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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 18, 2014 12:00am-2:01am EST

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gross and an unnamed intelligence agent. this >> good afternoon. today, the united states of america is changing its relationship with the people of cuba. in the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries. through these changes, we intend to create more opportunities for the american and cuban people, and begin a new chapter among the nations of the americas. there's a complicated history between the united states and cuba. i was born in 1961 -- just over two years after fidel castro took power in cuba, and just a few months after the bay of pigs
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invasion, which tried to overthrow his regime. over the next several decades, the relationship between our countries played out against the backdrop of the cold war, and america's steadfast opposition to communism. we are separated by just over 90 miles. but year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between our two countries. meanwhile, the cuban exile community in the united states made enormous contributions to our country -- in politics and business, culture and sports. like immigrants before, cubans helped remake america, even as they felt a painful yearning for the land and families they left behind. all of this bound america and cuba in a unique relationship, at once family and foe. proudly, the united states has supported democracy and human rights in cuba through these five decades.
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we have done so primarily through policies that aimed to isolate the island, preventing the most basic travel and commerce that americans can enjoy anyplace else. and though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, no other nation joins us in imposing these sanctions, and it has had little effect beyond providing the cuban government with a rationale for restrictions on its people. today, cuba is still governed by the castros and the communist party that came to power half a century ago. neither the american, nor cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born. consider that for more than 35 years, we've had relations with china -- a far larger country also governed by a communist party. nearly two decades ago, we reestablished relations with vietnam, where we fought a war that claimed more americans than any cold war confrontation. that's why -- when i came into
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office -- i promised to re-examine our cuba policy. as a start, we lifted restrictions for cuban americans to travel and send remittances to their families in cuba. these changes, once controversial, now seem obvious. cuban americans have been reunited with their families, and are the best possible ambassadors for our values. and through these exchanges, a younger generation of cuban americans has increasingly questioned an approach that does more to keep cuba closed off from an interconnected world. while i have been prepared to take additional steps for some time, a major obstacle stood in our way -- the wrongful imprisonment, in cuba, of a u.s. citizen and usaid sub-contractor alan gross for five years. over many months, my administration has held discussions with the cuban government about alan's case, and other aspects of our relationship. his holiness pope francis issued a personal appeal to me, and to
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cuba's president raul castro, urging us to resolve alan's case, and to address cuba's interest in the release of three cuban agents who have been jailed in the united states for over 15 years. today, alan returned home -- reunited with his family at long last. alan was released by the cuban government on humanitarian grounds. separately, in exchange for the three cuban agents, cuba today released one of the most important intelligence agents that the united states has ever had in cuba, and who has been imprisoned for nearly two decades. this man, whose sacrifice has been known to only a few, provided america with the information that allowed us to arrest the network of cuban agents that included the men transferred to cuba today, as well as other spies in the united states. this man is now safely on our shores. having recovered these two men who sacrificed for our country,
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i'm now taking steps to place the interests of the people of both countries at the heart of our policy. first, i've instructed secretary kerry to immediately begin discussions with cuba to reestablish diplomatic relations that have been severed since january of 1961. going forward, the united states will reestablish an embassy in havana, and high-ranking officials will visit cuba. where we can advance shared interests, we will -- on issues like health, migration, counterterrorism, drug trafficking and disaster response. indeed, we've seen the benefits of cooperation between our countries before. it was a cuban, carlos finlay, who discovered that mosquitoes carry yellow fever; his work helped walter reed fight it. cuba has sent hundreds of health care workers to africa to fight ebola, and i believe american and cuban health care workers should work side by side to stop the spread of this deadly disease.
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now, where we disagree, we will raise those differences directly -- as we will continue to do on issues related to democracy and human rights in cuba. but i believe that we can do more to support the cuban people and promote our values through engagement. after all, these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. it's time for a new approach. second, i've instructed secretary kerry to review cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. this review will be guided by the facts and the law. terrorism has changed in the last several decades. at a time when we are focused on threats from al qaeda to isil, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces the use of terrorism should not face this sanction. third, we are taking steps to increase travel, commerce, and
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the flow of information to and from cuba. this is fundamentally about freedom and openness, and also expresses my belief in the power of people-to-people engagement. with the changes i'm announcing today, it will be easier for americans to travel to cuba, and americans will be able to use american credit and debit cards on the island. nobody represents america's values better than the american people, and i believe this contact will ultimately do more to empower the cuban people. i also believe that more resources should be able to reach the cuban people. so we're significantly increasing the amount of money that can be sent to cuba, and removing limits on remittances that support humanitarian projects, the cuban people, and the emerging cuban private sector. i believe that american businesses should not be put at a disadvantage, and that increased commerce is good for americans and for cubans. so we will facilitate authorized transactions between the united states and cuba. u.s. financial institutions will be allowed to open accounts at
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cuban financial institutions. and it will be easier for u.s. exporters to sell goods in cuba. i believe in the free flow of information. unfortunately, our sanctions on cuba have denied cubans access to technology that has empowered individuals around the globe. so i've authorized increased telecommunications connections between the united states and cuba. businesses will be able to sell goods that enable cubans to communicate with the united states and other countries. these are the steps that i can take as president to change this policy. the embargo that's been imposed for decades is now codified in legislation. as these changes unfold, i look forward to engaging congress in an honest and serious debate about lifting the embargo. yesterday, i spoke with raul castro to finalize alan gross's release and the exchange of prisoners, and to describe how
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we will move forward. i made clear my strong belief that cuban society is constrained by restrictions on its citizens. in addition to the return of alan gross and the release of our intelligence agent, we welcome cuba's decision to release a substantial number of prisoners whose cases were directly raised with the cuban government by my team. we welcome cuba's decision to provide more access to the internet for its citizens, and to continue increasing engagement with international institutions like the united nations and the international committee of the red cross that promote universal values. but i'm under no illusion about the continued barriers to freedom that remain for ordinary cubans. the united states believes that no cubans should face harassment or arrest or beatings simply because they're exercising a universal right to have their voices heard, and we will continue to support civil society there. while cuba has made reforms to gradually open up its economy, we continue to believe that cuban workers should be free to
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form unions, just as their citizens should be free to participate in the political process. moreover, given cuba's history, i expect it will continue to pursue foreign policies that will at times be sharply at odds with american interests. i do not expect the changes i am announcing today to bring about a transformation of cuban society overnight. but i am convinced that through a policy of engagement, we can more effectively stand up for our values and help the cuban people help themselves as they move into the 21st century. to those who oppose the steps i'm announcing today, let me say that i respect your passion and share your commitment to liberty and democracy. the question is how we uphold that commitment. i do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result. moreover, it does not serve america's interests, or the cuban people, to try to push
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cuba toward collapse. even if that worked -- and it hasn't for 50 years -- we know from hard-earned experience that countries are more likely to enjoy lasting transformation if their people are not subjected to chaos. we are calling on cuba to unleash the potential of 11 million cubans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their political, social, and economic activities. in that spirit, we should not allow u.s. sanctions to add to the burden of cuban citizens that we seek to help. to the cuban people, america extends a hand of friendship. some of you have looked to us as a source of hope, and we will continue to shine a light of freedom. others have seen us as a former colonizer intent on controlling your future. josé martí once said, "liberty is the right of every man to be honest." today, i am being honest with you.
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we can never erase the history between us, but we believe that you should be empowered to live with dignity and self-determination. cubans have a saying about daily life: "no es facil" -- it's not easy. today, the united states wants to be a partner in making the lives of ordinary cubans a little bit easier, more free, more prosperous. to those who have supported these measures, i thank you for being partners in our efforts. in particular, i want to thank his holiness pope francis, whose moral example shows us the importance of pursuing the world as it should be, rather than simply settling for the world as it is; the government of canada, which hosted our discussions with the cuban government; and a bipartisan group of congressmen who have worked tirelessly for alan gross's release, and for a new approach to advancing our interests and values in cuba.
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finally, our shift in policy towards cuba comes at a moment of renewed leadership in the americas. this april, we are prepared to have cuba join the other nations of the hemisphere at the summit of the americas. but we will insist that civil society join us so that citizens, not just leaders, are shaping our future. and i call on all of my fellow leaders to give meaning to the commitment to democracy and human rights at the heart of the inter-american charter. let us leave behind the legacy of both colonization and communism, the tyranny of drug cartels, dictators and sham elections. a future of greater peace, security and democratic development is possible if we work together -- not to maintain power, not to secure vested interest, but instead to advance the dreams of our citizens. my fellow americans, the city of miami is only 200 miles or so from havana. countless thousands of cubans have come to miami -- on planes
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and makeshift rafts; some with little but the shirt on their back and hope in their hearts. today, miami is often referred to as the capital of latin america. but it is also a profoundly american city -- a place that reminds us that ideals matter more than the color of our skin, or the circumstances of our birth; a demonstration of what the cuban people can achieve, and the openness of the united states to our family to the south. todos somos americanos. change is hard -- in our own lives, and in the lives of nations. and change is even harder when we carry the heavy weight of history on our shoulders. but today we are making these changes because it is the right thing to do. today, america chooses to cut loose the shackles of the past so as to reach for a better future -- for the cuban people, for the american people, for our entire hemisphere, and for the
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world. thank you. god bless you and god bless the united states of america. >> we heard from alan gross, the subcontractor released from a cuban prison after five years upon his turn to the united states in maryland, he made a statement to reporters. >> this is great. i have to say, happy holiday
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season to all of you. today is the first day of hanukkah. so far the best hanukkah i will be celebrating for a long time. what a blessing it is to be a citizen of this country, and thank you, president obama, for every think you have done today and leading up to today. i want to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of my wife, judy. 44.5 years we have been married. my lawyer and personal mosys. gilbert, andtt their efforts to restore my freedom.
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they have my endless gratitude, love and respect. the relentless and often intense effort by judy and scott, the partners and associates and staff of gilbert llp law firm, where we are right now, they made me take the jacket off. tim racer of capitol hill, have been inconceivable. efforts have been inconceivable. senator patrick leahy of vermont has been instrumental in shepherding the arrival of the day, and i want to thank all of the members of congress from all sides of the aisle such as senator flake, representative chris van hollen and in -- and numerous others who spoke up or visited me, subject to themselves to my ranting and help me regained some of my weight. even in cuba, m&ms melt in your mouth, not in your hand.
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to all those who were trying to -- who visit me but were -- who try to visited me. i'm at your service as soon as i get some new tees and i hope they will be strong enough and sharp enough to make a difference. to the washington jewish community, ron holbert in particular and staff at the cuban community relationship council, the executive director, staff and volunteer of participating federations come synagogues, schools and other jewish christian and muslim organizations nationwide, god bless you and thank you. it was crucial to my survival knowing that i was not forgotten. your prayers and actions have been comforting, reassuring and sustaining. to my extended family, especially my sister bonnie,
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cousins and friends, howard, bruce, and so many others who exemplify the true meaning of friendship, thank you. i do understand there are many others who actively participated in securing my freedom, who i am only nominally aware at this juncture, i promise i will express a more direct and personal gratitude just as soon as i knew who you are. alternately -- ultimately the decision to arrange for and secure my release was made in the oval office. to president obama and the staff, thank you. in my last letter to president obama, i wrote that despite my five year tenure in captivity, i would not want to trade places with him and certainly would not want to trade places with him on this glorious day. five years of isolation
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notwithstanding, i did not need daily briefings to be cognizant challenges facing the community. i also feel compelled to share with you my utmost respect for and fondness of the people of cuba. in no way are they responsible for the ordeal to which my family and i have been subjected. to me, coupons -- cubans are incredibly kind, talented. it pains me to see them treated so unjustly as a consequence of two governments mutually belligerent policies. 5.5 decades of history show us such a ledger and inhibits better judgment. two wrongs never make a right. i truly hope we can now get the
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-- get beyond the policies. i was very happy to see what the president had to say today. it was particularly cool to sit next to the secretary of state as he was hearing about the job description for the next couple of months. in all seriousness, this is a game changer. in the meantime i ask that you respect my wishes for complete and total privacy. a judicial lesson i have learned from the experience is that freedom is not free. that is personified by scots and the entire team. we must never forget the two pillars of moses covenant, freedom and responsibility. i am incredibly blessed finally to have the freedom to have a
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positive light. for now i will close with a quote. good to be home. thank you all, and i wish you all a happy holiday season. thank you. >> thank you everybody. i support the president. thank you very much. happy hanukkah. >> florida republican senator marco rubio opposes the obama administration's changes in policy toward cuba, saying the u.s. should not normalize relations with cuba until it has democratized. he spoke for 25 minutes at a capitol hill news conference am a shortly after the president's address.
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>> thank you for being here. as a descendent of cuban immigrants and someone who has been raised in a community of cuban exiles and someone who cares deeply about the welfare of the cuban people, one of my greatest hoax is to live to see the nation of cuba and its people become free and open and democratic. that is exactly why today's announcement from the white house is so profoundly disappointing. it is a victory for the oppressive governments. and a serious setback for the repressed cubans. the white house has conceded everything, and gained little. they gains no commitment on the part of the cuban regime on freedom of press, or freedom of speech, or elections. no binding commitment was made to truly open up the internet. no commitment was made to allow
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the establishment of political parties, or to even begin the resemblance of a transition to democracy. and in exchange for all of these concessions, the only thing the cuban government agreed to do this free fifty-three political prisoners, who could wind up in jail tomorrow morning as they once again take up the cause of freedom, and to allow the united nations and the red cross to monitor conditions on the island. the same united nations that did nothing when cuba, last year, was caught helping north korea of aid un sanctions. this entire policy announced today is based on an allusion. on a lie. the lie and the allusion that more access to goods will translate to political freedom for the cuban people. all this is going to do iis give the castro regime -- which controls every aspect of human life -- the opportunity to manipulate, to perpetuate itself
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and power. these changes will only lead to greater wealth and influence for the regime. especially the military, which controls most if not all of the cuban economy. and controls all of its oppressed people. these changes will lead to legitimacy for a government that shamelessly, continuously abuses human rights. but it will not lead to assistance for those whose rights are being abused. it is just another concession to attorney by the obama administration, rrather than a defense of every universal and an inalienable rights that our country was founded on it stands for. in short, with these changes are going to do as they will tighten this regime's grip on power for decades to come. and it was significantly set back the hope of freedom and democracy for the cuban people.
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now, i am overjoyed for alan gross and his family. he has been a hostage kept against his will for far too long. our prayers are with him and his family because he was not just a prisoner, he was a hostage. but this president has proven today that his foreign policy is more than just naïve. it is willfully ignorant of the way the world truly works. they agreed to impose sanctions on the venezuelan officials were violating human rights. a government who has spent all of 2014 killing, jailing, and oppressing their own people. and yet, we make historic concessions to the cuban government. the cuban government is influential at the highest levels of the regime.
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this policy contradiction is absurd. and it is disgraceful for a president who claims to treasure human rights and human freedom. this president is a single wish negotiator we have had in the white house in my lifetime. he has basically given the cuban government everything it asked for, aand received no assurances of any advancement in democracy. let me close by reminding everyone that god bestowed on the cuban people the same rights that he did on every other man, woman, and child that has ever lived. the inalienable rights spoken about in our founding documents. the cuban people look to america to stand up for these rights. to live up to our commitment to the god-given right of every person. to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. these rights exist not disreputable one in the
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continental united states-- just for the people born in the continental united states, but for people everywhere. it is unacceptable that people who do not know democracy for more than five decades is the people of cuba. that should be our overriding objective -- to do all we can to bring about political openings in cuba. then a free cuban people can decide about the measures they want. but these measures will do nothing to bring about that day and, in fact, i fear significantly set it back. by conceding to the oppressors, this president and this administration have let the people of cuba down. >> senator -- you have some things here about what you think might happen, which is continuing to happen based on this policy.
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we have seen other critics towards camp david and so on. why you so confident, in this case? >> because i know the cuban regime better than this president and anyone in this administration does. this regime and applets everyone to their advantage. they deliberately chose to allow people to come to this country, but forced them to leave their families behind. that way, they would guarantee that these people were sent back remittances to cuba. they deny people access to others. this is a regime that single-handedly manipulate -- time and again, the cuban government has manipulated every single concession this administration has made to their advantage. the number one goal of the cuban government is to remain in
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power. and anything we do will be to buy them into a mechanism for remaining in power. the cuban government will never let any changes that will threaten their ability to maintain a grip on power. you are going to see that again in the months and years to come. >> you call the president the worst negotiator. he said a short time ago that he was to work with congress to do the things necessary to normalize relations. what, specifically, can congress to in response? >> well, my sense is that i anticipate i will be the chairman of the western hemisphere's subcommittee of foreign relations. and i anticipate we will have a very interesting couple of years discussing how to get an embassy funded. >> about the exchange with the three remaining cubans. this has been rumored for months, maybe even more, that
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this was in the works in order to get alan gross back. what is your reaction to that? >> i am glad that alan gross is back. he never should have been there to begin with. let me just take this moment to point out something that the president said that is factually incorrect. the president said that cubans do not have access to advanced, twenty-first century technology because of the u.s. embargo. that is false. the reason why they don't have access to 20% to communications -- like smart phones and access to the internet -- is because it is illegal in cuba. the reason why allen gross was taken hostage was because he was trying to help a small jewish community in cuba have access to that equipment. so for the president to say that it was because the u.s. embargo is categorically false. the second point out make to the present is the cuban government is going to control the internet, the same way the
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chinese government control the internet. this notion that cuba is going to allow the cuban people to access any website they want is ridiculous. they are not going to allow that to happen. my last point on it is that i'm glad mister gross is back with his family. i am always concerned anytime that we trade legitimate spies for innocent americans because it sets -- it actually now in creates an incentive. but, i am happy he is with his family today. and i focus my remarks here today and make criticisms on the unilateral changes the president has made, which i think will have a dramatic impact on freedom on the island. [speaking in spanish]
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[speaking in spanish] >> our understanding is that the present is doing this -- his remarks towards the pope. does his remarks have any
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influence on how quickly you might decide to run for president? >> i think that my understanding -- i have not criticize the release of mister gross. i would also ask his holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy, which is critical for people to truly be free. i think the people of cuba deserve the same chances that the people of argentina have had, where he comes from. my point is that i hope that -- that people with that sort of prestige on the world stage will take it out for the cause of freedom and democracy. the cuban people are the only people in this hemisphere who have not been able to elect a leader in more than fifty-five
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or sixty years. for this government, under barack obama, to give up everything is unacceptable in my mind. this is unrelated to anything prior. i'm not going to discuss that today. >> do see this move as yet another unilateral move done by the present wwithout speaking to the congress? >> with regard to the acts, i would say that i would can see that many of the changes have been made today fall within the purview of the presidency. my comments are based on the fact that these are unwise decisions. the fact that i now know, for fundamental truth, that this will make the day when democracy comes to cuba even further away. they are going to utilize these changes to create more wealth, more funding for their oppressive regime.
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in a few years, you're going to see them here in the halls of congress to lobby. i saw that this week when we tried to pursue and pass a bill that supported democracy protesters in hong kong. my office is getting phone calls from companies that do business in china asking us to back off. you are going to see that here now, too. >> alan gross was released from prison and that, of course, goes hand-in-hand with the change in policy. would you have rather seen him remain imprisoned? >> according to the white house, they do not go hand-in-hand. the interchange between the united states and cuba on the three spies with a american held in prison -- suffices to say, the three prisoners - the three spies that were in u.s. custody were not benign spies going around cutting up newspaper
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clippings. at least two of them were involved in direct information given to the cuban government that led to the murders of american citizens were patrolling the streets in florida or national waters. >> president obama alluded to young cuban-americans, saying that they accept more normal relations. which is quite different from what you are saying. how do you explain that the younger generation -- >> partially, because i'm forty-three -- i feel forty-four -- and partially because, look, this is not a political thing. i don't care for 99% of the people believe we should normalize relations with cuba. i believe that before we can normalize relations, democracy has to come first. or at least significant steps
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towards democracy. i think we share -- including the individuals that the present discussed -- freedom for cuba. i would say that if you want the majority of -- if you went to the majority of the people out there and said we are going to recognize them, we're going to open up the banking sector, we are going to do -- and in exchange, all cuba is going to do is release fifty-three prisoners they can put back until next year. most people would say, well, that is not the idea we had in mind. let me be clear, i am in favor of normalizing relations with cuba. but for that to happen, cuba has to be normal. cuba has to be a democracy. the day they take significant steps towards democracy, i will be the first one to stand up here and say now is the time to change policy. that day is clearly not today. >> you have been told that the administration one be for it. did you consult congress?
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>> a couple points. i was aware of these measures last night, not from the administration. i chose not to discuss it at the time because i do not want to imperil the safety and well-being of mister gross. who, as i understood, was in route or potentially in route. i was not consulted by anyone in the administration until about 10:00 am this morning, when secretary kerry placed a call to me. i expressed a secretary my belief that they are being incredibly naïve, if not willfully ignorant about the impact that this is going to have on cuba. all of a sudden democracy is going to spring. that is ridiculous. the notion that somehow this is going to lead to a second cuban revolution, despite the fact that humans are not able to buy more goods from the united states.
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i interact with people who have been oppressed by it every single day. these changes will do nothing to change their behavior toward cuban people. it will be just as impressive a year from now as it is today. >> you say that congress was not consulted -- >> well, i do not know that they consulted other members of congress. i was not consulted. i spoke to no one in the administration about it until 10:00 am this morning. >> what is your nomination on 2016? >> i am not discussing 2016 today, out of respect and the gravity for this issue. i will say that, in congress, we're going to do everything we can. it is something that i am personally committed to being a part of. by the way, i'm also committed to liberty, freedom, and democracy in north korea, and hong kong, and china -- wwhich
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is why i have been an outspoken critic of the chinese government. cuba is close to home for me, because of my heritage and the people i know. i know, firsthand, how this oppressive regime manipulates families for purposes of perpetuating themselves in power. i know what they are capable of doing to people who speak out against the regime. none of that is going to change. none of the measures taken today -- they will do absolutely nothing to change the course. [speaking in spanish]
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>> i just wanted to ask you about how committed you are to blocking the funding for an embassy, and blocking the nomination of an ambassador, given the fact that you have actually a lot more power. have you made a decision on how you are blocking at? >> i am committed to do everything i can to unravel as many of these changes as possible. >> have you figured out yet which would you can unravel? >> obviously, it has been just a few hours since this announcement has been made.
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it is up to the present to implement policy and execute policy. time and again, you have seen that he has forgotten it. but i'll use everything under my authority to see this unraveled. i do this not out of animosity, but out of animosity towards the cuban government's regime and oppression of their people. i have never analyze this issue from an electoral perspective. .this is how it passionately feel quite frankly, it is irrelevant. as i told you earlier, i don't care of 99% of people in polls disagree with my position, this is my position. and i feel passionate about it. i am glad that i'm on this side of human rights and freedom. i hope that we can have the conversation turned congress to overturn these policies today. >> the president says that if you do the same thing over and over, it doesn't work. do you agree with him? >> in fact, that is a good point. i think we should increase the measures that we take against
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cuba. for example, the violation of human sanctions. last year, in the panama canal, a ship that left cuba was intercepted. on that shift was illegal items. the government did nothing. and it should have. this government has been slow to criticize cuban human rights violations over the past few months. this government accepted their attendance at the summit, a summit that was put together by a collection of democracies. it was never intended to include a communistic dictatorship, which is what cuba is. i disagree in what he has done about it. this argument that somehow the embargo has not worked, therefore let's try something completely different. sounds good on paper, but here's the reality. just because we change our policy towards cuba, does not
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mean allow we allow cuba to do whatever it wants. yes, maybe there will be more telecommunications companies in cuba. but what people are able to view on the internet is going to be completely controlled by the cuban government. where people are going to spend that money is completely controlled by the cuban government. yes, more chips are going to be allowed. but that is going to be completely controlled by the cuban government. they are not going to agree to anything that destabilizes their grip on power. the sooner the administration realizes that, the less problems will have. >> [speaking in spanish]
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i will answer cuba's stance. i think cuba is a terrorist government. whether they are kidnapping celebrities or otherwise. laughter, in a panama canal, ship was intercepted from cuba that violated sanctions. that sounds like terrorism to me. in a statement a few moments ago, the president said it made no sense, and the twenty-first century, for country like you
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were to be on the list. it sounds to me like he has already made up his mind. i have time for one more. >> can you talk about the prospects of congress being able to actually listen? >> this congress is not going to lift the embargo. thank you. >> the cuban president reiterated his country's willingness to maintain cooperation. his remarks came after president obama announced a historic move to normalize relations with cuba and following the release of usaid worker alan gross,
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imprisoned for five years. is courtesyte event of cuba vision. >> my fellow countrymen. since my election as president of the council of ministers, i have reiterated on numerous occasions our willingness to maintain with the government of the united states a respectful dialogue based on the principle of sovereign equality in order to address a wide variety of topics in a reciprocal manner without detriment to the national independence and self determination of our people. this was a position expressed to
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the u.s. government both publicly and privately on several occasions during our long-standing struggle with the aim of addressing and resolving our differences through negotiations without renouncing any of our principles. the heroic cuban people has shown in the face of aggression, adversity, and sacrifices that it will and has always been faithful to the ideals of independence and social justice, strongly united throughout the last 56 years of revolution we
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have maintained our unswerving loyalty to those who fell in defense of our principles, dating back to the beginning of our wars of independence in 1868. despite the difficulties, we are now embarking on the task of updating our economic model with a view to build a prosperous and sustainable socialism as a result of dialogue at the highest level, which included a phone conversation that i had yesterday with president barack obama. we have been able to make progress in resolving some issues of mutual interest for both nations.
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as fidel promised in june 2001, when he said, they shall return. today, they have returned to our homeland. the enormous joy of their families and of all our people who have tirelessly fought for this goal is shared by hundreds of solidarity committees and groups, governments, parliaments, organizations, institutions, and individuals who, during the last 16 years,
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have conducted continuous and unrelenting efforts seeking the release. we convey our most profound gratitude and commitment to them all. president obama's decision deserves the respect and recognition of our people. i wish to thank and it knowledge the support of the vatican, most eagerly the support of pope francis in his efforts for improving relations between cuban and the united states. i would also like to thank the government of canada for facilitating the high-level dialogue undertaken between both nations.
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in turn, we have decided to release and return to the united states a spy of cuban origin who was working for that nation. in addition, and for humanitarian reasons, today we have also returned to his country the american citizen allen gross. unilaterally, as has been our practice and in strict adherence for a legal system, the prisoners concerned have received reduced sentences that includes the release of these individuals that the government
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of the united states had expressed an interest in. we have also agreed to renew diplomatic relations. this in no way means that the key matters have been resolved, the economic, trade, and financial embargo which has led to enormous human and economic damage to our country. it must cease. although the measures of the embargo have now been codified into law, the president of the united states has the executive authority to modify its instrumentation. -- implementation.
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we propose to the government of the united states that it adopt mutual steps to improve the bilateral atmosphere and work towards normalizing relations between our two countries based on the principles of international law and the united nations charter. cuba reiterates its willingness to maintain cooperation in multilateral entities such as the united nations while acknowledging our profound differences, mainly in areas relating to national sovereignty, democracy, human rights, and foreign policy.
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i reassert our willingness to dialogue on all of these issues. i call upon the government of the united states to remove the obstacles hindering or restricting ties between our people, families, and citizens of both countries, particularly those restrictions related to traveling, direct postal service, and talk indications. -- and telecommunications. the progress that has been made in our exchanges shows that it is possible to find solutions to many challenges as we have reiterated, we need to learn the
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art of coexisting in a civilized manner with our respective differences. we will continue to talk about these important issues at a later date. thank you very much. >> senators patrick leahy of vermont and chris van hollen of maryland were on the plane that carried allen gross back to the united states from cuba. they spoke about that experience and their support for normalizing relations with cuba during a capitol hill news conference. this is 15 minutes. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute,
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which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> good afternoon. we are here primarily to answer your questions. but before we do, i would like to note that the three of us went down to cuba this morning and brought alan gross back with us. we had mrs. gross on the plane with us going down. we have each visited alan gross a different times in prison in cuba. over the past several years, we have watched his condition deteriorated. all three of us have been very concerned, and all three of us have spoken with the president and others about changing things to get him out. what has happened today is a
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positive step in many ways. first, a very positive thing for alan gross to be back with his family, at a time when his health conditions really requires it. but also, in a longer sense, and i believe mr. gross would agree with this, it marks a step forward in relationships between our great country and cuba. i have often thought members would go to the president of the united states saying, stay tough on cuba and those castros will come down any day now. that memo was sent to president kennedy, president johnson, president nixon, and you see where i am driving at. the fact is, cuba is still there. we ought to face up that we all have differences, but that we can improve the life of cubans,
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and we can improve the lives of u.s. citizens by stopping this idea of a closed door to cuba, where we tell american citizens, you can visited any country in the world that will let you win, except for cuba. there are a lot of things in areas of education, medicine, culture, art, that should unite us and not divide us. will we a doctor political system? -- will we adopt their political system? of course not. the reality is, we are 90 miles apart. let's start finding out ways to at least work through our differences and embrace our areas where we are alike. just about every business group would like that and every religious group would like that.
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the pope has spoken very strongly on this. leaders of business in the united states have, and it is now time for us as well. >> thank you. as senator leahy said, each of us visited alan gross over the years. i was able to see him just a month ago in a prison in havana. at that time, he said "i hope that this ordeal, the five-year ordeal, actually leads to something positive." today, when we got on the plane, i told him, when you look at what the president will announce here soon, you will see it has resulted in something very positive. i just want to say that for those that say that this is a concession, these moves that are being made today, i think that is the wrong way to look at it, simply wrong.
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the policy we have had in place for the past 50 years has done more in my view to keep castro regimes in power than anything we could have done. so i am pleased that these actions have been taken. i think it will improve the lot of ordinary cubans, and is good for americans as well. some will say a cuban regime may now limit the travel of americans now that we are more able to travel, not freely, but in larger numbers. they may take measures, and they may. i have always said that if somebody is going to limit my travel, it should be a communist not my own government here. and it makes more sense for us to allow travel. that is what we do. that is what we do as americans. >> well, it was an incredibly emotional moment, as you might imagine, when we walked off the
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tarmac into the building at the airport in havana and saw alan gross, who, i think, realized for the first time that after five years of effort, the moment had really arrived, that he was going home. as you have heard us say as we were gathered on the airplane and crossed the airspace, he put his hands up and gave a big hurrah. judy gross's life has been tireless for five years trying to bring her husband home. i had the honor of knowing alan before he was taken prisoner. judy and a whole group of people have been working hard for many years to try to make this day happen. but i want to emphasize what my colleagues have said, which is that alan gross is thrilled to be free. but alan gross, having spent five years in a cuban prison, also very much believes that the president's new policy of engagement will lead over time
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to greater freedom and opportunity for the people of cuba. because, as our senators have said, when you try a policy for 54 years, and it fails by the measure you set out, which is to try to open and reform cuban society and cuban government, when it fails for 54 years, it is time to say, that policy has failed, let's try a different policy. and i do believe that more engagement and more communication, more travel, more trade, will lead to more more opportunities for the cuban people. and the people who should be most afraid of this opening are the people in cuba who are afraid of making cuba more free. people who want to expand opportunity in cuba will be strongly in favor of this engagement. 54 years of failure, the castro brothers have survived over a presidents.
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it clearly did not get us to where we want to be. this is a new opportunity in bringing alan home and also trying a new policy of engagement with cuba. >> senator graham -- your counterpart on the foreign operations of committee -- that he will block funding for opening the embassy in cuba. >> we already have intersection in cuba. the horses out of the barn there. the fact is, everyone will say how they will speak. there are 535 members of congress. 100 in the senate. everybody has got to make up their mind how he or she wants to be. but, speaking as an american, i would hate to think as an american, either on business or visiting a whatever reason in
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another country, and something happens and i say, wait, i can always call my american embassy and seek help, and they say, oh no, this is just about countries where we do not have an american embassy, sorry, you're on your own. i do not think american businesses would like that. certainly, the businesses we spoke with would not like it. but just as individual american wouldn't like it, it is beneath the united states of america. >> could you address the politics for the new republican majority in the senate on how the politics that stand going forward with respect to the embargo? >> i think that would be really
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counterproductive to block funding for an embassy. we are going to have a lot more americans traveling to cuba. last year it was 400,000 or so. there will be a lot more under general licenses for travel. to tell those americans traveling there, sorry, there's no embassy good that is not right. we have not had a test vote on cuba for a while. we used are readily have votes on a provision bills, travel bans -- or imposing the travel ban. i'm sorry. we have not had one of those for a while. there have been a lot of new senators coming in. we will see. my sense is that we are long past due, 50 years. 50 years. i think that politics are good. certainly, the policy is right.
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good politics usually follow. >> coincide with congress for leaving town for the rest the year, and, if so, why? >> for one thing, this was decided a number of days ago when it was assumed that the senate was going to be in session. i was one of those that assumed it was going to be. the white house assumed it. things came together when they came together. they have been working on this for a very long time. senator fray, the congressman and i, we have been down there many times and talk with administration officials. they have been working very hard. they came together now. we were on the airplane coming back, and it was after the cheer
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that we were in u.s. airspace, how does it feel? we were both shaking. he said, patrick, i cannot tell you how good it feels. let's go forward. >> with respect to this point about what might happen in the appropriations process -- senator rubio -- there's going to be a new republican majority. even so, the potential good that you see in terms of tourism, business, and whatnot -- good and they possibly in peril that. marco rubio is concerned that they might start cracking down and doing other things. do you feel that if the united states does not find an embassy aren't ambassador that this will fall apart at the seams.
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>> i'm not going to go into those hypotheticals. the fact is the united states has relations with another country, and embassy, and you make sure that our best men and women can be there to show the face of america. i guarantee you that just about every farm group, every business group, every academic group, the music industry, will say, let's make this work. if you took a poll, and america -- in america today, the vast majority of americans want this. >> thank you. >> the president has normalized relations with cuba. the fact is that with the person and charge of the intersession today now becomes the charge a despair of interaction. d'affaires.
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his status immediately changes regardless of how long it may or may not take the senate to act. the president as the executive can operate in the area of foreign affairs, and he has normalized relations. the appointment and nomination of an ambassador is part of that. the normalization occurred today in the senate. >> sorry. it's off my radar in terms -- is that a building? is that an office? >> we have a large section of people, a number of people down there who work with americans were there, who help answer questions, look out for american interest rate we are ready have that we have had that for some time. >> why? >> because we had frequent flyer miles, you see. [laughter]
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>> and wednesdays at state department briefing, jen saki gave some background information on the changing cuba policy. this portion of the briefing is 20 minutes. >> hi, everyone. well, there has been quiet a lot going on today. i have a couple of items at the top. i would take at the front that the and golan's are here and we -- the angolans are here and we have a strategic dialogue starting with them it 2:30 p.m. we note today's ruling by the european general court about the terrorist organization hamas do is eu sanctions listing. we are studying the court opinion carefully. according to a statement by the european union, the decision was based on procedural grounds. we understand that the eu sanctions on hamas remain in effect, pending the eu's decision on whether to appeal. the u.s. position on hamas has not changed. hamas is a designated foreign terrorist organization.
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hamas continues to engage in terrorist activity. it has demonstrated its intentions during the summers conflict with israel. the five thousands of rockets into civilian areas. it attempt to infiltrate israel through tunnels. we will continue to work closely with the european union on hamas related issues. we believe that the eu should maintain its terrorism sanctions on hamas. we put this out, but i want to also point out to those of you who did not see it that the secretary -- this is not planned, but he had an opportunity to greet allen gross and welcome him home. his lawyer and lawyers wife was there. they arrived at the airport at the same time for they were able to watch the president's remarks together. with that, matt, i go to you. >> so on cuba, the statements the white house has put out is
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talking about immediately starting talks on normalizing relations and opening an embassy within the coming months. can you be more specific about when you would hope to be able to do either one? >> one of the steps that is outlined in the fact sheet that i would encourage you to look at is that the assistant secretary of state for the western hemisphere will lead the delegation in january of 20 16 in havana. as with discussed on the call this morning, there are a range of discussions that need to happen with cuba. i can give you a prediction of the exact timeline. as you just noted, we said in the coming months we are going to take steps to pursue that, and we will see how it goes. >> but the coming months is rather vague. are you hoping to do this sooner
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rather than later? are we talking about 2015? presumably we are talking about the end of the president's term. >> we typically don't say months if it something we want to do sooner rather than later, but i'm not in a give you a deadline, depending on how the discussion goes. >> the secretary said he looked forward being for secretary of state to go to cuba at some point. i am wondering if it is a requirement or is it -- for there to be normalized relations, in this case, or an embassy, or a fully fledged embassy there before he made such a trip? >> the trip is not scheduled yet. it is something he hopes to do next two years, while he is secretary state. i think we will determine as time goes on when an appropriate time will be in what will be required in advance.
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>> -- no requirement that that is the case. >> technically, legally, no. we will determine when it is appropriate. >> the appropriateness is not based on whether relations have the normalized or whether you have an embassy. >> again, we have not planned the exact timeline for the first up is going to be our assistant secretary going there and will have a discussion about what is appropriate going from there. >> you talk about establishing an embassy. there is an intersection that is there and has been there and has been staffed by american diplomats for decades, right? isn't it essentially just a matter of formally changing your designation of that diplomatic facility from an intersection to an embassy? >> you can look at it like that. there is more that happens when
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you have formalized diplomatic relations in your working together on different issues. with an embassy, that increases the range of activities and the services you can provide the citizens. >> i get that. i wanted to make sure the people understood that it's not like -- even though you have not had to collect relations since 1961 -- it's not like you have had a great many foreign service officers in cuba representing u.s. interest as best they could. >> sure. there are a range of steps that have been taken today. we are beginning a process to pursue a much more formalized relationship. that is something that is a big change, of course. >> do you know what you technically need to do to resume diplomatic relations with a country with whom you have previously severed them?
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is it an exchange of notes? >> i do think i have something on this. well, as you may know, but for everybody's awareness, the constitution grants the president the authority to receive ambassadors and other public ministers, and this grant of authority has long been understood to provide the president with the authorities to establish diplomat relations with foreign nations. so, this is a decision that the president has made to pursue. there are numerous examples in history. there are a range of steps that we want to take do conversations and discussions over the course of time. >> you can't say whether it is actually just the president issues an executive order or you have an exchange of notes. >> i can check on the technicality. i'm happy to. >> there are at least two senators, and i presume there
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will be more -- i shouldn't presume. there are two who say they are going to block any funding for an embassy and block the nomination of any ambassador the president might nominate to the ambassador cuba. i'm just wondering on the embassy funding part of that, there is already a rather large office building there. what kind of additional funding would you be asking for from congress to have an embassy? would the senators who were opposed actually have anything to oppose, any request to oppose? >> that is a good question for it we are not right there yet. obviously, there hasn't been funding requested or you would know that. >> funding and intersection -- many years. >> based on her announcement today, it's not as if new funding has been a question. i'm not aware that that is something we are ready to discussion.
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we certainly have the opportunity. we understand that many feel very strongly about a cuba policy. when we hear from people across the political spectrum, the main focus is on the cuban people and how we can be more supportive. that is exactly the objective of this policy. obviously, there have been consultations leading up to today, and there will continue to be in the weeks ahead. >> ok. understanding that you think this move in reopening an embassy with foldable medic -- with full diplomatic relations is going to be a good thing and help support the cuban people, to be devils advocate here for a second, over the course of the last couple of years opening embassies -- u.s. embassies -- or restoring foldable medic relations with -- or resuming full diplomatic relations with countries have not resulted in great benefits for people. look at south sudan.
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look at what happened in burma where there are many human rights complaints. the u.s. had for the medic -- had full diplomatic relations with cuba win human rights were abysmal earlier. what makes you think that this move now at this point is going to be -- benefit the cuban people? >> well, i was a couple of things. one, every country is different. two, this policy has been updated and has not worked for sometime. many people agree on that point. three, as outlined in the fact sheet, there are a range of steps that the treasury department, commerce department are taking with the full support of the secretary of state and of course the president that he certain restrictions. -- that ease certain restriction. those are benefits to the cuban people. four, i would say that this does not mean that we don't have existing concerns, but we will continue to address human rights, democracy, although we
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have seen a notable decline and long-term detention of cubans. they continue to carry out short-term arrest of citizens we have seen continued issues with freedom of speech and freedom of media. those are issues that with the support of the many programs that we will continue to run that we will continue to work on. >> the continuation of programs. as you know, my employer has been running a series of stories about usaid. let's use not so public attempts to -- i don't know what you would call it. to influence or give the cuban people let's say, a voice, are those kinds of things going to continue now since this announcement? two, did the departure of the usaid chief this morning play into this at all? >> sure, there is absolutely no relationship between the
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departure of the head of usaid, the rest of the president for six years now, five years, thank you. i think everybody would agree and had made the determination some time ago, separate from this announcement that he would be leaving around this time. as you know, there has been a review of many of our programs and have been changes that usaid has announced. however, we continue to believe that access for civil society, democracy programs are positive and something we will continue to fund in supporting cuba. >> ok. the same kinds of one's. the things with rappers. >> there are a number of programs that may not continue to run. i when i can into the specifics of that. that has been a review that has been done and completed sometime ago. >> you are going to stop some? there are some programs them in a continue as a result of a review that had nothing to do
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with the 18 months of discussions -- negotiations? >> many of the programs that ap reported on ended years ago. we have done that on a case-by-case basis. we will continue to. >> on cuba, let's get going in cuba. >> the mechanics of exchanging diplomats and embassies, but first, the senate foreign relations chairman said today that president obama was rewarding a brutal dictatorship. is that the proper description? >> i would point you to the comments of not just the president of the united states of the statement we put out by the secretary of state. i would take either one of the first conversations that secretary kerry had with president obama about foreign policy and the second term agenda was about cuba. the fact that the policy was no longer working.
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it was not serving our national security interest. it was not serving the interest of the cuban people. >> on establishing embassies, what are the steps? i know that you are talking with them. >> i already addresses. in the interest of getting to everybody's question, i would point you to that. >> can you tell us about the cuban-u.s. intelligence assets released today? senior administration officials have said that he helped to resolve that led to the prosecution of a couple of cases. i was wondering if you could clarify. she was indicted in 2001. walter kendall myers, who was the other person, 2009.
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given that this gentleman had been imprisoned for 20 years, how did he help to provide information in the specific cases? >> i don't think it will surprise you that we will not get into specifics of how any individual provides us with intelligent information. the statement makes -- this was an incredibly viable asset, somebody who -- many details of this individual -- a lot of what this individual corporation provided is classified and remains classified, which i can't get into. he provided a range of information that led to the identification and conviction of a range of individuals that meant to do the united states
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harm. i can't get into more specifics than that. >> he was already aware -- 40 new information on these cases before they were indicted and subsequently convicted? >> i cannot get into more specifics on that. >> the involvement of the vatican in the u.s.-cuba relations -- when did that began? was it at the behest of the administration? or was it an initiative by the vatican? and, did -- did secretary kerry discuss the possibility of the u.s.-cuban rapprochement when he met with the vatican in january? >> obviously they played an important role, as was evidenced by the presidents mention in his own remarks. in terms of when they specifically got involved or how, i need to check on that and
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see how much we want to provide publicly and what their culpable with. >> related cuba. a more general question about the sanctions and isolation. on russia, president obama said he doubts that the sanctions will change the president's mindset, but hopes they will influence politics inside russia. has the policy of sanctions and isolation changed politics politics -- changed politics inside cuba? >> every country is different it with russia, i would say that the sanctions have been put in place because of the actions -- the aggressive actions that russia has taken in ukraine. they have it within their power to bring in into the sanctions. there has long been an offering. cuba is an entirely different country with an entirely different set of circumstances. we look at each country and decisions we make with policy differently. do we have any more on cuba?
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>> is there any more on the technical process of determining the status of -- >> sure. let's me give your little bit more information on how that works. as noted in the fact sheet at the six-month review, which obviously the secretary will be beginning quickly, he will oversee it. it will certainly be led by our bureau of western hemisphere bureau. here are some technical answers for you. i think other people have questions about. the president may resend cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism if he submits to congress 45 days before the decision certifying that cuba has not supported terrorism in six months and that has provided assurances that will not support terrorism in the future.
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obviously, there will be a six-month review and a recommendation that will be made in advance of that. and to get to your second question -- >> is that truly the recommendation we made following the six month review? >> right. i don't think i said something different. the relevant statutes also provide for that within 45 days after the receipt of the report from the president congress would need to enact a joint resolution on the matter prohibiting this in order for not to happen. does that make sense? it will happen if the president makes a recommendation, and lesser is a joint resolution supported that prevents it from happening. >> the political environment in congress, are there any concerns that congress could do something like that? >> well, i don't think we will prejudge the outcome of a review that has not started.
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obviously, we will let the six-month review happen and see with the recommendation is and then we'll see what the president decides. at that point in time, hopefully there will be more progress that will have been made with our relationship. >> historical question -- there hasn't been a secretary of state to visits since 1945, but when was the last highest -- who was the highest ranking last official divisive havana. was it -- this would be before roberta. i can remember her name. she led the delicate nation for -- the delegation migration. >> we are happy to check on that. are you asking about a state department official? or any official? >> i don't know there are other agencies.
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another thing on this, every year for the past several decades, you guys have been embarrassed by boats at the u.n. general assembly condemning the embargo, not just embarrass, but completely isolated with the exception of israel with this last round. are you hoping that this will bring an end to those votes? >> i don't know. >> do you care? >> i will say that the president -- we will check it -- she is still employed there. the president believes and the secretary believes that the embargo is out dated and has not accomplished its purpose. they believe that the changes that we announced today, which builds upon the changes that were announced in 2009 in 2011,
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will channel more resources to the cuban people and allow them to control their lives. we support congress taking legislative steps. we fully recognize that it is unlikely in the immediate future. >> remind me again what was the purpose of the embargo? >> i think your aware of what the purpose of the a bar go was. -- purpose of the embargo was. >> was it regime change? >> the initial goals, you know -- >> does that mean your new policy has the same objective is the embargo? >> this policy has not worked. we need to take a new approach. that is what we are doing. go ahead. >> it's my understanding that it was a small team that led the effort, is that correct? >> yes. >> was there any -- you have a
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date on which that effort began with meetings with cuban officials, not the timeframe when the president asked for review, but when the two sides actually began meeting? question two, was there any state department involvement in those negotiations or was it run entirely by -- without state department participation? >> there were two individuals who were doing the direct negotiations it however, there were individuals, including the secretary, who were closely consulting with the white house throughout the process. as i mentioned a little bit earlier, one of the first conversations that the secretary had with the president was about the fact that cuban policy is outdated and we need to take a new approach. one of the ways that he has been involved in this is that he has
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engaged quiet a few times with the foreign minister of the vatican. he has also spoken several times with the cuban foreign minister. he has also been engaged with his colleagues in congress as well. he has long supported a change in this policy, as i mentioned, and advocated for many opportunities, of course the release of alan gross, which is not what this is. our role is focused on what we do moving forward. as you know from the briefings this morning, we are response for what a bit, whether it is the role of the review or the role and moving forward on to promote relations. that is what we have been preparing. >> when to these talks begin? >> let me see about the detail we want to get into publicly.
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>> do you expect the status of the u.s. guantanamo base to change? the president and the secretary of state are moving forward on a policy to close guantanamo. >> next year on c-span, a discussion on national security with obama administration homeland security and counterterrorism advisor lisa monaco. then, federal reserve chair janet yelling holds a conference on monetary policy. heritage foundation hosted panel discussion thursday on the economy and what to expect from the 114th comments on economic and tax policy. that is live at 10:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span. >> the atlantic host of the national security discussion on
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wednesday but obama administration homeland security counterterrorism advisor lisa monaco and former george w osha administrator fran townsend. topics included isis, cyber threats, and threats of terrorism against sony pictures. this is an hour. >> hello, everybody. i am president and welcome to women of washington where we spotlight eminent women of the city and extremely leaders. among the people we have met over the years, these are great women of washington. we call this serious bites acronym, wow. my thanks to exxon mobil for making this policy -- possible. would you stand. [applause] thank you to you and your team. this reaches straight into the
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heart of a lot of men and women around washington. the two women we will meet today have dedicated their lives to public service and dealt with some of the most daunting issues of our time, ebola, terrorism, torture, immigration, cyber security. the homeland security and counterterrorism advisor to president obama. they have played vital front-line roles, high-powered, high-pressure jobs. they will sit down with my colleague. they will talk about national security, the white house experience, and the trajectory of their lives in their work. before we begin, just a small rerun or -- reminder, silence your cell phones. we will have time for your questions afterwards but with that, take it away.
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>> hello, everybody. happy holidays. i wore my red socks. thank you for joining us. margaret says i am obsessed with national security issues. it is so cool to make our final program of the year about the subject to usually when we have these events, we tried to work out our deals with the stars and say can you give us a big report, can you give us something about terrorism incidents. the things that you guys do our very much in the news. the challenges, whether it's isis -- we were just talking about cuba -- you talked about guantanamo a few times. i guess that part of what i like is that you to have known each other and been in the same business. both of you had the same key job.
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how did you to first meet? >> i will start. it's great to be here. i like to think the museum and the sponsors. >> i hope you feel that when the interview is over. >> this will be the best part of my day. [laughter] i was a young lawyer in the justice department and i would consistently see this woman, very intense, clearly had everything together, who had walk in race to the attorney general. it was because she was standing on the front lines, keeping us safe, dealing with national security issues, intelligence issues, and that was my first impression of fran. >> that was your first impression of lisa? >> i was doing the national security division, which is a job that lisa held earlier. i was the predecessor to that. i was responsible for the
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wiretaps in the national security arena and would often have to go in. lisa was this bright young lawyer and there was nothing she did not want to learn. it was a particular narrow area of law. not many people understood. a lot of people did not understand what pfizer was good she had a voracious appetite and intellect to absorb all that. she showed interest and acumen in the area. >> i want to talk with you both. we're going to open this up and get -- we want to get to the substance of how you think about counterterrorism, how you think about cyber threats, what you are thinking about isis, and a whole variety of things out there. i want to start with some thing more mundane. when you set at your job and you have the task of advising the president of the united states on this sort of stuff, how do
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you approach that? it sort of interesting -- does the president have a good day or that day, isn't like "house of cards," i mean, there could be tv shows based on both of you to down the road. his personality involved, or is the u.s. intelligence not see an machinery so big that human beings in the middle of that really don't matter? >> i think human beings matter tremendously. the relationships that you are able to build in our job, the one i hold and the one that fran previously held is critical. you have to be able to take people around the table, literally and figuratively, and understand rapidly why situation is a what might be, and to be able to relay that to the president and hopefully the
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right be clear give the -- hopefully be right, be clear, give the best information you can, and it is integrated into all other aspects of the cabinet and it is vital. >> there is so much more that comes to you then goes to the president. the important point of your job is to filter, and not in a good way, because he only has so many hours in the day, and you have to make judgments about what he has to know so that he is prepared, so for me, the day started at 3:30 in the morning, and i can't speak for you, but i was up at that time to shower and shower and dress and i was in the car by 5:00. longer for the president would
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get information, there was interaction within the intelligence community. there were questions that i thought should be added to things, so it was the process to get the right information to him in a timely way that is holy -- that is fully integrated and comprehensive. so he is not getting a single review, but the lease and integrated one. >> it would not be inaccurate to describe this time as a time after 9/11. there was a way that we changed how we did security quite a bit. we change the way we think about intelligence and in my particular view, you see the massive growth of executive power over a lot of issues. we just had the release of the interrogation board, often called the torture report. and i happen to know, fran, you were not involved on it many of these releases. there is a question of whether
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or not we had a healthy balance between creating institutions and balances with oversight, or whether we need to go into another phase where the balance is different than we have today. i want to get your take on accurate you have served under two presidents. have you ever had them say i am not getting the oversight that i need, i need to make decisions only? so is there are not a lot of difference between president bush and president obama. my question is, what is healthy? >> frankly, there has been a tremendous amount of back and or your it specifically, between the intelligence community and congress. and i will tell you to the extent that the picture has been painted both recently and historically, that they don't have sufficient access. i think that is unfair. the intelligence community, they need to have information, but
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there was the gang of eight, there was a good deal of information act and forth. congress faces the same post 9/11 struggles that everybody else does. it is difficult to have the resources to devote to the time. i think we have to have a better balance of that. i think we have to have a better balance of how wiest began when we speak to the american people about the program. there has been an ungodly number amount of leaks of information, and there are ways we can talk about programs and national security issues that we don't do enough of. >> i agree, and i think to do more. president obama talked about this change across the board. i think that opened up the
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debate that we had not had and that the resident called for. i think they are healthy and good and productive ways -- there are healthy and good and productive ways. the president spoke to the spirit and you have seen it involves and it should involve the congress, it should involve them more. and if there is a question about what is a legal precedent, and what can you do or what should you do, the president has spoken on a number of programs about whether it might not be wise whether to put some constraints on and over that legal floor at a policy level, and to discuss those with congress and make sure those are transparent to congress. >> do you think a lot about terrorist and extremism in the world and how to pull the plug on it? fran, you are the president of a new group of the extremism in the world. part of the conceit of the women
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of washington is that many others would like to know what your track was, what were the dollars that helped you achieve success as you went along the way? but part of this field is so important is that we see isis, we were just talking about james foley when it happened, with a number of journalists and people who have been kidnapped. thinking about how you pull the plug on. fran, why don't we start with you? >> sure, the part of my project is completely nonpartisan curate joe lieberman and i announced at the u.n. general assembly. before that, i called lisa and center all the information on the organization. this organization was not meant to compete with government. quite the opposite. it was meant to supplement with what the government does, so what is it? so the idea is that it is really two or three full.
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it is to challenge bad guys like isis, like al qaeda and their earliest, and do that in the social media world. to actually challenge to shut them down. while we were he in this country, we rightly cherish our first amendment and our right to be, there is no one who would believe, even in this country, that beheading videos and pictures ought to be permitted on social media. by the way, i think that social media companies would be, but they do not have the resources to take it down. we were going to go and hunt them on the internet. we were going to announce them publicly and to the companies, and ask that they be taken down. and we are pursuing that. i will tell you that i know it is been successful because as a result of that, i have gotten death threats and continue to do. >> so when you get those, do you think, well i am being successful? >> i consider it a badge of
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honor. so we have the technology and the analytic know how to use public source material to go out and actually find the people who are the traitors who are allowing isis to move their oil onto the black market and to out him. or, if we can't out them, and not she's behavior, you can provide the information to governments and service intelligence communities around the world. >> are you surprised about these people you are tracking down. i heard from david cohen who has a lot of was wants ability for targeting sanctions, and i wanted to talk about isis and black market and antiquities. you have to know something about antiquities and sotheby's and christie's and rich people who want to buy antiquities. that requires some degree of education in the world. does that shock you? >> it does shock me.
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i will tell you the thing that is really incredible to me, when you look at their propaganda, remember that there was the magazine that al qaeda had, it was a magazine that you could talk into your pocket. you can find in caves and in deserts. now we see hollywood style productions. incredibly professional. they have their own drone footage. they had filming of a raid on a syrian or iraqi military base. it was even set to music. there was a voiceover. it is absolutely professionally done, and it is hard for the u.s. government to compete with that. >> i want to pause with fran with -- i want to applause fran and with what the counter extremists organization has done. sometimes the government is not the best messenger on countering the brutal message that isis is
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sending. we need muslim voices, we need voices from the arab communities, we need arab communities to join the coalition, and we need the private sector, nonprofits, other voices out there countering, sending out messages, and using social media for as effectively as the extremists are doing. i think fran would probably agree with me, but the evolution of the threat -- the framework has stayed largely the same. al qaeda, which we continue to be worried about, is still an a northwest territories in pakistan. they have been greatly diminished, and we have distracted your planning. >> can you tell me about the site group -- side group corisan.
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i would love the leisure why, this was slipped in under the rug from something we have been watching or thinking about. most of us had never heard of the group. what was your role? >> when i can say is i think it is a good thing that you say that because we were doing our job. trying to disrupt threats before they became public knowledge, and then bad actors cannot take other means and continue. so the course on group -- corisan group is al qaeda veterans who have saw the safe haven of syria. they have gone there to fight aside -- they did not go there sad, but because it
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is an i and governed it these are al qaeda veterans plotting against the west and the homeland. >> are there other pockets of corsican out there that you are worried about? >> we are extremely worried about al qaeda affiliates in the arabian peninsula. they are the most determined and persistent and frankly skilled actors, particularly when it comes to aviation. that is something that we have not taken our eye off that ball for one minute, even as we are extremely robust on active corsican groups and i sold -- and isil and the unprecedented flow of groups into western iraq. >> when we talk about foreign
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fighters, it's only people far away. we have foreign fighters in the united states and france has 1500 people there. australia has a lot of people there. australia was the first to line up in the coalition against isis to devote fighters and personnel. it has about 60 personnel, 60 people, and about 100 who have been actively financing to stop isis from australia. so how do you deal with that? because that is a very different thing out there, that is an inside problem, right? >> i would say to you, i think people have got to look at this. there are two prongs, in my judgment of this. one is the foreign fighter, right? who may return. i think the immediate problem, which is on australia, that is the self radicalized individual. he or she is harder to catch. there is a shorter loop for lisa
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and her colleagues. it is easier to interrupt the loop for the foreign fighter. >> because they are more actively engaged? >> that is when you have a more radicalized individual, you might not have any idea that person is going to go operational. and then it manifests itself. >> the radicalized person is just a criminal and a terrorist. how do you feel about that? >> it does not matter to the people inside the cafe. you have to deal with it as the hand gets dealt to you. >> thereunto prompted this threat to this thread and you have to deal with them at the same time. so the self radicalized one is the one that is closer to home at the moment. >> i think fran and i, throughout our time in the white house, both of our time that we dealt with was the affiliates, that we just discussed, but this
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other category that we talked about, lone wolves or homegrown extremists. they are sympathetic to radical ideologies and who will turn potentially after a series of messages and an evolution of a radicalization process. so we have always been concerned about those three groups, if you will. but it is this last one, and i quite agree with fran, which has taken two forms. so for instance, it used to be that these individuals would self radicalized by passively doing something on the internet or a magazine as fran described. now the evolution and proliferation and the prowess of isil using the social media platform has made in the lone wolf or homegrown terrorist threat worse.
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we are just beginning to understand this. this is a vital part of our ability to combat that very changed threat. >> which is exactly why we founded this. this is an exponentially greater threat now as a result of that. it was that the private sector needed to play a role there. i can add one other thing. we are fighting isis today in iraq and in syria, there are moving on to the next thing. i think it is worth noting. it is clear from the we see from source material that isis, the islamic state, is already sort of working through their playbook in places like saudi arabia, jordan, lebanon. they are fighting in iraq and syria, and that is their emphasis now is their expansion of the caliphate.
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that is a real challenge, it is a challenge for the administration and the intelligence community, and it is a challenge for our allies. >> both of you have dealt with this internationally. as women, and i don't want to presupposes, but it is a field dominated by men. i went through analyst and a lot of other women from condoleezza rice to even hillary clinton to michele flournoy on to elizabeth sherwood and randall and others, including ourselves, it is a substanstive list, but it is not a giant list. it is a nonissue? how do you deal with saudi arabia or qatar or u.a.e.?
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>> do you want to start? [laughter] >> give is a good story. [laughter] >> i am going to take you back. it is august, or july, of 2003. i don't think i have been in the job three or four months. and we have the infamous 28 pages of the 9/11 report that classified related to saudi arabia. we are sitting in the oval office and the foreign minister of saudi arabia and the president. i am condi's deputy at the time. president bush says he will not declassified. the saudis get angry. for the first time, there is an official break.


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