tv U.S. House of Representatives CSPAN March 18, 2011 1:00pm-6:30pm EDT
comparing it to one of the few points of reference that we could find. we found in 2009, over $1 trillion that failed to be reported or had been improperly reported. that is a huge problem. the government will tell you that the systems used by agencies are fine. the systems that trigger uses are fine and the budget is where the decisions are made anyway. the important data set that is used for oversight and -- by the government and public is not good enough to be used. there are efforts under way to correct the problem. it is a good example about how there it is a lot of excitement around usaspending.gov, but the data has been unusable since the 1970's. the systems we use to track tax
expenditures are worse. no one bothers to go back and check whether the estimates issued are correct after the numbers come in to the irs. the two systems used to track our never reconciled with one another. legislative information is still a rite of passage for technologists like myself. at this point, congress is making positive improvements but it is still difficult to work with. we never have access to the source data. we want the files that are the base line ingredients used to draft legislation. we can see them in the pdf's released but it cannot get the actual files. one more step back. i want to make sure i take care of all branches of government.
there is the judiciary. it is another example of the government not taking its own data responsibilities seriously. what it collects, it is good at disturbing. that should be applauded. we need to look to the older systems and make sure there working right. we need to think about serious reform in the cases where they reflect old technologies and bureaucracies that are not relevant anymore. an important step to achieving that will be for the administration to commit its agencies to conducting a thorough audit of the data that they collect. until we do that, it will not be possible to talk about the high set of data. >> we're already getting questions. sheila, you also have a long history with the use of government data. tell us about how your organization uses data.
presuming you may have experienced some problems with government data along the way, talk about those concerns and problems and how you think the government should address them. >> we track money and politics and elite influence of the federal level. we have download and process data on campaign contributions, pacs, individuals, lobbying expenditures, personal financial disclosures, and increasingly the outside spending going on. we'd have long wanted to standardize them by industry and group. we classify them by industry and classified by organizations to aggregate them and create summaries on openthegovernment.org.
we slice and dice them to answer questions people throw at us. the hope is that by putting it out there, we're making it ineligible for the average citizen, voter, activist, the press. the press has been our primary target for the nearly 30 years we have been in business. we want to go beyond that to take the information to the consumer and voter more directly. we have gone open with our data. with the help of the sunlight foundation, we have provided this for anyone to grasp and create their own matchups and tools using our data. that is who we are, why we are here, where we have been, and where we are heading. as far as the government, there have been problems large and small. there have been problems with all the data we have used.
some of the problems are asinine. in this -- it is inexcusable that congress has gotten away with filing on paper with most people moving to online filing. the government is going in the right direction on increasing access to public data, but it is sometimes a one step forward two step back process. the senate has released all of their lobbying data. that was fantastic. of the same time, they withdrew some information that had been available to us before. we would like to see reporting requirements expanded so that we can see not just to the lobbyist has visited -- rather not just the agencies they
visited. there reportedly lobbied the house or senate. we want them to specify which offices they are contacting. accessing the data already collected should be a no- brainer. members of congress and published republic officials report that they have invested in certain holdings. there is a big difference in knowing someone has invested in and around -- in enron to the tune of $1 million or $1 billion. these changes are not good enough. the senate is dragging its feet on disclosures. we can now see the personal finances online for the house. we can take the data and make it accessible, but we do not have access to the senate filings. we have to physically go to
capitol hill and purchase the public records page by page at 20 cents a page. it costs us hundreds of dollars. it is inaccessible to most americans. is there data that they do not have access to. it is unacceptable. and it reports should also be available on-line. -- candidate reports should also be available on-line. many people call us and ask why we do not provide the information for candidates. voters should know if candidates are hiding assets in specific holdings and whether they are able to manage their own personal finances. another problem is the only file once a year. that is unacceptable. we do not have the information if someone is treating a holding at a key time around a vote. they may have inside information to members of congress are privy to. we will not know about it until long after the fact. the principal challenge we face
was one we did not expect the government to play a role in solving. to abrogate the data, we need unique identifiers for entities and individuals. the government does not provide that. many doubt that they could or should because of fears about the identity theft and privacy issues. we do this work to tie donors together. we track. -child relationships across organizations. we are already doing the work. there is consensus among many that the government should be helping to provide these identifiers so that citizens and developers can mash of government data sets more easily. we are sifting through millions of records each cycle. we are finding errors and
notifying the agencies about problems in their data. but opening access to more actors, we have an incentive and opportunity to improve the data for all of us. the government should make it easier for those who have expertise to give feedback to them and incorporate that into the public record. >> thank you. jennifer, a colleague at propublica has called a data dumper. you have a strong history in the use of data including teaching other reporters have to use it to do their investigations. what have you learned from that experience? what advice would you have for the government? [laughter] >> this is from my perspective as a journalist and using government data. a lot of us agree with what tom
said. there is a lot to be commended on the efforts to make data more available. but a lot more needs to be done. me personally, pretty pie charts do not help me do my job. i want the actual data. for many years, i have been told that the database is too complicated for me. a lot of journalists have the capacity to use the data. propublica, we analyze the large datasets and make it available to local reporters to do not have the capacity for that. propublica is a non-profit based in new york city. we want to do more investigative reporting and help news organizations that cannot do that. we're hopefully providing tools for people to do that. every data set we get in have a
consistent set of problems with inconsistent name spellings, in possible values in fields. we have a set of standard integrity checks we do to work with the data. one project we do every quarter is building a recovery tracker database because the data on recovery.gov does not give information on a local reporter could use or give a complete picture. the date it does not include a lot of other spending that were not jobs projects in the stimulus. that has to come from usaspending.gov. counties are not included in the data. we have to include that. if you are covering a local county, if you want to know how much your county got. we do things like that.
i am glad to hear what you are working on time. it sounds very exciting. one project we did earlier this year was a dialysis tool for folks to find out about the dialysis centers where they live. there is a sight that tracks dialysis centers, but there are few variables. after two years, a request was put in. we waited and got the complete dialysis tracking data set and were able to put the data up so that folks could find the best dialysis facility where they live. i think data.gov is a great effort. when i have gone in and tried to figure out the high-value data set, i have one little example of why things are not always super useful.
if you search for the national endowment for the arts, there is one data set that is the survey of what people think about the arts. it was their two days ago when i checked. one thing journalists is interested in is to got the money. that is on the website in a not standardized format. it is hard to get into a database to analyze. i would consider that to be a high-value data set. i do not really care about what people think about the arts. i want to know anything that is inspected, spent, in force, or licensed. that is the information i want. that is the information that the public wants. to have it in a straight format makes it easy. almost anyone can open up a pse
file. a lot of the barriers we had before the opening text files are not there now. it is not just putting the data there, but also explaining how it was gathered. include a copy of the form that is used to gather the information. that is always helpful. some other things that agencies do that has been helpful to me over the years is a tool that tracks the quality of debt that they get from states. when i was a reporter writing about truck accidents in texas, it was very helpful because they would tell me that certain categories were not up to the quality standards they needed. i could be aware of that as far as trying to get data from my state. that was very helpful. someone on the panel said
something about allowing people to complain about the data. are really interested -- we are really interested in the rows and columns of data on things that are important to keeping agencies accountable. one thing that bothers me -- i know there are fewer and legacy systems down. it is expensive or cumbersome to make the data set available while redacting private information. i would hope there would be an effort on any new data base design to make it so it is set up too easily redact that private information. occasionally, we will have a data set where people's names are hidden in the comment fields. that takes hours of going through it. no data base should be designed without flaw -- with that law.
things should be set up so they can be easily withheld. >> i am going to turn it back over to todd. i asked him to address some of the concerns. he has done these elaborate diagrams. [laughter] >> i will try to track my own notes. this is phenomenally helpful feedback. i am brand new to the movement. they had me at "hello." the folks on the panel and others made this possible for fighting -- by fighting for this for so long. i want to help make the most of this moment. this is incredibly useful feedback.
tim o'reilly provided a huge amount of dna for us. one of his fundamental principles is that if your a data supplier, the most valuable thing you can do is go to talk to people. one thing you really want to do is get a much more systematic and continuous conversation going between the date at suppliers. we get incredible feedback about what to do. if you could get on to the forms and start threads and encourage friends to do it, that would be incredibly helpful. i promise you that people are watching. we need the feedback so that we know where we're going to take our stuff going forward. dialogue is very important.
we would love for that to be a robust conversation on an ongoing basis. we are huge fans of rock actual data. there have been a lot of people in hhs who say people cannot handle it. we are really pushing wrong, actual data. ,- we're really pushing the raw actual data. the government will not be the best how to present it. the government cannot possibly think of all the uses for it. there are some who can take the data and force multiplied its power. they do not work for anyone. the data is really important. i want to give a couple of examples to illustrate this. one of his other principles is
to make the data find people where they already are. a search engine recently took data and integrating it into the search. you can type in hospitals and it pulls up patients ratings with the state averages. you can get the day that served to you at the moment when it is useful. there 20 extra uses for the date of their own. that is super awesome. you can take the day that the taxpayers have paid for and put it out there. tim o'reilly talks about platform uses. there are a lot of people out there who have built platforms and websites and programs with hundreds of people using them. as opposed to having the data delivered, have the day that in
effect -- infect those platforms in a good way. the data can be homegrown. there is this really neat new app that was in response to one of our challenges to take community cancer prevalence and drivers of cancer data and turn it into something useful. ozioma combines a news clipping service with community data. it harvests national stories about breakthroughs in research, trends, or new discoveries and insights. it then extracts relevant data customized for your local community. pre-rights -- it pre-writes the
local story. it can be offered to journalists for free. it is awesome. that is an example of the kind of democratized journalism that we want. i love the one about inspect, spend, in forced, license. that is a great one. we could talk more about dialysis. it is something already in progress on another front. i would like for it to take less than two years for the data to get to you. thank you for the feedback and work you have done to make this
possible. i could not be more excited, as you can tell. >> are there questions in the audience? back in the back. while you are getting to him, this goes back to a point that tom made. with a question remotely. we have a question remotely. it says we also want to know what kinds of information are not being made public, a kind of data inventory that agencies are not doing apparently. this would be a useful thing to take back and emphasize internally what people are saying on the outside. we really need to know everything that is there to know what is high value and what is asked for. >> this is a great point. we are engaging in work on this right now. this may be hard to believe, but hhs does not even know all
it has. we're trying to inventory all the data they have. a lot of the most important date it is what are: data exhaust. it is a byproduct and not categorized as a national survey. we are starting a process where twice a year, hhs council will review all of the complete inventory of the data it has and what they commit to make public in the next six months. we can just rewire the dna to keep it running. i do not see why we could not take the inventory and publish that. that is unless it breaks a law. i cannot imagine that. that is a great idea.
we should do that. i will take that back. >> i am john bell. some of you may be aware that our board has launched proposals for the president on classification programs. we have a web site and there are pamphlets in the lobby. one thing the board is actively advocating is the idea of using technological tools to enhance the review, withholding, and release of classified information that could have applicability in pii or other environments. what opportunities d.c. for the use of new technologies -- do
you see for the use of new technologies? how could that be applied to enhanced review and public access. tom has offered comments to the board that are much appreciated. i would be interested in hearing from the rest of the panel. >> i would like to talk to tom. [laughter] >> i could briefly restate some of the comments i made to the declassification board. i am by no means an expert. i think there are opportunities here. it is an incredible challenge. the declassification backlog is staggering. a big part of that is reclassifying procedures. what we have to work with, how we prioritize, and speed it through the -- there are things you can do to extract clues about which documents can be removed from the queues quickly. there are all kinds of great
gadgets we control of the pro -- we can throw at the problem. it will require a lot of man hours and additional resources. this has large affects on the question of releasing data in machine readable format. the fact that our production tools did not work right as government moved into the digital age has left an awful legacy where people do not rely on digital production. -- people do not rely on digital reaction. agencies feel they have to print out the documents, use in magic marker, and scan them back in. an incredible amount of information is lost. taking the step backwards is difficult to do. it is a problem that needs better tools and better resources. >> here is a question from outside that got a strong
reaction. given that not all people want or use davit in machine readable format, does it meet the administration's goal for transparency and accountability? >> we want both the wholesale and retail function from government. >> the good news is that the government does more naturally think in terms of retail. i have been pushing for the wholesale side. i am finding it is not hard to convince them about the retail piece because that is how they think normally. we hope to launch a new web site
that provides more intuitive searching for our grants. people are paying close attention to the retail things like that. we need to push hard to keep machine readable raw data in the center of the target and keep pushing it out there as well. >> i think the retail-wholesale question is important. i agree that the wholesale data is incredibly important. it can facilitate uses you do not expect. sunlight is looking at the feasibility of doing an analysis of regulatory doc minutes -- regulatory dockets. there is a website that has been created. it is useless for the kinds of analysis we want to do. it will take months to pull the data down if we're able to do it at all.
if the government feels it is sufficient, resources should be dedicated to the public experience. >> we have just about run out of time. i want you to join me in thanking our panelists for their time and extraordinary insight. [applause] we would like to thank our sponsors including the american center for progress. we want to thank our audiences and panel of guests. we need to highlight what the legislative branch is doing. in the house, rep cummings introduced the transparency and openness in government act.
a more accountable and open government at every level is up to all of us. we invite you to join us in our work. openthegovernment.org has said of the venue to continue the discussion -- has set up a venue to continue the discussion. we invite you to join us there. thank you for joining us today. please think this panel and the previous one that is gone. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
>> coming up, secretary clint is scheduled to talk about president obama's planned trip to latin america. that is expected lied about 1:45 eastern. it was originally scheduled for 2:00. it is moving over to c-span 3 now. a short time ago, president obama met with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders to talk about libya.
in a few moments, we are expecting a statement from the president following up on that meeting. we're planning live coverage on c-span. that is set to begin at 2:00 p.m. eastern. until then, a statement from the libyan foreign minister in response to the security council vote ordering a ceasefire in libya. this is about 10 minutes. >> after having reviewed the resolution, we would like to extend the following. will try to deal with the resolution. my country will do its best to deal positively with this resolution.
the general has knowledge of the resolution. a carter -- according to article 25 of the u.n. charter, and taking into consideration that libya is a full member of the u.n., we except it is obliged to except the u.n. security council . therefore, libya has decided an immediate ceasefire and the stoppage of all military operations.
[speaking foreign language] in doing so, it is in accordance with the resolutions of the security council and the articles of the charter of the u.n. [speaking foreign language] we emphasize in the resolution 1973 for the year 2011, we emphasize and agree to the article regarding the protection of civilians and the territorial unity of libya.
we have indeed taken serious steps in continuing the development for the libyan people. we believe that this will take the country back to safety and security for all libyans. we also express our sadness towards what the resolution had included a procedures against the libyan nation such as the no-fly zone which includes commercial and civilian flights
freezing of libyan assets and investments will have a very negative impact on normal libyans and will also negatively ability toa's fulfill its contracts and agreements locally and internationally. [speaking foreign language] libya also finds it is unreasonable that the security council announced the next resolution on the use of military power. there are signs that this may indeed take place.
[speaking foreign language] this goes clearly against the u.n. charter. it is a violation of the national sovereignty of libya. it is also in violation of the article 42 of the charter. [speaking foreign language] finally, we emphasize our request for all international governments and others to check the facts on the ground by sending fact-finding missions to libya so that they can make the
right decisions based on the general fox. thank you. >> that statement from the libyan foreign minister courtesy of al jazeera network. secretary clinton will be speaking live at about 145 eastern on c-span 3. president obama has just wrapped up a meeting with bipartisan congressional leaders. he will be speaking at about 2:00 p.m. until then, your calls from "washington journal." ee -- gaddafi. it suggests in the newspapers the airplanes may well immediately.
"the chicago tribune" tells us american officials expect the united states would do the heavy lifting in a campaign that may include air strikes on tanks and artillery and at the same time u.s. officials cautioned the united states and allies intend to limit their involvement, allowing for no troops on the ground. the libyan story, japan story, and the budget situation at home. the continuing resolution that punts the decisions on the budget until the beginning of april. they left town this friday morning. we would like to hear which of these stories are most important to you this friday morning. let's begin with a call from san antonio, texas. robert on the independent line. caller: am i on? good morning. i wanted to say that the most significant story i believe is what is happening in the middle east with all of these uprisings and the people wanting
democracy. i find it very significant, even though all of these things are happening across the world like japan, i find this very significant because even though america has not intervened with these countries to try to make than democracies, they themselves have tried to make themselves free of dictators and other powers that they did not have control of. host: robert, what do you think of this particular instance with the united nations out suggesting military force is appropriate in libya? caller: i believe military force would only be appropriate if our country were to be in danger, simply because when we get involved in other countries' problems, then the entire world will believe that any time they have a problem, america can help them immediately. that they themselves don't need to help themselves. we would be like superman --
whenever somebody has a problem the call out for the only superpower to help them. host: your point of the stories is that you think the population of to be working organically without support from the u.s.? caller: the big thing we want is democracy. i particularly don't believe in democracy. i believe in a democratic republic, which is different. the government with laws, where democracy is simply a government created only by the people and controlled only by the people. host: thank you. roberts most sick of the story is the middle east. here is "the guardian" this morning. a big headline on the paper today.
france has offered that use of its military bases and the coast. it several arab countries -- says the paper -- will join operations. what is the most agree the story this week? caller: is that we have some of its stores out there. the most significant stories today have a lot to do what is going on in japan. i think we should pray for those people in japan and for those in the reactors' trying to fix the nuclear reactors. it seems to be that the iea has not going over there to help these people out. i do not know what is going on. they are not getting the information like they should. the government of japan has done -- coming out speaking on what is going on. these people really need help over there. they are one of our most
significant allies. they had in the earthquake, they have the storm. it is snowing over there now. and people are suffering and there are people walking around days, they don't know where they are. if they will have a country again. they need for americans to go in and helped -- we have ships out. we have aircraft carrier out, waiting to go in. but what i heard last night on the news, a lot of people still suffering over there. host: looking at photographs from the morning newspapers. in fact, this man, and obvious misery, on the "globe and mail" frontpage, very popular newspaper photograph today. in virtually every newspaper. what it depicts is a man in front of his collapsed house. his mother still missing, probably buried in the rubble. that caller mentioned the u.s. ships on the coastline.
in fact, it is the ronald reagan carrier group. what is -- of the ships is the u.s.s. trouble, a guided missile carrier. -- u.s. s treble. some of the sailors on board the ship post-it photographs of their mission. let us take a look at those as we listen to our next telephone call from kentucky. what a, a republican. caller: good morning. my dad used to -- power plants, they used to burn coal and trash. he used to go of the power plants -- you know, they are safe. it is just one real good, you know? now it is all nuclear. no clear is bombs. that is what they make nukes out of. nuclear power plants are bad for the country. and taxes are getting too high. we need to start drilling oil
and we need to free open the market a little bit better than what it is. and all of these environmentalists need to be fired. and the unions are gone. it is just getting out of control in washington, d.c., and somebody needs to get in there and shake it all out. host: thank you for your call. photographs of operations off the coast of japan. guided missile cruiser, one of 14 ships deployed to assist the people of japan and their 1- week-old dealing with a tsunami, the earthquake, and the nuclear crisis. we are looking for your most significant news story this week, in a week of a very momentous issues domestically and across the globe. atlanta, georgia, is next. is it a call from danny who is a democrat. caller: first of all, my heart goes out to the good people of
japan. but susan, the most important story is what is going on in our state of michigan, susan. why don't you all have somebody come down and sit there and explain exactly what governor schneider in in michigan is doing? heat is giving himself dictatorial powers to go in and say -- if a natural crisis happens, go in and -- dissolve the city council and local government, and appoint his own person who is not elected by the people and who is neither accountable to the people, to go in and literally take over the city. and then also, he can take over
the city with no redress from the people. if you are a tea party representative, and this is -- this guy is taking power away from the city government and putting it to the state government. it is against everything that the tea party say that they stood for. host: danny, atlanta, georgia. budget crisis of cities and states top of the list. next is california. an ibp. caller: hello, thank you for taking my call. the first time the u.n. has its proper role is to help people in disasters and not to go create war zones as they are in the middle east and creating the state of israel, which is the most fascist, a terrorist
country -- host: we will move on to a call from san diego. republican. most significant news story of the week. caller: thank you for c-span. i believe the big story the past couple of years as president obama, what he said it to deal with over the last couple of years, from afghanistan to the mexican border. the oil spill, the economy, to egypt, a gaddafi, to japan. i think the big story is the big obama bust. the lack of leadership, the lack -- to prioritize, really to put his thumb and down and be a strong leader, i think is a big story. if you ask me and if you ask anyone else if leadership and
related to the president, this story is in "the new york times." reporting the top contributors to president obama's election campaign were given an ambitious set of marching orders -- 450 of them will be taking the lead in raising money for the president's reelection bid. new york is up next. gary, independent. you are on the air. caller: i have been in the military for 15 years, and i realize they don't get what the bullets and all that stuff over there, they don't come cheap.
the united states is spending to much money on all of this ammunition, bothering everyone else, like japan and all that, we should take care of our own back yard first and take all of that money and put it towards our medicare and all that stuff, our va. we will probably be another trillion dollars in debt just going over there. host: thank you very much. on twitter -- bbc has on its web site a series of pictures of the libyan revolt. let's look at a couple of them here the ipad. you can see these pictures. from the bbc website. as we do, we are going to take our next step -- telephone call. cape cod, massachusetts.
fred, republican. caller: i think the most and poor in news story is yet to be written. that is, what effect, if any, will nuclear rain in japan have on the produce of california. will gravitate to the rest of the country? host: the president yesterday talked about the danger to the united states. let's listen to a little of what he had to say. >> second, i know that many americans are also worried about potential risks to the united states. so, i want to be very clear. we do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the united states, whether it is the west coast, hawaii, alaska, where u.s. territory in the pacific. it lets me repeat that. we do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the west coast, hawaii, alaska, or u.s. territories in the pacific. that is the judgment of our
nuclear regulatory commission and many of our experts. furthermore, the centers for disease control and prevention and public health experts cannot recommend that people and the united states take precautionary members -- measures beyond stay informed. going forward, we will continue to keep the american people fully updated, because i believe you must know what i know as present. host: here is a photograph from "the new york times" this morning. it depicts the earthquake and tsunami survivors leaving home, carrying their belongings, retrieved from damaged houses in miyagi prefecture in northern japan. in this photo, appearing in some and places, of this grieving man by his house with his mother buried in the rubble. below it, writing about something called black swans,
jacksonville, florida. cloudy it is up next -- claudia is up next. caller: to add on to the caller from georgia, the way the republican governors and the state of wisconsin, ohio, indiana, florida, are taking rights of the working class people and giving them to the corporations. they are dismantling unions as much as they can a parent and they are enabling the gap between the people who have and the people who have not. so, that is more important to me because charity begins at home. it is good to worry about people in other countries but we have to think about our country here unless we want to turn into a third world country. that is more important to me. thank you. host: claudia from jacksonville, florida. a tweet --
long island, new york. david, democrat. caller: i would like to beg for c-span to please bring brian lamb back at least once a year. host: what you missing? caller: the man was just unbelievable demeanor, and the way he would read the newspapers to us and go through stories was exceptional. i greatly miss his presence. i feel as though he is so close but yet so far away. host: he is right on the other side of the wall and probably enjoying that you are saying that. a very involved in our program. caller: the most important story is this no clear holocaust besieged upon us. i hope the moderator and producers would bring these questions into any formal or experts you have on the program
and ask them -- if it is unsafe for the nuclear waste to be deposited in yucca mountain because of instability, why is it acceptable to have it on the cliffs and oceanside's of the country and the world? a very unstable product. we have been warned that if it would happen it would be the end of all mankind. more importantly, they say you want cheap energy, right? that is why they have to provide the nuclear power. if you kill everybody, which is what will happen, you will have no customers. that question is null and void. host: dave, thank you, from long island. the japanese prime minister is making a live address. we will dip in live to get a sense of what he is saying. >> prime minister kan calls on the people who i living in evacuation -- he says, that he knows that the evacuation will continue for some time. he hopes that they will take good care of their health and
hopefully they will be able to move to a place of living where they can feel a little more safe. he hopes the people will persevere and continue to e. rcise their patientc he says he will repeat this point again, and that is for the japanese people, this is a great test of all of the people of japan. that is the current situation. he says, and the past history of japan, this small island nation, as so they say, we have made a miraculous economic growth. thanks to the effort of every one of the japanese citizens. and that is how the nation japan was built.
with the tsunami and earthquake, we don't have any room to be pessimistic or to be discouraged. we cannot do so. we are going to create japan once again from scratch. that is the strong resolve that we all must share. he says that, he hopes that all the japanese people will face this challenge together. host: some words to the japanese nation from its leadership. as we take our next telephone call, let's take a look at photographs "usa today" published in their paper, their photographers capturing aspects of the japanese crisis. columbus, ohio. jerry is a republican. you are on the air. caller: i would like to comment about the nuclear issue as well as the budget issue.
just these designs of the nuclear reactors -- even though there have been flaws pointed out, these are 40 years old, and yet at the same time we have not had a massive meltdown like we had at chernobyl. the control rods were inserted immediately upon this anomaly and the earthquake itself. -- upon a tsunami an earthquake itself. every minute that goes on, the reactor's cooling off. the more time they have, the more likely that any major incident beyond what is happening now would not occur. that is just the way the physics are. going to the budget issue. we needed to start thinking about the debt. we need to put far more emphasis on it. the people who are slamming the republicans or the tea party because of their focus on
reducing spending have got to recognize, we are in a debt crisis. we cannot continue this kind of spending. you can't put it on the back of the pentagon, because if you defunded pentagon 100%, that, including all the veterans programs, you cannot still eliminate our budget deficits. entitlement programs must be addressed. there is an explosive growth in them. they are our biggest growing part of the budget. and they will overwhelm us. we will end up having to spend so much money on the servicing the debt by paying interest that we will end up not having any money for anything else. host: thank you. next, a comment from jennifer, a democrat. caller: thank you, c-span, for having me. i just wanted to say that with everything that is going on are
around the world -- around the world, i think the top story is what is happening in japan. my heart and prayers are going out to everyone in japan. but we do need to see what is actually happening there. there is so much that is going on but we are putting our focus and attention of the war at all scared that needs to be our main focus and attention. not only the earthquake, they have had a tsunami, they have people who are missing. thousands and thousands beyond those -- beyond believed to have died. -- beyond belief who have died. the nuclear reactor erred -- reactors, nuclear rain cloud coming to the united states. i think if we cannot put our country -- focus into assisting in a country that has been an ally, then we will eventually
paying the cost for it in the long run. i know that everybody thinks -- this is definitely something we need to think about. we need to put our focus of attention on helping those who helped us in the past. i just wanted to voice that opinion, because i did not think anybody is mentioning that. a situation where japan has built this and failed -- this is a situation where mother nature decided this is not going to work. this is a situation where the earthquake, the tsunami, the snow -- just unbelievable. host: thank you for your call from phoenix. some information about nuclear power around the world. from wikipedia. but let me start with the list of countries with the number of operating nuclear power plants. united states topped the list
with 104 currently in operation. france right below that with 58. japan and third place, 55. russia, 32. correa, 21. india, 20. canada, 18. germany, which has shut down operations, 17. the ukraine, 15. and the people's republic of china, 13. but those numbers do not suggest a percentage of electric power comes from nuclear power plant. france, which was no. 2 on the list with 58, actually gets a 75% of its power, electricity, from nuclear. the united states, only 20% of its power even though it has the most number of nuclear power plants, in terms of actual operating units. mean, john is an independent. good morning. caller: one of the stories got my attention.
yesterday i called the state department and the japanese embassy and i made the suggestion to them as far as the rides go -- i suggest that they tried to use liquid nitrogen. i do not know what adverse affect, if any, would have to keep the right school. at least -- -- to keep the rods cool. at least it would by then some time. gaddafi -- i think that arab nations should take him out. the u.n. did the right thing. but the arab nations, or the middle east nations, should try to take this guy out. he is a lunatic. as far as public radio goes, even if they stop the funding for a while anyway, they could always repeal that were voted back in somewhere down the road.
it is only a temporary thing -- until we get our fiscal thing in order. anyway, it has been a while since i called you people. have a good day. host: thank you, john but nice to hear from you. let us hear from republican senator jeff sessions, a press conference after the continuing resolution, the short-term money, was passed. >> we need to begin to do something now. when our majority leader, senator reid, proposed that not $61 billion, but that we reduce spending only $4 billion throughout the rest of this fiscal year, i said then and believe now that that is only the product of a -- being in the washington bubble. we are bubblized people. we are in denial of the reality of the crisis that i faced --
and i did not want to talk down the american economy. i believe the american worker is competitive, willing to work, is competitive, can be competitive, but we cannot burgonet worker down with excessive debt. host: here is "the new york times." senator sessions was part of the press conference that happens afterward. jon kyl in the lead, lindsey graham. "the new york times" piece. the resolution here will finance the government through april 8. members of both parties in chambers says the move averted a government shutdown, should be the last of the kind -- and looking for the most significant news story for the week. st. louis. bob is a democrat. caller: i think the most sick of
the story of the week is the palestinian people are still being -- most significant story of the week is the palestinian people are still being slaughtered. what about a no-fly zone for israel? are you people allowed to say anything about israel without us being hung up on? i listened to this and any time anybody says something about israel you reach for the button and you hang up on them. host: bob? that is really not true. we talk about it and we have guessed segments on regularly. the reason i reach for the button in the last caller was the strength of invectives. it is fine to have a civil discussion and voice your opinion but i think we can do without a string of invectives what we are having a discussion about issues. delphi, indiana. chalk is a republican. are you there? -- chuck. caller: the nuclear plants -- i
still feel they are safe if they are done right. if they are built right. the water is necessary for the reactors and everything. i see no harm in them. what happened over there, you had an earthquake -- yes, you are going to have residual stuff. i took a course in nuclear, biological, and meet urology neurological -- meteorological -- the way the wind is traveling i do not believe we will see any reason at all. i believe we do not have anything to fear from this deal in japan. i spent some time in japan. they are very wonderful people. i have a lot of respect for them. this earthquake causing this damage, this could happen to any one of our plants, and we would
be on the same vote. -- boat. i see there were too many and one location but along with that, nothing wrong with nuclear energy. host: some stories about japan from the morning newspapers. from the money page of "usa today" -- also in the paper today -- expatriates' depart. some companies set up shop in the south. group of seven to intervene to stabilize the value of the yen, the lead story in business day section. below it, the affect of the
crisis on u.s. companies. lacking part, gm will close plants. from detroit -- general motors says it will temporarily shut a truck plant in louisiana because it cannot get enough japanese- made parts. looking for the most significant news story in the week in your eyes. alexandria, virginia. lesley, democrat. caller: two things. one is the planned parenthood cutting by the extremists in the house of representatives. these cuts will result and i don't know -- i do not know how many millions of young ladies having not getting breast mammograms, i think it is an outrage especially when you consider they want to cut all
these social programs, saying how dire the things is. we have a revenue problem that taxes have never been -- you have to go back to the 1950's to find revenue this low. it is as much a revenue problem as it is a spending problem. we have kids going to bed hungry. it is on tv. if the american people do not speak out about this injustice, billionaires -- if things are so bad for republicans, why are they giving billionaires' tax breaks and cutting benefits for kids going to bed hungry? a viewer tweets -- sebring, florida, is next.
richard is an independent. caller: good morning, susan. my favorite hostas susan swain, by the way. she handles the program very well. i think most likely the most significant story has not been really printed. it has been nibbled around the edges by donald trump. to president obama really is and where is he taking the country? donald trump made the statement the other day that we don't really know too much about his background at all -- especially his education years. brought up the fact that his mentor from the time he was 12 until 17 was a man named frank marshall davis, who was a card- carrying communist, a member of the black panthers, and also had an fbi file two inches thick and
was a drug dealer in hawaii. this was his mentor that his grandparents decided was of the best man to mentor him through his teenage years. and knowing all of this and the way he has made his decisions and lead the country, i think it is alarming to myself, and that think the people out here, the tea party has picked up on it. they figured it out. the news media has not. hopefully before too much damage has been done to the country, it will realize that we made a big mistake and electing this present. host: richard from sebring, florida. next is queens, new york. willey, a republican. caller: good morning. i am calling -- the reason i am calling is because president obama is traveling to brazil this week.
three major stories going on. japan, the middle east, and the debt and which we are borrowing $5 billion a day. i think that is ridiculous. host: willie, thank you for your call. regarding libya, first of all, some basic facts. north african country, fourth largest on the continent, population, 6.4 million as of july of last year. the area is slightly larger than the state of alaska. the capital, tripoli, on the mediterranean coast use stories concerning the decision of that you end on the no-fly zone. "the new york post" has this headline, "bomb's away." "the washington post" -- benghazi, which has been a rebel stronghold, braces for attack.
alongside it, shortly after the vote, obama called -- president obama called british prime minister david cameron -- five countries that abstained -- russia, china, germany, brazil, india. st. >> we are going to leave washington journal and go live to the white house where president obama is going to be making a statement about libya. he just finished a meeting with
harry reid, steny hoyer, carl levin, dick lugar, saxby chambliss, et nancy pelosi, jon kyl, dianne feinstein and a few others. john boehner and mitch mcconnell were there via conference call. there have been some developments in libya today in response to the u.n. security council vote to impose a no-fly zone. today, muammar gaddafi announced a cease-fire and a drawdown of his military. jet fighters were sent to the region earlier today in response to the security council's vote. we will have a statement about the cease-fire and no-fly zone after we hear from the statement. we are also expecting britain, france and nato to hold emergency meetings today.
there will be further meetings tomorrow with france and other arab nations that will take place in paris. >> good afternoon, everybody. i want to take this opportunity to update the american people about the situation in libya. for the last several weeks, the world has watched events unfold in libya with hope and alarm. last month, protesters took to the streets across the country to demand their universal rights, a government that is accountable to them and responsive to their aspirations. they were met with an iron fist. within days, all parts of the country declared their independence from a brutal regime.
members of the government serving in libya and abroad chose to align themselves with the forces of change. muammar gaddafi clearly lost the confidence of his own people and the legitimacy to lead. instead of respecting the rights of his own people, khaddafi chose the path of brutal suppression. innocent civilians were beaten, imprisoned, and in some cases killed. people who protested were forcefully put down. a campaign of intimidation and repression began. in the face of this injustice, the united states and the international community moved swiftly. sanctions were put in place by our allies and partners. the un security council imposed further sanctions, an arms embargo, and a specter of international accountability for muammar gaddafi and those around
him. humanitarian assistance was positioned on that libya's borders, and those displaced by the violence received our health -- our help. ample warning was given that khaddafi needed to stop this campaign of repression or be held accountable. arab leaders and the european union joined us in calling for an end to the violence. once again, khaddafi chose to ignore the will of his people and the international community. instead, he launched a military campaign against his own people. there should be no doubt about his intentions, because he himself has made them clear. for decades he has decade a willingness to use brute force through his sponsorship of terrorism against the american people as well as others, and through killings that he has carried out with in his own borders. just yesterday, speaking of the city of benghazi, a city of
roughly 700,000 people, he threatened, and i quote, "we will have no mercy and no pity." no mercy on his own citizens. here is why this matters to us. left unchecked, we have every reason to believe muammar gaddafi would commit atrocities against his own people. a humanitarian crisis would ensue. the entire region could be destabilized, endangering many of our allies and partners. the calls from the libyan people for help would go unanswered. the democratic values that we stand for would be over run. moreover, the words of the international community would be rendered hollow. that is why the united states has worked with our allies and partners to shape a strong international response at the united nations.
our focus has been clear, protecting innocent civilians within libya and holding the .hadafy regime accountable - yesterday, in response to calls for action from the arab league, we have passed a resolution to end the violence against citizens. it authorizes the use of force with an explicit commitment to use all measures to stop the killing, to include a no-fly zone over libya. it also strengthens our sanctions and the enforcement of the arms embargo against the gaddafi regime. once more, muammar gaddafi has a choice. the resolution that was passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. the united states, the united kingdom, france and arab states
agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. that means all attacks against civilians must stop. gaddafi must stop his troops benghazi,ncing on th pull them back from all areas, and establish water and food supplies to all areas. humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of libya. i am going to be clear. these terms are not negotiable. these terms are not subject to negotiation. if muammar gaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action. in this effort, the united states is prepared to act as part of an international coalition.
american leadership is the essential, but that does not mean acting alone. it means shaping the conditions for the international community to act together. that is why i have directed secretary gates and our military to coordinate their planning. tomorrow, he will travel to paris for a meeting with our allies and european partners about the enforcement of the resolution of 1973. we will provide a unique capabilities that we can bring to bear to stop the violence against civilians, including enabling our european allies and arab partners to effectively enforce a no-fly zone. i have no doubt that the men and women of our military are capable of carrying out this mission. once more, they have the thanks of a grateful nation and the admiration of the world. i also want to be clear about what we will not be doing. the united states is not going to deploy ground troops into
libya. we are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal. specifically, the protection of civilians in libya. in the coming weeks, we will continue to help the libyan people with humanitarian and economic assistance so that they can fulfill their aspirations peacefully. at now, the united states did not seek this outcome. our decisions have been driven by muammar gaddafi's refusal to respect the rights of his people and the potential for mass murder of his citizens. it is not an action we will pursue alone. indeed, our british and french allies and members of the arab league have already committed to take a leadership role in the enforcement of this resolution. they were instrumental in pursuing it. we will work closely with them. this is precisely how the international community should
work as more nations bear both the responsibility and the cost of enforcing international law. this is just one more chapter in the change that is unfolding across the middle east and north africa. from the beginning of these protests, we made it clear that we are opposed to violence. we make clear our support for a set of universal values and our support of the political and economic change that the people of the region deserve. i want to be clear, the change in the region will not and cannot be imposed by the united states or any foreign power. ultimately, it will be driven by the people of the arab world. it is their right and their responsibility to determine their own destiny. let me close by saying that there is no decision i face as your commander in chief that i consider as carefully as a decision to ask our men and
women to use military force. particularly at a time when our military is fighting in afghanistan and winding down our activities in iraq. that decision is only made more difficult. but the united states of america will not stand idly by in the face of actions that undermine global peace and security. i have made this decision because we will not be acting alone. our goal is focused, our cause is just, and our coalition is strong. thank you very much. >> president obama commenting in the east room of the white house after a meeting early today with a number of congressional leaders on libya, confirming the reasons the u.s. supported the u.n. security council vote last night, including france, great britain, and a number of arab nations creating a no-fly zone
over libya and calling for a cease-fire. the president confirmed that the u.s. will not send troops to the region. hours after the u.n. security council vote, libyan leaders announced an end to the use of military forces and called for a cease-fire. earlier today, the british prime minister offered these remarks on the situation in libya. >> with permission, i would like to make a statement on last night's u.n. security council resolution on libya. over three weeks ago, the people of libya took to the streets in protest over colonel gaddafi and his regime, asking for new rights and freedom. there were hopeful signs that a better future awaited them and that like the people of the middle east and north africa, they were taking their destiny into their own hands.
far from meeting those aspirations, colonel gaddafi has responded by attacking his own people. he has brought the full might of armed forces to bear on them, backed by mercenaries. the world has watched as he has brutally crushed his own people. on the 23rd of february, the u.n. secretary general cited a report that reported the nature and scale of the tax on the citizens as, "and egregious violations of international and human rights law," and called on the government of libya to meet its responsibility to protect its own people. the secretary-general said later that more than 1000 people had been killed and that there were credible and consistent reports of arrests, detention, and torture. over the weekend of the 26-27 of february, at britain's instigation, the u.n. security council reiterated the treaty of 1970. it imposed a travel ban and
asset freezes. it demanded an end to the violence, access to human rights, and the lifting of restrictions on the media. it referred the situation to the international criminal court so that its leaders should face the justice they deserve. on the 20th of february, i set out steps we would take to -- 28 of february, i set up the steps we would take to implement these measures. we will ensure that anyone responsible for abuses in libya will be held to account. i told this house that i believed contingency planning should be done four different scenarios, including involving military assets, and that they should involve planning for a no-fly zone. intervening in another country's affairs should not be taken except for in exceptional circumstances. that is why preparing for
eventualities that might include the use of force, including a no-fly zone, would require three steps. three tests need to be met. demonstrable need, reasonable support, and a clear legal basis. first, demonstrable need. the gaddafi regime has ignored the demands of the un security council resolution of 1970 that he stop the violence against his people. they're now preparing for a violent assault on the city of benghazi, a city of 1 million that has a history going back hundreds of years. he plans to institute a brutal attack using air, land and sea forces. he has promised that the city will be scourged and that there will be no mercy or no pay t shunned. if we need any sense -- no mercy
or no pay t shaun. -- pity shown. human-rights watch has catalogued the appalling abuses being committed in tripoli. now the people of eastern libya are facing the same fate. that is a demonstrable need. second, we said there must be a clear wish from the people of libya and the wider region for international action. it was the people of libya who were the first to call for protection from air attacks through a no-fly zone. more recently, the arab league has made the same demand. it really has been remarkable how aaron leaders have come forward and condemned the actions of the -- arab leaders have come forward and condemned the actions of the gaddafi
regime. they have said they are willing to participate themselves in enforcing this resolution. this support goes far beyond the arab world. last night, all three african members of the un security council voted in favor of the resolution. the third and the essential condition was that there should be a clear, legal basis. that is why, along with france, lebanon, and the united states, we worked hard to draw up language that would command the support of the international community. last night, the u.n. security council agreed to that resolution. we demand the immediate establishment of a ceasefire and an end to all violence against civilians. there is a ban on all flights in the airspace of libya in order to protect civilians. there is an authorization of member states to take "all necessary measures to enforce compliance with the ben." -- with the ban."
it authorizes member states, acting in cooperation with the secretary general, to take all measures necessary to protect civilians in civilian-populated areas under threat of attack, including benghazi. the resolution also authorizes and sets the minutes of our action. specifically, it excludes an occupation force of any kind in any part of libyan territory, which was a clear agreement between all signers of the resolution including the united kingdom and the arab league. the central purpose of this resolution is to end the violence, protect civilians, and allow the people of libya to determine their own future, free from the brutality unleashed by the khadafy regime. the libyan people want the same rights and freedoms the people across the middle east and north
africa are demanding. resolution 1973 puts the weight of the u.n. security council squarely behind the libyan people in defense of those values. demonstrable need, reasonable support, and a clear, legal base, the three criteria, are now satisfied in full. the security council has reached a decision that it is the responsibility of its members to respond, and that is what britain, with others, will now do. the attorney general has been consulted and the government is satisfied that there is a clear, unequivocal legal basis for the deployment of u.k. military assets. the security council has adopted resolution 1973 as a measure to maintain or restore international peace and security under chapter 7 of the united nations charter.
the resolution specifically authorizes notifying member states to use all necessary measures to enforce the no-fly zone and to protect civilians in all areas, including benghazi. in the u.k. will play its part. our forces will join an international operation to enforce the resolution if khaddafi fails to comply with the demands that he and attacks on civilians. the secretary and i have now instructed the chief of defence to take action to enforce the resolution, including a no-fly zone. preparations to deploy aircraft have already started, and in the coming hours, they will move to air bases where they can start to take the necessary action. the government will table highest ace did stand shall -- will table a substantial motion
for debate until next week. i am sure that all sides of the house call upon colonel gadhafi to respond to the will of the international community and cease the violence against his own people. i spoke to president obama last night and president sarkozy this morning. there will be a clear statement later today setting out what we expect from colonel gaddafi. we will never deploy forces lightly or without careful thought. we have, in this case, given extremely careful thought to the situation we have in hand. it is absolutely right that we play a leading role to secure permission for this action, and it is absolutely right that we now work with allies to make sure that resolution is brought about. i know there are many people in this country who will now want questions answered about how we will go about this, and i intend to answer those questions in the
hours and days ahead and to make sure that we do the right thing for the people of libya, the people of our country, and the world as a whole. >> mr. speaker, can i start by thanking the prime minister for his statement? and can i say that from this side of the house, we welcome the u.n. security resolution and support britain playing its full part in the international action that is planned. the international community has shown clear result, and i support all efforts to make this happen. as i have said, we support feasible and practical action to help the libyan people. we will both support the government and ask the necessary questions that we think the country will want asked. it is important that the british people are clear about this resolution and the basis of commitment for british forces.
any commitment of british armed forces must be based on a clear and compelling case. in this case, it is based, as the prime minister said, on the clear evidence of colonel khadafy brutalizing his own people in response to democratic change. it is backed by the clear resolution of the arab league, and it is backed by legal mandates from the united nations. the military action being embarked upon has brought support, a legal basis, and recognizes our responsibility to protect the libyan people. these are necessary conditions for legitimate action, and it would be quite wrong, given what is happening in libya, for us to stand by and do nothing. mr. speaker, i would ask some questions about the objectives of the mission, as the military implications, and the humanitarian context.
all welcome the passage of the resolution to halt the immediate slaughter of the people of benghazi. the whole world is aware of the potential situation given avowed intentions of colonel khadafy. beyond this, the future of libya remains uncertain. can the prime minister explain the broader strategy for libya, should we succeed in halting muammar gaddafi's advance, given that the resolution is aimed at protecting the libyan people, rather than regime change. is it the government's stance that libya will be better without muammar gaddafi in power? should additional measures be continued to be brought to bear
on the libyan regime? we should be working to sharpen reaction from the international criminal court, and make explicit risks for countries that allow mercenaries to act. we should continue to make clear to the libyan people and offer of a better life that lies beyond colonel gaddafi. i urge that these discussions continue with the un and the arab league on a continuing basis beyond colonel gaddafi. we should continue to show that most of vigilance about development elsewhere, including in bahrain, and make clear that reforms, not repression, are welcome in the
region. can the prime minister ensure that all steps being taken -- are being taken to ensure that the military is receiving a full, a broad base of support, including from the arab league? under the contingencies that have been prepared, and subject to the operational limits on what he can say, how does he envisioned a military chain of command operating? third, let me ask about the humanitarian situation? could he update the house on the objective of british nationals in light of the clearly changed circumstances that we are facing? we have all noted with concern the decision of the red cross prior to the resolution to withdraw from benghazi? can the prime minister ensure that all efforts will be made to continue humanitarian assistance to benghazi?
we on this side of the house will give our full support to our military. once again, they're engaging in dangerous and courageous action on behalf of our country. they are serving to uphold the will of the international community, including the united nations, and in their service, i believe they will have the support of the whole house. >> thank you for his support and for the way he put that support in his questions just now. let me try to answer all of the questions he has put. in terms of the time scale and potential military an,the pointe international criminal court was earlier by an internat resolution, and that is still in force. we will be meeting in paris tomorrow with president sarkozy. there will be representatives
across the arab world coming together to help achieve the goal that the un security council has so rightly voted for. we must be vigilant and he mentioned by rain. absolutely right. the government -- bahrain. absolutely right. the government continues to help people as necessary. in terms of our participation, what we seek is active participation from arab league countries, and i believe we will get that. in terms of the military chain of command, to be clear, this is a joint operation, if necessary, carried out by britain, america, and france, and it will be coordinated in that way. in terms of british nationals, obviously, almost all of those
who were there have left. there are some at the turkish embassy working with us, and we have an active consulate figure in bengali. part of the aim of what we're trying to do would actually be in the interest of those british nationals. humanitarian aid is a big aim of the security council. above all, any decision to put our men and women in the armed forces in harm's way should only be taken when absolutely necessary. i believe that we should be clear about where our interests lie. in this country particularly, we know what colonel gaddafi is capable of. we should not forget his support
of the biggest atrocities -- biggest terrorist atrocity on british soil. that is why we are backing this action. >> may i congratulate the prime minister for the superb leadership that he and the foreign secretary have given, both at home, and at the united nations in securing this resolution, without which, the people of benghazi and libya would be facing a humanitarian disaster. man asked the prime minister whether the assistance with the un resolution -- man i ask the prime minister whether the assistance with the un resolution, will he confirm that that will enable our forces to be used, not to intercept aircraft, but if necessary, to attack heavy artillery, tanks, and other forces on the ground that might be affecting civilian
areas. >> i agreed that time is now crucial. we have this resolution, and we have made our own ultimatums clear. in terms of the question that he asked about what the security council permits itself to do, it talks about in paragraph 4, crucially, benghazi. the attorney general's advice is very clear. we can take measures to help those things be achieved. >> can i congratulate the prime minister and those in the foreign office and the united nations on the work they have done in getting this resolution? can i also say that the french government needs to get a lot of credit as well?
can the prime minister clarify for us the role of the african union as well as the arab league? is there any possibility, given the three african states, including south africa, also signed the resolution, that the african union can use its offices to find a way to get gaddafi out of power without this conflict going on for a very long time? >> he makes an extremely good point about the leadership that nicolas sarkozy and the french have taken in this role. i think the work of the french and the lebanese on the un security council was vital. they did a superb job at marshaling people to support. when colleagues across the house read this, it is a very strong resolution, extremely
comprehensive, and it marks a new start of what the u.n. security council may be able to achieve. there are african union mission's near libya. we think there will -- we think they will be enormously influential. i hope their vote for the resolution is a sign of things to come. >> and i congratulate the prime minister on his success and leadership and offer my full support. i pay tribute to the team at the un and there it remarkable diplomatic success. i am sure he would agree that difficult questions remain, but right now, it is incumbent on all of us to get behind the armed forces and implement this resolution. >> my honorable friend is entirely right. of course there are difficult questions. we are embarked on a difficult
course. this is not about an army of occupation. i think it is important we all understand that that is a correct statement. that is what people across the arab world want to hear. above all, everyone in this house and i am sure everyone in this country will want to protect the armed forces who will be preparing for difficult days ahead. >> the prime minister mentioned three criteria for determining the appropriateness of intervention. surely there is another factor, and that is whether we have the capacity and the military access to intervene in situations such as this. in light of developments in the middle east in recent weeks, will the prime minister and his colleagues have another look to see if our country will continue assets in the future? >> of course, i look very
carefully at every decision we make in defense. i see it as a personal priority for me as prime minister. even at the end of this defense review, at the end of this parliament, we will have the fourth largest defense budget of anyone in the world. we you want to make sure they have flexibility, the ability to deploy, investment and transport, and also, the aircraft we are looking at using is not involved in afghanistan and i have had assurances that our planning for what may be necessary in libya does not affect the efforts we are making in afghanistan with our allies. >> yet again, my right honorable friend has shown breathtaking courage and leadership. i support what he has said and
what he has done. does my right honorable friend agree that while regime changes not the aim of this resolution, and practicality, there is little -- practically, there is little chance of achieving the aims of this resolution without regime change? >> i think my friend has put it extremely well. the aim is the cessation of military forces, the protection of people, the prevention of a bloodbath in benghazi, the assurance that arms will not get to libya, that assets are freeze, that travel bans are enforced. of course, like many leaders the world over, we have all said that muammar gaddafi needs to go in order for libya to have a peaceful, successful, and democratic future. that remains the case. it is almost impossible to envisage a future for libya does
not include that. however, what is included in the resolution is our aim. >> abuses of human rights and suppression of citizens are not unique to libya. is the prime minister is suggesting we should develop a foreign policy that will be prepared to interact -- intervene with forces elsewhere, whether that be saudi arabia, bahrain, or elsewhere. have -- has the prime minister thought this through? >> just because you cannot do the right thing everywhere does not mean you should not do the right thing somewhere. what is happening in libya is different. you have a situation of people rising up against their leader, of wanting to have a more democratic future, and us
watching as potentially those people are destroyed by the dictator. what you see coming together here is britain acting with others in favor of international law, international governance, the un, and all that is right, fair, and decent in our world. at the same time, i believe we are acting in our national interest. it is not in our national interest for this man to have access to the banks of europe with all the problems that couldn't tell. across this world and across this country to -- that could entail. across this world and across this country, we have people who recognize that a hardheaded assessment of british national interests means we should not stand aside from this. >> i welcome the prime minister is -- prime minister's
statement. i think it is absolutely right that the international community take action. can the prime minister insure me -- assure me that the intelligence assets are doing all they can to monitor communication with a view to ensuring we can [unintelligible] >> we never comment on security and intelligence matters in this house, but the point he makes a that the international criminal court and making sure we are clear, as i said, the arm of international law should have a long arm, a long reach, and momentum. >> given that the.com are compatible in what is going to happen in the middle east and that all actions have consequences, how can we be sure that what we are doing is not actually consequence to end up in a situation where a complex
and dangerous situation is simply made worse? >> the hon. lady asks a very important question. it seems to me we have to look at the consequences of doing nothing, the slaughter that could ensue, the oppression of these people that we can see so clearly on our television screens and then we have to consider the other courses of action. you've got the air of the countries and arab populations who i believe are actually willing the international community on. it is good that the international community is coming together and showing that you care about our democracy and not just security. i think we can win that argument, but we will have to go in with arab leaders and arab populations and making sure that we communicate very strongly why we are doing this and why it is the right thing. >> i congratulate the prime minister and all those others involved in securing this tough resolution.
will the prime minister agree with me that it will be important in the weeks to come, at the same time we are dealing with gaddafi, this country is intent on keeping the middle east peace process revitalized and going? >> i think my hon. friend makes an extremely good point. i said quite recently to a palestinian leader, he said to me, if you want to secure the, long-term outcome of al qaeda, then a solution and palestine and israel, those two go together. plugs and reactions to be based on the resolution of the u.n. security council -- >> any reaction to be based on the resolution of the u.n. security council.
what the prime minister -- would the prime minister nevertheless, despite what he has said about no ground troops and the rest recognize that in the country of ours there is great anxiety that we could be dragged into a war through escalation, the third war in nine years. and therefore, would the prime minister make sure that therefore -- there are read the reports at the house of commons to avoid this situation of a third war? >> i think the gentleman puts the point extremely well. first of all, i agree, there should be regular statements. we should start with a debate on monday on a substantive motion so that if they want to propose amendments, they can. will be putting down that substantive motion later today. in terms of taking the country
with us, the point he makes about legality is absolutely vital. we have here a legal basis, the u.n., the world governing body coming together and making that clear. we need to make sure that we're doing is clear and proportionate and right. but we have to make both the arguments that it is wrong to is that aside as the dictator massacres his own people, but also, it is in our national interest because we do not want this pariah states on our borders. but the port -- the point he makes about no ground troops and occupiers is vital. it is there in the u.n. security council resolution. and we can give assurance that it is not part of our games. it is not what the u.n. once and not what and -- not what -- is not what the u.n. wants and not what britain wants. >> i thank my hon. friend for
his decisive leadership on this. can he explain to the house why he thinks germany abstained on this resolution? and if east germany going to be -- and isikoff germany going to be interfering? >> -- is germany going to be interfering? >> to be fair to the german chancellor, who was 02 last night, she has been consistently skeptical about this issue -- who i spoke to us by, she has been consistently skeptical about this issue. they realize the u.n. has voted for this motion on which they have abstained. it is for them to explain their cut -- their skepticism. and there are arguments you can make if you are acting here and not elsewhere. the world coming together in this case is strong. >> may i also congratulate the prime minister and, indeed, the foreign secretary on the action
they have taken? i hope you will enjoy, -- joined with me in congratulating president obama. i think through cautious deliberation has allowed the arab states to come to the four and has shown proper respect to the united nations, thus giving major boost to the role of international law. >> i think the hon. lady makes an extremely good point and is absolutely correct. i had a very good conversation with president obama last night and i think he has shown great leadership in terms of what they have proposed in terms of this new resolution. but i think she is right, by allowing the arab league the space and time to come forward and make clear their own views, it has helped to create a consensus. but the clock is now ticking and we need a sense of urgency because we do not want to see a bloodbath in van ghazi and for the repression and killing of civilians in libya.
-- in ben ghazi fdot further repression and killing of civilians in libya. >> could you say more about the strategic objective that those likes -- but those have been clear about? is -- are our allies, particularly president obama, committed to regime change? rex almost every leader in the free world has actually said that gaddafi -- >> almost every leader in the free world has actually said that gaddafi need to go. but i think we do have to be clear about the game of what we are involved in. it is the aim of putting in place the u.n. security council resolution, which is about protecting lives and protecting people, and about the steps fdot
we are willing to take to isolate the regime and give the country is better chance for the future. obviously, we have a desire, as i have expressed and others have expressed, that gaddafi has no future here. our aim must be clear. >> it is important that gaddafi is in no doubt there is an overwhelming military force, to carry it out. -ask the prime minister how many countries he wishes to provide -- may i ask the premise from the countries he wishes to provide military assets? >> i do not think it would be right for me to name those countries that are considering participation, but there are a wide number. clearly, at the heart of this is america, france, and britain.
there are others coming forward, including the arab league, and a number of others i have spoken to about plain and active role in this. one of the reasons for the meeting tomorrow is to bring a water coalition of support. -- wider coalition of support. >> speaking of someone that has watched well-armed bosnian serb units smashed through populations, might i ask my hon. friend whether where the resolution of 1973 allows us to avoid arms and our growth and directly are those people fighting against gaddafi in ben ghazi and elsewhere? >> the first point i make to my hon. friend is how welcome it
was that bosnia was sitting on the security council and able to vote in favor of this resolution. it helps to enforce the arms and our growth and our legal understanding that it applies to the whole of libya. but what it does in paragraph 4, because it authorizes all the states to take all necessary measures to protect civilian areas under threat of attack in libya, including ben ghazi, that is very strong language. it allows you to take a number of military steps to protect people and to damage to those that are intending to damage civilians. it could not be clearer. let me make this point as well. while i think we should maintain the convention of the government is entitled to have legal advice and in cairo -- entitled to receive that privately, i do think it is right that in these sorts of occasions something
should be published about it can be debated. and we will make sure that it is done well in advance of the debate on monday. >> what effect has gaddafi had on the complications of iraq? greta, what is clear is that if gaddafi goes into ben ghazi -- >> what is clear is that if adopted goes into ben ghazi, the time for action is now. in terms of reconstruction, humanitarian aid, the secretary will be leading a cross government troops -- group to make sure that we are doing everything we can to get humanitarian aid to a report of the country and plan for the
future. >> gaddafi, knew he was about to be indicted for war crimes for sierra leone. he well understands the reach of international criminal law. will he make -- will my hon. friend make it clear that it is not just gaddafi that stands at risk of being indicted by the icc where all those around him responsible for war crimes? >> an extremely good point. the we are making sure that gaddafi and his committee colleagues know they are in danger of going in front of the icc, but also the regime is in danger. and added to that, anyone who thinks he is a mercenary, organizing and mercenaries -- or
organizing mercenaries faces the same. >> i supported the freedom struggle of the libyan people and i support the u.n., but i have reservations about using western powers in this region. in the short term, is there to be a fine lot of for peace? ? -- for peace talks? and can i also say that given the change of regimes in this region, given what is happening in bahrain, can i urge you to go to the united nations and say now is the opportune time to
reestablish a middle eastern conference that looks at the long-term security of this region. >> in terms of what the u.n. is suggesting, it is very clear paragraph one demands the immediate establishment of a cease-fire and a complete end to violence. and its second paragraph it stresses the need to find a solution to the crisis that response to the legitimacy of the american people. we make this ultimatum and the way the u.n. has made this ultimatum. if kibaki continues brutalizing his people, -- if gaddafi continues brutalizing his people, with all the backing of the u.n., with the arab league behind us, if not then, then when? i think he does need to think. of course, you should have all sorts of things holding you back
before taking action. but when you have this degree of international backing and if he will not stop the brutalizing of civilians, that it does seem to me there is a complete legitimization of taking action to protect those civilians. >> can i also congratulate the prime minister on his amazing turnaround with this regime. can i also ask him about the arab league and the role that they may be able to play? >> the arab league came for -- came forward so clear the and ask for a no-fly zone. so many of them were so clear that gaddafi was illegitimate and what he was doing was wrong and there was a genuine sense of outrage about what he was doing. the key now is to encourage members of the arab league not just in those words and great
sentiments, but also to play an active participation to the world can see that if action is necessary there are airplanes alongside french and british, as is necessary. >> this is not iraq, but it is an important test of the international community's willingness to protect civilians from the immediate danger of slaughter. given the importance of keeping the arab world on board in this endeavor, would the prime minister tell the house a bit more about his objectives for tomorrow's meeting in paris? >> the first objective of tomorrow's meeting in paris is to bring together those arab leaders that president sarkozy and president obama and i have been speaking to in recent days to bring them together in person, so we can discuss the importance of the alliance to
prosecute the implementation of this un security resolution. that is the most important thing. the range of activity and logistics need to take place. i hope tomorrow will be a visible demonstration of our world coming together to say to this man he must stop what he is doing and if he does not, there will be severe consequences. it has been an incredible and convincing case to joint action to protect libyans whose lives are being threatened by gaddafi, a despot with a record of terror. however, if a no-fly zone can be established in time, can the prime minister say which organizations, and nations have been -- have indicated they will be willing to play a part of a stalemate arises? is a danger of
stalemate, as he says. , there arepens canno actions we can take. as it stands today, there is not a stalemate. of course, if he succeeds, then there could be a role for the african union and others. >> the prime minister talks about the need to think about the consequences of our action or inaction. of course, one of the possible consequences is that gaddafi is left weekend and alienated, but not defeated. what consideration has been given to this scenario, in particular, implications in the regions and more widely? >> the lady makes a good point. we have to consider all of these issues. the reason gaddafi is weakened and insecure is because his
people rose up and said they want no more of him. they want a more democratic future. i believe in response to that we have been right and others have been right to encourage the arab world and the north african world to move in a more democratic direction. but from a national security perspective, we have to consider all of the implications of what is happening in libya. she is entirely right in that view. >>, understandably, this statement today has focused on military and diplomatic issues. there is already a huge humanitarian crisis happening with a large number of them having fled across borders into malta and other places. would you recognize that many of us in this house, and countless millions of our constituents are equally proud of the very strong use of soft or that our nation
is able to utilize in these difficult weeks and months ahead. >> my hon. friend makes an extremely good point. the king obviously on what is happening with the borders -- looking obviously on what is happening with the borders, soft power has had enormous affect in giving people a sense that there is a better future available to them. and i think that in spite of the fact that there may be difficult days ahead as we grapple with implementing the security council resolution, we should lift our hands up and hope that there is a better future for this region, and our world. >> there will be much more
complex decisions and then what we've already had to take, which will affect life and death in libya. and we all want to see gaddafi gone and we want to see been ghazi protected. is there any action over russia oppose the extension? and would you make sure that hon -- over russia's abstention? >> the hon. gentleman makes a good point about custer munitions. on the issue of the russian abstention and, indeed, chinese abstention, all that i would observe is that i think this is, in many ways, quite a welcome step forward. we are talking about a very tough resolution about what has happened in another country where people are being brutalized. in years gone by, we would have expected to see potentially
security council vetoes. but the fact that we have not is a very important step forward for international law and international rights and the future of our world. >> time is of the essence: those that are resisting will need apathy. the resolution of 1973 actually provides an embargo to enable supplies to those resisting gaddafi and there about -- in ben ghazi and there about spirit -- thereabouts.
>> i think i am right in saying that the resolution has been in force across libya, and the legal advice that others have mentioned that it is only applied to the regime is not actually correct. >> in these next two difficult months, can we make sure that we do not damage the libyan water and energy infrastructure? we do not want to make things more difficult for the wider population. >> in many ways, the easy decisions have been made and now that of all times are ahead. i am acutely conscious of that. if it is that gaddafi will not cease war on his own people, and if it is the case that military action must be taken, we need to make sure that it is done commensurate with international law and trying to avoid whenever
possible collateral damage. >> i would like to thank the prime in this report coming to the house so early to make this statement. we take very seriously and the deployment of british troops. the substantial measure that he has mentioned, could that not be debated later this evening or tomorrow morning when the troops are deployed? >> we discussed in cabinet is warning and we felt the best approach was to give time for the tabling of a substantive motion today, which has to be done by 2:30 p.m., mr. speaker. and in advance of that, it will give anyone who wants to suggest a measure of the chance to do that and then there can be a proper debate on monday. i considered whether it would be
better to do -- to hold the debate on tuesday. i judged, a substantive measure is the right thing to do. what assurances can the prime minister give to the house on abstention? >> this resolution does seem to be clear in that it has a call for a cease-fire and it has a no-fly zone, all the necessary measures for a no-fly zone, has the need to protect civilians, and all necessary measures for civilians, along with all of the travel plans and asset seizures and the rest of it. it is a very clear resolution. as we go ahead, we want to take people with us.
every action has a consequence. it will be a difficult path. but i welcome the fact that the resolution says so clearly that there must not be an occupying force. i think that sends such a clear signal to the arab world and the muslim world and to the people in our country scarred from that happening in the past. there are limits on this that are absolutely right. >> can i thank my hon. friend for his statement? recent history has shown that commensurate military action such as will remove power. >> i think the hon. denman makes
an extremely good point. of course, there is always the case which goes something like, path" start down this because it might be difficult to achieve it. to stand by and watch the slaughter of innocent civilians when it is not in your own national interest as well means to be passive. i do believe what we're doing can help to protect civilians and over time help bring about a better future for libya. >> i welcome those u.n. resolution. i oppose written a opposing military involvement in implementing it. the u.n. resolution is not to secure a no-fly zone for humanitarian protection. it is an extraordinary authorization of regime change. unless the price minister believes libya's arab and african neighbors lack either
the capacity or the compassion for their brothers and to act, why is he insisted on putting a british military personnel at risk? >> i honestly and respect the hon. gentleman's view, but if you have -- if you will the end, then you should also will the minister that end. -- the means to that end. we do have one of the five finest -- one of the finest armed services in the world. i do not think we should play a disproportionate part, but i think we should play a proportionate part alongside allies like france and america and the arab world. to say that we should pass a resolution like this and to stand back and hope that someone somewhere in the arab world will bring it about is profoundly wrong. >> mayra also commend the prime
minister's courage and leadership? will there be the use of the southern bases in cyprus to enforce this no-fly zone? >> i do not want to go into too much detail over deployments, but to those who express concern about aircraft carriers, clearly, if you are undergoing operations in the southern mediterranean to provide a no- fly zone and carry out all of the necessary measures, the fact that there are so many friendly countries, members are france, italy, obviously, there are plenty of opportunities for raising other aircraft to make sure that we do what we need. >> those of us in northern
ireland will shed no tears over mr gaddafi, especially in regards to his rule over the years in supplying weapons to northern ireland. can i ask the prime minister if he is in a position to give an update in regard to the red cross? will they be active on the ground? >> first, he is absolutely right, the people of northern ireland have every right to remember the pain that has been caused by gaddafi's funding of the ira, iraq has still not been righted. >> who just yesterday i was was in my concern that the situation was potentially our
generation's rwanda, and i'm glad that he and all the others who pushed through this resolution did so. i'm sure it was held by the chilling words that colonel gaddafi issued in his radio interview. has the security council been able to assess the potential threat, or is it anti hot air of a tyrant? -- empty hot air of a tyrant? >> these are chilling words about what he is planning to do to his own country, to his own people, and the fact that he must be stopped. you've heard the reported remarks about civilian aircraft. every country has the right under international law for self-defense and a right that you can exercise in full. >> will be right hon. gentleman agree that the merit of the operation to liberate kuwait in
1991 was that it was finite and the established order, and that the disaster of the war in iraq in 2003 was that after it was it resulted in a government that purported disaster and chaos? >> we have to learn the lessons of iraq and proceed with the maximum arab support. but we should also learned the lessons of bosnia where we should not stand aside and witness a slaughter. what is important is to recognize that no two situations are directly alike. this is not iraq or lebanon or bosnia. we have to use the right
judgment to get our response correct. that is what the governor is determined to do, and to take as many people with us as possible. >> may i thank the prime minister for his singular service over the last few weeks? will he join with me in paying tribute to those who will render an even greater service, those young men and women whose -- on his courage and training will have to rely? >> he is absolutely right to nannette point. it is not -- to make that point. it is not the people who make the decisions that have the difficult path ahead. it is those that have to carry out those decisions. we should be incredibly proud of our armed forces and their courage and dedication ability to take on this mission. we should never taken for granted or ask them to do things that they cannot complete. but i have full confidence that
they will perform magnificently, as they always do. >> manar i have my voice -- may i add my voice to the congratulations? can the prime minister give a sense of how long he expects this military engagement we are about -- about to embark on it will last? >> corlette me just put on record what strong support that i have had and the foreign secretary has had from members across the coalition and are across the house of commons. there has been lobbying and involvement in other countries and i think the minister has the that a good job. i do not want to go into too much detail of what will happen if gaddafi does not respond to the u.n. resolution, but action would have been rather rapidly and we want to do what is
necessary to bring the security council to make sure that the terms of it are met. >> steven phillips. >> mayor also echoed the congratulations -- may i also echoed the congratulations? in iraq, with regard to the country, the war was not legal. in order that there can be confidence across the country in the legality of the action taken by the government, that advice needs to be followed as closely as possible. can my right hon. friend assure me that will be the case and we will see that of vice as soon as possible? >> what i can promise is that you will see a summary of position of this device before the debate on monday.
if he wants to see the legal basis, it is all there in the u.n. security council resolution. it is the strongest possible statement. and my friend is sitting next to me on the bench while i make those kind comments about lawyers. >> can i thank the prime minister for showing leadership in a time of need? now that the u.n. has agreed upon action, will the prime minister make sure that actions will be swift and powerful and precise? >> we should do everything that is necessary to bring about the u.n. security council resolution's conclusion. that is what our aim should be. that is what should guide us and
everything we do should be proportionate to that. we have made a choice, and it is a choice to play our part to enforce international law, to uphold the will of the u.n. security council, to respond to the call of the arab countries and the are bleak, and -- in the arab league, and to respond to the needs of the people in the country of libya. >> in regard to the no-fly zone, where setting it up in the first place by taking out the assets of the country involved. especially if those are employed in the civilian population what lessons have been learned in iraq and bosnia about how best to do this? >> my hon. friend makes an important point. because our military has been involved in a number of the no- fly zones over the years, we
know what we are doing. i have not said that this will be easy, but it is one element of what is necessary to for their turn up the pressure and say that what we're seeing is simply not right. >> the prime minister has informed the house that we are preparing to deploy tornadoes and typhoons to irrelevant airbase -- to relevant air bases. >> it is not necessary to carry out the operations we are considering to have an aircraft carrier. that is because of the answer that i gave -- you know, in this part of the world in particular, there are clearly a number of available basis that give you the basis you need to carry out
the action required. >> can i start in congratulating the prime minister for intervention in libya? will we be joining in recognizing the rebels as the alternative government? >> the truth is that he knows that in this country recognize countries rather than government. what matters is the making contacts with transitional authorities and speaking with and building relationship i with is the right way to proceed. >> can i ask him what he meant when he said we do not intervene, except in exceptional circumstances? i think that is in contrast to
iraq of 2003. this time we do have a public opinion from the attorney general and the whole thing has been properly signed off from the united nations. >> of wanted to make sure that with this cabinet meeting this morning they were able to read the u.n. security resolution, the attorney-general legal advisor, a draft of my statement because i believe there will be days ahead when these things do not go according to plan. it is very important of the cabinet makes a decision and then drives that idecision true. -- through. >> this weekend on c-span's wrote to the white house, likely gop presidential candidate, herman cain, on whether he will run for the republican
nomination. >> i put my toe in the water and is now up to my neck. the feedback that we have gotten in this country, tens of thousands were willing to volunteer. >> this sunday at 6:30 a.m. and -- at 6:30 p.m. and 90 p.m. eastern and pacific. >> the c-span that works provides color -- coverage of public affairs, nonfiction and history. find our content any time through c-span's video library. and we take c-span on the road with our digital bus, local content vehicles. it is washington your way, the c-span networks. now available in more than 100 million homes, created by cable and provided as a public service. >> general david patraeus said today he did not think u.s. participation in a no-fly zone over the villa of would have any impact, on the war in afghanistan.
the general also reiterated support for the obama administration's july 2011 date for the beginning of the drawdown of u.s. troops. and he said the first withdrawals would likely include some combat troops. this is about an hour. >> we want to thank the museum for hosting this event and providing all the facilities for us here at the national journal for our conversation. we want to thank general patraeus and his team for helping us with this event. we are indebted to the museum
for providing the facilities and arrangements for carrying this off. and steve clemons, thank you for getting the word about this event. please silence your cellphone, i phones, and every other electronic device -- iphones and every other level electronic device. you have the ability to bring your own questions to general patraeus predicts will circulate a -- general patraeus. we will take -- we will collect your questions and we will filter them -- will not be filtering them. [laughter] as you can see, i did not survive st. patrick's day intact. they will be put on to an ipad
and then we will have those questions put to general patraeus, which will be led by michael o'hanlon. again, no filtering. if you are twitter savvy, as this conversation continues, you are welcome to tweet that hash tag, n.j. patraeus. michael, take it away. [applause] >> lumley seybert ford of introduction about general patraeus and then we will go into a conversation and set of questions and then the second half hour we will take all of your ideas and thoughts and
questions to the general. he is a 1974 graduate of west point. he also had many positions and commands distinguished along the way. in 1983 he won the army general award at command staff college. and he did his ph.d. in about two and half years, which was less than half as much time as any of the rest of us. he continues to be, i think my princeton record. he spent some time teaching at west point, and many of us know the story from that point onward in the following two decades. and i will just remind you that depending on how you count europe, i think he is in his seventh diploma now, including a deployment in haiti, at eleven in bosnia in the 1990's, three deployment in iraq and now his command position in afghanistan. on top of that, let me mention a couple of the awards he has won. the defense of cink which --
distinguished service medal, the bronze star, and the gold award of the iraqi order of the date palm. we have seen a number of accomplishments in this young man's career. in 2007 he was the runner-up for the time person of the year. i'm still not convinced anyone had a better 2007 then general patraeus. and and sure we are still very grateful for what he has accomplished in iraq. i want to conclude this introduction in a way that i think is appropriate. all of us want to thank his family, his wife holly, and his children, and all of the military families around the country. please join me in welcoming general patraeus. [applause] >> thanks for the kind introduction and thanks to all of you for being here instead of being glued to our tv screens to
see what is happening abroad the world in libya and elsewhere. i heard that mike o'hanlon was going to get his ph.d. in less time. not that i'm competitive or anything like that, so i decided to step up the pace. [laughter] i have done a handful of presentations here at newseum and i want to thank them for pulling this together. i am assured that there is no military officer that has done more presentations here and i have and i will try to continue to defend the particular title. we have done several of these in the past and they seem to work out pretty well. the conversation literally goes where he first wants to lead it and then where you all want to take it. it will be interesting to see today with people fielding twitter and ipads and everything
else. i do have reinforcements ready with a power point slide. it is one of the rights reserved to every army general. as i looked to the audience coming year, and it really is an impressive group, i was reminded of a moment a number of years back. i was a young major working on temporary duty for the then commander in chief of the u.s. southern command, the great general john galvin, who some of you will recall when on to be the supreme allied commander in europe and the dean of the fletcher school of diplomacy. this was in the mid-1980s and we had engagement going on in el salvador, colombia, and proof and other places in central and south america -- and peru and other places in central and south america. another great deal from it. of relevance to this event, as
we drove over here i remember watching his interaction with the press and he was really quite skillful in that. i remember one day in particular watching an especially lively press conference. and when it was complete we were walking to his vehicle and he said, what did you think? how you think it went? and i said, well, sir, it seemed to me that you got all your point across, but frankly, you never answered a single one of their questions. [laughter] well, he responded, they did not ask a single one of mine. [laughter] i am sure that will not be the case today. a look forward to a conversation with a great princeton colleague, the man who has to have the record for the most of deads since 9/11 -- the most of since 9/11. i will note that mike has been in afghanistan more recently
than i have. he just got back a ninth ago, i guess. we will asking for updates as well. >> thank you, general. i want to begin with -- a lot of people are concerned about the afghanistan war and you inspired great confidence this week in your presentation before congress. yet i know people are worried that this has now become our longest war. you joined the military during the vietnam war. you wrote your dissertation about some of the dozens of vietnam. i do not think afghanistan is via non-, but i would like you to explain -- is vietnam, but i would like you to explain to the crowd while using that. we are nine years in and it seems that we're not going to withdraw many trips this summer. our allies are more interested in, but -- in accomplishing its
mission objectives than getting out. i want to ask you why you think this is not become a quagmire. again, i do not think it is, but a lot of americans have that concern. >> first and foremost, i think there is a very little argument about the truly vital national security interest that resides in afghanistan, and of course, in the greater, afghanistan- pakistan region. there's no question about why we went to afghanistan. it is because of 9/11. the attacks, of course, were planned in the al qaeda camps that were in afghanistan at the time and the taliban controlled a majority of the country. the initial training of the attackers took place in camps there before they moved on to hamburg and then u.s. like schools. we went there because of the attacks and, really, our core objective is to ensure that afghanistan does not once again become a sanctuary for al qaeda
or some other would-be transnational extremists. the region does have other groups that have aspirations in that regard. beyond that, i think it is important to recall, as i did explain on capitol hill -- and you know, we had a total of about 10 hours of hearings and there. two open hearings and then others behind closed doors. one of the things that i really to stress is that it is only recently that we have gotten the inputs right in afghanistan. there were three phases and afghanistan,, the early phase. to we got that right and then over time took our eye off the ball and focus on other issues in iraq. obviously, it was the darn guy over -- at guard guy patraeus
over in iraq that what of all of the resources. the truth is that when i took command of central command coming out of iraq in late 2008, but, the end of october, and looked at afghanistan in a very deliberate manner, and it was clear that we did not have the organizations in place necessary to carry out a comprehensive military counterinsurgency campaign. we learned what we needed to do in iraq and some other historical examples. we did not have the resources that we needed. and of course, since then we have added some 87,000 nato isaf troop contributing nations, triple the funding for afghan security forces and so forth. and we did not have all of the concepts of right and did not have every integration strategy
-- a real integration strategy. and a variety of these other conceptual underpinnings for the kind of campaign that we needed to conduct. the bottom line is that we needed to achieve our core objective. again, afghanistan does not have a transnational extremist sanctuary. there's only one way to do that, and that is, to help afghanistan to the lakhvi capability -- to secure its capability to an adequate degree. the only way to do debt is to carry out a comprehensive civil- military approach. a comprehensive approach, one that is not just connecticut's activities, but also includes support for various civilian organists -- not just kinetic activities, but also
includes support for various i civilian entities. the decisions of the first year of president obama's administration provided the resources that we needed and we have worked very hard to build various organizations that we knew work required. if you have to kill or capture every bad guy in the country, you have to figure of how to reintegrate the reconcilable. we did not have a sufficiently robust training mission. the truth was that the taliban was regaining momentum from at least 2005, and perhaps even
earlier. the fact is that i was as to go through afghanistan on the way home from a second tour in iraq -- we did a 15.5 month tour and the secretary of defense asked me to come home through afghanistan. that was my reward. we went out there with 18 and we did this. i went back and have a variety of observations, suggestions and so forth, and included a power point slide that was entitled "afghanistan does not equal to iraq" and laid out all the differences. and i said, the bottom line is that in my view, afghanistan is going to be the longest campaign and the long war. that did not illicit wild applause -- that did not illicit wild applause on the third floor of the pentagon.
i remember sitting in iraq wondering why i have not taken the afghan job when i have the chance, and that was the work we're winning going away. but the truth is, it was already starting to spiral down and the taliban was already his publishing safe havens. it is only in the last six months that we have taken away from them the very important and the very important areas of central helmand province that were the nexus between the taliban and their command and control of the illegal narcotics industry, marcia being the hub of that. -- marja being the hub of that. interestingly, on the first of march this year there was an election for district community council. it followed the very spirited and raucous debate and 75% of registered voters cast a ballot.
they now have a good counsel and a good district governor as well. that is generally true of the other districts in central helmand province as well, although there is fighting to be done there, particularly as we push north. >> i was going to now try to probe into a little bit on a couple of issues. one would be the afghan government and security forces and how they are coming along. i would also like to ask about pakistan and then we will prole be ready to go to the audience. on the first question, we tend to personalize the afghan government a lot in the american debate, and of course, in the form of president karzai. i was fortunate enough to see him on monday. of course, you see him a lot. the obviously strikes me as frustrated with the length of the war, like many americans, and of the emotional about the state of play.
but i do not want to ask about president karzai. i want to ask about the other leaders that you deal with in the military, the police force, the cabinet, and maybe invite you to explain to all of us what you see in terms of their mettle. do you see some good reforms? do you see some good people? and on the afghan security forces themselves, you mentioned in testimony this week that they have done a lot. in a lot of the operations and you said something like 60% of the combined forces in afghanistan. can you talk about how well they are fighting in how well their leadership is coming along? and also, how well their ethnic balance is working because some people are concerned about ethnic tensions as well. >> it almost mirrors the country in terms of percentages. it is about 42% -- the army, for example, 42% pashtun.
but there is a challenge in that there are southern pashtun and they have had an active recruiting campaign to fill that gap. they have been doing reasonably well. they have been getting hundreds per month from the it also reflects the fact as security has improved in certain districts that young men can raise their hand, joined the military, and not end up with their families killed, kidnapped, or intimidated. that is positive as well. with respect to the government, the senior ministers, by and large, are very impressive. the vast majority of them are what would be turned technocrats in the rest of the world. very impressive individuals. many of them are reformers. again, you have to operate within the political context, as has president karzai in
afghanistan. it has significant restraints. there is a perception that time that he is on the mets hit -- on the bataan, that they are all powerful. he is given considerable powers compared to most other democracies by the constitution, but the fact is that he has to maintain a political foundation that must include, for example, is first vice president, northern alliance. the second vice-president, the shia. he is constantly having to shore up his political foundation, which consists of considerations for both ethnic and sectarian dynamics in the country. the new get it to the tribal aspects of it as well. so that does put right and left limits on the road forward for what they can do in certain respects. but the senior leaders, again, quite impressive. the challenge, and they will be the first to tell you, president karzai will be the first to tell
you, the challenge is the human capital in the institutions themselves. then the challenge of criminal patronage networks to those institutions as well, which use very forthright about in truly does want to deal with. with respect to the human capital, you have to remember, this is a country that suffered through 30 years of war. when it started, it was one of the three or four poorest companies in the world. the human capital left the country. it is understandable. or went to work for ngo's what have you. there has been an attraction back with a number of these individuals, but not enough to populate these large institutions, these large ministries, to the extent that is necessary by any means. there is a challenge with government or capacity, particularly when it comes to budget execution. what is a military commander concerned about budget execution, and had a long conversation with president karzai about that. i am concerned about it because
if we cannot get better budget execution as you put more money on budget and remove the parallel institutions that he rightly and understandably expresses reservations about, because they are doing what government should be doing for the people, well, if you put it on budget, that will let it out to the people and the basic services will not be there. they're going to do what that they can in the years that lie ahead, because this is the key to building institutions to which we can transition very important tasks for the afghan people. there is another issue, and that is this challenge of what he and i have agreed to call criminal patronage networks the these are individuals who are crooks. they're breaking the law. they enjoy a degree of political protection from the various elements in this, again, political firmament that is out there.
and they're not acting as individuals. they are part of networks. an example of this was the surgeon general. he fired him after hearing what this individual was doing, which was just really immoral, not just illegal. stealing drugs, selling them, and replacing them with counterfeit, this kind of activity. as this was laid out for him as a result of an effort to investigate and determine the facts, he fired them on the spot in his version of the oval office and stuck to it, even though the individual had considerable political support in certain quarters. he then fired the chain of command at the national military hospital. there are other cases out there like this that will be big tests. of course, the resolution of the kabul bank issues and so forth to the satisfaction of the imf, which is hugely important.
you have got to get the imf program going. these are all important efforts in the months and years that lie ahead. the reason he was seized with private security contractors was because to some degree, these organizations that were owned and operated by important individuals, some of them former warlords. it justifies keeping guys with guns, and it pays their salaries. and we were contributing to this. and he saw these rightly as competing with the governmental security forces that would be needed to take this country forward. again, he was right to do that. we now have a bridge solution as a two or three days ago to take that. that issue is now resolved. it will take a year. then there is a cause for diplomats and so forth beyond that as well. with respect to the afghan national security forces, they have grown, not just in quantity.
70,000 in 2010 alone. but in quality. i do not want to overstate this. this is again hugely challenging. we jokingly talk about it being like building the world's largest airplane while in flight while is being designed and while it is being shot at. it is very, very difficult. you're building institutions, not just the italians. we're way past the point of just building infantry battalions to help in the fight against the insurgents. this is about building branch schools and centers, about building so-called enablers, about building logistics, maintenance, artillery, armor, aviation, fixed-wing and rotary wing, military intelligence, military police, transportation, all of these are necessary. and this is why we judge none of the and it's actually independently yet, because they haven't proven quality as units. again, the can i get sustain and support themselves.
that is the focus of this year and next year. there is unevenness, without question. there are still challenges with some of the elements but you will recall that one reason that marjah was taken over by the taliban is because there was frustration with the police. they were praying on the people, rather than serving the people. so there's no question that, again, integrity and a culture of service have to be inculcated in these forces. some of the units have truly grasp to this very, very well. others, frankly, still have more work to do. but i can assure you that the leadership of the military, the minister of defense, the chief general staff, president karzai, and then on the moi side, they're very serious. the moi has replaced dozens of senior leaders and lower level individuals, in general, because there were either incompetent
or in relative terms and effective or, in some cases, because there were corrupt, carrying out corrupt activities. you know, there has been a lot of discussion about july 2011. i often noted that july 2011 was a message of urgency. it complemented the december 2009 speech at west point by president obama about enormous commitment. i do not know if it was appropriate. it did create a sense of urgency. then when you had the lisbon agreement to 2014, afghan forces in the lead at that point in time, and therefore a sustained substantial commitment by national leaders of the troop contributing nations. that took the concerns of people might have had that july 2011 was heading for the exits rather than being the beginning of what president obama has turned the
responsible drawdown of search forces at a base determine the conditions on the ground. they give you some sense of the government, the challenges in building capacity, which i think will be the biggest of the challenges in the years that lie ahead. again, we want to achieve the kabul conference commitment from last year of 50% on budget. there has got to be much greater budget execution capacity. as i said, i also had that conversation at some length with the minister of finance, together with embassy representatives, before heading back here. because it is so important. and then the military in the police making strides, general called well and his team have done truly marvelous work in many areas, including by the way finally biting the bullet in doing some of that we probably should have done years ago. that is recognized that we have to help with literacy training for the soldiers and the police.
it is not enough to train someone to shoot a weapon that you cannot read the serial number of the weapon. or to trade a policeman basic petroleum duties, but he cannot read the license plate of a vehicle he is supposed to be looking for. i guess it was six months or so ago. now the results are that i think it is over 50,000 or 60,000 have actually completed. so when they get basic military our basic police training, they also get basic literacy training. it gets them to first grade level. but then when they go to the first stage of noncommissioned officer leader development, the get to third grade. the continues on. the need to the higher levels, and you get to the afghan national military example -- academy, and there were over four and applicants -- applicants for each slot. they did the and missions process this year by numbers, not by names. so that there could be no andah, this-- thi
individual is connected are part of this tribe or that tribe. that is not possible and the way ahead for afghanistan clearly has to include the development of human capital. and the biggest contribution to that is, of course, basic education. it is very heartening to see that this year there will be 8.2 million afghan children in school, compared with less than 1 million and the taliban and some 37% of those, according to the minister of education, will be girls, compared with a minuscule percentage under the taliban. >> we have time for one last question. i will package two into one. i have a follow-up. it is on the afghan forces. then the question about pakistan. the follow-up on the afghan forces, as you know, a well- known book book has been written this year, alleging that the afghan security forces do not fight. they want to put that on the table and ask you to respond.
in addition to the leadership, you talked about, do they really fight? >> they do fine. what is the best -- what is the best measure of that? it is a macaque measure, but it died. the fight and die in their country at considerable numbers. beyond that, one thing i get asked is, ok, general, when the afghans, to step up to the plate and take the lead somewhere? these questions are usually post in kabul. and i say, well, you know, we're in kabul. it is about 5 million people. it is one fit to one-quarter the population of the entire country, and the afghan forces are in the lead in kabul. and as we hear president karzai announced transition, that is a likely candidate for that. we will see. it is his decision. it will be announced on the 22nd now, as in the stand of the fact is that in kabul if you drive around, and you did and we do, it is not baghdad.
one of the early takeaways after taking command was that this place is not on the receiving end of three car bombs per day, as was the case in baghdad in my second month in command there. it is a very, very different atmosphere but yes, their periodic sensational attacks, but they're quite periodic. kabul has had a security time now for about eight months that has really been quite good, by cocotte's standards. and is afghan forces. it is afghan police who are on the streets. that is the face of security. it is afghan soldiers further out in the outer rings, and it is afghan special units that are on the streets every single night, conducting an average two to three targeted intelligence- driven operations, which are to be sure, assisted by intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platforms from u.s. military or some of our partner elements or some
intelligence agencies, but it is afghan forces during the knock on the door, go over the wall and conducting the actual operation with some assistance, in relatively small numbers to the glee. >> let me ask about pakistan. it is a guessing that some in the audience they follow up. in your testimony, i think you appropriately and knowledge the great efforts the pakistanis have made in recent years against their own internal taliban, dealing with tragic floods last year, and so forth. i also was struck, and i was glad to hear your tone of guarded hopefulness, about what they might do next in terms of dealing with the sanctuary's, the key parts of the afghan insurgency. i found myself hoping you're right but wondering how much you worry about the counter argument, which would be that the afghans that actually kept these scenes were is operational for their own reasons, which they may not have backed away from. a they may think they may not get the job done well enough in the afghanistan and the one that
back up plan. or perhaps they're even in a more aggressive way trying to exert some leverage over president karzai and try to have a hand in any kind of negotiations he may ultimately carry out what the taliban, make sure their power brokers. how confident are you that pakistan really is going to step up its game this year and next against the sanctuaries on its territory? >> let me start by saying that i think you really hickey point. that is that very likely, among the most important ways to influence what happens over time in pakistan is to continue to make progress in afghanistan. if there is hedging of bets, as you say, and there are various debates on this and that, it is because there is an uncertainty about how afghanistan will turn out. it is understandable that pakistan should want to have reassurance that the country to
its west, given how narrow pakistan is in particular, which has often been seen as a strategy for pakistan will to do something happening from india, that that country is not a proxy for india or something like this. so it would be not just peaceful and stable, but it would also be a friend of pakistan rather than antagonistic. i think that is hugely important. i think it is a reasonable desire on the part about pakistani partners. it is important to note what they have done over the course of the last two years. remember that two years ago, there were enormous challenges. their economics, their reserves were running down. i remember talking about the price of oil spiking and the winter of 2008 -- i think other commodity prices were going up.
i actually went to the world bank and the treasury as a combatant commanders because i was so worried that such security implications then that got sorted out. but then you had swat valley taken over in use -- what used to be called the northwest frontier province. several of the agency's lost thousands of soldiers and thousands of civilians in a very impressive counterinsurgency campaign. again, to clear swat valley and the other areas of what is now called khyber. many of these agencies were part of it. this is been very, very tough. they have moved a lot of forces to focus on this effort. they have increased by at least a third of the forces that are out there and have taken a number of internal reforms to reconfigure their forces for
this kind of combat. they have done a very, very aggressive job and sacrificed a great deal. having said that, there's no question -- again, there will be the first to tell you that there are other groups that are causing problems in the region and that do-over time has to be dealt with. the fact is it is usually important -- it is hugely important that there is a campaign in north waziristan putting enormous pressure on the al qaeda sanctuary there. again, that is a huge significance to our partners and allies in europe and to the homeland. but there are these other areas, and i think we have often talked about how overtime, pakistan does see -- it is working to try to come to grips with this dynamic. and remember, by the way, we funded these cribs and the very beginning. it is how we got rid of the soviets in afghanistan. in the wake of charlie wilson's war, we left. we should remember that.
we have seen the movies before. what happens if you disengage? but there are these groups, and this is the conundrum of allowing poisonous snakes to have a nest in your backyard. you have to understand they're going to bite the neighbor's kids, but sooner or later, they bite your kids. that is how some of the taliban is. there is a worrisome development where youth from some of the settled areas, as the term is, are being radicalized in the tribal areas. this is the kind of challenge, in addition to the various political, social, and economic challenges that pakistan faces, this is the kind of challenge that they're working to come to grips with. we have very close relations with the general. i have met him twice in the last four weeks alone, for example. and we are working more closely than ever on coordinated operations on either side of the
border, so that if they do an operation against the taliban, pakistani, we're postured if they come across the border, as we did, by the way, this past winter and killed a couple dozen of them who were fleeing a pakistani operation. as we have conducted operations on our side, we have worked very hard to coordinate those so that they know we're going to be up near the border, and the same in the south as well. there was a recent operation in helmand province that was very important, because that was a displaced safe haven and nexus of the taliban and illegal narcotics industry that no longer is in operation. >> thank you. major, over to you. >> general, i am going to ask you to do something that you're familiar with. i will not treat this as a lightning rod. for the confidence of this group here -- >> you can do lightning round.
>> some of these questions are very good. you will want to get to as many of them as you can. this group is very hungry to have these questions asked and for you to answer them. let me start with one thing you said on capitol hill this week. this is my question. you said, combat troops could be included in the july 2011 withdrawal timetable. will they be included, and at what number? if not a sufficient number to convey the american people that this operation does have a foreseeable end, with and not undermine with the president promised the country on december 1, 2009 at west point? >> would you like these pacific unit designations as well, major? [laughter] >> as specific as you're prepared to be. >> as i explained, i am literally still developing the options. i am doing it with a very, very small group of individuals but a only two other people at headquarters that are participating. i will deliver it personally to my chain of command. and then on to president obama.
we have a variety of criteria, if you will, by which you then assess the different options that we will provide to him in the course of events leading to a recommendation. i have not yet finalized what that recommendation will be, what the numbers will be. it is very likely that there will be combat forces in each of those options. but again, we're still working our way through that and we have not yet finalized that. >> the "washington post"-abc news poll said 64% of americans surveyed in this country do not believe this war is worth fighting. why are they wrong? >> well, obviously, i was struck by that. as commander, i did say on capitol hill that i am not here to sell the war. i am here to report forthrightly on the situation on the ground, and i think that is the responsibility of the military commanders. but clearly, you have to be aware of the strategic context within which your operating, and obviously domestic public
opinion is very important in that context, as it is in the other 47 troop-contributing nations of the nato force. so it is a concern. the undersecretary and i both tried to remind folks of this. i think it is important to recall why we went there and why we're still there. as i mentioned the up front, to remember that it is a vital national security interest that transnational extremists, al qaeda and others, not be able to reestablish a sanctuary in afghanistan as they head prior to 9/11. >> a question from the audience. is afghanistan a tavon country? do you have reasons to believe or fear that the social political changes your instituting will not remain after we depart? >> first, we're not about social and political and institutional change. what we're doing is helping our afghan partners develop what is right for them.
that is our goal. we often say, as well, i actually remind our troopers, guys, this is not about winning hearts and minds for us. we would love to have hearts and minds. everybody wants to be loved. but what really matters is hearts and minds for our afghan partners, so we can transition tasks to them so that they are seen as legitimate in the eyes of the people. that is the true measure of success, and that is what we're trying to do. we are supporting, certainly, the development of institutions in afghanistan. it literally evolves. there are countervailing forces there. a lot of people -- in fact, on capitol hill, a number of people, including nancy pelosi, talk about women in afghanistan and ensuring there is not backsliding. i pointed out to her that there is a i think a 10% greater number of women in the afghan parliament than in the u.s. congress. there is constitutional
requirements for that. but that does exist. i mentioned already that there is much greater access of elementary schooling for afghan girls. the same is true of secondary and then college education. but let's remember, it is also a very conservative country, particularly in the rural areas. there are these dynamics that will pull it in different directions but our job is to support our afghan partners, not to try to trick leavitt them. >> do you the provincial reconstruction teams are effective and properly resource? president karzai wants to disband them. do you agree? >> i do agree. he is right. parallel institutions to have to go away. but of course, they have to go away when afghan institutions can do the very important work that provincial reconstruction teams are doing for the afghan people, together with a variety of other international governmental organizations, u.s. aid is very prominent. >> we have two questions along
this line. what is the nature of iran's role in afghanistan? is it entirely malignant or there are opportunities of cooperation? >> let me answer that. because i think what you see with iran in afghanistan is a degree of conviction, almost by polarity. you have on the one hand the security services of iran, which have been greatly strengthened in recent years as a result of the supreme leader having to turn to them in such a significant way to put down the demonstrations in the wake of the high-tech elections a year and a half ago. so you had these security services, the iranian revolutionary guard force foremost among them, providing training, funding, and so forth to the afghan taliban. of course, we publicly announced the seizure of 48 122 mm rockets
just across the border in afghanistan after they were taken after a special operation. it was not a coincidence that we were there and was not a coincidence that these elements were there. these rockets are more than double the range of the ones we have seen in the past, double the payload, and double the bursting radius. that is a big concern. there's all of -- there's also an effort to do soft power. there was a remark to president karzai, and he was provided a gift as he left the country. at the president karzai was pretty distant in saying we will take money from anybody that will give its u.s. and will put it used for the afghan people. but that happens coverley as well and happens with various afghan political figures. then there is the use of soft power. the cut off the fuel to afghanistan a couple of months ago as a reminder how important access to that is. and yet, there's often no desire on the part of iran to see the
afghan taliban return to power. let's remember, iran is a she a majority stake. they do not want to see suny ultraconservatives -- iran is a shia state. they do not want to see sunni culture conservatives coming back to power. so you have this dynamic that gives you some common ground. so does their keen desire to reduce the illegal narcotics industry activity that has enslaved quite a substantial number of young iranians. again, some similar interests. then to get afghan refugees who have returned to afghanistan in very large numbers in recent years from iran, pakistan, and others, but to get more of those home as well, that would apply also. >> questions about the continuing resolution. one is the stopgap funding complicating in any way, large
or small, efforts in afghanistan? specifically, the larger cr that seeks to cut the 2010 budget. if you cut the state to permit by 16%, the u.s. institute of peace by 100%, what impact would that have on your operations in afghanistan? >> the cr is not yet complicating our efforts, but there is a point at which it will, because on one hand, it will prevent the services from -- an example, the u.s. air force will not be able to buy the additional unmanned aerial vehicles that we have requested, and then there are similar examples of that. beyond that, at a certain point, the afghan security forces fund, which is supposed to increase this year by the budget, and would of course be capped at a much lower level. you heard me on capitol state my great concerns about the inadequate levels of funding for state and aid. is a national security issues.
i do not want to diminish the importance of foreign assistance are humanitarian aid, but this category and is what our troopers and have fought so hard and sacrificed so much to achieve need to cement the gains on the ground. again, we do clear and hold that it is state that does the bill. yes, we have every construction program and funding, but we needed the state aid experts, the people, and we need them to have the funding to enable them to do what is necessary again to build on, to complement our efforts, and to consolidate those gains in support of the development of our afghan partners and their institutions and basic services and so forth. >> for earlier this week when he the board were in seeking republican nomination for president, ask this question. what does it matter to eliminate
san jori for extremist? they can operate just as well elsewhere. >> the truth is, they can operate anywhere. and we have sought to do that. we had something like 80% of the deployed special operations forces, and the reason was it was not just iraq and afghanistan, but all that we were doing in other areas, including dimon and other areas in the central command region. arafat is that if we can force them to displace from pakistan, that is hugely significant because they will have to leave infrastructure, relationships, networks, command and control systems and everything else that they have established over 20 or 30 years. and just as when the taliban had to leave jari district and had to leave behind massive caches of explosives and weapons -- and we have found massive times more
explosives and weapons than before because they had to leave or be killed or captured. but there is no question that you have to go after them wherever they are. you want to do that, though, with a minimal amount of what we have to provide on the ground and the maximum amount of helping others to use their capabilities. and enable them to do their job, as we do with so many partners, and as we did with so many partners in the central command region. >> a question that is related to half -- related to scott m.c., a former central marine. things have improved their, but only by direct u.s. involvement in a substantial infusion of money. and there's a question here, the budget is bigger than the entire afghanistan gdp. when we pull out, how does the
afghan pay for -- how does afghanistan pay for its military? and how can we hope to securities gains when, from his perspective, this is done by almost entirely u.s. supervision and financing exports first, that does not give adequate credit to our financing?and find and and >> the first, that does not give adequate credit to our afghan partners. we are down to something like 1600 now, and the afghan forces have picked up much more of the slack. they're still engaged, but much more on the periphery. andy election i mentioned, that was their election -- and the election i mentioned, that was their election. arja on't you show the
election there. there are 10 schools now open there, and there were zero under the taliban rule. again, these are afghans teaching there, not us. certainly, we helped to rebuild the schools. lots of work with the irrigation systems to the markets that used to sell exclusively illegal narcotics and weapons. now they sell household goods, food, and clothing. again, it is the afghan governor who has done this. it is our funding critical? certainly, it has been in the beginning. over time we have to help them build those institutions of they can take them on for themselves. clearly, they have also got to begin the process of exploiting for the afghan people these trillions of dollars of minerals that are in the ground in afghanistan. that is a fact. it is also a fact that they do not have the extractive
capability and technology, but that can come over time. we have been supporting afghanistan, as part of the international community, presumably, as before prime minister of austria said -- australia said, beyond of 2013, but at lower levels the drone attack earlier this week that killed -- >> the drone attack that earlier this week killed some, what you have to say about that? >> i have not seen president karzai's comment about that. i will have to see what the context is. again, i will leave that for the office of defense representative or some intelligence partners of ours. frankly, having said that, president karzai also reviewed to us over the death of nine
innocent afghan civilian boys and he was absolutely right to do it. we did a tragic error, an inadequate handoff that have the insurgents identified to the attack helicopter flying at 8000 to 10,000 feet that misidentified the voice for the target. that is why i obviously publicly apologized and we took corrective measures as well. >> you mentioned as charlie wilson's war. a questioner asks, do you fear the last scene of charlie wilson's war will play out, that whenever we depart congress will be unwilling and in cable, or inattentive to the need to fund the peace afterwards? i actually think that people do -- look, i just finished the most extensive round on capitol hill that i have ever had. i have done a few other hearings of their over time.
-- up there over time. in this particular case, i do not think i have met with each of the top for over a two-day time frame. the chairman of the subcommittee is and then the subcommittee -- the chairman of the committee and in the subcommittee chairs. certainly, we have got to remind the american people and other nations of the importance of that mission. but i think there is an understanding of it. >> how you see the middle east and north africa affecting operations in afghanistan and the overall atmosphere in afghanistan? >> it is interesting that we have not seen anything like that in afghanistan. and by and large, nothing like that in iraq are othefighter.
when you invest in a fair amount of land of the two rivers -- you know, when i left iraq i've always said that i will have the iraqi people in my mind and heart and i meant it. we sacrifice a great deal there. the fact is that the protests in iraq have been about inadequate services. it is not about the parliament or the government, but about their performance. it is something that maliki recognizes. there have been some actions in the wake of the concern, but they had a free and fair elections, as judged by the united nations. they have a parliament that is representative of the people, reasonably responsive to them, and although it took a projected timeframe -- protracted time frame to form their government, it is the course -- is theirs.
they had their say and the executed their democratic right. their complaint, again, is an electricity, jobs, other basic services. and afghanistan we have seen very few demonstrations, and typically they are about local issues or some issue that does have to do with some complain of politics or basic services, but no broad kind of activity akin to that which we have seen in these various other countries. the courts before we wrap up, have a question that has come in several different forms on libya. but before that, i want to get to a question that possibly is very close to your heart and your own sentiments as a leader of fighting men and women. a more hospitals are full of injured service members, how do you indicate that it is worth
the squeeze? >> i always to degree go to walter reed and bethesda when i am here in -- typically go to walter reed and bethesda, when i'm here in washington. you generally go there thinking, ok, i need to give some energy to these guys. i need to give a lift to their morale. the fact is, they tend to lift our moral more than the other way around. by the way, we have a wounded warrior here. he is going to harvard business school and a great military academy graduate. a double above the amputee. [applause] but he is typical of our wounded warriors. it is very clear to me he has taken the rearview mirror off the bus and is focused forward and county and a blessing that he does have -- counting the blessings that he does have an absolutely making the best of
the opportunities that he has. and by the way, i do believe our medical facilities are doing extraordinary work for wounded troops from the point of injury, all the way out there is with the finest technology and green -- training. we have increased the medevac assets out there. we have increased the capabilities to get them to the hospital, which again are extraordinary. the one in germany and then also here in washington or wherever. that being said, you do as yourself, and i used to ask myself that in iraq. and you come back to in afghanistan, servin, to this whole issue about 9/11. this is a pretty ever-present reminder for all as that this is
not something dead you could classify as elective surgery or something like that. there is a reason to go there and there's a reason to accomplish the mission we are there to accomplish. i want you to know you have read this very admirably. >> we have two questions to wrap up and they are both about libya. one is, if there is a u.s. component in the no-fly zone, will that take the necessary assets away from afghanistan? and secondarily, how will and and and libya? -- how will it end in libya? >> i will defer all of that to the commander of the u.s. african command. i would note on the first one that there has certainly been no duty of assets from afghanistan. i have heard absolutely nothing about that whatsoever. secretary gates was very clear on the enormous capabilities that we have in our military.
by the way, we are now getting to the when you're deployed, two years back, so they wanted to dwell time -- the 1 to 2 dagwell time as well. -- dwell time as well. but also, the increase of our forces, the restructuring of the development of the so-called high demand, low density forces in the special operations community and the intelligence committees and so one. there has been real progress there as well. >> general, i want to thank you. i hope that you have felt that i have been an adequate representative of you and your questions. if we want to bring as many of you -- wanted to -- we wanted to bring as many of you into this dialogue as possible. on behalf of the national journal, i want to thank the
america. the first off, brazil, where the president will meet with the new president of that nation and on monday, mr. and mrs. obama will be in santiago, chile for a visit there as well as an official dinner in the president's honor. they will end their trip in el salvador, where mr. obama will take part in bilateral talks. mrs. obama will meet with students to talk about education. >> if you recall in the 60's and 70's we were writing off america. >> business leaders working to keep the city the center of the business world. on how new york regain that position. >> with wall street reemergence, new york city was pulled into the global community and has really prospered ever since.
>> watched the interview sunday night on c-span's q&a. >> on television, on radio, and online. c-span, bringing public affairs to you. created by cable, is washington your way. >> the libyan foreign minister today said libya is declaring an immediate ceasefire and stopping all military operations. the decision came after the un voted yesterday to authorize a no-fly zone and approved all levels -- all necessary measures to protect the libyan people, including air strikes. the foreign minister's comments from the aljazeera network are about 10 minutes. >> after having reviewed the resolution i would like to explain the following. the country will try to deal
things against the libyan nation, such as the no-fly zone, which includes commercial and civilian flights will increase the suffering of the libyan nation and the libyan people. and will have a negative impact on the general life of the libyan people. the international community should have exempted civilians from the resolution to secure
their quality of life. also, the total and includes a freezing of all libyan assets and investments will have a very negative impact on normal libyans and also in negative impact on its ability to defend its contracts legally and internationally. libya also finds that it is very strange and unreasonable allows
and request that all international ngo's and governments and others send a fact-finding positions -- fact- finding missions to the bs of a can take this position. >> the secretary of state hillary clinton said today that the killing of civilians in the believe the world no choice but to threaten military action. the u.n. security council resolution passed today a step in no-fly zone over the via. her comments, would the deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister this morning. this is about 15 minutes.
>> good morning, and everyone. it is a pleasure to welcome lead genista -- lee tunista here this morning. there was broad agreement between such friends and allies. i'm sorry i had to spend st. patrick's day away from the celebrations, but i am delighted that we have so many common goals toward the continuing cooperation between our two countries. we are obviously following what is happening in japan on a minute by minute basis. ireland very generously has contributed to the humanitarian assistance. if we are also grateful -- we are also grateful for the offer of irish experts to assist in
dealing with this, as both ireland and the united states know, japan has been very generous in the past in times of need and we are responding. the conversation that damen and i had about libya -- eamon and i had about libya regards the resolution of 1973, which regards the production of the people of libya. this resolution paves the way for the call to be answered. colonel gaddafi's refusal to hear repeated calls up until now to halt violence against his own people has left us with no other choice but to pursue this course of action. while this resolution is an important step, it is only that. it is an important step. we will continue to explore the most effective measures to end
this crisis. we talked at length about the irish government's extraordinary support for ending global hunger, an area that we are going to continue to work on together. we will be hopefully traveling to africa at some point to highlight the joint project to improve maternal and child nutrition. we also appreciate ireland's support for the cookstove alliance, a very important initiative that we kicked off last september. it has such potential to protect women and children from death and illness buy toxic smoke and to protect the environment. and finally, we talked about the ongoing peace effort in northern ireland. we commend everyone on the progress that has been made. i will meet later today with peter robinson and martin mcguinness. if we are absolutely committed
to working together to give a consistent message of support that the path to peace is the only path. let me thank you for coming here again and having this opportunity to meet with you here in washington thank you -- in washington. >> thank you, very much secretary clinton for your warm words and your broken spirit is a privilege for me to have the opportunity to visit washington today and to have a discussion on a broad range of global and bilateral issues. i appreciate your making time from your hectic schedule. i know you've just got back from europe and the middle east and is very useful for -- to hear your opinions on these issues, which has been at the forefront of concerns in recent weeks. our thoughts are very much with the japanese people, who are
such good friends of the united states and of ireland. for my part, i talked with secretary clinton on the steps that we intend to take to restore growth, and confidence and fix our banking system and produce jobs. we're determined to build up ireland's did -- reputation internationally. ireland and the u.s. have many areas >> your support is deeply appreciated by all your friends and ireland as is your ongoing support for orlin. i also took the opportunity to thank secretary clinton for her support of the irish community here over many years, and we discussed the prospect of progress on immigration reform.
we discussed the popular uprisings against autocratic regimes in north africa and the middle east. i commend the secretary clinton for role in speaking out forcefully and offering a clear moral and political support to those peacefully seeking change throughout the region. as regards libya, i believe that colonel gaddafi has lost all legitimacy to rule and should be encouraged to leave the stage. we hope the adoption of resolution 1973 would bring an end to that violence, protect civilians, and facilitate humanitarian access. in our discussions today we also spoke about the pursuit of comprehensive peace in the middle east, the time and commitment which the administration personally has given to the pursuit of peace in the region has been greatly appreciated. ireland and the u.s. have assured priority in combating hunger and we continue to work together in developing strong
partnerships in the area of food security. and of this is an issue of deep personal interest to you, and i can assure you that the new government very much regards this as a central element in our foreign policy and ireland's role in the world. we look forward to working closely with you to build on what we have achieved so far and to explore new areas of cooperation in the future. i am pleased to announce today ireland's support in the amount of half-million dollars. finally i want to thank secretary of state clinton from the warm welcome i was extended in washington yesterday and particularly the announcement that president obama will visit ireland in may. we see the president's visit as a vote of confidence and arlen at this time and he will no doubt received an enthusiastic and warm welcome in may. thank you very much. >> secretary clinton, the libya
resolution, could you tell us what is the endgame of this resolution? stop the violence against civilians, stop that of these forces, or get him out of office? in other words, should this continued until gaddafi is gone? also the libyan government is saying they are calling for a cease-fire. what do think of that? william engage with them about that, and briefly, these attacks -- will you engage with them about that? the third question, yemen. snipers are firing from rooftops on people. what can you tell us about that? >> as to libya, obviously the united states is very pleased with yesterday's vote. it sends a strong message that heeded.o be heate in efforts by the international community to come together to make clear to colonel gaddafi that cannot continue his
violence against his own people, he cannot continue to attack those who started out by peacefully demonstrating for changes that are within the right of any human being to do so, and the fact that he now has received not just the message of those of us who have been calling for him to end, and the fact that he has lost its legitimacy, but the arab league and the statement that they called for with respect to the resolution. we have seen press reports of a cease-fire by the libyan government. this is a fluid and dynamic situation. we are going to be not responsive or impressed by words. we would have to see actions on the ground, and that is not yet at all clear. we will continue to work with
our partners in the international community to press the coffee to leave -- present gaddafi to leave and support the legitimate aspirations of the libyan people. it is important that we take this one step at a time. the diplomatic efforts required to answer questions and create a level of cooperation as represented by the resolution was very intense in the last week's. the overwhelming vote by the security council i think reflects a broad understanding that number one, stop the violence, and number two, we do believe that a final result of any negotiations would have to be the decision by colonel gaddafi to leave. but let's take this one step at
a time. with regard to yemen, our message remains the same. the violence needs to end. negotiations need to be pursued in order to reach a political solution. >> good morning, and thank you for having us here again. just on the question of how you got there, is anything short of colonel gaddafi leaving acceptable, and in discussions you had on this matter this morning, did you receive any support from ireland on what may follow military action, be that troop transport or whatever it may be? secretary clinton, the last time you were in dublin you said you were working very hard to convince the president to come to dublin. we have that now. will you be there, and what advice do you have for him? >> with respect to libya, again, i want to take this one step at a time. we don't know what the final
outcome will be. the first and overwhelmingly urgent action is to end the violence. we have to see a very clear set of decisions that are operational lies on the ground by gaddafi's forces to move physically a significant distance away from the east, where they have been pursuing their campaign against the opposition. there will have to be an accounting of what has already occurred. there are many stories as you know of massacres, abductions -- until we can have a better idea of what has actually happened, it is hard to know what the next eds will be. the secretary-general appointed a special representative, a former jordanian foreign minister. we will obviously want to have the international community involved in any kind of dialogue with the opposition and with the
gaddafi regime. we just pass this resolution last night, and i think now we are going to be working to our rationalize it. we will see what the net steps will be, as i have already said. we are delighted that the president will be coming to ireland. that is very good news for everyone, and i don't know how many irish-americans will believe they have to be there with them, but i imagine the number will be substantial. the trip will be in may. we are working with the government's of the republican -- of the republic of ireland to plant it. we were delighted by their enthusiastic, positive response. i am excited, and i never know where i am going to be. i would love to be there, because i love to be in ireland under any circumstances, but i do have a lot of good ideas about what the president would
like to do that i will share with our ambassadors and others who will be planning this trip. in a time of very big challenges thisnuclear reactor functions to continuing strife and conflict, this is a very good news story. thank you all very much. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> earlier today, president obama issued a statement on the situation in libya. yesterday, the un security council passed a resolution authorizing military force if necessary to protect civilian populated areas that are under the threat of attack. he spoke this afternoon at the white house after meeting with congressional leaders.
>> i want to take this opportunity to update the american people about the situation in libya. over the last several weeks, the world has watched events unfold in libya with houlton and alarm. last month, protesters took to the streets across the country demand their universal rights and a government that is accountable to them and responsive to their aspirations. they were met with an iron fist. within days, while parts of the country declared their independence from a liberal regime. members of the government serving in libya and abroad chose to align themselves with the forces of change. muammar gaddafi clearly lost the confidence of his own people and legitimacy to lead. instead of respecting the
rights of his own people, innocent civilians were beaten and imprisoned and in some cases, killed. hospitals were attacked and patients disappeared. a campaign of intimidation and repression began. in the face of this injustice, the u.s. and the international community moved swiftly. sanctions were put in place by the u.s. and our allies and partners. the u.n. security council to impose further sanctions. an arms embargo, and the specter of international, accountability for gaddafi and those around him. humanitarian assistance was positioned on libya's borders. those displaced by the violence receive our help. ample warning was given that he needed to stop his campaign of
oppression or be held accountable. the arab league and the european union joined us in calling for an end to violence. once again, but often chose to ignore the will of his people and the international community. instead, he launched a military campaign against his own people. there should be no doubt about his intentions because he, himself, has made it clear. for decades he has demonstrated a willingness to use perforce through his sponsorship of terrorism against the american people and others, and with the killings within his own borders. and just yesterday, speaking of the city of ben ghazi, a city of roughly 700,000 people, he threatened, and i quote, "we will have no mercy and no pity."
no mercy on his own citizens. here is why this matters to us. left unchecked we have every reason to believe that gaddafi would commit atrocities against his people. and as many thousands would die. a humanitarian crisis would ensue. the entire region could be destabilized, endangering many of our allies and partners. the calls of the libyan people for help would go unanswered. the democratic values that we stand for would be overrun. moreover, the words of the international committee would be rendered a hollow. that is what the u.s. has worked to render a strong international response at the united nations. our focus has been clear. protecting civilians within libya and holding the about the regime accountable. yesterday, in response to a call for action by the libyan people and the arab league, the
u.n. security council passed a strong resolution that demands an end to the violence against citizens. it authorizes the use of force with an explicit commitment to pursue all necessary measures to stop the killing. to include the enforcement of a no-fly zone over libya. it also strengthens our sanctions and the enforcement of an arms embargo against the gaddafi regime. now, once more, muammar gaddafi has a choice. the resolution that passed ways out very clear conditions that must be met. the united states, the united kingdom, france, and arab states agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. that means all attacks against civilians must stop. gaddafi must stop instrument
dancing on van ghazi, pull them -- stop his troops from advancing. back and establish water and electricity and gas supplies to all areas. humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of libya. let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable. these terms are not subject to negotiation. if gaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences and the resolution will be enforced through military action. in this effort, the united states is prepared to act as part of an international coalition. american leadership is essential, but that does not mean acting alone. it means shaving the conditions for the international community to act together. that is why i have directed secretary gates and our
military to coordinate their planning and tomorrow, secretary clinton will travel to paris for a meeting with allies and their partners about the resolution from 1973. we will provide a unique capabilities that we can bring to bear to stop violence against civilians, including enabling our european allies and their partners to effectively enforce a no-fly zone. i have no doubt that the men and women of our military are capable of carrying out this mission. once more, they have the thanks of a grateful nation and the world. i also want to be clear about what we are not doing. the united states is not going to deploy ground troops into libya. and we are not going to use force to go beyond a well- defined goal, specifically the protection of civilians in libya.
in the coming weeks we will continue to help the libyan people with humanitarian and economic assistance so that they can fulfill their aspirations peacefully. the united states did not seek this outcome. our decisions have been driven by gaddafi's refusal to respect the rights of his people and the potential for mass murder of civilians. it is not an action that will pursue alone. indeed, our british and french allies and members of the arab league have already committed to take a leadership role in the enforcement of this resolution, just as they were instrumental in pursuing it. we are coordinating closely with them. and this is precisely how the international community should work as more nations bear both the response button and the costs of enforcing international law. this is just one more chapter in the changes unfolding across the middle east and north africa.
from the beginning of these protests we made it clear that we are opposed to violence. we made clear our support for a set of universal and values and our support for the political and economic change that the people of the region deserve. but i want to be clear, the change will not and cannot be imposed by any united states foreign policy. ultimately, it will be driven by the people of the arab world. it is their right and their responsibility to determine their own destiny. let me close by saying there is no decision i face as your commander in chief that i consider as carefully as the decision to ask our men and women to use military force. particularly at a time when our military is fighting in afghanistan and winding down our activities in iraq. that decision is only made more difficult. but the united states of america will not stand idly by
in the face of actions that will undermine global security. i have taken the stance that this action is necessary and will not be acting alone. our goal is focused. our cause is just. and our coalition is strong. thank you very much. >> president obama leaves today on a four-day trip to latin america. the first stop, brazil, where the president will meet with the new president of that nation and deliver a speech on u.s.-brazil relations. on monday, mr. and mrs. obama will be in chilly for a visit with the president's -- in chile. in their trip in el salvador where mr. obama will take part in bilateral meetings while mrs. obama meet with students to talk
about education. on thursday, the head of fema said his agency will not be able to handle a nuclear emergency similar to the events unfolding in japan. the administrator did say that the government as a whole is better prepared to deal with radiological emergencies after years of dirty bomb scenario training. there was an assessment of the more operations since hurricane katrina. this is two hours. >> would convene this hearing that had been long scheduled on famous ability to respond to a major catastrophe -- fema's
ability to respond to a major catastrophe in the bactrbackdrof the events unfolding in japan. there have already been twice as many deaths as al qaeda as attack on america on 9/11, and of course no one believes that the finding of the debt is over yet. the earthquake and tsunami have also caused fires and explosions at nuclear power plants that could have nightmarish consequences for japan and perhaps other countries as well. this earthquake registered 9.0 on the richter scale. the great san francisco earthquake was apparently 7.6 on the richter scale, so you can
imagine the consequences here. the waves of disaster set off by this earthquake in japan have exceeded the country's extraordinary preparations. the events of the past week in japan linda sense of urgency to a hearing today, as we asked how well-prepared is america for a catastrophe, perhaps one equal to that occurring now in japan. our committee called its 2006 response to fema's hurricane katrina "the nation still unprepared." we were unprepared, and that unpreparedness shook the confidence of the american people, who naturally asked whether government could not help some of their fellow citizens when they needed it the most. this committee's extensive investigation into the failure of all levels of government to
prepare for and respond effectively to hurricane katrina found a long and troubling list of problems, not least of which was that fema, in our opinion, was not and never had been capable of responding to a catastrophe like hurricane katrina. here is where i learned that when it comes to emergency preparedness and response, two words that i thought with the same, don't. disaster and catastrophe. prepared this for most disasters, which fema was and certainly is capable of, is different from prepared this for catastrophes like a train. after our investigation, the committee drafted and passed the emergency management and reform act of 2006. our aim was to rebuild fema into
a stronger, more capable agency. five years later, i am convinced that fema has in fact become stronger and more capable, but is it strong enough to respond adequately if a catastrophe like the one currently in japan struck the united states? i think that is the question we want to ask our witnesses today. last september, richard skinner released the report on fema's transformation since katrina. mr. skinner has since retired from public service after a long and distinguished career. but he is fortunately back with us to testify today. his report concluded last september that fema has made some form of progress in almost all areas where reform was needed, but that the opposing management stilt -- fema's
management still needed improvement. i think it is important to say that response to an recovered from a disaster or catastrophe in the united states is the responsibility of a lot of other agencies and other people .esides the monefema in some sense, every affected american has roles to play. many of them also need to improve their capabilities. on a positive note, just recently the departments of defense and homeland security and the congressionally mandated council of governments recently signed off on a very important plan, establishing clear rules for when both national guard and military forces can jointly respond after a disaster. this means that in a large
disaster or catastrophe, we will have the ability to call on the resources of the department of defense in a more timely and effective manner. five years after katrina, again, i conclude we are better prepared for a catastrophe than we have ever been, but the epic disaster in japan reminds us that fema must continue to improve, as both old and new threats loom. some from nature, like the earthquake and tsunami, others from human enemies like the one we faced on 9/11. i know fugate and a dedicated public service he works with will continue to chart a successful path forward. >> thank you, mr. chairman. the earthquake and tsunami that struck japan last week destroyed entire communities, killed thousands of people, and
caused the release of radiation at nuclear power plants. our thoughts are with the japanese people and with the rescuers and responders, including units from our own country. this horrific natural disaster reminds us that we need to do our best to prepare for the unpredictable, and that is the focus of today's hearing. in the past year, we have witnessed three disasters involving the development and use of energy resources. the proper word probably is catastrophes, as the chairman has said. first, the explosion aboard the deepwater horizon oil rig last spring led to economic and
environmental damages that have yet to be completely tallied. of west virginia coal mine explosion killed 29 people in august, and was the worst in decades. and now there is uncertainty and fear in japan about the amount of radiation emitted from nuclear power plants in the area hit by the tsunami. in addition to the humanitarian crisis, the aftermath of the earthquake has raised concerns about the safety of nuclear power at a time when it is being revisited as an alternative to fossil fuels and as a means of lowering greenhouse gas emissions. regardless of whether a disaster strikes our energy supply or another sector of our economy or
part of our nation, we need to be prepared. we don't know when the next disaster will hit. we do know that the u.s. geological survey estimates that within the next 30 years, the probability is 94% that an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude or greater will occur in california. 94% chance of that. we know that inevitably, there will be hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes, and we recognize that a terrorist attack using a weapon of mass destruction in a large city would certainly strain our capabilities. today i look forward to hearing from our witnesses how well equipped the united states is
for any catastrophic disaster, regardless of the cause. what is the level of are prepared this to protect important energy sources? what are we learning from the nuclear accident in japan and the gulf coast oil spill in the past year? how well are we prepared for a major earthquake in this country? do we have the communications and medical systems necessary to respond to the explosion of a dirty bomb? more than four years ago, congress enacted the post- katrina emergency management reform act, which the chairman and i offered. that bill was designed to take the hard-learned lessons of hurricane katrina and bring about improvements in our
nation's overall emergency preparedness and response systems. our law has indeed improved fema's disaster response capabilities. from major floods to wildfires, we have witnessed improvements throughout the country. in maine, i saw firsthand fema's responses to the patriots' day storm of 2007. the spring 2008 floods in the county, and other disasters since then. fema certainly has become a more effective, better-lead agency during the past four years, but nevertheless, questions remain about our ability to handle a mega disaster. i also have serious concerns about fema's stewardship of
federal funds. one of those hard learned lessons from the aftermath of hurricane katrina was that fema 's assistance programs were highly vulnerable to fraud and improper payments. our committee, with the assistance of d.i.g. and gao documented more than $1 billion in unspent funds. in some cases, a taxpayer dollars were literally gambled away. funds were also spent on liquor, bail bonds, and diamond engagement rings. fema also paid millions of dollars for housing assistance to hundreds of applicants who apparently resided in state and federal prisons. victims certainly should receive prompt, appropriate relief.
fema needs to strike that careful balance between expediting relief and ensuring that criminals do not defraud the system, and that means having strong internal controls. unfortunately, safeguarding taxpayer dollars remains an area in which fema has yet to achieve success. a december 2010 report by the inspector general reveals that fema had stopped attending to recover improper disaster assistance payments made after hurricanes katrina and rita and subsequent disasters. the idea identified approximately 160,000 applicants that have received improper disaster assistance payments, totaling more than $643 million. even more disturbing -- fema's efforts to recoup these improper
payments ended in 2007 after a court found that its recovery procedures were not adequate. more than three years later, a new process for recovering these payments has only been initiated this week. i do want to point out some bright spots in the september 2010 dhs inspector general's report. in particular, the findings that fema had made substantial progress in improving emergency communications, insuring that first responders can communicate during a disaster is vital. indeed, when communications failed after 9/11 and during hurricane katrina, it cost lives. the i.g. also highlights the effectiveness of the emergency
communications working group in each of the 10 fema regions. since i pushed very hard for this reform, i am pleased to see the progress that has been made. this october will mark the fifth anniversary of the post-katrina emergency management reformat. by that time, i hope that fema will have made significant progress in improving our nation's preparedness for the next catastrophe. finally, i want to join the chairman in banking former inspector general scanner -- banking former inspector general inspectorthanking -- i want to join the chairman in thanking former inspector general skinner. i am grateful for his aggressive approach to combating waste, fraud, and abuse, and helping to
improve the management of programs dhs. thank you for your service. >> thank you very much. senator, you have been so involved in these matters regarding fema, obviously, ever since hurricane katrina. would you like to make an opening statement? >> thank you. i appreciate it because i have to get back to the floor. i am managing a bill and unable to stay for the remainder of the hearing. i will try to be brief, but there are a few important things i would like to share. first of all, i think the calling of this hearing is very important, and i thank the chair and ranking member. there attention after the disasters has been important to all of us as we have tried to recover along the gulf coast and in other states and communities. your efforts have really strengthened fema's management
opportunities, but i do want to point a couple of things that i am concerned about. looking at the situation in japan reminds us again that disasters of large magnitude, catastrophic disasters, can and will occur. what concerns me is right now, in this capital, there are efforts to significantly reduce funding for the department of homeland security, in particular, the funds for fema and the disasters emergency fund. it does not make any sense to me that the house of representatives would cut funding from this important program. we now are in a position to be able to be asked to use $1.5
billion as needed just to meet the cost of eligible projects for this year. we are basically paying for projects of past disasters using money that we are supposed to be using to prepare for future disasters. i have sent a letter to the president. i very much like you and the ranking member to look at this letter, to cosign this letter if you could because we are going to find ourselves back in the same position we were before katrina struck, which is underfunding our preparedness for future disasters and not being ready when it happens. specifically, and i will submit the rest to the record, the house resolution is cutting $68 million of i.t. funds. this is exactly the money that is necessary for fema to keep up
their computer software and reporting mechanisms to cut down on fraud and abuse. on one hand, we are asking them to come down hard on fraud and abuse. on the other hand, we are taking away their money that enables them to do that. that is not right, and it is not fair, and it is projected we will run out of money three months before hurricane season starts. this happened last year, mr. chairman. if we do not weigh in with the administration and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, it will happen again. the only final thing i will say, and i look forward to reading the details of the report. there is some encouraging news, mostly because you and senator colins had done such a great job staying on point. i am proud that i have helped literally dozens of hearings in four years on this exact subjects, and hopefully, some of the hearings we had contributed to some of the steps that have
been taken to improve, but on the issue of fraud and abuse, i just wanted to enter the record, and i know senator collins is very concerned about this, and i am as well, but on behalf of many people in the gulf coast, i have to add to the record that some people are being accused of fraud because they could not provide titles to their homes or insurance documents. in floods and an earthquake, documents are lost. some people are being accused of fraud or put in a column of fraud because they could not provide free and clear title to their home that has been in generations for years. they simply do not have a clear title among several generations. there are some in a column or q for fraud and abuse just because there is a mix up emission of names like jr. instead of senior or boulevard, drive, or highway as opposed of what it is supposed to be. i know fraud is a serious issue.
i joined senators sessions i and others in clamping down, raising funds, increasing penalties for people that would try to game the system. it is particularly horrible for people to try to gain the system in the middle of a disaster. there penalty should significantly be higher in that regard, and they are, but we have to be careful calling some of these misclassification is fraud when they really are not in my definition of fraud. and finally, when we go to collect this money back, i just want to say that i hope that the money we put into could not -- collecting these funds back are cost-effective. some of these funds were put out in the $1,000 or $2,000 range, and there are hundreds of thousands of people that we may have to track down. letters went out this week for
5000. let's be careful that when we seek to get the money back, it is a good expenditure of taxpayer dollars, and not just throwing good money after bad. i will submit the rest to the record. i thank you very much, to the chairman and to the ranking member. >> thanks, senator, both for coming off the floor while you are managing the small business bill, but also for your leadership of the subcommittee. we will continue to try to carry forward with your assistance. thank you. let's go to the witnesses. again, i thank you for being here, all three of you. we begin with the administrator of the federal emergency management agency of the u.s. the price of home led security. good afternoon. the question is -- how already is fema -- how ready is fema for the next big disaster? >> thank you.
in response to the event, i will try to go through my oral statement here and give more time to questions because i think this is really a better setting for the questions that you have in response. but just kind of a summary. we have been looking at this since i have been at fema from the standpoint of planning. what do we do in a catastrophic disaster like this? we respond to a lot of disasters. that is not the same thing as when it is a response that requires a coordinated federal when we have a lot of different resources that have to go quickly to an area where we may not have a lot of information. looking at the backdrop of what happened in japan, and again, i cannot even imagine what my counterparts are doing, how they are standing up to this. this is what we are in the business for. the most challenging thing you can deal with fear not only the losses, but our counterparts, knowing what they are going through now and the challenges they are facing, and trying to step back and go, "what if it
happen here? what would we do?" that approach would be the thrust of my comments. we have been supporting the lead for our international response at the u.s. agency for international development. we are in a support role to the .eam's that have gone to japan in search and rescue teams that again are authorized as part of fema. there are 28 teams, two of which are designated for the international response. these are the teams that have been to haiti. most recently christchurch, and now, to japan. we also stand by usaid, but japan is a country with many resources. many of the things we could offer have not been needed. the events remind us the disasters happen, do not always give this warning.
we cannot plan for easy. we have to plan for real. we have to look at what we are capable of, what the impact could be to our communities, and determine how we meet those needs and change those outcomes. we put a lot of emphasis on the first 72 hours. we think this is a key area in solving katrina. if aid is not reaching the people that need it, if we are not safe and secure, if we are not able to do the search and rescue, we cannot get the commodities their quick enough, it becomes extremely difficult to change the outcome for the survivors. from this, you actually change some of the provisions of the stafford act when you amended the homeland security act with the proposed katrina emergency management reform act. the city with the intent of congress that we would not operate waiting for requests for help or waiting for the situation to develop, that fema and the federal family could begin mobilizing resources when we determine something was happening or think it is about to happen, even prior to a
formal request from the governor. we view that provision numerous times from the american samoa sonometer the flooding in tennessee to most recently, the tsunami warnings that were issued for hawaii and the west coast and moving and repositioning supplies as you have directed us to do in these situations. >> talk a little bit more about that. i think it will be interesting to people who are listening or watching on tv. >> previously, this is one of the findings and concerns you raised during katrina. it was not always clear if fema could begin moving resources, particularly at tasking our federal family, and building supplies such as food generators prior to a request from a governor. looking at that, you clarified that other staffers could activate and use the disaster relief fund to begin sending missions to our various federal agencies as well as deploying
resources. before anything happens. the tsunami warning center is in hawaii and in alaska began issuing tsunami warnings last weekend, last friday. actually, i got my call about 2:00 in the morning. that occurred a little after midnight our time. our regional office is region 9, which covers the specific. it is already set up. we made decisions that we would stand up. we began moving supplies out of our logistics centers, which you have authorized to provide additional funding so we have more supplies on hand. >> so you got logistics centers dispersed around the country? >> yes, sir, they are strategically located so we are closer to the areas that we would need assistance. we began the process of getting supplies loaded up -- >> what kinds of supplies? >> in this case, we thought the
primary even with the destruction along the coast, people being displaced, top -- possibly being in shelters. we have a distribution center in guam, one in hawaii, and we activated one on the west coast. also, one of the things that came out of the commission, we know if we just in the shelf- stable mills but do not send infant formula or baby food, it is not addressing the needs of children, so we built that in and began moving supplies closer to the california coast where historically, they have mapped their greatest risk for tsunami spirit just like we do for hurricanes. along the west coast, they have mapped those areas at greatest risk for tsunami, so we know with a population areas would be and what relative risk we have here is what we did not know was how big the weight would be, given the magnitude of the earthquake, the size of it was one that suggested you could see as much as a two-liter or almost six-plus an army.
again, this is not like a wave breaking on the beach. he saw the videos in japan. you get the idea of a six-foot wall of water rushing in, and how devastating that could be. we also have folks in hawaii that went into the governor's eoc as he was activating and evacuating his toes. the process really comes back to in the critical moments when we think that there may be an even -- we knew a major earthquake had occurred, so we knew the tsunami risk was there. we have the forecast, but we did not know what the impact would be. we began moving supplies, based upon what we projected. it was the worst case impact. again, it is a process that says we have to understand and be in close contact with our warning sitters -- warning centers, state partners, and we are doing this as a team.
we are talking to the admiral in case we need more resources. anything they are concerned about, anything they need to adjust, so the process comes back to the heart of what you have tried to get to. fema had to be more agile, be able to build a better team, recognize there's a lot more capacity and capability is out there than just what we bring, but we have to move much faster. but as the center points out, we also have to declare when we are stable and when we need to engage the safety to make sure we are not just spending money or doing things that are no longer necessary? we defined outcomes that we want to achieve in this initial response such as licensing activities, and this goes back to one of the heart of the issues. when we cannot do that, we oftentimes to fall back to the monetary assistance program because we cannot get enough supplies in to meet basic needs and found ourselves without many options. part of this is working in partnership with also the private sector because this was
another thing we did not do. we came up with the government- centered response to disasters and never realize that before the disaster happened in every community, there were grocery stores, hardware stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and we would oftentimes plan our response irregardless of what they were doing. we had our response center in washington helping us coordinate with them so that we do not compete with the private sector. we go where they have the difficulties, so that we can focus our response on those areas of heaviest devastation, but also those unique population is that, as you pointed out, people being prepared, and we talk about this as one of our responsibilities, but i want to make sure we tell white people they need baird. there are going to be heavily impacted areas that should not have to compete with those of us who could have been prepared and should have been ready. they should not get in line
behind us. those people that do not have the resources, do not have the ability to do these things should not get behind us because we did not get ready. this is a shared responsibility. government needs to focus on the safety and security of the search and rescue in the most vulnerable population, working with the rest of the team. but it is important that the public recognizes, to the ability that they can prepare, so that those first critical days they are not competing with the impact populations as the key to our success, so as we talk about are we prepared for the catastrophic disaster, we have made, i think, significant improvements for the tools you have. we have much work to be done. there are many of what we would look at inside the procedural controls and processes that still need strengthening to ensure that not only can we be rapid and fast, as i like to say -- we want to be fast. we want speed. we do not one case where we have
waste and abuse to the system. >> thanks, that is a very good beginning. we look forward to the question and answer session. thanks so much for returning to capitol hill once more. is your report of last september of prepared us for the next catastrophic disaster, an update that led us to plan this hearing a long time ago. it comes up in the immediate context of the tragedy in japan, so it is just inevitable that we will be looking at the report based on what is happening there now. but it is a great piece of work to fulfill the high standards that you reach throughout your career in public service, and we welcome your testimony on the report now. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it is a pleasure to be here again this afternoon. i do not really feel like i have retired yet because i have been spending a consumer of --
considerable amount of time preparing for this hearing, but it is a pleasure and honor to be here. i cannot agree with you more -- the tragic events that are unfolding today in japan is a stark reminder of how important catastrophic prepared this is. it can and will happen here. it is just a matter of when. if you are asking if we as a nation are better prepared than we were 20 years ago, 10 years ago, or even five years ago, the answer to that is yes, of course we are. we have made tremendous strides over the last four years, but if you ask are we as prepared as we can be or should be, then the answer to that is no, we are not. while fema has made notable progress to improve capabilities over the years, it is doing so, at least in my opinion, at a snail's pace. after 32 years of existence and with many lessons learned from past disasters, we as a nation
should be much better prepared than we are today. that is not to -- it does not appear to be, within my opinion, a sense of urgency to turn these words into action. fema is an agency that, in my opinion and association with them over the last 20 years, seems to be an agency that is always in a constant state of flux, at least during the 20 years that i have been working with them. many of the concerns that the oig, gao, and fema itself identified after hurricane andrew are the same concerns identified in a september 2010 update of fema's catastrophic disaster preparedness
capabilities. fema has created multiple task forces, working groups, panels, and task forces to develop action plans to address these issues. it is libraries full of lessons learned, draft plans, draft guidelines, and draft documents, many of which were shelved and took a back seat to the urgency of mission demands, that is, to respond to the latest disaster. consequently, momentum towards finalization of the implementation of key initiatives is either slow or lost altogether. the issues i talk about today that concern me the most are the failure to build a strong management support infrastructure to sustain disaster operations. this includes information technology development and integration, financial management, acquisition management, grants management, and human resource management. these functions are absolutely critical to the success of fema 's programs and operations, but
whenever there is a major disaster, whenever fema is required to reduce its budget, these are the first activities to be cut. this is shortsighted and in the long-term, costs will increase or raise the cost of disaster operations and disaster programs feared it will increase fema's vulnerabilities of fraud, waste, and abuse and adversely affect the quality of services to communities affected by disaster appeared in january this year, the dhs oig reported that fema's existing i.t. systems were not integrated, do not meet user needs, and are cumbersome to operate and do not provide the capability is needed by users to carry out disaster operations, the response and recovery operations in a timely,
efficient, and effective manner. furthermore, fema does not have a complete documented inventory of its system, nor does it have a comprehensive strategic plan with clearly defined goals. program and field offices we found continue to develop systems independently of the cio's office and have been slow to adopt the standard i.t. development approach. without modern, integrated systems, fema is hard pressed to perform at its best, as evidenced by the fraud, waste, and abuse that has plagued the agency since its inception. it cannot provide timely and reliable financial reports from which to make informed financial decisions. it cannot radically share critical information within its own ranks or within its federal partners. cannot track disaster work force, the status of its mission assignments, or work being performed by contractors and
grantees, at least not within a reasonable degree of reliability. programs a taxpayer dollars will continue to be vulnerable to fraud, with a spinning, and for performance, similar to the wasteful spending for unneeded travel trailers after hurricane katrina where the millions were to unscrupulous contractors. grant, fema recognizes and that is attempting to remedy many of these problems and has actually made some headway, as you can see and have heard from the administrator today. the question is, however, does fema have the resolve and wherewithal to sustain those efforts? the ability of fema to do so is fragile, not only because of the early stage of development that these initiatives are in, but also because of the nation's economic environment and the constant disruptions caused by the inordinate number of disasters that fema must service
each year. unless there is a sustained commit to continuing investment and resources, there's a good chance if history is to serve as an indicator, that these will be talking about the same problems 510 years from now. the second issue that concerns me is the lack of formal standards and metrics to measure this at all levels of government. in july 1993, 18 years ago, gao reported that fema had to establish a performance standard or a program for evaluating preparedness for catastrophic disaster response. . preparedness for catastrophic disaster response. until that is accomplished, before the gao, fema will not be able to judge the nation's readiness nor will it be able to hold itself or its state and local partners accountable. in 1998, 13 years ago, fema claimed to be in the process of
developing a methodology for assessing hazard risks and escape capabilities. until this day, fema has not finalized this nor the performance of metrics in processes necessary to track and measure emergency management capabilities and performance. state and local governments received billions of dollars over the past eight years and are estimated to receive billions more over the years to come. either without a bona fide performance measurement system, it is impossible to determine whether these annual investments are actually improving our nation's disaster -- furthermore, without clear performance stands, fema lacks the tools knows make informed funding decisions. 's in today's economic climate, it's critical that fema concentrate its limited resources on those hazards that pose the greatest risks to the country. third, the third issue that concerns me is the lack of
transparency and accountability in the use of the disaster relief funds and prevent fraud, wait and abuse of the funds. literally hundreds of audits and investigations over the years demonstrated that fema programs are extremely vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse, yet fema still has not developed a robust program to curtail fraudulent use in its program. the extent of the taxpayer covering year after year, the past 20 years since i've been associated, is unacceptable and needs to be addressed aggressively. unfortunately, there's a long-standing mind-set with fema, with the fema rank and file that fraud prevention is the exclusive responsibility of the oig. many believe that fema's responsibility is simply to doll out funds to individuals and communities affected by a disaster. and it is the oig's responsibility to catch those who have received those funds
through fraudulent mean. this flawed mindset a costing the american taxpayers millions of dollars each and every year. fraud prevention is a shared responsibility. in 2007, response to a new i.g. proposal, fema create add fraud prevention unit to address the complaints widespread fraudulent activity after four disasters struck florida in 2004. since then, renamed and placed in fema's office of the chief security officer. although the concept behind the fraud unit was sound it is understaffed, underfunded and lacks the latest in fire prevention technology to be effective. furthermore, organizationally buried in the bows of the ages and very little if think visibility between the rink and file. consequently, if utility is not fully unite liesed's feel mae noods to expand its scope of
responsibility to includes after disaster relief programs nationwide and mandate fraud prevention training for all employee. this should help strike the balance between providing assistance and ensuring fiscal responsibility. a good model that fema may want to immolate is the one developed by the recovery accountability and trans, and also provide fraud and abuse from nearly $800 billion in economic stimulus recovery programs. with nine months of its creation, the board developed and put into place government-wide systems to provide transparency and accountability and to identify and prevent fraud, wait and abuse. ace a result of this, economic stimulus funds have been kept to an absolute minimum. there's no reason why a small agency such as fema cannot do the same. we as taxpayers deserve to know
our tax dollars are not wasted and spent on fraudulent activities fop that end i believe fema should review and incorporate many of the precedent-setting measures used by the recovery board in order to assure proper payment of taxpayer dollars. i'm concern about the many emphasis placed on community outreach and awareness to provide hazardous projects and litigations. many consider this the core of emergency management. helping to prevent disasters or reduce the effects of disasters when they do occur. in the late 1990s, fema launched and aggressive community outreach and awareness campaign to educate the public about the importance of yid gatien and provide this for public and private sectors to collaborate on the development and implementation risk-based all hazard mitigation strategies and
project it's. unfortunately, this initiative lost momentum dupe to the change in administration and the tragic events of 9/11. america's attention turned to fighting and preventing terrorism and mitigation faded into the background as an emergency management priority. as a result, fema is now struggling to bort and develop a strategy. to lessen the impact of a catastrophic disaster, mitigation needs to be held, again, as a top management priority. fema needs to relaunch its campaign to educate the public and its mitigation partners about the importance of developing and implementing mitigation strategies an programs. in conclusion, not withstanding the em initiatives under the
way. in resolve, sustained effect, sisht strategy and program. fema's increased involvement in routine disasters coupled with the reasons economic downturn and the impact was having on government bfts at all letters, could easily derail the many kmishtives currently underpaper. were were -- mr. chairman, i'll be happy to answer any questions you my have. >> thanks, mr. skinner. that was directs as we expect from you. maybe i'd call it the tough love that we expect from a great inspector general. and when we get to the qs and as i'll ask mr. fugate if he wants to respond. our final witness is william o. jenkins jr., director of homeland security and just is
issues at the gao. >> chairman lieberman and ranking member collins i appreciate the opportunity to be here today to discuss fema's efforts to measure, and assess, natur capabilities to respond to a natural disaster. my comments echo that of mr. skinner. the heart wrenching videos from japan vividly illustrate a catastrophic disaster. the response capabilities of the affected areas are almost immediately overwhelmed and substantial outside assistance kirchs assistance -- katrina response resources from almost every state in the lower 4. basically prepares for disasters required identifying what needs to be done, by whom and how well it should be done. more specifically, this includes identifying one, the nature of the risk faced in the pacific
jeer graph gee graphic areas. two, the types and scale of the specific disaster arising, three, desired outcomes in addressing these consequences. four, the capabilities needed to achieve the desired help comes. five, whose should fund, develop and maintain specific capabilities, and six, metrics in which needed -- are needed tore deployment. details for who should do and and how the many players are managed an coordinated. training the performed assigned roled and capabilities should be coupled with exercises to test and assess the operational plan and identify areas of strengths and gaps that need addressed. federal government provides more than $34 billion to states, locality it's to prevent, respect, respond and recover from major disasters. post-katrina emergency
management gave fema responsibility for leading the nation in developing a national preparedness system, developing measures of desired capabilities and assessing the resources need to achieve them. this is a complex and daunting task. as mr. fugate notes in many public presentations it is a task feel may may lead but whose partnership -- as well as the american public's in in december 202, the local state tribal and federal task force of preparedness agreed there was no method for assessing preparedness or to the engs tent federal grants enhanced disaster capabilities and preparedness. they suggested a three-year timeline with an associated task for developing net crick's pt sim -- fema charactered most of the methodologies its developed as guidance or tools that non-federal employees can choose
to use or not. one result of this asproech that available data or a large self-reported, difficult to validate and not necessarily comparable across reporting jurisdictions and entities thus making it difficult. a picture of national preparedness. each of the efforts today has partially advantaged the ability to find and mischer. however, they have not been -- to access national preparedness as envisioned by the post-katrina act. until it does have an integrate the approach, fema will not have mpment of a disaster preparedness across the nation. nor will it be able to effectively target grant resources to the areas of greatest need and potential benefit. it is said in a a useful way -- with catastrophic response roles
an responsibilities. fema embarked in a new initiative calmed whole of community which incorporates 13 corresponds with an emphasis on stabilizing a catastrophic disaster in effect in the first 72 hour. this approach will be tested in the national level exercise this year using a major earthquake on the new madrid fault. this whatever approach is used, thag be a designed end. assessing where we are in ability to achieve that and roles and responsibilities are clear and we rigorously test and periodically rei valuate the assumptions on which the sdamp planning is based. according to news accounts, japan experienced a significantly bigger earthquake and tsunami. than the one for which it had planned and prepared for the geographic area hit by the disaster. it faceded coupe la -- any one
of could would have been considered a major disaster. all events provide opportunities for learning and assessment'. this is not different. this can be useful in our own future disaster planning and preparations. that includes my statement, mr. chairman and i'ding please to respond top questions your ranking member might have. >> thanks very much, mr. jenkins. it was a very helpful statement. were the min traitor, i want to give awe chance to response to the testimony of mr. skinner and mr. jenkins. i want to offer you also the opportunity to file written response to the -- we want to get to other questions. particularly on the various elements of management to respond to what mr. skinner said. >> well, thank you, mr. chairman. much of what is in the i.t.
report we're not disagreeing with. i think, again, to say that we're not taking steps, wr are. and to say it's rot a-the results may not were there, but an oompg, ampexample. it was basically a piggy bank when i got involved used oftentimeses in way that was not the intent. we found ourselves funding positions that weren't tied to disasters oftentimes used, if something wasn't going right, go look at the drf when it wasn't a disaster. one of our first stepsing recognize what were no longer disaster work. funded particularly from the katrina era that had become something you'd already funded in positions. we worked with they to elimonite -- we had a two-year
transition period and were successful do that. the other thing we looked at, the cost of disasters. in many cases we were setting up large numbers of folks to and bill built upon a con sthaept was already there. a virtual field office. work from the reach's and avoid that cost. doesn't slow down the response to do the recovery but it does reduce the overall cost how we administer the disaster itself. for fraud and waste we have been working to make sure that we have the acquisition staff. a large percentage of ouring kwa zigs staff is contractors. getting them over and served by. requiring that not only those people that by law are required to have avid training but require all female employees to take training annually. working on, pointed out, huge in response.
katrina was not having strong acquisition and having people that can go out and ute nice -- appropriately that we could use in a disaster. and if we do have to do acquisition, these were things we haven't done yet. we take a lot to heart. a lot of the implementation are not as fast or smart as you'd like but i think we're moving forward. a big part of this, getting the staff hired and trained. and we're no longer responsible for the day-to-day management. looking at our management structure. in putting a higher priority on the backbone systems require to do the day-to-day businesses, but also support disaster response. sole while i will not disagree
with the findings i found, i state it is not a black of record that may not be showing up if we continue to build that capability. >> we'll continue to monitor, obviously. after a period of time, come back and do another oversight hearing. hopefully not in the shadow of a catastrophic disaster. somewhere in the world. lt. go to some questions that have come off of what's happening in japan now. this will be obvious to you. fema's not responsible for the safety -- fema has responsibility along with other entities for being prepared to respond to an accident, at a nuclear power plant. the effect of weather was in this case earthquake cts or the terrorist attack on a pawer plants. >> i'm interested since wreev
all concerned unnorly about weather reactors. whether the plans per response that you have are affected by the particular designs of nuclear power plants, or whether that gets to a level of -- of detail and nuance that, that's hard for you to get to. yerds, whether you evaluate the resto restont -- >> mr. chairman, this goes back to the bindings from three mile island required at that time the new fema created in the reorganization that president carter signed that under the nuclear regulatory commission regulations fema was responsibilities for administers the preparedness program, which was to work with local and state governments, and at this particular program, the terman
and base upon finings after three while island. they are not specific to the reactor but to the regulations ang the regulations require that planning for individuals is based upon a ten-mile planning zone around the facilities when an additional 50-mile planning zone for what is determined to be ingestion or possibility of food pathway risk. these plans has are din and require to be certify for the plan are conducted on a recurring basis against the standards and regulations. it would be something where the nuclear regulatory commission would make determinations as to modifications to the distances or actions taken. our job is to make sure we work as execute the protective mesh es which may include evag wags, decontamination, health is everying and other that
officials would wake in the event that an accident occurred. >> so let me ask you the baseline question. maybe the circumstances answer it, but if an event like t-- if they're heard here in the u.s., would fema be prepared to respond? >> given what we're seeing there,s it would go, i think, far beyond what we currently have in our radiological program. fortunately, we built a lot of capability with the national guard, with the department of defense, but also with the local hazardous materials teams that received these grant fundings. particularly when we look at the threat of itch pro vise ed vise capabilities that norcom has to
vee spond's in is respond to these team that would be the lead of the nrc. the ability to monitor that as a team effort, ability to do decontamination and support the evacuations. there's a lot more capability that goes beyond what we have and the safety flam couprogram could be brought to bear. mainly because of improvised devices or disposal devices. >> that's an important answer and i hope people are listening, i find. reassuring. one is we live in a world with a lot of risks, but the capabilities to respond to a terrorist attack involving here in the united states, those capabilities also obviously can be brought to bear in the case of an accident such as the one, or a natural disaster such as the one we're watching in japan now, which may already is, but may have significant radiological consequence. i think it's very important to
state that since -- well, since 9/11, and intensely since katrina, we've developed extra capacity that fema can bring to bear, particularly wing the defense department. as you say, the response teams, which are right there and probably apart from local responders, and secondly, specialized skills and specialized units that are stood up at the national level with the defense department to come in and deal with the radiological consequences of such an event. i guess my question is, have i got it right? >> yes, sir. it's what we call a multilayer all hazard approach that many of these teams that were originally designed for commercial nuclear power plants actually give locals the capability to respond to other threats, conversely the funds and building of the teams respond to the threat of a
disbursal device that gives us more capability to respond to any i vent that cevent that cann accident. we try emphasize, when we bead thighs capabilities oftentimes we're belding them against known threats or in a case of terrorism. the ability to use them for things you did not expect, greater than what you planned come back to the heart of what we're trying to get to. planning for likely maximum events and realizing that it takes the ability to leverage all resources not necessarily has the original plan was but how they could be utilized at part of the team if we saw this type of event. >> finally, i yield, i'm under my time, under northern command, the command of our military, which has responsibility now for homeland security, we have two units, 4,500 people in each one. one active duty. one reserve. they are specially trained to respond to events of this kind
and to get there as quickly as possible. certainly with the window you talk about. thanks. senator collins? >> thank you, mr. chairman. administrator, you pointed out that the nuclear regulatory convention would be the lead agency if the united states were to experience the kind of accident or level of damage at a commercial nuclear reactor that is occurring now in japan, but fema under the national planning scenarios is responsible for the operational planning under a number of scenarios, one of which is a major earthquake. another is a nuclear attack. another is essentially a dirty bomb. what has fema completed the operational plans for those 15 scenarios that clearly outline
the -- outlines the roles and responsibilities of all of your partners? in other words, is it really clear who's responsible for what if, got forbid, we had the kind of multiple catastrophe that japan is experiencing right now? >> in looking at the 15, planning scenarios, and i think some of those show that there's actually if i think, collapsing some of it down to one of the things we respond to that are similar and what are the unique authorities that are different across this. this comes back to when we're doing the all-hazard planning and looking at the catastrophic, we're actually looking at an improvised nuclear guise. the earthquake scenarios. and in looking at, what are the total nun r numbers of
casualties, impacts and response to support that and going back to the authorities of which federal agencies would have different pieces of that? one of the things you'll note that the nuclear regulation and regulatory agency is responsible for the power plants, but if an event occurs outside of that, that's not a regulated facility, that's actually the department of energy that has the lead on the radiological response. it's our ability to go tluz these and look at to see where we have the authorities. 345 make sure they're clear and part is in the exercises. we most recently conducted exercises looking at nuclear power plants and looking at where those authorities are there and what we would operate under. going through the scenarios, that's what we're doing is. going back and submit that in writing because each scenario has various components completed or have been completed for the planning scenarios. >> mr. skinner, mr. jenkins, are the rules an responsibilities
clear in your judgment under the 15 that the operational plans is not yet pleaded for? i'm sort of answering my own question, because if it's not completed it's unlikely to be cleared. what's your assessment, mr. skinner, i'll start with you. >> first of all, we haven't done a stud ty to determine the clary of this. they were able to determine the responsibilities are becoming clearer, and this is a direct result, i think, of the result of the confusion we witnessed after hurricane katrina and people have sat down in a room, and started more clearly defining who's on first, who has the operational responsibilities and who is in charge. in that regard, after katrina,
we have feel comfortable that the clarity of rules are becoming clear. again, a lot of these things are not complete. so it's -- we're really trying to use a krcrystal ball to predt how it's going to play out in the future. in regard to earthquakes, that administrator fugate referred to and as well as nuclear tests, results of some of our exercises with regards to nuclear detonation, and hurricanes, major hurricanes, ef-5 hurricanes, those, as a result of that work, we feel that the roles are relatively clear. >> mr. jenkins, do you agree? >> i do agree with that. definitely there's been progress made but one of the issues we're concerned about, and until you get these plans completed, one of the things that's important for state, local and other, what's the fatality of the roles across the scenarios and what are the capabilities that need
to carry out those goals and responsibilities effectively? it's really important to know the totality of that. this is what i'm responsible for. this is the kind of capabilities i need to build. >> mr. skinner, you put out a report in december that revealed that fema had stopped attempting to recover improper disaster assistance payments that were made after hurricane katrina and rita. and you identified approximately 160,000 applicants that had received improper payments totaling more than $643 million. is this in addition to the improper uses of the $ 2,000 debit cards given out in the wake of hurricane katrina? >> it is. it is in addition to and also does not include those cases of