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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  January 12, 2016 1:00pm-3:01pm EST

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bailing out washington spending problems. we're creating a tax code that grows the economy. that loan will help with us those deficit issues. >> you jumped into my next question which was the international tax reform piece of this. you said you would introduce a bill on that. do you have a positive outlook that you can get bipartisan support for just the international tax reform that would deal with repatriot traat that would be signed by the president and what's your rate looking for? >> i'm optimistic. >> i know it's a complex political environment but i'm optimistic we can fix the overall tax code. it will take a new republican president to get that done in my view. but this year we have an important step which is because the urgency of business from america being forced to move overseas, merge, acquire and
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move their headquarters overseas plus internationally this global effort to capture american stranded profits, it's urgent to move forward. having a system that lowers the gate, allows those profits to flow back to the united states is critical in earlier drafts from the ways and means committee there was one rate for bricks and mortar, another for capital costs, those are in the right ballpark for rates, we have work to do but the fact that you have democrats like senator shuker willing and eager to sit down if we can do it republicans, conservative to moderate real interested in trying to fix that. my anying is in the other all tax reform if we can take a major step this year it not only sends a signal the rest of the world we're dead serious
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about competing but allows us to focus in 2017 on the rates and design because tax reform is tough but taking it step by step could get us to a good place. >> when you're looking at international tax reform, i assume you are hoping for a permanent change, not a single one-off repatriation holiday we've seen in the past. tell many more about your vision for that, how to get that money trapped overseas back on a permanent basis. >> well, you're right. we don't need just a one year tax holiday. one we didn't, 2004/2005 worked in the sents the companies brought back $300 billion in very short time with short constraints. we want a permanent change that allow moneys to flow back if they make economic sense and often times they do. so looking at the discussion drafts we've laid out, i think
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four years and the feedback we get, you know, an 8% and 3% dual rate on those profits i think is important. i think we're right in the ballpark, as i said, allowing them to be able to count on that long term and having plenty of time to be able to pay that toll coming back is important. i think -- i'm convinced if we start with trying to figure out where to spend the money rather than how we get the policy right we're making a mistake. let's get policy right. and from a jobs perspective it will send the signal to ceos and businesses that they can safely invest in the u.s. or wherever it is around the world knowing they can bring those dollars home. >> and democrats have traditionally asked for if you're going to allow these profits to be brought back to the u.s. under a lower race than that would ordinarily be paid
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now that certain amounts have to be dedicated to infrastructure, building of new plants, hiring. is there any common ground between republicans and democrats about requirements that would be put on those overseas profits if they were brought to the u.s.? >> great question. the driver to date has been highway funding and structure funding because there is common ground and there hasn't been a good source of funding. that, too, would have been a five or six year transition. my thinking is that, a, that no one has yet convinced me a dollar stranded overseas is better than a dollar brought back to the u.s. for any reason. really important we do that. secondly if i had my breaddruthe would dedicate revenues to a lower rate in a comprehensive tax bill i think using dollars to lower rates to become more
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competitive in a 2017 effort is the area i'd most like to be focused on. >> that harkens me back to the moment you were talking about, disskugss of using repatriated tax revenue for the government to fund the highway bill as opposed to the direction congress was going. how close was that to a reality? >> well, now speaker ryan was leading negotiations and it seemed he was very encouraged about the policy areas there. there seemed to be a lot of agreement between republicans and democrats on that policy, the other discussion there was the innovation box. this really trying to prevent america from being isolated so that technology and pharmaceutical companies and others weren't basically forced away from investment of the united states. that took a lot of time in those discussions as well so i would
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say the short answer to your question is they made a lot of progress in those negotiations and discussions it's worth picking up where they were at and continuing it to see if we can't find some bipartisan agreement on. >> that okay. i want to come back to a lot of those tax-related issues but trade is a huge issue for you and the committee and i want to bring in our trade teem ask a question about tpp. >> i wanted to ask about partnership. president obama has indicated that this is an area he thinks he can work with republicans to win approval of the agreement. how would you gauge the prospects for tpp and what does president obama need to do to get republican support for the agreement? >> i think passing that agreement is difficult but doable, doug. it doable because the economic
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value of moving in to the asia-pacific area under our trade rules are critically important with half of the world's middle-class customers this is that region. that's where we want to be. it's sort of like when the ask the bank robber willie sutton why did you rob banks? he says, that where's the money is at. you ask why we want to be in asia-pacific, that's where the customers are at and we want to be in there. there are some challenges. the white house made some poll policy decisions that are costing them votes on both sides of the the aisle. the key is first taking up this agreement in the most open and transparent process that has ever occurred and we can thank those who passed the trade promotion authority bill, the new trade rules for laying out that agenda. we'll exceed those requirements for openness and deliberation going forward. the other part is building
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support in the area from biologics to the tobacco areas and others. making sure ustr is working with both sides of congress, both chambers, to build support. so from a timing standpoint my thinking is let the substance and the support of the agreement drive the timing. so we know that they are hasten it or delay it but we just keep building support going forward. >> realizing what you just said, looking at the congressional calendar this year, there's not a very long summer session and then the next -- the best next opportunity seems to be after the lame duck session. do you think this is something that could be done before the summer break or is it something that will have to be -- >> i think it all depends on how well support continues to grow.
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i think there's a good solid bases right now. i know most about the house, as you would imagine. there's a solid base of support. we've been -- as the business community and the agriculture community has been saying to the white house it's critically important you engage in a serious way and i'm seeing signs of that occurring, by the way, and so i think the timing is to be determined based on the support. >> timing to be determined something i've heard in the past regarding tea p regarding tpp. i want to drill down on that. the document is viewable, readable, you can review the full thing. are you happy with in in its current form or specific things that you think need to be changed? should bit signed by the administration as it is now and we move forward with that document as what is debated in congress and ultimately rejected or approved? there's areas i have that concerns about and while we
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follow different smarts of those agreements to see impacts economically on our state or region, i look at the architecture of the agreement. how does it deal with investor/state relations, how does it deal with environmental labor issues? the architecture that will continue for next agreement and i have concerns. i've laid those out to ustr. nonetheless you have to look at that agreement in its entirety. find ways we can improve the areas we think need improving and bring it to the floor and the reason i think it's important for us to have a vote and work out these differences is that this is the first 21st century trade agreement. i know that phrase gets thrown out a lot. but in the past trade agreements, i think i've been involved in maybe 12 to 14 that
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we have in place. is most trade agreements have been country to country or as in central america's case six countries negotiating among themselves. the transpacific partnership is designed more like a plug and play where standards have been set so future markets that want to hit high standards have the opportunity to plug into it without renighting everything. they still have to get approval but that adds to great deal of value to this agreement that hasn't existed in other ones and i think it's important to keep that in mind as we go forward. >> i want to pat myself on the back, we've been 15 or 20 minutes into this and i haven't mentioned donald trump. i'll mention him now. >> well, don't feel compelled -- [ laughter ] >> and it's not so much that i want to talk about donald trump because i don't but i do want to talk about the political environment you're dealing with in trying to get tpp approved in a campaign year where you've got trump already out against it, ted cruz against it, hillary
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clinton has come out against it for a variety of different reasons. for all of them trump's being that somehow china will come in afterwards and screw everybody over since they're not in tpp. i know the whole idea is that they will become party when they see ground rules have been set but how do you do the education job among not just the republican base but the broader electorate that is in a mood not to sign big trade agreements. you'll have a political environment where big trade deals are not particularly popular and not being endorsed among candidates leading for the presidential nomination. you have others like rubio and bush who are more pro-free trade and tend to be in favor of tpp but they're not leading. how do you overcome that? >> it's counterintuitive. normally when the economy is not doing well and while the monthly jobs report was good, this has continued to be the weakest economic recovery in half a
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century. we're mixing six million jobs that ought to be back in the work force. we have an economic hole about the size of canada's economy. a family of four in america is missing a thousand dollars a month from the family paycheck out to be back by now so there's people very concerned about the economy in those cases trade is normally a tougher sell. but frankly it helps us in the sense that we have local companies that want to compete and win around the world. they want to go after those customers they want to create the jobs. as a result tpp again if they'll address the problem areas has the potential to be very significant on job creation in america in local districts where people know their local farmers or local caterpillar dealer or whatever can actually sell and create jobs. the other thing is, again, most -- i'm most familiar with republicans and conservatives and for us, our core believes
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are threefold -- one, a strong national defense to keep communities and families safe. secondly, less government and taxes so you have more control of your life and third the economic freedom to trade. to buy and sell and compete around the world with as little government interference as possible. it's one of our conservative core values and i think at the end of the day our republican nominee is going to embrace those values and as we break down tpp and allow the public to see it and lawmakers to examine it i think support will grow. we have work to do. we all have work to do but at the end of the day if they resolve issues that are outstanding, there's tremendous value. >> since we brought them up, i'll ask. what do you make of the fact that donald trump continues to lead in some polls by very wide margin for the republican
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nomination? the theory nab the media there would be a peak for donald trump and then a recession of his support, that hasn't happened. he may not win iowa but he may win new hampshire convincingly and move on from there to rack up a lot of delegates. what do you think about that phenomenon? what does it tell you about the republican party and is he somebody you can support as a nominee? >> what's the next question? [ laughter ] no, it's a great question and i probably ought to be asking you that because it's such an uncertain environment, a political environment. it doesn't, i think -- it goes to the heart of the frustration people have with government. that they're not solving real problems and i think too many people have given up hope that we'll do things like fix this broken tax code and help people get back to work in our welfare and anti-poverty programs and so it's just manifesting itself
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obviously in mr. trump. this election has a long way to go. i have a lot of faith in voters going forward in these primaries and i think you'll see whether it's mr. trump or others the cream will rise to the top. we'll coalesce behind a candidate i know there's dreams of an open and brokered convention, that makes tremendous news but i'm hopeful we can coalesce sooner rather than later as primary voters. >> i don't think i heard an answer to the question of if trump were the nominee you would support him. >> yes, the question. >> there wasn't an answer to that. >> the answer is yes. >> you wouldport him as the nominee. >> and excused me for not having done the research but have you picked a candidate? >> i haven't been in a primary the 18 years i've been in congress. >> very good. i want to go back to tax issues at the ways and means committee
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and talk about the dynamic there. you had paul ryan who was very happy to have that job wanted to stay in the job. i'll read you this quote from him from a breakfast i did with him last year about how dedicated he was to seeing tax reform through. certain circumstances changed. called upon by his party to take over the speakership. how involved will he be in the work of the ways and means committee in guiding tax reform either international or domestic? what is your relationship like with him or is he so occupied with the leadership of the house that he would not be heavily involved? how does paul rayyan play in the house ways and means committee now? >> it's extraordinarily encouraging to have a former ways and means chairman so knowledgeable about these key issues in the speaker's office i think that's a benefit all across the board. he clearly knows the issues. paul rayyan is a generational change in the speaker's office. he just sees things differently
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and so he continues to push hauer back to our rank-and-file members and to the committee. i expect him to do the same thing on ways and means, he is in effect the coach of the conference across all these different issues and topics and i see myself as quarter back of the ways and means committee so our job is to move the ball down the field and the priorities he's laid out for us in 2016 of the top five priorities the ways and means committee is respondable mainly for four of them. so in tax, trade, welfare reform and replacing the affordable care act, we have work to do. >> we'll get into a couple more of those as we move forward. i hope you'll move down t ball down the field better than brian hoyer with the texans. >> you had to go there. >> i have football on the brain. i apologize to everybody for my
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football references. i asked paul ryan about whether he would consider running for president himself and he had family reasons for not wanting to do that but he said he thought he had more of a chance to change the economic dynamic the united states through the house ways and means committee than he would necessarily becoming president. he said "i can make a huge difference for the country, these issues, trade, tax, poverty fighting, health care reform, entitlement reform goes through the ways and means committee, originate in the ways and means committee and he said big home on weekends and be the kind of husband and dad i want to be. but he said he viewed the ways and means committee as the most powerful engine to affect economic change in the u.s. . do you approach the job with the samed? >> >> i do and to be honest i'm still pinching myself. we all came to congress to do big things. you never come here to do small
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things. the ways and means committee is about the big issues that fundamentally change the course of the country. if you think about creating a tax code built for growth. if you think about saving social security and medicare, medicare especially, the 8,000 pound gorilla in our budget that has to be addressed. congress actually took a big step forward last year in solving the way we pay our local doctors going forward that's built momentum but ifou look that the in trade and other issues you can have a big impact. i feel just as paul does about this committee and i say that as someone who he and i came in together, sat next to each other, worked our way up that committee with the hope someday of being able to lead real change in a real breaux growth agenda, a positive one so the chance to work with my friend to do that is as good as it gets. >> just in the -- back to the
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overall political environment question you mentioned how hard it is to do tax reform. once you talk about closing loon holes they suddenly book not loophole bus things people like very much, mortgage interest deduction. last time tax reform got passed is '86. we're a lot less -- it was partisan then but nothing close to what congress is like now and what the campaign trail is like now. it's hard for some people to imagine a scenario under which you could rewrite the entire tax code without losing a bunch of republicans and then losing a bunch of democrats who say these things on corporate tax reform would be give aways to big companies. how do you see an environment developing in which theres not this kind of poison out political environment that would make a tax reform bill possible? >> if you look at the elements that made the 1986 reforms work.
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it was a country that had had it up to here. they knew the tax code was unfair. they believed other people were getting breaks but not them. is it was too complex for their family or business to handle. sounds very familiar. that's exactly where we're at as a country. presidential leadership so critical and i'm encouraged by our republican candidates for president all whom laid out very serious tax reform proposals, some of them breaking ground and going places republicans haven't gone before. i think that tells you they're serious about leading on the issue and what they're hearing from the american public or they would not be laying out that type of agenda and priority. they're hearing people are ready to tackle the issue. the biggest challenge we've got is american public, families and businesses have almost given up hope that we'll tackle it.
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so part of our job, i look at tax reform as a marathon. it happens -- it's been 30 years so equate that to a marathon, in effect if we're peaking toward 2017, we're in the last two miles of the marathon. how we run 2016 is, very critical to how we finish in 2017. so laying that foundation for overall reform. trying to see if we can't advance international tax reform and listening to the ideas of our conference. bringing those different proposals out i think is critical to 2017. >> let's go back to what you said about the republican candidate tax plans and some v gone places you haven't seen before. what are you referring to specific zpli which candidates' plans do you like the most and what elements are the most innovative? >> they all have strengths. they all -- but in what's key is they all have very pro-growth ideas and it's clear it's a
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priority for them. if they did nothing else but that, that is enough. because that lays the foundation for that president, that candidate to be president and follow through on. to me that's 99% of the issue. you know, you see members or presidential candidates looking at value-added taxes, at border adjustability. you're looking at increases in earned income tax credits which is that pro-work tax credit that has run into some problems because of fraud with conservatives but you have conservatives leading with some of those issues. the fact that they are willing to do what some would have thought was too politically risky and not only are they comfortable, they're enthusiastic about it. that tells us just about everything we need to know about their seriousness. >> do you have a corporate rate you think is the correct
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corporate rate? >> i do in my mind. >> share, please. >> well, i knew you were going to go there, too. when chairman camp started his draft -- and it was three years of relentless work and i think fact that he laid out a draft, comprehensive, first top-to-bottom rewrite in 30 years. it grew the economy, shrunk the tax code by a quarter. lowered rates to 25% businesses, lowered the individual rates as well. did a number of very pro-growth things then he said "now make it more pro growth." he proved you could do that. when he started taking the corporate rate from 35% to 25% and put it squarely in the middle of our competitors. since then they've moved to lower rates. so may belief is it needs to be
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under 20%. >> is 15% the number in your said? to do that we need to think fresh, look at these issues anew to get those race down. it's hard within the current construct to do that. my thinking is rather than a number sort of the steve jobs approach when he took apple over and they fell behind the advice he gave to microsoft in a similar situation in innovation, when you're behind, leapfrog, when you're that far behind your competitors, you better strive to go bast them. i am convinced for us to make the changes to be competitive it needs to be a bold number. >> let's hit a couple other things under your purview at ways and means and one is the affordable care act. you've had -- republicans have had for the first time some successes in targeting pieces of
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that. the cadillac tax being one, the medical device tax being another. you're likely not going to get full repeal despite getting the bill to the president's desk. what are the next things that you are looking at in terms of approaching the affordable care act and taking out pieces of it you don't like 30. hour work week? employer mandate? what's on the agenda. >> we'll continue to do that but 2016 like with tax reform 2016 lays the foundation for 2017 and frankly we're winning this argument. there's a reason why with all the efforts that's been done in 2015 essentially they've stalled out on the number of americans choosing -- even being forced in the affordable care act who are taking that up and i think a big reason far is that besides the architecture is wrong, incentives are wrong, it's far too bureaucratic is that at the end of the day people have figured out the true cost of
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health care isn't just the monthly premium. it's out-of-pocket costs. it's the deductibles. the cost sharing. it's the fact that they may not see that local doctor gohr to that local hospital so people are smart and figured out this is not the affordable health care they were promised and that's why i i have this in 2016 as we go into our retreat later this week we'll have a family discussion about how we lay out our alternative. what's the best way to do it. i think we agree on the principles but we've got, again, sort of the new approach which is this will not be five committee chairs deciding what our replacement plan is. it will be the collaboration of 246 members that will drive this. >> and we're going definitely get a replacement plan put forward by the republican conference in 2016 saying this is what we would replace the aca with? >> it's certainly my hope and i know it's speaker ryan's as
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well. as i look on tax reform, where i want our health care to go, health care has changed. people don't stay at the same job for 40 years. they want options like they've never had it before. so i look at our principles. in all the replacement plans introduced, in what -- in effect what we've been laying south the health care backpack. the option for workers to choose a plan that's tailored for them, that goes with them from job to job, state to state, home to raise the family or to start that small business and if it's a plan that's working for them, to take it into retirement as well. if you look at the republican principles, they really focus on that type of a backpack idea. i'm convinced that people are hungry for those types of choices. not driven from washington but driven by their needs. and i'm convinced we can provide them that. >> a couple other things you mentioned. one was welfare reform. do you envision putting together
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welfare reform bill that you can intro zmus what would be in it? i realize these are big questions and i have a short amount of time left but i want to hit welfare reform and medicare reform. will we see bills and broadly what would be in them? >> in welfare you will see bills in that area. clearly it's a priority of speaker ryan and many in the conference. we peer going to go in this discussion again to talk about our ideas as a conference going forward but i'm convinced people want to get out of these welfare traps, these poverty traps that kept people who want to do better in their lives, really traps them where their opportunity is limited by the government versus the unlimited opportunity, i think the public is ready for it and i think with good intentions the government has made it harder for people to really get out of those traps
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and so yeah, i'm optimistic we'll produce a bill in that area. on medicare, if you look at last year's solution for how we we'm burs doctors, which really transforms it from how many procedures to the quality of care, the second step which ways and means has started is redesigning how we reimburse pro providers throughout medicare, from leading into diagnosis and evaluation, leading into the hospital, the care you get in a hospital or outpatient center, and after that where you go from rehabilitation to skilled nursing to home, wherever is just i think ripe for innovation and competition and quantity and so you're going to see ways and means continue that work and don't be surprised if many of the steps that we take are bipartisan in nature, i'll stop here but getting rid of that
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year to year madness of that doctor fix which sucked up all the option of good health care policy, that's gone. now you're seeing bipartisan ideas. just get the oxygen they deserve in this really -- these are very good steps going forward so look for us to look for opportunities to do this. many of them, don't be surprised if they're not bipartisan. >> it would be hard -- somewhat hard for me to imagine your introducing completely non-bipartisan bills on welfare or medicare reform in an election year when democrats can come after you pretty hard as these guys want to cut welfare and medicare. are you vulnerable to that if you have a bold agenda on changing the welfare system that you would up up a big opportunity for hillary clinton or democrats to say this is who republicans are and do you want this? >> my gut is that the reason washington is at such a low level of confidence and trust and support is not because of what this institution is doing,
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it's because of what it's not doing. it's tackling the big issues. and ily say if the first step to saving medicare for the long term is solving how to pay doctors, the second step redesigning how we pay others, the third step is giving seniors more options than they have today. sort of tailored medicare. some combining part "a" and part "b" and making that a smart program. the other will be what others call premium support but it's options that are far more tailored to seniors. that's step three and we're going to continue to lay the ground work far. >> i have to wrap up in a minute but i want to ask you, we have a blissful year ahead of with us no threat of a government shutdown and no threat of a debt limit crisis. it seems like the debt limit as a political weapon is being retired and will no longer be a threat that can be used in future budget negotiations. do you think the debt limit is done as a political weapon that
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can be used in budget negotiation processes or could we see that reemerge in 2017 and going forward? >> i think it could reemerge but basically because even though we've lower dramatically the annual deficit s we're spending far beyond our means and it will take back up unless we make some changes and so every opportunity in our budget or those discussions to find better ways to manage our money, get ourselves on a better path, we're going to want to do that, we want to have those discussions the question is could we have a president who didn't see that as a political gain but as an opportunity to find bipartisan ways to shrink the size of the government to within our means, make it more pro growth? so you could turn that into a thoughtful discussion. >> let you go. you're about to go on these
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retreats and talk about your policy agenda for the coming year and what you would like to propose legislatively. what's the mood of the republican conference? how much good will does speaker ryan have as you go forward here and as he -- is the conservative wing of the party united with the more pro business wing. what is the mood of the republican conference right now? >> we have a diverse country and a diverse number of republicans. i think they're excited about what paul ryan brings to how that speakership runs in effect where it's common for members in the past -- i mean for decades to hand that leadership, whoever it is, here's my bill, you really need to do something with it. when someone hands paul ryan that monkey, he hands it right back to them. you're a lawmaker, you're a legislator, let's let legislators be legislators. work through your committees. members are very excited about
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that. they're ready for this -- for the end-of-the-year crisis to crisis end to. >> let's stop this. they're excited about the chance to tackle big issues. >> if there's a brokered republican convention would paul ryan emerge as the consensus choice to be the republican nominee? [ laughter ] >> you had to wednesday that. >> look at your crystal ball and give us a thrill about a potential for a brokered convention. every journalist on the planet would like to cover that. >> i don't know -- i know you would. i don't know. i'm hopeful we disappoint you i whether tell you as many of us do knowing paul ryan of his
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thoughtfulness and sin tearty of any point in his life he'd be an excellent president of the united states. he would tell you right now let's threat primary process wo work. competition works. people rise and fall. some of my candidates i thought could make the leap didn't make it so we've got plenty of time to have a good candidate. >> plenty of time but not that much more time. thank you chairman brady for a wonderful conversation. appreciate it. [ applause ] i want to dhank othank our spon wells fargo. thank you for coming out on a cold night for our first evening, morning money and don't run out the door because we have cocktails and food. stick around, hang out, have fun. thanks for coming.
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>> live coverage coming up at 3:00 eastern time today with republican presidential candidate new jersey governor royce and his state of the state address from the statehouse in trenton. as president obama prepared for his state of the union address, he released this video on twitter. >> i'm working on my state of the union address. it's my last one. and as i'm writing, i keep thinking about the road that we've traveled together these past seven years. that's what makes america great, our capacity to change for the better. our ability to come together as one american family and pull ourselves closer to the america we believe in. it's hard to see sometimes in the day to day noise of washington but it is who we are and it is what i want to focus on in this state of the union
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address. >> c-span's coverage starts tonight at 11:00 p.m. eastern with betty koed and james arkin looking back at the history and tradition of the president's annual message and what to expect in this year's address. at 9:00, our live coverage of the president's speech followed by the republican response by south carolina governor nikki haley. plus your reaction by phone, facebook, tweets and e-mail as well as those from members of congress on c-span, c-span radio and we'll reair our state of the union coverage and the republican response starting at 11:00 p.m. eastern 8:00 p.m. pacific, also live on c-span 2 after the speech we'll hear from members of congress in statuary hall with their reaction to the president's address. >> next, the future of the guantanamo bay detention facility. panelists debated whether the prison will be closed in the president's last year in office
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or fall to the next president. yesterday republican senators kelly ayotte and lindsey graham sent a letter to arms services committee chair john mccain asking for hearings on guantanamo detainee transfers. >> good afternoon. welcome to the america -- i was going to say foundation but we now call ourselves new america. because people came to us because they thought we had money but that's not the way it works. we want money from other people. i am peter burgin, i run the international security program here and thanks for coming this afternoon. thanks to our viewers on c-span.
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we're 14 years to the day since guantanamo opened and we've had one of these events featuring an andy worthington who have done this if more years and it was hard to predict we would still be here given the fact that it was george w. bush who said we would close guantanamo and one of president obama's elections promises when he was first elected. so to consider the question of what will happen over the next year, we have a distinguished panel. cameron greenberg immediately to your right -- the right of me is the director of the center of the national security at fordham university. she wrote a book about guantanamo called "the first 100 days" which focused on the kind of decisions that happened which were critical. it could have gone in a
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different direction. karen has a book forthcoming called "rogue justice" which will be published in may which examines some of the legal and department of justice kind of machinations around this issue. we have andy worthington in the middle here. andy knows more about the prisoners at guantanamo bay on the planet and looked at who is being held because when andy's book first came out it wasn't completely here who was being held. and he put a name and face to many prisoners and he and tom have set up an organization called close guantanamo and we'll hear more about that and then tom wilmer who argued one of the most important cases in american legal history which gave habeas rights to guantanamo detainees and was arguably up
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there with youngston case in terms of kind of rolling back kind of executive claims of authority and reestablishing what is a rather old principle that started in 1215 which is habeas corpus. so in terms of order we'll start with andy and then tom wilmer. >> thank you for introduction peter, hello, everybody, good to see you all here. obviously we have been doing this for such a long time that this is now the third location. either you're moving around quickly or guantanamo has been around for a very long time. sadly it's the latter. i have just been outside the white house with campaigners from a variety of groups, amnesty international calling for the closure of guantanamo. so we've all been in this for
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the long haul and i have to say the feelings today are that we've got more reasons to be optimistic about guantanamo finally closing than i think in any time since obviously 2009 when president obama came in promising to close the prison. and who were any of us to think he didn't mean that at the time. it was such a prominent statement right at the very beginning of his presidency. and you know there are a couple reasons to think that maybe we are getting somewhere. one, the more cynical one is that his legacy is being written sand when you come in making a promise to close guantanamo with a year and seven years later you haven't closed it and you have one year go, it's fair to say that isn't going to be a tiny footnote in the record of your presidency, that will be written there in big letters. so he needs to sort that out if -- as i think is the case with presidents -- they do care about their legacy.
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but i think not to be cynical there are other reasons to think that within the administration -- i don't think this is 100% within the administration -- there are certainly people who care about the injustice that is represented by guantanamo and the dangers that it poses to american national security i do think there are clearly parts of the administration that don't endorse that point of view but i think we've reached this point where prisoners are being released. where there is a push to close the prison which suggests that there are significant forces within the administration who want to make that happen before he leaves office. so the situation that we have today that there are 103 men in guantanamo. an announcement was made today another prisoner has been released. of those 103 men, 44 of them have been told that they can leave the prison.
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35 of those men were approved for release by the guantanamo review task force president obama established when he took office. so that was a high level interagency review process. these guy s met once a week, spent time looking at cases of the men whether they should approve them for release or recommend them for prosecution or whether they should continue to be held without charge or trial on the basis that they were too dangerous to release or there wasn't sufficient evidence to put them on trial and i'll come back to that in a minute. those men approved for release six years ago, it's a shame for everybody responsible that they're still held. to have a process where you approve people for release and don't release them for any significant only of time in six years has to be an extremely long time. it's just disgraceful and i frequently make the comparison
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with dictatorships which i think is appropriate. when dictatorships throw you in a dungeon holding you indefinitely without charge or trial as is the basis of guantanamo. they don't say "i tell you what, we'll have a review process to decide whether we want to continue to hold you." have the review process, tell people you don't want to carry on and then not let them go. that's a cruelty that is unacceptable. so beyond these people approved for release -- and we know the state department is working hard on finding count these will take them. just a few days ago ghana took in two yemenis, you don't gettigan that to take in a couple of yemenis that the u.s. daunt want to return home at the drop of a hat. these involve negotiations with whatever that involves. cash, diplomatic favors, all of that stuff, this is undoubtedly going on with numerous countries as we're talking. so hopefully that's not a
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particularly difficult problem for us. the majority of the rest of the prisoners, of the 59 men who are held, are not going to be put on trial according to the latest assessment of who's placing trials and who's likely to -- that's just 1010-men and i will just add as an additional note that if we add in people who have already been prosecuted, that's a grand total of 15 people out of the 775 men. slightly less than 2% of the entire population of guantanamo, the billions that the place has cost and the damage it's done to america's credibility a a country that believes in lau and justice and fairness. what a shocking statistic that is but ten men facing or having faced trials. 49 others. this is the area that i would very much hope president obama is going to put his foot down and speed things up. these are all people in are
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facing the periodic review board. the latest of men m review processes that have been set for them at guantanamo over the years. and the periodic review board process was established in 2013. it was established as a result of decisions taken by obama's task no, sir 2009. this category of men who are called too dangerous to release but the administration acknowledged that insufficient evidence exists to put them on trial. what does that mean? to me that always set miss i alarm bells rings but that if you haven't got evidence than you haven't really got a case. fundamentally i think that's true. these are people whom are not conducive to the truth being told. prisoners who were tortured, prisoners who were otherwise abused, prisoners who were bribed with better living conditions they were bribed with being told that they wouldn't hassle them and make them up in
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the middle of the night and take them to interrogation if only they would help them by telling them who the people were. the family referred to. which is, you know, what took part -- what was such an important part, relentlessly in interrogation, not just in guantanamo, of showing prisoners photographs and telling them, you know this guy. identify them. tell us about him. and so people did. they told them lies. those files that were released by wikileaks in 2011 about the guantanamo prisoners are packed full of unreliable witnesses, unreliable statements. and part of the issue with the prisoners that they called too dangerous to release is that actually these are people who at some point during their long and unjust attention have threatened their captors. now, it would well be that some of these threats are real. but i have to say absolutely
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that i think a lot of those threats are the things that people come with when they're facing the kind of injustice that they've been faced with. what these people really want is to be released and get on with their lives. the periodic review process has been successful, but it's moving far too slowly. so in the last two years since those reviews have taken place, there have been 18 prisoners who have had their case decided. 15 of those cases, the review boards have decided that they're eligible for release. that's an 83% success rate. the current rate, those reviews aren't going to be finished until 2020. obama is long gone. we are so far into the next presidency. these are men who are told when the president set up the executive order to hold them, two years before the periodic review board started that these reviews would take place within the year. he's very good at promising to do things within a year and then
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really not doing them. so the one thing that could happen one to speed up this review process, because clearly what is happening is that these men are being represented by military representatives in guantanamo. they are able to engage fully with their lawyers on saying to the administration, to the review boards, made up of the various departments and agencies, i do not bear ill will against the united states. i need to get out of here and get back on with my life. getting supporting statements from families, getting job offers in place. getting marriages arranged. all kinds of things for these people, who all of them were very little more than either low level foot soldiers or for the most part i would say that. they want to get on with their lives. and the process is working, it needs to speed up. because the issue facing president obama, whether he goes through congress or through an executive order is that he is beginning to have to move people from guantanamo to the u.s.
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mainland, and the problem with that is that if he's bringing people to face trial, that's fine. the issue is bringing people from the u.s. mainland and holding them to that charge here. and both tom and i are absolutely convinced that that will open up new opportunities for them to challenge the basis of their detention. they have rights under the u.s. constitution, here on the u.s. mainland, which they simply don't have in guantanamo. and a lot of the avenues that they were supposed to have in guantanamo have been shut down, particularly by the appeals court here in washington, d.c., which very cynically shut down the habeas legislation, which people like tom fought so hard to get for the prisoners. so speeding up that process, absolutely get more prisoners approved for release. get more of these people freed. and also put them in a place that will make it much more difficult for congress to raise the kind of obstacles that congress likes to raise. prisoners approved for release by a high level interagency
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review process i think are pretty safe from the kind of extremely cynical right wing maneuvers that we see repeatedly in congress. from people who want to keep guantanamo open forever. from people who don't really care about the right and wrong. they like having the notion that if they think people are dangerous, they should be able to hold them for the rest of their lives. and that is fundamentally un-american. as a british person, that's fundamentally against all the bases on which we think the law should work and the justice and principles we have in our lives, otherwise we drift into very dangerous territory, which is where we've been the last 40 years. so i hope i've provided some kind of summary of where we're at, and that my colleagues will be able to expand on these things, and then we'll be able to open it up to questions. thank you. >> so one question is how did we get here? and i wrote this book about the
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first hundred days at guantanamo, which begins to tell the story of how we got here. but people ask me all the time, when are you going to write the last hundred days of guantanamo? i'm trying to figure that out. and i do think that -- i may be an outlier here, but i do think guantanamo will close under this president, but i'm not sure it will close in a way we would define closure. maybe that's something we can talk about. so i want to talk a little bit about what the expectations were at the beginning of guantanamo and how that has haunted this country and the process for a very long time. if you had asked donald rumsfeld in the fall of 2001 when they were contemplating the detention facility, how long it was going to stay open, he would have said -- and he did say to the commanding general at guantanamo, six months. when the general said no, i don't think that's true, i'm winning here. i'm feeling differently about what we've done here. he said, i'm going to make a bet
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with you. the most it's going to be is 18 months. to which the commanding general said, you know what? i'm going to have retired and you're going to have left this office and they're still going to be there. this is still a running debate with them. well, obviously. who would have thought that 14 years later, guantanamo would still be open. on the other hand, you have a policy establishment which has seen since the beginning that this is a war without end. it was never predicted this is what will make the hostilities end. whether it was killing bin ladening getting out of began, engaging in iraq and winning. what exactly would have been the end? as soon as there was no hostility, no definition of the end in sight, the question at the end of guantanamo has remained elusive, to say the least. so i wanted to point out at the beginning of guantanamo, there were three reasons that kind of consecutive reasons that built on each other. not just in the first hundred days, but in the first 18 months, actually. the first was preventing detention. the idea that you take these
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people off the battlefield, you put them in custody so that they can't join the forces, they can't harm anybody. the problem with that notion of preventive detention was that if you put people in the kind of preventive detention that you had in guantanamo, they became more dangerous. if you talk to the guards and the officials and say to them why do you think they're so dangerous? early on in the first six, seven years. i interviewed a number of these people, like what made you think they were so dangerous? i always said the same thing. as a footnote to what you were saying. they said they were going to kill me and my family if they ever got out of here. so that is an interesting definition of what makes people dangerous in a wartime situation where they were held in that kind of detention. the second principle for guantanamo is interrogation. which happened very quickly. but not necessarily what some of the people who started guantanamo in the justice system thought it was actually going to be about, or in the military thought it was actually going to be about.
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in terms of who do you know in the battlefield, who do you know in the network, what do you know about mullah omar, and later, what about bin laden and his network? do you know where bin laden is? they weren't very sophisticated questions at the very beginning. and this is a real problem about guantanamo. the notion that these people were in for informational value. because when the first 20 got off the plane at guantanamo, who was waiting for them on the ground? were there interpreters for posture? no. there were arabic translaters. it was ridiculous. they couldn't talk to anybody.o. it was ridiculous. they couldn't talk to anybody. what we knew about them was, we needed them for what one of my colleagues called gitmopedia. any kind of information. we were so crushed and felt such a lack of information that became an intelligence collection mission. now, there were other aspects that you referred to, but this
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need for information, both captive and strategic, but very much in mesh in the beginning of guantanamo. the third thing is military commission. military commissions were set out, at least the possibility of military commissions was set out november of 2001, november 13th, and the executive order, and so they were always there on the horizon. but when guantanamo was created, when those marines were told you have 96 hours to build guantanamo, they thought they were establishing it for military trials. they didn't call them military -- that's actually what they thought. and there's a sort of somewhat funny story about the commander of the naval base, because you know it was the naval base, being charged with finding a courthouse and finding a location for a white house. suddenly after weeks and weeks, you realized nobody cared, nobody was asking. even though it was like where is that courthouse going to be? but these are the three principles that started. when you look at them discreetly, you see that we're still stuck with them. it's how they're playing out through the legislation, whether it's the military commission, or
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etc., etc. these are the three concepts we have to come back to. first i want to just point to what george bush did before he left office so that we understand it. number one -- he brought khalid sheikh mohammed and others who alleged to commit attacks against the u.s. high level terrorism plots they were accused. that was a transformative moment for guantanamo in terms of what president obama was going to face. because it addressed all these issues all at the same time. here you had people who couldn't return, who were going to be kept in indefinite detention. they were never going to be let go, as we've seen a countless directive from inside the justice system, inside the pentagon, inside the white house, actually. second of all, they justified guantanamo. guantanamo was meant to be the
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worst -- a holding facility for the worst of the worst. as andy said, the worst of the worst? no. these were foot soldiers. and had it stayed li eed like tt only would president obama have been able to continue president bush's getting rid of 500 individuals who he knew were just not even rising to the level of potentially dangerous foot soldiers. but once khalid sheikh mohammed and the rest were there, all of a sudden guantanamo, after four years in existence, became a place where the worst of the worst actually were. in terms of intelligence value, who knew what else these people had to say, but the idea that there were people at guantanamo that had had some intelligence all of a sudden had a reality. and then finally, the military commission. now there was somebody actually to try. who actually had committed a crime against the united states, or at least were alleged to have done it. not material support. this is not conspiracy to material support. this was the attack of 9/11. the embassy bombings attacks,
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etc. and the military commissions act passed, which actually is less important than moving these individuals here. so when obama came into office, and this is not an excuse. this is what he inherited. he inherited all these concepts. not really having them push the back against. even though the military commissions process had stumbled along for so many years and pushed back against. so obama now has -- take these three categories. part of the roster of options that we're going to have for guantanamo detainees. for many people, myself included, closing guantanamo means ending indefinite detention. holding people that you don't charge or try.
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and so as soon as he said that, there was a kind of panic or worry. well, how can you close guantanamo? so the idea of actually closing guantanamo may have passed for that particular moment. that was one thing that prevented the detention model, which is we're not going to let you -- the other thing was informational value. that seemed to dissipate under obama finally. in 2007, i went to guantanamo, the head at the time. admiral harry harris said to me at the time, how is there informational value here? and he said, you know, look, things could happen in the leadership of al qaeda and the guys here might recognize them. might be able to describe them to us. so there was still a lingering sense that there was informational value to be had by the detainees. i don't get that sense anymore. i don't know if you guys get that. but i haven't seen that come up.
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the final thing is the military commissions. he has -- after, you know, attorney general holder decided that after a while he would not bring the 9/11 defendants to the federal court system and kept them, you know, in the military commission system. this is a commission that had stumbled and fallen continually. and, you know, it really begs the question at what point do you say these commissions do not work? what point do you say these commissions need to be had in virginia, or d.c., or someplace where now we have the expertise and the structure to try these individuals. so ironically, the way i see what's happening in guantanamo is, who would have thought that the military commissions are what's going to keep guantanamo open? because what's happened -- you referred to this. what's happened in the last i would say six months is there is much more energy being placed into getting these people out of
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guantanamo. and although the media is not calling attention to it, and i think that's good. a number of individuals have come off the we'll nevill never released list. and it's not a lot. it's a half dozen or so. but you know what? taking people off that list is what matters. and if you look at the reasons, the reasons are very minimal. they've said that they're going to rethink, you know, what they actually think about this war on terror. or their ideological stance. and so this has always been the way to close guantanamo is to get rid of that list. notably, and this is something that tom and i were talking about earlier, the idea of charging anyone besides these ten detainees seems to have gone away. when obama came into office, when bush was in office, it was always said well, we're going to have a certain amount of indefinite detention. about 30 will be charged and tried. where did that go?
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that disappeared as a category, which, you know, from the point of view of somebody who studies the judicial system, you kind of wonder, what does that mean? we're not going to try terrorists anymore? what is going to happen? so the only caveat i would say -- and again, i think it's going to close. i think the military commissions are going to have to be moved to federal court for that to happen. is that isis is on the horizon. and what that actually means, not for guantanamo, but for how we're going to deal with individuals who we don't necessarily want to declare prisoners of war, remains to be seen. and all i want to say is this problem started with the decision not to have prisoners of war, and i don't think it's a decision that should ever be repeated. >> tom. >> i never come here knowing what i'm going to say. and i still don't even after listening. what karen said at the end, though, i don't know what's
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going to happen with guantanamo. and i'm terribly concerned isis is on the rise, although, you know, i think that we overblow the threat of isis. i mean, i was thinking the other day, russia is filled with nuclear weapons and we don't take it as seriously as we do isis. something very strange about where we put our things, but the concern of the public with isis, with what happened in paris, with what happened in california is palpable. it's on the news all the time. gives peter a great forum to speak with cnn, and he does it very well. i'm not confident that the obama administration will close guantanamo before the end of its term. i think there are all sorts of political things going on.
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very few of us seem to care about closing guantanamo. seems to me it's very easy to stir up passions against closing it. and the republican party to build on the demagoguery and the fear to say that we're releasing terrorists into the united states or somewhere else. so i'm worried that obama will not take the action to do it. i certainly hope he will. i don't know how hillary clinton as the nominee will be dealing with them, whether she wants it cleared off before she leaves office, or whether she will say don't do that, it's going to jeopardize the election. so i'm not confident. let me speak about a few other things that karen and andy both spoke about. i'm amazed as a washingtonian sitting and hearing the debate within congress on this and other issues, how so much of it
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is premised on misinformation. and that really started in the review that came out in january 2010, the obama review of the people at guantanamo when they created this category of people who were too dangerous to release, but not capable of prosecution. everyone reading that thought that what it meant was you know these guys are dangerous, horrible terrorists, but there's some legal technicality that prevents them from being tried in a court. so you've got to keep them. and that's really not the case. what it really means is it was just a horrible stupid category. what it meant simply was that, you know, there's information and allegations against these people made mostly by other detainees, as andy rogated a lo but it's not the sort of stuff you could ever try somebody on
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because it's so flimsy that it would never stand up in a court of law. so you really have some suspicions about them, but no evidence capable of which would make it capable of trying them. another thing karen said, we lose sight of the fact that the bulk of the people on that list, almost all of them on that list, were people who were in guantanamo before the sort of high value detainees were transferred there four years after guantanamo opened. and it was accepted through security studies at the time that the people at guantanamo before these high value people came in, were nothing. they were either caught by mistake, or at the most, low level food soldiers. so the categorization of these people is too dangerous to release is just misinformation. release is just misinformation. and the prbs, as andy said, 18 have been conducted. 15 people have been cleared.
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shows that these people aren't too dangerous to release. yet people in congress don't know that. people in congress don't even know the people at guarantee have been cleared. it's shocking to me. they talk and debate this as a matter of public policy based on the misinformation that the people in guantanamo are trained, horrible killers. it's just a shame. i don't know whether the news media or the rest of us who need to get the story out -- look at the facts. it's not so. that's one thing that bothers me terribly. another thing, andy spoke about the court of appeals in the district of columbia. when we started this, we didn't count just on the legal remedy to try to get people out of guantanamo. but we did count on a legal remedy, the writ of habeas corpus, as a fundamental foundation for individual liberty. and all it really says, enforcing the magna carta, is that a person deprived of th ed
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liberty to go before a court, where you would have a fair hearing to see whether there was a basis, in fact, and in law for depriving this person of his liberty. since the military, when it picked up the people from guantanamo, very few on the battlefield. most turned in for bounties. but it never conducted any hearings at the time. so every era picked up and sold for bounties in afghanistan and pakistan at the time was simply shipped off to guantanamo. never had a hearing. and all we asked for was a simple hearing before a court to say is there really a basis for holding this guy? is he a shepherd? or is he some bad guy? we won that right in rasoul in 2004. congress then revoked that right and we -- again, in 2008, we won the right, the constitutional right for the people at guantanamo to habeas corpus. then the d.c. circuit -- i mean,
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this might seem terribly technical, but it's important, i think. the d.c. circuit, which is -- had been dominated by very conservative judges eviscerated that right. they had a series of decisions. they said first of all, these people may have the constitutional right to habeas corpus, but because they're foreigners outside the united states, they have no due process rights. so any habeas hearings doesn't need to comport with due process. then they said well, these hearings don't even need to make a standard that somebody who's been convicted follows in challenging their conviction. here are people who never had a trial who have even a lower standard. then the court went through -- basically any evidence presented by the government in an interrogation report was presumed to be correct. couldn't be challenged. so as a result, the court took away a legal remedy for these
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people, and that's happened in 2010. for the past five years, to get out, they've been dependent on a political process, the obama administration. maybe it will work, maybe it won't. one of the worst things about that is the obama administration's justice department really took advantage of these absurd legal decisions, and they challenged every grant of habeas corpus. they opposed every grant of habeas corpus. you know, if the court ordered these people released through habeas, the congress couldn't restrict it. and yet for some reason, the obama administration, just as it hasn't controlled the defense department, didn't control the justice department. they were taking advantage of absurd legal opinions to prevent the grant of habeas corpus. i hope we can change that. let me say just two other things. you know, guantanamo is a test
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of what this nation stands for. unfortunately, it seemed to me looking back through history, that our nation of great principles seems terribly willing to sacrifice those principles whenever there's a threat. people yell about security and sacrifice principles like individual freedom and habeas corpus. court review to see whether there's a basis for somebody's decision. someday, i hope that we realize that, you know, adhering to our principles might be most difficult in times of these crises, but it's the most important. i would like somehow for us to get that message across. there was something moving to me about the bridge of spies, if you saw it.
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here is a guy defending somebody who was a clear soviet agent, a lawyer, who had privileged conversations with him. and somebody from the cia said what is the guy telling you? and he said, well, you're asking me to violate the attorney-client privilege. he said don't be a goodie goodie, don't stick by these rules, your nation's security is at stake. he looks at him, and he said, what's your name? he says hoffman. he said you're german background. he said i'm irish. you know what makes us american? sticking to the rules. sticking to the rules like habeas corpus, not jailing people and depriving them of their liberty based on suspicion, is what makes us americans. it's tested in times like this. and i hope we have the guts to know that standing up for those principles is ultimately what makes us stronger. i also hope that obama does --
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this will be his legacy. and we should all let him know that he will be judged more by what he does on this by history, perhaps than anything else. thanks. >> thank you. informational question. so the military commissions have prosecuted how many people? >> eight? >> eight. but four of them have been vacated or overturned. >> there were roughly 800 prisoners at the beginning? and four successful prosecutions. >> most of them plea deals. they didn't actually go through. >> right. so the plea deals and the american system. >> right. they're all being contested. >> so it's a very small percentage. >> that's right. >> and how long has khalid
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sheikh mohammed been in custody? >> nearly 13 years. >> he's the architect of the 9/11 attacks. when do you anticipate that he will actually get inside a courtroom? >> i can't see it happening under the current system. >> couple of years. >> a couple of years. >> so the problems with the military commission process, are they being sorted out? are they always going to be sort of present in the system? >> i think basically my way of envisioning is if you imagine it's a kind of kit, if they made the kit, and then it was put together, and it was actually more full of holes than anything else. so every time they hold pretrial hearings and what looks like an established legal setting, it's full of holes. so it fails to proceed. it starts when everything looks real. all the people are there. and they hit a snag. and it's just full of snags. because the fundamental problem with it is one side is trying to
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hide all evidence of torture and the other side is saying we cannot proceed with anything that looks like a fair process or is a fair process without talking about the fact that these men were tortured. >> and the people making those arguments are military officers themselves, right? >> yeah. >> karen, i was confused by one thing you said. you think that guantanamo will be closed by the end of the year. but the military commissioners will migrate into federal trials? >> well, right now they can't bring anybody here pending congress changing its mind about being able to move guantanamo detainees. >> is it a question of the congress has said -- you can't do it, or there's no money to do that. >> no, they can't do it now. >> they just can't do it. >> they can't do it. so that's going to have to change one way or the other. what i was trying to say is what we always thought was the real problem at guantanamo is those that are too dangerous to release.
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that that list -- if you can't get rid of that list, you cannot close guantanamo. if that list decreases, dwindles, goes away, we're still going to have the military commissions. >> so just walk me through. if obama does want to close it, which presumably he does, he would -- would an executive action be enough to say yes, we're bringing khalid sheikh mohammed to face trial? >> the former counsel of obama had an op-ed with cliff sloan in "the washington post" saying he thinks obama has the executive power to override congress's restrictions and bring people here, that the ability to place people, allegedly captured in combat, is a presidential authority. >> somebody who's argued many cases before the supreme court. do you think that's legitimate? >> you know, i think it's
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more -- i think it's a good argument. and probably could win before the supreme court. but there's tremendous political implications. if obama exercises executive authority, what sort of precedent does that set up for a trump presidency? what will trump them be able to do? you know, do you really want to stand up to congress in actions like this? how far do you go? >> but absent that, is there any other way out of this? >> i think the way out of it would be, and has been for a while -- john mccain wants to close guantanamo also. if you could cut a deal with john mccain, and if mccain can bring around along some republicans to do it, then you could try to do a deal that had congress as part of it. part of the problem with that is that -- i mean, there are two problems. personality problems. mccain hates obama because he thinks he's a weakling.
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and mccain has lost his power reason the republican party. people see him as a moderate. so i don't know whether he can deliver enough republicans. >> mccain keeps asking for a plan. like show me your plan. and i don't actually understand why there is no plan, because there seems to be a plan in action of some sort. but he's left the door open. >> a new authorization for the use of military force, which paul ryan is trying to get through. i mean, couldn't it imbedded in there be -- i guess it would be a poison pill. but the president authorization for the use of military force is what keeps these people at guantanamo, right? mostly? >> in theory. >> okay. so what is it, if it isn't that? >> i think you could also look at the right to detain people under the international laws.
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you really could. >> so just for clarification, you're saying the people in guantanamo would be held not only under the amf, the authorization of the use of military force, but some other? >> under presidential authority in times of crisis to do that. >> so it's sort of this article ii authority? >> yeah, this is a very technical area. but yes, i think that argument can be made. >> you could also make the argument that if the aumf as it currently stands ran out, you know, ended, that that would be a premise for saying okay, we don't have the authority anymore. you could definitely make that argument. but whether it would win the day, or whether some kind of executive decree would come in is another story. but you could definitely -- and many people have made that argument. the question is, if you have a new authorization for the use of military force, we don't yet know that a new one will just get rid of the old one. we don't know exactly how it's
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beginning to be dealt. >> i guess i'm having a hard time understanding why guantanamo is going to be closed then, if you're saying -- what scenario makes that even plausible? >> here's the scenario. i think the obama plan is get as many people out of there as you can. so you're really left with 50 or 60 people. you then go to congress really and say how can you be spending 300, $400 million a year to house 50 or 60 people? my goodness. let's take them to the united states. it will save money. it's more efficient. and they're going to be protected from the population. so that's the plan. that is the plan. >> karen, you've looked at every federal terrorism case since 2011. >> i have. >> what is the conviction rate? >> the conviction rate is 91%.
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>> so what were the 9%? i mean, obviously -- >> people who are not accused of very serious crimes. those who are accused of anything that rises to a level of a serious crime -- >> so for the ten people accused of involvement in the uss cole attack, all these people -- >> i always say essentially when it comes to real terrorism, it's 100%. >> and typically, how long are these trials? >> the trials -- start to finish could be 18 months. something like that. >> the lawyers for those charged before military commissions very much wanted military commissions, not trials. so when the debate was going on, all the lawyers said oh, my god, we want to be in military commissions. we could bollocks it up forever. and that's what happened. if you want swift justice, you know -- >> the obama administration has put no one into guantanamo, correct? >> that's very, very significant. >> but bush stopped it.
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>> they've all gone into the southern district of new york mostly for trial? >> some to edda. sorry. the eastern district of virginia in alexandria. some have gone to the d.c. court. but many of them have gone either to brooklyn or to manhattan. >> and what is the outcome then? >> the outcome has been that they get convicted often of material support. they usually -- the sentences average around 18 years. some of them -- many of them are put away for 25 years or many. many for life. >> now, the problem with the military commissions in guantanamo is that material support, which is a very common kind of indictment -- >> it's useless. >> is not a war crime. >> right. >> so that's why some of these prosecutions -- they fail completely because they were vacated. >> right. some of them were vacated. and others who would have been charged with material support in the military commissions
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expected that they would be charged, couldn't be charged. and now the abulul case, another guantanamo detainee that has been through the system for how many years now? how many attempts have they been to try that case? and now it's on appeal for the question of conspiracy. >> and he was a bin laden bodyguard? >> so we think. >> okay. questions from the bbc. appropriately for you, andy. >> i have a question about one particular detainee, abu zaveda. who i'm sure you're familiar with. just briefly. he was brought there a long time ago. his diary was released a couple years ago. so what will happen with him? he's also at camp seven, which is a place of guantanamo that you can't get to when you're a journalist. and what does his state have to say about the closing of guantanamo? >> great question. great question. >> i think he's one of those people whose case we're looking at when we shrink the population
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down and down and down. because this is a man who can't be returned, as far as i can see, to anywhere that he's from. with origins in palestine and saudi arabia. so no palestinian has been released from guantanamo because israel won't allow it. saudi arabia it would not be safe i can't imagine to release this man who was never an al qaeda member, but was a facilitator for a non-al qaeda aligned training camp in afghanistan. he is the great shame of the torture program, that it was instigated for him. they said he was number three in al qaeda. they came out with all this stuff that they've walked back from. the last i heard legally was that they were still proposing to try and prosecute him because they decided he was the leader of some kind of militia that was aligned to al qaeda. i don't think that ever looked plausible, because it seems that what he was doing was facilitating the escape from afghanistan of all kinds of people after the u.s.-led invasion. that meant soldiers, but it meant civilians. i don't really think that there
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seems to be any kind of case against him. and he's in the category of people awaiting periodic review boards at present, which suggests that they have completely walked back from it. but i don't know what they do with this man. and apart from that, the state that he's in after what happened to him, he has seizures regularly, his lawyers say. i mean, it's a really terrible story. i think there are probably a handful of other people hiding in the shadows at guantanamo that we don't really know. but some of whom i'm sure were so terribly abused that they're in an awful state. which why be why nobody really wants to go near their cases. all kinds of issues where we're looking at the too dangerous to release. we've got a handful of people who there appears to be more of a case from the government's side, but they don't -- they've got these evidence problems. but i think we have to -- we have to get everybody else out. we really need to be clearing out everybody who is an insignificant threat before we
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start looking at exactly what we're left with. i want that number to be as small as possible. we look at the media now, we're hearing 50, 60. that's too many. >> what about the -- and the fact is people believe being released from guantanamo, one of them went on to become the leaders of the taliban, or the afghan taliban. two of them went on to become leaders of al qaeda in yemen. so how do you sort of answer that? >> well, the people who were released, these were people who were released during the bush administration when there was no process. and a lot of them awere release for political reasons. now we have a process. i wish it had worked more quickly, but we review these people, and we see are they dangerous -- >> and just so people understand, what is that process? what has that process been? >> the process was originally started back in 2009 when the obama administration -- you know, it was amazing. at the end of the bush
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administration, we found that files on these people were scattered everywhere. there had been no thorough review of the people who were at guantanamo. they really didn't know it. so part of the whole start of the obama administration was to try to collect the files together and do a review. now, that review really took far too long. but it was a review of an -- an interagency review of all these different agencies. you know, defense, cia, everyone. they had to come to a unanimous decision about each individual. and it was very tough, because you have always had people in the defense department and cia said oh, my god, there's a risk here. we don't want to do it. but that's when they clered cle lot of the people and created this other category of people too dangerous to release, cl is a bad category. obama said at that time, that even then in 2010 there would be reviews going on.obama said at even then in 2010 there would be reviews going on. but they didn't do anything. until it started again in 2013.
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and what they do is they review people through the interagency task force and look and see, do they pose a risk? can they be released? the problem with that, as andy and karen have said, they haven't put enough resources into it, so there have only been 18 of these reviews. they should review them all. and 85% of them would probably be cleared. let me just say one thing about zabeda. i am not allowed, like andy, with wikileaks information, because i could use my security clearance, unbelievably. but his lawyers have told me that they think a lot of the allegations against him were simply false, and that it really was a whole created myth about his dangerousness, and he is not such a person. >> other questions. identify yourself. >> from the muslim public
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affairs council. i'm so impressed by the work that you're doing. it was just cringing to hear all the details today. my question is, so if this -- if guantanamo was set up basically to skirt, you know, the geneva convention and to security any kind of rights that prisoners of war would have, then why would we close that down? i mean, we have -- in this political climate, we've got isis, we've got things going on in different parts of the world. it seems really convenient for people of that mindset to say look, you know what, i can do this and i'm never going to be asked. even if i am asked, i can put labels on it that get me away from this and nobody east rea's all that concerned. so i'm wondering, if i were on the other side, i would say this is great, it's set up, i can just keep doing this forever. >> well, i think that's because there are -- you know, there are people in positions of power and authority in the united states, and there are people within the
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obama administration who don't think that holding people indefinitely without charge or trial is helpful. both in terms of what america claims to respect in terms of the law, but also internationally in terms of are you creating enemies by what you're doing. i think it's very clear, every time president obama speaks about it, he says what we're doing at guantanamo is creating more enemies and i think that that's true. i think there are dark forces present in the united states political scene who want to keep it open because they're desperate to add new people to the population at guantanamo. and i think the argument against that is that president obama has shown a willingness to bring people who are captured abroad for prosecutions in federal courts in the united states. that's working. none of us have any reason, i don't think, to suggest that the geneva conventions don't work. and they were not only thrown
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aside at guantanamo, they have generally been treated appallingly in the wars that have taken place since 9/11 and they should be put back center stage of how you treat people captured in wartime. and the other thing which i have a problem with, but it's part of the apparatus now is killing people through drone attacks. we don't have to both we are the capture and the detention. but i don't think there's a strong argument to be made anywhere on practical terms whatsoever for keeping guantanamo going. what would be the reason? so that you can add new people to it. i do think throughout obama's presidency, the only good thing that i can say about it being so long and it hasn't closed is that it has always looked like a legacy to me, not as an ongoing commitment to those policies that take place there. >> yes, i think there were people who argue exactly what you say. guantanamo was established for
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one purpose only. to avoid the law. the theory was if you keep foreigners outside sovereign u.s. territory, you don't need to pay attention to international law. there are a lot of people who think that's terrific in a time when we were facing these threats, these terrorist threats. there are a lot of people in this country, and it's from a time when you saw vigilante sort of movies, who think the law is an impediment to our security. so the debate is between people -- and i'm telling you, you go into the republican side of congress. yes, they believe exactly that. that this is a place we need to keep people, we're not constrained by all these silly little rules that you left wing wimps want to impose on us. this is how we're going to defend our nation and this is a perfect place. believe me. that's what a lot of people believe. and the fight is the other of us, like us, the left wing
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wimps, who are saying let me tell you, our strength comes from our principles and adherence to the law. >> this lady here. >> i have a twofold question. ava havis. one, how important is it that how many governors have said they will not accept people released from guantanamo in their states. and two, although you mentioned it, i guess i think it's more important than maybe has been mentioned. how much of wanting to keep people there is not wanting it to come to light? how much torture has been used? because the president very clearly says he doesn't want to look backwards, he wants to move forward. >> political question. >> well, on the governors -- on the governors who don't want them in their backyard. it's a political tool. it's particularly effective in a campaign season. if there's any facts applied to
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it in terms of people getting out of super maxes, no attacks on prisons, including guantanamo, by any kind of terrorist organizations, etc., it would fall apart. you have to understand that when guantanamo was built, the military base held hundreds of american women and children who were there as servicewomen, as servicemen, and as children in schools, etc. and they were given the choice of whether they should stay at guantanamo when they were going to build this prison for the worst of the worst, or if they could all go home. back to where they were on the stage. and they all chose to stay. this ia that, you know, it's scary to be in there. it's just a political tool. one thing that it may come down to is money. it now costs $3 million a year -- >> 300 million. >> yes. what did i say? >> $300 million to keep each detainee -- to keep the detainees there. as we let detainees out, it goes
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up. the cost per detainee. so at some point, when you get to your handful that are left, your 12 or 14, which is what we're really hoping for, it doesn't make any sense at all. i'm happy to answer the torture question, but you might be answer at that. >> bloomberg coming out against khalid sheikh mohammed being tried in new york killed him. you know, it has political power. it's a shame. but the torture question. i think they'll cover it up anyway. >> yeah. all i was going to say was we had the executive summary of the torture report just over a year ago. and let me say, as i think i said a year ago, that i'm still very impressed with a system that you have in the united states of the senate intelligence committee able to do that. because we have had pretty much zero accountability in the united kingdom in terms of a proper investigation of what's taken place in our complicity in
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everything since 9/11. but, you know -- and when you read that the executive summary, okay, we haven't had the whole report. okay, there are redactions. what is so profoundly shocking about what took place. >> the report was really about cia black sites. it's not about guantanamo. i understand that there people who went from the black sites to guantanamo, but they're a little bit different. >> well, no. i would like to see a similar process applied to what took place in guantanamo. but it's not as though we don't know is what i meant really. >> but her question was about what will come to light in these trials about torture. what might come out. i think the answer to that is it's not so much -- i agree, it's not so much a worry about what's going to come out because of how much we know and how that is about khalid sheikh mohammed and those. but the real underlying truth here is when you have tortured individuals who are on trial, or whose witnesses and evidence
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have got people who were tortured, you actually can't try that. and it doesn't matter what kind of system you built to put lipstick on this thing. it doesn't work. it's a fatal flaw. and all the machinations in the world won't get around it in the military commission system, whereas ahmed galani was tortured. the witness who was the big government witness against him was excluded because he was found through galani's torture. >> galani is who? >> the only guantanamo detainee who was ever moved to american soil and tried in federal court, tried for embassy bombings. charged with the killings of over 200 people, including americans in two east african countries and u.s. embassies. and it was a rather short trial. it took a month. and it played itself out and there were difficulties, but the issue of torture did not come up in the trial itself. and we're still here.
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and he is in the super max in colorado. >> visiting the bloomberg claims about how khalid sheikh mohammed couldn't be tried in new york. what were they broadly? >> well, he thought that it would cost a lot of money and it would jeopardy security in new york. it would make it a place, as they said at the time, where people could come attack new york. it was silly. he fell into a -- and the obama administration didn't handle it well. >> i think especially when you look at the fact that they have had al qaeda trials in new york. >> many. >> karen, tell us -- so since that decision, who from al qaeda has been tried in the southern district of new york? >> galani was before that. since then, there have been a number of individuals who were extradited, that were charged, some of them before 9/11, that were extradited to the united states after many years and were tried -- actually, most of them in the last three years.
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abu hamsa. the son-in-law of bin laden was tried. another individual who wanted to set up a camp in ft. bly -- i mean, in oregon. and there have been a host of other -- a couple of individuals who have been tried not in manhattan, but in connecticut for other kinds of crimes that are associated with -- >> there haven't been any problems associated with it. >> there haven't been any problems. there's extra kind of security that judges can determine when you're in your courtroom, like not reading "the new york times" or something like that, so that the juries won't see any kind of headlines. but for the most part, they've been very professional and pro forma and not very exciting. >> can i just say one thing. we're talking about the people being tried and where they'll be tried. that's 10% of the population at guantanamo.
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90% of the people are there indefinitely in prison without charge or trial. it's an extraordinary thing in our system. where we try the others is clearly they should be in federal courts. it's better for everyone, worse for them. >> it was one of those terrible decisions, i thought, by the obama administration to back down having publicly announced that they were going to proceed with the prosecutions of khalid sheikh mohammed and the others in new york city. and i think what that tells us is that they were confident that they had enough evidence that didn't involve torture to secure a successful conviction. otherwise they wouldn't have gone ahead with it. so backing dunn on that has just led to this position where the justice has endlessly delayed. >> the gentleman in the back, and then this gentleman here. >> adam zagger. you may have covered some of this, because i unfortunately came in a little bit late.
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but if you look at the -- apart from the politicians and the environment that we're in, we have the people who are actually conducting this business down in guantanamo to include also the department of defense and mr. carter. so you've got this very highly trained military leader who's captaining these prosecutions. who used to give a lot of optimistic interviews years ago about the way forward. and so forth. and it seems to me that the -- forget about -- well, the politics are undoubtedly related. but the prospect of these trials occurring at guantanamo -- i mean, they haven't happened yet. and it seems to me a question as
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to whether they will ever happen. and the other thing is -- i haven't been down to guantanamo in a while. but you used to talk to the people on the prosecution. they had a plan and there was kind of a morale and they felt they were doing the right thing. if you agreed with them or you didn't, you could understand animating the process on the prosecution side. at this point, it just goes on and on. what is going on with the department of defense and the prosecution team, and to what extent do they believe -- i mean, a lot of these are, you know, good, sincere people who think they're trying to do the right thing whether we agree with it or not. but i would think that this process is eroding it. and then we have that insubordination editorial.
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i guess it was in "the new york times." what is going on with kind of on a technical morale psychological legal level with the people who are tasked with carrying this matter out at the present time, given the prospects? >> you kno i can't answer that except to say that i don't think that the optimism, at least in the front row of the commission, has changed. that it's somewhat surprising -- [ inaudible question ] what is their optimism based on? >> the u.s. military. we're going to get it done. >> general martin believes that this process can work. no matter how many hurdles there are, he just believes it. and for the rest of us who are on the outside that see all of these glitches taking place,
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whether it's, you know, the cia having access to the courtroom and nobody knowing it, including the judge,r the translators being brought in who were translators during the torturing interrogation process. or a number of -- or the fbi, the informant that was placed on the defense team. for some reason, mark martins believes he can defy the odds and make this happen. and he doesn't seem concerned about the timeframe. and i think if there were actually a limit in his mind, i wonder how optimistic he would be if he thought he had to conclude this by the end of the obama presidency. >> i would say -- all i would add is that politically, it seems to me that the people who support the commissions rather than federal court trials are not unduly bothered if it drags on and on and on. because they absolutely don't want these people tried in federal court, whatever their reasons are for fixating on the military commissions, which
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don't work. but the result of that is that it's helping to defend the notion of guantanamo as a place where people must be held indefinitely. and that's another important reason to keep pushing against that. >> adam, can i say -- you know, one of the things that's interesting is sort of theoretical leader of the commissions was lindsey graham, as you know. lindsay graham believes strongly and wrongly that we are in a war, and that these people need to be treated under the laws of war, and it's not right to treat them as criminals. if lindsay graham, who is a very close friend of john mccain, and mccain defers to him on this. if he were to say yeah, this isn't working. i mean, people have talked to lindsay graham and say, you know, you really elevate these people by treating them not as criminals, but as warriors. but if he were to ever break on
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that, it would change this whole thing. but i don't know whether he will. >> thank you. jeff dire from "the financial times." i wonder if reasons why the periodic review boards seem to have been so slow. if the plans are outlined about trying to get this done by the end of this year, it's actually going to happen, that would be the sweet spot you would think for the administration to hustle on it. is it about resources? is it about foot dragging from the pentagon? is there a torture question? is there an obvious reason? >> they simply haven't put the resources into it that they need to and those resources are actually available, either within the department or for hire. i mean, they really are. and they simply have not put the resources into it. i mean, i've got to say in my own feeling, i want to encourage obama, but in terms of managing this problem the obama administration simply has not managed it. 18 pr -- if they want to close
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the place, then you should get the resources in to do prbs more quickly and they haven't done it. if you want to close the place, you shouldn't be opposing habeas relief in federal courts for people who should win. but they sort of go on and don't take charge of it, you know. >> it seems to me no one's really been overseeing that. so the fact that prisoners have been approved for release by one process and habeas petitions have been challenged, nobody is joining it. some people see it as part of a conspiracy, they don't want to close it. i don't think it is. it's that no one is overseeing the whole process and all the different parts of it. >> thank you. chris harlan with the international committee of the right side cross. assuming that some people currently held at jtf guantanamo are moved to the united states and have had a negative prb, how do you think that changes legal arguments that might be made and
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whether those legal arguments might be successful if they were actually on american soil? >> well, the whole premise -- the whole reason for guantanamo was to say these foreigners outside the united states have no constitutional rights. the supreme court said they have the right to habeas corpus, the d.c. circuit promptly said they have no other constitutional rights. under the constitution due process, there's no way you can hold people without charge or trial. you really can't. if they move to the united states, the law since the time of hopkins says a foreigner within the united states enjoys full constitutional rights and the right to due process. >> on this side. louie? >> hi. i'm louie, i'm a former fellow here. i wonder, you know, you talked
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about earlier, like, you had guantanamo, say, on the republican side, using it as a strategy for war. if first peter can start, talk about how guantanamo has become this recruiting symbol and how it inspires in "inspire" magazine and how isis has turned it into a powerful symbol and what it means as a strategy when you are fighting a war on a psychological operation side how important that becomes for terrorist groups in terms of recruiting. >> i think guantanamo has completely disappeared. i haven't done a scientific study of this issue. in jihadi propaganda -- obviously, it's not an accident that isis are putting its prisoners in orange jumpsuits. this is an unscientific response, but it doesn't seem to be one of those issues -- and this may actually be not a bad thing for purposes of getting it, the whole energy around the issue has gone down on all
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sides. right? i mean, if you go back to 2006, this was a really very potent international -- it was a huge problem for the united states with our european allies, forget about islamists, jihad it is, but it sort of receded. you live this every day. do you think that's a reasonable view or not? >> i was thinking that, you know, in my kind of everyday encounters with muslim people, i think that people are aware of it. so, this isn't about, you know, a terrorism response. this is about an everyday, ordinary appreciation by muslims what guantanamo stands for and why it's wrong. i think it -- i think it has a very -- it does have a bad effect even if it's not functioning at this high level. >> good afternoon. i'm scott cooper. i work at human rights first and i'm also a retired marine. certainly this is a friendly
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audience for what your purposes are, and i commend all of you for your arguments here. i'd like to take you to task because we spend our time banging our head against the wall trying to figure out what we should be doing to move the ball down the field. if you were an advocacy organization, what would you say we should be doing to help get this place closed within the next year? whether it's working with the administration, i have no illusions that we will convince tom cotton to close guantanamo. what ideas do you have? >> one thing andy pointed to that none of the press hasreal really written about is the psychological deterioration and physical deterioration of the detainees. you know, from the very beginning until now there's this idea that they're super powerful, superhuman, super dangerous. are you kidding me? first of all, they are crippled from this experience, whether they were tortured or not.
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being in this hopeless situation is its own form of torture. no journalist or ngo has taken on the job of looking at who these human beings are. at the same time those who have gone back or home or wherever they've gone, there's been sporadic press about uruguay and who is in trouble in uruguay, but do you know what most of these detainees have done when they've gone home? they've gone home. they shut their door and don't want to be bothered. that doesn't exclude peter's point about what else may have happened. but it's important to know there's some reality out there. and, yes, you'll be accused of being, you know, changing the facts or whatever it is, but i think it's important at least to try and neither one of these stories seems to be out there from at least my point of view. >> i also think that human rights first is, you know, played a critical role, because really because, you know, the idea of, you know, i was talking
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about the idea that toughness in times of crisis you do away with our principles. you avoid law. human rights first has put together, you know, tough military guys time and again who say our strength derives now from our wealth and being tough but from our principles. and that's -- that's i think will continue to be the most important thing. believe me, if obama tries to close this in the beginning -- in the middle of the election, there will be hell to pay. you will have people, tom cotton, kelly ayote will be yelling we are anti-american people and human rights first comes right in the middle and you play a crit scal role and you got to keep doing that and getting it out. >> the discussions that i've been having since i got into the states a few days ago, it's becoming more and more significant to me that the one
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thing that we can push on this is the prbs, so maybe all our organizations need to talk to each other more about how we can make that -- try and make that a priority. >> any other questions? great. well, thank you to our panel. that was a wonderful -- do you have any sort of just closing observations before we wrap it up? >> i have one. >> okay. >> not trying khalid sheikh mohammed, not trying the perpetrators of 9/11 is harmful beyond imagination to the ability of americans to get beyond the tragedy of 9/11. >> right. >> and it is not understood and even, you know, we don't really understand it. but my feeling is that the deep psychological emotional, political damage will never be healed in any way until that trial takes place. so, that's another piece of guantanamo. >> thank you.
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well, thank you to the panel. karen greenberg, andy, tom, thank you. and coming up shortly republican presidential candidate and new jersey governor chris christie delivering his state of the state address before the 217th session of the state legislatur in trenton. we'll take you there live when the governor begins his remarks scheduled for 3:00 eastern. as president obama prepared for his state of the union address, he released this video on twitter. >> i'm working on my state of
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the union address. it's my last one. and as i'm writing, i keep thinking about the road that we've traveled together these past seven years. that's what makes america great. our capacity to change for the better. our ability to come together as one american family and pull ourselves closer to the america we believe in. it's hard to see sometimes in the day-to-day noise of washington but it is who we are and what i want to focus on in this state of the union address. >> and c-span's coverage starts tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern with our guests looking back at the history and tradition of the president's annual message and what to expect in this year's address. and then at 9:00, our live coverage of the president's speech followed by the republican response by south carolina governor nicki haley, plus your reaction by phone, facebook, sweets and e-mail as well as those from members of


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