tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 29, 2016 9:34am-10:01am EDT
[inaudible conversation] >> our cspan campaign 2016 bus is traveling throughout new york this week asking voters which candidate do you support in this election and why. >> i am immediate ordinator at the college and it candidate that i support in the election is hillary clinton. i think she is the most qualified of the most suited for the election being she was secretary of state and also a senator in new york city and i just think she is the most qualified and she is the best for this decision. >> my name is john and i am a new york state senator from central new york.
i am supporting donald trump. i think we need a change in this country and in view of what's been happening over the past few years, the international situation is deteriorating. the domestic situation with respect to violence and terrorism in the united states is getting worse, we need to change and i think donald trump can make that change so we don't have eight more years of the policies that have brought us to this position. >> my name is september johnson, i'm from marsalis new york. i am voting for hillary clinton because i believe she is the best candidate for reproductive rights and as a woman she knows how to do that and i'm excited to vote for her in the election. >> i represent the 110th assembly district in the new york state assembly consisting
of several towns. i was the only democrat in the entire state legislature outside of new york city two and doris bernie sanders for the same reason, i support hillary clinton and i think she will have a greater ability to influence her administration than her opponent. >> voices from the road on c-span. >> state department official testifies about the syrian civil war and its impact on the region live coverage at 10:00 a.m. eastern coming up on c-span. the ceo of wells fargo will lose $41 million of stock compensation because of unauthorized opening of customer accounts. five coverage at 10:00 a.m.
eastern on c-span. cia director john brennan was critical of congress for overwriting president obama's veto of legislation allowing families of the victim of the september 11 attacks to sue foreign governments. he spoke at the washington ideas form. >> the news of today, which i think is news you find very disconcerting, there there has just been a senate override of the veto, the bill that would allow american citizens to sue foreign governments. you have been very energized against this. what does this mean from the cia perspective? >> i think that legislation is badly misguided and doesn't take into account the negative impact
on u.s. national interest. i think we all recognize emotions associated with 911 are still quite palpable. sovereign immunity has undergirded for centuries, i think it's a very dangerous slippery slope that we are going to get on and elements are going to pass similar legislation that will halt the united states to court overseas for the most frivolous charges and allegations of what u.s. has done overseas. i do think it's much more than going after individual of the saudi government. it is what does it mean as far
as this issue. >> stay on the issue of the senate, it was was 971. harry reid was the only one. >> when you go to senators and say, you are hurting american national security if you do this , what do they say to you? >> i've spoken with a number of legislators who recognize there are real downsides to this legislation. i think there are political considerations, there are emotional considerations as well i find it hard to believe that they are supporting this override when i think many of them understand what the impact is going to be on u.s. national security interests. what is it going to pretend as far as individuals overseas were going to bring the government to court and we have far greater resources around the world than anybody else. are those going to be attacked
as a result of some court that is going to move forward with some type of decision to attach those assets because of some court case. >> are you 100% sure that saudi arabia has no involvement in 911. >> clearly they were involved citizens and i'm sure some supported them with finance and encouragement, but again the 9/11 report said there was no evidence that the saudi government, senior saudi officials were involved in any way. litigants do have the opportunity to bring into court, individuals who may have been identified in the commission's report back in 2002 which identified some saudi's who were involved in this. >> you can bring individuals and organizations into court to pursue justice but bringing a foreign government into a civil court opens up the floodgates for this happening across the
board. any country may be brought into a court into the united states with allegations that they sponsored terrorism. >> it's no secret that saudi arabia is not president obama's favorite ally. it's no secret that they are not the most popular country among the american public. would you argue, it seems that you're arguing that they are an ally in in the fight against terrorism. is not a fair description? or do they play contradictory roles? >> i spent a number of years in saudi arabia, i was working in the late '90s and my principal work out there at the time, i was exceptionally frustrated with my saudi partners because
they weren't as forthcoming with information, they weren't as cooperative as we wanted them to be. after 9/11 and any attacks in saudi arabia, they did a complete 180. now they are among our best counterterrorism partners around the world. they provide us information, they are engaged in operations against isis and others and they have lost many of their citizens, their intelligence, intelligence, police and security officials who have been horrifically killed by terrorist organizations. i am very concerned about how saudi arabia as a government is going to interpret this legislation. i think they're still going to be counterterrorism partners with us because they are committed to ridding their communities, their region of the >> the downside is huge of the. >> i think it's potentially very huge. not just in terms of saudi arabia, because there are some things that the saudi government may decide to do but there is tremendous investment in terms of assets that they have. they want to leave of them here so they could be attached by some sort of court ruling that is going to award the little begins. >> is more of an investment issue than a security issue? >> what's the security.
>> have a lot of support, not just in the region but in a nationally about the concerns of legislation. what does it get as far as the future is concerned print i think there is a legitimate financial economic concern they have, how their resort's assets could be attached. it also sends a signal that despite the need for our cooperation that the congress of the united states takes that so lightly that they're going to go forward with this and say the saudi government despite what the 911 conclusion report. >> the house is going to vote on this very shortly. are you going back up to the hill to argue or do think it's a hopeless carless. >> i was on the hill today, i released a public statement about what i see as the tremendous downside of this legislation and i hope that the house upholds the president's veto, the secretary of defense,
the chairman of the joint chief of staff and others, all the national security officials of this government recognize how bad this legislation is for our national security interest and how it will be effective. >> let's talk about our national security interests, not only saudi arabia but the broader muslim world. we have had this conversation the past, you have essentially argued that we can't win the war against radical islamic extremism, without the help of muslims. i have talked to a lot of people in the intelligence community who argue that the way that donald trump, among other people talk about islam, talk about muslims, actually hurts our national security interest. you agree that by talking about banning muslims, is that a
hindrance hindrance to carrying out your work? >> words and comments that taint the religion as being a source of the problem is tremendously detrimental to our interest and to a better understanding of this phenomenon. i have met with prince's or presidents and prime ministers throughout the middle east. they are outrage that their community, their muslim community has been infected by this cancer. individuals who have this distorted and perverted interpretation of islam that pursue these psychopathic agendas of horrific violence and they recognize they have a very important role to help purge their communities of these influences. these individuals who are fanatics, they are driven by a psychopathic ideology that is absolutist.
either you are with us or against us. that's why the establishment of the caliphate by isil are really trying to cause the clash of civilization. they want to drive the wedge between the west and the muslim world. >> have you address this concern to donald trump. >> i have not talked with him. >> what would you say to him. >> anybody who promotes that type of characterization of the problem and mischaracterization in my mind, i would try to describe how those comments are being interpreted and how they are feeding this narrative that the terrorist organizations are propagating. it does not help to arrest this
cancer that has taken over so many of the communities because a lot of the underlying conditions that exist within the middle east, africa, southeast asia and other areas, political distant fright franchise may, lack of opportunity, opportunity, these tourist organizations and this perverted version of a religion prey upon the hopelessness. by making comments that are incendiary and are viewed as attacking a religion or a people or community, it only further drives those individuals to grasp onto those extremist views. they interpret a lot of comments that were made as the west in the united states are out against them. when those comments come forward , the comments that resonate with them and they say there right. >> bin laden was arguing the same type of thing that there
was no room for agreement. >> there are a lot of people who support that kind of agreement who would say look, i know director brennan you say this is a print version of islam that has nothing to do with it but these are muslims who are citing scripture who are seemingly devout people who have broad support in parts of the muslim world. it doesn't add up when you say this has nothing to do with islam. it looks like a form of islam. what is the response to that. >> people can take any faith, the jewish faith, the christian faith and distorted and use it for violent agendas. we have seen through the course of history that individuals who think they are the vanguard of the effort of christianity or judaism or even hinduism or
other religions really have this distorted interpretation of their faith. the overwhelming majority, the 99.9% of muslims do not support that type of violent agenda. yes there may be some individuals who are considered to be radical within their islamist faith or even extremist, but the use of this horrific violence, type of violence being perpetrated is something that we have not seen previously. there's even a distinction between isil and al qaeda. they were concerned about the large number of muslims being killed by the terrorist attack and he was trying to redirect al qaeda to be much more surgical. >> he thought they were actually going overboard. >> that's right. exactly. >> he was seeing the detrimental effects of that agenda. isil makes no distinction and they slaughter innocents, they
have a very strong anti- shiism and their philosophy is even if the innocent is killed, god will sort them out. >> i just want to cover, iran, iraq, the south china sea, iran-iraq and the south china sea. i have seven minutes. [laughter] let me start with syria which is the epicenter. i want to read you something that hillary clinton told me in an interview two years ago about syria. the failure to help build a credible fighting force with the originators of the protest, islamic's, secular's, the failure to do that is a big vacuum that the jihadists have filled. that was interpreted correctly as a critique of the early years of obama policymaking. is she right? did you all miss an opportunity
to shape the outcome of that conflict? >> when you look back now over the past five or six years, a lot of happened that none of us were able to foresee at that time. isil was not an organization like it was today taking up a large amount of territory. at the time, when syrians took the street against a side, it was a collection of different types of group that were taking up off ashad because he was so oppressive. at the time there is also an element that transcended that. that spectrum has unfortunately grown larger and it is very difficult to support a large opposition that has. looking back, 2020 hindsight, people could say sure, if we only supported them more strongly, we would've been able
to push objectives but when you look at libya -- there's a fair amount of energy and chaos there you can take care of certain threats by use of military threat, but the use of military force brings another day. how are you going to plan to rebuild out of the rubble from airstrikes what you need to build for the future and syria is the most complicated and vexing issue i have ever had to deal with in 36 years years because there are so many internal and journal actors, competing interests as we try to bring an end to the asad regime which has exterminated. >> was a mistake not to enforce in 2013?
>> the results of the statement of the red line, syria chemical weapons were virtually destroyed. equipment, material and other things that really worried u.s. national security experts as well as israel for many years. it was only because of that threat of the use of military force that russia put the screws to syria to destroy their chemical weapons. we are better off for that, however, in light of subsequent events, the bloodshed has continued and again we can speculate what might've happened if bombings took place, but bombing is just a way to address a threat. it's not a way to resolve problems. i think the middle east is an area that has frustrated a lot of those objectives for many years. >> was our credibility hurt? was it her by declaring a red line not enforcing a redline? >> i think a lot of people were
disappointed that there wasn't a follow-up. i think certainly is really officials were glad that serious chemical weapons were destroyed, now people look back on it and say credibility was hurt because of, not just not just not following through with the bombing but subsequent events. >> two more issues. on russia, can you assess for us , is russia trying to hack our election? [laughter] should i repeat the question. >> russia has tremendous capabilities in the cyber round realm. we know they have use those for a variety of reasons to extract information from networks, to get access to e-mails, we also know they have been very active globally and trying to influence clinical developments in a variety of in countries, including engaging in election politics and manipulation in
countries overseas. i think the u.s. government right now is very much aware and working on the issue of who might be trying to get into and intrude into our electoral system. one of the real benefits of our system of election is that they are state owned. it's very dispersed and diverse and it's not as though you can just get into the system and you have access to all the precincts and other things. there's an effort underway, jay johnson is leading the effort, reaching out to states, offering assistance, i think he has said publicly that 12 states have asked for assistance from the federal government to better safeguard their systems and protect against this, but what what we do at the cia is looking at countries capabilities and intent and things they've done in the past and determine whether something that certainly looks like a dock, smells like a dock implies a dock is a dock or
not. [laughter] >> i'm in a mark that down as yes so we are duckhunting. >> yes. >> you're the big duck hunter. this is right around the 15th anniversary of 911 and the overarching question that the typical person wants to know from the cia is are we safer than we were 15 years ago. >> on one hand we obviously developed systems to fort complicated multinational plots but were now living in the age of self generated lone wolf style attacks. take a minute and talk about where you think we are 15 years after that terrible world changing events. >> let me do an assessment.
you look at vulnerabilities, threats and measures that you have in order to mitigate those threats. when you look at the vulnerabilities, compared to 911 we are a heck of a lot safer than it was then because of improved security at our airports, our borders, much better interaction between the federal government and state and local governments, watch listen information that is just moving at the speed of light. it's a much more difficult environment here for terrorist groups to operate paired when you look at the threat though, you would see it would be the continued growth of the digital environment and the ability of overseas terrorist organizations to reach into the country via the digital realm and encourage and guide and direct people to do do those attacks. with the growth of isil and al qaeda, the the threat is still significant. although we have the vulnerabilities that have been
resumed reduced, the threat is significant from a standpoint of groups that are trying to carry out strategic attacks in addition to the one off lone wolf. we have done a very good job with our international partners to stop as many of these attacks as possible and were going upstream in places like syria where a lot of the external operations of isil is planned. we are disrupting a lot of activities before they get to the execution phase and that's what were trying to do. keep them away from our homeland and stop them before they get close to actually strapping on that suicide vest or picking up that weapon. the fbi deserves a lot of credit and homeland security does as well. the interaction between all of the elements of this great country and the international architecture that we have created, and i go back to what
we started talking about, the saudi's provide provide significant information that feed into the system that allows us to disrupt these threats. it would be an absolute shame if this legislation in any way influence the saudi willingness to continue to be our best counterterror partners. >> thank you very much for joining us today. i appreciate it. [applause] >> go to cspan.org, your primary source for presidential debate coverage on your desktop, phone or tablet. watch each question and answer from the debate accessing the content that you want quickly and easily. use our video clipping tool to create clips of your favorite moments to share on social media. watch every moment of the debate on cspan and cspan.org. >> today the senate will not have any legislative work. general speeches only. yesterday, the senate and house
overrode the president's veto of the 9/11 victims lawsuit bill. the first time congress nullified a veto by president obama. extended government funding until december 9. the senate resumes legislative work after the lame-duck election of october 8. : 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 god, you sustain us with your unfailing love, for your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.