tv Newsmakers CSPAN April 28, 2013 10:00am-10:31am EDT
next "newsmakers" with adam smith. then current and former president take part in the ceremony for the george w. bush library. then the life of mary todd lincoln. us from capitol hill is adam smith, the ranking democrat on the house armed services committee. >> thanks for having me on. >> joining me is jim michaels of usa today. with the situation continuing, we want to turn to jim michaels for our first question.
>> the administration says it is likely that the assad regime has used chemical weapons against their own people. previously the obama on said it is the bottom line. >> that is the question. they are trying to decide you use the weapons. there is a bit of a divide on that. is seems likely that by whom and under what circumstances we will have to determine. what do we do about it backs the president said it was a red line. my thing is how we are conscious of how we respond. i do not want to commit u.s. forces to syria. i think that being able to secure the weapons is difficult.
but our international partners about how we proceed. what has not been said beyond the red line is what that means. what will they do? what is the best response? i urge caution. we do not need another war. >> you mentioned intelligence is divided over the issue. how confident are you that these weapons were used? could you talk a little bit about what the division is over and how strong this evidence is? >> at this point it is fairly clear that chemical weapons were used. i am not 100% confident but based on the various reports we have seen, what is still being sorted out is by whom and what situation.
how did it come to pass and? was this the assad regime giving a direct order to use these quebecois weapons? did it have -- to use these weapons and that? did it happen in some other way? you know a number of your senate colleagues have called for more aggressive approach by the administration. no-fly zone, a safe zone, even raised the prospect of providing arms to vetted rebel groups. you understand the mood. what is the feeling on the house side about some sort of aggressive approach, per singularly army and the rebels. i know the house to years ago was a reluctance on libya. syria is very different.
>> there is a deep sense of frustration. it is a horrible humanitarian crisis. assad has to go. he has not been an effective leader of syria. he is presiding over an enormous crisis. dying andare unacceptable numbers. on the house side, we have been more cautious of the notion of what can we do about it? we are not in a position to go in there and fix the problem. the lessons we learned in iraq we learned in afghanistan. the u.s. military does not automatically make a peaceful situation. there is a limitation. the u.s. has a vault in providing humanitarian aid and figuring out what we can do to help this is the tough question. we do not want to be warning al qaeda.
is openness on the house ought to potentially working with partner nations to arm the right set of rebels, but figuring those out remains elusive. rhetoric when it comes done to specifics, what should we do? you talked about in no-fly zone. the losses we would sustain is really pretty extensive. the rhetoric has been hotter. rhetoric is just as a list of over there as it is in the house and the white house. it is a very difficult situation. >> you mentioned the military. do you have any sense of what
size and number would be involved? they are moving chemical weapons around. shouldmilitary absolutely not go in. making the situation better. it is something i completely reject. i do not think there is an of forests what size would be able to go in and bring peace to syria and secure the chemical weapons. i hope the reality helps us take a cautious approach to how we respond. >> 10 years ago you did support u.s. intervention in iraq, ofling it a dictatorship saddam hussein. what is the difference between iraq 10 years ago in syria today? vote i took that
was a mistake. i've learned about how you can creep up slowly and then go over the edge into a very violent in difficult situations that cost tens of thousands of like care what we're as to vote on was to force it on hussein to expect a iaea.regime from being unanimously passed that inspection regime. they were prepared to send them to answer that question. we had to be sure of where pseudomonas sane was at.
assad is not cooperating. wherehad to be sure pseudonymous jane was at. assad is not cooperating. you mentioned limited the use by the armed forces. this information sounds fairly sketchy. >> is a sketchy to me. i am quite confident our intelligence community has far more specifics out there. sketchy from what i have heard. fromat is your best guess what you understand happened at?
? it is likely that they use chemical weapons. what is the burden of proof for you? out what level do you become satisfied that the intelligence is good enough? it will never be perfect. >> i'm not going to make a best guess as to what happens. gases are highly irresponsible. are highly irresponsible. 95% certainty that chemical weapons were used. we crossed that threshold. i am not sitting here saying it is not proven. it seems very clear that chemical weapons were used. the details are what i am not going to guess about. what do we do about it the? ?
how do we take a step that will get this to a more peaceful place in syria? there are no easy answers. talking to colleagues. we have gotten enough casualty notices between iraq and afghanistan. we really do not want any more. we do not want to commit to a syrian conflict that would cause that to happen, particularly given the fact that u.s. military intervention is not going to solve this problem. >> you are planning to hold hearings into the boston bombings. as you look at that investigation, what questions do you have? >> the biggest is the information that came into the department of common security. i was not the level of information we hoped would happen. that one side and one thing and another new the other and they did not coordinate to the degree
should have. we want to figure out where this happened. it is worth it to examine exactly how these two individuals were radicalized. what influence has pushed them in that direction. the one thing i will say, we were talking about the of doom et al. of the case. of food metallic case. it is finding a needle in a haystack. everyone is focused on him. there are literally tens of thousands of individuals that our law enforcement and intelligence are being asked to have clear try to evidence that they might be inclined to do some.
thing. which ones are further down the line at? it is not an easy process to find that one needle that will act. we have stopped many plot before this. there are questions that need to be answered. or 11 years after 9/11 this inability to share information, the silos between the intelligence agencies? >> that is a mess characterization to say it is still blocked in. s-characterization to say it is still blocked. it stillr to why happens is because human beings are involved trying to make these decisions. all of this information comes flowing in. on a daily basis, tens of thousands of leads come in.
sometimes people make mistakes. sometimes people forget that they did not pass it around to the right person and the right place. we have human beings in our community mistakes. a way yet come across to people approved the system or nobody ever makes a mistake. we have set of systems that make it more better, there's more coordination. brings in people from the fbi the marchd as together on a day in and day out basis. they feel more comfortable sharing that information. by and large they have been quite successful. and this case there was a mistake. we need to figure out if there is a way to reduce the likelihood of it happening again in the future. >> you were at some of the briefings this week.
that the fbi or homeland's security made a mistake here? >> i do not know yet. it seems there is a mistake in the spelling of someone's name. 01 agency knew that he had left the country and the other agency did not know he had come back. i ve not yelled down the specifics of where that mistake was. down the specifics of where the mistake was. there is not the false gail sharing of information that would have allowed us to track and more effectively. >> as i could switch to afghanistan. that has been testimony commanders in afghanistan have recommended a post-2014 floors is about 13,600 troops.
where is the administration on this issue? there has been no decision announced yet. a lot of people have expressed concerns that the afghanis themselves are very concerned because they fear abandonment after the u.s. withdraws combat troops. post-2014 number has not been set. at that conversations about what he is working on. they have not made a recommendation. it is an evolving situation. things are going to change. bilateral get a security agreement with the afghans. there are lots of questions that have to be answered. it is a mistake to say here is the no. we picked, let the debate it.
they have to take responsibility for the un sovereignty and security. it could be 20 years from now, 30 years from now, you'd still get to the situation where people will be nervous about us leaving. the longer we stay the great to the dependency. i have been very supportive of what the generals are doing a lot of a slowly transferring responsibility. overis being transferred to the afghan national security forces in a way that puts them and the best position to be able to secure that country. this is a challenging place. we cannot stay there forever. the longer we stay the more dependency we create. has beenlogical paths set. the afghan national security
forces have got to be responsible. did you heard the comments from president karzai, is up set at a variety of things foreign forces have done. there's only one solution. ass needs to happen as soon responsibly can. >> do you think there is a possibility that after 2014 we will draw down to zero trips in afghanistan? will there be numbers to be determined? >> it is unlikely we will draw down to zero. that is dependent upon bilateral security agreement. afghans understand the need to do this. we have to get that agreement. we are much further along. iraq waited to the last minute to cut a deal.
tore is a concerted effort get the bilateral agreement. we're not an imposition to stay. the defenseto budget, the pentagon is looking at a cut of $487 billion in projected spending over 10 years. hagel the things chuck and the administration has proposed is an increase in tricare fees and another round of base closings in 2015. what is the chance of congress going along with those steps? have you gotten any sense of any pressure from the pentagon in pushing for these kinds of changes/ ? >> those are two steps we need
to take. a tool that the military needs to properly align in the best way. i understand congress is not fond of base closing. we're making this transition. many veterans groups. people who serve in the military, people who have served in our military, it should have the best comic cheapest health care we offer in this country. if they do and they will. in 1996 when tricare was introduced the average member paid 27% of the cost. and now they pay 11%. thehe word to implement president's plan, i think we
would get up to them playing 15%.-- to paying i think that is reasonable. in choosing between that and further degrading readiness sell our troops are not ready to is a the fights, that choice we have to make. i am still waiting for congress to wake up to the fact that we have a different budget environment. things have changed. you are going to have to make a choice some of where -- somewhere about which one you have to accept. is congress there yet? no. it is going to be difficult. usis sequestration with through the end of this fiscal year?
>> i am not a prognosticator. it is not my job. i'm still waiting for the piece of legislation that stops it. a 16 in 14,st 2013, 15 , 16. it is a horrible idea. it was only done because the republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling. it was a last effort to but something on the table that would stop us from us going over that fiscal cliff. in place as a desperation measure. here it is, it torturing our economy. if we want to act on taxes and mandatory spending problem of -- programs, i am all for it.
to force us has not worked. l's stop torturing the economy and the discretion portion of the budget, turn of sequestration and continue the debate over the budget which we're going to have to have. >> let me ask you about guantanamo bay. what did you learn that? what is the long term situation. close guantanamo. it is an unsustainable situation right now. we have had a prison riot, a .ood strikes it can only be a temporary facility given where it is located. 0 billionking at a $25
dollar bill just to keep a temporary. what do we get? it is an unbelievable cost in money to troops and civilians, to our international reputation which continues to be a major eyesore, we lose cooperation from other countries because they are concerned about it leading to being sent to get milk. what do we get out of it? could be sentm back to their home countries. a bunch of them could be held here. already hold somef the most dangerous ones that our country has ever seen. guantanamo to close bay. it is simply not sustainable.
you talked about the budget. in the one part that is going up is the amount of money spent on cyber warfare. lately about china a very active, russia also. are you confident the u.s. has the cyber capabilities to defend itself? needed, do they have the capability to go on the offense/ ? >> right now it needs to get better. we have very good people doing very good work. cyber is changing every second. we have got to improve that situation. this enables us to share more information.
i am confident we have a solid ability. i know it needs to get better. the volatility is not acceptable. how far-reaching to ucb do youation in the -- d.c see any legislation? >> before i came over for this interview i was in a hearing. i raise this issue. take the commander of a given unit out of the position he are she has been in in terms of overturning it. i think we do. we need to get them more
involved so it is not a command decision and there is greater transparency and so the individual service member feels more comfortable bringing charges forward. to be very aggressive. it continues to be a significant problem. takes this seriously now. we're going to need some big legislative changes to help follow through. >> how do you get to the greater transparency? a greater transparency is wrong way to put it. we need to make sure that the servicemen and women have a place to go where they can file their charges and feel confident that they will not be punished for it. the commander structure right now does not seem to be the place. to bed to allow this
more actively involved. the transparency is making sure those people who are involved know the department of defense is watching and is absolutely committed to protecting the men but actuallyear in protecting them in the service. >> the ranking member adam smith and joining us on capitol hill. thank you for joining us. it will continue our conversation with jim michaels of usa today and donna of the associated press. what is that region going to look like over the next few
months? >> the same way it does look for the past several months. more fighting. more chaos. the congressman suggested there is some level of chemical weapon was used. i think you will have republicans who have been calling for more involvement. the administration has said while this is a red line our intelligence is still not quite there yet. i do not really see a major change over the next few not scared there's no question this will ramp of the debate. a lot of republicans have said they need to do something, whether that is a no-fly zone or what ever it is. they have been pushing for more
action. >> afghanistan and sexual harassment. what is your conversation? >> i think they will be very aggressive and putting together legislation that deals with military sexual assault. they have been working with the pentagon. it is more of a collaborative efforts. i think they're going to push hard to have some ambitious legislation. as far as afghanistan, it depends on the summer. they have indicated that they will wait and see it before making any recommendation. the hill at least will look to see with the military leaders have to say. , there wasfghanistan a recommendation for 13,600
after 2014. the demonstration has not made a decision on it yet. made athing day decision. they're pushing this often a little bit. the afghans are getting look very concerned about this lack of clarity on the future. it is causing them all to head a little bit. ae fear of abandonment is real concern. at some point the administration will have to come up with their plan for post-2014. it is 18 months away. aboutis is still debate the numbers. the size is important. it will tell what they can do. terrorism a counter- force they're able to go after al qaeda targets. >>