tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN May 15, 2015 3:00pm-5:01pm EDT
simply because we haven't looked at all of the places we could go. so thank you for your testimony. i see my time has expired and i yield back. >> mr. lynch, you're recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman if i could just ask -- i know that because of the scope and depth of the problem here mr. carroway's attendance would be important. i'm wondering if the committee has plans to subpoena him, mr. chairman. >> i don't. i honestly don't know. i discussed that with the staff beforehand. >> and i yield to the ranking member? >> what was the question? >> well the fact that -- i mean, we've got wide problems here you know, from perimeter security to people around the pre-checklist that are felons. and it's a pretty wide gap in
our security. and mr. carroway's attendance would be important to us. a lot of my questions are for him. >> same here. >> i did want to ask the ranking member. >> the chairman and i discussed this. he was trying to avoid a subpoena. and what we were going to try to work out. i mentioned it earlier in my opening, is get, i agree, we really do need carroway here. i asked the chairman to set a date certain for him to come in so we can get him in here to ask the question. you're absolutely right. >> i would agree with mr. lynch, if you would, ask me in the beginning. i mentioned it. we talked about it with the chairman. i would be supportive of a subpoena if necessary. >> if it's needed. i want to voice my support for that, as well. and the fact that the gentleman
is not here. sort of feeds into the whole narrative here that we have a bureaucracy not responding to the problem that's out there. i want to thank the witnesses who are here. i appreciate your valuable testimony. and it's already been helpful. as i said we've got some major gaps in security. there have been several notable security breaches. i know on september 14th, 2013 a tsa employee ruzwas arresteded with five others for participating in a scheme to smuggle immigrants into the united states. additionally, two airline employees were arrested in december of 2014 for smuggling weapons. guns and ammunition on at least 20 flights from atlanta to new york over an eight-month period. and two tsa security screeners
at san francisco international airport were also arrested in 2015, march 2015 for allegedly operating a drug smuggling conspiracy. in addition on march 9th, there's a report that was in the press. i believe nbc had a story about these 1,400 badges that were -- and these were for security badges for employees to access secure areas. they had gone missing over roughly two years. that was at the hartsfield-jackson international airport. and, as well, in the city of boston, the closing arguments today on the death penalty question for one of the marathon bombers. and the brother who was now deceased was missed. he actually left the united states, left boston, went to
dagestan. we had reports from the russians to our security officers at the fbi and cia to alert them that he had been engaged in alarming behavior, contacting terrorist groups in chechnya or dagestan. and he was on the list. 700,000 names. this is widespread. you've done a great job in terms of authenticating some of the gaps here. do we need to give you more power to try to address some of this stuff? there seems to be a division of labor here between the airports and the tsa in terms of whose responsibility it is to set these security protocols.
>> it is a massive job. when you talk about the number of badges out there, for example example, in 2012 we reported 3.7 million badges for secured areas. the idea of trying to keep that secure with that size, 450 airports across the country, it's a massive job. 46,000 transportation security officers. we have initiated a number of criminal investigations against individuals, which i think is typical any time you get a workforce that size who has that responsibility. so it is a massive job. >> is there a lot of turnover among these tsos? transition security officers? >> i have not looked at that. i'm not sure whether gao has looked at that or not. >> i think a lot of things we're talking about probably going to take place in a classified briefing, unfortunately. and i won't waste any more time. but i look forward of that
opportunity. thank you, i yield back. >> mr. grosman. >> thank you. just have a couple of questions. first of all, how many, you said before how many supervisors you have as part of tsa. >> so i'm not sure exactly how many supervisors there are, sir. that would be a better question for tsa. >> none of you up there would have an opinion? >> we have not looked at that. >> okay. >> when you review or when you audit them, i have heard from tsa agents that they feel there's overstaffing going on. do you concur with that?
do you feel there is? do you feel they're doing what they can to kind of tighten things up a little? >> so we haven't looked specifically at the question of whether or not there is too much, but we did do a report in 2013 that looked at the issue of misconduct. and found that there were about 9,600 misconduct cases adjudicated by tsa over a three-year period. and the total personnel was about 56,000. >> say how many? >> total personnel was about 56,000, i believe, at that point. and so i would say that -- there is certainly a need for some supervision. >> okay. could you give me -- rattle off like the three major causes of doing things wrong, misconduct? >> sure. the largest category of
misconduct was attendance in leave issues. so essentially being absent from work without prior approval or extensive tardiness. the second category of misconduct was screening and security errors. that counted for a full fifth. 20% of those roughly 10,000 misconduct cases. and those would be instances where the s.o.p.s were not followed. to allow bypass screening or where tsos were bypassing the equipment checks. those are types of misconduct cases that could lead to a degradation of security. >> collectively you lfeel if anything, we ought to be tightening things up. >> i don't know if that translates to need for additional supervisors, but certainly, yes, there is room for addressing those issues. >> okay. well, different people have
different opinions on that. thanks. i yield the rest of my time. >> thank you. just on your time. now, the figures we have are that there were 61,000 tsa personnel. that's the latest that i had. and we had a cap of 46,000 screenings. which leaves you with about 15,000 people who were not screeners. is that correct? and we had -- just under 4,000 people in washington, d.c. within the close proximity. pretty hefty overhead, wouldn't you say? >> thank you sir i'm not familiar with the exact numbers. >> those are pretty close. but we've built a huge bureaucracy. never intended it to be that way. and we've got to get it under
control, better managed, whether it's training acquisition of equipment, performance, the passenger facilitation systems that don't work. a lot of deficits. and then mr. ron mentioned issues of perimeter security. this past week in knoxville. looking at their vulnerabilities. but you can take any airport and just whether it's laguardia where you can get a little rubber raft and end up on the runway. or any major airport in the country is easily penetrable by the perimeter. some of the issues you raised, mr. ron. i'll yield back to your time.
you have the time? >> a few years ago, they instituted these new things to see through you or whatever. they were kind of controversial at the time. have you ever thought about restricting their use? or could you just comment in general on them? >> what you're referring to are called the ait machines which is advanced imaging technology machines where you put your hands up and the things go. we're doing covert testing on that, as we speak. we'll write a classified report with regard to that. earlier turns, give us some concern. >> concern of what nature? >> whether they're effective. >> good. maybe you won't need them. okay. >> well, i might point out for the record -- and i've pointed out the beginning. i don't know if you were here, sir. but the acquisition of that
equipment was controversial. and subjected to them buying some of the equipment that was, he felt violated people's rights. they went ahead and split the contract as i've mentioned between mr. chartof's client and between l3 which was ms. daschle, $500 million worth of contracts split evenly. they ended up the rapid scan could not be changed so it wouldn't violate people's privacy. and those -- that equipment after being installed was pulled out. so we'd been through that three-ring circus. now that this report focuses on the deployment of some of that equipment, for example, the advanced imaging detection which is millimeter wave, where you put your hands up. and we have problems with maintaining the equipment,
operating the equipment, auditing the performance of the equipment, all outlined by these witnesses. gentleman from california's recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me begin my opening comments recognizing the enormity of the responsibilities you have in assuming there have been many successes. but mr. roth i wanted to talk about really two subject areas, and the second part is the perimeter given i'm from the bay area and we've had a lot of news coverage on that case and other cases. you mentioned that complacency is a huge problem and human error is too common, and basically, the human error is to follow protocol. and also, you mentioned that you have to be -- tsa has to be right every time and a terrorist only has to be right one time.
we have similar situations in hospitals or industrial facilities. is there a basic or mr. ron knows this. when you have these kind of situations to make sure that complacency isn't the order of the day? >> i think it's several fold. one is oversight. tsa has red teams which go in and do testing on systems and individuals to ensure that they get it right. we, obviously do covert testing, as well. and i think it's a matter of training. as in the military. if there's a training culture that you do a certain protocol the same way every single time. then you're going to at least lower the incidents of human error. >> that's not sufficient in this incidence? >> the results we've found have shown there's room for improvement. >> is there, in your view
misprioritization? more emphasis in terms of technology? >> more on training, yes. >> your comment about very alarming that we put a lot of emphasis on the front door but the back door is wide open? and given your comments and experience, both in israel and massachusetts, are there best practices both on a low threshold cost, sort of a medium and higher level? because you also mentioned basically, we don't have the resources to do the higher level. >> thank you. i think one thing i find is there's a lack of comprehensive approach to the challenge of aviation security. we are defining relatively narrow angles. and we take care of those angles. but sometimes we miss the wider picture. i think, again, the prim sister security is a perfect example of
that because while we're trying to prevent exactly the same event on one side of the operation, we invest a lot and on the other side of the operation. we allow the situation to remain remainremain as poor as it is for many years despite all the red lamps that blink at us. >> in your experience, you had to balance your resources, your funding with a risk assessment. are we doing that sufficiently in this instance? >> yes. i think that risk assessment is an ongoing process. it has to be part of our operation, continuously. has to be down at every level. >> risk assessment, passenger. in order to identify the risk of that passenger. i think the criminal background check is not enough for that. >> i was speaking more about in
relationship to the front door to the back door. are we putting enough? is this a proper risk assessment that we should put more in the front door and not in the back door? you implied in your opening comment that we weren't. >> yep. >> there is room for that as well. >> you care to comment on either the complacency problems or the perimeter problems? >> yes, sir. in earlier work that we did looking at perimeter security issues, what we found is that tsa had not been able to do a complete risk assessment because they weren't sufficiently assessing the vulnerability of different airports. they have since made steps in that area. and we do have a review underway now to look at that issue. the other thing, the other issue i would raise to tsa is a question about whether or not they're making adequate use of the data that they have. they do require airports to
report all incidents to tsa. but when we looked at that data set previously we found it wasn't organized or reported in a way that tsa could specifically identify how many of those incidents were related to perimeter or access breaches. again, they have made some changes. and so we'll be able to report back in the future on whether they're able to analyze that data. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank the gentleman. mr. heiss is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> nbc news reported over 1,400 security badges were missing in hartsfield-jacksonville, atlanta airports. could you briefly explain how tsa responds when some of these security badges turn up missing?
>> we are doing some ongoing review of tsa's security controls. so my answer will be preliminary. but my understanding based on my conversations with tsa officials is once a badge goes missing, it is turned off. so this has to be sort of a two-factor authentication. you have to take the badge and swipe it to be able to enter secure areas. the difficulty, of course, is this idea of piggy backing. somebody else opens the door and you walk through or other ways to be able to gain access to the secure areas. and that is the whole challenge behind these access badges, right? if you work in a mcdonald's at the airport you get a badge. and then you quit the next day, and you still have that badge. and it's incumbent on the airport to report that to tsa so that badge gets turned off. and it is a vulnerability. >> so you would say that the responsibility with the airport? >> it is a joint responsibility as i understand it. >> right.
a joint responsibility. and the -- the airport, atlanta airport was just the only airport reporting on that particular study. 1,400 badges missing in two years. how many would there be across the entire nation? mr. ron, just a yes/no type question regarding this. would you consider 1400 just out of one airport security badges showing up missing a major security breach and a potential problem? >> well, obviously it's a matter of proportions. atlanta is one of the largest airports in the country. and i assume that the number is larger than most airports around the country. and i do not know what is the percentage. but i would say that every airport, worldwide that i know suffers from that problem. >> okay. my question is this a security
threat of significance that needs to be looked into it? yes or no? >> it is. >> obviously we've got a major problem here. we've got badges that are missing, stolen for whatever reason. but of the two thousands across the country. and what i'm hearing from you, there's no policy to deal with this. and yet, we've got a major potential security breach going on here of insider threats, really. assess real quickly the vulnerability of insider threat. >> well if you have access to secure areas, that means you have access to the aircraft, the dangers there, i think are self-evident. >> all right. let me go back to another situation in atlanta, mr. roth, and i'll continue with you. as we all know, there was a gun smuggling insider ring at the
atlanta airport. it was discovered this last december. to your knowledge, has there been any changes in security checks and so forth since that gun smuggling ring was discovered? >> as i said, we're in the middle of an audit of this exact problem. so, unfortunately, i can't give you a complete answer as i sit here today. >> should there be changes? >> absolutely. >> what changes would you suggest? >> well, at this point i think i'd have to defer until we get our audit completed so we can make recommendations to tsa figure out what it is we find and make recommendations that make some sense. >> all right. what kind of -- what needs to be done with verifying that those who have security badges do not have a criminal history? >> we're about to come out with a report with regard to that, to check the tsa's efficacy on doing criminal background checks. and i know gao has done work on
that in the past. >> how many background checks are there? >> well, it'd be one for every tsa employee who has a badge. >> okay. so in that scenario there'd be one background check. is there anything to protect the public from one of these individuals getting involved in criminal activity after they have already had the initial check? >> no, you know, and we have a number of investigations that are set forth in my testimony. >> should there be? >> well, absolutely there needs to be vigilant, criminal investigative presence against the tsa employees. >> i would ask you, please, to report back to our office on this type of thing. i would very much appreciate it. thank you. >> thank the gentleman. mr. clay? >> thank you mr. chairman. and thank you ranking member for conducting this hearing. i appreciate the efforts to
streamline the security screening process for low risk individuals and shift focus to those who are deemed at higher risk. my understanding is that all airline passengers are compared to federal government terrorism watchlist through the secret flight program. ms. grover, is that correct? >> yes, sir, that's correct. >> okay. but only individuals enrolled in the pre-check program are also checked against other law enforcement lists such as immigration and criminal data bases. is that correct? >> if they apply for pre-check, then, yes. they are checked against the criminal background information. >> and the pre-check program requires individuals to self-report any new criminal activity or convictions after they are enrolled. in other words, individuals have to self-report any new crimes.
is that correct? >> sir, i'm not actually sure if that's true for precheck. i do know that's the case for the aviation workers at the airport. there's no follow-up background check and i believe the same thing applies to precheck as well. >> does this self-reporting requirement pose a potential security risk? >> it does. and in the pre-check program, it does require self-reporting there's no continuous pinging of the criminal justice system to figure out whether, you know if i apply for pre-check and then get convicted of a crime a year later, my pre-check is still good for five years. if i don't report that to tsa, tsa's not going to know about it. >> any idea of how many have self-reported? >> i don't have that information. >> ms. grover, any idea? >> no, sir. >> okay. ms. grover, gao's recent report identified instances in which
secure flight did not accurately identify passengers on government watch lists. is that correct? >> yes, sir, that's right. what were gao's find with regard to the ability of secure flight data. appropriately designating individuals at low risk. >> so the secure flight system, the first thing that it does. it's used to identify individuals on the watchlists. and we know sometimes there are errors that are there, that secure flight doesn't always identify people on the high-risk watch lists. after that set of identifications is done, and those people are tagged, then the remaining passengers are also screened to see if they are a known low-risk traveler. and that's the way that they're then identified for pre-check. and then there's another tier where there's some automated assessments done where people can get additional pre-check.
that's how come sometimes pre-check shows up on your boarding pass even if you haven't signed up for it in advance. >> what measures can be taken to ensure that secure flight accurately assesses the risk level of all passengers. >> we've recommended that tsa should have a new performance measure in place so they can keep track on an ongoing basis of how well secure flight is doing at actually identifying everyone on those federal watchlists. and they are working on it, but that is not in place yet. >> then how do you keep from stereotyping or profiling travelers? i mean, what are the precautions put in place to not do the profile? >> well, that issue would be most relevant, say, at the airport when individuals are being selected. say for managed inclusion. and the tsos are supposed to use
like ipads that have randomizers in there. so there should be some protection from profiling there. but there have been questions raised about the behavior detection officers over many years about whether profiling could be factors into their decisions. and they are part of that managed inclusion process. >> okay. you made 17 recommendations of tsa in your march report. and many of them dealing with the ability of the pre-check initiative to effectively assess the risk level of the individual. can you briefly walk through the areas you see as needing improvement? >> unfortunately most of those are sensitive security information or classified. it's difficult to talk about them. but we have made recommendations that tsa really needs to rethink how it is they use the reassessment rules. they disagree with our recommendations. >> it's unfortunate.
thank you, all, for your responses. i yield back. >> you have nine seconds. if i could have them -- >> sure. i yield. >> just a couple of points. one, you testified that the employees, well, first of all, they're not checking the backgrounds before they're employed. that's part of your finding. and and. >> then they're not checking afterwards. in other words there's not a check if they appear on some criminal list or watchlist afterwards. that's correct on employees. and then i wanted to know about precheck. i know in israel, they control whoever gets sorted the pre-check. and they're always re-examining those individuals and the information's brought in.
and they can stop the pass or access from the information that is concurrently and continuously being examined. tell us about pre-check and employees. >> my answer was referring to to the pre-check. no recurring vetting and required a voluntary disclosure. i'm not sure about the employees. >> so with respect to pre-check enrollees, the only recurrent check is they would be checked against the federal watchlists every time. but not for criminal background. and as far as aviation workers, it's basically the same thing, they're checked regularly against the federal watchlists. although tsa has recently announced that they're going to start redoing criminal background checks every two years. i don't know if that's in place yet. >> okay. thank you. mr. duncan.
>> thank you mr. chairman i apologize to the panel, i've been at another hearing. i did want to ask about something in mr. ron's testimony that really stood out to me. although most employees are hard working americans. what is particularly troublesome is that the crimes are rarely -- bypassing security for their personal motives. individuals are very susceptible to terrorist influences and so forth. that seems to be to me a pretty sensational type statement, mr. ron.
when you say networks of employees. and i'm wondering. i know you've mentioned the atlanta incident, or the atlanta smuggling. but i'm wondering is this oversensationalized? is this happening at all the major airports? you say networks of employees? how widespread is this? >> well, most of the crimes that the -- could generate benefits for employees that are willing to act vlly lyactively involve. it is never a single individual person that is involved. usually, there's somebody who delivers the substance. somebody who actually takes care
of it and puts it on the aircraft. and if i take, for example, a case of a few years ago concerning a flight from miami to san juan puerto rico. once again there was a matter of weapon smuggling to the aircraft. it was a duffel bag with the if i'm not mistaken different weapons. including an a.r.-15. >> you said that's the case from several years ago. >> that's several years ago, yes. but indicated in this case the bag was broke by one employee into the restricted area. and there was another employee that actually took the flight. and they received the bag in order to fly with the bag to san juan according to media reports. this is, i think, a very good example as to how these things
work. you can assume that similar involvement of more than one person is the case in more frequently than otherwise. >> well, let me ask you something else, you were director of security at the tel aviv airport, i understand. what are some things you were able to do at tel aviv that people in your similar security field wouldn't be able to do or aren't doing here? >> well the system is based very much on our ability to recognize the level of threat of individual employees based on a much deeper background check to start with.
>> we we need to give much deeper background checks? >> yes, background checks is one very important rule. >> and that has to do with the smaller size in comparison to airports like atlanta. >> yeah. >> but we were able to actually keep our finger on the pulse. if somebody was behaving in a way that indicated that may be involved in illegal activity. there was a dedicated. there is a dedicated unit that is. looking exactly only after that. making sure not only concerning security but also concerning regular criminal activity. >> do you think we should have some type of incentive programs
for airline, airport employees that turn in or recognize unusual criminal activity or something? >> i'm sorry. in other words should we teach other airline employees or airport employees things to watch for when you say that airport employees acting in unusual ways. >> yes. obviously, there is -- at the end of the day, there's limited access to every -- but when you speak about employees this is different. also issued to nonemployees. but in the case of employees we are able to through resources and through our intelligence activity at the airport and through our ability to survey a
city, those parts of the airport that are vulnerable makes it effective. >> i've run out of time. let me ask mr. roth one last question. mr. roth we're spending megabillions now for security at the airports. when you add it all together. are we getting a bang for our bucks? >> i think there's significant room for improvement. when you talk about, for example, security background checks on individuals that hold the pass to secure areas. you're talking about 7 million people you would have to give a background check for. this is a massive, massive challenge. can tsa tighten up? absolutely. there are areas where they can tighten up. but we need to understand the scope and significance of the problem that tsa faces.
>> all right. thank you very much. >> thank the gentleman. let's see, if fedex can track a package. if they can detect instantaneously some incidents with your credit card, certainly we can get this right. let's yield to miss kelly of illinois. >> thank you, mr. chair, and ranking member cummings for holding a hearing. i would also like to thank our witnesses who have taken time to speak with us today. mr. chairman with the summer travel season fast approaching, our nation's airports will be pushed to the maximum capacity. long security lines, overworked agents and control tower officials. it also means detecting and neutralizing a security threat in a crowded airport can be as difficult as finding a needle in
a haystack. this is something all americans and my constituents know all too well. the greater chicago area is currently served by two airports. i'm sure most people in this room here today at some point or another has missed a connecting flight or had a long layover in one of our airports. i hear complaints from our colleagues all the time. overcrowded hallways and long security lines. a need for a third airport in chicago has been known for years. i have been working with secretary fox and the administrator to make a south suburban airport a reality. i am pleased to say that the project is close to becoming a reality and i will continue to push for its creation. therefore, i'd like to ask the witnesses to provide their insights into this matter. how does the fact that a major airport, how does the fact that major airports are operating at capacity impact how national security. i'll ask both of my questions.
impact our national security and the other with construction of new airports improve our nashlt security by easing pressures on current airports? and whoever wants to take the question. >> the press is difficult. and as airports are operating at capacity, there are challenges that go along with that. but what i would suggest is that the challenges that tsa faces in improving security across their systems are independent of exactly how many airports we have up and running and exactly whether they're working to capacity. because they are inherent system wide efforts. and i'd like tsa to spend some more time focusing on how well their systems are working.
>> i want to repeat a point i mentioned earlier that is relevant to your question. that is once again the need to approach the subject or the challenge comprehensively. this is one of the weakest points in the strategy. that because of a lack of comprehensiveness, we do leave corners unattended. and as we discussed here earlier, we talked about perimeter, threats. and there might be some others. and much more comprehensive approach would allow us to evaluate a more balanced system.
which, by the way, will never be perfect. >> i think any time you add size, it's complexity. enhanced complexity always leads to challenges. so your specific question unfortunately, we haven't done specific work in that area. it's difficult for me to comment. >> okay. thank you for your response. i appreciate it. i yield back. >> mr. cummings? >> mr. grover. are you familiar with concerns that gao raised about the managed inclusion program? >> yes, sir. >> can you explain what steps tsa has taken to address those concerns? >> what tsa has told us that they have an effectiveness study underway, and they expect to have results toward the latter har of 2016. i believe specifically they are evaluating the role of the
behavior detection officers and canine teams as part of that. >> so the dhs inspector general recommended that the managed inclusion program be halted until technology exists for airport check points? and this would prevent passengers that were known security threats from bypassing more rigorous security inspections to the ig. now, mr. roth, has tsa altered the program? >> my understanding based on conversations with tsa is that they are reducing both managed inclusion and some of the other methods they use to put people into expedited screening. and as more people apply to precheck and get vetted they're
going to reduce that. but it is still something that they use, something that we are concerned about. >> and tell me what your concerns are. >> well, my concerns are that these are unknown passengers. they are unknown to tsa, which means they're an unknown risk. and any time you have an unknown risk passenger going through expedited screening which is inherently less secure, you have a security vulnerability. >> and what have they done about your concerns? >> well, we've made a number of recommendations. many of those are nonpublic recommendations, but nonconcurred with those recommendations, which we believe shows a lack of appreciation of the seriousness of the problem. >> and did they give you excuses? or what? >> they simply disagree with the level of risk. they believe it's a level of risk that's acceptable. as the i.g., i believe it is not. one of the reasons i invite a classified briefing on this is because every time i give a classified briefing members of
congress tend to agree that it is an unacceptable risk. >> do you get the impression they don't see you as an expert? and they see themselves as so being? >> well, we're the independent auditors. that means we're objective. and we look while we're in -- >> that's not what i asked. >> i apologize for that. yes. we have a disagreement. a fundamental disagreement about what level of risk is acceptable. >> now let's go to the issue of the perimeter. mr. roth. we've seen a report of a 15-year-old boy from san jose airport to hawaii in a wheel well of an aircraft. mr. roth, what steps can tsa take to improve perimeter security and ensure that incidents like this don't happen in the future?
what can they do? >> my understanding of tsa's position is that is the responsibility to the airport itself and not of tsa. we have not looked at that specific issue. i don't have any specifics with regard to their response. >> do you have an opinion on that? >> yes, i think this is one of the problems we have. and this is why it falls between the chairs. why tsa does not consider part of its responsibility. i think as a regulator it has to make sure somebody else does it. and at the moment, this is not happening. the airports are not willing, in many cases are unable to provide what it takes to protect their security with the detection systems and the manpower that requires to respond to alarms. >> how is that done in other
examples? >> tel aviv airport there's no division of responsibility. the responsibility structure is very, very clear. and there's only one security organization that takes care of all aspects of security. whether it is passengers or a facility. and that makes it easier to calculate the priorities. >> whose responsibility did they say it was? the perimeter? >> my understanding is that the tsa takes the position it's the airport's responsibility and not tsa's. that's based on my understanding, but we haven't done work in this area. >> you want to say something? >> yes. if i may. does take the position it's the airport's responsibility to decide how the perimeter will be secured. they come in and they check. they do a paper check given what the airport -- does that match
up with the requirements. and they also do an annual compliance inspection of where they observe to make sure those measures are in place. we do have a study underway now to do an assessment of what is going on. >> back up. >> yes, sir. >> tsa says this is what we think it ought to be? >> yes, sir. there are regulations and then tsa issues security directives that lay out sort of at a high level what the requirements need to be to secure the perimeter. and then at each individual airport, the airport decides exactly how they're going to meet that requirement. >> okay. >> right? it could be a fence or maybe the airport would say we don't need a fence because we have a body of water there. so then tsa comes in and they
review that airport's security program. and that's a paper review where tsa basically says check, check check, check. okay, yes, we think it's reasonable that you are securing your perimeter in all of these ways. and then once a year, tsa also comes in and does a compliance inspection where they say walk they walk the perimeter and say is the fence there? >> what happens the day after the inspection somebody cuts a hole in the fence? . how does that work? and do we then have a gap? >> that is the airport's responsibility to monitor. >> yeah. you know, one of the things that concerns me and we saw this on transportation committee. you have these folks who constantly claim everything is tight and there are no problems. and then they say when the rubber meets the road, everything's going to be fine.
but then we find there are gaps. because everybody's assuming that the other person is doing it. and then it ends up that there's the problem. just wonder inging, you know, if you have -- when we look at what's happening around the world and you look at organizations like isis and others, i mean, to create a hole in a fence and folks figure out well, maybe they're not looking at that fence as often as they should they had an inspection yesterday and now i've got a whole year to wait, i mean are you satisfied with that procedure? or you don't get into that? >> so there are definite vulnerabilities. and we have identified them before, and we have called out to tsa and let them know that we didn't think that they had
sufficient vulnerability assessments in place to check on the airports. so that's part of the issue we're going to be look at again right now and i'd be happy to report back ow ton that. >> i'd love to have that because that's of great concern. thank you all very much. your testimony has been very informative. >> thank you, mr. cummings. if you could patch that fence and you can put five pounds of plastic explosive on a drone and fly it into an airplane as it's taking off or use a shoulder-fired missile, some that have come into the market do the same thing. it all gets back to intelligence. finding these people before they can commit the act. miss lawrence, you're recognized. >> thank you, mr. chair.
if i may -- excuse me. the issue of the access through the i.d.s. on march 9th, 2015 nbc news reported they have 1400 badges granted to secure areas had gone missing over a two-year period. are you familiar with this report mr. roth? >> i am. >> what happens when an i.d. badge is lost or reported stolen? >> so as soon as the badge has been reported lost or missing the airport should deactivate it immediately. it's my understanding that there's a threshold of 5%. so once 5% of the badges for any particular area have been reported as missing, then the airport is responsible for
reissue all of the badges to all of the employees who have access in that area. >> do you know how the airports keep track of this? are you engaged in that tracking process? >> so we have not done a specific review of how well the tracking process is working. but i can tell you generally that the way it works is that the airports are required to do a 100% audit of the badges once a year. that's a paper exercise. so it involves the airport taking a list of all of the badges that have been issued and checking it up against the contractor lists to say do our lists still match? and then twice a year they do an additional 10% random sample that's also a paper exercise, and tsa's responsibility is to come behind and make sure that the airport has done their job in those doing those checks. >> so that's my follow-up.
when the tsa is supposed to come behind, so there is an audit process that is given to any airport if they -- is there an inspection process? how do you know that -- how do you verify that the airports are in compliance? because the concern that we have about these missing i.d. badges and we provide all the security under tsa that we have the expectations, how do -- how does tsa verify that there's an inspection needed because the audit has failed? and what is the procedure? >> it's a couplefold. my understanding is tsa will go through and they will in fact audit these things and they have an entire -- >> how frequently? >> i don't have an answer to that. one of the other things we, do for example, what we're doing
now is we're conducting an independent audit of tsa's processes and controls for doing this. we were as concerned as i suspect you were with regard to the media reports. and so we are taking a look at that very issue. >> i just want to say that i'm glad to hear that you are conducting the audit of that process. it is disturbing to me that the access to secure areas, this number's too high. and in doing that audit i really want to state for the record that i feel it's too high. you're going to have to convince me otherwise. and things like the frequency when is the accountability issue for airports and employees for these loss of badges. and the question of the answer that after a certain period that
everyone gets their badges reissued, how frequently is that happening? and what triggers that number? so those are the concerns i have. it should be a comprehensive approach. i would hope that the media would not drive our response to these issues. that's troubling to me. it should have been something that has been triggered by our own internal audits. if we are doing that. instead of saying oh, it's in the media now, we need to respond. so thank you. >> i thank the gentlelady and i guess there are no further members we'll conclude the hearing. but it's not acceptable for tsa to respond to the chief investigative oversight committee of congress with pages and pages of redacted information. do you have trouble, mr. roth, getting information from them or -- >> we do not. >> you do not. >> well we do.
and your report i think it's about as comprehensive as i've seen. it covers a whole host of areas. i think you did an excellent job. the problem is it just highlights that after years and years we have created a very expensive, dysfunctional transportation security system and there are many potentials for risks that are not addressed. the more -- having helped create tsa in the beginning and create this system, the more i look at this the more i'm convinced that you go back to intelligence, intelligence, intelligence. get tsa out of the screening business, as you heard mr. ron say, we're the only country in the world -- where the agency is the regulator, the auditor the systems manager and it doesn't do any of them well. but if we could concentrate on
connecting the dots we have the information and the data base, we can clear people who pose as a risk. if we can track people almost everyone most recently that the boston bombers other people we failed to connect the dots the dots were there. but we have concentrated a huge number of people and managing an unmanageable system that others can conduct a screening process through, then concentrate on getting the intelligence, the security information, seth the protocols and altering them to meet the threat. mr. ron, isn't that what we should do? i didn't want to take words out of your mouth. >> largely speaking yes. >> and the israelis have done a great job. they have a different system. been there many times. after 9/11 they helped us in many areas and have continued to lend their expertise. and i can tell you in this hearing if it wasn't for israeli
intelligence and british intelligence we would have been taken down several times because they don't have to deal with some of the laws and protections and barriers that we have because we have a different society and different laws. but this is a very serious situation. this is an indictment of tsa's values, and we need to change this. i've never said to do away with tsa. we need to change their role so that they are in charge of again security, intelligence connecting the dots, and then auditing the system and getting out of this craziness of using all of our manpower and money for a system that shakes down little old ladies, sxrernths people veterans, and people who pose no risk. and mr. roth agrees with that
statement, do you not, mr. roth? >> yes. >> miss grover is a little hesitant but she -- >> we agree there are vulnerabilities in the system that need to be addressed. yes, sir. >> with those statements what i'm going to do is ask unanimous consent that the record be left open for a period of ten business days. you may get additional questions. and i think there will be some coming to tsa maybe wrapped in a subpoena for mr. caraway, but in any event the record will be left open. without objection so ordered. there being no further business before this full committee hearing of the government oversight and reform committee and the subcommittee on transportation and public assets, this hearing is adjourned. thank you.
tens of thousands of police officers are in washington for police week. in front of the u.s. capitol today there was a memorial to honor police officers who died in the line of duty this year. president obama was among the speakers. >> we cannot erase every darkness or danger from the duty that you've chosen. we can offer you the support you need to be safer. we can make the communities you
care about and protect safer as well. we can make sure that you have the resources you need to do your job. we can do everything we have to do to combat the poverty that plagues too many communities in which you have to serve. we can work harder as a nation to heal the rifts that still exist in some places between law enforcement and the people you risk your lives to protect. we owe it to all of you who wear the badge with honor and we owe it to your fellow officers who gave their last full measure of devotion. most of all, we can say thank you. we can say we appreciate you and we're grateful for the work that you do each and every day.
>> you can see this entire event commemorating police officers who died in the line of duty tonight on our companion network c-span at 8:00 eastern. and then sunday on c-span, utah republican senator mike lee on government surveillance programs and the defense policy bill. he's our guest on "newsmakers," sunday at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. eastern. ♪ ♪ here am i sitting in a tin can ♪ ♪ far above the world ♪ ♪ planet earth is blue ♪ ♪ and there's nothing left to do ♪ ♪ >> sunday night on c-span's "q & a," veteran canadian astronaut
chris hatfield produced many videos on his activities at the international space station and shares both scientific and personal aspects of life in space. >> the only time i actually felt a shiver of fear go up my back, though, was on the dark side of the earth looking at one side of australia, of eastern australia in the darkness and watching a shooting star come in between me and the earth. and at first i had the standard reaction of wishing upon a star. but then i had the sobering realization that that was in fact just a huge dumb rock from the universe going who knows 20 miles a second that missed us and made it down to the atmosphere. and if it had hit us it was a big enough one that you could see it. if it had hit us, we would have been dead in an instant. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span's "q & a." the house foreign affairs
committee this week held a hearing on how isis is targeting religious minorities and cultural sites in iraq and syria. california congressman ed royce chaired this one-hour 45-minute-long hearing. >> this committee hearing will come to order. today we focus on the minority communities, the many minority communities that are under brutal attack. some of them on the brink of extermination. by isis. by isis principally in iraq and syria. but elsewhere as well. and we're joined by individuals who have personally faced this threat and are familiar with the extreme hardship with the grief that displaced minorities face in that troubled region. isis has unleashed a campaign of brutal violence, depraved violence, not only against shia
muslims and fellow sunnis who do not share their radical beliefs, but against vulnerable religious and ethnic minorities. and as ms. isaac put it simply in her prepared testimony, we cherish ethnic and religious diversity. isis hates it. many americans may not realize that iraq and syria are home to dozens of ethnic and religious minorities with ancient cultures, with deep roots. these communities, assyrian and chaldean christians, yazidis and others are under mortal threat in their ancestral homelands. and the mass execution of men, the enslavement of women and children, the destruction of religious sites is part of the isis effort to destroy these communities, to destroy all evidence of the pre-existence of
these communities. in fact, isis maintains a special battalion, they call it the demolition battalion. and that battalion is charged with going after art and going after artifacts, religious and historic sites that it considers heretical or idolatrous, and their job simply is to destroy history. the situation for some of these groups was precarious even before isis. according to some estimates, more than half of iraq's religious and ethnic minorities have fled the country over the last dozen years. but what they face today is annihilation by isis. and the influx of isis extremists has become a plague. the fall of mosul in june of last year uprooted 2 million souls, 2 million human beings.
members recall the u.s.-led air strikes and operations by kurdish forces last august to break the siege at mount sinjar, where thousands of yazidi refugee families had been trapped by isis. the physical security and welfare of displaced minorities is an immediate priority. options for u.s. assistance range from additional material support to friendly forces. all the way to creating safe zones, or no-fly zones. and while it's important to weigh the cost of each option, we cannot lose sight of the fact that people are being kidnapped, people are being tortured, women are being raped, and children, and they're being killed every day. beyond that, we need to focus more on their psychological well-being. many of those people, especially
women and girls, have been subjected to unspeakable traumas. the young men are mostly just slaughtered. and as with any displaced population, as their vulnerability increases, so does the threat of human trafficking. what can be done to better protect women and girls at risk of slavery? finally, what can and should be done to keep these evacuations from becoming permanent? it would be a tragedy if well intended resettlement fulfilled the goal of isis itself. in other words, to drive these believers out. are there ways to support the reconstruction of local institutions in civil society so that post-isis, and there must be a post-isis, these communities can return and thrive in their ancestral homelands. i'll now turn to the ranking
member, mr. eliot engel of new york, who has been a true leader on syria and on the humanitarian and human rights disaster in the region, for his opening comments. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, and thank you, as always, for calling this important hearing. and let me also thank our witnesses for joining us today. we're very appreciative that you're here. this committee has taken a hard look at the brutal campaign isis is raging in iraq and syria. we've learned about the broader threat isis poses across the middle east and around the world. we know how dangerous this group is. we heard how many people have lost their homes and their livelihoods and their lives in the wake of this violence. and today we will focus on the heartbreaking struggles of christians, yazidis and muslims who have defied the barbaric perversion of islam espoused by isis. we will hear about the dangers that these communities face every day, how isis has killed, raped, and enslaved those who
don't fall in line with their fanaticism. and i hope their stories will remind us and our partners and allies around the world that we must do everything possible to help these people. we will also hear about the attempt by isis to erase the history of these communities. we've all seen videos and reports of isis destroying ancient sites and historical artifacts in the territories they control. these are not random acts of vandalism. isis is deliberately targeting cultural property for two reasons. firstly, the to loot and steal cultural artifacts to fund their violent campaigns. and secondly, to destroy what is left in a calculated effort to eradicate minority cultures. this form of psychological warfare against yazidis, christians, muslim minorities, and anyone else that refuses to bow to their oppression, from the tomb of jonah in mosul, to yazidi shrines in the sinjar
region and the historical site of hatra isis is trying to rewrite history. we have seen this tactic before. the bamiyan buddhas destroyed by the taliban in afghanistan. the nazi destruction of jewish religious property during world war ii. we cannot allow another vicious group to reshape our record of the past. we need to cut off the profits isis gets from trafficking looted artifacts and to ramp up our efforts to save cultural property from destruction. a few weeks ago, this committee unanimously passed to protect and preserve international property act, which i introduced with representative smith, chairman royce, and representative keating. this bill would help save cultural property from isis's campaign and we need to get this bill to the president's desk. we also need to stay focused on bringing belief to those living under the yoke of isis. i hope our witnesses can shed some light on what religious minorities living under isis
control need the most. the administration's response to degrade and destroy isis is a good start. but it's a start. the united states has worked to cut off financial support to isis, to stem the flow of foreign fighters, to deliver robust humanitarian assistance, to provide military support to our partners including through u.s. and coalition air strikes, and to push back against the violent ideology promoted by isis. but as we will hear today, people are still suffering in isis-held territory, and i hope today's testimony will underscore from my colleagues the need to pass a new authorization for the use of military force, or aumf. i have said this before and i will say it again and again and again until congress acts on its responsibility and passes a new authorization. finally, i want to say that some of us are wearing red today. i'm wearing a red tie. my good friend i williana ros-lehtinen is wearing a red blouse.
and we're doing this because we want to focus on the girls who have disappeared under boko haram. while boko haram is not isis, it's certainly affiliated. their tactics are just as brutal and its terrorism all around the world and we need to stand up in this congress and show that we will thwart it in any way possible. and i hope my colleagues will also wear red. once again, i thank our witnesses and i look forward to hearing your testimony. and thank you, mr. chairman, for your leadership as always. >> thank you, mr. engel. our panel that we're joined by here today include sister diana momeka, maybe of the dominican sisters of st. catherine of sienna located in mosul, iraq. sister diana, who was one of many thousands forced from their homes by an isis offensive last year, has been involved in providing assistance to other internally displaced iraqis currently residing in erbil and raising awareness of the plight of minorities displaced from
nineveh. ms. jacqueline isaac is the vice president of roads of success, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women and minorities in the middle east. ms. isaac's work has included refugee aid missions and helping victims in iraq and in jordan and in egypt. ms. hind kabawat is the director of interfaith peace building at the center for world religions, diplomacy, and conflict resolution for george mason university. ms. kabawat has trained hundreds of syrians in multi-faith collaboration, civil society development, women's empowerment, and in negotiation skills throughout the middle east, including in aleppo, syria. dr. katharyn hanson is a fellow at penn cultural heritage center for the university of pennsylvania museum specializing in the protection of cultural heritage.
specifically on the threats to mess po mesopotamian architectural sites in iraq and syria. she recently served as the program director for the archaeological site preservation program at the iraqi institute for the conservation of antiquities and heritage in erbil. without objection, the witnesses all prepared statements, will be made part of the record. members are going to have five calendar days to submit comments and questions on any material they might want to put into the record. with that, sister diana, please summarize your remarks. and sister diana, she'll push that button, that red button for you there. >> thank you. thank you, chairman royce and distinguished members of the committee for inviting me today to share my views on ancient communities under attack. isis war on religious minorities. the story's begun --
>> sister, i'm going to suggest you move the microphone right in front there. and just project a little bit. thank you. >> okay. thank you. november 2009, a bomb was detonated at our convent in mosul. five sisters were in the building at the time and they were lucky to have escaped unharmed. our o'priory sister asked for protection from local civilization authorities, but the pleas went unanswered. as such, she had no choice but to move to us karakosh. on june 10th, 2014, the so-called islamic state in iraq or syria, or isis, invaded the nineveh plain. which is where karakosh is located. starting with the city of mosul, isis overran one city and town after another, giving the christians of the region three choices -- convert to islam, pay a tribute to isis, leave their
city, cities like mosul, with nothing more than the clothes on their back. as this horror spread throughout the nineveh plain by august 6th, 2014 nineveh was emptied of christians and sadly, for the first time since the 7th century a.d., no church bells for mass in the nineveh plain. from june 2014 forward, more than 120,000 people found themselves displaced and homeless in the kurdistan region of iraq, leaving behind their heritage and all they had worked for over the centuries. this uprooting this theft of everything that christians owned, displaced them body and soul, stripping away their humanity and dignity. to add insult to injury, the initiative and actions of both the iraqi and kurdish governments were at best modest and slow.
apart from allowing christians to enter their region, the kurdish government did not offer any aid either financial or material. i understand the great strain that these events have placed on baghdad and erbil. however, it has been almost a year and christian iraqi citizens are still in dire need for help. many people spend days and weeks in the street before they found shelter in tents, schools, and halls. thankfully the church in the kurdistan region stepped forward and cared for displaced christians. doing her very best to handle this disaster. church buildings were open to accommodate the people. food and non-food items were provided to meet the immediate needs of the people and medical health services were also provided. moreover, the church put out a call and many humanitarian organizations answered with aid for thousands of people in need.
presently, we are grateful for what has been done. with most people now sheltered in small prefabricated containers or some homes though better than living on the streets or on the abandoned buildings. these small units are few in number and are crowded with three families. each with multiple people, often accommodated in one unit. this is, of course, increasing tension and conflict, even within the same family. there are many who say, why don't the christians just leave iraq and move to another country and be done with it? to this question, we would respond, why should we leave our country, what have we done? the christians of iraq are the first people of the land. you read about us in the old testament of the bible.
christianity came to iraq from the very earliest days, through the preaching and witness of st. thomas and others of the apostles and church elders. while our ancestors experienced all kinds of persecution, they stayed in their land building a culture that has served humanity for ages. we as christians do not want or deserve to leave or be forced out of our country any more than you would want to leave or be forced out of yours. but the current persecution that our community is facing is the most brutal in our history. not only have we been robbed of our homes, property, and land, but our heritage is being destroyed as well. isis has continued to demolish and bomb our churches, cultural artifacts and sacred places, like mar bahnam and his sister. a fourth century monastery and
st. george monastery in mosul. uprooted and forcefully displaced, we have realized that isis plans to evacuate the land of christians and wipe the earth clean of any evidence that we ever existed. this is cultural and human genocide. the only christians that remain in the nineveh plains are those who are held hostages. as hostages. to restore and rebuild the christian community in iraq, the following needs are urgent. liberating our homes from isis and helping us return. coordinated efforts to rebuild what was destroyed through slaughter, and electrical supplies and buildings including our churches and monasteries. encouraging enterprises that
contribute to the building of iraq and interreligious dialogue. this could be through school and academic projects. i am but one small person. a victim myself of isis, and all of its brutality. coming here has been difficult for me. as a religious sister, i'm not comfortable with the media and so much attention. but i am here, and i am here to ask you, to implore you for the sake of our common humanity, to help us, stand with us, as we, as christians, have stood with all the people of the world and help us. we want nothing more than to go back to our lives. we want nothing more than to go home. thank you and god bless you. >> thank you, sister. ms. isaac. >> honorable chairman royce, ranking member engel and
distinguished members of this committee, i'm honored to be here today. thank you so much for having a crucial hearing that really is a matter of life or death. i'm not talking to you as an attorney. i'm not talking as a politician. i'm talking about being a human being who's been on the front lines. i've been to sinjar mountain. i've met the girls that have been kidnapped and raped by isis. and i'm telling you that we need to give them seeds of hope. seeds of hope to know that they can live and thrive in their home. i'm here because i promised these people, my friends across the world, that i would be their voices today. hear their narratives. i'm here today because of a woman i met named ekhlaz. ekhlaz was in mosul at home late at night and out of nowhere isis came in and said you have two choices. you either convert to islam, or
you pay the gizziah. she gave them the money and she said give me one minute because my daughter is in the bathroom taking a shower, i'm just going to get her out. they said, you don't have one second. they took a torch, they lit the house, starting from the bathroom where she was taking a shower. ekhlaz picked up her daughter, rita, and she thought she could take her to the hospital. she had four degree burns. but rita died in her arms. i'm here today because of joy. an 11 years old paralyzed kid from the neck down. isis found him in sinjar town. they thought that he was useless to society, so they picked him up with 190 other paralyzed and elderly people and they threw him in the borders of syria. but in the midst of all this darkness, i see that there's
light. light can break through the darkness, and we need to take our role as human beings, push them and help them to survive and thrive. let me tell you what happened to joy. the heroes of today, the peshmerga army, found him with the other 190 and they rescued them, and today they're living in safety and the peshmerga army, who's out there risking their lives, are doing this on a constant basis. they are constantly rescuing the innocent. one of those innocent girls that i met, i don't want to disclose her name for privacy purposes. she's 15 years old. and in one night in sinjar town isis came in and took her with a group of hundreds of girls into a broken down building. and isis came in and they
started to trade. trading her off. categorizing these girls as merchandise depending on whether they were beautiful in their eyes, how old they were, whether they were virgins or not. literally treating them like merchandise. she was sent off and she was being raped on a constant basis, and she decided to make an escape. she believed that she'd rather die trying. she believed that somebody out there, another human being, would help her if she made an escape. and in one night she broke out of a window and she started to make a run for it. my brave friend went hours hiking on the top of the sinjar mountain. but isis came back for her. and took her back. when she went to that house, they starved her, they beat her, and again she said i'd rather
die trying. isis forgot to fix the window they broke. and she made a run for it. and this time she made it to the very top. and who was there to stand by her side? the peshmerga army. the kurdish regional government, who have already rescued at least 480 girls and children. 30 of which are impregnated. many of those that have been impregnated by isis committed suicide. the others who received the counseling, who received that push of hope, that seed that each of us can provide, started to dream again. started to see a future. today i ask for four things. i ask that we support the brave peshmerga army, who's resisting terror at the front lines. they're not just fighting to
protect their land. they're not fighting to preserve the religious minorities alone. they're fighting for the entire world. second, i ask that we provide humanitarian assistance, more and more of it, because today there's about 2 million refugees and idps living in the kurdistan regional government region and they need our support. they need psychological counseling to deal with the trauma. we're talking about a future generation here. let's help them get the support that they need. let's help the brave government that's on the front lines, the army that are truly the boots on the grounds. i ask that we recognize their amazing rescue efforts. and lastly, i ask of you to help their partners. country like egypt who's now taking hundreds of thousands of syrians in their and land. country like egypt when
president sissi had heard that 21 christians were killed in libya acted immediately by deploying those air strikes. a country like jordan that's taking in hundreds of thousands of idps and refugees and also fighting on those front lines. let's support them, because this is a matter of national security. it's not about them. it's about all of us together. i have a video, if we have a moment, to show these girls. they're going to share with us their stories. >> without objection. [ speaking foreign language ]
>> these girls were kidnapped by isis. >> these girls have hope. they have hope that we're going to help them. let's all do it together. thank you. >> thank you, jacqueline. ms. kabawat. >> thank you, chairman royce. ranking member engel. and other members of the committee. i am honored to be here today and speak to you about the status of religious minorities in syria. a subject very close to my heart. growing up as a christian in
syria, i was surrounded by rich multi-religious history. i have lived much of my life on a road called straight street, a road so ancient it was mentioned in the bible. today it saddens me to see the christians in syria paying a very high price for this senseless war. they have been running from their villages and homes. they are displaced. their churches are being destroyed. a report by my colleague dr. waled lists all the destroyed churches in syria, including those destroyed by isis and by the regime. protecting christians is essential. but while i urge you to do
whatever is possible to protect minorities and christians from isis, i would like to remind you that isis is killing any and every muslim who oppose them. just as muslims and minorities are killed by assad regime. my friend jemilla, a very religious muslim from raqqa was threatened by isis and escaped at night to turkey, fearing death. some sunni tribes have suffered massive losses to isis. for example, isis force killed more than 500 youth of shaitwa tribes in one day last year. women and children live constant traumatizing fear of rape and recruitment by isis. as a christian, i cannot request safety for my christian
community without worrying about others. yes, we need to create safe havens for minorities and all groups threatened by isis. it's monumental and worthwhile task. and when selecting these areas, your organization is essential. area close to turkish and jordan borders are the best candidate because of the guarantee that those borders will remain secure. additionally, an important component of safe havens will be the proximity to protect zone. by first liberating all isis-controlled city in these zones, the security of the safe haven will be easier to maintain. in the last three years i have regularly visited refugee camps in turkey jordan and idp camp
inside syria jebal zawia and others. the women there wants to go back home. they want to live without fear. of rape and barrel bombs. as we discuss religious minorities, i urge you also to consider the need of women who have been marginalized as well. they are the key to peace process, and the key to establishing community that provides support for one another across sectarian lines. empowering local councils to deliver social services is another essential component of establishing safe havens for all syrians. the best guarantee for the prosperities of minorities in the middle east is under a democracy that accords everyone
the same rights and privileges, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. the message to minorities in the middle east should be one inclusion. encouraging them to be part of the democratic process. which is the only long-term possibility to defeat extremism and dictatorship in our country. thank you, and i look forward for your questions. >> thank you. thank you. dr. hanson. >> chairman royce, ranking member engel and members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to discuss isis's destruction of minority religious and cultural sites. isis's campaign of targeted extermination includes the erasure of the outward
manifestations of minority religious culture, which threatens these communities' way of life. i study the subject as a fellow at the penn cultural heritage center of the university of pennsylvania museum. but, like others on this panel, i was in erbil, iraq in august 2014 when isis advanced toward the erbil plain. as a program director at the iraqi institute for the conservation of antiquities and heritage in erbil, i was leading a course for heritage professionals from throughout the country, men and women of every religion. this training was interrupted and we departed abruptly, shortly after air strikes began. despite the setback, the desire of iraqi heritage professionals to protect the religious and cultural sites of the country remain strong. based on my current research, experience in iraq, and consultation with iraqi colleagues, i want to share some examples of isis's destruction. slide one, please.
in july 2014 in mosul, iraq, isis destroyed the shrine of nebiyunis, also known as the shrine of the prophet jonah. analysis of satellite imagery by the american association for the advancement of siengs's geospatial technologies project where i am a visiting scholar, confirmed this destruction. slide two, please. this analysis also showed that isis removed all evidence of the shrine by clearing rubble and grading the site flat. in doing so, isis erased the physical presence of nebiyunis for the entire local religious community. slide three, please. diuropis is an archaeological site in syria with uniquely preserved roman architecture. it includes the world's best preserved ancient jewish synagogue and one of the earliest known christian house chapels. the chapel dates to about 235 a.d. and contains the oldest known depiction of jesus christ. slide four, please.
the site has now been extensively looted and is currently under isis control. the before-and-after image analyzed analysis completed by the geotech project, demonstrates that over 76% of the site's surface has now been lost. slide five, please. two months ago i traveled to the dahuk government in iraq which is adjacent to isis-held areas. i met with the director of the antiquities department to identify religious and cultural sites at risk. this site, lalesh, may be one of the only surviving yazidi religious centers. slide six, please. isis has released two videos that include the defacement of an ancient sculpture called the lamasu. these are human-headed winged bulls. in ancient times, they represented the assyrian empire from the ninth to seventh
century bc. today, they serve as important symbols for syrian christians. isis's defacement is thus intended to terrorize the present-day iraqi christian community while simultaneously destroying ancient artifacts. in thinking about how we can address this destruction, i would like to offer three recommendations. first, we must prepare humanitarian assistance to religious and refugee communities as well as to displaced heritage professionals. in the near future i will return to erbil, iraq, with colleagues from the university of pennsylvania museum and the smithsonian institution, and there we will work with iraqi colleagues to determine unmet emergency needs. more programs like this are necessary, and the u.s. government should encourage new collaborations in the non-profit sector. second, this committee should inquire into efforts to protect religious and other cultural sites during military actions against isis. there is a report that should shed some light on these efforts
due in june 2015 thanks to a provision sponsored by mr. engel in the national defense authorization act. i recommend that this committee scrutinize the report carefully for evidence that steps are being taken to avoid accidental air strikes on religious and cultural sites, and that protection measures are incorporated into advisory roles and military trainings. finally, there is bipartisan legislation to protect and preserve international cultural property act, introduced by mr. engel, mr. smith, mr. royce, and mr. keating. its purpose is twofold. to bring together the agencies that have existing mandates to protect heritage, and to eliminate the financial incentive for entities such as isis to loot religious and cultural artifacts. i commend this committee for its bipartisan leadership on this bill and i urge you to advocate for its final passage into law. i would like to thank the
chairman for convening this important hearing at a very critical juncture in the preservation of religious and cultural heritage. i am happy to answer any questions that you have. >> thank you, dr. hanson. that legislation, by the way, has been passed out of committee. it's on the floor. and we're going to move it shortly, and i would just make a couple of observations. one is that this isis phenomenon, another way it could have been handled was when isis originally was in raqqa as they were leaving raqqa. there were those of us on this committee, as well as some of our ambassadors overseas that suggested the overwhelming u.s. air power hit the isis forces in raqqa or hit the isis forces as they were leaving in their long caravan as they begin their attacks, town by town by town.
and we did not act from the air at that time. we allowed them to take some 14 major cities, culminating in taking mosul without the use of air power at the time, to stop them while they were in these long columns. subsequently, we began the process in this committee, bipartisan, to argue for arming the kurds. why? because the kurdish battalions were strung out a 600-mile front with isis. they were one effective force, not just fighting isis, but taking in behind their front lines christians, yazidis, other minorities, and willing to put themselves at risk to go into territory isis held in order to rescue yazidis and other minorities, and they were fighting with small arms fire against isis, which had become the best fighting terror group in the history of any terror
organization because they took the central bank at mosul and had at their disposal enormous wealth, and because they took weapons along the way. so our efforts here have gone on now i would say for nine months to try to get into the hands of the kurds the anti-tank missiles, the artillery, the long-range mortars that they need on the battlefield. 30% of these kurdish battalions are females. there are women fighting on the front lines against isis and they are fighting without adequate equipment, and as you put it so well, they're fighting for civilization. not just their own. for other religious minorities and frankly, for a principle. and because of the pressure from iran, pressure on baghdad, you know, yes, you can support the shia militia, but you can't give support to the kurds. for whatever reason, the weapons
dribble in, and this is wrong. this is immoral. the other point i would make, i just wanted to ask you some questions on the issue of the sale of female captives from religious minority groups to isis fighters. how extensively has isis been involved in what we here call sex trafficking, or slavery frankly, particularly the kidnapping and sale of women and girls from these overrun communities. has it been an outcome of lawlessness, or is it part of a more deliberate isis policy to destroy and to subjugate those who do not share their fanaticism? ms. isaac?
>> looking at the isis philosophy, they believe that the yazidi people in particular are not only to be tortured, but they are to be destroyed in every single way possible. they want them off the face of this earth. and so it is a philosophy to destroy them and to torture them. with the girls particularly that i met, they in one night, because they felt safe in the beginning in sinjar town, and in one night isis came and took all of these girls and they told them first, they gave them an option, they said will you become a muslim? will you convert to islam? and many of them said no. and they told them, you are going to be muslim regardless, because we are going to sleep with you, and the moment that we do that, once we rape you, you will be muslim. many of these girls who chose not to be still were raped and
came back believing that they were forced into this religion. this is barbaric. it is systematic. today it starts with the yazidis. tomorrow it's going to be not only the christians, but every woman that doesn't fit within their philosophy. we need to stop the menace that's going on there. we need to stop at its root. this is a nerve center. right now, all the crazies from all over the world are coming to this center point. to this nerve center. if we can cut the snake at its head, we can defuse them. their sex trafficking is systematic and it will continue, and it can reach our families if we don't do something about it. thank you. >> let me also ask about
psychological counseling. and i'd ask that of the panel. what type of trauma resources are available right now for those who have escaped, and what more is needed? the ground, we don't have >> i would say from my work on the ground we don't have that strong programs to talk about trauma because i just experienced a case about four weeks ago a woman who was released by isis with 20 yazidi women thrown in sheikhan. we thought -- the yazidi womens told us that this is a christian, you take it and we go to our yazidi families. so the woman was totally devastated. she's in her 40s. she was brutally beaten raped constantly, yet her psychological situation is totally destroyed that she can't control herself anymore when she
tells her story how they tortured her in so many ways that when one of the sisters who took her and take care of her, she found that on her body was so many scratch with the -- you know, with the burn of the smoke and all that. so the woman now we put her in a safer place. we're trying to find a good psychological treatment for her. yet it's not that available where we live exactly. so we lack for that thing. so the social psychological programs, i think they are the most important thing to look forward to work on at this moment. >> well, thank you. my time's about to expire. so i'll go to mr. engel. >> thank you mr. chairman. dr. hanson let me start with you. first of all, thank you for being here today and thank you for your work to help iraqi citizens save their religious history. as you know, america has a long
history of leading the world in efforts to protect religious and cultural sites from destruction, and you are carrying this legacy forward today. during times of crisis such as those iraq and syria, our first priority must always be in saving lives. i thank the other witnesses for emphasizing that as well. ms. isaac, about the women's aspect. our other witnesses about how this is affecting everybody. we're committed to the priority of saving lives, but we also must ensure that we stop isis from destroying the history of these groups. as we create safe havens to protect religious minorities doctor, how do we kreeeep the sites and history safe from isis as well? >> thank you. i think it's very important that we make sure that we're supporting local actions. the local actors are able to protect the sites.
much like with the firemen, you make sure you provide the hose and the water. i also think that in terms of safe havens for individuals we can also think about that as safe havens within a country for portable objects and artifacts, and there are safe locations things can be moved. we've seen that successfully take place in mali recently for instance. >> thank you. according to state department testimony last summer, some of isis' religious minority captives have been able to escape while their captors were distracted by coalition air strikes. to what extent have coalition air strikes affected religious minorities? >> when we talk about the effect of the air strikes, it effects
both the majority and the minorities because they did hit some civilian places. and i was there one month before this started. where i was, there were lots of citizensit civilians, and it's been hit. the problem is that they need to have more homework. they should know where is the civilian. when we want to see targeting civilians, minorities we need to say targeting civilians. we can't say only minority because sometimes, it's hitting everybody. thank you. >> thank you. let me ask ms. isaac and, isis is waging obviously a campaign of destruction against religious sites across the territory. we saw the slides and pictures. can you comment on the impact
the destruction of religious sites, and what it has on the people that share a religious connection to the sites? what do we lose when isis destroys these sites? let's start with sister, and then ms. isaac. >> what do we lose? i would say we lost everything, sir. we lost everything that, today every christian that is living in the region of kurdistan, we feel we don't have dignity anymore. when you lose your home, you lose everything you have. you lose your heritage. your culture. you become with no identity. today, that's how we see ourselves. the most brutal thing was to us when it was put on tv that two
mono monasteries that were, one bombed and another destroyed. it was a sign for us that your history is gone. you are nothing anymore. that's how we see ourselves now. homeless. >> thank you. >> ms. isaac? >> as an american of egyptian dissent, i moved to egypt when i was 13. i remember holding on to the heritage knowing that there were ancient churches still there, even if we were the minority. i had a tie. i could identify with my ancient churches. today in iraq, you have the center which is preserved for the yazidis. that is the mecca for them. this is their rome. today, they hold on to that. the peshmerga army is working hard to protect that area because they know if that's gone, the yazidi people will feel homepeless.
they won't be able to identify anymore with the land they've remained in for many, many years. for religious minorities in this region our heritage is everything. it ties us to that land. it keeps us there. we're not supposed to just be there to sursurvive. we should there living there to thrive. we should be able to worship freely. go to the heritage sites. bring our children and our grandchildren. talk about that history. without those sites we've lost it all. thank you. >> thank you. let me again thank all four of you for wonderful testimony and for wonderful courage. we really appreciate it. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. our chairman ileana ileana ros-lehtinen. thank you. this subject gets looked over when talking about the fight
with isil. we talked about this in the north africa subcommittee on several locations, alongside chairman smith. chris smith has been a tireless advocate for this issue. isil issued warnings to christians in iraq, that they can convert, pay taxes or be killed. artifacts are being raided and many christians and other religious minorities have been forced to flee. isis murdered 20 coptic christians in cold blood in egypt. the list goes on and on. isil doesn't just target religious minorities. everyone who doesn't scribe to its form of islam is a rgtarget. we need to find a way to defeat its radical ideology as well. it's important to recognize the persecution of religious minorities isn't just isolated to isil or to iraq or syria.
the u.s. commission on international religious freedom has repeatedly called upon the obama administration to designate countries like iraq syria and egypt as countries of particular concern. that's a special classification. why? for their systematic ongoing and egregious abuses that the religious minorities face in those countries. many of us in this committee decried the fact that the iranian regime's human rights record and persecution of religious minorities were not made a part of the nuclear negotiations from day one, since the p5 plus one efforts were announced. a nuclear deal will legitimize the regime and serve to make the atmosphere even worse for religious minorities in iran. iran's meddling in iraq, it's support for shiite militias
played a role in the rise of sis ill. the difficulties we face in the region against the terror group in iraq and syria. now, we've seen the size of the religious minority communities decline dramatically in iraq and syria as a result of isil's onslaught. sister diana, i'll ask you you felt the pain and the suffering of your own community, and you've been witness to what isil has done to ancient religious communities of iraq. you have been displaced twice. can you describe for us the conditions in mosul, where you were forced to flee to kurdistan. could you also please detail the conditions in kurdistan? lastly, what more can we do to meet the needs of religious minority communities? where can we be most effective? >> thank you, ms. ros. i would answer your question in a story that touched my heart a lot, and the heart of the people that were working with.
when we were forced to leave, we didn't -- our children became without any education. without school. a congregation, we care a lot about education. so we start opening kindergartens. so we had 135 children in one of the kindergartens. in one of their classes we handed them papers to draw on the paper. amazingly, most of the children they drew back home their hometowns. they drew their beds, church, homes, everything they relate back home. when we asked them why did you do that? they said, we miss home. we want to go back home. we want to live a normal life. 5 years old, when he stood up and said i don't feel like i am home here. when i was home i used to go to the kindergarten. i used to go to church with my
family. i used to play with my toys, with my friends. that was a normal life when we were back in our homes. we used to lift normal life. we'd have education. our parents, brothers sisters, if they were employed they'd go to work. now, it's the opposite. people are jobless. women do not have any work to do. they are living in containers or living in unfinished buildings, facing terrible conditions. beside the humanitarian aid is not enough for them. it's so different that today, even our children, i want to say our children feel that they don't have a place to live properly. they don't have home. so our life has changed tremendously. since before we were -- this bridge we can connect among the diversity diversitie