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tv   U.S. House of Representatives  CSPAN  June 9, 2011 5:00pm-8:00pm EDT

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a long career in emergency menu -- emergency management at the state and local level. welcome, administrator. you may proceed with your testimony. >>thank you, members of the committee. i have submitted written testimony. i will proceed with a brief statement. i think senator shelby sum up really the structural issues we are faced with with the flood insurance program. one of the things i would like to emphasize here is, as the program exists now, it is unlikely we can retire the $18 billion debt. that will substantially increase in either a large scale hurricane or tsunami event. i think we do a much better job
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with river flooding and how to make a determination of how to manage that risk, but in these large-scale events, there are issues that produce high vulnerabilities that are not addressed in the current system. how do we address that risk? i think one of the issues that we see and we agree with, this risk should be better shared with the private sector versus strictly looking at a taxpayer- run system. i believe there are policies that could be moved to the private sector, there are incentives we could use. i also think there are going to be those policies that are so high-risk that the private sector will never be able to manage that risk, and that is something we will have to continue to look at as what will be the federal share of managing or subsidizing that risk. i also believe that the efforts
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to go forward by reauthorization needs to take along your view of reauthorization for a greater period of time than short-term reauthorization. in our listening sessions with constituents and the industry, they have informed us it is very detrimental, short-term reauthorization, particularly in the real-estate market that is trying to right itself, when we have the inability to underwrite insurance. it makes it difficult for realtors to be closing as well as for other companies to manage their portfolios and offer their services. again, i believe we need to look at reauthorization. how do we incentivize a program to encourage the private sector to participate, but also recognize there are going to be high-risk policies that we will also need to look at how the federal government does that. we need to look at longer reauthorization to provide
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stability as we go forward with these improvements, even if we do not have all of the answers today. stability is the one thing we heard loud and clear that we need to address. finally, the last thing we need to look at is how do we deal with making this assurance more actually based, based on the rest, which i think it encourages the private sector come into the market. i have heard people ask why we let the industry cherry pick the best policies and we keep the most toxic policies. the answer is, getting the best market out there is allowing them to take those policies where they can manage the risk now. in many cases, people do not buy flood insurance because it is not mandated, yet every time there is a disaster involving flooding, we end up having to provide assistance. i also think -- and this comes back to something we are
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struggling with -- when people find that their risk has increased and they are now mandated to purchase flood insurance because they are in a high-risk area, the price of that often times becomes a detriment to the people and a brand new costs that they had not anticipated in their mortgage or their budgets. i think we also need to look at, as we change the designation, how do we do a graduated increase in these policies. also recognize, for low-income areas, there may be a need to provide additional assistance or give more time before we get to riffle adjusted rate more closely read -- get to a fall -- full adjusted rate more closely related to actual. i believe we still have a significant number of
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policyholders that it would still require some sort of federal support to make it affordable and continue to provide the protection from these risks. again, thank you mr. chairman for the opportunity to testify. i look forward to your questions. >> some residents have been told to evacuate for as much as two months. can you tell me what you are doing in south dakota to assist in this disaster? can you also tell me what resources are available during the recovery phase? >> we are working with the governor and the team there as we are getting more and more flooding, looking at the assistance. there are two pieces of
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assistance that can be provided. obviously, those people with flood insurance will have that. also, if the president declares a disaster, that includes individual assistance. we do provide housing in those types of support to survivors in the event of a flood. in south dakota, as we go through the requests from the governor, those areas that you have individual assistance, that assistance is being provided for having -- for housing and other assistance based on the impact it is having on their homes. >> in your testimony, you outlined several far-reaching policies that your working group has been discussing. when the plan to move forward with some of these alternatives? >> we elected some very broad areas. in doing this, -- we looked at
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some very broad areas. what we found was that there was no consensus. but there were four areas that seem to be centers of gravity of interest. as we have done that and looked at that, we think some of those may not be the best way to go. i think we are probably now looking at focusing on a system that utilizes the federal programs but with a greater business -- greater participation of the private sector. we're looking and coming up with a more consolidated recommendation coming forth with the consensus report. >> as you know, we have a september 30th deadline for reauthorization. in the past, many in the senate have been reluctant to extend the program without reform. one of the reform policy alternative options you mentioned is program
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optimization. in this area of program optimization, what are some of the most important reforms congress can make in the near term? >> i think one of the limiting factors in being sound is that we are currently held to a 10% rate increase per year. again, this comes back to -- as senator shelby pointed out -- those that can afford higher premiums, we need to move them to those, but we also understand that for low income or people with limited means, there is a double impact in that we may actually be forcing them to make hard decisions about how they're going to pay for flood insurance. i think the ability to move towards people being able to pay the sound rate would be the
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first step, and then looking at how we take communities that, because of the economic structures, we face them in more gradually. as it is now, we're having to move slowly through this, even for those people who can afford a higher premium. >> in your testimony, you mentioned the current in or out nature that sometimes give citizens the impression that they are inaccurate. do you have recommendations for how rates can be set and what resources you would need to achieve this? >> right now, we deal with everything outside of a 1% floods down as a preferred rate. isyou're in the 1% -- which another challenge. how do we describe the risk to a person that it is a chance of every one in 100 years you will have a flood or you could have
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back-to-back events. the question is, where you see an increase risk but it is below a 1% or that higher level, do we still do preferred risk? preferred risk is actually i think in some cases probably below what the market would actually insure at. in some ways, we have created a structural imbalance where we are charging a preferred rate because the risk is much lower, but it is probably lower than what the private sector would be comfortable with, particularly in large-scale events such as hurricanes or tsunamis. we're actually subsidizing higher risks when the risk is not that great. >> thank you. the program's goal of fiscal solvency as i am understand it
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is charging premiums that will generate enough revenue that will cover a loss year. how does the program's rate setting policy compared to that of the jig compare -- compared to that of private sector insurance? >> i think we do a much better job on river flooding. it is not actuarially sound when it comes to hurricanes and tsunami is. >> first, define what actuarially sound means. it seems to me that every time there is a catastrophic event, it is leading the fund toward bankruptcy, rather than actuarially sound. is that fair?
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>> that is fair. it would be difficult to do that at a current rate that would be actuarially sound unless we had another way of distributing that risk since we are only writing that one hazard without private-sector engagement. >> how we distribute change? do we do that by mapping and identifying and broadening the amount of money coming in? how do we do that? >> one part would be to better reflect those areas and their arrest and then have greater participation in the flood insurance program based upon that risk. the other challenge would be, this is one risk. it means that every time there are significant floods, you're not able to balance that against other risks and other markets. that is where the reassurance -- reinsurance market would help us. year after year we do pretty
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good until we have a hurricane or tsunami, and then we are down again with large amounts of taxpayer dollars going to pay out the claims. >> where are we compared to where we were four or five years ago? >> i would like to give you that in writing. for the record, we have made significant improvements. however, as we have gone through this, we have learned some valuable lessons, one of which is to provide unbiased science and technology review of our process. that is building a little more time in. >> what is the impediment there, the challenge? >> as we go through, because the funds are available to do this, as we hire the contractors, we find ourselves dealing with technical issues and dispute resolution with data we have versus local or state data. previously, we never had an impartial way to do dispute
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resolution. we have set up a technical advisor remodel and use a scientific adviser panel to review our data and the local and state data and give us a better resolution that helps move that along. >> it is my and your standing that fema has created a new category -- understanding that fema has created a new category of grandfather property homes. they enjoy, as i understand it, taxpayers subsidized flood insurance. is this a permanent category, and to these grandfathered properties undermine your efforts to create a program on a more actuarially sound basis? >> i will speak in general and then i want to respond in writing with the details. we know that we're having that designation changes. prior to the updated mabs,
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people either did not have a mandatory purchase requirement or they had higher risk. as you go into higher risk, the amount they would be required to pay has produced economic hardships. will we do is work with local communities where people purchase insurance before the maps become final and the maintain that status. these are not, in many cases, affluent communities. they are existing communities, working communities, and it is a sudden and oftentimes dramatic increase in their premiums for insurance. >> write your own program. the gao has uncovered several problems with the write your own insurance froprogram.
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the bonus structure is often excessive. do you agree with that finding? if not, where do you differ? >> we continue to look at that, but as a question of incentivizing the private sector to write those policies. again, we continue to look to the cost effectiveness of that, but it comes back to, if the industry is not willing to do that at a rate that we can pay them, we end up doing it ourselves. >> could you comment briefly on the risk that exists for communities -- we have seen a lot of this lately -- that are located behind levees, flood walls and dams, and whether there should be mandatory purchase requirement for people living in these residual risk areas or the real risk areas? >> this is an area, again, of
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quite a bit of controversy. they're not required to purchase insurance because the protection of those structures reduces their risk below 1%. however, if there is a failure, it is catastrophic, and most of those homeowners do not have flood insurance. >> the core recently preached the levee, the dam. what happens there? >> that was a design system. residents in the floodway were notified, and are notified annually that there in a flood way and they are required to purchase insurance. >> i appreciate your recommendations on the flood insurance program. i particularly appreciate the short term versus long-term argument and how it plays in the housing industry, a portion of our economy that we need to
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promote. it is critically important -- i want to talk about a couple of other issues first. on june 1st, our governor as the president to declare a disaster for the state of montana. can you give me any insight on how close we are getting to this declaration from your level? >> it is going through the system as we got the information. it is moving through the system. it is being worked on. we have it. >> can you give me any sort of idea of when we can anticipate this declaration? >> we want to make sure we have the best possible data to make a recommendation for the president. we will then await his decision. >> that did not answer my question. can you give me any sort of idea of when that date might be? a week? two weeks? >> it is moving through now. i would say weeks, not months. i would almost be ready to say days, not weeks, but we want to
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make sure we have all of the information to make the recommendation. >> good enough. disaster relief fund, very quickly. i wanted to talk about this yesterday when you're in front of the subcommittee. are you confident that the disaster relief fund will not be completed -- deeply did in this fiscal year? -- depleted in this fiscal year? >> i think we will make it through the fiscal year, but we have some costs that have come in on the most recent flooding and tornadoes that we have to evaluate. we hope to have some answers on that in the week, particularly with the issues in mississippi. we're adding those in and taking a look at those costs. >> levee certification. it is a difficult problem and we have been in meetings together on this issue. it is across the country, almost every river drainage.
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the army corps of engineers annually in periodically inspects levies they have constructed, but their certification is incompatible with fema. i'm not being critical, but it is a fact. they are not on the same page when it comes to certification standards. has there been any discussion with the army corps of engineers about creating a common set of standards that would satisfy your certification requirements at the met? >> we are working with the corps. i think the answer to that in the short term is yes, but there is another piece of that. when we do our maps, we only look at previously accredited levies. we are currently working on and are submitting for review and ability to actually map the existing structure as is so
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that where we have structures that may not be accredited but are there, we will no longer take the position that we are going to zero them out and map without the structures. that process will be going down through internal review. we think in another 30-40 days it will be external. we will be using what is fair versus the standard assessment. unless you have accredited levy, we will only look at that structure. we will then map what that risk looks like. >> are we talking about the same thing with accreditation and certification? >> yes. >> good enough. what about levees that had been previously certified? by the way, i appreciate that answer and the work. what about the levees that had been certified before? in my particular situation, some of them fall under your first answer. some will fall under the answer
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that they are certified by the army corps, and now that certification does not work or the army corps says they cannot certify them for whatever reason, a lack of money or what have you. what about levees that had been certified previously? >> prius certification is one part. are they currently certified? -- previous certification is one part. are they currently certified? as we revise the standards, that is what an accredited levee becomes. many may not need that because of design issues, but they offer protection. i think it becomes less of an issue that we're not looking at levy's unless they are accredited, but looking at what is there. we will respond in writing to where we are with that. >> i know you know this issue intimately, what we have done through mass-market a ionization -- map modernization,
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we put communities in a situation where -- and i have said this before too, but it has been a while ago, where the folks who are going to do the certification, the errors and omissions here are so huge, the costs run so high that it puts communities in rural america that are not exactly a affluent in real problems with flood insurance. i look forward to working with you on this on trying to get this done because it affects almost every community in this country, but i do know in montana. thank you. >> thank you, administrator for your work, particularly in
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including recent mississippi river flooding which impacted many states, including louisiana, although we were certainly not the most impacted. i agree with virtually all of your comments. i want to underscore something you said, which is the need for a full-blown, longer-term reauthorization. this reauthorization or extension in tiny increments has really not served our community or the economy well at all, and i know you know that and he reflected that in your testimony. for instance, according to the chair of thetarithe subcommittee on realtors, the last laps we had of the program in june of last year led directly to the cancellation or delay of 47,000 homes sale closings at a time when we need
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every closing in sight in terms of trying to revive this economy and the real estate sector in particular. for no good reason, we shut down permanently or temporarily 47,000 closings. my first goal is a full-blown long-term reauthorization. i know that is shared on the committee, and i certainly hope we get there. let me go to some particular issues of how we do very authorization. -- do reauthorization. one is the current limits. as you know, those have not been changed at all since 1994. that means the coverage limit amount is a fraction in real terms of what it was in 1994. do you think it is appropriate that we would look at that and did just that in the context of
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-- adjust that in the context of putting the whole program boron more economically sound footing? >> i had some conversations with people who is homes have been appraised at a quarter million dollars or more. the flood insurance is now not covering what they had. is it best that we do that through the flood insurance program, or do we look at the flood insurance program at the base level, and then ask the private sector to provide a higher level coverage? i guess the question is, as we look those higher levels of coverage, do we do that at a full actually -- actuarial
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value? i agree. we have properties that we do not cover the replacement costs with the flood insurance program because of the caps. in many cases, the way to go forward may be to look at opportunities to engage the private sector. >> i am certainly completely open to that path forward, as long as there is a path forward. right now, that opportunity for additional coverage is either not widespread or certainly not widely understood and taken advantage of. i do not think it largely exists. i want to go back to, about -- what to go back to levy recertification. to me, in louisiana, this is something we particularly focus on.
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the army corps has basically walked away from their historic role in recertified levies which they designed and built. after katrina, they basically said, we're walking away from that. it is all on the locals. as a practical matter, it is proven unworkable. we're talking about jurisdictions and entities which in 99% of the cases do not have either the expertise or the resources to handle that. and again, i am talking about levees that the accord designed -- the army corps designed, built, it checks on, and is the logical lead agency in the ongoing recertification. can you comment on how we make progress solving that issue? >> will we have done moves us beyond only looking at a levee that the army corps has accredited or meets local
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jurisdiction accreditation standards. we are working towards looking at levies as built and using those to determine risk purses only looking at accredited levies. that is step one. >> thank you for the policy change. that is enormously important. as you indicated, before you made that policy change, if it was not up to the 100 years standard, it did not exist on the map, did not provide any protection, which was not reality. but my question still remains. >> again, we will continue to work with the army corps on that. this is primarily where ownership of the levees has transferred from local government -- federal government to the state. i know it is a financial difficulty for local jurisdictions to maintain the standards. in many cases it is the cost of
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having engineers come out and review them. we are hoping as we go forward with looking at those that may not be accredited but are providing significant protection, how we've map that ees,rses only accredited levie how we map that. >> the next time something bad has, as it did in katrina, they should be able to point to somebody else. we need a workable system. >> i want to echo what my colleague has just said. it is the sense of the many communities that the army corps has walked away from an historic
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role in certifying levees and left them in an almost impossible situation where they cannot afford private certification, but without certification, their business districts and housing districts are decimated. they're between a rock and a hard place. i want to make sure that those concerns of communities being decimated by this change of policy is getting to your ears. i am not sure if you are visiting these communities and if you understand how this affects everything. homeowners were not in a flood plain. they are now in a flood plain. their mortgage company now demands that they get flood insurance may be 10 years into their policy. businesses cannot locate in the business district because they cannot afford the policy. communities hit hard by the recession are unable to afford the private certification process. that is assuming all they have to do is obtain certification.
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the expectation is, now the world has changed and you will have to do x, y, z, change the levee, which is a huge additional cost. i want to make sure that this incredibly important issue for the economic development and success of our communities is making it to your ears and that you are out talking to communities that are affected by this firsthand. >> yes, we have a former state director who knows many of these issues. ave personally dealt with lake or the systems around it or not certified and we had to deal with the premium insurance for rural and agricultural communities. i think that is why our plan moving forward is to look at existing structures and map those structures. >> let me interrupt you there.
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i was a senator who advocated fiercely for change. i praise you for responding to our pleas on behalf of our communities. let me give you an example of a community in my state. they were in a situation of having to adopt the new flood zone before your change of policy, and they had to do that because people could not afford flood insurance without adopting the new flood zone policies, new flood determinations, and so, but, they are now in a situation where that plan did not take into account existing structures, because it happened before you change the policy. i praise you for changing the policy, but how about these communities that did not benefit from what is really a more accurate appraisal of flood risk? is it possible to go back and work with those communities that
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were unfortunately hit a little before the change in policy? >> absolutely, senator. as we go through our change of process in during the internal review and now, i think in about 30-45 days we're going to put this out to external stakeholders for comment. once we're able to implement it, we will go back and work with communities to update their maps based on the new process. it will not go as fast as i think many communities would want, but we will go back and look at the communities where they did not have a certified levee, and they will have the opportunity to re-map based on the structures. >> is that a year out, a couple years out, and is there a price tag associated with it? >> can i respond back in
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writing? we're still going through the methodology to get that to appear review and get it out to stakeholders. as we get comments back, we will have to adjudicate and see. my staff feels that we have an 80% solution, but we want to make sure we did not have unintended consequences or miss things. we would like to come back, re- map, and look at what those costs will be in terms of resource availability. >> i understand it is a complicated process. you're trying to address it in a thorough manner. that would be very helpful. in terms of the role of certification, the army corps has continued to play a corps is a federalere structure involved. we have been working with communities to make sure we know about every federal structure in this policy.
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is the current policy the one from here into the future, or is there a chance to walk back into that role and embrace it in a more wholehearted fashion? >> again, i will defer to the corps of engineers. we to look to them for the certification process as it is federally managed. this is going to be a resource issue. how do we pay for and maintain levees that are not federal and understand that that is a tremendous burden and cost for many local communities. >> thank you. >> i have just a couple of quite specific questions that i would like to run by you. as you know, the state where i'm
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from, the state of nebraska, is bordered on the east side by the missouri. we are now in this ramp up where an historic amount of water is headed into the state, beyond anything the levees have ever had to endure, in fact, about twice as much water. there appear to be three events involved the cost this issue. number one was rein in montana, an historic amount of rain. event number two was snowmelt. event #3 source the release the necessarily has to occur by the corps of engineers to avoid damage failure. -- dam failure. as i am understand the flood insurance policy, you have to
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have in place 30 days prior to the event. how do you judge, in this case, when that 30 days starts to run? >> that has been a very challenging question. does the flood even start when we start seeing actual damages, or is it because we know the event is coming? i will ask for response in writing because there are some very specific things we had to go to to determine when does a flood occur by the legal definition. the reality is, even if people purchased a policy inside the 30 day time, they are not going to be covered. when we start -- stop writing policies because of a flood event or flood situation? i would ask to respond in
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writing about how we do that, because it does involve measuring certain things and looking at what is going on. >> if you could do that, i would really appreciate it, because we of many people, probably not just in nebraska, but all along the river system that have this problem. the second question is probably no less challenging. in a situation where you have the army corps come in and they certify a levy, and as a result of that, people are in the flood plain, out of the flood plain. people find themselves out of the flood plain and they do not need flood insurance for their mortgage. they're not worried about the flooding situation, and all of a sudden, caught in this historic situation again, what happens to
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those people? are they treated any differently? can they buy flood insurance? what is the situation for them? >> up until the point where a flood is incurring -- occurring and we can still provide flood insurance, if the flooding occurs without -- occurs outside of the 30 day window, we can still provide protection. this is what we come up against. even if you're not in the 1% or greater risk, it does not mean you will not flood. what happens to people is they end up losing everything. they cannot cover their mortgage. they cannot replace their home. it is generally, for many people
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in the middle class, their most significant personal holding, and they're totally unprotected without flood insurance. this gets back to the root of people who do not have flood insurance, whether it is required or not, even if we provide federal insurance, we do not make people whole. because people are oftentimes misinformed about their risk, the they're not required to purchase their for they believe they do not need it, they find out unfortunately that it is not only the impact of the flood of the financial impacts that are oftentimes very difficult to recover from. >> this is a tragic situation because the average person just simply would not go out and buy flood insurance policies if no one is it by giving them that it
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is necessary. if they're not in a 100 year flood plain. the banker is not requiring it, etc. the average person would look at the cost and say, why would i? then you have an historic event and they are just flat out of luck. i guess when i would say with you -- if you could get back to me on the issue i raised, i would appreciate it. because this water is headed our way now. we've reached the maximum level of discharge by the corps. then i think it holds through august. i'm guessing i'm going to have to get to know you a lot better in the months ahead. probably a lot of other senators will too. >> first, before i get into the
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substance of my remarks, i want to thank you for being always responsive. we have had, unfortunately, a number of disasters in my state during your tenure, and you have always been there. your folks have always been there, and i appreciate the hard work that you do. as you know, we have a huge issue on long island. what happens is, people whose homes have never been flooded, the door as far as 5 miles inland, are being -- who are as far as 5 miles inland, are being told they need flood insurance. this is not a farming community or a community by a river. these are suburban blocks. they will be flooded. it is why people hate washington. there is saying, i am being mandated to pay $3,000 and i am not near a river, stream, any
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water? we looked into this and it is tens of thousands of people. this is not a few idle homes. what we found is that he may use information gathered by the army corps in suffolk county were there has not been as much of a problem to draft nassau county new flood maps. they raise the level of how high the house had to be above sea level. when you do that in a relatively flat place, long island, you get -- i mean, i cannot imagine a storm that would flood 5 miles inland from midlantic ocean. if it is, we have a lot more trouble than this. but they used a map to save money. that is what is told to us privately. instead of doing a re-mapping, they affected the population of 1.4 million with unique
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geography, different coastal entitle characteristics than suffolk county. it should have been subject to a separate study. when people hear this. imagine. you are a homeowner making 60,000-$70,000 a year. that is the average income in new york and that is not high, as you know, because our expenses are higher. when you're told you have to pay $3,000 because you might be flooded, no ifs, ands, or buts. you can imagine people's reactions. when i am asking are two things. first, the best science was clearly not used in nassau county. to take account for 30 miles away and say we are using that. will you support starting the re-mapping process over so that we can get an accurate look at nassau county? it is just not there to use of
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the county data. no one revealed that to us. we found that out ourselves. >> we have new updates for other parts of the basin. we're responding back in writing to your request. we're going to outline how we will address the issue as we go into more of the studies of other areas as well, as well as the area you had mentioned. >> other areas in nassau or in general? >> in general in a basin. we will take advantage of that to focus on the areas you have identified. >> one area by valley stream has 40,000 houses. will i be happy with this letter? >> unable to say, sir, but it will be responsive, but we will continue to work with you. >> second, while we're waiting to deal with the problem -- and i'm glad you said something is going to be done.
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femsa rightly -- fema rightly decided to extend eligibility for the private risk policy. can you address whether we can extend that beyond two years so that we get a fair adjudication of what is happening in nassau county, because it may not be solved within two years? extending the prp, which as i a understand it is totally in fema's discretion. >> we have the request. we're working with our chief counsel to determine if we can do that. >> what would be the reason you could not? >> i would have to refer back to our chief cancel the chief counsel to give you an accurate answer. >> -- i would have to refer back to our chief counsel to give you an accurate answer.
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>> i want to get an answer for these 40,000 people. they have been unfairly treated by fema. i do not blame you, but to save $1 million, to use a different place and grafted onto nassau county and then tell so many people that they have to pay so much more in a place that has never had a flood in history, since our known history, 5 miles inland, with no streams, and the bays, weivers, and obey no have to do something about this. >> in your stand, sir. >> who i will be much easier on you. you did a heck of a job in illinois. i just checked with my team in southern illinois, and they gave you high marks.
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i also want to thank you for working with me and jerry costello on this policy of not recognizing any levy at all. -- levee at all. my understanding is that you are about $18 billion in the whole right now? >> correct. >> we have this policy of repetitive loss which is now one-third of all your losses. anyway we can just not reauthorize this? kind of liked three strikes and you're out rather than having the federal taxpayer taken to the cleaners over and over again? >> again, i refer to this body. on one hand, yes we do have repetitive lost properties. we have to ask the question of how long do we continue to subsidize that risk. and we have a situation where we get the request from the same
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body to provide that assistance. >> i notice in this hearing that everybody is sort of asking you for money. you would not have the constraints you have now, which require you to lose money. >> again, this is oftentimes the preferred course to buy up property so that they do not flood in the future. we have done buyout successfully. some of the recent flooding we have had has been less severe because homes that were previously flooded had been bought out. again i point out, what is the appropriate level to subsidize risk, and how long should that risk be subsidized before we say it is no longer going to be managed that way? >> i worry that the government always makes the wrong decisions because congress pressures it to lose money as opposed to a private entity which clearly would not write the policy after
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the third loss. certainly, with the house bill, at least we're making a decision on vacation homes, etc. at what about sun setting the whole thing so that we can finally have the map determine the risk? >> for those that can afford it, it would be cash and somewhat painful -- it would be a shock and somewhat painful, but it would not result in them losing their home. i think there are real issues with lower income and fixed income people who suddenly increase their premiums by several thousand dollars that they had not budgeted for. i think it would be detrimental. i think we have to look at who can afford it and if we should continue to support those for whom this would create a hardship that would result in losing their homes or their
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ability to stay in their community. >> we just had news crossed the wire about an hour ago the treasury has said that we are now -- our debt is now going to exceed our national income this year rather than three years from now. the question is, since we of the underwriting these guys since ince we have been underwriting these guys since 1973, maybe this is the time to stop. >> you are the body that can make that decision. >> you understand me. >> a request was put into minimize the impacts as the new mask came out. certainly, that is something this -- new maps came out. certainly, that is something this body can do. we may be causing adverse risk we did not anticipate.
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>> the problem is, we are subsidizing people building and investing in flood plains and then getting wiped out periodically. >> i would suggest that for those who want to build structures in new areas that are high risk, they should be fully absorbing the risk and not the taxpayers, but i worry about communities that exist already. >> there is growing concern on this committee that the program be allowed to recover its own costs. i think congress is actually the problem, not you. the direction i hear you want to take is that we would be far more sound in the running of this program if we were to allow you to make these decisions. for a program that is a significant drag on the treasury, it seems that operating it that way, as we just heard the news this morning that our debt has exceeded our
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national income, might be the way to go. >> the question is how do we encourage the private sector to take on some of this risk? i think we're still going to have the highest risk properties on some form of government program. >> i just would hope that maybe we could give you wonderful, overarching authority saying, not withstanding the other directives we have given you, you of overarching authority to waive the directives of congress a that the program can be run without a cost to the taxpayer. >> what happens if this program ceases to exist, we let it lapse? what happens in the real-estate market? >> what would happen is that both the federal government and any hope of getting the private
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sector back into mortgages would walk away from all properties with flood risks. this happened in the 1960's. it put financial institutions and more importantly the taxpayer at risks of trillions of dollars of exposure. what happens is this is a hazard that currently the federal government is the primary provider of that coverage. without that, those people that live in the highest risk areas may not be able to receive financing for their homes. i think you would end up in a situation where the exposure would be so great that the original intent of this program to protect the mortgage would come back and i think eviscerate the housing market even more than we have seen. >> which would be an enormous body blow to this economy that is already struggling to recover.
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with that as a premise, it seems like we need to act. the question is what to do. in march, in my home state of new jersey, the governor filed a request for federal disaster declaration. femsa denied it on the basis -- fema denied it on the basis of the minimum of uninsured families. isn't that the disincentive? at a time when we're trying to convince individuals that it is in their best interest to purchase insurance, should we be punishing communities who have been proactive? >> i feel that way many days. i also recognize that our fema programs will not make people whole. even if they had gotten
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declaration, the most we would provide a homeowner, if they qualified for everything, which is very unlikely, would not even begin to cover their mortgage or their homes. last year in the tennessee floods, the average amount that we provided to a family was less than $7,000. going the individual assistance route into a flood insurance has not worked -- >> i agree with you on that, but the question is, here are communities that have for the most part participated in the flood insurance program, yet they get punished for those who do not have the flood insurance. certainly, that would be helpful to them to have assistance to be able to meet the challenge and their families, and yet, you know, so those communities that do not participate to the level that many in new jersey do, they get the benefit, and the communities that do participate
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get a negative. it seems to me to be a perverse disincentive. >> that is one hazard that exists. >> let's talk about another hazard. with billions of dollars spent each year and disaster assistance, many of which goes to communities that are under or uninsured, do you believe it would be cost-efficient to provide vouchers to low-income families to afford flood insurance? >> that is one option we have looked at. we've tried to make it more after rarely based to increase participation -- action rarely based -- actuarially based. i think even if we do vouchers or some sort of adjustment based on income to continue some level of participation and protection, those are desired outcomes.
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again, it would have to be something sustained. what we do right now is if you do have flooding, the need to get individual assistance. we require you to purchase flood insurance for the first year. you have to maintain it for future years. we will oftentimes go back to a community three or four years later where there was a flood and they have discontinued their insurance because they either did not want to or could not afford to continue to pay for flood insurance. >> it seems like we now need to do something to help those people caught in these circumstances. i was a mayor at one time. you know, the nature of the mayor's resources is there ratable base for the most part. in our effort to eliminate severe, repetitive lost properties, shouldn't we be considering as a way of incentivizing those communities, about one-third of all the flood
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insurance plan claims are made for about 1% of these types of properties, shouldn't we be looking at how we may be worked off of that, some of that ratable loss and still have an enormous savings to the program but with incentivizes >> our current buyout programs, one of the limiting factors at the state and local level is a cost share. to buy out those properties and get those properties out of those rating systems is how much money we have, how many properties can we buy out and how do we factor that into those ratings? >> but the buyout, last point, mr. chairman, the buyout program is about how much money will it cost to buy the property. but there will be many municipalities that will look and say, well, i'm going to lose all those rateables and therefore going to be resistant when a third of all of your claims end up being over 1% of
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those repetitive losses seems to me that it makes economic sense to figure out how you incentivize eliminating as much as possible of that 1% of repetitive lost properties. so we look forward to working with you on this. >> senator -- >> thank you, mr. chairman, mr. administrator, two days in a row for your testimony. and it becomes even more exciting as the day goes on. i appreciate the conversation that i've heard and would like to ask you to include me in the letter that you apparently are going to send senator johanns in regard to in-progress flooding. that's an issue for us along the northeast border of kansas as the missouri river creates our border. and also wanted to see if you had any sense that there is any need to address what i see as perhaps a bias against rural disasters in regard to a
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disaster declaration and fema's assistance. we have a number of instances in which the -- because it's rural, lower property values, smaller population, the tornado or the flood is just as damaging to the folks who are affected by that. but we don't reach the threshold necessary for a presidential declaration. just recently, one of our counties, clay county, had 100% of their roads damaged by a flood. but the value will not meet that. reading, kansas, tornado, very low property values, small community, totally -- almost totally devastated. but again, won't meet the threshold. i'm not looking for expanding the cost to fema but i want to make certain that -- or to the taxpayers, i do want to make certain that we don't have a formula that unnecessarily excludes folks who happen to reside in rural america. any thoughts about that?
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>> yes, sir. coming from florida, which many people think is only big cities are south florida, i come from a rural part of the state with small rural communities. however, the stafford act and the request from the governor is judged against a state and the population. and so it does put a disadvantage to smaller communities. the thory being the state does have the resources in many cases if it's a smaller impact to support those communities. so it does look at the impact to the state. it looks on a per capita state basis. and then we look at the per capita impacts within those communities. and we have taken into account and do look at the severity of impact. on what it looks to a local community. particularly determining at a governor's request what counties to include in the initial declaration. but it does look at the state, and the state resources versus just looking at the community that was impacted. >> let me make sure i understand what you told me. when you say you look at the community and the damage, the per capita, is there a way to
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override that state in our case at the $1.31 per capita? to see that designation? >> there are times when a severity or the intensity of an impact would not reach a state per capita but it would warrant a decision to support a declaration. again, this is why fema does the write-ups and works with the state and ultimately this is the president's determination. but there have been times where we've had such an intensity of impact in a community that you do not meet your straight thresholds. but the impacts locally were so catastrophic to warrant that assistance. >> and it's my experience that at least many of those small rural communities, they have the least amount of preparation, expertise, responsibility as compared to a larger community that has more professional ongoing planning and response to that kind of disaster. i welcome the chance to explore that issue myself further and with your help i would welcome
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your help. in the idea of saving some money, one of the things that made some sense to me, you talk about in your testimony the importance of the affordability of coverage. and i'm interested in knowing whether it would take -- what it would take in order for premiums to be escrowed. similar to property taxes or homeowners insurance, could that help better manage the issue of affordability and do you have the authority to escrow payments? >> senator, i'm -- i'll respond in writing to that. there's another piece of that that we're exploring and we've been asked to look at. but how to build this into your other insurance as your property taxes into your payment, whether this be a separate bill that comes up and due all at once. we've also looked at and been asked to look at quarterly payments. i think we are -- i'm principally in favor of looking at making this fit the other insurance models and fitting
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the escrow model. but also allowing people to do quarterly payments. so long as people understand they just don't buy a quarter when they think they're going to flood. they buy a year's worth of insurance. they're going to make payments against that and not just buying a quarter's worth. so we are looking at how to do that. i'll ask to respond back in writing. but if you can biled this into the reoccurring cost of mortgages and treat this more like we do other types of insurance where people may want to buy this as a separate policy, right now it's a lump sum. so we are looking at how to provide this as a similar process that's used for other types of policy. >> if you concluded that this is an appropriate opportunity, do you have the authority to allow escrow or quarterly payments? >> we're working on that and respond back in writing what we can and cannot do. >> thank you. >> senator reid. >> thank you very much, director. i want to thank you virs -- first of all for your
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assistance in the flood in rhode island. i was repeatedly stopped by my constituents who went out of their way to commend fema for their efforts and for the -- not just doing the job but going above and beyond. so thank you for that. i think that ethic begins at the top. so thank you very much. well done. a lot has been discussed i presume and know about mapping, your risk map program is designed to ensure by 2014, that 80% of the nation's flood hazards, new update are deemed valid. my sources indicate we're about at 55% at the end of 2012. so how do we in two years go from 55% to 80%, particularly with constrained budgets? >> senator, we're not. >> ok. >> to be honest. in looking at where we're having to make targeted reductions in our budget, we have looked at reducing funding
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for modernization. but we are not stopping that modernization. but it will take longer to complete the work. >> and how does that play out now when, for example, my colleague, senator schumer, was talking about issues. and -- in his part of the country. we have areas which are not in flood zones. but some that should be, etc., how does that play out on the ground like today as floods rage through the country? i would think that the maps would be sort of the first place you would want to -- the first priority because from then, you can decide who is -- must have insurance, who should not have insurance, and right now, that is all based upon in many cases a lot of 35-year-old data from the geodetic survey. >> senator, this is not an easy choice and nor is it a preferable choice. i think that the best data we
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have, and again, part of this has been oftentimes challenges to the data we have produced, having to go back and validate that and oftentimes restudy at the request because data, the outcomes were not what people thought it should be. and so that increases the cost. but i do agree the best way to start is always to know what your risks are and to have accurate maps. not only for the purposes of insurance but more importantly for zoning and development so we can make better and wiser choices that we build in places that have the least amount of risk. and we mitigate against the risk where we know the hazards. >> has there been any discussion or thought about trying to develop a joint enterprise to do this with the private sector, with state governments, with county governments, who i would think also have a vested interest in good data and not writing policies on data they know is wrong? >> we do that.
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and speaking from my experiences and cases where i know this was done successfully, one was in north carolina in the aftermath of hurricane floyd where they actually were able to utilize mitigation dollars from fema in the aftermath of the disaster to produce very high resolution flood maps. my experiences in florida where we were mapping coastal communities to get higher resolution maps for storm surge, and then applying that for future map development. but i think you point out a key issue. much of what we're doing is establishing what are the digital elevation maps. there's a significant economic advantage as we build, whether it's flood insurance, whether it's highway, whether it's water management districts, at state or local programs, to be able to integrate all this digital elevation data into a national atlas. not only does it provide us the tools for flood insurance, it is a significant economic cool to have the best available data for people planning and looking at future growth construction
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all the way through to agriculture. so i'm firmly committed that as we do this mapping, the baseline data, as much as we can either leverage what other people have done or we can fill in gaps, so we're working more with the interagent of the federal programs to make sure that we are identifying where we're doing mapping, other people are doing similar work, and making sure we can maximize our investment. >> the final point on this, and i agree, these are very difficult judgments that you're making, is that you've been given this responsibility. and you're providing a general good, social good that lots of other people will depend upon. and if they could be encouraged and in fact could see the wisdom that they could -- it would make sense for them to participate, to help us, and it's not just localities and states, but private entities, and with technology today, the ability to map things from the sky and to do it quite
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accurately and to -- i think that might be an approach that would take some of the burden off of you which you've had historically. but once again let me conclude by thanking you for the great effort last year in rhode island. >> thank you, senator. >> i would like to think witnesses for being here today to contribute to our nfib re-authorization discussion. the nfib is an important mission for disaster mitigation and recovery. today's discussion will assist us as we chart a sustainable future for the program. this hearing is adjourned. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011]
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>> also from capitol hill today, defense secretary nominee leon panetta's confirmation hearing where he said losing in afghanistan would create another safe haven for quade. he also said osama bin laden's death has weakened the terrorist network. you can watch his testimony before the senate armed services committee tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span. on c-span2 a meeting on technology's impact on local journalism. julius genach hofment wski
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chairs a meeting where he discusses how journalists provide a check against corruption. that's on c-span2. >> on -- the nomination is confirmed. >> the senate confirmed white house deputy counsel donald verili to succeed justice elena kagan as u.s. solicitor general. listen to him argue before the supreme court from 2008 or discussing the rehnquist court in 1994. he's one of the more than 100,000 people you can search and watch for free anytime online at our c-span video library. it's washington your way. earlier today, customs and border protection agency commissioner annual bersen testified on border corruption and drug trafficking. he was joined by the acting snedge for the homeland security -- inspector general for the homeland security committee. this is an hour.
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>> i'll call our meeting to order. i welcome senator paul to his ranking membership of this subcommittee. this is the first time you've had a chance to sit in as the ranking member so thank you for your service and for doing this and look forward to working with you. i would also like to thank our panelists today and the distinguished audience that is here today. because many of you all have been following this issue for a long time and just want to thank everyone for their attendance. we are going to examine the progress in observing corruption -- in preventing corruption and -- in its work force as well as the work of the inspector general's office at the department of homeland security and investigating and prosecuting those individuals who have been accused of corruption. securing the united states
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borders is a constant struggle for the residents of the border states and for the government officials who represent them. the mexican cartels dominate drug trafficking into the u.s. their operations and methods are sophisticated, ruthless, and well funded. their notorious presence in mexico is made possible by bribery and corruption and intimidation, paramilitary force, and murder. the impact of their operations in the united states has been widespread. this subcommittee held a hearing in march of 2010 at which we learned that the cartels' operations are changing. they used to rely most on stealth techniques. and the -- and the u.s. distribution network with operations in an estimated 230 american cities according to the national drug intelligence center. three of those cities are in arkansas. the good news about the changing operations is that
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heightened u.s. border defenses have put a squeeze on the cartels. unfortunately, these cartels are not easily deterred. and they seek to regain an advantage by exporting to the u.s. their experience is and success in bribing and corrupting government officials who can facility their business. -- facilitate their business. we must continue to do everything that we can to disrupt and prevent these gangs from penetrating our communities. that's why i'm pleased that last year, the congress passed and the president signed the anti-border corruption act of 2010. this bill is designed to complement the work force integrity plan and prevent rogue border agents from being hired and retained. the bill requires that c.b.p. follow its own employment policies requiring polygraph tests of all new applicants for law enforcement positions. it also directs c.b.p. to initiate background checks on all backlogged employees within
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six months. hiring new border patrol agents will help secure our borders only if these agents are truly committed to protecting our country. i look forward to hearing from commissioner bersen on the progress he's made and implementing this bill. another area of interest today is the ongoing concern about the lack of true collaboration in information sharing between c.b.p. and the snedge -- inspector general's offense. fighting corruption is vital and we must aggressively attack and investigate these cases if we're going to end corruption within the u.s. law enforcement agencies. however, we must conduct these investigations in an efficient and collaborative way that leads to results in the quist way possible. -- in the quist way possible. based on reports this does not seem to be the way we are currently operating when conducting these investigations. also, look forward to our
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witness comments in this area. so our witnesses today are both very experienced individuals. commissioner berson of the c.b.p. and charles edwards the acting inspector general and the department of homeland security, these gentlemen are leading much of the u.s. government's efforts to fight against drug-related corruption. we welcome them. we look forward to their testimony but first i would like to recognize senator paul. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for coming to testify here today. i, like senator pryor, am concerned about the lawlessness south of our border and whether or not that creeps across the border. cincinnati the lawlessness has gotten so severe in mexico people fear traveling to mexico. i mean, there's people who are now referring to mexico as a failed nation state. and is that an overstatement? i don't know. but i'm worried about the lawlessness coming across our border. corruption is a problem. but i'm also worried about the
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lawlessness coming and actually killing our law enforcement agents, our border patrol agents, our sheriffs, our citizens across the border. so i am very concerned where we are. i'm also concerned about legal immigration and visas and whether or not we're monitoring those who we let into our country. this last week in bowling green two terrorists who came in here on an asylum program. we admitted 18,000 people from iraq. this sounds like a large number. are we monitoring these people and doing a good enough screening process? this goes for a lot of other people who are coming here legally. it's not just illegal immigration i'm worried about. i'm worried about legal immigration, whether or not it's being monitored properly. we have 40,000 students coming to this country from all over the world. are they -- and the people who attacked us on 9-11 were here on student visas. they were overstaying their
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visas. was anybody monitoring them? are we overseeing where the students are who are in our country now? are we overseeing the refugee process? one. guys in bowling green that was captured and alleged to be part of terrorism was in jail in iraq. his fingerprints were on an i.u.d., an unexploded i.e.d. and his fingerprints were in our data bases for two years before we figured it out. i don't know that we're doing a good enough job. i think as country we're spending an amazing amount of resources on screening everyone universally as if everyone is a potential terrorist. i think that's a mistake. we're combing through everybody's bank records. we're invading the privacy of everyone in our country. we're doing patdown and strip searches of 6-year-olds in our airports. but are we spending enough time and resources targeting those who would be attackers or potential attackers of our country? so i want to learn a little more about how the visa process is working. whether or not we're overseeing
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the people who have been admitted to our country and whether or not there are sufficient safeguards to protect our country in the legal immigration aspect? thank you. >> thank you. now, sometimes we say that these people don't need any introduction. and really on these two, you really don't. so i'm going to be very brief and just say our first witness today is alan bersen, commissioner at the u.s. customs and border patrol. we look forward to hearing from you, mr. bersen and we'll hear from our next witness, charles edwards. he's the acting inspector general at the department of homeland security. thank you very much for being here. we have a timing system today. and i think we're doing five minutes on the opening statements. so if you could keep yours to five minutes and we'll submit your written statements for the record so those will be made part of the record. we look forward to hearing from you and we look forward to a good discussion afterward. mr. bersen. >> good morning, mr. chairman, ranking member paul. it is an important day for me
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to appear here before you to update you on the progress that u.s. customs and border protection is making to combat corruption and maintain integrity within our work force. senator pryor, you and this committee have been an important force in recognizing the threat we face on the u.s.-man mexican border in terms of the men and women of c.b.p. now. 60,000 strong, 48,000 of whom are on the frontline of protecting this nation and its borders. you recognize and we emphasize the commitment, bravery, vigilance and character demonstrated by the vast majority of c.b.p. agents and officers who put their lives on the line to protect this nation. having said that we recognize there are bad apples in the barrel and it is our job to minimize those and it is our job to prevent corruption, detect it when it happens,
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prosecutor it, after investigating it, in concert with other federal agencies and the united states attorney's office and the department of justice. unfortunately c.b.p. employees have and will continue to be targeted by criminal organizations as chairman suggested. and as the ranking member confirms. as we continue to see successes in our efforts to secure our nation's border, our adversaries continue to grow more desperate in their attempts to smuggle humans and illegal contraband into this country. our most valuable as well as in some rare cases our most vulnerable resources are our employees. i'm here today to candidly confront with you this vulnerability and the steps that we are taking with your assistance, the assistance of the administration to mitigate this threat. recently, i sput forward my first statement of intent and policy as the commissioner of c.b.p. after a year of service.
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outlining specific and high-level propositions to be incorporated into all aspects of c.b.p.'s interactions. with the public, with other law enforcement, and within our own institution. that statement of intent and policy dealt with integrity. it outlined the absolute importance that we attach to integrity in the discharge of our duties. we pride ourself on being a family. however, when one of our own strays into criminality, we do not forgive him or her. such was the case with martha garnaca, who betrayed her country, betrayed her fellow officers, betrayed her trust, and now sits in federal prison for 20 years as she so richly deserves. we recognize that we need to
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confront this and we are doing so with the help of the resources and with the help of the anti-border corruption act that this chairman and this senate and congress passed and the president signed. since 2004, in october, 127 c.b.p. personnel have been arrested, charged or convicted of corruption. this breach of trust is something that we do not stand for and while seven years and tens of thousands of employees are besmirched by this -- by these evidences of corruption, we take each and every one of them seriously. the anti-border corruption act of 2010 which the chairman championed is one of the first steps to address the issue of corruption within the work force before it can take hold. i look forward to discussing with you this morning the steps that we've taken and in order to implement that act and be prepared to meet its dls. we recognize that there is work
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to be done. we're committed to doing it. and i believe you will be satisfied that we've made a good start along the path to being able to meet these dls. -- deadlines. we also need to recognize that our best defense against corruption are the men and women of c.b.p. themselves. and therefore we have taken on the so-called code of silence within our institution. when we ask our officers to uphold the honor and integrity of their service, we add security to the border. mr. chairman, let me thank you for the anti-border corruption act and the role you played in securing it. i look forward to answering your questions and the ranking members as we proceed this morning. thank you, sir. >> thank you. mr. edwards. >> good morning, chairman pryor, ranking member paul, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, i'm charles k. edwards, acting inspector general for the department of
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homeland security. thank you for inviting me today to testify about our role in the effort to eliminate corruption in the c.b.p. work force, a threat that strikes at the foundation of securing our nation's borders. the smuggling of people and goods across the nation's borders is a large-scale business dominated by organized criminal enterprises. the mexican drug cartels today are more sophisticated and dangerous than any other organized criminal group. they use torture and brutality to control their members, and intimidate or eliminate those who may be witnesses or informants to their activities. the drug trafficking organizations turn to corrupting employees. border corruption impacts national security. a corrupt employee may accept a bribe for allowing what appeared to be undocumented aliens into the u.s. while unwittingly helping terrorists enter the country. likewise, what seems to be drug
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contraband, could be weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical or biological weapons. o.i.g. has made investigation of corruption a top priority. snorns with the inspector general act of 1978 and the homeland security act of 2002, the o.i.g. exists as an independent element within d.h.s., tasked with coordinating, conducting and supervising investigations relating to d.h.s. programs and operations. these statutes vest the o.i.g. with the primary responsibility within d.h.s. for investigating allegations of criminal misconduct, of d.h.s. employees. the statutory independence and its dual reporting responsibilities to the department and to the congress make it ideally situated to address employee corruption. the inspector generals play a critical role in assuring transparent, honest, effective and accountable government. the organizational independence of o.i.g. criminal
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investigators, free to carry out their work without interference by agency officials, is essential to maintaining the public trust. the d.h.s. management director plainly establishes o.i.g.'s right to first refusal to conduct investigations of criminal conduct by d.h.s. employees and the right to supervise any such investigations that are conducted by d.h.s. internal affairs components. it is the o.i.g.'s policy to investigate all allegations of corruption, of d.h.s. employees, or compromise of systems related to the security of our borders and transportation networks. the department's internal affairs offices play a useful role to the o.i.g. by enabling the o.i.g. to leverage its resources. the cbia focuses on preventative measures to ensure the integrity of c.b.p. work force through preemployment screening of applicants including polygraph examinations, background investigations of employees, and integrity briefings that help employees recognize
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corruption signs and dangers. these preventative measures are critically important in fighting corruption and work hand in hand with o.i.g.'s criminal investigative activities. the o.i.g. has been tirelessly -- working tirelessly in an honest attempt to negotiate a cooperative working arrangement that will detail c -- to participate in investigation of c.b.p. employees along with o.p.r. these additional assets are especially necessary as the c.b.p. work force continues to expand significantly while o.i.g. remains relatively flat. d.h.s., o.i.g. works with external lawen format agencies on border corruption matters involving d.h.s. employees. a key component of our investigative strategy is to leverage our limited resources and share intelligence with pore law enforcement agencies. d.h.s., o.i.g. participates in many parts of the country. these cooperative relationships
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serve to ensure that different law enforcement agencies are not pursuing the same targets which duplicate efforts and places law enforcement agent safety at risk. in conclusion, i appreciate the subcommittee's attention and interest in the work of the o.i.g. to investigate corrupt employees within d.h.s. work force. we will continue to aggressively pursue these investigations with all resources at our disposal and in cooperation with law enforcement at all levels to ensure that employee corruption does not jeopardize our national security. chairman pryor, in concludes my prepared remarks. i would be happy to answer any questions that you or the ranking member may have. thank you. >> thank you very much. let me start with you if i may, mr. edwards, on this chart. my understanding is you provided these numbers to the committee as part of your testimony today. and i see a big upswing in the number of investigations.
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do you know why that is and why are you a dramatic spike there in the number of investigations? >> there are 38% increase in complaints against c.b.p.'s since 2004 from 3,112 to 4,162. these increases are because we have to -- as the act that was passed last year, we need to go back and c.b.p. needs to do the background investigation, the polygraphs of the employees because we find 60% of the employees who go through this don't pass it because of the corrupt criminal background in their background. >> there's a big spike in that. >> so you're saying that -- say that again. that we're -- as you're doing more of the polygraphs, more and more are showing up with -- >> we had a huge backlog. and now c.b.p. has gone back
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and has -- there was a huge spike. and still haven't caught up and we are hoping by 2012 to be able to do 100%. >> perfect. that makes sense. now, there's also a pie chart that you provided to the subcommittee that is part of your testimony. and in this pie chart, the navy blue, these are open named c.b.p. employee investigations. and i think the named is important. because this doesn't mean it's all but it's the one that, you know, certain category of them at least. so there's 613 total. and the navy blue is for corruption that may be hard to see for the audience. that's 44%. and then red is civil rights. and the green is suspicious behavior. so if you add the corruption and the suspicious behavior together, you get 78%. that -- those seem like alarming numbers to me. and could you talk about that
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for a little bit. >> corruption is abuse of public power -- abuse of public power for private gain. examples are bribe riss, smuffling, disclosure of sensitive law enforcement information. the cartels, the drug business, organized criminal enterprises are becoming very sophisticated. they are trying to infiltrate our c.b.p. work force. we have to get to the root of the problem. if we just go and get rid of that one employee, we still haven't gotten to the bottom of the problem. a huge person of it is unnamed and we have recently established forensic threat analysis unit to get to the bottom of this. >> did you want to comment on that, mr. bersin? >> mr. chairman, i think as you
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know, we are openly confront being the issue and the challenges that we face. and i want to point out and i commend the o.i.g. as well as c.b.p.-- and the f.b.i. in the number of investigations that have started. we have to recognize and put in perspective that it's the kind of emphasis that the agencies are giving to the problem. that put more resources into the problem that begin in the first instance to see an increase in the number of cases that are open. more cases have been referred by cpbia to the joint information system. and those cases are being taken at greater rate by d.h.s.-o.i.g. for which we are thankful. this is an issue of attention and focus and resource allocation. >> let me follow up on that if i can, mr. bersin. because one of the things that you have had really large
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backlog on is your periodic reinvestigations. you went through some opening -- them in your opening statement but how many periodic reinvestigations you have completed so far. >> yes, sir. we recognize that under the anti-border corruption act, we have -- we're obliged as a matter of law to complete the periodic reinvestigations by the end of 2012. we will meet that objective by july of 2012. we also understand the polygraph responsibilities. every employee, preunemployment, will be polly graffed -- polygraphed as of january 2013. where we stand today and we've been working and keeping your staff and you informed of this, we have 15,197 periodic reinvestigations of backlogged.
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all of those have been initiated. but they remain pending. and to be precise, as of may 31 of this year, 5,386 periodic reinvestigations have been adjudicated. 9,219 are pending investigation or jude indication. -- or ajude indication. what we've been to meet this, notwithstanding the hiring requirements of the southwest border supplemental bill, is to have the professional services division of internal affairs that handles this have devoted the bulk of their resources to these verdictic reinvestigations. while the task has been complicated by the additional hirings that the supplemental bill have provided us, we don't complain about those. but it does add to another
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1,500 -- actually, 1,250 additional cases so to speak to the backlog. but we are on target, mr. chairman, to meet the requirements of the act. >> how many do you think you'll have completed by the end of 2011? which was into this year? >> i wouldn't -- we have -- we have -- the difference between -- well, let's see, we have -- we have in the area of 800 that are in adjudication now. so i suspect that we're talking between now and the end of the fiscal year, perhaps 1,200. so we have a fair amount to do. but we expect that we will be online to meet the end of ferrer 20 -- fiscal year 2012
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deadline. >> if you do the reinvestigations and the polygraphs, what percentage of the employees turn up with an issue? what percentage are you catching? >> well, in the last number, and the one that was referenced by my colleague, the inspector general, was that the 60% present an issue. it depends on the -- on the population that you polygraph. and the nature of the issue differs. and what we're attempting to do, because of the expense involved of -- in polygraphing is actually to have a process in which we can see rise to the top those applicants who are less likely to face issues in a polygraph examination. but the -- the number will depend on the -- on the actual population of applicants that you put through the examination. >> so you're not saying those 60% is the number of folks that are, you know, showing corruption.
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you're just saying they're showing -- >> absolutely not. >> what is your sense of the number of applicants who are -- who somehow get, you know, tagged with corruption? do you know that? >> could i not give you a specific number. i will tell you in the course of reviewing these, we do come across cases in which people are revealed -- reveal themselves to either have criminal backgrounds -- outright criminal backgrounds or links to organized criminal elements based in mexico or gangs bachede in the united states which disqualifies them. but i think it would be a disservice to the applicant pool to suggest that this is a large or even significant percentage. what we have to do is be sure that we have the filter that catches each and every one of those. but i don't particularly give my background in education. i don't think that this is a
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generation of young people that presents generally more problems than my generation did. >> i'm going to ask one more question and i'll turn it over to senator paul here in just a second. this is a question from another cop text. -- context. the fmcsa. the federal motor carry safety administration is doing a pilot project for mexican trucking companies to bring materials in. two questions. have you heard from fmcsa on this? and are you taking any special precautions or procedures for these mexican-owned trucking companies bringing goods into the united states? >> mr. chairman, this is the pilot program to move away from the issue which will permit mexican long haul carriers to
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cross the border and not have to reconnect and continue on into the united states. in the first instance, this is a department of transportation safety certification an issue. we of course will be involved in clearing and inspecting cargo contained on those trucks. and we are keeping abreast of developments as this pilot unfolds. but it's a safety issue in the first instance. and then it presents the same issue of inspection targeting risk management that we do with regard to each of the 27,000 trucks that enter this country every day. >> the reason i'm asking, of course, is if the mexican drug cartels are successful in corrupting local officials and police and judges potentially, and military and who knows who else, it seems to me pretty likely they could also corrupt these mexican trucking companies. and they could just bring matters in unless we pay special attention to them.
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so that would be a concern of mine. the other question i have is something that i talked with d.o.t. about is about the challenges you had in your agency about finding corruption there and the drug cartels trying to -- actively in some cases successfully crnt our agents there. -- corrupt our agents there. i've asked them to reach out to you about some of the lessons you've learned in terms of making sure that their work force that's going to be down on the border maintains their integrity. and have they had a chance it reach out to you yet? >> we haven't specifically talked. but we do work together on the interagency policy coordination on the border. and i will reach out for the department of my colleague at the department of transportation. >> that would be great. mr. paul. >> mr. bersin, do you keep a database on all those who are visiting our country on a visa -- travel visa or student visa? >> senator paul, what c.b.p.
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does in terms of smibblet of everyone who crosses -- admissibility of everyone who crosses into the united states ever day and we have a million people coming into the united states every day that are -- whose admissibility is handled by c.b.p. officers, at airports, land ports and seaports. so we have a record of every person entering into the country and the basis on which he or she does so, yes, sir. >> do you also have a record of when they leave? >> we do not have a biometric exit system in place yet. we have been working within d.h.s. to look at the -- the exit system and there have been a number of pilots that have been handled by u.s. -- t.s.a. and c.b.p. and coming up with a recommendation as to how an exit system can be reliably handled. recognizing that the airport context is one that is a manageable environment. the land borders are actually
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the environment that present the greatest challenge to our exit verification. >> when you -- you have to go through customs on the way in, do you go customs on the way out? >> only when we do outbound inspections which we're doing on the u.s.-mexican border in keeping with our new relationship with mexico. but we do not for the most part do exit except on a surge basis in places on like the northern border. >> there's a million people coming into the united states every day from other countries. >> yes, sir. and returning u.s. citizens. it's a mix. >> because my problem, and i'm still concerned about it, is the people who get here, do we know if they're overstaying their visas and are they obeying the rules of their student visas? that gets under whose purview and who's checking that? is that i.c.e. or who's checking whether someone overstays their visa? >> this would be a
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responsibility of d.h.s. in terms of homeland security investigations on visa overstays. but this is an issue that as you suggested in your opening remarks, there's one that has to be handled on a risk management basis. this has to be an ability to identify high risk entrants into the country. because we do not obviously have the resources nor should we be devoting equal resources to every one of those million people. >> and the million people may also involve a lot of u.s. citizens who are just coming back. >> and long-time -- >> and i'm coming back from london, and that's part of the million. can you break the million down further? how many are visiting us from another country? >> i will supplement the record. >> and that's what we need to do. if you're looking at a million, you would find out if 500,000 of them are u.s. citizens traveling on business. obviously they wouldn't be as someone needing as much scrutiny. middle eastern countries might need a little more scrutiny.
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but we would have to do good police work to do that. but then if we also -- it almost seems like once you narrow that down, you do need to know who comes in and who leaves and the difference between the two is those who are overstaying their welcome and we live in such an electronic age that you would think even if across in a car, in canada, that that would be entered into a data bank and should be easily reconcilable with who's overstaying their welcome here. and i just think after 9-11, we sort of -- we have done so many things to think that we're all terrorists. that unevrsly we have to scrutinize everybody to the nth degree instead of good police work. it would be less expensive and less intrusive to our policy. but looking at the people who did attack us and who continue to attack us and not really u.s. citizens. >> the essence of our system at c.b.p. and across d.h.s. increasingly is risk management. it's exactly that. it recognizes that we have limited resources and that we have to do targeted attention.
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and after making a risk assessment in terms of trusted shippers, high-risk shippers, trusted travelers, high risk travelers, we then have to segment the traffic to permit us to deal with it in sequence. but just to indicate that -- your general point i couldn't agree with more. but when we look at a faisal shazad, u.s. citizen, naturalized, we have to look at this risk assessment system -- >> not just u.s. citizens but a u.s. citizen and been to yemen three times and not a businessman who has a business or a woman and that might be a red flag for us. so you're right. it's not simple as what your religion is, the color of your skin or any of that. it is more complicated. but it's a whole host of figures that we need to look at and then excluding the people who are traveling frequently on business. it's the -- what we're doing in our country with the t.s.a. how many people fly every day
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within the u.s.? a million or more fly every day. but we're wasting resources and not doing as good of police work and we're distracted from the real police work we could do because we have to treat everybody universally as a potential terrorist. but anyway, i would recommend that at some point in time, and it sounds like this is ongoing that we do talk about monitoring, who comes in and who leaves, and it should be very easy to determine from that. but i don't get a good feeling that a decade after 9-11, we know where everyone in the country is who's on a student visa and whether they're obeying the rules, how often they're being checked, whether or not they're in the country and obeying the rules of their entry. the other question, i don't know if you know the answer, what percentage of visas approved by the state department, initiated in another country, once they come through customs, are then rejected? because that happens, right? >> yes. when a visa is presented at a point of admission, there are
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circumstances in which the c.b.p. officer will refuse admission and based on information that would be available and would alert the officer that the visa can be set up for revocation. i would need to supplement in terms of the millions with which we deal what the actual percentage of revocations -- >> i would like to know. it would be important to me, not the exact number but if you're rejecting 5% of state department visas, maybe that means you're doing a good supplementary job to the state department. but if you're rejecting 30%, maybe means the state department is not doing a very good job. and not to point fingers, but we need to ask these questions. which gets us back to all these refugees and political asylum people we're letting in from iraq. we need to know who's approving them? what kind of process is going on with this? do you have anything to do with the refugee admittance into our country? >> c.i.s. handles the status
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issues. we would be involved in the initial admissibility issues as we would be with anyone presenting themselves for admission into the united states. >> but it would go through the state department first and it would be when they come to the airport you mean? >> to the extent that -- yes, if there's an admissibility issue. but the actual refugee status would be state department and then in combination of citizen and immigration services at d.h.s. >> and so you aren't actually actively doing sort of extensive background checks on individuals, that's something the state department supposedly doing before they get to you? >> that's correct, senator. but what we rely on is information that would give us an ability to make a risk assessment with regard to any of those people based on the collected data and databases available to the united states government. >> all right. thank you very much. if you have any of that other information i'm interested in
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it and there's a big picture we all need to be pursuing as far as the safety of our country. >> thank you. thank you, senator paul, good questions. let me dive into a followup from previous hearings and just other matters that we worked on here. together. and that would be -- i'm interested in the way you two see your specific roles in investigation. and my understanding is and i've talked to both of you and both your offices about this, there has in the past been some i guess i would say friction or maybe -- i don't know if i
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would say gaps. but maybe some friction, some maybe disagreement about what the roles should be. and my understanding is that you all have worked hard to try to address these. and also i understand that you may be fairly close to doing some sort of written agreement on what your roles would be. and i would like to get a status report on that. mr. edwards, do you want to start there? >> sure. well, three reasons. one, the i.g.'s role, inspector general's role, ensures transparency and effective and accountable government. both personal and organizational dependence of o.i.g.'s investigators to carry out the work. and secondly, it's the public trust. and also, thirdly, avoiding duplication. the statutory authority that i.g. has, we do all 100% of the criminal investigations. all allegations.
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we feel, you know, our position at cpbia plays a complimentary role and even congress recognized that with the anti-border corruption act of 2010. c.b.p., you know, does the integrity work by doing the preunemployment screening of applicants and including polygraph and background investigations. i have worked both myself and alan have been working together to come up with cpbia agents could work -- could be detailed to o.i.g. and work on the o.i.g.'s supervision to work some of the cases. that gives commissioner bersin the information that he's looking for and the agreement that i -- last night signed and sent it over and waiting still for alan to sign it, because i have to look into my
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independence, the statutory authority, and the management directive where o.i. rangers has the lead. -- o.i.g. has the lead. i think alan recognizes that but from his point still some differences. but i've done my part. >> mr. bersin. >> first, i should say senator, that what a difference three months makes. so yes, i think it's fair, and it would be -- the lawen format professionals, both in o.i.g. and i.r.s. a. will know that i say this -- and i.a. will know that i say there was more than tension and friction. there was outright confrontation and an unacceptable situation. and this is not in most situations like this, it makes no sense to try to fix the blame. but rather fix the problem.
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and i want to complement both offices for endeavoring to do precisely that. in april of this year, the inspector general reached out very directly and said that he wanted to discuss this issue. and he wanted to see that working together, we could actually reverse the history of the last few years which again was a function of people passionate about their duties and dedicated public servants. we saw the world in a different way. and i think we've made huge strides toward that goal. in january of 2011, as the senator knows, we entered into an unprecedented agreement within d.h.s., i.s.e., and cpbia agents for the first time are detailed into i.s.e.
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offices and are working to supplement the resources of i.s.e., i.s.,'s office of professional responsibility -- i.s.e.'s office of professional responsibility to work down the investigative caseload and we've seen tremendous progress in the first five months of that collaboration. when you put law enforcement professionals together in the field to work on a case, the work gets done without the kind of friction that often attaches to turf battles that occasionally surface in washington. what we've seen already in the i.s.e., c.b.p. collaboration is the number of cases being worked have been decreased from 160 to 127. and we've seen the clearing up of cases because of the additional resources. we recognize in that agreement, that memorandum of understanding with i.s.e., that i.s.e. lead case agent has
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supervisory responsibility. we've engaged in thus far i think very successful negotiations with o.i.g., our staff members have brought us to the positive brink so to speak of entering into a similar agreement in which c.b.p. acknowledges the responsibilities under the management directive, of o.i.g., and will be, i believe, welcomed into the o.i.g. investigative effort as a full law enforcement member. that can only be to the good of the american people and to challenging the -- and taking on the threat of corruption. so i think we're close. and i think we can overcome the remaining issues. those issues frankly are not so much about the relationship between the c.b.p. and o.i.g. but rather the way in which
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o.i.g. could be welcomed back within recognizing its responsibility under the inspector general act and its responsibilities under the d.h.s. management directive could be welcomed back into the border corruption task forces that exist in 22 sites in the united states. that have been organized by the federal bureau of investigation, the department of justice, and are critical element in the whole of government approach to taking on border corruption. to taking on border corruption. those issues need to be worked through. that happens to be a tripartite negotiations. i am hopefully -- hope we can address it. that is where the issues are. those are where the remaining issues are in terms of closing off a chapter that all of us
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want to put behind us in terms of the tension between cbp and oig. >> you said you sent a draft agreement over last night. was it your intention that the draft agreement would cover all of the outstanding issues? >> i must commend secretary janet napolitano for her leadership in bringing us together. she has given advice to us to get this resolved. i have taken into account our independence and the statutory authority we have. we do not have the resources necessary. at dhs, there has to be one face. my staff has been working with alan's staff. we have an overall agreement, but there is still a sticking
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point. we feel that if you are working with us and you have been ability or 98% of the cases and bctf is still there, there is a duplicate effort. we pulled out of bctf because it goes against the statutory authority. the statutory requirements says the supervisors lead the investigation. for the last several months, we have had a similar situation in san diego. we worked with the u.s. attorney there for several months as a joint leadership between the fbi and oig. the talks went ahead for a couple of months. the u.s. attorney agreed with us, but all the parties did not agree with that. the bctf has withdrawn.
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they are taking cases directly. we are still working with them. we are hopeful that we can resolve this and have cbpi agents working on it and bring down the caseload. >> what you are talking about here is the security of our country to make sure we do not have the corruption that may be rampant in other countries. it is rare here. i hope you will continue to work together to get this resolved. i have no idea what is in your proposed agreement. mr. bersin, i know you just got it last night. would not be fair for you to be asked about it today. hopefully, you will get some
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agreement as quickly as possible. >> i am confident that we will continue to do that as the inspector general indicate. secretary napolitano has indicated compelling lead to both of us and to our offices that she -- compellingly to both of us into our offices what she expects. we need to see if we cannot take that spirit and create a whole lot of government approach. i do not think it makes sense to see us in competition with the department of justice, but rather to admit the department of justice and the department of homeland security into a satisfactory arrangement that maximizes our joint approach to the threat of border security. thatthe challenges to
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security posed by corruption. >> both of you are committed to working together and getting this done. that goes a long way. i appreciate secretary napolitano and her leadership on this. i know she is concerned and she knows i am concern. we need to get this done as quickly as possible. it will do nothing but be a good thing for the country. let me ask a few more questions. mr. bersin, let me start with you. on the current status of the new hires receiving polygraphs. my understanding is that you are not yet at 100% on the new hires. when will you get to 100%? >> we have polygraphed 22% of the applicants. we are currently implementing a business plan that would move us from 35 polygrapher to 52 so
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that we can meet the january 13 requirements set forth in the anti-corruption act. we have solicited help from other federal agencies in terms of providing polygraphers to us. i am pleased to report to you that the federal law enforcement community has reacted by providing 20 additional polygraphers so that we can ramp up consistent with the business plan. >> with that help you with the backlog, or would you retain those permanently? >> that would help us deal until we build up our in-house capacity. >> is there concern about your
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backlog increasing at the beginning of 2011, 2012, and 2013? >> the challenge that we have is that we have a fairly stable attrition rate. we can project with a degree of certainty how many border control agents and how many cbp agency -- ages we will have to replace from attrition. -- agents we will have to replace from attrition. the bill provided we hire an additional 1000 border patrol agents and 250 cbpo's. the budget provides for an cbp officers.0 db
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this is a plan we developed on polygraphers and getting periodic reinvestigations done and the initial investigations. >> once you get your backlog down to where it needs to be, do you see this as the back lot going away permanently, or do you think it will rise again? >> cpb double in size between 2000 and 2010. the issue of backlog arises from this job in the size of the workforce. by the end of this year, we expect to see 5000 more periodic investigations required. every five years, we are
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required to do these investigations. we will have to look to a period where, because of the steep growth, we will see that same steep growth when the periodic investigations are due, absent whatever attrition has taken place. over the course of time, we will need to even that out. we will need to make some adjustments by having some periodic reinvestigations done in three years, four years, five years until we get a steady flow into internal affairs. >> i have other questions. i will submit them for the record. i appreciate you being here today. this is a better job working together and coordinating and not having these internal struggles as you have. i know we are not completely
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done, but i hope we will get the written agreement done and everybody will be on the same page. i want to thank you all for being here today. we will have some additional questions for the record. we will keep the record open for seven days -- 14 days. we will keep the record open for 14 days. members of the subcommittee may submit those. the committee staff will get those to you. we would appreciate you getting those to us. thank you for being here. i want to thank senator paul our being here. i look forward to working with him on the subcommittee. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011]
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>> also today on capitol hill, defense secretary nominee leon panetta's confirmation hearing. he said losing in afghanistan would create another safe haven for al qaeda. he said osama bin laden's death has weakened the terrorist organization. a head of the hearing this morning on "washington journal," we heard a conversation about a report on u.s. nation-building efforts in afghanistan. this is about 45 minutes. host: our guest now is noral bensahel, senior fellow at the center for a new american
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society. the topic is nation building in afghanistan. what is your definition of nation building? guest: it is a tough term to define. we have done it in places like kosovo, bosnia, haiti, and other places. trying to rebuild state capacity in a place where states have stopped functioning whether because of civil war or a humanitarian disaster. host: there is a lot to talk about with afghanistan, but let's talk about the confirmation hearing. here is one of the headlines. that point. your overall take away? guest: i think the point that the ambassador was trying to make was that any effort to reduce u.s. military forces
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reduces the chances that the current military strategy will succeed because it is based on a long-term presence and protecting the population, and of those things require u.s. troops. i think the decision before the president as he comes up doing the review saying he is going to withdraw some forces in july is whether he wants to stick with that strategy or whether he wants to change eight. -- it. host: this meeting was preceded by the release of the report. they spoke about aid and i think the word "disproportionate" was thrown out there in the report. what was your take on that report that came out? guest: i think it pointed out some significant challenges that the u.s. has had with its aid program in afghanistan. it is not talking about cutting
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it significantly or anything drastic, but it emphasizes the need to retool the kind of aid that is given. they came out very strongly and said a lot of the programs that the united states is supporting it is not necessarily a sustainable after 2014 when many troops are expected to be gone. host: our guest will be talking about afghanistan. here are the phone numbers on the bottom of the screen as we talk about nation-building in afghanistan. again, our guest is noral bensahel, a senior fellow at the center for a new american society. before we get to calls and some of the testimony from yesterday at the hearing, i wanted to
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point out some statistics that are rather interesting from the senate foreign relations committee report. host: your thoughts? guest: i think it is important to note that those total numbers is totalled over 10 years but it is increased rather significantly in the last two years. $4 billion of that was in 2010. it has not been evenly distributed over a period of time. it is since 2009 with the obama strategy that the u.s. efforts have begun to focus in on some of the more difficult tasks of
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reconstruction and a stabilization. host: the 2012 budget request is more than $3 billion for afghan reconstruction. here is another interesting fact. 97% of the afghan gdp is from foreign and military aid. that is linked to the idea of a withdrawal of u.s. troops and wh would mean in the country if it was a little bit too radical, the subject of much debate. guest: there is the possibility of significant recession in afghanistan if u.s. troops and all of the money that they spend and the programs are withdrawn. i think the report is trying to warn that we must make preparations now so that does not happen. it is true in any post-conflict situation, and that international intervention as a distortion on the economy.
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host: before we get to calls, what is the way forward in your view? guest: we do not have an official position. my own view is that a focus on sustainability of aid projects is imported. of the decision facing the president and what he is going to announce in july i think is more important than any specific debate we can have about eight or troop levels because all those things should a flow from the overall strategy. host: let's hear from maryland first. ben is on the republican line. caller: my concern is, in iraq, when bush was in office, we were doing and nation-building there. you had dense population centers. so, you could imagine policing them. afghanistan is a little bit different. karzei -- we moved him in.
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much, much different lay of the land and the terrain. now, we are nation building there. now we are policing there. the terrain is so much different. i am really concerned about our troops being so spread out and so far apart from each other, that they are pretty much just out there like waiting for the guys to shoot at them and then they can shoot back. guest: there are very significant differences between iraq and afghanistan. the common point that the caller is pointing out is that nation- building is incredibly difficult under any set of circumstances. the afghanistan makes a big difference because it has a more spread out population.
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the key issue in afghanistan is not so much the terrain but what came before. there were not terribly strong government institutions. it is a country that has been decimated by 30 years of civil war. the task of putting together a government to exercise some control over the country is a fairly significant task. at the u.s. decided to pursue that policy not just to get rid of the al-qaeda present in the country that was directly responsible for september 11 but also to try to prevent afghanistan to become a safe haven of terrorists. that mission in itself required some amount of nation-building because if you do not have the government back in control its own territory, you do not have the government that will be able to prevent terrorists from operating there.
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caller: i would like to know why it is that the u.s. spends as much time and resources giving aid to other countries, but yet when do we get any aid from these other countries? going back to world war ii, we forgave japan to get back on their feet. we continue to give more and more aid to other countries, not to mention sending troops over there to help them out. when are we going to get some of the help? host: besides the u.s. effort at rebuilding the country, arthur other countries involved monetarily? guest: yes, there are many involved. there are troops for more than 30 countries that participate in the international security force, and even a larger number of countries that of come together as aid donors. some of it is put into trust
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funds that the afghan government is able to spend. some of it is just direct assistance, the equivalent of the u.s. agency for development is there and operating. it is far from a u.s.-only aid program. host: corruption has been brought up within afghanistan. i want to get your take on that. this is the chairman asking ryan crocker about the issue of corruption. we will watch that and come back to our guest. >> clearly, the issues of governance, rule of law, and corruption have to improve if afghanistan is to go forward as a stable state. >> are you saying corruption is essential to achieve our goals?
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>> i think corruption, mr. chairman, and i draw on my experience here, corruption totally unchecked becomes as how iraqis put it as a second insurgency. it undermines confidence on the part of their government, and it makes groups like the taliban look attractive. mr. chairman, we are not out to clearly create a shining city on a hill. that is not going to happen. that would apply to all of these sectors that i mentioned, but there needs to be progress. we went through the same thing in iraq. we chipped away at it over time. we got them to take some measurable, if not partial, steps on the issue of corruption
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so you have a situation today that is not, again, a city on a hill, but where they have a good chance of carrying forward without u.s. forces on the ground. host: your reaction? guest: i agree with the ambassador, that corruption is a big problem in afghanistan because of the tribal structure of afghan society and the weakness of the central government. there are u.s. efforts to try to address some of the roots of the corruption. there is a task force that has civilian representatives on it. corruption is a fact of life in afghanistan. what the task force and other efforts are trying to do is to minimize that as much as possible when it comes to government services to try to get the government to provide services for the population with
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as little amount of corruption as possible. host: the next call, ga., a democrat. good morning. caller: the question caller: what happened to the oil revenues? host: can you speak to that? guest: afghanistan does not have oil reserves. it has been underexplored. host: maybe he's thinking about iraq. long island, new york. caller: might one question -- nation-building, we've been over there for eight years. i love the country i live in. what is the difference between nation-building and controlling
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their government and all that, and the terrorism? it kinda seemed that that is an act of terrorism. we're overthrowing their government. to me, that kind of seems like terrorism. the war on terror will never end. i think it is pretty funny that they keep spewing that out. it.t is basically about eigh guest: there is a difference between war and an active terrorism. the u.s. didn't intervention to overthrow the government in afghanistan. that has a specific legal definition. the need to rebuild afghanistan
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was driven by u.s. strategic interest in trying to prevent this from happening again. the u.s. has been in afghanistan and in iraq and other places -- the whole purpose is to handle the power as soon as possible. it takes awhile to build up the institutional capacity in order to be carefully to execute these responsibilities. we have seen the afghan security forces are improving but still problematic. the need to transition it over and we hope to do the same in government ministries. they are a sovereign power that controls their country. the u.s. is not making the day- to-day government decisions in afghanistan. host: one of the takeaways in
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this "the new york times" piece -- host: too much money there at once? >> each province has a governor. it is a challenge for afghan officials to spend this money. the purpose of the program was in line with what we are talking about before, and never to give locals more control over what goes on in their area and to build up their capacity of the governors. it does have its downside.
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providing that amount of money does lead to opportunities of corruption as well. host: american financing is paying inflated salaries, according to this report. guest: the report notes the problem of a brain drain. you're taking people with skills and instead of working for the afghan government or as translators for the military, it is a significant problem. the challenge is how do you go about trying to rebuild the country, trying to encourage aid programs focused on the long term development of the country. the report notes that as u.s. aid is going to go down, the
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u.s. military presence is going to go down, that will lead to setbacks. host: we have a call from butler, new jersey. caller: the reason i'm calling is nora's definition of nation- building including haiti, i think that that is certainly -- the tubes are not compatible -- the two are not compatible. in haiti, we're just helping out because of a natural catastrophe, as opposed to afghanistan, in which we're intervening militarily. we're going to impose a government that will see to -- the direction of that particular nation in our direction. my mother, would be a that one
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of the problems that we're facing -- my other problem is that, the leaders that we have propped, especially hamid karzai, has not seen to the needs of their own people. karzai is some sort of a failing dictator. guest: i should've been more clear. when i mentioned he come i was talking about 1994 and the military intervention. it is very different, as the caller pointed out. it does try to get to the same means. it has been decimated by the earthquake. aid programs are trying to do some of the same functions. it is a different context because this particular crisis was not affected by conflict.
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this is the difficulty with nation-building. for the u.s. not to be beneficial occupying force does mean that we do with the local leaders we have. hamid karzai it has won two elections. there is no other viable leadership in the country right now was the entire constitution is to be abandoned. we're stuck working with karzai. he has his own power dynamics in this government. he is trying to figure out what the power politics are going to look like when the u.s. commitment goes down. he estimate some decisions now that the u.s. is not going to like because it is in his interest in governing the country. host: here is a question for our guest via twitter.
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[laughter] guest: we have been involved in nation-building for about two years. we have been involved overall for 10 years. if we focus on some of the nation-building task 10 years ago, we would be in a better place. it does not mean we would be completely successful. we would have been further along. host: what has been effected general petraeus? guest: he is committed to implement the counter insurgency strategy that was so successful in iraq. gerald mcchrystal be forum has been successful -- general mcchrystal. host: john in atlanta. caller: i heard the guest said -- [unintelligible]
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host: keep going, caller. caller: that is all i have to say. host: general petraeus is moving on to the cia. who'll be replacing him? guest: general allan. host: let's go to randy, kentucky, independent caller for nora bensahel. caller: i was wondering what they do not spend the billions of dollars to rebuild this country when we are spending billions in other countries. parts like joplin. katrina was never rebuilt. new orleans. rebuild this country. they export, what, heroin? rebuild to what?
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corruption and the taliban. host: not an uncommon theme. put it in terms that people may be able to understand in terms of nation building. i am not asking to defend all of that. guest: the argument the administration has made -- both administrations -- some amount of stability in afghanistan is crucial for u.s. strategic interests. if afghanistan collapses, if it becomes an govern territory, it would provide a fertile ground for terrorist to operate from, as did did for september 11, and that poses a great threat to the united states. the rationale for this is not just feeling good about doing good work around the world. we do that through our record
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foreign aid budget, which is much smaller than people think they are. they are less than 1% of the federal budget. we're talking about relatively small amounts of money in the scheme of the federal c government budget. host: what is your sense of the president's current thinking about the pace of troop withdrawal? how many and how fast? guest: there has been little leaking out of the white house. we have that outsiders talking about the correct troop numbers. some folks have been talking among the democrats about withdrawing all 30,000 troops from the surge that occurred that president obama announced in 2009. others said around 3000 troops would be the correct number. there is no number, from the white house.
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there are questions of strategy that need to be questioned before we get to a numbers game. i think the president is more likely to withdraw a larger number of troops they might have otherwise in the aftermath of osama bin laden's death. that increases public pressure. you're seeing that in some of the calls and then brought spectrums of the american people. where we enough gas -- why are we in afghanistan now that osama bin laden is dead? even so, the numbers that we have been hearing still represent only at the maximum about 1/3 of the troops. there will still be a significant military commitment. host: we have about 50 minutes with our guest, nora bensahel -- we have about 15 minutes left with our guests. chris coons of delaware talk
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about a generational presence, long-term presence in afghanistan. here's a look. >> i was concerned, one visit to afghanistan as a relatively new center to hear about the generational commitment to the stability and security of the nation of afghanistan. in your opening testimony, you cited secretary gates' comments that we walked away with disastrous consequences and that we cannot afford to do so. a number of us are trying to get at the question, if we're not going to walk away, how long are we going to stay, and that what level? there is a lot of focus of the immediate decision of a drawdown. i am more interested in the structure of what looks like and
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was surprised to hear in country assertions that we were committed to assisting in more than 300,000-member afghan security force, which meant paying for it, and we sustained u.s. military presence of a decade or more. host: any thoughts on the part of the testimony? guest: the united states is going to be involved in providing aid for afghanistan for some time. there will be long-term aid program. the question is, how much will entail? that is where the question the sustainability of what the united states is doing it has come up. there are concerns about the security forces right now. the security forces' cost between $6 billion and $8 billion a year.
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there are real questions about where that money will continue to come from. host: how about the training itself? guest: the training is better. it was in dismal shape through 2008. the arm is stronger than it was. the shearson rates are down -- desertion rates are down. they cannot function as the kind of police will know in the united states, cops on the beat of local communities. one of the things we may see would be relatively small number of traders that would continue to work their. that is maybe a few thousand personnel.
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that is likely to be a long term commitment. host: the report spoke to some positives. education is one of them. guest: it mentioned the number of kids going to school has increased. the tone of the report was somewhat critical about what has been going on, particularly about how we need to shape effort's going forward. it is important to note the report did not call for terminating these programs per it did not say the aid was not being used properly. there were questions about how the u.s. should conceive that aid and but for is to take in the future. host: massachusetts, rob. thanks for waiting. caller: good morning to you.
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hayseed and i don't ever way in -- weigh in. i remember mr. bush said, "i will win this presidency but no new nation building." we were just coming off the heels of kosovo and bosnia. we have had some money weather- related -- like the tornadoes. we have nation-building to do around here. how long do we spend nation- building in kosovo and bosnia it c ost?uch did becaus i see these numbers we here are way low.
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. estimate high-pow guest: the current military operations in afghanistan and iraq are significant in terms of u.s. government resources. that is one of the things that is been playing into the the debate about how many troops should be withdrawn and how soon. you are hearing financial arguments with the challenges the budget faces and the debt ceiling. the caller mentioned previous operations in bosnia in kosovo. those went on for long periods of time. kosovo is still ongoing. bosnia, more than a decade. host: let's drop the call. michael, a democrat. good morning.
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caller: i have a couple of points. if you cannot help yourself, you cannot help anybody else. there are too many people in america that need help. i say we give afghanistan at 3 under thousand dollars -- $300,000 over the next 10 years. our constitution has gone out of whack. it is nowhere will have to be. we have to help ourselves before we can help anyone else. missouri. in mi caller: i have been over there and from what i've seen, the
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only reason we were there is to have places to watch from afghanistan and india to monitor the the nuclear warheads in pakistan. i wish one government official would tell us the truth. guest: the presence on the ground in afghanistan does help the united states gather intelligence in pakistan, not just about the nuclear situation but about some of the terrorist groups that operate in the provinces along side afghanistan. that is clear. but i don't think that is the sole purpose as to why the intervention has been. maybe that is why the u.s. will maintain some kind of troop presence as part of the regional strategy. i want to give back to the first of the callers because it is comment given the u.s. fiscal challenges today to say we should now be spending money over there, which should be spending money here.
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it is not meant either or choice -- it is not a either or chorechoice. the present lofty rhetoric in his july speech when it announces a truth which rolls if you want to keep american support, that that is something that the nation values as well. and that we talk about the civilian aid, the park we're talking about in the report is very small amount. military budget is a big part. the civilian aid is small in terms of the overall federal budget. host: in just about 10 minutes, we'll take you live to a hearing, a confirmation hearing for leon panetta to become defense secretary. he will move moving from cia over to defense.
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his nomination is probably a shoe in. we'll have that live here run c- span. one of the nora bensahel articles that points out -- one of the articles of that nora bensahel points out, talking about pentagon spending. guest: that will be the major challenge the next secretary of defense faces. the dod budget is enormous. it has been direct it to cut $400 billion over the next 10 years. that is small in terms of the overall pentagon budget and there'll be more pressure to cut. host: back to afghanistan. we have a tweet.
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speak to us about the strength of the security forces, how strong the government itself might be becoming in afghanistan. as soon as we're out, the taliban is going to come back. what you think? guest: they are making great progress against the talbot and i think that is true from an operational perspective. -- they are making great progress against the taliban. they are having trouble recruiting. there will probably be a significant military clashes this summer as the taliban tries to reassert itself. right now, the talbot is very much on the defensive. the question is what happens over the next three years. to the extent it continues before the u.s. withdraws most of its military forces, if that will become a more sustainable situation. that progress which is being made will carry through will
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fundamentally undermine their support and make it much more difficult for them to come back. that is a real question as to whether three years is enough time to do that. that will be one of the key points of debate. host: does that mean the taliban comes to the table in terms of negotiating? guest: it may. there were huge treasure troves of information found in the compound where bin laden was living. you have to assume in a talk about links with the taliban. to the extent they are disassociating themselves, and may bring them to the negotiating table. but countering that come if they expect the u.s. to lead in short order, there's a large number of troop withdrawals announced the some appear to have consented to just sit it out. they just sit and wait and maybe
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not conduct a love attacks and then we engage in three years. it is not clear yet how that is going to play out. where are public sympathies right now? how are people feeling right now? guest: the view of the afghan population is very much that the do not want instability. most afghans want a basic normal life for their families and kids got the same way people everywhere else would. is overlaid with the situation of trouble dynamics. local power brokers who have great fear that other groups will take all the resources of the state will persecute them or some not leave them out. there's a lot of fear about what the future government looks like and the possibility that the taliban at the come back in.
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to not be better working with the americans right now. beyond that basic desire for stability, there is a lot of confusion, a love the question marks about what is going to be the road for and who should they support? host: maryland, good morning. caller: good morning. first of all like to say, we send our love and blessings to our troops. our troops. with all due respect, miss ensahel, these people, you're saying the need more training and policing and whatever support the military -- these support the military -- these people chased the russians back
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with their tails between their legs. these people are just playing us for fools. what does president obama have to be involved in yemen? i saw this this morning and my jaw brokoe. we cannot police everyone. we cannot take care of things here a home. please hear us. our senators and representatives. we do not want to be paying for other people's wars. host: morrison -- more sentiment there. guest: i think that message is getting through. popular support in the u.s. for the war in afghanistan has gone up since the bin laden raid, but
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it is still below 50%. host: 4, patrick, a democrat -- florida. caller: i wanted to know -- they say we need pakistan to win afghanistan. that is the general consensus. that is the crap they have been shoving down our throats. what are we defending a country that paid for 9/11. we might as well start leasing land over there. i have two children and i am raising my 14-year-old brother. all be damned if i have to pay for missiles and bombs when i can barely keep milk in the house. it is a joke that we're still helping the people that conspired to pull off 9/11 and
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did it. host: jim, a republican. caller: i would like to know where of violating one of the first principles of war. what we're forced to fight all these piecemeal bells all over the world. then's less revenue spent when you fight the battles we have been fighting. one caller asked the wrong question. president bush said that iraqi oil would pay for the costs incurred in iraq. we about had -- oil prices keep going up. going up. we are being squeezed at the gas pump.
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thank you. host: final thought from our guest. guest: it wide range. the main point of u.s. assistance and pakistan is to help intervention in the tribal areas that border afghanistan. the need -- if the taliban has sent a short areas or they can go over the border a comeback into afghanistan once they have regroup and rearm, that makes it very difficult to defeat the insurgenency in afghanistan "washingtona's journal," -- on tomorrow's, we
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talk about ways to create u.s. jobs. and workplace issues impacting women and their families. roy beck discusses immigration and recent supreme court decisions regarding u.s. policies. "washington journal" is live every day beginning at 7:00 a.m. eastern. coming up in just a few minutes, leon panetta's confirmation hearing. after that, the committee gaveled out today. we spoke with a reporter who was covering a today's hearing. leon panetta wrapping up 3.5 hours in front of the senate armed forces committee. he was nominated to replace robert gates as secretary of defense. secretary gates will retire at the end of this month.
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michael shear has been covering the hearing. what did leon panetta say about the proposed pentagon budget cuts that secretary gates previously identified? >> leon panetta has been part of the national security team. he was careful in all aspects today. he says he supports what the president and the outgoing secretary of defense have set -- said as a need to cut defense spending. he made clear that there is a process of a review that will be going on that he will be leading it he is confirmed as secretary of defense. he left some wiggle room saying, if the review of the kinds of cuts concludes that making some of those cuts would
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harm the military effectiveness and its ability to do its job, he would not hesitate to say to be president that he thinks there needs to be some changes made. >> what about the afghanistan recommendations? were there any indications that he would deviate from secretary gates' recommendations? >> he is stuck in the middle a little bit. he has the president on one side, who has made a commitment to begin the draw-down of troops and a lot of pressure, including some from the white own e, that the draw-dwo should be robust. on the other hand, you have the outgoing secretary, who has
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signaled in this around the world tour that he thinks the draw-down should be small. there were questions directed to leon panetta. where does he fit on that spectrum? he tried to dodge them. he said, it is not to me -- for me to say at the moment. it is clear that he will work for the president. he is trying not to leave much daylight between himself and the secretary. >> did he talk about the libyan operation? >> mostly the same position that the united states government has taken. the president has said, our position is that mr. gaddafi, the leader in libya, should go.
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and yet, the military mission to protect the civilian citizens in libya and put the pressure on mr. gaddafi is not being led by the united states. it is being led by nato. the one question he was a definitive about in the answer to a bunch of questions from the senators was whether or not there was any indication that ground troops would be necessary during the conflict as it is now or after mr. gaddafi leaves. leon panetta said no. he does not know of anyone speaking of troops on the ground. >> michael shear speaking of the confirmation hearing of leon panetta. >> the confirmation hearing of leon panetta for


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