Skip to main content

tv   U.S. House of Representatives  CSPAN  August 18, 2009 10:00am-1:00pm EDT

10:00 am
and we find out is a real nut case. how were they allowed to have all of these weapons? guest: i do not think i can 7s it. this isçó the first time i am hearing that blackwater was involved after katrina down in louisiana. i do not know anything about it. i am not in a position to comment. host: we will go to our last call on the republican line. caller: i live in georgia. if you watch the news every night, we have a lot of crying. i am not being a racial issue. the criminals are the ones carrying the guns. if we were allowed to carry our guns in public when we wanted to, we would be able to protect ourselves, not just in our home. they're happening when we go out. we need to protect ourselves against the criminal element.
10:01 am
the good people to register our guns, we have registered permits, should be able to scrap our guns to our thighs and be able to protect ourselves. guest:)jptñiqçó÷váçóññ3 i live 3 huáj. i always had a concealed carry licenej55uutñijhj unless there is some reasonçh#g you have done something wrong, there is no reason why you could nott(x7lú obtain a concealedu0py license and carry a handgun for self protection pretty much anywhere in the state of georgia. host: thank you for coming in today. that is our show for today. we take you now live to the department of health and human services. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] .
10:02 am
. >> we are live at a hotel in washington waiting for a speech by health and human services
10:03 am
secretary kathleen sebelius. she will talk about medicare fraud prevention efforts off. this senior medicare patrol conference taking place in washington. in a very short break, so we do expect kathleen sebelius to speak in a few moments. in the meantime, a story in the news today from the associated press that the obama administration says it is hopeful the crowd were can be laid toward restarting stalled mideast peace talks. this comes after a meeting with president obama and the egyptian leader. mubarak highlighted egypt's efforts to unify the palestinian factions. he acknowledges unity has to occur before there can be peace between israel and the palestinians. that is from the ap today. we are waiting for kathleen
10:04 am
sebelius and a speech on medicare fraud prevention efforts. our live coverage here on c- span.
10:05 am
>> we are waiting for kathleen
10:06 am
sebelius and a speech this morning on medicare fraud prevention. in the meantime, a close look at some of our other programming. afghanistan holds its special election this week. officials leading the international task force briefed pentagon reporters. we will have live coverage as they speak from afghanistan at 11:00 a.m. eastern. hurricane season is under way. hurricane bill is heading west and c-span2 will have a hearing on the government's disaster response after hurricane katrina. you will hear from the fema director and other emergency response leaders, coming up on c-span [applause] at 11:30. -- coming up on c-span2. we will have a look at the role of state government in disaster response. you will hear from the president of the national emergency management association. that is a look ahead to some of
10:07 am
our programming here on c-span today. back here live at the hotel in washington. we understand that kathleen sebelius is in the room and just about ready to speak. live coverage here on c-span. >> i think we are about ready to get started. if everybody could take their seats. just one word, for any of you who have not turned off york
10:08 am
cell phone is -- turn isyour cell p -- turned off your cell phones, please do that. i would like to welcome kathleen sebelius to our national conference. [applause] and for me personally, it is especially exciting to be staring this stage with -- sharing a stage with two fellow [unintelligible] that does not happen every day in washington. i would like to share a few brief words of introduction. kathy was appointed by president obama as the fourth assistant secretary for aging at the department of health and
10:09 am
services in june. prior to coming to washington, she served as secretary of the kansas department on aging where she was responsible for overseeing the state's older americans act programs for the distribution of medicare payments and regulation of nursing-home life insurance. she served the state of kansas as the assistant secretary for aging and randy state's long- term care program. -- ran the state's long-term care program. she also served as secretary -- the chief of staff and chief of operations for the governor. she brings to the administration on aging a strong commitment to impairing and protecting older consumers. -- to end poweringe endmpowering
10:10 am
and protecting older consumers. she is the front line of defense in this effort. these are the values that also underlie our program, empowering seniors to prevent health care fraud. now i am proud and excited to have kathy here leading our office on aging. i am thrilled she is here today to introduce as to secretary sebelius. [applause] >> good morning. this will probably fall over. it is good to be with you this morning and it is wonderful to have the opportunity to introduce kathleen sebelius to you. i have had the privilege of introducing her before. this is the first time since we
10:11 am
came to washington, so this is a new venue. i am new to d.c. but the secretary is not. she received her bachelor's degree from trinity college and there she met her future husband. we have gary to thank for kathleen moving to kansas. after that she went to the university of kansas and received a master's degree. in 1986 she ran for public office and was elected to serve at the kansas house of representatives. she served in the house for eight years and in 1994 she was elected insurance commissioner for kansas. that election was remarkable because she beat an incumbent and was the first democrat to hold that office and 100 years. she is to say -- she used to say
10:12 am
they have always done it this way. when she was commissioner, she focused quite quickly on consumer issues and gravitated immediately to issues of health. healthcare has been a passion of hers. she served as the chair of the health committee for the national association of health commissioners. during her second term, she took a move that was first in the nation in terms of denying the acquisition of kansas's bluecross blueshield. the reason she denied that was because of the increase of rates would have been a significant on individuals. in 2002 she was elected governor. she focused a lot of energy on education as well as the environment and health care.
10:13 am
in 2006 she was elected to her second term and had recently been named by "time" magazine as one of the top five governors. we were happy she was our governor. the majority of us had reelected her, and then the president called. on april 29 she was sworn in to be the 21st secretary of the department of health and human services. the night she was sworn in i was in the rotunda of listening to the chief justice of the kansas supreme court read your letter of resignation. i must admit this was bittersweet. we were sad to see her go as governor because what we know is what the nation is learning. the president cannot have chosen a better leader, and we are proud of her and thrilled she is the new secretary of health and
10:14 am
human services. secretary sebelius. [applause] >> good morning. thank you. i did not want to come to washington alone, so i had to bring kathy with me. but i am totally delighted that she was willing to accept the challenges as assistant secretary of aging. i can tell you from my experience she will be fabulous. she has an enormous passion for issues confronting seniors in this country, and has done some creative and important work in kansas in terms of not only helping to fight for consumer issues but rebalancing our portfolio in terms of community
10:15 am
care, providing a continuum of care, working on behalf of seniors in the heartland. i know that same passion and energy will be brought with her here to d.c. and she works on behalf of seniors across the country. i know of barbara's could work with fraud, but i did that know she was from kansas. i am delighted to be with two fellow jayjawks. kathy and i go back along way and have a long history together, so i know you have a real champion in her as the leader of the agency on aging. i want to also acknowledged the senior medical patrol volunteers
10:16 am
who are here today. i know that there are 10 of you who will be honored tomorrow, and except my congratulations in the advance. i have to tell you, with each approaching year i find that protection of medicare more imports and on a personal basis. i am getting up close to qualifying age, and i want to make sure we are solvent well into the future, so i personally thank you for the good work you are doing on behalf of citizens across the country. we have some terrific partners in agencies across government in fighting medicare fraud. i know those agencies are represented here today, and will be part of this conference for the next couple of days. no single department could tackle this challenge on our
10:17 am
own. it is definitely a team effort. as any good team, we recognize that everybody has a part to play, so in addition to the employees at the administration on aging, if we have both partners at cms, the office of the inspector general and the department of justice. they are all actively working on this. my father was a member of congress in 1965 when president johnson signed the medicare bill into law just over 40 years ago. it was one of the most important steps on behalf of seniors that was ever taken, certainly the biggest advance after social security in the truman days. back then, and it is hard to imagine, but seniors were among
10:18 am
the poorest and most of the normal populations because of health care costs and rising bills -- they were one of the most vulnerable populations because of health care costs. now they have some of the best care in america and have security about the health care that they have. unlike private insurance, when you turn 65 or when you qualify as a disabled american, you cannot be dropped because of health coverage. you cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. your rates don't change depending on your specific health situation. it is what insurance is all about, balancing that risk. we have made clear over the
10:19 am
years that that safety net is critical. that is what medicare is so popular. providing care for seniors in this country is not cheap. the federal government this year, at tax payers in america, will spend about $425 billion on medicare and another $200 billion on medicaid. any time that amount of money, $625 billion, is changing hands, you know there will be people around to want to get their hands on some of that cash. there is the old story about the bank robber where they asked him why it was that he robbed banks. his answer was pretty simple, that is where the money is. unfortunately, that is the same situation with this major government program.
10:20 am
every day we pay more than 3 million claims to 1.5 million different providers every day. we need to pay the claims quickly so doctors can get reimbursed. pharmaceutical managers can get reimbursed, and the seniors get the care they need. the tension is how to make sure that the claims payment goes on efficiently, but also making sure that those claims are legitimate. there are several enforcement programs to do just that. but over the years the amount of claims payment and financing has grown far faster than our response. in the five years since 2003, medicare spending went up 10%
10:21 am
per year, but spending on the health care fraud program went up just barely over 1%. in spite of the fact that we know that investment yields huge returns. medicare added a new prescription drug program witte medicare part d, but efforts to make sure that claims payments are legitimate have barely increased. since taking office in january, president obama has recognized this is a real and important tension. he not only provided some additional resources but ask for some additional cross agency cooperation, not so in may, attorney general eric holder and i created a new health-care fraud enforcement action team that is known as heat. it is made up of senior staff from both of our departments
10:22 am
headed by the deputy secretary of both the department of justice and department of hhs, the first time ever that cabinet and subcabinet officials have participated in this kind of effort. the goal is to find improved ways to attack fraud. those efforts are already paying off. by july, an initiative in houston led to the arrest of 32 doctors in four cities who were charged with cheating medicare out of a minimum of $16 million. a similar effort in miami brought charges against 42 people for a scam involving expensive infusion treatments for hiv/aids patients. those initiatives are led by strike force teams. in addition to the teams in houston and miami, there are teams in los angeles and detroit. we are prepared to expand those
10:23 am
teams wherever the fraud may take us. because the efforts have been successful, we are trying to get ahead of fraudulent activity. it used to be that claims were monitored after the fact, and often took months or years to track down. but then the perpetrators would have been on to a new scam. we are trying to send a signal that we are very eager to stop people from stealing from this vital program, and we are willing to spend resources to do it. if you want to-heard that activity, we do have a new web site -- if you want to monitor that activity, we have a new web site at we are also involved in an initiative to do faster data
10:24 am
analysis so we can identify fraudulent activity quicker. if one county bills medicare 10 times as much for a procedure as a nearby county and has the same number of medicare patients, it sends up a red flag. sharing that information with the department of justice is also something we are beginning to do as a first ever opportunity. fighting fraud is one of the best investments the government makes. for every dollar we spend, the minimum of $1.50 comes back to the tax payers. that is just on the people we catch. we cannot tell you how much is prevented by sending a signal that we are serious about this. we will still be after these criminals and still, even with unforced -- enhanced efforts, be able to review less than 3% of the claims.
10:25 am
that brings me to the point of the conference today. that is why these senior medicare patrol program is so important. the strongest defense against crime is not law enforcement, it is informed citizens. patrol officers help prevent break-ins, but the biggest reason there are not more home burglaries is we all lock our doors and windows at night, we report suspicious activity. the best defense against crime is when people can protect themselves. that is where the senior medicare patrol program comes in. we have a simple motivation, american seniors don't like it when people steal from medicare. since 1997, we have educated more than 20 million seniors
10:26 am
about medicare fraud. we have taught them how to recognize it, prevent it and how to educate neighbors and friends. the advice can be as simple as teaching folks how to read their medicare summary noticed or explaining to them their medicare number is like a credit card number, they should never give it away. the results are impressive. since 1997, we have saved taxpayers over $100 million. that is $100 million of additional medical care that can be delivered to citizens. volunteers are also great crime deterrence. members scattered across the country are like having undercover cops on the street. if a criminal things he might get reported, he is much less likely to try to cheat someone. i want to share one story with you about one of the volunteers
10:27 am
who i heard about the other day as i was preparing for this presentation. mario sanchez from texas. he is 72 and has diabetes. earlier this year he got a work order as he usually does from his medical supplies company for the test strips he uses to test his blood sugar. that work order was one of 3 million claims that medicare pays every day. it easily could have been one of the ones that went through without any scrutiny, but it was not. a few months earlier he had heard a presentation at his adult day care center. he knew that as a valuable as medicare was to him, it was just as valuable to crooks who could use it to steal money. he made sure to read the work
10:28 am
order very carefully. it turned out his order was actually for 200 boxes and $7,000. although he was only supposed to get two boxes of supplies, so he contacted the senior medicare patrol and they helped him get the work order changed to the correct amount. here is the most important part of the story, mario not only review that one claim but now reviews every one of his claims. he has worked with the folks at the day care center to help them review their claims and goes over medical forms with friends and neighbors. that is the biggest benefit of what the volunteers do, recruit other people to the calls. slowly -- recruit other people to the cause. building a community that scarce of criminals before they can
10:29 am
even come up with a scam. earlier this year i was at an event with attorney general h older. he mentioned a news piece about a man who had switched from selling drugs on the street to medicare fraud because it was more profitable. i am not advocating that we want people to go back to the street to sell drugs, but we also want to tell them that cheating seniors is not a good way to make an easy buck. thanks to you we are starting to make that change. i know you are hearing a lot about fraud over the next few days, but before i close this morning i want to also say a few words about another hot topic, health reform which is dominating the airwaves. if you weren't watching the news over the weekend, you probably have seen reports about the
10:30 am
obama administration and the public option portion of the health reform plan. all i can tell you is that sunday must have been a very slow news day because here is the bottom line, absolutely nothing has changed. we continue to support the public option, that will help lower costs, it give consumers more choice and keep in private -- keep private insurers honest. if people have other ideas to accomplish these goals come up we will look at these, to the -- to accomplish these goals, we will look at these as well. i have seen this work in kansas where a public option is side- by-side with private insurers. it is what it does when it provides a choice in markets that are often dominated by one
10:31 am
insurance company, a monopoly that can charge what it wants because it has no competition. that is what we want to do in health reform. more choices, more competition, that is the bottom-line goal. i also know that lots of information has been circulated causing fear among some seniors about cutting valuable medicare services or rationing care. i want to tell you nothing could be further from the truth. we know that your efforts to reduce fraud will save medicare dollars for a essential services. as part of health reform, there are also some other critically important health savings. saving dollars for seniors on prescription drug costs, cutting the hole in half is a huge help.
10:32 am
saving doctors for medicare services from the proposed 21% cost, a leftover legacy from the primary administration that has never been fixed but is part of the health reform. absent health reform, but doctors providing medicare services are scheduled to be cut 21%. talk that of losing your doctor , -- talk about losing your doctor, that will happen unless we just costs. cutting down on people who are readmitted to the hospital following a hospital stay not only saves lives but saves dollars. my father who was in the congress when medicare was passed is now 88-years old. my aunt turns 90-years old on sunday, so i know personally
10:33 am
held valuable in our family medicare services are. i see it each day. i know how valuable medicare services are to families across this country, so we want to make sure we actually provide the services needed by seniors, but also make sure medicare is solvent well into the future, that we are not overpaying for drugs and equipment, that we are not lining the pockets of insurance companies in terms of overpayment, but delivering those dollars to provide for medical services. but we know now about medicare is that it is universally beloved. if you took a vote in the house and senate on medicare services, it is hard to believe anyone would stand up and upno. -- and vote no. it would probably pass
10:34 am
overwhelmingly in a landslide, but back in 1965 when there was the first votes and a whopping democratic majority in both the house and senate, medicare only passed by 45 votes. the point is change is never easy, but if we can achieve reform this fall, we might have a chance to look back 40 years from now and say we were there when our country made another important step to ensuring high- quality health care for all americans. thank you for your service, thank you for what you do to keep medicare solvent, and thank you for having me here today. [applause] [applause]
10:35 am
[applause] >> afghanistan holds its presidential election this week. officials leading the task force to provide alexian security briefed pentagon reporters today. -- to provide election security. hurricane season is underway and c-span2 will have a hearing on the government's disaster response after hurricane katrina. he will hear from the fema director and other emergency response leaders coming up at 11:30 a.m. eastern. we will be alive again here at
10:36 am
3:00 p.m. with a look at the role of state government in disaster response. -- we will be live again at 3:00 p.m. >> this fall, enter the home to america's highest court from the grand public places to those only accessible by the nine justices, the supreme court coming the first sunday in october on c-span. >> egypt's president is visiting the white house today. president obama met with mubarak in cairo earlier this summer. the state department says the u.s. and egypt are working hard to create conditions for mideast peace negotiations to continue. it has been more than five years since president mubarak last visited the u.s. capitol. we get a look at efforts to close guantanamo bay prison and releasing detainees. it is from this morning's "washington journal." host: joining us now is scott
10:37 am
silliman to talk about guantanamo bay. thank you for joining us. guest: good morning, it is a pleasure to be with you. host: what is the status of closing the facility of guantanamo bay? guest: the president has said it will be closed no later than january of next year. that means he will have to relocate over 200 detainees. some of them are going through the courts, some of them may need some kind of criminal process, whether it be a military commission or a trial in federal courts, but the vast majority will never face a criminal trial, so the dilemma is where do you put these folks? host: where do they put them? guest: that is the burning question. there is an option discussed to move some of these folks into a higher maximum security prison in michigan or in kansas.
10:38 am
i am not sure there is the political will to do that. the more probable option is what the administration has been exploring and the bush administration did before that, of which is to use diplomacy to try to persuade other countries to take these people back to keep them under some type of minimal surveillance, and if we have the time to move all those folks who will never face a criminal trial back to their own countries or some other country, that is the better option. host: to send them back to their home countries? guest: or some of the third countries. there are some detainees that we cannot send back to china because it is clear they will be tortured or killed, so you need to find some country that will take them. but there is a reluctance on the part of most members of congress
10:39 am
to say we should bring them into our own country and detained them for a long-term basis. host: are there any countries that said they will take detainee's? guest: yes, there are. there are some european countries, france, italy that are saying we will take a few here and there, so i think the state department diplomacy and efforts of the obama administration had been successful, but it will take time. that raises the political problem for the president. he said publicly in an executive order that he wants to close guantanamo bay by january 2010. they may not be able to relocate all of the detainees, said the question is, how do they try to extend that deadline which will be very unpopular, or do they take a more dangerous option and bring these folks into the u.s.? ks into the united states?
10:40 am
host: why is it more politically palatable to put the detainees into other countries as opposed to american soil? guest: we have never had a domestic prevention terror program in this country. it would require specific legislation to do that. there is no law that would allow us to keep someone indefinitely or lg term without ever charging them with a crime. we would have to have congress pass a specific statute. there would have to be judicial guarantees and reviews. the question is, once you release them, what do you do with them? it seems that the better option is to move them out of u.s. responsibility, back to their home countries or some other country that will house them. that is the better option. host: are they still being
10:41 am
processed through the military commission? or have they gone into the court system? guest: if you have gone into the court system. notably, one of them was indicted in the 1990's for being complicity with the embassy bombings in kenya and tanzania. there has been talk of sifting through the files to see if others should be prosecuted in federal courts. military commissions are still an option being explored. congress is considering legislation to revise the rules to make them even more protective of detainee rights. that is an option that should be explored. host: let's take our first call from allen, democratic line. caller: if michigan wants them, those are jobs for people there. or send them back to their own
10:42 am
country. guest: i favor the second option. if you bring them into this country and you are never going to have them face any kind of a criminal trial, you will detain them for 10 or 15 years. i believe that they will accrue rights under the constitution that they do not now have. i am more concerned about the security. concerned that there will be some radical group in this country that will try to stage an attack or some kind of protest at that particular facility. i see no benefit to bringing them into this country other than we could not find somewhere else. host: republican line, virginia. do you have a question? caller: i do.
10:43 am
i do not understand why we are moving everyone from guantanamo to someplace else. they were already there under military observation. why cannot stay there? guest: an excellent question, more political than anything else. guantanamo bay has excellent security, but it has become a lightning rod for criticism in the international community. the administration wants to try to remedy that by moving those detainees out of their to somewhere else. the name has become a stigma to the united states. it is hindering the new administration and its international relations. even george bush said that he wanted to close guantanamo bay, but the question is how do you do it and will you be able to make the deadline?
10:44 am
that is a real problem for the administration. host: why was it selected originally as a detainee facility? caller: -- guest: our supreme court, way back in the 1950's, had a case that said that if you are dealing with someone that has never been in the united states and is incarcerated outside of the united states and is considered an enemy combatant, they have no constitutional rights. no rights to come into our courts, statutory or otherwise. guantanamo bay is perhaps one of two unique places in the world where we have but it is sovereign cuban territory, so the argument was the courts would have no jurisdiction over anything we did at guantanamo bay. that lasted until 2004. the supreme court modified that rule and said they could come into our courts.
10:45 am
the congress the next year amended the statute to take away what the court had given. the supreme court in 2006 said what congress did applies only to future cases. all those folks in guantanamo bay still have access to our courts. congress took it away, and just last summer in a significant case, the supreme court says these detainees have a constitutional right to come into our courts to complain of their detention. they are at guantanamo bay but they have the rights to come into our courts, so there is a problem. host: let's hear from peter on the independent line from new york city. caller: it is not really politically-tenable to kill them, but it seems to me if we had people that blow people up we think our suspects, these people have no rights whatsoever and don't have anymore information but are too dangerous to be released doesn't
10:46 am
it seem logical to kill them? guest: we cannot do that. international law, our own domestic law prevents that. we say we are going to treat those detainees humanely, particularly under what we call the, article 3 of the geneva convention, which requires that they not be abused or tortured. congress set certain standards for how they will be treated, so you cannot go the other way. we would be achieving nothing and inviting international courts to bring charges against us for war crimes. the only time you can kill an enemy combat and is when you are in war, when you are on the battlefield and that is a unlawful killing. other than that cannot you cannot just kill someone. i should mention many of your viewers might have seen the movie, "saving private ryan."
10:47 am
there is a scene where a german pow's are brought back and it becomes inconvenient for them to bring them along, so they just shoot them. that is an illegal act and could not be tolerated. host: randall on the republican line. caller: i am from kansas. i am not wanting to have these people in my home state. if we are a part of geneva, since we have so much capital investment, why can't we have a building to detain these people in other countries wanting to hold them? guest: that is an interesting option. the problem is the international community as a whole has said the u.s. was the one that
10:48 am
created guantanamo bay, we are the ones that made the decision to house those folks down there as any combatants. the rest of the world generally believes terrorism is a crime, we are not at war, so other than working individually with countries like france or germany to take some of these detainees back, saudi arabia is another country, the united nations has not indicated that it wants to accept responsibility for guantanamo bay. i would not expect them to do so. one of the major issues is that almost 100 of the detainees are from yemen, and the dilemma there is sending these individuals back to yemen is a problem because there is the tradition in that country that these people will be let out of
10:49 am
jail and will be back on the street and perhaps wanting to return to the battlefield. the issue is find a country that will take them back under some type of minimal security, and we feel that they will not return to the battlefield in the attack others again. host: the associated press reported that a coalition of senators led by john mccain worked as a yemen and noted that they have been a professed u.s. ally in the fight against terrorism. obama has hesitated to send home the inmates from yemen because of the history of letting them out of prison. it has been related to many u.s. attacks. the next call is from new york. are you there? caller: yes, good morning.
10:50 am
i am calling with regards to guantanamo bay. if -- when the bush administration went to war, there was no reason for us to go to iraq. there was no reason to go to afghanistan, but they wanted to get to where they could rob this country blind, taking trillions of dollars and given it to how the burton -- giving it to halliburton. the war is robbing the american people. we would not be in guantanamo bay and there should never have been a war because we went to iraq and afghanistan with a lie. the problem is what do we do now? they want to put it on obama. guest: let me respond.
10:51 am
there is still the debate as far as whether it was a proper move to go into iraq, but many of those in guantanamo bay where pick that in afghanistan when the u.s. commenced military operations in october 2001. we did that with the support of the un because they were housing and refused to turn over osama bin laden who had acknowledged responsibility for the attacks on 9/11. the military operations in afghanistan still going on legitimate. many of those at guantanamo bay were captured there. the problem is we claimed they were unlawful and the combatants. -- unlawful enemy combatants. there is nothing in the geneva convention that provides that type of definition, they are not prisoners of war but neither are they entitled to the other protections of the geneva
10:52 am
convention. he bush administration crafted a regime that we are at war closely, the battle field extends to any place and those that we capture anywhere can be detained for as long as the war goes on. the problem is the work could go on forever as long as there is some terrorist cell that can attack us. that is what the courts have started to address. up to 25 of the detainees have been ordered released because the courts have said that is not a legal basis to detain them. host: from pennsylvania, dave on the republican line. caller: i would invite your response, guantanamo bay is a state of the art prison that cost tens of millions of dollars. there is no real evidence that the prisoners there have been systematically abused or
10:53 am
tortured, as many as half hour out of the mainstream media claim -- as many of our out of the mainstream media claim. you know what i am talking about. so the fact that some in the international community criticize us for that, i say to heck with them. they will criticize us no matter what we do. they are not our friends. our friends in the international community understand why a guantanamo bay exists. on the question of sending prisoners to other countries for preventive detention, since we don't do that here because it is cons -- contrary to our values, isn't that a form of renditions which the bush
10:54 am
administration is accused of doing? sending our detainees to people we captured in the battlefield to countries where the interrogation methods would amount to torture. guest: guantanamo bay is a secure facility. there is the ongoing debate on whether there was abuse that took place. regardless of what the ultimate determination is on that, the image is that the views did take place. the image -- the international community has criticized the u.s. for holding people down there without any kind of review, ability to talk to their own countrymen, relatives, so the obama administration -- and president bush said guantanamo
10:55 am
bay should be closed. that decision has been made, so the president rightly or wrongly has decided to move those detainees out of the security facility because of the stigma that it carries. with regard to putting them in another country, it is not an unlawful rendition to take a person we are holding and move them to their place of citizenship if that country agrees. that is done all the time. the secretary of state i am convinced is going through very intensive diplomacy with many countries to try to persuade them to take these people back, because we will never be able to prosecute them. they will never see a court of law with regard to charges that may be brought against them. you cannot hold them at guantanamo bay because it will
10:56 am
be closed. i believe they should not be brought into this country for the very reason you mentioned, it is against our value system. how do you successfully move these people to other countries and remove them from the u.s. cost responsibility? sue mentioned that yemen is a real problem. almost half of the detainees come from yemen but we don't have the confidence that they will be able to maintain any security over their own citizens. that is the diplomatic problem we face. host: is it the perception that all of the current detainees will be held in some way? will any of them be released? guest: the assumption is that several will be released. the chinese muslims who china would definitely torture if we sent back, they should be
10:57 am
released. the question is where should they be released? congress has already passed a law signed by the president saying you cannot release them into the u.s. without some kind of official notice to congress. the courts have ruled that the administration determine where an individual should be released. that is the classic case of someone we have held that we said is no longer a danger to the u.s., but where do you find a place for them to go that is safe for them? until we find that place, they are still being held at guantanamo bay. host: nathan on the independent line. caller: i might have missed it earlier but a clarification with an enemy combatants and pow. i never understood the difference. as regard to the 100 from yemen, why don't we actually
10:58 am
charged them with a crime? and then we can hold them wherever we decide to hold them. guest: two good points. first of all, prisoners of war, early on many folks said that we capture in afghanistan should be given pow status. the bush administration argued that those that we picked up were unlawful and the combatants because they targeted civilians , -- unlawful enemy combatants. they did not wear uniforms, but those are all requirements under the geneva convention for those to be declared pow cost. the bush in ministration -- to be declared pow's. the president could determine
10:59 am
everybody in one time. when i was still wearing the uniform during the gulf war of 1991, we had individual hearings for everyone we picked up on the battlefield to decide whether they work pow or not. there is a provision for that. president bush decided every member of al qaeda and those in the taliban could not be afforded pow status, therefore they were determined to be unlawful enemy combatants. the courts have modified that, and now they have said they have the right to challenge their detention. how much other constitutional protection is going to determine where we put them. as to your second point, only about 35-50 of the detainees, there is some evidence of criminality.
11:00 am
they committed some kind of a war crime and can be prosecuted. all we know is the others were picked up on the battlefield. they have -- we have nothing to charge them with, so they will never be criminally prosecuted. the dilemma is how do you justify holding someone long term without ever charging them with a crime? the u.s. has never had that kind of a preventive detention program. if we send them to another country and receive some kind of assurance they will be treated humanely, then that is perfectly legitimate. that is the path we should follow. .
11:01 am
>> what kind of message are we saying when you say you want to kill americans, but let's let you go live your life free instead of doing our jobs and protecting americans? personally it is our military people, not president obama. it is our military -- if our military says these people are in demint -- are dangerous to the united states, they need to stay in guantanamo. if the government wants to keep them detained an island somewhere, where our military has full control over the people to make sure they do no harm to us again, then that is what i think we should do. i do not think we should let these people go be freed and allowed to live their lives
11:02 am
freely knowing they can come back and attack us again. it is insane. iguest: i do not think anyone is arguing that these people should be let free. the question is they are dangerous people. many of them are dangerous people, and many who are dangerous will never be able to see a criminal trial. the question is not whether you turn them loose, but if you're going to detain them, where do you detain them and under what conditions? there are three options basically. the second option, which i favor, is to move them to another country, as long as there is some assurance that that country will keep that individual under surveillance under some type of restraint. the third option, of course, would be to bring them into the night of states into some sort of maximum confinement facility.
11:03 am
i did not believe that is a good option because of the concern and security issues that it brings to wherever that facility is. i think we should explore all options before we resort to that. that would require specific legislation to achieve. guest: the military commissions are being run under the statute which congress passed. there have been many reports about the trials, but there have only been three completed convictions at guantanamo bay. we had david hicks and the media agent for al qaeda. of course president obama system but did -- suspended these in
11:04 am
order to give his administration time to decide that those should be -- who should be crisprosecud should be tried in the united states. i think many of the detainees should be prosecuted in military commissions because you can hold the military trials outside of the united states. if someone is convicted, they can be detained outside of the united states. you could not do that -- >> we believe this to bring you an update on the afghanistan selection and security support. this is live from afghanistan. -- we will hear a lot of from the afghanistan in leaders. >> i have a little bit of audio coming back. one more time, please.
11:05 am
>> loud and clear. >> loud and clear also. good morning to the press corps. good afternoon to our guest ts in kabul. today we have damian cantwell and eric tremblay. the general damian cantwell has been the chief security force and eric tremblay has been a spokesperson for the past several months. as i mentioned, both of those officers are joining us from kabul. this is the first time they have joined us in this forum. i will turn it to you for opening remarks and then we will take questions if you look like.
11:06 am
>> thank you. ladies and gentlemen, i am general eric tremblay. i have mentioned, i am also with damian cantwell. as you know, earlier today a vehicle had an explosive charge on the streets of kabl killing one service member, seven afghanistan east. this vicious attack also injured in employees and more than 50 ines @ @ citians. this incident, once again proves that the insurgents have no respect for the afghan population. -- this vicious attack also
11:07 am
injured employees and more than 50 innocent afghans. we have conducted numerous security operations over the country. and have worked very closely with afghan security partners, the afghan national police, and the afghan national army to prepare and provide a secure environment to the people of afghanistan for the elections. the objectives of these operations and preparations were to minimize and mitigate the risks to the lowest level possible. there will always be some setbacks. this is especially the case in places like afghanistan. as you can imagine, conducting elections make these elections even more challenging. having said that, the insurgents have averaged about 32 attacks
11:08 am
per day over the last 10 days and around 48 attacks within the last day. clearly, they do not have the capacity to intimidate and prevent 15 million afghan voters. only 1% of 6500 potential voting people is a maxim number. the afghan people have expressed their determination to vote, and we will continue to support them so they have the right to choose their next president. it is now for the afghans themselves to decide their future. we're ready for your questions. >> this is courtney from nbc
11:09 am
news. i could not understand some of the statistics you just gave in your opening statement. did you say there have been 48 attacks per day for the past four days? is that an average for the entire country? can you say how many polling stations there are. >> within the last 10 days, 10 days ago, the average daily insurgent number of attacks against the afghan national security forces or local citizens was in the low 30's. within the last three or four days, this has increased daily to the height 40's. when we put this in perspective, the number of potential bulli pl
11:10 am
ling sights, if you take into account 6500, 1% of that is 65. chances are when you are looking at the numbers, they are not going to be able to attack even 1% of the entire polling sites in this country. >> good morning. we have been working on behalf of the commander here in kabul to assist in the coronation of the activities with the elections. it is the commanders highest authority. we wish to do everything we can to support our afghan forces in the security for the upcoming election. in particular, in relation to the number of polling centers
11:11 am
across the country, the independent electoral commission, the afghan body, which is charged with the actual conduct of the election, has stated that they intend to open approximately 6500 polling centers. that number is not yet firm, because an interest of allowing many people across the country a suitable access to polling centers as possible, we have been working very hard with afghan security partners to conduct area security operations to reduce the effect of the insurgents in those areas where some members of the population had not had access to a particular polling center. our polling center numbers across the country are still in the state of slight flux because the intention is to try to insure that as many polling centers as possible are able to be accessed by as many people as possible.
11:12 am
>> can you also give us the most up-to-date numbers on other election security? how many afghan security forces will be directly involved in securing the pulling places. the rundown of the facts around the security. >> certainly. if i can describe the arrangement which has been agreed to by both my staff and the afghan security partners and also i would like to stress that our afghan security partners are the lead agency organization for the planning and execution of security across the country. it is important that we are able to facilitate and enable their activities wherever possible, but they are the lead agency. the afghan ministry of defence has the lead amongst the other agencies to execute security for the elections.
11:13 am
with respect to specific numbers, rather than speak to any particular operation or details, what i will say is that the afghan security forces have committed themselves fully across the country with the intent to provide all they can within the resource limitations and the manpower to ensure that the security picture is able to be presented to the community, to reassure the afghan people that it is safe to move from their homes to where the polling sites are located. are in the execution of the critical process as safely as can be under circumstances and know that the security forces are working hard for them to ensure their security and safety. there is a very important role with regard to each particular polling center, we will be
11:14 am
prepared to provide ground forces if we need to move to wear any security incidents may arise. we have a fully committed afghan national army. we have a fully committed afghan police. and we have our resources, which are fully committed to ensuring that they have the support they need to execute their very important mission on behalf of their people. >> i am from bloomberg news. can you talk about why it is so important considering the increase in violence in recent years in afghanistan? why is it so important that the afghan security forces take so much of the profile, so much of the lead in this operation? and how confident are you that they can really do the job that needs to be done? >> ok.
11:15 am
i think it is very important for the afghan national security forces to be seen by the afghan people as the lead agency in execution of security for their elections. isaf is a security assistance force. we are here to facilitate and an able our assistance wherever possible. also, it reflects the will of the people. as you can imagine, the sense of confidence that will be generated to see, other than foreign troops on the ground nearby, they will see and interact with members of their own security force, in particular, in the first responders, the afghan national police, people they used to see
11:16 am
moving a monk's their communities, ready to be prepared to deport the afghan national police and execution of their responsibilities. i think it is important that they are now able to step up to the task that is before them. there are is no doubt that there are many challenges. we are aware that there is an active insurgency. but the reason i think it is critical that the afghan security forces are seen by their people as a critical response and pro-active circumstances put in place by their own agency to reassure them that they are a security -- that they are doing the best they can within their resource limitations. we recognize that that they have some way to secure -- develop.
11:17 am
we have been involved from the very beginning through a series of national and regional rehearsal activities to ensure that each of the agency's are in play. so that they are all aware of the challenges that would rise on the ground as we lead up to the elections and to have coordinated joint plans in place. i think it is a critical step in the development of both the afghan security forces, but also the country as a whole for the people to see and develop trust and confidence in their own security agency. >> what is your actual threat projection for election day? or what at this point do you anticipate for that day? my fault what is it now that you have had two suicide car bombs
11:18 am
in the past couple of days, what is your assessment of that? do you believe there is new capability on the part of the insurgent to manufacture and deployed the suicide car bombs? what do you think is going on? >> it has been a little bit difficult to take apart the threads of the threat. it is difficult to say what they are looking at doing, other than what might be in place as part of the overall insurgency campaign, but the indications are that the leadership has expressed a desire to interrupt and to discredit this process. the sorts of tactics we're seeing on the ground are typical of those which we have seen in
11:19 am
other parts of the country running up to the elections, but not necessarily related to them. this involves the use of information to intimidate, the use of propaganda, too much more murderous acts such as we have seen and as you describe that have occurred here in the last couple of days. i would like to point out that the source of threats are not unexpected. that is that we always look very carefully, along with the afghan partners, the source of threats which might materialize on the ground. the insurgents are often taken to offering up threats which are never followed through, but we're very careful to realize that on occasion they are able to demonstrate obscene acts of violence against not just the afghan security forces, but
11:20 am
critically against the own people. this is a measurement of the sort of character and ideology we're dealing with. there is no doubt a very difficult enemy. one that is prepared to inflict numerous injuries and deaths to promote his own political goals. if you take that to the next level of analysis, every vote cast, regardless of who they know it both for, is a personal statement against the taliban. so i think it is a very honorable and critical mission that we are undertaking in support of our afgani partners. we are seeking to assist the afghan security partners to defeat the threat. we hope to build upon the successes and carry forth those sorts of ideas beyond the
11:21 am
elections. the threat materializes in various ways and dynamic ways across the area, and those have been taken into account. we are never fully assured of what anyone will do. all that we can do is to do our very best working with afghan partners to provide the very best possible security posture in support of the afghan people and give them the confidence to take part in their political future. >> hope this is kevin theron from stars and stripes. -- this is kevin theron from stars and stripes. can you describe more the specifics of what does the rules amine? especially for the ground troops that have to be ready in case something happens. are they down the streets waiting in the vehicle's? how close are they?
11:22 am
how will this affect locals? on the same factor, there are reports of the taliban threatening to kill anyone with a purple thing there. -- with a purple finger. what is their reaction to this? do you have any indicators of what they might be doing on election day? >> certainly the source of threats that you have suggested along the lines of threatening to carry out actions against those clearly by showing the mark on his finger, the afghan people are probably becoming brasilia to this. the people have been subject to enormous hardships over a number of years. having said that, the threat
11:23 am
often materializes and brutal ways. we're doing everything we can to assist the people to gain a sense of community confidence so they can take part in this process. with regard to the arrangements i described earlier, what i will say is that afghan partners as the lead agency have a a big responsibility. this will be the afghan national police. they will be in close proximity to the polling locations themselves. within a reasonably short distance from the polling center it is intended that the afghan national army units will be there prominently.
11:24 am
they will be in a position to not only provide a sense of security in strength in the outer tier, but also prepared to move wherever they need to in support of their police colleagues should some incident arise. in courteney,-- importantly, isaf will be using a range of capabilities that the afghan do not necessarily have access to. for example a range of ground forces that are prepared to be able to move to either buy ground or by air quickly and responsibly to respond and assist the afghans in any incident that might occur. we have reversed this. it is interesting to see as the afghans go about their
11:25 am
business how enthusiastic they are. it has been very encouraging. it is very important to realize that they are very aggressive once on the ground to ensure they're doing the best mission they can. that is a good thing as well. with respect to our operations, of we will be monitoring what is going on from command centers and coronation control points throughout the country. -- in coordination control points throughout the country. iwe will have operation coordination centers. there is one in each reason -- region and one in each province. they are supported by a number of staff and isaf staff to
11:26 am
ensure that communications are in place and working well. if they are linked to the headquarters of the afghan military police here in kabul and also we have established communications to our command post here. i am confident that the operations we have worked through and the controls are in place are suitable to the task. also, we have done a number are regional and national according to the -- nationally coordinated rehearsals. the afghan ministers and the afghan leadership from the independent commission and other organizations are able to present their plans to raise series of fictitious and areas which might represent the sorts of threats which might materialize on the day. not only was this a sign of the state of maturing security
11:27 am
agencies, but it was also an opportunity for them to take part in a discussion with the ministers. the ministers of the department for who they work ultimately. and it is thought to reassure the ministers that there is a good deal of work under way. i would like to stress that we're never quite sure what will happen, but we do have a series of plans in place to be able to be pro-active in support of afghan partners and to allow them to present the security picture, which is imported for the community to work with them as they go forward and take part. it is an encouraging sign altogether. >> ha it is mike miller with cnn. -- it is mike miller with cnn. what is the percentage of the country you think is going to be able to vote?
11:28 am
and maybe i should rephrase it. how much of the country is in taliban hands where you do not think will be able to vote? and with the recent operations down south, in order to open up more sectors to voting, can you quantify it all? how much of that. do you think you have opened up to vote? and maybe total population or percentage of the country? >> ok. it is a great question because of course a number of polling centers that the iec that have declared that they intend to open is probably not the best measure. having said that, the advice we receive from the regional court commanders, the afghan security corps commanders on the ground, and our own commanders suggest that we're probably going to be
11:29 am
given reasonable access -- they will have reasonable access to about 85% to 90% of those that are registered to vote. most of the registered voters, we think about 15% -- 15 million to 17 million voters should be able to take part. we think we should be able to provide reasonable access to the 85% to 90% of the total number. this will be shaped by the attempts and committed the confidence that is built and held by the committee members themselves. in respect of that, in particular, as you indicated, operations in the south have gone a considerable way to enhance one of the key issues which we sought to address, that is to improve access to the polling sites. police report that the operations in the seven districts, in particular, have
11:30 am
in close coordination been able to open up a number of areas that would otherwise not have been able to take part in this process. this has allowed them to escape the insurgent threats and also with the officials able to register themselves as voters in the upcoming election, and be able to take part. that is a great news story. that is a direct result of the security operations which have been under way down south. they are also aimed at the insurgent threat so the population can become more normal and feel free from those threats which have existed for some time. the importance spinoff, when we are very interested to see, is that they are now able to take part in a process that without
11:31 am
the operations they would not have been able to be able to take part in. that is a very encouraging thing. >> i have two quick things. are you able to tell us what the number of afghan forces to include the police, how many of them are assigned to polling places and to election security? i heard 47,000 police. does that sound right? how many army? as your forces come across afghans who say they want to vote but i am afraid of the reprisal or anything against me, what do you tell them? >> i was struck by the response
11:32 am
by president cars are to that question -- president karzhar, and his response was it is up to the courageous afghan citizens to move forward in the face of the threat as they always have and take part in shaping the country. i think that is a pretty powerful statement. i think it would take residence with the local communities. i think it is important that you look at it from their perspective. the country has endured hardships that many of us would find hard to relate to or understand. they are wrote a brazilian people. -- they are a resilient people.
11:33 am
we have been able to take part in providing that kind of security environment for them. >> can you speak to the numbers quickly? how many afghan forces are dedicated to the election? >> i think the numbers you quoted will be about right. i would say they are fully committed to the task that is before them. that is the members of our across the inp are engaged fully in the task this year. as well as it is important to realize that not just the election security operations, which are the forefront of our planning at the moment, are the ongoing framework operations as we call them, those are the operations going on day and night to defeat the insurgency threats and to restore a sense of community confidence among the communities in separate this
11:34 am
groups from the threats of the insurgents as they go about their business. and there are different levels of operations under way. election security operation specific to targeting the threats along the lines of improving boater access to polling centers into reducing the effects of the intimidation tactics that we have described earlier among the insurgents and to encourage the afghan themselves to support and take part in the critical process. important also, we have worked very hard with afghan forces to bring forward the graduation of a number of the people from the graduation program that was planned for 2010 so that they
11:35 am
can graduate early, trained, and equipped and in locations to provide important elements of the security apparatus that is at play here. that is important that is being brought forward. they have done that very successfully. it is a measure of how keen the afghan security forces they are. to go before i start my question. -- >> before i start my question. we're still looking for qnumber specifically. what are the isaf's numberg? s? is there a more specific number on that? then i will get to my real question. >> ok.
11:36 am
i would reiterate the size -- we cannot give specific numbers and locations because it might be used by the enemies. they are fully committed to the task that is before them. an>> the afghan national securiy forces realize the importance of election day so they have pushed the number of to 92,000 soldiers throughout afghanistan in order to bring tighter security. when you add all the numbers, it is just sort of 300,000 troops on the ground to maintain the security of the election day. >> this is the real question.
11:37 am
my question. first, could you describe in a little bit more detail how the security will work for the afghans as they go to bill? will they be search? -- call will the security work for the afghans as they go to vote? will there be no movement on the roads almost that all? can you give us a picture so we have some idea, because at the moment it is abstract farrah's? >> ok, if you were to picture yourself as a member of the afghan community, then they would have already been aware and apprised of the polling
11:38 am
center locations. they are spread across the populated groups, populated areas, to ensure that everyone has a quite reasonable and easy access to the polling centers. they will be aware of where the polling center is located. they will move through the checkpoints as they get closer to the actual location. there will be a series of further checkpoints and procedures to reduce or mitigate against the risk of insurgents moving to close proximity of the polling centers, in particular what the security forces are looking for is evidence of suicide bombers or of course, any hidden or it perhaps weapons they might be carrying with them. and once they have gone through a series of checks, there are particular arrangements in
11:39 am
place for female voters, then it will be allowed to move into the polling centers. they will take part in the vote, and then have an approved exit and make their way out. that should be regarded as a series of an ongoing framework. obviously those sorts of incidents which occurred today, tragically, and also on saturday will probably cause a some citizens to have some concerns about moving board in taking part in the election. i think i would like to remind you all that this is a very hardy and brazilian people. there are quite used to hearing and seeing acts of violence. -- i think i would like to remind you all that this is a very hearty and brazilia resilit
11:40 am
people. it is all understood to be part of the effort by debt afghan security partners to is published -- to establish a sense of community confidence. i should also bring your attention to the point that the ministry of defence announced a couple of days ago an initiative which we fully support, and that was the election state initiative. the lead agency for security for the elections stated that there would be no offensive operations conducted on the day of the elections, other than that which are required to ensure protection of the population as they go about voting. they have been voted the isaf
11:41 am
security forces to support them in that regard, and we supported them willingly. we will maintain a low profile, but agile posture in support of the sentiments expressed by the ministry of defence to allow the people to move forward with an increased or enhanced sense of community property. the ball is now in the insurgents court. i think the response is on the part because of his track record. but the opportunity is there for the taliban and other insurgent groups to take up the sentiment expressed in the ministry of defence statement in supporting initiatives and let the people who take part in the democratic life. we look forward to seeing positive results from the initiative, and we support the government of afghanistan and the ministry of defence and that
11:42 am
initiative, and we hope it will bring good results for the people. of course, once the people have taken part in that process, then they will be joined by others who will be competent in the knowledge that they have taken part in the process that they are entitled to, free from intimidation, and moved the country forward in the right direction toward a developing democratic nation. >> last weely, can you give us a picture of where you face the biggest security challenges? and where are they under the most pressure, given the fact that in some of these places they have only recently seen international troops, literally only for the first time in a matter of weeks and there are still areas where there is no international presence? i guess what i am asking is, can you give us a little bit of
11:43 am
picture of where you see the real challenges? a commitment is one thing, actually providing security is another. at what point can you see the election is credible? what port predict what portion of the population can vote and safety -- what portion of the population can vote in safety? >> i think we should be guarded in seeking to further the enemies propaganda techniques. and the willingness to cause a civilian casualties'. there are certainly some areas
11:44 am
in the country which will not be able to take part in the process, because of the insurgent action. we have been working hard with the afghan partners to reduce the number and size of those sorts of locations. these are the areas that have been subject to taliban and other insurgent intimidation for some time. i think under the circumstances, they have to open up more polling centers, at and in cooperation with afghan partners, opened up areas particularly in the south where the taliban occupied is a great success story. there is a -- there was a suicide bomb and a murderous attack causing many injuries and some deaths.
11:45 am
that sort of thing is reprehensible by any standards. we need to be guarded by those sorts of actions. we demonstrated the capacity of that in some of the areas in kabul. we're doing everything we can to support afghan partners to present those rigid prevent those sorts of things from happening -- we are doing everything we can to support afghan partners to prevent these things from happening. although he can use the population to hide in disguise himself from easy detection, once he tries to coincide the attacker, the resources that he needs to have in place or rejects such as a suicide bomber, the appropriate opportunity and the target that he might be seeking to attack directly, if he tries to put those things in place it exposes himself.
11:46 am
they know everyone in these areas. if they see groups of people that do not belong there, they are very quickly to identify that as a likely threats. when he gets about activities he will in does expose himself to the sources of observation and intelligence that we have in place with our afghan partners to pick the threat of very early. -- the threat up very early. again, in any military operation or security operation, the enemy always gets a vote. we always worked hard to determine what sort of actions they might carry out on the ground.
11:47 am
we look to try to be proactive and prevent these things from occurring. tragically, despite best efforts, sometimes he is able to carry out those things we have seen in the last couple of days. >> thank you. this is for both of you. i understand you both went to war colleges and to discuss the tactics to have involved, but what i was curious about is how do you weigh where the actual -- you would have been advantageous bought it there was to be any violence. he would obviously want to keep them away from any roads, i would assume. >> i am sorry, i have missed the
11:48 am
question. he was talking about particular and the actions. i just miss of -- i just misunderstood the question. >> the polling sites. the polling sites themselves are picked by the independent election commission. this is their election. it is actually set up and run by the iec industry partners are responsible for the execution of the security. they added to the polling sites used in 2004 to get as many people a chance as possible to take part in the election. this is afghan decision. -- this is an afghan decision. they have issued a list to afghan security forces.
11:49 am
we have worked with them to improve information that relates to various sorts of details that they need to know, we have gone out and conducted reconnaissance on the ground to look at where the locations are. some of those we have had to add just because of enemy locations and the threat that the insurgents have against these places. some have been moved. it has been very much of a process that has been led by the afghan independent election committee and the afghan security forces have worked out security plans in order to support the security in each of those locations. the other thing that has been at play here is the number of people that live around those locations. other things we have done to support them is to advise them as to areas where we conduct
11:50 am
specific security operations where we could get new security. we work very hard to integrate the efforts of planning insecurity across the board, and as i said, even as the last couple of days, the final number of the polling centers will be determined by the security on the ground. as the iec becomes content with that advice, they will finalize the number and the last detail will be put in place to deliver the materials to the intended polling locations and also to conserve the afghan security force are arrangements on this front as to where they need to be at. we will be in position to support them in that activity. >> you said you are advisers,
11:51 am
but you also have the longest history and reverse knowledge, so how comfortable are they taking your advice, even though you are basically a third party? >> my personal experience is that they have been very willing and keen to take advice and assistance. certainly we have capabilities from the range of true -- contributing nations that they do not have yet, and probably are some time away from developing, but in terms of advice, it covers a spectrum of planning, short, medium, and long-term planning, coordination of activities on the ground, in particular those related to the security of the election, and
11:52 am
also sharing of information and intelligence. i think they are pretty keen to doing their best for the people and they seem to be doing a good job, but also to learn as much as they can. i was very impressed with their desire to talk and then having talked with the issues, settled on a plan and bring it to action very quickly. they are very keen to get about the job once the plan has been decided. we also have partners within every level. also, at the operational and that the technical level, we have troops with the appropriate experience to assist them in the considerations of the sorts of issues that may be at play, whether it be strategic
11:53 am
or operational levels. we're very careful to ensure that they are seen as the lead agency. after all, this is their country. this is their election. we're not going to be here forever, and we're going to be here for as long as they want us to be here in this regard. we are keen to support them, but we also are careful to make sure they are learning in developing as they go. not just for the election security, but overall it has been successful. they are keen to engage, but they will know things about their communities and they will be able to interact with them in a way that foreign troops could not do so respectively. it is important they take the lead, and we are in a position to support them.
11:54 am
we are learning just as much from them, as they are learning from us. it isn't -- it is an important relationship on both sides of the fence. >> what do you feel about one or two more questions? >> a share. -- sure. >> this is michael carton. you talk about how some regions in the country will have a higher percentage of voters, but just to give us more perspective, specifically in hellman what do you expect voter turnout to be, just to give us a perspective on the south and east? >> ok.
11:55 am
it is difficult to predict exactly on the day and measure the number of people who have the confidence you can come forward -- who will have the confidence to come forward. certainly it stands to reason that those people living in areas that have been subject to the most recent security operations will probably fall in one camp or the other pretty readily. they will either relish the opportunity to take part in normal activities, or they might fear that the presence of troops to remove the threat of the insurgents is such that maybe they do not feel secure given that there has been a sense of engagement and
11:56 am
activities involving troops and aircraft near the vicinity. i think it is important for them to take part in the activities and move out of their communities and take part in this process. i would think we're looking at and reports from our commanders down south would indicate that a good percentage are likely to turn out. i know you're looking for a specific figure, but it's hard to lay a finger on it. we will have access for about 85% of the registered voters. given the numbers people have taken part in registration, it is a pretty good sign that they're going to move up in mid -- and take part in the voting itself.
11:57 am
it will be hard to judge from this position, and the threats at each location can be viewed differently. the coordination that is in place is a big step forward to try to reassure them that is safe to come out and vote, but is up to the local population to get out and do the job. we will provide the security as best as we can to the afghan partners, but we are seeking to provide encouragement to the communities. the security is there. it is evident. take part in the electoral process. and also that you will be safe as you do so. >> thank you.
11:58 am
>> i will ask my question. and damian cantwell where are the 10% to 15% that will not be able to participate? what is your biggest security concern for election day, considering the nationally limited capability of the insurgents as outlined at the beginning of the briefing? finally, are you worried that the presence of the afghan national security forces in such numbers could be as much of an intimidating factor to some voters as you will help it be -- as you hope it will be a reassuring factor? >> those are good questions. what i will say is that those areas that we are not likely to see a strong turnout from the voters probably are in the areas
11:59 am
that have been held by the taliban for some time. in that regard, we're probably talking within hellman provinces. some areas east of the country and north and west. the truth is that it is difficult to predict exactly how much it -- how many will turn out on the day. i encouraged by the sense of community confidence that i have seen as we have moved through the country and taken part in some of the election security rehearsals. the report in the local media is pretty encouraging, despite the insurgents to do otherwise. the biggest threat is in the minds of the people themselves. they have to be convinced that this is their chance to shape their critical future. if you are looking for a sense
12:00 pm
of where the difficult predict most difficult challenge is, -- if you are looking for a sense of where the most difficult challenge is, it is in the minds of the people. that battle has to be rethought every day -- refought every day. . .
12:01 pm
given a chance to offer again to the people of afghanistan and elsewhere. it manifested in the most dangerous form and suicide bombing in populated areas. therefore, we're doing everything we can to try to mitigate against those risks to a physical check points and hard and infrastructures to protect the civilians. there are range of other activities encouraging the people to take part in this process as part of a larger community. we can bring the range of intelligence gathering and other activities that the afghan partners cannot necessarily do, at least at this point. that is where we're at right now. >> with the afghan security
12:02 pm
forces could be an intimidating presence rather than a reassuring presence? >> thank you. it is true it could be seen as a intimidating parliament. -- intimidating element. there is no doubt that those operations are all about providing content that may indeed be brought to a question as to have indicated. these are people who are used to seeing military forces and military operations and probably view those sorts of things in a way that we would struggle to identify with. they're quite used to seeing the nature of violence and war and conflict in this country, regrettably.
12:03 pm
that have gotten used to see the presence of the unsecured forces. we're working very hard to measure the afghan security forces are those who are the most in the day-to-day visibility of the community groups we're talking about. they should seek some confidence from knowing it is their security agency that are primarily responsible for security in a general sense, but in particular, for election day itself. we are making sure we have our forces ready where appropriate and necessary. the afghan security forces are what the afghans was to retreat on a day-to-day basis and they should be quite comfortable with those arrangements they see every day. >> thank you again for your time. we're closing in on the one hour mark, so we will close its appearance in the back tyranny closing remarks you would like to make.
12:04 pm
appearance. we're closing in on the one or more, so we would send it back to you for your closing remarks. >> to keep. i think the government national security forces [unintelligible] security is effective. most of the rest has been throughout the country in order to give a chance for the afghans to vote on election day. >> the closing remark i would like to make is along the lines of a strategy. they're seeking to defeat the insurgents. we are seeking to remove the threat of the insurgents from the population.
12:05 pm
this afghan election is an opportunity for the next evolution of that tactic. that is, an opportunity for the population to remove themselves from the threat of the afghans -- i should say, of the insurgents. we're doing everything we can to support them in that endeavor and a working hard with the afghan partners is a leap forward in the security arrangements we have in place for the elections and beyond. and as a separate themselves from the insurgent risk, we're doing everything we can within -- to assist them in that goal. thank you for your questions. >> we will be live here on c- span at 3:00 p.m. eastern with a look at the role of state government and disaster
12:06 pm
response. you hear from the president of the national emergency management association. book tv primetime continues this week at 8:00 eastern. doug stanton who wrote horse soldiers. >> how c-span funded? >> i don't know. i think some is government. >> it is not public funding. >> probably donations. >> i want to say from me, my tax dollars. >> america's cable companies created c-span as a public service, a private business initiative, no government mandate, no government money.
12:07 pm
>> maryland congressman elijah cummings recently told a town hall about veterans' issues. veterans of wars from vietnam to iraq speak about their problems and concerns. issues include health care, employment in readjusting to society after military service. this is about 1.5 hours. >> designed to provide veterans in need with comprehensive services that will enable them to rejoin the communities as productive citizens. so on behalf of the border directors, staff and students, we want to welcome our special guests to our program. to take a little bit about congressman cummings, the congressman was born and raised in baltimore, maryland were he still resides today. he obtained his bachelor's degree in political science from harvard university, serving as a student government president and
12:08 pm
graduating phi beta kappa and graduating with honors from law school. he has dedicated his life of service to uplifting and empowering the people he has grown to represent -- sworn to represent. he began in the maryland house of delegates were he served for 16 years and became the first african-american in maryland history to be named speaker pro tem. he was first sworn in as a member of the u.s. house of representatives in 1996. congressman cummings is in his eighth term representing maryland seventh district. he austin says our children are living messages that we send a future which we will never see. that meaning he is content -- committed to ensuring our next generation has success to quality of care, education,
12:09 pm
fresh air and water, and a strong economic -- economy the fun by physical responsibility. congressman coming is a senior member of the house committee on transportation and infrastructure were he serves as chairman of the subcommittee on coast guard and maritime transportation he is also a senior member of the house committee oversight and government reform. he sits on both the subcommittees of domestic policy and federal work force, post office and district of columbia. in addition to serving on these committees, congressman cummings is a member of the joint economic committee and the house task force on health-care reform. his a former chairman and current member of the congressional black caucus and a co-founder and current member of the congressional caucus on drug policy. his also a member of the
12:10 pm
progressive for security and get out of iraq caucus. so you see, congressman cummings is a busy man. i would rather have my job instead of his. [laughter] we certainly want to welcome you. [applause] >> good evening, everyone. come on, we can do better than that. >> good evening, sir. >> you got me that time. i want to first of all thank you for your kind words of introduction. thank you to all of you for what you've done to our country. so often it is said that our veterans seem as if there and
12:11 pm
seeing, unnoticed, unappreciated, and applauded. i have just come by here on behalf of a grateful nation and a grateful congress to say thank you for giving so much so that we can continue to live the lives that we lived. if you do not mind, give yourself a hand. [applause] before we begin, please come and join me in showing our appreciation to the wonderful veteran choir for their aspiring kickoff for our program. since i was to the last time, they got some robes. i remember those. did they have those? they broke out in the ropes, i said, who is this? give them a hand, they are wonderful. [applause]
12:12 pm
allow me to begin this by thanking you for coming out. it makes me feel good. it is one thing when it a town hall meeting in a few people show, but i know every time i have come here, and i've been here several times, i was promised to come back and i keep coming back. every time i have come here we have always had a good audience, a large audience. we really have every seat filled. thank you. i might as well do like they do in church, if you have a seat beside you, would you raise your hand so some of the folks who may want to sit down might have an opportunity? these are empty seats,. we will be going for about an hour. if you may want to try to find a seat. i recall for you president obama's inside about what america owes to you in return. he said warm words of thanks are
12:13 pm
more than warranted. but not nearly enough my friends come the of served our country and fought to preserve our liberties. now's the time for the nation to help you. you have earned health care and the other benefits that your promised. this much is very, very clear. what all of us in this room also understand, however, is that america has a long way to go before we can mark our promise to you paid in full. we must do better and we can do better and i think our president and congress are saying we will do better. carnation -- our nation's honor and security are at stake. this is the main reason i returned this afternoon. i stopped by to report on some progress that we're making in washington, keeping our promises to you. many of the things that we have
12:14 pm
worked on actually came out of meetings in concerns that you have had in meetings that expressed to me, and meetings we have had in the past. it is basically my job to try to take those concerns back to the congress and the age of voiceprint it is not enough for you just to hear from me. -- in be a voice. it is not enough free just to hear from me. many of you have seen some real good things work like this center. we need to know about those, too, so we can occur to other centers of this nature to be established throughout these united states. i've brought some friends along because i know you may have some questions that the experts in the area might very well be able to answer, even better than i could. they're dealing with these issues every day. i want to introduce them now for you trip first of all, start with dr. george who is the
12:15 pm
director of our regional va office located right here in baltimore. please give him a hand. [applause] we also have mr. sanford garfunkel who is the regional director for veterans integrated service network 5 which serves both maryland and west virginia. give him a hand please. [applause] we have mr. dennis smith who is the medical director for the va maryland health care system and i told him when there was an issue that came up about -- in philadelphia with three guards to prostate cancer. any of you hear about that? there were some issues. i was just telling them as a few minutes ago that as soon as i
12:16 pm
heard about it, is a matter of fact i read about it at 4:00 thursday morning, and i was in his ear to make sure those things were not happening in baltimore by the time it got to the office. when we checked it out, we were told that baltimore has one of the best va medical systems in the country. i want to give him a hand. [applause] ms. angela nash who is director of the baltimore national cemetery complex is here to help you, to assure you that your families -- to make sure families are not unduly burden in the future. will we find is that many times upon the death of a veteran, we here -- we get the calls to try to straighten out situations so the family to address the issues
12:17 pm
that need to be addressed at hand. they need those addressed in a very compassionate and speedy way. we're glad you been able to bid join us. give her a hand. [applause] we finally have on the end joanne johnson who is a team leader of the baltimore veterans center in chester talk to about your mental health benefits. -- and she is to talk to you by your mental health benefits. differ a hand. [applause] i weighed understand what we're going to do is we're going -- i will make a brief presentation and then we will have your questions. all of us will join in together to try our best to answer those questions. there may be some things that are very personal and
12:18 pm
inappropriate -- you might not want your business all-out in the street, as they say. basically, you'll have a chance to meet with the folks. they will stick around. if you have a matter that deals with ute and specifically for you and your situation, you can separate ourselves and have them -- you can address them. i will ask you to please hold it interested in a more one-on-one way. i hope he will respect that. my friends, you have taken apart step by coming here. it takes the entire community to help a veteran heal. veterans, office every day. many of you have called my office. sometimes the obstacle is money.
12:19 pm
other times bureaucracy and other human limitations make it in the way of getting the job done. i've not forgotten the ultimate responsibility we all have for our own lives. whatever obstacles that you may face or you may have faced in the past, our objective now must be to get the job done. that is why we're here today as a committee to learn as well as to inform each other. i will take just a few moments and report on progress and we will have your questions. our experts will answer your questions. i realize several obstacles can stand in the wake of veterans receiving the benefits that you have been promised. at the core, the veteran affairs must be provided with the resources it needs to do the job.
12:20 pm
with the va expected to reach -- to treat 5.8 million patients in the coming years, including more than 220,000, iraq and afghanistan veterans, congress has made it a priority to fund health care and benefits that they were promised and that they deserve. we must do that. we have no choice but to do that. if we can send our men, women like you here to war, not only must we make sure that you're taken care of while your there, but we must take care of you when you come back. that is our commitment. we have to make sure that happens. [applause] i mean this with every fiber that i have in my body. we must do everything in our power to make you whole as we
12:21 pm
possibly can. i have talked to many of you. i have listened to your pain. i think that -- it is one thing to have the resources. we have to marry the resources with the person so that you can get done what you have to get done. i was very gratified with the largest funding increase for veterans ever enacted was requested by the president and approved by the congress this year. the house appropriations bill 3082 provided a path to restoring and revitalizing the services offered to veterans by adding $14.5 billion in the 2010 budget. in addition, the stimulus and stimulus -- supplemental bills added more in 2009. it is to improve the minutes of the va medical facilities, construction of veterans
12:22 pm
extended care facilities, and the repair of veterans cemeteries. almost as important as the overall funding increase is the certainty with which these funds will be provided. a top priority for veterans groups and for me has been to reform the funding process that resulted in 19 late va budgets during the last 22 years. that is not right. this year we got the job done. we passed hr1016, the veterans' health care budget and transparency act of 2009 to provide advanced funding for medical related accounts for the next fiscal year. this legislation is a historic reform that will in particular the veterans receive in the future. we know that via a operations benefit from advanced notice regarding resource allocations. last-minute funding has
12:23 pm
threatened the quality of care because it hindered the va's ability to recruit well trained medical professionals, maintain operational facilities and acquire new equipment. i am sure dennis smith can attest to that. he has hired people to be in the hospital for the medical facilities to be a treat folks coming in. unless he has some kind of notice of what kind of money he is working with, that is a major problem. the people may arrive, but the money is not moving as fast as the people are. what do you have? you have a problem. thank god dennis is the kind of the minister who has been able to work around that. now the federal government has provided the va would assured source of funding to be the growing demand. the via a maryland health care system is responsible for providing care to hundreds of thousands of maryland veterans.
12:24 pm
i also note that according to the va center for veterans -- minority veterans proximal comprise 15% of all the americans that have served. the va's mission is to care for those who have borne the battle come to honor those who have worn the uniform of providing them the highest quality health care and benefits possible. however, the mission can only be accomplished when veterans know the full range of services that are available to you. my mother used to have a saying, nothing like a person who don't know what they don't know. that is so true. many times there are things that are available to us, but if we don't know about them, i mean, they cannot do was very much good. that is one of the things i would ask you. just a small favor you can do for your congressman and offer us, and to learn about things today, pass the word on to people that may not be here.
12:25 pm
people that you know may be going through things. that is very, very important that me pause here to give you a commercial. on september 12, we will be doing what we call a foreclosure prevention seminar in workshop at the high school from 9:00 until 3:00. many of you have called and said you're worried about losing your homes. this is separate from today, but a way to know about it. we had one on june 6 and we're probably able to help 500-600 people stay in their homes. if you're worried about whether or not you can make your mortgage payments or you find yourself right there in foreclosure, i want you to give us a call. i want you to give us a call. make sure -- all these folks are on my staff. let us know what you're going through and we will have
12:26 pm
someone do with those issues for you immediately. the last thing i want you to do is sit around and wait and hope in the next thing you know you're sitting out -- to come home and all of your stuff is fun for front lawn. -- you come home and all of your stuff is sitting on your front lawn. please, pass the word. do not wait. do not let shame be your enemy. hello? do not let your shame be your shame if your enemy. to many people are worried about being embarrassed. there are many people who are going to difficult times today. foreclosure prevention, september 12. in the meantime, we want to know about it right now if you're going through something. basically, we put the lender together with the borrower. you actually sit down and try to work it out, reduce your payments or whatever.
12:27 pm
i'm almost finished then we will get to some questions. we must do better about reaching out to veterans to and from about the resources that are available. one of the reasons for the question and answer session that we will be having in just a few minutes is to give you the opportunity to help the va to a better job helping you receive the care you need. we're basically trying to find out what it is that you need and we want to find out what we can do better to try to address your needs. can i tell you a secret? it is your tax dollars. these are your tax dollars that allow this to happen so we want to make sure they're being spent in an effective manner to benefit you and your families. before a move on to other items, let's take a moment to comment on the backlog of complaints. of concern about this. i do not sit on the veterans
12:28 pm
affairs committee, but i attention to what the committee is doing because we have so many veterans. there's a subcommittee and disability assistance and memorial affairs that has a hearing of -- a series of hearings regarding the backlog. how many of you have been waiting a long time for a disability claim? that is quite a few. during june 9 hearing which question if the va has managed 1 million claims, a panelist had this to say. he said "we can and we must because we cannot fill those who have never failed us." that is a hell of a ". we must do far more to address the 396,000 backlog in veteran'' claims and 177 day average wait for veterans access benefits
12:29 pm
they have earned. that is very important. you have earned. that is what the congress has provided the funding to add some 7100 new v-8 klain processors. we feel very good about that. -- va claim processors. we feel very good about that. the president talks about the urgency of now. if someone is going to difficulty or is suffering, they do not have time to wait. it could literally almost destroy them if not destroy them. we hope the 7100 new folks added to the ranks to try out to process these claims, we will get that back log thedown very soon. to get the job done, the va must be candid in telling us what they need to develop a solution that would adjudicate claims quickly and accurately. we in congress must also be open
12:30 pm
to the ideas of the veterans like ourselves to present in the forums like this. it is important know what you're going through. this much is clear to me, however, veterans and their families should no longer have to put their lives on hold while waiting for the much-needed assistance they deserve. veterans did not put their lives on hold. they went and did the job for us. we need to return the favor by doing the job for you. you got on an airplane, when over there and do we have to do, and now when you served come usurped without hesitation and did we have to do to. it is not our duty to do our part. -- now it is our duty to do our part.
12:31 pm
allow me to say a few words about homelessness that too many veterans face and the jobs and need to create. on my way here few minutes ago, i saw a fellow up the street. he had a t-shirt that said, veteran, and a little army cap on. he was over by the church in the post office. anybody familiar? anybody familiar? i tell you, i felt something. obviously, he was a veteran. obviously, he was going through some help. i know far too many veterans are having difficulty with housing. when you do not have a house, what does that lead to? almost as.
12:32 pm
-- homelessness. the number of homeless veterans is a national disgrace. we know that long-term housing, dental, medical, and health care are central to rehabilitation of the homeless. in 1993, the va launched a community, is this assessment local education and networking fund. how many of you are familiar with that? let me tell you about it. challenge is a program designed to enhance continuance of services and the regional office and surrounding agencies. in other words, taking the local folks, working with veterans, making sure that they get the services with regard to those who might be homeless. the guiding principle behind the project is that the va should work closely with local community to identify needed
12:33 pm
services and deliver the full spectrum required to help veterans reach their potential. homeless veterans reintegration of 2009 required the be 8 to provide comprehensive services to prevent veterans homelessness. this also authorizes the reintegration program through 2014, which provides grants for job training, counseling, and child care. how many of you are looking for jobs? how many of you do not have a job right now? you seem like the same people. about same number.
12:34 pm
we expect information on how well the program is working. the challenge of jobs, we know that a central issue to ending homelessness is a good job. a lot of people did not realize how important a job is. a job is important. when i was practicing law, i practiced for many years, and a lot of domestic problems were there. they had to do with somebody not being able to have a job. the couple did not know that was a problem, but it was underlying everything, and most folks, men and women, want to work. they want to contribute, and my right? correct me if i'm wrong. most men and women want to work. they want to contribute to their family. not to have a nice lifestyle. they want to be productive.
12:35 pm
particularly, i would imagine, folks that have been veterans, is probably even more special you contribute, because you have already contributed substantially. obtaining additional trading is the best course to a job, but let me not kid you. we're going through difficult times right now, and you probably know it. i stood on the oversight government reform committee where we investigated how we got into this mess. let me summarize really quickly, because i do not want to get off, it was about greed, dishonesty, about people letting other people down and not giving a hoot about all of us, but about themselves. we will deal with that. in the meantime, the economy for the entire world almost has come
12:36 pm
down. ladies and gentlemen, let me say this. you know it better than anybody else. this is a great country. you know this is a great country because of the greatness of the country, we will get through this economically. the question is, not whether we can get through it, the question is, how will we be standing when the sun comes up? that is the question. will we still have our house? will we have a job? will the company work force still be in existence? will our child have been able to go to college? will we still be married? what questions and with all of
12:37 pm
these economic issues. a lot of pressure. all i'm saying, part of why we are here today is we're trying to make sure that the benefits that usa has paid for, that you are paying for, that you know about them and that we're able to hook you up with the benefits. because this is bigger than you. and you know it. this is about your dignity. that is what this is about. i am almost finished. i do not want to get too riled up here.
12:38 pm
one of the things that made me so mad, i will never forget when we went to walter reed a few years ago and i was part of the initial group that went there and saw our veterans who had come back from iraq sitting for days, sometimes months with nobody to care for them and guide them. that is just not right. so anyway, let me say, i hope you'll take advantage of this, what we call it post-9/11 gi bill. it allows veterans to receive college education benefits. i know that college is not for everybody. some people say, i've had enough education. i'm not going to college. that is fine. but there are people in this
12:39 pm
room right now who would make a great teacher. who would make a great medical person. who have the compassion, and i am begging you to take advantage of these benefits. as far of -- we have in it -- just listen to me. i beg you, please, please, do not mistake a comma for a period. please. listen to me. you all bring something to the table and a lot of people do not bring. you have been faced with danger. you have been faced with difficult circumstances. and we need your experiences combined with education.
12:40 pm
we need you. how much will we have to do to see these kinds of men in those positions? we are trying to do positive things. am i right? this post-9/11i bill began august 1, august 1. it allowed veterans to achieve a college education, up to four years of benefits, including statements for housing and books. you cannot beat that. another program wanted to mention is the recovery act.
12:41 pm
the president is funding the most pressing infrastructure needs of the va. our goal was to fund projects to create tens of thousands of new jobs, and we also wanted to take another step in keeping our promises, like a tax credit for businesses hiring unemployed veterans. so, we have got to get our economy back functioning because we have mechanisms that will help if people are hiring. but you have to make sure they are hiring. people receiving unemployment benefits for more than four weeks before they were hired. we also provided a stimulus payment of $250 to all disabled veterans receiving va compensation. how many of you got that?
12:42 pm
the va is looking at a problem with its initiative, vrne carried it is designed to work with coming home to work. it is supposed to help service- connected veterans to achieve their employment and independent living goals as a result of growing demand. the va outsourced the services to contractors. however, the va now says its contract was cancelled as of july 20, 2009, 10 days ago, because of a contractor's failure to meet performance standards. are you familiar? as a result, hundreds of
12:43 pm
veterans in need of rehabilitation art trying to receive the services they desperately deserved. it insures that new contractors are capable providing services for veterans. i intend to work with them to assure that we succeed as fast as we possibly can and we go forward with the urgency of now. if there's one word that my staff will hear me say over and over again, it is urgent. deal with this urgently. we can not get caught in a culture of mediocrity when it comes to you. now it is time for my experts to join me. i will introduce them again. dr. george, director of the
12:44 pm
regional va office, mr. sanford garfunkel is the regional director for integrated service. dennis smith, medical director for va maryland health care system, and the director of the cemetery complex. and she will go to the side and do whatever you can to address your problems. people have come to me and called me, and i see some of you in the audience. i want you to listen to me carefully. ladies and gentlemen, we have one life to live. did you hear me? this is it. this is it.
12:45 pm
this is it right here. and this is no dress rehearsal. @@@@@@@@@ @ @ @ congressman, something is going on in my head, man. and i don't understand it. i am ashamed to get help for it. in other words, they feel like they're going to something mentally. they say, i am not the man i used to be. i hear that over and over again. and they worry that if they revealed it, people are going to say, uh-oh, that boy is not right. you know. what i am saying, listen to me carefully, it is selling portent that we try to address these problems -- it is so important we try to address these problems. if you have some of those
12:46 pm
issues, we will try to keep the information confidential but get the help you need. , and if you listen to a program, there were so many women that came on that program and talked about the men in their lives who were just phenomenal. great man. strongmen. they said that they wished they would have just gotten some help. they were so ashamed. i thought, here -- i have not come here to ask you to get help. i am begging you to get help. it is bigger than you. it is bigger than you. you did not ask for whatever you
12:47 pm
may be going through. you gave. now we have to give back to you. again, if you have those kind of concerns, but addressed and so we can do everything in our power, because we need you. we need you. we need you being the best that you can be. so we're going to open it up for questions right now. i have my panelists. if we could get started now. questions. [applause] there is a microphone right here. why don't you all come up? by the way, this is on c-span. it is not live, but they will be taping it. i want you to be brief with your questions, and do not forget, if you have a personal thing, let's
12:48 pm
deal with it on the side. thank you. >> in 1971, i done to tours in vietnam. i had symptoms of post-traumatic stress. i did not know. guys started out with a group for veterans in 1971, and i attended the group. i did not know. i got worse, and that group was not going to help me, so i disappeared for three years and was isolated. it was not until 1990 i was first diagnosed. i have been on medication since then. i file claims five times for ptsd. i recently went with my records from north carolina in which i
12:49 pm
was diagnosed as chronic, and i asked the service of the search, well, if i m chronic, why have on my claims been approved? their response to me was that the va does not know where i got it from. i filed again, even with the board of veterans review, but my own records somehow disappeared. that was in 2000. >> ok. we are going to work with you and try to figure that out. >> thank you. >> you might be prepared to come up to the microphone. c-span needs to be able to do
12:50 pm
what they are doing. >> hello. i had something similar to him, but mine is totally different. i was on two services, but they have no record of me. but they give me a paper. but i get medical care here. my question, i have a good primary physician, but it takes two months to three months to see him. >>, appear. >> c-span, you need this, right? you need this. talking to these mikes.
12:51 pm
>> we do see walking in emergencies the day they happen. so please contact us and we will get it sorted out. thank you. >> did you see what just happened? that is why we are here. that is what we are here. do you see how he raised the issues? he did not have to. it is personal business. but let's knock several birds out with one stone. if you have a similar issue, like mr. hamilton's, she is the
12:52 pm
lady you are going to see as soon as you are finished. so if you have a similar issue, you do not have to come repeated. i appreciate it, but that is not the way we will handle that. >> this is for the director. i recently completed a tour of iraq and i received a dislocated jaw. at the time, there was no pain or discomfort. but when i came home, i started noticing i was having problems with my jaw at night, things like that. when i went to the va to go to the doctor, and i actually got to see the dentist, i almost got a place to put in my mouth, but then they said 180 days was up and i did not qualify and they could not give me services. and i was trying to figure out
12:53 pm
why -- i mean, because i did not do that dental peace within 180 days, i did not have anything wrong with my job then, it was not until later on, but now i get to running around to get dental work i need for my job. >> i did not understand exactly the issue. what we have to do is get details. but i thought they changed that. they did not? because you present yourself within 180 days, we should be able to work with you. we will work with you. we will work it out. >> to all of you, what we are going to do is -- i have a great staff, and i want you, and i have no doubt that dennis smith will do what he said he is going
12:54 pm
to do, but -- [laughter] if you do not receive satisfaction, get a hold of us. these things are urgent. you have got to be able to -- your mouth as important. you have got to be able to do things. like to chew. [laughter] yes, sir? >> what i'm going to address this, i have heard a lot of what you said and talk about, and i am all for it, but there is a lot of us out here that were left out five years ago, 10 years ago.
12:55 pm
when i got out of the service, i had a good job. i've worked a good job. but then my disability allowed me not to be able to work my job, and they said i was not eligible. just because i'm being persecuted, just because i did not need your help before, you will shut me off now? you sit down and say, we cannot help you. there are many of us here who observed, and all we get from you is, what can we do? we only help the young. what is this? it did not take me long to get down there, to get shot, to lose my eye.
12:56 pm
[applause] help us. do not forget us. >> i was talking about afghanistan and iraq, and i had to change that, because some of you all -- [laughter] first of all, do you want to deal with that, and then i want to address it from a congressional standpoint. but me say, i agree with you 1 million%. i've back to figure out how to make that happen. >> i think what we need to do is sit down with you and see what we can do with regard to your job search. i cannot change regulations or the eliminating. . you are talking about roles and regulations. but there are still resources
12:57 pm
available at the vienna -- va, and counselors to help you with your job search. why not understand what you're trying to say? >> i had my own business in home improvement. i would like to do rehabilitation location, but you have a 12-year stop on it. i cannot do my own thing anymore. >> let me just say this. that is something -- i want to thank you for bringing that up, because i was thinking about this earlier. we have to take a look at that. what you said is that there are
12:58 pm
sets of circumstances which put veterans who have been away from service for more than 12 years in just a bad a spot or worse as somebody who just came back from iraq or afghanistan. got that. got that. now, we will work on that. i will do my part. i will do what i can. the other thing is that in our stimulus bill, there is money for retraining. i'm not so much concerned about the retraining. i want you to have a job. listen up. our office will try to work with you along with these folks to get that training. but the military peace, we will have to revisit that. in the meantime, you have to survive. i understand. i do not know whether you have children or a family, but they have got to survive with you, we
12:59 pm
cannot let you fall. so they will work with you, and he will work with you, and other people falling in that category will work with you. crystal, raise your hand. she deals with those issues. she will also -- do you have cards year? she will work with you. but we also have to have a long- term solution. by the way, what you said about the 12-year thing is apparently something veterans are going through throughout the country. so coming here and even saying that will hopefully bring change that will benefit not only you but other people. >> would you make yourself available to sit and talk with a counselor so we could consider available to sit and talk with a counselor so we could consider


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on