrorism, and their plans and intentional focus to penetrate the united states but we know narcoterrorrists are penetrating every day, and to be able to find a way to go through that. one other quit 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. you have been good on a with a we are. we're addressing d waiver. we are trying to work through the final process to get up to speed so appreciate that. >> thank you. the think i'd emphasis there we're progressing in our effort to enforce the law to 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 and working with the state officials in oklahoma. >> good, 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 itch want get to your assessment of the unfortunate reality us you take them you've the man they're replaced, pocket leadership as well as the flow of foreign fighters seems to continue largely unabated. can you just give me your sense
of 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 way we look as this as an intelligence community is try to identify who brings our instinct capability to -- unique ken cable, whether it's a leadership target, a specific set of skills, perhaps in the weapons of mass destruction field 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. that is an -- >> what about the flow of foreign fighters?
>> 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 well say if there is good news story somewhere imbedded in this foreign fighter story, its that the level of information sharing , particularly with the european part in other words, is much more robust than it would have been had -- at the point we entered this crisis. >> the reality ills we have not stemmed the flow the way we want. to talk about a little bit about the significance of the caliphate and the territory. there's an excellent article written by graham wood which was eye-opening. can you talk about that, lay out that reality, and why part of our strategy has to be to deny them that territory, to really end this caliphate? >> there's a couple of different features of the isil's
declaration of a caliphate that make it particularly concerning. one is, it becomes almost a magnet to attract individuals who are seeking meaning, who are seeking to participate in a global jihaddist enterprise, and that is unlike al qaeda, who is often running their enter prize as clandestine movement. isil is issuing an open invitation on social media for people to come to the caliphate and join. so, simply the terms terms of sd scale, the declaration of the caliphate gives us concern because it provides that magnet. beyond that somewhere 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 priorities can it
gives them the times' space to pursue more aggressive ambitious external operations. again, maybe of the sort than al qaeda did traditionally. so the part of the caliphate that gives me concern is the physical space in iraq and syria you pointed to with your question. >> the goal of the strategy, with that in mind, need tops be deny them that territory. you have to deny them that territory to defeat them. >> i agree. >> director comey, i did meet with this young woman, bazi, who had the courage to come forward and tell her story in terms terf combating on social media the young women who are actually inspired to go to syria and iraq to join isis. that would be a powerful way of doing it, just to comment. secretary johnson, we have held eight hearings on border security now. we'll hold our ninth. in a couple weeks we'll issue
the majority report on our conclusions from those hearings. i think we are in agreement -- because we talked about this -- i'm a manufacturer, always looking for the root cause. i think the we degree the route cause is 0 insashable demand for drug and has given rise to doctoring cartel who are combining with transnational criminal organizationsing are terrorist organizations and that's what we need to address. we have to lay out that ugly and harsh reality. i'd like to give you, sect johnson, the opportunity -- you talked about the strategy you're trying to ememploy that you want this congress, quite honestly this committee, to help you codify. can you describe what your strategy is in summary disease
tail? i'm completely committed to work very closely with you and your department to codify this in a step-by-step approach, the way we can actually accomplish it. find the university afrom that unite us. can you lay that out and give me the priorities? you need information to solve the prone element. so the border security metrics bill, we'll get that passed and on the president's desk as soon as possible. then what are the next steps and what's your strategy? >> in terms of pure border security, senator, more technology, more surveillance. to pursue a risk-based strategy so that we go after the threats where they know they exist. more surveillance, more technology, which is reflect net our fy16 budget submission. we need help in terms of speeding the process of to deportations and asylum applications in immigration
courts, more resources to accomplish that so 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 border i talked to a seven-year-old girl who came from central america all by herself to texas. and more surveillance is not going 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 those countries. 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 happy congress seriously considered that, as long as the conditions in the 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 smart, efficient, border strategy, which includes surveillance and technology, on our bored, but we have to address the underlying causes, too. >> if we do survey and detect and apprehend and process and distribute and disburse, that send as powerful signal, too, to central america if you get into america, regardless of what the laws say, if we don't send people home, that's going to increase the flow. it's the problem right now with syria. we just have the president of germany in. the more europe accept of the refugees from the compassion we are as people, to address the humanitarian crisis, the more they accept in, the more of the four million displayfulled outside will flow into europe. this more of the .6 displaintiffsed within syria will become refugees and flow into europe. so we have a capacity in our countries to take people.
what incentives are we creating for illegal system and we'll be going to central america. we have to sees are there governing structures, leaders like we had in colombia, leaders that will take the money and use it properly improve conditions. those are legitimate questions. we have tetrose as part of our border security strategy, assessing the fact of our insatiable demand for draw, and incentives for illegal immigration. so let's have a functioning guest worker program. a host of issues. we can control things here. i don't know how much we can control in central america. we're compassionate and want to help and that great. we can do things here and let's make shire we are addressing all those incentives within our laws and adjudication process that
are centavossing people coming to this country and end those incentives. >> i don't disagree but i do believe, having spent my 22 mocks of secretary of homeland security intensely focused on this problem, that a large part of the solution is addressing the conditions in central america. >> again, if. >> a matter of compassion. >> i with can place those economically prosperous zornes, not a haven for drug and corruption, aisled agree with you. i'm not sure we can. there's things we do short term inside the country ourselves. senator carpenter. >> thank you, mr. secretary, find out what works, and do more of that. and if we good back and look at colombia 20 years ago, failed nation. colombia which we funded, a lot of leadership from the private sect and they have turned things around. so somebody has done this before.
we were involved in that and so were other folks. with respect to central america, the movement of these folks to tower country ex-especially last year, not as much this year, but there's a root cause and you nailed it, mr. secretary. that the chairman says, there's lot of wisdom in that as well. it's not a choice of doing one or the other. we need to do both, and the question is, can walk which chew gum at the same time. i think we and can must. nick, i've taken it easy on you today. i get you into the game here. for a little bit. does the name jess to -- jessica stern mean anything to you? >> yes, terrorism expert with former government service. >> her husband does, too, her husband, chet atkins, former cal league of self of us in the houston of representatives for years. had the -- 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 couple months ago, and she was good enough to give me a couple of her books, one called: isis, state of terror. and that's recent. and another book she wrote more than a decade ago, and her focus -- the older book focused on what is it that is causing estranged alienated men largely to create in this country faith-based organizations that are designed -- that are moving 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 accuse causes. what is causing these mostly guys to leave their countries and go off and form an outfit or joan an outfit like isis. she concluded these are mostly
men without much meaning anywhere the life. people who are -- they don't like -- in this country they think of us as the 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 their life, not much prospect. she said, they're ripe for the plucking. did she have it right there? ...
particularly fraught right now or where isil seems to be able to take hold, another current is sectarian conflict. when there are significant unresolved sectarian issues, and, and i will lead to are the details on how that plays out in across in syria and the cross the sunni communities, that just creates a much more fertile ground for the isil narrative to take hold. and so that, as you develop, as you consider mitigating strategies, that adds a layer of complexity to what you are trying to do because you are not simply setting up a condition where you are good against evil or good guys against bad guys. terrorist population of concern is also anin mesh
with the sectarian conflict in which the answers are not easy, they would have been seized upon by previous iraqi insecurity governments. all i am saying is that adds a layera layer of perplexity to a somewhat more simple narrative a personal alienation, and i'm not saying simple in a derogatory way. that is one level of the problem. >> i know that the people coming are going. some are coming. you don't have much in terms of earning power. and one of the things i hear is getting some money. could you take a minute and give us an unclassified assessment, running a deficit, having trouble paying there bills. what arewhat are some of the -- how do these facts impact your ability to be successful? >> a very good question. at a closed aggregate level we believe isis is a
well-financed, well funded organization right now. we assess some of the resource base upon which they rely is not something that will be replenished we will. you can rob a central bank the hand of it. we had hope that over time isys ability to generate additional resources would go down more dramatically than it has. what they have shown is an ability to muster ways to use the national resources presence of territory they control, principally oil, and exploit that for financial gain and develop their own manufacturing capability and innocence run organization like the state. unlike the al qaeda financial prediction where you were worried about specific fundraising activities and far-flung capitals around the world
pakistani, this is with out more self generation as it functions like a state including using taxation but also extortion and criminal means as well. >> one last quick question. ii understand you have established the office of violent extremism. couldcould you take a moment and share with us how this office poll things maybe differently than the dhs existing efforts to counter violent extremism? >> a couple of things. this office and director will report directly to me. i am consolidating all personnel who work in that one office under the supervision of that one director and he wants to eventually use this office to extend its reach out to the field so that we have more reach in the field because you get good
results. i want this office to focus on taking our efforts along with the fbi and other agencies to the next level which is giving the counter message of our long-term platform, encouraging leaders in those communities with the tech sector develop some of our own grant making in this specific area. >> thank you. >> thanks to each. >> senator baldwin. >> pretty good timing. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ranking member, i want to thank all three of you for your service, and i was here for your testimony. testimony.testimony. as you know, i had to step out. at the risk of getting into
some of the territory that has already been covered in my absence, i apologize, but i wanted to dovetail on some of the questions that senator carper asked in his first-round relating to the syrian refugee crisis and in particular a number of you testify that we are getting better at the vetting process over time that we are not 100 percent air proof yet. and also, i thinkalso, i think chairman johnson talked a little bit about prayer organization. i'm wondering if you can outline for me how we make this process more efficient and swift without sacrificing quality, and if
you can talk a little bit about the choir was positioned -- prioritization process to the degree that exists to deal with family members. i mean, i would assume the vetting process for a child is different than that of an adult. recognizing that we are currently in a public setting, please tell me as much as you can. >> yes, thereyes, there are several agencies involved in the process, us eis, state department, and when i refugee is referred to us, they areus, they are referred to us by unhcr. unhcr will have done some of its own vetting, not necessarily the security vetting. and in referring a refugee to the united states in particular, it is my understanding that they do so because there family connections to the united states.
judge them to be a good candidate for resettlement in the united states. was there with us the state department meets with the individual. they'll personally interview the refugee. a pretty extensive background check now that includes vetting against a lot of other databases and agencies, including law enforcement and intelligence better than it used to be. the good news here is, unhcr has already identified a number of refugees that they believe the appropriate for resettlement in the united states. we are not starting from scratch. identified a number that is resealable -- that are suitable for resettlement.
the last fiscal year, close to turn around 2,000 ._gotten through the. new line gotten through the ones who were focused on in fiscal 15. but i do want to be and have told our people we should be very careful in the security reviews for each of these. i agreethese. i agree with the assessment that has been expressed here earlier, a population, population of people that we will not know a lot about necessarily coming from syria. we will meet our commitments with the resources that we have, but we will do so carefully. >> thank you. mr. rasmussen, you talked in your testimony, written testimony describing increasing competition and conflict between the taliban, isil, and al qaeda.
you also mentioned that the conflicts between these groups may, in some respects, distract from their western targets. i would like to hear from you sort of what are the questions that you are asking. what are the questions your asking. and in some ways, i have always worried that conflict between these groups could lead to a competition to be more spectacular than, you know, each other and, of course, gives us great concern. >> the conflict plays out on a number of levels. first of all, on an on an ideological level conflict and competition are taking place between al qaeda and the affiliated groups that remain affiliated.
other affiliated organizations, competitions between them and isil for preeminence in the marketplace of ideas among global extremists, so that is at a very high altitude, but on the ground in certain locations, there is actual much more on the ground physical conflict between isil or isil related groups with the taliban in afghanistan can for example. actually there you have individuals who in other circumstances might not even be comrades in arms, but in this circumstance are the agent fighting to kill each other on the battlefield. i take your point that you
do not want to create a competition for every level, but the one thing that internal conflict, particularly that on the battlefield of a place like afghanistan, it tends to be pretty all-consuming for a terrorist organizationa terrorist organization to fight a ground war against other extremist adversaries. wewe are watching very carefully to see if the comments afghanistan kansas attention to gain on the ground and turns from that project to something that would be aimed at us, particularly something with an external focus, something looking at the west. so i don't necessarily want to call it good news or that we are part of this, but this is a matter of assessment. verified capabilities. we don't necessarily have the opportunity, the ability to prioritize everything equally. the more they are engaged in that kind of effort on the
ground, the less capacity that they have to carry out. >> in your verbal testimony this morning, you talked about isil having overtaken al qaeda and pointed to access to resources and territorial control and control over basically more people. is there still a sharp distinction between isil and al qaeda with regard to their aspirations, controlled territory? and how does that relate to the risk that the organizations opposed to our homeland? >> from the perspective of al qaeda the declaration of the caliphate is illegitimate and premature, and so they differ fundamentally on a central premise of the agenda. at the same time, i would
not draw some huge distinction between the two groups as they look at the legitimacy or virtue of attacking the west in whatever way that they can find the capacity to do so. now, they are not making common cause with each other in that effort because of the philosophical leadership , but at the same time, we worry and watch for individuals who migrate across organizational lines to cooperate with each other for a specific, purpose driven, you know, effort. just become someone one day is that the mere laminated batch may not last very long and you may find yourself changing teams and changing sides, what i said my testimony, success breeds success. the more individuals have flown in the direction of isis.
>> i notice i have exceeded my time already. i have one other question ii wanted to hear from the witnesses and ask unanimous consent to submit it for the record. >> and we will keep the record open for questions. it is another tradition a closing comment, things that you would want to remark after the questioning. i will start with you. >> ii do not think that i have anything. we have covered a complex set of topics. i'm not sitting here thinking there is something lingering. >> sec. secretary johnson. >> chairman, senator carper, i have appreciated our constructive working relationship. i appreciate the town that you said at these hearings command i appreciate your friendship. >> director rasmussen? >> i wish we had more time.
mr. chairman, on the governmental affairs side of your committee sat, i think that you would be pleased, aspleased, as senator carper said, with how well and closely our organizations are working together. as many of you know, it is an organization that relies on contributions from other organizations. it's found in the contribution of other organizations. just a couple weeks ago i had the opportunity to host director call me as he spoke to fbi deep tale -- detail ease it were doing terrific work on behalf of us all. to say there is always room for improvement and away we are working together, there is constantly room for improvement, but i'm trying be proud ofto be proud of my workforce in the workforce is that i get support from and deal to have dhs and fbi. >> we talked earlier about the cooperation between your agency and state and local government.
as i talk to individuals and wisconsin tasked with fewer missions keeping wisconsin and this nation safe they are pleased with the cooperation. so we are moving in the right direction which is good news, and i appreciate it. i want to thank you for your service to this nation. i think america is incredibly fortunate to have miniature caliber and your dedication and integrity serving in your capacity. i realize that this is not a nine to 55 days a week job. all three of your working hard to keep this nation shape -- safe. >> i am tom carper, and i approve approve this message. >> there is an awful lot we agree on. >> this hearing will remain open.
>> they will drop out of the race for speaker of wisconsinspeaker if wisconsin republican paul ryan decides to seek a job. >> tonight on c-span new series, in 1830 dred scott was a slave to u.s. army surgeon doctor john emerson. assigned to duties in several free states during which dred scott married harriet robinson. when the dr. done tried to
buy his family's freedom but she refused and he sued. follow the case of scott versus sanford and the c-span new series landmark cases, historic supreme court decisions with our special guest, george washington university law professor and martha jones, jones, legal research and history professor at the university of michigan law school. we will explore this ruling by revealing the life and times of the people, lawyers injustices. landmark cases live tonight at 9:00 o'clock eastern. and be sure to join the conversation as we take calls, emails, tweets, and facebook comment, and facebook comments during the program using the hashtag landmark cases. and for background on each case while we watch order your copy of landmark cases companion book available for $8.95 plus shipping at c-span.org/landmark cases. >> washington journal is live from the montgomery county correctional facility tomorrow morning, and we will talk with officials
from the jail. "washington journal" continues. host: our first guest of the morning, kimberly atkins of "the boston herald." she is the chief washington correspondent and a columnist and >> our 1st guest of the morning, chief washington correspondent, columnist, supreme court reporter on a regular basis. good morning to you. and particularly as to how it might influence the presidential campaign. on how much a topic the court itself has become? guest: as we see the campaign go on, it will become an important topic. we've already seen the candidates talking a little bit more about it and it's starting to heat up because the next president has the potential as you noted, to appoint up to four justices on the court and that
would dramatically shift the ideology of the court in one direction or the other depending on who the next president is. host: part of that is people that might get chosen to the court from the next president. what the candidates specifically saying about the court? is it more about cases before the court or who they would like to appoint? guest: right now, they're focused on topics and issues. hillary clinton bringing up the issue of same-sex marriage. the landmark ruling legalized it across the country could somehow be in jeopardy if more conservatives are appointed to the court. many of the big blockbuster cases are decided 5-4. they're very close decisions system and she's brought up the issue of gun controls saying the court's rules were wrong in that they should allow for more gun control measures, especially in light of some of the repeat things that's happened. the recent mass shootings. so right now it's more topical and, you know, bernie sanders
saying he would want somebody who would overturn the citizens united ruling which would allow for unlimited corporate funding and presidential campaigns. it's starting to heat up but it will be a major issue for the next president. host: how much of the topic will include same-sex marriage and on the president's health care law? guest: a lot, especially as we see this term. there's yet another challenge to the health care law that's making its way to the court. the court's likely to take up about religious nonprofits. as much that is in the news, that will be in an issue that the candidates will take on. host: the topic of the choice of justices. if you go back in history from the various presidents at best, maybe chosen one or two justice during the time. in this case, when the next president comes into power, you're going to have several in the upper 70's and early 80's.
talk about that and what choices they have to make. guest: there are four justices that could be likely to retire or leave the court in the next administration. and two are appointed by democrats and two are appointed by republicans and one is the -- what we call the swing voter, anthony kennedy who is usually the decide for the many of these really close 5-4 decisions. so if a republican, for example, sofa republican president replaces the two democratically appointed justices, that would create a dramatic shift. it will no longer be this 5-4 teetering balance. it would be a solidly conservative court. and if a democrat apoints replaces two of the more conservative leaning justices. so that could really change the way a decision is handed down if you've looked at this 5-4 you
know, split we've had for most of the last decade. host: again, our topic, turning to the idea that the supreme court and its role in the presidential campaign of 2016. 202-748-8001 for republicans. 202-748-2002 for democrats. if you want to post on twitter, you can do that and on our facebook page as well at facebook.com. our guest is kimberly atkins of "the boston herald." she covers washington as well at the supreme court. john roberts. especially amongst republicans after the decision on same-sex marriage and the affordable health care act. talk a little bit about how people are responding -- the candidates are responding to him. do you think he backs specific topic of discussion? guest: i think he does and he already has. we saw at the republican debates
that john roberts became a subject of -- and often a subject of derision among some of the candy who is don't think he's conservative enough. his multiple rulings is the decider in the affordable care act challenges, upholding the law. we're very .ing to a lot of republicans who are hoping he would help cult that law down. and he was appointed by george w. bush. so it puts jeb bush in a particularly delicate decision to criticize his brother which he has. he stated that the chief justice doesn't have a long enough record of conservative rulings, which is debatable. but that he would try to find someone with a longer record to try to appoint. it's so interesting that this republican appointed chief justice, someone who seems at the time with harold is one of the greatest achievements for george w. bush during his term
is now the subject of criticism from republicans. and we'll see that escalate, if anything,. host: one of the sharpest critics was senator ted cruz ask about john roberts specifically. we'll get your response to it. >> well, i've known john roberts for 20 years. he's an amazingly talented lawyer but yes, it was a mistake when he was appointed to the supreme court. he's a good enough lawyer when he knows these obama care cases he changed the law for political outcome. and, you know, we're frustrated as conservatives. we keep winning elections and then we don't get the outcome we wanted. let me focus on two moments in time. number one in 1990 and in one room was david suiter and another room was zit jones. and e bush apoint suitor john roberts in one room and my former boss on the fourth
circuit court of appeal dshes >> thank you. >> let me give you the consequences of that. if instead the president bush has apoint edith jones and mike lewdic, obama care would have been struck down three years ago and the marriage laws of all 50 states would be on the books. these matter and i fought to defend the constitution my whole life. host: do you have anything to add to that? guest: it's really interesting. not always when a president apoints a supreme court justice, they're surprised at some of the rulings they've made. you can't say that the chief justice has been a liberal leaning justice in any way but sometimes there have been justices that have come out in a way that's different than anticipated, for example, retired justice suitor, the republican appointee. he aligned so close is with the liberal block of the court that he waited until after president
obama was elected to retire to ensure that a democrat would replace him. so sometimes supreme court justices are surprises with the exception of the affordable care act rulings, chief justice roberts has been a pretty reliably conservative voice. maybe not conservative enough for ted cruz. host: first call for you comes from john from glen view, illinois. caller: good morning. how are you? host: fine, thanks. caller: i have a comment and a question. the comment is that something that you spoke about moments ago about gun control. first of all, i am very worried about in the presidential election as it relates to supreme court nominations and that's one of the reason that it's critical that the democrats hold the presidency. however, you mentioned how in light of recent events, the various decisions should have gone a different way or should go a different way.
that's one of the things that scares me the most. when they do when they come up with their decisions, current event and politics are not supposed to -- are not supposed to be a factor. let me explain quickly what i mean by that. it's true that when things get up to the supreme court, they can be -- they're so complex because there's competing constitutional rights involved and other things involved in president and other cases. and technology changes or when they wrote the constitution or various amendments, certain things have not what you cannot do and what they sometimes do do and it's very dangerous is to take a look at things currently going on and instead of trying to tense the constitution are come up with the constitutional amendment to base your decision, not unconstitutional arguments, but on things happening right now,
it should be decided differently now than 50 years ago -- that is extremely dangerous and frankly and could bepriate considered and a legal way of doing business. host: i will let our guest step in on the comments you brought to the table. guest: i think you're right in terms of what the justices should consider when making a ruling on constitutional issues or any issues. it should not be based on the news headlines. the point i was making is that in light of recent events the presidential candidates are likely going to be discussing gun control and gun rights more. we have already seen former secretary of state clinton bring that up specifically in talking to saying that we are making an appointment to the court and the decisions that the court will make involving the second amendment will be crucial. .. the justices themselves, of course, they look at the constitution.
they interpret the constitution very differently. some justices would disagree , andyou that things change with the changing technology and evolution of society, that constitutional consideration should change. some believe that is not the case. more conservative justices don't. other more liberal justices do believe in the so-called living constitution that does change with the times. you are absolutely right in the way that the court should consider issues and that presidential candidates are not limited to those parameters. host: judy from idaho, good morning. caller: i would like to comment that the flood of money in this current election in the last couple of elections with citizens united may have caused justice kennedy to change his mind >> he said he didn't believe it would create the appearance of corruption. and obviously from the polls it has created a general belief
that money is corrupting the electoral system. that is i have to say. >> we will see on that. there will be more challenges in the area of campaign finance reform and i don't know what justice kennedy is thinking but we have seen justice change their mind over time. retired justice john paul steven made a change on the death penalty voting to uphold the constitutionality and at the end of his term and after retiring he is one of the most vocal opponents. so justice can change their mind overtime especially as they see the impact they haveory ruling. and (202) 748-8000 for democrats.
202-748-8002 for independents. gallop did a poll asking if people thought the court was too liberal or too tuff. 37% said too liberal, 26% too conservative, and 7% said it is about right and 3% no opinion. >> guest: i think that is true. i think a lot of people few the ideas of the court through their own political lens whether it is too conservative or too liberal for that individual so you get differing opinions. a certain amount of percentages are tuned in to what the supreme court does and others pay more attention when the big decisions come down. it depends on when you catch people in the polls and i think you will have different opinions
on the court no matter who is appointed and especially with an even split when you think about who they were appointed by republicans or democrats. evenly split you will get widely differing opinions. >> do the justice expect how the public looks at them as too liberal or too conservative? >> guest: no, the court is supposed to be an a political party. that is why they are appointed for life. you will see the court recognizing changes in society when considering issues. for example, the same-sex ruling, one of the factor was the changing few about same-sex marriage and they had to take that into consideration when making that ruling. they try to stay as apolitical
as possible. >> host: this is rob from new york. >> caller: thank you, c-span2. good morning. i look at the citizens united decision as just one of the greatest blunders in the history of this supreme court. to put it another way, too smart they are not. such genius we put into the highest court in the land and this is what they come up. i called to ask if you believe we will see anyone resign within the balance of the term of president obama? and did you believe that if ruth geinsberg resigns is it going to be a politically charged
decision on her part? >> a lot of people, liberal activist and editor boards have called on justice ginsburg to step down during the president obama campaign so he can replace her with a democrat in the event a republican gets the next term. she has been adamant she has no plans to retire. she points to justice john paul stevens who was on the court until his 90s. after he retired he expresses regret saying maybe it was too soon. so i think the likelihood of a volunteer resignation is small.
it could happen. sometimes they retire for family members health or their own health. we have to see. unless there is another circumstance, i highly doubt that anyone will step down. >> host: bonnie in michigan. hi. bonnie in lansing, michigan. go ahead. >> caller: i have a comment about the prisons letting all of the mentally ill out. in 1991, governor anglor, hello -- >> host: sorry, bonnie, i think you are calling about the last segment. we are trying to stick to the topic of the supreme court.
barbara from new york, hi. >> caller: if a supreme court justice became mentally impaired but refused to acknowledge that would chief justice roberts be able to force that person off the court? do you know how they would go about doing that? >> guest: that is a pretty good question. because justice are appointed for life the only way they can be removed from the court is through the impeachment process. so no, the chief justice couldn't force someone off the bench. over the course of history there have been some justice who stayed on the bench for a long period of time and it was an open question whether they were at their full mental capacity. that is something to consider. i have to say were the current justice on the court going to argument and seeing them they
are seem extremely sharp. i don't think that mental ability is a factor in any of the current justice's decisions to step down. it wasn't the case with john paul stevens who was quite sharp on the court well into the his 90s. but into the future, that is one thing you get with lifetime appointments is that it is not always easy to remove someone from the court. if you will want to call and ask about campaign 2016 go ahead. alabama, go ahead. >> caller: i would like to ask ms. atkins what her opinion about judge clerence thomas. he is the most conservative of all of the judges. >> host: as far as worst decisions what stands out in
your mind? >> guest: i think a lot will agree justice thomas is the most conservative member of the court. he is even more conservative than scalia. he began with a controversial process in 1991. he is a black justice who replac replaced thurgood marshall and he could not be more different than the justice he replaced. he can be divisive. but he is a conservative justice. he has his own style as well. i know a lot of people are
critical of the fact he doesn't, for example, ask questions during oral arguments on the bench. he said he thinks there is too much lobbying going on trying to get people on their side as opposed to devlve into the issus of the day. >> host: do you know today if he has ever asked a question? >> guest: he has. it has been on rare occasions. he used to do it regularly if not frequently but he made a comment when someone brought up ivy league schools and he has been honest about his decision. he said his diploma put a sticker on it showing that is what he thought it was worth. it caught headlines because it was unusual to see.
i was in court. (202) 748-8001 four republicans. and (202) 748-8000 for democrats. 202-748-al 8 0 -- 8002 for independents. our guest kimberly atkins. one case coming up affirmative action. can you talk about it? >> guest: yes, it is from the university of texas. it is about a white student being denied after admission considered in the decision. and the court sort of punted a few terms back and said we don't have -- we didn't have a trial. we didn't have a fully developed
record to know just how much they considered race. if it looks like a quota or not tailored enough for the interest of diversity they will strike it down. the lower court affirmed again and the court has a chance now to rule just how much race can be considered. >> host: the university of michigan had a similar case before the court. any indications how the justice might decide on what happened at the university of michigan? >> guest: in that case the decision about the michigan public university the court ruled against it. it ruled it was not narrowly tailored enough to make this ruling. we saw justice sotomyer giving an emotional descent about the
importance of diversity. we know there is a divide. in the lower court the first time the texas case went up the court agreed 7-1. and justice kagan sat out. it was 7-1 and that gave them another shot at this. it is going to be eight justices which brings up the possibility of an even split. this like many cases will rest with how justice kennedy sees the decision and whether it is narrowally tailored enough. >> even split goes back to the lower court? >> guest: in the ruling split the ruling policy would be upheld. >> host: from michigan this is gregory for our guest. hi. >> caller: hi. i was wondering why when a person do all of his
requirements as far as being a well accountable citizen why doesn't the court system give them justice? why do we always have to get set back two times to move half a foot ahead? >> host: caller, i think you are calling in for the last segment. let's go to mike in pennsylvania. >> caller: i want to talk to ms. atkins. is the senate the person that appoints? justice? >> they are nominated by the president and confirmed by the full senate, yes. the house doesn't vote. >> caller: the senate puts them in? >> guest: they confirm them. the president selects the nominee and the senate confirms
them before being put on the court. >> caller: do you ever think the legislature should have something to say about this? >> guest: the way the constitution dictates this and it says by advise and consent of the senate and that is the way it is done. one interesting point about senate conformation is there was a time when the senate gave preference to the president's pick. that is not the case. the most liberal justice which is ginsburg and scalia one of the more conservative members were unanimously confirmed to the court and i don't think you would see that. it was more split for sotomayor and kagan.
there is politics at play but as long as the constitution is the way it is the senate votes. >> host: a recent opt-ed was written about a code of conduct between the supreme court. she said there is no rules requiring justice to recuse themselves because of conflict of interest despite they might be hearing cases that might be such. to you, how does the court handled conflict of interest? at least the justice themselves. what is their responsibility in this? >> guest: it is true that the justice don't have the same strict codes as lower federal court judges do. we see justice recuse themselves on occasion. it usually involves pieces where one of the parties, they may have stock ownership, if it is one of the parties involved with a financial tie they may seek to
avoid. sometimes you see justice themselves talk about rulings so they can participate in it. or like in the case of justice kagan she worked on as a solicitor general in the obama administration she recuses herself. it is up to the justice to decide if they will hear a case. sometimes that is controversial. especially in cases involving abortion. justice ginsburg is vocal about that and that is upsetting for people who think she made up her mind already. >> host: we heard about abortion related cases with hobby lobby last term. any similar cases? >> guest: we are seeing some work up involving state-law restrictions placed on abortion providers. some requiring anyone providing
abortions to have affiliation with a local hospital within 30 miles. or that their facilities be something akin to hospital facilities all the way down to you know whether gernies can fit inside these -- gurneys -- facilities which would shutdown a lot of providers particularly in more rural and poorer areas so they are being challenged and i think we will see one of them this term. >> host: bob is next from alabama. go ahead. >> caller: i would like to ask a question about why should the supreme court rule in favor of marriages when the majority of the people favor the law or whatever they are trying to pass? why don't they abolish the supreme court and eliminate that
vote and let the people kerry madden -- carry it out. i would agree with abolishing the supreme court myself. >> gues >> guest: the issue of the right of the voters and the und understanding of the supreme court is ongoing. we see ted cruz bring it up a lot when talking about the same-sex marriage case and saying it is up to it states to decide the law versus this elected body. currently our system of government is made up where the court is the final word in what constitution l constitution constitutional law is. one of the landmark cases was the mulberry madison cases.
that is one of the first substanial rules made establishing that wall. >> host: the series nine o'clock tonight and why looking at dred scott tonight. landmark cases. (202) 748-8001 four republicans. and (202) 748-8000 for democrats. joan from new jersey. thanks for holding on. go ahead. >> caller: good morning. i have a comment. there is no such thing as a living constitution. however my question is being we live in a democracy why don't the people have a choice in who sits on the supreme court? it is a democracy and we should be able to vote on it not leave
to it life plea time appointments. >> there is sort of two responses i have to that. one, indirectly the people have a say. people elect the knows the president selects the supreme court justice and the members of the senate who vote on the supreme court justice so it is not as if there is no representative aspect to it at all. but the reason for lifetime appoi appointments is as i said before the idea that you want people on the supreme court who are beholding to know o-- no one. you want people being beholding to the law and not looking at who they have to appeal to who making ruling. you want nine people that are making rulings based on how they read the constitution, how they read a statute and really what
the legal conclusion should be in a particular case as opposed to from a political stand point. >> host: kim atkins from the "the boston herald." offline, should the court be interpreting the constitution? >> absolutely. some like justice scalia seize the document you interpret it as it is written and the framers considered it at the time that it doesn't evolve or change and says what it says and that is how we rule. if it doesn't, we don't do it. it is up to the people. others rule it as protecting a series of rights that maybe the framers couldn't have thought of at the time but doesn't mean it isn't the fundamental legal
document of the country. different justices have difference approaches with that. that is why we have nine justice instead of one or two. it allows for the differences and some consensus can be formed. >> host: dean from up north. >> caller: let's start with saying the supreme court said all men are created equal. so the supreme court should make rulings that do not intrude into people's lives undually making it so that people lives, as in the gay marriage thing/the obamacare and making people's life better without intruding on their opinion. as long as it doesn't affect society in a way where god is
the supreme rule. that is my comment and what i think about the supreme court. i am glad they make the decisions they make. conservatives seem to rely on religion too much. this is a secular society and the rules need to be made for everybody. thank you very much. >> guest: you brought up religion and the challenges to the affordable care act being made on religion. sometimes the law itself, the amount of intrusion into one's life is a factor like in cases that involve religious freedom and one question is how much of an intrusion on one's religious freedom might something make? in the upcoming obamacare challenge likely to be on the court is my religious non-profits who claim although
they are exempt to providing birth control the fact they have to sign a fiorm to allow anothe to allow and they are saying it is too much intrusion. we saw the court split and in the past they said small, private employers who were before required to provide this coverage, and who claimed religious objection, it was too much intrusion. sometimes that is a built-in part of the case. but usually it is based on the statutes or the constitutional challenges. >> host: let's hear from travis in virginia. >> caller: how is it going?
i want to reaffirm with what the guest is saying. the purpose of the supreme court is to insulate the mob, or the majority, that is suppressing the minority. the prime example is the gay marriage where everyone was saying states have a right to discriminate. no, they don't. the supreme court said it is unconstitutional to deny gay people the same rights and responsibilities that the majority gets. i cringe when people say they should vote for the supreme court. but no it is protection of the mob from the victim. that is all i have to say. >> guest: i think that is an important point. it is very different than the executive and judiciary parts of
the government. being impartial is a fundamental part of what other judges are supposed to be but at the end of the day they are meant to answer to the constitution and not any other interest. >> host: the issue of transparency. why are supreme court cases not televised? >> guest: i think it will remain untelevised until you get all nine to agree. but the justice say if you take little bits of oral arguments and put it into sound bites it will distort what the body is about. it might encourage the justice not to say things during the argument when they should be ask questions to get to the core of the cases.
it is tough. it is an institution where you are one of the folks inside the 300 seats inside the court you don't see what is happening. all you see is what we as journalist who get to be in there write about. i think it a tough case to make. increasingly more people are seeking to have the court open. in congress it is the same thing. congress has been televised for years and the walls didn't come down. as more justice are named maybe more will warm. >> host: any of the current warm of the nine? >> guest: not really. even justice kagan and sotomayor who were for it when first signed on they are now against
it. >> host: our guest is a editor for the "the boston herald." thank you for being here. >> washington journal is live from the correctional center tomorrow talking with three officials from the jail. the director, robert green, and kendra tells about job training and rehab. and we talk about drug rehab and what is it like after you are out. coming up tonight, the "the communicators" with john shimkus of illinois. booktv in prime time features highlights from this year's book festival. from the mississippi book festival, a discussion on