tv Newsmakers CSPAN April 28, 2013 6:00pm-6:31pm EDT
guy yelled. he took me the back way of the laundry room. a man is sitting there and said are you theessman? i said used to be. you were a republican, aren't you? well, republicans put me in here. i was the mayor of east cleveland. welcome, i will get you clothes. >> >> joining us from the -- adam smith. he is the ranking democrat on the house armed services committee. nike for being with us on "newsmakers." michaels fromjim "usa today," who joins defense issues. congressman, the situation continuing to develop in syria, we want to turn to jim michaels
for our first question. itbid ministration now says is likely that the asad regime in syria has used chemical weapons against their own people. previously, the obama administration had said that the use of chemical weapons is a red line. what happens next? 64 thousandhe dollars question. they are confirming exactly who use the chemical weapons and still confirming the intelligence. in thee's a bit of a buy intelligence community. and then, like you said, what do we do about it? the quest -- the president did say that it was a red line. but it is important that we be cautious about how we respond. i don't want to commit u.s. troops and u.s. forces to syria. i don't think that would be a wise use of our resources. i don't think that being able to secure the chemical weapons that are in serious -- extraordinary
difficult if possible at all. we will have to have very serious conversations with partners in the region and about how we proceed. what has not been said by the administration at any point beyond the red line is what that means. what is the best response? personally, i urge caution. we don't need another war. >> congressman, you mentioned that the intelligence is divided over the issue. how confident are you that these weapons were used? are you convinced and could you talk a little bit about what the division is over and how strong this evidence is. at this point come i think it is fairly clear that chemical weapons were used. i am not hundred percent confident of that. but based on the various intelligence reports we have seen, what is still being sorted out is used by whom, how expensively and what exact
situation and how did it come to pass? was this the asad regime giving a direct order to its military to use these chemical weapons or did it happen in some other way? the details are still very murky. but they confidence level seems pretty high that chemical weapons were used at least to a limited extent and in some circumstances. >> congressman, you know that a number of your senate colleagues, probably about a dozen members, have called for more aggressive approach by the administration, no-fly zone, safe zone, even raised the prospect of providing arms to rebel groups. you understand the mood in the town. what is the feeling over on the house side about some sort of aggressive approach, particularly arming the rebels? i know the house two years ago was very reluctant and on libya. serious -- reluctant on libya. is very different.
a assad is presiding over enormous humanitarian crisis. .t is a horrible situation i think him in the house side, we more cautious about the notion of, yes, it's a horrible situation and what can we do about it gecko we are not in a position to simply go in there and fix the problem, a lesson that we learned in iraq. we learned in afghanistan. u.s. military might alone does not necessarily make a peaceful situation. in u.s. has been involved providing humanitarian aid. in working with jordan another earners in the region, figuring out what we can do to help, like you said, the legitimate rebels. that is the tough question. we don't want to be arming al
qaeda. we don't want to be creating any more violent or difficult situations. i think there is openness in the house to work with rival nations to arm the right set of rebels, but figuring out who those are remains elusive. so i think it is a more cautious approach. also, for all of the rhetoric out of the senate, when it comes down to specifics, what should we do? you talk about a no-fly zone. the implications of doing a no- fly zone in syria are overwhelming. -- the would read the war we would be engaged in in doing that is really pretty extensive. i think the senate's rhetoric has been hotter, but the specifics on what the logical smart thing to do is just as elusive over there as it is in the house and is -- and as it as itthe white house and is is
is in the region. >> last week, it was said that there is a sense that they are moving the chemical weapons around. so there are a lot of unknowns come even if the military went in. >> like i said, the military in my view should absolutely not going. to go storming into syria and make the situation better is something that i just completely reject. i don't think there is an estimate on what size force or that any size force would be able to go in and bring peace to syria and secure the chemical weapons. and i hope that that reality has to take a cautious approach of how we respond. >> but based on that, 10 years ago, you did support u.s. intervention in iraq, also calling it in part a humanitarian crisis and the dictatorship of saddam hussein. what is the difference between iraq 10 years ago and syria
today? >> first of all, i believe the vo-tech to 10 years ago was a mistake. . i have learned a lot in 10 years that's -- i believe the vote i took 10 years ago was a mistake. i have learned a lot in 10 years. tens of thousands of lives and created more problems than it solved. first of all, 10 years worth of education on my part. second of all, what we were toed to vote on in iraq was force saddam hussein to accept our course of inspection regime -- except our course of inspection regime. do that or face military action. the un unanimously asked exactly that course of inspection -- that coercive inspections regime and the bush administration invaded anyway. it any much ignored the precept, which is to make sure where
saddam hussein was with weapons of mass destruction. he went in anyway. assad headbanging cooperating with anyone and wars already -- assad has not been cooperating with anyone in war is already going on. of "usa today." >> on to come back to intelligence because it is a critical issue. first of all, you mentioned possibly limited use, maybe by the armed forces. this information sounds fairly sketchy at this point. >> i am not sitting down with the direct intelligence community and getting information. i'm quite confident that they have far more and specifics at their disposal than i have. it is sketchy from what i have heard. so i want to make sure that distinction is clear. >> so what is your best guess at this point from what you understand about what happened.
britain, france and now israel have all said something similar. it is likely that the asad regime has used chemical weapons. i guess the next question becomes what is the burden of proof? what level of the become satisfied that the intelligence is good enough? it will never be perfect. >> first of all, i'm not going to make a best guess as to what happened. i think this is in the situation are highly responsible. but my answer to the early question come i think the prevent this point is pretty clear. i don't know, 90%-95% certainty that chemical weapons were used. we have crossed that threshold. i'm not sitting here saying, it's not proven, but it's two very clear ver that chemical wes were used. i will make us about. the more in question that's been more important question is what we do about it gecko had we take a step that that will get us to a more peaceful place
in serious? that is the real challenge. there are no easy answers. caution.hy i am urging talking to colleagues of mine, we have enough casualty notices between iraq and afghanistan that we really don't want anymore. we don't want to commit to a searing conflict that will cause that to happen, particularly given the fact that it seems clear that u.s. military intervention is not going to solve this problem. your colleagues in the senate armed services committee are planning to hold hearings on the boston bombings. as you look in that -- look at that it -- look at that mitigation, what questions do you have? >> the information they came in to the department of homeland security and the fbi. it appears at first glance that there was not the level of sharing of information that we all hope would happen in post 9/11 world. one side one -- once i knew one thing and another sign another thing and they did not
coordinate to the degree they should have. so i think certainly we want to figure out where the miss coronation happened. i think it is still worth it to examine exactly how these two individuals, particularly the older brother, were radicalized. the one thing i will say, i remember we're talking about the underwear bomber in detroit and the people about how you did not see this guy. his father went to the embassy in nigeria. you had some clues. he said it's like trying to find a needle in a nil stack. everyone is focused on him. right now, as we sit here, there are literally i thousands, possibly tens of thousands of individuals that are law enforcement personnel are being asked to look at and try to come out of that vast array of people that have clear evidence that they might be inclined to do something come a which ones are actually going to do it
gecko which ones are further down that line? so it is not an easy process to find the one needle out of the neil stack that will -- the needle stack that will act. we have stopped many pots before this. with that said come i think there are questions that need to be answered along the lines of what i have said up front. i think thereaid, are questions i need to be answered along the lines of what i have said up front. >> what about the difficult to share information between these agencies? why is that happening? >> it is a mischaracterization to say that it is locked in. i think there's a ton of sharing of information. information has been sure that has helped us stop countless numbers of attacks. the answer the question of why it is still happening is because human beings are involved in trying to make these decisions. all of this information comes flowing in on a daily basis. tens of thousands of leads command. and you share with this person
and with epperson and sometimes people make mistakes. sometimes people forget that they didn't pass along to the right person or the right place. it happens because we had human beings and our intelligence and law enforcement community who make mistakes. and i have not yet come across a nobodymake it so that ever makes a mistake. but we certainly have set up a number of systems that have made it a lot better. there is more coronation. the national coward -- national intelligenceror on am, they work together day in and day out basis. so there are no cultural silos and they know each other and they feel marketable sharing that information. by and large, they have been quite successful. obviously, in this case, there was a mistake. we need to investigate it and we need to figure out if there's a way to improve the system to reduce the likelihood of this happening in the future. >> you were at some of the briefings this week.
administration officials were discussing the boston bombings. do you think that the fbi or homeland security made a mistake here? euro for to the mistakes. >> -- you referred to the mistakes. >> i am not sure yet. one agency he had left the country, but the a -- but the other agency didn't know the he had come back. i have not nailed down the specifics of exactly where the mistake was. but it seems clear that, between dhs and the fbi, there was not the full-scale sharing of information that would have been -- that would have enabled us to keep the better on this guy and keep a more effective track on him. >> the has been estimate in recent weeks that commanders in afghanistan have recommended a that is after combat operations of about
15,600 troops. where is the administration on this issue? there is no decision announced yet. a lot of people that expressed concern that the denny's themselves are very concerned because they fear abandonment -- themselves are very concerned because they fear abandonment. >> 2014 has not been set yet. they have not made a recommendation. they are still looking at that and they have also said that it is an evolving situation. that is two years from now. things will change. things will happen for one thing. we have to get a bilateral security agreement with the afghans so that we can leave any troops there. there are a lot of questions i be answered. i think it is a mistake to say, here is the number we picked, let's debate it. the situation is still evolving.
second of all, the situation in afghanistan, they have to take responsibility for their own sovereignty. they can be 10 years from now or 20 years from now, we could a there that long and people could still be nervous. but the longer we stay, the greater the dependency. i am am supportive of what general duncan is doing and what general allen did before him and slowly transferring responsibility. -esponsibility-by responsibility. this is being transferred over to the afghan national security forces in a way that i think puts them in the best position to be able to secure the country. but we don't have any illusions. this is a challenging play. but we can't stay there forever. and the longer we stay, the more dependency we create. i think the path that has been set is the most logical one and we are getting out of afghanistan in a reasonable and responsible way. but at the end of the day, the
afghan national security fors have got to be responsible for their own security. we heard the common and -- we are the comments from president karzai who is upset about a number of different things. there's only one solution to that. and that is afghan forces taking over responsibility for that security. that needs to happen as soon as they responsibly can. >> do you think they're still the possibility that after money 2014, we -- after will draw down troops in afghanistan are there will be some kind of residual force numbers still to be determined yucca >> i think it is likely we will draw down to zero. . still to be determined? likelyill think it is will draw down to zero, but it has yet to be determined. to the lastwaited minute to try to cut a there. have seen itcomistan, we
that weeed to get that bilateral security agreement. it is not likely, but i wouldn't say that there is absolutely no chance. absent the bilateral security agreement, we are not in a position to stay. >> shifting to the budget, the defense budget, the pentagon is looking at a cut of 487 billion dollars in projected spending over 10 years, perhaps billions more if the sequester isn't reversed. one of the things a secretary hegel and the administration have proposed is an increase in tri-care fees. they have also talked about another round of base closings in 2015. what is the chance of congress going along those two steps and have you gotten any sense of any pressure from the pentagon in pushing for these kinds of changes and increases? >> those of the two steps we need to take. if we are going to be shrinking
the force, it will be shut even without sequestration. it is it -- base closing is a tool that the military needs to do to vertically align its base and salacious. commerce is not fond of base closing. but we are making this tribe -- but when we are making this type of transition to international security, it actually has to happen. i've spoken to many veterans groups about this. number one, people who serve in the military, people who have served in our military should have the best, cheapest healthcare that we offer in this country. they do and they will. but in 1996, when tri-care was introduced, the average servicemember paid 27% of the print -- of the cost of their health care. today, they pay 11%. premiums and co-pays haven't gone up while healthcare costs have. if you were to limit the president land in the course of
the next 10 years come i think that the president land in the course of the next 10 years, they will be paying about 50% of the health care costs. i think is reasonable. choosing between that and further degrading readiness so that our troops are not ready to fight the fight that we need to fight come i think that is the choice we have to make. i am still waiting for congress collectively to wake up to the fact that we have a different budget environment. things have changed. all those things that you used to fight tooth and nail against, you will have to make a choice somewhere as to which one you will accept. i think base closure and some reasonable changes in tri-care fees are too reasonable steps when you look at the alternative. his commerce there yet? no. -- is commerce there yet? no. will they get their? it will be difficult. >> is sequestration with us through spring and summer and into the next fiscal year yucca
>> i am not -- into the next fixe full-year? >> i am not a prognosticator. it is not like 2013. 2014,tration kicks in in 2015, and 20 16. it is a horrible idea. it was only done because the republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling. it was a last ditch effort to put something on the table. one that would stop us from going over that fiscal live, not raising the debt ceiling, not paying our bills. it was put in place as a desperation measure. and now here it is, basically torturing our economy, undermining the ability of the government to function, and we are doing nothing to deal with the deficit and the debt that it is supposed to force action on. we want to act on taxes and mandatory spending programs. i am all for it. but torturing the discretionary portion of the budget as a threat to force us to act on
taxes and mandatory spending, clearly it does not work. so let's stop torturing the economy. let's stop torturing the discretionary portion of the budget. turn off sequestration and continue the debate over the budget if -- the budget, which will have to have. >> let me ask you about guantánamo bay. you just returned from your most recent trip to gitmo. what did you learn and what is the long-term situation their? my staff went to gitmo. i did not. but we need to close wonton mow. it is a completely unsustainable situation. we have had prison riots. we have two strikes. i'm sorry, hunger strikes. it was a temporary facility. it can only be a temporary facility, given where it is located and given the unbelievable expense of elting and me -- of building and maintaining the place. we are footing a $250 million
bill to keep it temporary for a few years. and for what? what doing -- what do we a compass by locking up this on hundred 56 people in guantánamo at this unbelievable cost of whocross and the troops have to maintain the place, to our international reputation which continues to be a major eyesore. we lose cooperation from other countries because they are endinged about somebody up in gitmo. we lose credibility in the human rights issues. and what do we get out of it? 100 66 people held in wonton a who could just as easily, a bunch of them, could be sent back to their home countries and a bunch of them could be held here in maximum security prisons in the u.s.. where we already hold some of the most dangerous terrorists our country has ever seen. we are capable of doing this. we have got to wonton low bay. it is simply not sustainable. the cost is overwhelming and it
is a compass or nothing. >> you talked about the budget for one part of the budget that is going out is the amount of monies and on cyber warfare. offense and defense. a lot of talk lately about china, very active, north korea, very active, russia also. are you confident that the u.s. has the cyber capabilities to defend itself yucc? and if needed, to also go on the offense in the case of a broader conflict? i am confident that we have some are good people doing some very good work to protect us. the chart -- but cyber is changing every second. the threats evolve, where they come from evolve. we have to improve that situation. i voted in favor of the cisco bill, which enables us to share more information to put us in a better position to do that. but we need to take sex to
improve our cyberability. right now, i am -- but we need to take steps to improve our ape cyberability. >> there was a military sexual assault case where the the conviction was overturned. how far-reaching do you see the legislation and -- the legislation in the authorization bill this year yucca i know lawmakers are working on some sort of the decision to deal with this issue. >> i think we will be very aggressive. but before he came over for this interview, i was in a hearing and i raised this issue in the question to them about whether or not we need to take the commander of a given unit out of the position he or she has been in in terms of being able to turn these types of situations. i think we do.
i think we need to get the jagged core more involved so it is not a command decision and that there is greater transparency, so that the individual service member feels more comfortable bringing the charges forward. we will be very aggressive about this. it continues to be a significant problem. i think the dod takes this seriously now. i know general a janos relay has. i know general -- i know really has.rno the biggest thing we need to do is 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 be punished for it. and the command structure and now does not seem to be the place. so we need to allow for the to be involved so
that they have confidence in bringing charges that will not hurt them. it is about changing the culture copper handsomely. he transparency is just more making sure that those people who are involved in this process know that the department of defense is watching and is toolutely committed protecting the men and women. not to protecting the institution or the good old boy network, but to actually protecting the men and women in the service. that will take some work and effort and legislation and a huge cultural change. us from capitol hill, thank you very much for being with us here on "newsmakers." we will continue our discussion. let's go back to the issue of ia.iousyr
what will the region look like over the next few much echo -- next few months? >> more chaos. he issuggested that fairly convinced that some level of chemical weapon has been used. but was very cautious about what to do next. i think you will have republicans who have been calling for more involvement to the call -- more involvement. i think the administration has said, while chemical weapons use is a red line, our intelligence is still not quite there yet. so i don't really see a major change over the next few months , although there is no question that this will ramp up the debate. a lot of republicans have already been saying that the administration is dickering and it needs to do something, whether that is a no-fly zone, arming some of the rebels or whatever it is. they have been pushing for more
action. i don't think anyone is calling for u.s. ground troops yet. but they are calling for action short of that. , the defensen budget, sexual harassment, what is your take away from our conversation? >> i think the senate and armed services committee will be aggressive in putting together legislation that deals with military sexual assault. they have been working with the pentagon on this. it's not an antagonistic relationship. it is more of a collaborative effort. i think he will push hard to pass some very ambitious legislation. as far as afghanistan come i think it depends in large part on the summer. general dunford hasn't negated that they will wait and see before making any recommendations on the numbers. so i think that he'll at least will look to see what the military leaders have to say. you think on afghanistan, know, there was a recommendation 13,600 afterr for
2014. the administration has not made a decision on it yet. i don't think they really need to make a decision yet. so they are pushing that off a little bit. the fear is that the afghans are getting very concerned about this. this lack of clarity about the future is causing them all to hedge a little bit. a result, this fear of abandonment is a real concern. on some part, the it ministration will have to come up with their plan for post- teen, 18 months away. i think there is still a debate about the numbers. 2014, 18- for post months away. i think there are still a debate debate about the numbers. aey also want a cow or -- counterterrorism force their able to go after al qaeda targets. >> a quick what about