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tv   Washington This Week  CSPAN  February 5, 2012 10:30am-1:59pm EST

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congress to run for their old seats. steve chabot, charlie bass, mike fitzpatrick, steve pierce. and they were able to come in with some experience, they were good candidates they had fundraising networks. the democrats this time around had a lot of failures in terms of their efforts in that. perriello, nye, who lost in 2010. >> stephanie herseth sandlin had a poll is that came out that she would have won and she decided not to run. >> there was certainly an opportunity for democrats to try to work with some of these candidates. they did try to work with some of the folks who had lost in 2010 and were unable to do that in most cases. so they won't have that same dynamic going into 2012 as the republicans did in 2010. >> we'll leave it there. thank you very much. >> thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] >> can you watch "newsmakers" again with democratic congressional campaign committee chairman steve israel
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at 6:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span. >> about 2020 the least half of all energy that may be used as both afloat and assure will come from nonfoose ilfuel sources. >> the first to use nuclear power for transportation, navy secretary ray mabus on the reasons for a new energy standard for the fleet. >> we are too dependent on eith pour tensionly or actually volatile places on earth to get our energy. we're you is september to be supply shocks and even if we've got enough we're susceptible to price shocks. when little bitia, when the libya situation started and the price of oil wept up $40 a barrel, that was almost $1 billion additional fuel bill for the u.s. navy. $1 billion. the only place we've got to go get that money is operations or training. so our ships steam less, our
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planes fly less, we train our sailors and ma rinse less. >> more with ray mabus tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span's "q&a." >> now a house oversight committee hearing over justice department documents relate lt to -- related to the fast and furious gun trafficking investigation. attorney generic holder testified on the program. run by the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives out of phoenix. it involves allowing gunsing to smuggled into mexico with the goal of prosecuting gun traffickers. this portion is about an hour, 45 minutes. >> oversight committee's mission statement is that we exist to secure two fundamental principles. first, americans have a right
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to know that the money washington takes from them is well spent. and, second, americans deserve an efficient, effective government that works for them. our duty on the oversight and government reform committee is to protect these rights. our solemn responsibility is to hold government accountable to taxpayers because taxpayers have a right to know what they get from their government. our job is to work tirelessly in partnership with citizen watchdogs to deliver the facts to the american people and bring genuine reform to the bureaucracy. i'll now recognize myself for an opening statement. today we are joined by the attorney general of the united states over a matter that this committee has invested more than a year in research. in november of 2009 fast and
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furious opens. in december of 2009 diarra meets with the a.t.f. and gives them info on fast and furious tarlingts. info that could well have ended the operation. on january 6, 2010, fast and furious becomes in fact a joint exercise. on march 15 of 2010 the first federal wiretaps are issued in this case. december 15 of 2010, december 15 of 2010, brian terry is murdered with weapons found at the scene that came from fast and furious. on january 27 senator grassley first asked department of justice about fast and furious and within days we are given a
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false statement of facts denying that guns were ever allowed to walk. within days of that we began to know that fast and furious was going to be difficult. that was more or less groundhog day a year ago. today is groundhog day again. this committee has lost its patience to wait longer. we will not wait until next groundhog day to get answers for the american people for brian terry and for others. on march 3 of 2011, john datsun goes public. agent datsun is here today. he too deserves to have this nightmare of uncertainty, of having a temporary assignment, of not being allowed to do the job for which he has dedicated his career put behind him. on october 11, after months and months and months of this committee trying to get further
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voluntary cooperation, we issued subpoenas for documents. to date we have been told two things. first of all, they're difficult and time consuming to give us and yet 10 times as many documents were provided to the inspector general. more than three times as many people have been able to be interviewed by the -- i'm sorry, by the i.g., the inspector general, sorry, mr. attorney general, by your inspector general. during that period of time whistle blowers have consistently brought us additional information. that information allows us to glean more than most of the documents we've received through discovery. the minority can say what they want and issue the opinions they want, the memos they want, they have been absent from this and i'm disappointed for that. this is a legitimate
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requirement of this committee to get to the bottom of it and to get genuine change so this cannot happen again and i repeat, the genuine change, the safeguards, the protections that were not there apparently before so this cannot happen again. mr. attorney general, as we go through questioning, my question will be, when is the primary investigative committee of congress, the u.s. house, going to be allowed to have the same access that your own essentially self-appointed inspector general has? the i.g., if you will, the 12,000 people of the inspector general's office throughout the government are important and we expect them to be respected and we expect them to receive information. but the 70 men and women that work for the majority and the 30 or so that work for the minority are a very small fraction of that. we asked very little of government by comparison to
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what the internal controls historically and always will ask for. our budget is less than 1/20 of what the inspector general's office is. we're not an agency that can ask for vast amounts of documents. we have asked you for documents and if you look at the totality of government, we've asked for very little compared to the i.g.'s offices. we believe and i think the ranking member will join me in this that we deserve those answers and at least as timely a fashion as your own i.g. gets. it is our opinion that we haven't gotten that. that the need for overmanaging and redacting and careful looking by teams of lawyers have gotten in the way of the legitimate speed with which we should get that. we're going to ask you many things today, hopefully you came prepared to know a great deal about fast and furious. the important things that i'm going to ask today are, what can you do to bring this to a
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close? ma what can you do before the i.g. completes her investigation to allow the american people to see change that tells them, this is no longer going on and it won't go on in the future? lastly, before i recognize the ranking member, it is this majority at least committee's belief that this is an operation that included reckless behavior at a.t.f., failure to push harder and inform more by d.e.a. and the f.b.i. a u.s. attorney who clearly didn't do his job in a way that anyone should be proud of. we now have a justice department official who has taken the fifth. we've moved up a ways and all of those people should be ashamed that brian terry is dead because they didn't do as good a job as they should. kenneth millson has said that publicly and privately, that he bears a great deal of that blame.
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the point here today is we want to know how justice will oversee every local operation, every state, every one of the very agencies that are either under your authority or in a joint exercise -- joint task force become under your authority, how you'll ensure for the american people that this will not happen again or at least systems are in place to give us a confidence that it is much more unlikely to happen. those are the items that i come here today, asked you to come here today and appreciate your being here voluntarily to answer. it's the exe's responsibility to ask -- committee's responsibility to ask. i hope we'll get the answers and commitments today that i ask for. i recognize the ranking member for his opening statement. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i want to welcome the attorney general today. mr. chairman, when the committee started this investigation almost a year ago you and i made pledges to the family of agent brian terry to
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find out what led to the release of hundreds of firearms to criminal networks on both sides of the border. we pledged to follow the facts wherever they may lead and provide the public with answers. mr. chairman, i want to acknowledge your efforts here and over the past year we devoted incredible amounts of time, money and energy to investigating this issue. we interviewed 22 witnesses including senior officials at the department of justice and a.t.f.. we also reviewed thousands of pages of documents. we held four full committee hearings on this very topic. because of our extensive work, we have had concrete results. the committee has exposed a five-year, five-year pattern of gun walking operations run by the phoenix division of a.t.f.
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and the arizona attorney's office. more importantly we have put a stop to it. this is significant, this is a significant accomplishment and i commend you for it. in addition, we can now explain to the public how this series of reckless operations originated and evolved over the past five years. i ask unanimous consent to place into the record a report i sent to members earlier this week. >> without objection, so ordered. >> thank you, mr. chairman. this 95-page report called fatally flawed, five years of gun walking in arizona, provides a detailed and comprehensive account of what we learned in our investigation . it documents how suspects in 2006 and 2007 trafficked more than 450 firearms during operation wide receiver as a.t.f. agents who knew they had
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probable cause, chose not to make arrests, in order to build bigger cases. as one field agent said at the same time, and i quote, we want it all. end of quote. it documents the case in 2007 in which suspects purchased 200 firearms at a.t.f. and a.t.f. failed repeatedly to coordinate interdiction with mexican officials. despite alerting then attorney general mckasey about these failed operations, they continued. it documents the madrano case in 2008 in which a.t.f. agents watched in realtime as suspects who were part of a trafficking ring that bought more than 100 firearms packed weapons into the back seat of a car and drove them across the border. it documents operation fast and furious during which the same
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a.t.f. special agent in charge of the phoenix field division in all three previous operations came against an order from deputy director of a.t.f. to shut down the operation. as the agent stated, and i quote, i don't like headquarters driving our cases, end of quote. instead field agents continued to encourage gun dealers to sell firearms to suspects for months. there are several things that our investigation did not find. we found no evidence that agents or prosecutors in arizona acted in bad faith. they sincerely wanted to put away gun traffickers and higher level targets. in purr sutes that have goal, however, they lost sight of predictable collateral damage of letting guns walk. in addition, contrary to many unsubstantiated allegations, the committee obtained no
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evidence indicating that the attorney general authorized gun walking. none of the 22 witnesses we interviewed claimed to have spoken with the attorney general about the tactics used in operation fast and furious before this controversy broke. mr. chairman, although you deserve credit for exposing these operations over the last five years, we part ways in what we should do next. you now appear intent on escalating controversy and promoting unsubstantiated allegations in a campaign that looks more like an election year witch hunt than an even-handed investigation. this is the sixth time, the sixth time the attorney general has testified on these issues. in contrast, you've never once called the former head of the a.t.f. to testify at a public hearing, even though a.t.f. was the agency responsible for
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these reckless programs. and although attorney general holder has answered questions repeatedly, you've refused to even interview former attorney general mckasey. when i was just starting as a lawyer some 30-some years ago, the senior partner in the law firm said to me, he said, young man, you have to take the facts as you find them. you cannot manufacture them. now that we have the facts i hope that we can put aside the politics and the rhetoric and focus on reform it's to ensure that this never, ever, never, ever happens again. with that i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. i'll ask unanimous consent that the majority memo and related materials be entered into the record. without objection, so ordered. i'll now recognize myself for five minutes. oh, i'm sorry. i'm a little off on that.
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to be honest, i just thought i'd respond to a few of your things but that will wait. mr. attorney general, we're pleased to have you here. as the highest ranking law official in the land, we appreciate your commitment to the time both here and in the senate that you've given. contrary to the ranking member, i believe that today will be one of the first times in which you are fully briefed and prepared to answer in detail questions exclusively about fast and furious. and i would caution both sides of the aisle to stick to the subject. we are not and i repeat we are not the judiciary committee. the attorney general is not here to answer a plethora of questions we may have about the conduct of his office. he is not here to generally tell us about law enforcement. i will assert the gavel if someone goes on a broad expedition beyond fast and furious and as the ranking
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member said related activities including wide receiver and others. i think respect for the attorney general's time and the legitimate portion of the jurisdiction that our committee has taken requires that i ask all of you to please stick to that particularly since the attorney general's time is valuable. mr. attorney general, pursuant to the rules of the committee, i would ask that you rise and take the oath. mr. attorney general, do you solemnly swear or affirm the testimony you're go about to give will be the truth, the whole truth -- >> i do. >> let the record represent an affirmative answer. thank you, mr. attorney general. in order to allow time for discussion, the committee, like all committees, will tell to you stay within five minutes. i in fact have no intention on picking up the gavel as long as you present what you have here today. i would ask that to the
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greatest extent possible that you realize that your opening statement is in written form is completely in the record and that you certainly have our permission to include material not in the record in order to further delineate your prepared testimony today. and with that, mr. attorney general, you're recognized. >> thank you. i'm here today because i understand and appreciate the importance of congressional oversight and because i'm committed to ensuring the highest standards of integrity and professionalism at the united states department of justice. that's precisely what i pledged to do exactly three years ago tomorrow when i was sworn in as attorney general and it is exactly what i have done over the last three years. my dedication to the department's mission is shared by an extraordinary group of colleagues, over 117,000 employees, who each day in offices all around the world work tirelessly to protect the american people from a range of urgent and unprecedented threats, from global terrorism
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and financial fraud, violent crime, human trafficking, civil rights abuses and more. over the last three years we've made a number of significant improvements including policy and personnel changes that address many of the concerns that are the subject of this hearing today. today i'd like to discuss some of these improvements in specific terms and outline the steps that we have taken to ensure that the flawed tactics in operation fast and furious and in earlier operations under the prior administration are never used again. now in some of my comments today, if they sound familiar, it is because this marks the sixth time that i've answered questions about this operation before a congressional committee in the last year. let me start however with something that cannot be said enough. allowing guns to walk whether in this administration or the prior one is wholly unacceptable. i've been consistent on this, i've said this from day one. the tactic of not interdicting weaponing despite having the ability and legal authority to do so appears to have been
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adopted in a misguided effort to stem the alarming number of illegal firearms that are trafficked each year from the united states to mexico. now to be sure, stopping this dangerous flow of weapons is a laudable and critical goal. but attempting to achieve it by using such inappropriate tactics is neither acceptable nor excusable. and that's why when he learned early last year about the allegations raised by a.t.f. agents involved with fast and furious, i took action. in addition to requesting an inspector general investigation equesting an inspector general investigation last february, i ordered that such a direct -- i ordered that a directive be sent prohibiting the use of such ac ticks. there have also been important personnel changes in the department. and vital reforms reflecting the lessons we have learned from operation fast and furious having implemented. today i want to reaffirm my commitment to ensuring that these flawed tactics are never used again. and i reiterate my willingness
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to work with congress generally and with this committee more specifically to address the public safety and national security crisis along our southwest border that has taken far too many lives. congress has legitimately sought answers to questions about law enforcement operations, wide receiver and fast and furious. and my colleagues and i at the department of justice have worked diligently to provide those answers. in addition to my frequent testimony before congress, i have answered and am continuing to answer questions that have been submitted for the record during previous hearings. the department has also responded to more than three dozen letters from members of congress and facilitated numerous witness interviews. we've also submitted or made available for review some 6,400 pages of documents to congressional investigators. this has been a significant undertaking for justice department employees and our efforts in this regard remain ongoing. we've also provided congress with virtually unprecedented access to internal deliberative
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documents to show how inaccurate information was initially conveyed in a letter sent to senator grassley on february 4, 2011. these documents show that department officials relied on information provided by supervisors from the relevant components in the best position to know the facts. we now know that some of the information that they provided was in fact inaccurate. we also understand that in subsequent interviews with congressional investigators these supervisors stated that they did not know at the time that the information that they provided was inaccurate. in producing internal communications regarding the drafting of the february 4 letter, the department made a rare, limited exception to long standing executive branch policy. this decision reflected unusual circumstances and allowed us to respond in the most comprehensive way possible to congressional concerns where the department itself concluded that information in the letter was inaccurate. documents we produced have
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answered the question of how that letter came to be drafted and put to rest questions of any intentional effort to mislead. all of our communications to congress should be accurate and that is the standard that i expect the department to meet. at my direction, the deputy attorney general has instituted new procedures to increase safeguards in this area. as i testified in a previous hearing, the department does not intend to produce additional deliberative materials. i want to emphasize deliberative materials about the response to congressional oversight or media requests that post date the commencement of congressional review. this decision is consistent with the longstanding approach taken by the department under both democratic and republican administrations and reflects concerns for the constitutionality and constitutionally protected separation of powers. prior administrations have to recognized that robust internal communications would be chilled and the executive branch's ability to respond to oversight requests thereby impeded if our
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internal communications concerning our responses to congressional oversight were disclosed to congress. for both branches this would be an undesirable outcome. the appropriate functioning of the separation of powers requires that executive branch officials have the ability to communicate confidentialy as they discuss how to respond to inquiries from congress. i want to note that the separation of powers concerns are particularly acute here because the committee has sought information about open criminal investigations and prosecutions. this has required department officials on how to accommodate congressional oversight by also ensuring that critical ongoing law enforcement decision make something never compromised and is free from even the appearance of political influence. such candid internal deliberations are necessary to preserve the independence, the integrity and the effectiveness of the department's law enforcement activities and would be chilled by disclosure to congress of such materials. just as we have worked to
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accommodate the committee's legitimate oversight needs, i trust that the committee will equally recognize the executive branch's constitutional interests and will work with us to avoid further conflict on this matter. i know the committee's also keenly interested in the policy changes that the department has undertaken in the wake of operation fast and furious. the a.t.f. which is now under the leadership of acting director todd jones has implemented a number of key reforms and critical oversight procedures to prevent such a flawed operation from occurring again. these reforms are numerous and include a number of things. i'm also pleased to report that under the leadership of the department's criminal division, we have bolstered crime fighting capacity on both sides of the u.s.-mexico border and we have done this by doing a number of important things as well. this is an important start but we have to do a lot more and no one knows this better than the members of our nation's law enforcement community, including, and i want to emphasize this, including the
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a.t.f. agents who testified before this committee last summer. not only did these brave agents bring the inappropriate and misguided tactics of operation fast and furious to light, they also sounded the alarm for a more effective laws to combat gun trafficking and toimprove public safety. these courageous agents explained that a.t.f.'s ability to stem the flow of guns from the united states into mexico suffers from a lack of effective enforcement tools. unfortunately in 2011 a majority of house members including all the members of the majority on this committee scroted to keep law enforcement in the dark. individuals purchased multisemi-automatic rifles, shot guns and long guns like ak-47's in gun shops along our southwest border states. in this new year, i hope that we can work together to provide law enforcement agents with the tools that they say they desperately need and that they have requested to protect our citizens and to ensure their own safety. indeed, ins dents of violence
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against law enforcement officers are approaching the highest level we've seen although violent crime is down overall. that is simply unacceptable and the justice department is committeed -- committed to turning back this rising tide and to protecting those who serve on the frontlines. we've designed and implemented a exrow hencive new training initiative to provide law enforcement leaders with the information, analysis and tools they need to respond to a range of threats. let me be clear. nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of the brave law enforcement professionals who put their lives at risk for us each and every day. but we can't make the progress we need and that the law enforcement partners that we have deserve without your assistance and without your leadership. as i said before, i'm determined to ensure our shared concerns about these flawed law enforcement operations lead to more than warn-out washington gotcha games and cynical finger pointing. the department of justice stands ready to worning with you, not only to correct the
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mistakes of the past but to strengthen our law enforcement capacity in the future. thank you. >> i thank the gentleman. before i begin my questioning, mr. attorney general, would you agree to release to us legal opinions on the constitutionality of the material that you have thus far refused to supply the committee? >> to the extent that there are legal opinions, i will look at them and to the extent that they can be provided, i have no objection to that. i don't know if these are o.l.c. opinions that o.l.c. would have an objection to. to the extent that i can i will make those available to you. >> ok. i'll begin my questioning i guess by following up. mr. attorney general, you have the executive branch has executive privilege. it's narrow, it's well defined, there's case law. if you do not find a legitimate basis to deny us the material we've asked for, we will seek the remedies necessary to compel.
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having said that, i appreciate your being here today and i don't want to waste any of yours or my time on this at this point. let's go through a couple of items here. first of all, it is reported through discovery that we have received that mr. monte wilkinson may have informed you of agent terry's murder in a timely fashion, is that true? . .>> i know the murder occurred december 14. i heard about probably within 24 hours of its occurrence. >> we were informed about that within 24 hours, did anyone inform you or allude to the fact that the weapons found at the scene were from fast and furious? >> no. i did not know about operation
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fast and furious until the beginning part of 2011 after received that letter from senator grassley and at the end of january. that was about operation gun runner. i actually learned about fast and furious in february of that year. >> would you make available to us through whatever records you can find the name of the person who inform you, so that we can ascertain why that individual would not or did not tell you what was widely known almost immediately, that in fact, law enforcement allow weapons to walk, that basically these were fast and furious weapons. the emailed we have received through whistle-blower show extensively that law enforcement was aware and concerned about it. we would like to know why someone kept that from you. >> i am not sure anybody kept it from me. i found out about it in january or february of 2011 and i am not even sure how found out about it. it might have been a letter
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received from senator grassley on february 9. i am not sure if it was included in there. there were certainly media reports about it in february. i am not sure exactly how found out about the term " go fast and furious." >> would it be fair from your own knowledge to said that no one did anything to stop the program after they learned what it was about? fast and furious, prior to brian terry's death. >> they both admitted that they were aware of operation wide receiver. they never connected the techniques to operation fast and furious, and as a result, did not take any action. and above the din that was a mistake. >> of want to make sure we do deal with quite wide receiver versus fast and furious. as of today, your law enforcement authorities, did
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have the ability to see a straw purchase and follow them to the next location? in other words, that law enforcement have the ability to follow suspected gun traffickers with the weapons in their car from location to location? >> and keep them under constant surveillance? they still have that capacity. >> as far as we have been reported, every piece of evidence shows that in wide receiver, every effort was made unsuccessfully many cases, which is one of the things that concerns us, to follow the weapons. to your knowledge, was there ever an order under wide receiver to abandon following the weapons and let them walk? >> as i have seen more on wide receiver -- >> do you know of any time that people were ordered to peel off
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and let the weapons walk under wide receiver? >> i know that in the early days of the investigation, observations were made of people buying guns and decisions made not to surveil them after those purchases were made. as a result, hundreds of guns walt and there were complaints raised by people connected to the investigation about the fact that guns were walking in operation wide receiver. >> since it was never allowed to it simply let known gun buyers fall into their hands, have you taken any action to fire or discipline anyone from operation of wide receiver? >> it occurred in the prior administration. >> we are talking about people who would trends in the
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transition period to your knowledge, have been disciplined anyone from wide receiver? >> no, i have not. >> have the discipline anyone from fast and furious? >> no, i have not, as yet. there have been personnel changes made at atf. revenue u.s. attorney in arizona. we have made personnel switches at atf, people have been moved out of positions. i am certainly going to wait and see what i get from the inspector general, the report we have from the majority. -- from the minority. i will be taking all that into consideration and make personnel changes as i think they are appropriate. >> my time has expired. i will say that i don't think the minority report is going to do you a lot of good, since it seems to say that nothing happened. i recognize mr. cummings for his round of questions.
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>> are respectfully disagree with what you just said. our staff worked very hard on that report. by the way, it is based upon the evidence that the majority presented. you all heard the same evidence that we heard, and we basically look at the facts as presented. mr. attorney general, i want to thank you again and i am sorry my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have made completely unsubstantiated allegations against dedicated and hardworking fbi agents, dea officials and others, and i want to thank all of them for what they do every day to protect the american public. i have to ignore the political sideshow and keep my focus on the real problem that led to these flawed operations. as our report explains, we have no evidence that you approved gun walking. we have no evidence that you knew about it.
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this and can probably be said of the former attorney general. i assume that if either of you actually heard about gun walking, you would have put a stop to it. hundreds of weapons went to criminal networks on both sides of the border because agents did not arrest suspects when they could have. i also get upset that this one on for so long. you identified four different operations in phoenix over five years, across two administrations, involving hundreds of weapons. these weapons put law enforcement agents in danger. in your written statement, noted that 177 officers lost their lives in the line of duty last year. 70 of those debts involved firearms. as the country's chief law-
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enforcement officer, what is your reaction to the fact that these operations continued for so long? >> it bothers me a great deal when one sees the death toll we have seen in mexico, 40,000, 50,000 people have been killed over the last five years, 60,000 guns traced from the united states into mexico. that means they are probably substantially greater numbers and have gone into mexico. a concern have is that some point these guns will be trained on law enforcement officers, though we have seen the historic drop in the crime rate, we have seen a rise over the last two years of the number of police officers, federal enforcement agents who have been killed. i've been to far too many funerals and had to talk to far too many widows about the death of great people who have died
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in the service of their country, and we have to do something about it. we have to. >> and the atf director william hoover became concerned in 2010 about the number weapons involved in fast and furious. he told us he did not know about gun walking, but he ordered an exit strategy based on his overall concerns. he told a phoenix office to end its operation within 90 days and bring indictments. but they did not do it. but did not like atf headquarters won their cases and they continued for months to encourage gun dealers to sell to straw persons without arrests. mr. ruder also told us that he never told anyone at the department of justice about his general concerns with the operation or his order for an exit strategy. in our interviews with justice department officials, would confirm that. i understand that field agents do not like bureaucrats in washington looking over their
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shoulder. but how can a field office effectively ignored the directives of atf headquarters in this way, and what specific reforms are now in place, or should reconsider, to ensure federal coordination and oversight? >> there is a tension between the field and headquarters. depending on where i sit, i think greater wisdom exists in that place. we have to come up with ways in which we make clear what the policies are. after i heard about gun walking, i was very firm. i had a directive, sent out by the deputy attorney general to the field that indicated that those kind of techniques for simply unacceptable, were not to be used by the department of justice. todd jones, the acting director at atf, has instituted a number
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of reforms. the report you have put out contains at the back a number of suggestions with regard to reforms. a substantial number those have been instituted by todd. among them, coming up with ways to ensure that the trafficking of guns does not occur. more levels of review have to occur. also significant is that we have to have ways that those who have concerns about the ability of servicing things so that people, the leadership at atf and ultimately headquarters can take necessary, corrective actions. >> thank you. we now go to mr. burton for five minutes. >> nice seeing you again. >> it has been a while. >> it sure has. it is very interesting, mr. attorney general.
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for six years, remember when you were with janet reno and the deputy attorney general, and we fought to get documents, and we had a difficult time. the center today that there are certain documents that you will not give us because of the separation of powers. we have been down the road before. and we got them, but we had to threaten that we would have a contempt citation in congress. this is not just during reno administration, but during gonzales as well. and we got the documents. so i think you are hiding behind something here that will not stand up.
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so you ought to give us the documents. now we have received 6000 documents with reductions, and i know that is an old school policy. send them up here in cross out everything of relevance and let us try to figure out what it is. and you dump them on us on friday night so that the staff here cannot do anything with them unless they stay over the weekend and were 10, 12, 14 hours. i have been down that road, too. there are 93,000 documents that you are not giving this committee, and you are saying the separation of powers prohibit you from doing that. that is baloney. that is just baloney. and i have worked with you -- i have worked for six years when you were the deputy attorney general. so why don't you give us those
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documents? the conclusion i come to is there are some things in there that are being hidden that you don't want us to see. i don't know if it involves you or some other atf agents or some other members of the justice department, but this committee is the oversight committee and we have every right, under the constitution, to check on what you are doing. we are supposed to oversee the executive branch, and you are part of that branch. for you to deny this committee is dead wrong, and i don't think you'll find anybody can do it. i would urge the chairman to move a contempt citation against you if you don't give them to us. now, let me just ask you a couple of questions. why won't you let patrick cunningham, the head of the criminal division in phoenix, and emery hurley, why won't you let them come and talk to the committee? why won't you let them do that?
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>> a couple of things. just for the record, i was only a deputy attorney general for four years. it seemed like six. >> it seemed like longer than that for me. >> with the gentleman yield? >> i would be happy to yield. >> since mr. cunningham has now taken the fifth, i would say none of us have the direct authority, but would you make all testimony and information of mr. cunningham's immediately available to us, unredacted, so we may evaluate what you know about why he took the fifth? i yield back. >> in terms of making available, i am not sure where you get the number of 93,000 documents. the reactions that have occurred are only because there are things that are either not relevant or are protected by a grand jury secrecy rules, court
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orders that have sealed material. we have provided to this committee material that is relevant and only redacted that which is necessary. with regard to the two people you talked about, mr. hurley is a line prosecutor and we never make them available. every attorney general i know has called that policy. mr. cunningham no longer works in the justice department and i don't have the ability to compel him to testify. he left the justice department this past monday. >> you ask him to leave, i guess. >> know. he had planned to leave well before he invoked the fifth amendment privilege to take a job in private practice, or at a company. >> as i understand it, the ig has a 80,000 documents and you have given us 6000. whether we are talking about 93,000 documents or 80,000, this committee has asked for them and has not gotten them. it appears as though we are being stonewalled and there is something being hidden. have you apologized partially
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to the whistle-blowers who were in effect called liars by those within your own agency, when we now know they were telling the truth, and that we would not know any of this that they had not come forward? i am talking about people like john dodson who is here today. >> i have not apologize to them. i have spoken to agent dodson when the chairman gave him my and telephone number and i told him to give me a call. >> why don't you call him and apologize? you are the attorney general of the united states and you are in charge of these people, and they were in effect called liars, and they were telling the truth. it should be your responsibility to say i am sorry that you were called liars when you did tell the truth. >> i am not aware of them being called liars. we tried to treat them with respect. i don't think any adverse actions were taken against any of the people who came here and testified before this committee. i would be more than glad to
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talk to him. i know he has had a meeting with acting director of atf and he has expressed his pulse. i am more than glad to have a conversation with him. >> i wish you would call the gentleman. >> taking the fifth is not a cloud? >> i don't know why he took the fifth. there are a variety of reasons, not the least of which is apparently there was a report or statement by this committee that he had acted inappropriately. i don't know why he invoked the fifth amendment privilege. that is certainly his right as an american citizen. we have provided 153 documents, 387 pages of material. we will continue to look at that material and to the extent
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that there is information that is relevant, we will provided to the committee. >> we now recognize the other former chairman of the committee for five minutes. >> thank you very much. this committee has not obtained one shred of evidence that would contradict your testimony. not one witness, not one document, not one e-mail, and still, some suggest that you authorized gun walking in the tactics in operation fast and furious. i hope this will be the last time you have to answer this question. did you, mr. attorney general, ever authorized and walking? -- gun walking? >> i did not. i am from new york. i will say it that way. i would say it a different way.
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i will just say i did not. >> i'm from new york so i would understand your accent. did you ever authorize the tactics employed in operation fast and furious? >> not only did i not authorize those tactics, when i found out about them i told the field and everybody in the united states department of justice that those tactics had to stop. that it would not acceptable and that gun walking was to stop. that was what my reaction was to finding out about that technique. >> to your knowledge, did the deputy attorney general or the assistant attorney general ever authorized gun walking with the tactics employed in fast and furious? >> to my knowledge, they did not. >> if you had been asked to
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approve the walking, what would you have done or said -- approved begun walking, what would you have done was -- gun walking, what would you have done or said? >> no. there are questions you have in narcotics cases, all you going to let the drug is what. we have a spirited conversations. the notion you would let guns walk is absurd. it was the reason i said it could not happen. it is not our policy. anyone who does it is breaking a direct directive. >> if you had been asked or told by atf or the united states attorney's office about the tactics in operation fast and furious how would you have acted? >> in the same way i did in early march of 2011 by telling everybody, i do not do this. this is unacceptable. it is stupid, dangerous, and not something we can ever do. >> i want to thank you for
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coming. thank you for your testimony. i think it is clear that the attempts to tarnish the reputation -- it is pure politics. it has a political flavor. that is unfortunate. on that note, i will yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. we now go to the gentleman from north carolina. >> thank you. thank you attorney-general holder for being here. listening to the interview had for the former chairman, -- the insert you had for the former chairman, we are here 13 months after we found that an agent was murdered for policies you did not support. we find out you have not fired a single individual.
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we find out that you have not rebuked any staff members. you have not even put a letter in people's personnel file saying they acted and an agent was murdered. that is absurd. so i ask you, why had he not taken steps -- why have you not taken steps to make sure this does not happen again? >> i have taken steps.
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>> you told people you were mad. that is silly. you have not taken action. you have not fired anybody. it is clear you did not enforce the policy before. you did not even know about it. it strikes me as incompetence in terms of management. >> i am not sure you understand how the justice department works. i did not express the fact i was mad. i issued a directive that says this kind of technique is inappropriate. we are still in the process of trying to determine where this policy originated. we know it started in the atf office in phoenix. who the people were who actually approved the technique, we are
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still in the process of trying to work through. that is not all i have done. i have made personnel changes in regards to leadership positions. we have instituted a series of policies that a design to make sure that does not happen again. >> an agent was murdered. your action is to merge -- move people around. that seems to inconvenience people, not to rid them of federal employment. >> to the extent we find out who was involved, i will assure you that unless there is a compelling circumstances, those people will be removed. we are in the process of investigating that murder and the people who were responsible for it will be held accountable.
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you will hear something about that soon. >> relatively soon. 13 months later. it is 13 months after the fact. that is what i am saying. at what point a year going to take action? >> as soon as we are in a position to hold people accountable, put them in a court of law and try them. >> is that this year? >> i think that is likely this year. >> it is it in the next six months? >> i think it is in the next six months. >> dc is happening this quarter? >> is possible. >> 13 months later we have a possibility of someone being punished for an agent being killed. this is absurd. >> it is not absurd. it takes time to build a case you are going to be able to take before a jury with the high standards of proof to convict somebody. it did not want to go in and put yourself on a time limit because critics are going to say we are not acting fast enough, lose the case, and the people
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responsible are not held accountable. we go into court when we think we have cases that are ready to go. i am not putting pressure on people except to do it as quickly and thoroughly as we can. >> i thank the gentleman for yielding. noted. mr. brewer is not going to be criminally indicted. when will asking about holding people accountable, we were asking about people who work for you. if you're managing style hands off or hands on? >> i think i have a hands on style. >> if you had a hand on style, have you read any of the wiretaps -- if you have a hands on style, have you read any of
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the wiretaps? >> i have not read them. >> we were told, this has been reported, that he was sick to the stomach, this was approved by the office. indications are your chief deputy new about this. it comes through a criminal division at some point. the question is, is it not appropriate that he know about these wiretaps so you can know what former atf director is new. these wiretaps are believed to be -- directors knew? these wiretaps are believed to be -- this should have stopped sooner. the office of criminal division knew or should have known.
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that is the thing we were asking about, holding people accountable. are you prepared to do any of that prior to the final report? you have not done any so far. >> i think you mean the inspector general's report. >> i keep confusing the two generals. i know the report. it seems to be the reason in the delay on executing on disciplinary action. >> first off, there is no indication that my former deputy was aware of the tactics that were employed in this matter until everybody became aware of them which was january or february of last year. the information, i am not, at this point, aware that those tactics were contained in any of the wiretaps. to the extent those have been
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shared, that is in violation of court orders. if i find that somebody in the department of justice has shared the contents, that will be something that will have to be looked at there is a wide variety of information we can share. i am not going to go against ceiling orders. anybody who reads or estimates that material does so at their peril. >> i appreciate that. members of congress are not covered by that. members of congress are not under that order. if we receive the information from whistle-blowers, it is legitimate for us to know it and act on it. we are not covered by that federal court order. if you want to respond? >> i think what you just said about the media and congress and court orders is incorrect.
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i think you at a apparel did you think that is the truth. >> we will say the release of information from out testimony of mr. nelson that was leaked to your people was also inappropriate. with that, we recognize the lady from new york. >> i would like to respond to my good friend's statement that they had not responded to the death. he responded a immediately. he has expressed his concern for the other agents that are being killed at a higher rate than ever in our history. i will not yield. not only did he do that, he took swift action to stop gun walking, which did not happen in the prior administration, and established reform to prevent
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this from ever happening again. he called for, we could all help him do this, to confirm a permanent atf director. that would help more than anything. he also called for a federal firearms trafficking statute. he called for appropriate funding for the atf to do its job. these are some of the actions he has taken in response to that debt. -- tragic death. once again, this investigation continues on its vast and curious mission to fix the symptoms rather than the cause of so much that legal gun violence on the southern border. -- so much a deadly gun violence on the southern border. we have refused to examine the underlying problem that so heavily contributed to a series
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of ill-conceived, they dili flawed programs such as fast and furious. as everyone should know, fast and furious was not the first but the fourth investigation to use gun walking as a tactic. the strategy dates back to 2006, the prior administration. just to underscore how fast and curious this investigation is, is this the sixth occasion that you have been before congress? >> it is the sixth time i have testified about fast and furious. >> it is the sixth time he testified. he handed up a list of what his responsibilities are. i would like him to be able to do. i would like to ed implementing the health and compensation bill -- ad implementing the 9/11 health and compensation
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bill. an ongoing review. all of this is taking place. in your testimony, i appreciated your tribute to the courageous agents that worked in the atf. you spoke about the whistle- blowers and outrages they are. i wanted to point out -- and hell courageous they are. i wanted to -- how courageous they are. i wanted to point out one agent who called current laws toothless. he said also it of things. do you agree there is no enforcement? law enforcement does not have the tools to crack down?
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>> i agree with the agent. there is a need for a statute. we need increased penalty for stock purchases. -- straw purchases. we would like to put in place these measures that would help atf and the federal government be more effective in the fight against the flow of guns into mexico. >> after that hearing, i worked with a ranking member and also with a congressman and a congresswoman and we drafted a bill conduct. it would go -- but did a bill that would crackdown on this conduct. we do things that are far more helpful than going on a politically motivated fishing trip, which i feel is what we are doing today. the real agenda of this investigation does not aid or
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honor those who risked their lives every day, working to keep american safe from gun violence. i must say, this is getting out of hand. the testimony, over 60,000 guns you said have been traced in mexico that are directly tied to having been brought in there from america. i must say, one chilling example was an advertisement that al qaeda put on the website sang, go to america, it guns, it is so easy. if your guns -- get your guns. i want to congratulate you for your vision and mission of wanting to give law enforcement the tools to get the job done,
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to ban gun trafficking. >> will the gentle lady yield? >> i will. >> i join with you in believing the 2010 designate should be given an up or down vote. should be given an opportunity to be confirmed. i will note, he was not put up. no one was put up for the first two years. it is said they did not have somebody earlier. i thank you for yielding. >> i want to thank the chairman for supporting the confirmation. he can help us make that happen.
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>> we will do what we can. we brett -- recognize the gentleman from utah. >> thank you for being here. i had an opportunity to ask a question in 2011. i ask if you had spoken to president obama, secretary clinton, or secretary nepal ton of. you said you had not spoken to them about fast and furious. is that true today? >> clinton, yes. >> you have spoken with her? >> i should say, no. clinton, no. i have had passing conversations with the president. >> on wednesday, the viewer 16, you issued a press release saying you had met together. a man had just been killed in mexico. there were questions about whether there had been ties. you say you did not have any interaction about fast and furious. my question is about secretary
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clinton, what interaction did you have with the state department. >> i am not sure if at lower levels there was a correction. i know i have not interacted with secretary clinton. >> i was questioning whether you had had some interaction. you said, you have to understand something about the way washington works. explain that to meet in the interaction your agency has had? >> what i was trying to say, i got cut off, when people know i am going to be the subject of these hearings, six times, nobody wants to get involved in these things or dragged into it and have some interaction or conversation be made more than
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it is. i understand when people do not want to talk to me about best and furious. -- fast and furious. >> you know they are withholding information from you. >> know they are not to request you just said. >> i said they did not want to have conversations with me. >> if you cannot tell the boss what is going on, you will be oblivious. >> i say the people who work under them, executive branch agencies, are providing information. >> is the justice department providing the intermission to the state department or homeland security? you cannot have been face-to- face discussions, which troubles me. -- you are not having a face-
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to-face discussions, which troubles me. >> i am not afraid to come to congress. >> you can claim ignorance on the issue. that is the problem. my question is, is there an expectation there is interaction? >> there is not only an expectation, there is that interaction. i know that dhs is working with the fbi. >> what about the state department? >> state does not have as direct a role. we interact with out of it but in mexico. we talk to the state department -- of our counterparts in mexico.
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we talked to the state department. let's terrible of five of it has the money, you talked about -- >> paragraph 5 of york has the money, you talked about the border. >> through other ways in which the law enforcement components talk to one another. >> my time is so short. >> do you have a point of order? what if he asks a question, he should have an opportunity to answer it. without him being able to respond, what a we doing? >> the dead woman's point is valid. -- gentleman's point is valid. >> i asked for one additional minute. mr. attorney general, at the end of any round of questioning, within a reasonable period of time, if you feel you have been unable to answer a question, we will give you the additional time so you may answer it. i do respect that a member may
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want to go onto a next question. with that, i mean no disrespect. i wanted to make that clear. our policy is to make sure that people get to make full answers. >> i would ask that without the starting of the clock, if you want to fully into that. i want to be able to pursue the follow-up question. if you want to more completely answer that. >> i am not sure where i was. >> the interaction between the department of justice and state department. >> we work with the state department counterparts on a number of things. there is an initiative which is the umbrella way in which we operate in mexico. there is a lot of contact at lower levels. not so lower levels. i know are deputy attorney
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general speaks with his counterpart. >> the testimony from october 27 of this year, secretary clinton gave in the senate. she said, "i can tell you we have no record of any request for coordination. we have no record of any notice." how is it she is saying, we have never been involved in fast and furious and you of testifying is happening on a regular basis? >> you have to look at it in context. we interact with them in a number of ways. fast and furious may not be a primary thing. we are working more closely with dhs. those things are discussed. it might not be a primary thing
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that exists in a topic of conversation. >> you have 1500 weapons. we have 300 dead people. we have a dead u.s. agent. we have a press report. you have the people at the highest level sang, we do not talk to each other. we have to remain ignorant because we are going to have to testify. at the same time, you are telling me they are interacting on a regular basis. the state department is telling us it is not happening. they are saying similar things of the department of homeland security. if we are going to solve this problem, we have to solve these challenges. >> the gentleman was a time has expired. >> i am not sure -- the gentleman's time has expired. >> i am not sure about the context of that remark. when it comes to violence in mexico -- >> can i read the question?
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the question that secretary clinton got. you asked a legitimate question. if you make that available to the staff so they can brief him. we will return to that of of order to get an answer. in fairness, we have given sufficient time. if you make it available to staff. with that, we go to the gentle lady from the district of columbia. >> thank you. i do not know if conversations with secretary clinton are of major importance. i do know this, after calling
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the attorney-general six times book for the congress, i think the public would have expected -- six times before the congress, i think the public would have expected we would talk about a remedy. there is no remedy to give the justice department the tools they need to prosecute people. here we go again for the sixth hearing. i want to commend you for the changes you have made. the multiple changes you have made, while this matter was unfolding and the facts were coming forward, recognizing
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that until you get the inspector general's report, particularly considering this is the justice department that without due process would be unseemly. you have to understand that when there is an issue like this, it was very important because of the death of an agent, there is an instant, if a committee can get hold of a high place government official, to call him as much as you can. my concern, for the attorney general who has foreign and domestic matters, that a remedy come out. we have not seen anything. i would like to go through the five years of gun walking. they all get merged. we have three years of gun walking in the bush administration, five years total. two in this administration, beginning with the arizona-u.s. attorney. we have not had the of the kennedy to have him before us.
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the problem of the merged -- we have not had the opportunity to have him before us. the problem emerged but of his office. there were issues that the atf raised issues about moral objections. we do know, we have not had the opportunity to speak with him, he was briefed. he continued to allow hundreds of guns to walk across the border to mexico. the nine koreas hernandez case the rose during the bush administration -- notorious hernandez case the rose during the bush administration. the gun walking case continued. now come to this administration. when you became attorney general in 2009, were you aware that atf had this long history of gun walking in its phoenix office? >> i did not become aware of it
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until the beginning of 2011. >> mr. attorney general, if every attempt at coordination, and remember, mr. hernandez was never arrested. no one was ever taken into custody. if every attempt at coordination fails, do you think the agents should have stopped of the rising further attempts -- stopped authorizing further attempts to coordinate between mexico and the united states? >> do you think they should have allowed that? >> do you think that, given the repeated attempts of built coordination, that the agents
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should have stopped authorizing -- of failed coordination, that the agents could have stopped authorizing it? no of arrests being made on the mexican side. >> i think based on what you have noted, there was no basis for a continuation of gun walking. even conceptually, the notion that you would let them walk is something that i think is not a seventh technique. -- law enforcement technique. >> when does it become -- not a sound technique. >> when does it become gun walking? >> when you have the ability to arrest someone for fire arms transactions they have engaged in, you make a determination not to make the address, -- arrest. you do not take any affirmative action.
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you allow that person who has committed an offense to simply walk away with the fire arm. that is gun walking. it is not a good thing to do. >> thank you. >> a note for the record, the attorney general has testified as to fast and furious, on november 8, on december 8, the of the previous testimony is when not on this subject of fast and furious. he was not able to answer it during that time. this is the first time before our committee. the judiciary has not taken the lead the way this committee has. >> if i could correct the record. i did speak, the no. 5 or 6 is
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correct. >> the times you were asked. not not brought to answer. >> i was asked questions about fast and furious and answer those questions -- answered those questions. >> the next gentleman will be the gentleman from michigan. >> thank you. thank you for being here today. i am tempted to ask your opinion on joe paterno. it might be an interesting conversation. i would state that joe paterno reported allegations of child molestation to his superiors but did nothing else. he did not want to just does procedure. -- jeopardize procedure. one man knew about them walking as early as april, 2010.
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after meeting with atf about it, he failed to follow up. joe paterno, a legend in his board, and yet, he was unceremoniously fired. weinstein continues in his current position even though fast and furious has held deadly consequences, most importantly, to an agent. my question is, what is the difference between the case of joe paterno and the justice department? >> i am not going to get into the paternal case. -- the paterno case. he knew about wide receiver. he has indicated he did not
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know about the tactics, the inappropriate tactics, the gun walking tactics involved in fast and furious until later on. he did not connect those tactics with the ones used in wide receiver. he admitted what he did was a mistake. he has indicated he failed in not making that connection. >> and so he continues on, as do other senior officials. no consequences of significant nature at this point in time. no admission except that now when brought into the public light, that this has gone wrong, it was set up to go wrong. frankly, i believe it was set up to go wrong in order to deal with second amendment liberties of law-abiding citizens and pushing into perceptions it was the problem of second amendment.
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more importantly, you overside of an agency, of a department, of leaders in a department, that have not been held accountable. >> with all due respect, the notion that this was a set up to do something about second amendment rights is absurd. the operation that was put together here was an attempt to stop the flow of guns from the united states into mexico. >> it was not affected. >> it was not. it was flawed. >> very flawed. >> i have said that from day one. the notion this was a set up to come up with things to impinge upon the second amendment --
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>> with all due respect, i would concur your mention of it impinging upon the second amendment liberties but that up. an article yesterday noted that you launched a reckoning of cia interrogations of terrorists by directing the justice department to reopen investigations closed years before. this decision was opposed by leon panetta and his seven predecessors. the article notes he made the decision without reading memos prepared as prosecutors -- by those prosecutors. you are well known for not reading memos. you said you fail to read memos
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addressed to you in fast and furious. you failed to read memos related to the arizona immigration law. what does that say about your leadership and management that you continue to fail to read extremely important papers? >> the gentleman will suspend, this hearing is limited to fast and furious. i would answer you limit your answers to the management style that may relate to fast and furious. >> i disagree with that. i will respond to some of that. i am the attorney general of the united states. when it comes to deciding what i'm going to investigate, how i am going to investigate, i take into account a wide variety of things. the decision i made to open up those matters, i was aware this
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was opposed. i read a great deal before i made that determination. i had access to material to other people have never had access to. i have great respect to people who put their lives on the line to protect this nation in a way -- i see a briefing every day above the great work they do. there were things done, things that were done during the course of those interrogations which were and difficult to american values and resulted in the death of certain people. that investigation has run its course. we are at a point where we are about to close those investigations. it would have been irresponsible given the new information not to order that
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investigation. with regards to your more general point above me reading or not reading memos, i read those things that are brought to my attention or things i think i need to read to make appropriate decisions. i have a good step that brings to my attention those things i need to read. >> before i move on. we are speaking to your staff. the report that on numerous occasions congress has interviewed attorneys, including in the rocky flats investigation, i would ask that your staff review that so you may correct the statement that it never happens. we go to the gentleman from massachusetts. >> indulge me if you will.
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our obligation is to the families of the deceased, the citizens of this country. we are charged with first find out what happened, and then once we have determined that, making sure we can work on practices so it never happens again. both members of both parties have or to determine the facts. they have gone on about the number of interviews and documents. it also laid out in number of actions that were recommended. i know you have taken some actions and the new atf director has set up some actions. we have a couple of alternatives. we could explore how the program began 2006, repeated itself in
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2007, 2008, 2009. to do that, we would have to bring in front a former attorney general. he was the only one he knew about those programs. certainly, trying to find out more? about what happened, he would be somebody worth talking to. we could explore what statutory changes might be involved. the majority does not seem interested in that. we could continue to chase the political agenda, trying to find out that somebody had knowledge or authorized this operation. if that were the case, it would seem to me a good witness would be the then acting atf director.
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he indicated he is willing to come as a witness. he even testified, or was interviewed with staff from both parties. they asked him if he ever approved gun walking. he said he had not. they asked if he had ever been briefed the he said no. they asked if he had been aware of senior officials. he said no. he would have known about it. this is what he said, "i do not believe i had knowledge of this specific tax 6 -- tactics until the facts were disclosed in the media." the justice department never
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authorized it. he was not aware of it. he never briefed the attorney general or anyone else about it. i think that is the label information. if the information is going to be who knows what, when, and where. that was seven months ago. we can draw some conclusions and of our own as to why that testimony contradicts the assertions that the operation was approved at the highest levels. that leaves us with finding out whether or not there were any bad actions by people in high levels. mr. attorney general, did the director of atf ever raised issues about the conduct of operation fast and furious? >> no he did not. >> do you rely on them to bring significant issues to your attention?
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>> sure. >> and a disappointed that nobody raised concerns to your attention? >> i am disappointed that other people in the department who had this knowledge and did not bring it to my attention and who admitted they made a mistake in not bringing it to my attention, the fact that gun walking existed in these operations. >> as anybody tell him accountable for not bringing those to your attention? >> he made the determination and we agreed it would be better for him to leave atf. >> thank you. i ask consent to enter into the record the transcript of the interview. >> i object.
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you know that is inappropriate. >> it is inappropriate to have a witness who is not allowed to come before this committee and testify. i thought we would go to the next best thing. both parties had an opportunity to interview him and talk about issues you say are core. >> i reserve. speaking on my reservation, does the gentleman believe that is the right thing to do? to make public an ongoing investigation that includes a number of officials, a situation in which an official has taken the fifth and left the justice department, to make those publicly available? >> i hope we have made the point.
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what is important is for you to allow him to come here and testify in public and answer the questions that have been core to the allegations you continue to make erroneously but refused to acknowledge. >> i would note, i have not called for the attorney general's resignation. i have not said he knew. i have said that people did not know who should have known things. we are a crime to find out where the figures were made other it -- we are trying to find out where the failures were made. the acting director in fact it is callable for not knowing more what a director should know. i join with the gentleman in saying that it does concern me that somebody who is supposed to direct over 1800 individuals did not know that this involved a gun walking.
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remember, on february 4, well after these events, the attorney general's office gave us a document which said we never let guns what. that is of concern too. the committee is not shy about having additional hearings. the attorney general made himself available at this date. we are not saying this is the culmination. >> the interview was seven months ago. a direct quote from you, "atf and justice is telling us this goes to the top. it goes all the way to the office of the director and the office of the attorney general. this is at the highest level of the obama appointees.
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quote those are allegations you are going to make. it would be important to have him come in here and testify. >> i appreciate the gentleman giving a plug. those allegations were made with in number of other false allegation. i might note, we were given statements that the atf director was viewing on an internet connection the actual purchases being made. after receiving testimony, we discovered although he inquired about the capability of viewing these tapes, no such event occurred.
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this often happens in an investigation. >> i am glad you recognize that those comments are false. maybe we can move onto the business of determining what we can do. >> a follow up on what you just said. i know you are reserving. i was just wondering if there was a way we could have a portion of that document that goes to the testimony where he clearly states he never told the attorney general about fast and furious and where he said he did not know. >> i think the gentleman has done a good job of making that available. >> i want to make sure the record is complete. the attorney general has been accused of some very unkind things.
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his reputation hangs in the balance. i think we have the former atf director who stated he never said anything about this. he even said he did not know about this himself. i was wondering if we could have that portion of the transcript. >> i will work with the member to find a corporate coarsens that can be made available. i might note, -- find appropriate portions and be made available. i might note, my side has quoted where he said he was sick to his stomach when he read the wiretaps and discovered what he did not know. although it is inappropriate, i will work with the gentleman, we will hold the record open to make of corporate statements
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that you believe unnecessary to make the -- to make appropriate statements that he believes are necessary. >> it is why i want to make it part of the record. when he said he said at his kitchen table, i have read it, he said his stomach was in not, his point was, he did not know about it before. if he did not know about it, it is impossible for him to tell the attorney general. >> i apologize mr. attorney general. i am not going to allow this to turn into a sequence. both sides could get into testimony. i will work with the gentleman. we will return to regular order. >> thank you. >> can i say one thing? when he said he became sick to his stomach, it was not when he was reading the wiretaps, he was reading reports of
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investigations. >> i appreciate that. we now go to the gentle lady who has been waiting patiently from new york for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you mr. holder. i want to make a couple of comments to start up. we have heard it from the other side of the aisle with regards to this being a democratic or republican issue. whether this is a political game. if this is an election year charade. i think it is important to recognize that you need to be held accountable, or somebody does, as to what happened. i am amazed that of all the issues that face the country, this is the issue i hear from my district so frequently about.
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today, i will enter them into the record, i had no fewer than 30 questions from folks who wanted to know what happened, why it happened, and who is going to be held accountable. i was taken aback by a response when you sort of declared i am the attorney general. with all due respect, yes you are. you are accountable to the folks in my district and the american people. if you will indulge me, play a recording, most importantly, we had a hearing here in june. in that hearing i asked his mother -- we will play that. >> you would like us to ask.
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>> we would want to know if the net that is set to find everyone involved in his murder will be set deep enough and wideenough to encompass anyone involved in the operation fast and furious? if the guns used in the his murder or part of the operation, then we would want to know everyone in the operation who had to deal with those weapons be brought up on charges of facilitating the murder of brian terry. >> thank you, we will ask that question. on behalf of brian terry's cousin, to what lengths has year investigation gone?
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will everyone in that operation that had to deal with those weapons be brought up on charges? >> we are working now, this is an ongoing investigation. it is a very sensitive time. i am not sure i can talk and all a lot about where the investigation is. i have indicated a think we are close to making some announcements. we will seek to hold accountable those people responsible for agent terry's death. with regards to people involved in the operation fast and furious, we are trying to find out who made the determination to allow guns to walk. i am not at liberty to talk about the weapons we used in the incident.
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that will come out during the course of the trial. we will hold accountable the people who are involved in this investigation. one other thing, i did not mean to imply that i should not be held accountable. i also think there is a thin as component to this. i ought to be held accountable for those things that are within my area of responsibility. i should be held accountable for things that are factually correct. i am more than willing to admit mistakes when i have made them. i also think, if we are going to get ahead here, if we are going to make progress, we need to put aside the political gotcha game and focus on matters that are serious. when one looks at the death toll in mexico --
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>> i have one more question. i did call for your resignation. i feel the department of justice, you are responsible for all of the activities. i think that you have denied, you should not be held accountable. what more could have gone wrong that he would have been held accountable? the president has been quiet about coming to your defense. how many more border patrol agents would have had to die as a part of operation fast and furious for you to take responsibility? >> the gentleman may answer. or not.
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>> that is the kind of thing you wonder why you are getting those calls. people focus on a question as much as an answer. as a member of congress, really? is that the way in which you want to be seen? i should be held accountable for my role and whatever i did or did not do. i should be held accountable and perhaps even given some credit for the things that this justice department has done under my leadership. whether it deals with national security, one has to balance all these things.
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i am not claiming to be a perfect person or a perfect attorney general. i get up every day and try to do the best job i can. that kind of question is, frankly, beneath a member of congress. [no audio] >> on tuesday, caucus is in colorado and minnesota and a primary in missouri. later, a contest in arizona and michigan followed by washington's coski sits at the beginning of -- caucuses at the
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beginning of march. you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. the house returns monday and gets to legislative business at 2:00 with votes at 6:30. they will begin consideration to amendments of a bill that would create a centralized process for recommending non-military properties to change. the senate is back on monday at 2:00 after an hour of morning business and will consider a measure authorizing $60 million annually for federal aviation programs to 2015. watch senate coverage live on c- span2. >> they knew america. without regard to race or
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belief or economic conditions. [applause] new mexico dara got -- an america where men can solve their differences by a -- >> we look back at 14 men who ran for the office of president and lost. go to our website to see video of the contenders that had a lasting impact on american politics. >> the process of the radical liberal left continues to offer only one solution. they tell us again and again and again we can spend our way out of trouble and spend our way
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into a better tomorrow. [booing] >> from today's "washington journal, a look at president obama is reelection campaign strategy. this is about 40 minutes.
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there was a lot of energy in terms of building politics at all local little and doing politics differently on the internet at help democratic candidates. one of the things that happened in 2010 is the tea party very successfully met what the democrats and president obama did in 2008. they did better in 2010. they started organizing on the ground at the local level and over the internet. they started doing insurgent politics. they started taking over the republican party at the grass- roots level. there were very effective in mobilizing republicans and turning out conservative-minded voters. democrats abandoned the very model that proved so successful for president obama in 2008. that is what allowed the tea
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party to do so well in 2010. in 2012, that model of politics is up for grabs. host: was it a model or a political trend in history as we saw in 1994 and we have seen in the midterm elections when a president is first elected, the party in power loses seats. there were a lot of parallels between 2010 and 1994. guest: part of it is just history. there were some interesting trends in terms of political organizing and development that made this happen. when democrats were out of power, it it was not just the fact of george w. bush's presidency. they had to get their own house in order. i write a lot about that and the buck. the same happened to the
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republican party -- i write a lot about that in the of the book. in some ways, yes, they have a lot of things going for them. there was a bad economy, at the on popularity of the health care bill. there was also the fact that they had to get republicans excited about an alternative and they had to mobilize and to bring new people into the party. the tea party was very good at 3 branting the republican brandt so -- we branding -- re granting the republican brand. it felt like a movement and there was an energy out there and it made easier for people to get inspired to do grass-roots politics, to give money over the internet. i would say it was partly a result of history and partly a result of organizing. host: as you look ahead at the
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campaign, the democratic national committee and his political action committees, what does the white house need to do? what does this president need to say? what is the strategy moving ahead? guest: there are two parts right now. the first party is the president needs to read inspire his supporters from 2008. a lot of people have incredible mobilization in 2008 which did not occur in 2010. it is really important that the relationship between the president and his supporters be rebuilt. there is some energy and some enthusiasm heading into 2012, but i do not think it is not the point where the president can feel confident. they will not be able to convince everyone on their own merits given the state of the economy and the state of the world. they will have to draw a very
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clear contrast between the president and the republican nominee. that will most certainly be mitt romney. if they cannot get their own supporters out on their own merits, they have to paint white mitt romney is not a good alternative. that will be a message they have to drive, among independent voters, blue-collar voters, there are a number of different groups they will have to reach to try to turn out the war on the fence. in terms of their own coalition, it is going to be very important for them to get young people out, hispanics, african- americans, single women, people with college-educated degrees. that was the core of the obama coalition. they have a pretty daunting task ahead of them. i do think the president has been doing better in recent months. i think it started with his job
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speech last september, which was long overdue. it seems like president obama has found more of a focus of this presidency. for a while, the white house did not know how to react to republican gains in congress. obama wanted to find common ground with the house gop. talk about the deficit, talk about cutting spending. i do not think that strategy worked. he did not gain any independent voters. when the president shifted back to the issue that everybody cared about, and he was on more firm footing. the fact that occupy wall street happened and the president is talking about the 99% and income inequality and that it is a make or break moment for the middle class, that kind of rhetoric resonates with a lot of americans. host: what about democrats running with the president at
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the top of the ticket? how much will they embrace the president and his message? guest: i think it depends on -- -- it depends on the states. there are democrats running that will not get that close to the president. it is a tough calculation to make because if you do not get to -- a few kind of ignore him and tried to distance yourself, that creates a narrative of democratic disarray. that makes it harder for democrats to turn out. in the states that have turned for their bread, they will not have any other choice -- turned red, they will not have any other choice. it depends how the president is doing. his approval numbers are ticking slowly up boards. it is easy -- upwards. it is easier for the democratic
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candidate to embrace the obama administration. to some extent, they have to make an argument for what the president did because the president's agenda was also the democratic agenda. it is hard to get -- separate them some republicans are going to use that as much as possible. use policies like health care to hurt the democratic candidates. democratic candidates are going to have to make a proactive argument for what they did while they were in power and also what republicans would do if they come to power. i see that as an important component of the campaign. the local level, the democratic party really needs to be stronger. there was this -- that has been abandoned by the national party. at the core grass-roots level, the democratic party still has a lot of work to do. host: joining us from new york.
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we will get to your calls and comments in just a moment. on three separate occasions, the present taking aim at mitt romney. not mentioning his name, but saying that -- at the national prayer breakfast, the president taking aim at the comments that mitt romney talked about before. it is imperative for all of us to care for thae poor. he also taking aim at mitt romney -- not using his name, but using his words and message. >> a pretty steady decline about five years ago. the government cannot fix the entire program -- problem on its own. it is wrong for anybody to suggest that the only option for
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struggling responsible homeowners is to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom. [applause] i refuse to accept that and so did the american people. host: what is going on here? his strategy is to jump into the campaign, but not really campaign. to be presidential, but showed that he understands what the republicans are trying to do right now. guest: he is trying to define mitt romney before he is officially the nominee. the way the obama people would like to define mitt romney is that at a time when americans are concerned about the 99% and what is happening to the middle class and the amount of wealth concentrated at the top of the economy, mitt romney is a defender of wall street and of
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the 1%. not only in terms of his own background, but in terms of the policies that he supports. that is the message the administration is going to hammer home. mitt romney is out of touch with the problems that americans are facing today. he would embrace the very policies that led to the economic crisis. at a time when the economy is steadily, but slowly, improving, those kinds of policies would make things worse, not better. that is how they are going to try to define him. mitt romney, unfortunately, is playing into the white house hand by making comments like his comment that he was not concerned with the very poor. obviously, there was a broader context there. he lives in a different world than the rest of america.
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if you look at how much money he has made, his tax returns, what he did in the private sector, those are all potential vulnerabilities the administration is gone to exploit. looking ahead at the general election campaign. rallph is joining us from cincinnati. caller: i am originally from michigan. what happened in michigan in 2010, the democrats got completely wiped out. we lost the governorship, we lost the senate, the house. turnout was lower than the tea party was quite high. i wish you would talk about the local and county organizations. it is very weak. a few people attend the
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democratic party meetings. they used to having newsletter, and they do not have one now. i am worried that the democrats will not give a good turnout in 2012. if they do not, i think michigan will be in trouble. guest: i think that is a very important point and is one that i talk about in the book. one of the things that howard dean it did with his 50-state strategy was to rebuild the local democratic party to give them some new resources, to hire people, to overhaul their database, to be able to more effectively communicate with voters. that affected the counterparties, many of which also got an injection of energy they did not have before. that was integral to the democrats taking back power.
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the problem is after obama wine, the president had his own campaign organization -- won, the president had his own campaign organization. obama for america became organizing for america. that was the next iteration. ofa was quasi-autonomous. it was not actually hooked into the network of the democratic party. they worked on the president's message and the priorities and now they're working on the president's reelection campaign. it is great, but they missed a major opportunity to actually put those people into the democratic party and transform the democratic party. so many new people turned out for the president in 2008. if they had been better integrated within the democratic party, the democratic party would have been in better shape in 2010 and would be in better shape right now.
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i still think that is an important priority and it does not get talked-about enough. to try to rebuild the democratic party by having those obama people feel some sense of ownership. obviously, not everyone who supported the president is a democrat. obama wanted to have its own brand. he was thought of as a party of one, the first independent president. at the end of the day, he is a democrat. most of his supporters are democrats. the democratic party is going to rise and fall based on what he does. it means they really need an injection of new energy and new manpower in 2012. host: this is a twitter comment --
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guest: there is always a bit of schizophrenia and the tea party, at least from my perspective. they real against spending, but they support candidates that spend lavishly during the bush era. they say they care about the deficit, but they won't ever supports any agreement that would raise taxes. that is what you need to get some movement on the deficit. they rail against the bill out constantly -- bailouts constantly. even in the republican primary, a lot of tea party people are rallying around newt gingrich. he is the embodiment of the very k street the tea party claims to hate.
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that is why the tea party might be having some problems right now. there is this schizophrenia within the movement in terms of what they really believe and what they are willing to fight for. it is not always totally consistent when it comes to policy. host: brian from salt lake city on our line for republicans. caller: ok. people need to wake up. look at the character of obama. look who he's around himself with. george soros is a bad man. he brought down the british pound dried he made $6 million and laughed about it. -- he brought down the british pound. he said he liked playing god. his sights are set on the united states. wake up. guest: george soros said he did
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not see any difference between the president and republicans when it came to wall street. he did not seem all that enthused about finding the party or the president. at least at this point, it is hard to claim that obama is his fight. host: this is a gallup poll. it looks at twin state registered voters and national voters -- a swing state registered voters and national borders. mitt romney is at 48% and the president is that 47%. national voters, 48% between the president and mitt romney. your response to those numbers?
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guest: it is going to be a very close election. one of the things that has happened, if you look closer into those polls, the number of independent voters continues to rise. i saw a snapshot of party registration and it was something like 30% identified as democrats, 23% republicans, 42% independents. the independent vote keeps growing, which adds a lot of volatility. democrats have lost some supporters. the parties are basically even. the independent vote is what is swinging things back and forth. if you look at the swing states, there will be a lot of swing states in 2012. there will be swing states that the present one in the upper midwest -- the president won in the upper midwest. there will be staged the
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president won in the west and the south that he will defend. because the president won so many different states, 375 electoral votes. it means this time, he is going to be on defense. there will be a very wide electoral map. that is a blessing and a curse. it gives the president a lot of different paths to reelection. it is not going to come down to one state. it is likely that it will come down to a combination of states. it also means the president has to defend a tremendous amount of turf. host: there is this twitter, a comment -- guest: he is trying to do both.
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he had an alternate strategy. he introduced a jobs plan last september. unfortunately, congress only passed a very small chunk of that. the town of that -- chunk of that seems to have been pretty effective. that could be attributed to a whole range of factors, but it is -- he had a strategy and he would love if congress would pass eight. he really does not have much of a choice but to critique the alternatives. this is what he would like to do and this is what the republicans are proposing to do and this is why his idea is better. some of it will be theoretical because the congress will not
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pass it and some of it will be he will have to defend the things he has done. he will have to defend the stimulus, the health care bill. he will have to defend the various steps the administration took to prevent an economic crisis, to prevent another great depression and to put america back on the road to recovery. he is going to have to do both. it is not going to be possible for him to do one without the other. host: cleveland, ohio, democrats line. caller: is so good to talk to you. what is very important to me -- regarding the budget deficit. it was in the washington post.
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two weeks after president obama took office, $1.20 trillion leftover from the bush administration was put on his plate. they took all the policies president obama, they chatted with the cbo and the joint committee on taxation -- checked it with the cbo and joint committee on taxation. all the money they passed on to the budget was the result of bush policy. $15.50 trillion. $4.70 trillion -- and nobody does anything about it. host: thank you for the call. you look at the
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deficit and how it has grown, bush added five times more to the deficit than president obama did. many of the things that president obama diggs blamed for -- gets blamed for were things that were initiated under george w. bush. this is an argument that the administration needs to make more aggressively. the idea that number one, the deficit is the result of a lot of factors. one of the major factors was the bush administration and the various things they did. the tax cuts, the wars in iraq and afghanistan, the medicare part d build. all those things at a tremendous amount to the deficit. the president had no choice after the economic crisis but to spend more money because when
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families were spending less money, businesses were spending less money, the administration had to step in and the government had to step in and provide some relief. to some extent, he had no choice. the president would have loved to come and balance the budget, but it was not realistic. i do think the administration needs to do a better job of putting this in number in context in terms of where it came from and also saying that we are going to have to have a sizeable deficit for some time while the economy is cutting back on track. when businesses are not spending money, the government will have to step in and fill the void. host: you can read his work online, including an upcoming story that your magazine is putting out. the republican southern strategy -- what is that?
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guest: it came out on thursday. you can find it at thena it is an important story that has not gotten a lot of attention. after the 2010 census, the party straw new lines. in most places, state legislators draw them. what happened is republicans controlled the redistricting process in 20 states. democrats only control the process and seven states. -- in seven states. the republicans control a tremendous number of states in the south, which is a reversal from past years. the south has been trending republican for many years, at the national level, democrats for able to hold in the state houses. that flipped in 2010.
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republicans basically controlled everything. their strategy has really been to try to isolate democratic voters into a few -- as few districts as possible. they are drawing democrats in today's heavily minority districts. they are known as a majority- minority districts. they are increasing the minority population and all of these districts and they are increasing the democratic representation in all these districts as a way to concentrate the democratic party into as few places as possible and add the rest of the area's republican and to eliminate the white democrats. in the south right now, the republican party is 95% rights. the democratic party is a multiracial coalition. if you can eliminate the white democrats from that equation, that isolates the democratic party on the state level and on the national level in that region.
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that is the court of the new southern strategy. host: it is available on-line. it is the february 20 cover story. caller: good morning. i voted for obama in the last election. he has been a little bit of a disappointment. the republicans do not have anybody. as far as mitt romney, i feel like he is out of touch. i think this connection to the -- his opposition to the bailouts in michigan. newt gingrich -- i feel obama is going to win by default. i really like ron paul.
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if you vote for him, that is a vote for obama. as far as i am concerned, i feel like obama is going to get reelected. host: the economy is one of the leading domestic issues in this campaign. how is it for you live? caller: is starting to pick up. the housing market is still getting hit pretty hard. we still have a lot of problems in that area, but as far as jobs, i am seeing manufacturing jobs. i have never had a problem. i am in the health-care industry and i have never had a problem. things are picking up here in michigan. we did vote for a republican governor, and i really like him. i cannot democrats and i am not a republican, -- i am not a democrat and i am not a republican.
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i feel very frustrated because there is not more to offer us. i feel like we have to settle. isn't that sad? host: isn't -- thank you for your call. michigan is going to be a key state in november. guest: i imagine there will be a lot of people like sue in the next election. the obama administration was and everything they imagined. some of that is to be expected given the unrealistic expectations and some of it was a consequence of the things the administration did and did not do. the failure to market what they did as effectively as they could. the fact that the administration is blamed for the bad economy. at the same time, even if they are not in love with the president, the republicans are not presenting a very good
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alternative. i think mitt romney will be vulnerable as well. he does have experience in the private sector. he was a governor. those will be assets. the fact he is such a proponent of the 1% in terms of his background and policies is going to make them vulnerable to many americans, especially those who are struggling at a time of economic crisis. it is not going to be hope and change, it is going to be much more by any means necessary. a lot of people will probably pull a lever for the present because they do not like the alternative. -- president because they do not like the alternative. she made a good point about the amount of money. this is one of the things that i find it disconcerting. i think people on the right and left should agree that to the
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citizens united decision is distorting the electoral process. so much money is going to the airways. you can give a million dollars, a $5 million, it is distorting the electoral process. it is crowding out the voices of everyday citizens. every election, it gets more and more expensive. this election is really campaign finance on steroids. host: there is a front-page story this morning. he will provide even more money to the mitt romney campaign. he was a casino owner and las vegas were then estimated $20 billion. -- worth an estimated $20
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billion. the last three years of the administration, has the present been more concerned about his base or the republicans and the right? guest: since the 2010 election, for about a year, he was much more concerned with the republicans and the rights and less concerned with its own base. that will be damaged him in a lot of ways the relationship between the president and his own supporters. after 2010, it seemed like obama was taking his cues from the republicans. he was pursuing his own austerity agenda. the debate in washington was about who could cut more. the president seemed like he wanted to reprise the triangulation strategy of bill clinton where he found common ground with the republicans. he wanted to find a democratic way of achieving a republican
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priorities. the president and his team tried to do a very similar thing. the strategy did not work because republicans in congress did not reciprocate. the economy did not get better. the president had no choice but to shift gears. the relationship started to get better with the jobs speech the president gave last september. that is really where the one of thes base president to focus on jobs, on creating more jobs, on the government stepping up and spurring and -- a range of job creation. i think it made the supporters felt better about the problem. the occupy movements happened and a lot of democrats became absorbed in that. even though it was aimed at the
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democratic party, there is way too much money in the process, both parties have been bought off by a political system in washington that favors the 1%, democrats identified with that message much more than republicans. use all the president, for example, in the speech he gave in kansas really adopting some of that rhetoric. it was not like he took occupy wall street talking points. it was true that he did embrace the themes of that movement. he started talking about the republican philosophy. the democratic philosophy and the obama philosophy is much more in terms of shared sacrifice, much more in terms of helping reduce income inequality, leveling the playing field. my sense is that the democrats feel better about the president's message and his strategy than they did a year
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ago. host: a comment from one of our viewers. mitt romney taking aim at the obama record last night as he declared victory in nevada. a double-digit lead by mitt romney. he has 97 delegates. here is what he said last night in las vegas. >> president obama demonizes almost every sector of our economy. i will make america the most attractive place in the world for innovators and for job creators. [applause] world] by the way, unlike the other people running, and i know just how to do that.
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if i am elected, i will be worrying about your job and not saving my own. host: that was mitt romney last night. caller: i agree with you in a lot of ways about the tea party and how they are supporting gingrich. i am a patriot. i believe in the constitution and the bill of rights. as i look at the with the political process is going, and beginning to realize they're pitting one side against the other. guest: there is a lot of cynicism about the political process. to some extent, it is justified. the amount of money pouring into
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the political system is distorting both parties. it is making the parties reliant on big donors and the way we have never seen before. the idea that 10 millionaires and billionaires each gave $1 million to romney is disconcerting. the koch brothers have said they will spend millions of dollars to defeat the president. there is money on the democratic side to counter that. that skews the voice of the average citizen. the politicians are not that concerned about the everyday voters. they are concerned about who will write their next campaign contribution. the money into the system, which was a problem before the
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citizens united decision, has been exacerbated by the decision. i do think we're reaching a to pinpoint. a i do think we're reaching tipping point. at some point, politicians will have to propose a sustainable solution or else they will get voted out of office because there is a much discussed -- disgust with the amount of money in washington these days. host: here is a tweet. a quick response? guest: he has a problem. he is making contradictory argument. he is saying the economy is not getting better and president obama needs to get out of office. on the other hand, he says the
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economy is improving in spite of the president. both cannot be true. host: nancy on the democrats' line, you get the last word. caller: the gop came in in 2010 and overtook the house. i watched the tea party from the beginning of a way to the end. if the media would have told the truth about the tea party, we had to go and get our news on youtube. on youtube, you see the truth of all of the heat -- hate for our black president.
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guest: i think the media did a good job of covering the tea party and some of the extremism. people were confused about the economic crisis. they heard the tea party say it was all the fault of washington and the government. a lot of people have gravitated to the tea party message who were not necessarily tea party- ers. as a result of the movement having more visibility, the agenda is becoming more unpopular. the amount americans to identify with it is declining rapidly. they are still a potent force in the republican party, but they do not have the broad sympathy among the public that they used to have. host: ari berman is out with a
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new paperback edition of "herding donkeys." he is joining us from new york on this sunday. ? -- >> tomorrow, a discussion on how to grow the economy and create more jobs. that is live at 9:30 a.m. eastern on c-span2. looking ahead, rackauckas -- the caucuses continue. follow the road to the white house on our website. you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter.
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>> by 2020, at least half of all energy will come from non-fossil fuel sources. >> the navy secretary on the reasons for a new energy standards for the fleet. >> we are too dependent on volatile places on earth to get our energy. we are susceptible to supply shocks. even if we got enough, we are susceptible to price shocks. when the libya situation started, oil went up $40 a barrel. it was almost a $1 billion additional fuel bill for the navy. you replace we have to get the money is operations -- the only place we have to get the money is operations and training. >> more with the navy secretary
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tonight at 8:00 eastern. >> and house energy and commerce subcommittee on the decision to deny a permit for construction of the keystone xl pipeline that would have carried oil from canada to the u.s.. this hearing is in response to a subcommittee republicans not inviting key witnesses to a previous hearing on january 25. for over two hours, you will hear testimony from the corps of engineers and the bureau of land management. later, remarks from those who support president obama's decision on the pipeline. this is about two hours and 15 minutes.
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>> we gave opening statements at the hearing. each side will be given 10 minutes for opening statements this morning. i would like to recognize myself for five minutes for the purpose of making an opening statement. like many people, i was disappointed with the president decided the keystone pipeline was not in the natural inch international interests -- was not in the national interests. he said there was not enough time to review information on the route from nebraska. we are aware the application for the permit was filed in september of 2008, almost three and a half years ago. as far back as october of 2010 at a speech at the commonwealth club of san francisco, secretary
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of state hillary clinton said she was inclined to approve a permit for the keystone pipeline based on the information she had. i also want the public to know that five major labor unions support it and still supports the building of the pipeline. in an article, the officer reported some of president obama's biggest supporters are fuming over his decision. unions representing construction workers who would directly benefit from building the pipeline feel stabbed in the back by groups who kill the project. terry o'sullivan said the decision was so propulsive and
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disgusting that he was going to pull his union out of the blue- green alliance, a coalition of environmental groups and labor unions that represented nearly all of the statements supporting the president. he said unions and environmental groups with no equity have affected it. we will not sit at the table with people would destroy our members' livelihoods. the labor union support in the project issued a forceful statement condemning the decision as politics at its worst. mr. sweeney, the director of the global labor institute at cornell university, made it very clear when he said this decision was really about the president being reelected.
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his reelection is at stake. he said there is more to save than a simple power plant. in closing, i would like to quote from an article in the "chicago tribune." this is a good project. it will give us energy and jobs. if you want stimulus, this is it. this is a $7 billion project to be done with private dollars. taxpayer dollars will not be used. president obama made a decision that we think is the wrong decision. with that, does anyone seek recognition for a minute? i will recognize you later. high yield the balance of my time to you. -- i yield the balance of my time to you. >> are reviewing the testimony
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of mr. pool. i find it interesting how much our rules and regulations come in for so little land. the land would be approximately 50 feet wide and comprise a total of about 270 acres. let that sink in. think about the role the government is playing in this land. the main issue is their approval. final biological assessment shows no jeopardy under the endangered species act. blm has 270 acres 50 feet wide. we have a horrible unemployment problem. 8.3% is nothing to brag about. we have private sector funds
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that could create thousands of jobs, a new property tax base, i think it is time to get this done. i yield back. >> i recognize the gentleman from illinois for five minutes. >> think you for holding this important hearing -- thank you for holding this important hearing to hear from the stakeholders are not invited to participate in last week's hearing and to shine light on the legislation. this bill is another bite at the apple in the majority's attempt to back door of the obama administration and green light a project that has not been fully
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vented -- vetted. it would be an abdication of the government oversight responsibilities. why not call this bill for what it really is? instead of the north american energy act, it should be renamed the republicans trans- canada act. it does not make sense because it shifts the responsibility for the approval of cross-border pipeline from the state department to an agency with no experience in this type of bi- national project.
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this bill does not make sense financially or morally. as we heard from the bureau of oceans and scientific affairs, the recommendation to deny a permit was made simply because there was not sufficient time for an agency to complete due diligence and perform its legal oversight responsibility, mainly due to the fact that there is not even the proposed route for the state department to review. it would have been an act of gross negligence and recklessness for the obama administration to approve a
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pipeline that would cut through the heart of the country when the policy makers and the states most affected like nebraska have not identified the most appropriate route for the pipeline to go through. the language the republicans passed on the payroll tax extension was ill-considered and irresponsible. i would say the language in this new bill would transfer the decision to a different and completely inexperienced agency and also requires the commission to make a decision within 30 days or the project will be
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automatically approved. that is even more irrational and irresponsible. as stated last week, "that decision was based on the fact that the exact route of the park plan has yet to be identified in critical areas. as a result, there are unresolved concerns and issues regarding energy security, foreign policy, economics, health, safety, and environmental impacts, among other considerations." she went on to say that the legislation raises serious questions about legal authorities and all of the land
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use management of the pipeline. i want to give the size this. it overrides foreign policy and national security considerations was cross-border permits. with such dire warnings against the bill, i think we owe it to the american public's to fully explain the consequences of the legislation to ensure the public interests are attended to. i yield back the balance of my time. >> i would like to recognize the gentleman from texas, mr. barton, for five minutes. >> this is a continuation hearing. everything that can be said
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about keystone has been said, but sometimes it needs to be repeated. this is an extremely important project for our nation's future. in the last month, we have had a number of announcements that refineries are going to be closed. one in pennsylvania, the virgin islands, ohio. they are taking about 1 million barrels of production off the books. the keystone pipeline is not building a new refinery, but it is bringing additional crude oil to the gulf coast where we still have refinery capacity. that crude oil will be used to be refined into products that can be shipped into the midwest and northeast.
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if you shut down refineries in the midwest and offshore that serve that market and do not build keystone, that is a double women. the absolute certainty is that prices will go up and our economy will suffer. if we build the keystone pipeline, we're going to have additional crude coming into the united states. it does not offset in totality the closure of the of the refinery facilities, but it will alleviate them. as mr. walden has just pointed out, to have to go through bureaucratic red tape that this project has gone through for the reasons it has been subjected to it does not seem to make good sense in any way. i look forward to hearing.
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there's another hearing downstairs on the chemical facilities act, so i will be shuttling back and forth. i do appreciate you holding the hearing. i appreciate being allowed to speak. i would like to yield the balance of my time to mr. kerrey from nebraska. mr. terry -- mr. kerrey from nebraska. >> the state department issued three statements over the summer that they would have all the information and were doing due diligence to have a decision made by the end of 2011. we took them at their word. it turned out not to be true. one of the key point missed in the state department testimony is that they are using nebraska
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as the excuse to deny a permit. the reality is in the legislation the president signed exempting nebraska, this was going forward on the other parts of the pipeline in the other states. there was a trigger the would review the nebraska portion -- that would review the nebraska portion based on when the governor certified it was ready. i am amazed that has not been brought out. i am glad the corps of engineers is here today. their testimony raises a valid point that we planned to change. we want to make it clear that what the legislation does is remove the presidential commission part and give it to the agency that has experience
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in pipelines. we thought that was a rational approach with this bill. we will change the language of issuing permits on any project that crosses a waterway in your jurisdiction. we knew there were other permits they would have to file and receive once the presidential authorization was made. i am disappointed that we invited the corps of engineers and blm to hour hearing last week and they've refused to come. when mr. waxman testifies in opposition, you are here. that disappoints me. i think the message that the president's denial of a permit sends to the world is that the far left of the environmental community is now in charge of
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our energy and foreign policy. i yield back. >> i recognize the gentleman from california for five minutes. >> today we are holding a legislative hearing on a bill to mandate approval of the keystone xl. this pipeline is controversial for good reason. the american people will bear the risks. big oil will reap the rewards. with this pipeline, we get more carbon pollution, more dangerous oil spills, land seizures by a foreign country, and higher oil prices in the midwest. big oil gets the ability to extract more profits from the midwest, a conduit for exporting our projects to canada and exploitation of the tar sands at
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maximum speed regardless of the consequences. mr. obama listened to the views of american citizens and made irresponsible decision. he would not approve the pipeline through the ecologically fragile area of nebraska. the state department would consider alternative routes. nebraska has taken the time to find a route that is acceptable. the president is making sure he has all the information he needs to make the right decision. this bill takes the opposite approach. it gives the pipeline an unprecedented regulatory your mark. it directs the federal energy regulatory commission to approve the pipeline even though we do not yet know what route it will take through the state of nebraska. it exempts them from obtaining permits before crossing
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wetlands. it takes away the department of the interior authority to protect sensitive public lands. for a year, i have been asking a simple question. who benefits from this extraordinary congressional intervention in the regulatory process? last year, reuters reported koch industries would be one of the big winners from this year mark. there is evidence to support this. we know it is one of the largest crude-oil exporters in canada. we know it has a refinery in texas near where the pipeline ill end. i contacted them about the nature of the pipeline. they responded they had no financial interest in whether
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the pipeline was built or not. i accepted that answer, but then i learned that koch told the canadian government that the company had a direct and substantial interest in the pipeline. i want to know why koch would tell the u.s. congress one thing and the canadian government the exact opposite. i asked the chairman to invite kock industries to testify. they refused. we are left with unanswered questions. why is koch industries been placed in a witness protection program? what does the company have to hide? why does it get special treatment while the american people get left in the dark? i also ask the chairman to invite the operator of the
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pipeline. we want to ask trans-canada reasonable questions about what route it plans to follow in nebraska. we want to know about the claims of jobs. the state department testified we would get 6000 temporary jobs if the pipeline is approved. these jobs would be around for two years. trans-canada says it will be 20,000 jobs, over 100,000. that is looking at the lifetime of the pipeline for over 100 years. this is the republican jobs bill. 20,000 jobs, they say, maybe 100,000 jobs. the state department is saying 5000 to 6000 jobs for two years. i regret that koch industries in trans-canada is not here to testify.
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i am glad we have excellent witnesses who will give their views. two gentleman with special insight into what the project will mean are here. i yield back would avert time i have left -- i yield back whatever time i have left. >> we have two panels of witnesses. on the first panel, we have the chief regulator for the u.s. army corps of engineers and mr. michael -- mike pool from the department of the interior. we appreciate both of you being here this morning. we will ask each of you to do the five-minute opening statement.
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then questions will be asked. we have been told there will be five or six votes on the house floor around 11:00. we will proceed as long as we can. then we will vote and then come back. thank you for being with us this morning. ms. gaffney-smith, a like to recognize you for an opening statement. -- i would like to recognize you for an opening statement. you are now recognized. >> thank you. i am the chief of the regulatory program for the u.s. army corps of engineers. thank you for the opportunity to discuss the regulatory authority under section 404 of the clean water act and section 10 of the rivers and harbors act related to utility line projects and to discuss our regulatory
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involvement in the proposed keystone xl pipeline. section 10 requires authorization from the core for the construction of any structure in, under, or over and navigable waters of the u.s. section 404 requires authorization for dredged or discharged material into the waters of the united states. utility projects may require a approval for work areas, storage areas, and permanent impacts associated with stabilization or crossing. when materials are associated with activities that are expected to cause no more than minimal effects, they may be authorized by general permit. activities that do not meet the criteria for a general permit for processed through the individual standard permit
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procedures. when implementing the regulatory program, it is neither an opponent or proponent. our responsibility is to make fair and timely decisions that protect the aquatic environment and are not contrary to the public interest. the authority to make final decisions on permit applications rests with the 38 district commanders. nationwide permit 12 is a general permit that may be used to authorize utility line construction. the permit authorizes the discharge of drenched material in association with temporary or permanent activities related to the construction, repair, maintenance, and removal of utility lines provided the activity does not result in a loss of greater than one half acre of water's for a single and complete project. under permit 12, there are seven notification requirements. if any of these are triggered, a
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proponent must submit a request to the appropriate district office before they began work on waters of the united states. other statutes impact the ability to authorize activities. in accordance with the nationwide rules endangered species act, no activity may be authorized that is likely to jeopardize threatened or endangered species or destroy or modify the critical habitat of such species. no activity may be authorized by permits until the requirements of section 106 of the preservation act been fulfilled. the corps permits do not negate the authorization of the permits required by law. in 2011, trans-canada submitted pre-construction notifications to our four districts and
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requested that work in waters in association with the keystone pipeline be verified under a permit 12. in november and december, each of the three districts made the decision to exercise authority to suspend permit 12 for all work and discharges of material into waters of the united states associated with the application. these decisions were made because of concerns identified by the department of state that cannot be addressed until a final decision was made on the pending presidential permit application. the president has determined that 60 days is an insufficient amount of time to obtain the necessary information. the keystone pipeline project as presented and analyzed at that time would not serve the national interest. should circumstances change, our districts will process any future requests submitted in
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accordance with the appropriate procedures based on our statutory authority and implementing regulations. only the federal energy regulatory commission and not the corps would be responsible for issuing the permit. only the corps has a statutory mandate under the provisions of section 10 and section 4. none of these reviews will be allowed for this project under the language in section 4-a of the bill and no corps from it would be required. i have would be happy to answer any questions you may have. >> mr. pool, you are now recognized for five minutes for the purpose of making an opening statement. >> thank you for inviting the department of the interior to
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this hearing on the north american energy access act. the legislation directs the regulatory commission to approve the keystone xl pipeline project. the department has concerns about several provisions in the legislation. the proposed project would span within 1,700 miles from canada through texas and oklahoma. all proposed pipeline projects across borders require a presidential permit, including a determination that the cross- border pipeline is in the national interest. the state department refused applications for a presidential permit and consults with eight other agencies in its review. the state received an application from trans-canada in september of 2008. the proposed 1,700 miles pipeline crosses montana for 228 miles and includes 42 miles of
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scattered parcels managed by the blm. we participated in the preparation of the environmental impact study on the activities. blm identified routes across federal land in montana that would minimize environmental impact of pipeline construction. the final eif was issued in 2011. blm is authorized to issue rights of way across federal lands. trans-canada filed applications with the blm in 2008. it would comprise a total of 270 acres. applications were filed for temporary use permits and electrical transmission lines to
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supply power to the proposed pumping stations. temporary right of ways would comprise a few hundred additional acres and would be used for three years and then reclaimed by keystone. these permit applications have not been withdrawn. processing is on hold. the act makes the energy commission the sole agency responsible for the project. it would give sole authority for the pipeline and related facilities. the legislation is not clear on how the pipeline construction, operation, and maintenance would be carried out on national land or what responsibility blm would have forced bills. -- for spills.
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thank you for the opportunity to testify before the subcommittee. i am pleased to answer any questions. >> i recognize myself for five minutes for questions. there has been a lot of discussion about the kocch brothers. they have indicated they have no direct financial interest in this pipeline. for that reason, we have never called them as a witness. we know the burlington northern railroad has roots into canada and alberta. if the pipeline is not built, and maybe some of that oil will move by rail into the u.s.. the owner of that railroad is warren buffett will not made any effort to call warren buffett to
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the hearing. even though his company might benefit if the park plan is not built, we do not think he has a direct financial interest in it. i do not view warren buffett and the koch brothers any different on this situation. i would also say the state department issued its final statement in august of 2011 and made the comment that it would be better to build a pipeline and to not build the pipeline -- than to not build a pipeline. other projects requiring a presidential permit usually take up to 24 months to review and approve. keystone is now in its 40th month.
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when the additional delays appeared to be mounting early in 2011, the house passed a bipartisan legislation with 47 democrats voting yes that instructed president obama to make a final decision one way or the other on the presidential permit by november 1, 2011. the white house staff to the legislation was not necessary because the state department would make a decision by the end of 2011. as president obama's campaign began to warm up, his political advisers realized the environmental groups would be upset if the president said yes to the pipeline. the labor unions were going to be quite upset if the president said no to the pipeline.
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instead of making a decision, the president said he would wait until after the election to make the decision. from our perspective, this was nothing but a political decision. we have had 40 months of detailed study and analysis on this. we felt like there was no reason to delay any more. we need to be less dependent on foreign oil. we can bring in this oil from our friendly neighbor to the north, canada. we can create jobs as well. i want to make that comment about the koch brothers. i do not see they are in much of a different position than warren buffett except there are different sides of the issue. i yield back the balance of my time. mr. rush, i recognize you for 5 minutes for questions. >> maybe we should invite warren
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buffett and the koch brothers. regarding the bureau of land management permitting process, expound on this. how does this affect the role of your agency? how will this bill affect the role of your agency? >> it does raise concerns. blm has experience and practitioners in the field familiar with the right of way program and taking into account
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any cultural or biological concerns. we have got that experience. we have dealt with pipelines many times in the past. the bill way it is worded seemed to confirm all our responsibility to ferc. some of the accelerated time frames. the question of whether there are additional requirements -- beg the question of whether there are additional requirements. the other thing that is very important is that blm has established relationships in the west. with many offices geographically in the west. we're accustomed to working with county and state governments. we work with our federal counterparts as well. we have been in this process for three years as it relates to our
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right of way in montana. we have an established relationship with our federal and state entities. that helps with the responsibilities we are fulfilling and our congressional mandate. >> excuse me. as far as you are concerned, does ferc have the same footprint in the west? >> from a jurisdictional standpoint, they do not. they are regulatory entity. ferc usually assumes the lead on
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gas lines. we are cooperating agency. the more recent example was one where they have the lead. crossing the land required other permits as well. >> does the army corps of engineers have a role in the permitting process? does this leave is a rate some of your responsibilities -- does this eve disarray -- does this eviscerate your responsibilities? >> our understanding of the bill is it would eliminate any ability to process applications related to the clean water act
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or rivers and harbors act. under the current language, we would have no authority to regulate the waters under our jurisdiction. >> it would do away with your responsibilities. >> it would remove our authority in any experience with could lend to the review of the proposal. >> which agency or agencies would be responsible for enforcing the terms of the environmental impact statement? >> from the corps of engineers perspective, it looks like the entire responsibility would be provided to the federal energy regulatory commission. >> that is the way the bill comes across to us as well.
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the transfer of the authority we have in blm would be conferred to ferc. in a is important to point out that in terms of blm's programs, these are cost-reimbursed programs. the studies that may be necessary, the industry provides a cost-reimbursable account. that account under this bill, we would not have it anymore. >> and recognize the gentleman from oklahoma for five minutes. >> during his state of the union address, president obama turned his back on the keystone pipeline. he rejected the advice of his own jobs council that recommended a new approach to
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energy policy include expedited energy projects like pipelines. i was surprised at the primary reason he stated for his denial, saying congress forced the decision with an arbitrary deadline. excuses for barrels of oil, this administration would have built our reserves several times over. the truth is the administration had three years to reach a decision on keystone xl but failed to do so. if more than 1100 days is not enough time, how much time do you need to sur energy future? this begs the question of who is in control of our energy agenda. we hear about president obama's commitment to american-made energy it creates job and -- that creates jobs and reduce its dependence on foreign oil, yet he rejects this project.
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he rejected it to keep his political base happy in an election year. he turned his back on american jobs. what logical reason could there be to say no to 20,000 new private-sector jobs and potentially 100,000 indirect jobs while our unemployment rate remains above 8%? it is in our economic and national-security interest to use the oil and gas reserves in our own backyard. mr. president, why not embrace bolstering our energy supply of oil from canada and north dakota instead of opec nations? unlike the failed stimulus law, the keystone project is privately funded and does not cost the taxpayers one dime. the pipeline is a game-changer
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for energy security. the pipeline would transport nearly 1.3 million barrels of oil per day to refineries in the midwest and gulf coast. i believe is in our national interest to move forward with the pipeline. the three-year delay in considering the pipeline is a national travesty. three years into his presidency, he has limited access to onshore and offshore oil and gas reserves, pushed the most extreme agenda in history, and spent half a billion dollars on solyndra, a now-bankrupt company. our country needs of the energy we can get to continue growing our economy. gas prices are expected to rise in the coming months. the decision to reject the pipeline means our energy security is now in the hands of china, iran, and other opec nations.
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that is not a good choice. the keystone pipeline is the right thing to do to create jobs and make our nation more energy secure. i would like to yield the balance of my time to congressman terry from nebraska. >> can i reject that? i appreciate the opportunity. >> i recognize the gentleman from california for five minutes. >> the topic we are discussing is the keystone pipeline. the republicans are like keystone kops in the way they handled this issue. they have been going out on a limb to get the pipeline approved, even to the point where a tax cut for middle-class americans and unemployment benefits, the bill was held up to make sure there was a provision that gives special
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treatment to the keystone pipeline. these brilliant people put in a provision that said the president had to decide the issue within a certain period of time. the president said he wanted to get all the facts first. now they have come up with a bill -- this is a remarkable bill. i wish people would read it. this is the pipeline in this bill is the keystone xl pipeline. no question about it. they have exempted it from review -- if ferc does not give a permit within 30 days, it will be deemed approved. they are not taking any chances. they say the other agencies that might be involved in reviewing
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the bill will no longer have the power to review the bill. we have witnesses from two of the agencies that ordinarily would review any legislation -- any application for something that would go over public lands and waterways. suddenly they are out. they cannot review it. when mr. terry found out, he said they would put it back into the bill. the application has to be approved within 30 days or it is approved. if they want to make a modification, if it is not approved within 30 days, it is approved. for this one project. we want to find out what interest koch industries had. it is one of the largest crude- oil exporters in canada.
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they own the terminal in canada where the pipeline would begin. they have a refinery near where the pipeline would end. the chairman said he would take their word for it that they do not have an interest even though there is evidence to the country. his argument was that there was another guy who owns a real road -- railroad. the democrats are fronting for another industry. boy, does that make sense. you of the crude-oil with the pipeline and refinery and we should just take their word that they have no interest but in point of think that warren buffett. but then point the finger at --
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but then point the finger of warren buffett's company. they say is all political. how do they get into the president's head? the president said he wanted to get information before he approved it. they said he was trying to take care of the environmentalists. they have it all figured out without getting more information. we have two witnesses now. before acting, we should get further information about the special interest bill that directs ferc to deal with it. the u.s. army corps of engineers has the permitting process to insure wetlands are protected from discharges of material. does this bill takeaway jurisdiction of your agency over
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the pipeline? >> it appears to do so. >> mr. pool, your agency has to do with wild life. tell me whether you have the ability to review it. >> we review these for land use plans. >> is the jurisdiction being taken away from you? we used to have a party in this country called the know nothings. the people pushing this bill want us to know nothing but what they want us to know. if the koch brothers are going to benefit, i want to know about it. the american people should know about it as well. >> i recognize the gentleman from oregon for 5 minutes.
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>> mr. pool, tell me the agency you are with and how many acres are at play that you have reviewed as part of the process. >> the majority of the acreage is in montana, a little over 42 miles. it comprises about 250 acres with an additional 900 acres needed for staging during the construction phase. >> i was looking for it in your testimony. i thought it was 270 acres. you have done the environment to work on the review process. >> it was reviewed through the process led by the state department. the segment we are associated with through our mandates was
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evaluated. we did not identify any major constraints to that segment in terms of authorization. >> you have done the full review. you have been through the eis and final environmental impact statement. this is all about the 50-foot wide swath. you said roughly 900 acres. >> it is temporary grants to facilitate staging during the construction phase. that would be for three years. >> talk to me about issues related to the work you are fine agency did on the biological opinions related to the endangered species act. did you find any threat
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