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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  October 20, 2015 9:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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decisions this country needs to get our nation back on track. the challenges we face today are too difficult and demanding to turn our backs and walk away. global terror, war in multiple fronts, a government drone out of-- a government grown out touch. flat wages. a skyrocketing debt. on these take challenges alone. now more than ever we must work together. all of us are representatives of .he people, all people we have been entrusted by them to lead. yet
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i want us to become the solution. one thing i have learned from my upbringing is that nothing is solved by blaming people. we can blame the president. we can blame the media. that is fun sometimes. we can point fingers across the aisle, blame each other, dismiss our criticism as unfair fire. people don't care about blame. people don't care about effort. people care about results. results that are measurable. results that are meaningful. results that make a difference in their daily lives. i want to be clear, i think we are still an exceptional country with exceptional people and a republic clearly worth fighting for. the american idea is not too late to save. we are running out of time. make no mistake. i believe the ideas and
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principles of results driven commonsense conservatism are the keys to a better tomorrow. a tomorrow in which all god's thanren will be better off they are today. the role of the federal government is not to create dependency but an opportunity for everyone. the idea government should do less and do it better. the idea that those who serve should say what they mean and mean what they say. the principal that we should all determine the course of our own lives instead of seating that right to those who think they are better than the rest of us. we will stand and we will fight when we must. and this presidency will require that. rights,ment to natural a commitment to common sense, to cooperation one rooted in
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genuine conviction and principal is a commitment to conservatism. it me close by saying consider to do this with reluctance. i mean that in the most personal of ways. like many of you jenna and i have children who are in the normative foundational years of their lives. i genuinely worry about the consequences my agreeing to serve will have on them. will they experience the viciousness and incivility that we all face here on a daily basis? , theeatest worry consequence of not stepping up. of someday having my own kids ask me on the stakes were so high, why didn't you do all you could do. why didn't you fight for my future when you had a chance to do so? none of us wants to hear that question and none of us should ever have to.
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i have shown my colleagues when i think success looks like. what it takes to unify and lead and how my family commitment come first. i left this decision in their hands. should they agree with these requests i am happy and willing to get to work. thank you. chad. >> what happened in the past couple of days? [inaudible] had is that the underlying issue? theesentative ryan: i'm in job i have always wanted in the congress. i came to the conclusion this is a dire moment not just for congress and the republican party but for our country. i think our country is in desperate need of live leadership. >> [inaudible]
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they have gone after john boehner's head. what assurances do you have your be the next? representative ryan: i laid out what i thinks to have a successful speakership and i will leave it up to my colleagues to decide if i am that unifying person. that is what we always do. >> would you want a nine of us vote? >> i laid it out with our conference about all the various groups having their endorsement and being the unified candidate. i'm not going to get into that now. that is something that has to be done by a conference as a whole. thank you very much. appreciate it. >> paul ryan sang he will run for speaker of the house if all his conditions are met. jason chaffetz dropping out of the race and endorsing the idea
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speakerer ryan -- boehner sang he will announce the new date for leadership elections tomorrow. a lot to cover with this story and we will have it all to you here on the c-span networks. the heads of house and senate armed services committees on the defense authorization bill. then today's undergone briefing on an agreement between the u.s. and russia over syrian airspace. >> vice president joe biden spoke about the osama bin laden raid, explaining his relationship with obama and the decision to go after the 9/11 terrorists. here is a look.
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vice president biden: we knew about about about as early as august. we did not go for almost a year. major players didn't know about it until january or february. was a something that difficult call for the president. we sat and the room and at the end of the day made the decision. i want everyone's opinion. everybody went around the room and there were two people who were definitive. who were absolutely certain. leon panetta said go, and bob gates said don't go. you 9-41.e if it was such a close call. i joked and said you all sound like larry summers. on the one hand and on the other hand.
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the third option i didn't really think we should do, i said, i think we should make one more pass with another uav to make sure it is him. the reason i did that, i didn't want to take a position to go if that was not where he was going to go. as we walked out of the room and upstairs i said, i told him my opinion. i thought he should go but to follow his own instincts. it would have been a mistake. imagine if i had said don't go a go and his decision was different decision. it undercuts the relationship. >> john mccain and mac thornberry cautioned president against the telling the defense authorization act. spoke at the brookings institution about defense spending. this is one hour.
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>> give us one minute. good morning. thank you for joining us. i see we have a standing-room only. i'm a new yorker, so i'm impressed that everybody is at any meeting before 9:30. i'm bruce jones i'm the director of foreign policy at brookings and delighted to welcome you today and our very distinguished guests. we are very honored to be joined today by senator mccain and congressman thornberry chairman of the house armed services committee to discuss the defense authorization act. it is vital to the national conversation. moderating our discussion will be our co-director here at brookings and well known expert
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on the defense budget. senator mccain is known for his service to the nation both in the u.s. navy and representing the people of arizona and u.s. congress and one of the key voices to strengthen our armed forces to eliminate wasteful government spending. congressman thornberry has served on the house permanent select committee on intelligence, the budget committee, and is widely known as an innovator and the two of them have been working together to put together the national defense authorization act. in a moment, i'll turn to mike. let me make two contexts. we are entering a moment of geo political challenges in asian europe as well as confronting the role and collapse of the order in middle east with huge implications. and the second is despite -- the united states is the most
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important world actor on the world change. that is the context in which we have to have the debate and discussion about our defense appropriations act and the tools we need for america's national security. mike, with that, over to you. mike: in addition to funding the pentagon at the $612 billion which is the level the president had requested last winter and takes important steps forward on acquisition reform and authorizing syria, ukraine, deal with the military pension question where so far in our history, the military has given a generous pension to 20 years service but nothing for those who did 19 years or less. many other important bipartisan
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achievements. we are at a juncture where high-budget politics are interfering with this bill and the president has threatened to veto it and will have 10 days excepting sundays to make his decision about whether to veto or not. if he does, we will lose all the -- potentially lose all of the reforms in addition to the $612 billion authorization. the senator and congressman have point d out that the president could support this bill and then veto an appropriations bill if he wishes, later on.
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what is going on, the congress has tried to fully fund defense but the budget control act continues to present the funding levels the president would advocate for nondefense. at this juncture, how do you reconcile these competing concerns. we'll get to those questions when the chairman wishes. but i thought we'd begin by talking about some of the specifics that are in the bill that are so important. and regardless of one's position on whether the president should veto or not, most would agree that the reforms and initiatives in this legislation are very,
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very helpful to our national defense and would be wonderful to find a way to institute them in law. that is the subjects with which i wanted to begin, senator mccain, again by asking you to address the military pension reforms and anything else you wish to touch on and work on acquisition and some of the hot spots in a minute as well before getting to the big questions. thank you for being here and ask you about military pension reform. senator mccain: as i always say when i return here and i'm happy to and nice to see old friends and enemies. thank you for inviting me back and could i also say it's been a
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real honor for me to have worked with chairman thornberry, a very dedicated and hardworking chairman who also is committed to many of the reforms that we were able to turn out together, particularly the issue of acquisition reform. there are many reforms, but acquisition reform, mac has been engaged in that for many years and that doesn't mean we agree on everything. we have had spirited discussions on occasion but i'm proud of the product that we and the members of our committees overwhelmingly bipartisan have approved. and our committee was 14-4 and similar in the house. so it's not -- our product is a bipartisan product. if there was objection to it was by members who were concerned or objected to this oco process that we could talk about later on. but the product was overwhelmingly bipartisan which is maybe unusual in congress these days, but i think it shows the commitment of members on both sides of the aisle to the men and women who are serving in
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a bipartisan approach to defense. friends, today, 85% of the men and women who serve in the military, when they leave the military, don't have any financial benefit. they certainly have veterans' benefits and g.i. bill but as far as pure financial, 85%. 85% don't serve 20 years. with the benefit of a very excellent commission, that was composed of some pretty outstanding people, we adopted largely their recommendation, which now allows someone after two years and one month to contribute in a 401 k and the matching funds are required. this way some 85% of those who serve will receive a financial
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benefit from their service even if it's only a minimum of two years. and if i could expand one second on that, there are other reforms that are going to have to be made in the entitlements in the military. secretary gates said a few years ago said we are going to be eaten alive by the ser son ell costs. but we are going to have to make some very tough decisions on that aspect, the entitlement aspect of the military over time and it's not going to be easy. mike: compromised on that with the military pay increase. it's modest. and also some of the tricare issues. congressman, thanks for being here and if you would like to comment on personnel and
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acquisition reforms. mr. thornberry: thank you for having us and i very much enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to work with chairman mccain who has a unique place in history. and just in a preliminary way, i want to emphasize what he just said and that is, when you look at the merits of the bill, it truly is a bipartisan product. our bill came out of the committee 60-2 and there was one of each who were part of the two. from the very conception it has been republicans and democrats working together in committee, on the floor and in conference that has produced this product. only this overlay which i believe is essentially politics that is causing us to be here to have any sort of controversy. and i think we have -- because a
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defense authorization bill has been signed into law every year for 53 straight years, we may take for granted all the individual provisions. chairman mccain was talking about the retirement reform. let me mention one other provision in the personnel section and that is a requirement that d.o.d. and the v.a. have the same formula for treating people for ptsd, sleep disorder and pain management. if you could do one thing, make sure the drug they get on when they are in the military they can stay on when they move to the v.a. system. the systems have not been able to do that. we require to do that. and my point is, there are 600 something provisions in this bill that do important things
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that the system is not able to do on its own and so that's part of the reason we have a separate branch of government to pass a defense authorization bill. among the reforms, as chairman mccain mentioned, is a beginning of acquisition reform and my shorthand version of it, if it takes us years to continue a new airplane and then out of date by the time it gets there. we have got to be better at being better in responding to threats and getting more value for the taxpayer dollars. we have a number of reforms, fundamental reforms thinning out some of the regulations, requiring more the work be done upfront and not event as you go. but it's only a beginning and we are committed on a bipartisan basis to doing much more work in the future. it doesn't happen if the bill
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doesn't become law. senator mccain: there are moments in people's experiences and i mentioned this to you earlier, mike, two years ago, we had a hearing with the navy, chief of naval operations, and i asked if the chief of naval operations knew who was responsible for $2.4 billion cost overrun on the uss gerald ford. i said who is responsible? he said i don't know. my friends, we now have a pentagon, multibillion-dollar cost overrun and no one knows who is responsible. one of the major features of this legislation is that the service chiefs have to sign off when there is a cost overrun,
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and they have to sign off and they are responsible. and guess what? the service chiefs want that responsibility. they crave that responsibility because they want a better army, navy, air force and marine corps as well. as mac mentioned, we have a long, long way to go. both mac have been out to silicon valley and i'm sorry to tell you right now there's not a lot of interest in silicon valley being engaged in acquisition with the military and with the pentagon because they don't see any benefit in getting involved in defense acquisition. and that has got to be another one of our priorities and we are making the first step to make it
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so we can engage silicon valley because we know the nature of warfare when we read in the paper this morning that the director of the c.i.a. has had his server hacked. my friends, we are in an interesting high-tech cybersituation. mike: if i could follow up on acquisition policy with some of you are here to talk about vetoes and top-level budget issues. but they have been working on this for so long with such commitment this is worth bearing down for a moment or two. could i ask you to talk about where we stand in the history of defense acquisition reform. if we go back to senator mccain, when you were a navy pilot, the services did run the acquisition world and before gold water -- senator mccain: it was during the coolidge administration. mike: we thought at that juncture, we concluded that we
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had given them too much leeway to make their own decisions and -- perhaps they were putting too much high technology into weapons because there was the fighter jock and the carrier and so forth that put a premium on high performance and costs weren't sufficiently considered or timeliness in some of the acquisition programs. so we tried to centralize. and here we are today -- are you essentially saying we have overdone it and need to go back to the old days or is the current model that you are proposing in this legislation essentially a new approach that gives the services more authority, but in a different way than in the old days? senator mccain: 30 years ago that gold water-nichols was acted.
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it was a great success we will all admit. but times have changed. the challenges have changed and a lot of things are changing. we are committed to starting as soon as we get through this hurdle, starting hearings to review that so we can make the changes that are necessary. it's not as difficult as one at first things and let me give you one examining. when with -- when we saw that the i.e.d.'s, many of them imported from iran, many of them sent by mr. suleimani seems to be in charge of conflicts at least in three countries, sent in these copper-tipped i.e.d.'s and went through armor. the humvees were taken out and our casualties were high.
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the m-wrap was in being and got them over to iraq and i don't know how many lives that it saved. we used an accelerated process. if we had the route that mac just referred to of the f-35, god knows what would have happened. there is a model out there at least in some areas already in being that we could look at. that m-wrap was developed technology. it wasn't something brand new, but we were able to get it to the battlefield in a matter of weeks or months -- but in a very rapid process and i don't know how many lives that it saved because the i.e.d.'s couldn't penetration m-wrap.
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that is an example what we can do if we get the right process in the pentagon. mr. thornberry: i don't think anybody says turn back the clock and that was perfect by any stretch. but it is true that pendulum swing and we have swung in the direction where there are more layers of bureaucracy which results in no accountability for the decisions because everybody does this. and plus, it is incredibly slow. part of our just overall theme is simplify so that somebody makes the decision and you can hold them accountable for the decision. and also to speed up the innovation so that we can get capability, so that the m-wrap is not the exception, so that that is more the norm. let's say there is a fundamental change and that is the number of complex national security threats that we face all at the
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same time. dr. kissinger testified in front of senator mccain, is unique in history. and we have to respond in a more agile way. you cannot respond with this layered bureaucracy that has developed. i will also admit, we are part of the problem. part of what happens is, there is a cost overrun in the past and what do we do? we set a new bureaucracy or procedure to make sure it never happens again. well, we can't do that and we can talk more about that if you want to, simplify and accountability and not all the checks and balances that parls the system. that is -- paralyze the system. too many programs we're inventing as we are buying and that is a source of the cost overruns and the delays. one of the things that we want
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to move more toward is have your technology development over here but you buy established technology so you are not inventing on the fly and we end up with better results. mike: speaking of global hot spots, one of the things in the bill that would allow the president to do different things in syria and ukraine. and i want to ask about the hypothetical, were the president to veto this bill, can we imagine a path forward or propose a possible road map recognizing that a lot of other people will have a say in that as well. seems like it's a fairly imminent debate.
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back to the bill itself and the hot spots. you have important language on syria and ukraine, iraq, i wonder if you want to begin and the other follow up on those questions. mr. thornberry: we try to give the president more tools. we have authority to provide defensively for assistance to ukraine. and there is a huge amount of bipartisan consensus in the house and senate that that should be done. in iraq, we see if the secretary cannot -- if the iraqi government is inclusive, then they are authorized to give weapons directly to the kurds, to the sunni tribes and other groups so that everything doesn't have to go through baghdad. now, we can't make the president make any of those specific options but we are trying to give him more tools. senator mccain: and we are
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expressing the sense of congress, bipartisan on both of those issues. i hope that we remain very careful that the constitution says the president is the commander in chief. to say he has to give those weapons, that, in my view, is not in our area of responsibility. but we not only give him the authority, but overwhelming, that is the policy we want him to pursue. friends, i have been to ukraine on many occasions and when these people are crying for a jaff lynn because russian tanks are in eastern ukraine. we won't give them that or intelligence, it's heartbreaking. i used to get rangry but now heart broken with so many killed. they are fighting bravely with
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20th century weapons against 21st century weapons. sfards the kurds and baghdad is concerned, it's obviously a vacuum that's been created but a new intelligence sharing now between iraq, russia, syria, and iran, that's an interesting scenario. one that, frankly, i never would have anticipated a fairly short time ago. now there's talk about, and i hope it's only talk -- talk, about russian air power being brought in to iraq against isis. might be nice to see them doing something against isis from one standpoint, instead of moderate opposition which is the object of almost all of their attacks. but i think one thing is clear. the people who are really the best fighters right now for a variety of reasons are the kurds. they're the ones that liberated coe because nee. they're the ones -- cobani. they're the ones doing a lot of work in part offings syria.
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as you pointed out, mike, this is a dangerous game. there's a turkish aspect, there's the k.k.k., none of this is simple. i think it's clear if we gave the kurds the weapons they needed they could be much more effective in achieving at least some of our short-term goalser that -- that we are not achieving right now. mike: that's my final question, which has to do with the big picture and again to remind those of you, i think everybody in this room is following it to some extent but the basic idea is the president has said, he's happy with a higher level of defense spend bug disagrees with using the overseas operations account to do it, an account
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that they have available that other groups don't have available. he wants to demand some kind of bill like the ryan-murray compromise that would increase funding on both the defense and nondefense side. the congress has said, we're not going to do that. but we do have a safety valve in the defense route. isn't that better than nothing to address defense needs and save the domestic debate for a different day and maybe next year's campaign. perhaps i'm oversimplifying. that's how i see the debate boiling down. which leads to my question, and you can say whatever you want and challenge my rendition of where we stand but in terms of if there is a veto, wouldn't a natural compromise be for the domestic accounts to get half as much of a plus up as defense? in other words a ryan murray
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bill that tilted more in favor of defense because that would be a compromise between where the president is and where the congressional leadership is. one imagines preserving the funding levels you've got in your bill but maybe increasing the domestic accounts roughly half as much for this year and next year. if you don't like that proposal, obviously i'd love to hear anything else you think may be viable looking forward so we can someday get a defense bill even if the president veto this is in the short-term. chairman mccain, would you like to start? mr. mccain: we authorized to the level the president requested. that's an important fundamental fact. he asked for $681, i believe it was, mac, but the exact level the president requested. second of all, it's an authorizing bill. it is not a money bill. the money is in the appropriations committee. so the has a problem with the level of appropriations, then it
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seems to me that fight should be with the appropriators and that aspect of funding. we authorize. we've just been through a small number, this is a big deal. of all the reforms, all the benefits and pay all the things that we're doing, the reforms and so, it seems to me he's picked the wrong target. second of all, second or third of all, he has accepted other bills with this in it. it's not as if this is a brand new problem. and oco, we don't like oco. we don't like it mac and i really dislike it. we'd like to see a multiyear level of authorization that we can plan on rather than lurching from one year to the next to see whether the budget budget committee is going to approve oco or not. i don't like it.
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and we'd rather in a perfect world see that level of budgeting that we can plan on and that more importantly, that the military can plan on. they're lurching from year to year, my friends. they don't -- how can you, over in the pentagon how can you plan ahead on almost anything if you don't know what the following year's spending level is going to be? so it's a broken system. the president decides to veto this, then it seems to me that he is placing a higher priority over his concern and opposition to the funding budgetary mechanism than he is over the defense of the country. because if he cared most about the defense of the nation, then he would focus his attention on the appropriations bills? veto the appropriations bills, mr. president. because you don't like the way the money -- where the money is coming from.
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it really is -- it's hard for me to understand, why the president of the united states should focus on the defense of the nation. finally, again, sequestration, my friends. it is a disaster. it's a disaster in so many ways. look at the world in 2011 when we enacted it. the budget control act. and look at the world today. yet we continue to cut defense spending. i wouldn't mind increases in some spending, particularly where intelligence and other aspects are concerned, the c.i.a., many other agencies of government. but this is really an unnecessary fight and i really wish that the president would reserve that fight if he feels
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that strongly about the overseas contingency operations to the appropriations process. mr. thornberry: the president submitted a budget for defense that the chairman of the joint chiefs said is the lower ragged edge of what is necessary for the defending the country. he asked for more base than was allowed in the budget control act and he asked for $50 billion in oco funding. $50 billion. when the house and senate come up with a budget resolution, we have to follow the law, we believe, on the budget control act so we have a lower base but make up the difference in oco so it's an extra $38 billion in oco but the total is exactly the same. the only question is, which category the funding is put in. all of that extra oco, by the way, or i think essentially all of it, is operation and maintenance accounts and every
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dollar of it is authorized just like the base is. so there's no different between being allocated to specific programs by being in oco versus being in base. in addition, section 1501 of the ndaa says if there is a change in the sequestration numbers or the caps or anything, then that oco is automatically adjusted to the base. we have this automatic flexibility mechanism to reflect whatever budget agreement comes up. but here to me is the bigger point. if you are a counterterrorism soldier in afghanistan today, or if you are training the iraqi army today, or if you are at a navy air force or marine or army base in the united states supporting those efforts, do you really care whether your operation and maintenance funds are classified as oco or whether they're classified as base? don't you just want the money? don't you just want the support to know that it's there? and so in some ways i think this is sort of an inside washington
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political game that loses sight of what we are asking men and women to do for us all around the country. and in that way, i think it is tragic, i think it is, as the "washington post" has written, if he vetoes it, it will be historic but not in a good way because there is nothing we could do in this bill that would fix the problem he's complaining about. i mean, i'd be find with -- fine with your solution to put more money in domestic programs and i suspect at the end of the day, as john says, there will be appropriations, you know, something has to be worked out before december 11. so i'm for whatever can be done. but i'm not willing to put at risk all of the reforms that we were talking about and just -- last point. the world as we've been talking is growing more dangerous and more complex. i think if there's ever a time the world, not to mention our troops, need to see institutions of the american government operating for national defense, it's now.
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and so i don't pretend that signing a defense authorization bill solves all this other problem. we still have other problems to deal with. but good heavens, wouldn't -- with such strong bipartisan support of the bill, wouldn't it be a good thing for the country and the world to see if we can do something together instead of playing political games? mr. mccain: i'll also point out one additional factoid. in this bill is $11 billion in waste and spending. as an example we require a 7.5% cut per year for four years in the size of staffs in headquarters. and so we are saving $11 billion in this legislation that is much needed and frankly, we're taking out the easy targets in this bill and it's easy system of we're now going to dispense with his veto of $11 billion in
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savings. mike: let's go to you, please. get my attention, wait for the microphone and if you could just ask one question and we'll try to make room for everyone that would like to get into this. start over here, please. >> good morning. my name is erica mccann with the i.c. alliance for public sector and we want to say on behalf to have the tech industry, we appreciate the commercial item and regulatory review provisions in bill but you boast emphasized the word beginning in this bill. where do you see the f.y. 2017 bill going? mr. thornberry: i think one of the big challenges we face is inventing technology as we are purchasing it. so i think focusing on that issue is something for the future.
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we have a lot more thinning out of the regulations and simplification to do. as john was talking about, the challenge of silicon valley doing business, and it's not just silicon valley, there's all sorts of key industries that are saying, i don't really think it's worth doing business with those people. they're so bureaucratic so difficult. i have to have so many lawyers and regulators and accountants to deal with them. that's a huge problem because a key strength for us has always been innovation that comes from the private sector that we plug into defense. there's so much more to do and we'll never fix it all the way, by the way. it is taking steps each year to make it better. mr. mccain: i would only add that there is a perception in many areas of industry that the
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pentagon only does business with certain favored industry that they've done business with for years and years and years. whether that is accurate or not, i can't say. but that's the perception when i talk to people who don't paradecisionally do business with the pentagon and i think that's -- and the other aspect is, we're going to have to look at the entitlements. we're going to have to look at tricare. we're going to have to look at a number of those aspects of defense spending that need reform. and don't think that's going to be easy. that may be one of our most difficult challenges. mike: quick vignette, we had an event here with secretary kendall and of course be bill lyn, i asked secretary kendall how would you rate our acquisition system? he said, we have a lot of problems. i've been doing this better buying power stuff, but we also have the best equipment in the world and i'm sure you two would
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agree with that. mr. mccain: not always as a reasonable cost. mike: not always at a reasonable cost or schedule. so he said overall i'd give us a b plus. then i asked bill lyn the same thing. he said maybe a b plus for some of the things we're traditionally good at but for anything more than that, maybe a c-minus. we went into whether we're at the beginning or mid range or closer to where we need to be. we'll stay here in the front row. >> good morning. i would like first of all to thank you for this beautiful time and thank senator mccain for his support for global security. which is right now we are seeing it to be at stake, specifically like there was an article in "wall street journal" yesterday that talked about the fact that obama is somehow taking the military hostage and you've retweeted this just yesterday.
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i would like to say that the yilingts is not taking the military hostage but it's taking the global situation hostage. why? because of the issue that we are facing in ukraine, in syria, in iraq, in so many different areas around the world without crucial actions that we're taking place. but at the same time, i represent -- at the same time representative mac said something beautiful, political gain, which we are seing from this administration at the moment. so what is your point of view regarding the future of the united states when it comes to global security? will they still follow the same path that president obama has assigned, which is the military new doctrine? mr. mccain: well, i'll try to be as brief as possible. long-term, i am incredibly
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optimistic about america and its role in the world, whether you're talking about technology, whether you're talking about the fact that we are now energy independent, whether you're talking about all of the new devices, the new ways of conveying information and knowledge in the united states. manufacturing capabilities include long-term, i am very bullish on america. in the short-term, i agree with henry kissinger, the world has not seen more crises than we're in today since the end of world war ii. we see if there's any benefit, we now see a reliance or relationship between israel and some of the sunni nations we have never seen before. that's really big to tell you the truth. but i see an absence of american leadership. i see frankly some of the countries in the region kind of hedging their bets and accommodating. saudi arabia just made a $9
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billion arms deal with russia. i don't believe that russia can provide them with superior weapons. i think it's because saudi arabia has been looking at their relationships and i still think that a big moment was the day saudi arabia had planes on a runway ready to strike syria and found out on cnn that crossing the red line was basically meaningless on chemical weapons. so i think in the short-term, we are in the most serious challenge, and you didn't even mention the south china sea, by the way. that's another area. but finally, we're seeing what iran is seeking and russia is helping them and this is an arc of shia influence in the region. as we see the latest activities, military activities in syria and the continued slaughter of young men who we are training and equiping and sending into syria, we're watching the russians bomb and kill them while our major priorities --
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priority is decon flix, that is a new word for appeasement. we don't want to run into any russian airplanes. certainly we wouldn't want to run into russian airplanes while they're bombing the hell out of the people that we train and equip and send into syria. don't think that lesson is lost on other young people who we might ask to go in and fight against isis. and against a brutal regime which has killed 240,000 of its own people and driven millions into refugee status. mike: care to comment? mr. thornberry: the point was made in the introduction, the united states is a unique force for good in the world. police dysfunction and political gamesmanship here has consequences far beyond our shores. it's even more the reason where if we can do something together, we ought to do that. mip here in the third row. >> good morning, sydney
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freeberg, breaking defense. to get back to the agonizing political games, for a moment, your favorite thing, i know, if there is a veto, is there some way to start disaggregating the n.d.a.a.? it's never been done in 53 years, never had to, are there ways to split off pieces, put placeholders in, say we offer for certain things so you can preserve, for example, the acquisition reform the compensation reforms, while deferring perhaps parts of the bill that authorize us from sources which is a matter of contention. mr. thornberry: the president's basic complaint is he wants to spend more on domestic programs. e.p.a., i.r.s., whatever. we can't do that in a defense authorization bill. we can take it apart and put it together, put the pieces back a different way, but we cannot fix
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his basic problem in any defense authorization bill because his basic problem is he wants to spend more on other stuff. i might agree on some of those other things we ought to spend more money on, but we can't fix it in this bill which is why the western post says vetoing it not for anything that's in it but for the broader budget disagreement, using it as a hostage, would be historic. mike: we'll stay in the second row and work our way back in a moment. >> my question is for both of you. you talked about the differences with the white house over oco versus base budget funding.
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but are there any substantive policy disagreements and if so would you will -- would you be willing to negotiate on any of those to preserve acquisition reform the white house is willing to approve an authorization act and fight over the money later in appropriations bills? mr. mccain: there's one major issue i know of and that is of course guantanamo. and we have pretty strict provisions in the bill and by the way, i would remind you, when the president released five prisoners in exchange for bergdahl, he broke the law which no one seems to be too concerned about, but what we have asked for is a plan. we have asked the president to submit to us, i've been waiting
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6 1/2 years for a plan as to how they want to close guantanamo and how they want to move those prisoners and where to. i don't think that's a lot to ask for us to authorize such a thing to get a plan. and as short a time ago as four months ago, the president assured me he would send us a plan and lisa monocoe and ash carter same over and sat in my office three months ago and said, we'll give you a plan. so far, there is no plan. but that is an issue that is of continuing disagreement between the president and us. mr. thornberry: and just as a reminder, the language the president primarily complains about on guantanamo is exactly the same language he signed into law in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and in 2014. so he doesn't really like it but until there's a plan that can get the support of the american people and their representatives, i suspect most
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members of congress are going to say, don't bring them here and don't modify facilities here. which is basically the provisions. of course there are other differences between what the president asked for and what's in our bill. the president proposed to retire the a-10 aircraft. it turns out they are sending a-10's into the middle east today and relying on them and our judgment was, probably it's not a good idea to retire that. so of course there are differences of opinion. we don't -- no congress rubber stamps a president's request. but if you look at the constitution, it says that congress has the responsibility
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to build and provide and maintain armies, navies and other military forces. so of course there are differences. but our colleagues in congress and the president really focused on the oco issue. mike: in the very back, the woman in the white coat. >> victoria, with green cross international. the 2016 ndaa conference report states that there's congressional intent to reject the budget request to authorize another brac round in 2017. i was wondering why is that, since in the long-term there seems to be improvement in the recovery in most local communities? mr. thornberry: because the 2005 brac has not yet broken even. in other words 10 years later, it is still cost -- it has still cost the taxpayers more money
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than it has saved. i think there were a lot of members who were here for 2005 and say, we're not going to have a repeat of that. now there is another provision in the bill that says the department has to come to congress with more specific data about where you think you have excess infrastructure. because what we've heard for the past several years is all based on a study they did in 2004 and we're saying, ok, let's not just trot out old information over and over again. if you think you have too much infrastructure, give us more specifics about it and we'll look at it and there may well be another brac in the future. but for this year, and remember this is a one-year authorize ation bill, whether we're talking gitmo or brac, for this year, there will not be another brac. mr. mccain: i'd just quickly add, a couple of decisions that
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i think looking back we never should have takeen that was a result of brac. one was closing the naval air station in cecil field, leaving us only with oceana which is having enormous encroachment problems. the other was the consolidation of bethesda and walter reed. i don't know anybody when you look at the money that's going to be spent on transportation and all that, that was another bad decision. so to think somehow that bracs are nirvana is not an accurate depiction. and we all know, too, what bracs are. an abrodationgation, an act of cowardice on the part of congress because they can't close a single base on their own. i would never repeat that. mike: here in the third row. >> good morning. i'm with the government accountability office. our organization, along with our sister organization c.b.o. and cbrs have a whole body of work on defense business operations that has come out basically that the department of defense is on an unsustainable path.
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can you speak to that? mr. mccain: those studies have been very important to us. they have been very helpful to us in developing the legislation that we have. and we will continue to use them. i think all of us, particularly where mac and i sit, appreciate the g.a.o. and the work they do. they really are the watchdogs and they have become more and more important over the years as their knowledge and background on many of these issues. we had a very interesting hearing on the carrier as you know and the g.a.o. represented their witness was very important in providing balance in that hearing. mr. thornberry: we have used g.a.o. on the acquisition reform steps we have taken so far. i just emphasize that a lot of things you focused on, the business sorts of things with the department have a huge effect on acquisition and buying goods and services. so that's part of the reason that we're committed to take many more steps in order to
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improve the way in a taxpayer dollars are used for those things. and we'll need y'all's help to do it. mike: here in the fifth row, please. >> jeff phillips with the reserve officers association. with the linkage of the national guard and other accounts to oco what will help to our reserve components, a million men and women strong? mr. thornberry: it depends on what happens with these bills. obviously. you cannot buy things if there's not some sort of agreement on the authorizing the purchases and appropriating the dollars to do so. and that's part of the reason you've seen huge, a large number of house members say that just operating for the rest of the
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fiscal year on a continuing resolution is unacceptable. because we're doing some things we don't need to keep doing and we need to do more of some things we're not doing now. and c.r.'s do not allow you that flexibility. so there are needs in all sorts of areas, needs to be filled that will not be filled if this bill is vetoed and if there's not some sort of budget agreement. mr. mccain: i can't emphasize enough. a continuing resolution for the rest of this year is incredibly damaging to our ability to defend this nation. general odeer noah, we have the greatest respect for, you know him very well, mike, has painted a very stark picture of what happens if we don't stop sequestration. we don't stop sequestration and have a continuing resolution, i'll tell you, it is going to be more damaging than any time i've ever seen.
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mike: clarifying question from me. you mentioned chairman thornberry that a lot of the , extra $38 billion is in operations and maintenance, i assume you allow yourself more play in the base budget for procurement. in other words if we don't get a resolution and go back to a c.r., in addition to having to continue policies of last year, which may be inappropriate, we'll be at a lower level of defense acquisition is that a fair question? mr. thornberry: essentially if sequestration kicks in and you have across the board cuts that's the same level as a c.r. it is, as john says, it would be devastating to any semblance of what it takes to defend the country. mr. mccain: please don't underestimate the effect this has on the men and women who are serving. a lot of the really good ones
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and others are saying i've had enough. they don't -- they can't operate they can't maintain they can't do the exercises they don't know when their next operation or exercise is. talk so some of these young captains and majors an senior enlisted, they are hurting very badly and over time, this is going to hurt retention of the really outstanding people we have. mike: bob hale who i see in the audience, has pointed out that we're hurting families and others because they've been furloughed and lost pay and gotten the message they're not valued as much as they should be. time for one last question in the back row. >> hi, i'm with the voice of america, the persian service. my question is directed to senator mccain. you mentioned, you talked yesterday about the possibility
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of recommendation for a no-fly zone on syria. i was wondering whether, because of the russian campaign there, what would that do for the coalition? and my second question, with the government in iraq have you recommended them to restrict activities of general suleimani there and whether they've come back to you with any response to that? thank you. mr. mccain: i've had several conversations with the prime minister of iraq but frankly, i have not recently and it doesn't have to be me to carry the message of what we think of suleimani. in a hearing before the armed services committee, senator cotton asked general dunford how many marines and soldiers that we believed were killed by the
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copper tipped i.e.d.'s i referred to earlier that the iranians shipped in to iraq and general dunford said he thought 500 were killed. i think it's a little less than that actually. so now we're seeing mr. suleimani flip-flopping, hopping around different places, including a visit to moscow, orchestrating activities in iraq itself. we've come a long way. i didn't get -- i couldn't hear the first question. mike: i think it was about syria and the no-fly zone? mr. mccain: even former secretary clinton, as well as general petraeus and others have all recommended a no-fly zone, buffer zone for -- where refugees could locate. stop the barrel bombing. an area where we could train and equip moderates.
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as far as i can tell, almost everybody that i know and respect approves of some form of that except for susan rice and valerie jarrett and barack obama. mike: we've been very privileged to have these gentlemen here today. please join me in a round of applause. [applause] [chatter]
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>> on the next washington journal, florida congressman david kelly talks about the gop races in the highway transportation l. he serves on the transportation committee. and budget committee ranking member chris van hollen on budget negotiations and debt ceiling debate. later, investigative reporter cheryl atkinson find that what happens in benghazi on september 11, 2012 during and after the attack that killed ambassador chris stevens and three other americans. washington journal i live every morning at 7:00 a.m. eastern. you can join the conversation of calls and comments on facebook and twitter. thursday, former secretary of state and presidential candidate hillary clinton testifies before the house select committee on benghazi about the 2012 terrorist attack on the u.s.
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consulate. ambassador christopher stephens and three other americans were killed. have live coverage of mrs. clinton's testimony at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span three, c-span radio, and this sunday night on "q and a", new york times national political reporter shares her wrist experience from hillary clinton's presidential campaign and compares what it is like now to back in 2008. was was a lot younger, i the traveling person. i was not in a senior role. when you are traveling all the time, i got to know the people that traveled with her. i felt like i got to know her really well because she has come back and talked to us. at the same time, i did not have the same sort of sources and high-level people that i have now. whether that is a function of being of the times or function of just seeing any more senior role.
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>> sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific. secretaryn press peter cook briefed reporters on a memo between the u.s. and russian militaries. governing aircraft movements in syria were both are conducting military operations. this is half an hour. sec. cook: good afternoon, everybody. a quick announcement before i turned to questions. today, senior officials from the department of defense and the russian ministry of defense signed a memorandum of
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understanding regarding measures to minimize the risk of in-flight incidents between coalition and russian aircraft operating in syrian airspace. with today's signatures, bmw is in effect. protocolss specific for aircrews to follow. these protocols include maintaining professional airman ofp at all times, the use specific communication frequencies and the establishment of a communication line on the ground. the u.s. and russia will form a working group to discuss implementation issues that follow. emo you does not establish -- ou does not establish sharing in syria. this does not constitute u.s. cooperation or actions in syria. continue to believe russia's strategy in syria is counterproductive in their support for the assad regime, it will only make the civil war worse. the united states will continue to focus on advancing our interest in syria.
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we will continue efforts to go after i saw, that poses -- i sil that poses a threat to us in the community. we will continue to be the single largest donor in addressing the humanitarian and beyond in syria its borders. unlike russian efforts, we are joined by a coalition of 65 partners. that is the latest with regard to the memorandum of understanding with russia. that was signed a short time ago earlier today. with that, i will have you take some questions. >> the reference that the medication -- communication line on the ground. what is that about, and also why are you not releasing the actual text of the understanding? sec. cook: the second part of your question, it was at the request of the russians at the memorandum in full not be shared. with regard to the first part of your question, i can tell you in broad terms, it is effectively another line of communication on
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the ground that would supplement any interaction that took place in the air. >> speaking -- between where and sec. cook: i'm not any get into the details, but it is a line of indication between russia and the coalition. in the event that there is an inability to create -- communicate effectively in the air. i will give you the basics. we have a line of communications on the ground that serves as a backup. that is the best way to describe it. the opportunity to have real-time conversations if necessary. >> with different countries? sec. cook: i cannot get into all the details but this is something both sides have agreed to as a backup in the event there is a problem with communication. >> the communication between russians -- this is before an operation overseas? sec. cook: i'm not sure i
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understand your question. the line of communication or any communications between russia and the coalition will take place before any operation? i apologize if you don't understand me on land, but this would be a backup form of communication. there is a series of protocols in place that are intended to avoid any sort of risk of a midair incident between our russian aircrews. effectively, if they follow the protocols, we should not have the risk of engagement with russian aircrews over syria. andhe event there is, incident or engagement in the air, there are protocols they can follow, and the ability to engage with each other in the air to make sure everyone is safe and operating safely. backup to that, there is a
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separate line of communication that is available should communication in the air breakdown for some reason. will call it a line of communication. honestly, i don't know technically what you want to call it, but rest assured there -- that isetween available to be able to resolve some of these issues. should it come to that. our hope is it does not come to that. is this extend to iraq and you have senses from the iraqi government but the russians will not carry out airstrikes there? sec. cook: this agreement is specific to syria. iraqisrstanding is the have said publicly they are not calling for an airstrike. and for anything further, i refer you to the iraqi government. >> is their problem since the russians began carrying out airstrikes? sec. cook: we have expressed
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concerns in the past about that potential, the hypothetical. i referred to the iraqis and let them speak for themselves as to exactly what they would like to see happen. >> quick follow-up, can you tell us what happened, we understand general dunford's plane was not allowed to land. well is the reason for that, what was the reason given by the iraqi government? sec. cook: i'm learning some of this myself. my understanding is there was an issue with my plans. -- flight plans. i don't know the details. but my understanding is the chairman was able to land, and is in fact there, and whatever issues there were were resolved. >> why did he go there. was it to deliver a message to baghdad that the kurds are important? was that a symbolic decision? sec. cook: i will let the chairman's office speak for his itinerary, but obviously this chairman thought it was important to go to iraq. we have an ongoing effort in
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iraq," ration with the government. -- close collaboration with the government. when the secretary visited iraq to travel there as well, that's what happened. >> before landing in baghdad? sec. cook: he did not, but i did not read too much into the itinerary. there is a lot of reasons why folks might travel to one place or another in terms of security, to meet people in certain locations. i refer you to the chairman's office for the specific itinerary. >> while the negotiations are ns were going on with russians, they flew within 500 feet on one occasion and within 1500 feet of a u.s. fighter jets over syria. fight test flight safety but are flying within 500 feet of u.s. aircraft, what makes you believe you can trust them?
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sec. cook:sec. cook: i think you just highlighted why we need this kind of agreement in place. our aircrews continue to fly in a professional fashion, and this agreement now, this understanding, obligates the russians to do the same. and we call on them to abide by the protocols that they have now agreed to. wouldou just described, not reflect the professional airman ship that this understanding calls for. >> what does it say that they as they areat even negotiating or discussing safety with you, and at the same time flying within 500 feet of u.s. aircraft and pilots over syria? sec. cook: it says to me that the russians need to abide by these flight safety protocols, that they have now agreed to. because we don't want miscalculation and misunderstanding. the kinds of activities you just
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described could lend themselves to misunderstanding and miscalculation. that is something we want to avoid. we do not agree with the russians on their strategy in syria. can agreeum, we unsafe operations of flights over syria between our aircrews and there is. rs. >> it seems fairly inconceivable that the chairman of the joint chiefs air have flight crew would incorrectly filed any flight plans over iraq, in particular this is a country they have been well over afor decade. how can it possibly have been a flight plan miscommunication? again, i'm not there, what thet know exactly discrepancies were. i just know that the chairman is on the ground. is airspace over iraq
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complicated place. they have security concerns understandably, given what is happening in their country. find out exactly what the discrepancy was here, but the chairman is on the ground safely. i think that is what is most important here. obviously, this is something we would love to avoid with the iraqis, but sometimes things happen and we will find out with the details were. >> given the number of close flights between coalition and russian aircraft, what happens now if there is another close call >? sec. cook: obviously they have signed this agreement. justare obligated under it like we are, to abide by the rules. if there is an instance in which there is unprofessional conduct, and they are not the kinds of safety protocol that are called for, we will raise those concerns with the russians, and we will take it from there.
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our hope is that now that they have signed this, they will abide by the professional airman ship our crews are already showing over syria right now. sec. cook: does this apply to drones as well? sec. cook: yes, it covers both. it covers all aircraft over syria operated by russian and coalition. >> is there a separation you would like to see here, 1, 2 miles, 20 miles? a safe distance? sec. cook: safe distance is probably the key word. >> what is a safe distance, is that spelled out? sec. cook: i'm not going to get into all the details of the agreement -- let me finish. again, it calls for aircraft to maintain a safe distance, and i'm not going to want to all the details, but we have the most professional and capable aircrews in the world. they operate with professionalism every day over
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syria. we are calling on the russians to do the same. what irews know exactly safe distance is. the obligation is upon the russians to maintain that safe distance and airman ship just as our crews display. >> can you give us a sense of the safe distance? feet or miles? sec. cook: it is safe to say anything that could be deemed as threatening or hostile, would represent a violation of this agreement, and it is very clear to our aircrews what constitutes that right now. they are able to identify right away when another aircraft has crossed that line. and that should be abundantly clear from this memorandum, exactly what that is. there should be no question in the minds of russian pilots and coalition aircrews as to what the proper protocols are. f-16s demurrage,
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the russian aircraft is 20 miles away. is we assume the distance what the u.s. would like to see? sec. cook: will not get into but ours with you, crews will know full well when a hope itaircraft -- we does not happen but the potential to violate these terms, it would be very clear. like there are numbers spelled out in the agreement in terms of the safe distance. sec. cook: i will not get into all the specifics. >> i'm just saying, are there numbers? sec. cook: a safe distance is just the best way to look at this. that is the way the pilots are looking at this. this should give our pilots, if the russians abide by it, some comfort that these kinds of
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incidents can be avoided altogether and that there is no need for them to have an encounter if everyone is abiding by these rules. let me go to the back. isn't it reasonable to think that the russian notion of safe distance on might be differen than the american notion? so that the agreement would necessarily need to define in some way. the russians might say, to us five miles is a safe distance, we are great pilots. seems like a safe distance has to be defined better. are you saying it is not or that you are not going to tell us? sec. cook: i'm telling you that the protocols put in place here, that we have agreed to end the russians have agreed to, should be abundantly clear to the pilots flying over syria, what is appropriate and what is not. what would be deemed a threatening and what is not. that is why we are confident this will ensure, and encourage
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the safety of our pilots over syria. distance, the other steps in here, i'm not going to read through each and every one of them. i will make it clear what you can and cannot do, and proximity to aircraft. -- in proximity to aircraft. themselves hads the ability to communicate now that they did not have before? sec. cook: they have always had the ability to communicate. the protocols, i think it is safe to say, make it easier and less chance for miscommunication, and perhaps enable them to communicate them more easily and efficiently than they did in the past. i think that is there to say. -- fair to say. i want to make the point, that if the russians abide by these rules, there would be no reason for them to engage audibly and
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communication because they should not be that close to begin with. that >>uld not be in situation. we are just trying to understand what close means. >> just to clarify a safe distance. including the safe distance between the aircraft or, there are some conditions indicating forcing russian aircraft from that border? sec. cook: this specifically refers to aircraft and flights over syria. >> any other condition? sec. cook: it refers to aircraft, specifically. the memorandum of understanding. we have made clear to concerns about the russian incursion into turkish airspace, nato airspace. made the understanding specifically with aircraft under syria. >> so is there a specific
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channel or frequency, what is it that makes it easier? sec. cook: i think i have mentioned before, that it would be a specific frequency they would use as a baseline. that's a good example of how this would be easier and more efficient, should they have to have communications again. but these protocols, we would hope, with event that from even having to happen. >> one follow-up. thesaid that russia asked language, was the justification and why did the u.s. agree? sec. cook: to be honest i don't know, i was not there for that part, but i know it was a request. home, canada had elections. the prime minister elect said in the past he would look to end
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candidate involvement in operations and cut entirely the plan five from the current government. any reaction from that undergone -- from the pentagon? sec. cook: we noted the election results in canada. a nato ally, norad partner, part of our coalition and we look forward to continuing a strong defense relationship we have with canada moving forward. they are a partner in the f 35 program so it would be inappropriate for me to speculate about how that can change. ours in a key ally of so many ways, but particularly in defense. we look forward to maintaining that relationship going forward. typen you elaborate on the -- since the russians have been flying, can you elaborate on the numbers of unsafe encounters there have been and any details on the types? sec. cook: i don't have a list
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here. my understanding, there have been a handful of incidents. our hope is these protocols prevent anything like that from happening going forward. that is the hope and expectation. >> does that include manned and unmanned aircraft? sec. cook: yes, it covers both. involvingncidents russian interceptions of unmanned as well as manned? causeook: those incidents us concern, so those were the reasons we were willing to at least talk to the russians about this one limited area where we could find mutual understanding and simply to promote the safety of our aircrews, and also the over syria, including unmanned aircraft as well. a i don't know if you have
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printout of general dunford's meeting, but weeks ago, they complained about the program and that wereweapons supposed to be delivered had been decreased after baghdad. -- after that. you have any comment? sec. cook: i'm not aware of that. readout ofw the the chairman's meetings. i'm not aware of an issue with regard to that. i'm not aware of an issue with that. to i think our support for the -- has been strong in terms of equipment. i think you've got the chairman of the joint chief. i think that's representative of that sort of commitment. >> one more on syria. i think several weeks ago -- i
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ago thereple of weeks were different statements came out from the u.s. government, pentagon on the syrian including g. at first it was an air drop. then there was change in the statement. do you have any comment why any change in the statement? sec cook: it was for the syrian air coalition. it was successful. i'll just re-state that. it went where it was intended to the people who was intended to receive it. it was not intended to be --ivered for for for secretary cook: it was intended coalition.ian air i have lucas behind you.
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jennifer?o to, >> i'm impressed. correspond would do that. >> peter, do you trust the russians? secretary cook: lucas, the fact that we've had to resort to a memorandum of understanding here to try to work out what should be, you know, standard protocol gives you an indication of our concern about russia's activities. our willingness to work with the in our own interest. that's what's happening here. we're looking to the russians to abide by these protocols to ensure safe flight operations syria. is a narrowirm this understanding.
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they have been clear. we don't agree with that they are doing. are notthe russians protecting isis and signs agreemented and there's been numerous nuclear agreements. what makes you think they will abide by this one? we continue to: have situational awareness for our crews. were doing everything that can beyond this understanding to as safee our crews are as possible. we're going to continue to do that. memorandum isthe the only thing we're doing to make sure our crews remain safe over syria. i'm going to go to the back.
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indicated you don't particularly trust russia. that's why you signed the mou in the first place. that's the case, you don't trust syria or iran either. withot do the same thing them? >> secretary cook: this is specific to flight operations in syria. at this particular moment in time if we have an incident over syria, it would most likely involve russian aircraft. rightre flying over syria now. i'm not sure the parallel there. we're doing this because of the risk. right now. these air cruise could have some syria. incident over we're trying to reduce the risk by the memorandum of with the >> does this cover any coalition aircraft that could be flying in syria? has there been any feedback or concern raised by other governments? secretary cook: yup. it does include coalition aircraft as well. we've been in consultation with
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our partners throughout the entire process. are aware of the memorandum of understanding and the terms that are within it. >> okay. do u.s. pilots have permission to fire on russian planes if the not abide by this protocol? secretary cook: i'll maintain said from the very start. our air crews always have the themselves.end our hope with this memorandum of riskstanding is that the of any sort of incident in the air over syria is reduced at a minimum, hopefully eliminated by this. where theyno matter are flying, have the ability to defend themselves if they feel threatened. >> is the secretary still advicing the call? secretary cook: yes.
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they support and have detailed that at capitol hill and elsewhere. i have time for two more. >> one quick point. the does it also cover syria and syrian aircraft? secretary cook: this is russian aircraft and coalition aircraft. that's right now -- if there's a of incident right now, it involves russian aircraft. cover syriant aircraft. >> other times you said specifically threatening behavior. the earlier encounters, were some of those considered to be threatening on of the russians? secretary cook: it is safe to involving close proximity to an aircraft that's not a member of your coalition deemed as threatening. those are the kind of incidents avoid here. i think these protocols, if they followed, will reduce that
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risk and reduce the chance of anything like that happening. >> in afghanistan, any progress ?n the investigation secretary cook: waiting for our on the initial civilian casualty component of investigation. i don't have a specific update for you now. waiting thosee results ourselves. last one here. it seems there's a named u.s. aircraft. any details that you can share with us? secretary cook: my this wording -- i got literally as i came in -- there a-10's arriving. i don't have the exact number. i got thisnding -- word as i came in -- there are a-10's. this is part of a regular rotation that was planned. they are replacing the f-16?
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secretary cook: that's my understanding. i'm just sharing what i know at this point. i'll squeeze one more in in the back. mou's seem like thigh were agreed upon on friday. been any improvement since friday? secretary cook: you mean in the air? >> any improvement in communications? secretary cook: i'm not aware of any incidents that have happened since then. to me, again that could be a russiansn of the abiding by the rules already. our folks have been abiding bit start.rom the it is standard protocol. again maybe that's an indication russians will be abiding by this. we certainly hope so. is in effect. significants were put in place today. go from there. i'm not sure i can release that.
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someone you know. at that. leave it >> i won't be able to answer this, i'm sure. >> earlier because of the concerns over the air defenses and the closer support role, if you could give us anything on what they will be if they will be flying over syria and any concerns there might be on the air defenses there. secretary cook: let me take that question. i'm sure we can give you a solid answer. with thateigh in getting 100% on what their role will be. for you.that thank you. bob, i'll try to get the answer to your question as well to make can release it publicly as to the signature. let me make sure we don't violate the terms of our agreement by disposing it. right. thanks, everyone.
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up, the situation in syria. his decision on for running for house leader and oner the house committee defense authorization. journal"xt "washington david john lee talked about the gop leadership. congressman jolly serves on the committee.ion van hollen and later what happened in benghazi libya and after the attack that killed ambassador chris stevens americans.ther live.ngton journal" is you can join the conversation with your calls and comments on twitter.and thursday former secretary of
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state and presidential candidate, hillary clinton, testifies before the house committee on benghazi about the 2012 terrorist attack the u.s. consulate. christopher stevens and three killed inicans were the attack. we have live coverage of the testimony at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span3, c-span radio, and on a signature feature of book tv is the all day coverage of festivals with top non-fiction authors. here's our schedule beginning this weekend. nation'se in the heartland for the wisconsin book festival in madison. month, we'll the be in nashville for the southern festival of books. at the start of november, we're back on the east coast. in the middle of the month, it festivaluisiana book in baton rouge. at the end of november, we're a rowor the 18th year in
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from florida for the miami book fair international. book awardsonal from new york city. just some of the fairs and c-span2'sthis fall on book tv. >> now a discussion on u.s. and insian military operations syria. the event hosted by the women's foreign policy group and new university's washington, d.c. center. and 15 minutes. >> good evening, everyone. thank you for joining us for a headlinesyond the event, obama and putin, in syria.d securitynational
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correspond and associate editor the "washington post," meyers covering national security issues spent a lot of also withssia and mostad pure chief, and significantly is the author of the new book. ellis, president of the women's foreign policy group. we promote women's leadership on pressingvoices international issues of the day. timely one.ainly a so on behalf of our board here elizabeth bumiller, are sotheresa lore, we pleased you could be with us tonight for the timely event. warmo want to extent a welcome to our diplomatic
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colleagues who were here. we are really pleased that you join us. a very warm welcome to our nyu-walk we appreciate your warm hospitality. partner with you and great to be back here again in the beautiful space. i begin the program, i wanted to mention we have another event on wednesday on ukraine. we hope as many of you as possible can join us. now my great pleasure to introduce our moderator for this elizabeth bumiller. washington brew row chief who previously covered the pentagon and white house, elizabeth? [applause]
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elizabeth: thanks, pat. you can all hear me. thank you for coming out tonight. to my two colleagues, my competitor and colleague. and just introduce -- karen i have -- i was just adding it up. between the three of us, we have 76 years of journalism experience. it is daunting. brieflys i'm going to introduce both of them. i'm going to have steve to start first. five minutes each. then i'll ask a handful of ofstions and open it to all you. karen is a national security ed tortnd and associate "washington post." she was in lath tan america, was thewhite house, she assistant managing editor for national new, national editor, and foreign editor. we used to go on trips together. recovering the george w. bush white house. she was very daunting. everything. she was in the filing center until the middle of the night.
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think what is she filing? oh, me god. fan tasting. she's also good company. steve has worked with "times" years. seven of them in russia. on putin.pert he has written about the war in he covered the wind and of the war in iraq national securities issues on the washington bureau. i'm very honored to be his -- editors.s you also author as pat told of the new czar. i believe you will have it -- it you tolable here for sign -- he will be signing it for you afterwards. started i was -- i have it. it is a wonderful read. steven on top of everything else writer.a great
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very readable. absorbing book about putin. actually why don't you guys start. so we'll start. very much.u that was a kind introduction. not live. >> i'm sorry. i just do what i'm told. is that better? to speak up. >> can somebody turn it? mine is on; right? >> i can try again. is that better? >> we have to fix the mike. >> i'm sorry about that. i have two.
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let's try it a bit higher. does that make any difference whatsoever. i think it needs to be on. >> i'm happy. i'm plugged in. >> should we have karen start? sure. do that. here you are going to be. okay. is on.t -- green light >> how is that? no difference. is it something i've done? do you mind just holding it? >> i don't mind holding it. that better? okay. sorry about that. there's always a little confusion. thankinging -- i was elizabeth for the introduction and for the chance to be here and talk to all of you. is incredibly timely now to be talking about vladimir putin.
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i think it always is, but who could have envisioned a few weeks ago that we would be sitting here talking about an intervention in syria. is really quite extraordinary for russia today and also i confounding for a lot of people. i don't think it has to be. actually a much simpler, thath complicated equation putin is making right now. it has to do with a lot of factors. the very simple explanation is russia is doing it can.ause for a lot of years, after the union, aof the soviet period we and the united states the west -- the west being afraid i thought we would retire at some point. is back with a vengeance now. for a long time, we saw what was in russia after the collapse of the soviet union as positive thing for the
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world. a period to cooperate and engage russia, the new republican out of the former soviet union. in fact, inside russia, it was seen as a period of great chaos. empire, the a great soviet empire, whether or not you liked it or not is beside the point. people like putin saw that was happening as a disaster. it is for a lot of russians. made the transition more easily than other. fabulously russians end most tonk it is something close catastrophe. in the period after putin came power, he thought -- i think the primary motivation was to russia for some sort of
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greatness akin to the soviet union. some people think he is trying to recreate the soviet union. i don't think that's it. trying to get russia as they say up off her knees. where he the period saw the path to do that as being cooperation with the west and with the united states in certainly with europe, you know, close economic relationships with germany and other partners in europe. if you think to when he first was a mucher, he more collaborative, cooperative leader, i think. what happened in his mind was never reciprocated. the united states, again allieslly, and its nato continue to press their security felt at the cost of his own of russia's security interest. surprised thatem assia would intervene
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forcefully as they have in syria. he's telegraphed the punch, if you will, since at least 2003 in iraq.pposed the war he saw the united states again. statesled out the united more than its allies. u.s.w them as the exercising a power abroad, a force abroad in a way that he saw as destabilizing outside of the context of the u.n. a you think about it, weakened russia, all they had veto.eir u.n. i'm not sure they had a great deal of confidence in their security security -- their nuclear security. i think the feeling that the agenda, pushing an exercising or exerting power that struckmething very deeply at russia. with kosovo before putin came to power. it is not something unique to him.
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certainly with iraq and significantly with the orange revolution as it was called in 2004 in ukraine. theaw the west -- again u.s. he singles out -- as supporting the mass protest on and overthrowing what he considered to be a legitimate government in ukraine. with that.eeing that's very much how he sees it. rewind to all of the events that have happened since arab particularly with the spring, he saw what we took to peaceful uprisings against dictatorships or at least authoritarian governments. we saw that as a hopeful thing much as we did the collapse of the soviet union. we saw it with something close to terror. on the street being able essentially usurp power. putin believes in power. he believes in the central
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authority of the state as being the only thing to stop chaos. it can stop blood shed, literally. which he had stepped down, it was not really time, dmitry, the to putingure but close and inseparable in terms of policies, but not as paranoid as a figure. was persuaded by the united states and joe biden in particular as the need to intervene in libya as what began as a peaceful uprising become eventuallynt and lead to the intervention of the libyan government towards the protesters in benghazi area.
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pedestrian involve instructed to abstain. saw that medvedev was allowing the russian forces just standing by while the united states were helping overthrow governments. we saw the chaos that followed and the of mubarak restoration now. chief ofy, putin's interview.a long he's back in god power. they see this as a fundamental power. in the care of syria, it is a red line for putin. the soviet unions -- the russians that followed
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has had a long-standing relationship with syria. they have a base there as everyone knows and close ties. really russia's closest ally in the middle east. thea long time again in period of chaos after the collapse of the soviet union, i that decayed. that relationship had weakened over time. russia was weak. power and having modernized the military just the lastin few years, little noticed beyond the people who watched this closely. realized that he was now at risk. yetn in his mind, of another western effort to topple a government. position he was in a partly because the obama administration, which i'm sure about, andalk more other leaders don't seem to know how to address the conflict in right now. he sees the chaos that's unfolding as something -- again
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that's marching closer and will to theu kremlin himself. he saw this as part of the same plot. plot is not too strong of a word. he thinks it has been orchestrated. because of the power of the military and the uncertain the west, he'sm been able to forcefully stop what he sees ofthis continued march overthrowing governments, moving closer and closer, and he has it as i saide because russia can. toh that, i'll turn it over karen. karen: thank you. elizabeth. ofelt what i do is just sort set the scene from last summer and how the obama administration saw it. the time they saw bashar on
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ropes and losing territory. the opposition getting stronger. with the distracted fight against the islamic state and thought that basically the fight against assad was succeeding. believed at the time and one can call this wishful retrospect, i think, thingsssia actually saw happening that way too. they were more amenable to starting some kind of political negotiations that would result leaving power. this was not the first time that the administration had found itself in the position. over the years, we're now in the fifth year of the civil war just year -- a little bit more than one year with the islamic state. holding large portions of syria. but at various times, certainly various times in 2011 at the
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beginning and in the summer of and at other points as this civil war has gone up and down, the administration has managed to convince itself, sometimes with reason, that actually assad was on the blink that there was this pressure that was on them to intervene in some way was lessening. that's certainly how they saw the situation last summer. that that was a message obama was very receiptive to. in a lot ofrs, battles within the people,ration with some usually in the state department urging more intervention and the pentagon saying no, he had always asked the well, if we do x, do we get y? could really -- in his view -- assure him that that was to happen.
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so given his promises not to war,ve the u.s. in another given has assessment that this was not a vital national the u.s.,nterest for humanitarianing crisis. i think his feeling was always american intervention beyond what they had agreed to theinor slipments to opposition, trying very hard to politicalind of negotiations organized and repeating that assad could not the solution was as far as he wanted to go. in about mid august, they started to get word from partners and friends in the that the russians had asked for new overflight rights large cargo planes, jets.ighter this was -- as they saw it, or in retrospect how they say they
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saw it, a sort of expansion but expansion of what had gone on for the past several years. theressians had a base and had a naval base. they had some aircraft stations there. they were constantly sending supplies in. they didn't see it as very troubling. allies to denyr the rights. they particularly asked greece bulgaria, the -- greece didn't have to really make a the requestause went away after a while. bulgaria after a specific request to deny the overflight rights did deny them. but the administration in late august specifically asked the russians. what are you up to? what are you doing? they said quoting again to the administration, we are fortifying our interest there. as scared of the islamic state as you are.


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