tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN January 9, 2014 9:00pm-11:01pm EST
>> are there other things by your inner circle that was in those e-mails? >> i believe that i have spoken to everyone who is mentioned in the e-mails except for charlie mckenna who was away at a family funeral. >> they had no involvement in the situation. your characterization not mine. there is nobody on my staff with any knowledge of this issue. in the back. [inaudible] >> it is awful. i have seen conflicting reports about what the cause of death was. it does not matter.
is awful to hear. all i can do is apologize for the conduct of people who worked for me. i cannot reverse time. if i could i would i'm just going to apologize. i believe that is all you can do. lines,rnor, along the you have said you are focused on regaining the people in new jersey. the first couple of years as governor, you traveled all over the state. any thought of possibly trying to do something like that again? suspended town halls during the campaign because of our concern that folks may raise of assue of in the midst
campaign blurring the line between what would be a town hall of that and a campaign event. we made the determination we own hallt do tal meetings. i had no plans to do it during the transition. we could not do them during the second term -- we will hopefully try to do as many as we did in the first term. is, i don't believe i have lost the people of trust -- the trust of people in new jersey. they are looking at how their leader is going to react. that when they see me take the action i will take today, they will see that mistakes are made and know the governor had nothing to do with that but he is taking responsibility and making the decisions he needs to make. >> to questions.
-- two questions. that is between david and his attorney. he is represented by counsel. i would love to hear the whole story. do.n't advise him what to he will make his own judgment. i don't want to be in the position of instructing someone to do something. they are represented by counsel. he and his lawyer will determine what is in their messed interests. certainly, hearing the story would be good for everybody. >> governor, who initiated this thing? up to this point in time, it brody's testimony that mr. wells being initiated.
initiated.n clearly he played a major role. whether it was his idea, time will tell. knowledgey there was of the section, whatever it was, fire to the beginning of it with bridget jones. at is something that i said was not the case a few weeks ago. i was lied to. [inaudible] >> i would love for you to believe that i interviewed hundreds of thousands of people. i did not.
interviewed hundreds of people. it was a rare occasion when the u.s. attorney goes into her room and interviews a witness. it probably happens a dozen times in seven years. if you are trying to understand if you a personal level, have worked with someone for five years. they have been a member of your political team. governmental team. , whatok at them and say you know about this? have any-- did you knowledge of it? they look at you and they say, no. you have never had any reason before to believe that they were anything but truthful, why would you not leave them? i worked on the bases of trust with people. i assumed over. of time that most -- i assumed
mosta period of time that people are trustworthy unless proven otherwise. when we got the answers, there was no reason at the time we asked for us to believe that they were not true based on the person. if you look at some of the stores today, i don't think you have hurt -- heard anybody talk about her in any way except positive ways. believe sheson to was telling me anything other than the truth. i was heartbroken. i trusted that i was being told the truth. somebody who i had placed a significant amount of trust in. i miss it? that is why we are here. we missed it. what do you do when you find that you missed it? little before 9:00
yesterday morning. by 9:00 this morning, her position was terminated. i think that is swift, appropriate action that people would expect in the chief executive of the state. [inaudible] >> yeah. >> -- the nature of it. knew --ed like -- he [inaudible] >> i can't read anything else into it other than that you are inferring things from the e- mail. i don't know. we didn't even know about the existence the e-mail when we asked questions. i found up for the first time at 8:50 yesterday morning. you can only imagine, as i was standing in my bedroom, looking sad and how incredibly
betrayed i felt. i don't know what to say beyond that. attorney withu.s. a high profile. governor -- now a governor. are you givingn your staff? can we expect to see claims of executive or late? privilege? >> i have nothing to hide. i have not given any instruction to anyone yet. my instructions would be to cooperate and answer questions. i have nothing to hide. any questions anybody wants to ask they can ask. from law enforcement. anything they want to ask, they
can ask. we have nothing to hide. this demonstration has nothing to hide. -- fact-finding is still getting some momentum. -- impact is put on hold? -- [inaudible]ff >> absolutely not. his confirmation he hearing will go forward on tuesday. i expect he will be vigorously question like any candidate for attorney general should be. i expect he will get swift and certain confirmation because he deserves it. much of this discussion has taken place on e-mail accounts. [inaudible] >> i haven't thought about that. they're how are -- there are a
lot of things i have been thinking about and that is not one of them. >> have you gotten any other e- mails yesterday? >> we have been given no documents. i don't know. none were offered to us. the first time we saw any documents was on the website yesterday morning. we haven't been offered any. charlie. >> -- did she have the authorization to carry out significant policy decisions such as the authorization of the traffic's office -- study, funding, without getting prior approvals from you or your senior staff? --don't believe rigid
bridget had policy authority on any issue. her job was to interact with the other governmental agencies and to have interactions with members of the legislature. that was her job. my understanding of her authority was that she had no authority on policy. policy issues had to be run through the chief of staff office. no. again, i know there are are certain suppositions in that question. my understanding of her authority was not that it extended to policy. [inaudible] they find it hard to believe
that bridget would be making these kinds of decisions. >> she had no proverb propyl -- prior approval. she had no prior approval from the chief of staff who was her direct report. she had no prior approval from the governor. she did not seek it. we were not informed about it. she acted in a manner that exceeded her authority, which possibility, that is what she did. i had no knowledge is of this -- i had no knowledge of this and neither did the chief of staff. [inaudible] i spoke to mike last night. david at that time was considering whether or not to resign. he made the determination the
next day in a meeting with the administration to resign. i don't believe for my conversation with mike last night that that was the main topic of the dinner that night. the dinner was a social dinner, not a professional dinner. [inaudible] to the extent i can. know, at this point, wildstein's and mr. position was that the lanes were close to do a traffic study. i now see e-mails that indicate there is a political overtone to what went on. i don't know what the situation is.
i think i answered this before. you don't know whether this was some type of rogue political operation that morphed into a traffic study, or a traffic study that morphed into a political operation. i don't know. listen. as best buy can. but he is scheduled to testify at the legislature. it is not like he is available for interview. -- inaid into root response to a question, i will not give you the middle of the legislative process with people that did not know they would be witnesses. that would be inappropriate. let them do their job. if i did, i would be accused of trying to play around with testimony which i will not get involved with. [inaudible] >> you think i am suggesting any
traffic studies anytime soon, you have to be kidding pete -- me. i think i am out of the traffic study is ms.. -- traffic study business. that should be left to the professional staff and port authority. but the professional engineers and those folks deal with whether those things should be done or not. saying this is the current position of the administration. luke. >> speaker elect said yesterday that -- [indiscernible] -- continuesat he to look into -- [inaudible] i think they have every right to do what they are doing given what was revealed yesterday.
i'm certainly not going to question that. given what was revealed yesterday, i was shocked by it. they were too. i have a good relationship with the incoming speaker and i will work with him to put this matter to west -- rest. i will not question their right or ability to do that. >> [indiscernible] did anyone say to you -- >> his name was never mentioned to me. his position was never mentioned to me. when i say he was not on my radar screen, that means he was not on my radar screen. i never had bill or anybody else connected with the campaign even mentioned to me.
even an update. have had two meetings with the mayor. i would get those kinds of updates. i never heard the fort lee mayor's name until all the stuff happened. he was not on my radar at all. plenty of mayors were. many wound up endorsing us. we had meetings with them. this may or, not only did i never meet with him, he was never mentioned to me. you go back to the question over making a joke about this -- that is part of the reason i felt comfortable doing it. this can't have anything to do with politics. i don't even know this guy. how could it be that somebody would do something like this against a mayor that i never had any conversations with or a sense that we were seeking his endorsement? -- partwhy this is such
of the reason this is such a mystery to me, john. and why i'm so upset about it. >> [indiscernible] >> i would've said, who was he? who is he and what did he do? i don't know this guy. i may have met him in a greeting line or a big event or town hall meeting. i'm telling you, until yesterday when i saw his picture on tv, if he had walked into the room i would not have been able to pick him out. that is not to diminish him. a this context, this is not guy on my radar screen in any way. his name was never brought up to after the story started to appear about the fort lee traffic problem. that is the first time i heard about this mayor.
that is why, john, it is such a mystery to me. sure, of course i was kelly. he wasn't one of them. i am happy to admit that i was trying to run up this core. absolutely. that is what you doing up a legal campaign. we try to get as many supporters and endorses that turn into voters. that is your job. >> [indiscernible] >> of course. i had to go get it. invariably in these things, i ultimately had to make a phone call or do something to bring the person over the finish line. it was a rare occurrence that i never met a person or spoke a person -- to a person. trying to give your context for what i do not think this was an issue. i know the campaign we ran. i know who i was pursuing. the endorsers. didow who was close and we
not get. i know who was never close. i know the people we got. the sky was never on my radar screen. i think he confirm that last night. -- this guy was never on my radar screen. i think he confirmed that last night. that is why i don't get this. it is one of is. -- it is what it is. i'm responsible for it. i am responsible for it. it happened on my watch. you can't just say, well, listen, i didn't know about it so it is not my problem. talk to somebody else. the buck stops at my desk. i have to act. quickly as i could responsibly. i found out about this yesterday. by 9:00 today pritchett was terminated. .- bridget was terminated
i think that is swift action given that i was blindsided by this yesterday. i am not happy i was blindsided or proud. as i said when i came appear, i feel humiliated by this. i'm of the -- i am a person who cares deeply about doing my job well. i have worked hard at it. i took an oath to that effect. i am humiliated by the fact that i did not know this and i was deceived. that is an awful way to feel. >> why hasn't -- [indiscernible] yesterday.o her she is not happy. >> the supporters children. >> [indiscernible]
can i get your -- >> wasn't good. i think that is why i'm here apologizing. it was an awful, callous, indifferent thing to do. if it was part of a traffic study, that is one thing. once it has political overtones, that is an entirely different matter. that is why am upset about this. apologized to the people of new jersey. why i apologize to the people of fort lee who were inconvenienced over the four days. it is not right. i have no idea. i will respond to those questions as i have before. as a former u.s. attorney, when i was u.s. attorney, i hate it
when politicians stood behind podiums and told the department of justice what to do. i will not do that after complaining to my colleagues for seven years. you just said, i have nothing to hide. you repeated it. did you ever imagine you would stand before this mini cameras and say you have nothing to write. >> no. >> [indiscernible] >> yeah. that was a searing bit of commentary. >> obviously this is the nature medicaid experience. a traumatic experience. >> no. brian.
i know what you are asking. -- that is a crazy question, man. i had nothing to do with this. , i never gave any thought to doing that. what was i thinking about last night when i couldn't go to sleep? how did this happen? that is what i was thinking about. sure, when you are responsible, and i spent a lot of time -- talking me through it. that is when it is great to have a really supportive spouse. she is willing to do for hours, to. o. that is what i was thinking. how did it happen? why do people do this? i don't get it. i work hard at this job.
it is incredibly disappointing to have people let you down this way. i am incredibly loyal to my people. i expect in return their honesty and candor and loyalty. i did not get it. it is a hard thing. after you work as hard as i do. here's the thing. this is my job. ande will be mistakes disappointments. i don't think there is a perfect government anywhere in the country. i never claimed to have one. i claimed to have the bus government i could possibly make. sometimes there will be mistakes. when there are come a i have to own up to them and act. my promise to the people the state is if there is any other evidence that comes forward that requires action to be taken, i
will take it. no matter how much it hurts me personally or dismays me. this of the job i asked for. i have to do it. -- [indiscernible] that is something that was in the works. you think he was jumping ship a little bit? >> neither. i'm aaid that day, determination during the fall campaign that i wanted to make a change at the port authority. bill was one of the longest- serving deputy executive directors at four years. i felt like it was time for a change. was about the
internal workings. there's a lot of hand to hand combat over at the port authority. between new york and new jersey. about resources. i thought four years as was enough for any one person. i had approached him during the fall campaign. he was the policy chief. i said, i am thinking about making a change at the port authority. would you be willing to take the job if i ask you question mark she said, yes. -- if i asked you? she said, yes. that was election, communicated to bill. what we were trying to do was figure it out the timing of all this. i wanted him to finish the policy work. i wanted bill to have an
appropriate peer to time to get to his ready to move on next opportunities. that is the way the process work. bills neither building -- jumping ship nor us pushing for this reason. it was a saying, it was time to go. you have served four years and i want to put someone else there. all that was very amicable at the time. something that he understood to be such. david. >> governor, a couple hours up -- they broke yesterday, longer the list was growing up people begin about issuing subpoenas. he was asked if that could possibly include you. theaid he would have authority to issue a subpoena for anybody he had -- he needed
to get information from. if you get a subpoena will, what would you do? >> i will not speculate on that. >> [indiscernible] that ---mails reveal related to the issue. did you know about that? i don't know about what you are talking about. this is the first i have heard of it. i don't believe there is. we take these requests seriously. we have a person dedicated in the counsel's office to review these matters. we have members of new -- in the department to review this.
i think in the main, we have responded to these requests properly under the law. that is my understanding from from both my first chief counsel and my second chief counsel. i don't have any reason to believe otherwise. i don't know the incident you are talking about, but there are sometimes mistakes that are made and oversight. no, there is no pattern of that. it is the law. we have to comply with it and we comply with the law as it is written. do you think this will affect your ability to [inaudible] >> i have no idea. i don't get those calls correctly -- directly. no, it won't affect my ability to work at all. yes. >> [inaudible]
are you the victim here? fired --e have been >> first of all, i don't know that she ordered a traffic study. i know what you are i might infer from that. we are going to have to find out. i understand. that is not what you asked. when i asked for an answer from a member of my staff and they lie, regardless of what they might about, they are gone. thever had to get to underlying conduct. if you lie when i ask you a question, you are fired. that is it. if i had gotten to the underlying concept, there was plenty there to fire her on too. question one was, do you know anything about this? did you have any involvement? the answer was, no.
the e-mail said that the answer should have been yes. i need go no further than that to make a determination about her future employment with me. >> from a compliance standpoint -- [inaudible] isn't that a management mistake? >> are you suggesting i should have kept her? -- if i did that, you would have the legislature complaining about talking to someone who the chairman had callpublicly he intends to as a witness. i think the higher priority for me is not to interfere with what the legislature is doing. i am not going to do that because the political nature of this would lead to charges of interference. i am not going to do that. there wants to testify
and she testifies, if after that questions,e other then we can make the decision at that time whether to pursue that information. it is my judgment -- you can disagree with it, but it is my judgment that for me to get involved with someone who the chairman is saying don't even call as a witness, between the time i discovered this and the time she may testify, would be not the right thing to do. tamper withwouldn't the witness but i could be accused of tampering with a witness. what point does this political misconduct across -- >> i don't know. me to notay for involve myself in that is to not involve myself in that. i am dressed -- just trying to
be a safe and careful steward of the public trust. to have more information yesterday? you bet. i also have to understand the position i hold. it is a position of extraordinary trust. i have to execute that position with the acknowledgment of that trust. that is why i am not doing it. >> [inaudible] >> i didn't quite understand your question. i had trouble hearing you. it was a surprise that he was subpoenaing, i didn't get the last part. we didn't have the documents. we asked bridget kelly. she told us she didn't have any.
we asked her if she was involved, she said she was not. we asked if she had any saidedge ends -- and she she didn't. i was surprised because i was told there was nothing there and there was. not a mystery. if you ask for something and someone deceives you and tells you it doesn't exist, what is the follow-up? are you sure? yes. have you searched your e-mails? yes. you don't have anything? no. ok, were you involved in any way? no. any knowledge? no. after that, what do you do? you would have to ask them, i don't know. i don't think so. >> [inaudible] >> no. i know you guys would love that
if i actually did. i am not to that stage yet. to there i might get stage where i am angry -- i don't break things. you need to understand this. resolved tog here do my job and do what i am supposed to do. but i am a very sad person today. .hat is the emotion i feel a person close to me betrayed me. a person who i counted on and trusted for five years betrayed me. a person who i gave a high government office to betrayed me. i will get angry at some point -- i am sad area i am a sad i am sad. i am a sad guy standing here today. that is the overriding emotion. mynow that because of
bluntness and my directness that people think, he might get behind that door and be a lunatic when he is sad about something. if you ask the staff, it is the rare moment in this office when i raise my voice. the rare moment, when i raise my voice. i reserve it for very special times and i will tell you the last time i did. four weeks ago when i had them all in that office and i said, if any of you have any information about this that i don't know, you need to tell me, kevin or charlie now. that was the last time i raise my voice in that office. so no, i didn't break anything. i didn't yell and scream. it is a sad day for me. i am doing what i am obligated to do under this job.
it is the right thing to do. but it doesn't make me angry at the moment. it just makes me sad. >> [inaudible] >> no. i have had no contact with david , wellong time, a longtime before the election. i could probably count on one hand and number of conversations i have had with david since he worked for the port authority. i did not interact with david. him, we would say hello, how is your family? we would chat. we didn't have that kind of relationship. i understand how it has been characterized in the press. yet he had an important job, but he was not interacting with the governor on a regular basis.
there were channels to go through here. he went through those channels and if something had to be brought to my attention -- i don't even run for -- remember in the last four years having a meeting with david. nobody called and told me anything. at 8:50 yesterday morning, i got done with my workout at 845, my and at 8:50, maria called me and told me of her -- about the breaking story and that was the first ainu of any of the e-mails. >> [inaudible]
>> yes. that is why i apologize. i don't think it is my credibility. i think if i didn't stand up and take responsibility and apologize directly to the people of new jersey as i have done today, then i think that would be a risk. i am not that kind of person. i understand responsibility of this job. this at the press conference in december. there are plenty of times i get credit for things that i have little to do with as governor. sometimes i get blamed for things that i have little to do with. it doesn't matter. i am the governor. the things that happen on my watch on my responsibility, both good and bad. you are darn right. what they did hurt the people of new jersey. it hurt the people of fort lee. the person who needs to apologize for that is made. and i have. i am sorry to all the people of to betate that they have
occupied with this matter. it is embarrassing. the whole matter is humiliating to me. whenou can do as a person you know this is to stand up and be genuine and sincerely apologize and hope that people accept your apology. i think i have built up enough goodwill over time with the people of new jersey that i am hopeful they will accept my apology. >> [inaudible] are you going to make an effort to look at computers and blackberries and things like that? >> the answer as of right now is, i don't know. it is something that i have talked to staff about looking at.
this 24e found about hours ago. things will take some time. i asked them specifically to check their e-mails and let me know if there is anything that touches upon this. folks who have worked for bridget also, to see if there is anything they know and can shed light on. we are in the process of doing this but that is going to be time-consuming. i just began that process yesterday. i will work with my new chief counsel to get that done. we will uncover whatever information we need to. wherever the information comes from, we will take it into account. [inaudible]
>> political retribution? no. political fighting? sure. people go back and forth all the time and you have seen that in this building no matter what administration was here. the way we are different is, we can fight but then we get into a room and more times than not, we are able to reach common ground with the other side to move progress forward. the dream act signing a few weeks ago is a perfect example of that. there was a lot of fighting about that and a lot of hysteria in the media about who is saying what about whom and what does all this mean and anger and back and forth between me and the president and others who were ,upporters -- part of that is
what should you be doing to engage political debate and persuade folks to your point of view? ultimately, what makes this different and the thing i was talking about is that this is an administration that has never shut down government over a budget dispute. this is an administration that has reached bipartisan consensus on issues that have been problems for new jersey for decades that no one has been able to reach consensus on. this is an administration that has gotten big things done. that is what i mean. and willight sometimes things get sharp elbowed? you bet. it goes both ways. retribution, no. >> [inaudible]
knowing what you know now about your staffers lying to you -- >> no. that was a situation which was handled by the attorney general at the time and now the judge. i have complete and utter confidence in her and her ability to make those decisions. i was not involved in that decision nor was anybody in this building. we don't get involved in law enforcement issues. there is no reason for me to go back and look at that. david. is this issue going to affect that at all? youo, the overtones, will approach it in any kind of different way? no. -- >> no. this is one issue we have to
deal with. it is an important issue. it cannot be the only issue. we have things to do in this state. i am going to keep working and i will work on this and other things as well. it is very important today within 24 hours of these revelations for me to take action and apologize to the people of fort lee and that is exactly what i am doing. >> [inaudible] >> i was going to call him after this. if you want to see me, i will go see other people in fort lee. i wish he would see me. i am certainly not going to barge into his office. if he doesn't want to see me, i will go someplace else in fort lee and talk to people. i wish the mayor would reconsider. i have come to genuinely apologize to him. meeting, i't want a
don't know what he means -- what were the words? disruptive, i don't know how the meeting between two elected officials and the premature and disruptive. that is his choice. i will meet with other people in fort lee. [inaudible] >> i have no knowledge of that. we would consider that in the normal course of business. certainly not something that i am prepared to talk about now. --can you explain why [inaudible] >> i think there was an earlier
story. i don't remember exactly. something about traffic. >> why didn't you respond then? >> we did. we were told it was a traffic study. --but the mayor is saying >> we were told they did a traffic study. that is what we were told. we did respond. that is how we responded. again, i am not somebody who is going to be getting into the details of a traffic study. i can tell you that at that first comment, that is when i became aware that there was some issue. i didn't delve into it. it was not something that i was personally delving into. >> [inaudible]
mayor sokolich saying he thinks --might be premature [inaudible] >> listen, my intention was when i got out of here, to call the mayor. i will call the mayor and we will see. in any event, i am going to go to fort lee today. it is important for me to do that. if the mayor doesn't want me to meet with him, that is his choice. sure -- listen, i don't know him. i can't be offended. i am not offended. if he wants to meet with me today, i am happy to meet with them. if he doesn't want to meet with me, i am still going to fort lee today. i think it is important for me
to be on the ground there today and apologize to folks. i am going to do that. if he wants to be part of that, he is more than welcome. if he doesn't, that is his choice too. he has independent will. that is his call. thank you all for coming today. and for your questions. i will see all of you if not before, on tuesday. thank you very much. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> governor christie did meet with the mayor of fort lee this afternoon who accepted his apology. .com issite northjersey reporting that the assembly committee investigating the george washington bridge lane closures unanimously refer the
authorities to be considered for a contempt charge. tein refused to testify today saying the constitution protected him from self- incrimination. on tomorrow morning's "washington journal a we focus on new jersey governor chris christie's apology. with reporters and state legislators about the incident. we will be joined by a georgetown university law professor to talk about how ordinary citizens interact with the justice system. washington journal is live every day on c-span at 7:00 a.m. eastern. >> if i were to identify the singular most important challenge to overcome, it would be that. is, theh of the matter reason we are here is because of
this inclination which i read summer -- somewhere is anti- historical because it denies entries of islamic theology and tradition, hundreds of years of diversity. i think our journey as americans has to be about refusing being told by clerics who speak for us that islam is a seventh century reality. who need ancans islam of the 21st-century. >> being muslim in america, sunday night at nine on "after words." discussingwill be
the liberty amendments. read the book and join the conversation. >> in a few moments, washington post columnist david ignatius wright onlist robert continuing talks over cap iran's nuclear program. then, more about the fighting in iraq. after that, we will re-air new jersey governor chris christie's news conference. -- forum onim continuing talks over iran's nuclear program. the u.s. institute of peace and the woodrow wilson center for an hour and a half. >> good morning.
i am the president of the united states institute of peace. i want to welcome you to what promises to be a good event. i am often asked what the institute does. simplified version of what we do is we stop fights. we do it working with governmental and nongovernmental organizations. successful most of the time but when we are, it is a big deal. we cost less than fielding one pollution -- one platoon in afghanistan. my partner in crime here today is jane harman. she directs the wilson center. thewilson center is one of governmental/nongovernmental organizations that we do partner with. relationship,long a very fruitful relationship. jane, if you would like to -- >> thank you, jim. there are no fights that i know of between the u.s. ip and the
wilson center. i am jane harman, served in congress for nine terms. many of them with my former colleague, jim marshall. we have traveled the world together. of things likers iran sanctions legislation over many years. i had thought that joe golden horn was here but i don't see him. i think michael adler is here. he is a scholar at the wilson center. we value our work on a range of hot topics. hosting, we will be another event on the crisis in south sudan featuring wilson -- and a u.s. ip fellow. we follow iran very closely. this fall, we welcome catherine amano for whatia we call ground truth briefings.
today, we are here to debrief two rock stars and dear friends, robin wright -- yes she has both titles, and washington post wise man david ignatius who has written a spectacular op-ed this morning on iraq. dispatches from their visits, robin finding marilyn munro pillar art in tehran and data cross between pyongyang and los angeles -- ouch. need to giveat we both sides running room to make a deal. i totally applaud john kerry's energy and courage. we have been trying to get iran to the negotiating table since 2003.
why can't we give them an extra six months after a decade of trying? jim and i are recovering politicians. we both know that the u.s. has to respond to domestic politics. cosponsors and a majority of iran's parliament singling that they will support requiring the government to enrich uranium up to 60% are disturbing ideas. in foreign policy, tit for tat is dangerous. it is time to press the pause button. why doesn't congress get all the cosponsors it needs on the sanctions legislation and just hold it? the joint plan of action is not a final settlement. it is an opportunity for a settlement. think aust say that i successful nuclear deal could prove to be an enormous shift in the tectonic plates in the middle east. since i am from california, i
understand how earthquakes work. it would serve the interest of all countries in the region. as henry kissinger once said, iran must decide whether it is a nation or a cause. the u.s. also must decide to take some risks. hopefully we and iran will make the right decisions in 2014. again, welcome. [applause] >> thank you, jane. i would like to recognize by board chairman who is here and also another board member, david who is director of policy planning. i would like to turn it over to bill taylor, our vice president for the middle east and africa. ambassador bill taylor who has been with the state department for years, also a vietnam vet. >> thank you, jim. thank you very much. i want to thank you both for your introductions, particularly congresswoman harman for doing
all of what i was about to do. the introduction of these 2 -- neither needs an introduction, we are very pleased to have two people who have written books about iran. there is going to be covers of two books that are represented by authors write here. they have also just returned from iran. what we thought would be very useful and interesting for you of us is to get a picture what is going on inside. for all the reasons we all know, this is a time to try to understand what is going on. maybe there are changes and that is what i hope we will get from this extension -- this discussion. robin is going to make some observations about her trip. david will make some observations about his trip. we will have a conversation very quickly and i look forward to your questions. easy discussion here.
thanks, bill, very much. four headlines as an old journalist. one fact that dived and i were allowed to go at all. i went to see a grand ayatollah, one of only 12 in the world and i said what's changed? he said the fact that you're here. this was the first interview he'd been allowed in five years and he's an eye tolla. that was striking. when i went to a former member of parliament, whose brother was president of iran, i said what's new and he said i'm less afraid than i was before the election and this was a man very much a part of the system. we all know about the bad knews of president mahmoud ahmadinejad but it's interesting to hear from it from people who were powerful players. what's really interesting is
that there's a new category on the political spectrum. we've gone through the era of the hard liners with president mahmoud ahmadinejad and what we're seeing is a new category today of what i call the realists who are not out to, like the green movement was, to transform iran, to challenge the powers of the supreme leader. they're willing to work within the system but they do want to open up political space and a lot of it in very different ways. very interesting, the president last night met with an array of artists, film directors, actresses, actors and so forth and said that art without freedom was meaningless. the tenor has changed but lehr we're looking at people whore realistic in terms of what the varies goals are. secondly, i think in terms of our interests, what's really important to understand is that
iran is going through what i ll a strategic recalculation or recalibration. this does not mean some kind of overhaul but it does mean that they are responding in real time to what is going on in the region. a decade ago when the u.s. intervened in iraq and got rid f saddam hussein in a.f.c. and -- afghanistan and got rid of the taliban, the king started worrying about the crescent, the arc radiating from damascus and into lebanon and the rise of the shiites and iran was sitting pretty as the kind of strategic winner. what's interesting today is that with the rise of the al qaeda franchises, with the u.s. having withdrawn from iraq, having about to withdraw
from afghanistan that iran suddenly finds itself encouriced by sal if is, by al qaeda mill tints, encircled by the sunnis and this has led to an awareness of well, you know, the u.s. might not be such aned a ver serrie after all and that when we look at why iran is at the negotiating table we often tend to focus on the pressure on economic sanctions when there are much bigger issues that we ignore and that's one of them, this strategic recollation. another reason -- recalculation. another reason is the psychology of war. the grisliest modern middle east conflicts played out in iran with iraq and one of the most striking things to me was
going to a couple of hospitals in teheran and seeing victims dying of chemical weapons. 30 years after they came under attack. iran now estimates it has close to 70,000 people who are still survivors of chemical weapons and need chronic medical help and will eventually die. the numbers could end up rivaling the death toll in world war i from mustard gas and when i talk to people about he nuclear deal or president rehanie, what the model in teheran was, the first thing so many people told me was we know we can wake up tomorrow morning and not worry about a bomb falling on teheran, that there really is this deep fear of what a military action might
endale -- entail, how long it might go on, what it might cost again. those are my initial thoughts. i will conclude with one final thing. think president rahanni is more particular today than the day he was when he was elected. he's taken many smart moves, whether it was diplomacy with the outside world but he also appointed techno kratz trying to bail them out of the huge mess created by president mahmoud ahmadinejad. they're all people who are very smart. the budget that was introduced deals with the huge problems of inflation, the fact that one in four of the young are unemployed. it's trying to make some hard choice that is will need to be taken if iran is going to control over what has been a
plummeting economy. >> robin, thank you. o strategic recalculation or recalibration -- shiite crescent, now sunni encirclement. we want to come back to these. but a pretty upbeerkts pretty positive description, i would say. hang on. we'll come back to this david, your view? you were there approximately the same time and i'd love to hear your story. >> first, thanks to bill and marshallle and jane harmon. it's really nice to be asked about a subject that really matters. in a lot of times in washington we speak about things that sort of matter. these negotiations and their consequences for our country are really important and i think sessions like this where we try to think through what robin and i have just seen and share it with you and get your feedback are important.
i should just note that as a panelist it's a great pleasure for me to see my mom and dad in the audience. [applause] >> all right. >> i have to be especially careful not to give the bland journalistic -- because i'm going to hear about it later and let me start just with a caveat. i wish i knew more aboutor. i was there on this -- about iran. i was there on this trip for four days. everybody needs to understand that i am giving you casual impressions from a very quick trip. we need to know so much more about this country. you do feel the product of 34 years of being cut off and the i k of deem expertise so hope i'll go back. i hope robin will go back often. here, just a couple of brief starting points in terms of my own sense of the country and the people when i was there.
first, there is the appearance of a real debate -- i want to say division -- among sister members of the leadership. at least as seen in my nterviews. i interviewed at length and in real deal -- detail, published a full transcript of the minister who is the leading western looking face of the regime and he went pretty systematically through the negotiating issues and sometimes i wasn't sure just where the space to make a deal was but sareef kept asserting that a deal can be made and we'll take care of this and don't worry. so he was obviously believing as he spoke to me that he spoke for president rahani and beyond
im for the supreme leader. i also saw, as robin did, probably the most visible hardliner against the regime, who is supported by the supreme leader of the very conservative newspaper. his name is hussein modarif. i met him on a previous stroist to iran. he's very articulate, very outspoken and when asked do you think compromise with the west on these nuclear issues has advocated aggressively by zar inches f and left visibly by rouhani, do you think that's possible? he said flatly no, i don't. i don't believe in compromise. i don't believe the islamic republic should compromise its identity. beyond that, he said he thought that the foreign minister had
certificate serb -- -- essentially misrepresented the deal struck in geneva, the interim deal to strike iran's capability. he describes calling rouhani calling him in the middle of the life and rouhani writing a letter and saying this man zarif did not tell the truth about what's in that detail. that's a little chilling. zarif was very open with me about the extent to which he feels under pressure from the revolutionary guard. he said a public fight -- and these are unusual things in a country like iran. second basic point is about sanctions. we often hear and indeed use the phrase "crippling sanctions" to describe the sanctions that have been applied to iran and they're
pretty intense as economic sanctions go. robin was smiling when i used the phrase "crippling sanctions" and i think i know why. which is that when you go to teheran this doesn't look like a country just hobbling on his knees about to fall over dead, the way you sometimes get the sense reading our accounts of how we've just driven them to negotiations, you know, practically broken their arms. no, i mean, they are a very resource -- resourceful people. they're good at suffering, living with suffering and they've found ways to work around these sanctions. you go to north teheran and talk to a business person and he'll tell you will exactly, down to the number of percentage points and the additional interest rate emium fless to get financing for illegal banned, supposedly impossible deals.
nothing is impossible so people should bear that in mind. what the sanctions have done is cripple iran's much future. it's the opportunity costs, the country that iran might be that every iranian i talked to feels, senses this iranian moment is coming where our brain power, our scientists, our business people are ready to dominate the region. they feel it on their fingertips, but that they won't grasp as long as the sanctions stay in place and i think people know it and i think it's really our biggest leverage. a related point -- i kept even in this brief period. intense criticism of president who just left office, his links with the revolutionary guard and the corrupt way in people's had made e deals he
and the way in which iran's oil income, in particular was wasted. three or fewer people talked about the $700 billion that during ned in oil sales mahmoud ahmadinejad's eight years. where had it gone? people asking almost as if it was a criminal diet. these people close to the revolutionary guard have been involved in stealing money that belongs to you. a final point i'd make is really about process. i think my strongest takeaway, as i left teheran was just how hard it's going to be to get that i think is very much in iran's interests. i would close this part of the discussion by saying that if
there's some way for the united states and its allies to give the iranian people a taste of what it would be like to cross the threshold into this future where they join the rest of the world. ave open contacts. have modern music, performances. i'd like to see what we did in the early detente years where you have rock music or ballets and let the ayatollahs tell people they can't go listen to the music. i don't think they will and i think things like that could make a difference. so i'll stop there. >> david, excellent. robin, thank you both very much so you were both there. what i'd like to at least start off with is a sense of what's going on there. you've both given us that part. what surprised you the most.
robin, you already addressed this. one of the surprises you heard from them was that you were even there. as you look at the society, you look at the economy, as david described, what surprised you? you've been there for many years on and off. >> 40 years. >> many years. so you've seen it either not change or a -- over a long time but you've been back knew and have seen it for nearly two weeks. what's your sense? >> like david, one of the things that really strikes you is how the economy seems to be hen you're on the streets, thriving. the grand bazaar is popping, the aisles are packed. there's a technology mall in teheran just for computers and there are so many apple stories that have the apple brand on it. one of the pirgs you saw i took -- you can get an ipad, iphone, ipod. latest variety in any color
sell out before -- almost ordered in advance. that this is not crippled in the sense and we need to be careful about how much we assume sanctions will do anymore. yes, it is complicated business and in the case of the chemical weapons victims, the -- they couldn't get access to a lot of the medicines, not because of sanctions, because the u.s. allows all humanitarian clothing, education materials to be exempt from sanctions but because banks were not willing to be engaged in transactions that, even if it was for medicine. so i went to a hospice care facility where one guy is literally dying, may have died since i came back and they were showing me the inhalers that he needed, american made and that
he couldn't get access to because no pharmacy could get anybody to finance the ability to buy these things. in terms of surprises, i've been trying for 34 years to get into the american embassy in teheran. i covered the hostage crisis and the revolution and stood at the steps of the plane in al-jazeeras when the 5 americans disembarked and this time i got in and i had a revolutionary guard take me around the building. it was really -- it was actually, to be honest with you, a little anti-climatic at this point but it was fascinating. the gold shag carpeting is all matted and filthy and it's kind of crude. it says on the door papers forgery room and in the old room where they had diplomatic discussions. the iranians have a big sign, they call it the glassy room and they have these three man canadas who have cheap suits
dish disheveled wiggings and they obviously don't completely bend because they're sitting straight back and my guard said to me -- and what -- that one is supposed to be ambassador sullivan. he was your last ambassador. he died last month. they actually keep up with this stuff. i think what surprised me was how -- i also went to see the man who masterminded the takeover of the american ambassador. one of three master minds and i found him fascinating. here he is today, you know, white haired, slightly paunchy but clean-shaven in contrast to so many in iran, advocating not only the resumption of relations between the united states and teheran but also the
reopening of the embassy. that we sense of -- really are as two countries for the first time in 34 years and we marked the 35th anniversary on february 1. we are on the same page. whether we can turn that beige -- page is still the big question. but this nuclear deal is important, not just because we all want to prevent a country from getting the world's deadliest weapon. it's also important because every war i went people told me the parliamentary election next year will be decided in terms of who's allowed to run, what the public mood is, how the big guns see the mood on the street, if there's a nuclear deal. if there's a nuclear deal, there will be more of the realists or even some more romplers allowed to run. i went to see a leading women's
rights activists and said if there is a nuclear deal, the president will be all the more empowered to do things on other issues, including rights for women. so they have a sense in iran that they really want this deal and that is, i think, to the advantage of the nuclear team. for all the obstacles they face from the hardliners who still control the judiciary and the legislature, there is a real ublic moot in favor of a deal. and, i think, to answer bill's question, the amount of it surprised me. >> same page? >> well, a couple of surprises or just things that i was able to see that might interest you. first-rate, a from what i could tell, really world-class scientist,
molecular biologist. somebody who is doing work dealing with neurodegenerative diseases like what my daughter's young doctor was working on in the labs. here's a person who has very commercial ideas that could be the basis of a biotech company, who's nervous about starting that company in a country that isn't part of the w.t.o. because you can't protect intellectual property. he doesn't want to leave iran. he doesn't know what to do. he's caught. and that's an example of the -- you know, this society waiting to jump into the future and the who have -- want to play on the world stage that the united states needs to be speaking to. i think the other thing i would just note -- it touches on the
comment robin cited, the famous comment of kissinger's, is iran a nation or a cause. and that's a sort of code for asking has iran turned the corner from its revolution? the iranian revolution in 1979 was the great by stabilizing event in that region whose tremors still affect iran and other countries. it's like the french revolution in your -- europe, i always think. think how long it took europe to absorb all of that destabilizing energy. and i kept looking for signs that the revolution is over and finding signs that, at least among people at the commanding heights, people with guns, it isn't. i'm sorry to say that but i think iran's destabilizing role
in the region, it's willingness to encourage turmoil in syria, the n, bahrain, down list. i didn't quote this in anything, but zarif basically said that saudi arabia couldn't last and the saudis will come down as our part of the world changes, meaning the saudi world family. there's that basic revolutionary idea. destabilizing idea is still there. i don't know hugh to deal with that. i'd love to have discussion when we get to q&a about that. how should we think about that issue and that side of snoirn how much should we allow to -- them to continue with these activities and we should we say no, that's not acceptable. >> let me ask one follow question that follows on what both of you said, particularly your last comments and then
we'll open it up so be preparing your questions. robin, you talked about strategic recalibration. david, you said you're worried that the revolution continues. real debate in there. is there a recalculation? what are the implications far nuclear deal, for syria, for iraq, as you wrote this morning, and then, i agree with you. there are some very smart people in this room who will have views on this as well but if you can each talk about the implications -- whether or not there's this recalibration and if so what the implications are. >> i think david made a tremendously important point about the revolution and it's clear that since 1979, the big debate in iran, whoever was president, but it played out at every election was is the islamic republic of iran first and foremost islamic or is it first and foremost a rerick?
and under the romplers, they tried to push it toward the direction of a republic and under the hardliners to keep it ideological purity and this is a debate that's far from over. the realists are trying to bridge the two but they're not going to answer this existential question in terms of the strategic recalculation. again, i think david is right, that the -- iran is one of the most nationalist countries in the world. i often tell people that if they want to understand persian nationalism to think of the most chauvinistic texen and then add 5,000 years and then you begin to understand just how deep those passions go and that they will continue to do anything they -- it takes to protect or promote their national interests. but i also think that the
realists have been willing to steps r some important and on syria, and i talked to -- on the record and off the record to the foreign minister, the chairman of the foreign relations committee in parliament. you, several m.p.'s, both romplers and hardliners and here is a sense, a recognition that syria may not hold together as long as assad is in power and that, as a result, what's the best alternative? and they have indicated in some -- again, some on the record, some off the record, that they're prepared to lop off the head -- in other words, president assad, to keep the body, to keep the booth party as a part of -- baath party as
a part of whatever the next political system is. i think they're very worried in iraq about al qaeda or isis reemerging and i think this -- at in a way they much were such a -- anarchy, they understand that getting the sunnis on their side is actually in iran's interests to stabilize that country. and they think of it not just in terms of stability but this is a big economic outlet, border country and -- so, look, they're never going to walk away from hezbollah. hamas -- i think -- i thought one of the most interesting things is how their reverting to the language on the israeli conflict that the president used in the late 1990's, that
if there is a deal between the palestinians and israelis, they're not going to be the ones to say no to it, to try to sabotage ill. i think there are so many other big problems that the arab-israeli conflict doesn't have the profile or the priority that it once did. >> david? >> just a couple of thoughts about these big strategic issues that i think are at the center of what u.s. officials need to be thinking about and if they can discussing with the iranians. what is in our interests and i think we need to show is in their interests is a process in which iran turns towards being maybe in -- you know, a leading regional player in some kind of new structure for security in the region and the essence of that deal is that
iran understands their limits on its ability to move toward having nuclear weapons. highly destabilizing. in the end dangerous nor them as well as for the region, and also has to semilimits on its covert action in neighboring countries like the ones that i mentioned and what it gets out of that is acceptance that it is going to play this mainly role. it's a little bit like -- major role. it's a little bit like, if you imagine it, returning to the sort of status that iran dreamed of under the shah. so i think laying out that idea for iranians and helping their elite think about it, get a feel for it, is crucial. i talked at length with zarif about this and he talked about some of his own writings that are in a similar direction. interestingly, i wrote a kind
of quasi scholarly article years ago in 2006 looking at some of henry kissinger's writings about how europe was stabilized after the french revolution. iranians gobbled them up and when mahmoud ahmadinejad came to washington, of all people, two years ago, he wanted to talk about, so the idea intrigues them. second strategic point. one theme of the article i wrote this morning is that iran is incredibly adept at riding several horses at once. negotiating with the united states in the west about a nuclear deal as it continues to run hezbollah, as it backs assad in a bloody civil war. meanwhile it's got multiple iraqi militias, some competing with each other. all of which is covertly ascending into syria. they're masters at this and
it's very skillful policy, i have to say. the united states needs to do, in its way, a little bit of the same. we need to ride multiple horses at once. we're trying to do something important with the iranians in the shiah world. it scares our sunni friends but we aught to be sort of redoubling our engagement with our sunni friends at the same time. it may appear to be contradictory. so what? often good policy has elements of critics. so riding several -- continue decisions -- contra dictions. riding several horses at once is what we ought to do and get better at it. >> david. thank you. this is very, very good advice. let me invite you in the audience to ask questions of these two about any of the things that you've heard so far. if you will raise your hand,
and there are mikes on either side and the first question is right up in the balcony here and it might be hard to get the mike to that -- loudly, can you do that? >> i'm from the muslim public affairs counsel and my question is directed towards david. he made a statement something to the effect that the iranies felt saudi arabia will not last. the thing is that -- you thought iran played a destabilizing role in the region, which it does. my question is twofold. one, do you think that the statement meant that iran will play a role in bringing saudi arabia down or was it simply a statement of fact considering that there are many destructive forces within saudi arabia itself? and two, don't you feel that your statement reflects a bias
in terms of -- talking about de stabilization in the region. a lot of people feel that you're talking about iran being destabilizing but look at what saudi arabia is doing and it's interesting that you made a comparison between those two and don't you think that reflects a bias that many people feel the u.s. government has? >> it's a good question. well-phrased. i don't mean to be saying that i think the status quo and the status quo powers, as opposed to revolutionary iran in all cases deserve u.s. support. i think -- i hope saudi arabia will address its deep internal problems. i hope saudi arabia will modernize, adapt, become a more open country, become a prosperous country as it does so so, yes, you're right. saudi arabia has an iran
problem. iran does meddle, especially in the eastern province, but saudi arabia's biggest problems are internal and they have to do with issues the saudis have to solve. so i accept the caveat. the sunni world is convinced that iran has its hands at their throats. i mean, if you travel -- i pent a week in abu dhabi and dubai before going to tehran waiting for my visa and had a chance to talk to a lot of gulf arabs and the degree of anxiety about iran as they look at this changing process that's beginning is important. i think it's important whenever you're in a period of change to reach out to people who are your traditional friends and tell them what you're doing. communicate more.
if i would fault one aspect of u.s. policy is in this very turbulent period we have not been communicating enough to the various players, especially our traditional allies. >> thank you, david. right here? question? >> thank you, bill. i'm will emery. to come to a deal, there's got to be a quilled pro kuo and i think the problems in geneva are that we're going to have to deliver relief of sanctions and having worked on sanctions in the state department, i know there's an incredible web of bilateral, multilateral sanctions out there and they're owned by various groups. i'm really worried about our ability to be able to deliver on relief sanctions to lure the anians to give on the n -- nukes. >> so just briefly, it's
interesting that iranian economists who are advising the government told me that the new budget for iran aassumes that sanctions will continue. in other words, although they desire sanctions relief, they're not writing their budget based on the idea that there'll be a new wind at all. indeed, the -- wind fuel. -- wind fall. the most interesting thing that rouhani is doing through his economic ministers is troying to -- trying to get the import-export balance in better oil independent of exporlts. they're trying to boost petrochemical scales and a crank -- range of things at the same time that they lower unnecessary imports so that they get a balance, the numbers people would share with me
would be on the order of $80 million woman -- coming in that they could pay for with non-oil exports. they're battening down for a sanctions-continuing world. i have to say, looking at how hard the issues are on the table, i you would be surprised if, by the end of this six-month freeze period, they can be negotiated. so, you know, the goal of comprehensive -- settlement and comprehensive relief of sanctions, i just don't see that happening after six months and i think the iranians probably get that. so -- and they understand sanctions will come off slowly. they've watched the u.s. congress. they know how many intensity there is behind the idea of adding more sanctions. a final thought -- more sanctions will in part have the effect of enfranchising, just
as they did in iraq, the most corrupt people who control levers of illegal business and we have to remember that. that much more aggressive sanctions that follow breakdown of negotiations will empower the people we would least like to see on top. >> robin, your thoughts both to the question but also on this question, this issue of sanctions and like to keep it focused on tehran, but as the congressman has already indicated, it leads into washington politics as well. on the sanctions question, what was your observance there? >> one of the important things we have to understand is that there are sanctions imposed for a lot of different reasons and they're not all related to the nuclear program. extremist groups, a state responsererer -- sponsoring of terror.
there are multiple issues and the iranians are looking in the current package to get relief from the sanctions imposed just over a year ago or a year and a half ago that went into effect in the summer of -- last summer is that right? right, last summer. that impose sanctions on any third party that buys iranian oil and that has affected their ability to sell to their six largest trading partners. that's what they're looking for. they're not looking for this nuclear deal to go beyond and deal with issues of the arab-israeli peace process or support for extremist groups. human rights, there are some sanctions imposed because violations and so forth. those issues it doesn't want to put on the table those sanctions that they know will not be lifted. so it's one narrow section. i will say that the very
charismatic foreign minister said, i think, to both of us that if new sanctions are imposed by congress, even if they don't go into effect for six months, the nuclear deal is dead. they have the terms of the interim deal saying no new sanctions in exchange for what is really quite small sanctions relief. it's giving them just over $4.6, i think, billion in cash and a little bit more in other things that it's a token relief, particularly in the fact that they're losing so much more because of sanctions and their inability to sell oil. so, you know, in terms of -- i guess i'm a little bit more optimistic about whether they principal get a deal. what i'm more pessimistic about is the fact that i think there's a greater carninge that
congress will make what could be an epic miscarlinglation in passing new sanctions, thinking it will add pressure to iran and bring us closer to a deal when it could actually sabotage it in a way that would ultimately put the military option back on the table. it would basically be a war resolution. >> congresswoman harmon has already given advice to the congress on how to avoid exactly that yes, right here. > to answer your question, mr. ignatius. david to you, you mentioned you were still very concerned about the revolutionary face of iran. i want to make a quick comment, that you have to remember that this government came into power with the platform of anti-u.s. and anti-israel so it's really difficult for them at this point to aban dom -- aban dan that face because this is
basically their constituency that they need to support. but this phase is pretty much fading away and not very attractive to many iranians. about a month ago there was an anniversary of 1979 embassy take over and my daughter, who's a journalist there, reported that there was a march with the young students, elementary school students walking on the streets of iran and marching anti-u.s. slogans. when they were asked why are they here? a bunch of the boys answered we're just lucky and happy that we're not going to school too. so you can imagine that many of these kids don't take these slogans quite seriously. this was about your quick comment about the concern of the revolutionary face of iran. >> america is a country born in revolution and we celebrate our
revolution every year and we celebrate the revolutionary patriots who were our founders and i get that not the idea hat we're going to ask iran to abandon this history. that's unrealistic. that said, if i were to express a hope for the way iran will move, i would think of the rise shao ping and people like him in china, who preserved the come analyst party and its authoritarian structure, alas. it's a shame but did turn toward the west. maintained the nominal demand that they would some day take taiwan, which was their rightful possession, but didn't really do anything about it. if you have that kind of outcome here where you had an
iranian ping who says our regime, our revolution continues and we embrace it because it's ours. but move the country into a connection with the west recognizing that secured instability come from making things like the nuclear deal, i think that's probably -- for now, that would be fine. wouldn't be perfect. i'd still be sad about some of the repressive things in iran but i understand that. >> can i add one little thing? i often try to go to iran on november 4 for the anniversary of the takeover because i covered the original hostage affair and it's very funny because the government has declared november 4 to be pupils day and they do give everybody a day off school if embassy and at the one year they were handing around little cards, don't do
business with any of these brands because they do business with israel. calvin klein and so forth. what makes me laugh -- and i drove off from the commemoration and up the street was this huge billboard for calvin klein. you know, the revolution is full of these great critics. you still see the -- -- contradictions. you still see the language. the down with america. one of the ones covers like a 12-story building and yet the model is very much as if that's of a different time in their history. and oscar, the mastermind of the hostage takeover, or the embassy takeover also said to me, i'm realistic. i believe that everything has its time and its place and that time is over. and that's from somebody who led it. >> we have -- i see three hands here. let me acknowledge that there
are people in the other room. overflow who have also sent in a question. one of which asks about the strategic recalculation. the implications phillip wan asks could the u.s. and iran's mutual opposition to al qaeda and iraq and syria bolster u.s.-iran relations, especially with regard to u.s. nuclear deals? the kind of link ages and is there a real change in the overall approach? david, you want to start? >> i think certainly as al qaeda puts down deep roots in the euphrates valley and syria and iraq both, the united states is turning to shiah allies who are supported by iran and we are now providing weapons, technology lodgal gear and lots of advice to the maliki government in baghdad,
which is, i don't want to see a client of tehran but it's pretty darn close. so you can imagine a situation down the road where the kind of sharing of information that took place after 9/11, if you read rein crocker's comments on the record in a remarkable article in "the new yorker " several months ago about the head of the kutz force in tehran, rein describes the extent to which he were sharing information with the iranians about the al qaeda threat. ain, from what i know, this, unfortunately, is another example of iran's ability to ride several horses at once. it's clear that iran has leaves-oned with al qaeda -- lease-on-with al qaeda, even if it is threatened by al qaeda.
the question of what to do in iraq and syria and how to get this very dangerous threat under control and who are the right allies is an absolutely central strategic issue for the administration right now. i'm glad the head of policy planning is sitting in the front row and that he has to sort this out because it's really a hard one. the idea that he would -- we would end up sharing information with iran about mutual adversaries, that's happened in the past withing of and-iron iraq and entirely possible it will happen before too long. >> the thing that concerns me about a military strike against an is that, i think some leading saudis would like to see that happen. as much or perhaps even more because of those pesky little
shiites across the gulf, as the nuclear question, and my deep concern is that when we look at iran and the nuclear program, we don't often factor in how this would play to the sectarian divide. for me, the greatest threat across that region today is the many different aspects of the sectarian divide and you could make the case that we have -- that it is deeper today than any time since the original skisle. 14 centuries ago. -- schism. 14 centuries ago. it is more extensive. it affects a part of -- so much larger part of the world. it is a global phenomena the way it plays out in terms of security interests, economy, security. and that we tend to put in a bubble each individual issue and this is one on this very important question.
that gets to something much deeper that's happening in the region that could end up -- i did a piece in the "new york times" in centre drawing the map of the middle east. that it affects a lot of the -- much more fundamental basics of that region that would have a tremendous spill overon all of us. >> ok. here i've got at least three but let's start here with -- yes, right back the mike. >> my name is peter and i'm retired from the state department. the comments thus far, if you look at the map above you, have focused on the country's regions west of iran. i would like our two guests, panelists, to give us some insights into what the iranians are thinking of the area east of iran, specifically afghanistan and pakistan. how worried are they about pakistan's nukes? how worried are they about what happens ining of after the u.s. departs?
>> uh, let me take a first crack at that. one of the more interesting comments that was made to me -- the person i won't describe -- said put down your pen. i don't want you to write this. the biggest reason we need to think about having a nuclear weapons program is pakistan. they view pakistan, a near neighbor, as a country that could become much more dangerous to their interests in the future. they worry that -- to the extent the u.s. tried to manage this problem, we haven't done a very good job of it. so i think that's something on their strategic radar we need to be aware of. i think like everybody in the region they are apprehensive about what happens as the u.s. draws down its troops. they normalaly say that they
want no american military presence ining of. -- afghanistan. i'm not sure if they really mean it but other people who are specialists would know better than i. the iranians do seems to be -- seem to be willing to play more in discussions about the future of afghanistan. at least they signal that they would be willing too. hussein masavain who just has gone back to iran. was at princeton. wrote a book that was published last year, very open account of ouhani e working with r andzarif a decade ago but he ys in this book that the iranians made an explicit offer after richard holbrooke's death when mark grossman became our special representative for afghanistan and pakistan, that
he'd come to iran for discussions about the mutual interests shared by iran and the united states in dealing with the taliban problem in afghanistan and stabilizing afghanistan. and that the u.s. never responded. so that's an interesting statement on the record by a prominent iranian that says this is an area where we'd be willing to talk to you. >> can i just commend -- i run a website called iranprimer.com and it's now the most comprehensive website in the world in any language on iran. we have every major pronouncement article, analysis on every aspect. it was originally a book. we put the whole book on the web and we add 12,13 pieces a week of analysis. we have every statement and proannouncement by the u.s. and also on iran. we just ran a four-part series on iran and asia.
iran and india. it's on iranprimer.com. >> very good. all right. let's go here. >> thank you. i'm and george mason university. my question is about new technology and social media. more than 50% of iranians have access to internet and rouhani andzarif also on twitter. but a few days ago they have a policy to have more censorship on social media and internet access. how is it fixed with the rouhani?s' policy of >> i'm happy to take that i follow both on their twitter accounts and we just posted
tweets from the president's account on his speech about freedom in the arts and one of the problems is that president rouhani doesn't have control over that issue and it's one which he's talked about a lot and again, this goes back to the nuclear deal, that they can't do anything else until they get this nuclear deal and they've proved their creds and the rest of the regime has to bend more because the balance of internal power moves more from rouhani's favor. they also don't want to move too quickly because that's what all the newspapers did with everybody in the power structure that created a backlash. most of the numerous were closed and reporters ended up in jail and now that place ow a decade later in social media. i had to go through v.p.n. when i was there, virtual private
networks and it wasn't easy but i managed to post pictures and facebook and while i was posting things, i would hear from other iranians who would see things so we would communicate often on social media but the censorship issue is fundamental and one of the fun things was zarif after he opened his facebook page. it was right after he was in new york. i think his plane with you delayed in new york going back to istanbul and he posted something about oh, i'm having trouble with the internet or i'm having trouble posting and someone inside who's in iran said well, now you know what it's like for the rest of us. >> the president doesn't have responsibility for that aspect. who does? >> this is where -- you know, there's a national security council that is the powerful entity and there are those on it who are from the intelligence, from judiciary, from different branches and
they kind of have to come to agreement on a lot of these basic issues. now, the most important name that's probably not known in this country and the person to watch is a man named ali systems shamkani who will the -- is the national security advisor. he was the former minister of defense during the reform era. he's the only arab in the inner circle. he was one who got up after the green movement and said of the two candidates who have been under house arrest now for more than two and a half years that they should never have been imprisoned and he took some strong stands and it's widely believed in tehran -- who knows whether it's true -- that he's in that job in part because he is going to slowly move toward trying to get them released.
i think the mood is, within many in the inner circle that it's ok to let them go. their fear is that millions would turn out on the streets in support and that would then be seen to be an embarrassment for whether it's the supreme leader or rouhani and the timing is not right on that issue. this is the strange system that iran's constitution is based on beljan and french law but every one of the traditional branches of government has a parallel branch of islamic clerics or scholars that has either veto power or can have a say on things and then you have the various intelligence ministries that also have a say and don't always fully collaborate with the politicians. taking steps on things like censorship is not flipping a switch.
>> that's well said. >> good. i want to try to go to -- up here, there were -- yes, right here, please. i have the other ones in mind up there. >> thank you. i'm with middle east analysis. just a question, ms. wright, you answered already there question about the internet thing but my concern is have you felt on your visits, that there is some of a grace period and how long will it be? thank you. >> good. robin, you want to start? >> yeah, i -- i think rouhani has kind of six months, eight months, maybe all of this year to produce something. iran has parliamentary elections next year and everybody is already looking at that and when i went to talk to
some of the former reform members of parliament who were subsequently disqualified from running again by one of the islamic council is, the guardian council, they talked about preparing the ground that none of them will try to run again but they are actively now recruiting and for the momentum to move in the favor of rouhani's crowd, to break the hardline lock on parliament, something has to happen this year and, you know, earlier than the end of the year, so he doesn't have forever and legislative elections are just as important in iran as they are in this country. let me just say that about 10% of