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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  March 12, 2014 5:00am-7:01am EDT

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the findings, and then we moved to terminate her. they did not know that we had terminated her until after the fact. >> okay. and it's your belief that that's not legally required? >> that is my belief. >> and let's assume -- it may not be legally required, but do you think it might be a good idea to tell them that you were firing her under all those circumstances that you just delineated, just from a management perspective? what would be the reason you wouldn't want to tell them? >> well, from a human resources standpoi standpoint, and i have experts that basically informed me that we should -- these are private issues with employees. >> wait, you just said you already told them you had severe issues with her conduct. you did that? you weren't worried about her privacy then, that you had serious ongoing conduct issues so you weren't -- didn't hesitate to already poise on-the-well so to speak, but you didn't think -- you thought
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somehow telling them that you fired her was somehow a kinder thing to her since you had already done that? i mean, it doesn't make sense to me. why would you go to them in the first place and tell them you had problems with her, unless you were papering the file? >> it was out of courtesy to our primary customer to notify them that we had these allegations and were investigating them. >> but you didn't think it was a courtesy to let them know that you fired her? >> following the termination we did call -- i called my counterpart and informed them -- about the conditions around her termination at a very high level. >> okay. let's talk a little bit about the non-disclosure form. i've had a chance -- my staff has had a chance, i should accurately say, to look at the non-disclosure form. it's my understanding that there's nothing in the
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non-disclosure form that delineates the ongoing superior rights of an employee to report safety concerns to either an ig or to congress, that that is not in your disclosure report, is that correct, your non-disclosure agreement? >> i'm not an attorney or an expert on the legal round of non-disclosure form so i really can't address that. it's not my understanding that that is a document that gets in the way of any employee raising concerns. we have to have an open environment. folks have to have the opportunity to raise safety concerns. you know, we can't start up these complicated high-risk nuclear facilities if there's any risk of safety to our employees, the environment, the public, so it's my understanding that that -- that that does not prevent employees from coming
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forward. >> do you acknowledge, either one of you, that you have an issue with the culture there, that people don't believe that they can come forward? do you see that as a problem that you need to manage? >> we take -- we obviously take this very seriously. we'll continue to encourage people to bring any issues that they have forward. as i said in my -- in my oral testimony, we have several mechanisms for people to do that. if they want to remain anonymous, they can, and all of those issues are openly tracked. d.o.e. has access to that information, and we make sure that we track those and appropriately close those issues. >> do you believe the issues that were raised by the two people that were terminate have had been adequately tracked and taken care of? >> i can tell you that -- i can assure you that all of the issues that they raised or was
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pointed out earlier, many of which were raised by others, are being formally tracked to closure within our system. >> okay. so if we have a list of those, you could give us that information for the committee record? >> yes, madam chairwoman. >> are there any technical issues that either of these people raised that you thought did not -- that were off the wall or irrational or reflected something other than a sincere desire to point out technical problems that they foresee could arise or safety problems that could arise? >> well, i just would say that, you know, in our process, that we go through and make sure that each of those is resolved. that would no be appropriate. >> okay. have any of them been resolved? because some of these go back years, especially dr dr. tamosaitis. >> i don't have those details, but i'd be glad to provide the status of the issues. >> i think some of them are raised as early as ten years ago. i would hope they have been
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tracked and resolved. >> i'm just not prepared to give you the details today. >> okay. but i'll gladly do that. >> if you would get those details for us, we would like to see how those concerns have been tracked and resolved. >> absolutely. >> let's talk about legal fees. how much have you guys spent defending yourself on these lawsuits? do you know? >> i have no firsthand knowledge of what the legal fees have been. >> do you know, mr. graham? >> i'm sorry, i do not. >> is somebody at your company that would know? >> yes. obviously we will be -- >> i do not know. >> okay. >> i know there are some splits in what's covered and what's not. i'm just not an expert on that. i'm sorry. >> okay. well, we'll have a series of
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questions about that because there is a real uneven playing field as it relates to having a case adjudicated of this nature, and i'm not one here -- i don't know who is right and who is wrong honestly. it's not my place. that's a court of law, but i know how expensive it can be to get to a court of law, especially if one side has a lot of resources and the other side has zip. it puts the side with the superior resources in a commanding position, and you can see how that could be offensive if in fact those commanding resources are coming from the united states government. i mean, it's one thing to fight your employer when you feel like that you have been treated badly. it's a whole other thing when they are being bank rolled by the united states government, and that's why i think we've got to look at this issue because as long as you guys don't admit guilt, it's my understanding that the federal government picks up the tab, so
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hypothetically, not that you are doing that in this case or not that you would do this, but hypothetically a contractor could draw out a case as long as possible, weaken the plaintiff significantly, financially and over time, and then get a settlement and never have to pay a dime of their own money for their legal defense whereas the other side who wanted an adjudication is denied that opportunity just by being worn down, and that's what i would like to get at, and so we're going to ask a lot of questions around that in terms of timing, how long do these cases take? has anyone availed themselves of arbitration or are they willing to, or more importantly is it maybe an issue where at a certain point in time if you could so long and spend so much that it begins to be the company's dime rather than the united states government's dime? you know, i don't want to chill
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people wanting to do business with the federal government by them thinking that they are going to be subjected to costly litigation. on the other hand, this doesn't seem fair to me the way this is current currently situated. i didn't have a chance to hear your testimony live. i wanted to give both of you an opportunity if there were points you made in your testimony that you want to make sure that i hear. i try very hard to read everything, both before and after hearings, but i -- i want to confess that there are times that i don't get a chance to read everything, so i didn't want to give either of you -- to dismiss either one of you without having a chance to -- to point out anything to me that you think i need to know. >> chairman, i would just like to state, and i stated it in my
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opening remarks, that you are rs has a zero tolerance for retaliation against whistleblowers. we did not terminate miss busche as a retaliation against the nuclear safety issues that she brought up. we're very concerned about any issues that are raised at our sites because of the consequences that exist at these high hazard nuclear operations. so we want to make sure we have an open environment at our sites for people to raise concerns so that they can be addressed appropriately. it is unfortunate, and it was one of the toughest decisions i've made in my career. i took over as a general manager seven weeks ago. it was prout to my attention through our employee concerns program where we had employees that filed complaints against miss busche's conduct and
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behavior. we investigated those. we validated those concerns, and i had to make the really hard decision to terminate miss busche. >> let's talk a little bit ab t about -- you go ahead, mr. graham, if you had anything to bring to my attention. >> i think the only thing that i wanted to put into perspective is where the real risk is in doing nothing and that we have 56 million gallons of high-level waste sitting in failing tanks and that this is a very long and complex mission that we're fully dedicated to, and we will not be successful if we don't have this open process for people to raise their issues and concerns. we do that in government work. we do that in the private sector, and so we're fully committed to completing the mission, starting up the plant safely. it will go through a very
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rigorous start-up process that will take multiple years, so a lot of issues that are raised, what if when the plant is operating? we will get there, and i look forward to the day when we're -- when the plant is operational and we're protecting the people of the northwest and the columbia river. >> we are captured by the severity of the mission and the technical expertise that is required, but i want to make sure that in our effort to address that that we are not taking shortcuts. >> absolutely. >> that we will look back and regret, and i think as we talked about in the previous hearing the design build concept for something like this is literally like trying to build an airplane in the air, and the delays that have occurred and the budget increases that have occurred. looking bag, i know this is monday morning quarterbacking, that looking back it might have
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been better to design first and probably, you know, now that we know how long this is going to take may have actually saved time in the long run. let me -- let me ask a little bit about dr. tamosaitis. in 2010 he raised -- came to the managers at bechtel and urs with a list of about 50 serious technical concerns at wtp. and shortly after he raised those concerns the bechtel manager frank rousseau wrote bechtel and you are rs officials and said, quote, we need to kill this bs now. walt is killing us. get him in your corporate office today, end quote.
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and then he was ultimately reassigned. now were there issues with dr. tamosaitis that you allege were true with -- that he was difficult to work with and a behavioral problem and so forth, as the allegations that you're making against donna busche? you understand that this looks very bad in terms of a culture that encourages people to come forward with technical concerns. do you have any response to someone calling his 50 -- this -- talking about him killing us and this bs after he has raised these concerns? >> chairman, i'm new to the job. i don't know if you caught that part of the message. i've been on this job about eight weeks. before that i was in charge of
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business development. i have no firsthand knowledge of dr. tamosaitis and the actions that were taken at that point in time, so i -- i can get back with you and provide additional information working with my team that were around at that time. >> well, i think that's important, and i think -- i think that we need to know your perspective on that because it -- i think you -- the essence of this hearing is i understand what your words are, but we have outside agencies time and time again citing problems with the culture at that facility in terms of people feeling like they can come forward with concerns, and the way these two
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cases have been handled, the courts will decide. i hope the courts get a chance to decide. i hope that this isn't one of those that they get worn down and everybody agrees to settlements that nobody ever gets to know about, but that's -- that's not my say. that's the litigants' decision as to what happens. but you guys have a serious problem in terms of whistleblower culture out there, and we're going to have to do something to make sure that people understand that they are not going to be moved to the basement. they are not going to be laid off. this they are not going to be fired for raising legitimate concerns, and we will look forward to your additional information that you will give us, and we'll have some more questions for the record, and, unfortunately, the bell is calling me again to go vote so we will conclude the hearing at this point, but we will have
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follow-up questions for both you and for the d.o.e., and then we will share the committee record with all those that are interested. thank you very much for being here today. >> thank you, madam chairman. >> thank you. >> the gentleman from tennessee. on this historic day, the house of representative
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televises coverage. committeeu and the that has worked so hard to make this a reality. thisision will change institution, mr. speaker, just as it has changed the executive branch. the good will outweigh the bad. from this day forward, every member of this body must ask himself how many americans are listening to the debate made. when the house becomes comfortable with the changes brought by television coverage, the news media will be allowed to bring their own cameras. in the meantime, there is no censorship. available for broadcast coverage. journalists will be able to use and edit as they see fit. the solution for the lack of confidence in government is more open government at all levels. from 35 years of
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house for coverage on our c-span facebook page. created by the cable company 35 years ago and brought to you today as a public service by your television provider. >> the chair of the senate intelligence committee accused the cia of improperly searching a computer network set of four lawmakers. dianne feinstein, next. reaction from cia director john brennan. on "washington journal," congresswoman loretta sanchez joins us to talk about the investigation into the missing malaysia airlines flight. and virginia congressman bob whitman on the pentagon's 2015 budget request. is everyon journal" morning at 7:00 a.m. eastern. you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. intelligences from
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committee chair dianne feinstein that the cia secretly searched a computer network set up to investigate the treatment of suspected terrorists during the bush administration. senator feinstein is joined briefly by patrick leahy of vermont. nator from california is recognized. mrs. feinstein: good morning. over the past week there have been numerous press articles written about the intelligence committee's oversight review of the detention and interrogation program of the c.i.a. specifically, press attention has focused on the c.i.a.'s intrusion and search of the senate select committee's computers as well as the committee's acquisition of a certain internal c.i.a. document known as the panetta review. i rise today to set the record straight and to provide a full accounting of the facts and history. let me say up front that i come
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to the senate floor reluctantly. since january 15, 2014, when i was informed of the c.i.a. search of this committee's network, i've been trying to resolve this dispute in a discrete and respectful way. i've not commented in response to media requests for additional information on this matter. however, the increasing amount of inaccurate information circulating now cannot be allowed to stand unanswered. the origin of this study, the c.i.a.'s detention and interrogation program began operations in 2002, though it was not until september, 2006, that members of the intelligence committee other than the chairman and the vice chairman, were briefed. in fact, we were briefed by then-c.i.a. director hayden only
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hours before president bush disclosed the program to the public. a little more than a year later, on december 6, 2007, a "new york times" article revealed the troubling fact that the c.i.a. had destroyed videotapes of some of the c.i.a.'s first interrogations using so-called enhanced techniques. we learned that this destruction was over the objections of president bush's white house counsel and the director of national intelligence. after we read -- excuse me, read about the tapes of destruction in the newspapers, director hayden briefed the senate intelligence committee. he assured us that this was not destruction of evidence as detailed records of the interrogations existed on paper.
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in the form of c.i.a. operational cables describing the detention conditions and the day-to-day c.i.a. interrogations. the c.i.a. director stated that these cables were -- quote -- "a more than adequate representation" -- end quote of what would have been on the destroyed tapes. director hayden offered at that time during senator jay rockefeller's chairmanship of the committee, to allow members or staff review these sensitive c.i.a. operational cables. that the videotapes -- given that the videotapes had been destroyed. chairman rockefeller sent two of his committee staffers out to the c.i.a. on nights and weekends to review thousands of these cables, which took many months. by the time the two staffers completed their review into the
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c.i.a.'s early interrogations in early 2009, i had become chairman of the committee, and president obama had been sworn into office. the resulting staff report was chilling. the interrogations and the conditions of confinement at the c.i.a. detention sites were far different and far more harsh than the way the c.i.a. had described them to us. as a result of the staff's initial report, i proposed and then vice chairman bond agreed and the committee overwhelmingly approved that the committee conduct an expansive and full review of the c.i.a.'s detention and interrogation program. on march 5, 2009, the committee voted 14-1 to initiate a comprehensive review of the
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c.i.a. detention and interrogation program. immediately we sent a request for documents to all relevant executive branch agencies, chiefly among them the c.i.a. the committee's preference was for the c.i.a. to turn over all responsive documents to the committee's office, as had been done in previous committee investigations. director panetta proposed an alternative arrangement to provide, literally, millions of pages of operational cables, internal emails, memos, and other documents pursuant to a committee's document requests at a secure location in northern virginia. we agreed, but insisted on several conditions and protections to ensure the integrity of this congressional investigation. per an exchange of letters in
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2009, then-vice chairman bond, then-director panetta, and i agreed in an exchange of letters that the c.i.a. was to provide a -- quote -- "stand-alone computer system" -- end quote with a -- quote -- "network drive segregated from c.i.a. networks" -- end quote. for the committee that would only be accessed by information technology personnel at the c.i.a. who would -- quote -- "not be permitted to share information from the system with other c.i.a. personnel except as otherwise authorized by the committee" -- end quote. it was this computer network that notwithstanding our agreement with director panetta was searched by the c.i.a. this past january, and once before
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which i will later describe. in addition to demanding that the documents produced for the committee be reviewed at a c.i.a. facility, the c.i.a. also insisted on conducting a multilayered review of every responsive document before providing the document to the committee. this was to ensure the c.i.a. did not mistakenly provide documents unrelated to the c.i.a.'s detention and interrogation program. or provide documents that the president could potentially claim to be covered by executive privilege. while we viewed this as unnecessary and raised concerns that it would delay our investigation, the c.i.a. hired a team of outside contractors who otherwise would not have had access to these sensitive documents, to read multiple
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times each of the 6.2 million pages of documents produced before providing them to fully cleared committee staff conducting the committee's oversight work. this proved to be a slow and very expensive process. the c.i.a. started making documents available electronically to the committee staff at the c.i.a. leased facility in mid 2009. the number of pages ran quickly to the thousands, tens of thousands, the hundreds of thousands, and then into the millions. the documents that were provided came without any index, without any organizational structure. it was a true document dump that our committee staff had to go through and make sense of. in order to piece together the story of the c.i.a.'s detention
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and interrogation program, the committee staff did two things that will be important as i go on. first, they asked the c.i.a. to provide an electronic search tool so they could locate specific relevant documents for their search, among the c.i.a.-produced documents, just like you would use a search tool on the internet to locate information. second, when the staff found a document that was particularly important or that might be referenced in our final report, they would often print it or make a copy of the file on their computer so they could easily find it again. their thousands of such documents in the committee's secure spaces at the c.i.a. facility. now, prior removal of documents
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by c.i.a. in early 2010, the c.i.a. was continuing to provide documents, and the committee staff was gaining familiarity with the information it had already received. in may of 2010, the committee staff noticed that the documents had been provided for the committee -- that had been provided for the committee's review were no longer accessible. staff approached the c.i.a. personnel at the offsite location who initially denied the documents had been removed. c.i.a. personnel then blamed information technology personnel who were almost all contractors for removing the documents themselves without direction or authority. and then the c.i.a. stated that
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the removal of the documents was ordered by the white house. when the committee approached the white house, the white house denied giving the c.i.a. any such order.57ñ after a series of meetings, i learned that on two occasions, c.i.a. personnel electronically removed committee access to c.i.a. documents after providing them to the committee. this included roughly 870 documents or pages of documents that were removed in february 2010. and secondly, roughly another 50 that were removed in mid-may 2010. this was done without the knowledge or approval of committee members or staff and in violation of our written agreements. further, this type of behavior
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would not have been possible had the c.i.a. allowed the committee to conduct the review of documents here in the senate. in short, this was the exact sort of c.i.a. interference in our investigation that we sought to avoid at the outset. i went up to the white house to raise the issue with the then-white house counsel. in may 2010, he recognized the severity of the situation and the grave implications of executive branch personnel interfering with an official congressional investigation. the matter was resolved with a renewed commitment from the white house counsel and the c.i.a. that there would be no further unauthorized access to the committee's network or removal of access to c.i.a.
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documents already provided to the committee. on may 17, 2010, the c.i.a.'s then-director of congressional affairs apologized on behalf of the c.i.a. for removing the documents. and that, as far as i was concerned, put the incident aside. this event was separate from the documents provided that were part of the internal panetta review which occurred later and which i will describe next. at some point in 2010, committee staff searching the documents that had been made available found draft versions of what is now called the internal panetta review. we believe these documents were written by c.i.a. personnel to
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summarize and analyze the materials that had been provided to the committee for its review. the panetta review documents were no more highly classified than other information we had received for our investigation. in fact, the documents appeared based on the same information already provided to the committee. what was unique and interesting about the internal documents was not their classification level, but rather their analysis and acknowledgement of significant c.i.a. wrongdoing. to be clear, the committee staff did not hack into c.i.a. computers to obtain these documents, as has been suggested in the press. the documents were identified using the search tool provided by the c.i.a. to search the documents provided to the
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committee. we have no way to determine who made the internal panetta review documents available to the committee. further, we don't know whether the documents were provided intentionally by the c.i.a., unintentionally by the c.i.a. or intentionally by a whistle-blower. in fact we know that over the years on multiple occasions the staff have asked the c.i.a. about documents made available for our investigation. at times the c.i.a. has simply been unaware that these specific documents were provided to the committee. and while this is alarming, it is also important to note that more than 6.2 million pages of documents have been provided. this is simply a massive amount of records. as i described earlier, as part
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of its standard process for reviewing records, the committee staff printed copies of the internal panetta review and made electronic copies of the committee's computers at the facility. the staff did not rely on these internal panetta review documents when drafting the final 6,300-page committee study. but it was significant that the internal panetta review had documented at least some of the very same troubling matters already uncovered by the committee staff, which is not surprising in that they were looking at the same information. there is a claim in the press and elsewhere that the markings on these documents should have caused the staff to stop reading them and turn them over to the c.i.a.. i reject that claim completely.
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as with many other documents provided to the committee at the c.i.a. facility, some of the internal panetta review documents -- some -- contain markings indicating that they were -- quote -- "deliberative" and/or -- quote -- "privileged". this was not especially noteworthy to staff. in fact, c.i.a. has provided thousands of internal documents to include c.i.a. legal guidance and talking points prepared for the c.i.a. director, some of which were marked as being deliberative or privileged. moreover, the c.i.a. has officially provided such documents to the committee here in the senate. in fact, the c.i.a.'s official june 27, 2013, response to the committee study which director
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brennan delivered to me personally is labeled -- quote -- "deliberative process privileged document." end quote. we have discussed this with the senate legal counsel who has confirmed that congress does not recognize these claims of privilege when it comes to documents provided to congress for our oversight duties. these were documents provided by the executive branch pursuant to an authorized congressional oversight investigation. so we believe we had every right to review and keep the documents. there are also claims in the press that the panetta internal review documents, having been created in 2009 and 2010 were outside the date range of the committee's document request or the terms of the committee
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study. this too is inaccurate. the committee's document requests were not limited in time. in fact, as i have previously announced, the committee study includes significant information on the may 2011 osama bin laden operation, which obviously postdated the detention and interrogation program. at some time after the committee staff identified and reviewed the internal panetta review documents, access to the vast majority of them was removed by the c.i.a.. we believe this happened in 2010, but we have no way of knowing the specifics. nor do we know why the documents were removed. the staff was focused on reviewing the tens of thousands of new documents that continue to arrive on a regular basis.
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our work continued until december 2012, when the intelligence committee approved a 6,300-page committee study of the c.i.a.'s detention and interrogation program and sent the executive report to the executive branch for comment. the c.i.a. provided its response to the study on june 27, 2013. as c.i.a. director brennan has stated, the c.i.a. officially agrees with some of our study but has been reported the c.i.a. disagrees and disputes important parts of it, and this is important. some of these important parts that the c.i.a. now disputes in our committee study are clearly acknowledged in the c.i.a.'s own
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internal panetta review. to say the least, this is puzzling. how can the c.i.a.'s official response to our study stand factually in conflict with its own internal review? now after noting the tkeus parity between the -- the disparity between the official c.i.a. response to the committee study and the internal panetta review, the committee staff securely transported a printed portion of the draft internal panetta review from the committee's secure room at the c.i.a.-leased facility to the secure committee spaces in the hart senate office building. and let me be clear about this, i mentioned earlier the exchange of letters that senator bond and i had with director panetta in
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2009 over the handling of information for this review. the letters set out a process whereby the committee would provide specific c.i.a. documents to c.i.a. reviewers before bringing them back to our secure offices here on capitol hill. the c.i.a. review was designed specifically to make sure that committee documents available to all staff and members did not include certain kinds of information. most importantly, the true names of nonsupervisory c.i.a. personnel and the names of specific countries in which the c.i.a. operated detention sites. we had agreed up front that our report didn't need to include this information, and so we agreed to redact it from materials leaving the c.i.a.'s
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facility. keeping with the spirit of the agreement, the portion of the internal panetta review at the hart building in our safe has been redacted. it does not contain names of nonsupervisory c.i.a. personnel or information identifying detention site locations. in other words, our staff did just what the c.i.a. personnel would have done had they reviewed the document. there are several reasons why the draft summary of the panetta review was brought to our secure spaces at the hart building. let me list them. one, the significance of the internal review given disparities between it and the june 2013 c.i.a. response to the committee study, the internal
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panetta review summary now at the secure committee office in hart is an especially significant document as it corroborates critical information in the committee's 6,300-page study that the c.i.a.'s official response either objects to, denies, minimizes or ignores. unlike the official response, these panetta review documents were in agreement with the committee's findings. that's what makes them so significant and important to protect. when the internal panetta review documents disappeared from the committee's computer system, this suggested once again that the c.i.a. had removed documents
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already provided to the committee in violation of c.i.a. agreements and white house assurances that the c.i.a. would cease such activities. as i have detailed, the c.i.a. has previously withheld and destroyed information about its detention and interrogation program, including its decision in 2005 to destroy interrogation videotapes over the objections of the bush white house and the director of national intelligence. based on the above, there was a need to preserve and protect the internal panetta review in the committee's own secure spaces. now, the relocation of the internal panetta review was lawful and handled in a manner consistent with its classification. no law prevents the relocation
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of a document in the committee's possession from a c.i.a. facility to secure committee offices on capitol hill. as i mentioned before, the document was handled and transported in a manner consistent with its classification, redacted appropriately and it remains secured with restricted access in committee spaces. now, the january 15, 2014 meeting with director john brennan. in late 2013, i requested in writing that the c.i.a. provide a final and complete version of the internal panetta review to the committee, as opposed to the partial document the committee currently possesses. in december, during an open committee hearing, senator mark udall echoed this request.
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in early january, 2014, the c.i.a. informed the committee it would not provide the internal panetta review to the committee, citing the deliberative nature of the document. shortly thereafter, on january 15, 2014, c.i.a. director brennan requested an emergency meeting to inform me and vice chairman chambliss that without prior notification or approval, c.i.a. personnel had conducted a search -- that was john brennan's word -- of the committee computers at the offcite facility. -- offsite facility. this search was not only of documents provided by the committee by the c.i.a. but also a search of the stand-alone and
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walled-off committee network drive containing the committee's own internal work product and communications. according to brennan, the computer search was conducted in response to indications that some members of the committee staff might already have had access to the internal panetta review. the c.i.a. did not ask the committee or its staff if the committee had access to the internal review or how we obtained it. instead, the c.i.a. just went and searched the committee's computers. the c.i.a. has still not asked the committee any questions about how the committee acquired the panetta review. in place of asking any questions, the c.i.a.'s unauthorized search of the committee computers was followed by an allegation which we now have seen repeated anonymously
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in the press, that the committee staff had somehow obtained the document through unauthorized or criminal means, perhaps to include hacking into the c.i.a.'s computer network. as i have described, this is not true. the document was made available to the staff at the offsite facility and it was located using a c.i.a.-provided search tool, running a query of the information provided to the committee pursuant to its investigation. director brennan stated that the c.i.a.'s search had determined that the committee staff had copies of the internal panetta review on the committee staff's shared drive and had accessed them numerous times. he indicated at the meeting that he was going to order further
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forensic investigation of the committee network to learn more about activities of the committee's oversight staff. two days after the meeting, on january 17, i wrote a letter to director brennan objecting to any further c.i.a. investigation due to the separation of powers constitutional issues that the search raised. i followed this with a second letter on january 23 to the director asking 12 specific questions about the c.i.a.'s actions, questions that the c.i.a. has refused to answer. some of the questions in my letter related to the full scope of the c.i.a.'s search of our computer network. other questions related to who had authorized and conducted the search, and what legal basis the c.i.a. claimed gave it
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authority to conduct the search. again, the c.i.a. has not provided answers to any of my questions. my letter also laid out my concern about the legal and constitutional implications of the c.i.a.'s actions. based on what director brennan has informed us, i have grave concerns that the c.i.a.'s search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the united states constitution, including the speech and debate clause. it may have undermined the constitutional framework essential to effective congressional oversight of intelligence activities or any other government function. i have asked for an apology, and a recognition that this c.i.a. search of computers used by its oversight committee was inappropriate. i have received neither.
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besides the constitutional implications, the c.i.a. search may also have violated the fourth amendment, the computer fraud and abuse act, as well as executive order 123 3 which 3reub9s the c.i.a. from conducting domestic surveillance. days after meeting with director brennan, the c.i.a. inspector general, david buckley, learned of the c.i.a. search and began an investigation into c.i.a.'s activities. i have been informed that mr. buckley has referred the matter to the department of justice, given the possibility of a criminal violation by c.i.a. personnel. let me note, because the c.i.a. has refused to answer the questions in my january 23 letter and the c.i.a. inspector
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general is ongoing, i have limited information about exactly what the c.i.a. did in conducting its search. weeks later, i was also told that after the inspector general reviewed the c.i.a.'s activities to the department of justice --, excuse me, referred the c.i.a.'s activities to the department of justice, the acting counsel general of the c.i.a. filed a crimes report with the department of justice concerning the committee staff's actions. i have not been provided the specifics of these allegations or been told whether the department has initiated a criminal investigation based on the allegations of the c.i.a.'s acting general counsel. as i mentioned before, our staff involved in this matter
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have the appropriate clearances, handled the sensitive material according to established procedures and practice to protect classified information, and were provided access to the panetta review by the c.i.a. itself. as a result, there is no legitimate reason to allege to the justice department that senate staff may have committed a crime. i view the acting counsel general's referral as a potential effort to intimidate this staff, and i am not taking it lightly. i should note that for most, if not all of the c.i.a.'s detention and interrogation program, the now acting general counsel was a lawyer in the c.i.a.'s counterterrorism center. the unit within which the c.i.a. managed and carried out this
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program. from mid 2004 until the official termination of the detention and interrogation program in january, 2009, he was the unit's chief lawyer. he is mentioned by name more than 1,600 times in our study. and now this individual is sending a crimes report to the department of justice on the actions of congressional staff, the same congressional staff who were searched and drafted a report -- researched and drafted a report which details how c.i.a. officers including the acting general counsel himself provided inaccurate information to the department of justice about the program. mr. president, let me say this -- all senators rely on their staff to be their eyes and ears and to carry out our duties. the staff members of the intelligence committee are dedicated professionals who are
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motivated to do what is best for our nation. the staff members sho have been working on this study and this report have devoted years of their lives to it, wading through the horrible details of the c.i.a. program that never, never, never should have existed. they have worked long hours and produced a report unprecedented in its comprehensive attention to detail in the history of the senate. they are now being threatened with legal jeopardy just as the final revisions to the report are being made so that parts of it can be declassified and released to the american people. mr. president, i felt that i needed to come to the floor today to correct the public record and to give the american people the facts about what the dedicated committee staff have been working so hard for the last several years as part of the committee's investigation.
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i also want to reiterate to my colleagues my desire to have all updates to the committee report completed this month and approved for declassification. we're not going to stop. i intend to move to have the findings conclusions and the executive summary of the report sent to the president for declassification and release to the american people. the white house has indicated publicly and to me personally that it supports declassification and release. if the senate can reclassify this report, we will be able to ensure that an un-american, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted. but, mr. president, the recent actions that i have just laid out make this a defining moment
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for the oversight of our intelligence committee. how congress and how this will be resolved will show whether the intelligence committee can be effective in monitoring and investigating our nation's intelligence activities, or whether our work can be thwarted by those we oversee. i believe it is critical that the committee and the senate reaffirm our oversight role and our independence under the constitution of the united states. mr. president, i thank you very much for your patience and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, while the distinguished senator from california is on the floor i would tell her through the chair, i've had the privilege of serving in this body now my 40th -- 40th year. i've heard thousands of speeches on this floor. i cannot think of any speech by any member of either party as
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important as the one the senator from california just gave. what she is saying is if we're going to protect the separation of powers and the concept of congressional oversight, then she has taken the right steps to do that. i think back, mr. president, the very first vote i cast in this body was for the church committee, which went into the excesses of the c.i.a. and others of our agencies, everything from assassinations to spying on those who were protesting the war in vietnam. there was a famous george tames picture where then chairman of the armed services committee, john stennis was berating senator frank church for proposing this committee saying that he, senator stennis,
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could find out what he wanted to find out but didn't really want to know everything. i was -- i stand behind george stennis when he took that picture in my first caucus. there was pressure on our junior members, i was the most junior member of the senate at the time, not to vote for the church committee. senator mike mansfield told me as senator fritz mondale did others, that the senate is bigger than any one senator. we come and go. the senate lasts. if we do not assistant -- stand up for the protection of the separation of powers and our ability to do oversight, especially when conduct has happened that is in all likelihood criminal conduct on the part of a government agency, then what do we stand for? we are supposed to be the conscience of the nation. the senator from california, senator feinstein, has spoken to our conscience, to every one
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of us, 100 senators, men and women, both parties. she has spoken to our conscience now let's stand up for this country. let's stand up as united states senators should and as the se director brennan spoke about national security issues. this is 55 minutes.
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>> john brennan will have opening remarks about his first year at cia as director and then we will have a conversation and open it up to you in the audience and to some of our members who are sending questions in online. thank you all very much, director brennan -- much, andreavery and good morning everyone. i see that some of you noticed i am walking in with a cane. although the director of cia job is very dangerous, there wasn't gauge meant with someblack ice a few weeks ago that led to a fracture in my hip. it is a pleasure to be back at the council of foreign relations and looking out into the audit to see so many familiar faces, i would like to thank richard haas
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and andrea mitchell. just over a year ago, i have the privilege of placing my hand on the very first printed copy of the constitution, a draft edited and annotated personally by george washington himself. it is one of the most treasured items held in the national archives. with my hand on that document, vice president biden swore me in as the director of central intelligence agency. i chose to take my oath on that precious piece of history as a clear affirmation of what the constitution means to all of us at the agency. we have no higher duty than to uphold and defend the rule of law as we strive every day to protect our fellow citizens. like so many things involving the cia, people read nefarious taketions of my choice to my oath on a document that was not the bill of rights. at the risk of disappointing any
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conspiracy theorists, let me i firmly believe in an honor not only the constitution but also the bill of rights as well as all subsequent amendments to our constitution. i just happen to be guilty of being an ardent admirer of george washington and the historical foundations of this great country. my first career ncaa began in 1980. when i returned to the agency last march, i was equated with his people and its mission. having spent the previous four years at the white house, i had the benefit of expensing firsthand the enormous challenges confronting our policymakers as they deal with the myriad challenges our nation faces in the 21st century. as a result of the tremendous opportunities i was given, over more than 30 years working on national security issues, i could see the agency from outside as well as inside our headquarters in langley, virginia. i could see how the agencies anded to inform policies
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shaped our intelligence and security relationships and countries around the world and working with other departments and agencies in the u.s. government, helped to keep their -- to keep our country safe from harm. even though i had planned to retire after obama's first term of office, i was humbled to lead the agency i was part of for a quarter-century and play a role in ensuring that the future of the cia is more accomplished than its storied past. iq for being here with me this morning. i would like to offer a few brief hummus before i address the many questions i know are on your minds. first of all, being cia director means i have a front row seat to the dynamic and often times dangerous world stage. while i was at the white house come i often spoke of a clear about the challenges we face as a nation. after a year as cia director, unfortunately, i remain convinced that the u.s. government and the american people will be dealing with terrorism in one form or another
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for your -- for many years to come as too many individuals and groups remain inclined to use violence for political, ideological or purported religious reasons. despite rampant rumors that the cia is getting out of the counterterrorism business, nothing could be further from the truth. cia's global mission, our andlligence collection authorities and capabilities as well as our extensive liaison relationships with intelligence and security services worldwide will keep cia on the front lines of our counterterrorism efforts for many years to come. at the same time, i fully expect the cia role to evolve as the capabilities and political will of our overseas partners continue to grow in the coming years. building the capacity, enhancing the knowledge and empowering the operations of our partners will be key to mitigating the terrorist threats that the world collectively faces in the decade ahead. the intelligence mission on the cyber front will evolve as well
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as adversaries, criminal networks, terrorist ivistszations, and hackt endeavor to do our people harm in the digital domain. this is a relatively uncharted frontier. makes cyber challenging is technology changing so rapidly and society along with the. many respects, the world is transformed before our eyes as more and more human activity migrates to that cyber-digital domain and more and more of our daily lives depend on that domain for social interactions, financial transactions, commerce, trade, communication, education, information, entertainment, and the list goes on and on. the fact remains that many technological and scientific advances have proved throughout history to be double edged swords. the power of dynamite that can move mountains and pave the way for roads and tunnels and ridges also can bring destruction and
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death in the wrong hands. the irony of the alfred nobel legacy, the invention of dynamite and the world's most famous peace prize is testament to both edges of the sort of technological advancements. smart the websites and phones that enable serious organized themselves against the thed regime and show brutality of that regime help al qaeda and other terrorist roots communicate as well as to carry out terrorist attacks. recent events have brought into stark relief the national, the international debate about the appropriate role of government and specifically intelligence and law enforcement agencies in this new cyber frontier that is clearly full of wonder and opportunity but also fraught with great risk.
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the tremendous loss of life, humanitarian disaster and destruction of some of the world's most beautiful ancient cities in syria is nothing short of a modern-day catastrophe. the political dynamics underway in iraq, iran, afghanistan, north korea, venezuela and a south sudan, central african republic reflect internal
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tensions come economic stress, sectarian conflicts, and global ambitions. strategicd chinese pursuits demand the constant attention and vigilance of our national security experts. ukraine provides a real life example of why it is important to maintain our capabilities say on top of the world in its totality rather than just a few key issues. over the past several months, the the cia and its intelligence hardness have closely followed events in ukraine keeping policymakers informed of unfolding developments on the ground. escalatingor tensions and options available to ukrainian, russian, and other world leaders. i know that many of you would like the cia to predict the future such as will cry me a secede and will russian forces move into eastern ukraine? the plain and simple truth is with virtually all events around the globe, future events including ukraine are shaped by
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numerous variables and yet to happen developments as well as considerations and decisions. while we do not have a crystal ball, it is our responsibility to identify those variables and considerations and point to the key drivers that will ultimately determine future events. by offering ae few final words about the cia as a learning organization. 1947 as the cold war was getting underway. over the past six to seven years, we've had the great fortune to play a role in helping keep this country great and its people safe. while we are exceptionally proud of the work we do, we have not been a perfect organization., far from it. we have made mistakes, more than a few. we have tried mightily to learn from them and to take her active actions whenever and wherever appropriate. it is no secret that many of the things that the agency has done over the years, thinks it was asked to do, that it was directed to do, that it alone
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have the authority and responsibility to do, remain subject of intense scrutiny, debate, and controversy. the rendition, detention, and interrogation program of nearly a decade ago is a case in point. there have been many things written in many things said including this morning about the program, some fact and some pure fiction and these remarks have a dress the cia views and actions related to the senate select committee report on the rdi program. i want to say two things -- my caa colleagues and i believe strongly in the necessity of an effective, strong, and bipartisan congressional oversight. we are a far better organization because of congressional oversight. as long as i am director of cia as long as i am director of cia, i will do whatever i can to be responsible to the elective representatives.
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they asked us the tough questions and hold our feet to the fire. and make sure the taxpayer dollars are being spent effectively and efficiently. most important, they work to ensure that the cia and other organizations are carrying out the responsibilities and activities faithfully and in accordance with the law. i don't always agree with them. we frequently have what i would call spirited discussions. i believe we are filling our responsibilities the cia has enough current challenges on its plate. this is why the cia wants to put rendition behind it the facilities have long been closed. the agency's facilities have long been close. obama ended the program five years ago, by which time the cia had ceased its activities. there have been numerous external and internal reviews.
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now the senate select committee has conducted an extensive review of the program. one which considerable resources have been expended. cia has tried to work as collaboratively as possible on the report. we will continue to do so and i have talked extensively to chairman feinstein about this report and the way forward. the cia agrees with findings in the report. we have acknowledged and learned from the program's shortcomings to prevent such mistakes from happening again. we owe it to the men and women who executed this program to make sure any historical record of it is a balanced and accurate one. we have worked closely with the committee to resolve outstanding issues and look forward to working with the committee. even
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as we have learned from the past, we must be able to put the past behind us to devote ourselves to the challenges ahead of us. i arrived at ca -- at cia in 1980 and i was sworn in as a g.s.-9 officer never believing that one day i would have the honor and privilege of leading the courageous, dedicated and exceptional talented men and women of c.i.a. i go to the main lobby once a month to administer the oath of office to our newest employees. many speak several languages. some have had successful careers in the private sector and want to give something back to their country. for all of them, this moment is a culmination of years of hard work and see the enthusiasm in their eyes. they look focused and confident
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and eager to make a difference. as i watched them raise their right hands, i feel a sense of obligation to these officers. they have chosen a profession that is filled with great rewards but also have challenges and sometimes grave danger and it's my job to prepare them for it. from day one, i want them to understand they are joining more than an organization but a tradition of service and sacrifice unlike any in government. for this reason i always , administer the oath of office in front of our memorial wall. there are 107 stars on that wall. each one representing an agency hero who made the sacrifice on behalf of our nation and i emphasize that we all have the responsibility to remember the officers and sacrifices represented by their stars and carry on their work in a way that would make them proud. it underscores the defining trait of c.i.a. and our commitment that we serve. the women and men have devoted themselves to protecting our nation and advancing american
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interests around the globe. their contributions often go unrecognized but no doubt, they are essential to the strength and security of our republic. thank you and i look forward to taking your questions. >> thank you all very much. [applause] >> thank you, director. we are going to have a conversation here and obviously bring the audience in. first of all, the topic of the morning, which you have addressed here, you said you want to get the past practices behind you, but senator feinstein went to the floor and said she did it reluctantly and dealing with you privately trying to resolve this since january and only went public today because of the referrals from the inspector general and because a lawyer in c.i.a. had referred a crimes report separately accusing the senate
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of going in improperly into c.i.a. computers. her claim in a scathing speech was that the c.i.a. has hacked into the senate intelligence committee staff computers to thwart an investigation by the committee into those past practices. she also alleges that the panetta-era report was very similar to the conclusions of those past practices. but you, who were involved in that era in the program itself and the c.i.a. currently was trying to thwart the full review of the harshness of the interrogation and practices, can you respond? >> we are not trying to thwart this report's progression release. as i said in my remarks. we want this behind us. we know the committee has invested a lot of time, money and effort into this report.
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and they are determined to put it forward. we have engaged with them extensively over the last year. we had officers sit down with them and go over the report and point out where we believe there are factual errors or errors in judgment or assessments. we are not trying to prevent its release. as far as the allegations of c.i.a. hacking into senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. we wouldn't do that. that is just beyond the scope of reason. >> she says there are potentially illegal and unconstitutional breaches by the c.i.a. >> there are appropriate authorities right now inside c.i.a. as well as c.i.a. -- >> justice department. they are looking at >> as what the staff members did and i defer to them to determine whether there was any violation of law or principle and i referred the matter, myself to the c.i.a. inspector general to
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make sure he was able to look honestly and objectively what the c.i.a. did there. when the facts come out, i think a lot of people claiming that there has been this spying, monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong. >> you said at your confirmation hearing you wanted to restore the trust of the c.i.a. and overseers in the senate. this is pretty major goal. if it is proved that the c.i.a. did do this, would you feel that you would have to step down? >> i am confident that the authorities will review this appropriately. and i will deal with the facts as uncovered in the appropriate manner. i would just encourage some members of the senate to take their time to make sure that they don't overstate what they
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claim and what they probably believe to be the truth. these are some complicated matters. we have worked with the committee over the course of many years. this review done by the committee was done at a facility where c.i.a. had the responsibility to make sure they had the computer wherewithal to carry out their responsibilities. if there were any inappropriate actions either by the c.i.a. or the staff, i will be the first one to say we will get to the bottom of this. if i did something wrong, i will go to the president, i will explain what i did and what the findings were. and he can ask me to stay or to go. >> malaysia air and the investigation, a lot of people have been shocked that two years after passports were stolen and reported stolen that people using stolen passports whether or not there was a terror linching could still board airlines. what flaw is still in this system post-9/11 that permits
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stolen passports to be used so commonly around the world? >> when you think of people who get on airlines around the world it is hundreds of thousands. since 9/11 there have been strides to share as much information as possible not only threats but individuals who are trying to carry out attacks, to include stolen passports. the authorities are looking what went wrong, why they were not aware of it and all of us have to make sure we are doing everything possible. it's close to 13 years since 9/11. the tragedies of 9/11 are still in the minds of many people and this is not the time to relax because we know there are terrorist groups that are still determined to carry out attacks especially against air raft craft. >> is there any chatter?
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that would indicate any kind of ? >> i thinkwestmark there is a lot of speculation right now. some claim responsibility that have not been confirmed or corroborated at all. we are looking at it closely with the c.i.a. and f.b.i. and others and our malaysian counterparts are doing everything to put the pieces together. but this is a mystery that is very disturbing and until we can find out, we will have to do a forensic analysis. >> at this point you are not ruling out it could be a terrorist organization? >> not at all. >> what is the state of al qaeda in malaysia. in the 1990's, they were very active. and there were plots as well. is al qaeda still active as a cell in malaysia? >> al qaeda, which had its -- first in the afghan-pakistan area, earlier in sudan, has spread over the years.
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it is found throughout africa and southeast asia. there are a number of areas in southeast asia where al qaeda has tried to develop contacts and cells and put in place the infrastructure, whether for fundraising activities or support and facilitation. there is no place in the globe where al qaeda said they weren't going to seek some type of presence. southeast asia is where al qaeda has had a historical presence. >> going back over the chatter, you have not found anything to indicate there was a warning of an incident? >> not related to malaysian air. >> i want to ask you about ukraine and the charge that there was a intelligence failure. there has been an indication that the cia got this one right.
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and others did not. was there a disagreement about the analysis were smart >> under the leadership, they have done a good job to assure that the different elements have been able to work together. but also to -- i'm proud that the work that the agency did on ukraine. our job is to identify the likely scenarios. a lot of times, world leaders will make incisions based on what is happening on the ground. what the international reaction as. that is very true right now when you look at putin and ukrainian leaders. seeing what their actions beget. many of these leaders have not made a decision about what they're going to do.
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what cia tries to do is identify what are the variables and the catalyst of the foreign leaders as they tried to plot out their next chess moves. works when you look at vladimir putin, do you think he will stop at ukraine question mark -- -- do you think he will stop at ?:imea ?>> he has talked about some sort of sectarian type of violence. he has a predicate for possible moves. we also see with the buildup of forces in crimea -- what we have tried to do is identify what the reasons might be and how he might make those moves.
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the factors he will take into account. the costs he is willing to incur if he tries to cross the border. >> according to some reporting, there has been a very small group of former kgb colleagues from the 70's and 80's, who are his key advisers. does that track with what you are seeing? >> putin will rely on those individuals who have gained his trust. there are people from that period that i trust. it is not surprising he would be looking to those individuals. >> i know our audience has questions.
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if you would identify yourself and your affiliations. keep the questions as short as possible so everybody can have enough time. >> thanks. i'm from the atlantic council. i would like to turn you to syria. what is your sense of how long assad will remain in power? do you feel he is stronger than he was a year or two ago? how strong are his forces? can he sustain himself in power in a small part of syria? and can you talk about the consequences of allowing al qaeda to remain in force in syria and proliferate. >> i believe assad feels more confident as a result of the developments of the battlefield. initially, the forces were struck pretty hard by the insurgency and oppositionists.
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but syria is a real army he read -- they have been trained and equipped and outfitted by russians for decades. this is a large conventional military force with tremendous firepower. the opposition deserves credit for staying in the game and bloodying the military machine. as we look along the western part of the country, the basque bone -- backbone, he has tried to protect those urban centers. the fighting within the opposition has not helped the forces. getting to the second part of the question, the fact that al qaeda, not just the al qaeda element but also the islamic state -- al qaeda in iraq that
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has migrated over -- they are quite proficient fighters. they engage in suicide bombings. they have engaged in a lot of tax -- attacks. in those respects, he has been able to stand back and watch their fighting. the tragedy put upon the people by assad regime -- the barrel bombs, the chemical weapons, the slaughter -- 150,000 deaths so far. i remember being in the aleppo. i see now the pictures. the humanitarian disaster, people displaced, it is a tragedy. that has become a magnet for extremists and terrorist to have migrated to syria. to use it not just as a place to carry out their version of
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mileage a haas -- violent jihad, but to also use it as a springboard. which is the focus of a lot of my engagements with foreign counterparts. >> yes? >> good morning. u.s. news & world report. i would like to follow-up on some of the talk about the intelligence gaps. edward snowden said he has accused the nsa of distracting from pinpointed credible threats. from where you said, do you think there has been intelligence gaps from the nsa or cia in terms of how they could conduct spying and monitoring better? >> anybody who violates their oath in terms of protecting sensitive classified information really has done a great
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disservice, not just to the country, but also has put the american people at harm. nsa, cia, and others are looking at what we need to do to mitigate whatever types of gaps we might need to face -- we might now face with regard to disclosures. we are try to stay ahead of the challenges. we're working closely with our intelligence partners. distractions do take away from our focus on substantive, functional issues that deserve our full attention. >> this lady in the white jacket. excuse me. thank you. >> i am with the nuclear threat initiative. less than two weeks from now, there will be a nuclear security summit in the netherlands. 40 plus heads of government will gather in this accelerated
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effort to prevent nuclear terrorism. i wanted to get your assessment of what you think about that effort as one of these variables for dimensioning -- diminishing risk. the ukraine is a bigger disaster in terms of having weapons usable material because of the commitment they had to get rid of that. considering those dynamics, how do you think about that? >> i participated in the nuclear summits. i found them invaluable in terms of identifying various initiatives that can help to minimize the potential calamitous effects of the liberation. -- proliferation. i think what happened after the end of the soviet union diminished what have been a more dangerous situation right now. from the cia standpoint, we try
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to keep things up teed up to policy makers in terms of what are the initiatives that presidents and prime ministers can agree on? those materials that are still available? the precautions and actions that -- what are the precautions and actions that should be taken to make sure there will be appropriate security measures taken when any type of secure -- nuclear material is transported or nuclear reactors are brought online? there has been a strong relationship between the intelligence community and policy makers. this is global. but we do before the nuclear summit his work with our counterparts overseas to identify what we believe the priority issues are. >> we have the ukraine related question from a viewer in berlin. do you think it might be
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possible to prevent repetition of the russian crimea -- takeover of crimea in eastern ukraine? >> russia already had an extensive military presence in crimea that allow them to have a certain number of military naval personnel as well as equipment and vessels there. as part of the black sea fleet. the actions it has taken over the past several weeks have far exceeded and violated the terms of that understanding. does russia have the capability to move into eastern europe to move into eastern ukraine? absolutely. whether they need to move into ukraine proper to protect their interests. the events of the coming week or
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two and whether or not they will try to secede, that is to be seen. we are at a very delicate time. that is why president obama and secretary kerry are engaging on a constant basis with the world leaders to try to detonate -- de-escalate tensions. make sure russians interests are addressed, but the future of the ukrainian people are decided by the ukrainians. >> the ukrainian government has been remarkably restrained despite provocation in crimea and elsewhere. do you think that if that referendum goes forward, moved into larger ukraine, that the
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ukrainian government -- their military could resist taking action? >> they have been remarkably and thankfully restrained. what we need to avoid our provocations on neither side that could lead to confrontation, bloodshed or whatever. we are hoping, heads prevail in moscow, and key of. -- kiev. provocation is something we need to make sure we avoid. we want this worked out automatically and peacefully. >> we had a question over here. could you bring the microphone up? thank you. >> i am from george mason university. one of the implications of the arab spring is the de-evolution of what we called al qaeda to local interest. that is not necessarily a good
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thing. there are wars and sectarianism. the way we frame the issue is quite complex. my question is, we tend to use a shorthand with respect to al qaeda. calling every group with a similar agenda al qaeda. does that undercut our own interests? what exactly is al qaeda? are there violent groups that -- that are not al qaeda? >> you're absolutely right. there is al qaeda court, bin laden. those that are around the core of al qaeda in south asia. there are those crews in the arabian peninsula that are clearly affiliated. there are other elements in syria taking orders from al qaeda core.
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a lot of other groups throughout the region that may have an ideological affinity, but have not sworn -- do not follow the directional guidance. it is a loose confederation of groups. it has metastasized. which makes it all the more challenging. a lot of these groups have local agendas and are being exploited by the core for more global jihadist purposes. islamic extremism and terrorism has some political publications. the violence that is attended to a number of these groups -- that buildinghallenging and
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up the capacities and capabilities of our partners, that will be the key to success here. we can't do everything around the world on the counterterrorism front. we have to rely on their partners and we are trying to build up their capabilities to do these problems. >> right here. >> jim moody with oppenheimer. the cold war was a war of ideas. it was basically a war of ideas. i would maintain, and correct me if i'm wrong, that islam is often the associated with violence actually, heaven -- violence. actually, having lived in many islamic countries, i know it is a great crime under islam to kill people. is there a way to bring that to the table?
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>> you said the cold war is a war of ideas. al qaeda is an ideology of ideas area ideals give birth to actions. too often actions give birth to repressive policies. authoritative actions. it was suppression and repression of individuals. same thing with al qaeda. they have a very corrupt interpretation of the koran. i meet with leaders in the middle east. these are individuals who are scholars koranic they're the ones that are most , annoyed at how al qaeda has hijacked the religion. and distorted the teachings of mohammed for violent purposes. unfortunately, that ideology has gained resonance and following in many parts of the world. extended by political repression, economic disenfranchisement. lack of education and ignorance.
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there are a number of phenomena that are fueling the fires. it is unsettling. something that new governments are having to come to grips with. the role of these governments in the political system. what is their role? will they pursue legitimate participation in the system? they have ultimate designs of not having a pluralistic society but having one concept for a society. these are challenges we will be facing over the next decade. we need to separate -- too often people put into one basket everybody. >> right here.
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>> i am the ceo of a system engineering companies -- company. a lot of the work we do protects our nation and the rights of individuals. it seems like the facts show one thing and the peer -- pr show some e-mails. -- and the pr shows something else. is there something you can do about that? is there a plan of attack to maybe leverage on the good that youeally done versus the pr get? >> i made a deliberate decision my first year that i was going to not come out and not give speeches. i have now decided to come out. i went to the university of oklahoma. i find it in narrative is one-sided publicly. that mischaracterizes what we do. too often, partisan politics tends to drive commentary. comments are made for partisan
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purposes. i think national security is too important to allow it to be used by partisan politicians. i find it the media will seize that soundbite. i could speak for an hour, and if i miss speak or there is one tidbit taken out of context, they will make sure they pointed out. -- they know they will point that out. it is an uphill battle to read audiences like that's -- this who recognize it is an important issue. this country has gone through so much. we need to keep it strong and safe. cia plays an important role there. i'm going to go out more and more. i'm not going to start trashing other people. we have to proceed on this as responsible adults and professionals.
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that is what i am determined to do. >> i don't want to lay it off on any editors or producers. i take responsibility for anything we put in my name. [laughter] >> i will be watching tonight. >> let me ask you about the security clearances. one of the things that came out is the investigation. it is a justice department investigation into the firm that has been doing the majority of clearances for contractors. showing that in many cases, they were not doing the of property -- appropriate follow-up. they were failing to do the second calls back. they did snowden's clearance, although it is not clear to place in his case. >> there are so many parts that need to make sure they are doing the best work they can do.
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the chain of national so purity -- security is only as strong as the weakest link. it might be a company that has responsibility for doing background investigations that signed up things and does not do it or the it professionals who need to make sure the technical obstacles are in place to keep somebody from downloading stuff. i think it is a collective responsibility. if you think about the people who have some sort of security clearance, that is a tremendous challenge that has technical aspects to it as well as personal security requirements. this is a big government. it is very unfortunate that somebody would decide to do what they did. i find that reprehensible. the people that are putting their lives on their line -- on the line every day in dangerous places are really just so disheartened that somebody would
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take such reckless actions. yes, privacy and civil liberties, individual freedoms need to be respected. we are trying to get this right in the intelligence community. it is challenging. some of the laws have not kept up. changes in the private sector, looking with the private sector is doing with our data in terms of making it available to other companies. resident obama has made it clear we have an obligation to the country safe and also have an obligation to uphold the laws. >> and you do that without the mass collection of metadata? >> there are a lot of challenges in the digital domain. you asked by people what metadata desk -- you ask five people what made to data me says -- what metadata means. you will get many different answers.
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these are things that challenge the mind as far as how you ensure if there is a terrorist who is determined to do harm with a conventional or biological weapon, how will you be able to it operate at the speed of light? so that you memories of 9/11 -- find out where the person is. memories of 9/11 -- i saw the smoldering ashes in manhattan last week. >> thank you very much. >> bill cutler, former foreign service. i wanted to ask you about a country you knew well -- and a well. -- country you know well. saudi arabia. we have seen all kinds of media report about strains in our relationship. strange relating to iran, syria, even egypt.
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the president is going back to saudi arabia. that is his first visit ever to an arab country. -- i think it was his first visit ever was to saudi arabia, an arab country. before he made his famous cairo speech read -- speech. are these passing clouds are something we are facing with our relationship? >> the u.s. and saudi arabia have a strategic partnership that goes way back. the event together at the end of world -- the net to gather at the end of world war ii. there is no doubt we have had differences over the years. a lot has been made about anonymous comments that come out during i have spent over five years and visited saudi arabia
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dozens of times. that partnership goes well beyond my impulse -- the economic and trade and security. president obama is going out and underscores how important not relationship is. he stayed in close contact with president of the law. -- abdulah. what we have committed to do is ensure we have a robust dialogue about those issues ranging from iran to egypt. i feel as if that relationship is on strong and solid ground. >> i am of the raven group. we talked about the need for
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greater transparency in national security matters. with the exception of the disclosures from mr. snowden, has there been much transparency? the crack down on leaks? the failure to get out the so-called torture report? does that negate there has been no change in transparency? >> there has been tremendous progress made. when you look at all the things that are put out -- the amount of resources indicated to the -- and dedicated to the request. all the hearings over the years, you have an intelligence business that really does require many times to have secrecy. people are putting their lives at risk worldwide.
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you have to make sure you are balancing the transparency. the president is committed to making sure we optimize it. i am as well. if the committee submits this report for classification review -- we work with them, we owe over this area -- is up to them to decide whether they want to put it out public or not. there are things i disagree with they missed a lot of and they missed a lot of important things. it is their prerogative. i'm not going to stay in the way. i will protect sources in terms of the tremendous investment we have made in the collection systems. render to caesar that which is caesar's. i gave a number of speeches on counterterrorism at the white house.
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trying to underscore exactly what are the criteria we use in the government in order to take those actions. this is a delicate business. some people who feel as if they can just recklessly put things out, they don't understand the vocations of how it can put sensitive programs and lives at risk. >> jim with cnn. i wonder if i can ask about the other land where we see disputes going on, between japan and china. particularly as it relates to ukraine. china is in a difficult position. how closely are they watching our reaction to how they handle the situation in ukraine? is it your assessment they can be peeled off of that traditional alliance with russia?
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this is new information. the transponder was turned off on the malaysian airlines flight to need to fly after it was turned off. -- that it continued to fly after it was turned off. if that information gives you any more indication or suspicion it was an act of terrorism? >> as far as does one big power watch for developments in the other? we all look at that. in terms of how they act. in the south china sea area, where china has bumped up against the subroutines and equities in the region, we are watching closely. we have engaged with our partners out there as well with the chinese. what we don't want to do is have an unfortunate incident that could lead to an escalating cycle of tension.
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we don't want to do that. are the chinese watching what is happening? they probably are. on the issue of the trust fund are, -- of the transponder, there are curious anomalies. did it turn around? it's a mystery still. are the individuals with the stolen passports involve? why did the transponder disappear from the radar. there our any unknowns, which leads to speculation as to the causes. at this point, we have to be patient and wait. let the authorities continue to investigate. >> the authorities said to follow-up -- there could be a psychological component. perhaps not organized terror. but some pilot decision. is that another theory? >> you cannot discount any.
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. -- you cannot discount any theory. how can one's actions be masked technologically? who had the ability to turn off the transponder? might it have been something in the aircraft? or just some type of catastrophic event that unfortunately led to the crash? i don't know. i don't think people should rule out any lines of inquiry at this point. >> i want to thank john brennan for coming. he does not speak publicly that often. this is a rare opportunity. we appreciate that. especially on a difficult day when there is latebreaking news we thank you -- and for taking the questions. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] >> we will talk with congressman
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the gentleman from tennessee. >> mr. speaker, and this historic day, the house of representatives opens its proceedings for the first time to televised coverage. i wish to congratulate you for your courage in making this possible and the committee who has worked so hard under the leadership of congressman charles rhodes to make this a reality. television will change this institution, mr. speaker, just isn't as change the executive branch. but the good will far outweigh the bad. from this day forward, every member of this body must ask himself or herself -- how many americans are listening to the debates which are made? house becomes
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comfortable with the changes in television coverage, the news media will begin to bring their own medias into this chamber. there is no censorship. every word is available for broadcast coverage and journalists will be able to use and edit as they see fit. of solution for the lack confidence in government, mr. speaker, is more open government at all levels. >> find more highlights from 35 years of house floor coverage on our facebook page. c-span, created by america's cable companies 35 years ago and brought to you today as a public service by your television provider. >> the houses in this morning and will work on measures on the executive ranch in the enforcement of federal law or lighthouse coverage on c-span is at 10:00 a.m. eastern. on c-span two, the senate will vote on judicial nominees this morning live it 9:30 a.m. eastern. the health and human
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services secretary will be on capitol hill testifying about she will take questions about the health care law as well print live house covers from the house ways and means committee starts at 10 a.m. eastern. coming up next hour, we will talk with congresswoman loretta chance -- sanchez. she serves on the homeland security committee. and then a conversation on how the pentagon budget could affect military readiness. congressman rob wittman will join us. and later as part of our spotlight on magazines, steven levy. he wrote an article on how the interstate almost killed the internet. we will get an update on allegations of the cia searching
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senate computers. we will take your calls and you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. ♪ good morning to him everyone on this wednesday. kathleen sebelius will be testifying on the house side. it healthcare.gov enrollment is falling well short of the administration possible. -- the administration's goal. live coverage on c-span three at 10:00 a.m. john kerry will appear before the senate foreign relations agency's on its budget. the testimony follows

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