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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  October 18, 2013 3:00pm-5:01pm EDT

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the lion's share of these cases do not involve individuals taking reams of documents and sharing them with the world. it is more often an individual wanting to share a specific piece of information because they believe there is a compelling public interest in doing so. they are not doing this because they want to make money or because they want to aid the enemy. they are doing it because they want to help the united states. >> from an international perspective, if you are a journalist outside the u.s., a non-us person, you have no legal protection from nsa intervention in your communication. we do not know, but it certainly has been reported, based on snowden leaks, there was a piece that the nsa hacked into the internal e-mails of al jazeera. you may argue they are a special case, but they claim they were
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within their prerogative to do this. i spoke to the editor of "the guardian" talking about how she does not communicate using e- mail with reporters. does not feel secure doing that. and in a lots of journalists i talk to outside the united states are taking extraordinary measures to ensure they can communicate securely. one of the most essential things, elements of public accountability in journalism depends on the ability of the journalist to protect their confidential sources. a lot of journalists feel they anda lot of journalists feel they cannot make that promise in this environment. >> and journalists care about that. people do not often realize how much journalists care about the welfare of their sources. there >> also from the
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international perspective, it has been interesting to learn that many other countries have stronger protections for journalists, in terms of not requiring them to testify in court cases, for example, than even we have in the states. >> obviously, we have the first amendment, probably the most protected document on what you can say. in terms of protection against being subpoenaed, there are many other countries that have stronger protections for journalists. the u.s. is definitely not a leader in that regard. >> and at this point, there is no federal protection, it varies by state. and if you are subject to federal investigation, your sources subject to federal investigation, you are not covered under the shield law. >> if you have a subpoena issued
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by the superior court, you can have protection. if it is issued across the street at the courthouse, you are looking at testifying or going to jail. it is very much an arbitrary situation. >> even though justice department guidelines have been strengthened and there have been technical changes that please the lawyers, you still have this intent involved. there is enough leeway for the attorney general decision-making and the national security exemption that they can, by and large, do what they want to do. and you are guidelines. >> lines are guidelines. they can be followed or not followed, and it cannot be enforced by the reporter. having a shield law, seems to me, would be a step forward. >> it would be. >> let's talk about that for a moment.
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i know you have had questions about the definition of journalist under shield law, which is roughly why we have never had a shield law. it has become more difficult to define in the past few years. >> i look at this from an international perspective, in the context of how radical technology has changed the way journalism is conducted. there is a pragmatic argument, which is journalists cannot do their work if they cannot protect their sources. a shield law would help them do that. a shield law would probably help most journalists who carry out traditional journalism, except for the national security exemption. in terms of the cpj constituency, not all journalists would be covered. a lot of people who are engaged in journalism in this day and
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age are doing it informally. they are observers to newsworthy events and they are documenting those events, sometimes in a systematic way, and then disseminating that information to the public. or they are blogging about it, but they are doing it informally. they are documenting events using video. some of the people we consider journalists in places like syria or china or vietnam or cuba, places where people are using new techniques to engage in the practice of journalism, certainly, any definition of the shield law that is being contemplated in this country would exclude that. we are advocating, our recommendation, recognizing that a shield law would help, that the definition be as broad as possible.
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and to the extent possible, to focus on the newsgathering part. rather than on credentials or professional status or anything like that. we think that would be the best approach. >> if a law did have the breadth you are looking for, cpj would be ok with the concept? >> we think a shield law would be useful. we are just saying we will monitor the debate and push until the end for the broadest possible definition. that is our position. >> the definition does seem to be difficult now. literally anyone could be covered by starting a blog. then it would be difficult to see how congress would pass that law. >> you are balancing the philosophical approach to the issue, and some people i greatly admire say that we should not have a shield law at all,
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because that is the first amendment. you are deep into these issues. [laughter] we are taking a much more pragmatic view of the issue. we want journalists to be able to their work, but we also would like to have the broadest possible definition. >> i think there was a hope that the first amendment would be enough. rajiv, how much do these sorts of issues lay into your decision about whether to grant confidentiality to a source? if you are looking at the uncertain environment we live in, doesn't make it less likely that you would say, yes, i will keep you confidential? does this become a more difficult, nuanced conversation about what confidentiality means?
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>> this will make lawyers shudder a bit. i grant confidentiality pretty liberally. that is what we have traditionally done. now, if anything, the pressure against it, over the past 10- plus years, maybe more than that, has been less traditionally in our newsroom about the threat of prosecution, but more about the desire for transparency with our readers. we want the people to know as much as possible about who is providing the information. in some ways, this is a response to government officials often wanting to speak about routine matters on background, with a senior administration official as opposed to name attached.
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over the years, you have created this situation where you can't get the weather report but it will be raining. our pushback has been against that. now enter in this new threat, this new reality of investigations and prosecutions, particularly in the world that i cover. it certainly has come up in discussions with sources. when it does come up on sensitive matters, it is something that we talk out. when i make a promise of confidentiality, it is just that, and i will honor that. it is not a written agreement, but it is part of what i see as my professional load. -- oath.
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even getting to that point, requires jumping through a lot of hoops that we did not have to before. it is the old face to face meeting. these deals are not struck over e-mail or phone calls. >> they plant on the balcony. >> not quite convoluted as that, but certainly a lot more complications. in fact, a lot more meetings with people at their homes or in coffee shops, bars, as opposed to offices, communicating with people with their personal e- mail address, not the government one, because of the insider threat program. it is not just the nsa that is to worry. any agency, their system tax are going through and looking at the system. what e-mails were exchanged with
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the "washington post" and "new york times" domains. were any of those messages coming from people not in public affairs? if not, let's find them for scrutiny. that sort of thing is happening routinely. >> two other important elements to the reader, the audience, and that is your accuracy and credibility. if you cannot talk to the people that really know what is going on, you are liable to find other sources who have an ax to grind or something else, and we have seen that happen. when the authoritative people will not talk, somebody else will. that can create accuracy problems and can create a credibility problem for the media involved. administrations may have an interest in making the media seem less credible by denying them accurate information, but that is serious for the
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audience. >> you have seen the sorts of issues in national security reporting across a variety of administrations. you mentioned this was the most secretive since the nixon administration. how would you compare it to the ones in between, the bush administration, the second bush administration? >> as rajiv said, they were not our friends, they were not eager to have some of our stories published, but first of all, the access to sources was much greater than it is now. they have succeeded in tightening up access to sources. secondly, you could have productive conversations with senior administration officials, sometimes including the president, which happened on at least one occasion with several administrations, about whether it was a good idea to publish the story, the accuracy, and whether there was any sensitive information that could be a harm to anyone.
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i do not remember any time in my 25 years at the post of not publishing a story that the administration objected to. but i do know that out of these conversations we didn't withhold technical information, names, countries of origin that would harm national security, but did not deprive the audience of anything that they needed to know to hold the government accountable. if you cut off those conversations, you are left with whatever wikileaks it up without talking to anyone am including the names of people who could be harmed because their names appear on the diplomatic cables. that is the other side of this. it also emboldens people. edward snowden believes he has performed an important public service.
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you can argue that he did, in knowing that we have this debate already surveillance programs that we did not have before he leaked that information. at the same time, it makes them feel more heroic, if you will, when they know that otherwise, they will not be able to get this information that would not harm national security out to normal channels. >> looking at the post today, the nsa role in drone strikes. in the fifth or sixth paragraph it said that they withheld details based on discussions with administration officials, intelligence community officials, to avoid divulging sources and methods. at the same time, the substance of the story that came out, was able to add to the debate about the role of the nsa. >> i always think about the series on black prisons. the issue was reported. the specifics were confidential.
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the secret that needed to be maintained were maintained, but the public was informed about the issue. >> first of all, this was not a leak like the edward snowden story. this was a long story about certain officials were worried about something. she would find a little bit more and then find back some more. it was reporting, it was not a leak as such. she was able to do that kind of reporting and was able to have enough access, and we were able to put the whole picture together, including the fact that there were a lot of other counterterrorism or operations -- cooperation going on with the eastern european countries where these secret sites were located. when the administration said do not name those countries, we knew why they were asking. we could reason, we do not want to have this other cooperation cut off.
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the only effect of the stories, at least it has been shown so far to me, was that they had to close those sites and bring the prisoners to guantánamo, which does not seem to harm national security at all. at the same time, we have never name those countries. we have kept our promise not to name them. david sanger, he talks about the trust factor between you and the government as you go about doing this reporting. can they trust your motives, can you trust the government motives? that makes possible to bring this information to the american public in a way that is responsible. avenues,t off those there will be irresponsible information out there. >> one more point about the story. it is very important. i think there is a perception that they are waiting for the phone to ring.
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it does not work that way. if only. snowden is the exception, not the rule. people think, get the thumb drive with all of the stuff. in most cases, your building on small pieces of information. you are learning more and more. part of this is convincing people. they would be in the public interest to provide -- to explain something. add another piece to the puzzle. it would be wrong to think that all of these individuals are there and ready to pass the stuff out. often this is the result of a thoughtful discussion. sources understand what the journalist is trying to do. they see what they are doing as being in the public interest. i do believe that the vast
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majority of those people that the administration would call leakers are acting out of a sense of altruism. they have a belief in our system and the desire to want to make the united states a better country. it is not anarchistic behavior. even though one could point to recent cases and say and use labels like that. it skewers the reality of what is happening in the lion's share of these interactions between journalist and sources. >> you do see patriotism in many of the sources. >> if they are investigated or persecuted, they then wonder if the patriotism is misplaced. >> i was struck i something that
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you reported. there was an e-mail about the memo from the white house to intelligence agents. it said please retain any e- mails to david sanger. >> it was from the white house itself. >> he would call somebody up and they would ask you may question. they would say, david, we love you. we can't talk to you right now. they just can't talk to them. >> i was also struck by an anecdote about someone calling you to apologize for a subpoena. ago whenas some time miller was the fbi director. we had correspondents in southeast asia.
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there was an investigation going on that had nothing to do with the story we were publishing. did not have that much to do with it. the fact they had contact with people in investigated by the fbi. without -- a violation of the guidelines, they seized to their phone records. it was discovered by the fbi after word during the bush administration. i was called and the editor of the "new york times" and then a ball at just because -- apologized because people were disciplined for it. i thought that was the proper way to handle it. >> an extraordinary story. there is a lot of talk about phone records, which is what you are talking about.
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i was wondering about the associated press issue, the subpoena seemed to cover a lot of phone lines, including one in the capital itself. did you have a sense that was narrowed or if a judge had not been involved it may have been a different result? did it without notifying. in my experience, for this administration, often if they were contemplating a subpoena in a civil case, or some other way in which they wanted to demand something, they would call and say we are contemplating this. we would have a negotiation. usually we were able to satisfy them and our protection of our reporting techniques, needs. and work something out. sometimes it took a lot of painful negotiation but it would work out. in this case they did not notify us. if they had, the ap would have
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said 100 reporters? switchboards and the ap phone in the capital? why do you need that? narrow it down. narrow down what you're doing. you are exposing all of our reporters. we do not think that is a good idea. they probably would have gone to court. something the government did not want, even though the investigation was years old, they did not want to take the trouble to do that. so they proceeded in a way where there was no way to negotiate and have a court decide whether that was a good idea. >> you have all been patient. i thought it would be a good moment to turn to the audience for a question. someone in the back and then we will move up front caret -- front. it has gotten worse,
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every administration. that seems to track we could development of media. thee were so few channels, administration needed the post and the times so the posture of the administration had to be cooperative. now between echo chamber media to get the word out themselves, you no longer have that leverage as an institution to force that posture on them. are you optimistic there is any other way to regain that leverage, to change their posture, or is it inexorable? >> i think it is inexorable unless they are confronted with it and appeal to their better angels. the're going to go to administration with their recommendations. this is a president who promised to have the most transparent administration in history. he has two years to carry that out and add that to his legacy.
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we are appealing to his better nature, to do what you said you were going to do. is confronted some of these issues, he says i want the transparent administration. i want the press to hold us accountable. i proving that has not happened to him, i am hoping he will take steps. otherwise, the administration will will say let's see how much we can keep the press at bay. >> thank you. thank you for bringing up this very important information. i think, i am going to follow up a little on the other question, or concerned, with the impact of whistleblowers is going to flow down to the state and local levels along with the increase in websites. i guess we can thank bill gates
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for that, i don't know. as newspapers become more difficult to hang onto, i do not know is going to happen to "the when amazon takes over, i think it is nice to talk to someone in person rather than via e-mail. you get a better picture and a better story. but what impact our website andng on reporting the news getting out accurate news with so many different websites and cable channels, you name it. bad news on and that front. the bad news is the distraction of the economic model that has supported journalistic organizations. with that.struggling the post is not owned by amazon but jeff bezos personally. we have more leeway in trying to do with that issue. at the same time, people have kindsd nonprofit and all
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of news organizations. the founder of ebay is going to start a new one. so that a lot of these new startups are competing in that space. they have fewer resources, some of them are doing good work. it is another thing i spend a lot of time studying and writing about. they are fragile. they need support. some are more stronger financially than others. they are public-interest organizations, if you will, like npr. their future is in doubt but as -- aggregateet they are going to be there. they also collaborate with news organizations. newspapers around the country have published a number of byngs provided them
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nonprofit investigative reporting sites, which is useful. some states, one of these wisconsin is called watch, and the state legislature tried to legislate them out of existence. their offices are inside the university of wisconsin and some of the people who run it are on their faculty. so somebody sneaked into the , finally, after an opera, was vetoed by the governor. states arew that getting involved in the news as well. law --shield is that him? what is holding it up? >> the movement on the senate side has been good. we are passed to the senate judiciary committee.
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we need to get to the floor of the senate. the senate has a lot going on. it has been difficult to get their attention on this one. we are optimistic we should be able to get there. if not before the end of this year, early next year, there is a houseboat that is going to be -- a house a bill that is going to be introduced that is moving ahead as well. i think they will have a hearing on that one so it may take longer. we had some success in the past. we passed the house twice, 2000 7, 2009. we are optimistic. it actually is bipartisan. for many years the greatest aampion was mike pence, republican from indiana, who said i'm not doing this because i love the media. in fact, sometimes i do not like you guys but i believe in protect and the first amendment. see it asnservatives a constitutional issue, which they should. the pastld upon
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answers, i do not want you to a defenseut there is everybody of a group loves to hate, which is the mainstream media. yes, there is a proliferation of the state andt national level, new ventures here and there, citizen journalists. all of that is to be applauded. ,nd you look at these cases "new york times," "washington post," fox news, they are part of the mainstream media. because these are organizations that have deep enough pockets they can sustain the sort of journalism -- this result it is often the
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of hard work. it takes time. it takes money. while, yes, that these issues do pose a threat to journalists written large, what we have seen thus far in my opinion, the principal kind of threat going largest news the organizations out there, those that devote resources to covering national security matters and such. side of it with the administration, any administration should be the track record of these large organizations. i know i have friends in the military that laugh when i say put put -- when i say who you charge -- you in charge,
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when presented with sensitive security of a national nature, the mainstream news organizations have almost always undertaken a thoughtful examination of how to publish, when the publish, what to publish. these issues i agonized with over again, and when provided with the entire wikileaks, we did not put it all online. basis for as a journalists and then asking people, and the receipt of material from edward snowden. the raw documents are not being pasted willy-nilly. they are being used to engage in journalism and portions of it. expertise thate
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the post can handle that way. >> i can not last this event go without, and the guardian and the post, last week or the week before had the stories about the nsa trying to crack this system. among the slides that were revealed in the guardian report allthe -- how to defeated, gasified, top-secret, no foreign , and in those slides, there was material that the nsa stole. their own descriptions, they slapped it in the frame of a power point and slapped top- secret no foreign on it. again, these occupants, there were legitimate questions to be asked.
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>> among the thousands of pages of documents that chelsea manning gave to wikileaks word newspaper stories in foreign countries -- countries that were classified when they were sent on to washington. it is crazy. >> where is our microphone? why don't we go here and then here. thank you. >> in any kind of federal shield law you will get national security exceptions. in that particular field, is it going to help you, and maybe you will get prior notables -- prior notice, but how will it contributes in the national security field? the field lawe changing the game. it is an issue of discretion, an issue of how an administration at the seniormost levels chooses to
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address these issues and whether it wants to create a sort of chilling effect across the defense department and the intelligence community, or whether it believes in our system and for our system to be healthy, every now and again you might get something on the front you willhe post that not really like, but our country is strong enough, resilient enough to move on from it, and that some of those disclosures actually help to stimulate the national debate, and the reality of it is while the administration likes to talk about congress playing a great oversight role, among the key takeaways from the snowden affair thus far is that congress really was not doing a whole of lot of oversight over the nsa.
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>> thank you, first. very good showing we are closer to "1984 those quote than 2014. i think maybeand a very secretive person, his personal life, and now he is head of an administration which is eerie secret. how much of that is him leading and how much of that is him following, that is, post 9/11 and with the security field, and it does matter. the only reason it matters, for those of us who feel it is wrong and he needs to change it, we need to focus where that change should be. ofe in the general belief directors and that type of thing, and we think it is coming directly from the white house, or where would you assign that on a pie chart? a combinationom
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of those factors, pressure from the intelligence community, and was parties in 2012 when he running for election. the response was to conduct investigations, and whether they should have been conducted or not. what can you do about it? he has the power to do it. he has the power to see those directives are fulfilled, and they have not in yet. he can do it. >> the gentleman across the aisle. >> thank you. the editor of a magazine. we played a central role about nixon and his income tax return, the fake gift of his --sidential pecs are presidential papers. the hero was a leaker, the irs employee in martinsburg, west virginia, who mailed his tax returns to the providence
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journal, and he was caught eventually. historical background. the real question is, or do things stand on this legislation , on the shield laws, on the issue of the definition of who is a journalist. i favor the most broad definition possible. where are those things? >> i am with you in terms of a broad definition. the problem it is so broad it catches everyone then you are giving a privileged everyone. the way it is setup now is a three-tiered definition. longer, the idea was to catch more people who are really committing journalism. the first test is a straightforward one that you tend to see in state shield laws -- do you work for, had a thatact with or an entity
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publishes a news website, a mobile app, tv station? it is quite broad. most loggers who have an entity, when you think of talking points memo or others, they would be covered under that along with the washington post and the new york times. or is a second definition that says if you do not fall into that bucket, you can be covered if you have engaged in journalism in the past. it was pointed out in the report, if you worked as a journalist for one of these entities in the pastor or contributed to a product in the past five years, you can be covered. there is a third one that says if you are not covered after one or two, if the judge decides you should be covered, you will be. that is the way the -- the senate bill has that structure. the house bill is a much more
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straightforward structure that says if you're engaging in journalistic activities or financial lively hood, you are covered. that is something that has been controversial in the past, to get people who are doing it for nonprofits and we need to find a way to cover them, too. the three bucket structure in the senate bill, and we think that will end up on the floor. >> i should have said this before. please say your affiliation as well. organizationa called great teaching. i used to be a columnist for a small newspaper. now that this report has been rolled out and it is very important, i believe -- how far have we come since the pentagon papers? some distance. what are your plans to roll this out in terms of connecting directly with the public? . it seems to me the truth test of
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whether this is going to reverberate in the white house is how the public is going to react, because there is a national security issue that is lingering, as it says, since 2001, and i think you may get some pushback against this. how are we going to know how this is going to resonate with the public? >> well, first of all, we have been very pleased that it has resonated. it has gotten a tremendous amount of attention, or than we expect did in the media. that is natural, but we are seeing a lot of interest on social media and a loud discussion, a lot of engagement. that is what we were hoping for. in terms of strategy, we have a recommendation. those recommendations were developed by the staff and the board of directors in consultation with lots of other groups. we sent reports and the president,ion to the
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and in that letter among which was sent for the recommendations, we ask for a meeting with arab board and we will be following up on that girl quest, and we hope to have some sort of face to face dialogue about these issues with senior figures in the administration. only group that is working on these issues. we are looking where we can to build coalitions, build awareness. one of the things i said when we had the press conference is the challenge that the administration does not see this as a problem. or they have not seen it as a problem. there was a flareup when there is a considerable outcry after phonenvocation of the records. what this report is saying you are wrong. this is a problem, a significant problem, and it has to do with your legacy, your kind of
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government that this country has and deserves, and we are seeing a response from the public as a whole. that is the strategy. overlyinght that the challenge is the national security environment. that is true around the world. we are willing to engage with the government on that issue, or the administration. they have very significant challenges. but national security in this country or any other country can toer be used as a pretext give the government authority to prevent people from getting information they need, and that is what we are going to pushback with. i am talking to the media regularly with that, and it has been well covered in the news media.
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>> it is an amended station -- an american administration where the president has said that the tide of war is receiving. he said we are entering a different time now that we have been in of any immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. if you accept or not that perhaps the standards are difference -- different in a time of like war or in immediate aftermath of the nation getting attacked like it was in 2001, this president said we are entering a different time. should not the way the administration addresses some of s also evolve? >> there was a reaction. they issued a statement about , thatrming what they said we are committed transparency and this is the most transparent administration about to suggest they are very defensive.
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we do not agree they are the most transparent. we want to talk about it. there has been some reaction, but i hope by looking for direct discuss these can issues and i am hopeful that the en's ongoingf and l outreach and media around his reports will make the case to them that this is a critical issue that is not going away. that is the best response, to engage and try to address some of these issues. >> gentleman in the blue shirt. as a foreign journalist, i -- because the way you described the administration reminds a little bit of the way the african governments do with sarah and
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press, and i am a little familiar with that part of the world. can you tell us something that would give us a little bit of hope? better in the be next administration? >> a great question. >> i have heard a pessimist is someone who says it could not possibly get any worse. an optimist says, yes it, can. on whetherll depend obama reacts to this and decides he is going to put more transparency into this administration to set a different kind of example for the next of measuring -- next administration. notmain reason why i am hopeless at all is the media will push back, is pushing back, will continue push back.
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everybody is on the record. these reporters who have to deal with the white house every day, and when sanger says this is the most control freak administration in my experience, he knows he is going to have to talk to them the next day. the media is pushing back. that will balance out in the long run, so if the next administration tries to be more controlling, the media will be more aggressive, and we will see how the balance works out. the appeal of the report is this president promised to be different, and so far he has not been in a good way. he still has time to do it. >> thank you very much. join me in thanking our wonderful speakers today, and thanks to all of you.
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> in the white house rose garden this afternoon, president obama officially nominated jeh johnson as his new homeland security secretary, replacing or placing, who -- janet napolitano. here is that announcement. >> as president, my most solemn responsibility is the safety and
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security of the american people. and we've got an outstanding team here of folks who work every single day to make sure that we're doing everything we can to fulfill that responsibility. and that means that our entire government -- our law enforcement and homeland security professionals, our troops, our diplomats, our intelligence personnel -- are all working together. it means working with state and local partners to disrupt terrorist attacks, to make our borders more secure, respond to natural disasters, and make our immigration system more effective and fair. addressing any one of these challenges is a tall order. addressing all of them at once is a monumental task. but that's what the dedicated men and women of the department of homeland security do every day. and today i'm proud to announce my choice to lead them -- an outstanding public servant who i've known and trusted for years mr. jeh johnson. we are, of course, enormously grateful to secretary janet napolitano.
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janet couldn't be here today -- she's already made her move to her new position in sunny california, overseeing the higher education system in that great state. and i know that she's going to do an outstanding job there with the incredible young people that are in our largest state. but we all deeply appreciate the terrific job that she did over the last 4 1/2 years. i want to thank rand beers for his service and for stepping in as acting secretary after janet left. thanks in no small part to janet's leadership, her team, we've done more to protect our homeland against those who wish to do us harm. we've strengthened our borders. we've taken steps to make sure our immigration system better reflects our values. we've helped thousands of americans recover from hurricanes and tornados, floods and wildfires. and we've worked to clean up a massive oil spill in the gulf as well as address a flu pandemic.
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in jeh johnson, we have the right person to continue this important work. from the moment i took office, jeh was an absolutely critical member of my national security team, and he demonstrated again and again the qualities that will make him a strong secretary of homeland security. jeh has a deep understanding of the threats and challenges facing the united states. as the pentagon's top lawyer, he helped design and implement many of the policies that have kept our country safe, including our success in dismantling the core of al qaeda and the fatah. when i directed my national security team to be more open and transparent about how our policies work and how we make decisions, especially when it comes to preventing terrorist attacks, jeh was one of the leaders who spoke eloquently about how we meet today's threats in a way that are consistent with our values, including the rule of law. jeh also knows that meeting these threats demands cooperation and coordination across our government.
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he's been there in the situation room at the table in moments of decision, working with leaders from a host of agencies to make sure everyone is rowing in the same direction. and he's respected across our government as a team player, somebody who knows how to get folks who don't always agree to work towards a common goal. jeh has experience leading large complex organizations. as a member of the pentagon's senior management team, first under bob gates and then under leon panetta, he helped oversee the work of more than 3 million military and civilian personnel across the country and around the world. and i think it's fair to say that both former secretaries gates and panetta will attest to the incredible professionalism that jeh brings to the job, and the bipartisan approach that, appropriately, he takes when it comes to national security.
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he's also earned a reputation as a cool and calm leader. jeh appreciates that any organization's greatest asset is its people, and at the pentagon he guided the report explaining why allowing our men and women in uniform to serve their country openly would not weaken our military. congress ended up using that report that jeh helped to craft to justify repealing don't ask, don't tell. and america and our military are stronger because we did, in part because of jeh's determined leadership. i know he will bring that same commitment to our hardworking folks at dhs. and finally, jeh believes, in a deep and personal way, that keeping america safe requires us also upholding the values and civil liberties that make america great. jeh tells the story of his uncle who was a member of the legendary tuskegee airmen during world war ii. and he and his fellow airmen served with honor, even when
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their country didn't treat them with the dignity and the respect that they deserved. and it was a lesson that jeh never forgot. "we must adopt legal positions that comport with common sense," jeh says, "consistent with who we are as americans." jeh is a pretty good lawyer, so he knows what that means. and jeh understands that this country is worth protecting -- not because of what we build or what we own, but because of who we are. and that's what sets us apart. that's why, as a nation, we have to keep adapting to changing threats, whether natural or man- made. we have to stay ready when disaster strikes and help americans recover in the aftermath. we've got to fix our broken immigration system in a way that strengthens our borders, and modernizes legal immigration, and makes sure everybody is playing by the same rules. and i'm confident that i could not make a better choice in jeh, somebody who i'm confident is going to be moving not just the agency forward, but helping to
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move the country forward. so, jeh, thank you so much for agreeing to take on this very difficult and extraordinary mission. you've got a great team over at dhs, and i know that they're looking forward to having you over there. i urge the senate to confirm jeh as soon as possible. and i thank you, as well as your family, to agreeing to serve. your wife, susan, and your daughter, natalie, couldn't be here because they're visiting jeh jr. out at occidental college, which, by the way, i went to for two years when i was young. it's a fine college. i'm sorry i couldn't be there to say hi to him. but your son chose well. so, ladies and gentlemen, i'd like to invite jeh johnson to say a few words, hopefully our next secretary of the department of homeland security. [applause]
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>> thank you very much, mr. president. as you noted, my wife and two kids are not here because it's parents' weekend at occidental, and thanks to the cost of a non- refundable airline ticket -- [laughter] they could not be in two places at once. they wish they could be here. thank you for the tremendous honor of this nomination and the trust you have placed in me to carry out this large and important responsibility as secretary of homeland security. i was not looking for this opportunity. i had left government at the end of last year and was settling back into private life and private law practice. but when i received the call, i could not refuse it. i am a new yorker, and i was present in manhattan on 9/11, which happens to be my birthday, when that bright and beautiful day was -- a day something like this -- was shattered by the largest terrorist attack on our
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homeland in history. i wandered the streets of new york that day and wondered and asked, what can i do? since then, i have tried to devote myself to answering that question. i love this country. i care about the safety of our people. i believe in public service. and i remain loyal to you, mr. president. if confirmed by the senate, i promise all of my energy, focus, and ability toward the task of safeguarding our nation's national and homeland security. thank you again, sir. [applause]
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["stars and stripes forever" plays] jeh johnson has been general counsel for the air force during the clinton administration. he is known for his advocacy for the repeal of don't ask don't tell. a live picture of the u.s. capitol, flags flying at half staff in honor of tom foley.
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house,ed 30 years in the five as seeker. nancy pelosi had this to say about speaker foley. our country mourns the loss of a leader whose authenticity, dedication, and diplomacy will forever serve as an example to serve all of us who strive to make a difference to public service. --er remarked tom foley died today. he was 84. for guys like us, we know there are land mines out there that you have to be careful about how you manage your way through these things. issues to deal with the abortion
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issue in the united states, guns, race, air-israeli relations. haveher countries they their redlines they have to be aware of, and what a cartoonist could get away with san francisco might be different what we can get away with in alabama. x there are fewer conservatives in journalism, and that is reflected among cartoonist. it is just generally not a conservative thing. peopleism tends to draw who are more liberal. good foray bad news is cartoonists because it gives us a lot of fodder. i would rather work harder and have less had news and know where we were going in the right direction, and we are kind of -- we are not going in the right direction. i feel very like it is a real calling for me to get my opinions out there.
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>> this weekend, it is not all fun and games for and the portal cartoonists. why. jesse james. saturday evening at 7:45. c-span3, a look back at nixon and the saturday night massacre saturday 1:00 p.m. nday at >> over the years when you look back on the books that have had an impact on a president, what has an find? >> it impact on us as people. >> one of my inspirations was i was curious to see whether or not books had an impact. bookel harrington wrote a about poverty especially in west
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virginia. kennedy is supposed to have read that again that led to the war on poverty. it did not happen quite that way. he read a book review in "the the mostr," one of famous articles ever ranted hisired him to tell walter, chairman of the council of economic advisers to look into policies that could be used to alleviate poverty and he tragically died in november 1963, but johnson heard about the program and said, that's my kind of program and pursued it. >> 200 years of popular culture in the white house. a."-span's "q and the syrian member of opposition -- eight senior member spoke about the prospect for a second syrian conflict down the desire to get more help from the u.s. is a by the johns
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hopkins school of advanced studies. this is one hour, 15 minutes. >> good morning. let me ask everyone to take a seat, close the doors in the back. welcome to john cap tends. hopkins. i'm a professor of management here and a scholar at the middle east institute. it is a particular pleasure to najib, whos morning is the representative of the syrian opposition coalition. that is the short name that we
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are using for it these days. he comes with an impeccable pedigree of support for democracy in syria. this pedigree includes the imprisonment in france, emigration to the united states to avoid his own imprisonment, getting his masters at the city university of new york, becoming a visiting professor and now an associate professor at the university of arkansas. he teaches middle eastern politics. he also engages with the damascus spring and the syrian efforts to transition the country from what has been a brutal and long-lasting dictatorship to something more worthy of the syrian citizens. it is with particular pleasure that i welcome him.
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he will speak for maybe 15 minutes and then we will go to q and a. najab? >> thank you so much. thank you for the opportunity to address you. i think one of the most important political issues of our time -- syria. i will try to take about 15 minutes to present some points. we will use these points for an opportunity to hear from you and engage in a discussion. let me start by introducing the syrian coalition. some of you may not be familiar with it. we will talk about challenges facing the coalition. we will conclude with the
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coalition's vision of how to end the conflict. the syrian coalition was created in november 2012. it was the second wave of organization by the syrian opposition to create a voice for the syrian revolution. it was to create an institution that can, in fact, speak for the syrians who want change in syria. as you get from the name, the coalition itself is made of several groups. some of them are political groups with long histories, like the muslim brotherhood.
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others were homegrown movements. most of the individuals were arrested and spent years in prison. many of them had to leave the country after the revolution. there were individual activists, like myself. we decided to have a better connection with the inside. the situation was developing in syria. we included local groups, like the council, was created before. they were trying to provide services and government to those who were liberated. the coalition is now in the second and third phase. the first president was a very charismatic figure who served his first term. the second president was elected last summer.
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we went through an expansion of the coalition. the idea was supposed to be kind of like a legislative body. it could create an executive branch which would handle the challenges of the revolution. it can, in fact, provide a governing body for the liberated areas. the coalition envisioned improving the coordination with the army by creating new bodies known as the supreme military council, or smc. it would become the head of the moderate forces within the free syrian army. the free syrian army was represented with a 15 member panel. this is just a brief history of the coalition in terms of its structure and vision. it is similar to all of the previous creations of the
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opposition, like the syrian national council. they want to move syria from one party to a multiparty system. they want a state ruled by law. it will be an inclusive, free, democratic syria. in addition, it is a good idea, as we were talking, since the revolution began -- we thought very hard about the issue of transition. how should we deal with law and order in the post assad era? we have two projects, in fact. one of them i was personally involved in, called "the day after." it provides a detailed vision in all areas. all of the programs have been endorsed and embraced. i will mention specific challenges facing the coalition.
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then i will end with how the coalition envisions the end to the conflict. one of the first challenges facing the coalition is the humanitarian catastrophe in syria. this is something we are faced with with the syrian national council. many of us are activists and we find ourselves spending a lot of time and energy dealing with the humanitarian situation. if you have not followed the latest figures, we have more than 2.5 million refugees since the beginning of this conflict. the most serious figure is the internally displaced syrian. they have passed the 5 million
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mark. with all of the assistance that we're getting from the international community and neighboring countries, from syrian communities everywhere, those efforts have not been able to match the needs associated. this is one point that i have heard. only 11% of those have been addressed by this assistance. this will continue to be a serious challenge facing us. i know that the money we received has gone to humanitarian assistance.
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93% of that money went to assistance. that was urgent. i will tell you the latest that we have. the same area where the regime used chemical weapons has 1.8 million syrians trapped. they do not have access to food or medicine. they have been appealing to us, to the international community, to do something. they are eating leaves. it is a terrible situation. we have been contacting the international community and our friends. this has been going on for the last two or three weeks. that is the first challenge. the second challenge is the challenge of radicalization in syria. there is a rise of an extremist groups. this is receiving more attention in the media than what it really is. it is a serious concern to us.
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it is a serious challenge. to understand the context of this issue, i think we need to remind everyone that the solution begins peacefully, similar to egypt and tunisia. that will take six to seven months. what led to the militarization of the revolution was the fact that the regime never stopped killing. first, they used snipers.
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it was assassinations. they tried to keep it below 20. there was defection of officers and soldiers from the army. young people had enough and decided to carry weapons in self-defense to defend their communities. it led to militarization. most of this was a byproduct of the syrian army and the syrian state. they were supporting the idea of a revolution and the democratic inclusive syria. there was a missed opportunity in the revolution. the international community did not step up their support of the moderate force. this created a vacuum in which we started to see inflow of extremists. they came from neighboring countries and everywhere.
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if you remember, last year, one year ago, there were not many extremists. now, they are growing in number. that has to do with the perception that the international community is not supportive of the moderates. it is unbelievable. the regime escalated oppression from artillery to tanks to scud missiles to air force. they attracted young syrians. now we have new groups. they are close to al qaeda. the good news about what is happening is that local communities are turning against these extremists. they are trying to impose their vision on communities. the threat is very serious and we take it very seriously. this is why we believe two things can stop this trend. we need a quick political solution and also to move on to the strengthening of the moderate forces. the third challenge, where i
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will end, has to do with providing government for the liberated areas. as you know, a large part of the territory is outside of control of the regime. the coalition and the syrian national council could not provide services. the vacuum was filled by the free syrian army to provide some security. in some cases, it was provided by activists. they created local councils. their ability to reach these
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communities from one area to another helped them to fill that vacuum. we felt that the creation of an interim government, not to be confused with a transitional government, is necessary. we went through nominating someone for that job. that has been worked through. lately, another person was nominated from the inside. he was part of the damascus movement. he wants to create service- oriented, small, executive bodies or ministries.
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in order to do that, in the next meeting of the coalition, that will be presented. we hope that these individuals will move into liberated areas. they can provide basic services. the last point, i will end here. how do we envision an end to this conflict? the initiative that was introduced was mentioned early on. they called for a yemeni-like a solution. they would give power to the vice president and lead to a transitional government. this would lead to a democratic system. that is where geneva came in. we believed at the time that geneva had positive elements. when they met last may and decided to hold a geneva 2 conference, we thought that this could present an opportunity to end the conflict.
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a couple of points. from our point of view, number one, there should be clarity about the outcome of this process. there should be a transition to democracy. we will not talk about power- sharing or rehabilitating the regime. we are talking about a democratic transition. we're talking about the creation of a government with full executive authority, including military security. those powers exist in the presidency currently. this will lead to a democratic transitional government and election.
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second, from our point of view, we need the support of key countries in the region. we want their endorsement. that is why, during the meetings, we met with the international community. we insisted that countries like turkey, saudi arabia, uae, would support our going to geneva. we wanted the u.n. to provide some kind of guarantee that there will be implementation of any arrangement. this includes the need for peacekeeping forces. i think, from our point of view, we have an understanding. when we say that assad should not be part of the process, that is not a precondition. that is our understanding of the literal wording of geneva.
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we believe that it must begin with him stepping down. this is how the conflict can end and end soon. that will open the door. it will open the door for syria to move into a democracy. i will open up for questions. thank you very much. >> i am tempted to not ask anything. you have answered all of my questions. i guess, from a conflict management point of view, if you went to geneva -- if you even got what you were asking for, which is a democratic
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transition, would you be able to deliver on what you would need to deliver on? do you have the kind of control over the situation that would enable you to be what the regime is looking for? that is an interlocutor who can in the fight. >> this is definitely difficult. it is a difficult task. we know the structure of the free syrian army. i think what we're doing, even before going to geneva, is to
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consolidate. we are restructuring in a way to create a proficient institution that believes in protecting the country, rather than being loyal to one entity. the inability to control the extremists is an issue. those groups are not recognized. all of the effort should be between now and then to weaken and isolate these groups. that is what we have been doing and coordination with the smc. we believe that it is difficult because those guys have been engaged in a war against the free syrian army. they have assassinated leaders and taken over the area. some factions of the free syrian army would require support from neighboring countries. it will not be 100%, full control. i think if we can control most, then we can deliver. then it can be isolated. >> question? please stand up. i do not see a microphone.
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the problem is for the recording. if you could go to the microphone, thank you. i should have noted that before. if you can go to the microphone to ask questions. please do introduce yourself. >> you said you have a detailed vision of the current state of law. what is that vision and where can i obtain a copy of that vision? thank you. >> it is a project called "the
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day after" and it is available online. if you search, you can find the whole document. a few words about it -- it is a project that lasted eight or nine months. there was a participation of 50 or 60 syrians. we created an ngo that is trying to implement those transitions. please. >> hi, can you hear me? >> yes, i can. please introduce yourself. >> i am susan and i work for reuters. concerning the conference, i think it was yesterday or the day before, syrian prime ministers said that it was their understanding that the next conference would be the geneva conference on november 23 and 24th. i wondered if you had been
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informed that that would be the day? i also think that the syrian national council said recently that the council would not be going. do you think that people from the coalition will attend? are the americans pressuring you to go? thank you. >> the first part of the question, the 24th and 25th? i think i saw something like that. i do not think that has been
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agreed upon. we have not received the letter of invitation yet. that will be the first step. there was a discussion or talk of a tentative date of november 15. even then, it may be too soon. the second part of the question we are in a coalition. you are right on one component. the coalition came out and said they will not take part in geneva. this is based on their understanding of the balance of power on the ground. they feel that there really is not enough support coming from our friends. that is a perspective that you have to understand and respect. this may be an opportunity to bring a question of chemical
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weapons. i want to address this and say a few words. when assad used chemical weapons to kill more than 1500 people, including children, a lot of syrians felt that this was an opportunity for the international community to present a credible and swift response to that act. we know how obama reacted. there was the case that the u.n. commission could provide support. it was not going to pass. the deal with russia came to dismantle assad of chemical weapons. there was a strong sense of disappointment among syrians. the source of that has to do with two points. number one, they felt there was no accountability. the u.n. called it a war crime and a crime against humanity.
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this was expressed in so many ways. there was a group of brigades saying that they do not recognize the coalition. that is how bad the situation was. the second element, which we felt, was that the opportunity should have been used by the obama administration, put the heavy weapons on the table. let's not forget that the majority of syrians, 98%, were killed by conventional weapons. we did not solve the bigger issue. that is where the sense of frustration is expressed. to go back here question, we have not made a decision in the
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coalition about whether to go or not. we agreed on a certain determinant of what is acceptable for us to go to geneva. this includes our understanding that assad is not part of the problem. it is really in the language. we will be discussing this. it will be difficult. we may need to persuade within the coalition itself. in general, i think many of us believe that this could be an opportunity -- especially if it is framed in the right way. if the conditions to make it successful are there, we should go and we will go. we want to end the killing and move into a transition. that is in our best interest. not now.
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they see this as an opportunity. we see it the same way. we have a lot of discussions with them, but i would not call it pressure. not yet. >> if i may add a word. judging from experience in the american diplomatic corps, the notion that this is a two-day event surprises me. the notion that longer than two days would be convening a few days before thanksgiving is even more surprising. >> thank you. i would like to return to the challenges that you mentioned. radicalization and governance are related. if the councils can provide services, then the extremists
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move in. they will impose sharia law. there have been discussions of providing training to local moderates and councils with no response. at least as far as i know. as i understand it, the administration is not interested in undertaking any kind of training or equipping syrians for fear of ending assad. i would like to know what you would like to see happen. you have mentioned mediating that or assisting through the body that you're trying to form. is there any prospect that it would be acted upon before there
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is a peace agreement? in other words, we will leave the vacuum open until there's an agreement with assad? that is not a good way forward. >> i agree with your question about the difficulties. we should provide training. again, governance is necessary for those areas. i believe that there must be pressure. that is my point about putting the question of pressure on the regime to stop using heavy weapons. this has been one of the main problems. i would mention that 10 days ago, they used the air force against a city. they are still doing that. unless the countries, including the u.s. and maybe russia, apply the kind of pressure, it will be difficult. one of the areas that the u.s.
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can provide training -- so far there are limited trainings in jordan. this is kind of a secret operation. it should be made open. it should be given to the pentagon and i think this is needed not only for transitional periods, but for post assad. this is one of the ways that the u.s. can be a factor in shaping the post assad order. this is what we want and need. most syrians would like the u.s. to play that role. the good news is that there are a lot of countries willing to do more. i think that if you read the reports that came out, there are good recommendations.
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they mentioned details affecting the coalition and we agree with many of them. they say that our allies need to get their act together. they need to have better coordination. for that to happen, you need leadership that has been lacking. this has been one of the weaknesses. the other side has fewer friends. those friends are more effective. weapons, money, political support. we have all of these countries that recognize the coalition. they say the right things. the core group of this country must really come together. we need training and intelligence sharing. there are many ways to do this.
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once this decision is made, this is the end of the conflict. >> hello, i am kelly. i was wondering how you would provide the popular support? how would you describe that? >> she knows more about the armed groups than anybody else i know. she wrote a good paper about it. >> she is asking about the popular support. it is really hard to gauge that popular support. i think, again, i mentioned the international crisis. when the syrian national council was formed, it was formed by mostly some of us living abroad. the regime never allowed indigenous leaders to emerge. this is the nature of repressive regimes. eventually, many of our colleagues had to leave and fled the country.
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we became more representative and the coalition was more representative. when people inside syria peacefully demonstrated, they carried signs saying that the coalition represents me. again, this is like any governing body. it includes democratic countries. if you are able to provide, you will get support. if you have a failed government, like what happened here, you will see progress. same situation. the popularity of the coalition has to do with its ability to
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address the challenges i mentioned. they need to provide governors. they must improve the unity of the free syrian army. they need to deliver on the stated objective, which is to overthrow the regime. that could go up and down. are they able to deliver? i would say yes, you have support. some think, why should i support you? i don't think anyone is calling for the creation of an alternative institution. the current structure can be
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reformed and improved. it can be made more effective and efficient. that is where we are interested in going. i would say that if we are able to improve the question of governance in liberated areas, that should reflect on the popularity. >> my name is valerie and i want to touch on something related to that that you alluded to earlier. i wondered if you could dig deeper into the concrete measures that you might be taking? there has been a wave of public enunciation of their rejections, including some that are currently affiliated. i was wondering what steps have been taken to address concerns? >> since the announcement of that communiqué, the leaders of the smc were in paris and decided to go back to address the situation. the 13 groups i remember -- three of them were part of the smc. there was the problematic group which has been acting on its own.
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there were others in between. this is the same for the political leadership of the coalition. since this happened, they went back and they have been meeting with a lot of the leaders on the ground. there are more serious efforts to restructure the whole smc. maybe there are discussions to create a more professional national army. this would include a lot of these groups. to my knowledge, i do not have a lot of details here, there are
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discussions underway. it will be addressed at the next meeting, set for the 31st or november 1 in istanbul. there was a sign that there was some disunity among these brigades. since the frustration, there's a feeling that we need to rely more on our own resources. there is mistrust of this old deal between the u.s. and russia. will it rehabilitate syria or not? that is the background. going back to address these questions of whether the u.s. is serious about taking steps to end the killing, that really does not have a place for assad. >> hello there. my name is edward. congratulations on your hard work.
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i would like to ask you if you could, put yourself in the shoes of your adversaries. first, the vision that you have put forward for the solution that president assad should step down -- why do you think you would do this? that is my first question to you. have you heard the possibility that assad himself may organize elections? that would give them legitimacy. the second part of the question is more wide. imagine this room was filled with worried members of the community. you referred in an earlier question to your website. could you make it real to the
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community? what is your vision that syria, after so much bloodletting, that this community would be safe? look next door at iraq. look at egypt. after all of this bloodletting, how could you get them to buy into your vision? thank you very much. >> thank you. those are important questions. let me address the first part. it is easy. we're talking about elections and assad's term expires next spring. he is not a legitimately elected president. he came to power -- we know how he came to power. there is basis for that. this is a nonstarter for most
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syrians. i can assure you of that. to request him to step down, when people say that he should step down, we live in a world today where if you have a responsible leader -- the government would resign. this president has caused the killing of more than 100,000. he has displaced more than 8 million syrians. there has been destruction of the infrastructure of the country. you want it to continue? on what basis? on what logic? on what idea? he has already served 14 years. we have had enough of this. syria was involved in the arab spring. the head of the state departed,
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one way or the other. we were appealing to assad to lead the process. we were willing to foresee a role for him. more killings took place and more crimes took place. he was a war criminal according to the u.n. he committed crimes against humanity. you expect me, as a syrian, to allow this to continue? that is not acceptable. i would address the other community, the other side. this is a liability. you do not need to fight for this family that has committed
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so many crimes. they are still corrupt and they lead you to the situation. what i would say is that we have made a lot of appeals to the community. we have a presentation and credible leaders. you are not responsible for crimes committed by anyone. there are sunnis who committed crimes and christians who have committed crimes. we have a program for transitional justice. i would say, do not take my word for it. there should be measures. this includes the idea of peacekeeping forces who can come and be a part of the
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transitional period. they can protect the communities. one of the reasons that we felt good about the strike was that we felt it would encourage the community to force him out of power. they could be our negotiating partners. they could build the future of syria. this is the good news. even though he committed so many sectarian crimes and genocide, maybe massacres, the response has not been a mass response.
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we have one report of extremism. they're committing crimes on a sectarian basis. the free syrian army can bombard whole villages. to me, that is an encouraging sign. it is an indicator that we do not want to move in misdirection. only those who commit crimes should be held accountable. we do not speak a sectarian language. that is very encouraging so far. there is so much to be done. i agree that there are a lot of fears and concerns. there was a lot of killing among the young people. they are part of the killing machine. a lot of them are saying that they have had enough. i do see an opportunity, again, to say that from our point of view, civil war does not have winners. i am concerned about the killing from the other side. the regime is not concerned about killings from our side. we are similar to the regime. going back and taking a few
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individuals, to call them the criminal elite, out of the equation, you can create the conditions for national reconciliation. >> thank you. >> good morning. can you talk more into the microphone? >> assuming all goes well and geneva 2 takes place, there are those extremists who would try to sabotage in any way they could. they will use any tactic to sabotage the conference. how does the coalition foresee this? how can you overcome this problem? you know the regime's dubious way of handling political issues. it is starting to surface that
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he is asking for a two-year extension. would you agree to do that? how would that apply to this kind of question? >> we will not agree to a two- year extension or any of that. the purpose of the conference is transition to democracy. we want to create a transitional government with full executive authority. if that is the purpose, that is what we will do. otherwise, i think we will not move on with this. i agree with you that the presence of extremist groups is a challenge for both sides. especially for the international and regional players. we must be acting now to isolate these groups. we need to freeze their funding. we must start to engage.
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there is a difference between them. you can take away some of the base -- many join because they had money. find ways to work with the neighboring countries to be more responsible and not allow insiders into the country. it is going to be a challenge. not only for the coalition, but for the whole region. this is part of the terrorism problem that is facing these countries. it requires comprehensive strategies, not just one thing. we are addressing that. we are trying to strengthen the moderates and make all of the sources of funding come through a vetting process.
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eventually, we will start funding incentives for those to go back. speaking of terrorist groups, i should mention two others. hezbollah and the iranian revolutionary forces. they need to be addressed. if iran would like to be invited, they should withdraw and leave. there are foreign entities that are much more organized and larger in numbers. they have done more killing in syria than some of these syrians themselves. that adds to the difficulties. this is a regional and international issue. >> they may take my diploma way when i ask this question. i am focusing on syria.
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i studied here 13 years ago. i was very interested because assad was still in power, but we knew he was on the way out. i thought there was a window of opportunity because they were very open to the west. they brought the internet to syria. there was an open mind for the country. am i wrong? was there a missed opportunity? >> please speak closer to the microphone. >> have you not heard my question? did we miss a window of opportunity to welcome syria? i thought that they were very open to the west and very open to the internet and many things that we are now seeing that they are very closed to.
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did we miss that opportunity because of 9/11? >> it really does not matter anymore. if i were to say a few words, when he became the president, i remember an op-ed that i wrote. i said that he was a legitimate president. he inherited the presidency against republican principles. let's give him a chance. he needs to free political prisoners and in and end the
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law. we gave him an opportunity. our activists were leaders and they formed forums and were willing to take him on his promises. he was going to reform the country and introduce it to the modern world. there was a crackdown and they spent six months on that. there was another moment after the assassinations. early on, i remember this very well. we were accepting the argument that they prevented him from performing. he became fully in charge and the system was highly centralized and personalized. he reverted to his father's way of addressing challenges of domestic reforms.
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they would not introduce political reforms. they talked about the chinese model. nothing was meaningfully introduced to gain legitimacy. by the time he came to his second term, they wanted to introduce a slogan for his campaign. he could not find anything, so they came up with a word meaning "i love you." we elect you because we love you. you are a young man and you studied in the west and you like the internet. what did he introduce here? when the arab spring started, we appealed to him. before things happen in syria, why do you not take the lead? his response was very frustrating and it showed the mentality that he had in an interview with the wall street journal. he said that those who have not introduced reform are in trouble.
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i am different because i am young and i am not part of the western world. i am closer to the pulse of my people. i defend palestinian rights. i will introduce reform. he said he will introduce new magazines and more measures for local elections. he said he would legalize ngos. that is the vision that he had. he was calling for regime change and compromises. he really lost it when the people took to the streets and peacefully protested to demand the release of their young children who were arrested. they opened fire on them. he totally lost the support of
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people when he gave his first speech. he did not show remorse for the killing. everyone had high expectations that he would announce reform and he did nothing. i know a lot of syrians thought that was the moment for them. he lost every opportunity to be something acceptable. with more killing, the guy is a war criminal. he committed crimes against amenity. i gave a long answer to show you that we gave every opportunity. he limited himself through so many reasons. it is time for him to go. >> do you have a question? please. >> my name is james adams. i could describe myself as a professional field officer and recent graduate of george mason's conflict resolution program. i would be interested to hear what considerations there might be by your group or syrians on two factors.
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one, in bosnia, they are still dealing with very serious consequences from a frozen constitution. it is highly flawed and discriminatory. this is resulting from accords -- it was not cast as a transitional constitution, which was the fundamental flaw. 18 years later, that is still a serious issue. that is holding bosnia back. that factor, in terms of your group, how does this affect their thinking? the other factor has to do with negative peace.
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this is what is put forth as negative peace, where an outside force or outside forces are needed to suppress internal conflict. in some ways, this keeps the lid on things. it gives more time to figure out how to proceed. >> i do not understand the second part. what do you mean by that? >> negative peace in literature and among scholars is a frozen peace. a frozen peace where a conflict is put on hold, it is checked. the violence is put in check. diplomatic, political,
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structural work is being done, all that to try to put a lid on excessive expression of whatever the various groups are trying to gain. in other words, the lack of violence, trying to perceive it as functional. that makes me think of the second factor, the factor of the other side of the positive piece, the positive peace, and that is addressing the underlying causes and conditions of the conflict, whether they be long, historical type or something more recent. and track two terms, scholarly terms, that addresses more work relationship work as opposed to reconstruction or structural


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