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tv   Discussion Focuses on Agent Orange in Vietnam and Laos  CSPAN  September 12, 2016 9:10am-10:58am EDT

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the house investigation of hillary clinton's use of the private e-mail server continues today with representatives of the justice department and fbi testify. that house oversight committee hearing starts live at 5:00 p.m. eastern on c-span3. now, a discussion on the harmful effects of toxic chemicals in vietnam and laos many years of their wartime use by the military. this is an hour and 45 minutes. i'm linda yard. i'm director for partnerships for international strategy in asia, a program of the elliot school of international affairs here at george washington
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university. i am pleased to welcome you all this afternoon as well as the audience at cspan. it is an important issue. i am very glad that you are here. this is a timely session, would i say, living with the consequences of agent orange dioxin 50 years later. an update on the situation in laos and vietnam from the war legacies project. for over two decades. here at the elliot school, we have collaborated with research institutes, universities, government agencies and civil society organizations to address emerging problems in international affairs. these include things like climate change and human security and also the consequences of war and conflict
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preven chun. i would like to for our work in southeast asia particularly acknowledge the role that the foundation has played in supporting this particularly with respect to southeast asia issues. the meeting today is timely. it is just a week before president obama travels to laos to take part in the summit of leaders of the association of southeast asian nations or asean. he is, as you may have heard, the first sitting president to visit that country. it is a country that you may know has been subjected also to a secret war during the days of the vietnam war. what has been the legacy of this
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war? what might president obama be able to accomplish in terms of improving relations for the future with the laos people democratic republic? here to share their perspectives on this issues are two of the most seasoned aobservers and advocates for the just resolution of the unfortunate legacies of the wars in laos and vietnam and their enduring impact on the population of those countries. susan hammond on my far left is founder and executive director of the war legacies project. she began her work on peace and reconciliation in vietnam, laos and cambodia in the mid 1980s. through her determined research and on the ground collaboration with local organizations has become one of the most informed
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specialists on agent orange data collection. with her is jacqueline p chagnon, whom we are pleased to welcome back to the elliot school from which she graduated. from 1968 to 1970, she worked in si sigh began which is now hochimon city. they witnessed the defoalation caused by agent orange. that's the name given to the chemical sprayed over the forested area of southern vietnam and laos in order to expose the supply routes taken by north vietnam. she has lived and worked in laos since 1978 to uncover the lingering post-war traumas caused by heavy bombing and
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chemical spraying. she and her deceased husband, roger, started the work on the laos agent orange survey in 1999. after susan and jacque's talk, i know they will be very happy to receive your questions and comments. please join me in welcoming susan and jacque. >> thank you very much. very happy to be here and happy that you came out on this beautiful late august day. one correction. 1995. sips the mid-90s, i have been working on this issue. in the mid-80s, i was still at smith. so first let me say a few more words about my organization. the war legacies project. we are a small, not for profit
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organization base the in vermont that works to provide comprehensive support to families in southeast asia who have been impacted by that war. we also work to raise awareness in the u.s. about the war in southeast asia. many people know more about the war in vietnam. very few about the war in laos. we also work with veterans and their families to understand the impact about agent orange. why laos now? i skipped one. i have been lucky too to work with jacque, who is not only an expert on laos but an expert driving through fields and streams throughout southern laos. not streaming, roaring rivers to get to the rural villages where
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we were. i am going ahead of myself here. i want to bring you back to one of the first press conferences that president kennedy gave after he took office. this was march 23rd, 1961. let me see if i can play this little clip and see if it works. >> the president's press conference from the new statement department auditorium, march 23rd, 1961. >> i want to make a brief statement about laos. it is, i think, important for all americans to understand this difficult and potentially dangerous problem. in my last conversation with general eisenhower, the day before the inauguration on january 19th, we spent more time on this matter than any other
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thing. since then, it has been before the administration as the most immediate of the problems that we found upon taking office. >> that was probably -- i mean i wasn't around in 1961 but might have been the last american public heard about laos for the most part. he later went on to state that i want to make it clear to american people and to all of the world that all we want in laos is peace, not war, a truly neutral government, not a cold war pond. the settlement concluded at the conference table but not on the battlefield. unfortunately, we would not be here today if that happened to turn out to be true because shortly after that press conference the president handed over the war effort in laos to the cia and over the next ten
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years, they conducted a multibillion dollar war effort throughout laos that we heard very little about in this country, if anything. forty years later, much of this information about the secret war in laos is still unknown. it is still classified information. bits and piece vs. been released over the year we do not have the full picture of what happened during the war in laos. president obama, when he goes to laos, will be addressing one of the legacies of the war that we do know about, about 2000, the u.s. state department released the bombing records, both in vietnam and laos and the u.s. began to increase their efforts
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p on addressing the impact of unex plik tiff ordinance throughout the country. there are still casualties today but they have been dropping over the years. president obama is planning to announce an increase to about $20 million for the effort to clean up unexploded ordinance in laos and provide assistance to those that have been affected like this young boy here. but, to date, the u.s. has not addressed any aspects of the u.s. of agent orange and other chemicals throughout laos. this isn't even on their radar screen. that's why we are here. we are trying to put it on their screen. we do know that the us air force
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through their ranch hand herbicide spray program sprayed in southern laos along the hochiman trail from the province south boarding the dmz of vietnam down to contoum basically in vietnam. we do know from the records that have been released that in through the c-123 spray program, that's the ranch hand program, over 291,000 gallons of agent orange and blue and white were played throughout southern laos
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for defoalation as well as to target crops. this is only a partial record. you can still see in parts of southern laos today. this is in ceravan province a few kilometers from the vietnam border. you can't really see it clearly in this slide. the top of the ridge line of the mountain is what appears to be from defoalation. we can know this area was sprayed. the area to the far right is more likely rice production, the top ridge line which is where a lot of these herbicides were targeted. what we don't know, really, how much spraying was done by the cia. i have spoken to some.
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the cia had its own private airline, air america, that was made up of many military members who took a little bit of a leave from their efforts in vietnam or came over specifically and were flying as civilians in unmarked planes as part of the air america cia effort. one of the air america pilots told me they did fit a plane to spray herbicide in 1969 outside of longchen which is where the cia had their headquarters. particularly along the rinl ldg line you see at the northern part of that photo. there are also records from the
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cia's shadow war, the secret war in laos by kenneth convoy. na that book, he talks about how ambassador sullivan orders splaying to be done along the plain of jars that came out of udong and thailand. they also sprayed around another area, the base in nkong in northern singquong to do perimeter spraying around the base to clear the foliage. there are bits and pieces that come out from people who were there. they tell us, yes, we did spray elsewhere. none of that information is officially public and it is all
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anecdotal at this point. one of the things we don't know about the war effort in laos is that full story. it is one of the things we are trying to uncover here 40 something years later. we suspect that some of those bases. this is a base in vietnam, not in laos. we suspect some of those landing zones, about 450 different landing zones throughout laos, some large, some used just for a few weeks or months. others used throughout the war effort. we suspect that there were barrels like these stored on those bases, even if they were just used for perimeter spraying. the concern, of course, is and we suspect the long tieng base was one where barrels were stored. the problem is, a lot of the bases that were cleared for the
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war effort became population settlements or already were. after the war effort, people would go back and go to that base that had been cleared and they would settle. that's the concern we have. if there were barrels stored on those bases, chances are that dioxin has leached out of these barrels and into the ground and could be causing a public health risk but we just don't know because we do not know from the cia war effort where they were using these chemicals or if they were. it is one of the big question marks we have. we do know a lot about the impact of agent orange in vietnam. again, the u.s. released records from the ranch hand spraying. an organization called hatfield
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consultants, based in canada, did an extensive amount of research to identify where of all of those thousands of bases and landing zones and other sites in vietnam where the u.s. had a presence, how many of those may be a potential dioxin hot spot today. after looking at all the various sites and talking with the vietnamese military, they narrowed that down to about 28 potential hotspots throughout the southern part of vietnam. three of those, which you probably can't see but they are listed in red on here, fukot, in the northern, dunan, in the center, fukot and in the south, benwha. three were where the ranch hand spray program was located and millions of barrels of these herbicides were stored on those bases and those are significant
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hotspots today. some up to 400, 500 times the limit of contamination that would be required to begin remediation efforts. also, with hatfield, i looked at the air bases in laos, the landing strips in laos, to see whether we could come up with a similar list. unlike in vietnam, where they actually did some testing on the ground to see if there was actually dioxin. none of these sites in laos have had testing, except for the number 14, the army base which is in tequon base and they found elevated levels of dioxin in the soil there. the other bases have not been
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tested at all. we narrowed down that list from 450 by deciding how long that base had been used by the u.s. military, whether there is a population center nearby and then a dioxin hot spot would be a concern. we even looked at through google earth, they had the technology to look through satellite. i only had google earth on my finger tips, to see whether there still seemed to be cleared regions around those bases. we came up with this list. as i said, this is only potential places where we thought because of the geography and the history of the use of the base that the u.s. may have had some clearing done with
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herbicides. the u.s. has been very involved over the past decade in vietnam to address the long-term environmental impacts of agent orange. we have vast spray records. we know where it was sprayed. the vietnamese have records of populations living in that sprayed area. jeannie stealthman at columbia university estimated that about 4.2 million vietnamese lived in areas that were sprayed during the wartime. how many of those are affected by the dioxin that was in the he herbicides. the vietnamese estimate about 3 million have some health impacts and about 150,000 children were born with disabilities. that is a bit of a controversial point that we can talk about in
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the question and answer time if we want to. i am not going into the scientific debate at this point on this issue. the u.s. has been providing of those three dioxin hotspots i mentioned, the u.s. has started to work with the p vietnamese to clean up the danang hot spot. this is senator lahey. they piled the contaminated soil into this basically gigantic oven several football fields wide and they termed on the electric probes to heat up the soil to above 365 degrees celsius to break down the dioxin in the soils. at this point now, half of the soil, contaminated soil in danang has been decontaminated in that way.
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they have now started the second process. so they expect -- this is about $100 million u.s. funded project to decontaminate the soil in danang. they are expect ng 2017, it will be completely decontaminated. that soil will go back on the air base as far as we know to expand the runway. it will be at the point of 150 parts per trillion. if anyone follows the environmental standards. that's the new epa standard for a industrial site. it will be below that. >> so the u.s. has invested since 2007 when the first funding came out of senator lahey's office of $3 million to address the agent orange dioxin issue in vietnam. since then, it has increased over the years. i like to take a tiny bit of credit for that at least.
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p to the point that now it is over $140 million has been allocated by the u.s. government to address the die objectionic contamination problem. of that, about $37 million has gone towards health care. the u.s. does not say that this is for funding for people who have been affected by agent orange. they address disabilities regardless of cause in vietnam. through our efforts and efforts with my colleagues, we have been able to target the money that's going to us aid to people in vietnam that have severe multiple disabilities, who live in the four sprayed areas of the country. we have been pushing them in the direction of getting the funding to those who the vietnamese believe are agent orange and impacted. we know a lot more about dioxin
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these days than we did when the war first started. the u.s. in 1991 entrusted the p institute of medicine to examine the research that's been done on dioxin and the herbicides used in vietnam to see what health conditions may be related or have an association to those herbicides or dioxins. at this point, they found 20 different conditions. some have sufficient evidence, they have little different categorization, sufficient evidence, limited, suggested or no. these are the ones that have sufficient evidence or limited suggested evidence of association to dioxin. many of them are auspices of the same condition the vietnamese
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have said are related to exposure to dioxin. the v.a. right now provides benefits to veterans who have one of 15 different conditions. or, in the case of their offspring, spina bifida. that's the only birth defect that the v.a. acknowledges that may be related to the father's exposure to agent orange. if you are a female veteran, of which there are only about 8,000 of the war in vietnam, the v.a. will provide compensation to your child if you have one of many different types of birth defects, cleft lip or palate, hip displasia, neural tube effects. all types of conditions. basically, any condition that
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does not have a known cause or family history. we are very limited members of children who are receiving these benefits. there are only 8,000 and these are very, very rare conditions. the v.a. also makes it clear this is not due to agent orange but to service in vietnam. if you are a female that served in vietnam. if you were a lao woman or a vietnamese woman, you were in vietnam for ten years and likely exposed to whatever that environmental condition was that caused birth defects. i see many, many of these conditions in my work in vietnam. the vietnamese believe that about 150,000 children and now grandchildren of those who were
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exposed came either from the north down to the south to fight or who were living in the sprayed area have a birth defect that may be caused by their parents or grandparents exposure to agent orange. as i said, the science on this, we're still learning. in animal studies, it has been shown that dioxin can cause birth ab normalities, miscarriages, birth defects, congenital deformities. that is very proven within animal studies. you can't do that type of study in a human. you have to look at ep deem logical studies to compare populations exposed and not exposed. it is very difficult to get that smoking gun proof that dioxin is causing these disabilities. a condition is very rare. you would need a very larnl
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population to see these elevated numbers to begin with. we are hopeing that as more epigenetic study are being conducted, in the limited studies done so far, they are showing that environmental toxics can cause problems in future generations. stress can cause problems in future generations. there has been research done after world war ii in holland that the famine during world war ii caused problems within the grandchildren of people in holland that were famished. you can't make a straight line but there is enough -- for me, there is enough evidence that i think there is something here. when it comes to actually working with children that we come across in our work in laos
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and vietnam, it doesn't matter the cause. what we need to do is help this child that has a severe club foot. jacque, i am going to turn it over to you. i don't know what that is. >> there you go. >> she is far more technologically capable than i am. i am too old. >> but i'm a good driver. in laos, we obtained for the first time the bombing records and the spray records in 1999. it was because of a conversation over a swimming pool with the american ambassador wendy
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chamberlain when she said to my husband, roger rump, and i, we need a good will gesture to present to the lao in order to get better cooperation on m.i.a./p.o.w.s. can you suggest anything? >> i said, get the bombing records, get the chemical herbicide records. we didn't realize she would actually come up with the herbicide records and she did. in 1999 is the very first time we have concrete, us air force records that indicate that there was spraying of herbicides in laos from major aircraft. that you see in the green portions. susan, maybe you can point it out. you saw a better picture of it earlier, the more intense
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picture. it doesn't look like a lot but when you look at the data, it is repeated spraying over nine years constantly. my brother-in-law used to fly on some of those planes. he was a mechanic mr. seconded to the cia. he was in civilian clothes. he told me those spraying missions happened sometimes as much as two times a month. now, he is a farmer. he says the chemicals were much stronger than anything that we used here. it could be up to 50 times stronger. he died a year and a half ago of alzheimer's related to his agent orange exposure.
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susan's father died a year and a half ago of his exposure as well. and a lot of americans i talk to seem to know someone who has died of those kinds of problems that susan was talking about. some have children with those problems. this is always -- it was a secret in our family. we couldn't talk about it. he wasn't able to talk about it publicly. we went out to the farm, barn to talk about it. he didn't even want his wife to know. this was after he retired. so the secret has to come out. we have to expose it now. it is affecting the children of children of children now. when we looked at the spray
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records and we also look at the poverty record in laos, we see that the bright red here matches the orange and here is where i want to explain to you our findings in the field. these are remote villages until about five years ago, we could barely get out to some of these districts without walking for two, even up to three days in the jungle. there are some people here who have done that. it is not an easy place to service, medically. it is difficult for people to get to hospitals. so these areas, what did they look like before?
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they had -- families out there had between 10, 20, 50, 100 head of cattle and buffaloes. that's rich by most asian standards. they had plenty of fish. they had crops. they grew upland rice. some grew patty rice. that was before the war. after the war, things changed. during the war, these people had to evacuate their villages because the trail ran right through them. they went into the mountain area and still were sprayed. they talk about digging huge holes to secure their families. and they would have to move those holes every three to four
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days, because the bombing might come again. so these people are the people we are looking at today. the grandparents tell us very clearly that they feel poor today. that they were not poor before the war. that the war drove them into deep poverty 67893:00 it's. it's a food issue today in the sense that their nutrition seems to be much, much lower than most of the rest of laos. we don't have statistics clear enough on all of this, because laos has very few scientist, as does vietnam. on this map, you see some of the
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villages we are targeting, based upon the spray records submitted by the us air force. we are hoping that by going into these villages and simply seeing how many people have the kinds of disabilities we see in vietnam that seem to be related to dioxin. that's number one. number two, we ask for the history. we record the history of the elders about the war, what happened. was there spraying? we ask them to tell the history. we don't talk about the spraying yet. they tell us about the plains. th planes. they tell us about the planes flying in formation. they tell us about helicopters. sometimes they are talking about different planes. they can tell you the difference between a c-130, a c-123 and a b-52. most americans can't.
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most of these people today have no idea that what happened to them 40 years ago is having a consequence, potentially on their children. they have never made that connection. this is the difference between laos and vietnam. you ask a vietnamese farmer what is agent orange and what are the consequences today and they start talking all about deformities and issues that they faced. you ask in laos, they don't even know. big difference between the two countries. this is a micro selfly child, a
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hydroselfly child. this child on your right, she went to whai hospital, trying to relieve her. the spelling has gotten worse and worse. she should have been addressed when she was born. people in her village, in her area of saypalm did not know she should go immediately to the hospital. that baby could have been relieved right from the beginning. a lot of this has to do with services not quite yet reaching those areas and people, local people understanding they can help their child to get better. so these are -- we've found an unusual number of cleft pallet,
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cleft lip and in this case on the left spina bifida. by the way, that picture of the spina bifida child, we had talked to some government district officials in mumping district. all of the sudden, a few days later, in comes on what app, on the cell phone, a picture of this baby. it is clearly spina bifida. we immediately got back to the parents and said, would you like to have this child checked. has the child ever been checked? no. so we sent the child to qua hospital because it was the closest. it turned out the child not only has spina bifida but has
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hydrocephay, water on the brain. that child has there's not yet any specific assistance available. this is yen. she is at that time 13-years-old and now 14. she has double cleft hand and double cleft foot and serious hip issue. was it caused by polio the hip issue? what is actually going on here? we were not sure. we do know that her parents lived under the spray and so did her grandparents.
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that leads those two points coming together and leads us to say it's probable that she could have been affected today she is also being surfaced, and we will have a picture of her later. she has now had one of her legs addressed. it will take probably a series of operations over the next four to five years to help her if we can. there's children like this that people are now sending us photos. we don't know if this is a case for h and r. we have go and visit the family first. it makes us think investigate and help and regardless these
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are children. we need to help. they do not help them. this is where the baby with spina bifida was treated by the doctors. they were very helpful and we used stuntds that were training in the hospital to be the translators and all gelled together. there are villages are closer to v ie tnam than the capital of laos. one think that we constantly look for when we're going through the villages is where
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they're getting the water and where there were areas sprayed in the mountains, but we are particularly concerned in a place like this where the water supply is coming down into an area and here we found 30 cases of people with with probably relationsh relationship. 33 cases.
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the population is only 200. that's a lot of cases and putting a big question mark and this is one of the target place for us go and do some testing for dioxin. we're always trying to sit with the villages and have them relate the stories on what happened during the war. how was there life before the war and what happened before the war and what happened after the war. that gives us this picture that they went to feeling well off or being rather poor there are significant differences in vietnam and loose. first the u.s. military controlled the war in vietnam. they were the ones determining
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the flights and bombing patterns. in laos you have the ci skparks the u.s. ambassador. i think it's one of the first times that a u.s. ambassador is charged with deciding bombing rights. a in laos there are 3,000 troops in civilian clothes with the cia as well as cia percesonnelperso. don't know how many, but they're not allowed to talk about it for many many decades. took 25 years before my
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brother-in-law felt comfortable to talk about it with us. so the u.s. families learn a lot about the vietnam war and learn next to nothing about laos. if you ask american where is laos, they don't know where it is. they cannot even pinpoint it on the map. yet, our taxpayer money went for multibillions of warfare in the country. a lot of people -- and this is the point that i want to make strongly is that paul laos a side show. multibillions went into laos. is that a side show? nine years, ten years of warfare. is that a side snow i don't
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think so. foreign media weren't experienced vietnam intensely and firsthand put on the planes and went everywhere and foreign media in laos could not go. you're not allowed to go on those air america planes as you were in vietnam, so we did not get a record of it from our med media. vietnamese people heard daily about the war on tv, radio and press. i'm talking local people. in vietnam you could hear it all. in laos, nothing hardly anything about the war. when my husband and i arrived in 1978 in the capital and that was the most educated area in the country, very very few people
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knew what had gone on in places like that. that shocked us. shocked us. bombing and herbicide spraying took place in vietnam close to the major centers of the population. it did not happen close to the centers of the major population in laos. it happens far away and into the mountains and into the areas where nobody goes unless you live there. every vietnamese rich or poor became affected by the war. not every lao was affected by the war. most of the bombing affected
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one-third to one-half of the population and the other half did not seem to know very much about what went on, and they were shocked when my husband and i brought back photographs of the bombing and the intense bombing that we witnessed in 1978 and the affects of it. they were shocked. congress held constant hearings about vietnam and the bombing and the spraying as well. they got the first hearing in 1971 and then a series up until 1975 and then finished. nothing else was heard about that issue until we opened up the pow mia issue and then the
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u.s. congress begins to take interest in unexploited ordnance because cannot go into the areas without cleaning up the area first because you don't want your own personnel to hurt. congress holds continual hearings on the bombing and the spraying since 1966 in vietnam. there's not much said about laos until 71. so the first wave of refugees who come here from vietnam and who sided with the u.s. in the war, they talk a lot about it and the war.
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they were followed up by the refugees. they were the cia troops primarily in the beginning and then later the second wave is economy and the second wave of the refugees, they did not know much about the war. they do not talk about the spraying and the bamming. they were mostly coming from it and those are the differences that we see. these are some of the barrels that we found in various areas. now, these could be gasoline barrels. they could also be asian orange barrels. we don't know for sure.
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this was taken in 2015. war has brought many many problem in the post war area. one of the most important things for me that i questioned when i came here to gw was why don't we talk more about the consequences. it takes 20 to 40 to recover from the serious warfare. so we have to have the mechanicians to help each other
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recover, and we made a list that we think that the united states could think about for the measures. we really want to insure that the humanitarian assistance gets to disabled persons in the former wartime war zones that were sprayed. these are the areas of high poverty. these are the areas that we can increase the good will and to add the legislation and then to include the sprayed areas. then the babies with the
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disabilities of limbs that were caused by congenital birth defects could be addressed. we're trying to push that the 2017 bill for humanitarian assistance would also address the people in the southern reaches that were definitely sprayed and maybe having the consequences of that. vietnam already has the spray victims but laos doesn't. the other issue is that we want to urge to increase the support to the special facilities that would help assist these children and adults that have the
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congress congenital birth defects in the area. for those people to travel to the capital where the best doctors are is hard. for the lack of $20 yen's parents could never take her to even the district hospital. that was no too far away. about three crossings of major streams and six small stream lites. that's what it would take. her mother has tuberculosis and her father is 65 years old and getting weak. so she never saw a doctor until
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she was 13-years-old. we need to have facilities close to these people. there's hardly anything there. eventy district levels, the hospitals are modest and very understaffed and for sure would not be able to operate on the difficulties. at least they could send them on further. the u.s. could investigate the other krircia and outpost for t that need to be cleaned up and remediation and address it if it's needed. we created a lot of landing spots all around laos.
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it's unbelievable when you go into a village and they talk about oh yeah, this used to be the old american landing spot. it's way in the areas where there's a village all around it. for sure they sprayed by hand when they were being used. there's a step forward on this and the ambassador is very
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interest in the idea of pulling together the vietnamese, laos and u.s. teams to come together and talk about how to be very practical about addressing some of these issues. we hope that's going to go further. i just heard the word that they hope to make the study mission with the senior to look at how vietnam has been addressing agent orange with the united states at this time. so that's a totally new opening that we have gotten in the past
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week. those spots are the areas that we really need to investigate whether there are residues and we have to provide humanitarian assistance. so one day i came out of my hus and yen was staying there temporarily because we were waiting for the doctor to operate on her she wrote in the dust of my car.
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she now has one foot fixed. she can stand on it, but she can't quit walk because the other foot does not work right. it splas like a chicken leg. so we're waiting for the doctor at the end of this year or next year to come back again to operate. he is a british doctor that is going to try and help her. there are many more yens, and we would like to help them. we have to stop them and hopefully raise this issue a little bit more so that america does not do this again.
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thank you. >> wow. thank you very much susan and jacque. this is a really thought provoking and heart tugging presentation that really gives us some incite to what it really takes to get to the bottom of these issues. it's not just looking for the data in archive, it's getting into the villages and talking to people. it's hearing from them what they can tell us about their lives both before and after the war. thank you very much. one -- if i could start off i'm sure that we will have a lot of questions for you, but to add to
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o your list if i may you have given that we're here at the university and it strikes me that one of the really good -- would you think that a really good use of our development assistance funds would be to training scientists and training epidemiology and training people that can look at the barrels and tell you whether in fact they were inside or something else? do you think that could be perhaps added to your list of what the u.s. government could do as a way in this post conflict time? >> yes, definitely.
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the laos people are very different in the terms of education. in 1978 when my husband and i first went to work intensely in laos and vietnam, we noted that the number of people who had even graduated from high school was only five percent in the entire country. this is 1978 and the entire population has only five percent who graduated from high school. the number of those that went to university was one and a half to two percent. you compare that with vietnam and you have numerous people that achieved it and even had
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ph.d's, so they are in great need of further i advanced educational opportunities. particularly in the deep sciences such as epidemiology and i believe that we have one epp come lolgs in the country at this point and he is brand new. so one. we need also to understand how the process of it gets into the human chain and susan, perhaps you can say something about that. that's a question that intrigues people. how does it get into us and where does it lie?
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>> yeah it's stored in the fat of the animals and it can adhere to o the soil particles and the fish that are graving in the zone would ingest the chemicals particles into their body and it could be stored in the fat. so when those animals are eaten by the humans, it gets stored in the human body. the best way to actually remove the die ox son from the body is to brea
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breast feed and if reason testing was done in the population that surrounded that base and people fishing on the base and raising ducks in the race and had high levels of dioxin in their blood. everybody in the industrialized nations has it in the blood. it's part of the combustion and the manufacturing of herbicides. usually it's eight to ten parts per trillion in what you can find in a human. they were finding those that had hundreds of parts of it in the
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blood. >> let me add another story and this is a story of the united states. we have times beach, missouri. times beach missouri it was a small town a couple of thousand people and they wanted their dirt roads to be paved with the chip and seal in missouri. i live in missouri, so i understand this, and then --
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someone said where does this come from. the only place that they could figure out was the track that they ran has been paved with the seal and they started to check out the kids and they saw them in the school and had and had 200 parts. the town was destroyed and moved. this was 1983. what happened to those people?
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i asked an official and he said that's a good question and i would like the to know if they have children that have these problems and this is a very very fascinating little story and the 30 minute video i think will tell you the story more deeply.
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and there were several afters trying to get into the act. one was the soef edit union at that time and then the united states. the united states moved in right after the french got defeated in vietnam and then laos became independent. so at this point the united
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states wants to influence and gradually builds up a secrete force over a period of starting in 1958 and they were looking for and they were both long and loo and all of those ethnic groups participated at some degree in it, but not the entire groups. so cannot say that all agent nick people fought with the cia they did not want to admit that it was going on.
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so when people flew in they never went in there. it was a restricted area so their operations were kept under cover. in the filling of pbs film called american experiences, there's one whole series on vietnam and one portion of that is laos and there's an excellent discussion on the film with the former cia agents on how this occurs and what takes place we
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were afraid that china would be a player and come down and swoop over and take over laos and thailand and much of south east asia. i don't think that china had the desire to do that at that point. right now they're doing a major take over on capitalism and investments. >> what was it kept secrete? congress did not approve of going into loo if my memory serves right and then one of the
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reasons that we went in is to interresult the flow of supplies that was in loo. >> yes, but that comes later. we were already forming the secrete army in 1961-62. it began five months before the bombing was five months before the bombing in vietnam. >> the american troops went into laos. >> yes. that was in 1971 but they were not a lot of troops in uniform.
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they were always in civilian dress. >> i went into loo as part of the unit. >> what year was it? >> spring of april 71. >> yeah, that's the safe hole incident and that was a terrible situation. >> you don't know why you're going in but i was told to disrupt the supply. that was the military reason. >> yeah, it was a disaster undertaking for them that went in as well as the americans. it was a terrible battle that has not really recorded very well. that's one of the areas that we're working on the safe hold.
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>> why is it that there's all of the consequences? >> that's a good question as well. you can say part of it is financial. i mean taking responsibility for not just those in vietnam who have congenital deformities that maybe caused by agent orange. there's a new group that started three or four years ago called the children of vietnam alliance and it's a facebook group that are now -- i don't know what the number is and there's several thousand children of the
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veterans that are part of the group that are sharing notes about what type of health issues they're facing today and the children are fatsing today. i think part of it is a financial question. the evidence is really that we have it in animal study. that's the excuse to do nothing and a that there's no sane tiff i can proof that this is causing problems, but there's no scientific proof that it isn't. what comes up with the list for the veterans that the va looks and what diseases maybe
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receiving the benefits, they only look at existing studies. they do not look. they do not do their own research but what has been done and what research is out there and then they determine where they find their oefd associat n association. they tend to reply on cannot say 100 percent, so it must not be. >> yeah, if it's largely financial driven, i thought that i saw on one of the slides that it says that there's compensation for service in vietnam. what's the difference then if there's compensation for service but not for a link to agent aorange? >> well, for those birth defects
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that are found among the children of fecal veterans, there were only 8,000 this were nursing and those were just -- it's not broken down by position brut each time that they find another condition that believe -- like stroke was added and another heart condition was added or hypertension was added
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and you're talking of a population of 3 million veterans that serve and i don't know how many are alive today but chances are that a lot of them have that condition. so part of it is financial, but also the va's careful to say why veterans get va opposed to vietnamese. here is political. we're going to support the veterans. that does not mean that we're going go and do the same in a country that was the former
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enemy. >> so i thought there was use of poison gas in world war 1 and then maybe the convention. where would agent orange, blue and white and all of those dioxon's fit in. i'm against all war but if you're going to fight a war, how is this used on the civilian populations? >> yeah, that's a big question filed by the veterans and then in 2004 the vietnamese also filed a lawsuit against the chemical companies about wasn't this a war crime. the courts ruled that it was a by-product. it was not supposed to be there. it was created when the chemical
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companies produced the agent orange but it was also an agent purple and green. there were a lot of rainbow colors. when they produce that, they were producing it very quickly and high temperatures and then the the dioin was created all the of them had die oxin and
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poisons in the war were apart of it, but cannot use them. they were not targeted at humans and to kill. they were targeted to kill the trees and it was a war crime. that's what the courts said in the last couple of years and since then the u.s. has signed on to a protocol that for bids first use of these chemicals in war, but we used herbicides in colombia against cocaine. i guess that's not war, so it's okay. >> by the way i should have mentioned to identify yourself. >> my name is lewis. first of all i want to thank
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this gentlemen. he maybe the first person that may have publicly said that he was in the uniform and in laos. the cult of se kra si in laos and jacque and i have been there and jacque and her husband were with a group called in voluntary services and it was a precursor for several years of the peace corp. we lived in the villages and spoke loo and ate their food and loved the loo. we learned the people and the culture. one of the things that escapes public knowledge is that today the memorial is no single u.s. military personal whose
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identified on the wall, but even before outside of that, they were on the ground and maybe some of you have heard they went to the soldier investigation which was held in detroit in the 1960s and then a second -- last thing when kissen jer signed the agreements you can go and see the papers that were sign in the
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national ar rives. i saw it in the war museum in vietnam and he did not sign it but he went hk. that's not a signature. maybe it's fair to say that the u.s. did not really sign a peace agreement there were other personnel that did and where it was mentioned in the early slides that susan showed that more ordnance was dropped on laos than combined in the history of the warfare. if you measure in the terms of the per capita and the population and before the war
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that was said to be in the range of 6 million and 5 million and after the war jacque can confirm. >> it's two and a half and then six and a half now. >> right, but before the war it was a lot more. >> yeah. >> the people have suffered from a war that's not known as a war. >> i remember reading just a few weeks ago that the first medal of honor that went to a i can't remember and it was the first time that any person had gone in and he was a medic and went in and savered. i don't know if it was part of that same safe home. i don't remember. it could have been.
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it was the first time and this was 40 something years later. he saved many many lives of the fellow soldiers during the effort and it continues and it's very hard. i have been able to talk to a few air america people and it's like you have to be introduced and introduced and vouch for you. i have to say my father was a army veteran and i'm coming at this from an army brat. you have to lay the credentials out before you talk to a vet man. now they're starting to write memoi memoirs. you can come across them online, but they have held on to the secrete and many to the great.
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>> my sister-in-law dwid not know that her husband has been in laos until six months before he died. his children did not know either that morning he was suffering from alzheimers and would not remember much. i had the task from my husband that was still alive and to explain to them what happened. and why they did not know. it was a very painful painful event for him. >> that alleges brings up the point if you were a veteran that had the boots on the ground in vietnam, you automatically
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qualify for the va benefits for any of the conditions that the va acknowledges. if you were in thailand or laos, you have to prove the exposure. it's not like it is in vietnam. you have to prove that you were in an area where these were sprayed. there are many of these air america and those that we want in that may have diabetes and some of the other conditions that the veterans from the vietnam era and was there for one hour would dwool identify for but they can't. they are more that are not receiving the assistance from the government that they should.
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>> nevermind the loo that we're trying to get help for. >> please introduce yourself? >> yeah, i'm working for and ploos and been here for three years. i would like to answer some things in this issue because i was there in the south and the area where supposed to be affected by the agent orange. i used to travel and during that time i assumed that the spraying of the agent orange was there because they're doing the towns and the people told me that it's to transport and they travel
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around at night and they're doing the skprouf stone and that's by the human labels and just surprise. i was surprised that how the trial will make and to put the rock all together and during that time i was told that vietnam is the travel during the raining season and during the raining season and during that time it was covered by the thick forest so sometimes the spray of agent orange just work all the way to one station and after that and the raining seasons come and the plans to come and
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what can be said and the leaves turn green. then fives years ago i was there and i saw that it's very difficult to get to the target area even, you know, the target area is from the center town of the prove nance and it's about 100 miles from the town, but it takes four days to get to the affected area and then people in the area are very very low educa educated and they do not know
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anything about the agent orange. >> yes, it's going take both the loo government asking for assistance and the u.s. government responding. now, why has the loo government not asked? i think because it's gone. it was 40 years ago and they did not have the science to realize that this was an ongoing problem. in 1999-2000 my husband and i began a small effort to try to educate some persons in the
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ministry of health including the vice minister of health about this issue. we took them to a conference in vietnam. there were three individuals that went with me to the conference sponsored by the u.s. government. it was the first time these young doctors had ever heard about the consequences these are some of the most highly educated people in laos at that time. they did not know. and subsequently there's been no follow up until the work and that's why i decided in my retirement, this is what i was going to do. i was going to try to make this an issue. i should tell you that the uxo
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issue took us over 20 years to bring it to the table. to put it on the table that not only the lao ask for it but respond. when we first mentioned it as an issue in 197 9 and 8 o 0 and hen washington, it was not bombed that much. we had the show photos and a lot of proof before people began to realize the debt of bombing and then it's the most heavily bombed country in the history of the world in the precapita. it's not a side show. it's sprayed with tremendous amounts of chemicals and some of
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them don't know what they are showing weapons and then there are people when they go and defuse them are seriously injured and when they visited with one of the young woman that was a young woman and she has been working for five years on the uxo team and she does not receive assistance today, and yet you can still see the burn marks on her entire body. something exploded and burned her very badly and nobody could explain what it was to this day. that happened in 2000 -- i think this was the year 2000. to this day we don't know what kind of weapon it was. there's a definite need for
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cooperation on this and that's why i am saying that i'm pleased that vietnam that has a lot of experience is now able to assist lao and coming to understand more of the data behind this and the consequences, but the united states also has to participate in this as a good will gesture. >> yeah, the point that the areas are very remote and the areas on the spray map where the you a herbicides were sprayed is remote, and they do not travel out of the remote village. the stories that we're taking and crossing river after river
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to get to and cannot get to in a raining season and only way to get there is in a four wheel drive truck. we have to go there and get the information. that information is not coming out. it may as you say not very well educated. ethnic minority populations that don't have the ability to let their people know what some of the problems are. they can not even as jackie said that $20 bus fair to get that, they do not live in an economy and they do not have the cash to even buy that bus ticket. that's another one of the problems that the information is not getting -- the areas that are heavily sprayed are remote and very few people get out to them. other organizations that are working in lao's are focused in
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the north and other areas. they are not working and it's not in savanakit a bit but ho chi minh trail they're not providing programs and not getting the stories out and not advocating for more funding and support from the u.s. government. >> it's a very difficult problem, because the roads have only been constructed in the past four or five years, they've begun to reach some of those areas, and still, there are many villages. we have to wait for a very specific time, when the weather is dry, and we can make it into those villages. it's that difficult. otherwise, you're slogging in mud up to here and believe me, it's hard to walk in mud that deep. >> though some of those roads still are, the actual original
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ho chi minh trail where you see the rocks and the stones that were placed so many years ago. >> any other comments or questions? well, i think this has certainly been enlightening session, and it has given us the kind of in-depth understanding of what the true consequences of a war would be, a declared war, a secret war, any kind of war has on local populations, and a whole essentially a research agenda, who would think, for many of our students here at g.w., as well as anyone who wishes to really get to the
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basis of these issues so that more change can happen and the kind of assistance actually targeted and brought to bear on these populations so please join me in thanking susan and jackie for their outstanding presentation. [ applause ] i'd also like to that i miriam greenburg in assisting bringing this session together as well as our friends from c-span, thank you. >> i can just add one thing which i forgot to add in the beginning? >> sure. >> is that none of this work, we couldn't do this without the financial support in laos we receive support from green cross international, which is a fund based in switzerland that was started by gorbachev after the chernobyl incident, after he retired and it addresses toxics around the world.
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we also received support to help children like yan through the year of giving generously, which is another path to ibs because the father of the woman who is running this fund in honor of a mother who passed away, he was a former ibs who died in laos and also the tiana senaniga foundation is a supporter of our work as well and without them, i would not have been able to afford the plane fare to come down here, thank you >> much of our work is based on volunteerism, and i have to say susan's salary is not a lot and i am a volunteer. i don't receive any salary for this work they do help me to pay
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for travel when moving around laos, and as well my colleague nippapon sangtong who is our country program person, she also works on a volunteer basis, and she is very, very committed to this, and receives phone calls from various people up until midnight sometimes they're calling to see if their child could be to go to get examined by a doctor for their problem, and it's a rerewarding piece of our work but the most important thing i think we have to do is think about what our government needs to move forward on. this is one unaddressed issue of the entire vietnam, lao,
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cambodia scene. let me also say if anybody is interested in cambodia, there are three provinces that were also affected by agent orange dioxin and those still have not been investigated so it would make a good research paper. >> thank you, again. >> well, thank you all for coming. with that we'll close this event. thank you. >> thank you. congressional leaders will be heading to the white house this afternoon. they're meeting with president obama about keeping the government funded. the current budget year runs out at the end of this month. the government faces a shutdown if they can't agree on a
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spending bill. senate negotiators have been working on a three-month extension of current spending levels. the white house meeting is scheduled for 4:00 eastern and we'll bring you any reaction that follows. congress returns this afternoon for legislative business. on the house agenda this week, legislation preventing the transfer of guantanamo te tainees into the u.s. expanding the authority of the veterans affairs department to fire or demote employees for misconduct, and the proposed impeachment of irs commissioner john koskinen. the senate will resume authorization of a water bill with a procedural vote later in the day. off the floor, negotiations continue on a deal to fund the government past the september 30th deadline. the house gavels in at 2:00 p.m. eastern, live on c-span and the senate at 3:00 p.m. eastern, live on c-span2.
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>> for campaign 2016, c-span continues on the road to the white house. >> we are going to get things done, big things, that's who we are as americans. >> we will have one great american future. our potential is unlimited. >> ahead live coverage of the presidential and vice presidential debates on c-span, the c-span radio app and cspan.org. monday, september 26th is the first presidential debate live from hofstra university in hempstead, new york. on tuesday, october 4th, vice presidential candidates governor mike pence and senator tim kaine debate in farmville, virginia. sunday october 9th, washington university and st. louis host the second presidential debate. leading up to the third and final debate between hillary clinton and donald trump, taking place at the university of nevada las vegas on october 19th. live coverage of the

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