tv Washington This Week CSPAN September 13, 2014 10:00am-12:01pm EDT
>> coming up next here on c-span , a house floor debate on the obama administration's failure to notify congress back in may about the release of five guantánamo bay detainees in exchange for u.s. armies -- u.s. army sergeant bowe bergdahl being held captive by the telegram. after that former vice president dick cheney speaking about the threats posed by isis. that is following -- that is followed by president obama about histhe nation strategy on combating ices. the house passed a resolution condemning obama for failing to inform congress about the taliban-bergdahl exchange. this floor debate before the
final vote is a little over an hour. it begins with armed services committee chair buck mckeon. >> house resolution 644 print resolution -- 644. condemning the obama administration's failure to comply with the lawful statutory requirement to notify congress before releasing individuals states navalnited station guantánamo bay, cuba and expressing concerns over the release of five taliban leaders and the repercussions of negotiating with terrorists. >> pursuant to house resolution 715, amendments are adopted and the resolution is considered as red. the gentleman from california. and the gentleman from washington, mr. smith will teach control 30 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california. >> mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days in which to revise and extend the
remarks and to include extraneous material. without objection, so ordered. mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i much consumed. >> i rise in support of house resolution 644, resolution offered condemning the obama administration's failure to comply with the requirement to notify congress before transferring individual detainees from guantánamo bay. i would like to thank him for his leadership on this deeply troubling issue. he worked across the aisle to offer a bipartisan resolution sponsored by 94 mirrors of the house including myself. focused on the obama administration's clear violation of statute as by the legislative branch and enacted into law by the president. i would also like to thank
ranking member smith though he did not support this resolution in its entirety, i appreciate his candor and his commitment to fostering a thoughtful debate within our committee. the administration violated the law and house resolution 644 articulates the simple message. it passed out of the armed services committee with a bipartisan vote. section 1035 of the national defense authorization act for fiscal year 2014 requires the secretary of defense to notify the appropriate committees of congress at least 30 days before the transfer or release of any individual detained at gitmo. there are no waivers to this clause, no exceptions. yet on may 31 at the request of the taliban and and in exchange for sergeant bergdahl who was held by the haqqani network, the administration sent five senior taliban leaders from gitmo to
qatar. the administration took this action without notifying congress. this is an obvious violation of the law. there can be no confusion on this point. in fact, the nonpartisan government accountability office recently determined that the administration violated the law by failing to notify congress. but also by expending funds to carry out the transfers without an appropriation for that purpose. the statutory provision was written and approved by a bipartisan majority in congress because of genuine concerns that dangerous terrorists were leaving gitmo and returning to fight against the u.s., or its allies. our requiring the secretary of defense to convey detailed information to congress, the provision is intended to allow
members to have a complete understanding of the risk of sending gitmo detainees elsewhere and how those risks and be mitigated. in transferring the taliban and five without lawfully notifying congress, the administration to nine congress of the opportunity to consider the national security risk that such a transfer could pose or the repercussions of negotiating with terrorists. if congress does not speak strongly now to condemn such latent disregard for the law, any future administration may come to believe that obedience to statute is not a requirement for the executive branch. this is intolerable and for this wreason i support this resolution and will ask my colleagues in the house to adopt it. again, i thank mr. rijo for introducing this important bipartisan resolution and i urge my colleagues to adopt it.
mr. speaker, i reserve the balance of my time. >> chair recognizes the gentleman from washington, mr. smith. >> i yield myself such time as i may consume. >> there are two issues important to this piece of legislation. the first is the chairman mentioned is the legality of this. however, he is wrong in the idea in saying that this is clear on its face. there is considerable debate as to whether or not the president's actions were legal. the president and secretary of defense have stated unequivocally that they believe they acted within the law. this is actually an issue that comes up repeatedly between the
legislative and executive branch. it's been coming up for a couple hundred years now and the administration's position is that they acted in accordance with their article to commander-in-chief authority in the interests of national security and bringing one of our soldiers home. it is their position that article two of the constitution, which is a law, supersedes the piece of legislation that was referenced about 30 days notice that was passed. therefore their actions were legal. the first thing to understand about this is that this is in no way unprecedented unsure if you went back and examine the history, just about every president at one time or another did something contrary to a piece of legislation or a law because they felt article to required them to do so. they felt it superseded the legislation in question. we don't have to go back very far. george w. bush repeatedly took actions that were repeatedly in violation of the law. he authorized wiretapping, he authorize government attention. both those issues were clearly contrary to statutory law, burr president bush asserted his article to authority. this is a long-running debate between the executive and
legislative rent. never before has the legislative branch come out to center the president. the president did not violate the law. you follow the law consistent with what storage but -- with what george w. bush and others did. if assembly part of a long-range debate between the legislative and executive branch. i feel the president should have given us 30 days notice. i do believe that. the reason they didn't is they were concerned that the information would be. this is a very sensitive negotiation and they were told that if information is leaked, it would kill the deal and they were deeply concerned about sergeant bergdahl's health. if any further delay happen, that he might not survive his current incarceration with the taliban.
that was their reason for doing it. while i have said and will continue to say that i think he should have given us that 30 days notice, i think congress has proven repeatedly that we can in fact keep a secret. we have been told about a number of sensitive wing's and not reveal that information. it is worth noting the president is completely without reason for that. senator -- initially said i would have let people know, absolutely. i didn't think it was a good idea and i would have done everything i could to stop it. the senator walked himself back from those remarks and said he wouldn't, but initial reaction shows the president and the administration not completely out of bounds and thinking their ability to bring sergeant bergdahl home might have been
jeopardized by allowing congress to know that. i think we have proven ourselves capable of keeping secrets and they should have given us 30 days notice, but on the legality question, this is perfectly consistent with what a large number presidents have done in the past. to call this president out specifically is wrong, which brings us to the second issue. that is the partisan nature of this body. regrettably if you go back and look at instances where the president is of one party and the congress is of another, that is when investigations are off the charts. somehow when both the president and congress are in the same party, we don't have anywhere near the investigation for actions on and on. that regrettably reflects the deepening partisan rift in washington dc, and that ultimately is what i think this legislation reflects. it simply an opportunity for republican congress to take a shot at a democratic president. if it was more than that, then back 10 years ago when president george w. bush was violating all manner of different statutory law under his articulated article two powers, then we would have had something out of this congress that said don't do that.
we didn't. all we had was silence. unfortunately, with at least the public to believe is that this is a partisan exercise, and we need fewer partisan exercises, not more. partisan exercises, not more. i think it's perfectly appropriate for many members, as i did and others to say, the president should have given us notice. he should have given us 30 days. for this to be the first or i guess the second issue, since we had the water bill before this, when we take up after recess, when you look at the national security challenges out there it makes the public shake their head and say, here we go again, another partisan exercise. so unfortunately i think this piece of action is unnecessary and it further poisons the well between the congress and the president and, again, i do not feel the president violated the law. he had a different interpretation of it, as many presidents before him have. with that i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington reserves his time. the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. mckeon: thank you, mr. speaker.
i must respond to a couple points made by my friend from washington. we agree on more than we disagree on. this item we disagree on. it seems to be his main argument is that because other presidents have done it it's ok for this president to do it. in other words, two wrongs make a right. i don't think that's the point. i think at some point you have to draw the line and that's what we're doing right now. and then secondly, he said that the president said that he really believed he wasn't breaking the law. you know, the prisons are full of people that say they don't think they broke the law, but some judge thinks they did. in this instance, until you take the matter to the court, it is the law, and even though he's the president of the united states, he did break the law. this time, mr. speaker, i yield five minutes to my friend and colleague, a member of the armed services committee and the lead co-sponsor and the one
from day one provided the leadership on this issue, the gentleman from virginia, mr. rigell. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia is recognized for five minutes. mr. rigell: thank you, mr. speaker. i thank chairman mckeon for his leadership in bringing this resolution to the floor. i thank my original co-sponsors, congressman ribble, barrow and rahall for standing with me in this. i respect my colleague, the ranking member, ranking member smith. my respect for him is not diminished by the fact we have strong but different views on this matter. i don't share the ease with which he has accepted the president's -- i believe -- refusal to follow the law, and i reject outright and i must do so in this chamber the assertion that this is partisan. it is not partisan. it is in my service to virginia's second congressional district, an increasing number of men and women from a diverse audience in my district are deeply troubled by the
president's continued pattern of going outside of the law and executive overreach and this is an example that hits home in my r district which is more active men and wrim in uniform than any other district. they are increasingly asking me this question, what is congress doing about this? and this resolution today is a direct manifestation of my duty and i believe our collective duty to hold the president accountable for break the law. . the ease with which some have said he hasn't broken the law, it's an independent nonpartisan agency and this sum tier found that -- summer it found that releasing the taliban senior commanders, in fact the administration did break the law. that's really not in dispute. and in we don't hold the administration accountable for this, who will? that's what we do. and making sure that the balance of powers is adhered
to. i think it's important that we look at who was released. among those released is the taliban's deputy defense minister and the president himself acknowledged that there is absolutely the possibility of these senior taliban commanders returning to the battlefield and they can be released by the government of qatar in less than nine months. and the president has more confidence in the government of qatar than i do. or than i think the american people do. despite the administration's unlawful duty to engage congress, despite congress' clear objective -- objection in 2011 on these very same detainees, a bipartisan message was sent clearly to the administration, don't release these prisoners. it's not in the national interest and security interests of the united states and yet the administration did so. despite the damage that was done to our policy of not negotiating with terrorists, and finally despite the increased risk that this brings to americans, i believe on the
battlefield in afghanistan, the administration plowed ahead and it was far more than unwise, it was unlawful. and it merits condemnation. i'll close with this. i really didn't want to bring this to the floor. i know we have plenty of partisan bickering around here. but i look for someone else and maybe another member who was bringing something to the floor, i couldn't find it. i thought, well, i guess it falls towls. and i appreciate the ranking member meeting with me and the conversation we had about this matter. we hold different views on this. but i believe this is best for our nation and indeed best for our president and our country and certainly for our men and women in uniform. i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote in affirmative. i thank the gentleman for yielding. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. members reminded to refrain from engaging in personalities toward the president. the gentleman from california reserves. the gentleman from washington is recognized. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself two minutes just
to respond quickly. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. >> first of all, the g.a.o. study specifically said they didn't address the constitutional issue. they didn't address article two. they simply said, on the plain reading of the statute, 30 days' notice was require and 30 days notice wasn't given. mr. smith: the statute itself is really not in question. nor that the president didn't give the notice required. the question is one that we've had repeat lid as to when the president has the authority under his article two authority to go in a different direction of statute. as was mentioned, that happened many times, most recently with george w. bush on warrantless wiretapping and indefinite detention and a number of other issues. that's number one. the g.a.o. did not comment on that specific issue. the second thing i would say is we're not really arguing that the two wrongs make a right. we're arguing about whether or not it was wrong in the first place. i still haven't heard anyone stand up on the other side who supports this issue and say, gosh, we missed an opportunity,
president george w. bush was absolutely wrong to have taken those actions that he did and contrary to statute and did something that was illegal and we're very mad about that and as long as we're talking about it, we should mention the fact that that was -- i haven't heard anyone say that. because i think the implication is on that side they didn't think it was wrong. that's the issue. is it wrong for the president to do something that he believes is in the national security interests of the country under his article two authority? i think most people would say, sometimes yes, sometimes no. it's a debatable issue. so it's not matter of saying two wrongs make a right. it's a matter of arguing whether or not it was wrong in the first place. and consistency is the hob goblin of small minds, as the saying goes. but that certainly is enough inconsistency on this issue to make people believe that this is more partisan motivated than it is purely policy and conscience motivated. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the
gentleman from washington reserves his time. the gentleman from california is recognized. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i pointed out to the gentleman recently that neither of us were in these jobs when president bush was in office. mr. mckeon: so we don't know what we would have done at that time. i would hope that if he went against the law, that we would take similar action. i think that we would have done that. i yield at this time three minutes to my friend and colleague, the chairman of the subcommittee on readiness, the gentleman from virginia, mr. wittman. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia is recognized for three minutes. mr. wittman: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise today as maybe of the house armed services committee and as chairman of the readiness subcommittee to voice my support for house resolution 644 and i'd like to thank the chairman for his leadership in bringing this to the floor and i respect deeply the ranking member but adamantly disagree with him on the points that he makes about this piece of legislation. very simply stated, the prisoner swap authorized by the
president to exchange five taliban captives for sergeant bergdahl was illegal. that part of the law was not followed. pretty plain and simple. by failing to notify the congress in accordance with the 30-day reporting requirement, our president acted outside of the law. clearly it wasn't authorized and the law was ignored. you can make arguments about what other prerogatives he had, but you can't say, well, article two will put in place and that trumps other areas of the law. you have to say in this law was disregarded. our constitution clearly outlines those separations of powers. in this principle -- and this principle is the corner stone of our democracy. our framers carefully corporate rated the division of government and the responsibilitied there in order to protect citizens by preventing any one branch of government from overreach and abuse of power. that's why we're here. to have these type of debates and say the president clearly acted outside of the law. and i'll make this even
clearer. congress makes the laws, the president on the other hand has the constitutional charge of ensuring the laws are faithfully executed. not just part of them. but all of them. in this cases the president knowingly and willfully disregarded his constitutional duties and americans deserve better. americans expect that their president will uphold his end of the constitutional bargain. and americans expect that the laws and land apply to everyone and that they are applied properly in accordance with the direction from congress. americans also expect that their congressional leaders are simply not going to slug their shoulders and look the other way. congress has an obligation to the people to ensure that its laws are enforced. that's why we were elected. and our nation remains today at a tipping point in this world's history, in a war against terrorism. the unlawful release of five taliban prisoners, some of whom will certainly return to the battlefield, deeply concerns
me. an investigation i led in 2012 indicated at the time that 27% returned to the battlefield. that's why i remain skeptical of the administration's assessment that the released prisoners will not pose a threat to our national security. we have no idea how much more terror these men now might unleash and what impacts they will have on the lives of others. by ignoring the law, the president has decided that he's going to shoulder this responsibility. i argue he had an obligation under the law to consult congress in doing this. that's why it was put into the national defense authorization act. we live in a nation where people expect their elected leaders to carry out their duties as the constitution directs them. and every day each of us is entrusted by the public to uphold the constitution and we must live up to that obligation. mr. speaker, i fully support house resolution 644 and urge my colleagues to support this institution and our constitution. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired.
the gentleman from california reserves. and the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield four minutes to the gentleman from california, mr. sherman. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized. or four minutes. mr. sherman: we're here to consider a technical violation of section 1035 of the national defense authorization act. a fair reading of that section would indicate that it is drafted and focused on gratuitous prisoner releases. the many occasions prior to the adoption of that section, when the prior administration or this administration chose to release a prisoner. and when applied to the situation for which it was drafted, it's a practical and fully constitutional provision.
it's practical because it involves a 30-day delay in release of a prisoner where there's no particular hurry to release the prisoner. we releaseed the prisoner 30 days after the notice, we make the decision to release the prisoner, the prisoner is released. tanned gives congress 30 days to perhaps pass a law prohibiting such release. and i believe it's constitutional because it doesn't interfere with the commander in chief's ability to safeguard and protect the soldiers under his command. now there is an attempt to criticize the president for not following this statute when it's applied to a situation for which it was not drafted and when it's applied in such a way where it becomes incredibly imprktcal, perhaps impossible -- impractical, perhaps impossible, and constitutionally questionable.
we have had prisoner exchanges in every war we've fought and they have been implemented by the executive branch. even in world war ii. we had prisoner exchanges before the end of the war. now, as a practical matter, if you have a 30-day delay in effectuating a prisoner exchange, it is not just the u.s. government that has 30 days to think about whether to go through with the decision. you also give the enemy 30 days to think about it. and the hard liners within the enemy's counsel can eliminate the deal. so it's imprktcal -- impractical, especially if it was a good deal. now this may not have been a good deal but there may come a time when we have negotiated a very good, favorable to america, prisoner exchange and this provision would say it's
prevented not by decisions of the congress or the president but by decisions made by our enemy in their counsels. but second, a prisoner exchange returns to the united states a soldier under the command and protection of the commander in chief. e has a constitutional duty to protect and hopefully return home safely our soldiers. when you create a circumstance that makes it practically impossible to have a prisoner exchange, because in order to have one you have to give the hardliners within the enemy's counsel an ability to upset it, then you have i believe unconstitutionally interfered with the role of the commander in chief. we tell our commander in chief to bring as many as possible of our men and women home safely. we cannot at the same time in effect prohibit any prisoner
exchange which the enemy hardliners may disagree with. now, i'm not here to praise the bergdahl decision. i think i disagree with it. i know i disagree with it. but i am here to say that this was a code section not designed to apply to the situation, cannot practically be applied to the situation and is constitutionally questionable as applied to this situation. given that -- i'll request one more minute. mr. smith: i yield the gentleman an additional minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized for one minute. mr. sherman: given that, how can it be said that it's a good use of congress' time to pass some formal resolution attacking the president for not following -- for not applying to this situation a code section so infirm? i think that what we're doing today is dodging the real responsibility of congress.
we are engaged now in bombing isis. the constitution says that congress should play a role in making that decision. many of our colleagues would prefer to dodge the issue. it's safer to attack the president from what he did in the past than to participate in the decisions of the future. we should be dealing with an authorization to utilize military force against isis, we should be debating the term that that applies, we should be debating whether it applies to air power alone or whether under some circumstances we should have boots on the ground. but no. we're not dealing with that. that's too tough a vote. that's a bipartisan -- that's a vote on which members of both parties might disagree. instead we're playing around with this resolution. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from washington reserves. and the gentleman from california is recognized. .
mr. mckeon: mr. speaker, just a little reality check here, i offered the points that went into the national defense authorization act, and i did it -- one of the reasons was because we specifically did not want any transferees of detainees to be taken from guantanamo without alerting the congress because they had tried it before and it had pushback from the congress and we felt like we should have a part in that -- protect our people. you know, there are 80 people, detainees at guantanamo, that have been vetted, that are approved for possible transfer to some suitable location. none of those five were on that list. all were considered too dangerous to be on that list. there are several months of negotiations. there was plenty of time to give us the 0 days' notice. they talked to 80 to 90 people in four different executive
branches -- the state department, the defense department, the white house, the homeland security but not one member of congress in compliance with the law, they didn't talk to senator reid, >> that was a firm decision to avoid the law and avoid going to the congress which was required. minutes.ded two >> the gentleman from wisconsin is recognized. the constitution says congress will have the power to make rules concerning the capture on land and water. the president of the united
thats signed into law congress's action on article one section eight on a making rules. he had options on december 26. he could've signed it and accepted language that was in there knowing it was in there. he had the option to sign it. he had the option to send it back. the congress could've done what ever they wanted to do. president did not have the right to change it. i have a couple of times today quoting article two of the constitution. findingng a hard time the authority in here. he enter on the execution of his office, he should take
the following of. i do solemnly swear or affirm i will execute the office of resident of the united states and will do the best of my ability preserve and protect the constitution of the united states. later it says the president will take care that the laws be faithfully executed. the idea that the president can take the very law that he signed into existence by putting his , whether or not any issident before him did it tantamount to some and being pulled over for speeding and being told i can speed because the guy in front of me did it or it than there is no law at all. the laws that the congress sends over there are not recommendations. they are not suggestions. the president of united states broke the law.
no matter what another congress does. or what another president ever did is irrelevant to this debate in californiafrom reserves and the german from washington is recognized. ofit is not a matter speeding. it would be like a sewer stopped for speeding and said there is no posted speed limit how are you saying that i was speeding. that a the argument number of presidents have made. that their article to authority gives them the legal right to do this. i would also note that in a couple hundred years of history, no court has ever said otherwise. --one has ever reserved reversed with these decisions. it is the president's opinion and not just this presidents but
every president that i am aware of including towards w bush that this is not a violation of the law. this is not speeding. saying wea matter of broke the love of someone did it it is ok. it is argued that none of those people actually broke the law. that is the argument in the debate. the president was very much aware of it. it was hard of a much larger bill. when he signed that bill, he he disagreed with that. he noted that it was in there and gave notice to heed not feel it would legally bind him on certain circumstances. it is a debatable point. and a couple hundred years of history, the presidents have won that debate. all of them. now we are saying that this one resident should uniquely be
condemned for doing what all before him have done among all courts of said is perfectly ok. i find this to be more partisan than substantive. i yield four minutes to the gentleman from california. the gentleman from california is recognized for four minutes. to discuss our strategy moving forward in iraq and syria to protect americans, our homeland and our national interests. it's hard to me for me to understand why we are debating this partisan resolution that would condemn the president and our government for having saved the life of an american soldier. sergeant bowe bergdahl. in the past month, we have seen
with horror the sight of two americans killed at the hands of some of these deranged insurgents. not unlike the situation many of our american soldiers have faced in afghanistan where mr. bergdahl was captured and so here we have two weeks to go in this congressional session -- because we just got back from an august recess where there were no votes and we've already been told by the republican leadership in the house that they don't intend to be in session by more than -- more than two weeks now. this week, next week and maybe a couple in the next week. we'll deal with a budget, all other pressing matters, work with the president to come up with measures it's clear where we stand that impact americans abroad and at home and here we are debating a resolution that has no impact.
it doesn't change the circumstances. bowe bergdahl is now alive and back home. it doesn't change the fact that james foley is still dead and so is steven so the love. they're both -- sotlopf. they're both still gone. what we do know is the military kept its commitment to our men and women in uniform when they say we never leave one of our own in military uniform behind. now, you can have this semantic discussion about whether a statute supersedes the constitution or whether this statute required the president to act a certain way. all i know is what general dempsey has said before. general dempsey being the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. martin dempsey, general dempsey said this with regard to the
rescue of bowe bergdahl. this was likely the best opportunity to free him. now, anyone in this chamber has a right to argue whatever they want, but no one was in the shoes of bowe bergdahl. no one was in the shoes of general dempsey. at the end of the day, not one of us is in the shoes of president barack obama. and if that window is closing, he's got to make a decision because there's an american life on the line. if we don't believe that, just ask the families of mr. foley and mr. sotloff. bowe bergdahl is alive today. thank the lord. thank you, president obama. and thank you to our men and women in uniform who risked their own lives to make sure that men and women like that could come back home. we have two weeks to go before we're gone and out campaigning for election. you would think we would work on the things that people in america are concerned about
most. they want us to not shut down this government again. they want us to make sure that we continue the success of the last 55 months of creating 10 million jobs. because remember, it was not too long ago, january, 2009, when george w. bush handed the keys over to barack obama at the white house, we bled 800,000 jobs in one month. we have more work to do to get people back to work. there are a whole bunch of families, including mine, who are sending their students to college. we have more student loans -- can i get one more minute? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. mr. becerra: if the gentleman will yield? if the gentleman will yield one more minute? mr. smith: i yield the gentleman one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. becerra: we have more student loan debt in america, i was saying, held by our young men and women trying to get their college degrees and of course their parents, as well, who are paying for this than we hold in all the credit card debt in america today.
does this bill do anything to help young americans and their parents help their kids get through college? not a thing. does this help an american who today works full time and still lives in poverty because he's working at a minimum wage job? not a thing. does this help a woman who is out there working just as hard as a man and doing the same exact thing but earning less money than he is? not a thing. we got work to do. bowe bergdahl is alive. let's praise that. let's make sure that every american can come back home and say the same thing and then let's get to work doing the work of this country. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from washington reserves. the gentleman from california. mr. mckeon: i appreciate his remarks on a lot of things, but we should get back to the subject at hand. this has nothing to do with sergeant bergdahl. this has to do with the action
that the president took. sergeant bergdahl, we're all happy that he's home and we're glad that he's here and his case will be taken care of separately. there's a call to do something for the president. the president hasn't asked to us do anything yet. he isn't speaking until tomorrow and we'll see what he has to say and see how we move forward. you know, i'm not an attorney. my good friend from washington is a great attorney. and i recall when we had secretary hagel and secretary hagel made the comment that he thought what they did was within the law and my good friend responded, here's the way it works. the president signed the bill, said he disagreed with it, but that does not change it. it's still the law until it's challenged in the courts. that's our system.
anyway, mr. speaker, at this time i'm happy to yield to my good friend from the other side of the aisle from georgia, two minutes, the gentleman from georgia, mr. barrow. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from georgia is recognized for two minutes. mr. barrow: thank you, mr. speaker. i thank the gentleman for yielding. mr. speaker, i rise today as a supporter and a sponsor of this resolution and i appreciate my friend from virginia, mr. rigell, for working with me on this bipartisan effort to hold the administration accountable. under current law, the president is required to notify congress prior to releasing any prisoners from guantanamo bay. unfortunately, he failed to do that this summer when he transferred high-profiled detainees in exchange for sergeant bowe bergdahl. although i am grateful that sergeant bergdahl was reunited with his family, i refuse with the president negotiating with terrorists and making this prisoner exchange without
consulting with congress in the manner required by law. the freeing of terrorists poses a national security threat to americans and our armed forces and it complicates our current efforts to combat terrorism worldwide. negotiating with terrorists would only weaken this nation in the future and encourage other terrorists to kidnap americans in attempt to extort future prisoner exchanges. checks and balances aren't negotiateable. it's unacceptable for this or any other administration to treat congress as an after-thought or adversary, particularly with decisions impacting our national security and especially since in this case congress could have helped the president get this decision right. for all these reasons, mr. speaker, i urge my colleagues to support this resolution, and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from georgia yields back his time. the gentleman from washington is recognized. . mr. smith: thank you. i yield three noins mr. courtney. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from connecticut is recognized for three mibbles. mr. courtney: thank you, mr. speaker. as a member of the house armed services committee, i have the honor to serve under mr. mckeon
and ranking member smith. i would like to just share a couple thoughts, having sat through the hearing with secretary hagel, where he was held to account. he was held accountable that day. he was asked very probing, difficult questions about a very difficult decision which was happening at mock speed when an opportunity, a small window of opportunity, opened up to recover an american soldier held in captivity by the enemy. when the president signed a national defense authorization act, including the 30-day notice, the administration put up a big red warning flag saying that the second, article two, rather, of the u.s. constitution, which empowers the president to be the commander in chief, conflicted with that section. and they reserved their rights to continue to act pursuant to the constitution. now, any first-year law student, frankly almost any high school student who takes american hit rit -- history, knows that a constitutional
provision trumps a statute. that when there's a conflict of law between the constitutional provision and a statute, the constitution prevails. and the president, as secretary hagel laid out in ex crucialating -- excruciating detail, again, reviewed through the justice department their authority in realizing that, again, there was no plan b, there was no plan c to get sergeant bergdahl out of captivity. there was no special forces sort of ready to rev up and go in and free him. the fact of the matter is that this -- it was this or there was nothing and that exercising his rights under the constitution, they moved forward and freed sergeant bergdahl which apparently everybody grease with the outcome -- agrees with the outcome. they're just upset that the president's interpretation of the law is different than the committee. so, where are we with this resolution? is there a remedy? is anybody proposing to do
anything other than just sort of issue what i think is just a political thing, criticizing the president for his actions? this resolution is a nullity in terms of any effect or impact that it actually has in terms of the president's actions. he's not being held to account impeachment which there was a lot of talk on the internet when this was all taking place, but that's not happening. so it's just really -- we're filling up space here on the floor of the house when we have so many other pressing issues. and at the end of the day, it's not going to change the events, it's not going to change the two sides in term ofs -- in terms of their interpretation of what happened here one iota. mr. speaker, again, i understand that people had an honest disagreement about the way the statute was interpreted and implemented. but what i will just say to you is that that's an honest disagreement, that happens and has happened in american history over and over again.
we should move on, we should let the military do whatever disciplinary proceedings they're going to do with sergeant bergdahl, can i just have another 15 seconds? mr. smith: i yield the gentleman 30 seconds. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. courtney: we should let the military act as they deem appropriate in terms of sergeant bergdahl's actions in the middle east but the fact of the matter is, secretary hagel, who came before this committee as a wounded warrior from the war in vietnam, an impeccable military history, one of the most outstanding individuals i've had the privilege to meet in washington, d.c., testified honestly and sincerely. he took his hits before the committee. let's move on. let's accept his explanation, disagree with it if we honestly feel that he acted improperly, but the fact of the matter is, he acted pursuant to the constitution. it's time for this congress to focus on real issues that have real affect on the american people. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from california is recognized.
mr. mckeon: mr. speaker, i yield two minutes to my friend and colleague, a member of the committee on armed services, the gentleman from colorado, mr. lamborn. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado is recognized for two minutes. mr. lamborn: i thank the chairman. and i rise today in strong support of h.r. 644. the president's actions in unilaterally swapping five taliban members for an american prisoner swept away a decades-old policy of not negotiating with terrorists. this policy prevents the united states from being extorted by evil people who hold no regard for human life. but the president's actions lead to an open season on americans all over the world. are we now in the business of negotiating with terrorists? is isil up next at the bargaining table with this administration? these were senior taliban detainees, not low-level foot soldiers. and will the administration stop at five next time? why not 50 or 100? this is unacceptable. the president's actions were also troublesome because he did not inform congress prior to
making the swap. even the independent government accountability office explicitly said that this exchange broke the law. some will try to say that this is just partisan rhetoric, but what do they say to the findings of the nonpartisan g.a.o.? while it's a relief to have an american home, the way this was done further erodes the working relationship between the president and congress. the president asked the congress to act and pass bills. but how can we trust him with new legislation when time and time again he has abused that trust? how do we know he's not just going to ignore the next law that we send him? congress must stand up against the way this prisoner exchange took place. we are a nation that believes in the rule of law. we have a congress that makes law and a president who is supposed to enforce them. in this case, the law was broken and congress cannot remain silent. i urge everyone of my colleagues to support this
important resolution. thank you, mr. speaker, and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from washington. mr. smith: thank you, mr. speaker. may i inquire as to how much time is remaining? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington has seven minutes remaining. the gentleman from california has 10 minutes remaining. mr. smith: i yield myself two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. smith: the issue here of negotiating with terrorists misses the fact that this happened on the battlefield. the five taliban commanders were captured on the battlefield, as was bo bergdahl. this was a prisoner exchange, as has happened never war that we have fought. now, it's a slightly difficult situation because it's the taliban who are now out of power. we are fighting a group of insurgents. but nonetheless bo bergdahl was captured on the field of battle as were the taliban commanders. this was a prisoner exchange. to equate this with negotiating with terrorists i think misses the point of that aspect of it. that we were exchanging prisoners. not dealing with a straight terrorist situation. so i don't think it sets that
precedent at all and i think we need to be aware that that was what the president was facing. and was the exchange a good deal? that's highly debatable. i'm glad i wasn't the commander in chief having to make that call. facing the deteriorating health of bo bergdahl and wondering if five taliban prisoners were worth saving his life. these sorts of decisions are made all the time. i would remind you that prime minister netanyahu of israel, no shrinking violent when it comes to terrorism, once exchanged over 1,000 palestinian prisoners for two israeli soldiers. because that was a prisoner exchange. that was bringing home the people that israel wanted brought home and it wasn't easy. so this is not simply a matter of, you know, negotiating with terrorists or giving away prisoners. it is the difficult choice of what you do to bring your own soldier home. a difficult choice that every president or prime minister whose country is in engaged in warfare has to face.
i don't think we should diminish the difficulty of the importance of that decision. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington reserves. the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. mckeon: mr. speaker, i yield two minutes to my friend and colleague, a member of the committee on armed services, the gentlelady from indiana, mrs. walorski. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from indiana is recognized for two minutes. ms. walorski: thank you, mr. chairman. i rise in support today of house resolution 644, for which i'm a proud co-sponsor. this bipartisan bill condemns and disapprovings the obama administration's failure to comply with the lawful requirement to notify congress before releasing individuals detained at guantanamo bay and expresses national security concerns over the effects of releasing five taliban leaders and negotiating with terrorists. our constitutional system of checks and balances maintains a separation of powers that ensures congress is involved in major decisions that affect our country's national security. i have serious concerns when the president deliberately ignores congress, negotiates with terrorists and violates the law which requires that he
consult with congress before releasing detainees. those five taliban leaders that were released are already responsible for the deaths of many americans. in 2010 they were determined too dangerous to transfer by president obama's own task force. one of the five had ties to bin laden himself, another is wanted by the united nations for war crimes. unfortunately there is a good chance that these five terrorists will return to their radical jihadist fight against america and against our western allies. nearly 30% of detainees re-engage in terrorist activity after being released. in any -- and any -- in any major decision of war and peace, congress must have a say because the american people must have a voice. as we continue to face many tough decisions over how to best protect americans at home and abroad, congress should be enact -- an active participant in decision making. i'll continue to work hard to ensure our homeland remains safe from terrorist attacks. i urge my colleagues to support this resolution and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady yields back the balance of her time. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington
reserves. the gentleman from california. mr. mckeon: mr. speaker, i yield two minutes to my friend and clige, a member of the -- colleague, a member of the foreign affairs committee, the gentleman from florida, mr. desans at the. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida voiced for two minutes. mr. desantis: mr. speaker, it seems to me you have two issues here. one, congress, which we have an imnumerated power to make rules for detainees captured on land and water. then you also have as the g.a.o. report pointedth pointed out a funding prohibition that with held funds contingent on the president providing that notification. and as madison said in the federalist papers, the power of the purse is the most effectual weapon we have in terms of vindicating trts of our constituent. so whatever the president's article two power is, clearly if we remove the funding, then he is not able to do that through the executive branch. so the question is, knowing that, why go ahead and do it? why not comply with both the statute and the funding
restriction? i think the reason is because they knew this would not be popular with the american people. one of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle said, well, this statute really shouldn't apply in this situation because hardliners in the enemy camp can nix the deal. i got news for you, mr. speaker. the hardlines were the subject of the deal. i served in guantanamo for a time. the bush administration released detainees who they thought may not have been a danger anymore. nobody would have even suggested that this taliban five did not represent a danger to our national security. so here we have an instance where congress clearly exercised its authority in order to check the president on an issue with -- in terms of the terrorist detainees -- that his views are quite frankly not representative of the american people as a whole. we did that legitimately and this president decided to flagrantly violate the lawful actions that we took.
i urge support for this resolution and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from washington. mr. smith: i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington continues to reserve. the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. mckeon: mr. speaker, i yield two minutes to my friend and colleague, the gentleman schock.inois, mr. schock schock thank you, mr. speaker. i rise -- mr. schock: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise in support of this resolution. the release of the taliban five in violation of a law that president obama himself signed is among the greatest examples of this administration's disregard of the constitution. it reflects contempt for this congress and for the people who are represented here. worst of all, his actions have emboldinned islamic militants and endangered american service personnel and civilians around the world. five years ago when i first came to congress, the president announced his intentions to close the terrorist detention facility at guantanamo bay.
the justice department went shopping for a prison back in my state of illinois to relocate those most dangerous and hardens enemy combatants from the wars in afghanistan and iraq. back then, democrats had a majority in this house and a supermajority in the united states senate. but even then the president could not get authority from this congress, controlled by his party, in both chambers, to empty guantanamo and move terrorists, even detained barks here to united states soil. it's one thing for the president to defy any old law. it's another thing for the president to defy the very laws that he himself signed into law. president obama has gone even further. by refusing to notify congress of his intention to open the gates at gitmo and thus avoiding the anticipated political pressure that his carelessness would invite, the
president has done the unthinkable. he's negotiated with terrorists. plain and simple. i would say that he's abused the office and the power which comes with it except in this case, he has done something that he doesn't even have the power to do. now, tonight the president will address the nation about his latest strategy to deal with islamic jihadists. but i would suggest that the world has seen enough of how this administration deals with terrorists and nothing he says tonight can hide the growing sense among jihadists around the world, that they finally have an american president who will negotiate with them. it's important for congress to tell the world where we stand, i urge my colleagues to vote yes on today's resolution. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. members are reminded to refrain from engaging in personalities against the president. the gentleman from washington. mr. smith: i have to ask, what is a personality against the president? personal attacks, perhaps?
the speaker pro tempore: they're not allowed to engage in personal remarks related to the president. mr. smith: i yield three minutes to the gentlelady from texas, ms. jackson lee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for three minutes. ms. jackson lee: i think it is important to take note of the importance of this debate and as ell the respect that we as members of congress owe each other and owe this institution. i've long said that longevity comes not only because of the democratic principles of our constitution, but because there is the groundwork of the founding fathers and those who took to the floor of this place to debate such raging issues as the question of slavery in the
1800's. each time we are given the microphone, i think that we should adhere to the respect and each time we put our pen to painer to create legislation, it should equally be based on the grounds of respect and understanding of the constitutional divisions of the three branches of government. today, i think we have failed. --ay, i believe that this is the speaker pro tempore: i'm sorry. there is some sort of argument going on in the back of the chame -- >> mr. smith: i'm sorry, there is some sort of argument going on in the back of the chamber. the speaker pro tempore: if members will take their conversations off the house floor. the gentlelady may continue. ms. jackson lee: i thank the
ranking member for his courtesy. this is, as i said, a personal attack against the president. if we would read the resolution, we would see five items that completely dictate the failure of the obama administration. now let me say that all of us concede the point that section 1035 that was added under the obama administration in 2012 or more recently does require or ask the president to give a 30-day notice to congress. no other president has been asked to do that. the president has been very clear on his intent to close guantanamo. many of us have been to guantanamo. but the issue before us was not an effort to close guantanamo. and so to suggest that there was malicious intent of this president is, from my perspective showing disrespect and dishonor to us, the institution, and the three
bramples of government. let me be very clear. there is a debate on the powers that the president has, the war powers. some say there's a statute he had to notify us. but there was an explanation and this very strong committee, the armed services committee with the chairman who i respect, the ranking member, had a very thorough hearing that many of us were able to read some of the transcripts where the secretary of defense came and explained and i think one of the key elements for me as a member of homeland security is that the secretary made it very clear that this was a military operation with very high risk, spoken by secretary hay gal on june 11, 2014, and a very short window of opportunity we didn't want to jeopardize, both for the sake of sergeant bergdahl, of which there is a sentence that congratulates us for not leaving our precious treasure behind, and our operators in the field who put themselves at great risk
to secure this return. if there are those of us who remember that brief glimpse that we had of the rescue, our men and women swooped down -- swooped down and picked up sernlt bergdahl. it was a military action. this is an unnecessary resolution. it is condemning, wrongly, the president had authority, and he explained what the action was. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady's time has expire. the gentleman from california is recognized. ms. jackson lee: it is untimely and wrong. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized. >> may i inquire how much time is left? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california has 4 1/2 minutes the re-main, the gentleman from washington has 2 1/2 minutes remaining. mr. mckeon: we have just one more speaker. the inference is this happened
on the spur of the moment and they didn't have time to tell congress. these negotiations went on for months. 80 to 90 people admitted they told in four of the department the executive branch, but not one member of congress in compliance with the law. at this time, we reserve, mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california reserves. the gentleman from washington is recognized. mr. smith: you are prepared to close? i'm prepared to close as well. i yield myself the plans of our time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. smith: on the point of the people noticed and how long this was going on for, yes, the negotiations were going on for three years. but the timeliness came in when they actually had a deal. the president's concern was once they got to the point where they had the deal, that if the details of it had been leaked, it would have nixed the deal and they were deeply concerned about sergeant bergdahl's health. this is an extraordinarily difficult call, i don't know if i would have done this deal or
not. the commander in chief has that responsibility. other leaders throughout the world, including prime minister netanyahu, gave up over 1,000 prisoners in exchange for two israeli soldiers. those choices are very difficult. i'm sure those 1,000 palestinians that were captured posed some danger to israel. but the question isn't whether or not the deal should be done but whether or not we should condemn the president for a clear violation of the law. i will come back to the fact that this president has only done what every other president before him did in exercising his article 2 authority under his interpretation and every previous executive's, that this was legal. it has been implide throughout this resolution that the president looked at the law and said, yeah, not going to follow it. that's not what he did he did what every president before him has done he said he believed it was within his legal authority to make this decision system of to put forward a resolution that
says he didn't that says he intentionally broke the law, i think is wrong on its face. this president made a determination about his article 2 authorities and went forward with it. he did not knowingly violate the law. secretary hagel has explained that repeatedly. and again, i said a little while ago that president bush did the exact same thing. violated any number of different laws and said article 2 was the reason. we've been told, that was years ago. i don't know what we would have done then. i've offered up the opportunity for anyone on the other side to as roundly criticize those actions by president bush now, haven't heard it. all of this leads us to the inescapable conclusion that this is more partisan than principled. this president is being condemned by the republican congress, all the other presidents who have done it, not going to do anything about that. that leads to the belief that this is a partisan action. we should have had a hearing on
this. brought in secretary hagel he, explained himself. we criticized some of those decisions, that's appropriate this resolution is unprecedented. i think once again it shows that this body has become more partisan than principledism urge everyone to reject the resolution. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expire. the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. mckeon: i'm leaving congress at the end of -- end of this year. but i'm sure at home i'll still be able to hear blame on president bush for at least the next two years. but one thing we can't -- but one thing, we can't escape the fact that this went on for months. even though they had to make a critical last-minute decision, they still had time to notify 80 to 90 people in the executive branch and not one member of the house of representatives. or the u.s. senate. in accordance with the law. mr. speaker, i am proud to yield at this time to give the
concluding remarks on this debate to the vice chairman of the armed services committee, no, entleman from -- there's something else here. also chairman of the subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities, the gentleman from texas, mr. thornberry. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized to close. mr. thornberry: how much time remains? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman has 3 1/2 minutes. mr. thornberry: i thank the gentleman for yielding. i commend the gentleman, mr. rigell, for introducing this measure, shepherds it through the committee and onto the house floor. i think it's important for us to vote on this measure really for two reasons. one is that it's important for congress to speak clearly and directly when a president violates the law. now -- and that's exactly what g.a.o. said the administration did. they violated section 811.
8111. now it is true that throughout the country's history there have been differences of opinion about the constitutionality of various provisions of law. i think it is fairly rare, however that a president has chosen to violate a provision that is as clear as this one. there were no waiver authority, no ambiguity, there was no matter of interpretation. the law is clear, it says if you're going to transfer somebody from guantanamo bay, you've got to give 30 days notice. and they had meetings within the discussion that discussed whether to follow that 30-day requirement and decide not to do it. it was a clear cut decision not to follow the law. secondly, or in addition to that, the point was made by the gentleman from florida that they also violated the anti-deficiency act. now there's never been a dispute about the ability of congress to put conditions on funding and yet by carrying out this action, they spent funds for which they
were not -- that they were not authorized to spend. which also violated a separate law. and they didn't have to tell everybody. they could have just told the speaker and majority leader. i think they're pretty safe at keeping secrets. and yet the president chose notment of the rule of law is important. it is fundamental to our system. and so it's important to speak clearly on that. but here's the second reason. the constitution gives congress a variety of powers related to national security. but in carrying out those powers, whether it's oversight of the money we spend, oversight of the operations, making decisions to authorize the use of military force, all of that depends upon congress having accurate, timely information. and this decision not to follow the law undercuts the trust that is required between the military and the intelligence community and the congress in carrying out
our responsement -- responsibilities. tomorrow night, we're all going to listen to the president as he, hopefully, gives us his goals and strategy for achieving the goals to diminish and destroy isil. but all of that is possible only if there is an exchange of information so that we can carry out the responsibilities that the constitution puts upon us. when we don't have trust that the president and the military following his orders or the intelligence community following his orders are giving us that information, we can't have trust that we have the ability to carry out our duties under the constitution. on a bipartisan basis. in the last -- on a bipartisan basis in the last several year, we have set up oversight structures on cyber, terrorism, military operations that allow the military to operate in a complicated world but give us the information to get the information to carry out the oversight we have to have.
that's the other reason this is important. this undermine that trust that is necessary for an executive and legislative branch to defend the couldn'tfully a complex world. far reason, i think it's important for us to speak clearly about it. because there are going to be more instances in the days ahead interview tomorrow at 10:00 amn 6:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. we are excited to announce it is launch a week for the 11th annual studentcam documentary contest. $100,000 in cash prizes this year will be awarded to middle and high school contest winners.
this theme is the three branches and you. we would like you to tell a story that demonstrates how a policy, a law, or an action by the executive, legislative or judicial branches of the federal government has affected you in your life and your community. the competition is open to grades six through 12. contestants are asked to produce video to seven minute documentary supporting their chosen topic and include c-span programming. that $100,000 in cash prizes and 50 to 150 students three teachers. the student with the best overall entry will win $5,000. the deadline for entry is january 20, 2015. for moredentcam.org information on this year passed contest, the three branches and
you. >> former vice president cheney recently gave his assessment for how the u.s. should combat isis. includedmendations more u.s. military power to help iraq and improving military preparedness through a decreased -- increased defense budget. his comments were a few hours before president obama addressed the nation on the threat of isis and the planned u.s. response. this is 35 minutes. [applause] >> i saw some of the press clapping. good morning. my name is sully friedman.
we are delighted to welcome a fellow trustee, the former vice president and secretary of defense. former chief of staff and congressman, dick cheney. he joins us on the 13th anniversary of 9/11 and that another critical moment for the nation, with russian troops on the move, much of the middle east in collapse and our own secretary of defense describes the new enemy, isis, as beyond anything that we have ever seen. we have a talk that begins with the vice president and is followed by a moderated session. >> it is great to be back. i have spent time here over the years as a fellow and a trustee. i am an out of work politician and it is a pleasure to come
back. being a fellow and a trustee at aei has put me and the company of people i admire most in the city. the american enterprise institute is a place where serious matters received serious attention and that is the spirit that brings me here this morning. obama will be speaking later today on iraq and the middle east, one of the most pressing of national security issues.
among all of the concerns that compete for our time in washington, nothing matters more than the security of the united states. everything else depends on our safety. of all the things that our federal government attempts to do these days, the one obligation only a can do is defend the nation. it is the defining duty of the president as the commander-in-chief and a test of leadership that matters more than any other. the finest of our presidents have measured up to that test and i have seen some of them. it has been my privilege to play a part in some of the more critical national security decisions we have face. there have been five presidents and i have worked for four of them and work closely with the fifth. these leaders often overcame great difficulties and the same could be said of others in my lifetime, going back to roosevelt and truman. next year will be the eighth decade of what we call the "post-war" air a -- era. a structure of security formed in the years after the second world war.
it was underwritten, guaranteed, and defended the united states of america. -- by the united states of america. what makes it real is the fact of american military superiority. without that, we would be one more nation with a good intentions and strong opinions. it is not arbitrary cycle of history that has made the postwar era what it has been. it is power in leadership. before i credit the united states and the diplomats, the credit belongs with the generations of men and woman who gave their lives and lay down their lives for the nation. against this backdrop, 5.5 years into the presidency of obama, a few fundamental problems are evident.
he has served in office longer than 26 of his predecessors and it is hardly too early to draw conclusions about his conduct of foreign policy and the basin ideas and assumptions the president has followed. at times, the president has been clear and emphatic. he has demonstrated his distrust for american power. he put it this way to the united nations, no world order that elevates a nation or group over another will succeed. this one sample seems to regard american influence as a problem to be resolved in the world, rather than a solution. however we interpret obama, it is a far cry from kennedy's vision of america as the watchmen on the walls of freedom.
we have the strength to do whatever must be done for this freedom. compare those presidential declarations and it is more than a difference in time that we are dealing with. they are radically different outlooks on the world and upon american responsibility in it. when you have a president who's primary concern is to -- whose primary concern is to never elevate america, it is no surprise to have a defense secretary in a state of alarm. the world is exploding all over. there is a connection between these problems. between the disengaged president and the volatile situations abroad. in a few hours, we would hear about iraq. we should hope for and look for
a forceful and immediate strategy to defeat isis. we can say that such a plan would mark an abrupt and dramatic departure. this is the same president, after all, who was assuring the nation that the tide of war was receiving. those words suited his purpose in 2012 and that was the very time when danger that is now obvious to all was gathering. all that was needed from a rack and elsewhere -- iraq and elsewhere was american power and leadership. if you think with for a means a return to peace, -- withdrawal means a return to peace, look at the caliphate. again and again, i have heard the same question, what is obama
doing? how can you so carelessly sacrifice of america's gains in the region, walking away from friends and leaving violent enemies to fill the void. they cannot understand why the president was so insistent on withdrawing leadership when it was needed the most. a policy of non-intervention to be just as dogmatic as the opposite. the president is sure of himself. syria is in example. the regime used chemical weapons and the administration took a stance of what you might call "principled indifference." we care, just not enough to do anything.
often, obama response to a crisis by announcing all of the things he will not do. we hope that the pattern and's tonight. too often, this is been met with deference by the united states and lengthy explanations of the our inability to shape events will stop in action spells opportunity for our adversaries. in syria, we saw the russians move in for their advantage. vladimir putin has moved into the crimea. he works to frustrate american objectives at every turn. this goes down, as the administration likes to put it, as 19th century behavior and an expression of disapproval that never seems to translate in the kremlin. they do not seem to care.
the test for some players in this world is if they can get away with what they want to do. if they can, they will. end of discussion. we all know what a ran wants -- iran wants. try to imagine life in israel or anywhere else if we permit that day to come. the regime is looking for american resolve or its absence. drawing a redline for assad, and your problems do not end in syria. in tehran, they have been watching and they are not impressed. strategic rivals like russia and china, hostile people are drawing conclusions and take
note on the hard things that we do as the preeminent the mocker see. -- democracy. this goes back to fdr. the finest amend new how to choose a message of strength. -- of me knew how to choose a message of strength. i think of the reagan military buildup of the 1980's. american resolve in unmistakable terms. i think of a few days after saddam hussein was taken into american custody. among others who were paying attention was the dictator of libya, who let it be known that we could come and take away his entire inventory of nuclear components. we did. what would have to doff he done in 2011 -- qaddafi done in 2011?
they watch what our leaders do in america and they listen to what our leaders say. a few of our most single-minded enemies might wonder why president obama was talking about the terrorists being on the run when the opposite was happening. by the estimates of the rand corporation, since 2010, there has been a 58% increase in the number of jihadist groups and a doubling of the number of jihadist fighters. a tripling of attacks by al qaeda affiliates. the claim that the tide of war was receiving -- the threat was
increasing. over to pakistan and to somalia and nigeria, and various places -- in very as places under various names, a new round of jihadists were on the rise. he said, and i quote, when asked if terrorists were on the run, we could not respond with any answer but, "no." when asked if the terrorists were defeated, we had to say, "no." anyone who answers yes is flat out lying. the point was that the terrorist threat, far from receding, has been advancing. and the rand report was done before the rise of ices and the establishment of the caliphate in the arab world. isis is attracting radicals from
europe and, potentially, the united states. a fair number are intended to return home. that is, unless their passports are canceled, which ought to happen. these are but a few of the features that make the situation today one of the most dangerous that we have faced in my lifetime and more dangerous than the administration has been willing to admit. when the president's speech today, we only need to listen carefully for a true understanding of the nature and the extent of the danger. let me suggest a few markers to keep in mind for strategic thinking. a realistic strategy has recognize that isis is a grave strategic threat to the united states. the situation is dire and defeating the terrorists will require immediate, sustained,
simultaneous action of across all fronts. phasing in actions will not suffice and such a strategy will only prolong the conflict. isis does not recognize a border between syria and iraq and neither should we. we should hit them in their sanctuary staging areas and wherever we find them. we should provide increased numbers of military trainers and special operation forces. we should aid the iraqi military and the kurdish counteroffensive against isis. we work to defeat ices and to feed the establishment of the terrorists safe haven in the middle east -- isis and defeat the establishment of the terrorists safe haven in the middle east. al qaeda has not diminished and the title iv is not receiving.
-- tide of war is not receding. winning requires allies. we must assure our friends and allies that america will not abandon them. after 5.5 years of the administration sending messages of retreat, withdrawal, and indifference, we have lost the allies we need to win this war. we must demonstrate intelligence activities. we know that they are on the frontlines of the war on terror. we should do everything possible to defend ices -- jordan against isis.
we should provide the support that the government of egypt needs in the sanai. we ought to designate a terrorist organization and provide full backing and support for the government across the middle east that are standing against the muslim brotherhood. we should make it clear that a nuclear armed iran is an existential threat to israel and other nations in the region. we should not accept any deal that allows them to spin centrifuges and and rich uranium. they must understand that the united states will not allow that to happen and we will take military action, if necessary, to stop it. avoid the tragic error that gave us the caliphate. we should have the draw down of our troops in afghanistan halted. the terror and chaos in iraq today will be replayed in
afghanistan if we abandon that country. with all that is happening, we should hear no more talk about treating the fight against terror as a matter of law enforcement. the idea that terrorists are just criminals is a dogma of this administration from the beginning and it is time to put it to rest once and for all. all that we have achieved in protecting the country after 9/11 came from the understanding that terrorists are not just common lawbreakers and that terrorism is not just street crime on a bigger scale. president obama has blake neely desk blatantly -- president obama has been blatantly pointing to the bush-cheney security apparatus. he said, we have a security apparatus that makes us pretty safe.
nice to hear from someone who used to speak so discouraging way about the steps we took after 9/11. after years of saying that america had lost our way and abandoned our values in building a security apparatus, he is now invoking it. i know something about the apparatus. i was one of the architects. president obama is blind to a key fact. it is not self-sustaining. the policies must be kept strong and current. after five .5 years of dismantling the apparatus, he cannot claim the apparatus will keep us safe and this is the most critical thing to the president's remarks today. any strategy has to include a commitment to restoring military
preparedness. we cannot pursue a comprehensive strategy against terrorism when we are sending pink slips in the combat zone. this is happening will stop and this time of hasty which rall and self congratulations -- withdrawal and self congratulations, we have seen the military power of the united states. even this has been taken for granted. we are nearing a crisis point near the decline of american military power that has to be addressed right away. the administration should be aware of this by now because of the bipartisan national defense panel appointed by the president's secretary.
it is a bipartisan group chaired by john and bill, the former secretary of defense. they did a superb job and i recommend it to anybody was interested in it. any defense capability has been reduced, with further reductions to come. all have been subjected to a -- irrational budget cuts that have nothing to do with the strategic needs of national security. soon, for instance, will be looking at strength levels that were prior to 9/11. we have seen crucial weapon systems delayed or canceled arbitrarily or by flimsy rationales. under the president, we are in the midst of a systematic pullback in ways that will severely hinder our projection.
it was one of the highest honors of my life to serve as the secretary of defense. we need to do everything we can to make sure that every expenditure is justified. the defense budget is different from every other part of our federal budget. in most other areas, you start with questions of, what do we have and what can we afford? with the defense budget, we start with the question of, what do we need? whatever the thinking behind these decisions, it bears little relation to a strategic environment that is becoming more demanding by the day.
other military powers are adding to their capabilities and some are exploiting the new american vulnerability. we have nuclear-armed countries with uncertain political futures. there is a constant threat of wmd proliferation. it can only be countered by american power. we have this going on in 2014 and we are investing in defense as if the dangers of the world were on a quiet retreat. they are not. the next commander-in-chief will appreciate this from day one. unless we start matching our military investment with the threats and challenges we face, they will find options have narrowed dramatically. all of the capacities that we need to shape events may not be there. even the wisest calls in the
situation room will not come too much without the ability to follow through by land, sea, space, or aerospace. when the next congress convenes, i can think of no more urgent business than this. leaders working together must ensure the highest priority of the federal budget is defense and security of the united states of america. the crisis in the iraq -- interact, the ukraine -- in iraq and the ukraine. ultimately, the bad actors are destined to fail. the terrorists are on wrong side of history. a useful thought expressed in an active and not a passive mode. the terrorists who threaten this country and our friends are on the wrong side of civilization.
it will be on the wrong side of history if we put them there. we must deal with dangers before the become catastrophes. that is where the best kind of history is made. a story of awful things that never happened because our foresight and resolve did not allow it to. i can tell you that it is the leadership of brave men and women that makes history. in particular, is united states of america time and again that has answered threats and taken swift and determined action. in all that we now face, the most self-defeating allusion is that power and leadership is optional. it is as if with or without us, the world will get by. ask, and you will hear otherwise. they welcome american influence in any manner.
once the event is over, if you could stay seated so the vice president can depart, and then we will have everyone come out. question.e the first "the washington post" reports that you received a rapturous reception yesterday on capitol hill when you came to speak. it then says, the libertarian sat silently as president cheney addressed the gathering. we have to give into to a lot of people in our party first? >> yes, we do. it was a great reception. i was impressed. question athout string of isolation in this, that some people call it a strong feeling against war. view you will find in
various places in our society, there is a certain part of our party that owes to those precepts. i have tried to make the point repeatedly that anyone who went through 9/11 or watched what happened when 19 men armed with airline tickets came here and destroyed the world trade center , took down a big part of the pentagon, killed 3000 of our .eople it is difficult to buy into the proposition that we will be safe if we stay behind our oceans and let the world stew in its own juices. i don't believe it. i have spoken about it. part of the problem is to remind my friends on the republican side of the aisle as well as some of the democrats that the issues i talked about in here are very real and very imminent. we can't pursue the course that says when we get the defense budget, at least we have something.
i believe that those who advocate an isolationist course are dead wrong. you say told president obama in advance of this speech tonight and what did you tell the house republicans yesterday? i i just told the president, don't know if he's watching or if he will read my speech -- what i tried to lay out there are the principal things that need to be done, especially recognition of the threat, being honest about what is happening out there, reversal. are some very specific things that we need to take. the reception i got on the hill yesterday for my former colleagues was very warm. were probably a few in the audience who disagreed. " think the "washington post
found two of them. it was a good meeting. man of themyself a house, 10 years in the house, eight years as president of the senate. i've always been very clear that i preferred the house. it's a fascinating time in our history and i have great respect and affection for those who serve. i spent a lot of years as a member of the congress or part of it, and i think we have got some very good people there and we will have a tough fight in the fall campaign with respect to the upcoming election, but we will renew our commitment to democracy and we will have a new congress come january and hopefully it will be more successful than recent ones in terms of arriving at some important decisions. do you feel the current thread in the middle east is contained to the threat from militant islamic forces or does it have? broader global implications --broader global
applications? we now have a situation in a rock where recently the u.s. military was providing air cover for iranian militia. can you talk a little bit about that and the iranian threat? iran is ak about broader set of concerns on radical islam. i am very concerned and i have touched on it in my remarks today. that is the proliferation of weapons of mass distraction, and nuclear materials. it is not limited to the middle east. i always ramp or when head of remember whenn -- the head of mossad came in and started laying down photographs. they were pictures taken inside the reactor at eastern syria that had been billed by the north koreans. the north koreans are very much players in this business.
they have been reporting at one that the north koreans had bribed senior pakistani officials to get the latest technology for highly enriched uranium. we can look at that whole area that it is a major threat. we don't know where it is going to go. we are just lucky, for example, that when eastern syria fell to isis, they did not find a nuclear reactor. it was not there because the israelis took it out in the fall of 2007. toare lucky gaddafi decided surrender his materials after he saw what happened after saddam hussein. it does have worldwide ramifications. the future of developments in that part of the world clearly are relevant not just to the united states or the neighborhood. what is the best strategy or
strategies for maintaining diplomatic support in nations throughout the middle east and how can the support be complemented -- complement military action to combat isis? my daughter liz and i travel to the region this spring. i have kept up a lot of my ties storm, 25e desert years ago, when i worked with we were dealing with the first gulf war. -- thesea perception are israelis, arabs, so forth -- perceptions that the united states cannot be trusted the way we have been in the past, and that we need to go in and act,
to work with him closely to restore faith. it has been seriously eroded --de there is a deep belief it is general throughout the region that the united states [indiscernible] been supportive of the muslim brotherhood. the muslim brothers are the group from which emerged his luncheon -- egyptian islamic jihad. they can all trace their backgrounds to the muslim brothers. the united states needs to convey the fact that we understand that, not just their concerns. it is our concern as well too. we need to keep commitments we have made and prove to them. egypt,rsi was toppled in
i met the general for the first time and was impressed. wasimmediate reaction here to talk about withholding our traditional military to military relationship. they want to know that we are allies. they want to know we will keep our commitments, we understand that they are on the frontlines of the war on terror, they are battling everye day to survive against the most radical elements that have taken part of iraq, part of syria. it is a task diplomatically and militarily from the standpoint of the united states. we have to prove ourselves and restore those relationships which had been badly damaged. >> thank you very much.
this is not the first time that you have had a long scheduled speech and the president of the united states has decided to give a speech the same night. >> i don't think they are related. [laughter] >> thank you very much. [applause] >> tomorrow, c-span's road to the white house coverage from iowa. bill and hillary clinton will be attending the 37th and final steak fry hosted by retiring senator tom harkin. this will be the first visit to iowa for the former secretary of state said she lost the 2008 presidential caucuses. beginning at 3:30 p.m. here on c-span. are just a few of the comments we recently received from our viewers. >> the discussion you had with the three panelists this morning
on professor butler and mr. armstrong was extremely enlightening. moreh there were discussions like that. in-depth, very enlightening. i'm an african-american and have been watching what is going on in ferguson. i am saddened by it, but have hope that the department of justice always does the fair thing. thanks to c-span for all their continuing coverage and discussions upon these issues concerning our country. thank you. >> i want to congratulate c-span. you are finally opening up to various points of view that did not have access before. i stopped watching television. because ic-span
realized it was nothing but a sounding board for republicans. i could not take it anymore. but i'm back to watching c-span again and i know what you're up against. i understand what's going on there. keep up the good fight. god bless america. >> it would be fun if c-span would have some transparency programs. schedule it way ahead of time, stick it out there in the open grade -- open. who sponsors these people. the people with all these bundles of bucks. if the communist chinese people are sticking money into funds that end up sponsoring some allegedly tank, please put it out there. it's like it was set years ago. when people get on there, they should have [indiscernible] just like the guys do in the auto races with their cars and
uniforms and whoever sponsors some has to have a nice little patch on their deal. transparency. that's what we all want. >> continue to let us know what you think of the programs you're watching. call us at the number on your screen. email us. or, you can send us a tweet. join the c-span conversation. like us on facebook. follow us on twitter. night, president obama outlined his administration's strategy for combating the isis threat, calling for expanded airstrikes and support for moderate syrian rebels. it is addressed the nation is 15 minutes. -- this address to the nation is 15 minutes. >> 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 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 evil from the world and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. that remains the case -- that 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. isil is a terrorist organization, pure and simple.
it has no vision other than the 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. they threaten with genocide and in acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two american journalists, jim foley and steven sotloff. isil 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 homeland, isil leaders have threatened our allies.
thousands of foreigners, including europeans and americans, have joined them in syria and iraq. trained and 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. last 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 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 upon iraqis 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 a broad coalition against this 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 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. 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. we will also support iraq's 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 syrian opposition. tonight, i again call on congress to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters. in the fight against isil, we cannot rely on an assad regime that terrorizes its people, a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost. instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like isil, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve syria's crisis once and for all. third, we will continue to draw