tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 21, 2015 8:00am-10:01am EDT
if the government of iraq is unwilling or unable to do so, we recommend that the kurdistan regional government conduct a referendum with strong international assistance and monitoring. our recommendations to the kurdistan regional government's are as follows. first, reassured turkey in the van that the krg harbors no plan for a greater kurdistan incorporating parts of turkey, syria or iran. second, request monitoring by the international committee should there be a referendum interdependence, and work to ensure that iraq's neighboring states and international community are kept fully informed of the process. third, develop special power-sharing arrangement or kirkuk and other territories should they vote for independence following a referendum. and engaged iraq, turkey and
iran's government in the dialogue on post-independence political issues such as boundaries, terms of recognition and economic issues. our recommendations to the international community include understanding that i iraqi kurdistan is moving towards independence. work with the kurdistan regional government and iraq and other neighbors to support the development of a transparent roadmap and timetable for the possible decision by the iraqi kurds to separate from iraq transparency would enhance stable post-independence relations. we should also provide direct assistance to kurdistan independent high electoral commission so that the design and conduct of any referendum on independence beats in the national standards, and we should dispatch monitors to verify that the referendum is a free and fair. secondly i wanted to touch base on the need for a stronger
effort against isis in the region. the kurds are key to the fight against isis both in syria and iraq. we were all impressed by the u.s. effort in support of the kurds to defend irbil in 2014, to keep isis from overrunning that city. the international community has an interest in making iraqi kurdistan up a quick us to build and a better ally in the fight of isis. i said as we know is well armed with us-made state-of-the-art military equipment in the seizure from a iraqi security forces. and he was cooperation with the kurdish forces, the peshmerga, is a model for successful security cooperation that should be expanded as the fight against isis expanse. now first our recommendation for the kurdistan regional government is to strengthen its own ability to take on these tasks. the ministry for peshmerga
affair should enhance the civilian controls, the military must address from the peshmerga interprofessional army by defining salary structures, pay salaries on a regular basis and offering regular pensions and other retirement benefits. it should organize -- or from rival parties the kurdistan democratic party and the patriotic union of kurdistan into unified brigades. and it should support the ministry efforts to create nonpartisan battalions in which new recruits do not affiliate by political party. recommendations to the international community with respect to the security against isis would be, first to thwart a more unified effort in both syria anorak to do the isis through cooperation among kurdish groups with the necessary training and equipping to win. continued review the military needs by the peshmerga as the isis threat and the role of the kurds evolves.
they need immediate provision of antitank weapons to more effectively defend themselves against vehicle borne improvised explosive devices, and we are to train and equip the peshmerga with more sophisticated weapons as needed for offensive missions against isis. now to date the u.s. has managed to deliver weapons quickly to the kurds, despite its insistence on first seeking approval from baghdad. but should they become a problem, we point out that there is a presidential waiver that could be invoked to deliver weapons directly to the kurds if the peshmerga need to receive weapons more quickly. now going to ongoing critical security needs in the region, over time we recommended that the u.s. should develop plans to place a u.s. military base inside iraqi kurdistan that would only become fully operational should iraqi
kurdistan become independent, but given the critical needs, the kurds are welcoming friendly and good fighters, and it could advance u.s. security interests dramatically. lastly i will touch on humanitarian crisis. to you in ocho office of humanitarian affairs estimates that 8.2 many people in iraq it needs to support. 1.6 million of which are in kurdistan. the regional government is struggling to provide relief, resettlement and protection for those 1.6 million refugees and idp for iraqi kurdistan's population has grown 28% grading all sorts of budgetary issues and social tension. the challenge is exacerbated if the suspension of baghdad of payments to irbil which are supposed to 70% of the national budget for rate for the oil exchanges of those payments were
stopped by baghdad in february of 2014. and the world bank estimates the costs of stabilizing the refugee and idp situation in kurdistan is $1.4 billion. so we have a couple of recommendations in this section both to the kurdistan regional government and the international community for consideration. one would be to position the kurdistan regional government for direct donations on the international community by developing a comprehensive post-conflict recovery plan that focuses on stabilization during the transition from relief to development. and to the international community we suggest they invite the krg to present this recovery plan that a special session of the u.n. security council and dean fenwick they call the formula which is an informal method to allow non-member states of the security council to address the security council in an informal session.
we do also suggest providing enhanced directed him to agencies of the krg such as the ministries of health and planning, as well as of the regionally based ngos that provide health and humanitarian services to assist with this crisis. certainly no new state is ever ready for independence. but the international committee can help the kurds meet these challenges. and now let me turn it over to david who will present recommendations both to the u.s. and to some of the key challenges that the kurds are facing as they prepare for independence. >> thank you, nancy. there's an old kurdish adage which says the kurds have no friends but the mounds. i submit to you today that the united states has no better friend in iraq in syria than the kurds, and needs to exert its influence in order to iraqi kurdistan be viable, stable and
secure, advancing its progress towards ultimate independence. its focus needs not only to be on iraqi kurdistan, but on regional issues. the u.s. is uniquely placed to exert its influence in iraq come in turkey and in syria. we've seen recent announcements of plans to provide ammunition and maybe some weapons to the people's protections -- protection units of the pew id. -- p. y. d. they wanted more sophisticated weapons to successfully establish a viable buffer along the syria and turkey border. in addition there needs to be more frequent and higher level contact between u.s. officials and the authorities, including there was a democratic union
party, the pew id. the purpose of those discussions are multi-fold including discussions about reinforcing the partnership with the pyd and its commitment to kurdish autonomy in a reconstituted syria. we all have watched with great concern the presumption of the war in turkey. the u.s. needs to encourage both ankara and the kurds to resume its cessation of hostilities, to go back to the negotiating table. the trend towards escalating violence which was initiated in a large-scale by present erdogan is not constructed to the broader goals of turkey or all turkish citizens including those of kurdish origin. as far as the u.s. role towards iraqi kurdistan, we recommend
that he was should establish a future of kurdistan projects involving u.s. officials, private experts and iraqi kurds in order to develop a capacity building plan for iraqi kurdistan democratic and economic development as well as its security. so that curtis issues don't slip between -- kurdish issues don't slip through the bureaucratic cracks in washington recommend the appointed a special envoy for kurdish issues bridging the gap between the bureaus in mideast affairs and european affairs, at the state department. this special envoy would serve as an interagency focal point within the u.s. government and also to coordinate policies between the u.s. and european countries. columbia university several years ago invited the co-chair
of the pyd to come to the united states. his application was submitted to the us embassy in stockholm. it has not been acted upon. he should be issued a visa so we can come to the united states and attend high level meetings in washington. nancy spoke about the economic crisis facing iraqi kurdistan. the budget crisis is exacerbated by the suspension of oil payments from baghdad, that the press energy prices in world markets, and also the collapse of investor confidence due to the invasion by isis. the kurdistan regional government has stepped up and absorb enormous cost thing for humanitarian assistance. it's also to bear the expense of its security in the fight against isis. so we offer some recommendations
to the krg and also to the united states in this regard. in order to revitalize the economy in the kurdistan region, the krg should review and strengthen the investment law. steps are needed to create a predictable environment for doing business through a legal system that governs commerce and property rights as well as taxes and tariffs that are levied in a consistent and transparent way. the krg has made enormous progress but has done so in an ad hoc fashion which is not systematic the image to improve its economic planning and development consolidated public sector balance sheet that harmonizes its budgetary practices across the three governments of iraqi kurdistan. it needs to develop its banking
sector, reduce cash-based transaction and promote foreign direct investment by creating special economic and industrial zones. i'm going to speak briefly about the issues surrounding the kurdistan government. progress towards finalizing iraqi kurdistan's draft constitution stalled in 2006. there's an ongoing debate about whether to have a parliamentary system or strong executive presidency. recently there have been conflicts over the term of president barzani and the presidency law. we recognize the need for internal reforms and the importance of ensuring those reforms through legislation and also a new constitution. in the words of a krg official, this dispute over the presidency is a very unfortunate
self-inflicted wound. it comes at a moment when iraqi kurdistan is on the brink of realizing its historic national aspirations. i have interacted with kurds almost over 30 years and have always found they will contest to the 11th hour, but at the end of the day the kurds know what something is about and they will put the national interest above self interest. and we call upon officials in erbil to keep that in mind to make a movie on this impasse over the presidency. specifically, the report recommended that the krg settle the controversy peacefully over whether to have a presidential system, a parliamentary system, or a combination of the two. a new constitution which is long overdue should meet and exceed the highest international standards for individual human rights as well as linguistic and
religious ethnic and national minority rights including provisions for local autonomy so that minority groups that are living in iraqi kurdistan feel as though they're fully participating in had interest upheld. they krg needs to promote women's rights more vigorously by issuing civil codes to grant women equal rights, working to change cultural morse on honor killings and enforcing the ban on female genital mutilation. whenever i have raised these concerns with kurdish officials over the years, they rightly point out that the status of human rights and iraqi kurdistan is much better than human rights in iraq as a whole. as an old friend of the kurds, we feel it's in, to point out areas where they can still make improvement and to encourage him to take those steps. we also recognize the importance
of transparency, that the failures and problems resulting from corruption and lack of transparency risk undermining prosperity and political stability in iraqi kurdistan as would any country in the middle east or in the world that our recommendations to the krg involve the prosecution and punishment of corrupt public officials regardless of their administrative rank. civil-service the to be provided clear anticorruption guidelines, code of conduct, special it comes to government contracting and, of course, the rule of law overall needs to be enforced. the data on oil revenue should be published with is known to all. in addition there is a wealth of knowledge that exists in the international community on anticorruption activities. links to the u.n. global compact, to transparency international, industries transparency initiative are all relative to kurdistan economic
development. an ombudsman for a competent agency including a complaints hotline respond before investigating instances of alleged corruption would also improve the environment for doing business. my grandfather had an expression. you would say the future is actively bright. for kurdistan i think we can say that is undoubtedly the case. the hydrocarbon sector is the pillar of iraqi kurdistan's economy. it's estimated iraqi kurdistan may have as much as 45 billion barrels of recoverable oil, as well as large natural gas reserves. the problem for the krg is how to transport and monetize its hydrocarbon resources. traditional sectors such as agriculture are also important to the kurds who live off the land. it is a largely rural society. tourism has potential. if visitors can travel freely
and in city to become iraqi kurdistan is to invest in human capital and competitively upgraded internet and broadband systems, moving further towards establishment of a modern information age economy. overall economy in iraqi kurdistan today suffers from over employment by the state and the lack of an autonomous banking system which limits financing and capital flows. so the report includes a set of recommendations in each of these sectors. for the hydrocarbon field we propose that the krg diversify its export options. it's also important that international oil companies that are working in iraqi kurdistan are assured they will be paid arrears as soon as they krg's economic crisis is addressed. concerns about nationalization of assets should also be addressed. when it comes to banking and
credit, there is need for a central bank for iraqi kurdistan and the transition from a cash-based economy to one with better banking and financing. you also need to foster a banking culture where citizens have public confidence in order to deposit their money into banks. this needs a legal framework for we did and commercial banking. new york is a banking center. there are a number of bankers that i spoke to there who would be more than pleased to lend their expertise and networks to the kurdistan regional government. on the question of food security which is also related to water resources we propose the conduct of a comprehensive study of water resources critical to sustainable agriculture production and food security. this would also enable the use of more modern irrigation
systems. the u.s. geological service as technical expertise that could be usefully brought to bear in partnership with the krg. tourism has great potential to we talked before about the need for security. that's paramount are traditionally tourism should be marketed to visitors on iraq and other middle eastern countries, and as the situation improves, tourism outreach could be expanded to western and asian countries. we learned a great deal from christine about the question of education and human capital. there's a large percentage of the population which is employed by the state. steps are needed to strengthen the private sector by expanding employment benefits such as pensions, health care, unemployment insurance. overall, we recognize the significant steps that iraqi kurdistan has made over these years. my first visit there was in 1992
in february. there was no electricity. there was no heating. you go there today and it's a thriving metropolis. erbil is a very orderly and well managed city. kurds have really made the most of their opportunity for self-rule. it's progress is threatened by the islamic state. in order to continue to develop its society, its economy, to be a fuller security partner with the united states, we can't sit on the sidelines. we need to step up and work more closely in all the areas that nancy and i have touched upon. so i will positive and ask jonathan if it's any questions and then we can open it to the floor. >> thanks very much. i'm going to take advantage of the moderator's prerogative and ask at least one question anyway. difficult enough for an aspiring
independent state at peace to achieve independence and to accomplish the steps that you have set out in your report, not sitting down this path in the midst of a war with no apparent end in sight isn't everest sized challenge. and we talk about, and in that regard timeframe is a vital element. can you talk about how you see that and how you avoid major risk of another internal conflict erupting between baghdad and the kurds that would effectively, i think, eliminate any chance for liberating bothell, because that would be heavily depend on the kurds participation and cooperation? -- mosul. >> first of august no one more conscious of the challenge of
the region than the kurds. and it's a tough neighborhood with many challenges and, therefore, they make it very clear that they will move towards independence and a deliberate, careful way that involves concentration and they will not do anything% potentially. -- confrontation get what's driving this is a collapse of the iraqi regime. a unified iraq is a fiction. it does not exist. they agreed to work through baghdad. they agree to work with us. they have tried, and baghdad has left them. they didn't leave baghdad and they, i think one of the reasons we are doing this report is to a wakeup call to policymakers that there is no such thing as a unified iraq anymore. we need to begin to help that process go forward. what happens to the sunnis in
iraq, for instance, that a welcoming crisis because they would rather have crisis than the iranian backed militia that ours is shia, and that's a bad choice. in terms of a timeframe in the exact conditions, president barzani told us he would first worry about isis and then do the independence, so i think it's very much undecided. i think the things that are designed it will not work for baghdad to get bigger good move towards independence. president barzani's life as a book in of the aspiration of iraqi kurdistan. u.s.-born on for days and all that. but i think we were certainly assured that there is no precipitous action here, but have the international tuner to ignore the fact that they're moving in this direction not working to back it anymore i think it's a mistake. >> it's also important to see baghdad for what it is, not for what we wish it were.
the supply of weapons from russia to the base required overflight through iran and iraq. u.s. officials on september 5 raised concerns with iraqi counterparts, and they were ignored. we learned on a monday morning reading the international news that iran, iraq, russia and syria have formed an agreement to share intelligence. the u.s. needs to recognize who its friends are in the region and who are its adversaries. and after having spent trillions of dollars and lost thousands of men and women not only were killed also remained, i would've expected the washington would've had greater influence over baghdad's behavior. haven't been acting in these recent weeks as a friend or as an ally. whereas the kurds over many years have demonstrated they shared values with the west
under worthy of closer cooperation and partnership. >> we've seen the trend shift position, for instance, on independence of kosovo. they supported it, partitioned bosnia. in georgia discussions with american officials, did you sense any movement towards shifting out of the one iraq policy? >> no. >> i'm going to differ with nancy a little bit. certainly the public posture of u.s. officials is adamantly supporting the one iraq policy. i would say there's a growing awareness in washington that iraqi kurdistan is going to become independent. and that as we were committed in the report, the u.s. shouldn't stand in its way nor should it encourage the disintegration of iraq. the u.s. needs to be prepared for all outcomes, including the
referendum on independence and ultimately a declaration of independence. we shouldn't be caught flat-footed at any position where we are not able to provide for our kurdish friends in the region. >> i would just add i think they recognize that it, the disintegration of iraq is a child but i would argue the policy on how to address those challenges is lagging behind events on the ground quite dramatically spill let's open up to question. there's a microphone right there. arbor, if you want to start, use the microphone. please identify yourself. >> high, barbara slavin for the atlantic council. i'd like to ask both of you to sort of extrapolate on this. the implications of an independent kurdistan means partition of both iraq and possibly syria as well. shouldn't we also be prepared or the reality of it shiastan, a
big sunnistan, that the complete dissolution of syria as well? isn't that the first step on the road speak with the artificial boundaries drawn by very much a question i've been going to the middle east for decades. last of the first time i heard people openly saying these borders are being challenged. i would say they're being challenged less by the kurds. iraqi kurds are talking about china that. they recognize that's not something that can sullenberger trying to protect themselves to get bigger question i think that in national committee is what is going to happen to the sunnis. isis has taken over the sunni areas of iraq. it's taken over much of syria. was going to happen to them come who's going to be protecting them? when we flip th the power balans
in iraq in 2003 we disenfranchised the sunnis and they haven't had a protector says. .ini is a question that deserves great thinking i folks at the atlantic council and in this room of what is going to happen there. eventually isis, territorial integrity will be restored to both iraq and syria. isis are going to stay there forever. comedy people die in the process is a big question i would argue 200,000 have died in syria but at least twice will die before it is done. it's a horrific challenge so we need more efforts to retake those territorial integrity's budding have to look at who is going to be ongoing protector there. >> how can you assure the jericho integrity of iraq in syria will be restored? what it into for the the sunnis if, for example, in iraq if they will always remain can't even with the kurds taken out of the equation they will be a small
minority because many of the kurds are sunni? >> right. your first question the international community will not let an isis foaming care and destruction in iraq and syria. it will be defeated. i am confident about but that's a longer conversation. i will ask david to jumping and spinning on the subject of sunnistan there is wanted and it's called the islamic state. the sunni tribes don't enjoy any protection. they are terrorized by the islamic state which asserts full control over those territories. so we need to be honest about how we view the sunni regions in iraq. ..
that would absorb territory in syria, turkey, or iran. and we are very explicit in our recommendations that the krg needs to make clear to it is neighbors that it harbors no such ambition. >> it is our impression that is the case. not just us saying that. i think that is very much where the iraqi kurds are. what happens to sunnis in iraq i have yet to hear coherent answer from anywhere. >> hi. to continue that atlantic council run, i'm ariel cohen, senior fellow at the atlantic
council dealing with oil and gas in eurasia. my question, separate package of measures that would facilitate investment into oil and gas sector in the iraqi-kurdistan? you mentioned about, you mentioned moving away from the cash economy. that's important. for strengthening the legal framework of the oil and gas law, strengthening the institutions including the oil company, the oil ministry. they have an outstanding oil and gas minister but when it comes to transactions things are not always smooth. so how could you describe the package of measures that could really put krg and eventually independent curt disstan on the map in terms of oil and gas?
>> transparency is going to be important if it is going to develop its hydrocarbon sector. needs to some revenue or profit sharing that the people of iraqi-kurdistan benefit more fully. there was very strong strategic partnership between iraqi-kurdistan between turkey and markets in iraqky kurdistan. the transport of oil largely goes to the port of jahan in the eastern mediterranean. business ties are not enough. during the august 2014 crisis when isis was knocking on erbil's doorstep the krg sent an envoy to turkey asking for help and the turks on several occasions found reasons not to assist. the first was the presidential
election that was upcoming on august 10th. the second reason was a possession by isis of turkish hostages. so we need to restore that strategic partnership. that can't happen in a vacuum. that needs to be commensurate with turkey addressing its own kurdish issues and awarding greater cultural and political rights to the 18 to 20 million kurds who live in turkey. if after the elections on november 1, whatever government was constituted took steps in that direction it would create an environment conducive to reinvigorating the strategic partnership between erbil and ankara. >> anybody else? >> i think i will take that question. >> okay. thanks very very much. i'm dave pollack. i'm at washington institute for near east policy. thank you for this. i've been privileged to host
many kurdish delegations. i have lunch on thursday. you are cordially invited if you haven't received an invitation with the head of near east institute in iraqi-kurdistan. my question is about iran because i think that, while turkey is in my judgment still very much opposed to full independence just for iraqi-kurdistan, leave aside kurds anywhere else, iran is even more adamantly opposed to independence for iraqi-kurdistan. i wanted to know what specifically you would recommend for the united states, the international community and for the kurds themselves in, by way of addressing that threat? >> i think the region, i think most of the world right now strongly opposes any kind of, just unilateral declaration of
independence there. that is not what the kurds are talking about. they are defacto independent and have been really since '91. they tried to work with them after the invasion in 2003, that as we've seen has fallen apart. and i think you will never get anything but acquiescence from the neighbors. it is a question of, how can you have the support of the u.s., the european union and others to say, all right, this is a process that is going to have a very clear road map, international observers and a process that puts at ease the asperations for a pan kurdistan state are not on the table? the aspirations for a sudden independence celebration with no preparation is not on the table? i think it's, both of us have been going there for decades and the kurds are not going to work through baghdad anymore. and so they're building up the
elements of a state that will help it be a stable pocket of democracy in the region which is in the united states's interest to support in a responsible way. we didn't hear anyone talk about anything precipitous or sudden. there is no timetable on the table. what we're trying to do is have a wake-up call this is happening and manage it precisely so turkey, iran, syria are part of the discussion going forward and ultimately to be a state you have to go through the u.n. security council and, all of that is way down the road. i don't see russia agreeing to do that in the security council anytime soon. there is lots of steps. kosovo declared independence years ago and still doesn't have a flag flying at the u.n. this case in particular caution will be the name of any process. >> kosovo might also be a model given the fact that there were a
lot of people pushing for greater albania but it has remained separate. that at that is not a movement that going on. i was just there in february. macedonia has very large ethnic albanian population and albania is right next door too. perhaps that is a model, i don't know. >> let me just add a quick point. development of institutions and the strengthening of democracy in iraqi-kurdistan can have a positive effect not only on kurds in the neighboring states but also on those countries as a whole. we envision kurds in iraq being an engine for reform and democratization and for iraq and its neighbors. >> that is exactly what the governments don't want. >> democratization is a process, not an event. we may have to be patient and use all of our persuasion and resources to try to advance that goal. >> thank you very much.
>> it's a long-term process. >> good afternoon. i'm the kurdistan regional government representative to the united states. i'd like to thank you for taking on this task and thank you as a kurd for coming to the conclusion that we are on a steady march towards independence. we are, there will be an independent kurdistan, i can assure of that and i would love to invite you to come to our celebrations. my question really is, i would love for you to flesh out a little bit more why it's in the united states's interest that there should be an independent kurdistan. as a kurd i know why it is in my countrymen's interest. we have suffered repeated genocide being part of iraq. we're still under threat of further genocides. yazidis right now and the christians. we have had our oil industry
hijacked by previous regimes. the current government and previous one under maliki have held our economy hostage. there are many, many benefits for the kurd for us to become independent as well as challengesut what are the benefits to the united states? i think the people of america, congress, the state department, other friends in the united states maybe need to hear more why it is to their benefit to have a strategic partnership with an independent kurdistan. >> i'll address that briefly and give the microphone to nancy. there is always good security cooperation between peshmerga and the multinational coalition. we believe that security cooperation can be deepened and become more effective when iraqi-kurdistan is an independent state.
nancy talked about a establishment after u.s. base in iraqi-kurdistan when it becomes independent. we envision a status of forces agreement establishing that base. right now the primary goal of the u.s. in the region is counterterrorism. the only group that has shown any commitment and capability to fighting isis are the peshmerga and we need to cooperate with them more fully in their present form and as they institutionalize as iraqi-kurdistan becomes more viable and sovereign to strengthen our cooperation more formally with erbil. >> i would just add to that, iraqi-kurdistan is a sea of stability in a die mock sy in a region of neither. for the united states to have a pocket of stability in the region will be serving our interests. we'll be there for a long time. these troubles are not going away. we have a great friend in
turkey, a nate ally. more countries that are close allies and stable in the region is directly in our u.s. interest and i think explaining to the american public very clearly why that is a very good suggestion which we'll take on and perhaps make it more clear. >> my personal view. nancy has we have bite ally and friend in turkey. certainly it has been a great friend and ally. we hope in the future its preferred status to be restored. for that to occur turkey's democracy and human rights record dramatically needs to improve. >> we're running out of time real quickly. there are two more questions and take both questions and wrap it up there. >> i wand to remind you that barzani's peshmerga is not only once but twice and they did not
defend the city after 19 years of collecting taxes from people there. one important factor that you should consider in independent kurdistan, what does it mean, what does it include and how they're going to defend that if they're going to run away from it. and what do you consider the position of the pkk now being present in kirkuk city and in shangal and not aallow peshmerga any say in bearsally defending that city? >> my name is brendan o'leary. i'm a member the task force. i wish to make one comment that is relevant to questions that have been posed. the key part of the one iraq policy or fantasy as you may prefer to call it that is being sustained by washington is that washington does not recognize
kurdistan's constitutional rights to export its own oil. and those constitutional rights are to, my mind, unambiguous. i have to say that because i was one of kurdistan's constitution fall and legal advisors during the making of iraq's constitution. i think washington knows the truth because washington, washington's lawyers were very unhappy with the constitution of iraq. so a very simple measure that could be adopted by american policymakers is to be neutral on the internal constitutional dispute between baghdad and kurdistan which in effect would allow kurdistan to export its own oil which would be critical part consolidating -- america can have it either way. either kurdistan consolidating its rights under iraq's existing constitutional arrangements or constituting a path towards independence. >> let you go. >> so on the question of constitutional rights to export
its oil, you call for the u.s. to have neutrality. i would go a step further. legal and other measures that the u.s. took to actively obstruct the export of kurdish oil were uncalled for. if the kurds had revenue from those oil sales they would have been better equipped in places like shangal to address the isis invasion and attack on the yazidis. the earlier questioner is quite right. peshmerga did not perform admirably at first. they subsequently made greater efforts and had more positive outcomes in creating security areas and protections for the yazidis. there is recognition on the krg's part that they underperformed and they need to do more to protect ethnic and religious minorities across iraqi-kurdistan not only by
providing security but also legal guaranties for their self-expression. >> i would just close with, thank thank you for that comment and expertise. no one knows the legal issues better. some are very complex so thank you for that. in terms of the performance of forces and presence of the pkk, none of these issues are easy and none of them are growing to go away tomorrow. the kurds are fighting isis right now. they're kind of the pointy end of the spear. they're not perfect. they need more support in our view. i think eventually international community will come around to giving them that support. i would like to see it happen sooner rather than later. that doesn't mean there are not questions with the impact on pkk, how turkey would address that nervousness and iran and others but the truth is our most
urgent challenge right now is defeating isis and retaking the territorial integrity of iraq and syria. so long as that in the equation none of these other issues can move forward and things will get worse and hundreds of thousand of people will die. so i think we need to look at the kurds as an integral part of that battle and treat them as an ally accordingly. all these other issues, their timetable for independence, what happens to the sunnis, how do you resolve the challenges of assad and russians, all of those get easier once you can address the issue of isis. in all of this chaos what we're urging, the reason we're doing this report, is to have a wake-up call for the international community that a unified iraq does not exist and the kurds are not going to be working with baghdad anymore and that opens up a whole another
box of questions and policy decisions that we're encouraging those of you in this room and others to look at more urgently than has been done to date. i want to thank everyone for coming and again, thank david for the i am pa tis for this report. >> could i also say a word of thanks? having participated in other task forces i have never seen one so ably-led as our task force by ambassador soderberg. when you get 20 people together there will be democracy of different views but nancy was always able to keep us focused and achieve some conciliation amongst our own group and outcome on the pages of our task force report reflects her stewardship. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. [applause] >> signature feature of booktv is our all day coverage of book fairs and festivals from across
the country with top non-fiction authors. here is our schedule beginning this weekened. we're live in the nation's heartland for the wisconsin book festival in madison. at the end of the month we'll be in nashville for the southern festival of books of the at the start of november we're back on the east coast for the boston book festival. and in the middle of month it is louisiana book festival in baton rouge. and at the end of november we're live for the 18th year in a row from florida, for the miami book fair international. at the national book awards from new york city. just some of the fairs and festivals this fall on c-span2's booktv. ♪ >> c-span presents, landmark cases, the book, a guide to our landmark cases series which explores 12 historic supreme court decisions including marbury versus madison, brown
versus the board of education. miranda versus arizona and roe vs. wade. landmark cases, the book, features introductions, background, highlights and impact of each case. written by veteran supreme court journalist tony mauro, and published by c-span in cooperation with cq press. landmark cases is available for 8.95 plus shipping. get your copy today at c-span.org/landmark cases. >> last week homeland security secretary jeh johnson talked about his department's efforts to prevent homegrown terrorist attacks. computer hacking and illegal immigration. he also answered questions about the vetting process for syrian refugees entering the u.s. from the annual meeting of the association of the u.s. army this is 45 minutes.
[applause] >> thank you, sir. >> morning, everybody. >> morning. >> that was pretty good. good morning, everybody. >> good morning. >> you know, it's good to be here. as general swan pointed out this is my second address to the ausa. someone may get the impression i might actually like the army. and i do. as usual i have taken my prepared address given to me by my speechwriter, i have read it, oh, that is very interesting and then i prepared my own remarks which means that i will tell you what i really think, within limits. i asked my staff last week, what should i say to the ausa? very simple, sir, just tell them how great the army is. you love the army.
well, ladies and gentlemen, i'm here to tell you are great. the army is great. i love the army. why do i say that? , for real. when he left the department of defense at the end of 2012, as the senior lawyer for the department of defense i was back in private law practice. perhaps the thing i missed the most about public service was the character and the quality of the people that i worked with, in the department of defense, in the pentagon, in the united states military. the character and the quality of the people with whom i worked. whether it was an 0-10 or 0-4 or an e-6. just within the united states army i have come to know,
respect, and admire a number of people. retired general carter ham for example. general lloyd austin, general lloyd votel to name a few. general tony thomas, these are people that i worked with on almost a daily basis. almost on a daily basis for two years someone from the joint staff down in the basement of the pentagon, j-2, army major, i won't name him because he would be embarrassed if i did, would come and brief me when i woos general counsel about intelligence matters, about counterterrorism matters. he did his job. he was modest. he did it well. after he was reassigned, someone told me about this army major. this young man, who would never
say these things himself, had been on, according to what i heard, 16 deployments. had broken his back when his parachute failed to open. lost part of his leg to an rpg. was shot in the back. and had been the victim of three ied attacks in afghanistan. this young man after service in the pentagon went on to run triathelons and 50-mile races that is the quality and the character of people in today's united states army, which i find remarkable. and it is the thing that miss most about public service. which is why part of me at least is pleased to be back in public service. i have the job of secretary of homeland security.
perhaps the army general officer who i got to know best aside from carter and others was brigadier general mark martins. many people here i'm sure know brigadier general mark martins. mark is today our chief prosecutor at guantanamo bay in the military system. i got to know mark as an advisor. i spent time with mark in afghanistan when he was dealing with detainee matters in afghanistan. i visited bagram airbase in 2011, greeted by then colonel or perhaps one-star mark martins. showed me around the base. nighttime fell. we were about to hit the sack after a long day. and brigadier general mark martins finished first in his class at west point, rhodes scholar, "harvard law review,"
i'm told better grades than the president of the united states at the "harvard law review," brigadier general martins asked me what i thought was a very profound, deep question. coming from a rhodes scholar. he said, sir, look up toward the sky. the night sky. what occurs to you? and i looked up, i looked up at the stars above. it was a clear night at bagram airbase. i wondered what general martins was thinking of. so i searched for a deeper meaning to his question. i thought about the brave men and women of the united states army surrounding us. and i thought about the inspirational words, i'm a student of history, the inspirational words of winston churchill. so i answered general martins
with the quote from winston churchill. we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets. we shall fight in the hills. we shall never surrender. general martins replied, sir, look up again. what really occurs to you, when you look up at the sky? i gave it a second try. i thought of fdr's inspirational words on d-day. of the united states army, the so-called pride of our nation remarks. they fight not for the lust of conquest. they fight to end conquest. they fight to liberate. they fight to let justice arise and tolerance and goodwill among
all thy people. they earn but all for end of battle and return to the haven of home. i said to general martins, how about that? he said, sir, look up again. what are you really thinking? what really occurs to you? final i thought of john f. kennedy's inspirational words in june 1963 at american university about inherent nature of armed conflict and international tension. kennedy in june 1963 uttered these words which i gave to mark martins in the hope i was going to answer his very profound question. quote, our most basic common link is that we in all habit this planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children's future and we are all mortal. general martins said, sir, what
really occurs to you when you look up at the afghan sky? i said, mark, i give up, what are you thinking? someone stole our tent. [laughter]. the army is great. the army is family to me. some of you may be interested to know that my grandfather was a sergeant major in a combat veteran of world war i. my father was an army sergeant during the korean war. two uncles in the army air corps who were tuskegee airmen. when i say the army is great, i love the army. my words are matched by deeds. i'm stealing people from the united states army. colonel johnson, united states army, now my assistant secretary for leg affairs. lew colonel todd brazile,
colonel united states army retired. acting assistant secretary of public affairs. mario flores worked directly for me. combat vets from afghanistan. they're jennifer mcdonald, army physician. pete verga, i'm sure many in this room know. janet manfre, former united states army. one of my cybersecurity experts. it is the case that the army and the department of homeland security work together closely on a number of matters. the army core of engineers, the army guard, when it comes to disaster response for example. i saw this in person in south carolina last week. when it comes to the department of homeland security i am a native new yorker. i was present on 9/11 in new york city, in manhattan that day when i was back in the private sector, before my service for the department of
defense. i witnessed the tragedy of 9/11, that devastating and shocking terrorist attack and it was out of 9/11 that the department of homeland security was born and my commitment to lead the department of homeland security and my commitment to homeland security was born. as many of you know the department of homeland security is the third largest department of our government. we have about 240,000 people. 22 components. we are responsible for, among other things, along with our partners, counter terrorism. , security, chief fisher is here. port security, aviation security, maritime security, cybersecurity, enforcement and administration of our immigration laws, detection of chemical, biological and nuclear threats to the homeland.
response to disasters, natural and man-made. deputy administrator of fema is here. and protection of our national leaders. we include customs and border protection which in itself the largest federal law enforcement agency. immigrations and customs enforcement, citizen ship and immigration services, tsa, secret service, the coast guard and fema. i want to take a moment to highlight the extraordinary work of the secret service and other elements of the department of homeland security just a few weeks ago. just a few weeks ago we had what many would consider the perfect storm in terms of the protection of visiting heads of state, heads of government. we had in late september 170 world leaders and their spouses in this country, in new york city, pretty much all at the same time.
around the responsibility, the lead responsibility for protecting them all was the united states secret service. we had the president of china, we had the leaders from afghanistan, iraq, iran, israel, the united kingdom, france, italy, russia and of course the pope, all in this country at the same time. no other agency of our government, except the united states secret service, and i submit, no other protection service in the world, could have pulled off what the secret service did, probably the largest domestic security operation in the history of this country. flawlessly, and perfectly, with other components of the department of homeland security. hsi, fema, the coast guard. i'm awfully proud of what our folks have done.
now, i'm told that the topic here is to win in a complex world. that is the theme of this conference. i could not agree more that we in the department of homeland security find is our challenge to. winning in a complex world. i have spoken many times about the new reality of the evolving global terrorist threat now. there is a new reality to the threats, to the homeland, which you and i are responsible for guarding. there is a new reality. the global terrorist threat has evolved from terrorists directed to terrorists inspired attacks. when i say terrorist directed
attacks, i mean attacks or attempted attacks conducted by people who were recruited, trained and equipped overseas and directed by a terrorist organization overseas and then exported to our homeland. the most prominent example of a terrorist-directed attack in this vein of course is 9/11. the operatives were trained, recruited, and directed overseas and exported to our homeland. then the attempted underwear bombing over detroit in december 2009. the attempted times square car bombing in may 2010. the attempted package bomb plot in october 2010. these are examples of what a likely, what were likely terrorist-directed attacks by those from overseas.
today we see in addition to that threat the threat of terrorist-inspired attacks from those who are homegrown or even home-born. al qaeda in the arabian peninsula no longer builds bombs in secret. it now puts out an instruction manuel and urges the public to do the same thing. we see the threat of potential lone wolf actor and the foreign fighter. the foreign fighter who leaves their home country, goes to syria, for example, and returns home with an extreme it purpose. that we have to be vigilant about. the foreign fighter phenomenon. so in this new wave of attacks and attempted attacks, terrorist inspired, caused, conducted by those who may be homegrown, homeborn, the boston marathon bombing, april 2013. the attack in ottawa on the
parliament building and memorial there, october 2014, almost exactly a year ago. the attack on the "charlie hebdo" headquarters in paris, january 2015. the garland city, texas, attempted attack in may 2015. and then of course chattanooga in july 2015. this is the new reality of what we face. terrorists-inspired, it is more complex, it is led to a more complex world. and many respects harder to detect. our government becomes pretty good at detecting overseas plots at their earliest stages. the homegrown actor could strike at any moment and is inspired by something he sees. this threat is in many respects
more complicated and harder to detect. it wolves a whole of government response. -- involves a whole of government response. so what are we doing? first, we continue as we have in the past, taking the fight militarily to terrorist organizations overseas. and through our efforts and through the efforts of the united states army and others we have taken out of the fight by killing or capturing many of the leaders of terrorist organizations and those who have been plotting directly to attack the homeland. osama bin laden is dead, was killed on may 1st, 2011. if 9/11 was my worst day as an american being present in new york, perhaps my best day as a public servant was may 1st, 2011, the day we got osama bin laden. other terrorist leaders have been taken off of the
battlefield. khalid shaikh mohammed awaits trial in a military commission prosecuted by mark martins. others have been killed or captured. we have, to a very large degree been successful in degrading the terrorist threat to our homeland from overseas but there is much more we need to do, given how this terrorist threat has evolved. law enforcement, the fbi, has a key role in this. the fbi, almost on a daily basis, has become very good at detecting, investigating, prosecuting and interdicting terrorist plots to our homeland here at home. it has become all the more important that the department of homeland security and fbi, given how this threat has evolved, work closely with and share intelligence with state and
local law enforcement, which we do on a daily basis through joint intelligence bulletins and the like. in response to the attack last year in ottawa, i directed that we enhance our protection of federal government buildings in major cities around the country. and that enhanced protection continues to exist today. much of the terrorist threat as it has evolved, continues to center around aviation security. so we're building, what i refer to as preclearance, a preclearance capability, where on the front end of a flight, from overseas to the united states, you will see our customs personnel, screening passengers before they get on the flight to the homeland. any opportunity i have to push out our homeland security from our one yard line to our 30 or
40-yard line i want to take. so we are establishing plea clearance capability. we've done this now in 15 airports overseas. we screened a number of people and denied boarding to a number about of people as a result of preclearance, including some who have been in our terrorist screening databases. we want to build more of this. so we've engaged in discussions with a number of countries and a number of airport authorities around the country. this is something we will continue to build. under the leadership of the new tsa administrator, admiral pete nepinger, we are implementing reforms to our aviation security, both in response to the inspector general's report this summer, and other things. i will tell you that when it comes to aviation security, there is a new emphasis on security, that the administrator
and i have directed in the field, frankly less managed inclusion, what does that mean. less instances where when you go to the airport and you're not a member about tsa precheck, you get put in that line anyway. which want to renew our emphasis on security. so, we're stepping up the efforts at the airport and hopefully it will not sacrifice wait times. there is renewed effort on aviation security. in response to the concern about the foreign fighters, we have done a number things. particularly a number of foreign fighters come from countries which we do not require a visa to travel here, european countries, who have foreign fighters in pretty large numbers. are in our visa waiver program. there are 38 countries in the
visa waiver program for which we do not require a visa. out of concern for our security, we have added information requests, whenever anybody travels to this country, they're required to fill out additional information. then last august, i announced a series of security enhancements to our visa waiver program to require countries in the program to make better use of passenger name recognition data and api, advanced passenger information. we're requiring that countries in the visa waiver program make better use of interpol to screen for stolen passports, to make better use of our federal air marshals on flights from overseas, to the united states. as new reality has emerged. as the global terrorist threat has evolved, we're asking the public for help. if you see something, say
something, has to mean more than a slogan. we're asking the public for help, public awareness and public vigilance. i will tell you that we are considering revising our ntas system. national threat advicery system which we never used. i have asked our folks to consider whether we should revise that system to accommodate how the terrorist threat has evolved. that review is underway now. importantly, given how the global terrorist threat has evolved, we have embarked upon aggressive efforts what we in the beltway refer to as cve, countering violent extremism.
what does that mean? what that means members of my department, fbi and other departments, doj, literally go out into communities, muslim communities, in this country, to talk to them about countering violent extremism. i personally traveled to boston, new york city, brooklyn, northern virginia, suburban maryland, indianapolis, l.a., houston, columbus, ohio, and elsewhere to meet with leaders of the muslim community. our conversations are almost always three-pronged. first, to listen to them about issues they face at airports where our immigration system and to build trust with this community, to build bridges with this community. i hear repeatedly from muslim leaders in this country, the hatred that they feel for the islamic state.
they say overand over to me, mr. secretary, they're trying to hijack my religion. my message to them is, help us help you. help us help you when it comes to public safety. help us protect the homeland. help us protect your communities. if you see someone heading towards violence, let us know. help us to help you. in my view we must enhance our cve efforts beyond where they are now given how the threat to our homeland security has evolved. just two weeks ago i announced the creation of a dhs office for community partnerships, to spearhead and lead our cve efforts within the department of homeland security. we want to take our cve efforts to a new level. we want to encourage the participation of the tech sector, the digital community,
to help muslim leaders amplify their counter message to counter the isil message. we want to engage philanthropies. we want to develop our own grant-making programs to provide resources and support to communities engaged in cve. just a few more words on cybersecurity. i've directed an aggressive plan to enhance our federal dot-goff civilian cybersecurity. frankly it is not where it needs to be. i directed an aggressive timetable for covering entire federal civilian system in terms of monitoring, detecting and blocking suspicious and unwanted intrusions on our system. this system, the einstein system is now deployed across almost half of our federal civilian dot-gov and has blocked hundreds of thousands of efforts to
infiltrate and exfiltrate data. we are on an aggressive program to cover the entire federal civilian dot-gov world. we're urging passage of cyber legislation, cybersecurity legislation in this congress. the house has passed a good bill. the senate now is considering a good bill. my hope is that the senate bill comes to the senate floor for debate and passage this month. there is an urgent need for help from congress when it comes to our cybersecurity efforts. we want to encourage the private sector, represented by number about of people in this room, to share cyber threat indicators with the department of homeland security. information-sharing, even for the most sophisticated of private cybersecurity actors out there among you, in the defense industrial base. benefits from information-sharing. we want to encourage that.
the pending cyber legislation is a good effort to do that. we hope for the passage of that legislation so that our efforts become law. as the president and others announced, when the president of china was here, we reached agreement with the chinese government on some cybersecurity norms. an agreement to cooperate on combating cybercrime. an agreement that the theft of commercial property for commercial purposes by a state actor is improper. time will tell whether the chinese will live up to these agreements. we've appointed and create admin material level dialogue on my side, on our side, represented by the secretary of homeland security, myself and the attorney general. time will tell.
we want greater cooperation in our international cybersecurity efforts. in terms of border security, chief fischer and his people this year saw only about 332,000 apprehensions on our southern border this past fiscal year. what does that mean? apprehensions are an indicator of total illegal attempts to cross the border. the misperception in this country is that illegal crossings on our southern border, the misperception is that they are going up. the reality is they are going down dramatically. the high was fiscal year 2,000, where there were 1.6 million apprehensions on our southern border. in recent years it has gone down to 400, 450,000. in the past fiscal year, actually, fy-14, the apprehension number on the
southern border was 49,079,000. this past year the -- 479,000. this will come in at 332,000, which since 1972, lowest number of apprehensions we've seen with the exception of one year. this is as a result of a number about of our border security efforts, including the investments our government has made in border security. more personnel. more surveillance. more technology. that must also be the future. to even, to strengthen even more our border security efforts. and our new immigration policies we're focused on convicted criminals. we're focused on enhancing public safety. i directed that our immigration enforcement personnel go after the criminals, go after convict criminals, invest the time in the interior, to go after threats to public safety so that there are fewer, undocumented
criminals on our streets. we are engaged in our overall unity of effort initiative in the department of homeland security, which has involved more centralized decision-making at the headquarters level, fewer stovepipes, fewer component stovepipes. more centralized decision making when it comes to budget decisions and acquisition decisions. i've enacted our new undersecretary, a former client of mine, russ diehl, to reform our acquisition process for example. we're building like the defense industrial base a homeland security industrial base. we're reforming our acquisition process for our 12-year-old department. most of all, we're just about helping people, like the united
states army. reminder of that for me was last friday in south carolina inspecting the cleanup efforts from the floods in south carolina. every time i do this, i'm reminded of the basic mission of the department of homeland security, to help the people of this country. and so in south caroline, and in other place -- is i visited where disaster has hit, republicans and democrats come together. the governor, senators, congressman, myself, the president of the red cross to basically help the people devastated by the floods. the loss of their homes. that's what we as public servants are all about, helping people. more than political ideology, we are public servants. three thoughts i want to leave
you with in my prepared remarks and then i will take a few questions. first, speaking for the department of homeland security we need the congress to repeal sequestration. i can not do my job as the person responsible for protection of the homeland with a sequestered decapitated budget. i can not do all the things that the congress and american people need us to do for border security, response to natural disasters, aviation security, cybersecurity, maritime security, with a sequestered budget. so we're urging congress to repeal sequestration. homeland security is the front line to national security. homeland security is the front line for our national defense. homeland security is the department of government that
interacts with the american public more than any other. 1.8 million people a day interact with tsa. so we are the front line. but we can not do our job with a sequestered budget. it is time to repeal sequestration. next, i want to repeat to you something i said last month in fulton, missouri, at westminster college as part of the green foundation lecture series. the most famous green lecture at westminster college was given by winston churchill himself in 1946 where he gave his famous iron curtain speech. in 1954, former president harry truman gave a green lecture entitled, what hysteria does to us. i decided to echo those remarks. at westminster i said, all of us in public office, those who aspire to public office, and who
command a microphone owe the public calm, responsible dialogue and decision-making, not overheated, oversimplistic rhetoric and proposals of superficial appeal. in a democracy the former leads to smart and sustainable policy the latter can lead to fear, hate, fish shin, prejudice, and government overreach. this is especially true in matters of national security and homeland security. my final point is something that is consistent with the soldier's creed. it is a quote in the soldier's creed which consistent with my own mission. quote, i am a guardian of freedom and the american way of life, end quote.
that matches almost word for word what i tell audiences at almost the end of every speech i give. the army is not just the guardian of our safety, the guardian of our national defense, the army is the guardian of freedom and the american way of life. so i tell audiences, that in homeland security we must achieve a balance between basic physical security on the one hand and preserving our laws and values in a free society. homeland security means striking that balance. i am a guardian of one as the other. so, i tell audiences, i can build you with all of our homeland security resource as perfectly safe city but it would resemble a prison. i can build you a perfectly safe
commercial air flight but nobody would be wearing any clothes, no one would be allowed to get up, no one would have anything to eat and no one would have any carry-on luggage. i can build you a perfectly safe email system but you would be limited to a conversation with 10 people without access to the internet. so, we can build more walls, we can interrogate more people, we can make everybody suspicious of each other, but if we did, we'd risk the things that are most valuable to this nation. we are a nation where we cherish the freedom to associate, the freedom to travel. we cherish privacy. we cherish our laws. we cherish diversity. we cherish these basic prepared comes. -- freedoms. at the end of the day in the
final analysis those are the things that constitute our greatest strength. thanks a lot. [applause] i think i'm available to take a questions if anybody here is not shy. yes, ma'am? >> hi, i'm penny star with cns news. >> with who? >> cns thousand. >> hello. >> could you address the syrian refugee crisis and how bringing them into this country affects homeland security? >> yes. we have committed to -- >> just a few minutes left in this address by homeland security secretary. you can watch the q&a and entire event on our website at c-span.org. we'll leave it here as the u.s. senate is about to gavel in for more work on a cybersecurity information sharing bill that would encourage private companies in the federal
government to voluntary share information about cyber threats and data breaches. as well as grant protection, liability protection for these firms. now live to the senate floor, here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal spirit, for the beauty of the earth and the glories of the skies, we praise you. for your love that extends to us undeserved mercies, we lift our hearts in grateful thanksgiving. in this challenging season of our national life,
give our lawmakers the wisdom to look to you. may they remember that you are the author and finisher of our nation's destiny, guiding us with your prevailing providence. inspire our senators to remove obstacles that hinder them from accomplishing your purposes. may they seek only to please you. god of grace and glory, thank you for continuing to be our refuge and strength. we praise your holy name.
amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democrat leader. mr. reid: former first lady, a united states senator representing the state of new
york and secretary of state hillary clinton will testify before the called benghazi select committee tomorrow. in recent weeks, it's become absolutely clear that this committee is nothing more than a political hit job on hillary clinton. i remember a program "queen for a day." i guess this is speaker for the day. the republican majority leader of the house of representatives mccarthy, here's what he said on a tv show, radio show, whatever it was -- "everybody thought hillary clinton was unbeatable, right? but we put together a benghazi special committee, a select committee. what are her numbers today? her numbers are dropping." well, that's one reason he was speaker for the day, but there are other reasons, of course. but, mr. president, he told the truth. he told the truth.
congressman mccarthy isn't the only republican to speak the truth, though, about this so-called committee. last week, republican congressman richard hanna of new york said, and i quote -- "sometimes the biggest sin you can commit in d.c. is to tell the truth. this may not be politically correct, but i think that there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and an individual, hillary clinton. after what kevin mccarthy said, it's difficult to accept at least a part of it was not. i think that's the way washington works. but you'd like to expect more from a committee that's spent millions of dollars and tons of time." that is an understatement. about $5 million just for this one select committee. there have been other hearings that have cost also huge amounts of taxpayer dollars. but they're going to bring her
in tomorrow. they said be ready for eight hours, eight hours of interrogation, and that's what this is, interrogation. these two quotes from two house republicans, hanna from new york is not a democrat, he's not a republican. and the message is clear the benghazi committee is a political calculation meant to influence presidential elections. and there's more. now we found there is even republican staffers on the committee who claim that he, the staffer, was fired because he refused to unfairly target secretary clinton. what else could we expect from a committee whose sole purpose is to drag a presidential hopeful through the mud? it's no secret, mr. president. over the last two years, numerous republican-directed organizations with huge amounts of money have been targeting hillary clinton for more than
two years, as they knew she would likely run for president, and they wanted to soften her up, just like mccarthy said. look at the committee's record. in 17 months, committee republicans have held a whopping three hearings, 17 months, and tomorrow will be the first public hearing since january. mr. president, it's october. october is winding down. instead, republican chairman trey gowdy and his committee have focused millions of dollars and thousands of staff hours on hillary clinton and hillary clinton only. the committee has interviewed or deposed eight clinton campaign staffers, yet chairman gowdy has held only one hearing with an expert from the intelligence committee and not a single hearing with anyone from the department of defense. clearly a candidate responding to attacks at her diplomatic post. and what have they learned during that time? nothing. a recent report by the democrats on the benghazi select committee
confirmed that none of the witnesses they interviewed supported any of the wild conspiracy theories regarding these attacks. contrast the benghazi committee with the work of the legally required investigation of these attacks, the accountability review board. an independent review, overseen by respected leaders. thomas pickering, one of the great diplomats of our time, and admiral michael mullen. they completed their work in less than three months, not 17 months. the review board immediately put out a hard-hitting report with a series of recommendations to make sure an attack like this doesn't happen someplace else around the world. and what was secretary clinton's reaction to that report? she took responsibility immediately and began to implement the recommendations of the accountability review board. so in summary, republicans spent at least $5 million.
to attack hillary clinton. this one select committee is $4.7 million. the republicans have done little to investigate the benghazi attacks. and what little work the house republicans actually did only reconfirmed the basic findings of all the previous investigations. house republicans sadly have used the tragic deaths of four innocent americans and turned it into an appalling political farce. the notion that an official house committee was used as a political tool is inexplicable. i would suggest the chairman of that committee should be ashamed of himself. it's even more disgraceful that nearly, i repeat, $5 million, taxpayer dollars were spent on this political hit job. senate democrats will continue to fight to get this sham committee disbanded. weeks ago we sent a letter to boehner urging him to put this
disgraceful committee to an end, but no, they are plotting forward. today the democrats have sent a letter requesting to reimburse for the benghazi committee's expenses. why did we do that? it's only fair since the so-called committee is clearly a republican political organization. i would ask, mr. president, that my remarks i'm going to make now appear at a separate place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: the senate turns today to a cybersecurity bill. it's way, way overdue, but we're turning to it. the bill, which is okay, -- it's better than nothing, let's put it that way. the ranking member of the intelligence committee, senator feinstein, the chairman of that committee, senator burr, they've worked hard to get this legislation which addresses a serious national security issue. in fact, it's so serious, we should have addressed this topic long, long ago. we tried. as senate democrats, we tried so very, very hard.
we had a comprehensive cybersecurity bill three years ago. much deeper and better than this one three years ago. but our republican colleagues blocked it. from even debating the bill. we couldn't even debate the bill. why? they were told, the republicans were told the chamber of commerce didn't like it. democrats, however -- and this is about the same time, mr. president, that the chamber of commerce, their whole operation was hacked by the chinese. the people that worked down there expected things to come out in english, came out in chinese, but they didn't like the bill anyway, so they told the republicans to oppose it, and they marched over here and opposed it. this is a serious issue, cybersecurity. we know how important improving cybersecurity is for the national security of our country and the financial security of the economy. even though this bill is not our perfect bill, we're going to
cooperate with republican colleagues. several months ago, we reached an agreement with republicans to begin debating this legislation. now we're on it hopefully in an efficient and bipartisan manner. would the chair announce the business of the day? the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business for one hour, with senators permitted to speak therein. mr. reid: i note the absence of a quorum. mr. president, i would withdraw that. the reason we're going to have a quorum call -- now, i know there are other people who want to have a chance to speak, but senator mcconnell is on his way, so i would suggest the absence of a quorum. oh, there you are.
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: before discussing the bill currently before the senate, i'd like to note that president obama will be heading to west virginia today with the drug czar botacelli, to announce additional steps the federal government will take to address america's prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic. the epidemic has been particularly devastating to my constituents. today, drug overdoses, principally driven by painkillers, claim more kentucky lives than car accidents. today, increased heroin overdose rates account for nearly a third of all drug overdose deaths in
the commonwealth. and today, thousands of innocent babies are born dependent on opiates. i recently hosted director botacelli in kentucky to discuss critical issues like these. i'm couraged to see -- encouraged to see he and the presidenten gauged -- president engaged in talking about taking certain steps my home state has already embraced. i know the president will be joined today by both west virginia's republican senator and democratic senator. finding solutions to this epidemic will require all of us, republicans and democrats alike, working together at the federal, state and local levels. so today's announcement is encouraging because it's always positive to see republicans and democrats working together to address this epidemic. and here's another burn opportunity for us to work together on this issue.
let's pass s. 799, the protecting our infants act. i hope the senate will pass that important bipartisan legislation very soon. now, mr. president, on the matter currently before the senate, earlier this year, millions of people were affected when the obama administration was hit by a devastateing cyber attack. it's an attack that has been described as -- quote -- one of the worst breaches in u.s. history -- end quote. but it's hardly the last one we'll face. the challenges posed by cyber attacks are real and they're growing. they threaten governments, businesses and individuals. americans see these threats in the public sector. for instance, as reports have indicated, the sensitive personal information of millions who purchase insurance through obamacare is especially vulnerable. and americans see these threats in the private sector as well. for instance, despite the cyber
deal recently agreed upon between china and the administration, press reports indicate that chinese hacking attempts on american companies and businesses appear to be continuing unabated. americans also know that a cyber attack is essentially a personal attack on their own privacy. it's violating to think of strappingers digging through our medical records and e-mails. it's worrying to think of criminals assessing credit card numbers and social security information. that's why the senate will again consider bipartisan legislation to help america's most private and personal information. it would do so by defeating cyber attacks through the sharing of information. it contains modern tools that cybersecurity experts tell us could help prevent future attacks against both public and private sectors. it contains important measures
to protect individual privacy and civil liberties, and it's been carefully scrawt niced by senators of -- scrutinized by senators of both parties. this legislation is strong, transparent, and bipartisan. republicans and democrats joined together to pass this legislation through the committee. the administration supports it, and the house has already passed similar legislation. with a little cooperation, we can pass it shortly here as well. the chair of the intelligence committee, senator burr, is working to set votes on pending amendments and has accommodated other senators in the form of a substitute amendment. i'd like to thank him for his hard work on this legislation. i'd also like to thank the vice chair, senator feinstein, as well. every senator should want to protect america's most private and personal information, which means every senator should want to see this bill passed, and with a little cooperation, we will.
now, one final matter. barely a week goes by that we don't see another harmful consequence of obamacare, a poorly conceived and badly executed law. its cost -- it has caused costs to millions of americans. it has harmed the quality and availability of care. now comes further evidence that obamacare is a mess of a law, filled with broken promises. we recently learned that the kentucky health cooperative, a nonprofit health insurer created by obamacare with federal taxpayer funds, will cease operations and stop offering health care plans at the end of the year. for the second time in as little as three years, as many as 51,000 kentuckians will lose the health care coverage they currently have and will be forced to choose a new plan, all, mr. president, thanks to
obamacare. this kentucky co-op was a boon a boondoggle from the start. it received more than $150 million in loans, including a failed taxpayer bail jut t bailp it afloat. kentucky co-op had the biggest loss of any co-op in the whole country. more than $50 million in 2014. now, things were hardly much better for the kenyan for the ko were actually enrolled in it. the co-op saw double-dynel i think premium increases on the individual market. if it had survived, it was planning on increasing premiums by 25% in 2016. if this contraption had survived
in the next year, it was gl -- t was going to increase premiums by 25%. here's what the kentucky co-op's c.e.o. said about this particular subsidized health care plan. "in the plan's language, things have come up short of where they need to be." end quote. boy, that's for sure. if only we'd is ha had that kinf honesty from the become obama administration on the many, many failures of obamacare. the collapse of the kentucky co-op is emblematic of the situation out across the land. the obama administration claims that their government-subsidized co-ops would provide affordable and sustainable alternatives to private insurance much the truth is anything but that. and what's even more disappointing is that the obama administration itself predicted a nearly 40% default rate on its taxpayer loans to co-ops. 21 of 23 co-ops nationwide were
losing money as of the end of last year, and enrollment in these co-ops fell below projections for the majority of plans. kentucky's neighbor to the south, tennessee, will shut down its co-op, leaving approximately 27,000 enrollees looking for new coverage at the end of the year. out in colorado, the state's biggest health insurer on their exchange, a nonprofit co-op, also announced its closure this month forcing 83,000 coloradans to find new insurance for next year. the same is true in iowa, nebraska, nevada, oregon, and louisiana. from the bayous of louisiana to the pacifi pacific northwest, fe big apple to the rocky mountai mountains, obama co-ops are failing all across america.
iabout 400,000 policyholders nationwide are left looking for new coverage for 2016. these failures of obamacare health co-ops come as absolutely no surprise to those of us who predicted that giving the government more control of our health care system would be detrimental to the health care coverage people rely on. i said so on the senate floor as far back as 2009. the administration knew beforehand that this plan was not viable and that tens of thousands of people could lose their coverage. they chose to cling fast to a disastrous left-wing experiment with our health care system over choosing stability and affordable coverage for the many people caught up in obamacare and these failed health co-ops. what a colossal mess. i yield the floor.
mr. barrasso: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i'd like associate myself with the remarks of the majority leader and point out that in today's "new york times," wednesday, october 21, figure headline, "insurance out of reach for many despite law." despite this law, insure insuras out of reach for many. and i know that my colleagues who are back home visiting with people around their home states last week, listening to what was on constituents' minds, heard exactly this, the problems of the health care law. i was home in wyoming, heard from a lot of people, very concerned about president obama's collapsing health care law. and that's what this law is doing. it is collapsing. people in wyoming just learned that one insurance company, wen
health, will no longer be selling insurance through the obamacare exchanges in our state. the company said it had to stop selling obamacare plans because there was just no way to make money without big taxpayer subsidies coming from washington. now, mr. president, this company was already planning to raise rates significantly next year, and it turns out that even that wasn't going to be enough money to make it worthwhile. less than two weeks, obamacare exchanges across the country will start now selling insurance for next year, so the total number of companies left selling insurance in the exchange for the state of wyoming will be exactly one. one. there will be no competition at all in the obamacare exchange. if a doctor doesn't take that insurance, you're oi out of luc. if you can't afford it you're out of luck. is that how obamacare was supposed to work?
is that what the president promised the american people? now, i got an e-mail from one of my stat constituents yesterday,l from green river, wyoming, and he wrote, "help" -- in capital letters -- exclamation point, exclamation point, ex-cla exclan point. he says "wen health has become the latest casualty of obamacare." al sthais in his birks "i have about 30 people that now will have no insurance. at least not this insurance. i'm scrambling with few options and i'm convinced any option will be substantially more expensive." al says, "this train wreck needs to be stopped." and i agree. president obama and democrats in congress made a mess of the health care system in our
country. ah, but they said they had a better way of doing thing. they said they knew best how to create competition and how health care should operate in america. they created all these washington mandates. they required -- required -- people to buy expensive coverage that was more than most people wanted or needed or could afford. then they created the exchanges where people could buy this new, expensive, washington-mandated insurance coverage. now the people of wyoming are left with one option on the obamacare exchange. bbuy this insurance from this oe company or the i.r.s. will come knocking at your door to collect a big tax penalty. and, mr. president, the penalty is going up next year. because of the significant failures of the obama administration, rural americans now have fewer choices, and it's not just in wyoming.
we just learned last week that insurance co-ops in colorado, in oregon, in tennessee are all closing their doors. why? because they've lost so much money. eight of the 23 health care co-ops in the country have collapsed, completely collapsed in the last couple of months. co-ops have closed in new york, in kentucky, as the majority leader has just said, in louisiana, in nevada, in iowa, in nebraska. many are in rural areas where people already don't have a lot of choice. we're talking about a half million people here who are going to lose their coverage -- losing their insurance. remember that promise that president obama made, if you like your coverage, you can keep your coverage? where's the president now? the president says the health care law is working better than he even thought. amazing! obamacare created these co-ops claiming to provide low-cost
insurance, ten it saddled each of them with so many mandates, so many restrictions, that they needed massive taxpayer bailouts. altogether, these failed co-ops have collected nearly $900 million already in taxpayer loans to get help that they needed just to get going. that's how president obama put this together. now these co-ops have sunk. others are sinking, and they are taking the taxpayer loans with them. the ones that are trying to survive have been saying, we're going to have to hike our rates. the co-op in utah plans to raise its premiums by 58% starting in january, just to be able to stay open. is that what the president promised when he said rates would drop $2,500 per family? in montana, the rates are set to go up 43% for some co-op plans. that's not what anyone in
america needs, and it's certainly not what rural americans need. president obama said that the american people were going to get more choices, more choices, he said, because of his law, instead of getting fewer choices. and yet he stands up and boldly says, it's working better than he expected. obamacare created the illusion of coverage. now even the illusion is disappearing. what's even worse for rural americans is that it's not just the coverage that's turning out to be an illusion under obamacare. the care is actually disappearing. earlier this month, we learned that mercy hospital in independence, kansas, will be closing soon. this is the 56th rural hospital to close in the united states since 2010, when obamacare became law. another 238 hospitals are in danger of closing. the added expense, the regulations, the other destructive side effects of
obamacare are a big reason for this. the patients who rely on these hospitals will have to find some other place to go to get their medical care, somewhere further away from home. now, democrats in congress, many who live in big cities, may take for granted that they can get to a hospital quickly. this is not the case in rural america. as a doctor who has practiced medicine for 25 years, i can tell you that the extra time people spend traveling to a hospital, that can make all the difference in the world between life and death. for some who've had a heart attack or been in a traffic accident or for a woman with a high-risk pregnancy, every minute counts. only 20 punish of the u.s. population -- only 20% of the u.s. population lives in rural areas. and these account for 60% of all trauma deaths. americans living in these rural areas don't and didn't need president obama making it tougher for their rural local hospital to stay open.
mercy hospital was the center of medical care in the community for 100 years, 100 years, mr. president, and it's provided jobs for nearly 200 people. in many parts of the country, like independence, kansas, and much of my home state of wyoming, the local hospital can be the biggest employer in the community. if the hospital closes, these people lose their jobs, the tax base for the community goes down. it means fewer services like schools, firefighters, public safety. maybe the local restaurant or florist doesn't have enough business to stay open. nurses, teachers and other workers may move away, looking for a better opportunity somewhere else. it's harder for the town to attract new businesses, new doctors, more teachers. the town suffers. now, that's what these communities across america are facing. is that what president obama promised the american people? is tha