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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 30, 2015 2:29pm-4:30pm EST

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the requirement, legal requirement that the countries that do not respond under the agreements, that there would be sanctions under the visa waiver programs. one of the challenges is we do not have the information sharing. that's why the administration led by secretary johnson in the case went to the un and sought under un security council resolution 128, the idea that we need to be sharing information about foreign terrorist fighters in ways that we had not been. the point is well taken, ma'am. >> and how is it accepted? do you see that there's going to be an improvement? >> there will be an improvement, i suspect to the extent that countries that want very much the benefits including ourselves of the visa waiver program will understand that this is not optional, and in fact, since the
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secretarys began the enhancements last month we have seen a real steping-up, that frankly together with the events in europe including paris of actually leading to much greater willingness on the part of european countries in particular to extend their willing tons share -- willingness to share information. >> to the extent that you can in an unclassified seting can you existing databases is gathered by allys and partners? >> it would be appropriate in another seting as to how the information is disseminated.
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>> okay, i will academy -- accept that. >> in rough figures how many people are on the terror-watch list? >> just checking to see what the -- on the terrorist terrorist-consolidateed watch list we are talking just under a million. >> under a million. okay. >> what countries, and this could be for anyone, constitute the greatest threat and attempts to enter the united states i legally that would be, you know, perhaps flaged by being on these lists in.
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>> i can't -- of those million records there are the subsets of the no-fly list, and i cannot give you the breakdown on the countries from which they come, although -- >> one or two come to mind? >> well, i think the ones in which we have seen terrorist threats would be obvious candidates. >> such as? >> we've seen threats in libya, we've seen threats in pakistan, we've seen threats in some in central asia. >> of the half million a year that we think are overstaying their visas, given that we have no comprehensive exit tracking program, what countries have abuseed this the most?
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>> mr. russell in order to come into the country whether by visa or visa waiver program, there's extensive vetting against all of the lists, and in fact, in order to enter the country there is a vetting. >> i understand the visa waiver will have necessarily better or a higher bar, but of those who have been granted visas and they have overstayed them u what -- what countries would you say violate that the most to the extent since we don't have an exit tracking program that's comprehensive, who would they be, what countries? ror the first point is that they were not on any of the lists. in terms of what the breakdown is of that estimate, i cannot -- >> do a couple of countries come to mind? >> but i would -- i suspect there are those in which many of
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the people come from countries in which you send many people here and you might see people here for violateing the no-work rule, for example. people who are coming here for -- they purport to come for tourist, b-1, b-2 reasons and they end up staying to work. those are going to be a different subset of countries. >> my point, mr. secretary, i think the magnitude of the problem and trying to protect our country, it is enormous, we all recognize that and we recognize the dedication from administration to administration of folks like yourselves. you've been at it for decades and i respect that. i point these things out because wouldn't we want to focus on those particular areas where the
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threat may be highest and with regard to visa waivers once an individual obtains an electronic system organization it is good for two full years as long as the passport is valid, given that isis rise has been less than two years, what steps are being taken to take eligibility of travel authorization and is this an area that's even being examined? >> the secretary is very well aware and it's contained and, in fact, secretary johnson as part of own enhancements added questions. >> don't you think we ought to reset given that isis has been on the rise for less than two years and now we have two-year
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eligibility, they could have been coopt and converted, there are many of the issues. >> the way the vetting process takes place, there are 24/7, 365 revetting against any new information in the database. in fact, it is updateed by this constant refreshing of the database and revetting of the list. >> and my last question with the chairman's indulgence, they don't seem to have a problem conducting this. i would -- i would suggest that this entire visa waiver program, although, it will have material
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impact on economys and other things, what do you see as the way ahead to restrict it so we can secure of people the best. >> so the visa waiver program -- first of all china is not part of the visa waiver program. >> that's my point. >> and not contemplateing being one. the only process is the office interview. you defer to time in which u.s. official actually looks someone in the eye from the afairs office abroad to the time when the officer sees that person coming in. there's been all of the security vetting before the person arrives. >> once you've been eligible,
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it's for two years? >> gentlemen, time has expireed. >> now recognized the gentleman of california. >> thank you, mr. chairman, i want to thank all of you for testifying. assistant secretary, i wanted to talk to you in general about as mr. rodríguez said areas of heighten risk and particularly the program and acronym had been introduced to recognition and intelligence operations teams. in previous testimony in front of the committee and house judiciary committee, 20 visa staff locations will be rolled out worldwide throughout 2015, when implemented, prescreen 100% of immigrant online before the state adjuticates and can you
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tell me how staff is using program in the sense of areas of heighten concern and what differentiates going through this program versus population? >> let me begin. so the patriots system is actually installed abroad and works with the visa security units, the homeland security investigateors, 1811's that were to make judgment as to whether this person should and not receive a visa. what the patriot system does is automates the vetting process so that the checks are being done through a computer research so
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that when a visa security agent working with the afairs office, they have the benefit of that and if something needs to be investigateed, then that proceeds. so it is an automation and acceleration, scopeing of the process so that the counselor officer has for decisions to be made. >> everybody is working together , so tell me a little bit about -- i appreciate the background. how in the roll out are you vetting this in order to make good return on the system? >> so when the plan for the visa security units to expand this around to additional hsi offices is something that a decision that's being made subject to the budgetary resources being made
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available in the appropriations, but there's a positive result. >> yes. you've evaluated it's working in high-risk areas. it's in the middle east. so coming from california to specifically san bernardino, ms. malik went through the system. >> yes, where we have the visa security units who are officers from dhs, those officers review all of the issued visas. in other words, if a counselor officer has approved a visa it then gets a second look from the colleagues of dhs. of course, they are all working together in the same space and so they are talking about it. if there were disagreement, they would talking about i'm seeing
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this in a different case. the team from the dhs colleagues have access to the dhs data and a lot has to do with overstays and people who refused admittance at the border even though they arrived with a visa. sometimes there are instances where it is possible to resolve and aprove issueance and the person did this or that or it wasn't a security threat. it may have been a mistake. >> i'm going to interrupt you because i have a few minutes left. the program is working in terms of your assessment, but this is a heighten screening process, as i take it, using resources more effectively. so the president has asked you to evaluate the program, it'll be helpful at least for me and the committee to know what kind
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of evaluation you use. and mr., back to the social media. it's a little frustrateing, we want you to do your due diligence, given that there are other applications at risk, when is the point that you say the pilot practice has a merit and should go forward? which seems as a generalist pretty obvious. >> what i would say is we are moveing both in the refugees context pretty aggressively and quickly. probably the next time that we are together we will have a whole lot to say about the subject, but we are moveing very, very decisively. i would not venture to talk beyond that. >> thank, the gentleman. we now recognize the gentleman from alabama, mr. palmer. >> thank you, chairman.
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you pointed out that refugees may request any country for refugees status; is that correct? >> i'm sorry, i didn't understand the question. >> you in a response from a question to mr. cartwright just because they ask to a particular country, they won't get access to any country? >> that's right. >> any foreign national who gains status in another country is not necessarily preventing from obtaining a visa or passport subsequently entering the united states particularly the lost and stolen number of passports? >> sir, if i may respond to that, in someone is given permission to settle there with
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his family, they would -- they may at some point obtain citizenship in that country and in principle would be eligible to apply the use the visa waiver program. that would be a period of some years, of course, after arriveing. >> it's not that long. five years. in response to a question earlier that you gave to mr. hice, you didn't make that clear. >> i apologize if that was unclear. the question question from mr. hice is can these people arriveing in europe qualify for the visa waiver program. i should have said, no, we cannot. >> ma'am, what we are trying to figure out is how many holes there are in the bucket in terms of our ability to screen people in getting into this country. and i think we sit here for an
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hour and a half, two hours or whatever it takes trying to get information and it's increasingly difficult to get straight answers and the answer to his question, frankly, was that, yes f they stayed there long enough they can get a visa waiver, now my question is are we evaluating those people whether they're citizens of bell yum, france, germany, doesn't matter if they came from one of these countries that we ought to be tracking, are you evaluating those, ms. bond? >> and i do apologize for the fact that i was responding to his specific reference in arriving refugees. >> i got that. >> those are not always approved, but it is a dhs program so i would ask
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mr. bersin to respond. >> for those people who have traveled to syria, iraq, other war zones and were not there for diplomatic or military reasons, that those people could not participate in the visa waiver program? >> my concern is that they travel back and forth in these countries, that some of them is their country of origin. they don't have the same databases and the security for passports in a lot of european countries that we do. particularly on the fingerprint database. they are not using the information that interpol has. are we being proactive in vetting these people where they come in whether they're citizens
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from another country or not. >> yes, sir, anyone coming through the visa-waiver program will come through vetting program we talked about. >> apparently malik did? >> she didn't come under the visa-waiver program. >> you had an opportunity e sr-luate her and it concerns me that we are not doing our due diligence to make sure who is coming in the country and making sure that people who pose a particular threat to us are kapt -- kept out. would you like to respond? >> that is without question the intent and the reason for the vetting in the -- to the extent we currently do it, sir. >> sir, if i may, also add the purpose of the review that is currently underway to examine what more can redo as part of
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the process because thorough review for the visa applicant did not reveal the fact that she was coming to the united states and now or later decide today commit murder. the purpose of the review is to look at is there more than we can do in order to identify this if possible. >> well, that's number one obligation as american people. >> thank you, you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ms. bond, you actually gave me a great lead-in. i think that's our frustration and frankly in the last hearing last week i was so frustrateed i was asking trouble -- i was having trouble making it as fair and as possible because when you
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don't get any information from the ph*fgs and when there's this continual sense of we are doing everything and no matter what we do, you have some gap, exactly what are you doing to close those holes, to asure that those gaps get narrowed. i don't want to hear that we are working together. beyond that, there should be no limitation in figureing out what you can do to make it all better and you have to be proactive on that. quite frankly what i expect is wow, we figureed out 12 things we can do better and now we want your assistance, if you need your assistance to make sure
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those are fully integrated. given that, i wouldn't hire anyone today in my official capacity or unofficial capacity or social media check that doesn't create a privacy problem. but just exactly, what are you doing with great specificity that gives us the confidence that you evaluate with or without a tragedy figureing out how you can securely and safely and effectively given all the other things that you have to control, including other countries' data points to do a better job. give me one that you are doing since the last tragedy in san bernardino? >> first of all, let me say that we all agree with you 100%. there is nothing that's more
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important than getting it right and there is never a point where everybody would say, okay, this is good enough, we've got it, we've nailed it. we are always looking for ways to improve vetting and screening and to identify a trigger that indicates we should look more carefully at this case, that was what we did not see in this case, malik, there wasn't anything in that case that was a flag. so one of the things that's underway since the trapblg in san bernardino is a careful examination of what else could we look at. would it make sense to interview
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someone after arrival in the united states and marrying the fiance as promiseed and get to the point to change status, should they be interviewed at it again or should we be looking at another database that we should be looking at, maybe social media, i don't know. that's an example of what we are looking at in the review process. >> you go outside your agencies and tell me how you are useing g that same evaluation process with international partners? do they get to weigh in? this is after the fact and one -- well, i don't want to dispute that idea, i appreciate the notion that someone here and let's continue to the degree look at the individual. what would do better to not aprove that ms. malik came to the united states in the first
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place. what are we doing about that? >> well, i will give an answer and i think mr. bersin will want to speak to that. >> we have 20 seconds. >> absolutely. she was a citizen of pakistan to say, what more could we do in terms of our collaboration to try to share information about people who might be a threat to our citizens or to pakistans. what information do you have, what information do we have and are we sharing it effectively. we are, of course, having conversations with other governments too. >> i would like without creating a written record that's problematic for national security, i want what is transpireing after the conversation that is would give
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us the committee and constituents a sense that we are doing better all of the time and this is a constant process that's meaningful, because i'm not there. >> very briefly, go ahead. >> wewhere are the people that actually do the vetting and rightfully said how do we get additional information, i would suggest if the committee has them, remember, if it's with regard to the domestic afairs, the federal bureau of investigation has the principle, counterintelligence and intelligence function and with regard to abroad, it's the national security asianies -- agencies that do that. i would think a classifyed hearing in which you would you understand what the fbi is doing would be of great utility.
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>> you may want to arrange that. >> we've all participated in all of those high-level -- i want to make sure that viewers members of congress are involveed in briefings and we take that very seriously and we take that very seriously. >> we have basically lost control of our border, we have somewhere 15 million people here who are illegal entrance here; is that correct, anyone? >> the usual number is 11. >> 11 to 15. >> the number that i've always heard 11 and declineing. >> 11 and 15, everyone pretty much agrees. we will just take it at 11. about half of those people here
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overstayed a visa or a tourist thing, or student, i'm told and the others just came across the border illegaly, rodríguez? >> that's consistent. >> the president's executive -- we are talking about a visa -- controling visa control, we have here about four to 6 million people in that range who overstayed their visa, the biggest visa waiver program in the history of mankind is the obama waiver. he gave executive to allow people to stay despite of being here illegaly.
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the president gave an executive order. >> the job to deport some of those people and i see the number of people, removals -- where's my figures here. every year, 2008, 244,000 removeed. 2013, 133,000. last year, 104,000. are these figures basically correct? >> they sound right. >> these are correct. it's not a question of resource. we provideed enough money to deport up to 400,000 which was the request we had from you. so ice is doing less with more
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resources. criminal alien arrests have declineed by 11% between 2012 and 2013, are you aware of that, mr. rodríguez? is it your job to deport these people? >> no, it is my my job. >> under your -- >> removal of -- >> so we have illegals here. we interviewed that lady, female terrorists from san bernardino, how many years ago, a couple of years ago? >> in 2014. >> last year? >> yes. >> but she came here and she was fully vetted according to to the process that we have now; is that correct? >> yes. >> is there anything that you could recommend to us that we could do to stop that and we got
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hundreds of thousands of people who have entered the united states illegally and we have them coming and you aproveing them legally, you see why the american people have concerns about what is coming next. is there any way or anything that you could recommend that we could do to change that situation? >> we are conducting a very thorough review. >> do you take that interview? >> no. >> you don't? >> no. >> i was just wondering if we had any record. has anyone known of anyone that has joined isis of the christian faith? does anyone know anyone who was involveed?
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i thought i would ask that question. we obviously close itd the dooro late. does anyone know about that? ..
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first vetted by the un; is that correct? we are getting our right amended entrance from the un. >> not 100% but normally that is true. >> sometimes if someone comes to the attention of the embassy it could be put in. >> have you vetted the process? and checking to see if they have any isys connections? the >> we would check with the regime. >> but you're saying the un. they are recommending these people and that's where you are getting them from.
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>> but again do you know if they are vetting them with the scenery in the official's and checking to see. i would like to get some clarification from the witness is on the vetting investigative process. in the directive and the memorandums in effect now from
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this previous administration that ties the hands of investigators in regards to getting the information to make informed initiative decisions for those seeking to enter the u.s.. mr. dowdy went through that before. i'm going to say it again very specific guidance, doctrines or memorandum either from this or previous administrations that ties the hands of investigators in regards to getting the information they need to make informed decisions for those seeking the u.s.. >> i am familiar except that there are privacy concerns. >> i'm aware of no restrictions of that.
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>> but your answer is no? mr. rodriguez? >> no. >> does richard? >> no. >> you have the access to make a security assessment from all the visitors. we could strengthen it. that is what the discussion has been that yes we seek to strengthen it and do the screening that we need to do, yes. as to the refugees that we screen yes we have quite robust preferences we bring to bear. there are no restrictions on the access to the information that
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we see unless we can to get it because it's some other government might have it but there is nothing from the part of our government that ties our hands to address the information that we need to and adjudicate. i want to reassure you if you think there are sources out there that we are not checking and we should be, we are looking at more work on this but we have a more robust refugee system going on. >> so going back to you, there are no firewalls between the agency for sharing this pertinent information? that is my understanding, yes, sir. >> also mine. >> the screening of applications goes through the entire interagency process.
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>> no firewalls. >> earlier in testimony he made the comment you are not aware of or there is no relationship to the acts of terrorism in this country is that true >> no, i didn't address that. i said no refugee that came into this process has carried out a successful attack in the state. there have been some that have come in. >> how many of those troublemakers by the way? about a dozen. annie in arizona? >> there's also an element of people that break the law but i don't know. i would have to refer you to the
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fbi on that one. >> i would like to get those numbers. what happens when they have a problem by >> they track people they are afraid they'll be -- i have to be for two then -- d. differ to them. they were brought to kentucky and then it was discovered that they had been up to no good in iraq and so they were arrested. >> we had a gentle man in arizona have tried to blow up a social security building during my first term, so that was kind of fun and that's why i ask the question. there is a reason i asked you a question at the beginning of the specific memos very are you family are with the words? >> not to bypass title, no.
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>> ms. bond? i can't recognize myself i have a few wrapup questions before the member comes back. you were quoted in the hearing saying by the way where the shootings that california perpetrated by refugees who were resettled and your answer was no then you went on and said mr. cartwright asked if you successfully successfully carry out an attack against american citizens in the united states. >> the second one is correct. >> the first by its self is it self is not correct. >> of the fbi is concerned about the small number of refugees that have come in and it was a while ago they came in under the current system for anyone reasonably in that category.
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>> i would point to at least i have about a dozen names here by senator sessions. one of the more recent charges is august 12, 2015. the last name i can't pronounce, a native that came to the united states in 2009 film guilty to provide to a terrorist organization and possessing nonregistered directive construct a device, u.s. assistant general stated that he conspired to provide material support to the movement and secured upon making materials in the interest of perpetrating the attacks on american soil came to the country as a refugee in 2009. most of the refugees that i've interacted with we had a good healthy refugee population. they are good, decent people
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running from terrible situations. i don't think anybody suggested that we don't bring any refugees. what we have asked is for a timeout so that we can make sure the vetting is in place and when you have the fbi director saying we can only event as good as the information is a little bit of an overstatement to say the refugees are not your problem. let me go back to the slide at the beginning and this is a deep concern to me. this is the number of people making credible fear so refugees are imported to the united states of america. we have people that are claiming asylum who comes on how to do a united states of america you come here while fully but you can also sneak into the country as a witness on the arizona border people came across the border and they didn't earn from the patrol committee wanted to get caught. the reason they wanted to get
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caught is to go through this process and so i want to ask you about this. it is a massive rise of the number of people claiming a credible fear of a silent. how many asylum officers do you -- are there at homeland security? give or take it as a 100 individuals. >> you have 400 individuals in fiscal year 201,451,000 people claiming credible fear. there's been a lot about the exhaustive interviews. how much time as does an officer spend interviewing and investigating somebody that claims -- >> i think it very is on the case. i have observed them and they seem to be approximately an hour and i would say on average -- >> that is my understanding.
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as a former prosecutor of serving those interviews, they appear to be robust interviews by very well-trained officers. >> so i want to make sure i get the math right. one officer will take one hour to interview somebody and we have over 50,000 people just in 2014 making that claim. >> you are looking at your notes, go ahead. >> in the particular case we have actually the locations where we are screening people as a result the screenings are getting conduct it quite expeditiously. >> how long is the interview and how many people are doing the interviews? >> i will have to get back to you on the exact number.
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>> this is a hearing about the vetting so i'm asking a specific question about the vetting. >> there are approximately 40 individuals give or take legal get the exact number but that is the neighborhood of the number. who are in the locations where we are screening individuals who've come across the border and they are conducting the fear within the timeframe of the law and the policies require. >> you put a lot in that. >> 40 or 400? >> those individuals are giving credible fear in reasonable fear and also they are going doing the general work of asylum screening as well. >> so who are the 40? >> the ones that are deployed
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specifically to be meeting our goal to process individuals who claim in credible and reasonable fear at the border. >> how long if you come across, and i'm assuming they've come across legally. there are people that come across but a lot of them are coming across illegally. how long are they detained until they have completed that process on average? >> it's roughly i think the target 20 days >> i was going to get some additional information where would i get that. >> if me a date. i know that it's the holiday season. >> given that, let's target for the first week of january. >> i think that is reasonable.
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as we look at the asylum we have about 40 people with 50,000 people coming in the door think the football stadium. they are not able to do that they have the other responsibility is in the paperwork they have to do. i saw people come across and wanted to claim credible fear they would go to a judge and say an administrative judge and say your honor i've got credible fear and they would read a little statement we have to go
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through the adjudication process and the process. it can be years. the court date was for 2020 so what happens is the people that are coming here illegally claim asylum and say you might have credible fear. we are giving you a court date and now the backlog is so big that they are not going to get a court date until 2020 and then what happens? the apply for a work permit. how many are you handing out each year? >> i don't know the exact number. >> it's a big one. now they are in the united states legally and they can compete with a taxpayer for jobs and all the other resources.
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they go to the schools and they do a lot of things just like an american citizen does and i have a problem with that. did you want to say something? the >> the last time we had the surge in the administration put a bill up and one of the elements was to build the immigration court system that would work because you put your finger on the problem and we had 243 immigration judges and we need many more in order for the immigration process to work and produce the result either way but to produce the result in a timely fashion. >> and you have to walk down the border and get rid of the people that are here committing crimes for goodness sake they are committing crimes and view all released them out into the public some 60 plus thousand times you did that. these are the criminal element.
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these are people committing crimes to get caught and they get convicted of your in your hands and the homeland security says go back out into the community. >> did i say anything that's wrong with their? >> if an individual was convicted of a felony, there are in the priority number one for the returning to the earlier conversation. >> if they commit -- [inaudible] >> am i wrong they pleaded down to sexual abuse and exploitation that's not good enough? >> if the conviction is rape then -- >> that sexual abuse is not? >> in the criminal law -- >> i have seen people pleaded down at the plate let's be clear
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about that. what it actually means in the criminal law isn't rape. >> said based on the recommendation if you commit and you are convicted of the exploitation that is priority number two. >> putsch means you are still a priority for removal. >> that is a top priority. >> if you are convicted of rape you for a top three or the other removal let's not have people misunderstand that fact. if you are convicted for a top priority for the removal. let's not have the american people believe anything else. >> let's get a list of number two. the offense of domestic violence, sexual abuse or exploitation, burglary, unlawful possession or the use of a firearm, drug distribution or trafficking, driving under the influence, all of which are not a top priority in the department of homeland security. >> you heard heard of a secretary say that he is top your ds national security and
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public safety. with all due respect it goes to felonies and priority number two and the sexual abuse could also short felony. frankly as a former prosecutor i think that the felony should take precedence. let's not just use all of them come you got them in your possession. if somebody is convicted for any crime why are they not divorced. >> number one is the removal so i don't think it's fair to
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suggest. my point is you have people convicted. you let them go. if it's true or not true during the fiscal years of 66,000 people. true or false? the traffic violation and misdemeanor. there are minor offenses that are misdemeanors. >> yes or no, 66,000 people.
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there are requirements to release people under the court decisions that you are aware of. >> so you are here illegally and commit a crime you get deported. the art of terrorism and they should be released back into the public. that is what is so outrageous. let me recognize the gentleman. the priorities are related to the failure to remove these folks because you say they will still get to them. the fact is the 66,000 when we got the individual offenses you did have people convicted of hollow side. hossein did. you had people convicted of sexual assault, rape, child
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molestation and a significant crimes. to say that as a rationalization you released it but you did release it and it's putting the public at risk and so i would second the chairman's concern about that and the fact of the matter is i was a prosecutor particularly some of the child molestation you do plead that down because you don't want to put the child understand, so they end up with offenses that could probably be considered a priority number two, and that is putting the merit in people at risk him and that i digress. you were quoted that the biggest myth is people coming here could be terrorists from the relation to this eerie and refugees situation. why are you so dismissive of the possibility that they will have terrorists in the refugee flow? >> i am not dismissive that the terrorist organizations --
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>> the issue is if you have 10,000 people you need 99% of them that are no threat at 1% that is a significant number of people that would be injected into the society. we just saw recently the refugees linked to the attack or arrested in the austrian refugee camp and you acknowledge, would you not, that we have had refugees come to this country that have been prosecuted for material support of terrorism, correct? we had have a number of them just this year in the district in virginia, from the western district of texas, a lot of these people came as refugees and some of them ended up getting a status and citizenship. but the fact of the matter is these are folks who have come through the program and have gotten through terrorism.
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but we ask you this. what is your appraisal of how the somalian refugee community in minnesota has worked out for the interest of the united states? >> what i want to say is that most all refugees are people who are fleeing things including -- >> we can't tell the difference between a bona fide refugee given by the fbi director said and what other officials have said so i take that point but what about the situation with the refugees in minneapolis tens of thousands have settled over the last 20 years and we know that there is very high rates of cash assistance and food assistance and paid for by taxpayer. here's the thing you've had over 50 people in the community go to join isis or other terrorist groups in the middle east.
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how did it end up happening? >> this is the question why anyone would be attracted people born in the united states and people who are converts to bees and the people who are refugees who came into the united states. >> so you're not sure why it happens. >> this is the question for all of us what is the attraction. >> but here is why it bothered me because the experience of minnesota shows a lot of the people who were coming back late when they were adults were not necessarily involved in terrorism and did not pursue terrorism but then they they have the families and the second generation. you have u.s. citizens. so their choice they could have gone up in somalia and draw the biggest royal flush to be able to grow up in america and given all that, how do they think the
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united states? >> i agree 100% but why would someone that grew up in the united states be attracted to that? >> the policy that we have, even getting beyond the vetting initially, you have to essentially try to figure out what happened ten, 20 years down the road and so the folks that we are bringing in now, we don't know what the downstream effect of that is going to be. and so, when i see something like what has happened in somalia it gives me cause for concern. let me ask you this. we've got tashfin malik's form but she thought of playing for a visa and is arguing terrorist, check yes or no is that the best we can do because i think even from her perspective i don't think she has to fly because she doesn't consider herself to be a terrorist. >> you are referring to the consular interview and i will talk about what we know and what
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we think we need to do in the refugee screening process. we develop lines of questioning as part of the interview that go beyond what might appear in the form. >> so you are developing that. >> no, that has existed for years and those are being reinforced. >> what about the adjustment application? >> that -- under the current practice unless there is some derogatory information that would lead us into those kinds of issues, we obviously don't -- that's one of the things we need to be thinking about. >> this is somebody that we know there were statements she'd been making over the internet and she is traveling from pakistan and those are hotbeds ideologies, very, very dicey when you start talking about individuals. is the state department recognizing congress, do you need us to change any law so we
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can have a system that would screen out people like tashfin malik? >> we do have laws that would screen out. >> but there don't need to be any changes? [inaudible] >> that's my point do they need to give you a authority or change the policy in any way so that they are identified? that would be to be we are not identifying everybody now into the question is just kind of a bureaucratic mistake or do we need to change policy do you have any recommendations for a? >> i do not at this moment. it's possible some of the ideas we generate might require a change in the law. >> thank you. i will yield back. >> i do have to get through a couple more and then we will be done. i really do we leave that one of the untold stories, the biggest
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-- one of the threats we have are those coming in illegally to the united states and those that are coming into the country claiming asylum because they will get papers and be working and they don't go through a vigorous insightful interview, and i think that is a huge gaping hole that has to be plugged in. there is a reason why that we have had this huge ascent, this huge growing number. i went to the detention facility in arizona. there were some 150 different countries represented there. a lot of people coming that have to be addressed. we still do not have an entry and exit program. there have been at least a half a dozen times where the law has been in place since 1996.
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why do not have an we not have an entry and exit program? >> with respect i've been asked and i'm prepared to answer that, mr. chairman committed the best of my ability. there was apparently an agreement for a hard stop at 1:00 and i would ask if we could bring the hearing to a conclusion as the staff negotiated i happen to have a -- >> i am >> i'm sorry but i'm just not negotiating -- i think that it will be a few more minutes. so, the starting in 2012 .cpp started to get the resources to develop the entry and exit system as i indicated before, mr. chairman and the way in which our airports and our whole infrastructure was constructed it was not able to capture
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biometrics on the way out there was no screaming on the way out and it was screaming on the way in. there were three ways you could do it. >> who rejected that? >> that was a decision i recommended that it may not rebuild all of the airports and seaports. >> if it came to the congress -- >> when will i get that? it is consistent with the schedule by the end of january.
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>> i want you to leave right now if you want to go on the clock january 30. >> the second one was to put the officers in and we actually had them placed at the ports of entry and the estimate is that would take resources away from other functions that we didn't have in terms of the officers. >> so you're saying that this is rejected because of money. not only money in the first order because it would require the complete restructuring of the ports of entry so it would also interfere with commercial activities and other interests.
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>> my question here and i'm trying to wrap up but if it is a resource problem, why did homeland security comes to reprogram $113 million to give to the secret service? >> i'm not familiar with that mr. chairman. >> they recently gave $150 million to the mexican government. i just don't understand why there isn't an exit program. >> the efforts to get the overstay report, which i've communicated to the committee is underway is part of this process that has been initiated to
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capture all of the biographic's. we do a fair amount that actually captures those who come in and go out with. >> there are 180 crossings, 182 million crossings on the land. we have about a million people a day that are processed and most of the people are coming in by air. >> do you think that most are coming in -- >> i'm saying of 182 million crossings that we have, those are repeated crossings going back and forth. >> that in terms but in terms of the share traffic, it's the land obviously. but the individual people that is more coming by. >> with nearly 10 million border
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crossings you have biographical or biometric information for those people. >> we do not, no. >> i could go on and on. it is such a mess and disaster like they recognize the gentleman from georgia to >> i will be very brief thank you for staying and i will be respectable of your time and try to be as quick as i can. based on earlier testimony, it is classified like a non- immigrant visa at the activate co- applicant must go through the full process is that correct? was screaming and test must be applicant pass? >> because it is treated like an immigrant visa in other words this is an individual that we expect to remain permanently in the united states and so they get exactly the same security screening as any other traveler to the united states.
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we don't distinguish between immigrant and non- immigrant in terms of the interagency security terrorism, come on background, all of that review. however, for example, if you are applying for an immigrant visa you do have to undergo a medical exam and so someone that is getting that medical exam if you are applying for an immigrant visa, you have to present a police certificate from any country where you have lived for more than six months since he was 16 showing didn't have a criminal record in that country. >> that is part of the process for the immigrant visas but you wouldn't require if someone is coming as a non- immigrant capacity. >> okay. was tashfin malik subject to that process as a visa applicant? so, non- immigrant visas such as those that under the visa waiver
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program, are they less stringent >> if you are applying for a non- immigrant visa, we do not require you to submit proof that you have a clean criminal record in every country where you lived. >> so your answer would be yes. >> yes. so under the program they are less stringent than the k-1 visa? >> you are not required to prove it. >> we have got 1.6 million overstay his, 400,000 of which are from the visa waiver program which is the less stringent program, correct?
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>> isn't less stringent in the security check that are done than the other -- >> but the background is. >> of the interagency name check is the same for all of them but if you've are traveling as a non- immigrant you are normally not required to provide a police certificate for example to undergo a health exam than if you were coming in as an immigrant. >> i would say that is less stringent would you not agree? >> the paperwork if you are coming in as an immigrant to see a certified copy of your birth certificate if you are coming in as a married couple we need a certified copy of your certificate. we are not asking for the documentation for immigrants so
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there is a there's a number of documents if you are moving permanently to the united states. >> will the gentleman yield? you don't have to provide a marriage certificate do you? >> you wouldn't have a marriage certificate but you would have to provide in other words you wouldn't have to provide a marriage certificate however you would have to provide it to say you are someone that has been married before, we would need a certified copy. >> you suggested -- i just want to clarify in the case how she got here was claiming that's how she would get married based on the records that i've seen but i just want to clarify that. >> if you were a couple coming into the united states on an immigrant visa we would need to
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see your marriage certificate. although again if she were previously married or a petitioner were previously married and we would have to see the certified copy of the certificate or the divorce decree. >> we have almost 400,000 immigrants who are under this program who are on the backlog as we understand through a system that you are telling me is less stringent than we would require from others and i'm just disturbed by that if you can understand my concern on that especially in light of the recent events that we have experienced here on the homeland. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> i want to thank the members and the witnesses today to clarify that particularly the comments about the sharing of lists and there were several
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members on both sides of the aisle talking about sharing as we go through the vetting process created there were people that were here illegally and that have committed a crime. there are people that are here on a visa and people that overstated. i could keep going on and on but they are not eligible to produce a firearm. the question is do you share that information with appropriate authority and are those lists given to those other give in to those other agencies particularly atf, fbi and others i am not thinking i'm not thinking about but certainly state needs as well? plane can you give me that information? it should be a fairly easy -- there are other agencies in the department of and the department of justice that are responsible for those -- >> i know that they would have access to but let me.
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it ought to be included as well. the population becomes to those populated lists get in the hands of somebody else here and say for the overstay and bigoted persons with a firearm because there are states that are handing out driver's licenses. one of my questions that i would appreciate part of the answer is if you have somebody that is here illegally and they have taken their drivers license and we've now identified the person, what we share that information? is that enough? i would like to know how those of you that are already here, do you do anything in terms of
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those people didn't have they then have they committed any crimes? >> no -- >> give us one moment. we have two questions and then we will adjourn. >> thank you for your indulgence, mr. chairman. i want to go back to a discussion that we had earlier about people who are allowed to enter the country in the context of refugees, do you keep track of people who transitioned from refugee status to immigrant status? we keep track in the sense that presumably they apply for adjustment which they are required to do and we encounter them again and though they apply for adjustment and we know the address they are giving we want a fresh set of checks at that point so in that respect we do keep track of them.
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>> is there a time limit or a length of time they have to be here before they are eligible to apply for the status? to >> they are to apply within a year. >> i'm asking is that have to be a year before you are eligible to apply? >> that is the kind of the eligibility. >> if they've been here a year or can they apply for citizenship? >> they would need to wait five years before they can become citizens. >> so six years. >> that is correct. >> what is the typical waste time for them once they've applied for citizenship >> as we speak right now we are processing the applications which is five months.
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>> so you have people that have applied for citizenship who come here and applied for citizenship and wait for years and then the enormous cost are we expediting given priority to the folks that have come here as refugees and applied for immigrant status and citizenship? >> not in any of those processes. why is it you can then process them faster than people that have been here for years? >> the point is the wall for the refugees is that they are expected to apply for the legal permanent residence within a year and then at that point to the wait time is another five years. it's just the law. that's not a processing. >> that it was for other -- >> anybody that has become a legal permanent resident. >> when you are here legally,
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and mr. chairman and i hear report after report after report people that immigrated into play for citizenship after five years they have to wait for years and to spend an inordinate amount of money relative to their net worth and are still on the waiting list to become citizens it just troubles me, mr. chairman, that it appears not only are we doing a particularly good job of vetting people on the visa we are not adequately vetting the refugees before we admitted them from countries that might be problematic and somehow people get moved ahead of the line. thank you mr. chairman and i yield back the balance of my time. >> i want to thank the witness that is here today and especially i want to thank the men and women that go out and do a very hard job after serving
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their country and that are doing so to the best of their ability sometimes with limited tools and resources and we do this in the spirit of trying to help and fix this in a bipartisan way. our thanks and gratitude goes to them. let me be clear we do not make deals for when the hearings will end us up for the staff to suggest that we agree -- i'm sorry but never came to me and i want to be clear that it's in a deal that we are going to make. each member is allowed to ask five minutes of questions per witness. so, all told, we can have all of these vendors ask for sets of five-minute questions and most ask one question and some members didn't even show up and i think i asked three questions. so, i just want to understand and clarify that. the other thing is we weren't planning to have the hearing because we expected last week to be productive but it wasn't. i think we made our point on
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that but please help us and provide us with people that come as witnesses to this committee as you would others and make sure that they are properly prepared to answer before they of questions. we wish you the best this holiday season and without, the committee stands adjourned. [inaudible conversations]
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the republican party has been beaten in the election and mckinley has been the governor of ohio and has seen the country to send and the republicans think that the election of 1896 is going to be theirs and he wants to be the nominee but he's not the favorite of the party bosses.
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now a conversation with six former speechwriters spanning from president nixon to president obama. they talk about speeches and moments of crisis including the vietnam war, the columbine high school shootings and the death of osama bin laden. from the professional speech writers association in georgetown university, this is just under an hour. >> good afternoon, everybody. my name is alicia. i'm not a speechwriter or white house speechwriter but i'm making a film about them and which is how i came to be here today. i made a film in 2006-2008 about
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the obama campaign and one of my favorite parts of the film was getting to spend time with the speechwriters and when i met him at the screening of the film he started telling me stories about the society and his stories were so rich and so colorful that i thought this would be a great subject for a documentary and my friend told me about robert's lessons are who i will now introduce because he wrote a really fabulous book called the white house goes about telling all these stories that we now together are working to put into film. he is the -- sorry, he is the managing editor at u.s. news & world report and he blogs and writes himself and works at the hill for the "boston globe" and has been in politics for a long time but he really knows the ends and outs of speechwriting and he knows all these guys
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really well and knows where all the bodies are buried. so, without further divided like to introduce robert, and you are in for a real treat. [applause] >> thank you for that wonderful introduction. i want to thank the professional speech writers association for putting this panel together and georgetown for hosting us and i want to thank c-span for preserving what will be great wisdom from this panel. so, the space shuttle has blown up. there has been a terrorist attack, a mass shooting and the nation as the song goes turns its lonely eyes to the president to dating back to at least december 7, 1941, the president has not only been the commander in chief, but the comforter in chief, the mortar in chief, the job description of the president in the modern era now includes
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expressing our national outrage, expressing our national grief at that moment expressing our national joy. in clarifying the meaning of what has happened and where the country goes forward from here so the nation turns to the president to whom does the president turned for help in this moment? there is not yet as they say in apple forgot to the president has to go old-school and i mean really old school. george washington in his first term was thinking about stepping down after a term in office so he asked james madison to help him write a farewell address in washington ended up writing two full terms writing the example for the people who followed him. but for years on he dusted off the madison draft and asked alexander hamilton to take a look at it and make any suggestions which i think instantly and i'm sure no one
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here will take offense gives washington the greatest speechwriting team ever. [laughter] that is until the trump administration which i gather will have a bigger and classier speechwriting team. [laughter] so presidents from the beginning have sought help occasionally but it wasn't until the rise of mass communications that the speechwriter in a sense as we think of them became part of the presidential orbit. the first president is credited with having a full-time speechwriter was warren harding, and it's no surprise harding was also the first radio president in as the mass media evolved over the years going from radio to television to live television to social media so has the way of the presidential speeches prepared and the way they are received and of course the role of presidential speechwriters. so i'm very excited that we have been able to pull together a traffic panel and i say that not just because i consider all
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these people to be friends of mine. we have representatives from six administrations, the nixon administration, reagan, bush 41, 43, president obama. i will say i was disappointed we couldn't get four in the corridor because we could've gotten two more people on the stage that would qualify it as a republican presidential debate. [laughter] so, i'm going to go down, logically and ask everyone to speak for no more than five minutes and i will cut you off if i have to. i should say i forgot to bring a watch comes with u. see me checking my phone i'm looking at the time, not because i'm fascinated by my latest e-mail or text message. speak for five minutes about how their president handled moments of national attention and then they will have a little panel discussion that will open up to questions. so the first question on sitting immediately to my left is the deputy director in the nixon white house from the writing and
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research staff now professor of media and public affairs at george washington university. take it away. >> thanks to all that organized this conference bringing in more visibility and coherence than what used to be anonymous ghostwriter was the term. students are talking about speechwriting and my experience at george washington university i just came from a speechwriting class. among other things the students are lining up to get into the courses. they regard this as an exciting professional prospect for them. they don't know quite how to make it work. there is no career ladder but already this afternoon i talked to a couple of people that said they had a lead if we have any good students who have networks
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that might be able to take advantage of these opportunities so it's a lot of fun. a lot of students learned about speechwriting on the west wing tv show. that's a bit romanticized view but in treating. >> [inaudible] [laughter] i am not a good fit for this panel in that i didn't work directly on the big crisis speeches except my deputy director role had produced some kinds of rescuing comments that might have tied into national emotion. by the wrong direction not always being able to rescue them and sometimes adding my own little touch and something that helped and often it didn't but one story i thought since we want to do this quickly that
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really two to a big crisis speech happened in 1972. one anecdote that quickly came to my mind, i have worked quite hard with a lot of people on the president addressed address to the joint session of the canadian parliament going up to ottawa to address the parliament in a lot of people have put these critics of speech very seriously. it was a state occasion but mysteriously in the last couple of days before the trip, the president seemed to disappear. we got no reaction back from him or the couple of policy points. often in the speeches he would leave the policy points a little bit open and waiting for the right beside person to decide to make sure the speeches were where the policy got made. see playback ..
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.. in 72 he was about to go to moscow. he had just been to china and everything was falling in place. kissinger felt that nixon should do anything with the russians, soviets. he had-- anyway, he was making
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this decision and finally decided to go ahead and do this against kissinger's advice. eventually, eight months later led to the end of american involvement in vietnam. this is what was preoccupying him and he just did have time to think about the canadian parliament. only speech i ever wrote that he changed one word. probably the best speech ever made. in the income i saw nixon and all he did was ask if i'm 70 goodtime, was a comfortable, did i want to go bowling. so nice. >> was that when you walked in and he was sitting in the dark by himself québec yes. i may have even wrote about it. at any rate, here's later out at the national archives and the director was showing me through the nixon papers and he said,
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let's look up your name and see what pops up. so, he put my name in and up popped alderman's account of that woman when i changed the language. haldeman writes nixon absolutely blew up, went into a tie rate of hobby speechwriters don't understand the nuances of foreign-policy and we have to give a speech writer on the nsc 's staff to bring their national sophistication and at the end he wrote typical nixon tantrum. i think it was the attention of the moment and this language had been changed in some way. that's why nixon was so nice, i think, when i went to camp david to make sure i was happy and i think he realized maybe he had overstepped, but the tension at those moments may be plays a
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some way into the same. and the tension that is shared and felt even though i didn't know it at the time what was brewing in vietnam. nixon called residents bluth effectively in the summit went on and overwhelmingly reelected and then some other stuff that happened that was not so happy. [laughter] >> i was never asked to work on anything related to watergate. i think speechwriters in other administrations were given a little bit of discretion as to whether they worked on it or didn't work what they felt passionate about and what they didn't want to try to get involved in. that diversified staff had barely diversified writing staff and they never wrote about foreign-policy, but with a lot of tough political speeches. right about grand themes, state of the union addresses,
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inaugural address and bill safire was the senior-- another senior writer and i was very much a junior writer, but the point of all of this, i guess, is that i didn't get involved in that kind of speech, but i experienced atmosphere out of which such as speeches came and i paid a lot of attention and i'm sure we will hear some stories that i remember from hearing what other presidents-- the other point is that in the end especially with the nixon come of the more important the speech the more likely he was to really write it himself. thank you. >> clark judge wrote for president reagan as the founding and managing director of the white house writers, which is a republican oriented speech writing group here in town. >> has everyone seen the cover of his book? hold it up. this is how i get on the good side of the moderator. [laughter] >> it's a great book. i read the reagan chapter today.
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basically to make sure you didn't pop something on it but i did not remember. in your introduction you mentioned challenge, written by peggy noonan and one of the things i did was go over your account and we talked this the other day and i had not remembered it and reagan, you know, she realized something that was coming up and he would have to give a talk on television that night. she was the obvious go to person for that. she did largely ceremonial speeches, largely she was known at the time-- or make jokes at the time about being the one who always went to the funerals, wrote for the funerals, but as she was working on it, one of the senior staffers came over and had some notes from the
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presidents, had been with the president as i recall during the disaster. the president had talked about the need to speak to children and to talk about the future and that adventure required frontiers required sense of adventure, but also a willingness to accept danger. if you read the speech you see that scene coming up right away. then, you see-- it was written very fast, the next session-- section, i think with sir francis drake had died on that day and talked about that clearly. i'm pretty sure what happened was one of the researchers came in with a list of things that had happened on that day that were appropriate to the moments. you have to work very fast. it is best known for its final line.
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[inaudible] >> that is the beginning and end of a poem called flight that is written by a canadian pilot in the first world war. some time ago when i was giving some talks overseas on the speech or writing by a professor, he said well, on something i had written, he said did you work this out, did you think about this-- no, you never take about it. at least i never did. really the truly memorable things, there are a few times you do that when you are writing things that have humor in them, but mostly it's a moments where this sense comes to you and this is where the artistry comes in or at least the impulse towards artistry. speechwriting is not about flowered words, it's not about ornate phrases. one of the early speeches i received back from reagan, he
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had crossed out every fifth or sixth that word. he had not crossed out every sentence, but every fifth or six word and had written at the top, well,-- no, he had written, wel, this is a fine speech. i just sweated a little of the fact out of it. [laughter] >> that's what he wrote. now, you are supposed to applaud [applause]. >> but, he-- what he was saying was this is my style. it's very lean. it's not flowery and keep in mind and what she did with that was in a moment to captured that ending with a quote is extremely powerful.
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it was all the more so with this because of the quality. that is the kind of thing you are facing at a moment of crisis. some of it is direction. some of it is research and some of it is inspiration. >> i should say not everyone is obligated to do impressions of their former boss, but it's certainly encouraged. [laughter] >> our next speaker is mary kate cary who was a speechwriter for president bush 41. she was executive producer of 41 on 41, which was about bush 41, which aired on cnn and she still writes sometimes writes speeches. most importantly my perspective she is contributing editor at us news and world report. >> thank you. so, i started writing for president bush when i was three years out of college. i was by far the youngest speechwriter in our office, so as a result i got assigned not
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the big, you know, challenger crisis type of speeches. i did a lot of spelling bee winners and girl scout of the year awards. there could've been a crisis if the turkey that got pardoned somehow met his fate that day. but, i never had that crisis and by the way, george bush 41 was the first president to pardon a thanksgiving turkey and that is a great tradition that has lived on. you are always guaranteed to make the nightly news. reagan did not pardon the turkeys. >> that was the evil empire. [laughter] >> so, by the end-- by january of 92, so i had been on the job for three years by then and has slowly worked my way up from the spelling bee winners and i was on the trip where the president went to the state dinner in
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japan and had an unfortunate inset-- incident shall we say where he barked on the japanese prime minister at the state dinner and i had written the speech for the next morning, which was to the japanese diet and it was a crazy night. i was not senior enough to be at the state dinner, so the kids my age were all back at the hotel and watching on television and want to get the word something happened we all turned on the tv and it was sort of like probably not politically correct thing to say, but it was sort of like a godzilla movie. you know that japanese and their lips are moving and english is coming out and these are american angers in atlanta, but japanese was coming out. we couldn't understand what happened and they had subtitles, so they were showing this god awful film of the president keeling over and it really looked like he was dead and there was no words on the screen
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to know what it was, so we all thought holy cow, the president is either dead or about to die tonight and fitzwater and all of those guys saying don't move, don't answer a phone calls, don't talk to anyone outside. so, about midnight i get a phone call and it's from nick brady, secretary of the treasury and a dear friend of president bush's and he said i understand you wrote a speech for tomorrow morning and they just asked me to deliver it in the president's place can you meet with me now and i said of course i go meet with him and he is absolutely shellshocked. he clearly things like we all do that maybe the president is already dead and he said i don't know what to do and i said, well, i think you should deliver the speech and the only question is do you want to do in the first person as if you were george bush and start with the sentence that says i will now deliver the speech as george bush would have delivered
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himself for do you want me to switch it to the third person and we will change every sentence to george bush believes in free trade, george bush was to do this and that, and he said i don't know. i don't know what to do. when do you think and he could not make a decision and i think you was like i said genuinely emotional about the situation, so finally i am looking at my clock thinking i really don't want have to rewrite this whole thing. [laughter] >> so, it would be absolutely brilliant if you just give it as though you are him. [laughter] >> you are right. so he gets up to the next morning and i watching it on closed circuit and he says i will now deliver the speech as if george bush were here and he says, you know, i george bush blah blah blah and every single time the man stopped to take a breath whether it was applause line or not the japanese went nuts and it just clap like crazy
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as if they were going to applaud george bush. so, we got out of there and nick brady said, mary kay, that was bonkers. that was the greatest. and it was very sweet he was so excited, but i really think in hindsight and i know that minute missions a hindsight, it was right then and i knew it was not a.net brady or about the speech i wrote, it was about the gracious hospitality of the japanese people who were mortified that this had happened to george bush and i think it was an act of love or george bush that these people were just trying to applaud in every way to show the president that he was missed and loved and he was a very sweet moment in time. so, my advice to us speechwriters, sometimes misfortune the falls years beeker, just keep the speech the weight is. [laughter]
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>> less work and it allows people to clap in memory of that person. [laughter] >> our next speaker is jeff shesol, who is-- was the speechwriter for president clinton. he is a founding partner at west wearing the writers, which is a democratic focused speechwriting group here in town. >> thank you. i had not really come prepared to talk about this, but mary kay, i went to add a different and slightly less elevated perspective on the story you just told the. i was in college when president bush up on the the prime minister and i will say this is probably a revelation, but college students are usually pretty creative and coming up with ways of describing throwing up, barfing being pretty old-school. so, there was a moment that followed this incident when the term on campus was for throwing
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up after overindulgent night, you know, frat parties was reading miyazawa. [laughter] >> using it in a sentence. brian totally meeting me as i walk. we were very politically focused. so come i don't know if you will forgive me from going from comedy to tragedy, but rather, you talked about the president in his role as comforter in chief, and my president, president clinton is obviously well known as who famously said i feel your pain. we actually learned and you can fact check this that it wasn't actually president clinton who
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originated that phrase. it was actually present carter who first set i feel your pain. i think that president clinton is just probably better at it than some other presidents have been. it was a particular-- and actually i think it very important strength, easy to kind of have a fun with, but really really very important in all sorts of context that presents are confronted with an i will just talked briefly about one in which i was involved in and it one that feels very fresh in this moment and this was the sort of horrific school shooting at columbine high school in littleton, colorado, in my home state. that happened in april of 1999, and i'm sure you all remember. it was it simply if one can say simply about a school shooting. it wasn't typical of other
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school shootings in that it had been methodically planned and executed. so, there was something about-- there had been a wave of school shootings beginning in earnest really in 1997, there had been a whole series from kentucky to pearl, mississippi, to jonesboro, arkansas, to springs bill, oregon across the country. every one of these shocking and horrifying in its own weight in the shooting had been carried out in one of these by an 11 and 133rd-- 13-year old, so there was an very active discussion in the same way that we have right now in the present context and then there was columbine. this, in a way, was the moment when it all just sort of broke and peggy noonan wrote a column at the time talking about the culture of death that existed in the country and said that some
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kind of critical mass had been reached and it really did feel that way very much and so i worked with president clinton on a number of different speeches related to that horrible moment and i think it's useful, actually, to think about a moment like this not as sort of resulting in a single speech, but really process, in a discussion. as i went back and said, my files and now for all of the world to see frighteningly, all of our stuff is up online in pdf form. your next. so, i actually dug back into my own files to take a look at this and i think what struck me is that there are just as there are phases of grief, there are phases of a discussion like this and it begins in the moments with reaction. president usually gets to appoint a man quickly as he can
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to say almost inevitably we are still trying to sort out the facts of what ever happened and we are talking to law enforcement and our hearts and prayers go out to the families. there is not very much else to said that moment because it's a swirl of confusion as to actually what took place. so, the first phase is simply one of kind of on a immediate reaction it-- in fairly short order you move really more towards flexion. if there is a funeral service, in this case vice president gore actually attended the service in littleton, with the families and gave essentially a homily, a usual-- eulogy in a homily on once, very focused on scripture. and entirely different kind of speech really than the others did that preceded and followed it. then, as this begins to recede,
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then the discussion moves more to action, what are we going to do about this. is there anything to do about this entity goes about 10 days out of the incident of this tragedy that president clinton went to the rose garden to talk about what the government could do about it and he announced that the white house was going to convene about 10 days later with what he called white house strategy session on children and violence. there was a lot of discussion about violence, pop culture, violence video games and whether there was anything short of stepping all over free speech that could be done about this, so that meeting was scheduled and then he and democrats in the senate initiated a series of reforms and gun legislation to close the gun show loophole and to require safety locks on all of the guns that were sold and so forth, so that began
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alternately like this debate inevitably, fruitless debate and nothing was done in that regard. then, moving a little further along this trajectory there is hopefully time for healing and so precisely one month after the shootings, i went with the president to littleton, for him to deliver a speech to the students who had been moved it. they had checked on the high school for the time being and they moved all the kids to another high school and he spoke to them in the auditorium there and met with the families beforehand, which is something that i witnessed from the very edge of the room, not wanting in any way to intrude on this moment. what really struck me in that morning was just how important it is for these communities to understand that the nation is focused on their grief through the president.
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did it makes clear that this is not simply an isolated local incident, but this is a national tragedy with national consequences and that hopefully some good and some concrete action can become--, that and is so the president in these moments i think has got to not only comfort communities, but has to do all of these things, each at an appropriate time. i think we have seen this obviously, in recent days in recent years all too often. >> thank you, jeff. of next is john mcconnell who is the senior speechwriter for vice president bush and vice president cheney and is currently writing-- [inaudible] >> first of all, our moderator rob it's not just an server on presidential speechwriters, he
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is they son of a presidential speechwriter, one of the best ever. his father arthur wrote for president kennedy and was a man we all admired and like very much, a wonderful man. rob asked me to talk about crisis during the bush cheney years, but of course there were no crises. [laughter] >> i will talk about the quickest turnaround we ever had and that would be february 1, 2003, and that was a saturday morning and that was the day i got a call about 9:15 a.m. from our administrative% the white house saying mission control had lost touch with our space shuttle columbia and that the worst was feared and that we should prepare for a presidential statement, so i worked as part of a team with mike gerst and matthew scully and we had been together since bush had been governor of texas. so, we assembled and i think we were all in mike's west wing
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office bike 10:00 a.m. and i don't know if it by then knew exactly what had happened at exactly what the fate of the astronauts was, but it was-- the worst was feared, so we got to work on a statement for the president. he was at camp david for the weekend and they were bringing him in. it was kind of a misty, foggy day and they couldn't take him as would be accustomed by helicopter, but they took in my car in a motorcade from the mountain of maryland to quite a while. so, we do not see him for some time. we got right in at about 10:00 a.m. and we were told we had two hours in the speech draft had to be ready by noon. we asked for another hour, 1:00 p.m., and that was refused. so, i have often said my motto is not original to me, but my motto is where there is no alternative, there is no problem. [laughter]
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>> also, is the case that you have three writers working on this, so you didn't have that intense pressure of being one person in the room under extreme conditions timewise. we could do it because we put our heads together. obviously, we didn't have a lot of space. we didn't have a lot of time and of the final speech ended up 375 words and one great contribution came from karen hughes who is president bush's indispensable senior adviser in communication's. that was a verse from the old testament i think from my day talking about the creator who calls forward the starry host one by one and calls them by name, which led into a very nice line for the president that the same creator who named all the stars knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. we also learned in writing this
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something that all speechwriters have experienced is that pressure, doesn't just concentrate your mind. it really clears away the clutter the writing. you can do something in two hours in a situation like that. it will not be of any less quality of something that you have been given a week to work on. it's just something about those kind of conditions where you don't have to strain for meaning you don't have to find a way to introduce drama into what it is you are talking about, it's all there. we also as i mentioned had been working for george w for a wild and so at this point, february of 2003, we were all of us in our fourth year of writing for president bush and there was something we knew instinctively and that was that this speech to the nation, which not just-- did

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