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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 17, 2014 11:00pm-1:01am EDT

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combat mission. instead, they will support iraq forces on the ground as they fight for their country against these terrorists. and in syria, the on the ground combat will be done by the moderate opposition which serves as the current best counterway in syria to extremists like isil. we know as isil gets weaker, the moderate opposition will get stronger that. will be critical to bring about the -- that is one of the reason whys it is so critical that congress authorize the opposition train and equip mission when it comes to the floor. but it's also critical that the opposition makes the most of the additional support, the kind of support that they've been requesting now for years and they need to take this opportunity to prove to the world that they can become a
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viable alternative to the current regime. number two, this is more than just a military coalition, and i want to emphasize that. in some ways some of the most important aspects of what we're doing are not military. this mission isn't just about taking out an enemy on the battlefield. it's about taking out a network, decimating and discreditting a militant cult mask raiding as a religious movement. it's similar to what we've been doing to al qaeda these last years. the bottom line is we will not be successful with a military campaign alone and we know it, nor are we asking every country to play a military role. we don't need every country to engage in that kind of military action, and frankly, we're not asking them and we don't want every country do that. only holistic campaign
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accomplish our objectives. in addition to the military campaign, it will be equally important for the global coalition to dry up isil's elicit funding. and by the way, the bahrain ease at the meeting in jeddah have offered to host a meeting because they've been engaged in this to bring people together -- that can positively have an impact not just on isil but on other flows of terrorism support. we have to stop the foreign fighters who carry passports from countries around the world, including the united states to continue to deliver and we need to continue to deliver urgently a needed humanitarian assistance. and finally, and this is really -- i can't overstate this. repudiate tinue to
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the gross distortion of islam that isil is spreading. put an end to the sermons by extremists that brain wash young men to join these movements and commit mass atrocities in the name of god. i was very encouraged to hear that saudi arabia's top clerics came out and declared terrorism a heinous crime under their law and that the perpetrator should be made an example of. -- i might just mention -- i'll wait until we a. into q and a very important statement was made by the top clerics in the riegeyooned and i want to come back to that because i think it's critical. let me just emphasize when we
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say global coalition, we mean it, and this is not all australia, far east countries in europe have already taken on initial responsibilities. so my colleagues we are committed to working with countries in every corner of the globe to match the cap pain with the capabilities that we need to fight it. and i can tell you today that every single person i spoke to in wales at the wales summit in jeddah in pair es where we had more than 30 countries and entities, they all express strong support for our mission and a willingness to help in some way. we had excellent meetings and our meetings in baghdad and in cairo and in anching raw also advanced the process. the conference in paris, we took another step towards the younger
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meetings this week. and the younger meetings have all been behind closed the -- doors. the under meetings, these countries will be speaking out publicly at the council and the world will begin to see what these countries are prepared to do. we have a plan. we know the players. our focus now is determining in each country's role will be and how to coordinate those activities for success. later this week we are going to have more to say about our partners and the contributions and we still full little expect . is coalition to grow one of the things that i'm most pleased about is we've asked one of our most respected and experienced military leaders, general john allen to come to the state department and oversee this effort. he came within 24 hours of being asked, was at his desk at 7:00 in the morning and is now already laying out the campaign
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from a diplomatic point of view for how we coordinate what will be needed foral of these other aspects beyond military peace. and i had a long meeting with him yesterday, again today, and i'm confident that together with ambass dor brett will will serve as his deputy and assist ant secretary ann patter son, we have a very experienced group of people engaged in this effort. the fact is if we do this right, this effort could actually become a model for what we can do to respect to the individual terrorist groups and other places that continue to wreak havoc on the efforts to build their states and provide for their people. i'm coughed with our strategy in place and our international partners by our side, we will have all that we need, and with
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the help of the congress, we will be able to succeed in degrading and ultimately destroying this monstrous organization where wherever it exist. i wanted to lay it out and i appreciate your patience. >> thank you, mr. secretary. let me start off with i think one of the most critical lessons that we have learned from past u.s. military interventions abroad is that we must have a clear vision for the end state that we're seeking. and a coherent strategy that is focused about how not only do we enter and suck he'd, but how do we -- succeed, but how do we exit a theater of war. i would like to get as succinctly as you can a statement from you as to what the end goal look like. i heard you talked about taking out a network. beyond that, what is the
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political end state conditions so we will know that it is a time to end military action? >> military action ends when we have ended the capacity of isil who engaged in broad-based terrorist activity that threatens the state of iraq, threatens the united states, threatens the region. that's our goal. that means ending their ability to live in ungoverned spaces, have a safe haven and be able to control territory and move at will to try to attack the united states or other places. the threat obviously right now is more immediate to middle east than to europe, but we have americans over there fighting with passports. >> so obviously it doesn't mean we're going to look to eliminate every person who is associate isil? >> we haven't been able to eliminate every person who is associate with al qaeda, but we've been able to reduce to
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their capacity to mount a major attack. so under the circumstances that we're able to, obviously guard against -- >> in iraq we want a sovereign iraq who's integrity has been restored without the presence of isil. >> and an independent inclusive government that is functioning. >> and in syria? >> syria likewise. we believe ultimately there is no solution to syria without a political settlement. that goal hasn't changed but assad has had little incentives to negotiate. the incentive that existed when first went to milwaukee -- moscow last year and president the process, was sidetracked by a number of things, one of which the end fighting that began to take place in the opposition itself to the unexpected degree
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to which assad became an extraordinary magnet for terrorists. and that's when you begin to have this amazing flow of foreign fighters who came to get rid of assad. and as assad gashed people and barrel bombed people and tortured and so forth, it became more evident to those fighters and particularly to countries in the region they were focused on whatever group could get rid of assad. and unfort utah -- and unfortunately tragically isil is somewhat an outgrowth of that phenomenon. therefore, we are today -- i think all the countries in the region have recognized that there was a mistake of judgment with respect to that process and i think people are bending over backwards to try to rectify it. >> i think members of this committee who joined together to
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first vote for the authorization of use of military force as president obama was headed to the june g 20 summit at the time in russia to deter assad from using chemical weapons and who subsequently voted in a bipartisan effort to arm the embedded syrian rebels over a year ago fully appreciate that. it is my hope that when we refine the definition of the end state as it relates to the campaign against isil, that we understand that if i'm a moderate vetted rebel and i'm being asked to fight against isil now, i also need to fight against assad because that is my ultimate mission. and so as we move forward, i'd like to hear how that is coincide. let me ask you two other questions. i heard you very clearly when you said we're not asking all of our partners to engage in military -- direct military
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actions, but i hope that there will be and i'd like to hear from you, can we expect a part of the sunni arab coalition members to, in fact, be part of military actions in this regard? because this cannot be a campaign by the west against the east? >> you're absolutely correct. first of all, let me thank you and i thank the committee for the vote you took, the only entity in the congress that did. it was an affirmative vote. i'm grateful for that and respect it. cusht currently there are countries outside of europe and outside of the countries who are committed to take military action. there are countries in the region,, arab, committed to take military action. we will have sufficient levels of commitment to take military
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action. it will be up to centcom and general allen and others to work on the question of who will do what. >> it's fair to say that this is it going to be a multi-year effort? >> the president has been very clear about that. certain parts of it will be, absolutely. i can tell you this. when we took them on at mosul dam and the iraqis were on the ground and took them on, we took back mosul dam. en we took them on at sinjar mountain, we freed the people at sinjar mountain and we have currently enabled people to hold them off at the dam and it is clear from the intelligence that pick up, it has already had an impact on them. i'm convinced that with the proper effort we can have an impact. >> i don't dispute that you had the short-term an impact to
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stem their advances, at least within the region that their in. my question though, no one reasonably can come from the administration and suggest that the ultimate goal, which is taking out this network, is not going to be a multiyear effort >> it's a multiyear effort. the president has already said that. >> with that eality, let me turn to the aumf. how is it that the administration believes that -- and i support its efforts -- but how is that the administration believes that the 9/11 aumf or the iraq aumf provide the authorization to move forward whether the congress decides to or not? it was not too long ago that members of the administration appeared before the committee and when i asked them i was headed towarding repealing the iraq aumf and there was administration witnesses who believed that it should be repealed on be half of the
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administration. how is it that the administration now thinks it can rely upon that for legal authority? it? . chairman, how is good lawyers within the white house, within the state department have examined this ex--- extremely closely have come to the conclusion across the board that he 20 1 aumn which says all necessary and appropriate force against those nations or organizations or persons responsible for 9/11, those who harbored such persons or persons prehaven't future acts of terrorism against the united states by such persons or organizations, includes al qaeda. it's always been interpreted as including al qaeda. and al qaeda -- throughout isil? >> al qaeda and the associated forces. that is the language.
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al qaeda and associated forces. -- isil began as al qaeda in 2005 in iraq, 2004, isil was al qaeda in iraq. and it only became this thing called isil a year ago. and it only became that out of convenience to separate them sflings in an internal fight but not because their thinking change changed, not because their actions changesed they have the same people -- they're the same people that we were prepared to and were attacking for all of those years. and a mere publicity stunt to separate yourself and call yourself something else does not get out from under the force of the united states and its partners. >> i appreciate your ability as a former prosecutor and a gifted attorney to try to make the case. i will tell you that at least
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from the chair's perspective, you're going to need a new aumf and it will have to be more tailored because i don't want to e part of 13 years later and multitude of countries have been used in that regard for that to be the authority. i think we need to get you a different set of authorities. >> not only are our goals the same, mr. chairman, but we know you are thinking about retooling we want that to happen. we're not gooding to make our actions depending on it to happen but we will work with you closely as we can and should in order to tailor an aumf and look forward to that opportunity. >> senator corker. >> thank you. we have three senators, president, vice president, secretary of state that are
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exercising terrible judgment terrible judgment right now. to say you're going to do this regardless of what we say, you're not going to ask for a buy-in by the united states senate or houp on behalf of the -- house of representatives on a conflict some people say a decade taking us into another country with a different enemy is exercising the worst judgment possible. and so i said this to you as strongly as i can personally, saying if congress wants to play a constructive role we will welcome that. to me it's a political game. gain. and i'm disappointed you as secretary of state after being chairman of this committee, you out of convenience in parsing legal words would make the statement you just made. that's a e on and say
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nice photograph in front of "the wall street journal." tell me what's been accomplished. what arab nation is going to have a ground force in syria. what arab sunni country is going to be flying in and bombing and running missile raids with the arab insignia on the side of the plane? tell me that. >> senator, you will hear that at the appropriate time within the next days as john allen and the team work with all of these countries for the basings for all things that will take place fert i've told you -- >> let me ask you that -- are you onvinced that will happen? >> i've already said that. >> so we will have arab sunni countries participating in the ground effort in syria? >> no, i didn't say the ground effort. you know, right now the plan is to work through the -- and our
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judgment is that we can be effective working in the way that we are. let me say a couple things. first of all -- >> you can say the answer to my questions, ok? >> no, i'm going to answer your question. i'm going to answer your question. i'm sure the chair will be happy to have the kind of dialog i talked about earlier. it's important to talk this through. >> i've got two minutes and 34 seconds and four more questions. >> well, senator, you haven't let me answer any of them yet. so let me try to answer the question. >> well, the question is what arab sunni country is going to be putting boots on the ground in syria against this now claimed army by your -- >> at this moment no country has been asked to put boots on the ground or no country is talking of it and we don't think it's a good idea right now. so there's no discussion of that at this moment. now, with respect to the judgment about asking congress to do it, i'm asking.
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do it. we'd love to have you do it. but we're not going to get stuck in the situation when we have the authority of not exercising our authority to do what we believe we need to do to protect the country. so we're asking you to do it. pass it tomorrow. >> you're asking us to do it but you're in the giving any detail because you don't have none. >> that's not true, senator. >> then share them. >> senator, i'm not going to share them in public here today. i'm confident there will be so many classified briefings that you'll be tired of them. but at the moment we're not going it lay this out until john allen has had a chance to come to the u.n. on friday, until we've had a chance to work closely with all of these countries in order to make this as effective as possible. > do you realize how unserious the things that you have laid out and the things that were laid out yesterday sound when you're discussing training 5,000
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in y'all's own words, doctors dentists and others in saudi arabia over a year, i don't know whether they're being trained for offensive or defensive. i'd like you to clarify the activities. my understanding is they will be given our tech equipment after they prove themselves on the battlefield. you understand how unrealistic and how that effort on the ground where they're based where isil is based doesn't match the rhetoric that the administration laid out and therefore you're asking us to approve something that we know the way you've laid it out makes no sense. we have a strong sense that our military lead rs have urged you to put special forces on the ground but, no, we're not going to do that. so this doesn't even seem
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serious. it seems like a political answer to the united states as they cry out about this uncivilized activity. but it doesn't seem real to me. and if you're willing to get into a classified setting and lay out all these details and tell us which of these countries are going to be flying their flag into syria, we know the free syrian army cannot take on isil. you know that. you talk about a multiyear process, we're talking decades if that's going to be our salvation. so, i just close with this. in the briefing you had last week. i do want us to deal with this in an effective way. you've not laid it out in a way that meets that test. i hope when we come back and before you put people in harm's way unnecessarily, you have a
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plan that achieved the end that you just laid out. but we know right now that's not where you are and again i hope you'll seek it. i hope you'll say that you're not going to do it without it and i hope you'll lay out a plan that will convince us that you're serious about doing the things you said you're going to do to the american people and to us about isil because you haven't done it now and i hope you'll lay out a way to pay for it to pay for it because we know this is going to take many, many years and it has to do with the safety of our citizens. >> mr. chairman, can i answer a little bit here? senator, i must say to you, i really find it somewhat surprising for you to suggest that as the president of the united states talks to the nation and commits to take strikes in order to deal with isil, as we have come back from a week of very serious meetings
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with nations around the world, all of whom are committed to this, that you sit there and suggest that it is not serious. with all due respect to you, senator, let me just tell you something point-blank, the moderate opposition in syria has in fact been fighting isil for the last two years. and since last january the free syrian army has been engaged with isil in damascus countryside in several other places and groups such as the syrian revolutionary front have fought off isil. over the past two months moderate brigades have been deployed in northern olepo to -- entville to --ville --
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they require our support. senator mccain nose that. he's been scream being it for some time. >> we've all been screaming about it and y'all have done nothing or at least not much to talk about. >> senator, let's just whatstand that the fact is has propelled isis to some degree is a word called success. and as isis has had suck said through social media, as they have now been suddenly been put on their heels and as the united states and other countries do seriously commit to this endeavor, and believe me what we're doing is serious, then if success begins to turn and move towards the free syrian army and the moderate opposition, i'll believe you'll see greater numbers of recruits. that's why the president is asking for that open training
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under title 10 no order to try to build that up as possible. our estimates there are now currently tens of thousands still of fighting members of the opposition and if you can get more people that are trained -- better trained -- and by the way, every month that i have been secretary of state we have been adding to the effort of what we are doing with respect to the syrian opposition. and most of that needs to be covered in a classified setting as you know, but our assessment is that we can and given the urgency of the situation begin to move this program to a greater degree. so will it take a period of time? we've all said that, yes. but we're confident that we have the ability to be able to change the situation on the ground. by the way, i do have a list here -- i'm not going to go into all of it now, but there are all bane yaw has sent -- we have had in at least 18 flights that
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we've taken in. we have been proe providing additional weapons to peshmerga. australia is committed a number of different items into this. i'm not going to go into this publicly. bulgaria is providing aid. canada, croatia, czech republic, denmark, hungary, saudi arraign e rain yaw, germany. look, there are a lot of countries here. and by the way, they're all serious too or they wouldn't be on this list. secretary kerry, thank you for your tireless work. i think it is shocking and a sad state of affairs that we heard just now such angry comments aimed at you, mr. secretary, and through you at our president savage f at isis, the
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group who decapitated two americans and have warned and i quote that their thirst for more american blood is right out there. . think it's shocking i'm actually shaking. this is not the time to show anger at the people who are working night and day whether you agree with them or not to protect our people. now, i want to talk about the aumf. i voted against the one in' 02 -- i voted forhe the one in' 01. i reread it about six times. mr. secretary, the lawyers i consulted with believe that you have the authority to go after isil. it's very clear, you read the part, if people listen to you, you read the parts that are
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correct. now, that is not to say that i wouldn't welcome working on a new one. but i want to say right now, the way things get fill busted around here and the way politics get played around this place i am proud that you say you're go-going to do your work to protect the american people. this is just a sad opening of a hearing. i've never seen it and i've gone through some tough ones. now, i want to say this. the iraq war inflamed the long-simmering sectarian divisions in that country. i know you don't want to get into the past. it's fine. i think it's worth mentioning. from my point of view, that's the war i voted against. i am going after isil because there is such a difference. there are two strains of thought
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as people speak out against the administration. one say they're not doing enough, go back with the ground troops. american boots are the only boots that work. you've proven this is just not true. and i certainly reject that. and the other is the second school of thought representing some of the folks i like and talk to all the time, they think we shouldn't take the fight to isis, forget it. we should sit on the sidelines. i oppose that. you cannot sit on the sidelines. at least i cannot when you have year that some -- 14 olds slaves, giving them as gifts to their fighters, murdering ethnic and religious minorities, and again warning that they will continue to
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strike the necks of americans. they have a very simple goal. they say if you don't take our twisted version of islam, you either flee, you convert or you die. so, no, i'm not going to sit i'dly by. mr. secretary, i have a question for you. i was being interviewed and i expressed these views that i just expressed that there are certain areas where it's gray and there are certain areas where it's it's clear. everyone takes their own lens to the question. i was asked this question, how can we make sure that the syrian mod rits we help are the right ones? and this particular reporter says we've heard reports the syrian moderate signed a nonaggression pact with isil. my answer to that was there are all kinds of syrian moderate groups and we are certainly not
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working with those that don't see it our way. can you expand on that answer? >> i'd be delighted to. this information fundamentally put out by isil. the moderate opposition recently restated its commitment as a national movement to fight extremism, including isil. they will not. >> thank you. and then just -- i mean i don't have enough time to -- one last question. what roles do iran and russia play in this conflict and how do the interest of these two countries factor into the president's counter isil strategy? i know it's very delicate. how would you respond to that? line of is principle support to assad. assad has not approved the
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willingness nor the capacity to go after isil. and russia was at the meeting in paris. china was at the meeting in paris. both spoke out powerfully about the need to stand up to isil. and iran as you know there was a subject of whether or not they might have been invited. there were certain problems in trying to make that happen because country objections with respect to their presence, etc., and it wasn't -- it didn't happen. but iran is deeply opposed to isil. now we're not coordinating militarily or doing anything but we have had brief conversations on the side of our negotiations that are taking place the p five plus one iran nuclear negotiations and we're prepared to see whether or not iran can
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contribute in a constructive way. but that would require also changing what's happening in the where they're on ground supporting assad, hezbollah on their behalf whom they support. so there are a lot of areas of twisted onatlantic in the relationships here, and -- areas in the twisted conflicts in the relationships here. we are looking in -- not to be open to listening to some change in the dine amic or -- dynamic or some possibility of constructive activity but we're not relying on it, waiting for it or in fact coordinating with it at this point in time. >> thank you. >> before i turn it over it mr. senator rich, let me just say to the secretary on this subject. i heard what you said but to me iran is a regional instigator,
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it is a patron of the murderous assad regime. it uses iraq's airspace to send troops and men into syria. and some of us are really concerned that first of all, their end purposes are not our end purposes. and secondly, that some of us are concerned that negotiations ith iran are affected by it to the extent it expressed any any desire to be to be helpful they want -- >> it's not going to happen. >> i have to be honest with you. when we hear all these back channel efforts and they get outed by the eye tolla it creates uncertainty in that time. senator rich. >> thank you, mr. chairman. john, i share some of the anger of senator boxer when it comes to what's been going on with
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beheading of americans. this is a tough time for americans to be watching their fellow citizens being beheaded by the savage people. and something has got to be done about it. i fully empathize with the problem you've got where it's happening is such a complex situation with complex cultures and what you have it and you've got to do something about it. i want to fill in with the chairman. he mentioned three points in his hoping that he was opening eed here hear and i haven't heard yet and that is he talked about hearing the plan that you have and he wanted to hear what success looks like and he wants to hear some met rick as to how we measure progress. john, i'm not there yet. i'm not convinced. and this is particularly true where i think everyone is in agreement, the president is in agreement, congress is in agreement, the american people
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are in agreement. nobody wants american boots on the ground. nobody is going to go there with that. in fact, had the president come here and said, look, i want authorization for air strikes you and i both know how effective the drone program has been and good it has been as far as accomplishing the goals that we have in yemen, in pakistan in other places. if he had come here for that he would have had no problem with me. as far as boots on the ground, who do you get to do it? we know the iraqis can't do it. they dropped their guns and uniforms and went home at the slightest bit of threat. with all due respect, i know everybody talks about the moderate opposition and the rebels, we've been through this for over a year and i'm just not convinced that there is such a group there. so when you said let's talk about this and let's see if we can come up with some way to do this. the best group around to do this for boots on the grounds are the
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occurreds -- kurds. they've been successful and reliable. they've been reliable to us. they're great fighters. if mib is going to succeed on the ground in iraq or for that matter in syria, it's going to be the kurds. have you guys given thought to partnering up with them? what am i missing here? >> well, you're not, senator. they've been extraordinary and that was our first line of effort obviously. that's why we put the joint operation center there. you really have to hold that line. that's why the president was prepared to do some strikes to help guarantee that that happened. and there's a huge flow of weaponry as i said. us have gone in. there are flights coming in from other countries. lots of countries have been supporting the kurds in this
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effort. and i think this is the work that johnalen -- john allen needs the chance to develop a bit to see how it's going to go. the bottom line is the commitment to destroy isil. and that means what i described earlier today, and for the moment, growing the moderate opposition is one way of coming at it and we'll see what else may be possible as we go forward. >> i appreciate that. that's encouraging for me that you have engaged the kurds. >> oh, very much so. >> let me with the little time i have left. i just want to make absolutely certain of your testimony. you originally said when you're meeting with these other ountries they've said what can we do to help? but you've also said nobody has agreed to put boots on the ground and i think you said you haven't asked them to put boots on the ground. let me be very clear about air
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strikes. have anybody committed that they would fly their flag in and do air strikes into syria? >> yes. >> and they are committed to do that? >> yes. >> in the classified setting we'll be able to get who those people are? >> yes. >> that is much more encouraging. thank you and with that my time is up. thank you, mr. chairman. secretary kerry, thank you for your incredible service. what you have stated expresses my view on the need for international action against a barbaric terrorist organization, isil, it requires an international response. i think president obama has been effective, particularly in the actions in iraq. the military strikes have been very effective in pulling back isil's advancements. and i think the president deserves credit for it doing
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that. and certainly has my support. you've been effective in bringing about an international coalition, and that's extremely important when we are involved in missions like this. it must include international presence. and you have been very clear that we will not have combat ground troops as part of this campaign. and i support each of those statements. so i want to get back to the point that the chairman mentioned and about every one of us have mentioned, in regards to e authorization of force because i'm not clear what we will do in syria and i'm not comfortable yet as to what we would do in syria. i'm looking forward to more information being made available to us. but my concern, i'd really like to get your thoughts on this is that the authorizations that re passed in 2001 and 2002
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were clearly aimed at a different circumstance. and if your lawyers' interpretations are correct, they're open-ended indefinitely, well beyond the obama administration, and could be sed to pro-- for long term commitments, including ground force commitments in the future, and certainly was not the congressal intent. i did not support the 2002 resolution. as the chairman said it was based upon misinformation. 2001 was clearly aimed at the circumstances in afghanistan. it was not intended to deal with the current circumstances in syria. i would hope we would all agree to that. so i think it's absolutely essential that we come together and revisit the authorization issues, more than that you would welcome congressional involvement, i think it is imperative that we attempt to
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clarify the authorizations on the use of force to meet the current needs. in syria, i don't think that's going to be difficult. i think you've been invited in by another country. i think we can -- i mean iraq. i don't think it's difficult in iraq. you've been invited in by the host country. it's clear we are not going to put combat troops on the ground there. syria is going to be more difficult because there are many of us who are not prepared to use the -- authorize the use of force in syria. president has article two power. so he always has the right for a short period of time to defend the interest of this nation as he sees fit. that's his responsibilities as commander in chief. i don't think there's any immediate hurge see for the congressional action. i think it's vital for the
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appropriate role and moving forward beyond just the obama administration because as you pointed out, these circumstances are not going to end in the next two years. i just welcome your thoughts as to how you think we should proceed in trying to deal with the type of authorization that can pass congress, give you the comfort levels that you need to protect us against any lengthy particularly combat involvements in these countries in the future that should be done by their own military. >> senator, thank you very much. thank you for your comments. but i wouldn't sit here comfortably and suggest to you, nor would president obama by that token i know, suggest to you that this ought to go on indefinitely and there shouldn't be an effort with congress to define this. of course there should be. i think the american people want it, deserve it and it's a appropriate role for both
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branches to play, to work together to articulate that going forward. the president has made it crystal clear he's ready to do that. we know the chairman has announced he's going to begin work to define that. we look forward to working with you. that's how we go about it, is to work effectively to do it. now in the immediate moment, we have a prime minister -- do you have the comments of the prime inister? in my meeting with prime minister abadi at the end we met with the press and i'll just read to you what he said as an opening comment, not even prompted. or a part of a question. he said isil is a terrorist
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nation. it is mobilizing its international network to recruit people from all over the world. they have funds from all across the region. we are fighting these people. these people are something inaudible about our communities attacking -- minorities, women, children. they already -- and it was inaudible about women, killing or raping. they're a challenge to the whole region, to the international community. they are coming to iraq from across the border from neighboring syria. of course our role is to defend our country, but the international community is responsible to protect iraq and protect iraqis in the whole region. what's happening in syria is coming across to iraq. we cannot across that border on an international basis but he says it's an international border but there is a role for the international community for the united nations to do that role and the united states to act immediately to stop the
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spread of this cancer. this cancer is spreading in the whole region and we have the resolution to fight the cancer in iraq. we iraqis will have both an inclusive government now and we can do this job properly. everybody is a whole. he goes on to talk about how they will do it. but he specifically asks for the united states of america to help in this role. now, our lawyers also are clear that iraq has a right of self-defense and iraq is exercising its right of self-defense in asking the united states to help it. we already have a military agreement with them with respect to that. and so iraq is asking us to help them and as a matter of right, if they're being attacked if outside of their country, you have a right of hot pursuit, you have a right to be able to attack those people who are attacking you as a matter of self-defense. so we believe there is a full justification here and obviously that will be laid out further.
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but is it better to have a greater statement than that? is it better to have congress of the united states defining this as we go forward? we agree with you be need to move and to move rapidly because of the urgency of this danger. >> senator rubio. >> thank you. secretary kerry, i was struck by the language in your opening statement. isil must be defeated clearly end of story. from a mill per inspect of, the plan -- from a military perspective the plan involves carrying out the iraqi forces in iraq. moderate rebels in syria and american air power, no combat boots on ground on the part of the united states. but over the last few days since the president has made that announcement there's been real doubts expressed by military experts whether that strategy will achieve our goal.
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we need special operation forces to advise the units. the chairman of the committee said he would recommend u.s. ground troops to the president. my question if it becomes clear the only way to defeat isil period end of story is to engage american ground troops will that be something the president will consider at that time? >> the president made it clear he will not put ground troops into iraq. he made it at centcom. we can make a decisive difference, i want to be clear. the troops that have been deployed to iraq do not and will not have a combat mission. we believe and we're not going to deal with hypotheticals what happens this and this and this, we believe there are a any number of options as to one can guarantee the effect on isil
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long before you were to get to the hypothetical conversation about americans. so i understand the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff whose job to look at it from his perspective in terms of his judgment, but the president has made a skwlument as jsh -- judgment as commander that that's not in the cards and that's where we are. >> it appears to be quite frankly we're relying on a military strategy built on rebels who are at this point are under assault by isil and the assad regime by local iraqi forces by some testimony say are incapable of fighting at this stage. this is a very serious and clearly stated goal. the reason it's not a hypothetical is there may come a point what you're saying the only problem that could solve this is u.s. combat forces and isil gets to stay. >> i think we're so far away
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from that hypothetical. let me address that. i'm not going to get into hypotheticals but you're presuming that iran and syria don't have any capacity to take on isil. who knows? i don't know what's going to happen here. let's start down this road. >> let me ask you about that then. so what you're saying now is there is the opportunity that the potential the u.s. would be coordinating with -- >> no, i never said anything about coordinating. if we're failing mizzranlly who knows what choice they might wake. you prep significanced this on the notion we're failing and we're not going to fail. >> i did not >> you did. >> i'll go back to the report. the number of people, including former defense secretary gates expressed his belief that it's not possible. a number of highly qualified military experts have said they do not believe -- all you have stated in your opening statements -- >> there are lots of possibilities between here and there. the president has said he is not
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going to put american troops -- >> you mentioned iran. iran yesterday said -- not that it was on the sidelines of these negotiations they claim the u.s. ambassador in iraq reached out to the iranian ambassador in iraq and the iranians gave us our answer. you said you were open to some sort of dialog with them if it had any sort of promise to be productive. he says he sees no point in coordinating with a country who's hands are dirty. he said that about us. he says you're lying. we did not exclude them from the talks to join the coalition. they excluded themselves. they refused to participate. and he went on to say in iraq the u.s. goal is to turn it into a playground where we can enter freely and bomb at will. i would just say any hopes of coordinating with iran who i consider to be just as evil as isis is something i would discourage for a number of different reasons. i want to ask you a another
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question it has to do with the rebels in syria. later today the ambassador is going to testify the biggest opposition they face is the assad regime. there are reports the a jeem has stepped up its targeting of nonisil forces in the hopes of wiping them out so that the assad regime will be the only alternative left in syria. if we are interested in supporting the moderate rebels will it not require us to protect them from the assad regime as well? the hope they -- in the hope they could do credible fighting for us? >> isil first. that's our policy. > but ambassador force ford is -- are credible reports assad has stepped up his attacking moderate rebels. >> that's not our judgment but we obviously recognize that
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there are serious challenges with the assad a jeem, and our policy has not changed. and in classified forum i think we have a better opportunity to discuss what we're doing additionally in order to do that. >> smart -- thank you, mr. secretary for being here and for all of your tireless efforts to address the isis threat. >> that is a threat that i believe was really brought home to the american people by the barbaric and heinous murders of james foley and steven sotloff. and as you may know, jim foley grew up in new hampshire and steven sotloff went to prep school there and so they both have ties to my state and i think people in new hampshire and across the country really
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felt very personally those murders. i appreciate and i said this yesterday at the armed services hearing with general dempsey and secretary hagel that i appreciate the efforts of our men and women in the military to make a rescue attempt to free those james foley and steven sotloff and the other americans being held hostage. but i have been very troubled by the comments from the foley family that have been reported about their concern that they did not -- were not communicated with and did not have support from our government as they were trying to deal with the hostage situation for their son. and i wonder if you could -- well, let me rephrase this. the murders st that this administration and
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future administrations will seriously reassess what can better be done to support families who are dealing with this kind of a crisis. some of the reports have pointed out that there are other -- that there are other countries who have different ways of dealing with the familys -- families and i certainly hope you will help in this effort as we look at how we can better support those families. well, smart, -- senator shaheen, first of all, let me begin by saying that i know how personally deeply involved you were in jim's case and in working with us to try to keep the focus on it. i know how close you were to the family and i know how much effort went into the prior
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effort when jim was in libya. i worked on that perble personally and on this subsequent effort. we raised it with country after country to try to get foreign minister or some contact in the country, is there a way to get proof of life is there a way to find out where he is, is there a way to negotiate the release? most recently even in the last wo months before he was bar -- killed barbarically, i was talking with people in one of the middle eastern countries who traveled to syria on our behalf in order to try to find out whether there was a way to secure the release of these stages and i know that you also made the incredible effort to reach out country after country. i know the czech republic, you
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were very much active in this. and with when we got him out of libya, which we worked hard to with do, i was in touch people on global posts who i know very closely. i mean they're friends of mine who are part of that effort so they were always in touch with me and talking personally about it. now, i read these accounts of things that happened or their judgment. i talked to diane and john foley . ter jim was killed i mean i think everybody here would just shudder after what they have to go through. so this is something we feel very deeply, so much so that i remember the hours we sat in the situation room in the white house working with our brilliant
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military who did a remarkable job of designing a rescue mission and the president made the difficult decision -- putting american service people at risk going into another country, they have their defense, you don't know what's going to happen and you know you going in where there's isil, and i sat in the white house in the situation room and watched that entire mission unfold the intelligence was correct to every degree that they want to the right place. we don't know exactly how soon or ahead of time. you have no idea how the feeling
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in that room when the message came on the ground saying nobody is there. it to thist and feel day. know, if they feel unhappy somehow that it didn't work properly, whatever agency that it was. we have to make sure in the future that it's not -- first of to, we hope they do not need go through it. to whatever degree that the possibility or an eventuality, people to make sure that feel better about the process. i can assure you from the president on down feels that. 0 i appreciate that and for the hostages still being held i hope there will be an effort to look at how those families are being supported. amilies are being
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supported. mr. chanirman, i know that my >> i know you have repeated that this does not require a separate authorization for the use of military force but i certainly believe that if we are going to commit to a long-term effort to that have a specific congressional action that is bipartisan is very important. we hope the administration will work with us on that. >> we look forward to working with you on that. we look forward to working with you on it. >> thank you.
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and i appreciate -- senator shaheen has expressed to me on more than one occasion already her desire to work with the chair and others on behalf of but here's my concern. here's my problem. in the final two paragraphs of
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his speech to the nation, president obama said, our own safety, our own security, depends on our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation. but mr. secretary, by taking options off the table, isn't president obama really saying, to do what it takes up to a point? and as secretary of state, as you're dealing with potential coalition partners who are also listening, if we state a goal and the world doesn't believe we're 100% committed to it, is that going to be very difficult for you to get the kind of commitment out of our potential partners, to do what they need to do to actually achieve that ultimate goal? >> that's a very fair and a really good question. by the way, thank you for your comments and your prayers. the answer is that the president and the military folks currently
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believe we have the capacity, we have the plan, we have the coalition, to be able to do the job. now, you know, there are a lot of countries in the region who have capacity going forward who in our judgment, if somebody's necessary to be on the ground, ought to be lining up first. so there are a lot of options here. before we start getting to the talk the president's taken off the table -- >> okay, we've covered that ground. let me ask you, in your discussions with, for example, saudi arabia. do potential arab states, do they understand how fragile american public opinion will be toward this effort, toward this destruction, if they don't fully commit? when i think fully commit, i'm thinking back to the first gulf war when america only had to pay for about 15% of that and almost 50% of that war effort was paid for by gulf states, the other portion was paid by germany and japan. i mean, do they understand why
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it's so important for them to step up to the plate and visibly support this effort? >> yes. and in fact, king abdullah said to me personally, we will do whatever is needed to be done, we are committed fully to this effort. and they have been. now, there are bigger complications than just sitting here and talking about having the kingdom of saudi arabia put its troops on the ground in syria. next door to iran. with all of the extraordinary complications of the region regarding shia, sunni, and other geo strategic challenges. we need to be working at this very carefully with all of the nations of the i partner coalition recognizing we have to win. and we're just getting started at that. so i can tell you we're not going into this in order to
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fail, nor are any of these other people who are signing up. >> let me offer -- i'll be up in new york next week. representing the united states with senator cardin. i'd like to offer whatever i can do to help convince those arab states they do need to be fully committed to this battle. let me ask another question. analogy i've been using, here's another concern of mine. if this is going to literally take years, the analogy i've been using is, if you identify a hornet's nest in your backyard, you realize, boy, we've got to take care of that. but if what we're really doing is just going in the backyard and poking that hornet's nest with a stick, isn't that a concern right now? if we aren't fully committed to wipe out isis quickly, you mentioned brett mac gurt provided powerful testimony to this committee back at the end of july about the threat that isis really does represent. being able to funnel 30 to 50 suicide bombers into iraq per
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month. now we've seen those suicide bombers come from australia, germany, america, with passports. mr. mac gurk's comments was, they could easily funnel those suicide bombers into the west, into america. not being fully committed, not getting in there, not cleaning out that hornet's nest as quickly as possible, don't we just increase and -- increase the time where we're really under threat and danger? >> well, we hope not, senator. obviously that's not our strategy. i mean, look, isil, why do we have to focus first on isil and focus on it the way that we are? because they're seizing and holding thousands of square miles of territory. because they are claiming to be a state, they're not a state in so many ways, and we can go through that. they are confronting and defeating thus far conventional army with conventional tactics.
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they have -- they are avowed genocidists. avowed genocidists who have already practiced genocidal activities at a certain level. yazidis, show yeah people they've decided to go after along the way, christians. and they have a very large amount of money, unlike lots of other terrorist organizations, because they cleaned out the banks and they have sold oil and done other things in the process. and so even al qaeda, bold as they were in what they decided to do, didn't exhibit these characteristics and didn't have those capacities. and that's why we believe -- and we think most of the region has come to understand this, including the moderate opposition, who are already fighting isil. so we believe we have the makings of an ability to be able
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to have a very significant impact. and already, by the way, france and theñ.2 united kingdom are flying with us over iraq and several other countries are now starting to be willing to join that. so we think we have the building of an ability to be able to turn that around. i guarantee you the president's goal is to defeat them.
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ultimately we have to trust we can either train or provide the skills and support necessary to the iraq army that in fact they will not be so overrun with corruption that they cannot be an effective fighting force. it's a big task but at least we're hopeful, it's within our grasp. i look at syria and see a totally different circumstance there. syria sa dog's breakfast of violence and terrorism and's breakfast of violence and terrorism and deceit.isdog's breakfast of violence and terrorism and deceit. dog's breakfast of violence and terrorism and deceit.adog's breakfast of violence and terrorism and deceit. dog's breakfast of violence and terrorism and deceit. and carnage that's gone on for three years. here we talk about arming,a# equipping and training a moderate force within syria. now, i've read the language that
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was -- is being considered in the house, unless it's been changed in the lastmv day or s. never mentions the word assad once when it talks about what we're trying to achieve in syria. it comes down to this basic question. it looks to me that there are at least three identifiable forces in syria. assad, isil, and what we hope are moderate opposition forces we can work with. but i'm also told and have been told there are up to 1,500 different militia in that country. some are neighborhood militia. how can we chart a course here that defeats isil in syria and does not, in the end, strengthen assad's hand? how can we find the r?kçso-call moderate opposition in syria and believe that something will emerge there that results in
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syrians deciding their own fate and future is their responsibility? >> a very good question. and thed'a9 calculation is tha even with the difficulties that they faced over the last year and a half particularly, i
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concentrates has dissipated. is also family directed and managed. all of that has changed now. our support and engagement. training, think that we are doing. they have worked out many of the leadership issues that existed. even despite these difficulties, they have been able to fight
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isil and move them out of certain areas and keep fighting assad. you have seen this continuing. and keep fighting assad. you've seen this continuing. our belief, therefore, is that as the principal antagonist to their presence, even more so than assad in some ways, starts to take hits and they gain greater strength, greater training, greater equipment, greater capacity, the success will bring to them, we think, larger structure as well as greater company know-how and ability. and if isil is defeated, they're going to be taking that experience in the same direction that they originally set out to, which is to deal with assad. >> i'd like to ask one last question. we know, and you've said it in this testimony, that russia is supplying assad. we have known in the past when there have been sources of
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money, equipment, and other support for our enemies. as we look at isil today, you told us in testimony that russia, you mentioned russia, and china, and we know by its nature iran is a shia nation, oppose isil. who are the countries, which countries are aiding and abetting the isil cause, either by providing resources, equipment and arms to them, or allowing their trade to create resources and wealth so that they can continue the fight? >> we don't believe at this point that it is state-supported. what we believe is that because of their success in particularly getting the bank in mosul and other success along the way, as well as in selling oil -- >> let me stop you there. who are they selling it to? which countries are -- >> i was just about to get to
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you. we have raises with a number of countries in the region the question of how they could possibly be getting oil out of the country. it's being smuggled out. and that's part of the approach here is to -- >> through which countries do you believe it's being smuggled out? >> it's being smuggled out from the border countries of syria, obviously, which means either through turkey or through lebanon or south -- >> are they joining us in the effort to stop the smuggling? >> they are, but obviously turkey has difficulties right now, has 49 hostages that are being held, and they've talked about that publicly, and turkey is -- we've had some conversations with them and those conversations will continue. >> the sooner we can cut them off from their sources of funds -- >> that's exactly what the objective -- a lot of the money -- there's other money that comes through social media, internet appeals, through individual fund-raising. we've been able to trace a one-time lump sum, $140,000,
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that came through one country from an individual in the region. and -- excuse me -- that's why we're going to have this immediate focus on the movement of money and begin to really get tough in shutting down that flow of funds. >> senator? >> thank you, thank you mr. secretary for laying out the strategy. i think you know where this committee is and where i am in terms of wanting to give the president and the administration the authority and the wherewithal to move ahead and succeed in this mission. and all our foreign policy missions. i'm a little confused at the position that's being taken by the administration now that amuf is not required, would be desired but not required now. i look back at one of the last hearings that you appeared in.
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it was with regard to syria and chemical weapons. the president as you know has drawn a red line and said that he would act if they went beyond it. they went beyond it. then the president came to congress and said, what do you want me to do? i questioned whether or not that was a wise move. and you said to me, these are your words, "it's somewhat surprising to me that a member of congress, particularly one on the foreign relations question, is going to question the president fulfilling the vision of the founding fathers when they wrote the constitution, divided power in foreign policy, to have the president come over here and honor the original intent of the founding fathers in ways that do not do anything to distract from the mission itself." now, i would argue, and i think others would as well, that that did distract from the mission itself, in fact, it torpedoed it. coming to congress when we said we were going to strike and what was described as a ten day or two-week mission to degrade the
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ability to use chemical weapons. but then in this case, in what you yourself today describe as what will be a multi-year effort, say that you don't need, you desire but don't need, congressional buy-in. it's best when we speak with one voice. our allies know that. and in order to build the kind of coalition that is going to be required to, one, defeat isil, and two, sustain that defeat over time, our coalition partners and our adversaries have to believe our threats and our promises. and i would submit that it helps for us to be together. so i question the unwillingness to come and ask for a renewed amuf. can you enlighten me as to what -- why the change of heart from the last hearing?
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>> actually, there's no change of heart, senator. honestly, there's a big difference between the authorities that are available. we did not have authority in any form sufficient, without congress passing it, except for article ii. excuse me, we had article ii authority for the president of the united states, which is always there. and nobody has ever gotten to the question of whether or not he would have exercised it had congress not passed it. but the fact is the president did make a decision to strike. he made a decision and publicly announced it. he said, i have made a decision to strike. then, as you know, there was a lot of request in our briefings with congress to come to congress and since we didn't have authority beyond article ii, and that's the distinction between then and now.
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then, the 2001 amuf did not cover chemical weapons with assad. it covered terrorism and al qaeda. and so if it weren't isil that was this direct component of al qaeda, and we were talking about, for instance, one of the other entities there, we might not have the same capacity here. but we're looking at an entity that was al qaeda from 2004, '05, all the way through until 2013, and then tried to dissociate itself by name but continued to do the very same things it was doing with al qaeda the entire time. that's not true of what happened with assad. now, it also happened -- and i remember this distinctly, obviously -- that during the walk-up to the process of the
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request for the aumf, president putin and president obama had a conversation in st. petersburg regarding the removal of weapons. prime minister netanyahu had called me and we had talked about the possibility of removal of weapons -- i just got a few seconds here. i appreciate that history.just . i appreciate that history. i hope we have a better explanation than that when we go to our allies and say we're going to be in it for the long haul and we're united in this mission. >> that's why we want congress to pass amuf, i think five times in the course of this hearing i've said, we welcome the effort to work with you to refine the amuf going forward, and yes, we will be stronger and better with the passage of an amuf and with congress involved it in. but we're not going to put ourselves in the position of not being able to do what we believe we need to do with legitimacy at this moment in time. we welcome it.
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>> with respect, i would argue that's what we did to ourselves before. we put ourselves in a position where we drew a red line and then weren't willing to do what it takes to go and noeshs that red line. >> well -- >> that's going to affect our ability to move forward and build the kind of coalitions that we need to do this mission. and that's why i'm saying i think there's an inconsistency here. i hope that the administration will change its mind and ask firmly for an amuf and i hope congress gives it. with that i yield back. >> senator udall. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. secretary kerry, thank you for your tireless, committed, caring aprovo to these international issues, all the ones which are pressing today. and i think you're probe one of the most traveled secretaries we've ever had. and i think all of us wish you the very best in your endeavors.
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chairman menendez, i'd like to thank you for this hearing. i think it's very important that we carefully weigh the president's request. we must address the very real threat presented by isis. a little over a year ago we were in this same room talking about air strikes on the assad regime and arming rebels to fight it. and due to assad's use of chemical weapons. today, assad's weapons are gone. and thank you, secretary kerry, i think, for your diplomatic efforts there. and we are debating now air strikes on isis and arming rebels to fight that. that's really in a way quite a turnaround. the american people deserve a full debate and explanation about this new plan that you've presented. and we've heard today a number of senators. isis, they talk about this isis
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is a brutal terrorist organization and must be stopped, and that's a subject i think we can all agree on. and i would associate myself with all of the comments, the previous comments, about their brutality and their murderous ways. i don't think there's any doubt about that. we have a clear responsibility to continue to work with local groups, with our allies in the region, and for as long as it takes. we must use strategic force, i believe, to stop isis and end its murderous path. but let me be clear here. i don't want us to lose sight of the forest from the trees. there are calls for more and more direct u.s. military intervention in the middle east, putting us back on a very risky course. isis has thrived on the chaos, on the instability, the unintended consequences of america's failed policy in iraq
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for the past 13 years. and this is the crucial point. military power is one tool, one among many tools that will be needed to bring stability to the region. isis emerged from disorder, from dysfunction and alienation, and the divide between sunni and shia followers of islam. those conditions will remain without a comprehensive strategy of diplomacy, development, and commitment to long-term stability. we must destroy isis, but we cannot put ourselves in the situation of creating a void, one that could then be filled by other extremists or by iranian and iranian-controlled regime. we should support the iraqi government as well as the kurdish and other moderate forces, however, i remain skeptical about the so-called moderate forces. and secretary kerry, you've
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heard several times here this issue about moderate forces and are there moderate forces. and i think one of the key issues for us is the effectiveness of the moderate forces that are there on the ground now. and my question to you has to do with -- and this is all public information, but everybody's well aware there's been a covert operation. operating in the region to train forces, moderate forces, to go into syria and to be out there, we've been doing this the last two years. and probably the most true measure of the effectiveness of moderate forces is what has been the effectiveness over that last two years of this covert operation, of training 2,000 to 3,000 of these moderates? >nñ;o;>7wi][= growing force? have they gained ground? how effective are they? what can you tell us about this
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effort that's gone on and has it been a part of the success that you see that you're presenting this new plan on? >> senator, i hate to do this, but/qgñ -- i know it's been wri about in the public domain that there is, quote, a covert operation. but i can't -- and i can't been written about, and i can't really go into any kind of possible program. >> okay. well, i want to say that chairman menendez, i mean, to me the key here on effectiveness is what has happened these past two years. so i think we should have a briefing by our committee specifically on what has gone on in that area from our intelligence people. and just one final question. isis is already in possession of u.s. weapons, paid for by u.s.
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taxpayers, that extremists seize from u.s.-trained iraqi forces and syrian rebels. how will you guarantee or assure that the weapons and resources you're requesting now will not end up in the hands of radical sunni insurgents? >> well, we've been following that very, very closely. and urfolks who have been involved in this at all levels, and again, this probably ought to be in the classified session for various reasons. but what we have been doing is providing various kinds of support to them, nonlethal as i think you know, and we're vetting people very, very carefully. and our folks who do that -- because this is something we've really watched very carefully. the president has been very concerned about this question of downstream and impact. and with the exception -- there are a couple of instances of an overrun of a warehouse up in the north in aleppo in one instance, a couple of things.
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but by and large we've found that vetting to be very effective. our guys have been doing it about 20 years now, or better or worse. they've gotten pretty good at it. >> thank you. and i would also agree with, and i appreciate your offer to work with us on an authorization of force. i think we have to have one with what you're describing and i hope that we can get to that as soon as possible. i yield back. >> senator udall, let me take your request and say, first of all, we will have as robust intelligence briefings as we can. however, to the core question that you raise, this is a problem that both the administration as well as the senate leadership must be willing to deal with. because when it comes to questions of being briefed on covert operations, this committee does not have access to that information. yet it is charged with a responsibility of determining
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whether or not the people of the united states should, through their representatives, support an authorization for the use of military force. it is unfathomable to me to understand how this committee is going to get to those conclusions without understanding all of the elements of military engagement, both overtly and covertly. and so i am foursquare with you. [ñ this is a challenge, i'll call it for lack of a better term a procedural hurdle, that we're going to have to overcome if we want the information to make an informed judgment and to get members on board. before i turn to senator mccain, let me just recognize some distinguished members of the kurdish delegation and the iraqi ambassador faleh, i appreciate your being here. and the kurdish delegation, chief of staff to president b
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barsani hussein, and for regional kurdish government. thank you for being here. senator mccain. >> thank you, chairman. i also want to recognize our kurdish friend hot have been steadfast and good allies for so long. secretary, today, september 17th, secretary gates said the following, former secretary of defense gates. the reality is they're not going to be able to be successful against isis strictly from the air or strictly depending on the iraqi forces of the peshmerga by the sunni tribes acting on their own, gates said. so there will be boots on the ground if there's to be any hope of success in the strategy. and i think that by containing -- by continuing to repeat that, that the u.s. won't put boots on the ground, the president in effect traps himself. now, mr. secretary, i've talked to so many people who are
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military experienced, who have been on both sides on this issue. they all agree with secretary gates' assessment. and that's just the reality. and there are some of us that place a great deal of confidence in the opinion of people like secretary gates, general keane. so the architects of the surge. so many others.-the architects . so many others.-the architects surge. so many others. the architects surge. so many others. is it your view that the syrian opposition is viable? hello? >> hello, senator. i'm taking you so seriously i'm writing notes. >> is it your view the syrian opposition is viable? >> the syrian opposition has been viable enough to be able to survive under difficult circumstances -- >> good, are you -- >> -- but they still have some distance to go and we need to help them go that distance. >> right. and they obviously need our assistance in weapons and
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training, which you are going to embark on. are you surprised sometimes at the degree of disinformation that members of congress will swallow whole? like there's been a cease-fire agreement between the free syrian army and isis, put out by isis? does that surprise you sometimes? >> senator -- sometimes. >> doesn't surprise you, i got it. >> no, no, no -- >> the hero of this piece so far in my view is a guy who's going to testify after you, robert ford, ambassador ford. he did a magnificent job at the risk of his own life, riding around damascus in his support of the free syrian army. here's what he's going to say in his testimony. the moderate armed opposition's biggest enemy is not the islamic state, it is the assad regime which has killed far more syrians than has the detestable islamic state, and they won't stop fighting the assad ren jet stream -- regime even as they
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advance against the islamic state. you're saying, isis first. we're going to drain and equip the free syrian army and they're going to be fighting against assad who te view as their number one enemy. i agree with ambassador ford's assessment. you're saying, isil first. so if this -- so we're telling the young syrian today, i want you to join the free syrian army, you've got to fight isil first, and by the way those barrel bombs that are being dropped on you and these attacks from the air that of hamas customered so many syrians, we're not going to do anything about that. i think at least we owe the free syrian army, negate the air attacks that they will be subjected to when they finish their training and equipping, and go into the fight. so why is it that we won't at least news rallize bashar al assad's air activity which has slaughtered thousands and thousands and thousands, 192,000
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dead, 3 million refugees, and we're not going to do anything about assad's air capabilities? and finally, isil first, that's what you're telling these young men who really view assad as the one who has slaughtered their family members. not isil. as bad as isil is. how do you square that circle action mr. secretary? >> well, you square it this way, senator. and first of all, let me just say a word. i think everybody knows -- i had the pleasure of working with robert ford in the department from the day i arrived there. >> we share admiration for him, yes. >> we worked very closely together, i have huge respect and admiration for him. and he and i worked many long hours with the syrian opposition. and i respect his opinion, et cetera.
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he is correct that they won't stop fighting the assad regime. i understand that we understand that. >> not only won't stop fighting, it's their primary goal. >> well, it is, except -- >> i know too many of them, john. >> i understand. it is. i'm not denying that. but they also are fighting isil. they're up in aleppo right now fighting isil. they're fighting isil in other places. they threw them out of a province. they are engaged in fighting isil. and our belief is, i think -- i bet you, i hope robert ford believes that they believe actually get stronger as a result of isil being removed from the field. >> are you not going to protect them from air strikes? >> i think what we need -- yes, and i think what we need -- that's a legitimate concern. and it is a concern that i would need to address with you in a classified session for reasons i think you well understand. and i think robert ford well understands that. >> i think the free syrian army
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would like to understand, too. >> if we have a good classified session and another good things happen here, who knows. the important thing is for us to recognize that if isil continues doing what it's doing -- i think you know this -- without being stopped and if we hadn't stood up when we did and work with peshmerga and help them, they were threatening baghdad and they were threatening more. if they did that -- >> we're talking about syria. and the free syrian army. >> i'm about to come back. >> thank you. i'm running out of time. >> that pertains to their capacity then to focus on assad and it might be not the free syrian army but isil that you see in damascus. and isil bringing other people to them because of the level of their success. clearly, many people have told us in the region, success breeds
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success. and many of the people who have come to isil have come because it seemed as if they were weren't being opposed. we believe that transition works to the benefit of the moderate opposition, works ultimately to all of our benefit by removing isil from the field. >> you cannot ask people to go and fight and die unless you promise them that they -- you will defeat their enemy and defeat them right away. you can't say, wait until we defeat isil. people will not volunteer for such things. >> i don't believe it's going to be ultimately a wait and see. i don't believe, number one, that the people supporting the opposition in various parts of the region are ever going to stop until the assad problem is resolves. number two, i don't believe isil is going -- i don't believe that the moderate opposition will obviously stop in that effort. so, therefore, there will be these two prongs. >> i hope not isil first, if
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that message is not given to these brave young people -- >> if we don't stop isil first, there may not be much left of the other prong. >> senator murphy. >> that means we can't take on two adversaries at once. that's bogus and false. >> i know you two colleagues would like to go at it for the rest of the session. >> no, no, no. >> we have other -- i'm sorry. >> we have a great tradition. i believe in john's adage that a fight not joined is a fight not enjoyed. we always have a great time. >> senator coons. >> thank you. thank you, secretary kerry for discussing us the strategy to degrade and destroy isil. i want to thank ambassador ford for his service and his commitment to the people of syria. i have a long opening statement which i will submit for the record. i share your grave concern about isil, the threat it poses to our
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allies and to the united states and the actions that they took in the massacring of christians, turkmen and am proud we have stood up to them and am eager to learn how the strategy will play out. mr. secretary, if i might, in your visit to baghdad last week, the prime minister announced a proposal to establish a national guard-style force of sunnis that would reclaim and protect sunni areas. i think reconciliation in the formal government and in the on the ground conditions in iraq is essential to our having a prospect of success. can you explain how long it will take to establish this national guard-style sunni force on the ground in iraq? how this model will work? there if there would be any role for our national guard in training, equipping or supporting this iraqi national guard. >> that's a really good question. i don't have all those answers at this point in time.
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there are military decisions with respect to who is going to be involved in training and whether there is room for national guard input. i i'm confident the military folks would not dream of advising and assisting with respect to national guard structure without using their experience within our military. >> let me -- >> that said, let me say quickly, the theory of it is to localize capacity in a way that deals with the divide. one of the reasons that the quote iraq army as it has been called folded and before the wave of isil was frankly that the -- some of the officers abandoned the men left behind. sectarian divide there. they left because they were perceived by -- this is part of
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the problem with that iraq at that time, that there was a sunni -- there was a sunni divide, sectarian divide within the construct of the military. people to some degree felt even that it went so far as to be the prime minister's personal military entity and there wasn't a stake in it. it was the absence of that commitment that motivated people to take off. that has to be done away with. there has to be a unity. tease it's going to have to be connected to the state and to a sense of national enterprise but made up of people who are -- have a greater stake in their local community, in their region, which was absent previously. >> i agree and support your hard work in the diplomacy side of trying to address the challenges. let me move on to two regional questions, if i could.
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has the campaign against isil affected our ongoing negotiations to end iran's nuclear program? how has a potentially expanded military campaign against isil made it more difficult to find a final deal between iran and the p-5 plus one, the deadline in november, have the mutual interests provided a common point of interest for ongoing dialogue? >> we hope it's the latter. we hope very much it will be the latter part of your question. that it hasn't affected it, that it can continue. our p-5 plus 1 folks left for new york this afternoon. we will be engaging in that activity over the course of the next days. we will get a better sense of it. my belief is that the nuclear issue is so huge in its
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consequences, not just to iran but to the region, to the world, to all of us, the interest in getting rid of the sanctions which is the end goal here and our end goal to reach an agreement is significant enough that they won't let -- to the credit of people in the p-5 plus 1, thus far there has been a compartmentization. russia and china both very constructively continuing to be active and involved in the negotiations and constructive within them. and our hope is that that will prevail going forward. the answer is, not yet defined fully. >> let me make sure you are not misunderstood. i don't think you meant what you just said. the end goal is not to end the sanctions? the end goal -- >> the end goal is to end the nuclear position -- i think i said their end goal. their desire. >> that might be helpful. >> i thought i said their desire
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is to obviously get the sanction -- you can't do that -- you can't lift sanctions without absolutely guaranteeing that the four pathways to a nuclear weapon have been closed off. >> last question, i'm very concerned about the stability, security, safety of the kingdom of jordan. our ally in the region which has born a lot of challenge and burden of the refugees from syria. i am concerned that isil has had efforts to infiltrate jordan and there have been outbreaks of violence in jordan related to isil. what are we doing and what more can we do to strengthen them and to partner and work with them as we expand the mission we're talking about here as it has some impact not just in syria and iraq but also in jordan? >> we're working very, very closely our friends in jordan. i was in jordan and i met with the king a few days ago last week.
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i think wednesday night, after i had been to iraq. we spent the evening talking about the various things we need to do together. they are determined to be helpful to us. where he determined to be helpful to them. we will be. we're committing funds. we're committing additional equipment and capacity. everybody shares concerns with all the neighbors in it the region. isil -- that's one of the reasons why this is so critical. i can assure you that an already extremely robust mill to mill intel to intel and -- supply assistance program and economic program will be even more robust going forward. you all have the budget. you know what we're trying to do. >> thank you, mr. secretary. >> thank you. thank you for coming.
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yesterday's "new york times" headline, kerry says u.s. is open to talking to iran. you just -- i agree with your comments about the nuclear issue is so huge. you do talk about compartmentization and also that iran's sdoel is goal is to elim sanctions. we saw the administration roll back sanctions january, sanction relief, recently introduced and announced a 2.8 billion in iran sanction relief. there is concern that the administration could remove sanctions in terms of trying to get concessions relating to iran and the fight in syria or iraq. clearly iran and the united states don't have the same goals that we have in syria. i'm curious, what are you hoping to achieve by reaching out to iran regarding isil? >> senator, let me clarify something. it's very important to understand. every aspect of the interim
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agreement that we arrived at with iran, which required iran to do certain things, they have done. every aspect. the thing that's outstanding still is the ia/ea complaints with a recent meeting was not as forthcoming as people would have liked. with sprekt to trespect to the with the united states, they have done things. we have people inspecting. before the agreement, we had none. we have people daily inspecting. before the agreement we had none. we have people in iraq on a periodic basis with the plans being delivered to us with the commissioning completely halted. before that, that wasn't true. i can run down a list. we have had access to centrifuges, production, storage. we have mining and milling and
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clairty he t clarity here that didn't exist. that's what we have gotten out of this. their program has been halted where it was when we began. they have reduced their stockpile of 20% going down to 0. that's an extraordinary thing for all the people who, frankly, said to us it's never going to work, sanctions will come apart. that is not what has happened. the sanctions regime has not only held, there are are been additional sanctions. yes, was there an agreement to release a portion of initial round of some of the money that had been escrowed and held? yeah, $4.6 billion. was there an agreement for the extension of a plan that continued this cooperation of 2.8? yes. that's a total of about 7 billion over nine months or something. the fact is, during that same amount of time, tens of billions
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of dollars had been withheld. there's more than -- i forget the exact figure. more than 100 and some billion that iran wants that's being held in a freeze account. until this gets resolved. i would have to say to you, senator, this has been an enormous success thus far. our hope that in exchange for whatever schedule might be worked out, all of which will have to be subject to public scrutiny and a final agreement, any pathway to a bomb will be eliminated with a sufficient breakout time that we have the ability to come to you and say, the world is safer, our allies in the region are safer and this is a deal that people believe can be upheld. that's the goal. we're not there yet. i don't know if we can get there. i hope we can get there, because the alternatives are, you know, more complicated. >> i don't want to get to a
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point where sanctions have been removed and they are still on a path -- >> that will not happen. >> can i ask you, switching to -- to follow up with senator mccain, do we have any intelligence on how the assad regime is going to react should the coalition launch air strikes on isis targets in syria in terms of commitments that assad will not intervene specifically? we know isis doesn't have the capability to shoot down jet bombers but syria does. are there precautions in place to prevent that? >> the answer is, we're going to take precautions. what i needv39vç to do is take on with you in a classified session. >>ç a couple final questions o host anlz. do you know how much american host anages are being held? >> we have to be careful on the numbers. >> the concern is after the murder of james foley, the operational details of rescue attempts were leaked to the press, including the special operations unit.
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i wanted to make sure the administration is committed to working to stop leaking classified information that undermines our military operations. >> i honestly don't know where it came from. i can't tell you that. we have a problem in this city with leaks in every department of government. we try, believe me, to stop that. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator murphy. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. the world today is more complicated, more dangerous than at any time during our lifetimes. i wake up every day thankful that we have leaders like you and president obama, thoughtful, strategic, guiding our way through through it. thank you for enduring this process for as long as you have. it strikes me we're dealing with a new problem in a frustratingly familiar context. the new problem is isil. they are on the verge of becoming the world's first autonomous terrorist state. if they are successful, have i
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no doubt that they will turn their focus on the united states and our allies. the familiar new problem is the middle east. if we learned anything over the last 12 years of war it's that the middle east seems largely immune from u.s. efforts to bend it to our will. so that's not an excuse to sit by. it's a reason why we have to be very careful about crafting a strategy that's not just well intentioned but realistic. i think you and the president have got it largely right. i'm broadly supportive of the strategy that you've laid out with one exception. so i want to just bring us back to the question about armying and trading the syrian rebels. when we talked about this in open session a year ago, we raised concerns about the potential for the free syrian army to coordinate with a wing
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confidence that that would not end up being the case. but we have a variety of reports that that, indeed, has been the practice, most recently..m#/ i joint effort between the free syrian army and al nusra to take a border post. let me ask you that question. you answered senator udall's questions about the way we can keep arms from flowing to islamic extremist groups. why are you confident -- how you can give us confidence that we are not going to train a fighting force that will enter a battle with a known affiliate of al qaeda and how confident are we that when we get on the field of battle they aren't going to look to isis, who is fighting the same enemy that they orhwinally entered into battle against, assad, in common cause? >> senator, there's no fail
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safe, obviously. as i said earlier and in answer to an earlier question, our guys have gotten much, much better at the vetting. now that we're doing the training to some degree and hopefully do it openly, we're going to be in a much better position to do command and control, to do much greater in-depth accountability, if you will. in the end, there probably will be strange bed fellow moments in the course of this kind of battle. it would be crazy if i sat here and said, it will never happen. these are circumstances that we don't always control. by and large, we are beginning to get a much better handle with other players in the region on the funding streams, for instance, different countries that have played the angles with certain groups are coalescing
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together. we see a shift. that's going to be to our benefit to exercise at least a greater amount of control. failsafe, i can't sit here and promise you that. but we're going to do the best we can. let me say to you, all of you here a couple things. one, the house just passed the syria train and assist and equip. obviously, we hope the house having done that that the senate will follow suit in short order. also i want to correct one thing i said earlier. i was talking about the agreement. john is gone. i want to emphasize, i didn't mean to say we didn't have any inspection before. we didn't have daily inspections. we had some inspection through our process but now we have the daily. we didn't have a sufficient⌞wco level to have guarantees in a place that we had a comfort level. you raised this --
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>> go ahead. >> go ahead. >> here is my only follow-up is this. i understand that there will be strange bedfellows. but the extent they are the free syrian army fighting alongside al nusra, a wing of al qaeda, i hope that is not a reality that we're prepared to accept. we have had all sorts of talk about isil. but it's important to remember that the only major terrorist organization that has plans and stated intentions to carry them out against the united states today is al qaeda. so i just want to make sure that we have a specific focus on that particular set of strange bedfellows. >> i'm with you 100%. we will, to the greatest degree possible, absolutely. but what i wanted to say to everybody here is, you mentioned something very important a moment ago, which was about isil
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being a terrorist state and so forth. there is one of the things that i ran into very strongly with all the meetings i had in the region. one of the key parts of this strategy is to not ever give them the legitimacy that they are trying to seek as to being a state. they have no legitimacy. they're not an islamic state. they're not in the vaein of any other state in the region that tries to give meaning to the consent of islamism as they celebrate it with their citizens in their countries. this is important for us because islam doesn't produce the no legitimacy in islam produces the butchers who killed stephen


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