tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN May 15, 2015 5:00pm-7:01pm EDT
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 diversities, now we feel we're alone.
we're abandoned. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. we know that isil doesn't discriminate. you're either with the terrorists, or they'll destroy you or sub ji you. >> thank you. >> the two most powerful forces in the area are the shiite alliance in iran on the one hand, and the extremist sunnis on the other. we've seen our friends, saudi arabia and others move toward what they'll expect as quote moderate islam, or acceptable islam, and embrace the brotherhood, turkey qatar and part of al qaeda. had we done more to strengthen the more reasonable sunnis earlier in the process, perhaps saudi arabia would not be taking that action. the good news is there are
reports in the last half hour that the number two commander in isis has been killed. i hope that's true. we'll see. mr. chairman, you commented that isis has all this iraqi currency. iraq should, of course issue new currency, making its own currency invalid. many countries have done this. this is a process that is hated by corrupt politicians and drug dealers with large amounts of currency of their own. of course, the iraqi government has failed to do so, which leads to the possible conclusion that perhaps corrupt politicians with huge stashes of cash have some power in baghdad. this congress passed the near east south central asia religious freedom act. it required the state department have a special envoy for religious minorities in the region. we are still waiting for someone to be appointed. do not hold your breath.
the attitude of the administration toward following laws just because they're laws is less than i think it ought to be. speaking of laws passed by congress, we authorized $1.6 billion in nada to counter isil. this included the authorization amended to include provisions for local security forces on the ninevah plain, including a syrian and yazidi forces. so far, that hasn't happened. of course, communities that cannot defend themselves are in a difficult circumstance on the ninevah plain. one of our witnesses has been unabashed in support of the kurdish government. ms. isaac i had in my office yesterday, representatives of
the yazidi, syrian and kurdish communities who took a very different view of the kurdish government. perhaps a balance between the two is that the kurdish government is provided sanctuary, but has not allowed these groups to form their own national guard battalions. no group on the ninevah plain is going to be safe unless they have their own national guard. mr. chairman, i would like to see us bring to testify before this committee one of the yazidi woman who has successfully fled from isis. this would require that the state department provide an entry visa. if the person -- and if the woman or girl was coming from kurdish areas we would need to get an exit visa from that government. >> just if i could interrupt for a minute. we did have a young yazidi woman -- a young girl slated to testify. she had to drop off of the trip because of health reasons.
>> ah. >> but we will achieve your goal here. i'll relynninquish the time back to you. >> thank you. >> minorities are being given the choice, convert, flee, die or pay a very unfair tax. now, i put three of those in one category. it is something that muslim governments have imposed upon the minority communities for centuries. in prior centuries, it had been a tax that was endurable. of course, it's an outrageous and unfair tax. is isis imposing a tax that is outrageous, unfair, but is a
practical thing that the communities could pay? or is it just an excuse for them to say, well we want to confiscate everything on monday. that's your monday tax. on tuesday, you have nothing less, so we'll kill you. is isis offering to allow at least christians the yazidis of course, would be treated difficultly under their rules a chance to stay in their homes and pay a tax consistent with what is possible? of course, it's outrageous. >> just talking about syria in raqqa, where isis has full control, most of the christians moved out. there are not many christians in isis-controlled areas like raqqa. the ones that are there are in hide.
they're asking for it and it happened a few times. i think there's not many christians in this area. they're already gone. and in other things, the christians now they're all in aleppo and other states. they're away. but where there has been now -- where there is the moderate muslims control, they've not been asked for the tax because they treat them as an equal citizen citizen. >> thank you. >> i believe my time has expired. >> thank you. mr. dana rohrabacher from california. >> thank you very much. the iraqi currency we must get to the bottom of who the heck is paying for isis. who -- what government is responsible for providing them money?
whoever that is, we need to make sure we come down like a ton of bricks on that government. we must make sure that it is a high priority for this government to find out who is financing this sinful and this horrendous atrocity against the people of the world. whatever faith you are, whether you're islam or christian or whatever faith you are, this is an abomination to any belief in god. we must stand in unity with people of all faiths in this endeavor. i want to thank chairman royce and engel, who have demonstrated again the bipartisan nature of many of these challenges that we face. and that standing together, america, if nothing else because we come from -- we are
made up of every race, religion and ethnic group in the world. we're supposed to be the one that sets the standard for the world. we can do that by making sure that we don't cozy up to people and remain friends with people who are financing this type of atrocity. i'd like to -- look, it's a perplexing position because people are being murdered in this part of the world. your friends your relatives really innocent human beings, are being savaged. should our focus be on trying to defeat and eliminate the evil forces that are at play, or should it be to extract people from this danger zone to get them here? i wonder if any of you have any thoughts on that.
all of you go right ahead. >> mr. congressman i think the solution is to stop the conflict. we have a conflict in the middle east. talking now about syria. we have a conflict. you're asking about who is paying isis. they don't -- they took banks they took -- they steal they do everything they can to not be dependent on anybody to get their money. if we want to get rid of them, we need to end the conflict. there is a conflict now in syria. people are suffering. today, we need to think about those civilians. how to stop their suffering. there are isis attacks every day. people are scared. i know many people that escaped, even if they're muslims, they escaped because isis will be threaten their lives. if we want to stop the isis, we need to stop the conflict in
syria. we need to stop the dictator. most are the enemies of the security and the safety and the future for syria. thank you. >> congressman rohrabacher, when i look at all the religion minorities i met while in iraq, and look at their ancient history, you know that they belong there and they want to stay there. and if we try to get rid of the problem by just bringing the religious minorities here -- >> yes. >> -- isis will spread everywhere. it will continue. right now we have a diverse fabric in the middle east. and it's really protecting, not only the region but the entire world. the fact that there are christians and yazidis and jews in that region today makes the middle east what it is.
we need to look at the bigger fight. understand that isis is against the entire world. their short-term plan right now is trying to get rid of the religious minorities of the region and creating their state. >> right. >> but tomorrow it's going to be to attack the entire world. >> i think that your point is well-made, and i just -- i know that sister diana had trouble even getting here. we should not be having barriers to people, especially coming here to make their case and to warn us. at the same time i have a few seconds left let me just say that we need also to make sure that we are standing behind those people like our friends, the kurds up in erbil. we haven't solved that problem yet, where our supplies can go directly to the kurds. some of them are now but many of them, we have to go through
baghdad in order to get the supplies there. we should be making sure anyone in that region who is fighting isis gets the full support and direct support from the people of the united states. you are in our thoughts and prayers. we know that these communities -- i visited a community in syria. my wife and i actually went and said it was one of our most experiences in our life. we said the lord's prayer in air aramic, as jesus spoke. hang tough. we're with you. >> brian higgins of new york. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank the panel. your testimony has been both eloquent and compelling. i want to focus for a moment on the christian community in the middle east. isis has declared war on christians. isis wants genocide now.
they want to eradicate christians from the middle east and africa. christian kids have been beheaded. their mothers rain ed ss raped and fathers crucified, literally. isis believes that christians are standing in the way of their world conquest. anything that is pre-islamic they want to destroy and want to prepare the world for the coming of the islamic caliphate. christians in the middle east are losing communities that have lived peacefully for 200 years. 500,000 christians, christian arabs have been driven out of syria during the last three years of civil war. christians have been persecuted and killed from lebanon to sedan. well now, south sudan. civil wars that lasted decades. in iraq, mosul is a christian city. the second largest city in iraq.
christians have been living there for 1700 years. as you know better than anybody. after the fall of saddam, the numbers of christians in iraq were estimated to be about 45,000. sister, today how many christians are living in mosul? >> a few. only those held hostage are there. we don't have the exact number, yet maybe a hundred or less. >> hundred or less. and most of those who have fled have moved up to kurdistan? >> first of all they fled to my hometown. >> which is where? >> it's close to mosul, about 20 minute distance, southwest of mosul. >> west? >> yeah. after a week or so, our displacement happened, which we never thought it would happen with a couple hours that we were
forced to leave. it's about one hour distance from my hometown to kurdistan. it took us 11 hours to go there because some were marching some were driving. and because it was a traumatic state for us. i would say like very few christians have stayed in mosul or that they couldn't leave because they were asleep when that happened. >> is the hope of the christians from mosul who have been forced to flee to one day return? >> yes. the message that i was given before i left they said to me, i've been working every day with the idps. that is what they call us there. they said to me, sister, just, please tell the community, tell the members of the congress that, help us to go back home.
we want to go back home. >> what has been the position of prime minister relative to the christian community of iraq? you don't need to say. i get it. yeah. this is, you know -- we were told after maliki, who was a thug left that things would change. that the new iraqi government would be inclusive of all minorities and communities. and political stability is dependent on the ability to embrace the kurds, the shia and sunni, but also the christian community of iraq. so that's not happening. clearly. this is just one of many consequences of the failure to embrace the minority community. this is, again, the larger problem in the middle east.
it's a highly, highly pleuralistic part of the world. unless you have minority rights you'll never have peace and stability. a guy like al assad is clearly a bad guy. what's happening is minority groups have a tendency to gravitate to him for one reason. because if the majority sunni become head of the country all the minorities will be slaughtered. so long as there is a zero sum gain in the middle east, the sum will always be zero. i often say in gain theory, there's also a variable sum gain. saying there can be many winners. whatever we do there however much humanitarian aid we provide there, however much military support we provide in the middle east, internally the leadership that we get behind, the united states, the leadership that we
support have to embrace -- they have an obligation to embrace -- the minority community. because we'll be sitting here five years from now, ten years from now, twenty years from now, and having the same discussion with no progress whatsoever. again, thank you very much for your testimony. i'll yield back. >> go now to mr. chris smith of new jersey. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for calling this very, very important hearing. to our distinguished witnesses for your courage. for so effectively articulating the plight of the suffering minorities in the middle east. particularly christians. so thank you for that. and all those suffering at the hands of isis, and people who are extremists. you know, i'd like to ask a couple of questions. the united nations human rights commission pointed out that the isis violence against christians and other minorities, quote, may constitute genocide. may? i find it extraordinary.
the genocide convention couldn't be clearer. eliminating in whole or in part, even the threat rises to the level of being genocide. of course the international community has always been slow to recognize genocide. we didn't do it -- when i say we, the international community -- when it came to sudan. 100 years later, only 24 or so countries have recognized the armenia genocide. we seem to gag on the word. i've tried to get administration witnesses to say, what is happening to the christians rises to the level of genocide. that simply is not stated. congresswoman, chairwoman and i chaired hearings on the genocide. we had one last year. the attacks against christians and other religious minorities
in syria and iraq. we get this, we'll look into it. we'll get back. just say it and say it clearly. i've chaired 14 hearings on the suffering of christians particularly in the middle east. we're still getting, you know, a lack of embrace of the magnitude and the hostility toward people of the christian faith. you know i'd point out that sometimes passes prologue, the clinton administration opposed the international religious freedom act of 1998. i know it because i held all the hearings. marked up the bill. he ended up signing it but then now, we find under this administration, the post of ambassador at large was left vacant for half of this presidency. we have a very good man in that position now. a rabbi trying to make up for lost time, i think. but it was a revelation of pryor priorityies that we didn't have a person sitting in that important position. approximately seven months ago,
legislation passed, totally bipartisan bipartisan, to establish a special envoy for religious minorities in the middle east and south central asia. it was no secret the administration didn't want it. but he did sign it. the president did sign it into law when passed in a bipartisan way. now for seven months, nobody has been selected to take that position. that person should have the ear of the president and could shuttle back and forth and assess what's going on in the ground with clarity and to speak out boldly. nobody has that position. i find that appalling. you might want to comment on that as well. finally, let me ask you the faith of the young people. it has to have been -- we saw the wonderful video of the resiliency of the young women. but the faith of the young people has to be shattered. they must wonder, where are the faithful elsewhere particularly
in the united states? i don't think we've done enough. again, the special envoy vacancy speaks volumes to that. but if i could ask you where is the faith of these young people? i yield. >> the mother of five mr. smith, is that our faith it's amazing that we see it's increasing more and more. it's making us more stronger. we left churches that were like used to be filled with people. now, we have only one church. you see young people all people they see that we still have faith in god, that we are -- we were displaced, yet we feel that the hand of god is still with us. in the midst of us, my colleagues, in the midst of this darkness, of this suffering we see a god that's holding us. holding us. otherwise, we wouldn't be able to be witnessing to our faith
that's increasing day after day. i think this is one of the gifts of the holy spirit that's giving us the strength to continue our faith and to be strong, to stay in our country. some left, yes, but they are willing to come back when we go back home. and we have this hope that someday, we'll go back home. that will come through your help. >> mr. congressman the christian community in damascus is increasing. my christian family was christians for the last 200 years. we know we have to lead by example. this is our christianity, to help others. that's why my family today still is in damascus. my immediate family in damascus. but their faith is to distribute
bread to the poor take care of others because this is what jesus christ told us. to take care of the small people. in aleppo, churches are open to -- like hospitals. when they liberated itlib they worked on humanitarian issues. today more than ever, we're christians because we know that we need to practice our christianity on the ground and to take care of the small people who are suffering. >> congressman smith, i went to egypt, and i met the families. 15 of the 21 families that were having victims slaughtered in libya. i was astonished by their faith. as a fellow christian, i thought, how would i be if i was in this situation today? meeting the fathers that said to me thank god that today they're
in heaven. thank god, a wife talking to me about how her husband has said i'm going to libya. i will be in danger. but if i don't make it teach my children, teach them the principles of jesus christ. that is the story. these are the it cans of saccounts of their faith. i've seen it in iraq across the board. how christians are standing strong and helping all. helping the yazidis. in fact, we had a case. i remember there was a group of yazidis who found a local church that was providing care for them. providing a home for them. this is what they're doing. they're struggling but giving everything that they have. thank you. >> we go to mr. william of massachusetts. >> thank you for holding this hearing. thank you, witnesses. i want to let you know we all share your commitment to saving
lives. saving religious and cultural heritages and artifacts. stopping human trafficking. i also want to acknowledge, as dr. hanson has, the legislation of chairman royce, ranking member engelmr. mr. smith who i am proud to join in working in this area. but i want to focus on one thing. i believe that we can do more of in the u.s. to really stop this terrible -- these terrible actions by isil. that's to look at an issue that time and time again has come to my attention, as ranking member on terrorism, trade and proliferation in this committee, as well as homeland security. that's the issue where isil is not only destroying cultural and religious heritages particularly in iraq and syria,
but it's doubling down on that activity. either through taxing criminals or themselves. they're trafficking in these and financing their own terrorist operations again. so it becomes cyclical. i saw firsthand, i just came back days ago visiting eight countries in the mideast and europe. just how this is occurring. in fact had comments from the leaders in these areas, how smuggling these antiquities is a force of financing for these terrorists. so what i am doing today as well is introducing legislation to prevent trafficking and cultural property act is the name of the legislation. it's geared in on one aspect i think we can easily move to thwart these activities. that's the fact that even the agencies themselves customs and
border patrol and ice, they are saying they're not as coordinator as they should be. they don't have the tools to gear in on this, when the artifacts. when the trafficking comes through our own border in the u.s. one of the things we have to do i believe, and that's what this legislation does, is to work to make sure there's principle leadership there. a designated person to key in on this. also importantly to have the training in this activity. even if that commitment and coordination is there it's important that these u.s. officials receive sufficient training in identifying cultural property in regions for the greatest risk of looting. so they can prosecute and locate this kind of activity to quell the demand. unfortunately, one of the destination areas of the world the united states of america.
so we're working on that. i would like your opinion on how, from your perspective, this can be helpful as well. i think, particularly, dr. hanson, has some experience in that regard. >> thank you. what you mentioned is incredibly important. it is vital that we remove the financial incentive for terrorist groups like isis to loot cultural sites, religious sites. one of the things we've noticed is prior to the demolition of religious sites, particularly shrines, yazidi shrines and tombs, isis has gone in in advance and looted artifacts out of that area. architectural elements things they can sell. the reason they're doing looting in those instances and also in the images we saw is that there is a market for it. your legislation and what you mentioned is incredibly important in taking action to
reduce that market. right now, it's crucial that we get import restrictions on stolen material from syria put into place in the u.s. as a market country, our demand for that in the u.s. is some of what fuels isis' actions. >> yeah. i was really intrigued when isis -- well, showed the videos of their desecrating these religious institutions and sending those videos to the world. saying, they're doing it because of the sense of pureness and that their narrow -- if you want to call it religious believes --f sbeliefs -- should be the only beliefs. if these are portable they're moving them around and profiting on them and preserving them to fuel their own terrorism, which shows where their priorities
are. quickly, could you tell me the scope of this? i heard in my recent visit, it's in the tens of millions of dollars that they're getting from this. that's, i think, underreported. it's hard to get a figure on it. quickly, last question. >> very difficult to get a dollar amount on it. we know that it's significant. as you saw, those are moon scapes now. all of the act faktrtifacts are getting benefits. the lowest estimates have to be staggering. i can't give you an exact dollar amount. that's something that we're continuing to research and work on. >> i heard $37 million. i yield back mr. chairman. >> mr. scott perry of pennsylvania. >> thank you mr. chairman. ladies, appreciate you being here. the stories are shocking to our conscious. americans need to have their conscious, unfortunately,
continue to be shocked because of what continues to happen. the stories break our hearts. not much else to say than that. dr. hanson, we've seen isis crucify in public squares stone to death women throw gay people off of buildings then they proudly tweet, post these horrific acts on youtube other social media. in fact they've gained followers based on the use of social media. question is, has isis' propaganda campaign affected the disposition of religious minority communities beyond iraq and syria? what effective action would you recommend the united states to combat isis the propaganda, especially on social media? have you researched that and what are your recommendations? >> my research doesn't directly encompass social media. one of the things that we have noticed in working with the
cultural heritage destruction and the religious heritage destruction is that the videos are very clearly designed to demonstrate power and demonstrate terror. right now, we have an nsf grant to study what's happening with damage -- with the phenomenon of damage to cultural heritage and why it's occurring. we're working on answering basic questions. like when does the cultural heritage damage take place? is it before or after the religious minority population is physically threatened and murdered? when it comes to social media, what is happening with the videos is exactly the same thing that's happening with the videos of deaths and destructions. the cultural heritage sites are being destroyed in a way to demonstrate power and terror. >> wait to hear back from you based on the grant, if you have any recommendations.
like to turn to ms. kabawat. is that right? we've been told by the administration that the u.s. government is examining all -- and i emphasize all -- viable options for detecting minority vulnerable communities and halting the parade of atrocity sies isis is committing. you live on the ground. what do you view as the viable options for the u.s. to protect these communities, if there are any? >> again, mr. congressman, i feel on the ground, when they hear this kind of comment, the people get a little bit disappointed and angry. we can't protect one minorities without thinking about what's happening to the whole country. we're talking about thousands of refugees, of christians but also there is millions of sunnis and they're paying the price from isis.
so the solution would be a package. we don't want to be isolated from the other syrians who we've been living with all our lives. i want a solution not only for the minorities. i want a solution for whole of syria. we need to stop the conflict. when we say we want to protect us, it's offending me, because i don't want to be protected. when my other neighbors, who are sunnis, is being under attack. so please protect the whole civilian. we have so many moderate muslims, christians. we live together all our lives. so if you want to protect us as a christian i'm asking you, protect also my neighbors. thank you. >> sister diana, do you think that the isis targeting of minority communities and areas has primarily been due to strategic opportunity, just because you're there and it's
easy? you're vulnerable? or is there something more deliberate? i mean, would you articulate if it's one or the other, or a combination of the two? >> as i mentioned earlier, mr. congressman, that it was quite shock for us because we used to watch the news on tv, that isis took over mosul. but we've never thought someday in the four hours we'll be out of our homes, left with nothing at all. i myself only with this and my purpose, which had my passport in it. most sisters left with no documents, nothing. it starts with ninevah plain. it was gradually. if it was deliberately or not i can't say that. all i know now, we were driven out of our homes within a couple hours. that was it. without any warning.
>> my time has expired. thank you. >> we go now to mr. david cicilline of rhode island. >> thank you, mr. chairman for calling this hearing. thank you to our witnesses for your courageous testimony and the description of the horrors and the violence and the sadistic behavior of this terrorist organization. i hope it's something the whole world understands better as a result of you being here today. significant personal risks to yourselves and the work you're doing. thank you for being here. as my colleague from massachusetts said i think our whole committee is of course committed to doing everything we can to support the preservation of cultural and religious sites but more importantly in my view, to protect and save lives. this effort to destroy cultural and religious sites, i think, is clearly an extension of this
terrorist effort to eliminate entire religious communities in this region. something we have to respond to in the strongest terms. my first question is, i know there are religious minorities that have faced terrible persecution and have fled their ancient homelands. but they're unable to cross the border in many instances, so they're not technically refugees. they're internally displaced persons. these are obviously very vulnerable populations. what can the united states be doing better to help these communities that are trapped in unsafe locations? be in a safer place and provide some protection. these internally displaced what i would call, refugees even though they're not technically refugees because they haven't left the borders of their own country. >> mr. congressman when i went to northern iraq and i met the
kurdish government, i was amazed at the work they've done. not because of meetings i went to, but because of the ground. i went and saw the girls that were kidnapped and raped by isis, for example, and i saw the care they were getting. yes, the kurdistan regional government doesn't have a lot of resources, but they're still doing everything they can to make yazidis, like the girls we met, christians and all other religious minorities, feel like an equal. in fact, a lot of these workers have been unpaid for months at a time. to give everything that they have to these religious minorities. it shows they are truly a safe haven. i've never seen a people like the kurdish people. because they have gone through their own atrocities so many times. they understand what it's like to be a religious minority fleeing. so i say the solution is to
support, number one the peshmerga army, who is really the ones on the front lines and are the boots on the ground. let help them as they fight this war. let's support them in any way they can. help the kurdistan regional government by providing humanitarian assistance. to help with not just the medical care but also the psychological care. when i was in jordan, helping the syrian refugees, i ribemember there was this little boy. ban ki-moon flew over. he said to me, do you see the helicopter? i said, yeah. he said, i hope to god that it bombs jordan. i was shocked. i said, why would you say something like that? he said, because it happened to me. it has to something tohappen to everyone else. a lot of the children coming into these territories have seen so much destruction and trauma. they don't know how to deal with it. in order to protect this world we need to focus on the new
generation. how? by supporting the kurdistan regional government as they work on not just the medical care, but the psychological element as well. of course, to support the partners like egypt and jordan who are also bringing in refugees and taking care of their people. in egypt alone, they're educating 14000 college students from syria. thousands, about 40000 students in elementary schools are being taken care of. let's support them on the ground. >> i was just in jordan and saw at the border, the syrian border, the incredible work of the jordanians. supporting over 1.5 million refugees fleeing syria. we have to continue to support that. ms. kabawat? >> mr. congressman i really emphasize about the solution of the protected zone. we need it. i've been also in jordan last month. it's so important to start thinking about this. we need to get the civilians in
a same wayfe area to be protected from isis and the bombs of the syrian regimes. we need it. this will give better position for turkey and jordan, so they can take care of other things. we give thanks to the americans for the humanitarian aid they're giving to the syrian people. we appreciate it. we know you're doing a will thelot. but they need to be in a safe zone. i really am asking you and seeking this. it is so important. thank you. >> if i might ask one final question. i want to pick up on congressman higgins' questions about the role of the current iraqi government. there are many people who argue that isis is an outgrowth of policies from iraqi and syrian governments that have marginalized sunnis in particular. what do we need to see from the current iraqi government or a future syrian government to demonstrate the kind of tolerance and inclusiveness that
will prevent this violence? should the united states be doing more to condition some of our support to the iraqi government on their commitment to take certain steps to protect minority populations and build a more inclusive government? i mean the syrian solution is the long-term answer. but in this interim period can we be doing more to demand more of the current iraqi government? >> mr. congressman i think it's very important to do such things, previous to your question i mean, we are known as idps. we will be like that forever if we don't return home. if there is efforts from both parts to help us to return home i think that will be the solution. of course, with your help you know. so that will give us a better life. otherwise, there will be no education. it's not about the education and
health care because that won't happen when you're on idp. you don't have an identity or any entity there. our entity is back where we belong. so i think if there are efforts from both parts to return home there we can start to rebuild. there where we can start all over again. thank you. >> regarding syria, and you're talking about long-term, we need to think about a few things. first, we need a transitions not to destroy the institutions. this is -- will happen only if we have a political solution. we need to pressure the regime to come to the negotiation table and make a -- we need a transitions. we need to include everybody. everything will be good if we can end it -- in a political solution. this is a long-term. this is the best way to protect
minorities, to save the institutions. have a transitions government include everybody. >> thank you very much. >> if i could interject here. you're suggesting to get there, you need a no fly zone a safe zone, over aleppo and the other areas, where in aleppo, for example, the business community, the sunni and christian business community is trying to hold out there. but they have isis on the front line. but then intermittently, the barrel bombs, the chemical attacks occur from the assad regime, which are dropped on the city holding out from isis. you believe if there was a no fly zone there, and there was a
prohibition from the dropping of the barrel bombs, that would help civil society take a foothold there and -- could you explain that thinking to me? >> sure. i did witness the barrel bombs when i was in aleppo. it's very very hard for the civil society to grow when there is an immediate threat to your lives. yes, i'm not an -- a military expert, but i believe that we need to stop the barrel bombs. this is the first step for the community. for everybody. >> you think also that in doing that, it helps drive a -- settlement because -- >> exactly. >> then they can see that the society can't be overrun there. >> we did. there is so many examples before from the local councils that they could run the community. they can include the christians. believe me -- >> i've noticed.
the battalions i've seen christian female battalions among the free syrian force there. as well as sunni and, you know -- i've talked to business members supporting the effort there in aleppo, to hold on. >> exactly. we need first to have a safe place for this community. once we stop the barrel bombs, then support the moderate opposition oppositions. in all the ways we can. we get a good example in other local councils. me as a witness, they knew that i'm christian and i've been working with the civil society to empowering the local council and others. i know in syria, what you see in sectarianism now it's a reaction because of all the death that happened. in the end of the day, we're a community, we live together. the minute the death toll will stop, the syrian people can at
least continue to live. they can live together. >> thank you. i want to thank all of our witnesses for their moving and insightful testimony here today. isis is. . isis is conducting a war against religious minorities tolerance and civilianzation. i want to thank our panelists for bringing the voice of the persecuted, the christians and the yazidis and moderate muslims and others to us today. the committee has long been focused on ensuring a robust humanitarian response and an effective security strategy as will. on the humanitarian response and the legislation that we have on the floor of the house thank you for supporting that legislation today. i think your appeals for safe zones and the longing to return to your homes have given us new
joining us is lauren french congressional reporter with politico and two big deadlines ahead, the patriot act and highway trust fund. the house passed its bill dealing with the patriot act, nsa surveillance, renewing expiring provisions what's the status of the legislation in the senate? >> so that's a lot more complicated than it was in the house. the house passed to senate with the overwhelming number of members supporting the usa freedom act, but that legislation is really not being picked up in the senate. mitch mcconnell wants a clean reauthorization of the patriot act. the program most notably known for because of edward snowden and the release that he did. there's critics of the patriot act in the bold collection of american data who want to see the freedom act or a bill like that put on the floor instead of a straight extension of the patriot act. >> senator rand paul and mcconnell finding themselves on opposite sides?
>> senator rand paul said he would likely filibuster if mcconnell put up a clean extension of the patriot act. he is worried about the privacy concerns that the government can lock data from americans without parents or property notification so he could filibuster that bill if it came up to the floor but mitch mcconnell is pushing heavily on other republicans to supply the votes need ford a clean reauthorization so they can move on to other pressing deadlines. >> let's turn to the highway trust fund, the another one that's facing a deadline. democrat tom harper tweeted about the bill calling for a two-month extension, says today senator senator boxer and i are again back with a bill to fix the bill this summer. what is the status of this funding for this short and long-term? >> funding will run out and right now the current authorization for the highway trust fund ends the end of this month and lawmakers are on a strict deadline with the
upcoming construction season. there needs to be money available to keep the infrastructure projects going forward and building. so what is happening here is you see in the senate and in the house a two-month extension of that authorization to give lawmakers much more time to figure out how to pay for a long-term extension mostly everyone involved wants a five-year or longer extension of the highway trust fund, the question is the sticking point how to pay for it. democrats are advocating for increase in the gas tax but that's not a popular proposal among republicans. >> and then this senate moving forward with trade promotion authority, politico reporting dems look to start senate trade war next week. what do you think we can expect in floor debate and will the senate finish this by the end of the next week, when they're supposed to be out? >> you can expect a contentious week in the senate and lesser extent the house over the fast track trade promotion authority. you'll see dpms sdemocrats really
some want it but went with senator reed earl whier this week to stop it from going forward until there was currency debates and other bills considered but now that it's going to be on the floor, you're going to see democrats really railing against fast track authority and the qualms that they have with the upcoming transpacific partnership, that larger trade deal, sort of very contentious week and there's no guarantee that trade is dealt with by the senate. it is on the agenda for next week but they might not get to it or vote on it might not pass. it's all very much influx and if it does pass it goes to the house where the future of tpa fast track authority is much more uncertain. >> and then affecting also the tpp, the transpacific partnership as well. let's move on here former secretary of state hillary clinton was supposed to testify before the select committee on benghazi as early as next week, but then as you write the chair of the select committee, trey gowdy says he's not going to allow her to testify until
certain documents are turned over. what's happening here? >> well you saw trey dowdy turn attention away from hillary clinton and on to john kerry, her predecessor, successor at the state department. what he's saying in this letter is that, without these documents, without all of the documents they've requested in a letter and subpoena over the last year, he can't have hillary clinton come in and testify because he just doesn't have the evidence he needs and she's insisting she'll only appear before the benghazi panel one time. gowdy's fear she comes in new evidence comes out, when new documents are made available they will have missed the opportunity to question her. now he's saying without all of these documents she won't be appearing and really trying to amp up pressure on the obama administration to get those documents they've been waiting for in some cases for six months. >> thanks for the update lauren. we'll continue to follow you on twitter, your handle is is @laurennfrench, and the website politico.com. >> thank you so much. >> the new congressional
directory is a handy guide to the 114th congress with color photos of every senator and house member plus bio and contact information and twitter handles. also district maps a foldout map of capitol hill and a look at congressional committees, the president's cabinet federal agencies and state government. order your copy today. it's $13.95 plus shipping and handling through the c-span online store at cspan.org. the senate homeland security committee held a hearing this week on technology used to secure u.s. borders. officials with the department of homeland security, u.s. customs and border protection and the government accountability office testified. >> when he gets here, i will express again the fact that we're very glad that senator carper's stop was in wilmington. he was on the train that derailed and, of course, our thoughts and prayers are with
the family and victims of that tragedy. our thoughts and prayers are also with all of our law enforcement officials that, you know, step out of their door stop every day and risk their lives for our public safety. and rather than me say it, i can't say it better than what secretary jeh johnson said in the letter. i would like to read this. dear colleagues, this is national police week. this week we honor the sacrifice and commitment of the men and women in law enforcement. we pay special tribute to those who have given their lives in the line of duty and offer support to their families. the past year our department lost two border patrol agents in the line of duty. this week's agents names will be added to the memorial in washington, d.c. i'm also mindful of border patrol agent xavier vega jr. who last august was killed during a
robbery while fishing with his family in texas. whatever you are this week, i encourage you to honor those who have chosen the law enforcement profession. i ask everybody here in the hearing room, in honor of those individuals that secretary johnson was commending as well as all of our law enforcement officials that have given their last full measure just if we recognize a moment of silence. thank you. i can actually ask consent to have my opening statement read into the record. and i guess what i would like to do is get right down to testimony. it is tradition of this committee that we swear in witnesses so if everybody rise
and raise your right hand. do you swear the testimony you will give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? >> i do. >> thank you, please be seated. >> our first witness is assistant commissioner randolph d. alles. pronounce that right? alles. okay. i rarely get it right. don't feel bad. randolph alles is the assistant commissioner for the office of air and marine of the department of homeland security. oam is the largest aviation and maritime law enforcement organization. he served as the u.s. marine corps for 35 years, retiring in 2011 as major general. assistant commissioner alles. >> thank you, sir. and good afternoon, sir.
good to see you again. you may recall we last visited our site in corpus christi in january. thank you for coming down to see that. i would encourage any members of the committee to come visit our sites. i think that's very beneficial in understanding what we do better. as you noted, the office is a critical component of our later border strategy. the personnel operate 257 aircraft, 283 vessels and sophisticated network across the u.s., puerto rico and the virgin islands. oam's critical and maritime missions fall into four areas, main awareness, investigation, interdiction and contingency operations and national taskings. we not only contribute to the security of our land border, but facilitate efforts with the coast guard to secure the coastal shoreline through the coordinated use of integrated air and marine forces. since the consolidation of air and marine assets 11 years ago,
we have transformed a border air wing composed of light observation aircraft into a modern air and maritime fleet, with sophisticated surveillance sensors and communication systems. we are working to increase the connectivity and net working among all our air and marine assets and continuing the effort to reduce the number of our aircraft type and position our assets for highest utilization increasing the operations. i would like to highlight a few of our assets and describe how technology is force multiplier that respond to threats to our nation's borders. first is the -- our mq 9 predator that plays a critical role in the border strategy and management by increasing situational awareness so that air, land and maritime environments. it just returned from deployment in el salvador where it contributed to seizures of $362
million of contraband. second is our multienforcement aircraft, with sophisticated technology systems allow it to be effective over land and water, replacing several older aircraft, single mission aircraft and inside so it will be beneficial for us. beyond that, we use our cbp, beyond our borders, our track and airborne early warning aircraft which have been central in countering natural operations in the transit zone and also against transnational criminal organizations moving drugs out of the source zone through the transit zone and in towards the united states. we work in conjunction with aviation assets, interceptor vessels to operate in coastal waters to combat smuggling and protect u.s. ports from acts of terrorism and we have our air marine operations center, national task force that focuses on criminal use of noncommercial air and advances. so chairman johnson and the ranking member when he comes and distinguished members of the
committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the capabilities and our efforts and in securing our borders. i look forward to taking your questions and look forward if you can come out to our sites. thank you. >> thank you. our next witness is assistant commissioner mark borkowski, he is the assistant commissioner for the office of technology and innovation and acquisition with u.s. customs and border pro section of the department of homeland security. he's responsible for ensuring technology efforts are properly focused on mission and well integrated access across cbp. mr. borkowski served as the component acquisition executive. prior to his deployment, he served as the border initiative program. mr. borkowski. >> thank you, chairman johnson and senator booker. appreciate the opportunity to be here today. i represent the acquisition community. our responsibility is to deliver the stuff that the operators need. we buy it. i know there is some question about the distinction between us
and dhssnt. let me highlight that a little bit to start. dhsnt makes sure there is stuff there. it is not always ready. we don't always have systems, technologies, software that we need. so first has to be there. once it is there, we have to figure out how best to get it. that means we have to know what the options are, we have to do the business case analysis, we have to figure out how many to buy and have to understand why we're buying it. and for that, of course, we ask the people in uniform, the green or the tan or the blue uniforms, the folks on either side, they describe what we need. it is our job then in acquisition to somehow put that in practice and deliver capability that those operators can use to produce mission outcomes. our focus, the thing we have gotten the most attention on recently, has been the technology for surveillance
between the ports of entry. as you know, there is a program called sbi net, which was a very challenging program. we concluded it was not the right system to go across the entire border and much too expensive. we scaled down our ambitions somewhat and selected a much more modest portfolio of systems that the border patrol selected and tailored to each area of the border. we focused that on arizona because that's where the action was at the time. we are in the throes of completing that plan, which we call the arizona technology plan. and it consists of everything from small, you can imagine handheld long range binocular like sensors to more complex systems on high towers with radars and cameras connected in a command and control center and the purpose of those systems is to give the border patrol better information about what's on the ground, what the threat of that activity is, whether it is a migrant or somebody carrying a weapon, and more options for how to respond. outside of arizona, obviously, the border patrol indicated to us there is activity there is migration. as we have done things in
arizona, traffic migrated or for a variety of other reasons. south texas is an area. what we have done is because we were successful in the arizona technology plan, in saving money, we have been able to divert resources to south texas and largely that has been based on dod re-use. congress has been very strong advocate of us partnering with the department of defense, to use what was already taxpayer investments to leverage those for our capacity and we have been very successful with that in south texas. for example, we're flying aerostats now and we now have surveillance that we probably would not have had until 2018 or 2019. that's a quick summary of our progress and what acquisition does. i look forward to answering your questions as we go forward. >> thank you. our next witness is deputy chief ronald vitiello. i knew it. vitiello. deputy chief of the border patrol, he has served as an agent in supervisory roles of tucson and chief patrol agent of
the rio grande valley sector. deputy chief vitiello. >> thank you, chairman johnson, senator booker. it is a pleasure for me to be here to appear before you to discuss how technology and tactical infrastructure acts as force multipliers toward the u.s. border patrol border security enforcement efforts between the ports of entry. i'm pleased to represent the crucial contribution made to the homeland security enterprise and dhs. this is a special week in washington culminating in the national police officers memorial on the south capital lawn. we observed chief fisher and the secretary commemorate the valor of the fallen, specifically in the unveiling of two new name on the memorial. we honor them and the 115 other guardians the nation lost in 2014. while the basic border patrol mission has not changed in the past 09 years, the operational environment in which we work and the threats we faced changed dramatically. today, our mission includes deterring acts of terrorism, and preventing and responding to other criminal activity. the effective deployment of
fixed and mobile technology, tactical infrastructure is critical to border patrol operations. with the resources, our front line is more informed, effective and safer. the border patrol works closely with the acquisitions colleagues within cbp and dhs to develop and deploy technology and infrastructure. the deployment of tactical infrastructure including fencing, roads and lighting is a critical component of our security efforts. it denies, deters and slows down illegal entrants providing more time for agents to respond. detection technology supplements physical barriers by extending the visual range. ground sensors alert agents to
movement and activity while mounted cameras and sensors on aircraft fix towers and border patrol vehicles can be controlled remotely to verify targets. all of this technology and infrastructure works together and ultimately enables the border patrol to gain situational with a awareness and forewarn of any danger. the border patrol evaluates our posture and adjusts our capabilities to secure our borders. we work to identify and develop technology such as tunnel detection and monitoring technology, small unmanned aircraft systems, tactical communication upgrades, and border surveillance tools tailored for the southwest and northern borders. there is no doubt that technology is a critical factor in the border patrol strategic plan, which implements a security approach based on risk. the strategy going forward will emphasize joint planning and execution advancing
counternetwork approach, and a dhs wide unity of effort. thanks for the opportunity to testify how technology and tactical infrastructure help us secure the border. >> thank you. our next witness is director anh duong. close? >> yes. >> wow. one out of four is not too bad. director duong is the director of borders and maritime security vision in the science and technology director of the department of homeland security. she focus on developing technologies to put into operational use along our sea, land and air borders and ports of entry. miss duong came to the u.s. as refugee of war from vietnam and spent 25 years working in naval, science and technology directing all of u.s. navy explosive research and development. miss duong. >> good afternoon, chairman johnson, and senator booker. good afternoon, chairman johnson and senator booker. thank you for this opportunity to testify along with my colleagues from border protection with whom we work
closely. the science and technology directorates mission is to deliver effective and innovative insight, methods and solutions for the critical needs of the homeland security enterprise under the leadership of undersecretary broaders, we have direction and defined our visionary goals, which are driven by the 2014 quadrennial homeland security review, white house policy, congressional guidance, and secretary johnson's unity of effort initiative. these goals are screening that matches the pace of life, a trusted cyberfuture, protecting privacy, commerce and community, enable the decisionmaker actionable information at a speed of thought, responder of the future, protected, connected and fully aware. and resilient communities, disaster proofing society. three of these goals are relevant to border security. screening at speed, enable the decisionmaker, and responder of the future. all three require a common enabler, situational awareness
in order to screen people and goods with minimum disruption at the pace of life, enable decisionmakers at various levels and arm responders with information to keep them safe and fully aware. from an operational standpoint, given our broad border against a multitude of ever changing threats. the need for situational awareness is paramount. smt uses technology to improve situational awareness, which in turn enables security. considering both smt visionary goals, and today's operational needs, we're pursuing an enterprise capability to provide improved situational awareness across the homeland security enterprise, called the border
and coastal information system or basis. this work includes integrating and fed rating existing stand alone data sources, developing new sensor systems to create new data, developing an integrating decision support tools and analytics to translate data into actionable information and sharing information with partners. the development for the basis is ongoing for the maritime environment. work for our land borders started in fy 15. to the border situational awareness and providing new data sources, numerous systems are undergoing assessment while providing interim capability. examples include a system in arizona to detect illegal border crossers, a tunnel activity monitoring system in texas, a canada/u.s. sensor sharing
pilot, and a system for detecting and tracking small doc aircraft in washington. technology is an essential ingredient of effective border security. smt will continue to collaborate to bring technology to operational use and help and enhance the border security. i thank the committee for giving me the opportunity to testify under this very important subject. >> thank you. our next witness is rebecca gambler, she is the director of the u.s. government and accountability offices, homeland security and justice team. she leads gao's work on border security, immigration and dhs management. prior to joining gao, she worked at the national -- for democracy and international forum for studies. >> good afternoon, chairman johnson and members of the committee. i appreciate the opportunity to testify at today's hearing to discuss gao's work reviewing dhs efforts to acquire and deploy various technologies and other assets along u.s. borders.
dhs has employed a variety of assets in its efforts to secure the southwest border including various land-based surveillance technologies, tactical infrastructure, which includes fencing, roads and lighting, and air and marine craft. gao reported on dhs' management and oversight of these assets and programs including numerous reports on surveillance technologies under the former security border initiative, and the current arizona border surveillance technology plan. gao has also reported on fencing and other tactical infrastructure with about 652 miles of pedestrian vehicle fencing currently in place along the southwest border. my remarks today will reflect our findings in three areas related to dhs' efforts to secure the border. one, dhs' efforts to implement the technology plan, two,
efforts to modernize radio systems and, three, office of air and marines mix and placement of assets. first, cbp has made progress toward deploying programs under the arizona border surveillance technology plan including fixed and mobile surveillance systems, agent portable devices, and ground sensors. and these technologies have aided the border security efforts. however, we have also reported that cbp could do more to strengthen the management of the plan and technology programs and better assess the contributions of surveillance technologies to apprehensions and seizures along the southwest border. for example, cbp has experienced delays in some of its surveillance technology programs and the plan dates for initial and full operational capability for the integrated fixed towers, for instance, have slipped by several years. we have also previously reviewed cbp's schedules and life cycle cost estimates for the cost programs under the plan and compared them against best practices. overall, the schedules and
estimates reflected some but not all best practices. and we found that cbp could take further action to better ensure by more fully applying best practices. improved situational awareness and agent safety. cbp has also begun requiring border patrol to record data with in its database on whether or not an asset like a camera assisted in an apprehension or seizure. these are positive steps but cbp needs to develop and implement performance measures an analyze data to fully assess the contributions of its technologies to border security. second, with regard to radio systems, earlier this year we reported that cbp and ice had taken action to upgrade their tactical communications infrastructure. for example, cbp and ice
completed various modernization programs for their tactical communications such as upgrading outdated equipment and expanding coverage in some areas. however, agents and officers who use the radio systems reported experiencing challenges such as coverage gaps and interoperability issues which affected their operations. we also found that cbp and ice could take further steps to strengthen and record training on upgraded radio systems provided to officers and agents. third, with regard to air and marine assets, in 2012, we reported that the office of air and marine could better ensure that its mix and placement of assets were effective and efficient by, for example, more clearly linking deployment decisions to mission needs and threats, documenting analyses used for the placement of assets and considering how deployments of border technology affect requirements for air and marine assets. we found that these steps were needed to help cbp better
determine the extent to which its allocation decisions were effective in addressing customer needs and threats. in closing, we have made recommendations to dhs in all of these areas and others to help the department in its efforts to manage and implement technologies, infrastructure and other assets to secure the border. dhs agreed with some of these recommendations, and has actions plans or under way to address some of them. we will continue to monitor dhs' efforts in response to our recommendations. thank you for inviting me to testify and i would be pleased to answer any questions at the appropriate time. >> thank you. our next witness is michael garcia, he is legislative attorney for the congressional research service where he worked since 2003. in his capacity, mr. garcia has focused on issues related to immigration and border security, international law and national
security. mr. garcia. >> thank you, chairman johnson, ranking member carper and members of the committee. i'm honored to be testifying before you today regarding the legal authorities and requirements related to the deployment of fencing and other barriers along the u.s. borders. the primary statute governing barrier deployment is section 102 of the illegal immigration reform. section 102 was amended in 2005, 2006, and 2007. these revisions coupled with increased funding for border projects resulted in hundreds of miles of fencing being deployed along the southwest border. however, it appears additional defense deployment halted after 2011. section 102 a expressly authorized dhs to deploy barriers and roads along the borders to deter illegal crossings. section 102 b provides that fencing shall be installed along not less than 700 miles of the southwest border.
but fencing is not required at any particular location when dhs determines that other means are better suited to obtain control. and in section 102 c allows the dhs second to waive any illegal requirement that impedes the expeditious construction of border barriers and roads. in recent years, attention has primarily focused on section 102 b and c, so i'll focus my comments on those provisions. prior to the most recent amendments in the 1996 act, section 102 b required dhs to construct double layered fencing along five specific stretches of the southwest border. the current version of section 102 b no longer requires fencing to be double layered. and provides dhs with discretion regarding where fencing should be installed. although section 102 b is
characterized as requiring 700 miles of fencing, the provision actually states that fencing shall be deployed along not less than 700 miles of the southwest border. it prioritizes the amount of the border and the amount of fencing used by dhs. last year dhs stated that fencing had been deployed along roughly 652 miles of the southwest border. there may be questions regarding the firmness of the 700 mile language. section 102 b states that notwithstanding its requirements, dhs is not required to construct fencing at any particular location, where it deems fencing inappropriate. this clause could be interpreted to meanwhile dhs must deploy fencing along 700 miles of the border, it is not required it deploy fencing at any discreet point. a broader reading of this clause might permit dhs to construct fencing along less than 700
miles of the southwest border if the agency believes fencing is only appropriate along the lesser mileage. however, there are a number of challenges to such a reading. as an initial matter, the notwithstanding clause does not say that dhs may construct fencing a-long a lesser mileage of the border it says that fencing isn't required at any particular location. if dhs may construct only the amount of fencing it deems appropriate, it is unclear why section 102 b would state that fencing shall be deployed along not less than 700 miles of the southwest border. the legislative history of section 102 b and several courts description of the provision also seemed to give greater support for understanding the 700 mile requirement as a firm one. dhs officials have seemingly taken differing interpretations of section 102 b over the years. a court's consideration of this issue may depend upon whether
the meaning of section 102 b is seen as ambiguous and dhs' construction is deemed reasonable. in any event, there is no statutory deadline for when the required fencing must be completed. and it is also not clear who would have standing to bring a legal challenge against the fencing strategy. turning to section 102 c, this provision grants the dhs secretary the power to waive legal requirements that may impede the construction of border, roads and barriers. wafer authority has been used to facilitate the construction and the upkeep of border projects. but this authority could not be used to waive constitutional requirements. thus, for example, just compensation needs to be given to priority property owner whose land is condemned for purposes of barrier installation. this concludes my prepared statement. i'll be happy to answer any questions you have. >> thank you, mr. garcia.
i'm kind of interpreting your testimony that congress might have passed a law that wasn't crystal clear? i guess i would be shocked. senator booker, i guess you have to leave so i'll turn it over to you. >> i'll be leaving here and preparing remarks for the floor in regards to the train accident we had. i know senator carper was on that train and got off earlier and i'm happy to see that he is here and well and i would like to express my sympathies to the more than 100 people in the hospital recovering from their injuries. i just want to ask this one question before i have to run. ms. gambler. from the notes that i have customs and border protections spent about $2.4 billion to complete 670 miles of border fence. the vast majority was a single layer fence. designed to keep vehicles from crossing. if congress were to implement the defense that would require more land acquisition, more supplies, more labor to build and a man by border patrol, i'm
trying to understand the payoff and the cost benefit analysis in our estimation. according to the gao, undocumented entries to the united states during the time actually fell 69% between 2006 and 2011, which is pretty impressive. but the drug and contraband seizures nearly doubled. and so, are you -- you're an expert looking at cost and benefits and challenges associated with border fencing and technology. if congress eventually approves another 700 miles of double layer barrier part of the border bill, do you share my concern in understanding the cost benefit analysis. and what in your opinion would it be as the 700 miles is put into place? >> so i think that's a very important question. and it goes to something that gao has reported on both as it relates to fencing but also as
it relates to other assets, as well, to include technology, which you mentioned, which is really being able to assess what we're getting out of different investments that we're putting in place along the border. whether it's fencing or technology. and what we've found and reported on is dhs could do a better job of collecting data and develop measures and metrics to assess what contributions they're getting out of different investments. whether that's fencing or whether or not that's technology or other assets. and so, what we've recommended is that dhs take steps to, you know, better collect the data, better develop performance measures and metrics so that we can be able to answer the question you just asked, which is what are the contributions that we're getting out of these, the different structures and technologies we're putting in place. >> before we throw a whole bunch
of money at the problem, try to figure out what is going to get us the best results for the money that we spend given the ultimate array of decisions we have between assets like technology, drones or fencing. >> dhs has defense that would allow them to assess on the technologies front what contributions they're getting out of the technologies they've deployed to seizures and apprehensions, for example. using the -- for the towers that have been deployed, they're starting to collect that data now, and what they need to do is start using that to actually analyze and assess the performance and progress they're making. >> so before politicians make decisions, you really think there should be a data-driven decision through thorough analysis? is that what you're saying? >> we certainly think it's important for them to assess the performance of the systems and how that's contributing to their efforts to secure the border. both as it relates to fencing technology and other assets they might put in place. >> thank you very much. mr. chairman, thank you for your time. >> thanks.
we'd like to turn it over to our ranking member, again. we're all very pleased on the committee you got off in time. so if you'd like to say a few words and give us your opening statement. >> thank you. thank you. and i want to thank the folks on our committee, and frankly, a lot of my colleagues and people around the country would express, just personal feelings that those riding that train last night from washington up to new york are feeling and thinking. i ride a train a lot. and get to know the people who are like the crew on the trains. and i think you ride with a lot of the same people. and never imagine when i got off the train last night that six people from that train would be dead this morning. and we prayed for all of them. and particularly for the -- and also, just a prayer of thanksgiving for the first responders who turned out late
at night and the difficult circumstances. a lot of folks were heroes last night and heroines. but a lot of passengers who did extraordinary heroic things. so let's keep them all in our thoughts and prayers. i used to be an amtrak board member. so i've been involved in train accidents as a board member. and sometimes with loss of life and sometimes just a lot of damage. and this is never easy. and especially hard, as you know. but appreciate all the feeling that people have expressed very much. i want to also express to all of you, a heartfelt thanks for you being here and for what you do with your lives, and trying to make our lives in many instances a lot safer and better quality of life. grateful for that. i'd like to express my thanks for letting us participate in this preparation and putting together, i think, just a really good panel of witnesses. chairman and i and the board is not too many months ago. and we had the opportunity of
all walks of life. and one of the questions, what do we need to do more or less of in order to secure the borders? and we heard a lot of things. but one of the phrases we heard over and over again is technology is the key to securing the border. technology is the key to securing the border. i could not agree more. i could not agree more. and i look forward to hearing from our panel today about the technologies and other tools that can serve as what i call as force multipliers for our agents on the ground. i'm sure my colleagues and our witnesses would agree that we need smart, targeted border security investments. and to me, this means placing a priority on acquiring advanced cameras, sensors, radars so our agents have realtime situational awareness along our borders. for example, been very impressed with vader technology on our drones and surveillance towers. but i've seen along our borders. also means working with the
department of defense to reuse equipment no longer needed in theater and places like afghanistan such as the aerostats now we use along the rio grande valley. finally, means making sure the assets we do have are being used effectively. if we have an airplane, helicopter, drone in the sky. those assets with the right kinds of cameras and surveillance equipment to ensure we're not just flying blind. navy guy for many years, retired navy captain. and i remember many a day, we used to chase nuclear submarines when we weren't in southeast asia all over the world. and the idea of fighting nuclear submarines, using binoculars, and not so effective. frankly, the idea of looking for people in a search and rescue mission using binoculars from a p3 aircraft, not so effective. and when we sent aircraft without the right kind of surveillance technology, we're wasting a lot of fuel, and a lot of people if we're not careful. one of the things i'd like to really hear from our panel today
about what technology is working along the border, what's working so we can deploy more of that, find out what works, do more of that, find out what doesn't work and do less of that. i'd also welcome hearing from each of you today. what isn't working so we can reduce our expenditure on those activities. i know dhs has struggled in the past with some technology deployments that we hope to talk about some of those lessons learned. from what i understand, dhs with the help from our friends at gio has already made many improvements in the acquisition policies. and we look forward to hearing more about that today, as well. we applaud that. and one lesson i've learned over the years, you can't manage what you can't measure. we talked about this a minute ago. that's why it's vital that dhs continue to develop better metrics to measure the progress
in securing our borders. and another lesson from the trips i've taken to the mexican border is things do change. things do change. and we've seen that as a move away from california, to arizona, all the way down to the south texas area over the last couple of years. in this last year with the flood of the last two years was a whole lot more young people coming up and looking for a place to just find refuge. that may explain why i think our agencies have to be nimble. not a big one for us being prescriptive. maybe together working together we can figure that out and be good listeners. we also need to listen to many experts who have told us that the border security can be won only at the border. and those who say cannot just be won at the border. and i don't think it can be won only at the border. we have to take some other steps to address the factors it brings to the borders. to me that means passing comprehensive immigration reform. and also means trying to identify what are the factors causing tens of thousands of people every year, every year to try to get out of honduras, guatemala and salvador. and i said many times, we're contributing to the misery by our addiction to meth
amphetamines, crack cocaine and so forth. lack of hope, lack of economic opportunity, president's -- i think, good plan there, and the vice president is sort of deserves our support. the other thing is, i think we need comprehensive immigration reform. made a good stab at that a couple of years ago. i hope we'll come back and finish the job before long. and so that would, that would pretty much sum up what i want to say. i'll close with this. we care a lot, i think almost everybody on this committee would be described as fiscal conservative. and if you look at the size of our budget deficit, go back about six years, budget deficit peaked out at $1.4 trillion. and it's been coming down since then. it's down by about 2/3. but we still have a big deficit by historical standards. and we need to continue to work
on that. three things, i think, we need to do. we need tax reform that lowers the rates, broadens the base and helps raise money for deficit reduction. we need entitlement reform that serves old people, poor people, frankly saves these programs for our kids. find way to save money in the entitlement programs so they'll be around for our children and grandchildren. how do we get result for less money, everything. this is a good hearing i'm delighted you're here, thanks very much. >> thank you, senator. you'll enjoy our hearing next week talking about the 30-year deficit and those projections and certainly address those issues you were just raising. as i was speaking to the witnesses, again, and appreciate your thoughtful testimony and all the time you've put into it. if you're going to solve any problem, you really do need the information. that's really the basis of all these hearings is just to lay out that record. lay out the reality. a number of times in testimony
we've already talked about having the data. we've had a number of office inspector general reports. we had one on an oam and we'll get into that a little bit later. just had one issued today on the lack of data driving decisions based on prosecutorial discretion. and deferred action on childhood arrivals. those are serious issues in terms of not having the information. i'd say one of the things frustrating to me, this committee has really delved into the whole issue of immigration reform and border security is just, you know, especially as an accountant, as a guy from manufacturing background. just not having good, solid information and data. recognizing those, it's pretty difficult to obtain that. but we try and do it through testimony, from getting good opinions, chief, i do have to start out a little housekeeping because we were made aware, i think earlier today, that one of our witnesses border agent chris cabrera received notice to appear before a cbp and internal affairs for this thursday. they want to talk to him about his congressional testimony.
you know, my lutheran catechism tells me to put the best structure on it. i'm hoping the reason they want to talk to agent cabrera is they're a little concerned about some of his testimony that might vary with, you know, some of the information that we get from dhs in general. potentially talking about the fact that, you know, he testified to us on the got aways. that there's a certain level of, i guess, informal potential intimidation if they report more than 20 people coming through. the only apprehend ten and all
of a sudden the supervisor's there and providing a lot of scrutiny. again, i'm highly concerned about that. we bring people before the committee, swear them in. we swear them in to tell the truth. and i'm -- i do hope that this is an effort to, you know, understand what his testimony was and try to determine whether there are some real distortions in terms of the information, the data we're going to need to solve this problem. i hope i have your commitment and custom border protections management that this is not any kind of intimidation or retribution. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for that observation. the question. it is, in fact, your impression is correct. we were very concerned about chris's testimony. we're very concerned about the numbers. we want you. we need ourselves to have the data to be as accurate as possible. and chris, we work with him very well. we work with the national border patrol council to the extent that we need to and have to. they're good partners, they have been for us. and we want their testimony to reflect accurately what happens in the field. and he left the suggestion and impression that there was intimidation or misconduct going on in with regards to how the data's collected. that's not my impression, i'm quite sure that the agents and their supervisors and management
of the area were chris was discussing are focused on doing the right thing for the right reasons. and so we did, in fact, refer the remarks to the office of internal affairs for getting to the bottom of whether or not there was misconduct in that area. again, it's my impression, that's not what our leadership and our managers do down there. but it helps. >> okay. good. that is very good news. and we'll be watching that. you know, we're talking about we are etalking about all of the technologies we certainly heard their stats, only up 60% of the time, down 40% of the time same with the uavs, obviously had, i'll certainly give you a chance to respond to the office of inspector general report. do we have any information in terms of what percent of individuals we're detecting? secretary johnson made the
blanket statement i appreciate the honesty that is that, you know, by the end of this administration, we will not have achieved 100% situational awareness. i understand that. what percent are we at right now? is there any estimate of that? can anybody speak to that? >> i can't be precise as it relates to the situational awareness across the 2,000 miles of the southwest border. we do have a very well understood, it's very well understood what activity levels are, where the hot spots for activities are and how our deployments support that. so as, you know, appropriate for this hearing, the technology is very important. we are -- the data that we collect as it relates to that activity and our observations and the recording of the outcomes of those individual interdictions feeds information where the assets and the agents give us that realtime information. so in a place like downtown where you visited in downtown brownsville where we do have surveillance technology, a very
robust deployment of agents in the downtown environment. so in realtime, you can collect information about activity and the results of the activity. the results, which includes the people who are rested, ran back and what we call got aways. in other locations, we use other methods to try and do that. there's a lot -- there's lots of space along that 2,000 miles where we don't have that kind of deployment. so we use things like change detection technology to help inform overall. there's also a piece of situational awareness that us having to understand what the capabilities of the criminal network are, how we interact with our fellow law enforcement agencies, our international partners to understand what's happening on the other side of the border, and putting those pieces together along with the observations of people who live along the border that tell us, this is out of the ordinary, this is not. if you start to put all of those things together, it gives you an idea of what's happening across the entire border. >> okay. but, again, we're always looking for some kind of metric. and certainly laws we've passed call for a metric, you know, call for a goal of 100% situational awareness, 90% of
operational control. so the question i have is as long as a lot of laws have been passed that way or that's certainly the idea behind some of these laws. are we not calculating that? are we not trying to track that metric now in anticipation of having potentially comply with the requirement for 100% situational awareness? >> so we look at a suite of data that says, these are the arrests, we look at things like recidivism, there are other elements we're trying to bring in, the secretary is focused on, in the unit of effort of tying the data together. giving us all a metric. we've struggled with the idea of combining situational awareness. i think it's one of those phrases for a title that we seem to all understand. but when you get down to it, how do you measure something with a different connotation for a different environment? >> so would the position of department of homeland security
be, then, they would just really reject or certainly resist having piece of legislation where you got that metric 100% situational awareness? >> i think we would all enjoy having a defined set of circumstances that says if you have these four criterion met, you do have situational awareness. we think it's broader. it's obviously if you have technology, a piece of machinery that surveils the border in realtime 24/7, that's an element of situational awareness. there are other pieces to that. it becomes difficult to decide exactly where you're at and what what the actual definition is. but -- >> so while we're on this topic, before i turn it over to the ranking member. anybody else want to comment on this? ms. gambler? >> we've, as i've mentioned, reported on the need for cbp to put in place, you know, measures to assess progress made in securing the border. and we've, you know, reported, as well, you were asking questions about sort of estimating flow and things like
that. our understanding and certainly the chief can speak to this perhaps better than i can, but those are -- those are estimates. when you're talking about things like that. the border patrol does record apprehensions. but the other data points that go into estimating flow turn backs and got aways as we discuss are estimated by the border patrol. >> thank you. senator, carper? >> thank you, mr. chairman. the time line that i am -- i have all the time in the world. so i'm going to yield to my time for a while and maybe i could pick up in a little bit. thanks. >> thank you, senator carper. following up on the chairman's questions, did any of you have a concise definition for situational awareness? okay. that's good enough. i would just say, i think before we can even talk about
situational awareness and how important situational awareness is, i don't know what the hell we're talking about, you know. and so the next question is, is situation awareness a prerequisite for having a secure border? chief? >> i believe if we can come to terms on the definition for situational awareness, then you can constructively then go from there, recognizing what the data is and say whether you have situational awareness or not, and based on the activity levels, capability that cbp and others bring, then you can leap from there or jump from there or work out from there to that secure border definition. >> all right. so, moving forward here, i think we all want to have a secure border. and, look, if we want to get hung up on terminology, we can get hung up on terminology. how many people are getting through and how many people are being apprehended? and how secure is it? how safe is it?
and are we spending the money in ways that make sense? whether it's on drones or radar or ground sensors or fences? and so the next question i have, and most of these are going to be to you, chief. but mr. murkowski, you feel free to jump in if you feel and assess the two. are drones used on the northern border? >> yes, sir, they are used on the northern border. >> in concert with the canadians? >> no, they are used in conjunction with the border patrol, sir. >> it's not a joint effort? you guys? >> it is not. >> how about radar in the northern border? >> we do pull in all faa radar feeds dod feeds. >> how about radar under 5,000 feet on a northern border? >> the coverage is limited. >> okay. >> what about ground sensors? >> yes. on the northern border. and those feeds are directly shared across international -- >> okay.
that's good. how many miles would you say on a northern border ground sensors are utilized? >> i could be precise to the record with some data -- >> that'd be fine. >> each of the sectors. >> when we're talking about a technology like drones and ground sensors in particular, less on radar, but when ground sensors and drones in particular, is there -- is there some reduction in manpower when they're utilized? or is that not the case? >> in making us more efficient? >> well, what i'm saying, do you need as many people underground or get by and still have a safe border? >> correct. both the sensors and the aircraft allow for us to do more with fewer. >> with fewer. okay. that's -- that's good to know. can you tell me other than sharing the ground sensor information. you know, canada's a pretty good ally of ours. is there anything else you do besides border crossings in a
joint way? >> yes, under several frameworks by each leadership in the department at higher levels, we work with canada in every area as it relates to border security. >> there's private land, public land, there's national parks, indian reservations. typically, we're on the border everywhere, both private and public land. there's a recognition from landowner, and within 25 miles, you know, as the job demands -- in places where we know the land is private there is a recognition from the landowner and within 25 miles as the job demands we enter private land. >> thank you for that. >> that's better than i got for information last week. i appreciate that.
when you -- i want to talk about partnerships for a second. wren i first got to this job i think the border patrol did a poor job as far as building partnerships and this was eight or nine years ago. partnerships -- and this was eight nine years ago, so you've improved -- with highway patrol local police folks, with ranchers, with farmers hopefully with other agencies too. i'm talking about federal agencies. how do you feel those partnerships are working? and is there anything we can do to make those partnerships work better? >> we -- i believe that we've recognized that's part of how we're going to be successful in the environments that we work. having partnerships, leveraging each other's authority, exchanging information so that people are recognizing where threats are. that's always going to be part of the future. we've adopted that as a way forward. we interact quite a bit with leadership and law enforcement, and the stone garden program that congress gave us several years back after the department was created is a very useful
tool for us and is very well thought of by state and local. >> could you give me your assessment. you went where i was going. could you give me your assessment of the border security in the black feet indian reservation, for example. i don't want to single those out. with the reservation compared to others, areas on the northern border, would you say it's equivalent, better, worse? >> i'm not aware of any deficiencies we have specifically. >> how about with the park? glacier national park? >> same. we have an ongoing working relationship to be present and understand their concerns as well as being present on the border and patrolling. >> so the need for additional tools and i don't want to put words in your mouth. need for additional tools, you've got it with operation stone garden you've got it with the park service relationships memorandums of understanding, whatever you might have? >> correct, we do. >> well, i just wanted to say,
thank you for your work. all of you. most of the questions were to ron because i like him, you know. but the truth is, i appreciate all your work and you've got some people behind you that work very, very hard and i appreciate them too. the key is, we have limited money here, at least i think that's across the board. i'm not sure it's across the board. so we have to make sure it's spent correctly and appropriately. and i know we might want a knee jerk reaction to things when they happen. but the truth is, if we listen to you folks, i think we make better decisions. thank you for your service. >> senator carper? >> thanks. thanks, mr. chairman. sometimes -- let me just ask, how many of you have testified on this subject before, before either a house or senate
committee or subcommittee. raise your hand. okay. mr. garcia, where you been? doing your day job? >> testifying on other things. >> okay. good enough. if you've been before this committee one of us has probably asked you to tell us what works so we can do more of that. what i'm going to do is flip that question and ask each of you to give us an idea or two about some things that don't work. and that we really shouldn't do that. what are some things you think that don't work? especially in the day and age we had all the money in the world. we don't. we have a lot of debt and we're going to get in more. what are some things we ought not do you don't think they work. they're not worth the money? mr. hollis? >> good question, sir. >> i'm full of them. that's my best one today, so.
>> i'm struggling with that one. in terms of -- because most of the stuff is, i think, that does not work is stuff that we actually stop doing. so one of the things we went through in our own office was to analyze across all of our offices which ones were most effective, most efficient and then reorganize our structure based on that. so we actually look at that pretty regularly year over year to see what's not working and then to either adjust our organization and our assets to rid ourselves of those things. we're in the process of downsizing aircraft. we're getting rid of about 40, 50 aircraft. reorganizing our offices along the north and the south. so we have our agents in the right places and getting -- >> hold it right there. i want you to take a couple of minutes and think about that question. think about some things that don't work that we shouldn't be doing. go ahead. mr. murkowski? >> yes, sir, thank you for that question. i think there are a lot of lessons we learn about things we shouldn't do. for example, we shouldn't treat technology or any other capital asset as an end. it's a means to an end.
and we often get attracted by the bright shiny thing. and we don't think about why or how it will help us do our jobs. sometimes it's difficult because we don't always have metrics. that's because we don't have history. we're doing things that are new to us. we have to understand that as well. we have to learn how to do things that are new to us and collect data and reiterate on that. so that's one thing. technology's a means to an end, it's not an end in to itself. we can't impose technologies on people who use it. we have to involve them. and they have to invite us to bring technologies. that's a classic mistake. we can't aspire to immature technologies before they're ready for us really to start to use them. and we do that very often. so those are all sort of acquisition lessons learned that i would say that we've done in the past that we need to remember not to do in the future. >> those are good ones. those are good ones. >> thank you.
>> hold on just one sec. >> my phone just went off. my phone went off and it says rahm emanuel who used to be the president's chief of staff, but he's now the mayor of chicago. i don't think it's him calling. but whoever has his old job over there is probably calling. we'll figure out who that is. >> i agree with my colleagues. assistant commissioner this is a challenging question. and i think we have learned. >> excuse me. i've got a phone call for the chief of staff's boss. i'm going to ask you -- excuse me for a second, i'll come back and try to reclaim my time. >> i'll take over. i apologize, i'm still going to ask that question. excuse me. >> understood. >> let's talk about fencing. you know, when we were preparing
for this meeting, we got a chart up here showing the different types of fencing. but one of the charts i wanted to produce was -- i wanted to lay out the border, and i wanted to, you know, specify. here are the different types of fencing along the lines and i found out i can't show that because it's law enforcement sensitive. i'll first ask the chief, why would the fencing and the quality of the fence and type of fencing along the border be law enforcement sensitive? i mean, that's a secret that isn't exactly a secret. >> i really don't understand that, as well. i think that the documents that we sent over that we were trading back and forth that we were trying to approve late in preparing for today's testimony were marked. i'm not sure the origination of those markings. i agree with you, if you live in a community that has the benefit of fencing as a -- >> kind of know where it is. >> that people nowhere it is. >> if you're a drug smuggler, you definitely know where thats.
got that mapped out. >> as you start to aggregate data like that or images, you start to show a picture across the southwest border and it's easier to pick out some of the vulnerabilities. that may be the origination of the markings. but we will certainly provide what we can. >> which is, of course, why i wanted. i wanted to see where we have our strengths and where we have our weaknesses. talk to me. maybe trying to think who would be best here. how effective can fencing be? and what has been the real problem in constructing it? we have environmental laws, we have eminent domain issues. we have lawsuits. we passed laws that exempt ourselves from those. but what's been the real reality? because, you know, we have built close to 700 miles of fencing. but you can tell by the different types of fencing, there's some that works pretty good. and some that, you know, obviously might stop a truck. but certainly going to stop a human being.
so just -- who is the best just to kind of talk about the history of, you know, multiple laws we passed to build fencing. and then we relax them, set them up for discretion. they're not crystal clear, we don't, i mean, do we really need, do we have to build 700? there's no time horizon on it. what's happened? we'll start with mr. garcia and then -- >> mr. chairman, if i understand, the first question you had was about possible impediments, legal impediments to fence construction. >> correct. >> when congress expressed authorized barrier deployment in 1996 although there was a barrier deployment before that, it provided a waiver dhs or i guess at that time the
immigration/naturalization service could waive two laws. nepa which concerns environmental assessment and the endangered species act. those two waivers, that waiver authority in many observers' mind was insufficient. the i.n.s. was required to deploy essentially complete a triple layered fencing project in san diego. and over the course of nine years, that project wasn't completed because of impediments caused by other environmental laws. congress responded to that pursuant to the real i.d. act by providing dhs with very broad waiver authority to waive all legal requirements that may impede the expeditious construction of barriers and roads. not a specified place like san diego but anywhere along the u.s. border. >> did it work? >> that -- that waiver authority was exercised in five instances