tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN February 26, 2016 2:00am-4:01am EST
deal obligations to the letter. we need to crack down on iran's other destructive behavior. iran continues stirring up trouble throughout the region from sending irgc commanders to syria to spreading instability in lebanon, to being the main supporter of hez bala. we need to do what it takes to curb iran's mischief, especially in the state of israel, which iran poses an existential threat to. in syria, i don't foresee a quick end to the crisis, especially now that russia has provided us a lifeline. humanitarian assistance and we should support the administration's $4.1 billion request. food and supplies won't end this conflict. we need to push for resolution
to get assad out of power. we also need a knew aumf giving the president what he needs to defend isis. turn to ukraine, it's fighting again intensifies, we cannot take our eye off the ball. ukraine's top priority should be rooting out corruption and reform, we need to support these efforts, we need to work with ukraine. we need to be a partner of ukraine, a stronger, more prosperous ukraine stands a better chance of turning putin back. speaking of putin, we need to let him know we will never acquiese to his position on crimea. any talk of sanctions relief for russia is premature, so long as ukraine doesn't control its own eastern border. we must do more to counter
russian propaganda, we feel very strong about the fact that people in the russian language sometimes only hear on the air what putin wants them to hear. they get a very unbalanced view. we need to move in there and make sure they get a balanced view. let me applaud president obama for what he's done over the last year. we should support the president's billion bill for south america. fewer children will attempt the dangerous trek. our top ally in the region colombia is nearing a historic peace agreement, just after we've supported colombia throughout this conflict we should continue to stand with colombia's people. turning to argentina. the new government's desire to work more closely with the u.s. is a good sign. we've urged the president to
prioritize this. and we're glad he's traveling there next month. the zika virus may soon touch every country in the hemisphere and the connection between zika and a birth defect creates greater urgency. women need the right tools and information to choose whether and when to have children, particularly with this virus running wild. we continue to see the importance of investing in global health. the president's budget request is strong but we should focus on the right priorities. tb is the world's number one infectious killer. to mr. secretary i could go on and on, i look forward to hearing from you on these and other concerns. again, thank you, i yeel back, mr. chairman.
>> this morning we are pleased to be joined by john kerry, the 68th secretary of state. he served as senator for massachusetts. mr. secretary welcome again. without objection the witness's full prepared statement will be made part of the record. members will have five calendar days to submit any statements or questions or any other material for the record we want as many members as possible to have a chance to have a question to question the secretary and accomplish that. i would just ask every member and the witness, let's try to stick to the time limit and that means leaving an adequate amount of time for the secretary to answer your questions. if we ask our questions succinctly we can get through the members of the committee.
with that, we'll begin with a summary of mr. secretary, your testimony thank you again. >> thank you very much. ranking member engle, all the members of the committee. i'm privileged to be here to have a chance to present the 2017 budget. to answer your questions and i know mooar of them will be with respect to policy. i will try to be rapid in this opening. first our request for resources this year are $50 billion is equal as ranking member engle reminded everybody to about 1% of the entire federal budget. one penny on the dollar is everything we do with respect to diplomatic security, development security, relationship security, all the things we do with our embassies a.i.d., everything. i would suggest respectfully the members of this committee, it is
a minimum price for the leadership that we offer to the wor world. that we are currently engaged, in is many hotspots, many difficult challenges, because of the transform atiation taking p in the world right now. we're engaged in more places simultaneously than at any time that i can remember in my public life. the scope of that engagement is frankly essential. to protect the interests of our country to project our values and provide for the security of the united states. we're confronted today by perils that are as old as nationalist aggression. state actions. and as new as cyber warfare. nonstate actors who are the principal protagonists in
today's conflicts. also by violent extremists. who combine modern media techniques with mid evil thinking, in order to wage war on civilization itself. despite the dangers, i come to you unabashedly ready to say that we americans, i think have many and profound reasons for confidence. in recent years, our economy has added more jobs than all of the rest of the industrial world combined. our military our armed forces are second to none. my friends, it's not even close our alliances in europe and asia are vigilant and strong and growing stronger with the tpp and with the rebalance. and our citizens are frankly
unmatched with any country in the world with their generosity and commitment to humanitarian causes to civil society and freedom. >> we hear a lot of verbal hand ringing today, but i for one will tell you that despite my deep respect and affection for my colleagues that i have worked with these last three years plus, i wouldn't switch places with one foreign minister in the world. i certainly don't want to see the united states retreat to some illusion airy golden age given the conflicts and challenges that we face in the world today and the need to project our values and protect our interests and build the security of our nation. i frankly think that here and now we have enormous opportunities that we are seizing. in the past year, with great
debate here, obviously and many people who chose to oppose it, we reached an historic multilateral accord p 5 plus one that has cut off that will country's pathways to a nuclear weapon. it has made the world safer because they no longer have the capacity to build that bomb. in paris, in december, we joined governments for more than 190 nations, it's not insignificant that 190 nations agreed on specific steps comprehensive agreement to curb greenhouse gas emission emissions. witness the drought in california, the increase flooding, the increased numbers of fires, the intensity of storms, the fact that we spent about $8 billion in response to the intensity of those storms over the course of the last year
alone, compared to the minimal cost that we are asking you to provide the global climate fund. in addition, we signed the trans pacific partnership, which will ensure the level playing field for american businesses and workers and reassert the united states leadership to a region that is vital to our interests. we are quadrupling support, giving russia a very clear choice between sanctions and meet i meeting actions in ukraine. there are still hurdles in civil conflict. we're working at it, aiding our partners in central america to implement reforms that will reduce the pressure for illegal migration. in asia we're standing with our allies and threats posed by a
belligerent north korea. we are encouraging resolution of competing maritime claims in the south china sea. with friends in fast growing africa, we have embarked on specific initiatives to combat hunger, to promote health, to empower women, to fight back against such terrorist groups as el shabaab and boko haram. violent extremism extends far beyond any one region and will not be addressed simply by military means, the approach we have adopted is a comprehensive and long term one. we are striving to end conflicts that fuel extremism such as those in libya and yemen. as everybody here knows, we have forged a 66 nation coalition to
defeat dash, and we will defeat dash. we've just moved with troops that we support on -- we are making enormous progress there. we have, together with the enormous efforts of the iraqi military now liberated 40% of the territory that was taken by dash. there are many other things we can discuss. we're assisting the government in baghdad as it seeks to professionalize its security forces and through the international syria support group which we formed, put together we have helped design a plan that has result in the delivery of a possible cessation of hostilities to take place on saturday. we have a team that will be working in geneva and another team working in the next couple days directly with the co
chairs, the russians in an effort to try to encourage that process to take hold. i will say for the first time in years, 5 or 6 communities have received 114 trucks of humanitarian assistance and some 80,000 people now have supplies for a month that didn't have it a week ago before we were able to seal that agreement. my hope is, i know it's very difficult. my hope is that we can work out a modality in the next few days that will see this take hold. we're calling on every eligible party to take part in this. i would close by saying, mr. chairman, this is the last budget of the obama administration, the last one we will submit to this committee on
behalf of american foreign policy and the security of our country. there is nothing that i as secretary or personally as a citizen take more seriously than protecting the security of our country. i ask for your fair consideration, council, support. and backing this budget. above all i want to say thank you to all of you for the extraordinary privilege of being able to work with you in support of an agenda that reflects the best hopes and values of our country, i am convinced when you analyze the challenges of the world today, this budget reflects the best hopes of the world, that's what america's leadership is all about i thank you and look forward to your questions. >> we're going to move as quickly as possible so we can get to as many members here as we possibly can.
let me start with the observation that since just last month we've seen major foreign economic developments in terms of investment in iraq, 20 million on the part of airbus. a half a billion to modernize a car factory from peugot. these companies are government backed many of them. and we have chinese and we have russian investment. in the face of this flood. isn't snap back really just an empty threat? ? hasn't the dam broken? >> not at all mr. chairman. not in the least. every country that you've just mentioned, china, russia,
france, britain, germany are all agreed and signed up to and have voted for a united nations resolution that says snap back will take effect if iran were to engage in an egregious unsolvable violation of the jcpoa. in the dw#çmeantime, mr. chairm they are going 8muz do what th are>ia permitted to do' ahú#6áy which is do business those links will&gxh ultimatel degree. question, why isn'txñq6m i sat next to the chairman of day, they're watchingyl;qi joe go in and:%b,ñ others. we can't do that. why? we have a sanctions regimegl our other issues. >> because of ballistic0gssz :çw missiles? >> and support for terrorism?t#ñ >> that's correct.
complain about other people÷d1c doing what they're allowed to( ourselves. ourselves. 7÷ actor from 6cç many of9b3 revo7jyky$ry guard core. mtdt the march, in violation of another u.n. sanction, not only working on their télwicbm programs but als carrying out terrorist provision are $k@ép' sanctions act? that's going to expire at the 3j >> that's not accurate. we have all the snap back power i wouldn't advise that right now we've just76/x announced
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>> i'm hoping$13 the)dve])ájápán will impresi adequately share the@wyáq' of rmñ to ask you what5h)b÷ the administr thinks will happen next and what as i can. on iran, let me just inform everybody here that the irgc has pulled its troops back from syria. the ayatollah pulled significant number of troops out there,
their presence is actually reduced in syria. number two, that doesn't mean they're still not engaged and active in the flow of weapons from syria to de mass cass to lebanon. we're concerned about that and it's an ongoing concern. the other thing is, this money, i keep hearing this figure of 100 billion, 150 billion. iran is not going to get 100 or 150 billion. and that figure is not accurate, it's more our estimates are somewhere in the vicinity of 50 to 55 million at some point in time. they are complaining about the slowness with which there has been a process of repatriation. i urge you to go to the intel piece, get the briefing on what is happening with the irgc and the flow of money. with respect to iran's behavior
in the region we have been deeply engaged with our gcc friends, i've had three or four meetings with them since last summer. i'm meeting with them against shortly we've engaged in a major plus up of our military exercise, military cooperation. military support. we are joining with them, in an active effort to push back against other activities, we're part of the coalition that's been supporting the saudis. and the amaratis and others who pushed into yemen to protect saudi arabia. and i believe we may even now as a result of those efforts, find a rainness in a political process that might be able to help resolve that. on syria, iran has come to the table together with russia to agree to two communications in vienna and a united nations security council resolution
outlining a framework for the politician resolution of syria. i'm not here to vouch for the words. there is at least a framework on paper which we are now following with the hopes of getting back to the discussion in geneva in the next week with the support of iran and russia. we're going to have to put that to the test. we're not sitting here saying it's going to happen automatically, if there's going to be a political settlement, the only way to get there is with the agreement and the consents of all the parties. all the stakeholders are at the table for the first time. we're hopeful we can press that forward and at least come to you with a notion in a matter of months and weeks. they're either serious or they're not. if they're not serious, we're going to have to be talking with you about whatever plan b is going to be. if there's a prayer of holding syria together unified as a
whole country without further migration challenges to europe and jordan and lebanon and the rest of the region. we must pursue some kind of a political process. with respect to europe, we have engaged in a significant plus option. the budget goes from 700 million up to 3.4 billion. in our support for the forward deployment of both troops rotating support structure and assistance to europe, i won't go into all the details now. maybe i'll submit it for the record. i want to say to you there's a robust effort going on on the front line state support and support for ukraine. pushing on minsk. president obama has had three or four conversations with president put in the course of the last months from the united nations meeting on, in every one of them he spends probably 50%
of the time at least on the issue of ukraine and full implementation in mincement and responsibility of protecting the sovereignty of ukraine. we're engaged on those fronts i think our support is welcomed. >> we're going to go to the congresswoman from florida. >> i hope we're opposed to the schemes to achieve unilateral peacehood. i remain opposed to your administration's offer continually to get a waiver to the law that prohibits u.s. funds from going to enesco. i will continue to fight every effort by the administration to get a waiver to that law. in its last months of legacy shopping as it tries to check off the remaining goals of its
misguided foreign policy is your administration going to abstain from a vote on a french resolution at the u.n. supporting palestinian statehood. i'll ask you to definitively answer here this morning. will the united states veto any resolution at the u.n. supporting palestinian statehood, yes or no? >> i don't know of any resolution by the french specifically. >> if there were? >> we have always opposed any one sided resolution, something that is unfair to israel. >> thank you. >> moving on to the administration's shameful concession policy toward cuba that has turned its back on human rights advocates. yes or no, are human rights in cuba a priority for this administration? >> of course they are. >> how do you explain this year's budget request for even less democracy funding for cuba
while repression is worse than ever before, and you're about to travel to cuba for your second visit. yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the shootdown of the brothers to the rescue planes resulting in the murder of innocent americans. will you commit to the families of these victims today that you will seek the extradition of castro regime officials responsible for the shootdown? >> let me just say that we are engaged actually more directly on human rates than we ever have been or are capable of being, we have negotiated additional diplomatic presence in cuba. we have negotiated the right for our diplomats to travel -- >> you're aware that over 8,000
people were arrested since the summer -- the 17th announcement -- >> when you say arrested, you mean -- >> detaining, human rights advocates, whatever you would like to call people who are being held outside of their will. >> people were indeed detained. there were -- we are very much aware of that and we have objected to that. >> i could just thank you, mr. secretary. >> getting people released who previously have not been. >> yes, some who had not been released were put on the list and rearrested so they could be released again. and some who were released -- anyway, that's very interesting about that list of freed people that will castro plays, i hope we're not silly enough to believe that. i wonder if you know, which illegally confiscated u.s. property you'll be holding a
press conference while in havana. last year you held a press conference in the hotel nationale. the owner still has a u.s. certified claim for its majority interest in the hotel. do you know which illegally confiscated property you will stop the at this time? and finally, will you commit to this committee you will pressure castro to unconditionally return to the united states new jersey cop killer joanne chessimard. does any of it matter to this administration? >> it imaginers hugely. we believe we have created more opportunities for intervention, more opportunities to make progress. one in four people in cuba are now beginning to work for private enterprise. >> how do you explain the massive exodus of cubans leaving the island since the -- >> do you want an answer or do
you just want to ask a question. >> but you're talking about small business owners, i'd like to go to that optometrist. those rose colored glasses are amazing. there have been massive arrests and massive exodus and we talk about this nonexistent entrepreneurial class in cuba. >> we have more visits taking place with various groups who are going to cuba and engaging with the cuban people than ever before in the last 50 years of our policy. >> therefore -- >> we believe there's a greater chance of changing cuba than anything in the last 50 years. >> we need to go to mr. gregory meeks of new york. time has expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary i want to thank you for the great work you've been doing i want to ask three
quick questions in the spirit of what the chair has asked us and give you an opportunity to answer those questions. the first question deals with the situation in turkey as it moves -- specifically i'm referring to tensions and conflict between turkey and the kurdish community. i think the details are important because we're working well with the syrian kurds in the fight against isil. the depositions have deepened, specifically since the tragic events in ankora. how is turkey's tensions with the occurreds effect or ongoing fight against dash and the end of the humanitarian strategy there what role if any can the united states play. secondly, different part of the world as you indicated in your opening statement, i'm delighted
that we were able to share the 15th anniversary of colombia with president santos here, and now we're talking about peace colombia which i think is important. as we hopefully get to an end of that situation there. i'm concerned about how we make sure that african colombians are included in the 450 million that's there. >> you also mentioned that we have concluded the negotiations in asia on tpp. if we do not vote here in the united states to support the administration's negotiations, what set backs if any will it have for us in the region. will they have a strategic advantage over us? >> thank you very much, congressman, i appreciate the
questions, let me move quickly through them. turkey is our nato ally, we work closely with turkey. they have enormous interests in what is happening there. we are very sensitive to this challenge of their concern about the pkk, their concern about the links of the pkk and ypg and so forth. we need to respect turkey's concerns and we will, we have we believe, going-forward is very important that there not be a different problem created by the short term solution of working with the occurreds and then that creates a longer term challenge for all of us in the region. on the other hand we've also needed to have some people on the ground who are prepared to push back against daesh. kobani is an example of that.
we were able to hold kobani and drive daesh out of kobani as a result of kurd support. and the peshmerga particularly with respect to the north component that northeast component of -- northwest component of iraq have been particularly helpful and engaged. they were essential to a number of successful military initiatives to push daesh back and, in fact, there are different kurds because some are more prepared and more comfortable working with turkey than others are, and those divisions are very complicated and need to be managed carefully. bottom line to your question is, we are talking with the turks right now about ways to proceed that don't cross important lines for them and that respect the sensitivities
of the region and i'm confident we will be able to do that. with respect to peace colombia, we've committed as you know, and it's in the budget, a very important demining initiative which could take place in the aftermath of an agreement. there's still some difficult issues to resolve in the context of the agreement and we're encouraging that process. president obama has appointed bernie aaronson as an envoy to those talks. he has the respect and confidence of president santos and the other participants. i may well be meeting with some of them shortly in the next days depending on how events flow. there are many countries that are supportive of this effort. and our hope is that we can resolve the transitional justice issues and the victims issues which are two of the most critical ones outstanding at the moment.
on the tpp, folks, you know, i know -- i've been part of trade debate on the hill for 28 plus years i served in the senate. i know how difficult it is. i was there when nafta passed and we went through some enormous transitions. this agreement is different from any trade agreement that i saw in any of the time that i was here because labor requirements, environment requirements are boldly within the four corners of the agreement and because this is essential, frankly, to raising the business standards of the region. it eliminates 18,000 taxes on american goods that can be exported into the region. it's a benefit to american workers. it will create jobs here in america. and it will profoundly impact the standards going forward for the protection of intellectual
property, protection under cyber and for our ability to raise the transparency and accountability by which people do business. if this doesn't pass, then we're rejecting the most important economic initiative and unifying moment of i think the last, you know, 20, 30 years. and we would be turning our back on american leadership in that endeavor. and then leave to people who want to race to the bottom, the standards for doing business, the absence of transparency, the absence of efforts to counter corruption, to deal with reform. important reforms are contained in this tpp. and i simply urge you, look at it, analyze it, i believe in the end you will agree this is not like any prior trade agreement and i believe takes us to a much better place and reinforces american leadership in the region.
>> mr. chris smith of new jersey. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman and thank you, mr. secretary, for your service. a couple of questions. when i learned late last year the administration was contemplating massive crimes against yazidis for genocide but not christians i attended a hearing. the yazidis were on the verge of annihilation but the yazidis and christians face this genocide together. the bishop testified, christians have encountered genocide in the obama administration refuses to recognize their plight. dr. george stanton testified, failure to call isis' mass murder of christians, muslims and other groups in addition to the yazidis by its proper name genocide would be an act of denial as grave as u.s. refusal to recognize the rwanda genocide
in 1994. my first question is when and will christians and other minority faiths be included in a genocide designation and secondly, last year a reuters investigative report, it was a very in sitive report and without objection i would ask it be made part of the record found that tier three recommendations made by the trafficking in persons office experts in 14 instances including malaysia, china, cuba, india and oman, were rejected further up the chain of command at state and artificially given a clean bill of health for other political purposes. i convened a hearing. johnson testified in november. i asked a lot of pointed questions about who made these decisions, were there other political factors involved. she was very tight lipped. very good person but did not convey information. can you assure us because the new tip report will be coming out very shortly that that won't happen again this year. credibility of the tip report in
speaking truth to power and defending victims against these heinous crimes of sex and labor trafficking as you know because you were a strong supporter of it as a senator and as secretary of state. we got to get the book right. what you do with that is all up to the administration in terms of penalties and sanctions, but the book has to speak truth to power by getting it right. 14 instances. can you respond? >> yes, i can, and i will respond. i'm responsible for that report. i accept responsibility for that report. i made the decision about malaysia. and i made it strictly on the merits. and, in fact, malaysia has made improvements, increased prosecutions, increased investigations, has passed amendments on anti-trafficking. it has passed amendments on providing better law enforcement protection.
it has issued regulations in consultation with ngos, and it has increased law enforcement efforts to prosecute and to convict and it had additional convictions. now, you know, you have to make a judgment in some of these cases. but i will absolutely vouch for the integrity of this process. we have a very detailed year long effort where people are measuring and i have instructed our embassies to be engaged year long in working with countries to try to give them time to make changes to respond to our needs. sometimes you are better off working with encouraging and getting people to do something than just slamming them in a report and finding that they say well the hell with them and they walk away and they don't respond. we found in the case of malaysia and some other countries, we've actually been able to make progress. but i can assure you this report will demote somebody who
deserves to be demoted and call it as we see it. i don't think anybody, but i'm responsible -- >> with respect, cuba, china, oman, we were told that oman because they helped on the negotiation with iran, cuba because of the rapprochement that's occurred and china, when it comes to sex trafficking, because of the missing girls, tens of millions of missing girls has become the ultimate magnet for pimps who are turning women into commodities and selling them across borders into china. it is i believe the worst violator in the entire world in terms of the massive numbers. so i would hope china would be looked at. again on the christian designation. >> i'll come back to that. i do want to speak to that very much. let me say to you, each of these are real judgments that we make. that i make, ultimately. on cuba, cuba was upgraded to a tier two watch list from tier three because it did make significant efforts to address
and prosecute sex trafficking including the conviction of 13 sex traffickers and it provided more services to sex trafficking victims. the government provided training to cuban officials to address sex trafficking, the ministry of tourism reached out to address sex tourism and reduce the demand for commercial sex and committed to reform their laws in accordance with the u.n. protocol. now if that doesn't happen then there's a measurement to try to go backwards but we felt that in each of these cases there was progress. now i would put on the record here today, we're concerned that the government of cuba has not recognized forced labor as a problem. criminalized forced labor. or reported efforts to prevent it and so there are things that we need to do going forward. and that's what we'll measure. on the christian issue, i share
your concern very, very much. again, this is a judgment that i have to make. i will make it. and any reports that we have made a decision to the contrary that it's not -- that decision has been made not to are incorrect. doesn't mean we made a decision to do so. this has to be done on the basis of the legal standard with respect to genocide and the legal standard with respect to crimes against humanity. i have asked our legal department to evaluate, to re-evaluate, actually, several observations that were circulating as part of the vetting process of this issue, and i'm concerned about it and i will make a judgment. i'll also try to do so very, very soon. we know this is hanging out there. >> we need to go to the gentleman from new jersey. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, thank you for all your hard work. i want to go back to the topic of cuba. i know we've had this issue of
50 years but there seems to be more repression in the last ten years, in this past year than in the last ten years. i was wondering with all the people going back and forth to cuba are any efforts being made to bring joanne chessemard back to the united states? >> i might add in connection with the chairwoman's question also we're entering into the period where we're discussing confiscated property and that's a critical component of this as well owes extradition or release of various people and all of those human rights issues are on the table. i pursued them and the president will pursue them when he's there. >> joanne chesamar. >> yes. >> there's more repression now than in the last ten years after
we made all these contacts with cuba, are we addressing those. >> yes, we're addressing the arrests. we were particularly incensed by the arrests of several of the people who had been part of the release effort originally. here's what the cubans said. cubans said they broke the law again. we looked at what they had allegedly broken and we object entirely. one of them had hung a sign in a window saying i will only vote in an election in which i can vote to choose my president and so forth. and four year sentence. that's ridiculous. it's obscene. we believe it's obscene. we told them that's wrong. so we continue to press those issues. but we do have more ability to be able to interact with the cuban people. when i was there to raise the flag to have the marines raise the flag, the marines lowered the flag, they were there to raise the flag, there were cubans amassed behind the -- >> no dissidents. dissidents weren't invited. >> these are people who cheered
mightily at the return of the united states and the presence of our country and my speech in which i talked about democracy and talked about the need to have protection of human rights was broadcast to the entire country. and some of it a little bit of it in spanish. the president's -- >> are diplomats allowed -- >> we have more ability because of this to interact with the cuban people. and more americans are traveling there and interacting. >> even our diplomats are restricted from moving throughout the island. >> our diplomats we negotiated an ability for our diplomats a specific number as we test the, you know, expansion of this relationship more diplomats are able to proceed to travel around unannounced without people following them or engaged in any activities. we have diplomats who are able to travel around the country. >> are they actually traveling? >> i believe they are. i've heard nothing to the contrary. >> the other thing i want to talk about is colombia.
if they do come to an understanding, i hope that we do not walk away from helping colombia. >> we are deeply committed, president obama -- that was part of the reason for the celebration of the 15 year mark. we invested -- we, you, everybody here, not everybody but those of you in the upper dais certainly invested significantly in the late 1990s in plan colombia and it's made all the difference. that's why we talk about plan paz, plan peace. >> if we do reach peace i hope we still continue to assist colombia. >> so do i. >> the other thing this morning in the news i saw russia gave afghanistan all these arms. what do we make of that? now that there's an incursion by russians into afghanistan. >> the russians are deeply concerned about the stability of the country. they have raised the issue with us of trying to protect the region.
they have concerns about countries near them. they have concerns about the flow of terrorists, that is also one of their concerns about syria. and so they are engaged -- in fact, we're discussing with the russians these issues of security for the ongoing challenges of afghanistan. >> were you aware these arms were going to afghanistan? >> we know that they are supporting the afghan -- >> this morning. it was in the news this morning. >> the afghan government or -- >> yeah, gave 10,000 rifles or whatever, you know, arms. >> yes, we support that. >> okay. thank you, mr. secretary. >> thank you. >> we now go to the gentleman from california. >> thank you, mr. secretary. again, thank you for your service to our country. you work very hard for us, and while we have some disagreement, policy disagreement, you have our respect and our gratitude.
so, first of all, let me mention then some of these issues that we may have disagreement on. when you say that the decision will be made very, very soon to act on the idea of whether christians and yazidis are targets of genocide let me just note this has been going on, we've been seeing this now for well over a year, probably several years now slaughter of christians in the middle east and for us not to have made a decision and that we're making the decision that that decision hasn't been made yet is unacceptable. we're talking about the lives of tens of thousands of people who are brutally, being brutally slaughtered targeted for genocide. i have a bill, hr 4017, and the president has commented that it would just be giving preference to christians. is it preference to give -- is it wrong to give preference to people who are targets of genocide and say we're going to
save them realizing that they are the ones who are most likely to be slaughtered. >> this decision has to be made strictly and has to be made quickly. i understand that. but i only -- i think i only had the first discussion come to my desk on this in terms of the legal interpretations a couple of weeks ago and that's when i immediately initiated some re-evaluation which i'm looking at and i can tell you i want to do this as quickly -- >> let me suggest -- having this come to your attention only weeks ago -- >> congressman, it does require a lot of fact gathering. i mean you have to get the facts from the ground more than just anecdotal. >> the whole world knows christians are being slaughtered in the middle east. it's clear. it's time for america to act. the excuse that we've got to study it, we've got to ask the lawyers what the wording is, is this really preference or not,
it's unacceptable. i hope your word that this will be acted on very soon, we're going to hold you to that. so second about the idea here, do you agree with some of the administration officials that claim that russia is a greater threat to our national security than is radical islamic terrorism? >> i think, you know, i don't want to get into sort of either/or here because i don't think it's necessary. i think that what the defense department and others have been saying is that they see activities that russia has engaged in which present challenges. for instance what happened with crimea, what's happened in support for the separatists, the long process back and forth on minsk implementation is interpreted by the front line states as a threat and there's engagement by russia through its propaganda through operatives in some of these other countries so
it is perceived of as engaging in -- let me just finish. i believe that if you wanted me to put on the table the top threat to the united states today in terms of day-to-day life and the stability of the world it is violent extremism, radical religious extremism and violence of -- >> are you unable to say radical islamic terrorism as the president is unable to say? >> you just heard me say radical religious extremism. >> no you didn't say. you don't want to say radical islamic. it's disheartening when a representative of our government can't say radical islamic terrorism, and at the same time can't make a decision whether christians are being targeted for genocide. this is not acceptable. about your point on russia and
whether or not we can consider them the greatest threat over radical islamic terrorism. let me just note that increasing the spending of our military spending in europe so that we'll have now have more tanks in europe could be taken as a hostile act by russia as well. time for us to get out of this cycle of well, we're going to find things that they are doing that we consider hostile and vice versa. we have every reason, do we not, mr. secretary, of trying to find a way we can work with russia to combat what is the real threat, which is radical islamic terrorism? >> congressman, i think you heard me say that it is predominantly, predominantly islamic and i have no hesitation in saying that. i've said that in many parts of the world. that's not the issue. and, yes, we are trying to cooperate with russia with respect to this issue in syria right now. russia is the co-chair with us. the international syrian support
group and of the cessation of hostilities task force and we're working very closely on countering violent extremism initiatives which president obama has led. in the u.n. and elsewhere in convening people to work against violent extremism on a global basis. to me this is the greatest challenge we face because there are hundreds of millions of young people in many of these countries where you have 60% to 70% of the nation under the age of 35 and if they don't have jobs and if they are not educated and there's not opportunity or we don't keep radical religious extremists of any kind from reaching them and turning them into a suicide bomber or an extreme operative of one kind, we have a problem. all of us. so this is, to me, the more prevalent challenge that we all face and russia shares an interest in working with us to deal with that challenge.
>> we go now to mr. gerry connoly of virginia. >> obviously my colleague wants to get you to say the number one threat is islamic terrorism. but is it not also true, not to dilute anything that the biggest victims of that terrorism are, in fact, islamists themselves and that many of our allies fighting this terrorist war are islamic countries, is that not true? >> they are, indeed, are very significant allies in this effort and i would say every single country of the world, they are joining in an effort to deal with the terrible distortion of one of the world's principal religions. >> i think that's a very important point mr. secretary to put it in context because not that my friend would do that, i don't mean that.
but we have heard some presidential candidates taint an entire faith with something, i think grossly unfairly when, in fact, victims are muslims and many of the countries allied with us in the fight against terrorists are, in fact, muslim countries. so it's a very complex situation, but not subject to some simplification or over simplification of who are the villains and who are the good guys. i thought we would get that on the record. i think this is your first visit back since the iran nuclear agreement got implemented and i just want to say for one, i think it's going to be part of your legacy. i think it's one of the most successful things u.s. foreign diplomacy has done in a long time. despite the critics and all the predictions we had a hearing the other week and established definitively iran is complying and if we're looking at removing an existential threat to israel,
we did it. and i just to congratulate you. if you want to disagree about compliance, please freely feel free but it's my observation that in every metric we have seen so far we have not seen cheating or subterfuge. we have been able to observe and validate. in fact, iran has complied. doesn't make iran a good guy in the international stage, but it does mean we, in fact, were able to deliver an enforceable agreement that improves everybody's security. i don't know if you want to comment on that, mr. secretary. >> i thank you, congressman, very, very much and that's, in fact, what we concurred with is that they have complied. >> thank you. real quickly i want to pivot to crimea and the ukraine. one of the concerns i've got and it's shared by friends on both sides of the aisle is with respect to soviet expansionism,
soef yet imperialism, hegemony, whatever word we want to use for it, it all starts with crimea. if you let crimea go, now you're quibbling over the price. in eastern ukraine or wherever. what is the united states position with respect to the illegal annexation of crimea? >> that it's illegal and not ceding crimea with anything except for the primary focus at the moment is on agreements. >> but we're not going to give up on crimea. >> no, we have no intention of doing that. >> the president, some of my friends have criticized him for the issuance of executive orders but presumably not these. he's issued executive orders 13660, 661, 662 and 685 blocking property of persons and transactions related to the illegal annexation of crimea and
subversion in the eastern ukraine. how is compliance going with those executive orders and is the administration seeking legislative, additional legislative relief with respect to the subject? >> we believe that russia continues to pay a real price for the annexation of crimea and crimea is physically isolated from international transport links now, from the global financial system. its tourism sector has collapsed. it remains unable to provide full significant electricity to its population. and inflation has completely erased any potential of the russian promises of better standard of living for the people. now, it's obviously tragic for the people of crimea. we know that since the
annexation, the human rights situation for the people of crimea has deteriorated. and there's been a mounting repression of minorities particularly the tartars. so we continue to press russia on this issue and i believe that the measures that are in place are having an impact. >> mr. steve shabbat of ohio. >> let me thank you, mr. secretary. thank you for your long service to our country. >> thank you very much. >> good morning, mr. secretary. this is the 20th year i've had the honor to serve on the foreign affairs committee. i chaired the middle east committee, i chaired the asian/pacific committee and i've had the opportunity to listen to and to question a number of foreign, excuse me, a number of our secretaries of state from warren christopher to madeleine albright to colin powell to condoleezza rice, hillary clinton and yourself in the past and again here today. now this administration has less than a year to go.
so what i would like to do is to ask you to address some of the things which many would argue haven't gone so well, and what we can learn from these things and hopefully avoid repeating in the future. as you know i've got limited time and i have several questions so i ask that you keep your answers reasonably succinct. because i would try to avoid to interrupt you. first, you've already been asked about the iran deal. but i would like to go back before the deal and ask this and i realize, of course, that hillary clinton was secretary of state and not yourself so i'm not blaming you. but i would ask this question. was not aiding the students in the pro democracy reformers in the iranian green movement a mistake? >> well, i think, my memory is that president obama spoke out in support of and we suffered a lot of criticism from iran. this is one of the hurdles we had to get over in our negotiation. they believed we were not only
supportive but even responsible for it. we weren't. >> you know, these young pro democracy folks pleaded for our help. pleaded for it. >> when you say help -- >> they got nothing from this administration. president obama essentially, if you go back and look at what he said at the time, he took the side, i would argue, of the repressive mullahs of iran over freedom-seeking people. most people looking at it at the time would say it was shameful what happened. let me move on. in retrospect was it a mistake to pull all u.s. troops out of iraq? >> i believe that this has been badly misinterpreted because there was no contemplation -- first of all the agreement was made by president bush to draw the troops out. what president obama tried to do was negotiate with maliki, the
prime minister maliki, the remainder that would stay and they were noncombat troops. everybody needs to focus on that. there were no combat troops that were going to stay there. so even if they had stayed, that would not have made a difference with respect to what was happening because prime minister maliki was turning the army into his own personal private sectarian enterprise. and that's -- let me just finish. >> i think next to the iran deal, i would argue that it was this administration's greatest mistake and it led, i think, directly to the rise of isis. let me ask this. how did this administration so misread putin? now to be fair, president bush did, too. he famously looked into putin's eyes, believing that he got a sense of his soul. but let's face it. putin has been undermining u.s. policy at every turn.
why did this administration not see that coming? why did it let it happen? >> well, i don't think that anybody could predict what an unpredictable set of choices might produce. the bottom line is that at the time a number of other things happened which had an impact on putin's perception of what was going on. >> let me just -- i'm almost out of time. let me comment on your comment. it seems to me that from the start of this administration, from hillary's famous pressing of the reset button, that we've been played like chumps by putin. this administration scrapped the missile defense program with our allies, poland and the czech republic to placate putin and what did we get? he invaded and annexed crimea,
started war in eastern ukraine which is ongoing. shoots down a civilian airliner and of course denies it. his allies did that. threatens the nato alliance, props up assad in syria. harbors the treasonous edward snowden and on and on. i would argue this administration's policy with respect to russia has been feckless and unfortunately i'm out of time. >> can i respond very quickly, congressman. there was an agreement which yanukovych was supposed to honor and we don't believe he honored it but putin from his perspective had an attitude that there was a deal and the deal was broken, and he thought and perceived certain things. people respond in certain ways and perceptions. i don't believe -- also the european association agreement
and the way that had been maneuvered had a lot to do with perceptions. now we are building a missile defense. the administration came to a conclusion they could do a more effective one and that is currently being deployed. russia still objects to what is happening but it's happening. so nobody pulled back from doing something as a consequence. nobody has been played as a chump. we went in and put sanctions in place that have profoundly negatively impacted russia's economy, profoundly impacted russia's ability to move and maneuver in the region and ultimately resulted in the minsk agreement which we hope can be implemented fully. if it is implemented fully, our policy would be successful because russia would not have taken over all of ukraine, not even the eastern part where the separatists will then still be part of ukraine and in an arrangement with the government in kiev.
i just don't agree with your conclusion there. i also think that if you look, russia has cooperated with the united states on the iran agreement. russia cooperated with the united states in getting the chemical weapons that were declared out of syria. russia has cooperated with the united states and syrian international support group and vienna process and now in an effort to try to fight against daesh and -- >> we need to go to the congressman from florida. >> it's just not -- the point i'm trying to make is it doesn't lend itself to just one judgment. this is more complicated for better or worse, more nuanced than some of these conclusions allow for. >> the congressman from florida. >> thank you, mr. chairman, mr. secretary thanks for being here. thanks for your service to our country. mr. secretary, i had the pleasure this morning of spending some time with mr. amir
ahmady and as you know, bob levinson is my constituent and wonderful to see amir and i'm thrilled for the families but i just want to urge you to continue to press with at any time most greatest sense of commitment and urgency to bring him back home to his family. i'm grateful to you raising this issue. i urge you to continue to push. i would like to talk about the iran agreement. without making judgments about whether it's the greatest achievement ever or the worst ever done this is 15 year term, we're five months since it was signed. we just had the implementation day. a lot of us whatever side we were on before want to see this succeed. so i want to focus specifically on the snap-back provisions which had come up earlier. both the international snap-back of international sanctions and snap-back of domestics sanctions. on international, the tests of the ballistic missiles by iran
clearly violate security council resolution. ambassador power to her credit took this to the security council, the security council has kicked it to the sanctions committee, as i understand it. the question is what is in this case a clear violation can't be sanctioned at the international level. i commend you and the administration for taking action as the united states against these three entities and individuals, but at the international level, if the security council can't act when there's a clear violation like this over the term of this agreement, why shouldn't we have concerns? how do we address the concerns that they will never be able to act when there's a violation? that's with respect to international. on the domestic front, you talked about the iran sanctions act and the reauthorization. i just wanted to go back to a story that was in politico last summer in august, in the midst of the heated discussions about the jcpoa. senior official told politico,
and i quote, we absolutely support renewal of the iran sanctions act. it's an important piece of legislation. we want to discuss renewal with congress in a thoughtful way at the right time. now is not the time. as the isa doesn't expire until next year and because we're focused on implementation. we will have plenty of opportunity in the coming months to take part in the deliberate and focused communications with congress on this important topic. the deal has now been signed. implementation day has now come and gone. it is 2016 the year in which this is going to expire. mr. secretary, if not now, when, when will we have these discussions that the administration was committed to having last summer? >> well, congressman, first of all, on bob levenson, i understand completely. i just met with the family recently. i completely understand the
tension, the feelings and the disappointment they feel. they see people come back and bob is not among them and they don't have answers yet. we have put a process in place as part of the actual agreement that we reached whereby he's very much front and center in terms of our following through to trace every lead there is and to be personally engaged. i don't want to go in greater detail but i shared with the family some of the things we plan to do and we will, in fact, we are doing them. >> thank you. >> you asked about the missiles, does it have a meaning somehow that we are not going to do what we said we are going to do. the answer to that is no. the missles were left outside the jcpoa. jcpoa stands by itself. the missiles are a separate track. the arms are a separate track.
we purposefully did not want to confuse the implementation and accountability for the implementation with these other things. so that's why we put additional sanctions on because of missile launch. on three entities and eight individuals. now, you raised the question about 2016, if not now, when? well, now is the good time to have the discussion. this is part of the discussion. we're having it here today. i'm saying to you that we should be informed in whatever we choose to do on the isa by how well the implementation goes. by how necessary it is to be thinking about the concern about the application of the sanctions. we don't need -- excuse me, we don't need the isa. >> i'm out of time. i wanted to ask, is one of the reasons that there's a hasation to go forward now even after implementation day is that iran
is going to view this, interpret this as some sort of violation of the agreement which clearly it's not? >> no. i think that it's on its face exactly what i just described to you. there's no rush. we know we can pass whatever we would need to very quickly number one. number two, we want to be -- in whatever we decide to do, whatever message it might send, ought to be advised by the efficiency and effectiveness of the way this has been implemented so whatever we're putting in it is, in fact, rational and related to the process itself. as you yourself just said, we're only a few months into it. let's get into it. there's plenty of time here. and see where we are. >> we go now to mr. joe wilson, south carolina. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. secretary, for being here. i'm very grateful that speaker ryan has provided shocking admissions of how iran will use sanctions relief to fund
terrorism which i believe the american people needs to know puts families at risk. on january 21, mr. secretary, you admitted quote, i think some of the funds from the sanctions relief will end up in the hands of the irgc or other entities, some of which are labeled terrorists, end of quote. this is sad, mr. secretary. iran is widely recognized as world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. supporting groups like hamas and hezbollah. that are responsible for murdering hundreds of americans. it therefore should come as no surprise at least some of them, $100 billion in sanctions relief granted under the nuclear agreement will be used to finance terrorists. you're not alone in this assertion. in fact, several key obama administration officials including the president himself have made the exact same admission. quote, do we think some of the sanctions coming down, that iran will have additional resources for its military, for some of
the activities in the region that are a threat to us and a threat to our allies? i think it is a likelihood they've got some additional resources. end of quote, president barack obama. also, quote, we should expect some of the portion of the money will go to iranian military that could potentially be used for the kinds of bad behavior we've seen in the region until now. end of quote. from national security adviser susan rice. also quote, as iran's bee i have that, the united states is under no illusions. this agreement was never based on the expectations it would transform the iranian regime or cause tehran to cease contributing to sectarian violence and terrorism in the middle east, end of quote. wendy sherman. we agree on implementation day in january speaker paul ryan noted quote, the president himself has acknowledged iran is likely to use this cash
infusion, more than $100 billion in total, to finance terrorists, end of quote. this is exactly why a bipartisan majority of the house voting to reject the nuclear deal. sanctions should be only lifted when iran ceases its litany of illicit activities and ends its support for terrorism. until that day comes, we should not be complicit in fueling a regime that has a long history of hostility towards the united states and its allies. i'm particularly grateful for the bipartisan conduct of this committee. with chairman royce of california and ranking member engel of new york. with their thoughtful opposition to the iran deal, i believe iran promotes attacks on american families with its pledge of death to america and death to israel, as proven by the intercontinental ballistic missile development as cited by chairman royce and congressman deutch. secretary kerry, from your responses to chairman royce's questions, what i heard you say was the administration wants to let the iran sanctions act
expire. the administration, extending it through the international emergency economic powers act is simply a power grab. allowing isa to expire statutorily is unacceptable. with this background, how have iran's terrorist activities been affected by the deal and the subsequent lifting of sanctions. has iran's support for terrorism increased or decreased? >> well, congressman, you raise a lot of questions in all of that and you make some assumptions that i don't share or agree with. we never suggested that the goal is to let it expire. i said let's take your time and be thoughtful about it. you're drawing a conclusion i never lent any credence to. secondly, this goes back to the sort of argument about the iran deal itself. you say we shouldn't lift sanctions until they have given up their sponsorship for terror.
the problem is what they judge, you know, they just have a different interpretation about some of those things that would have lasted a lifetime and they would have then had a nuclear weapon. iran with a nuclear weapon would have been far more dangerous than an iran without one. so if you're worried about terror, the first objective is make sure they don't have a nuclear weapon. now, we've been very honest. i'm not going to sit here and suggest that some portion of the money might not find its way to one of those groups. what they do is not dependent on money, congressman, never has been. they're going to do it anyway. if we hadn't gotten rid of the nuclear weapon, they were still supporting the houthi. they've still been supporting hezbollah. they have been supporting them for how many years? countless years. >> now they can finance terrorists in this country. mr. secretary, this is not right. i yield. >> okay, we're going to go to rhode island.
>> thank you for your extraordinary service to our country. i have four questions i'm going to run through quickly to give you as much time as possible to answer. i'm concerned about the deteriorating state of rule of law and adherence to human rights in egypt. egyptian judiciary has long been rife with corruption and political agendas. reports yesterday exemplify how bad the situation has become. when a cairo military court handed down a mass life sentence to 116 defendants that mistakenly included a 3-year-old boy. this is incredibly outrageous and really does exemplify how little the egyptian judiciary and security apparatus care for the rule of law. i would like to hear what we're doing about it. additionally, in the appendix to this year's budget request, you asked congress to remove egypt's partial aid conditions and the reporting requirement entirely. what's the justification for proposing the removal of this language and what kind of signal will this send? >> the removal of which
language? >> the language related to partial aid conditions, national security waiver and reporting requirement. the second question is you, you know, there are tremendous challenges. you've outlined them in your testimony. the budget, the international affairs budget which funds programs designed to confront these challenges continues to shrink. since fiscal year 2010, the overall funding for the international affairs, that's the base budget plus oco has been reduced 15%. request is slightly down from last year. what is your most serious concern about the resources necessary to confront the many challenges facing our country and does this budget really provide the resources that you think we need? third and finally, the u.s./israeli memorandum understanding i know is going to expire in 2018. i understand we've begun to discuss a new set of terms. what's the status of those negotiations and what kind of
training and equipment and assistance will israel need in light of increased instability in the region and threats to their security? tried to do those fast. >> okay. no, i appreciate it. congratulations on moving up to the upper dais there. >> thank you. >> the -- let me just begin with your question about egypt itself. look, these sentences obviously are of enormous concern to all of us. we've expressed that very straightforwardly. and we've seen a deterioration over the course of this last -- these last months i guess is a fair way to say it. with the rest of journalists and the rest of civil society personalities. we understand that egypt is going through a very difficult challenge right now. there are terrorists in the sinai.
there are the challenges of extremism that has played out in bombings in cairo, sharm el sheikh, elsewhere. so it's difficult. nobody's suggesting otherwise. but we believe deeply countries that protect freedom of speech and assembly and encourage civil society will ultimately do better and be stronger in their ability to be able to defeat extremism. we work very closely. i have a good working relationship with my counterpart. we talk frequently. we are working on these issues on a regular basis. we have succeeded in getting some people released. we've succeeded in getting some progress on a number of human rights issues. but it is a concern. their judicial system, which operates separately, makes some
moves that i think sometimes, you know, the leadership itself finds difficult to deal with. and our hope is that over the course of these next weeks and months we can make some progress moving back on these. i do, i think egypt said something about the 3-year-old if i recall -- i don't want to dwell on it right now. on the resources, we are cannibalizing a lot of programs within the budget. bottom line is everybody's dealing with difficulties in governance today as a result of our budget challenges. it's no secret to any of you because these are the fights you've all been engaged in on the floor. i think we're making a mistake. i mean, i try not to get into the politics in this position at all. i do think the united states
is -- is not responding in ways that we ought to be to our global responsibility as reflected in the budget overall. i think we can and should be doing more. i think we handicap ourselves. i think we're behaving to some degree for the richest nation on the face of the planet, we're choosing to behave more like a country that actually doesn't have resources available to it. it's a question of which choices we make, where we want to make the overall trades in the budget and we are where we are. so we have had to cannibalize considerably to make things work. it really, in my judgment, diminishes the ability of the most powerful nation on the planet to be able to actually affect things more and so we see frustration on the part of our people that the world is in
turmoil or we're not responding adequately here or there. fairly significant amount of that is a reflection of resources. sometimes it's a reflection of policy judgments. i understand that. a lot of it is driven by the resource allocation. with respect to israel and the mou, we will -- we're working on it now. we're in negotiations. we have never, ever put any of israel's security needs or challenges on the table with respect to other issues between us. israel's security comes first and foremost. president obama has i think unprecedently addressed those concerns with iron dome, with assistance, with our efforts in global institutions to not see israel singled out, and we will
continue to do what is necessary to provide israel with all the assistance necessary so it can provide for its own security. i'm confident we'll get an mou at some point in time. the sooner the better, because it allows everybody to plan appropriately. >> thank you, mr. secretary, i yield back. >> thank you, mr. secretary, for being here today. i'm suffering from a major head cold so i may go a little easy on you today. >> it's good, i don't wish a cold on you, but i'll take the benefit. >> last december, we passed a visa waiver program bill out of my committee. it passed overwhelmingly. it was designed to keep foreign fighters from exploiting the visa waiver program from certain countries like iraq, syria, sudan and iran. in the negotiations, i was in the middle of those, i was one of the national security chairmen involved with the
correspondence back and forth between homeland, state department and the white house, we carved out two exceptions. one was national security. the other was law enforcement. in the exchange between the department of homeland security they mentioned what we consider humanitarian, business purposes, cultural, journalistic. i was in the room with the majority leader. those exceptions were rejected. dhs came back again. the final e-mail from the white house was the administration supports this legislation. my thanks to all. then finally the white house says i spoke to state department. they did not request any additional edits. the administration does not request any changes at this time. we're good with the text as drafted. reopening the bill requires to look at it again. yet the day after it passed, you wrote a letter to the iranian
foreign minister stating that parts of this law could be waived to accommodate iranian business interest. in my judgment, having played a part in that negotiation, it was in direct contradiction with the intent and the clear definition of the statute and the law. it seems to me you're putting the interest, business interest of iran over the security interests of the united states and quite frankly either misconstruing or rewriting the very law that we passed overwhelmingly by the congress. i want to give you the opportunity to respond to that. >> rail appreciate it, congressman. thank you very much. appreciate the work we've done to try to work through this. look, we respect obviously the congressional intent. we respect the purpose of this. we all share that goal. we have to protect the country. we have to have adequate control over who's coming into the
country. and we learned obviously in the course of the k visa situation that there's more that can be done conceivably to be able to analyze and dig into background. but the bottom line is this. the letter that i wrote to the iranian foreign minister was not an excuse for anything. it simply said that they were arguing that we had violated jcpoa. i wrote a letter saying no, it does not violate jcpoa. i explained and defended the law and made clear to them we were going to keep our jcpoa commitments. now, the, what we're doing is actually following the letter of the law, but you have to -- please, would like you to understand that our friends, our
allies, french, germans, british, others, are deeply concerned about the impact of this law inadvertent on their citizens. they have dual nationals. if one of those dual nationals just travels to iran, all of a sudden, and they're in a visa waiver program and they're a very legitimate business person, all of a sudden that person's ability -- >> if i could just use my time, look, i wrote the law -- >> let me just finish -- >> i'm the author of the bill. i understand the intent of the law. we had conversations with the white house. you tried to get this business exemption written into the law. that was rejected by the leadership and the congress. and the time to have changed that was prior to the president signing it into law. once you sign it, the president signed it into law, you can't just go back and change -- either violate or rewrite it. >> i know the law. i marked it up on my committee.
you're talking to the author of the bill. >> yes. >> that was not the intent of congress to carve out a business exemption. i understand the french and iranians and all this stuff. that was not the intent of the congress. >> we're not carving out a wholesale waiver intent. it's a case-by-case basis. very carefully and narrowly tailored, number one. number two, the text of the law is clear. the secretary of homeland security -- >> i agree with you. >> -- can waive the travel on dual nationality restrictions if he deems that it is in the law enforcement or national security interests of the country to do so. now, we believe the full and fair implementation of the law is, in fact, in our national security interest. we have a very thorough systematic -- >> i guess it depends how you define national security interest. i will commend that jeh johnson
called me to add libya, somalia and yemen to this list. and i -- >> and i concurred in that. >> and i commend that decision. i'm sure you're going to construe the law and your interpretation. i do think adding those three countries was a positive step. just one last question. on the designation of iran as a jurisdiction, primary money laundering concern, do you have -- are we going to keep that designation or is there any attempt by you to lift that designation? >> we've had no such determination. i haven't contemplated it. >> do you intend to consider additional measures to provide economic relief to iran to lift any other designations? >> none at this point in time that i know of. >> okay. i appreciate that.
chair now recognizes brad sherman of california. >> as to your bill, you point out that most isis fighters go into turkey where perhaps their passports are stamped and then they sneak into isis-controlled areas where isis has a shoddy record of stamping passports and we may have to look at every europe passport stamped in turkey that would obviously be an issue -- >> actually what is now an issue is daesh's ability to actually produce phony passports -- >> that -- that would be another issue. mr. secretary, i've got so many issues. most of them i think you'll choose to respond for the record. first on the budget. this committee has urged and voted that you spend a million and a half dollars broadcasting
in the sindi language to reach a huge part of southern pakistan in the sindi language. now the request for additional million dollars for broadcasting efforts. if we get you a substantial increase, maybe not the full 35 million, but the first additional dollars will be to broadcast in the language of southern pakistan -- >> i think it's worth $35 million, congressman. >> it only takes $1.5 million. the rest is for whatever else you choose to spend the money on. i want to compliment your general counsel in karachi for looking into the assassination of anwar agari who was a protector of sindi culture. during world war ii, we had bombing rules of engagement. because we were serious. general de gaulle never urged us not to bomb an electric facility because it would inconvenience french civilians. he never asked dwight eisenhower not to hit a tanker truck because the civilian might be
driving it. yet i'm told in bombing isis, we will not hit a moving truck and we will not hit electric power lines because not only do we not want to kill any civilians, even those working for isis, but we don't want to inconvenience those living under isis. the major inconvenience, living without electricity. iran. north korea provided the nuclear technology that was used at al kabar which the israelis destroyed in syria a few years ago. now north korea has a dozen nuclear weapons. that's about what they need. perhaps the next one goes on ebay. not quite that flippantly but you get the point. i spoke to the chinese foreign minister yesterday. i will urge you to urge him, as i did, that china prevent any
nonstop flight over its territory from north korea to tehran. such a nonstop flight could easily export one or several nuclear weapons. if on the other hand, that flight stops for fuel, as of course it should, if china requires, they will -- i'm sure the chinese will take a look at what's on the plane. it's natural that you're here defending the nuclear deal. i didn't vote for it but there are very good aspects of that deal. but i'm concerned that the administration now is just in a roll of defending iran. as if any comment about iran is an attack on the deal. i would -- during rouhani's tenure, we've seen a lot more executions in iran, and i hope that you would personally issue a statement condemning iran's violation of human rights,
particularly when they kill people for the so-called crime of waging war on god. you mention -- as to the missile sanctions, you indicate we sanctioned a few companies. we sanctioned a few individuals. those companies don't do business in the united states. those individuals do not want to visit disneyland. and i hope that you would sanction the iranian government for its violation with sanctions that actually affect the iranian economy. otherwise, to say certain individuals who have no intention of coming to the united states, will not be allowed in the united states, indicates an acceptance of violations. and under the u.n. security council resolution 2231, russia can't sell fighter planes to iran unless the security council specifically approves that. i'll ask you will we use our veto to prevent fighter planes being sold to iran from russia?
>> i don't think you have to use a veto. i think it's a matter of a committee. there's a committee and it's in approval in the committee, but we would not approve it. >> and would we -- would we use our veto if necessary to prevent -- >> best of my knowledge, congressman, i haven't looked at the specifics of the transaction, et cetera. in principle, we are very concerned about the transfer of weapons. so, you know, we would approach it with great skepticism. i haven't seen the specific transfer, what the request is. i assure you, we'll stay in touch with you. >> chair recognizes mr. poe from texas. >> thank you, gentlemen. i want to say amen to what our friend from california has said regarding the folks in iran that
have been murdered by the regime. 2,300 have been executed. in my opinion, mostly for religious reasons or political reasons. i would hope the state department would condemn this action by rouhani and the iranian government. couple questions, dealing with georgia and ukraine. the russians occupy a third of georgian territory. they occupy crimea and they occupy parts of ukraine's eastern property territory. is it the u.s. position or not -- tell me what the u.s. position is, that the georgia occupation is unlawful, crimea occupation unlawful and the eastern ukraine possession unlawful or not? >> that's correct, they are. >> so it's our position russians
are unlawfully holding territory belonging to somebody else in those specific instances? >> in one case, not holding but engaged in intrusions which are assisting in the holding. >> that would be in eastern ukraine? >> correct. >> also, a predecessor, if you have time this year, it would be great for our relationship if you could go to georgia. >> i'm hoping to. >> specifically, i'd like to talk about piece of legislation that has passed the house, unanimously. and that's the foreign aid transparency accountability act that i have authored along with mr. connolly from virginia. basically requires accountability for foreign assistance. whether transparency and also evaluations of our aid to other countries. i think transparency and evaluations are good.
american public needs to know how american money is being spent and if it's being spent well. maybe we should stop it. the state department though has resisted this legislation, even though it's passed the house. it's passed your former committee unanimously over in the senate. and rashau, when he testified in this committee, he supported it when he was usaid director. do you support this type of legislation or this specific legislation of transparency and
accountability, evaluations of our foreign assistance? >> congressman, of course. we share the goal completely. yes, we support transparency and accountability. we have huge transparency and accountability. it's one of our problems. i think -- i don't -- i'm trying to get the numbers pinned down. the person hours and the numbers of people assigned just to provide the transparency and accountability to all of you and to others is staggering. we lose an enormous amount of our implementing productivity to simply providing the transparency, accountability. we have 51 investigations going on. with an unprecedented number, hundreds of thousands of pages of foa we're responding to. i've had to cannibalize bureaus to ask capable lawyers to come out of one and work on this so we can meet the demands. we're overburdened. i've appointed -- actually appointed a senior ambassador. to make sure we're able to do this. so our concern is, you know, doing this in a way that is smart, efficient, efficient for you, efficient for us.
we don't resist the goal in the least. the american people have a right to absolute accountability and transparency. we think there's a lot of ways in which it's already provided. there are ways we may be able to streamline some of that. we'd like to work with you on this legislation so it isn't, you know, another moment where we're having to transfer a lot people away from doing what we're supposed to do. you can't to give us the budget enough. >> this makes it simpler for all of us -- >> right, but we want to have a little more say -- >> it's passed the house unanimously. it's passed the senate -- foreign relations committee
unanimously. we're getting pushed back from the state department on the legislation. just a side note, just a side note -- >> we want to make sure it worked for us in terms of our process. who can resist a piece of legislation, foreign aid accountability transparency act? >> we want it to work for the american people. as you know, reclaiming my time, if i have one last comment, you and i and many -- most of the members of the congress, you mentioned the concept of foreign aid out there in the country to citizens. they kind of get their backed bowed because people have been cynical for years. even though it's a little bit of money, about foreign aid. and this legislation i think tells folks in the community, citizens, taxpayers, who send this aid all over the world, that it's working. and we can have transparency
evaluation for it so they can feel better about sending that aid. >> i'm with you, i support that 100%. president obama does and he has instructed all of us to try to make sure we're streamlining, as transparent as we can be. >> we're moving on. mr. grayson from florida. >> mr. secretary. yes or no with an explanation. has iran adhered to the nuclear deal? >> i'm sorry, has what? >> has iran adhered to the nuclear deal? yes or no. >> yes, best of our judgment. >> okay, thank you for that. now, there was concern iran's money would be used to increase terrorism in the region after the deal was entered into. has iran's support for terrorism increased, decreased or remained the same since the deal was enacted? >> i think the best of our judgment would be it has remained the same. >> all right. is there any evidence that the money that iran received as a result of the deal has been diverted to use to support terrorism? >> we need to get into
classified session to discuss that. >> all right. >> a little more complicated. >> we heard the phrase used at the time the deal was under negotiation, discussion, that iran would become a nuclear threshold state and that it would push the limits of the agreement and get as close as it could to developing the nuclear weapon during the term of the agreement so in 8 or 10 or 12 years it would actually have a weapon. is there any evidence to support that at this point? >> no. >> what is your inference regarding that? >> well, the fact is, iran was a threshold nation when we began this discussion. iran had 12,000 kilograms of 5% enriched. it had i forget how much, 20% enriched uranian. it was one stepway from being able to produce highly enriched uranium for bomb manufacturing. it had enough enriched uranium
to make 10 to 12 bombs. it has already mastered the fuel cycle. in effect it already was at the threshold. that's one of the reasons why we felt such urgency to try to close off these paths for actual movement to that. and iran has accepted increased transparency and accountability beyond anything that anybody else is engaged in on the planet. they've accepted the additional protocol. they accepted higher standards for 25 years of tracking all uranium. they accepted 20 years of television intrusion on their centrifuge. so they don't have the ability to be able to make one today. just don't have it physically in that regard. we're confident in their ability to know what they're doing. >> has the administration tried to interdict iranian shipments? >> we have successfully interdicted. >> is it likely that effort will continue? >> not likely, it is for certain.
>> can you give us one example? >> recently we turned around the convoy. we didn't know exactly what was on it. we thought it was headed to yemen, and we made sure it went back to iran. >> i'd like to ask you a couple questions about isis. what is your own personal or agency assessment regarding the necessity to have ground troops? >> american ground troops in the sense -- american special forces are engaged as enablers on the ground in syria today and in iraq. i am 100% supporter of that. i strongly advocate that is a powerful way to have an impact. i am for trying to get rid of daesh as fast as is feasible without a major american, quote, invasion.
by enabling, by using our special forces. by augmenting the syrian arab and other presence on the ground. i believe it is imperative for us to try to terminate this threat as rapidly as we can. >> has america, has the american government had discussions with saudi arabia, uae, amman or jordan? >> we are engaged in discussions with them regarding their offers to do so at this time. >> can you tell us anything about that? >> no. i think it's in a preliminary stage. it's in discussion. they've indicated a willingness to be helpful. this is in the fight against daesh. let me emphasize. and as part of our effort, part of the president's effort to explore every possibility that is reasonable of ways in which to have an impact on ending the surge of daesh, that is being
evaluated. >> what about other countries in the region, pakistan, turkey, egypt, algeria, morocco, to send ground troops against isis? >> there have been broad discussions with various mill to mill discussions. providing possible people in certain circumstances. >> can i ask unanimous consent request? >> yes, sir. >> thank you. mr. chairman, i ask unanimous consent that letter dated december 13, 2012, addressed to then secretary hillary rodham clinton be placed in the record. >> without objection. >> and i further ask that the response from the state department dated march 27, 2013, to then chairman darrell issa be placed in the record. >> without objection. >> lastly i would ask the news
articles from the daily caller dated january 30, 2016 and the hill, dated 2-2-2016 be placed in the record. >> without objection, so ordered. mr. issa is recognized. >> i want to congratulate you on naming ambassador jacobs as your czar, if you will, for your foia request. i share with you the sympathy that the american people's desire to know things has outpaced the automation and process for foia from the state department. as a former businessman, i might suggest, as good as the ambassador is, perhaps you need to turn it over to somebody who is much better at getting data out rather than evaluating the details of state department communication. having said that, the information i put in the record is for a reason. in the last days of secretary
clinton's administration, i sent her a letter specifically related to use of personal e-mails, and i did so not because of benghazi, not because of any other investigations you might be familiar with, but because in the investigation of the scandal at department of energy, we discovered a political appointee, jonathan silver, had been using personal e-mails to circumvent foa and the scrutiny. he went so far as to say -- this is in the letter to clinton. don't ever send an e-mail to doa e-mail with a personal e-mail address. that makes it subpoenaable. the letter went on to go through a number of those things. it specifically asked then secretary clinton whether or not she had an e-mail and whether or not any senior agency officials ever used personal e-mail
account to conduct official business, have any senior agency officials ever used alias e-mails, that was a different investigation, and it went on. i know by now you must have been made familiar with this letter. approximately two months into your administration as the secretary, your agency responded to that letter by not responding. your agency sent a response that basically said here's the title and the rules. now, since it's been reported in those two articles that you personally communicated with secretary clinton, your personal e-mail to her personal e-mail, is it true that you were aware that she had a personal e-mail and that she used it regularly? >> i have no knowledge of what kind of e-mail she had. i was given an e-mail address and i sent it to her. >> did you look at the e-mail address? i mean, was it a dot gov?
>> i didn't think about it. i didn't know if she had an account or what the department gave her at that point in time or what she was operating with. >> that's a responsive answer that you didn't know you were sending to her personal e-mail from her personal e-mail. do you know -- at least one of those documents has been classified secret. do you know when that could be made available in camera to this committee so we can appreciate what it was about? >> i don't know specifically. >> you're aware it's been classified secret, is that correct? >> i am aware. >> okay. the letter which did not respond to the specific questions occurred on your watch. you've now had your watch for three years. are you prepared to answer the questions in that letter, including who all is using e-mail and what you're doing about it? >> well, congressman, in principle, i'm prepared to have
total accountability and i think we do. >> let me just say to you, my direction from day one to the entire department has been clear. get the clinton e-mails out of here, into the -- >> i appreciate that, although it is amazing that we have -- we're still waiting for -- let me just ask a couple more quick questions, and then you can have the remaining time. >> i would like to finish my answer. >> in the case of the use of personal e-mail, we've discovered that additionally many individuals appear to be using text as a method of communication. do you use text as a means of communication or do you know of any of your senior staff who use text as a method of communication? >> congressman, let me answer your question by saying this to you. in march of last year, i wrote a letter to the inspector general that i hired for the department. >> i appreciate that you hired one and that your predecessor never had one.
>> i asked the inspector general to look at all of the e-mail practices, communications practices, of the department. in order to deliver a review. we are working with the ig's observations which have been helpful to make sure that the department is living up to the highest -- >> i appreciate that. there's a pending question, mr. secretary -- >> i don't want to -- >> would you answer the text question please. >> congressman, i'm not going to get into an e-mail discussion with you here on the budget of our department, with -- >> mr. secretary this committee is entitled to know the communication -- >> and our communications process is thoroughly being analyzed by the inspector -- >> i have pending -- >> and we have -- >> i appreciate that. it's a simple pending question. do you text or do you know of other individuals in your senior staff who use texts? >> i have no idea whether they
do or don't. i occasionally text some of the people. >> and the final question, how are you seeing that that text, which by definition is required to be saved under foia requirements, under the federal records act, how are you seeing that those texts are preserved since they're not otherwise preserved? >> that's precisely what we're work on. by the way, i don't text anything regarding policy. i only text my top -- i only text my logistical administrative staff with respect to whether i'm arriving somewhere or going something. there's nothing substantive ever texted. >> i would certainly assume your private e-mail to hillary's private e-mail also was intended -- >> yes, that's secured. all e-mails are on the server that is the state department and it's all preserved, it's all part of the national records -- >> i appreciate that,