tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 7, 2015 7:00pm-9:01pm EDT
at 9:00 a.m., wer going to have an event which we're doing jointly with the frederick, the future of europe's eastern policy chances and challenges. and this is a report on a project which the -- supported, europe and the east in 2030, so it's -- eastern neighborhood, which so far has been enormously successful. that will be a celebration. i'm kidding. it's going to be an expert panel reporting on the product of this project. thursday this week, october 8th at 9:30, we have an event called assessing the state of the russian media and this is just a really great opportunity when we happen to have three very big names in the world of reporting in russia and about russia who
are all follows at the kennan institu institute, so we wanted to get them all together. alan cull son, the moscow correspondent for "the wall street journal" for a decade and a half, sergei, who has a show and elena, a special investigative correspondent. so it's a really, really good group of journalists. i encourage you to join us on thursday mortganing. let me start today's event, russia's war against terror. elena had just published this book. the evolution of terrorism in russia's north caucuses and we have copies for sale up front and she will inscribe it for you and write a comprehensive plan for dealing with terrorism on the front cover. i'm kidding. that's chapt ir 3. so, elena is associate professor of international security studies in the college of international security affairs
at the national defense university. that's a government security oriented university in case that didn't make it clear. her publications including this latest book have appeared foreign wide including in journals such as terrorism and political violence, critical studies on terrorism. studies on conflict and terrorism and journal of balkan and near eastern studies. from kent state university where she wrote her dissertation on russia's war on terror. she is experience working in russia, including with deputies on state projects. the floor is yours. >> thank you so much. thank you very much to you for being here and i would like to extend my thank you to the wilson center for having me here. before i proceed, i would like to say here i present my own views. they do not represent the views of the united states government,
department department of defense or the national defense university. so, in the speech today, i will talk a little bit about russia easter ris threat and of course, many of you today are concerned about what putin is doing in syria, how that is related to counterterrorism. his declarations that he is going to fight isis as a terrorist threat, so, we'll get to that towards the end of the presentation, but what i wanted to cover really is the evolution of the terrorist threat in russia. russia's experiences with terrorism. and russia's experiences with counterterrorism. i'll hopefully speak for about 20, 30 minutes and then we'll turn it over to your questions and i'm looking forward to the discussion. thank you. in russia, most people would probably have had some kind of experiences with terrorism. and me included. that's why i am studying this
topic and am so interested in the topic. i still remember when in 1995, everyone was glued to the tvs because of the hostage crisis. in 2002, my aunt bought a ticket to go to theatre. at the last minute, she decided not to go, but of course, the theatre became very well-known to the rest of the world as the scene of the hostage crisis at the brov kai. later on, i was working in moscow and in 2003, an explosion happened in front of -- just two blocks down the road from where i worked. and of course, every day just taken the metro, you have the threat of being blown up by black widows or other suicide terrorists that happened very often in 2003 and 2004. so, based on those experiences, or near experiences with terrorism, i started looking
into the threat and have studied terrorism and counterterrorism in russia for over ten years now. terrorism in russia has deep roots and not many people realize russia confronted terrorism way before the world became concern wd the threat after september 11th. back in '91 when chechnya declared independence from the soviet ewyuunion, the threat of terrorism became apparent when separatists starting using terrorism as a tactic against the russian forces to secure independence of chechnya. at the time, the general, who was a secular general, but at the same time, he was using islam as a force that consolidated the chechnyan forces in the fight against russia. it was in the early '90s he actually declared jihad against russia and used the tactic of
terrorism to confront the more sue perrier forces of the russian federation. terrorism became a constant threat in russia and of course, the first two major attacks happened in '95 and '96. was the hostage crisis and later on in -- the more maybe notorious case of terrorism of the first chechnyan war was bahsooifs raid logical terrorist attack. while in russia, it wasn't perceived quite seriously, but in '95 in november, bahsooif, a leader of chechnyan separatists, secured the position of a raid logical substances and hid them in a park in moscow, so, this
was one of the experiments with terrorism he undertook and much later, he was also the mastermind behind transformations of the threat that went from hostage attacks to the employment of the black widows. to the employment of converted russian salafi adherence et cetera and i will briefly talk about those as well. the chechnyan campaign lasted the first chechnyan campaign lasted from '94 to '96 and was over the de facto independence and victory for the chechnyan side. in '99, a wave of apartment bombings took place in russia and moscow and -- after that wave of apartment bombings, the second counterterrorist operation started and this time, it was a counterterrorist operation aimed against terrorists. supposedly with alleged ties with osama bin laden and
al-qaeda. thank you. in the second chechnyan conflict, there still were major hostage crisis. in 2002, it was the -- crisis in moscow and 2004, the crisis in a secondary school in north -- however, in the second campaign, terrorism started shifting. and here, you see for example, the implementation of a tactic of suicide terrorism. the first suicide terrorist attack happened in november of 2000, june 2000, where habariva blew herself up and others up with her. this was a foreign tactic for the north caucuses. supposedly or allegedly, this tactic was implemented under the influence of foreign mujahadin, who came and joined the chechnyan and then the north
caucus from afghanistan and other post afghan conflicts. bosnia, algeria and other places. another tactic that transformed chechnyan terrorism and by that, i sometimes refer to it as terrorism, but after '99, it started spreading to the north caucuses. often after '99, we are speaking about the insurgency in the north caucuses and terrorism implemented by the forces throughout the north caucuses and in moscow and the rest of russia as well, so, another tactic that the chechnyan mujahadin started implementing was the employment of women in conflict. now, for those of you familiar with jihad and international terrorist forces, this is a new tactic and the chechnyan fighters really pioneered this tactic, employing women in conflict. the traditional role in islamists jihad for women is this secondary role of supporting fighters and providing for the fighters.
in chech any area, women became the fighters and later on groups such as hamas and al-qaeda started implementing this tactic as well. another shift in the terrorist threat in russia was the conversion of solafi adherence to radicalism in terrorist attacks. especially in moscow, it would be very hard due to the increased surveillance of security services. it would be very hard to carry out a lone terrorist attack if you are from the north caucuses because because of your ethnic pro file, so the tactic the terrorist forces implemented was using the slavs, who looked like anyone passing by in moscow, and using them to carry out suicide
attacks. so, stins mid 2000s, the vast majority of suicide attacks carried out on the territory of russia has been perform by the slavic converts or as it's called in russia, wahadism. these trends have been concurrent with the trend of islamization and radicalization in the north caucuses. they became the centers in the north caucuses that first supported this chechnyan insurgency, then toward the establishment of the islamic state in the north caucuses. today, unfortunately, we speak about the entire region of the north as engulfed in insurgency, so the six republics and the votering areas are under the influence of the insurgency and there are cells where they're active or not in the caucuses that participate in terrorist
attacks and carry out terrorist attacks. at the time when terrorism first struck russia, russia was not prepared to face the threat. there was no counterterrorist legislation, institutions to fight the threat. at the same time, it was not perceived as a terrorist threat. in the '90s, during the first chechnyan war, the threat was perceived as one of the consequences of the first chechnyan war. the consequences changed after the first chechnyan war. the russian government ledgelated the law and it became the legal instrument for the russian forces to carry out counterterrorist operations since '99 and so on. the counterterrorist operations in chechnya and the neighbors republics were under this legislation. more innovations took place as
the war progressed and as the terrorist operations progressed. since '99, russia no longer implemented the solution that it used in the first chechnyan conflict, so there were no massive bombardments or the ground operations as they used to be in the first chechnyan conflict. since '99, the russian administration has used more tactical targeting of the terrorist groups in the north caucuses instead of conscripts, it has used contractors and targeted operations have become the sort of the symbol of counterterrorist operations. so, if you compare counterterrorist operation frs the second conflict to the first, you see there's a lot of improvement. hatub and -- have been eliminated. the names most associated with terrorism in russia.
travel between russia and the neighboring republics, georgia, azerbaijan and other countries have been secured, so it's much more difficult today to travel and use those roots that the insurgents used before to channel terrorist elements or insurgent elements and to channel all the foreign aid. many training camps in chechnya and the north caucuses have been eliminated. you might know that the chechnya forces and north have established a lot of training camps in the north caucuses. those have been used to prepare suicide terrorists, et cetera, so, you can see the russian counterterrorist attempts have been successful at certain points and as pechts. at the same time, there's a big question of what is happening now where the north caucus is now and how it is relevant so
syria. despite the fact that the russian forces have been trying to stamp out chechnyan accept a separatists and projects establishing a muslim state in the north caucuses, the fight has been going on for close to 20 years now. you see the threat has not been eliminated. there still are insurgent f factions in the north. you might have heard the big scare before the limb p picks. that was when the terrorist, the insurgency declared they would do anything to undermine the olympics and prevent them from happening. you also might have seen that the chechnyan conflict has had the impact on other places. for instance, in ukraine, when the ukraine conflict started in 2014, you saw chechnyan forces fighting on both side of the ukrainian conflict. there were the chechnyan forces
of -- who supported the pro russian separatists. on the other side, there were chechnyan forces who were fighting against the russians and there are several of the counterterrorist groups there that have declared they have been fighting against russia because that's what they have been doing for a long time. so, you might have seen the presence of -- batallion, those are the chechnyan contingents fighting on the pro on the antiseparatist side in ukraine. and of course, the big question today is what are some of the north caucus' individuals doing in syria? what is the threat for russia and why is russia getting involved in syria? some are concerned, well, is russia supporting assad in syria? is russia trying prove to the rest of the world that it is a big power that the foreign countries still have to consider while implementing a different decisions.
well, russia has real concerns about terrorism and isis coming back to russia. a number of terrorists from the north caucuses have joined the syrian civil war since its start in 2011. some of these groups have declared that they are loyal to the caucuses emirate that was established in 2007 and the leadership of doku omar. however, some of these factions have joined isis and pledged ed allegiance to isis and are fight ng the name of isis. some of those mujahadin have declared they will be coming back to russia, striking against russia and some have already started coming back to russia and this is a growing concern for the russian government and security services. so, on the one hand, you see that there are realistic threats for russia in terms of isis and
in terms of the participants from the north caucuses fighting for isis and in terms of their coming back from radicalized than before and striking against russia later on. at the same time, you also see that there has been an interesting trend happen ng the north caucuses in terms of counterterrorism. the more resent operations in the north caucuses have adhered to the strategy of decapitation. what i mean by this is that the security services of russia have been targeting insurgent factions loyal to the caucuses. doka omar was eliminated in 2014. his followers who were also loyal to the caucuses emirate project, namely kabirkov and -- were also eliminated in april and august 2015.
doka omar was probably the last insurgent leader who had some level of control over the caucuses emirate. since then, the organization has been undergoing a lot of shifts and transitions. currently, we are no longer speaking of a unified body or a high ark cal body. instead, it's a lot of different factions and there's a lot of end fighting among those factions. in 2010, there was a fitna or a split between the different groups when mohammed or the leader of the foreign forces in the north caucuses, attempted to take over the caucuses emirate and attempted to take over control of the caucuses emirate. omar did succeed in taking control back then an retaining that control. however, what has been happening since his demise in 2014, there's a lot of these factions and some of these factions
pledged allegiance to isis. as early as november of 2014, several factions have declared that they're no longer loyal to the caucuses emirate project, but pledged allegiance to isis. in june of this wreer, very recently, there was another announcement of the majority of the factions of the caucuses emirates saying we are pledging allegiance to isis. the speaker did ke claire at this point, we are establishing group in the kacaucuses, the noh caucuses and this will be our group called -- so, isis has already declared that it has its branch in the caucuses emirate, so, on the one hand, russia has these real threats coming from the north caucuses and from the forces that join isis and syria. on the other hand, russia's own
counterterrorism in the north caucuses has seemingly been pushing these factions towards syria and we see this tendency of displacing the conflict and the leaders who retained that loyalty to the caucuses project. the next step in russia and syria is going to be at the same time, isis remains big threat. it is impossible to predict whether putin will decide to send ground forces to syria, however, what has happened is there has been afghanistan. there has been chechnya one and two. and despite massive bombardments, despite the targeted operations, despite changes in counterterrorism, chechnya is still going on and the north caucuses insurgency is
still ongoing. so, putin has not secured victory over the chechnyan and the north caucuses insurgent forces back home. so, what is the probability of him securing victory over isis by air strikes against isis groups or isis forces in syria? so, there is the big question of whether it is even possible. the question whether he is going to proceed with further counterterrorist operations by sending ground troops, that will be risky for russia and the russian government. again, it reeks of afghanistan, of the repeat of unsuccessful operations back in the '90s back in chechnya and we see that has not produced success for mr. putin. so, i will stop here with these initial comments and we'll turn it over to questions since i mentioned the major trends in
the region and the major trends in terrorism and counterterrorism, but i'm sure you will have more concrete questions about some or other aspect of this fight. >> thank you very much. >> i look around the room and see a lot of people who know more than i do about the middle east, so i'm going to leave syria and let you address that and your questions. let me just ask you to clarify a couple of things about north caucuses. number one, you said putin hasn't won a victory in the north caucuses. how do you define victory? i think a lot of russians would tell you he did. he ended the war. he can walk free on the streets of -- he's got a strong man, he's in control. how do you define victory? >> great question.
would say there is certain success in counterterrorist operations and counterinsurgency operations in the north caucuses. in 20 o 03, putin switched to the declaration policy, which meant that instead of the targeted operations and instead of relying on counterterrorist operations, he started relying on the plan to pacify chechnya and at a certain level, that has worked because first -- and later his son, have pacified the chechnyan factions of the insurgency, so this would probably qualify as success since yes, grosny has been rebuilt and you can walk there, however, the situation still remains problematic. there are still terrorist attacks in chechnya. probably not as much on the news as the rest of russia or as the attacks that are performed in moscow or in the naebing
regions, but if you look at the list of attacks, if you look, you'll see there are attacks still happening. on the other hand, one of the biggest problems with counterinsurgency and counterterrorism in the north caucuses has been the spread of the threat to the region. today, the insurgency and threat is no longer confined to chechnya. instead, it is all over the north caucuses. it is less jointed. there's a lot of sleeper cells and they are all over the north caucuses ready to strike and no one knows when. and you have seen how hard it is to predict suicide attacks or lone suicide attacks and the u.s. has seen that with boston bombings and orr attacks where
it's impossible for the security services to prevent lone individuals from carrying out certain attacks in the name of a certain group. >> just to clarify, so victory would be zero threat of terrorism in the north caucuses? i suspect putin and many russians would say that's not realistic. >> sure. absolutely. it's probably politically impossible to even declare victory over terrorism swrus because it's political suicide to declare that we put an end to terrorism. but victory would be to minimize the threat of terrorism, not to spill it to the rest of the region. as we look to the north caucuses, this is what's happened. yes, it has been pacified in one place, but pushed out of chechnya into the rest of the broader region and beyond and what you see today in the north caucuses is that the more radicalized factions, most of the younger swren rations who are eager to fight, but the
caucuses emirate has been loyal to this dynamic preserving the force. you might have seen there have been bans on strikes against civilians or using force, so, omar for instance, tried attempted to preserve his forces and not strike as actively, so at the same time, there's the transformation of the insurgent tactics and strategy concurrent with everything going on. but those more radicalized forces want to fight and they have been the ones moving to syria and other places where there's something happening, maybe not as much in the north caucuses right now. >> let me ask you the inverse question. you answered about the problem of terrorism spreading from chechnya out. presumably, if russians are afraid that conflict in syria or elsewhere beyond russia's borders is going to result in an
infiltration of terrorists that means they don't have confidence in the ability to secure their borders. how does that look now and in terms of toop ration with south caucuses neighbors like georgia, azerbaijan and central asian neighbors? i assume those are the two most dangerous sectors. >> the question of borders now and back to the '90s, you can see dramatic shifts. for instance, in '99, the border with georgia was pretty much not secured and this was the channel from which mujahadin from all over the world would transfer from chechnya and the north kay kuses. if you compare to present day, the boarders are very secured ad little tubt to travel through established check points. however, the borders in afghanistan and other places, for instance, the border between
afghanistan and ta jik stan is impossible to monitor. there have been the same problems near the caucuses and near central asian republics in the far east. and russia is still working in that direction. that's one of the priority directions for russia to work on, to continue monitoring the borders and to continue closing them off to insurgent elements. however, that has been harder than it seems or harder than declared. but yes, russia is working in that. >> is there definite proof at this point that anyone who has been fighting in syria has successfully entered russia? are there cases of that that have been reported? >> there have been cases reported both by human rights organizations and by the russian security services. there have been individuals who have been in detention, who have confirmed to the russian security services they have been fighting in syria on behalf of isis. some are still in detention and it's not clear where they will go from now.
and there have been cases of individuals not moving back to russia, but back to other territories like the central asian republics because of the notorious difficulty of going back to russia. you might have heard of the, about the guantanamo case where there have been several individuals from the north caucuses who were detained in guantanamo. they have been repate rated back to russia, but in russia, they face persecution, they faced abuses and indefinite detention and a lot of those things while there was no proof that saying those individuals were fighting against either russian or the u.s. forces in afghanistan. so, this is a tricky question of who is really fighting, on who's side and what is happening to them when they're coming back. >> just raise your hand, i'll call on you. we have at least one microphone in the room.
two. and so, just give us your name and your affiliation. yes, ma'am, right here. >> thank you very much. i'm -- with the center, the middle east program. elena, thank you very much for this presentation. my question is about the stability of the ground force in syria. i remember general when the coalition started against isis said that the american planes are playing the role of the air force of the iraqi government, the shiites. is there a danger that now russia is working with hezbollah and iran on the ground and the bashar al assad, that it will be seen as the air force of the renal and taking sides, in an
explosive situation and the second question is more on the diplomatic side. do you think that putin has in his mind a transition in syria? do you think it's in his interest to see a transition? do you think he would ever abandon assad? thank you. >> of course it isn't possible to predict whether mr. putin is going to use ground forces or not. so far, he has declared he's not ready to use ground forces in syria. what would probably be more predictable would be his continuation of air strikes, but at the same time, working with the forces of assad, iran and other players in the region that you mentioned to support their ground forces to proceed. what we saw happening in ukraine for instance, when there was an influx of cargo 200 or the dead
bodies of the russian supposedly soldiers fighting in ukraine and started coming back, that's when the public opinion started tu turning against the issue in ukraine and started questioning what mr. putin was doing in crew crane, so the same can be predicted in syria. if ground forces go into syria and when ta start coming back with dead bodies, that will be the question of what are we really fighting for in syria? what is the interest of russia in syria and whether this is going to be a repeat of afghanistan or a repeat of chechnya one or two. >> going back to your second question, whether putin has a transition plan in syria, it is hard, again, it is hard to predict what his true intention is in terms of supporting assad. it might be that he wants really to support him until he is ready to go on to the offense. that is his official position.
and he has declared that i will be in syria as long as i can support president assad, who he considered as legitimately elected president in turning against isis. on the other hand, you can see that he will continue supporting assad until he institutes control over the country, so, you can see that mr. putin will continue supporting the forces of assad until assad retains control of the entire country. those are some possibilities. it is hard to predict which one mr. putin will choose, but at this point, he clearly declared that no, i will only be there until assad turns against the opposition and turns on to the offensive and restores order in the country. >> okay. yes, right here. >> from trade g9 office.
does putin not putting ground troops in syria beg the question of whether he has faith in his troop sns have they learned theirly sons from afghanistan? he's got limited success in ukraine, he has not put ground troops in syria. he's cherry picking his targets using his air force. so, does he not have faith in his ground force? do they not learn their lessons? >> so, there are a number of things going on here. first of all, if you compare for instance the operation in chechnya in '94, '96, the russian military has gone along way from then. there has been a lot of initiatives in reforming the russian military. the russian military has been training. reforming. there have been a lot of changes
in the russian military that make it more effective, more prepared to fight, more well trained. there are smaller batallions that can probably strike against terrorist groups. they have been specifically trained against smaller insurgent operations, so, if you think about the russian military in the '90s when it was not ready to fight insurgencies, right now, there are contingents that are ready to fight insurgencies. however, yes, there have been not very successful operations in ukraine and we are still not speaking of ukrainian russian supported -- i think that mr. putin is banking against the public opinion. because for the public opinion, while they seemingly support the presence of russian air force in syria, they are very much against sending troops on the
ground. in the russian mind, it is still sort of a foreign threat, not very close to home while ukraine was close to home. the syrian operation is very far and isis seems very remote and the b possibility of sending russian soldiers on the ground, that does not resognate with the public and i'm not sure mr. putin wants to cross that line of alienating the population. >> yes, right here. >> thank you for the presentation. one on the question of how secured the borders are. and specifically, with respect to the investigation conducted by -- published in august, in
syria, precisely because of the caucuses has a project, got into more interesting. my second question is regarding the recent statement by -- that he would be first to travel to syria, along with his highly trained private army if you will, and he seems to have no hesitation about going. can you comment on that? as to whether that is a likely possibility standpoint from the legalities of him being a civilian and the troops being part of the interior ministry and not of the army and the political standpoint. thank you. >> thank you for your questions. so, going back to the report published, it recently came out stating the russian security services have been implicated in pushing the unsurgents out from the north caucuses and have been
facilitating their transfer to syria. so, in fact, the question there is not as much border security, but the involvement of security services. so, border security has been improved. and it is fairly difficult at this point to travel between countries illegally. while in the '90s, it was pret it easy to try to cross the border between russia and georgia. today, it is much more complicated. but the question there was whether the security services would help you leave the country and join the fight in syria. however -- on the side of isis, yes. however, at this point, it is obl the report from -- so, it is not clear whether it is really the factual information that was used. the report was published based on interviews from the region with some of the insurgents. on the one hand, you have
security services that are targeting anyone suspected of involvement in the insurgency. on the other hand, you have insurgents who are called in the forest, the expression in russian goes -- so, in the forest, they are the insurgents targeting the same people in the villages for money, support, food and other things. so, as villagers in dagestan, you are stuck between the security services and the insurgent forces and for some, it is much easier to just leave the region and go somewhere else than to stay in the region, try to find employment, which is still very hard an problematic to find. the economic situation is pretty bad in the north caucuses. the social situation there is a lot of religious issues still present in the region. those individuals might be going to syria just because there is
nothing else to do in the region or because it is so hard to stay in the region. whether the involvement of security services is really true in that respect is still a guess. but the situation surely is not conducive to young people stay ng the region, finding alternative employment opportunities or alternative things to do. >> just to be clear, it's certainly is imaginable that you can bribe a border security guy to get out of the country, the idea there is a policy from moscow encouraging people to go to the conflict they are afraid is radicalizing people, those two things seem contradictory. >> they do. it does seem highly improbable there is an official policy saying that you have to go to syria to fight for isis and then come back and strike against us,
then we'll kill you. but at the same time -- >> skip a couple of step there is and just -- >> or just air strikes in syria will eliminate you. at the same time, i'm not sure it's an oversight on the part of counterterrorist agencies or whether it is a concerted policy of eliminating the leaders who retain some form of control over the insurgent forces in the north caucuses, who actually prevented people from going to syria and fighting in syria. omar was the person who was sort of happy about jihad happening in syria, but when he started seeing his younger people fleeing to syria, he said, wait a second, if you go to syria, there is not going to be enough people stay ng the north caucuses to fight jihad, to continue fighting jihad and there was a religious ruling preventing people from the north caucuses going and fighting for syria. so, there has been that, but at the same time, the russian
forces eliminated leaders like that. so, there is quite a few contradictions in terms of the russian counterterrorist policy or its approach to syria. going back to your point about -- was also a person who declared that my all means, we would be protecting putin and fighting on his behalf in different places and his forces, although not official forces, what he called volunteers, were taken part in the conflict in ukraine on the side of proseparatist forces. so, we've already had a precedent where forces linked to -- not his official forces, but they clearly had links to his regime, already were spotted in crew crane, so, yes, he might be sending or preparing his troops and if he declares he is going to send them, he might be ready to train and equip and to send those people to fight
against isis and syria. so, if there is a decision of sending ground troops, then his people would probably be among the best to actually go and fight. >> yes, right here. >> retide, in the 1990s, the u.s. was actively involved in supporting antisoviet troops in afghanistan. is there any american taint historically in the chechnyan revolt? >> not as much you would predict and the situation turned against russia and the soviet union after afghanistan. after afghanistan, those mujahadin who were fighting the soviet troops joined a lot of insurgencies around the world and there has been quite a few of the forces from afghanistan, from other conflicts around the world, who came and joined the north caucuses insurgency.
whether and there have been several americans in the caucuses as well who were fighting with the chechnyan forces against the russian regime. but there hasn't been the link between anti-americanism or the insurgeon cy or the u.s., so, right now, i think the biggest threat is that we will see the repeat of a situation although a more radicalized situation, post syria, is what we saw post afghanistan when all those mujahadin who did not have any reasons to stay and fight in afghanistan anymore would go and join other insurgencies around the world and for russia, that threat has been voiced where isis factions have said we will come back and we will strike against russia and russia will be our next desi neigh. . >> isn't the bigger problem in terms of u.s. russia relations,
the argument the united states has given safe haven to war criminals, terrorists? >> there has been that. also reports that the u.s. has been support iing the chechnyan insurgency, the north caucuses insurgency, that the u.s. has been training mujahadin who have been striking in the north caucuses, which partially is true because if you compare those mujahadin who came to the caucuses from afghanistan, they were linked to this cia and there was a lot of presence in afghanistan of the u.s. and the u.s. did train a lot of the antisoviet forces back in afghanistan. so, there is that aspect. but i think the u.s., antiu.s. sentiments are way more linked to ukraine or the economic decline these days than to the north caucuses insurgency. >> okay. >> all right, gentleman here in the very back.
>> hello? yeah, my name's -- thanks for your presentation, it's very insightful and well informed. i wanted to ask two questions. firstly, i don't know if people were paying attention to what president putin said in the united nations speech. if you look at what's going on with united states so-called effort with isis, the western countries, with saudi arabia, qatar, all these gulf states, you could see what putin was trying to assess is not just about supporting putin assad, it's to keep the governmental structures in tact because we have seen the failed anchors of what is going on with libya, with yemen, what's going on in iraq, so the thing about it is that shouldn't there be consideration and then secondly,
the so-called countries, there is the obama administration is leading against isis, are some of the financial backers. so, i'm just trying consider that shouldn't there be a consideration that united states should engage with putin to have a real concerted effort, not just destroying the forces of isis, but also the financial backers? thanks. >> so, yes, the u.n. speech that mr. peten gave actually did refer to the arms transfer, the syrian forces allegedly supplied by the u.s. and isis, but never named any actors or a country that he was talking about in the u.n. address. at the same time, his rhetoric, very clearly specifies that look at what happened in libya. look at what happened in iraq. in iraq, the u.s. went in and actually created the very isis force because they removed saddam and saddam, however evil
he was, he did prevent isis from happening at the time and that is a very powerful rhetoric that mr. putin uses and sells to his people and followers. it does make sense because you have the probability of a dictator staying in power and maybe controlling the insurgent forces. on the other hand, you have the unpredictable solution that the west has tried to implement and the u.s.-led coalition has tried to implement and the coalition actually again, mr. putin points out that there have been no successes achieved by the coalition. of course, whether his alternative is more going to be more successful, that's another question, but those are the facts that he is using very skillfully in his interpretation of why we need to support assad and why we need to get involved in syria. >> is the lack of success have
something to do with the fact our partners are simultaneously b fundi ining isis? >> he says look, you can't fight terrorism on one side, but fund it on the other side. you have to beside. you have to be consistent. in his view, of course, being consistent is supporting bashar assad against the insurgent forces. >> we have three minutes left, so let's take these two questions together. gentleman in the blue sweater. >> retired international health care worker who has travelled to siberia. thanks to our speaker because she actually went around in and unprecedented way and introduced herself to us individually. i want to make a couple of comments about history and make a plea. >> can you make it quick? >> we have a long history with chechnya. we have a history of a current government in russia that uses
repression. nemtsov was murdered. reporters have been murdered. lawyers in prison have been murdered. okay. there were four apartment bombings. many people have insisted those look suspiciously ksb. i have a masters in american history. i shouldn't be talking like this, so i make the plea to people who are here. do you see any reason why the present government would find having terrorists to its advantage? >> okay. the lady right there. yes. >> i work as a journalist for the associated press for more than ten years. covered most of the events in the caucasus, including boston attack. so my question is related to this gentleman's statement. many people claim that they have
undeniable evidence of the kremlin in general role in those series of attacks. i, myself, have undeniable evidence of the attack in 2005. that's my first question. what is your opinion on that? and second question is you mentioned that it was a guess about the efforts of involvement, the kremlin's alleged involvement, in pushing out the jihadists, the potential exodus from the caucasuses in russia in general. >> what's the question? >> you said the borders are very secure. those who returned from syria were detained. they were actually killed. two of them were detained.
others killed. do we have reports on that? secondly, i interviewed recently the -- >> i think we get the point. >> she said that in 2012 russia started an official policy of cleaning up the north caucasuses in russia. people who are potentially involved in or might be in the future involved in extremism, they are limited in their travels inside the republics. >> okay. >> how do they manage to get out of russia with those secure borders? >> question about the russian government involvement in all of these things. >> just as you mentioned, there are a lot of questions about the official government involvement in any of this.
in counterterrorist operations or in terrorist attacks. the terrorist isist attacks th mentioned, the apartment bombings -- i do speak about it more in depth in the book. there is some evidence suggesting that the fsb might have been involved in them. the investigations that followed those apartment bombings have been classified and have not been allowed. while there are no established facts saying that the fsb was involved, at the same time the investigation has not been allowed, so we cannot speak more clearly about, well, was the fsb involved and what was the role. as you mentioned about the lists and the harassment of the security services, that all happens in the north caucasuses. harassment, human rights violations, all those things, they do happen, and they, of
course, do not contribute to the resolution of the conflict. how many of them will pushed by the security services? it is still a little bit hard to say at this point because some of this information is classified. some of this information is available on the ground reported by some journalists but not others. while we do not have access to the official reports, it is hard to say whether conclusively about the actual role of security services. >> you forgot to say the most important thing. read my book, right? >> exactly. >> more answers no doubt forthcoming in the book. thank you all so much for joining us. i know it's a short amount of time to have this wide ranging conversation. thank you again for joining us and join me in thanking our guest. [ applause ] presidential candidate senator bernie sanders and
maryland governor martin o'malley spoke at the congressional hispanic caucus annual conference in washington today. you can see their remarks tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span. tomorrow, the head of volkswagen will testify before a house committee answering questions about volkswagen car emissions, including allegations that the company used software that circumvented emissions requirements for some of its diesel engines. this sunday night on q&a former senator and presidential candidate gary hart on his new book "the republic of conscious." >> the founders use the language of the ancient republic greece and rome and warned against corruption. their definition of corruption was not bribery or quid pro quo
money under the table. it was putting special interests ahead of the common good and by that definition, washington today is a massively corrupt place. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span's q&a. student cam is c-span's annual documentary competition for students in grades 6 through 12. it's an opportunity for students to think critically by creating a five to seven-minute documentary in which they can express their views. so they can express those views by creating a documentary. we do get a wide range of entries. the most important aspect for every documentary that we get is
going to be content. we have had winners in the past created by just using a cell pho phone, and we have others that are created using more high-tech equipment, but it is really the content that is created that shines through these documentaries. we have topics ranging from education, the economy and the environment, really showing the wide variety of issues that are important for students. >> having more water in the river would have many positive impacts to better serve the tulsa community and the businesses inside it. >> just as a car cannot run without oil, we have come to the consensus that humans cannot run without food. >> prior to the idea, childrens with disabilities were not given the opportunity of an education. >> this year's theme is road to the white house. what's the most important you want to candidates to discuss in
the 2016 presidential campaign? it is full on into the campaign season. there are many different candidates discussing several issues. one of the key requirements is to include some c-span footage. this footage should really complement and further their point of view and not just dominate the video, but it's a great way for them to include more information on the video that furthers their point. >> the first bill today is the water resources reform and development act. >> we have all heard the jokes about school meals and certainly growing up the burnt fish sticks and mystery meat tacos. >> there's a vital role that the federal government plays. it's especially vital for students with disabilities. >> students and teachers can go to our website. it is studentcam.org. on that website, they'll find more information about the rules and requirements, but they'll also find teacher tips, rubri r
help them incorporate it in their classroom, and ways to contact us if they have any further questions. the deadline for this year's competition is january 20, 2016, which is exactly one year away from the next presidential inauguration. our c-span campaign 2016 bus is on a road to a white house tour. this week was at the comcast studio xfinity store. shoppers visited the bus to learn about c-span's online interactive resources for following campaign 2016. to keep track of the bus tour, follow the bus on twitter and instagram using @c-spanbus. coming up tonight on c-span 3, the house agriculture committee considers new dietary
guidelines. stephan stephanie blake talks about city electio elections. later treasury secretary jack lou on the upcoming debt ceiling debate. every five years, the departments of agriculture and health and human services issue dietary guidelines and nutritional information to the public. next the house agriculture committee hears from tom vilsack and silvia burwell about the process. this is two and a half hours. good morning.
let's go ahead and get started. trent, will you open us with a prayer please? >> dear heavenly father, we ask that you bless this committee. we ask that you bless this government. we ask that you bless all those who lead this nation. amen. >> this meeting committee of agriculture regarding the development of the 2015 dietary guidelines for american will come to order. i want to thank our witnesses for being here this morning. it is no small feat to get two of the secretaries of two of the most important agencies in government to sit at the same table at the same time, so i thank you secretary vilsack, secretary burwell, for making this happen. we appreciate it. we are joined by the secretary of agriculture and secretary of health and human services to develop the important document, the 2015 dietary guidelines for
americans. it's not this committee's intention to legislate specific recommendations or guidelines, however, we will demand that the guidelines be developed in a transparent and objective manner. the dta is not only a recommendation to the american people on how to make healthy food purchasing decisions to live a healthy lifestyle, but it forms the basis of federal nutrition policy, education, outreach efforts used by consumers, industry educators and professional health care professionals. it's essential that the guidance that comes out of this process can be trusted by the american people to achieve this it must be based on sound and irrefutable science. the national nutrition monitoring wheat and related research acts of 1990 according to the act the dga shall contain nutritional and dietary guidelines for the american public, shall be based on the preponderance at the time the report is prepared and promoted by each agency carrying out food or nutritional program. a sound development process is important because it is extremely difficult to reverse or change public policy once implemented without causing consumer confusion. at a time when consumers are
already subjected to conflicting and often contradictory health information, staying within scope of the intent of the law by providing the public with science-based information is more likely to contribute to improve public health outcomes. the process of the 2015 gga began in 2012 when secretary vilsack and secretary burwell's predecessor secretary sebelius created and then appointed the 15 members to dietary guidelines advisory committee. though this committee is not specifically authorized, all committees must be chartered under the federal advisory committee act that requires it be accessible by the public and is to be operating, overseeing and terminating committees. this makes the committee solely responsible to the usda and hhs who are then responsible for continually reviewing the committee's performance and process compliance which includes activities as detailed as approving all of the meeting agendas.
it is, therefore, the responsibility of usda and hhs to maintain control of the scope and methods used by dgac. i personally weighed in with both of you as have many of my colleagues about the concern of the process of developing the guidelines. i raised concerns about the committee's report shortly after its released and called on you to extend the public comment period which you did, and i appreciate that very much. the usda and hhs received over $29,000 public comments developed by nutritionists and other experts in the study of human health. included in comments were scientific studies and other evidence that observers assert had been ignored by the committee. as a result i repeatedly requested each and every comment be considered by usda and hhs before the final guidelines are published. in may the ranking member i started writing details on your plan to review the more than 29,000 comments and to make sure that they are reviewed properly. your response to us on that
plan, though, was less than sufficient, so i look forward to hearing today on this matter. uncertainty leads to concern about whether the committee's recommendations will maintain the scientific integrity accessed by americans. it's my hope the review of the 2015 recommendations, that they are mindful of the process failures that lie between each of the recommendations. it's imperative to hear assurances from each of you that americans will ultimately be presented with the best and most reliable information for making healthy food and beverage choices. again, thank you secretary vilsack, secretary burwell, for being with us today. i look forward to our conversation. comments from ranking member. >> thank you, mr. chairman, i welcome both secretary burwell and secretary vilsack to the committee and look forward to your testimony. given that usda and hhs are still reviewing comments, we're probably getting ahead of ourselves here, but i do hope that today's testimony can shed more light on the process to
establish new guidelines and what they will actually mean for our constituents. there's been a strong reaction to the dietary guidelines advisory committee report. i've heard concerns about future sodium targets, difficulties of small schools meeting the guidelines and what this could mean for cranberries and sugar. but these are mostly coming from those who are directly impacted, industry, schools, medical community. we're not really hearing from the public. and i don't think the general public is paying much attention. for those who are, i think they are very skeptical of the whole process. for example, we were once told that butter and eggs were bad for you. now i guess they're okay, according to "the washington post" this morning, they were wrong on milk as well. and i don't know how much government subsidized powder we bought because of it.
so people, i think, may be losing confidence in these guidelines. given the public's skepticism, maybe we should reconsider why we're doing this. is it because it's something we've always done? maybe we should first look to expand on a provision of the 2008 farm bill that would help us understand more about what people are actually eating and then go from there. i am a little concerned that we've lost sight of what we're doing and there seems to be more focus on ideology and marketing food products than providing clear nutritional advice to the general public. but i do hope we can have a productive hearing, achieve a good outcome. i know you're going to do the best that you can. breaking through all of this noise and i thank the secretaries for appearing before us today and i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. my colleague, ms. burwell, has a
hard stop at 11:30. she has an international flight to catch. and so with that, you can go first. >> thank you. good morning, mr. chairman, ranking member peterson, as well as members of the committee for the opportunity to discuss the dietary guidelines. i want to begin by thanking the committee for your interest in the dietary guidelines and for your work to support americans and a healthy agriculture sector. one of the most important responsibilities that our government is entrusted with is protecting the american public and that includes empowering them with the tools they need to make educated health decisions. since 1980 families across the nation have looked to the department of health and human services and agriculture for science-based dietary guidelines to serve as a framework for nutritious eating and healthy lives. our guidelines also help lay a foundation for preventing diet-related health conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. as is required by the national nutrition monitoring and related research act, the departments update these regulations and guidelines every five years.
the key elements that make up a healthy lifestyle remain consistent -- fruits and vegetables, grains, and lean proteins, and limited amounts of saturated fats, added sugars and sodium. we anticipate these will continue to be the building blocks of the 2015 guidelines updated to reflect the latest research and science as well as our current understanding of the connections between food and health. as part of our effort to rely on the best science available, we have appointed an independent advisory committee of nutrition and medical experts and practitioners to inform each edition. the 2015 committee evaluated research and considered comments from the public to develop recommendations included in its finished report. it is important to note that the advisory committee report is one input into the dietary guidelines. the guidelines themselves are written and reviewed by experts at both of our departments.
in addition to the recommendations of the advisory committee, our department's experts perform their own extensive review and consideration of public comments. in fact, as was mentioned, we received 29,000 written comments during the 75-day public comment period. as a result, the 2015 dietary guidelines will be formed by review of thousands of scientific papers and decades of nutrition and medical research as well as input from the public. we know that the guidelines are of critical importance to many americans. they contribute to a culture of wellness and empower individuals to better manage their own health, help keep their families healthy, reduce the onset of disease, and reduce the amount of money that we spend on health care. they also provide guidance to public and private programs and support efforts to help our nation reach its highest standard of health. at hhs the dietary guidelines provide a road map for the nutrition, advice, and services
that we deliver such as chronic disease prevention efforts, food assistance programs, and educational initiatives. hhs and usda are working together to finalize the 2015 dietary guidelines which are expected to be completed in december of this year. without a finished product, i'm unable to comment on the fourth edition at this time. i expect the new guidelines will importance of healthy eating habits and individual food choices. i want to thank you again for your interest in this topic as well as the feedback that we have received. i know many of you have specific questions and concern, and i want to assure you that we are taking your concerns into consideration. and we're working hard to answer your questions as thoroughly as we can as we are in the process of doing the guidelines. i look forward to continuing to work together and look forward to your questions today. thank you. >> thank you, secretary. secretary vilsack?
>> thank you, mr. chairman, and to ranking member peterson and all the members of this committee. i want to thank the chair for the opportunity to be here today, and i want to thank my colleague silvia burwell for the extraordinary work that she and her team have done in concert with the department of agriculture in getting us to this point today. i will tell you that i struggle with the dietary guidelines because i think it's important for people to understand precisely what they are and what they are not. these guidelines are a set of recommendations. based on a series of well informed opinions that create a framework that is designed to encourage and to educate americans about what they can do to increase their chances of preventing chronic diseases. this is not about treating disease. this is about trying to prevent chronic diseases. as a result the guidelines that we formulate are and should be restricted by law to nutritional
and dietary information. the advisory committee report which secretary burwell mentioned is not the guidelines and sometimes there is confusion about that. the report informs our work but certainly does not and should not dictate it. only hhs and usda can and should write the guidelines based on a variety of inputs. this has been an open and transparent process. questions were posed by and to the advisory committee. a number of studies, indeed thousands of studies and tens of thousands of documents were reviewed. those reviews went through a very strict and gold standard process for determining what is the strongest, best, and most available science. multiple public meetings took place. information was posted on the web.
and we indeed received 29,000 comments as a result of the extended comment period of which 8,000 comments are probably considered unique. recognize our process here is probably to determine the best available science and based upon that the preponderance of that we formulate the guidelines. i believe i have the same goal secretary burwell has which is to finish our work on time before the end of the year so that we can use these guidelines as directed by congress. i, too, look forward to your questions and comments and think this is an important opportunity to educate folks about what these guidelines are and what they are not. >> thank you. i got ahead of myself. the chair requests members submit their opening comments for the record and i rudely failed to introduce secretary tom vilsack, secretary of agriculture, and the honorable sylvia burwell, secretary of health and human services. two folks who need no introduction and i didn't introduce you. i apologize for that.
members will be recognized for questions at the start of the hearing. after that, members will be recognized in order of awrrivaa. i appreciate the members understanding and i recognize myself for five minutes. ms. burwell, you said in your comments that the guidelines don't change substantially from one set to the next but yet in '95 to 571 pages for this one. i'm not sure we've gotten ten times better information today than we did at that point in time. as i mentioned in my opening statement, the oversight we're conducting today is on the development of the guidelines out of concern for the integrity of the process and its resulting
recommendations. the federal advisory committee act defines how they operate. the law put special emphasis on open meetings, chartering, public involvement, reporting. according to statute the federal advisory committee among other things require the membership to be fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented and the functions to be performed, contain provisions that they will not be inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority or by special interests but will be the result of advisory committee's independent judgment. despite these safeguards, serious questions have been raised about the overall oversight of the process while it was ongoing. this tended to fuel concerns that members of the commission may have been appointed to achieve certain policy outcomes outside the purview of the committee. i would refer to an op-ed by former deputy secretary who currently is director of the sustainability institute at george washington university. i note that the secretary was serving as usda, deputy secretary, during the time the dgac was chartered and appointed.
the suggestion of including a sustainability and tax issues by the dgac has been a topic of intense discussion for sometime. you both jointly published a blog yesterday. i hope to get some comments from you about tax issues as well. i'd like to likewise -- i'm likewise sure you recognize the inclusion of these issues in the process could have resulted in misguided recommendations which would have ill effects on consumer habits and agriculture production. the counter to potential bias in the process is the public comment period. the 75-day period was the public's first real opportunity the review the 571-page document. in your written statement, secretary burwell, you mentioned usda and hhs staff have already fully reviewed all the comments. you also mentioned that you focused most heavily on those with scientific justification. help us understand then what's going on right now. what have you done with the studies such as those evaluating the low carbohydrate consumption
patterns since the reviews have been taking place? >> i think there were a number of issues raised and i apologize, i could not hear your final question. >> what have you been doing -- we've got the study in. then you've been studying the comments and the report itself. can you talk to us about how you've been evaluating other information like low carbohydrate consumption patterns as a part of that sg'z review? >> with regard to one issue that you touched on earlier that i want to go ahead and address which i think you asked was the tax issue and the question of tax policy. i think like our comments yesterday in the blog that secretary vilsack and i put out about the issue of sustainability, i think while we are not -- because we are not -- we haven't received recommendations from our staff speaking to the specifics of the dietary guidelines, that is a question of scope like the sustainability question and that is not an issue that we would address. so on the tax issue, want to address that. with regard to the process that
we are now going through and how whether it's the carbohydrate issue or any of the specific issues, what's happening is we received the guidelines. we received the report of the committee, our staffs are reviewing that. at the same time we are reviewing all of the public comments that we have received. in addition to that, we are bringing in the experts from all of our departments to make sure that they weigh in as we do the consideration. and for us that includes the food and drug administration, the nih, center for disease control, office of the assistant secretary for health, and any others. so that's the process that we are using now to review what we received and to put together the guidelines. >> the guidelines would be -- could have things in them that weren't necessarily directly reported in the recommendation from the commission -- from the committee? you could have outside your own wisdom, your own thoughts would be reflected in the guidelines as well? >> in terms of the expert advice of our staffs that exist with regard to the question of studies and pieces of work, i
think it is important to reflect what secretary vilsack said which is there has been a systemic literature review with regard to the studies and that's part of keeping integrity to the process. with regard to our experts who are constantly involved in those issues, yes, they will be a part of that process. >> thank you. ranking member? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think you both know that sodium not only provides a benefit in making products shelf stable, it also improves taste and is an important food safety component in cheese. studies have shown there's an inconsistent and insufficient evidence to conclude that lowering sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams per day decreases risk of cardiovascular disease and the dietary guidelines advisory committee agreed. so why has the committee continued to support further sodium reduction, and is this something that you'll be able to address in your guidelines?
>> let me take at that stab at that. first of all, i think it's -- again, we're probably going to respond to a number of these questions that we can't comment on the specifics of what the guidelines will be because we haven't had an opportunity to prepare them and review them. having said that, the advisory committee basically is formulated. they go through a process, as secretary burwell indicated, of reviewing a variety of studies. there no doubt were studies that linked prehypertension, hypertension to sodium consumption. they probably looked at the national academy of medicine, studies in terms of sodium, and they probably concluded there was evidence relating to sodium consumption and these chronic diseases which is why they have recommended what they've recommended. the reality of this situation is that science changes and we learned more information and
that's why it's important to have a process that we have in place to review what the advisory committee recommends then to have public input, to have public comments, to have our own staff review studies based on information they've accumulated during the course of the five-year period since the last dietary guidelines and to refer back to the last set of guidelines which is a foundation for this set of guidelines. so, congressman, i can't comment specifically on why the advisory committee did what they did because they sort of operate independent. we don't inject ourselves into that process. but we do basically take their input into consideration along with many, many other studies, many, many other opinions to try to formulate the best set of guidelines and framework for the country. >> thank you, secretary. i don't know if you both have seen "the washington post" story today, secretary vilsack, i guess you've seen it.
>> i've seen it and i've read -- several people were mentioning. i have read books based on this. this is what has caused my concerns about what they are and are not. >> my concern is we have these guidelines that have pushed people away from eggs and butter and milk and so forth and then they come back and say, well, we were wrong. and so my question is for both of you, what are we going to do to make sure that doesn't happen in the future? first of all, do you agree with this and, second of all, how are we going to keep this from happening? why are we going off on these tangents, you know, if we have a process that's so heavily vetted? >> i would say a couple of things. first, the consistency over time for most issues has been there and it's right to point out with regard to the issue specifically
of dietary cholesterol, there has been a change over time. and i think a couple things to answer your question, first, for the most part, things are consistent over time. second, we need to make sure we use the most scientific evidence we can, and there has been an evolution in change and that does get reflected in what the advisory committee has given us. they no longer will do recommendations based on expert opinion. instead, they will only do recommendations based on the science and that is a change that will occur. i think the other thing that is an important thing to reflect is that in some cases science does change and in the case of our understanding of blood cholesterol versus dietary cholesterol there is an evolution in understanding the difference of those and what they cause and i think we want to be prepared to make sure we review in a rigorous way times it happens. i think there's not one simple answer to the problem that you raised but a number of pieces of how we can work to get to a place where we have the most consistent science-based advice.
>> and let me just simply add congress has directed us to take a look at the preponderance of that available science, which suggests, a term that i'm familiar with in the practice of law -- it suggests there may be studies on both sides of an issue. and one of the challenges of this is to distinguish between one single quality study that is absolutely solid versus a bulk of studies over time that may have a slightly different view. and this is the challenge here. and it's a reflection of the ; evolving. you're never going to have something that just basically is going to be a fact about this because science evolves. we learn more. we understand more and i would hope that we would be flexible enough to appreciate that and to take that into consideration. >> well, i thank both of you for your observations and i think you've made some points but i just want you to understand from my constituents most of them
don't believe this stuff anymore. you have lost your credibility with a lot of people. and they are just flat out ignoring this stuff. and so that's why i say i wonder why we're doing this. from what i'm hearing from my constituents. for what it's worth. >> can i respond to that for just a second? here's the challenge, though. we take these guidelines, we incorporate them in our website, choose my plate. we've had over 290 million hits on choose my plate. it may very well be that there are folks who are concerned about this, but i still think there's merit in it as long as people understand what they are and what they're not. they are not, you know, a hard fast set of rules. they are a guideline, a set of guidelines. a framework. they're not about treating disease. they're about preventing it. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to go back to something that the chairman was asking, and i want to make sure that we are all on the same page here.
so taxes are off the table as far as consideration and the guidelines, is that correct? >> with regard to the question of whether it be a tax recommendation in our dietary guidelines, we do not believe that that is something that is in scope of the work that we're doing. >> secretary vilsack? >> well, that's not within the scope. it's not dietary. it's not nutrition. and it doesn't belong in this context. there are many other ways that conversation should be taken as is the case with sustainability. it doesn't belong here. it belongs elsewhere. and i'm happy to have that conversation with folks, if they're interested. >> sustainability, both of you agree then, sustainability and taxes are off the table as far as these recommendations are concerned? >> both important issues that we believe should have conversations but not in the context of this document. >> thank you. hhs and usda have always stated that they have looked to appoint members to the dgac so it
consists of nationally recognized experts in the fields of nutrition and health. as you know the dgac is subject to the federal advisory committee act, which is widely used throughout the federal government. this act is designed to ensure that the advice of various advisory committees formed over the years is objective and accessible to the public. the act was formalized a process of establishing an opening on operating and terminating these advisory bodies from 2015 once selected and appointed the dgac was composed of academics, including professors, epidemiologists, and even a physician scientist. from prior guidelines, nutritionists and food scientists were not selected to serve on this dgac. understandably questions are
being raised by the fact no food industry scientists were included in the dgac committee. additionally, after the dgac had officially disbanded, the former advisory committee members decided to hold a public event acting in their capacity as dgca members, which they were not according to the act. is it the dgca's responsibility to make recommendations to both of your departments, which is then developed for final recommendations for the public? it is, however, not the responsibility for the dgac to education the general public on a report that still needed to be considered by the hhs before claiming nutritional recommendations were based on dietary guidelines. secretary burwell, what instructions were given the
advisory committee members regarding the advisory committee's disbandment? >> with regard to the specifics of the disbandment, i can get back to you, congressman, with regard to the direction that was given to review the science with regard to the issues that were in front of them with regard to the dietary guidelines and present a report about that. so with regard to the question of disbandment, i don't know what, if any, specific direction was given, but i think the point that you've made, which is this is about an advisory committee producing a document, an independent group of people producing a document, that then is an element in the basis of what our decisions will be on the guidelines in what their role is. >> was the role to then go out and start doing a road show on their recommendation? is that a part of the scope of that committee? >> with regard to what followed -- what we followed at the department and what i know about is once we received the committee's recommendations and
those became public that there was a public comment period. that was the part that we have both been focused on and the 29,000 comments that have come in from the public as well as when we heard from you all that you asked for an extension of the public comment. secretary vilsack and i very quickly agreed that that was something we thought was an important thing to do. that's the part of the process in terms of public input. >> one is -- did they follow the guidelines, and what steps were taken to make sure the committee followed the law and then from an ethical standpoint once you've served as your capacity of that advisory committee and made your recommendations, what is your responsibility in movinc moving forward? and one of the things we don't want is these advisories committees turning this into a profitable situation on their behalf because of their participation on that advisory committee. >> with regard to voluntary, nonpaid, they all have to file financial disclosures on an
annual basis as they go through this process and so those are all things we want to protect against. with regard to the specific question of a press briefing or some kind of briefing, i apologize, not familiar with that, as i said. we have focused on the public comments and the steps and process that we are following. >> gentleman's time has expired. mr. scott for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i'm very concerned that you're not using the most relevant, basic, and the best science related information in formulating these guidelines. you certainly did not use some of the most recent peer reviewed and published nutrition and diet related science. it was not even considered by the advisory committee. and not even included in the evidence-based library to be considered by the advisory committee when they were finalized in the report.
that's a fact. and, mr. vilsack, you said you were using the best information. your quote was we have the best informed opinions, but if you're not using the most recent peer review, that information that is there and your committee has not even agreed to put it into the final report -- so maybe you all can give me some level of confidence that your staffs and you will take into consideration the strong scientific evidence with the final policy document, even though it was not included in the evidence-based library throughout the working group process. >> congressman, can you be specific about which study you're talking about? >> i'm talking about the scientific study that came out that gave evidence that certain things were very important. let me just give you one example. let's look at the whole issue of the involvement of sugar and how
it's not even included. why, for example, that low calorie sweeteners is not being recommended when the study pointed out that low calorie sweeteners could be used to lower weight to be able to help with what is called adiposity and it's not even being used. what's wrong with low calorie sweeteners that can be used and it's not even in the report? >> congressman, let me try to respond to the question as best i can. first of all, when you have a process that is every five years, you're obviously going to have at some point in time a cutoff of what information you consider because theoretically the minute before we publish the guidelines someone could publish
a study and you would be criticizing us for not taking the latest science into consideration, so there has to be a cutoff time in terms of consideration. having said that, over 4,000 studies were reviewed, 300 manuscripts reviewed and went through a gold standard for appropriateness and efficiency of the study. i think it is unfair to the committee and unfair to the process to suggest that we're not looking at the science. we are. number one. number two, as far as sugars are concerned, look. here is the problem. our children, 15% to 17% of what they consume is sugar, so obviously we're looking for ways in which we can reduce that, and i think what they were recommending if you have sugar in your diet, you ought to at least look for the most nutritionally dense foods that you possibly can consume for that sugar. that you don't use empty calories to obtain it.
you could have something like chocolate milk versus a low-cal drink. you would get more nutrition bang for your sugar buck, if you will, out of that process is what they were suggesting. >> but you are familiar with that report, the added sugars working group said that moderate and generally consistent evidence from studies conducted in adults and children supports replacing sugar containing sweeteners with low-calorie sweeteners to reduce calorie intake, body weight, and adiposity. so why would the dgac then recommend that the consumers not? you've used this evidence,
pointed to where it could be helpful but then the committee recommends that the consumers not use low-calorie sweeteners as a tool in the tool box to reduce added sugars. if this report is going to have value for the welfare of the american people and you all say you're using the most relevant, basic information, then this clearly contradicts that. >> i think with regard to -- there are two different things. one is what's in the advisory report and the specifics of that as we said are not something we received in the recommendations. my understanding of what is in the committee report with regard to the question of substitution of the drinks is that not enough evidence exists one way or the other to make a recommendation and that that is where the committee left the issue of the
specific of the substitution. >> thank you very much. i thank y'all for being here. you've both made reference to the fact that you take these comment periods seriously and that you consider these comments 234 your guideline making process. i take you at your word. one particular area of concern for me and producers in my district in the dietary guidelines recommendations is regarding red meat. the current dgac report recommends that americans consume less red meat. will your agencies be reviewing studies submitted during the comment period that address the recommendations for red meat both pro and con, and can you tell me more about that? >> do you want to take the red meat one? >> in terms of the issue of red meat, i think it is fairly clear
that there's a recognition that lean meat is and should be a part of a healthy diet. i think the challenge is to understand that as americans if we look at the obesity epidemic that we're confronting in the country that some of us are consuming more calories than we should. in relationship to the overconsumption of calories and one way to reduce the overall consumption is to eat less of certain things. and within that category would be red meat but that's by no means the only category. so i want to be clear here -- >> i don't understand. i'm sorry, mr. vilsack, why would you include in that category red meat? why wouldn't you say anything that takes you over a caloric level that's unacceptable you shouldn't eat? why would there be a category of things not to eat? >> because of the importance of having balance in terms of what you consume, in terms of what a healthy diet consists of.
again, remember what this is. it's a set of guidelines which is designed to give you the best chance of reducing cardiovascular, cancer, and cardiac diseases. >> wouldn't red meat be part of a list of things you should eat as long as you eat lean? >> it is. it is. that's what i'm saying. >> i'm sorry. i thought you said you put it in a list of things not to eat. >> no. sir, what i said was if you're concerned about overconsumption of food generally, then obviously you're going to suggest that people should eat less of something that they are eating a lot of. that's the key. >> i agree. >> to suggest we're not going to have a guideline, i think it's fair to say regardless of the fact the guidelines aren't fixed yet that lean meat is going to be a part of a healthy diet. there's no question about that. >> the advisory committee's recommendation on this is exactly the same as 2010. so i think the secretary's comments hold. i think the secretary's comments are also reflected. i have fiesta ware.
those are those plates, the chl colorful plates. my mothers used those. the plates that i have for my mother and the one i got for my wedding, they're a different size reflecting the issue that we as a nation -- i just think that's a visible thing that people see. my mom's plates, they're littler. the ones i have from her. the ones i got. and this gets to the issue of the totality that we need to work on. at the same time that we think about the nutritional content. so we've got too much and we have to get the right nutritional content. i think what everybody wants is an opportunity to be able to have guidelines to do that and i think that's what the my plate hits are about and everything is about. being the mother of an 8 and 6-year-old and having worked for the largest grocer in the country, walmart, the time -- average time for a working mom or dad is like to -- 20 minutes. your ability to get in there, get it done, and try and do it in a way that's healthy for your children, you need ease in decision making. this is step one. it's just the guidelines. how it gets translated into
other things are the next steps and i think that's what the secretary's comment about what this is and what this isn't and why we want something that is useful for working families who are just trying to get this right for themselves and their children. >> thank you both. i yield back. >> mr. walsh, five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank both of you for being here for the work you do and secretary burwell, i appreciate that last comment too as a father of a young son and someone -- i supervised the lunchroom for 20 years, and you see that side of years and how the school lunches impact. i think you brought up great points and this is an important hearing. i think articulating what this is and isn't is really important because at the heart of this with so much information americans are going to try to find it from their uncle's e-mail to dr. oz and others, they're looking for the gold standard on what makes a difference.
all we have to do is look at the coast of obesity in the united states estimated at between $150 and $200 billion a year. this is an important subject. we need to help people find the information. they're busy. there's lots of it. and that's why i think the questions that are coming up from colleagues, the integrity of your suggestions as many of us saw and still do believe as the gold standard on how this gets done and valid concerns about the decisions we make here -- and in full disclosure, i have the ninth largest agricultural district in america. we produce lots of pork, milk, turkeys, and all of those things. when we make those decision, they have an economic impact. the concern is valid. it's warranted. i think we have a responsibility to move head long into this, to help the american public get it. so i think for me it's more of a statement on this. we're concerned on process and hearing that. it's important to hear both of you articulate that and important for the american
public to know they can trust these as guidelines for them and they're getting to make decisions for their own family based on them. maybe what i would do is just ask you when you're hearing on the process, do you feel the concerns you're hearing from members on the totality of the evidence and things, are you comfortable if those are included when you make your guidelines? you're hearing members talking of things that aren't included, specifically commodities that aren't in that? are you comfortable? secretary burwell, i'll start with you. >> i think, yes, we are including these comments and whether that's the blog that we issued yesterday, we'd had a number of questions about that sustainability issue or the tax issue that we tried to address here today that we are across the board hearing and listening and i think you can be assured that the questions that you all are asking us are the questions we will be asking our teams as the recommendations come forward and whether that's -- it was mentioned cranberries and the issue of something that's a high
nutrient, has high nutrient value, and the question of how that interrelates with added sugar and we think about those issues. your questions become our questions as part of this process. the comments that came in, as the secretary mentioned, there were a number of repeat -- 8,000 were probably singular. there were 19,000 comments on sustainability. 97% of those comments, we were clear and transparent, were positive and that we should include sustainability as part of the dietary guidelines. and i say that to make the point that we want to hear, we're going to ask the questions, and then based on what the dietary guidelines are on the scientific evidence, that's how we will go about making the decisions. >> i'd only add that the debate we're having here and the debate taking place outside of this room is a reflection of people's interests in where their food
comes from, how it's produced, who is producing it, and who is benefitting from it. and i think that's a healthy debate for us to have in the right context. i think it's a healthy debate in the context of the development of a farm bill. in the context of conservation, in the local and regional food system effort, all of those are avenues and vehicles for having that conversation and we are having that conversation and we should have that conversation. this, however, is about dietary and nutrition and that's what we're going to focus on as we develop these guidelines. >> i appreciate that point of view. i'm not going to miss this opportunity with my last 40 seconds, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, off topic but i'm going to use it, sequestration, i'm going to ask my folks are out there if you could help me. >> 6.8% reduction. across the board regardless when they came into the fsa office or when they -- >> what they're hearing is true, there will be a reduction?
>> yes, unless something happens with sequestration. >> i yield back. thank you. >> mr. gibbs? >> i have to tell you, hearing the ranking members' comments, i agree with about everything you said. why are we doing all of this, if it's really necessary? i make the comment that there's a lot of information out there for consumers. you've got the medical association, the cancer, heart, there's all kinds out there. but i do -- i am encouraged to hear you say that the process to make sure the tax, sustainability issues aren't part of this, because they shouldn't be. i guess my only demand, quote, demand would be use common sense and say moderation that i think people out there can make a lot of decisions on their own. there's a lot of information out there. i think these guidelines should be common sense things that if you have a weight problem, you need to lower your calorie intake. that's my comments.
i won't even bother to ask how much all this process costs, but i can just imagine. secretary vilsack, i want to ask you these guidelines are supposed to be guidelines and how does that affect the school lunch program? we've seen the school lunch program turned on its head and there's been all kinds of reports of certain school districts that want to get out of the program. are these guidelines part of that effect of determining what's happening in the school lunch program? >> the school lunch program is obviously focused on compliance with the healthy free kids act which passed congress in 2010. and in that congress directed us to do a better job in terms of the quality and nutritional value of those meals. more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, more low-fat dairy and less fat, sugar and sodium, and we are complying with that and, in fact it 95% of school districts have been certified as following the standards. surveys of children, surveys of school administrators, surveys
of parents and surveys of the public all indicate strong support for what we're doing, and we're helping school districts that are struggling through a series of programs, team up for success, with succeeding schools and we're finding good success with that program as well. so the dietary guidelines help to inform as they do with some of the other nutrition programs, as they do with the department of defense in developing what they're going to serve our military. these dietary guidelines help to inform the process. >> okay. because i'm just really concerned with what's happening with the school lunch program. i'm hearing issues out there that kids aren't eating. the food is going to waste. i guess when i think back on it, there were kids that i wouldn't eat that i love to eat today. there's different behaviors. >> i'd say a couple things about that. number one, there are several studies, the university of connecticut, harvard public health school that suggests food waste is not as significant as it has been reported and, in fact, is no greater than it was prior to the new guidelines. number two, it is a matter of time.
there is some research to suggest that if kids are given more time to eat, there's less food waste and the timing of the meal in terms of whether it's before or after recess may also impact that. and then, finally, interesting conversation with the president of tufts yesterday. they did away with food trays at tufts and what they have found that has reduced significantly the amount of food waste because kids come in with a tray and they feel they have to fill up the tray as opposed to a plate. they fill up the plate, they get satisfied. they don't go back for seconds. there's less food waste. there's an opportunity for us as a nation to reduce food waste but i don't think it's a reflection or indication of the new school guidelines. >> when usda is working on the school lunch program stuff, is there much discussion about physical activity? i think that's probably maybe more so than what -- especially in kids. >> we have over 6,000 schools that have now been certified under the u.s. healthier school
challenge which is an effort on our part to encourage both calories in and calories out. and we reward and acknowledge school districts that are doing a good job of balancing nutrition and exercise. we also have an interesting relationship with the dairy association and the nfl on their fuel up to play 60 program so there is an emphasis on exercise. >> secretary, a comment about sustainability. all the comments you had. i guess my only comment would be some of that gets a little weighted by certain agendas, by certain organizations. we saw this in the water rules -- the waters of the united states. we saw a lot of comments come in and that was orchestrated. you have to take those agendas out there and i think just so you're aware of that, some of those comments are sometimes subject to criticism.
i yield back. >> gentleman yields back. mrs. fudge, five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i thank you both for being here this morning. on august 24th, they asked for input as to how to inform the public about the 2015 dietary guidelines. i think that's a great idea. because so many americans really do not understand and are confused about the guidelines and the dietary patterns. tell me how you are planning your messaging around the guidelines. and if you have any just straightforward suggestions as to how americans can improve their eating habits. >> well, we take the guidelines and incorporate it into our my plate initiative which is secretary burwell referred to it earlier. it's an opportunity for us to visually give people an idea of what a healthy plate looks like. the choose my plate website is also part of our effort to try to do outreach.
we also have a super tracker program that's basically if you are struggling with weight -- i have got it on my iphone. it basically gives you daily updates and suggestions on how you might be able to control your weight, tips on substituting foods and so forth so that you have a healthier balanced diet. there are a series of ways in which we incorporate the information from the guidelines in our educational materials which we then disseminate through a variety of mechanisms, social media and legacy media. >> thank you. how many american households do you believe are at risk for food insecurity? and how can the 2015 dga address the critical needs of our most vulnerable populations? >> well, i can tell you, our focus has been obviously on children. there are 15.8 million children who live in food insecure homes. that number is down, which is good news. we obviously still have work do. there are a variety of ways in which we can provide help and assistance.
some of the obvious ways are the snap program and expansion of summer feeding. weekend feeding programs during the school year. there's an opportunity for us to also work with daycare facilities and childcare facilities to ensure youngsters in the facilities get decent snacks. we mentioned the school lunch program. unfortunately, a lot of kids today get half or at least a third in some cases half and in some cases all of the calories they consume in school. to the extent we can do a good job of not only providing school meals, school breakfast but school lunch, after school snacks through our snack program, those are all a variety of ways to provide help. we're trying to find creative ways for families to extend their snap dollar by giving them tips on how they might be able to use fruits and vegetables effectively in recipes.
we are making access to farmers markets more available. over 6,200 farmers markets today. that's an increase in the number now have the ept card to allow snap beneficiaries to access farmers markets. >> which by the way works very effectively. i have it in my district. i thank you for that. lastly, tell me how important it is to maintain the five-year cycle for the dietary guidelines so that americans really do get the benefit of the current science for diet and health. >> i think we think that the five-year review is a very important part of doing many of the things that we're being asked to do, which is make sure that we have the most up to date science and make sure that we're listening to the public. because it's a formalized process that we do hear from the public. and there are those opportunities. i think while it's in statute -- that's why a big part of why we do it. i think we would agree that it is important to have points in time where you do the work and settle and do the analysis and the listening. so i think we think that updating it on a regular basis on a five-year cycle is important. >> i agree. >> thank you very much. mr. chairman, i yield back.
>> gentle lady yields back. mr. scott, five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. madam secretary, mr. secretary, thank you for being here. i think as we talk about the reports, the credibility of the report is arguably the most important thing. it doesn't matter how much time and money went into it if we have a credibility gap, we have a problem. there are certainly some questions about the fact that miss miland was from the private sector. i have read her resume. 30 years at one of the major institutions. certainly qualified in every way, shape and form from her academic career to be there. but there are questions about the fact that she's now a member of the private sector chairing the committee. historically, we have not allowed industry representatives on the panel.
and i recognize that she doesn't represent, for example, the cattle industry or the corn industry because we would believe that there would be the assumption whether true or not that there would be bias in the opinions of people who represented a certain industry on the panel. when we see issues like -- when i see issues like tax on soda and other things being recommended, it seems to me that ideology is taking precedent over science. and that creates a tremendous credibility gap, as well. and i would just -- you know, as we go forward, how are we going to -- how do we make sure that we don't have that credibility gap in the report? because the cdc and the others do use this information to send out recommendations to the american public.
if the nutrition evidence library is not being used, how do we guarantee the credibility of the report? >> do you want to speak to the nutrition library? >> yeah. >> with regard to -- i think the credibility is a very important element of the trust of what we have in front of us. and i think that's why we are having the conversation in the places where we can provide clarity, we do. as well as providing clarity -- that's a little bit of some of our follow-up questions about, there is a scientific approach to what documents are included, how they are included. that's the standard of scientific research, the gold standard is used. i have checked even with our economists. had them come in and look at it. >> can i ask a question there? if the standard is scientific research, how do recommendations for tax on sodas get into the report? >> i think it's important to reflect that i think in the advisory committee's report there wasn't a recommendation. it was an articulation that some
use policy. i don't think there were recommendations. they did not make recommendations. but i think with regard to the issue that's been raised, i think when we get to the dietary guidelines, how we take what we are given, that is one input and use it will be an important part of establishing a process that i think people believe in. >> i'm down to a minute. i would like to hear what secretary vilsack has to say. i would suggest that when you see those things in the report and whether it's a jump to )e8vú conclusion or not, there's a belief then that the people on the committee entered with a bias in some way, shape or form and were searching for the science to back up what they already believed to be true instead of using the best available science, whether it's true or not, we can debate. but there is that -- there's a credibility gap from those things working their way into the report. >> congressman, i would like just simply to again emphasi