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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  December 9, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm EST

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statement, you think they have enough resources. we're trying to increase funding there. could you talk about that. >> our state and local partners are strapped across the country, coming out of the painful cuts they've endured over the last eight years. so they are still contributing their stars to our task forces. but i know what it costs them, because they're short handed across the country. i've traveled to our field offices, i've been to them all once, now i'm halfway through going to them a second time. i hear this over and over again, they're asked to do more and more with less. they're trying to do better community policing. that's very hard when officers are covering twice the territory they used to cover. they don't have time to get out of their cars and meet people. so it is a constant theme i hear from our partners. >> thank you. and i wanted to add, a lot of my colleagues have asked you about encryption. and i know you were here before and talked about efforts to try
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to work with the phone companies. i thought your testimony was very interesting today when you talked about the fact that some of us suspect it may not really be a technological issue as much as it is a business model issue. so if that is all the case, what has been done to improve it since that time? has there really been changes, except for discussions with the phone companies? you said in answer to one of the questions that a good chunk of it could be resolved. how would we resolve that? is it just simply the international norms you talked about, where you would have agreement between countries to where our court orders, their court orders could be followed? i'm trying to get to a solution here. i keep waiting for the next ticking time bomb where our law enforcement isn't able to access this. as you know, it's not just terrorism investigations. cy vance is making this a
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crusade. i remember as a prosecutor, sitting in on wiretaps, the old days when people were using land lines or less sophisticated cellphones, and it was a major part of our investigations. >> i think a big part of the problem can be solved if folks who are currently producing and selling devices that can't be unlocked by judges' orders or communications that can't be intercepted by judges' orders were to change their business model in this respect. not to give us a key. i don't want a key. i don't want to tell them how to do their business. but figure out how they can change their business model so they can comply with judges' orders. the folks making the phones today, they were doing that a year ago and nobody said their devices were unsecure so we ought not to buy them. and so i'm hopeful, i'm an optimist, i hope people now that they consider how big the threat is, will consider those changes. it's not going to solve the
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entire problem. i agree very much that you don't want to just chase the problem overshore. there does have to be an international component to this. it's actually not a technical problem. we've chosen to operate our business this way, for good reasons. but we should stop saying you're going to break the internet if we do this. you should figure out, if a judge says there's something in your house the nation needs to be safe, you figure out how to come out of the house. use a window, use a door, use a slot, whatever keeps your house day. we should get to a place where when a judge says this is necessary, you're able to comply. >> you're talking about court orders and you're talking about an international normal, given that the world has united against isil and this kind of other terrorist evil, so some way that we can find international agreement on when this information is given to pursue these very important
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investigations. >> yes. i think reasonable people have said that should be a part of it. i think they're right. >> great. thank you very much. >> mr. director, we're really happy to have you here today. i want to personally express my gratitude for the work you're doing, the work you have done in the past, and for the good way you approach law enforcement in this country. you're doing a great job. last week's tragedy in san bernardino was the worst terrorist attack on american soil since 9/11. the shooters claimed allegiance to isis. isis has called them its followers. i think it's important to call this attack what it is. do you agree with me that this was an act of terrorism? >> yes. >> do you agree that it appears this terrorist attack was at least inspired by isis? >> we're still sorting that out, senator. it was definitely claimed by the killers at or about the time of the killing that they were doing
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this isil then has embraced them as followers. >> it's pretty hard not to say isis had something to do with it. >> isil inspiration may well have been part of this. but these two killers were starting to radicalized towards mart mart mart martyrdom and jihad as early as 2013, really before isil became the global jihad leader that it is. >> the attorney general stated her, quote, greatest fear, unquote, was the possibility that it could lead to "anne of green gables" at this-musl this-miscellaneothis -- could lead to an anti-muslim rhetoric. my greatest fear is more attacks and more dead americans. if we were to put it this way, what would be your greatest fear after last week's terrorist attack? >> my fear, which is not new,
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it's been a feature of my work since i started this job, is what don't we know, what can't we see. in that is the particular challenge of those radicalizing online, consuming propaganda, and trying to stay beneath our radar. this confirms to us what we've said all along. the reason we've had cases in all 50 states is a very real concern that people are radicalizing in a way that's hard to see. that inability to see is my biggest worry. >> i share that. let me just say this. i would like to follow up on senator lee's line of questions regarding the so-called dark problem. i have two questions. first, with respect to control of encrypted data, u.s. tech companies do not want to be the middle man between law enforcement and technology customers. how do you reconcile this concern with the needs of law enforcement, and have you considered alternatives that would meet the needs of law enforcement but not put the united states tech companies in
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the awkward position of middleman? >> i'm not sure i know exactly what they mean by middleman. i don't want anybody to be the middleman for law enforcement. but everybody in the united states has, i believe, an obligation to endeavor to comply with judicial orders in criminal investigations. you're you're a bank, you run a sandwich shop, you run a technology company. i don't want anybody to be a middleman but i want everybody to comply with judges' orders. >> u.s. tech companies are the no the only businesses that offer encryption to customers. other countries offer it as well. if we require u.s. tech companies to provide decryption keys, won't users simply look to technologies from other non-u.s. companies to conduct their activities? how do you respond to that concern? >> that's a serious concern. first of all, i don't want
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anyone to supply encryption keys. but if we went to a place where american companies were required to figure out a way to comply with judicial orders, they do make a serious argument that that would chase our business overseas. i'm not in a position to evaluate that argument. a little part of me is skeptical that people would stop buying the great phones we make in this country because a judge might order access to it. but i'm not really an expert on that. so i do think a part of this has been on international compact of some sort. none of us want to hurt american business. at the same time, there are costs to being an american business, right? you can't pollute. you can't employ children. there are certain things we've decided as a country we want to govern ourselves this way. so in a way i think we have to figure out what's right for america first and then try to figure out how to reduce the harm that might come competitively. >> i would like to return to the issue of rampant dna.
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i introduced bipartisan investigation with senators feinstein, lee, and jigillibran. they're fully automated instruments that can be placed in booking stations and develop a dna profile from a cheek swab and compare the results against existing profiles in less than two hours. now, my bill, the rapid dna act of 2015, would allow law enforcement officials using fbi-approved rapid dna instruments to upload profiles generated by such devices to the fbi's combined dna index system and perform database comparisons. director comey, you've spoken in the past about rapid dna and how this technology will help law enforcement. do you believe that rapid dna technology is important? how will it impact law enforcement? and do you believe congress
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should pass legislation authorizing its use within standards and guidelines promulgated by your agency? >> that authority that's in your bill would help us change the world in a very, very exciting way that allow us in booking stations around the country, if someone's arrested, to know instantly or near instantly whether that person is the rapist that's been on the loose in that community before they get away, or to clear somebody that they're not the person. it's very exciting. we're very grateful that we're going to have the statutory authorization if that passes to connect that dna technology to the national dna database. >> thank you. my bill will not affect when or under what circumstances law enforcement collects dna samples. these decisions would be governed by state or other federal law. what it will do is affect where samples are processed and how
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quickly they're processed. now, mr. director, what would you say to individuals who may be concerned that rapid dna technology would raise privacy concerns and what would you say to individuals who may be concerned that this technology could affect the integrity of fbi's combined dna index system or cotus? my bill would comply with fbi standards and procedures. >> you said it well, senator. folks need to understand, this isn't about collecting dna from more people. it's about the dna that's collected when someone is arrested, being able to be analyzed much more quickly, that can show us in some cases this is the wrong person or can show us in some cases this is someone we have to be very worried about. that is good for our justice system as a whole. you're exactly right, the national database, the cotus database is the gold standard. this legislation does not water down the standards that are
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applied before a dna result can be pressed against that database. we're still going to have high standards. we're still going to require that this is the gold standard for identification in the united states. >> thank you, sir. senator franken is next. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director comey, first i would like to thank you for appearing today. it's good to see you again. and you do a great job. i think all the members of this committee greagree. before i ask my questions, i want to extend my thanks to you, the bureau, your ages, for assisting in the civil rights investigation surrounding the death of jamar clark in minneapolis. i supported the decision of mayor hodges and police chief hartow to call for an independent investigation. in my view, a full, thorough, and transparent accounting of
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the facts is necessary to get to the bottom of what happened in that tragic event and to restore trust between the north side community and the police and law enforcement. so i want to commend the fbi agents involved for their professionalism and for their commitment to seeking justice. i wanted to just -- a lot of things have been discussed in this committee, including the going dark, the encryption issue. i just want to make sure that i have clarity on this, and maybe help other people clarify it for them. basically, tell me if i heard you right, that a terrorist in the united states could -- that
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there is a sort of distinction between -- there are two distinct but related concerns law enforcement has about encryption. the concern that information sought by law enforcement is on an encrypted device, we're talking about the phone, and the concern that the information might exist within an encrypted app on that phone. and so some of these apps are available freely online, and add an extra layer of encryption. can you speak to the bureau's concerns related to these issues? you're basically saying that there's sort of two layers, and if you get rid of the first layer, you'll have more -- i mean, you'll obviously be -- it
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will be a great deal more people that won't be caught up or that won't have that encryption? is that what you're saying? >> i think encryption has always been available, always been available to the sophisticated user, always, for decades. what changed over the last two years is encryption went from available to being the default. and so now, with some of the leading phones in the united states, that phone is encrypted by default. so if we recover it at a crime scene, with a judge's search warrant order, we can't open it. >> and i know you're not asking for a key, you're asking for the company to be able to follow the judge's order. >> which two years ago they could do it and did it routinely. i think their devices were still considered pretty secure. but you're exactly right. there may still be within that device, especially for sophisticated users, other encryption tools that are on particular apps or there's
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actually something -- too complicated. >> can we get some data on this? the last time this committee looked at this, we had deputy attorney general yates, and i asked her for more information on the scope of law enforcement's concern. because i know a lot of this is about just normal crime and not about terrorism. and i think what you're suggesting is that a terrorist might be able to get that app, and that's why -- that foreign app, and that's why we need an international agreement on this, right? >> yes. exactly right. this is mostly a local law enforcement issue. but we are gathering the data that you asked for. and i'll have to get back to you on exactly what we're going to get it to you. >> and i know you've mentioned it. i want to make sure i'm clear on something else from this testimony. i'm just sort of reviewing the whole day for myself. i understand if someone on a terrorist watch list tries to buy a gun through a licensed
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dealer, the fbi is alerted. >> correct. >> and it can delay the sale for three days? >> under the law we're allowed up to three case. >> 0 so -- okay. but ultimately, do you have legal authority to deny the sale? >> not unless there's another prohibiter under the law, a felon or mental defective. >> at least you have that three days. >> yes. >> if someone on a terrorist watch list -- this is someone on a terrorist watch list, in three days, if there's no other indicator, they can get their gun. that to me is a problem. now, if someone on a terrorist watch list tries to buy a begun online or at a gun show, no one is legally required to notify the fbi? >> i believe that's correct, yes. >> okay. so i have that correct. so to fix this, if we're talking
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about keeping guns out of the hands of people, of terrorists, and presumably people on the no-watch list are there for a reason, or maybe there's a false positive, but it seemed to me that we would have to be doing both. if we're really interested in keeping the guns from terrorists, we would have to enforce both, say you can't sell a gun to someone, there has to be three days or some kind of look at that person, and also, the gun -- the gun sale, the sale at a gun show, the gun show loophole would have to be solved
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t too? i mean, in other words, if we're worried about guns falling in the hands of people on terrorist watch lists, we also have to close up the gun show loophole as well as cleaning up this loophole, which is the terrorist watch loophole. i mean, in other words, this is a reason to do both. let me put it this way. you don't have to answer. this is the reason to do both. okay. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director, we're lucky to have you. thank you for the sacrifice you make in doing what you do. i'm glad you're on the wall. i would like to go back and clear up, just to make sure you understood the testimony as well. i applaud the fbi for being the first to call this an act of terrorism. >> thank you. >> not that i want it to be an act of terrorism, of course.
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but you guys looked at the facts and said the american public needs to know the facts. thank you. i haven't heard it connected directly to isis. i know in this environment you may not be able to talk about that, and if so that's fine. do we know that this was directly connected to isis influence in the u.s.? >> there was some indication that they were at least in part inspired by isil, so yes. we're trying to sort out what other contributions might there have been to their motivation. we may never fully sort it out, because human motivation is hard. but at least in part we see an isil inspiration. >> you may not want to comment on this either, and i apologize for asking this direct question, but for the american people, in the past, the fbi has been a stalwart in helping to protect the american people over time. in the past, on your watch, are you aware of planned attempts to have actually been preempted by the fbi that we may never know
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about? >> yes, many. >> okay. thank you. and speaking to the increase in the latest spate of isis attacks, is their planning getting better, are their tactics getting better? i know the malik and farook team bought their weapons through a neighbor. my question is, is there a network issue here, are the networks growing in the u.s.? >> we're looking at -- obviously in san bernardino to see was there anybody else involved in assisting them. and so separate from san bernardino, we have not seen this, we have not seen isil cells or networks in the united states. so far as we can tell, they have not succeeded in penetrating our borders with their operatives. that's an aspiration of theirs, we have to worry about it all day, every day. but what they're doing is motivating small groups of people to commit murder on their
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behalf. that's the crowdsourcing that we're dealing with. >> do we actually have cases where through the resettlement, 2200 or so people who have come in so far, we're trying to bring another 10,000 in the first phase of this, have we actually had cases where we identified isis adherence in that first group? >> not to my knowledge. >> are you aware that canada is increasing their syrian refugee acceptance rate from less than 5,000 to over 25,000, the latest number i saw before, and the border we have with canada, we don't talk about that border much, is the fbi paying attention to that relative to what we need to do? to me that vetting in canada is just as important as our own investigate here with our k-1 and our visa waiver program. >> and they get that. the head of the rcmp is a friend and colleague of mine. he called me to tell me their government had made that decision and to explain and to
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encourage us to work together to vet those people. >> and what changes would you like to see in the k-walk? with malik, was she actually given an interview in the k-walk process? do we know that? >> i don't know well enough to say at this point. i know the process requires it. we're still trying to fully understand exactly all of her contacts. >> are there changes you would like to see, the fbi would like to see in the k-wa1 program or e visa waiver program? >> i don't know enough to say as a result of this case. >> the last thing, very quickly, in the trans-pacific partnership, there is language in there that would prevent national laws being implemented in countries that would require manufacturers to provide access to products, encryption technologies. some critics think that would limit our own ability to provide legislation that would give you a solution to the potential
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go-dark solution. does the fbi have a point of view on that yet? >> we don't. >> okay. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, director. >> senator blumenthal, then senator koonz. if you can stand me for seven more minutes, i have a second round of questions. >> thanks, mr. chairman. and thank you, director comey, for your excellent work and your great service to our country. thank you to your family. and most of the especially to your wife, patrice, who has done so much for the children of connecticut, and now for others around our country. i've just come from -- >> from iowa, too. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for that correction. i've just come from a hearing at the armed services committee, where secretary carter was testifying. and i want to first make the point that we often thank our
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men and women in uniform, which i do readily and repeatedly, and i do again now, but i also want to thank the very brave men and women who work under your command and enforce our laws and keep us safe, as well as law enforcement men and women around the country, police at every level, and are in a sense also at war. in fact secretary carter said, and i'm quoting, talking about isil, "the reality is we are at war. that's how our troops feel about it, because they're taking the fight to isil every day, applying the might of the finest fighting force the world has ever known." do you feel that we are at war also within our borders against forces of terror that are linked
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to those forces abroad, that our men and women in uniform are fighting? >> very much, senator. and our people feel that passionately. our people are tired. we are working very, very hard. they're working very, very hard. but what motivates them is, these people want to kill our people. we are at war with these people. so stopping them is what -- is the reason we do this work. >> and the president well-identified this new phase that perhaps is an old phase in larger scale, the phase of isil and isis reaching outside the theaters were they have fought so far, reaching into this country. you've referred to crowdsourcing as the san bernardino experience, and outsourcing that threat to new recruits, to home-grown radicals, may be part
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of the threat here. but you would agree that we face a war every bit as dire and dangerous here at home as we do abroad? >> yes. the threat obviously and the density of these savages is less here in the united states. but the nature of it is very similar. >> and i know that you've responded about the importance of cooperation in terms of information and other kinds of assistance that is provided by members of the muslim community. just as cooperation and support is essential from nations that have a majority of muslims abroad in our fight against isis and isil, they are our natural allies and friends and partners in this fight against extremist terrorism and violence abroad. and i want to ask you about some
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of the statements that are made about closing borders and about religious tests at our borders, other kinds of tests that in my view are unconstitutional, but also strike me as unwise because we need that cooperation. are the statements themselves potentially inhibiting that kind of cooperation and support and help that we need? >> thank you, senator. i don't want to comment on anybody's statements. but i can make i think the point that you're interested in. isil is trying to recruit in muslim communities. they're trying to motivate people who may be of the muslim faith who are unmoored in some way to become part of their poisonous endeavor. the people who so often tell us about people like that are other muslims who help us. so we've worked so hard over the
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last 15 years to build relationships of trust that allow us to find out who might be trouble and to stop it. that's in everybody's interest. and anything that gets in the way, that erodes that relationship of trust, is not a good thing. >> and muslims who live in our nation are fellow americans, many of them, equally interested in preventing threats and violence as anyone of any religion. >> our experience, what's wonderful about this country is we're incredibly diverse. they're part of that diverse polyglot. they helove this country, that' why they help us when there is a killer in their midst. as i said in the beginning, we're all in this together. we need each other. >> i applaud your very clear and emphatic, unequivical statement about that point. i want to shift to another terrorist act, at least one that strikes terror, not of the same
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motivation, but involving the apparent racist motivated violence in charleston. the fbi background system known as n.i.x. was applied in the case of dylann roof's purchase, but only too late to prevent him from buying the gun, the 72-hour loophole that i have tried to close enabled him to walk away with a gun he sought to purchase, thanks to that loophole, after the 72-hour period, since the background check was not completed, but would have precluded him from buying a gun, he was enabled to
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have that firearm. gun retailers have sold 15,729 guns in the last five years to individuals who were not legally allowed to purchase them. and about five months ago, i think you commissioned a study that was to last 30 days, to examine how dylann roof was able to buy that gun. i think that report would help us in congress to understand what went wrong and how to fix it, and most especially, if the 72-hour loophole enabled him to buy that gun, as appears to be from the facts that we've been told so far. the report would be very helpful. so my question is, can you update us as to the status of that report? >> certainly, senator. and we would be happy to get you a detailed briefing on it, because the work was done, as i asked, in 30 days. it did two things.
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it confirmed the facts as we understood them close to the murders in charleston, that there was a mistake made by our processing clerks that was compounded by a mistake in the records of the south carolina jurisdiction where the prohibiter came from. that confirmed what we knew. what it most importantly told us is how can we get better. the law is what the law is. we have three days to process these thousands and thousands and thousands of them. so we're working on a number of things to get better. one, to improve the records by our state and locals, to improve our technology, and our resources. the number of gun purchases continues to climb. it's climbed dramatically in the last week. we have to make sure we have enough folks, if all we have is three days, to do that. those are the three buckets, better records, better technical, and more importantly, more human beings on the phones to process them more quickly. >> so resources are really important, resources in technology, resources in people,
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and resources in records that you depend on because many of them come from state and local authorities as well. >> correct. >> my time has expired. this whole area is tremendously important. i want to thank you for being here today and just to clarify, racial and religious supremacists often use terrorist-type tactics, even though we would not call them terrorists today. but i appreciate the attention you're giving to the potentially white supremacist motivated acts of violence in that church in charleston. thank you. >> thank you, chairman grassley, and thank you for your service, director comey. i was pleased to see in your testimony before the committee a focus on the violence reduction network, a department of justice initiative that is truly helping a group of now ten smaller
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cities like my hometown of wilmington, delaware, that have seen a dramatic rise in violent crime and homicides. we are sadly on track for a record year in shootings and homicides. i'm grateful for your and the fbi's focus on providing technical resources to help state and local law enforcement deal with this rise in violent crime in a few cities and to learn from the policing examples of other communities and federal agencies that have real knowledge about how to better deploy investigatory resources. so tell me, if you would, how we can better support valuable programs like the vrn, and how in your view it's been most effective in connecting fbi resources to cities like wilmingt wilmington, delaware. >> i'll start with the effectiveness point first. i think what makes it special is, we bring together in a place
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like wilmington everybody who cares about this issue or might have a specialty that's useful. what we can bring to bear is our understanding of technology and our analytic resources, so we help a local jurisdiction understand what is the pattern, what is the trend, and what are the pieces of information that we can lawfully gather that would be useful in focusing on, because it's almost always small groups of predators, finding them and ripping them out of the community. it's not rocket science. but it often brings rocket scientists to the fight in a really important way. i think the way you can support it is, as you just did, talking about its value and making sure that appropriators and others understand that when the department talks about about this, it's making a difference. >> thank you. i am an appropriator on the relevant subcommittee and have advocated for it with the hea d of omb and the attorney general. i would be grateful for any other advice from you on how to
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sustain it, make it more effective. certainly the work to reduce violent crime is far from over in my hometown and other cities around the country. hopefully we'll sustain this program until we see some significant reduction in violent crime. i would like to mention another issue, if i could, about cyber security. the senate recently passed the cybersecurity sharing information act, which permits dhs to scrub personally identifying information it receives from private entities, but only after it secures the approval of a number of agency heads, including yourself in your role as director of the fbi. have you had communications with other agencies yet about how this process will work? are you committed to ensuring that dhs could conduct a robust scrubbing of personally identifying information? >> i have not had any conversations about that. but the second part is easy. we'll do everything possible to make sure it works, and works the way congress designed it. >> thank you. i urge you to engage in those conversations. i think this process is going to
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move relatively quickly, or so i hope. in october, president obama secured from president xi of china a striking landmark admission that china had been engaged in economic espionage, cyber attacks, something you've testified about here before, and a commitment that those attacks would end. yet press reports suggest that literally a day after president xi's visit, chinese cyberattacks resumed. has a fbi detected any change in chinese cyber espionage behavior following president xi's promise? and how do you think we should address this challenge? >> it's too early to say. we're watching it very, very carefully. given the long-tail nature of chinese cyber espionage and theft, i'm not sure that i would expect a change even if one was going to happen that would be
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visible yet. so we're watching this space very carefully. we've had good conversations with our chinese counterparts. i've told them -- i don't mean to be rude, but the fbi director is paid to be skeptical, i'm deeply skeptical. and so we will have to watch and see what the facts show us. but i can't say yet. >> i think it's deeply disturbing and hostile behavior that we need to continue to be engaged. i've heard from far too many american companies that they've lost vital both economic secrets and from some federal agencies that they've lost vital national security secrets. and i appreciate your hard work on this. last, i'm the ranking member of the oversight subcommittee, and last month we held a hearing at which dekalb county's police chief who is himself a 30-year law enforcement veteran testified that the notion that there is a so-called ferguson effect is of no real significance. i was struck at that hearing, which chairman cruz called under the title "a war on police,"
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that hearing actually produced no evidence that there is any meaningful, organized war on police. and as the co-chair of the senate law enforcement caucus, i know that law enforcement faces real challenges, nationally, every day. but i see little evidence to suggest that these issues stem from the calls of some in the civil rights community for greater accountability. in fact my experience at the local level was that police officers are some of the greatest advocates for account the because it makes them more effective police officers. is it your view that the protection of american civil rights is inconsistent with policing and officer safety or is it fundamentally in harmony? >> they're fundamentally in harmony. scrutiny is good for everybody. >> thank you. it's my view that in a democracy, the enormous power we give to law enforcement and the very high expectations we have for them are only strengthened by accountability that then
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produces community engagement, community support. the agency i was fortunate enough to be closely associated with for a decade really was an early national leader in community policing and did i think an outstanding job as winning the trust of our community and thus being effective at policing. i think there's a lot of work to go in terms of accountability and engagement and protecting civil rights. i appreciate your response on all four of the questions i've asked today and i'm grateful for your service. thank you, director. >> thank you, senator. >> i've got three questions i would like to ask, and then i assume everybody's asked questions once, that nobody will come back. i want to start by underlining what senator cornyn said about the clinton e-mail investigation. almost a thousand e-mails contained classified information, were stored in the non-government server system.
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a former i.t. specialist has avoided this committee's questions. there might come a time when the committee refers the matter to the department of justice for prosecution of some of the individuals involved. as you know, no matter what the fbi finds, the political appointee at the justice department will ultimately make the decision whether or not to prosecute. that's why some have called for a special counsel to be appointed for an independent decision. my question is, if the fbi refers to the matter to the justice department, but the justice department refuses to prosecute, the public will not learn the facts that the fbi independent inquiry established. would there be a process but
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which you would inform the public of what the fbi learned and what you will do if the decision not to prosecute appears to be improperly influenced by political considerations? >> mr. chairman, i'm not comfortable answering a question about what might happen in that particular matter. i think it's important that i make sure i'm -- i'm making sure it has the right resources, the right people, and it's done in an expeditious, fair, and competent way. i don't want to speculating and down that road, if i could. >> could i remind you that in the anthrax case, after the person that was suspected committed suicide, that the fbi did make that investigation public? so wouldn't there be a precedent for you making your investigation public? >> there's a variety of precedents for an investigation, describing some or all of it to the public. i just don't want to speculate on this particular
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investigation. >> okay. state department officials, along the same line, state department officials have informed my staff that the fbi has seized or taken possession of the state department computer used by the witness who was asserting the fifth amendment to this committee. there has also been a public report that the fbi has taken possession of state department e-mail servers. is that correct? has the fbi seized or taken possession of these state department computers? >> i can't comment on that, given that it's an ongoing matter. >> i'm not really asking you -- i'm just asking you, do you have these tools available. >> if i were to answer, i would be answering about what evidence we've gathered in an investigation. >> okay. >> i can assure you --
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>> you don't need to go any further. i trust you. the american people rely upon you to investigate potential criminal conduct, and in the course of that conduct, politics cannot interfere with your responsibilities. in a "60 minutes" interview, president obama declared in a question about secretary clinton's use of a private server, quote, i can tell you this is not a situation in which america's national security was endangered, end of quote. how can you assure the american people that you will not let the white house influence the fbi's inquiry? >> i hope the american people know the fbi well enough, and the nature and character of this organization, as i've said many times, we don't give a rip about politics. anybody's view about an investigation they're not involved in is irrelevant. we care about trying to find out what is true in an honest and
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independent way. i promise you, that's the way we conduct ourselves. >> okay. now i would like to discuss whistle blowers and the second of at least three questions i would like to ask you. in your confirmation hearing, you expressed strong support for whistle blowers and the need for them to feel free to raise their concerns up the chain of command. fbi policy encourages employees to report wrongdoing to their supervisors. first question, do you support legal protections for fbi employees who follow fbi's own policies and report wrongdoing to their supervisors? if not, why not? >> i do, very much. >> okay. under current law, fbi agents have no legal protection for reporting wrongdoing to their supervisors. do you see any justification for not fixing that problem? >> i think it's very, very important that we create the safe zones that all of our
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people need to raise concerns that they might have. and so that is the way i not only talk, that's the way i walk at the fbi. and i know that we're having conversations about are there additional protections we can offer. i think there might be sensible ways to do that. i have some small concerns. i want to make sure that we don't create a system where, to get too deep in the weeds here, an fbi agent or fbi employee can report not just fraud, waste, and abuse, but can get wh whistleblowing protection for bad management. that's a huge range of things. but i'm open to try and improve the way we approach it. as i've said, i have tried to really walk this talk by the people i've met with, the way i've given out awards in the fbi. i will continue to try and work with you to try and improve that. >> you've spoken repeatedly
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about isis's sophisticated use of the internet to lure americans to syria and to inspire tactics in the united states. this is very concerning, and i know you speak from your heart on that. other than addressing the problem by encryption, are there any other tools that would help the fbi identify and monitor terrorists online? more specifically, can you explain the electronics communications are and how congress accidentally limited the fbi's ability to obtain them or the drafting error, would fixing this problem be helpful for your counterterrorism investigations? >> it would be enormously helpful. there is essentially a typo in
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the law that was passed a number of years ago that requires us to get records, ordinary transaction records that we could get in most contexts with a non-court order, because it doesn't involve content of any kind, to get those records. nobody i know of thinks that that's necessary. it would save us a tremendous number of work hours if we can fix that, without any compromise to anyone's civil liberties or civil rights. anybody who's stared at this says that's a mistake and we should fix that. >> this will be my last question. you heard my concerns about non-citizens who are not legally permanent residents buying and possessing guns in this country. if you were the me to ask this, i'm not going to ask this other question. let me go to this question. in regard to your last response,
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you said you tried to walk the talk on this. why hasn't the fbi imposed discipline in any of some cases that i've been investigating, what message does it send to fbi employees and the fbi fails to hold retaliators accountable for the question? that will be my last question. >> there's a good question and hard question. i believe we do try hard to hold retaliators accountable. now, often, if people know we're coming for them, they'll retire on us and leave government service, which is a challenge for us. but it is not just that enforcement that matters. it's how do we act, how do we conduct ourselves. and i don't want to brag on myself, but i will for a second. we have annual directors awards. and at the end of the directors
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awards this year, i gave an award to recognize somebody for blowing the whistle on misconduct. i want back to the podium and says, this matters, the reason i'm saving this one for last is, this matters. when an organization dedicated to finding the truth in american life, we have to make sure we're open to seeing the truth about ourselves. so, look, we're not perfect and i think we can benefit from working with you to get better but i believe we have sent the message this matters. >> listen, you've been here a long time. i thank you for the time you've given us. maybe some members will submit questions for answer in writing. i may even do that myself. i hope you'll respond appropriately and as quickly as you can. thank you very much for your service. >> thank you, senator. >> we're done.
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more live coverage coming up at 1:00 p.m. eastern time here on c-span 3. u.s. citizenship and immigration services director leon rodriguez testifying before the house judiciary subcommittee on immigration and border security. again, that coming up shortly here on c-span 3. while we wait for that hearing to get under way, defense secretary ashton carter who
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testified this morning before the senate armed services committee about combatting isis. we kick it off with secretary carter's opening statement. >> the attacks in paris and san bernardino were an assault upon the civilization that we defend. isil requires and it will receive a lasting defeat. the president has directed us to intensify and adapt the military campaign -- i'm sorry, had directed us to intensify the military campaign before the paris attacks. and the necessity of accelerating our efforts, as we're doing, has only been made more plain by the recent attacks. we are urging others in the region and around the world to do the same because those attacks further highlighted the stakes that not just the united states but the world has in this fight. the defense of the homeland must be strengthened to be sure. but it is absolutely necessary
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to defeat isil in its parent tumor in sere your and iraq and also to take necessary action wherever else in the world this evil organization metastasizes. achieving these objectives meaning leveraging all the components of our nation's might as the chairman noted. diplomatic, military and law enforcement, homeland security, intelligence, economic, informational. that's the right overall approach for three principal reasons -- first, the strategy takes the fight to the enemy where they are which we u.s. where do. second, it seems to develop capable, motivated, local ground forces as the only force that can assure a lasting victory. u.s. and international coalition forces can and will do more to enable them but we can not substitute for them.
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and, third, it seems to set the conditions for the political solution to a civil war in syria and for inclusive governance in iraq both of which are essential because they're the only durable ways to prevent a future isil-like organization from reemerging there. and that's why the diplomatic work led by secretary kerry is the first and absolutely critical line of effort, the department, of course, is centrally responsible for the military campaign which is the focus of my statement today. through our and our coalition partners' actions the military campaign must and will deny isil any safe territorial haven, kill or capture its leadership and forces and destroy its organization. all while we seek to identify and then enable motivated local forces on the ground who can expel isil from the territory it now controls hold it and govern
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it and ensure that victory sticks. militarily, we're taking new steps each week to gather momentum on the battlefield in syria and iraq. i'll take a few extra minutes this morning to give as much detail as possible about the new things we're doing, applying multiple pressures on multiple fronts simultaneously to accelerate isil's defeat. the reality is, we're at war. that's how our troops feel about it because they're taking the fight to isil everyday. applying the fight of the finest fighting force the world has ever known. in northern syria, local forces with our support are fighting along the line, engaging isil in the last remaining pocket of access into turkey. meanwhile, a coalition of syrian arabs we helped equip in northeastern syria are fighting
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alongside kurdish forces and have recaptured important terrain most recently pushing isil out of the town of al-hal and 900 surrounding kilometers of territory. they're focused on moving south to isolate isil's so-called capital of raqqah with the ultimate objective of collapsing its control over the city. to build on that, president obama on my and chairman dunford's advice ordered u.s. special operations forces to go into syria to support the fight against isil. american special operators bring a unique set of capabilities that make them force multipliers, such as intelligence gathering, targeting and enabling local forces. where we find further opportunity to leverage such capability we will not hesitate to expand it. next, in the south of syria
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we're also taking advantage of opportunities to enable indigenous fighters trained and equipped by us and other coalition partners to conduct strikes inside syria. we're also enhancing jordan's border control and defenses with additional military assets and planning assistance. turning to northern iraq, peshmerga units with the help of u.s. power -- air power and advisors a s arhave retaken thef sinjar cutting the line of communication between raqqah and mosul, the two largest cities under isil's control. to move people and supply, isil must now rely on back roads where we will locate and destroy them. elsewhere in iraq. we have about 3,500 troops at six locations in support of iraqi security forces. there we've been providing increased lethal fire and
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augmenting the existing training, advising and assisting program. and we're prepared to do more as iraq shows capability and motivation in the counterisil fight and in resolving its political divisions. after a trust federafrustrating we are seeing movement in recapturing ramadi. the coalition has provided by specialized training and equipment including combat engineering techniques like in side breeching and building and munitions to stop truck bombs to the iraqi army and its country terrorism service units that are now beginning to enter ramadi neighborhoods from multiple directions. in fact, in the last 24 hours. the isf retook the anbar operations center on the northern bank of the euphrates
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river. it's an important step but there's still tough fighting ahead. isil has counterattacked several times but thus far the isf has shown resilience. the united states is prepared to assist the iraqi army with additional unique capabilities to help them finish the job, including attack helicopters and accompanying advisors if circumstances dictate and if requested by prime minister abadi. i mention all this because it represents how we've adapted and the way we support our iraqi partners and it shows that training, advising, and assisting helps. and works. we will do more of what works going forward. while we're focused on making additional tactical gains, the overall progress in the sunni populated areas of iraq has been slow, much to prime minister abadi's and our frustration. indeed, with respect to


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