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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 10, 2014 9:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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you have probably heard the acronyms isis and isil used. they are interchangeable. isil, which the president has been using, refers to the islamic state in the lavon -- the levant. some news organizations are just using the term islamic state. all of those terms are interchangeable. speakingdent will be shortly from the white house. he will be on the main level of the white house, called the cross hall. room insee the board his background and he is due to begin speaking very shortly. a new nbc-wall street journal poll says that the islamic is a threat to americans. 61% of americans agree. americans feel that airstrikes only will be saygh and 35% on top
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include airstrikes and combat troops. the president has released the text of this speech. four or five-page speech. it should go 15, 20 minutes, and after that, we will be taking your phone calls. again, if you would like to comment throughout the speech, you can go to #cspanchat. minute, the president will be coming into the cross hall. here is what it looks like right now. >> my fellow americans, tonight,
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i want to speak to you about what the united states will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as isil. as commander in chief, my highest priority is the security of the american people. over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. we took out osama bin laden and much of al qaeda leadership in afghanistan and pakistan. we targeted al qaeda affiliates in yemen and recently illuminated the top commander of its affiliate in somalia. we have done so well bringing more than 140,000 american troops home from iraq and going down forces in afghanistan, where our combat mission ends later this year. thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, america is safe. still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. we cannot erase every trace of
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evil from the world and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. -- thatains the case was the case before 9/11 and remains the case today. and that is why we must remain vigilant. the greatest threats come from the middle east and north africa, where radical groups exploit people for their gain. the most radical is isil, which calls itself the islamic state. let's make two things clear. isil is not islamic. no religion condones the killing of innocents and the vast majority of their victims have been muslim. isil is certainly not a state. it was a former al qaeda affiliate in iraq and has taken advantage of strife and civil war to gain territory on both sides of the iraq-syrian border. it is recognized by no government nor by the people it subjugates.
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isil is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. other than then slaughter of all who stand in its way. in a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique. they execute captured prisoners. they kill children, and slave, rape, and force women into marriage. genocide and with in acts of barbarism, they took american of two journalists, jim foley and steven sotloff. iso is a threat to the people of syria and the broader middle east. if left unchecked, these terrorists can pose a grave threat beyond that region, including to the united states. while we have not yet detected specific plotting against our
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homeland, isil leaders have threatened our allies. thousands of foreigners, including europeans and americans, have joined them in syria and iraq. battle-armed, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks. i know many americans are concerned about these threats. tonight, i want you to know that the united states of america is meeting them with strength and resolve. month, i ordered our military to take targeted action against isil to stop its advance. since then, we have conducted more than 150 successful airstrikes to protect american facilities, kill isil fighters, destroy weapons, and give space for iraqi and kurdish forces to reclaim territory. these strikes have also helped save the lives of thousands of
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innocent men, women, and children. but this is not our fight alone. american power can make a decisive difference but we cannot do for iraqi's what they must do for themselves. nor can we take the place of their partners in securing the region. additional u.s. action dependent having an inclusive government, which they have done in recent days. tonight, with a new iraqi government in place and consultations with allies abroad and congress at home, i can announce that america will lead against thistion terrorist threat. our objective is clear. we will degrade and ultimately destroy isil through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy. first, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists, working with the iraqi government to expand our
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efforts so that we are hitting isil targets as iraqi forces go on offense. we will hunt down terrorists wherever they are. that means i will not hesitate to take action against isil in syria as well as iraq. it is a core principle of my presidency. if you threaten america, you will find no safe haven. second, we will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground. in june, i deployed several hundred servicemembers to iraq to assess how we can best support iraqi security forces. those teams have completed their work and iraq has formed a government. we will send an additional 475 servicemembers to iraq. these american forces will not have a combat mission.
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a will not get dragged into another ground war in iraq. but they are needed to support iraqi and kurdish forces with training, intelligence, and equipment. iraq's also support efforts to help the sunni communities secure their own freedom from isil's patrol. across the border, in syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the myth -- to the opposition. we call on congress to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters. isil, weght against cannot rely against an assad regime that terrorizes its own people, a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost. instead, we must strengthen the opposition, the best counterweight to isil. third, we will continue to draw
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on our substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent isil attacks. we will redouble our efforts to its funding,ut off improve our intelligence, strengthen our defensive, counter it's worked ideology -- ideology. i will chair a meeting of the un security council. fourth, we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance for innocent civilians displaced by this terrorist organization. this includes sunni and shia muslims who are at great risk as well as tens of thousands of christians and other religious minorities. allow these communities to be driven further from their ancient homeland. in each of these four parts of of ourategies -- strategy, america will be joined by a broad coalition.
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already, allies are flying planes with us, sending arms and assistance to iraqi security forces and the syrian opposition, sharing intelligence and providing millions of dollars in humanitarian aid. meeting with the new government and supporting their efforts of unity. he will travel across the middle east and europe to enlist more partners in this fight, especially arab nations that can mobilize communities in iraq and syria to drive these terrorists from their lands. this is american leadership at its best. we stand with people who fight for their own freedom and rally other nations on behalf of of our security and common humanity. my administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach at home. i have the authority to address the threat from isil. i believe we are strongest as a nation, when the president and congress work together.
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this effort will show the world that americans are united -- are united in confronting this danger. it will take time to eradicate a cancer like iso-. anytime -- like isil. anytime we take military action, there are risks involved, especially to the service men and women who carry out these missions. i want the american people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in iraq and afghanistan. it will not involve american combat troops fighting on foreign soil. this counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take on and wherever they exist support for partners, forces on the ground. -- is one thatf we have successfully pursued in yemen and somalia for years and is consistent with the approach
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i outlined earlier this year. to use force against anyone who threatens america's core interests, but to use broader partners where available. americans, we live in a time of great change. tomorrow marks 13 years since our country was attacked. next week marks six years since our economy suffered its worst setback since the great depression. despite these shocks, through the pain we felt and the grueling work required to bounce back, america is better-positioned today to see the future than any other nation on earth. companies and universities are unmatched. our manufacturing and auto industries are thriving. energy independence is closer than it has been in decades. for all the work that remains, our businesses are in the longest uninterrupted stretch of job creation in our history. despite all of the divisions in
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our democracy, i see the grit and determination and common goodness of the american people every single day and that makes me more confident than ever about our country's future. a broad american leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. it is america that has the capacity and will to mobilize against terrorists. it is america that has rallied the world against russian support of thein ukrainian people's right to determine their own destiny. it is america where scientists, doctors can help contain and cure the outbreak of ebola. who majorsca chemical weapons cannot pose a threat to syrian people and the world again. and it is america who is helping
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communities around the world, not just in the fight against terrorism, of fight for opportunity and tolerance and a more hopeful future. blessingsur endless bestow an enduring burden. as americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. from europe to asia, from the far reaches of africa to the war-torn capitals of the middle east, we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. these are values that have guided our nation since its founding. support i ask for your in carrying that leadership forward. i do so as a commander-in-chief who could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform. pilots who bravely fly in the face of danger in the middle east and servicemembers who support our partners on the ground. when we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on
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a distant mountain, here is what one of them said -- "we allow american friends our lives. our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people." that is the difference we make in the world. and our own safety, our own security depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation and uphold the values that we stand for. endures ideals that will long after those who offer only hate and instruction -- and destruction have been vanquished from the earth. may god bless our troops and may god bless the united states of america. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
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>> 14-minute speech, you heard it. we want to get your reaction. you can also make a comment at #cspanchat. iraq.ditional troops to airstrikes will continue. military assistance to the syrian opposition. degrade and destroy. i think those are two words that you will hear and see tomorrow in the news media. the president again referred to it as isil, islamic state in levant. thoseyou can use interchangeably. finally, just the islamic state. all of those are being used interchangeably. let's begin with a call from
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cheyenne in virginia. you are on the air. >> i am just kind of sitting here with lots of friends from college and we just listened to the speech and we have mixed opinions about it. -- it think it is really is really a new for us, things like this happening around us. >> what were some of those mixed opinions and where do you go to school? >> we are at longwood university. >> and what are some of those mixed opinions? >> we all love our country and we trust the president. >> all right, thanks for calling in. jordan is in louisville, kentucky. what did you hear in this speech? aboutave mixed opinions
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how he presented the speech and views towards homeland security. >> such as? >> one of the first questions to one of the senators talking before that street -- before the speech -- how do you feel about buying assault weapons? i am from kentucky. everyone has a gun. people owning guns is not the problem. , homeland security, with the civilian population -- >> we are reacting to the president's speech on combating .sis that is what we want to get your reaction to. independent oregon, line. as what i heard in that speech, something i did not hear was any mention of needing
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a declaration of war from congress, which i think would be needed if we are committing american troops on the ground, whether he says it is combat or not. additionally, if we are concerned about isis running rampant in the iraq and syria area, why did the u.s. arm them in syria to fight a brutal and bloody civil war against a side -- against assad in the first place question mark we should stop creating problems and him lamenting a solution to them and work on our own problems in the united eights. troops.dditional the airstrikes continue. you do not support any of that at this point? >> absolutely not. it is their war. it is their country. they need to solve their own problems. it is not our job. that is not what we voted for. >> if you were asked the question, is isis a threat to the united states, what is your
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answer to that? >> i think it is a lot of hot air and rhetoric. i have seen no incidents that they have the means to invade the united states. i do not think that is true. essentialy of these x -- x essential -- existential threats. i think our crumbling economy at home is the biggest threat to our future. >> that is charles from oregon. he did talk about congress a little bit. "my administration has also secured the funds and support here at home. i have the authority to address this threat from isil but i believe we are strongest as a nation when the president and congress work together." jimmy from illinois, democrat. what is your reaction? >> a program like this, it is just amazing. the greatest thing president obama just did was, when he got
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kicked and america got kicked, they did not kick back. that is very important. calling it a war is easy to say. when you see a veteran with no arms and no legs, that is hard. if we do not have to go to war, which is what we are trying to do, that is wonderful. one other thing -- we need to define what a terrorist is. he is a coward. he puts a mask over his face. we have to stop saying that are wonderful. we do not really say it, but by giving them this publicity, we are doing it to them. we talk like a terrorist is the toughest person in the world. when i was a kid and had to fight something -- somebody, i did not put a mask over my head. i fought like a man. -- anyone whoe would kill an innocent child or
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a person who is not a soldier is a coward. i am very emotional about this and i have thought about this for 20 years. i have never had an opportunity to say it on television. >> that is jimmy from illinois. this is michael from california. republican line. >> i really appreciate giving me a chance to talk to i just watched the president's address and have some mixed emotions about it. i have been a republican my whole life and my family have been republicans. my parents were immigrants to this country. we really speak to the spirit of this country. that we need to take care of our people at home first. strengthen our foundation and then look on two other borders. i understand that the rest of -- we are living in
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it. at the same time, i am driving around los angeles and i do not feel safe. >> from what? , crime ine general los angeles is at a high level. of things to be thought of at home as opposed to a broad. >> nancy pelosi has tweeted out her response to the president's speech. here it is -- statement is available on that link. another call from california. this is been in venture a -- ben in ventura. >> thank you for having me on here. considering what is going on right now and the situation in
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iraq, we are probably doing the right thing. ,f we read between the lines this is going to be going on for a good amount of time and i do not see this ending anywhere under 10 years. u.s.e u.s. presence or the involvement in this? >> the u.s. involvement in this. it is not going to and for a long time -- to end for a long time. >> the president did announce 475 additional troops to iraq. he said he would not -- they would not be combat troops. what do you think? >> that might be true for now, but i think that is going to change. , have a feeling that, you know isil is not going to be defeated easily. i feel like this is going to be stretched out for a good amount of time, another 15 years.
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>> thank you, sir. laura from michigan. what are your thoughts about the president's speech? >> i want to bring attention to the republicans that are so fast to denigrate our president. he is fighting a war that was premise.n a false the bush administration were responsible for this erroneous war in iraq. friends andmy iraqi some friends that i have who long for their previous dictators. they hate what is going on in their countries. i am a senior citizen and through my years, i have never been more ashamed of some of the
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people whose first job is to poke ad i -- en eye -- eye of thee president. when i was a little girl, we all got together for america, no matter who the president was. i am appalled when i hear people blaming the president, who is trying to do the very best job that he can. half the people out there that are ready to crucify this man no matter what he does. plays golf, he does not do this, he does not do that. the man is on a tender hook. bless barackay god obama and god bless the united states of america. my child was lost in 9/11. i feel strongly about what they are doing in the middle east. i think people should stop picking on the president and start supporting our country.
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it is a wonderful country. do not act like it is so terrible just because we have a president you do not like. do not forget, more people voted for him than against him and that is why he is our president. newark, republican in new jersey. >> hi. really drove it home. obviously, 9/11, the anniversary as tomorrow. i think a lot of people are quick to forget that. this specter hanging over us coming out of the syria and iraq area. it is really serious. i totally support what barack obama just said to us. 475 more people going into the is concerning.
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who knows if that number is going to increase? the adversity that is facing the world right now, it is extremely serious and we need to take the lesson that we learned 14 years ago, that al qaeda taught us, and face this head on. >> i want to read you one line from the president's speech and get your reaction to it. he said, "broad american leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world." remember thati line from the speech. it struck a chord. it is true. it is true. we have been unwavering in our reaction to the international threat that islamic extremism has put to the world.
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we have to do this. take isis, isil, islam islamic state, whatever you want to call them, and take them down. it is what it is. >> alex, thank you. here is more reaction from twitter from members of congress. steve israel, democrat from new york, the campaign committee for the democrats in the house -- and chris van hollen is a democrat from maryland, another member of the democratic leadership --
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on our independent line, rayshawn in california. what is your reaction? are not focusing on the threat that we are supposed to be focusing on, which is israel. i believe it is a snowball effect. we have to deal with the problems we are facing. with everything that has come along with that. in my opinion, that has created all the chaos in the middle east and that part of the world that we have to deal with. democrat,uderdale, good evening. >> i listened to the president's speech and i would like to make a quick comment. president obama was willing to go after the terrorists.
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said he knewen he the terrorist was hiding. he would be willing to go inside and actually get that terrorist. that is exactly what he did with bin laden. it is very important to disrupt and destroy isil at this time. hope that he does not go giveone and congress will their support.
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.hey have seen the need is a republican in iowa. >> militarily, president obama is right on. causation, he is not. it says right in the koran that youou do not accept allah, are supposed to strike the neck. that is where they get beheadings from. what we need to do is have a worldwide effort to close down islamic scrolls, to help these cult byn this islamic deprogramming them and have something new for them to think about. athletics introduce or something into these countries because, if we do not do this, it is just going to be
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generation after generation of these people being proselytized into this belief system and they are just want to follow the koran. peaceful muslims do not follow the koran because the koran backs up a lot of things that the terrorists do. if peaceful muslims are not living according to the koran, the so-called terrorists will make their lives miserable until they start observing the koran. so there is a cause for this whole thing and we also have to look at that. >> we will just leave your comment there. let's read some tweets. #cspanchat if you want to participate in the discussion that is going on on twitter.
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that is what she says. yolanda. and here is juan. members of congress continue to as well, their reaction to the president's speech. john shimkus sent out two tweets that we want to read. and his other tweet -- lee terry is a republican from
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nebraska -- finally, steve stockman, a republican from texas -- myac, you are on c-span. what is your reaction to what the president has to say? >> i think it is progress. that is something that is nice to see. people forget about bipartisanship and working together and how these people have claimed they want to kill us. they want to kill americans. i am glad to see us do something
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about it. hopefully we will provide asining to kurdish forces well as a long-term strategy as well. i am not saying that there is too much focus on the long-term, but i think that people get ahead of themselves. we need to tackle what is right in front of us and he is at least doing that. everything he said, i definitely agree with. >> mark, i want to read from the "a,ident's speech -- american leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world." what is your reaction to that? >> absolutely. example.o kennedy, for that is something we can learn. history repeats itself.
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statement about generation after generation killing and fighting. i totally agree with that and i think we should be at the forefront, trying to help protect our allies while keeping promises we make along the way. >> more tweets from members of congress. muslim-american member of congress -- that is what mr. ellison says. steven horsford is a democrat from nevada. is a republican from utah --
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mark is coming in from georgia on our democrat line. withwant to agree president obama. he showed leadership from this country. what i did not hear that concerns me, what are we going to do about this border? i did not hear that. >> thank you. juan calling in from the bronx. you are on c-span. your reaction to the president's speech. >> excuse me. with most of what president obama said. the part of the speech where i is when he spoke about what isis is.
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it is called islamic state or the army of islamic -- >> where do you disagree with the president? wants to make them like they are not islamic. they all consider themselves muslims. every single one of them. is -- my onlyrn concern is why does he have such a powerful notion of what they are. they are islamic extremists. >> thank you for taking my call. i am curious as to why there is no fire behind it president who is chief in commander, running
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this country. i do not understand why there are isis terrorists crossing our border wide open with isis patches and threatening to fly their flag in our white house and our president is relaxed, saying that we are safe. we are not safe. strong abouting them. there have been terrorists caught at the border, sending them back with a slap on the hand. in indiana.hrissy in just a minute, we're going to replay the president's speech for you so you can see it again in its entirety. tomorrow, on c-span, we will be covering a lot of the 9/11 remembrance events from the pentagon, new york city, and the white house. and on our morning program, "washington journal," your calls and remembrances about 9/11.
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thank you for being with us. here is the president from 9:00 this evening. >> my fellow americans, tonight, i want to speak to you about what the united states will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroyed the terrorist group known as isil. as commander-in-chief, my highest priority is the security of the american people. over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. we took out osama bin laden and much of al qaeda's leadership in afghanistan and pakistan. we targeted al qaeda's affiliate in yemen and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in somalia. we have done so while bringing more than 140,000 american troops home from iraq. our forces inwn afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year. thanks to our military and
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counterterrorism professionals, america is safe. still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. we cannot erase every trace of evil from the world and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. case before 9/11 and that remains true today. that is why we must remain vigilant as these threats emerge. greatestoment, the threats come from the middle east and north africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. one of those groups is isil, which calls itself the islamic state. let's make two things clear -- isil is not islamic. no religion condones the killing of innocents. the vast majority of their victims have been muslim. isil is certainly not a state. al qaeda'sally affiliate in iraq and has taken
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advantage of sectarian strife and the syrian civil war to gain territory on both sides of the iraq-syria border. it is recognized by no government or by the people it subjugates. isil is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. and theo vision other slaughter of all who stand in its way. -- that hasthat is known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. they execute captured prisoners, they kill children, they enslave , rape, and force women into marriage, they threaten the religious minority with genocide , and, in acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two american journalists, jim fully and steven sotloff. -- foley and steven sotloff. to american threat
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facilities abroad. if left unchecked, they could pose a threat beyond that region, including the united states. we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland. isil leaders have threatened america and our allies. thousands have joined them in syria and iraq, trained and battle-armed. these fighters could try to return to their home countries to carry out deadly attacks. i know many americans are concerned about these threats. know that want you to the united states of america is meeting them with strength and resolve. last month, i ordered our military to take targeted action to stop its emancipate since then, we have conducted more than 150 successful airstrikes in iraq. these strikes have protected american personnel and facilities, killed isil
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fighters, destroyed weapons, and given space for iraqi and kurdish forces to reclaim key territory. have also helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. but this is not our fight alone. can make awer decisive difference, but we theyt do for iraqis what must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of arab partners in securing their region. that is why i have insisted that additional u.s. action is dependent upon iraqis forming an inclusive government, which they have done in recent days. tonight, with a new iraqi government in place and consultations with allies abroad and congress at home, i can announce that america will lead a broad coalition to beat back this terrorist threat. our objective is clear. we will degrade and ultimately destroy isil.
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through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy. first, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. working with the iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond are our own people and humanitarian missions so that we are hitting isil forces go onaqi offense. i have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country wherever they are. i will not hesitate to take asion against isil in syria well as iraq. it is a core principle of my presidency. if you threaten america, you will find no safe haven. second, we will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground. i deployed several hundred american servicemembers to iraq to assess how we can best support iraqi security forces. now that those teams have completed their work and iraq
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has formed a government, we will send an additional or hundred 75 servicemembers to iraq -- 475 servicemembers to iraq. have aembers will not combat mission. we will not get dragged into another ground war in iraq, but they will support iraqi forces with training, intelligence, and equipment. they will support iraq's efforts to stand up national guard units to secure their own freedom from isil. syria, we border, in have ramped up military assistance for the syrian opposition. tonight, i call on congress again to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters. in the fight against isil, we ssad regime on the a that terrorizes its own people. instead, we must strengthen the pursuing theile
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political solution necessary to solve serious crisis -- to solve once and for all. third, we will continue to draw on our substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent isil attacks. working with our partners, we will redouble efforts to cut off funding, improve our intelligence, strength and our , and stem the flow of foreign fighters into and out of the middle east. in two weeks, i will chair a meeting of the un security council to further rally the international community around this effort. fourth, we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who have been displaced by this terrorist organization. this includes sunni and shia at great risk,e as well as tens of thousands of christians and religious minorities. we cannot allow these
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communities to be driven from their ancient homes. so this is our strategy. in each of these four parts of our strategy, america will be joined by a broad coalition of partners. already, allies are flying iraq, sending arms and assistance to security forces, sharing intelligence, and providing millions of dollars in humanitarian aid. in iraqy kerry was today, meeting with the new government and supporting their efforts. in the coming days, he will travel across the middle east and europe to enlist more partners in this plan, especially arab nations who can help drive these terrorists from their lands. this is american leadership at its best. we stand with people who fight and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common community. my administration has also
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secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home. i have the authority to address the threat from isil, but i believe we are strongest as a nation, when the president and congress work together. so i welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show that americans are united in confronting this danger. will take time to eradicate a cancer like isil. anytime we take military action, there are risks involved. especially to the serviceman and women who carry out these missions. i want the american people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in iraq and afghanistan. we will not involve american combat troops fighting on foreign soil. this counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out isil wherever they exist, using our air partner and -- our air power and support from partners
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on the ground. the strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us while supporting partners on the frontlines is one that we have successfully pursued in yemen and somalia for years and it has been in the approach i outlined earlier this year, to use force against anyone who threatens america's core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges. my fellow americans, we live in a time of great change. tomorrow marks 13 years since our country was attacked. next week marks six years since our economy suffered its worst setback since the great depression. despite these shocks, through the pain we felt and the grueling work required to about back, americaunce is better positioned today than any other nation. our technology companies and universities are unmatched. our manufacturing and auto industries are thriving.
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energy independence is closer than it has been in decades. for all the work that remains, our businesses are in the longest uninterrupted stretch of job creation in our history. divisions in our democracy, i see the grid and andrmine -- grit determination and common goodness of the american people every single day. that makes me more confident than ever about our country's future. american leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. it is america that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. it is america that has rallied the world against russian incursion and in support of the ukrainian people's right to determine their own destiny. it is america, our scientists, are doctors, our know-how, that can help contain and cure the outbreak of ebola. it is america that helped remove
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and destroy syria's chemical weapons so they cannot pose a threat to syria or the world again. and it is america helping muslim communities around the world, not just in the fight against terrorism, but the fight for opportunity and tolerance and a more hopeful future. blessingsur endless the stowe -- bestow an enduring burden. welcome ourcans, we response ability to lead. from europe to asia, rome far reaches of africa to the war-torn capitals of the middle east, we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. these are values that have guided our nation since its founding. support i ask for your in carrying that leadership forward. i do so as commander in chief who can. be prouder -- who could not be prouder of men and women
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in uniform. pilots bravely flying above the middle east. service members supporting our partners on the ground. when we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on a distant mountain, here is what ourof them said -- "we owe american friends our lives read -- our lives. our children will always remember that there is someone who felt our struggle and make -- and made the long journey to protect innocent people." that is the difference that we make in the world. our own safety, our own security depends upon our willingness to do what it takes in this nation and uphold the values that we stand for, timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been banquet from the are. may god bless our troops and may god bless the united states of america.
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>> on our next "washington journal," we will get your reaction to president obama's speech. we will take your phone calls and you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. new yorklso talk to times security correspondent david sanger about the anniversary of the september 11 attacks. live each morning at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> now, a house panel focuses on the threat that the u.s. could face from the terrorist group isis. customs and border protection officials are asked about intelligence sharing and the resources being used to capture potential threats. this hearing is chaired by candice miller of michigan.
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>> committee on homeland security, the subcommittee on border and maritime security will come to order. he settled committee is meeting to examine the threat posed by isis fighters who are holding western passports. we are very pleased to be joined by mr. troy miller, the acting assistant commissioner at the u.s. customs and border protection. frequent testify or to our committee. we appreciate him coming back. he is the assistant commissioner at the u.s. border protection. undersecretary for analysis at the office for intelligence and analysis, and ms. hillary johnson, the acting deputy coordinator for homeland security and lateral affairs. i will introduce them a bit more formally shortly. anniversarye 13th
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of the most heinous and cowardly attack in the history of our nation. certainly, a terrorist attack that took the lives of nearly 3000 of our fellow americans. ,nd it happened, in part because our visa and border veryity defense were not effective. among the most important weaknesses that the attackers was oure to exploit border security. 19 hijackers passed through border security 68 times back and forth without being detected. on that day in september, we learned a very hard lesson. as noted by the 9/11 commission -- "for terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons." i think that is a very important statement by them. it is so true. many more terrorists since have exploited the visa system in one way or another and it is an ongoing vulnerability, one that is heightened by the significant
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growing threat that the islamic syria poised and to our nation. our best estimates are that thousands of individuals carrying western passports have joined in the fight in syria and in iraq, including several hundred americans. 2 innocent american journalists, james foley and steven sotloff, were brutally beheaded by an isis terrorist who is likely a british citizen. these thugs have no regard for life and have threatened to attack our homeland. and the united states government must the prepared to prevent such an act from happening. terrorists with western passports pose an additional risk to the homeland because many are eligible for visa-free travel through the visa waiver program. terrorists could be just one visa-free flight away from arriving in the united states and bringing with them their skills and their training and their ideology and their commitment to killing americans. all of the thing that they
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learned overseas. theus remember that traveled 20th hijacker on the visa waiver program before he enrolled in a minneapolis flight school. richard reid, and the shoe bomber who tried to ignite explosives in a shoe, also traveled on the visa waiver program. perpetratorse main of the 1993 world trade center bombing again used the visa waiver program to enter the country. these attacks occurred before the advent of increased scrutiny on visa waiver countries. while we are confident that we can identify many threats today through the electronic system for travel authorization, which allalled esta, visa waiver applicants have to fill out, it is clear that we may have trouble determining if some individuals have traveled to terrorist regions.
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also, we continuously but that thistinuously vet information. .hat information is imperfect collecting information up front could be very helpful for us to do just that. however critical information sharing, especially with our critical toies, is combat foreign fighters bound for the united states. unfortunately, europe as a whole has been unwilling to share certain passenger data with the united states and such a gap certainly puts our citizens in the united states at risk. i want to commend our allies who
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have been quick to realize the .everity of the threat we must work with our foreign allies like the united kingdom radicalized by isis and similar groups to prevent them from traveling to the united states. like the u.k., we should be looking at the authority we have or need and that would be a big part of our discussion here this morning to revoke passports of american citizens who go to fight and isis. we need to reduce their ability to travel to the united states and i think we need to consider what it will take to strip passports for those who write support to terrorists. i look forward to hearing what tother changes we have made combat the threat of foreign traveling porous
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borders and for returning home to europe. manyght be hard for americans to comprehend, but for many traveling to syria is as simple as just getting in their car and driving there. is about oneng simple question. can the united states government adequately detect terrorist travel patterns, identify suspicious movement, and prevent those who would do us harm from coming into the united states? how can we best protect our homeland? we need to be one step ahead instead of constantly reacting. defeating ability to move has long been a focus of this subcommittee. plottedt to have horrific events have crossed the .order for training
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there are further opportunities we can take to limit terrorist mobility and that is why we're holding that meeting today. must deny freedom of movement because 14 years ago we unfortunately saw what failure looks like. the chair now recognizes the gentlelady from texas, ms. jackson lee, for her opening statement. good morning. let me thank the chairwoman for yielding. let me also would knowledge the ranking member of the full committee and thanks for his we are joined by the chair of the full committee and how they have worked and writing leadership for the homeland. as i often remind our colleagues questionten as we are
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ed, this is a pivotal committee that stands in the gap of making sure that the needs of our nation, the domestic needs and protecting our homeland are a priority. there recognized as having a department and a committee assigned to protect the homeland. 9/11 continues to be a symbol for all of the untoward terrorists across and around the world. .hey view that as a challenge whether or not they can continue to intimidate the western world and the united states of america. our values are contrary to their believes and therefore 9/11 -- ittrary to their beliefs and is a time for recognition that
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we still remain in the eye of the storm. we will not fall victim to terrorist intent. we will not terrorize ourselves. we will be vigilant, which i believe is extremely important. we will recognize the civil liberties of all. we were in some challenging and difficult times. i want to thank the chairwoman for allowing us and of this committee and working with me and the full committee to be the very first full committee addressing isis in the united states congress upon our return. that's an important statement for homeland security, intelligence are the cornerstone in our collaboration working together is key. that we are doing. groundwork tothe
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expeditiously address this question. we will discuss a new protocols as to how we confront isis. as he has indicated, the grade and and isis. i'm not really willing to see the point that isis does not represent a threat to the united states. i did not say imminent. i did not say today. hearinge this recognizes that isis is a threat to the people of the united states. not in the instance of being intimidated but king prepared to protect of the people of the united states of america. there was the beheading of two american journalists, james foley and stephen sotloff by isis terrorists in syria.
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they have used brutal tactics threateningyria, the countries. they have attacked, killed, displaced thousands of minorities including christians and smaller ethnic minority groups. foreign fighters holding passports traveling to this country to travel out -- carry out an attack. are knowns. citizens to have likewise left the united to go to the battlefield to perpetrate jihad. the number engaged is
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,000 the u.s.110 estimates 12,000 are foreign fighters. among those are estimated to be more than 1000 individuals from europe and over 100 from the u.s. with one dozen american fighters with i sold. the cap was approximately 19 who created the most heinous terrorist act killing over 3000 here in the united states of america. we mourn for them and their families. many have expressed particular concern. this generally allows them to travel the united states without accepting -- obtaining a visa. they have been on the watchlist appropriately.
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we need to make the no-fly list more robust and we would look to the idea of legislation quickly passed that makes sure we shore up the no-fly list not to undermine civil liberties but to protect the nation. i'm interested in a discussion .f that going forward these visa waiver travelers usually do not need a visa in this country, they are currently looking at the detail and more detail. they then seek to return to the country by error. there are somere recently died in battle. beyond addingdo individuals to the no-fly list.
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if and when the need arises, they play a vital role. this subcommittee has previously examined passenger prescreening programs which are essential to addressing the foreign fighter threat to the homeland. i hope dhs and state department witnesses can't eat to us about how -- can speak to us regarding specifically. i hope to hear from our state department witnesses about how we engage in how we are engaging with our foreign partners to help address information gaps regarding individuals of concern and their travel partners -- patterns. like chairman miller, i'm glad europe is standing up. they should stand up and collaborate while we maintain our values. we can secure this nation. inle we cannot solve this
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totality, we can do this collaboratively with our middle east allies and our western allies. we do have the responsibility to protect the homeland from and thefrom isil similar terrorist organizations. be mindful as we mourn and havemorate 9/11 that we work to do. i strongly encourage the administration and congressional leadership to make sure that all relevant committees are included in briefing so that they can be a collaborative strategy in conjunction with the administration. we can work collaboratively together and address these issues. i know our chairpersons and ranking member are prepared to do so. i look forward to the president's address to the nation tonight as he outlined his plan for combating isil. to workingmmitted with any of my colleagues on this committee and i look forward to the appropriate legislation that we hope would be expedited and passed to ensure the safety and security
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of the homeland. it is our duty and our challenge. with that, i yield back the check -- the remaining time. d back the balance of my time. >> the chair now recognizes the ranking member of the full committee, the gentleman from mississippi, mr. thompson for his opening statement. >> thank you very much chairman miller, ranking member jackson lee. thank you for holding today's hearing. i'd also like to thank the witnesses for appearing to testify about the government's efforts to identify foreign fighters in syria and iraq who may seek to travel to the u.s. to do our nation harm. since its establishment in the wake of terrorist attack of 9/11, this committee has been engaged in helping to address the threats posed by terrorists' travel. for example, members of the committee advocated for a key provision in the 9/11 act requiring the implementation of an electronic system for travel
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authorization to enhance the security of the visa waiver program. this committee also examined the lessons learned from the attempted bombing of flight 253 on christmas day 2009 and urged dhs and the rest of the intelligence community to strengthen programs aimed at identifying travel to this country who might do us harm. today we turn our attention to the threat posed by foreign fighters with islamic state of iraq and lebanon, isl, particularly those holding western passports who could attempt to travel to this country without obtaining a visa. top u.s. officials have made public statements warning that syrian-trained extremists, including foreign fighters linked with isil may pose a threat to this country.
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intelligence officials know that individuals from north america and europe that travel to syria could be exposed to radical and extremist influences before returning to their home country. as ranking member lee has already said, the u.s. government estimates that there are 12,000 foreign fighters who have traveled to syria to engage in the ongoing civil war, including more than 1,000 europeans and over 100 u.s. citizens. of those 100 u.s. citizens fighting in the region, about a dozen are believed to be fighting along isil. i hope our conversation today provides insight into the full scope of foreign fighter issues facing the u.s. government, as well as how we, along with our foreign partners, can maximize our intelligence and information-sharing regarding these individuals. with that in mind, i want to hear from the department of
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homeland security and department of state witnesses about their ongoing work to identify foreign fighters coming to the u.s., and whether or not they need to increase their efforts in response to isil. we know that the threat posed by isil foreign fighters is very real and serious. the american people want assurances that our government response is and will continue to be equal to the task at hand. again, i thank the witnesses for joining us today and the members for holding this hearing. madam chair, with that, i also yield back the balance of my time. >> i thank the gentleman very much for his opening statement. i would before we begin, would ask unanimous consent that the gentleman from nevada be included in the statement. other members are reminded that
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opening statements might be submitted for the record. we're pleased to have distinguished witnesses with us today to discuss this very important topic. let me formally introduce them. troy miller service as the acting skmigser for intelligence and lee a san. they are responsible for implementation of targets and supporting the primary mission of securing america's border. mr. miller began his career in 1993 as a customs inspector in north dakota and has since held various positions throughout cvp. mr. john wa wagner is the assistant commissioner for the office of field operations and border protection. he formerly served as executive director of admissibility and passenger programs with responsibility for all traveler admissibility-related policies and programs. miss jennifer lasly is the deputy undersecretary for analysis at dhss office of
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intelligence and analysis, a position that she's held since april of 2013. in this role, she leads the dhs office charged with providing all intelligence analysis of threats to the homeland. prior to this assignment she served as vice deputy director for analysis at the defense intelligence agency. miss hillary johnson is the acting deputy coordinator for homeland security and multi-lateral affairs in the state's department of bureau of counter-terrorism. she oversees approaches to protecting the homeland on issues such as cargo security, terrorism screen to include terrorism agreements with foreign partners to combat terrorist travel. with that, the chair would recognize mr. miller for his testimony. >> chair woman miller, ranking member thompson, ranking member jackson lee, distinguished members of the committee, thank
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you for the opportunity to discuss the role of u.s. customs and border protection and securing the homeland against terrorist threats. more than a decade after the terrorist attacks on september 11, 2001, terrorists continue to focus on commercial aviation as their primary target of interest. as this committee knows, the department of homeland security has been aware of and continues to adjust and align our resources to address the evolving nature of the terrorist threat to the homeland. the capability has allowed us to get information and respond to emerging threats as a part of our intelligence-driven counter-terrorism strategy. of particular concern of those threats that continue to im you late from al qaeda, their affiliates, isil and other like minded terrorist organizations from across the globe. the office of intelligence has focused on the growing threat of u.s. citizens and europeans travel to support terrorist
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activities and those who then returned to the u.s. or allied countries. this past may a 22-year-old american citizen blew himself up while detonating a massive truck bomb at a restaurant in northern syria. in addition, in august, two u.s. citizens were killed while fighting for extremist groups. in order to address this and other emerging threats, the office of intelligence provides operational and analytical support to our front line officers on a daily basis through situational awareness briefings and tactical intelligence such as link analysis on known subjects of interest. cvp in conjunction with our partners has long-standing protocols for identifying, examining and reporting on encounters with persons on the terrorist watch list. as a compliment to its ability to identify watch listed individuals attempting to travel, cvp also takes steps to identify those unknown to law
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enforcement and intelligence community for further scrutiny. these efforts occur before departure from the u.s., before departure from foreign locations destined to the u.s. or upon rival at u.s. ports of entry. through robust information sharing and collaboration, vcp continues to work with our law enforcement intelligence community partners to enhance its comprehensive intelligence driven targeting program to detect previously unknown terrorists and their facilitators. cvp's research and analysis on a recent traveler suspected of being a syrian foreign fighter revealed the identity of a new suspect, a co-traveler, which provided previously unknown information to the investigation and expanded our intelligence framework. as a foreign fighter threat grows, cvp works in close partnership with federal law enforcement counter terrorist communities as well as the
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private sector to counter the threat. in addition, the threat posed by syrian foreign fighters and isil is now limited to the united states. there's a growing international commitment to combatting the shared threat to our security. staff from the national targeting center and intelligence office interact with foreign counterparts including those two the five european countries on almost a daily basis. most importantly, intelligence works aggressively to continue leverage assets and resources across the intelligence community and other federal partners to communicate, coordinate and collaborate with our international partners which enables officers and agents to take the appropriate operational response. in conclusion, cvp will continue to work closely with the dhs, the department of the state, the department of defense, the
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intelligence community and our foreign counterparts to detect emerging terrorist threats such as those presented by isil and identify and address all potential security vulnerabilities. i appreciate the committee leadership and providing this opportunity to speak on this very serious issue. i look forward to working with the committee on this issue and other matters of urgency and priority. i'm happy to answer any questions you may have. >> thank you very much. the chair recognizes mr. wagner for his testimony. >> thank you, chair woman miller, ranking member thompson, ranking member jackson lee, distinguished members of the committee. it's a privilege to appear today to discuss the efforts in securing the border. in response to the potential threat posed by the islamic state of iraq and other terrorist groups and supporters including those who are u.s. citizens we continually remine
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our border operations focusing our resources on the greatest risks before they reach the united states. because terrorist organizations continue to primarily target commercial air transportation as a means to move operatives into the united states, we detect and respond to the threats in the air. we processed over 100 million in our airports. we have developed our resources to mitigate the risk posed by travelers at every stage along the international travel continuum, including when an individual applies for travel documents, checks in at the airport while on route and upon rival. before a foreign national travels to the united states they're first required to apply for a nonimmigrant visa with the department of state or for visa waiver programs, a travel authorization from cvp through the electronic system for travel authorization also known as esta. before issuing the visa the
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department screens the applicant. three es ta, we screen applicants in advance of travel in order to assess eligibility and potential of risk to the u.s. in this year we have denied applications for yearly 300 travelers for security-related reasons. before the flight departs, we obtain and analyze all data including passenger name records and manifest information which contains the passport biographical data and the flight information to assess the risk of all passengers regardless of citizenship or visa status. the national targeting center analyzes traveler data and applies intelligence driven targeting rules to conduct a risk assessment. if derogatory information or other risks are discovered, we're able to take action prior
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to actual travel so we can address these concerns. in order of descending authorities and capabilities we have preclearance, the immigration advisory program and then we have our regional carrier liaison groups. our highest capability is preclearance where officers operate on foreign soil in uniform with capabilities similar to what we have in the united states. travelers are questioned, gone through the database and inspected before they bored the aircraft. it requires clearance from the host country, but after the flight is precleared at a foreign airport, the flight is generally treated as a domestic flight once it arrives in the u.s. there are currently officers an agriculture specialists stationed in 16 locations in six countries. they have refused entry to 24 travelers for security-related reasons. our security in abu dabby which just opened this year gives cvp
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a location in a strategy cal location. next is the advisory program where we have officers in 11 airports in nine countries to work with carriers to work and identify potential threats. they have no search authority per se but can question travelers in an advisory capacity and recommend additional security screening or recommend an airline not board a traveler. so far in this fiscal year, they have recommended that foreign airlines deny boarding to over 60 passengers for security-related reasons. in locations without preclearance operations, we utilize22ux our carry-on groups prevent passengers who may pose a security threat or are otherwise inadmissible from boarding flights to the united states. these are basically in constant contact with the airlines to exchange this information.
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it all points in the travel continuum, we continue vetting passengers and travel information including visas and es ta authorizations to ensure that any changes in a traveler's eligibility are identified in real time. this allows us to coordinate appropriate actions such as referring individuals for further inspection upon rival. so far this year it has caused almost 400 previously approved es tas to be revoked. upon rival in the united states all travelers are subject to inspection. our officers review entry documents, conduct interviews, run biometric queries against databases. we have response protocols in place at ports of entry for passengers linked to possible terrorism. we also conduct outbound operations, leveraging all available advanced travel information and utilizing
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intelligence-driven targeting rules specific to the outbound environment to identify, when appropriate, interview, or app helped travelers for law enforcement or security related reasons. thank you for the opportunity to testify today and thank you for the attention you're giving to this very important issue and i stand ready to answer any of your questions. >> thank you very much, mr. wagner. the chair recognizes miss lasly. >> thank you chair woman miller, ranking member thompson, ranking member jackson lee and distinguished members of the committee. i am pleased to be here today with my colleagues from cvp to discuss the threats to the homeland from foreign fighters traveling to syria to participate in the conflict there and what we are doing to mitigate the threats. as you have collectly stated, the on going conflict in syria has more than 1,000 europeans and over 100 u.s. persons who have joined or seek to join the fight there. our concern remains that these
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individuals if radicalized could return to their home countries or the u.s. and knew their skills to carry out attacks. we have seen an example of this in europe where in may a french national who fought alongside the islamic state in syria is charged with conducting a successful attack against a jewish museum in brussels, killing four people. although we currently have no credible information to indicate that the islamic state of iraq or isil is planning to attack the homeland, we remain concerned in the long term that their access to westerners and to safe havens in the middle east will allow them to plan and coordinate attacks in the u.s. veteran al qaeda fighters have traveled to syria from pakistan to take advantage of the permissive operating environment as well as easier access to foreign fighters, particularly europeans and u.s. persons. we're concerned that syria could emerge as a base of operations for al qaeda's international
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agenda which would include attacks against the homeland. u.s. persons who link up with violent extremist groups in syria, regardless of their original reasons for traveling to the country could gain combat skills, extremist connections and possibly become radicalized or be further persuaded to conduct organized, coordinated or lone wolf attacks, potentially targeting u.s. and western interests. because border transportation security and immigration personnel are at the front lines of many encounters with potential syrian foreign fighters, the department is working to ensure that they have the most up to date information and can act on it in coordination with law enforcement and partners as port. ina is working to inform dhs and state and local law enforcement partners about observable indicators of u.s. persons planning or attempting to travel to syria. we've produced tailored assessments on the motivations
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of u.s. travelers, their travel patterns, the role social media is playing and the way in which u.s. persons are providing support to syrian groups. ina is also partnering with dhs operational components to help identify foreign terrorists who may be seeking to travel to the united states and are working with interagency partners to disrupt their travel or take appropriate law enforcement steps. we work every day to leverage our unique dhs data to ensure that individuals who are not fully identified in intelligence channels can be appropriately watch listed and denied entry into the united states. finally, we work hand in glove with the department to provide
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intelligence assessments that support the visa waiver program, a program that dhs has managed since 2003 in consultation with the state department that facilitates low risk travelers into the u.s. for tourism and business. countries participating in this program must undergo a rigorous review process and agree to share information with the u.s. our intelligence assessments which are one factor in the country reviews look at a number of criteria for determining a country's el jilt to participate in the visa waiver program, including the terrorist threat to the u.s. posed by nationals of that country, the counter-terrorism capabilities of that country, the state of information sharing between the u.s. government and that country, and the security of passports and other identity documents. in using similar criteria, we participate in dhs-led reviews of all visa waiver program countries which must occur at a minimum every two years to
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evaluate whether a country should remain in the program. these are just a few of the ways in which we are working to keep the homeland safe from threats and those posed by returning foreign fighters. thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you today about these important issues, and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much and the chair now recognizes miss johnson for her testimony. >> thank you. chair woman miller, ranking member thompson, ranking member jackson lee and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear today on behalf of the state department and with my colleagues from the department of homeland security or dhs. we are very deeply supportive of dhss efforts to protect the u.s. homeland and we make every effort to amplify its work through engagement with our allies and partners. we remain concerned about the terrorist activities in syria and iraq and isil. we have seen in syria a trend of
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foreign fighter travel for the purposes of participating in the conflict, largely driven by global connectedness through the internet and social media. the state department is working closely with countries effected by the problem to counter the threat these fighters pose. the department of state works closely with dhs to support its mission in protecting the united states by promoting effective border security screening with foreign partners through enhanced information sharing. for example, we believe it is in our best interest to share terrorism screening information with select foreign governments as all of us face a global terrorist threat that does not recognize national boundaries. to this end, we work closely with the terrorist screening center which implements sharing agreements with foreign partners, including visa waiver programs. this helps us to deter terrorist travel and creates an extra layer of security for the united states.
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we also work closely with our partners at dhs to strengthen global aviation security by engaging foreign partners to bolster aviation screening at last points of departure airports with flights to the united states. we do this to identify and prevent known terrorist and attacks from global aviation. the department of state is leading interagency efforts to engage with partner partners to prevent foreign extremist travel to syria and we work closely with the interagency including dhs to expedite approaches. this includes facilitating foreign exchange with partners, building partner capacity and developing shared objectives. the ambassador robert bradkey, senior advisor on foreign fighters leads this work for the state department and has met with officials from the member countries, north africa, the
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gulf, the ball cans and the asian pacific to discuss this threat. important progress has been made but more work remains. countries in the ball cans have recently adopted or are considering more counter-terrorism laws. other countries have increased penalties related to terrorist financing. the european council recently called for the acceleration in support of member states to combat foreign fighters. this includes finalizing a pnr proposal by the end of this year and increasing cooperation with partner nations such as the united states to strengthen border and aviation security in the region. we will continue to work closely with partners in the coming months to enhance this cooperation and build on our efforts today. in the week of september 24th,
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president obama will chair a security summit on the rising tlelt posed by fighters. this presence a unique opportunity to demonstrate the breath and build momentum on policy issues at home and abroad. that same week secretary kerry and the turkish morning minister with co-chair a gctf minute tier yal meeting. at this meeting members will adopt the first ever set of global good practices to address the foreign terrorist fighter threat. gctf members will also launch a group dedicated to working globally to advance implementation of these practices. the department of state remains deeply supportive of dhss efforts to protect the homeland. this is a critical component to combatting terrorist travel. i look forward to answering your questions and working closely
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with you and our friends and allies across the globe to make the united states safer. thank you. >> thank you all very much. this subcommittee and our full committee has had a number of hearings about visa, about our visas, about the status of our visa programs. we certainly have had a lot of discuss about the visa waiver program and i'm hearing that we had a year ago this month in a hearing in march of this year, this subcommittee has asked a lot of questions about the visa waiver program, so we certainly understand that the program started back in the mid '80s really to expedite tourism and travel which was a very good idea at that time. but the world is changing. as we think about things that we need to do to grow our economy, we also have to consider some of these various processes and systems that we have in place with other countries, our allies, our friends, and what kinds of programs we've actually
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put in place that put america at risk. and so to that i guess my first question would be -- we haoh --d estimates of as many as 12,000 that are from countries that are in the visa waiver program, et cetera, and one of the things obviously in the visa waiver program requires information sharing. as we sit here on the day before -- we're talking about 9/11 really, one of the things that the 9/11 commission recommendation that they made, an observation that they made that always sticks in my mind is how we had to move from the need to to know to the need to share information. information sharing is such a critical component to be a
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country that's participating in the visa waiver program here with the united states. and we certainly see, for instance, the passenger name record, the pnr data which we can utilize to identify fighters or suspicious travelers or what have you, we see our ally as i mentioned in my opening statement, the u.k. being so great on sharing information. everybody gives them act laids their their sharing of information with us, but some of the other european countries may be not so good. it appears that mexico is pretty good, at least i have heard that. canada, there has been some concerns raised about information sharing there. i guess i would say, first of all, how many countries do we currently have? i think it's close to 30. are there any -- are there any that have ever been eliminated from this program? are there any that we are
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thinking about? are there things that the agencies are able to do to really be much more aggressive about making sure that we are getting the information that we think we need shared with us in order for these countries to participate in the visa waiver? are there things that we need to be doing legislatively to assist the agencies? i'm not quite sure who i'm directing this question to. who would like to start with that? mr. wagner, mislasly? >> i can how many members we have today in the visa waiver program. so currently we have 38 members. 30 from europe. seven from the asia-pacific region, and one in latin it's my understanding that we have, since the inception of the program, as you have stated, two countries have been taken from the visa waiver program list.
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that was argentina and uruguay. and it was many years ago and not because of terrorism issues but more economic issues. >> is there any thought -- is there anything that you need from us legislatively to assist you in being more aggressive? if there are these kinds of concerns about information sharing for many of these countries, should we be much more aggressive about the information that we think we need in order to feel comfortable to continue to have visa waiver eligibility from the various countries. >> so, we do get a lot of information from the countries. every two-year we do a review of the countries and their proceed yours. they do report their lost and stolen passports. and then all the travelers do fill out the application where
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we get about 17 data elements. which we run through a series of background checks and recurring checks, some of the members i mentioned earlier. you know we denied this fiscal year which is coming to close in a couple of weeks. and this was after it was issued. new information came to light that caused us to issue that revocation. our total applications we've denied is over 35,000. so it's a small number of overall denials, but consequential and important numbers. so some of the things we are looking at is reviewing all of our procedures, our data collection efforts. are there other elements we need? are there other elements we can use? >> how does it impact the privacy of individuals? how does it impact our travel and tourism facilitation efforts
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as well? but these are the things we are revealing. > >>, along with many other procedures and things we do in all of our programs. >> the electronic system for travel authorization, as you know, was added as a security requirement. by congress, actually. after 9/11. previous to that, we didn't have it. as you mentioned, 17 different elements that you're asking on the form, mr. wagner. the name, obviously the name, passport number, et cetera, et cetera. information elements that you're obtaining that you can then check again on the data bases. et cetera. but the full visa application, you have to have about 110 pieces of information apparently required.
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and in regards to what's been revoked and denied, et cetera. i'm drafting legislation right now. and this is one of the things i was going to ask you. currently hope to be introduced today to clarify what the purpose is. that we need to ensure that terrorists don't get on airplanes. and then asking the department to tell us what other changes to esta may be necessary to increase security. i'm asking you, what your thought is on legislation like that. do you think the agencies, again, have the authority short of any congressional legislation to ask for additional -- it would seem to me, i'm not in your business, but it would seem to me asking for legislation particularly from a number of the countries in the visa waiver program, more than just 15 or 17 pieces of information would be something under consideration, and again, you think you have
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the authority to do that, understanding that esta was initiated again by the congress after 9/11. after the commission from the recommendations, and should we be giving you legislation to assist you there? >> thank you. we are reviewing this as well as a number of other programs that we have part of that review is do we need additional authorities to collect additional information? i believe we have the authorities, but that's one of the things we are reviewing. what other types of information could we need, could we use it? how would we collect it? is it verifiable information? is it useful information? and do we have systems to make the data that we could collect and would it be helpful? so we are looking at those things as an operational operation, we're always looking for additional data and additional data sources. but again with respect to people's privacy, and is there a useful need for us to collect
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that information, and can we actually put it to use. but in general, it's coupled with the pnr and airline data. it really helps us paint a better picture of travelers and where they're going, for how long, and what other information we can relate that to. so having in general terms a broader set of data to allow us to identify individuals or identify individuals not the person we're looking for because we have the additional data and we can dismiss any connections we think are there with the person. but that's one of the things is balancing the privacy and the costs and where we would keep the information. >> just being cognizant of my time here, but i am going to ask one other legislation. in addition to that piece of legislation, i'm also preparing another piece of legislation
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that would seek to clarify the authorization that i think the department or state already has, in order to revoke passports. we're looking at what cameron is doing in the uk and with dual citizenship, et cetera. we are a very free and open society. but we are looking at a changing world here. and whether or not you have the authorization to revoke the passports, how can we help you clarify that? because i was looking for the -- trying to become familiar with exactly what has to happen to lose your citizenship. for instance, it talks about if you're entering or serving in the armed forces of a foreign state. perhaps that's ambiguous a bit when we're talking about terrorist operations because they're not really a foreign state. these are the kinds of things that this committee is looking for today from you. we want to give you the tools you need to help you to protect
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the homeland. and if there's a flaw in what we have, it's not strong enough, we need the feedback from all of you. i don't know if anyone has any comment on that. >> briefly the state department does have the authority to evoke passports on national security grounds. we are very concerned about the over 100 americans in the foreign fighter ranks. we do work very closely with law enforcement intelligence partners on information because we don't just unilaterally revoke passports, of course. so we are reviewing right now in consultation with the law enforcement intelligence partners our current tools at our disposal and authorities because this is a big concern. that we want to look to be able to use the authority if we need it, but not interrupt legitimate travel of other u.s. citizens engaged in the region. >> now i appreciate that. i would just mention time is of the essence here, i think.
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i i think you're going to be looking at, as i say, one member that is going to be introducing legislation today about these issues. i'm trueing to assist you and you know, we'll see quickly the congress can act. but we are looking for feedback from all of you. with that, the chair recognizes miss jackson lee from texas. >> again, let me thank the chairman and thank my ranking member and as well as the chairman of the full committee. again, this hearing is not to draw you over here to the united states house as much as it is to make an important statement of oversight to act. and i started my remarks by saying that in the -- on the eve
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of 9/11, and although there had been much commentary of the potential threat that isil poses, i'm not willing to agree to those who have a perspective that the united states may not be in the eye of the storm. i think the way we respond to it is experienced, and balanced and sure as it relates to providing security for our citizens. and i thank you all for being on the the front lines of doing that. that is what the department was created for. and that is what the committee is created for as well. so i want to go to a pointed question in the collaboration between state and the department of homeland security in particular, intelligence. and dealing with cbp. is it your thought that the isil
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actions in syria and iraq and the isil profile could be a threat to the united states? mr. miller? >> yes, ma'am, as you stated over 100 americans to fight with isil and the western europeans, do believe it could be a short-term and long-term threat to the united states. >> mr. wagner? >> yes, i also agree. and looking at the systems we have and how we look at the information we get with a person's reservation information and looking at itineraries and other characteristics of their travel, do they fit what we know about, you know, what the intelligence reporting are known factors?
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try to talk to them and determine what their purpose and travel is. we have good systems to help us do that. we have good intelligence reporting to help us build those. we get good information from the department of state and other entities when we do want to take action against known individuals. then we have the systems in place to identify them and figure out what point in the process we need to intercept them and have that discussion. >> ma'am, we certainly assess that isil presents a long term threat to the country. we know the leader back in january spoke of but they do have a very sophisticated and savvy media campaign. especially a social media campaign. and i think our near-term concern is that that campaign
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will be appealing to individual who is seek to radicalize. whether other in europe or here in the homeland. they could contact an attack on their own at any time based on that media campaign. so that is a very clear near-term concern that we have. >> miss johnson. >> -- isil stated threats against the united states. so we look at the protection of the u.s. overseas and the missions and always adjusting our posture accordingly. >> let me ask you a question. as we both know, the two acts of beheading were clearly directed towards the sentiments of the infrastructure values of the united states. and certainly attack on the citizens overseas.
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to mr. miller and mr. wagner. following on the questioning of chairwoman miller. i'm concerned as to whether or not we do have the kind of coordination that is actually needed. i guess i don't want to use the term intimate. creating hysteria is not the idea of this committee. i also hesitate to solidly predict isil's threat level in as much as we're reminded of our posture on the day before 9/11, 2001. so let me just -- in the manner in which you can answer the question, feel comfortable about the level of coordination in this climate. and mr. miller, i would like to hear what level, how intense your coordination is, how comfortable you are with the coordination, and what do you need to make it better?
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and i ask mr. wagner that question. >> our coordination with the intelligence community and the law enforcement community in the u.s. is stronger than ever. we're working this threat daily. whether with the fbi or intelligence community. our foreign counterparts, we're working with them. with the australians and the uk yesterday, there's stronger and stronger sentiment for information sharing from our european partners as well. and we can explain our classification more fully. >> and we take that information based upon it. and gettinging that information is critical to us making the right decisions on how we operationalize the information. in one of the things we would like to see is a stronger response from our partners
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overseas and emulating some of the ways we do our border security management, as was referenced earlier. in trying to take advance and not waiting until they show up on your doorstep to try to figure out what to do with them. i think we would encourage our allies to consider those practices. we work closely to help them build up the capacity. >> we have two questions if we might finish quickly. miss johnson, i understand it's somewhat difficult to track the travel of foreign terrorists. i would like to know what the state department is doing and how you're improving tracking the travels of foreign terrorists. and coordinating with your fellow collaborating nation states about whether you're doing that and lastly, if i can
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ask you the question of our level of intelligence in this climate of what we're in now, and backtrack it to 9/11. where we were saying quite the contrary. we didn't have an inkling of what would happen in the next day. are we in a better place? miss johnson? >> obviously it's an ongoing effort. everyone has different legal ideas. we are working with them very closely, as i mentioned. the european is now looking at the passenger name record situation hoping to adopt something by the end of this year. that will help us as the us for the officers to be able to understand who is coming and who is traveling. >> you think the no-fly list can be made more robust? >> the no-fly list? >> yeah, make it more robust. >> i think for the no-fly list
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we're talking all the time about how to work the no-fly list to make sure it has accurate information, and we do share it with foreign partners so they know who is on the list. they are enhancing their own screening efforts and that helps us prevent people from getting on planes, is including from other parts of the world. and as i mentioned, our information sharing agreements particularly with visa waiver countries but also additional countries under homeland security directive six. we share biographic information with foreign partners. a lot of that is individuals on the no-fly list and individuals who need to be more screened. we also have the preventing serious crime agreements, which also collects biometric information. mostly fingerprints to exchange that information. so there's a lot of information
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to enhance the border security screening and track terrorist travel. >> >> she answered her question in writing and the share now recognizes, the ranking member, mr. thompson. >> thank you very much, madame chairman. mr. wagner, from time to time congress has in in ininfts infi wisdom cut the budget for the agencies tasked to keep us safe. in the present budget, are you comfortable to provide the security and assurance necessary that cbp is doing all it can to keep bad people from getting into the country. >> yes, i believe we can. i think cvp was fortunateno

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