tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN February 19, 2016 4:03pm-6:04pm EST
planes at the air base and we're grateful for the agreements we have reached with turkey. and they worked to seal that border, it's much harder for these foreign fighters to get into syria than it was until then. turkey is caring for 2.1 million refugees from syria, spending almost $8 billion. something that people forget about. so turkey is doing a lot here. militarily, they were doing some very important air strikes in north of the country. right now, we're working with them to get them back into the campaign but we're doing that very carefully. because the conflict with -- not conflict but the tension between turkey and russia after turkey shot down a russian plane after the russian plane violated turkey's air space kind of complicated the picture. that's something we're working with turkey on. but we're comfortable with turkey's contributions. they're a critical nato ally of ours so we'll work with them. >> thank you. out of time. >> thank you. mr. dana rohrabacher of california. >> thank you for your service,
mr. ambassador, and when you mentioned in the beginning of your testimony that abu seeoff left this world with our help, was that the same abu sayoff or another one? >> no, he was a legacy in iraq, acolyte. >> he was not the financier -- >> not to my knowledge. >> how many fighters do we have -- how many people are fighting assad? the number of fighters that are there and i guess aleppo and that region? >> i can't put a number on
aleppo. you know, the upper most estimate of our -- you know, moderate -- the uppermost estimate is 70,000 fighters but split in hundreds of different groups. to bring coherence to that is difficult. >> and are there any of those anti-assad fighters who are fighting isil at this point? >> well, yes. and before the russian air strike campaign, we felt pretty good about some -- the word i guess is coherence and capacity that we were gaining along that line which is on the map which i projected. but since then a lot of those guys have peeled off from the isil fight to fight the regime which is -- which is not helpful to the isil campaign. >> well, let us just note that this administration has told us before that there will be no stability unless we get rid of so and so. and in fact, the opposite has been true.
in libya in particular which you outlined today is being a catastrophe. we were told by -- and almost the same words that you have used today, there's never going to be any peace there until we get rid of gadhafi and in fact, that's why we have to help the non-gadhafi forces and now we have testimony of course that isil is on the verge of taking over libya. let me note that i didn't see assad as ever a threat. was assad ever a threat to the united states? >> well, assad has given sustenance to hezbollah and terrorist groups for a number of years. he's a threat to some of our closest partners in the region. >> assad was never a threat to the united states. you know, frankly, we republicans made a mistake when we backed our president when he said we have to get rid of saddam hussein. and frankly, it looks like to me that all of this chaos and confusion that you're describing
today that unfortunately is in your lap to try to correct started when we made a mistake, that we have to get rid of saddam hussein because he's a bad guy and he's committing atrocities against his own people. and that has destabilized the whole region and led to many thousands more of people being killed. i would think frankly from a distance it looks like assad is in that same type of fighting assad is the same type of situation. let me ask, how many of the isil fighters are foreigners? meaning from other areas, rather than syria and iraq. >> total number of foreign fighters have come into the theater are above 30,000, but many of them as i mentioned in my opening it's been decreased quite a bit. so foreign fighters fighting with isil now, i'd probably put
it in the number of -- i think the most recent estimates of 15,000 or so. >> 15,000. how many come from places like chechnya? >> a lot. in fact, one example when i was in iraq recently with the baiji refinery, and we were picking up mostly the fighters, our guys -- they were speaking russian. >> so we have all of these thousands of radical islamic terrorist fighters and who come from russia and chechnya and so the russians maybe have something -- maybe even more important for them to be involved than us to be involved. because they have had exact fighters from their country. i don't believe there are any americans over there with that terrorist group. let me just say the idea that the turkish -- you don't know that -- that we don't know where
those trucks are going and who's purchasing that fuel is unacceptable. let me just say that before the russians started bombing those trucks which then ignited this outrage from turkey that before they did, this body, this committee, saw evidence day after day after day of trucks loaded with fuel, thus needing supplies and money and wealth that would go into isil, were just not touched. they were -- how many -- how much evidence, mr. chairman, do we have? overwhelming evidence that our -- that this administration wasn't doing a thing about it. and once the russians started, then we did. i think that this idea that -- >> well, if i could just correct the record since you raised the point, i think once the french started, it was the french after
the attack in paris attributable to the french force, they made the decision to hit on the open high waives. >> the russians were doing that and you never know who the russians are hitting, that's their business. they haven't been able to outline it for us. i would say this. that people who are a threat to the united states of america, to our people, the terrorist network from around the world, we should be working closely with anyone like that who is not a threat to us and whether or not they oppress their own people, i'm sorry, we didn't like saddam hussein and look what we did to the world by getting rid of him and gadhafi, and there are a number of cases like this. our question shouldn't be how should we get rid of assad and spending resources and attention on that. our vision should be how do we get rid of isil and the radical islamists who will terrorize us
and kill us and the rest of the world. >> thank you. i go to mr. connolly of virginia. >> thank you. i want to concur with my friend from california in his critique of the mistake by republicans in supporting the reckless foreign policy of george w. bush. certainly want to associate myself with those remarks. >> absolutely. >> i will point out though that some of the current critique like libya, it would be fun to replay video of my colleagues who criticized president obama for not being more involved in libya at the time. for being too reluctant, for not taking the lead and being at the forefront of the revolution against gadhafi. and now we're bemoaning the fact that stability was a victim as well as the gadhafi regime. so that was then, this is now.
welcome, ambassador mcgurk. let me start with russia, one of favorite topics of my friend from california. how concerned are we that russia's air strikes in syria are non-isil focused and that in fact they have targeted either deliberately or just coincidentally non-isil insurgent groups that we were hoping to use as part of the coalition against assad? >> it's a huge problem. and -- >> could you say that louder, i couldn't hear you. >> it's a huge problem. they say they want to fight isil in nusra, but they're hitting groups as i mentioned we're ready to fight isil. so, you know, this is where -- we just have to be honest. they're hitting 70% of their air strikes are against the opposition. many of the opposition groups are ready to fight isil. >> so we now have a situation
where the russian activity in syria is directly in conflict with western goals? is that correct, would that be fair? >> you can't put it in total black and white terms but they're hitting isil around palmyra. >> given the fact that you said 70% we don't want to equivocate. >> but the mara line north of aleppo, their air strikes have helped isil. >> is the united states prepared to do something about that besides a diplomatic protest? >> as i think the secretary said yesterday, i think we have to focus on the diplomatic process and that's why we'll get together tomorrow in munich, but we have to be thinking ahead in the event that doesn't work. >> yes. well -- all right. i think it was frederick the great that said -- one needs to
be bold. i hope diplomatic protests work. but we cannot afford to have russia countermandering of our work on the ground in syria and it seems like we need to follow frederick the great's advice. tell me a little bit about the complications of working with the kurds. from my point of view and i think a lot of my colleagues on this committee, the kurds are pro american. they're willing to fight on the ground. they have had territorial gains. they have actually beaten isil on the battlefield more than once. they are critical in looking at the looming fight with respect to aleppo. but they have got problems with the central government and they have had other problems with some of our allies in the region like turkey.
how complicated is that relationship and what ought to be the u.s. posture with respect to training, equipping and financing the peshmerga? >> well, i'll start in iraq. you know, there's vestiges of what used to happen over the -- under the governor of prime minister -- former foreign minister maliki in which the relationship was different. i want to be clear, every single shipment of weapons or supplies that we wanted to send to the kurds has gone. nothing has been held up by the central government under prime minister. >> but they're not paying the soldiers. >> well, a lot of people in iraq are not getting paid. but what's happening in iraq in terms of the oil allocation, the kurds are exporting their oil on their own. and keeping those revenues. and they're not therefore getting the revenues from the south which is actually an equitable exchange.
but as i mentioned, iraq writ large is focused every month on $5 million funding deficit that's a problem writ large. for the kurdish peshmerga there's a $400 million monthly gap. peshmerga salaries are about $50 million a month. so we want to focus on this in a holistic way. working with the imf, i think our budget requests will have some recommendations for how we might help the iraqis here. but we want to focus on it holistically. but the kurds have what they need to fight isil. i will see president barzani will be in munich. when i was in iraq last week, a senior delegation from the kurdistan regional government was there to meet with prime minister badi. we want to keep that relationship good. the kurds in the north and iraq
they have a lot of political divisions i that encourage them as a close friend of theirs to find a way to resolve. because when the isil wolf was at the door, all the kurds were united. especially when the kurdish peshmerga went through turkey to fight in a historical moment that i was a part of. now that the isil threat has receded a little bit all of these divisions have opened up so there's three kurdish parties in the north. great political divisions there. divisions between the syrian kurds and the kurds in northern iraq. our message to them is that this fight is not over. the entire southern border of the iraqi kurdistan region is controlled by isil. as long as that's the case there's not a stable situation there. so our advice is to unite against the threat against isil. despite all the differences. a lot of differences. meanwhile, we have to help them with the financial difficulties and it's something i look forward to working with this committee to do. >> mr. chairman, i just -- i'm glad to hear that.
i think that's essential and i think we need to be providing that financial support because they're willing to fight. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. okay. ted poe of texas. >> thank you mr. chairman. isis is deliberately targeting religious minorities specifically christians, christians have been executed by the thousands. clergy has been assassinated. jihadists in mosul stamped the homes of christians with an "n" for nazarene. convert or die to their way of thinking or you die. christian females were sold in slave markets. three of them were featured by "the new york times" magazine last summer. isis' magazine approves the enslavement of christian girls
in nigeria and posts the prices of selling them on the marketplace and the pope has said this is genocide. i mention these things to get your opinion on this issue specifically of genocide. the omnibus bill that was passed the president signed requires that the administration determine whether or not religious minorities like christians, shiia muslims, yazidis suffer genocide by the hands of isis, by march the 18th. can you give us some insight on whether or not the united states will take the position that what isis does against religious minorities is genocide or not? >> thank you, congressman. and we're focused on answering that legislative request and our lawyers are deeply -- as you said, genocide is a very
specific term so it's legal determination. and we're looking at it, i believe, across the board. and there's no question everything that you said is true and more. what isil has done to the christian community and minority communities in iraq and syria is unbelievable. and then on top of it destroying our common heritage, our common culture, our ancient history. this is why we have to destroy this terrorist organization, period. and what we want to do, particularly in liberating some of the areas near mosul is return christians to their ancestral homeland. that's something we're focused on. when i'm in baghdad i try to see the patriarch archbishop and one thing that drives us is to help us do that. they have been driven out of their homes in the most atrocious manner possible.
and we have to work to get them back. in sinjar, again, i have to praise our friends in the peshmerga. they liberated sinjar from isil. about three or four months ago. very successful operation. sinjar is where isil came in and enslaved thousands of yazidis, killing many of the young men and taking off the women to enslave the women. that's why we have to destroy this barbaric terrorist organization, but in response to the specific request about the genocide determination that's something my lawyers are working on. >> do you see any reason why the administration won't get a verdict on the 18th? >> no. >> there was an amendment that i put in -- or i had put into the omnibus bill that requires a strategy to defeat isis. and it was passed into law that there would be a strategy by the
administration to -- what we're going to do to defeat isis by june the 18th. i think there is no real concrete strategy to defeat isis. not contained, but to defeat isis. june 18th is the deadline. do you see any reason we won't get the strategy by june the 18th? >> well, in terms of strategy, look, we're going to suffocate this network every single which way. we'll -- it's like an anaconda strategy, the constant strategy. the propaganda network and in iraq and syria as i explained we're working to take away their territory. the global networks we're working to cut off and slice off their foreign fighter network. >> so we'll have a strategy to defeat isis that's concrete? to train and equip, that was a disaster. and then the president has said that was a disaster.
i'm not going to be argumentative, but will we have a concrete strategy so bubba down in texas will know what the united states is going to do to defeat isis? do you see any reason we won't have that in writing for us and the american public by june the 18.? >> no, we have a strategy now. >> well, part is not working. are we going to get the same strategy? that's really my question. is it the same thing or is it going to be a concrete strategy? this something we can understand that we will defeat. go after the oil field, go after the trucks but we don't bomb the oil fields and things like that. tactics. >> i understand that. the things that haven't worked we have adjusted. i'll follow up with you so you can have that narrative laid down. >> so we'll see that strategy by june 18th. i yield back. >> we go to karen bass of california. >> thank you, again, for your
testimony and your time here in our hearing. i wanted to ask you a few questions. congressman smith was asking you about boko haram and africa and i would like to focus some of my questions there as well. one of the things that has been just a little frustrating is when we think of boko haram and isis and knowing that boko haram actually has their reign of terror has actually continued every day and at the end of last year actually killed more people than isis did and so i'm concerned especially with what's happening in libya the deterioration in libya and knowing when libya first fell it essentially led to a coup in mali and i was wondering what you're seeing now, especially with isis increasing the involvement in occupation in libya. what do you think or what are you seeing the fallout being in other countries?
>> well, as i mentioned, libya remains an acute focus because libya is unlike like boko haram which was a pre-existing problem before isil, the fact that they have raised the isil flag doesn't change the nature of the problem. isil in libya is different. so in libya what we're working very hard to do, one of my colleagues special envoy for libya, jonathan winer, we were in rome together on isil, working to form the government of national accord, national unity government in libya. and hoping to get that done very soon. the u.n. special envoy martin coker is a close friend of mine. we have to have that because you need a foundational partner. i mentioned the summer of 2014 is very important to get the new iraqi government formed. iraq had an election, it was going through the government formation process. had we gone into iraq, i think it would have been hard to push
back effectively and aggressively. so the sequencing in libya is to try to get this national government formed. and then to work with it. to come up with a strategy to begin to combat libya but i will say if that takes some time. when we see threats emerging to our own national security, the president will take military action in libya. that's why we killed the overall isil leader in libya, abu nabeel. the political and the military here is quite intertwined. and so we're hoping to get that government formed very soon. >> so while we're doing that and i absolutely understand and recognize the significance and importance of that, are you seeing though any involvement in terms of either isil folks moving south or moving weapons? which is what was the situation in mali. while we're working to stabilize the government and i absolutely understand that.
>> what i have seen, congresswoman, is the flow north to libya. primarily. they try to -- they seem to be -- in libya, doing what they did in syria. establish state like structures so insert on the central coast and you can see training camps coming up elsewhere. their own dabiq magazine, their own open source magazine -- they're trying to flow the resources to libya. if they can establish themselves there in a very rooted way and get rooted then the risk will be it flows outward. so we'll try to make sure they can't do that. >> so you know back to boko haram. i understand that boko haram was a pre-existing and all and the significance of them raising the flag if it was more symbolic, are they getting any resource, any of the financial resources from isil or just symbolic?
>> we have seen some media coordination. so some of the boko haram media products have been a little more sophisticated. which shows some connections with isil. but again, not the type of direct weapons flow finance just because boko haram is already a self-contained entity. but we have to work with the nigerians to get at the boko haram problem period whether it calls itself boko haram or isil, it's a fundamental problem. >> so the attack that took place in mali, right after france recently, what do you know of that? in terms of its relationship to isil. i believe it was in al qaeda. >> yeah. so this is where things, you know, we don't want to paint with too sharp a brush because al qaeda often has the same goals. that was an al qaeda attack, that was not an isil attack. but it doesn't matter. doesn't matter if isil is attacking or al qaeda is attacking the hotel so it's a huge problem. the french have taken a huge lead on the mali side.
they have degraded that network but it's still able to launch attacks like that. >> thank you. >> thank you. mr. cook of california. >> thank you, madam chair. thank you, mr. ambassador for being here. i don't have envy your job. very, very difficult. i don't have your sense of optimism about syria with the russians supporting them. i think it's going to be very tough to dislodge them. picking up on that question of the turks and the kurds, point blank, any hope for a separate homeland for the kurdistan? i don't think geography favors it, but we have disappointed the kurds so many times. and after all the fighting and everything else, and particularly with the pressure with the kurds i just don't -- i think we're going to be trying them again. can you comment on that?
>> well, the kurds and i have dealt with the -- with my friends the kurds and the kurdistan region of iraq for almost a decade now. and you're right. there's a historical memory of what happened to the kurds after world war i, which is something we have to all recognize and be quite sympathetic to. the kurds in northern syria, we have developed a relationship with over the last 18 months or so and in the counter-isil campaign. i was able to go into northern syria last week and meet a number of them. it's very similar historical narrative. however, at this moment in time, creating new independent states is not something that would be particularly stabilizing. so when it comes to the northern iraq and the kurds as i mentioned, i think before something like that can be discussed in a serious way, first, you have to get isil off the southern border and in the kurdistan region. second the economic situation
has to stabilize and third, the political situation has to stabilize. so right now i think the kurds of northern iraq recognize this. nobody is trying to do the impossible and create a unified iraq that's a growing democracy, but a federal iraq which is defined in the constitution, which empowers local leader, em powers the kurds in iraq is something that's realistic and something we support. >> thank you very much. the other question i had was i just got back from the middle east and a couple of things. incilic, that really helps the pilot, eight hours flying down there. i don't know how they do it, i really don't. but the problem is in the past is the turks have been, well, we'll call -- we'll control all
of the air operations by incilic. i hope that doesn't go back to the way it was a year or two years ago where they had almost complete control over air ops and what was going in. and i know that's kind of a military/foreign affairs question, but i'm very, very nervous about erdogan and the politics and i'm not sure why we even have it there, other than it's very, very close to the middle east. >> so that is a question for my military colleagues but i have been to insirlick, i met the pilots there. the agreement is that those planes fly within the air coalition of the counter-isil campaign which is coordinated out of qatar. so we do every day an air tasking order which goes out. so those planes are integrated with that. so it's part of the overall cohesive campaign. >> i just got back from qatar. i'm just very, very nervous
about the politics of turkey. the last question i had was about saudi, the gulf states and everything else. sometimes i think we're led to believe that their number one focus is isis. no. the impression i have is it's all about the war in yemen. and their forces and everything else, yeah, yeah, we're committed to that. but the states that i talked to, it's all about what's going on with yemen and particularly the influence of the saudis in leading that coalition there. could you comment on that? >> you're right. yemen is a primary focus in a lot of the capitals. you can have a different conversation depending on where you are. it's not like -- this is not necessarily homogenous. >> i'm looking at resources going into yemen. >> yemen is a major focus of the saudis. it's right on their border.
we're trying to focus minds and attention on isil which we do consider the most fundamental threat. >> thank you for your answers. i yield back. >> thank you. mr. higgins of new york. >> thank you, madam chair. isis has proven to be, you know, particularly effective at fund-raising. estimates in 2014 was they were raising $3 million a day. originally through oil revenues and the sale of oil through the black market, and then through territorial gains where they would text the people, provide services but text and provide protection and operate in a corrupt society whereby they would gain a lot of revenue. how much is known about isis funding from sunni arab countries, particularly saudi arabia, who i think views the existential threat to them
iranian territorial gains. and iraq, clearly with the direct involvement of kasum and in syria, so i suppose my question is, the saudi arabian influence in helping to finance isis terrorists activity. >> we certainly don't see any indications of that and the saudis have been close partners on the counter terrorism site for some time. they don't rely on outside funding and financing. when there was evidence of that, we've worked with kuwait and others to shut that down. my colleagues in the treasury department have done a great job on that. danny glacier. but what makes isil different, it controls vast swaths of territory, millions of people under its control, acts through taxes and extortion to have a revenue base.
so to cut at its finance streams -- very early on we may have said there must be a lot of outside funding coming in. but in fact it's locally generated. it's true, the french were led in this after paris, we of course helped them. but cutting off their ability to move oil, emergency supplies, cutting off their ability to store cash which is something they've done in mosul. you have to focus on that core in iraq and syria where it's controlling territory and resources. >> how many u.s.-led air strikes in iraq and syria in the past year? >> i mean total air strikes, congressman, it's about 10,000 now. i can get you the breakdown. total air strikes as of yesterday, 9,901 to be specific. there's 6,615 in iraq, 3,286 in syria. the u.s. has conducted more than
7,000 of those and the rest of the coalition about 2300. >> and in that, the past year isis has lost 40% of its territorial gains in iraq and 10% of its territorial gains in syria? >> yes. >> okay. isis -- the one thing that's constant in reading michael weis's book "isis inside the army of terror," the one thing that seem constant about isis is change. and isis has evolved in its reach and organizational ability. the isis presence in libya i think is particularly disturbing. it's a pivotal stronghold in north africa. africa is -- there's a lot of instability to exploit in africa. you've got, you know, 55 countries in that continent, many of which are very, very
unstable from sudan to just -- there's a lot of countries to exploit. you know, my concern is that while we may be influencing the loss of territorial control in both iraq and syria, what about the isis threat in expanding into other countries in the continent of africa? >> again, it's a great question. and as we analyze it and discuss this with intelligence services and the governments and all of these different capitals all around the world, the common theme we hear -- i mean, i've heard this from malaysia to brussels to the gulf, is that this false notion of this caliphate is what is drawing so many young people to this dangerous movement. and that is why we're focused on the core and shrinking that overall territory.
it's narrative in those books that you mentioned. we had to show you're not expanding, you're actually shrinking. and if you join this phony caliphate, you're not going to live a glorious life with ice cream cones. you're going to die a miserable death there. some of these people want to go die a miserable death and we're happy to oblige them. we have to shrink the notion of the caliphate to dry up the global networks. that does not mean that there won't be a global jihadist terrorist problem under different banners. that is something that's going to be with us for some time. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. higgins. my florida colleague. >> mr. mcgurk, you said there will still be a global jihadist problem and i agree with that. i noticed in your written testimony there was no a reference to iran or hezbollah particularly with respect to. destabilizing role that they
both play in iraq and syria. you know, they've murdered sunni civilians and you know, assad obviously drives people. sunni arabs who if the choice is between a militant shiite force or government backed by iran and isis, many of them, unfortunately are driven to isis. is the exclusion of the iran's contribution to the problem deliberate or is that something you omitted? >> no, certainly not. let me take it on directly. you know, when mosul fell in the summer of 2014, grand ayatollah issued a statement saying everybody rise up and protect the country. it was a critical moment. had he not done that it would have been hard to check what isil was doing. they were on a rampage and it caused a massive panic the country. you had 80,000 volunteers rise up to defend iraq. most of them are nationalists.
they answer to the government. but there is a segment of them, 10 to 15,000 who are answerable to militias that are controlled by iran. and this is a huge concern for us. it's a huge concern for the government of iraq. and it's a huge concern for prime minister abadi. prime minister abadi said publicly if iran is operating a militia on iranian soil, that would be a hostile act. he's clear about that. the government of iraq has acted. there were reports of shia militia province. prime minister abadi went to the site twice and just last week they've arrested nine individuals from some of these militias as part of that investigation. so this is a serious problem, something we're focused on all of the time. but we don't want to paint all of these volunteers, many of them who are shia, with the same
brush. that simply wouldn't be true. >> what about in anbar province. advances in places like ramadi. my understanding is that is powered a lot by shia forces including the iranian-backed forces. what are you going to empower the sunni tribal forces and the sunni tribal elders because it seems to me that driving isis out of places like ramadi is obviously something that's desirable but the notion that those sunni arabs are going to be happy living under a government dominated by iran and shia, that's going to be a tough sale. >> very much agree with you. when it came to ramadi, it was the government of iraq's decision to ensure that that operation was conducted by the iraqi security forces, the iraqi counter terrorism forces and local sunni tribal fighters.
>> so they were integrated with the security forces? >> they were integrated in the campaign. and the popular mobilization forces from the shia said were not part of that ramadi campaign. that was very important because we wanted to show that the iraqi security forces can do this. and what's so important, is locals who know their territory and know their neighborhood, know what it's like, know the alleys and the back streets, they get locals invested in the fight. they're invested in the fight. they're getting paid. i gave the figures earlier in my testimony. it's a constant effort. but we have full support from the new government in iraq and prime minister abadi. we have full support from the governor of anbar province. and they're working closely with us. we have two platforms in anbar province. we're working every day with the iraqi security forces and these tribal fighters to get them in the fight. and you know, they're making
real gains. they were just on defense. now they're moving on offense, doing operations. moving the right way. >> the final question will be to the kurds. a lot of my colleagues, i share the view. they're pro-american forces that we should be supporting. but turkey does not accept the actions of a lot of the kurds. there is problems there. so you have one of our nato partners essentially opposes some of our battlefield allies. so can you address the conflict there between turkey and some of the kurdish fighters? >> let me first say turkey faces a real threat from the pkk. we have to recognize that, that this conflict between turkey and the pkk which flared up again over the summer began when the pkk killed a number of turkish police officers. i've been very clear about that. turkey has a right to respond in its own self-defense. at the same time this conflict
has escalated to the point where we want to work very hard to deescalate it. vice president biden discussed this last week. we want to protect turkey against the pkk. that's something we're going to help them do. but we also want to strengthen the kurds in northern syria. the kurds in northern syria have joined a conglomeration, built a force with arabs, christians, i met a number of them. they just put out a political platform making clear they want to be part of syria. they want to have positive relations with their neighbors, which means turkey. they don't want to interfere in those relations. this is a work in progress but something we're going to work on every day. but most importantly we'll continue to work with turkey to protect itself against pkk
militarism which is dangerous and killing turkish police officers every day. >> thank you sir. now we move to mr. sherman of california. >> first, i know the visa waiver program was mentioned earlier about the idea that those who visit libya. i want to point out that the visa waiver program is not a right that we extend to all europeans and reducing it doesn't show that we would hate europeans. we don't provide visa waivers to people from brazil and we love brazilians, et cetera. i believe we don't have a visa waiver relationship with any of the latin american countries that are our allies. but i would point out those that we want to focus on, who have visited syria and iraq to work with isis, they don't have a stamp on their passport from syria. they don't have a stamp on their passport from iraq. they have a stamp on their passport from turkey and we
ought to be looking at whether we should provide visa waivers to those that have visited turkey. at the same time we have to look at our european friends to make sure they don't give somebody a new passport to somebody who doesn't like the stamps on their old passport. so i do think we're going to have to look at this visa waiver idea. as long as any european can get a new passport and then have visa waiver without letting us know they visited turkey, syria or iraq or libya, we're going to have a problem. but i want to focus on questions. we were serious in world war ii. we had a strategic bombing program. i believe we killed 90,000 french civilians. and then we were welcomed by the french people as liberators. we were serious in that war. we won that war.
degalle did not arrange to provide food and fuel to those living in a nazi exploited occupied france. the iraqi government has told us that they finally stopped paying the civil servants in isis occupied areas. is that true? are civil servants who live in isis or isil-occupied area able to leave, get their money and drive back to mosul or have they finally stopped paying people who are taxed by isis? or don't you know? >> i've actually worked on this quite a bit. so that the iraqi government made a decision passed through their cabinet last summer that all --
>> i've got very limited time. are they paying the civil servants or not. >> no, they're not. >> even if the civil servant leave, they can't get their money? >> when the areas are liberated -- >> if somebody just drives from mosul, can they pick up the money that's being held in escrow for them? >> if they're living in mosul they should not be able to do that. >> you should check on that. i'm told they can get their money and then go back. we also have a bombing -- in world war ii we bombed electric generation facilities. in iraq, the iraqi government provides free electricity to isis. are we willing to bomb the transmission lines through which that free electricity flow to mosul? >> the problem in mosul is that a lot of the electricity in mosul comes from the mosul dam and we have to keep the mosul dam running.
>> we keep it running but why use it to supply electricity to isis? >> it's a sophisticated engineering issue. we don't want electricity going into mosul. >> it's a sophisticated political question. electricity going into mosul -- >> it's not a sophisticated -- it's a sophisticated political question. you don't have to send electricity to mosul. don't tell me that the dam breaks if you don't send electricity to the enemy. >> by keeping the dam running as i understand -- >> the dam should be kept running, that doesn't mean you have to send the electricity to isis. >> we don't want electricity going into -- >> so, bomb those -- the -- the lines -- the transmission lines right outside -- inside or outside of isis-controlled territory. >> something we've looked at. and we'll look it again and i'll get you an answer -- >> you looked at it but you won't tell us why you're not doing it, will you?
is that consistent with the approach we took in world war ii when we were serious? >> probably different than the approach in world war ii but nobody is more anti-isil than the guys i know in the iraqi government. there is a debate between local leaders and government about we don't want to drive the population into the hands of isil in some of these areas, but the issue of electricity to mosul is something i can get you a very detailed, specific answer on. >> i look forward. finally we had a zero civilian casualty approach to our strategic bombing. so, we weren't hitting the tanker trucks. now, again, if we had -- >> you are over your time so finish your question and maybe he could give a final answer. >> obviously in world war ii we hit trains and trucks and factories. are we hitting isis' economic targets even knowing that that
will cause civilian casualties, for example, oil tanker trucks? >> i addressed the issue of trucks earlier. yes, we are hitting trucks. we're trying to do it that limits the possibility of killing the truck drivers but we've figured out a way to do that. >> are we willing to hit the trucks while they're being driven? >> we figured out a way to hit the trucks and the trucks are not being driven. >> you are only willing to hit the trucks when they are parked and you don't want to hit them when they are moving. >> we don't want to needlessly -- >> thank you, congressman and ambassador. >> mr. sherman, i feel your anxiety and your pain. i feel the same way. is the administration planning on dropping humanitarian aid to aleppo? >> i think -- >> pretty much a yes or no. >> i think we're looking at all options on the humanitarian side right now. >> is that -- that's not really
answering. that's just saying you're looking at them and that kind of reminds me of the president's budget that says national security and global leadership in the president's budget and it says that is why the united states is leading the global coalition that will destroy the islamic state of iraq in the lavant and the budget provides over $11 billion for the dod. that's like wanting to learn to play the piano and you buy the piano and you put in the money for lessons but you don't practice it you're not going to play the piano. i hear a lot, like, we're looking at it. we're looking at the safe zones in syria by jordan and by turkey. we're looking at that. we've been studying that for years. at some point it has to be acted upon and i want to follow-up with mr. sherman's comment, the reasoning to continually not bomb these -- these transport vehicles with oil when the no fly zone that was initiated by this administration along with hillary clinton to create a no
fly zone that led to a failed state, the fall of gadhafi and now libya is an isis recruiting and training center and they have one of their biggest camps 12 miles from libya's largest oil production facility. why are we just not bombing them? like mr. sherman said in world war ii we had a strategy, yes, it was one of the fallouts of war but it brought the war to an end. we've been studying things and looking at option for four years, five years now, close to 3 00,000 people have died. the assad barrel bombs. we've been looking at maybe putting pressure on that and we're still studying it and yet something happens and we have the largest migration of refugees around the world because of the failed policies of this administration. what are we doing? i mean, when are we going to stop looking and start acting stronger and leading? >> i was in kobani where we
killed 6,000 isil fighters in air strikes. killed 6,000 of them in that battle alone. we've destroyed 400 tanker trucks so the idea that we're just watching this is not -- >> when were the 400 tanker trucks destroyed? what time period? in the last six months? >> probably last four to five months. >> okay. but we've known about this for over three years. we hear constituents saying why is isis having oil production facilities, why are they even allowed to produce anything? they should have been destroyed back then, had we had a clear-cut strategy. one of my other -- this is a real pointed question. what is this administration's reasoning to continually press for refugees from syria and other areas in the middle east to relax the entry requirements into the u.s. especially when france, germany, and belgium have documented that over 70 to 80 isis members entered the eu, were -- they had -- through
syria with fake passports and those were the people that did the shootings in paris. why is this administration hell-bent on relaxing these -- these restrictions? what's the reasoning for that? >> i think we have the most stringent entry standards in the refugee program in the world and that is something that is going to continue. >> but yet fbi director comey and jeh johnson of dhs said there's no way to vet these people. so, why not put a pause on this until we know for sure that they're not fake passports, they're not this. you know, you're saying that but yet france and germany and those other countries are kind of saying, hey, wait a minute, we are not doing this anymore. why are we not heeding the warning that we know will happen? >> i defer to my colleagues that work this issue every day and i can get you a more detailed answer but we have one of the most stringent refugee processes in the entire world and that's why i'm not aware of any terrorists who have entered
through the refugee program. >> again, going back to the isis transport. we talked about the administration's failure to go after this early, four to six months ago they did this. and we are at a war at terrorism, right? and isis is a terrorist organization that we're in conflict with. and i don't know if -- what poll you have, but i sure wish you guys would crank down on this administration and say that. because what i see is a reckless endangerment and a dereliction of duty on our national security by this administration and i hope you would help them straighten that out. i yield back. >> thank you so much. now, my other florida colleague, mr. deutsch of florida. >> thank you, madam chairman. on the subject of reckless endangerment, as long as we're talking about some of these issues, i'm not going to ask you, mr. mcgurk, to comment on this, but it's really hard for
me to comprehend how we have this entire hearing with all kinds of accusations made about the administration's policies, the request that the administration actually take certain actions only to have you explain that we're taking them and the criticism will be, well, why didn't we take them sooner when -- when the concern that we have about fighting terrorism at least in one small respect can be addressed if we simply acknowledge that individuals who are in -- who can't fly into this country because they're on a terrorism watch list can still, if they're in this country, go to any gun store and purchase a gun. i don't understand it. and if we're going to talk about reckless endangerment, that's something that this congress ought to be doing that the speaker ought to allow us to have a debate on and i can't -- it's impossible for me to understand how after this entire hearing that single step that could -- that's logical that has the overwhelming support of the american people has yet to be done. now, i want to circle back to a
comment -- an exchange you had earlier on iran. the focus was really on iraq. but i want to talk about iran's activities in syria. and the question i have is really straightforward. after the iran nuclear deal and implementation day which has now passed, has that had any impact in the way that we interact with the iranians with respect to their activities on the ground in syria, both supporting hezbollah, propping up assad, but at the same time fighting isil. >> congressman, thanks for your question. iran since the nuclear deal, they are a part of the vienna process. they're at the table with saudi arabia, qatar, turkey, everyone else. so, that is significant. but certainly i think their tactics, strategies in syria,
has made it worse, we've made that clear. iran has an election coming up later this month which will decide some things about the way the country is headed. but certainly we've not seen a change in the way they are dealing with things in syria. >> i would observe i'm not sure how many things will be decided when the number of reformers who are allowed to run is mere tens out of the thousands who had sought that. but i appreciate that. i just want to -- i want to just ask a follow-up. the fact is that iran and its proxies are responsible for so much of assad's -- propping up assad and assad's ability to massacre his own people. in the earlier stages of these debates, there was talk about individuals who would like to go after assad because of the butchery, the brutality against their family members and their
community members. and if they didn't have that opportunity, sometimes they turned to whoever would give them the chance to fight no matter how awful that group might be. how do we -- what are we doing now to ensure that the battle they wage is one that is against isil and yet also acknowledges that the assad -- the brutal assad regime ultimately is responsible for so much of the >> this is a real problem because so long as the regime -- the conflict between the regime and the opposition is running at full bore which it is right now enabled by the russian air campaign, the pool of fighters, particularly in those parts of the country to fight isil, are reduced. so, i discuss in some detail north of aleppo the mari line groups we were working with to fight isil have now peeled off to fight the regime which, again, is why the russian air
campaign in this respect has made the fight against isil more difficult. >> and finally, i know that the chairman joins me in telling you that while -- at first i want to commend you personally for your efforts in helping to secure the release of american citizens who have been held in iran. as you know, my constituent bob levinson was not among them. i was with the family this morning over on the seventh side on a markup of the resolution that we'll be taking up here. they deserve to have that same feeling of joy and relief that the other families are now feeling. and i just can't emphasize strongly enough how important it is for us, for the american people, and for you specifically to be unrelenting in your efforts to bring bob home. >> congressman, i assure you the issue with the prisoners was one of the most difficult i've ever done. i've gotten to know the families
quite well. i've met the levinsons a number of times. i saw them in the west wing yesterday before they saw the president and we certainly will not -- will not cease in our efforts. >> thank you so much. mr. keating of massachusetts. >> thank you, mr. chairman. madam chairman and thank you for having this hearing. i'd like to thank mr. mcgurk for your service and the work you've done. it's important and you've done a great job and i appreciate that personally and i'm speaking as a member of congress as well. >> thank you. >> i'd like to first associate myself with some remarks my colleague mr. deutsch made about even when putting things in perspective in terms of threats here at home, even with the language in to scrub the terrorist watch list, i think it's important that we get a vote on that. the idea that people on that terrorist watch list can legally procure explosives and weapons
and do that legally in this country is something that we have to address as part of our own homeland security. a question i have along those lines, earlier this last year i went out with a group of my colleagues from the homeland security committee. we were looking at tracking the issues surrounding foreign terrorist fighters and those issues. could you give an update on the security council resolution in that regard, 2178. and also more specifically, my concern is, too, with some of the progress we've made you mentioned with turkey. we'll see how that turns out. i'm hopeful, but somewhat skeptical about their ability to secure that border area. but two issues that stand out. the passenger name record issue with eu countries and even the kind of security that's done in
the exterior border, can you tell me any progress that you're aware of that we've made with our european allies so they can tighten that up. that has a direct effect with our security here at home, their ability to do that. >> so, great questions, congressman. i addressed this somewhat in my written statement. since paris we've certainly seen a lot of movement in this regard. the first step was to focus international attention on this problem. and then to get something concrete out of it which was resolution 2178 which came out of the u.n. general assembly in 2014. since then i think as my testimony mentioned about 45 countries have updated their laws to track down foreign terrorist fighters. what we're trying to do now as we learn more about the networks and through the coalitions -- this is why the global coalition is so important. it's not just the military which gets a lot of the focus. it's sharing information across these multiple lines of effort. and in the foreign fighter side,
we have a cell which shares information across borders. so, we've had arrests now in belgium, egypt, france, germany, indonesia, kuwait, malaysia, tu turkey, qatar, here in the united states. and we're trying to share information to try and collapse the foreign fighter networks. it's a very difficult endeavor. it's law enforcement, it's intelligence, but it's constantly sharing information. we found many of the countries we work with they have a difficult time sharing information amongst themselves in their capital. it's a problem we had before 9/11. >> there are different privacy laws. >> we've broken down the stovepipes post-9/11 and we're finding post-paris particularly in the eu, they are also working to do the same thing. passenger name recognition is a critical thing. that was in the way getting hung up on privacy laws in the eu and now the eu parliament has passed name recognition so they know everybody who is on the airplanes. we, of course, know everybody
coming into the u.s. so, something we're diligent about. something we raise all the time. and within the coalition we now have a permanent structure set up on the foreign terrorist fighter side so -- and it's a permanent platform now of constantly sharing information and figuring out, connecting dots. it's led as i mentioned in my testimony to a number of fbi investigations. this came right out of our coalition activities and it's something that we're going to continue. >> great. quickly one other question before my time expires, there have been written reports out there that these terrorist fighters that their salaries and the money they're getting has been cut by as much as 50%. what do you know about those reports? how real are they? and obviously, what kind of impact would that have on their recruitment when this begins to break down? because we're trying to hone in and really damage their ability to finance this terrorist activities. >> again, a very good question. and one reason we decided to go
after the cash -- bulk cash storage sites particularly in mosul, look, they're right in downtown mosul. to answer some of the questions from your colleagues earlier, is there a risk that some civilians might lose their life in an air strike like that. the answer is yes. however, the judgment was it's important to strike those sites because this is how they're paying and recruiting their fighters and we eliminated those sites. but i just want to go back. we're very careful about civilian casualties for a reason, you know, we're thought go i not going to be like the russians or some others who are just using dummy bombs on civilian areas and trying to kill people they thing are extremis extremists. this has been the most precise air campaign in history and we're proud of that. and what we've done to isil's finances by a careful fusion of intelligence, sharing information across the coalition and within the u.s. government to identify the targets and then to action those targets is something that takes time to
piece together. sometimes it takes longer than we might want. but we have pieced it together. we've now done the air strikes. they've been very effective and as you said they've led to very credible information we have now that isil has cut its pay to foreign fighters by nearly 50%. >> thank you. thank you, mr. mcgurk, i wish we could say the same thing about the russians and the way they are conducting their bombing exercises as we care about our own exercises. i yield back. >> thank you so much, mr. keating, and mr. mcgurk, we appreciate the time you took with us this morning. i know you're headed to the airport to continue your work, but isis is an incredibly dangerous threat that is global and continues to grow and the committee looks forward to continuing to work with you on this important issue. with that, the hearing is adjourned. >> thank you so much. >> safe journey.
supreme court justice antonin scalia's body is lying in repose in the court's grand chamber. he passed away last weekend at the age of 79. the public is allowed into the viewing and c-span has live coverage throughout the day. it will last until 8:00 p.m. eastern. justice scalia's funeral, by the way, is tomorrow and c-span will once again have a live coverage of the funeral mass at the catholic basilica in washington, d.c., and vice president joe biden is one of the dignitary's attending and you'll be able to watch it to tomorrow morning starting at 11:00 eastern. coming up tonight on c-span3 we're showing you "american history tv" in prime time. it's the american historical association's annual conference with panels on the history of the death penalty, the 1916 election and the history of terrorism. that's tonight here on c-span3 at 8:00 eastern.
c-span's coverage of the presidential candidates continues this week with campaign events in south carolina and nevada, leading up to the south carolina gop primary and the nevada democratic caucuses on saturday, february 20th. our live coverage of the results starts on saturday at 7:30 p.m. eastern with the candidate speeches and your reaction to the results on c-span, c-span radio, and cspan.org. "american history tv" on c-span3 features programs that tell the american story. and this weekend we continue our special series on the 1966 vietnam hearings, 50 years later. we'll hear special consultant to president johnson, general maxwell taylor's opening statement followed by committee member questions. >> our purpose is equally clear and easily defined. in his baltimore speech of april 7th, 1965, president johnson did so in the following term -- our objective is the independence of south vietnam and its freedom from attack.
we want nothing for ourselves. only that the people of south vietnam be allowed to guide their own country in their own way. this has been our basic objective since 1954. it has been pursued by three successive administrations and remains our basic objective today. >> and next saturday secretary of state dean rusk gives his testimony defending johnson's vietnam policies. for the complete "american history tv" weekend schedule go to cspan.org. leaders of the intelligence community testified before the senate intelligence committee recently providing an assessment of the main global threats to the u.s. including the islamic state, north korea's nuclear provocation, russian aggression and drug trafficking. witnesses included the director of national intelligence, james clapper, cia corrector john brennan, fbi director james comey, national security agency head admiral michael rogers and
defense intelligence agency director lieutenant general vincent stewart. this is just under two hours. >> call the hearing to order. and i'd like to welcome our witnesses today. director of national intelligence james clapper. director of central intelligence agency, john brennan. director of defense intelligence agency, general vincent stewart. director of the federal bureau of investigation, jim comey. and director of the national security agency admiral rogers.
to each of you welcome. i'd note that general clapper and general stewart have already appeared before the senate armed services committee this morning and i appreciate you both suffering through a very long day of testimony. i also thank our other witnesses for their attendance and participation. today's hearing presents an opportunity for both the witnesses and the members of the committee. it's my sincere hope that our discussion will shed some light on the dedicated and tireless work of our intelligence community professionals, the men and women represented by our witnesses. their efforts to keep america safe often go unrecognized, but that does not mean it goes unnoticed. i've spent the better part of 20 years as a member of the congressional intelligence committees. and have seen the scale, scope, and type of threats to our nation evolve greatly. we no longer live in a world defined by a few distinct and well-defined threats. our intelligence professionals are faced with collecting against and analyzing the threat
posed by a range of actors from nation-states on down to homegrown violent extremists. director clapper, in your statement you've pulled together the collective expertise of the intelligence community's extraordinary men and women. we value your laying out for our benefit the diverse and evolving and decentralized system of threats that imperil this nation and its interests across the globe and i ask that everyone take a moment to reflect on the range of expertise required to make sense of this information. i note in your statement that cyber and more broadly technology headline your global threats. i agree with the assessment that innovation and increased reliance on information technology in the next few years will have significant consequences on society's way of life and more specifically how your officers perform their mission.
i look forward to your highlighting some of the challenges and consequences as you see them. i also remain concerned by the technological reach of isil and the danger of their using the information technology social media, and online research capacity -- capabilities we use every day to propagate their barbaric message. jim, i do hope you'll dedicate some time to laying out that particular threat -- that particular threat, and i thank you, again, for being here today. i'd also like to highlight for my colleagues the committee will also be holding a classified hearing on worldwide threats later this week. to the degree it needs saying, please reserve any questions that you think might not be appropriate for an open session until the thursday hearing. with that, again, i welcome our witnesses here today. and i turn to the vice chairman
for any comment she might have. >> thanks very much, mr. chairman. and i join you in welcoming our witnesses and also thanking the intelligence community for its service to this country. i also share your sentiment that this annual open hearing is important to help explain to the american people the threats that face this nation. and the efforts of the dedicated men and women of the intelligence community to keep us safe. i want to open my comments by recognizing the significant contributions made by you, director clapper, as the leader of this community. you're the longest-serving director of national intelligence to date, and i think both the chairman and i remember when this -- the dni was developed and put into effect. your capable stewardship of the community has driven it to be a more integrated and capable organization than at any time in
history. so, i want to personally thank you for the contributions you have made to this country's nations -- this country's security. but as you know, there is no rest for the weary. the threats that face this nation and our allies seem only to grow. the syrian war is approaching its fifth year. yet bashar al assad is still in power and a refugee crisis is destroying the lives of millions of innocent families and wreaking havoc across europe. we are witnessing the resurgence of an unpredictable russia in eastern europe and syria. north korea last month conducted its fourth nuclear bomb test and no days ago conducted what it called a space launch. of course, this is actually a thinly veiled test to develop missiles that could deliver weapons of mass destruction against a number of countries,
including the united states. while these threats are significant and troubling, we are all deeply concerned about the threat from isil. the islamic state of iraq and the lavant and other terrorist groups. to us isil is much more than a regional threat within the syrian and iraqi borders. it's a terrorist army, a global exporter of terrorism, with a presence in a number of countries. the official count is 11, including isil affiliates, but some of our friends like the king of jordan have said they're in as many as 17 countries. and isil has the ability to spread its message of hate and violence around the world using social media in a very sophisticated way. director clapper, i've read your written comments, and i am very much interested in your assessment of these global threats.
their status today and the outlook for the future. i'd also ask you to comment on how the intelligence community is positioned to address these threats. is it better today than it was, let's say, five years ago? for instance, while the coalition's air campaign is helping to deny isil some territorial safe havens and financial resources, how do we degrade it and destroy it if all they need to carry out an attack in the west is an internet connection and an enscricrypted message application? i'd like to hear your assessments of how the rise of end-to-end encryption has impacted our nation's ability to identify and track individuals who seek to do us harm. director comey has spoken of this concern often. director rogers recently highlighted it as well. i'm interested in your views today about its impact and how
you recommend we tackle this problem of terrorists and criminals communicating via these encrypted message applications. the u.s. freedom act that passed last year eliminated the bulk collection of telephone communications, metadata. and the new law now requires specific queries, with fisa court approval to individual telecommunication companies. has this change affected your ability to discover new threats and relationships? so, i'll save the rest of my comments for questions, but, gentlemen, thank you very much for being here. we look forward to the discussion. >> thank you, vice chairman. before i recognize director clapper, let me say to members, it's my intent, hopefully it's been conveyed to all members, you will be recognized for five minutes. in the order that you appeared.
and with one exception. if there is no objection, when director clapper's test is over, i would like to recognize senator langford for first set of questions for the simple reason that on tuesdays he has to preside over the senate and he has to preside at 3:20 today and i'd like to have him get a set of questions in. james, you will be recognized. with that, the floor is yours, chairman clapper. >> thanks very much for the acknowledgement particularly of the great men and women of the u.s. intelligence community whom we represent here today. and it's very appropriate that you do that for the great work that they do. and, madam vice chairman, thank you very much for acknowledging my long service. it's very gracious of you. we're here today to update you on some, but certainly not all,
of the pressing intelligence and national security issues facing our nation many of which you both alluded to and so it will be a certain amount of echo here i guess. in the interest of time and to get to your questions, we'll cover just some of the wave tops and mine will be the only opening statements so we can go to your questions, and i apologize in advance to the crossover members who were present this morning at the senate armed services committee but in the highest traditions of that's our story and we're sticking to it, it will be the same statement. as i said last year unpredictable instability has become the new normal and this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. violent extremists are active in 40 countries and 70 countries are facing collapse of the central authority. and another 59 countries face a significant risk of instability through 2016. the record level of migrants, more than 1 million, arriving in europe is likely to grow further
this year. migration and displacement will strain countries in europe, asia, africa, and the americas. there are some 60 million people worldwide considered displaced. extreme weather, climate change and environmental degradation, rising demand for food and water, poor policy decisions and inadequate infrastructure will magnify this instability. infectious diseases and vulnerabilities in the global supply chain for medical countermeasures will continue to pose threats. for example, the zika virus first detected in the western hemisphere in 2014 has reached the u.s. and is projected to cause up to 4 million cases in this hemisphere. with that preface, i want to briefly comment on both technology and cyber specifically. technological innovation during the next few years will have an even more significant impact on our way of life. this innovation is central to our economic prosperity, but it
will bring new security vulnerabilities. the internet of things will connect tens of billions of new physical devices that could be exploited. art fish intelligence will enable computers to make decisions about data and physical systems and potentially disrupt labor markets. russia and china continue to have the most sophisticated programs. china continues cyber espionage against the united states. whether china's commitment of last december moderates remains to be seen. iran and north korea continue to do cyber espionage as they continue to enhance their abilities. and nonstate actors pose cyber threats. isil has used cyber to its great advantage to hack and release sensitive information about u.s. military personnel. as a non-state actor, isil displays unprecedented online proficiency. cyber criminals remain the most
pervasive cyberthreat to the u.s. financial sector, they use cyber to conduct theft, extortion and other criminal activities. turning to terrorism there are now more sunni violent extremist groups and members and safe havens than at any time in history. the rate of foreign fighters traveling to the conflict zones in syria and iraq in the past few years is without precedent. at least 38,200 foreign fighters including at least 6,900 from western countries have traveled to syria from at least 120 countries since the beginning of the conflict in 2012. as we saw in the november paris attacks returning foreign fighters with firsthand battlefield experience pose a dangerous operational threat. isil has demonstrated sophisticated attack tactics and trade craft. isil including its eight established and several more emerging branches has become the preeminent global terrorist threat. isil has attempted or conducted scores of attacks outside of
syria and iraq in the last 15 months and isil's estimated strength globally now exceeds that of al qaeda. isil's leaders are determined to strike the u.s. homeland. beyond inspiring homegrown violent extremist attacks. although the u.s. is a harder target than europe, isil external operations remain a critical factor in our threat assessment for 2016. al qaeda's affiliates also have proven resilient. despite counterterrorism pressure that's largely decimated the core leadership in afghanistan and pakistan, al qaeda affiliates are positioned to make gains in 2016. al qaeda in the arabian peninsula and the al nusra front are the two most capable al qaeda branches. the increased use by violent extremists of encrypted and secure internet and mobile-based technologies enable terrorist actors to go dark and serves to undercut intelligence and law enforcement efforts. iran continues to be the
foremost state sponsor of terrorism and exert its influence in regional crises in the middle east through the qods force its terrorist partner lebanese hezbollah and proxy groups. iran and hezbollah remain a continuing terrorist threat to u.s. interests and partners worldwide. we saw firsthand the threat posed the united states by homegrown violent extremists in the july attack in chattanooga and the attack in december in san bernardino. in 2014, the fbi arrested nine isil supporters and in 2015 that number increased over five-fold. turning to weapons of mass destruction, north korea continues to conduct test activities of concern to the united states. on saturday evening, pyongyang conducted a satellite launch and subsequently claimed that the satellite was successfully placed in orbit. additionally last month north korea carried out its fourth nuclear test claiming it was a hydrogen bomb, but the yield was
too low for it to have been a successful test of a thermonuclear device. pyongyang continues to produce fissile material and develop a submarine launched ballistic missile. it has also committed to developing a long-range nuclear-armed missile that's capable of posing a direct threat to the united states, although the system has not been flight tested. despite its economic challenges russia continues its aggressive military modernization program. it has the largest and most capable foreign nuclear armed ballistic missile force. it has developed a cruise missile that violates the intermediate range nuclear forces or inf treaty. china continues to modernize its nuclear missile force and is striving for a secure second street capability. it continues to profess a no first use doctrine. the joint comprehensive plan of action or jcpoa provides us much greater transparency into iran's fissile material production. it increases the time they would need to produce enough highly
enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon from a few months to about a year. iran probably views the jcpoa as a means to remove sanctions while preserving some nuclear capability. iran's perception of how the jcpoa helps it achieve its overall strategic goals will dictate its level of adherence or compliance to the agreement over time. chemical weapons continue to pose a threat in syria and iraq. damascus has used chemicals against the opposition on multiple occasions since syria joined the chemical weapons convention. isil has also used toxic chemicals in iraq and syria including the blister agent sulfur mustard. the first time an extremist group has produced and used a chemical warfare agent in an attack since sarin was used in japan in 1995. turning to space and counterspace, there are about 80 countries are now engaged in the space domain. russia and china well understand how our military fights and how heavily we rely on space.
they're each pursuing destructive and disruptive anti-satellite systems. china continues to make progress on its anti-satellite missile program. moving to counterintelligence, the threat from foreign intelligence entities both state and nonstate is persistent, complex and evolving. target and collection of the u.s. political military, economic and technical information by foreign intelligence services continue unabated. russia and china pose the greatest threat followed by iran and cuba on a lesser scale. as well the threat from insiders taking advantage of their access to collect and remove sensitive national security information will remain a persistent challenge for us. with respect to transnational organized crime, i do want to touch on one crime issue specifically drug trafficking. southwest border seizures of heroin in the united states have doubled since 2010. over 10 ,000 people died of
heroin overdoses in the united states in 2014, much of it laced with fentanyl which 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. in that same year more than 28,000 died from opioid overdoses and cocaine production in colombia from which most u.s. supplies originate has increased significantly. now, let me quickly move through a few regional issues. in east asia china's leaders are pursuing an active foreign policy while slowing growth. regional tension will continue as china pursues construction at its outposts in the south china sea. russia has demonstrated its military capabilities to project itself as a global power, command respect from the west, maintain domestic support for the regime and advance russian interests globally. moscow's objectives in the ukraine will probably remain unchanged including maintaining
long-term influence over kiev and frustrating its attempts to integrate into western institutions. putin is the first leader since stalin to expand russia's territory. moscow's military venture into syria marks its first use since its foray of afghanistan of expeditionary combat power outside of the soviet space. its innovations demonstrate the improvements in the military capabilities and the kremlin's confidence in using them. moscow faces the reality, however, of economic recession driven in large part by falling oil prices as well as sanctions. russia's nearly 4% gdp contraction last year will probably extend well into 2016. in the mideast and south asia there are more cross border military operations under way in the mideast region than at any time since the 1973 arab-israeli war. in iraq isil forces in iraq will probably make incremental gains
through the spring, some of those made in beji and ramadi in the past few months. isil is now somewhat on the defensive and its territory and manpower are shrinking, but it remains a formidable threat. in syria pro-regime forces have the initiative having made some strategic gains in the north as well as in southern syria. manpower shortages, however, will continue to undermine the syrian regime's ability to accomplish strategic battlefield objectives. the opposition has less equipment and firepower and its groups lack unity, they sometimes have competing battlefield interests and fight among themselves. meanwhile, some 250,000 people have been killed as this war has dragged on. the humanitarian situation in syria continues to deteriorate. as of last month there are approximately 4 .4 million syrian refugee and another 6.5 million internally displaced
persons which represent one-half of syria's preconflict population. in libya despite the december agreement to form a new government of national accord, establishing authority and security across the country will be difficult at best with hundreds of militia groups operating throughout the country. isil has established its most developed branch outside of syria and libya, in libya, outside of syria and iraq in libya and maintains a presence in tripoli and other areas of the country. in yemen the conflict will probably remain stalemated at least through mid-2016. mean aqap and isil's affiliates in yemen have exploited the collapse of government authority to recruit and expand territorial control. the country's economic and humanitarian situation also continues to deteriorate. iran deepened its involvement in the syrian, iraqi and yemeni conflicts in 2015. it also increased military
cooperation with russia highlighted by its battlefield alliance in syria in support of the regime. iran's supreme leader continues to view the united states as a major threat. we assess his views will not change despite the implementation of the jcpoa deal. the exchange of detainees and the release of the ten u.s. sailors. in south asia, afghanistan is at serious risk of a political breakdown during 2016 occasioned by mounting political and economic and security challenges. waning political cohesion and financial power brokers and financial shortfalls and sustained countrywide taliban attacks are eroding stability. needless to say there are many more threats to u.s. interests worldwide which we can address most of which are covered in our statement for the record, but i'll stop this litany of doom and open to your questions. before i do that, i do want to answer one question that madam vice chairman asked about the state of the community now
versus five years ago. i would like to think that we are better as a community just from the simple proposition that the sum being greater than the parts because we operate as an integrated enterprise. and others may have a comment on that. and none of them are unwilling to disagree with me, but that's my view, so i'll stop there and open to your questions. >> director clapper, thank you for that testimony. i remind all members that everybody at the witness table is available for questions directed at them. with that, i'd recognize senator langford for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and for all of you, thank you. i do remind people back home because in oklahoma we're extremely grateful for many folks in the armed services that serve us every single day. we recognize them, see them, recognize them by their uniforms but also a lot of people in the intelligence community they'll never recognize at all and never see and thank personally.
so, would you pass on our gratitude to them and we are incredibly grateful for the incredible work they do every single day. general clapper, you said this morning in your 50 years in the intelligence business you can't recall a more diverse array of challenges and you graced us with a long list of doom as you listed it just now, whether that be space, whether that be proliferation, whether it be radical islamic terrorism and such. i want to focus on one of the areas you talked about specifically and that's narco c narcotics and the movement into our country and what we deal with on a day-to-day basis as a challenge. again, this morning you mentioned you thought the focus should be more on interdiction. so, my challenge is for this group and my interest, what are we doing on the intel gathering to be able to find out what's happening? the pathways that some of these narcotics are moving into the united states and the interdiction and how are we cooperating among agencies, how's that communication going? >> well, sir, the challenge as i
indicated this morning, and i hark back to series of testimonies by general kelly, the former commander of the southern command, in which he made the point that we did have a great deal of intelligence on drug flow into the united sta s states. our challenge has been the lack of resources sometimes to react to it, to actually interdict it. so, in once one sense i think that's a plea or a commercial for more operational assets to respond. i would -- big fan of the coast guard, and i think the coast guard has done some great work. the deployment of these new coast guard cutters which has a national security component to it has had a dramatic impact when they've been able to be employed. so, to me the big thing here is
the operational resource to respond. i think the community works very well together. on the issue of drugs, drug intelligence and facilitating interdiction. >> any comments on that from any of the other leaders? let me move on, then, as well. because there's been a lot of conversation about libya and isil and their movement into other areas they call provinces and moving all around the world. libya has been especially large in that. what do you think is isil's intentions in libya? >> well, i think they, not unlike what they've done with -- in syria and iraq. what's unique about isil, of course, is its possession and control over territory. and that's been the case in syria and iraq and, of course, that presents certain
vulnerabilities when they assume the accoutrements of the traits of a nation-state. i think it's similarly their goal in libya. you know, essentially an ungoverned space and also access to a substantial oil resources, just as they've had in syria. so, i think there is some commonality. so, they're right now kind of centered or headquartered in cert which is kind in the center of the coast of libya and they're trying to spread out along the coast and take over more and more areas. they are present, as i indicated in my statement, in the major cities, notably benghazi and tripoli. >> okay. you'd mentioned as well about iran still being the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. how have you seen that role and that direction of terrorism and support of terrorism since the signing of the jcpoa, since that has occurred have you seen a change in iran's behavior
towards sponsored terrorism? >> we've not seen a change in the behavior of the qods force. they are right now kind of consumed with the situation in iraq and syria. and as well in supporting the houthis in yemen. so, that has been the focus predominantly. that's not to say they're not interested elsewhere, but that's where the focus of their effort's been. >> again, you mentioned this morning there have been 140 missiles launched by iran in violation of u.n. agreements and then two additional just in the last few months. any change in behavior you've seen in their test iing of ballistic missiles? >> no. you are exactly right, senator langford, that's what i said. since 2010 and the promulgation of the u.n. security council resolution 1929, they've fired about 140 missiles. about half of them that took
place during the negotiations. they launched two, one in october and one in november, which i personally think was a message that they are still going to continue to develop what is already a very robust missile force. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you, senator langford. chair will recognize himself for a couple of questions. director comey, what's the risk to law enforcement and to prosecution if when presented a legal court order a company refuses to provide the communications that the court has ordered them to? >> the risk is that we won't be able to make a case and a really bad guy will go free. >> and can you, for the american people, set a percentage of how much of that is terrorism and how much of that fear is law
enforcement and prosecutions that take place in every town in america every day? >> yeah, i'd say this problem we call going dark, which as director clapper mentioned, is the growing use of encryption both to lock devices when they sit there and to cover communications as they move over fiber optic cables is actually overwhelmingly affecting law enforcement, because it affects cops and prosecutors and sheriffs and detectives trying to make murder cases, car accident cases, kidnapping cases, drug cases. it has an impact on our national security work but overwhelmingly this is a problem that local law enforcement sees. >> this would include pornography and the list goes on and on and on and on, and i think there would be the consensus in america that if that's carried out that if a court certifies that the reason is there, that a company ought to then produce that information. is that logical?
>> yeah. and especially with respect to devices, phones, that default lock. that is the overwhelming concern of state and local law enforcement. because all of our lives are becoming increasingly digital. those devices are going to hold the evidence of child pornography, communications that someone made before they were killed, before they went missing, the evidence that will be necessary to solve a crime and including things, like i said, car accidents. so, it is a big problem with law enforcement armed with a search warrant when you find a device that can't be opened even though the judge said there's probable cause to open it. as i said, it affects our counterterrorism work, san bernardino a very important investigation for us, we still have one of those killer's phones we've not been able to open. it's been over two months now and we're still not able to open it. a woman was murdered in louisiana eight months pregnant killed, no clues who did it, except her phone is there found
killed. they couldn't open it. still can't open it. so, the case remains unsolved. this is something i hear about all over the country from my partners in state and local law enforcement. >> and is it safe to say that if companies were required to honor that court order, that law enforcement and the prosecution element, isn't concerned at all at how they access that. that can be proprietary and within each company. but supplying the information is -- is absolutely crucial to the continuation of that investigation and prosecution. >> yeah. that's one of the aspects of the conversation which is healthy. there's a robust debate going on and it ought to be because these are important issues. but the part that gets confusing to me when people say we want access to company servers or source code. what we would like is a world where people are able to comply with court orders. lots of people do. a lot of people who make phones are able to unlock them when the judge order it and people that
have security services can do it with a judges orders. others can't. it's not us trying to get a backdoor a term that confuses me frankly. i don't want a door or a window or a sliding glass door. i would like people to come play with court orders and that's the conversation we're trying to have. >> thank you, director comey. madam vice chairman. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. brennan, i'd like to ask you a question, if i may. subject libya. how does the cia assess isil's intrusions into libya? >> we see libya as the most important theater for isil outside of the syria, iraq theater. they have several thousand members there. they have absorbed some of the groups inside of libya, including al sharia that was very active prior to isil's rise. libya has been a place where this form of extreme andiism an
terrorism has grown up over the years. as the areas of the syria and iraq borders were being tightened down, we know some of the foreign fighters started to divert into libya and so libya has become a magnet for individuals not only inside of libya but from the african continent as well as from outside. so, it is a real issue. a real problem. but we see isil in libya as a very, very important hub for isil activities. >> second question. assessment on north korea. we know they possess anywhere from 10 to 20 both uranium and plutonium weapons. we now have seen the recent launch on the tape ptaepodong i which i understand is capable of reaching the united states and then there's the kn-08. how do you assess korean -- the korean leader's intentions with what he is doing with respect to these tests and the development
of both a plutonium and uranium string of weapons? >> i think it's very obvious that kim jong-un is trying to demonstrate world that he has capability both in terms of the nuclear test as well as ballistic missile capability that he wants to showcase as a way to demonstrate his strength and help to market his proliferation capabilityings. it is snag is obviously a key concern for the intelligence community as a whole. it is a priority collection area for us. the assessment is that he has developed both the nuclear capability and developing this missile capability and so that he can reached far beyond the peninsula. >> 30 question, how do you
assess the taliban and al qaeda in afghanistan. how much of the territory of afghanistan today is controlled by the taliban? >> it's a difficult question to address. a lot of times they control different areas and they are dynamic and fluid. they will take military and government outposts and pull back. there are large parts and tried to concentrate and transportation routes. the taliban controlled a lot of terrain outside the reach. and they had the eastern part of
afghanistan and they present a serious threat as well as to our personnel inside of afghanistan. >> that's it for now. >> thank you very much. >> my view is you couldn't have passionate debate this is this room without the great work that the men and women do with the freedom. we want to start by saying we are grateful for that. director, in 2014, the cia conducted an unauthorized search of senate files including the senate staff including the use of forture. the inspector general said the search involved improper agency access and a review board that youa appointed concluded that the search resulted in inappropriate access to the committee's work product. you denied that the search took
place with the inspector general and the review board showed this deny was at odds with the facts. they exposed and the cia wrote an apology that you did not send. senior officials from the nsa and the fbi all testified it would be inappropriate to secretly search senate files without ex-personnel authorization. we have not gotten acknowledgement from you. i would like to hear from you and set the record straight that this would never happen again. would you agree that the cia's 2014 search of senate files was improper? this is the annual, is it not?
>> these were cia computers and a ci annette work shared between the senate staffers conducting the investigation as well as cia personnel. when it became opposite that staffers had unauthorized access to an internal draft document, it was an obligation on the part of officers who had the responsibility for the security of that network to investigate to see what might have been the reason for that access that the staffers had. they wanted to understand what the challenge was that we had. i referred matter to the ig when they were concerned about the
actions of officers. i think if you were to read the reports, you would see that it is determined that the actions of the cia were reasonable given the very unclear and unwritten and between the committee at the time. >> my time is short, but that's not what the snnl or review. it resulted in inappropriate access to work products. the question here is, when you are talking about spying on a committee, responsible for overseeing your agency, in my view that undermines the very checks and balances that protect
our democracy and it's unacceptable in a free society and your com patriots in all of the sister agencies agreed with that. you disagree? >> you mischaracterized the comments as well as what's in the reports. i apologize to the chairman and the vice chairman about the access and inappropriate access that the officers made to five e-mails or so during that investigation. i apologize as part of a reasonable action. i do not say we spied on the files. we did not do that. we were fulfilling our responsibilities. >> i read the exact words of the inspector general and the words of the review board. you appointed them and they said nobody said in our system to do
oversight. >> did we all agree that that's what they had to the cia documents. that was not inappropriate? >> everything that we determined they did was appropriate, but i asked about the conduct and two reviews. the inspector general and the review board said it was improper. >> they go both ways. i apologized to the chairman and the vice chairman for the inappropriate access that the agency officer officers made to the e-mails. very limited inappropriate actions overall that investigation was done
consistent with the obligations and the law and the responsibilities. i do think you are mischaracterizing the tenor of both the accountability board and the inspector general's report. >> it's hard to mischaracterize word for word quotes. >> i will answer size something here. >> i want to start by being here and the work they are doing every day in providing world class analysis and in keeping our country safe in a world of growing threats that they so eloquently laid out i want to thank them and it has been two years since we are doing this and i hope we don't wait that
long next time. the american people have a chance to hear from the officials directly. especially since so many of our actions take place behind closed doors. while that's appropriate, public debate i believe benefits from transparenty and i appreciate the student today. they have seen the infrastructure and in december, they reported a 20% increase in cyber incidents between fy 14 and 15. the yrg ranked second and with systems coming in third. on top of that, we have seen attacks against turkish banks and providers and it was revealed that the iranian hackers had a bam just north of
new york city. we are seeing by foreign actors and what can we do to position ourselves to critical infrastructure. >> you never have the insight you would like. they wouldn't say hey, i cooperate use more. the biggest challenge in some ways is not so much the level of insight, but how we take that and make the changes we believe are necessary given the dynamics of the world and i see this as the nature of the world and will likely to be living in for a period of time. the challenge is how do we generate action?
and things like the electrical generation and the wastewater systems. the ramifications that are distributed approaches and resiliency as opposed to the very traditional approaches of sort of one way and large transmission. >> you are watching most of the sectors trying to go to that approach. how can you build and look at fragmentation and duplication. i talked to several over the course of the last year, and you can see elements trying to go that way. i would be the first to acknowledge the breath of infrastructure and the amount of time it's going to take to do that across the breath of our nation. that is not an insignificant challenge. >> clearly. would you agree that the movement towards the approaches
are particularly within electrical generations and things like microgrids and islandable and distributed storage and distributed generation are helpful in mitigating the potential impact of a large scale attack? >> approximate are that's part of a foundation or an element of a strategy. there is no silver bullet. >> as the smart senator said, there is silver buck shot. while the united states is obviously not addressing the isil issue alone in syria and iraq, the reality is that many of the foreign partners in the region are at times heavily distracted by unrelated conflicts that are sometimes counterproductive to that fight. for example, as you are well aware, they have been some of the most engaged fighters against isis. you have saudi arabia pouring
money and development in instead of focusing on isil and syria. you spent a lot of time over the years. what have they done and might do to get the regional partners more focused on confronting the threat posted by isil? >> as you pointed out, they are more instability and violence and conflict than we have seen summer in the past 50 years. the amount of flood shed and suffering is unprecedented. we work closely with the partners throughout the region trying to make sure the intelligence and security services are fulfilling the responsibilities professionally as far as making sure that we can share information about the flow of foreign fighters in particular. given such transit with the individuals who might go to syria, iraq and down to libya and egypt.