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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  October 30, 2015 10:00pm-12:01am EDT

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this president has definitely shown a willingness to executive orders on immigration being a perfect example. your point is really well taken that we have 70 month left to go and he still has a lot of latitude. he still checking things off the list. when he runs out of things he can do with congress, there are things he can do strictly on his own authority. they took my phone when i came in here, so i don't know what time it is. timemebody watching the for me? if somebody from the washington center could get in my field a view and give us a sense -- our two-minuten warning is. time forn: we've got questions. i'm going to invite you to come to the microphone, one or two do people just to get us started on each side. this is exciting. here we go.
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we get a taste of our own medicine now. ms. ryan: please don't hurt us. ms. parsons: why don't we start with you? >> good morning. ms. parsons: good morning. line-up. >> i just want to thank you guys for coming out this morning and talking. .'m interning a lot of the republican debate a few days ago was taste around the mainstream media being an extension of the democratic party -- based around the mainstream media being an extension of the democratic party. i just wondered if you support or debunk that theory. great question. i've been thinking about a lot since that debate. people alwayst of
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want to come up swinging at the media. there are some people who put opinion with act -- with fact, but for many of us in the white house, we definitely get all the sources, not one or two do. definitely.fact it may be something you don't like, but we put the fact out there. about the media all they want, but they are the first ones looking to the media to find out what is going on in this country. it is a double-edged sword, but trust me, we are good people and good journalists. you can assume what you want about me -- democrats think i'm a republican and republicans think i'm a democrat, so i'm doing my job. [laughter] [applause] i just want to echo that. i remember covering the romney campaign. in this age of twitter, you can look at your mentions and people coming after you on twitter, and i had so much hate coming at me from republicans who just hated the stuff that i did on mitt .omney
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now i get it from liberals on twitter who don't like what i'm talking about when it comes to talking about president obama. walter cronkite used to say that. cbs, and work at walter cronkite used to say if you are getting hit by the right and left, you must be doing something right. i think there's some truth to that. one thing i will say, and i find it interesting about this audience, is that i'm pretty sure just about everybody here grew up -- except for us on the thee and those running event -- grew up in this age of partisan media. april -- we did not grow up with ox news, msnbc. news, innocent bc. there were newspapers that took points of view and endorsed candidates, but it is not what it is now. for those of us who grew up in a different era, it's not unheard of to be objective, to be the ref, who can call it fair and square on both sides.
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but i do understand that mentality. "you guys just have opinions and you are letting your opinions affect your stories." we would not be where we are if that was the case. we had too many editors who would go, "get out of there. you are not doing your job right." it is checks and balances within our own bureaus. ms. hennessey: i would add that we are not perfect, either. there was a lot of criticism on that debate and how it was managed and handled, and that's all fair and good, and we should be scrutinized, and people should debate how we do our jobs, and i think viewers also -- you be mindful that were talking about the mainstream media being an arm of is democratic party -- that a long-standing political complaint of the republican party, and it works for them, right? there's a political reason for
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those folks to come out and complain about the media. of the united states loves to complain about the media. our current president of the united states is a media critic. i feel it might be his second .ob when he gets out of office, he's going to write media criticism because he has a lot of talk on it. think we go from both sides, and we should because we play an important role, and people should be watching what we do closely. mr. acosta: cokie roberts used to have an expression that our only bias is for a good story. for the professionals in this business, that is true. the bias is you want a good story, to break news. that is much more valuable, i think, to all of us up here than trying to skew things one way or the other. it's too transparent, too obvious if that is what you are doing. ms. parsons: yes? working at american
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legislative exchange council. i would like to ask you that, as you already mentioned, about the iran nuclear deal. some of the people did not like it. actually, a lot of people did not like it, and there were about it.otests i would like to ask you how you respond to these sorts of situations and what course of action do you take when a decision or situation of that happens and because you work closely with the white house. howparsons: are you asking we remain impartial when we analyze even though we are at the white house and hearing their point of view so much? is that what you mean? >> yes, exactly. do you have to act neutral about it? ms. parsons: well, yes. we don't have to just act neutral about it. we need to be neutral. neutral is the only stance from which to do appropriate reporting. there's an awful lot of opinion media in the world today, and
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you can hear, like, opinions without end on the internet and what, but really, reporters at the white house are trying to do is find as many facts as we can and get them to you. you just cannot do that if you are not neutral. you cannot get people to be straight with you. you cannot get people to be forthright with you. ms. hennessey: it does, also, speak to one of the dangers of covering the white house. you are there to know what the white house is thinking, so you really do talk to a lot of people who think -- or agree. that is your job, to know what the white house is saying and what they are thinking. so i think there is sort of a bubble effect sometimes where you spend a lot of time talking to white house officials, and it seepee been -- see in -- in, so you do have to fight
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against that. one of the ways to make sure is i think journalism as a team effort. you have to talk to your colleagues who are talking to folks at the state department and the pentagon and all over washington. folks on the hill. make sure you get out of the white house, have sources outside the white house, and just draw from a bigger pool to combat what you're talking about, i think, which is only hearing one side of the story all day long. right, and also, you have to bring the history into it. i think history plays an important part when it comes to conversations like this. you have to remember conversations you had in the past with president, private conversations, and with people on the national security council and then go out there. one of the most dangerous things in the white house -- it's a friendly atmosphere and relationship, but i think it's more dangerous for the white house to know that we do not rely solely on them. we go outside. you cannot just listen to what they say. you have to have outside sources thealk to people, to flush
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story out because they will spin it went away and the other side --l spin it the other way they will spin it one way, and the other side will spin at the other way. we try to use the information as it comes from all sides and give you the history so you know what may be the right or wrong thing. in that issue, you really need intelligence to talk about the fact -- you know, you did not know what was going on in iran before, and i think that is the key piece. we leave it to you to decide -- does this actually let you know what is going on with iran as far as their nuclear capability? it's a lot of pieces to the puzzle versus saying, "i feel this way." it's a lot of pieces to adequately inform you to make your decision. will say very quickly on the iran nuclear deal, i think maybe the thrust of what she was asking is well, it's an unpopular thing, why didn't the media report it as such or hit it harder?
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i will remind you that prime minister netanyahu of israel came to the united states, spoke before congress, and that received extensive coverage. i think both sides were aired pretty adequately during that debate, but the outcome did not agree with people on the republican side of the aisle, and they may have the last -- i don't want to say the last laugh on this, but certainly the last say on this is it in so being not what it was cracked up to be -- if it ends up being not what it was cracked up to be. >> i internet the american foundation for suicide prevention. isquestion to me -- to you being white house correspondents, what is it like to cover mass shootings, since we had an increase in those the last few years? ms. parsons: great question. ms. hennessey: i think, unfortunately, it is sort of
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repetitive or kind of protectable these days. i mean, we don't -- we are there -- our role, usually, is to find out when the president was made aware. what does he know about the incident on the ground? typically, it is covering presidential remarks where he comes out and renews his call to gun control, and that is a pattern that is really kind of set. on that level, it's a little depressing, really, but nothing like the people who have to go and cover these on the ground. so you get used to sort of the -- the cycle, i guess. certain: there are kinds of stories that infuse the white house when they are happening, and that is one of them. -- ms. parsons: that is one of them. those mass shootings are now so
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regular, and they hit the president and hit policy staff very hard when they happen because they feel this great sense of frustration because they have not been able to stop it, and this phenomenon has really proliferated during the obama white house. when that happens -- and i mean, it happens every day, by the way. there's a mass shooting in this country on average once a day. more than one person being shot and the shooter being -- having a gunshot as well. by that definition, there's a mass shooting in this country almost every day, so there's a real sense of sadness that goes with it. i did a story in the past week thet how this was once president's approach to gun control, and i think that one thing we try -- i try -- i tried very hard to do at the white house is exactly what kathleen said, which is to step away from that -- whatever the white house fixation is or the white house point of view and to try to inform the conversation more with information,
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evidence, data from the outside. note --: just a quick yesterday because the president just was in chicago talking to the police chiefs -- the international association of police chiefs -- and gun control was one of the issues. at the briefing i did ask how you move it forward. i asked something along the questions of is it now time to , and the nra to the table josh earnest said something like "in 2013" and i said, "what about 2015?" when the president comes to the podium having to address america about another mass shooting and no change in backgrounds, gun show loopholes all that stuff. mr. acosta: i just want to say for the young people who are here, you guys have to solve this problem. for you guys to have grown up with the this mass shooting epidemic in this country -- it's
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horrendous. i think if there's anything that we need fresh thinking on, it's this problem. the gun problem, the mental illness problem. how we put these things together and solve it in a way that does the partisan all disagreement. i would love to see the people in this room get to work on that one. the aatce.erning at beenadministration has known for exploring other types of media other than the traditional media -- mr. acosta: we love this topic! ,> the personal twitter account to which we all know that he does not like peas in his guacamole. opinion, how has that impacted the relationship between the press corps and white house?
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that really hits us where we live. great question. how much time do you have? mr. acosta: do you have another hour? ms. parsons: estimate who has covered barack obama since 1995 when he was in the illinois senate and i was therefore the beginning of his presidential campaign, and immediately what set him apart was his ability to go around the established media because there were these blossoming avenues, opportunities for him to take his message directly to his give aaudience, to particular message to a particular audience, and his opportunity to do that has only has beenle he president. i don't know if you ever go to the white house website and look at what they have there, but they have their own tv show, and it's pretty good. i mean, it's, like, well produced and has a lot of information. they havet because
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information we only learn there. they have a lock on that information. the white house photographer is my former colleague at "the a wonderfulune," photographer with almost unlimited access to the president. those pictures come out on his -- ms. ryan: twitter account. instagram account. flickr account. they do not have to risk of yet, but that's probably right around the corner. -- they had --they do not have periscope yet. not only is barack obama the first african-american president, he is the first social media president. the do that interview with the lady who is famous for doing the thing where she sat in a bathtub of froot loops. it got millions of viewers. this is like gangbusters. let's bring her in here. she called michelle obama the
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first wife instead of the first lady -- i know. that was a lot of fun. the obstacles we have to overcome because they can just go around us now and find these new alternative places to get their message across. we're like, "wait a minute! what about cnn? we have twitter. we have things like that, too." they would so much rather play in those sandboxes and play with us. ms. ryan: because we ask the tough questions. ms. parsons: i was going to get to that point because sometimes, the president does choose to go around the traditional media with people he knows will ask tough questions or questions he is not completely prepped for. it's not entirely to avoid tough questions, but that's usually our complaint. blogger,talk to xyz the follow-up questions are not what we would ask, so they do not seem to us like the toughest
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questions. let's be honest -- they are just not. ms. hennessey: there's two phenomena happening. i feel like there's the president going around us and getting people where they live, going to "people" magazine, whatever. people who do not read the ap would find it. that has happened for a really long time and, frankly, might just be smart and we just have to accept it. the other thing this white house does it is also new and remarkable is the way they generate more of their own content and feed it out in ways that is not always identifiable as not journalism. to createare able their own television shows, their own tweets, their own photographs. it looks like journalism, kind of feels like journalism, but it's produced by the white house. mr. acosta: it is often to get a
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policy position a cross. they did of that -- they did a lot of that social media to talk about obamacare in a way that they got all the airtime they wanted to talk about what they wanted to talk about without having to go through us. do it on their own time with their own outlets that they have hand-picked, they do not have to answer those questions quite as much. ms. parsons: that was a great question. yes. >> i'm from university of new hampshire. you mentioned a couple of times that you guys are the ones writing the first draft of history every day, so with that, do you think the obama administration's foreign-policy legacy will be remembered positively or negatively? mr. acosta: that's a good one. i think that when your biography is written and you are the president who called the order to take out osama bin laden, it is very difficult if you do not like barack obama to expect that his biography will be this
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terrible disaster. it is going to be remembered that he made that call, like it or not. at the same time, he's also the president who said, "i'm going to wind down the wars in iraq and afghanistan." as we know with what is happening with isis and the decision that was made recently was not pulling all our steaks up in afghanistan by the end of the term, that those wars will go on with the next president -- ,ot pulling all our stakes up those wars will go on with the next president, and these are people who are more hawkish than barack obama. the iran nuclear deal was brought up earlier, and it's another x factor that may also have an impact on his legacy. but i think the killing of osama bin laden is a big one from a historical standpoint in my view. ms. ryan: as donald trump say, it's huge. it's huge. [laughter] ms. ryan: i hate to say this --
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you guys laugh, but we talk amongst ourselves. donald trump -- with all jokes aside, there are some people who are running for president that could be president. you are laughing. i'm not trying to be funny. i mean, you are laughing, but he in the polls. he's not falling off or walking away. you are laughing, but this is really serious. [laughter] ok, back to the original question, some of the facts are not known yet. we do not know how the iran nuclear deal has worked out. we do not know if the opening relationship with cuba is going to achieve the things that the obama administration wants it to achieve, but to a large degree, the answer to your question depends on who you are talking to. are you a person who thinks the u.s. should be moving to a more multilateral approach to the
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rest of the world, or do you think it is week for the president to keep trying to build coalitions everywhere he goes -- do you think it is weak? do you think it is a bad idea that the president has not fully drawn down troops, but he has dramatically reduced the american involvement in ground war and absolutely refuses to enter into another one -- do you think that is a good idea, or do you think the u.s. now has a weaker position as a leader and as a military force around the ? rld to analyze your question, i need know, there's a lot of data to be analyzed on .oth sides now it's your turn. yes? >> good morning. regardingn is coverage of policing in the media. as we know, there are millions policeractions between
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and the community every single day. it seems to me personally that there's a lot more coverage and a lot more in-depth stories about the negative interactions of the police in the community, and they seem to be getting more media attention in the positive interactions with the police and the community, especially lately, which is a good income of it at the same time, do you think that makes an impact on the community's perception of all police, specifically cop" that do"good not have these negative interactions with the community? ms. parsons: that's a really good question. [applause] i actually think again because we were so narrowly focused on the white the whiteo sense house is trying to walk this line a little bit. april mentioned the president talked to police chiefs this
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week. it was an interesting speech and that he was really struggling to try to acknowledge what he said about police brutality, his black livesthe matter movement, his own experiences, and also not enforcement, who actually he needs their support on gun control and some other issues that he cares a lot about. he is walking that line personally. i noticed -- i don't know if you guys did -- yesterday or this week there was a viral video of the police officer dancing "the it's really fun. with a young woman -- i don't know where they are. somewhere in d.c. there was some sort of mild confrontation. she was trying to get the young girl to leave the corner or do something, and they basically got into a dance off, and it's fabulous video. mr. acosta: didn't obama tweet about that? ms. hennessey: the white house tweeted it out.
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ms. ryan: i don't know how to do it. my kids would try. ms. hennessey: the power of the wit and -- the whip and nae nae. they also were trying to when i have a moment sees it -- seize it. one thing in how i report things and how i go about it and how my network treat things -- newss is about something that is extraordinary or uncommon. we have law enforcement in this nation that for the most part is great. fact -- we have some issues in this nation that have been videotaped. how do you marry them? that has gone to the leader of the free world, to his desk. and then you have these organizations that are upset because media is covering it and
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some people internalize it and take it the wrong way. instead of trying to make positive change -- and you also have people out here who make it opinion, but there is a fact that we have great policing out here. i'm from baltimore. i grew up with officer finley coming into my school room and talking to us and community policing. but then you see that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. it does not mean that everyone is bad. i don't know who was reporting it. i know there are people who have opinions and say things, but it does not make it right, and you have to find a way to marry the support and fixing the problem. i think any good journalist would really put that out versus saying the police departments are all being chastised. it's called weeding out issues. and they are not just problems with the black or latino community. there are problems with white people as well. it could be excessive force and control. there's a problem that needs to be fixed. that's it. that's the simple answer. ms. parsons: i think we probably
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have time for two more questions. let's go to this question are over here. is -- working in the white house, what do you think is the major issue that needs attention or policy change that you have experienced or needs more attention to it? mr. acosta: you guys go. i said guns earlier. that has got to be solved in this country. it's one of those -- the nra has so frightened politicians in this town to touch anything related to guns that it's just not going to -- i don't think that is going to get solved unless there is some sort of -- and we thought that the sandy hook tragedy was going to be that catalyst, and even that was -- getugh to get is done things done. even when universal background checks is supported by the vast majority of americans -- i think almost nine out of 10 americans
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-- and it could not get done because of the power of the nra. it's one of those stories that we cover fairly extensively when one of these mass shootings pop up, but then it sort of goes by the wayside. i don't think education gets nearly the coverage that it should, and that's in the media written large. -- the media written large -- writ large. it has to do with how widespread the whole enterprise is, but that's a big problem in this country. everything else we talk about that here relates to it, and it's almost -- it's probably the least -- if you were to list the top 20 things people talked about or broadcasted about in the last week, i bet that would be at the bottom. actuallyssey: i would have to agree with you on that. when arne duncan recently announced he was resigning, it was a moment in the white house press corps where we all had to remember when was the last time we wrote about education.
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it's just not a daily topic, but actually, federal policy does really -- people have strong opinions about it, too. it's actually coming up in the presidential race here and there, particularly jed bush -- particularly jeb bush. news outlets of not having the resources to hire someone who is an expert in that topic. >> does it bother you or offend you as professional journalists when the president goes on weekday shows like "the view" and hang out with whoopi goldberg, who i personally love, or hang out with zach galifianakis on late-night tv to talk about policy instead of talking to professional journalists and professional media superstars such as yourselves? mr. acosta: wow. ms. ryan: i embrace that. know, it doesu
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not bother me. actually, presidents have been going on late-night tv shows -- i think nixon was on "laugh in" -- this was way before your time. clinton on arsenio hall playing saxophone. that was a good one. ms. ryan: it was. mind ista: that i don't much, but what concerns me, and it's something i think you guys should be concerned about, and i feeling this is a case in covering campaigns as well, and maybe i'm getting old and too gray and grumpy, but i think this barrier that exists between the people we cover and the press is getting bigger and bigger, and it's getting easier and easier to corral us and move us off to the side. i don't know if you saw this just over the summer, hillary clinton's campaign used a rope to pull that the press, to make
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sure that they kept moving, as if we are cattle. beings.re human come up with a different way other than using an actual rope to move us around. hillary clinton's campaign also has its own pool. there was a story in the "new york times," where someone who is in that pool, which is a small group of reporters who cover a president -- hillary clinton's campaign in its infancy had a pool, and there was a story about one of the reporters had to be accompanied to the bathroom by somebody with the campaign. to ende is something with, and i don't want to end on a gloomy note because you sort of vast a lighthearted question about presidents going to late-night talk shows -- you sort of asked a lighthearted question -- is you guys have to anht this effort to put ever-increasing barrier between us and the politicians we cover. i think that is one of the greatest dangers to our democracy.
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people talk about, "you guys are all liberals. you are too conservative. you are to corporate -- too corporate." we still need us. what separates us from most countries on earth is the strong, robust press corps. i think i can put an even more positive spin on that is a great ending point, which is many of you will go on and in media.icy what we have explored today is the importance of an authentic dialogue, an authentic relationship between newsmakers and the people and the press. people here and talk about smart things the white house has done because they understood we were expressing of our readers and
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listeners, it makes the white house smarter. it makes you smarter. it makes all of us smarter when we are engaging in conversation .nd having real interactions if you were to ask each person , it's not because we are superstars. the only person who i know who called me up to tell me "great job on c-span," it's my mom. hi, mom. the people who cover the white house, the people on this panel and go do this every day. they could make more money doing something else but choose to do this because they really believe in the cause. asking questions, getting answers, getting people more informed.
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i thank you for having this great panel. i hope you will join me in thanking them. [applause] forgain, thank you all being here this morning. if you would like to dig a little deeper into at least one of our panelists'stories, ms. ryan has a book. do you want to say a few words about the book and give a little synopsis? you will be able to purchase a copy of it later this morning for 17 bucks. it will be in the classroom later on, and ms. ryan is going to stick around. you want to tell us about it? ms. ryan: my up close view of three presidential races in america on the record in this book. bill clinton, current president barack obama, former first lady laura bush, colin powell, condi --e -- the list goes on talking issues of race, and what
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it took to get these kind of people go on the record on race. it means they are trying to talk about issues of race, and that's the issue in this country right now. we are a nation that is browning. i encourage you to pick it up and let me know what you think. >> a little peace of housekeeping, go ahead and remain seated. we will continue our conversation in less than a minute but take a moment to allow our speakers to get up and leave the room, and we will continue that conversation in one moment. just one more time, how about a round of applause for this great panel? thank you. [applause] the director of national intelligence and other key intelligence officials will discuss how they are responding to security threats at the defense and national security summit. watch it live at 8:30 a.m. eastern on c-span2 and www.c-span.org.
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>> c-span has your coverage of the road to the white house, 20 16, where you will find the candidates, speeches, debates, and more importantly your questions. we are taking the coverage into classrooms across the country with our student cam contest, giving students the opportunity to discuss what important issues they want to hear most from the candidates. follow our coverage on tv, on the radio, and online at www.c-span.org. >> at a pentagon briefing, nato supreme allied commander general breedlove spoke to reporters about syria and iraq and also's -- also discussed the russian military's involvement. this is 40 minutes.
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>> good morning. we will be in the building all day, so my blackberry will not be working. ok, good morning. thanks again for the opportunity to provide you with an update on the things that are keeping us busy at u.s.-european command. my last visit was back in april, so i'm confident that we will have some updates on many lines of effort since that time. i have one intervening conference with you scheduled, which was canceled for some tough things happening downrange. i will begin with a brief opening statement and that i will answer questions. since i was last year, a lot has transpired across the yukon theater of operations. european security challenges continue to grow and become more complex. in fact, it will not be an overstatement to say that we are changing on almost a daily basis. therefore my key focus is to remain constant. first, russia's continued
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aggressive actions and malign influence remain a top concern at high priority. although the cease-fire and eastern ukraine is holding i'm still concerned about russia's lack of effort to end its occupations and honor its commitment in ukraine. in syria, russia's intervention continues to make more questions than answers. russia's actions prolong the conditions creating massive scale emigration of refugees that is further worrying our southern allies. and the eastern allies continue to be concerned about russian expansion. these concerns are a strategic challenge for all of europe. as i stated five months ago we cannot fully be certain of what russia will do next. we still cannot fully discern mr. putin's intent. but i can observe the capabilities and capacities that
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russia is creating across our area. i continue believe that we must strengthen our deterrence and that our nato allies must continue to adapt by improving readiness and responsiveness. one example of how we continue to improve our readiness is the exercise triton to ensure going on today. that is the biggest exercise in more than a decade. it represents a clear devastation of nato's resolve and capability. -- demonstration of nato's resolve and capability. a high readiness and technologically advanced force comprised of land, air, maritime and special force units are capable of being deployed quickly to support our operations wherever needed.
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this exercise is enhancing our ability to work with our allies, partners, and other international organizations with response to crisis situations. we also believe that expanding our training mission in ukraine, from the ministry of interior's national guard forces to the ministry of defense active military component will grow the capability capacity to address the challenges it faces. the u.s. focus from the outset has been pursuing a diplomatic solution that respects ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. we continue to: russia to fully cease and destabilizing actions in eastern ukraine, to end its occupation of crimea, and to fully honor its commitments. turkey, one of our oldest allies. the situation continues to become more complex around them. now a critical partner integrating at feeding iso--- in
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degrading and defeating isolate, they continue to support has across many lines of effort. the u.s. air force continues to be a important force more employer -- force multiplier. as you know, most of the forces we have in europe are also will have to do to africa coming in. while they are stationed in europe they are focused on african missions on the cognitive. in this way they are supporting across the scene into african. building up to congressional testimony, if you cannot tell. obviously, i do not want to continue to bang the drum about the centrality of european command to the global national security issues we face. i do want to bang the drum.
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it is not what it was 18 months ago, or even six months ago. new threats and challenges seemingly emerge every day. we stand ready to meet them, and the supporting commands of silicon and afrikaans and the supporting test command every day. finally, our commitment to our article five obligation in europe is ironclad. giving the complexity of challenges we face globally, it remains critical that we continue to work together with our allies and partners. this has been true for 60 years, and it is true today. with that, i'm ready to take your questions. >> general, the army chief just returned from ukraine. on the way home he said he is recommending a search of army forces into europe.
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what does that mean? and if i could, have you seen evidence that the russians have russian cargo flights are ferrying weapons into syria? there has been some reporting that there were 10 days, twice a day flights in breach of un security council resolutions. general breedlove: let me answer the second was first, it is fairly easy prey i am not personally seen any confirmation of that. i read the same things you have read. i cannot give you any other definition on that. as to the general's remarks, he is a good friend and a great chief. he had i have been talking from the very beginning about how we would address force concerns in europe. our force structure in europe now is not adequate to the larger rustler -- russian task that we see. how do we address that?
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we all accept that our current permanent force structure will probably not change. how do we address the need for increased force posture? what we see is working to gather on a formula of increased pre-positioning of equipment forward, as you know we have just now finished the full deployment of one heavy brigade of the positions which forward. we're now looking at what further reposition material we need to address. we had worked on this before he left. we have to take up into the next administration for the chief of staff of the army. we have highlighted what is important. the ability to rapidly reinforce europe will rely first on fast-moving troops following it on pre-positioning materials.
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we need to have the appropriate composition and type of position materials forward. both generals before and after and i have very similar visions of what that will take. and then, to address the force posture that full said, what you have seen already in our operation is a rotating force into these most former nations -- most former nations of the balkans, and romania and bulgaria. we are talking about the appropriate size and composition of that future horse that mary's with a nato rotation into the same nation to develop assurance and deterrence into the future. these are the things that we're talking about. >> general, you talk about
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turkey has little bit. last week secretary carter said that there were going to be lower -- more airstrikes going forward. what rules does in-service play in that? we have seen airforce platforms going in there. going in there. what kind of missions with a be doing? what is the future for turkey? general breedlove: i will be a bit unsatisfying. i will not share the details because we are still discussing this. but yes, we are looking at some increases to the capabilities. we are looking at it in two venues. one venue, to provide some increases support as you mentioned. secondarily, to show in the nato sites, support to our turkish ally as we continue to address their concerns about their airspace. in the venue of the nato mission we might be making some contributions as well. but details are set to follow.
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i cannot confirm that we are looking at all of these options. >> when you look at the ground at not more, when you seeing in terms of the turks unwilling at this point to let the forces, the kurdish, then are they in syria, northern rock -- northern iraq move around and advance to the west the many sins of the turks are basically one of the factors keeping those forces bottled up. what would you like to see happen on that warner -- border so they can carry out the president strategy of more progress? general breedlove: i will answer most of that. a lot of the question is best addressed to a different officer. first, let me talk about the yukon side of the border.
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we see, as you know, and you seen reported, and a lot of improvement in the turkish control of that border. they have put a turkish brigadier general who has been given the mission of stopping the flow of especially foreign fighters across the border. we have all seen a marked improvement. there are still work to be done, but we have seen an of -- a marked improvement. they did position to try to address that issue. we see a good progression on the north side of the border. on the south side of the border, as you described, this is a complicated area. people in these areas are seeing differently by different nations in the area.
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what i would tell you is that we are committed to work very closely with our turkish allies to address their concerns about but to forward the mission on the south side of that border. >> what are the specific concerns you are hearing from the turks about the south side of the border? general breedlove: as you know, our turkish allies see some of the kurdish factions in a way that threatens them. they have been defined as terrorists and others in some cases. the turks are very concerned that we are working appropriately with all the groups on the south side of that order. that is what i mentioned earlier. that we will work with turkey to address their concerns closely on that side of the border. as we work toward advancing the mission of moving i sold to the south. --isil to the south.
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>> you sent that russian action in syria provides more questions than answers. they are popping up and saw a going after any ruggles of threatened this. what questions do you have? general breedlove: they have been clear in the very recent past about what they're doing. they started off saying we are all about isil and what we saw happening on the ground was very different. their approach is beginning to clarify now, and they're pretty forward about the fact that they are bombing the moderate syrian opposition and other groups. that raises questions about what is our future path in syria. i think we need a political transition in syria. the moderate opposition is a part of forcing that political decision. the actions we see the russians
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taking now prolonged this conflict which prolongs the conflict -- prolongs the oslo people -- outflow of people. the idea of allowing political transition in syria -- >> the moderate opposition, some of which are treated supported by the u.s., should the u.s. do anything about it? general breedlove: i think i would just refer you to the comments of both the secretary and killed him for -- and dunford. we need to support our moderate opposition. >> my question is about the imf treaty. it is reported that russia conducted a test of a new launch missile which is said to be a violation that was identified a year ago.
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are you concerned about this new threat to europe, and what are you doing to ensure the allies? the russians also said they would withdraw from the treaty if the u.s. went ahead with plans to play additional tactical nuclear weapons and can you address those? general breedlove: you said if we deploy additional tactical weapons? i not sure that is what they said. they're questioning what we're talking about in the upgrade of our practical nuclear weapons, yes. not to trivialize your first question, but this is not the first time we have seen testing that looks like it violates the imf. we have been discussing this with them for some time now. both in the u.s. bilateral sense and also nato is equally concerned about it. the violation is not new, and yes we are concerned.
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you have heard our secretary talk as long as she can go about how he sees a framework for addressing those violations. what we have here are threats that are being made in the case of our upgrade, our extension program to our tactical nuclear weapons in europe. we're not bringing new weapons, we are not bringing more weapons. we're ensuring the safety and functionality of the weapons that are there. we actually believe this is something that is another way to create dialogue and bring pressure on our alliance. there is nothing new about these weapons as far as numbers, etc.. we have a long program and we are continuing with the upgrade of our weapons and this is about safety and reliability.
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these are things that you want to have a nuclear weapons. i'm stymied of concern -- at the concern. >> take it back for a second. you have the russian buildup inside syria, and this is what should happen. the fact that back in june or july a few people would have guessed that russia would double down in syria in some of the side. do you think there is a lack of this capability to anticipate decisions by russia? how does that affect your decision-making and your role right now in nato? general breedlove: i have answered this question several times in the past. i have for example find we have a lack of ability to see into russia, especially at the
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operational tactical level. we have conducted and focus on the strategic level across the years. why has this happened? i do not fall for the relation has done. remember that over the last few decades we have been trying to make a partner out of russia. some say as much as to decades of 18 years, 14 years, it does not matter exactly what it is great but for almost two decades, since the fall of the wall, we've been trying to bring russia into a family of norms and values that ally with the western world. we see a lot of reaching out to them in economics, energy, etc., in europeans and americans at this time. a 2008, we had a verbal where they charge you. that was concerning.
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but the world went back to trying to make a partner out of russia after 2008. the recently they evaded crimea. during that time, when we are trying to make a partner out of russia, and we were having these issues and iraq and afghanistan in other places, we have taken our limited bucket of intelligence surveillance and work on a hints capabilities and focus them at the operational and deck will level in the world. we've taken the view off russia. we had kept a strong focus on their strategic level so we could keep after those things that worried us most in their strategic forces. the capability to include analysts that we needed on russia has been shifted to the pressing concerns that we saw.
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we are not where we need to be now. and eic is addressing it has already made some fairly dramatic changes in the last several months. about how we use our analyst and they are beginning to look at we -- f reprioritizing assets as well. we're gently turning the nose of this ship to get back to what we need to be looking at. just to recap, i think our nation made decisions over the last two decades that were congruent with our approach to russia. now we see that possibly we did not have that partner that we thought we had the last two decades. we're having to readjust and i'm thankful for it. >> if i could follow up.
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data think you can do business with the russians at this point in time? >> right now i do not see them as a partner. i would ask you to greet their paper across the last 18 months. the let's get this on the table as well. if we are going to have a europe at peace and prosperous, at some point in the future when they have changed their behavior on the ground, we need to find that relationship in the future. >> other russians still based at nato headquarters in brussels? >> i think that the largest part of the russian delegation has departed brussels.
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i do believe there is a small contact point there. i do not have the exact numbers but my characterization is there is a big mission that has gone down. >> i know you love to speak about intelligence matters from the podium. can you talk about reprioritizing? general breedlove: can i ask you to talk to them about it? i will be extremely honest. i know the details, but i'm not willing to talk to them at this podium. i would ask you to talk to them about them. the intelligence community has seen they need, and make adjustments that are appropriate. but it will take time. >> you're seeing better
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intelligence on russian activities? general breedlove: i'd rather >> do you see the need for the international body to investigate the doctors without borders? the strikes at the hospital? general breedlove: there is an international body looking into it right now. as you know, we have a nato investigation that is ongoing and i think it will report out sooner rather than later. i think it is approaching a time when it can report out. i think that our u.s. investigation is ongoing. i think that our leadership has been extremely clear in this. we support a full, transparent,
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open investigation. that is what is happening first and foremost in this case. we are all saddened by the loss of life and our hearts and minds, to the families of the that are lost. we need to learn. you have heard the commanders say that this was a mistake and that we are looking at everything from personnel actions to procedural actions to equipment issues to determine how and what happens so we can address them in the future. >> you support an international body investigating this? there was a recent report that suggested that you would look favorably upon that, having an international body. it is that correct? general breedlove: i am in favor of whatever it takes to get to a full of open, transparent investigation.
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>> including an international body? general breedlove: anything it takes to get to a full, open, and transparent investigation. >> thank you for being with us. good to see you again. i want to ask about two things you talk about. in ukraine you talked about the united states is going to start training the ministry to -- ministry of defense troops. can you give us an idea of the training that will be going on? also in syria, some critics have said, on refugee crisis that russia was filling a vacuum that european nations were not helping within syria. can you talk about some of the conversations you have had with your european counterparts on the situation? anymore commitment to help in syria? general breedlove: let's first go to the training.
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not to waste your time, but i've been there, i have watched the training on the ground, i have watched the last iteration of training to the national guard troops. the scope, size and type on a change in all. we will do start to rotate through battalions of active duty and national guard. in our context that may sound like a big division, in their it is not too much in the training will be almost exactly the same. we are working on small unit skills, leadership skills. the ability to employ as a team, etc.. i must tell you that our soldiers are pretty impressed with their soldiers.
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what the green have done, which i think is very smart, as they bring these battalions backed they have a mix of new guys, but they also have those who have been on the front line, under fire from the russians every day. they have a great experience of what it is like to be hit by modern artillery. these guys are able to share inside of their formation as they are being trained by our troops. very little change. i do not agree with the assertion that there is a filling on a vacuum. remember we have a coalition that is addressing this problem. all 28 nations of nato are in that coalition. the europeans are a part of the force that is working against isil and syria. i think russia's goal is separate and clear. if we want to talk about that, we can do that. >> back on the re-prioritization, in one of your previous visits, you talked about isr. i wanted to ask you about the broad isr, you said it was a small percentage. 2%.
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have you been getting more isr coverage? >> the changes to the system -- this is an annual cycle of how this is allocated. that is happening in the building now. the results are not out. the building is clearly -- clearly understand my requirement for isr. one of the reasons i'm back here is to work this issue. [indiscernible] >> what about the navy? the russian fleet has shown activity in the black sea. do you see the need for any additional naval forces? >> first, the good news. as you know, a fourth of the destroyers that will be stationed have arrived and entered into our rotation. unlike the air forces and other forces, armed forces in europe which have drawn down for a
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while, the navy forces are actually growing in europe as the ships are permanently assigned. we have four very capable destroyers that are a huge part of our rotation capability and have already been used to demonstrate freedom of action in the black sea and other places which the russians would like to say. the good news is that is there. there is a requirement for more.
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again, ross us how we allocate those forces are going on in this building right now. that is part of the reason i am here to advocate what i think is an increased need to address the russian navy as it is growing any black sea fleet as you have seen as presence grow in the eastern mediterranean, etc. [indiscernible] >> crisis response from europe or it --. they would like to be a float. could -- would they benefit from having some other ship to be on? >> you just put a fact on the table that is not in my work. right now, -- frankly, the acceptance of our great allies, italy, greece, others to move them around, we need to have them postured for rapid insertion. we are getting incredible cooperation out of these nations. i think that right now our ability can be met from our current construct. >> going back to ukraine and russia, your comments on
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russia's involvement in ukraine has been unchanged over the past few months. i was wondering if there is anything you are seeing on the ground that has given you cause for concern or is it safe to say that russia has shifted its efforts from ukraine to syria? >> it is an entry -- excellent question and when i wanted to answer. i think we have to examine what is going on in ukraine. what i'm concerned about is that folks have taken their eye off of ukraine a little bit because of what is happening in syria.
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that is -- that is a technique that i think has been employed here a couple of times. invade crime era -- crimea, take the was off of that -- worlds eyes off of that by getting involved in syria. we to be focused on the fact that this is a larger construct by russia. we need to think holistically about our response to russia. for example -- i will get more specifically to the answer in a minute -- if russia truly wants to collaborate in syria, a great place to demonstrate that is to begin to cooperate, collaborate and start moving towards those requirements like returning the border of ukraine to ukraine so that ukraine can control its own international border. if we saw good faith work in ukraine, maybe that starts a conversation. we need to remember that these are commitments in ukraine. we are thankful for the work done in the normandy format. we are thankful that we see a lessening of tensions along the line of contact, although we
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still have skirmishes here and there. we are thankful for the leading edges of what appears to be moving back some of the weapons. what we have not seen his russia removing any of its forces in ukraine. as you have heard the report at this podium before, air defense, artillery spotting support, artillery support personnel, supplies, all still being supplied by russia. good faith there would begin the retrograde of those russian forces out of dumbas. that would be a good show of faith, i think. >> could you tell us whether there is any change with respect to pouring out of turkey, the assad regime forces seem to move up to northern syria. given the russians have deployed
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ground elements into syria. >> as you know, the patriots were brought home for a purpose. a had been there for quite some time and we needed to get them back to retrofit and upgrade them so that we can continue to be able to use them against the continuing threats that are built in the world. we are working with other allies to see what other contributions allies may seem -- bring to the issue. as you know, the spanish patriots remain in place. to the earlier conversation we had, we are looking at other things that we can do to contribute to active -- the operation which the patriots worked and contributed to. our turkish allies have given us
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some concerns that they have about the ability to defend their airspace and other things. nato and u.s. are looking at those options. right now, the patriots are going to be a long-term refurbishment. there is no plan for this specific patriot to return. >> if i could go back to russian intended syria. in an interview in the last 24 hours, he doesn't think putin has a plan in syria. do you agree? what is his plan in syria? >> i have said in the past that anyone that i can't say what mr. putin is going to do. what are the capabilities and capacity to the is creating? we determine from that what he
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might be choosing to do. i think it is important to think through why mr. putin might be in syria i have done that and this is my opinion, not one of nato or anyone knows. i think learned folks will agree that mr. putin and russia want to be seen as an equal on the world stage and as a world power. i think mr. putin and russia need eastern, mediterranean ports and airfields. i think mr. putin sees the assad regime as the guarantor of those airfields and ports. he needs to support the assad regime in order to maintain those. i think, as we talked about earlier, most of -- mr. putin wants he was eyes off of ukraine. focus on syria and the normalize those other places.
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i think he wants to keep the world's eyes off of what his supporters team the support team does. the on all of those, i think mr. putin wants to address iceland other things. he sees those is a threat to him in russia. i think there is a hierarchy of needs. that expenses actions. works on monday, have there been continuing provocative unsafe flights? why are they doing these kinds of things? >> we had a period, and we talked about it from this podium last time. there was a bit of an increase in these interactions.
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if you remember, i reminded you that some of that increase and interaction is because we have stepped up our responses. we used to have one policing base in northern europe. for a while, we were up to three. we were putting up more interceptors and so there was more interaction. it is a complex dance of why there was increased interaction. we didn't see increased -- we did see increased interaction. i would call bellicose interactions, bellicose intercepts. you have heard from many of the nations about flying through their airspace without transponders, etc. there was a period, i would opine that in the past few weeks or so, it has been a bit more normal. we have seen a real focus on syria. these actions continue. they continue all around the
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periphery of russia. they are still happening in europe. they are still happening in russia. >> last question, anybody? >> what are you seeing, any snap exercises not anyone is focused on syria? are you seeing anything different? >> as you know, in response to the last series of exercises, we saw some big exercises across the line and some snap inspections. at one point, approaching our last nuclear exercise, etc., i think these are clear messages. in the very recent past, we have not seen a lot of it because i think everything is focused on working the syria peace. thank you all.
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coming up on c-span, reporters question white house press secretary josh earnest about the deployment of special operations forces to fight isis. whitelists who cover the house discuss their jobs and the obama administration's relationship with the media. philip breedlove talks about military operations in iraq and syria. on the next "washington journal," reporter andrew tillman on the decision to send more u.s. combat advisors to the middle east. then a discussion about the world health organization possible recent report linking process meets to cancer. we will talk to michael jacobson for the center for science and public interest and janet riley of the north american meat institute. a look at republican efforts to
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impeach the irs commissioner on among allegations he misled the public and destroyed documents sought under a congressional subpoena. "washington journal" begins live at 7:00 a.m. eastern time on c-span. >> all persons have business before the honorable supreme court of the united states, draw near and give their attention. >> this week on "landmark cases," we will discuss the historic case of shank versus the united states. in 1917, the united states entered world war i. high, and some forms of criticism of the government were a federal offense. charles shank who was general secretary of the philadelphia socialist party mailed leaflets against the draft. >> this was a flyer produced by charles shank in 1917.
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15,000 copies were produced, and the point was to encourage men not to register for the draft. the language in this flyer is fiery. it conflates the conscription with slavery and calls on every citizen to resist conscription laws. >> he was arrested and found guilty under the recently enacted espionage act. shank appealed, and the case went directly to the supreme court. find out how the court ruled, weighing the issues of clear and present danger and freedom of speech. our guest is a cofounder of scotus blog and beverley gauge, professor of history at yale university. on the coming up next "landmark cases." for background on each case while you watch, order your copy of the "landmark cases" companion book. it's available at
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c-span.org/landmarkcases. >> white house spokesman josh earnest discussed president obama's decision to send a special operations forces to syria. this is an hour and 20 minutes. >> good evening everybody. >> good evening, everybody. they telephone with the iraqi prime minister to discuss the situation in iraq and underscore the united states and during support in iraq against isis. the president commended recent progress forces have made and noted that the united states in partnership with the iraqi
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government will intensify support in these efforts. the president also voiced support for prime minister's leadership in battling corruption and reforms. critical to promote -- promoting iraq's progress. the two leaders in for size to that both the united states and iraq are fully committed to partnering with the international community to degrade and ultimately destroy isil. they also reaffirm their commitment to the strategic partnership between the united states and iraq. this is part of the discussion -- part of this discussion was some of the efforts that the united states will begin to undertake to intensify those elements of the u.s. strategy and the coalition strategy against isil. i know there has been reporting on this already today. i think that will be the subject of some discussion with all of you today.
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kathleen, you can get started on whatever topic you would like. kathleen: i think we will stay there. arethey are saying there ther than 50 troops -- initial reactions calling this a band-aid on a gaping wound. what do you think this will accomplish? secretary ernest: i certainly would not underestimate the capability and the capacity of our u.s. special operations forces to be an important for -- force multiplier, anywhere around the world that they are deployed. the president does expect they can have an impact in intensifying our strategy for building the capacity inside syria, taking the fight to the ground to isil in their own country. that has been the core element of the military component of our strategy from the beginning.
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building the capacity of local forces on the ground. that was the essence of the call that the president just completed with prime minister abadi, that u.s. and coalition partners have worked effectively with the central government of iraq. they have command and control of iraqi security forces in that country, and because of that training and advice and assistance that the united states and coalition partners have been able to offer, we have been able to build up the capacity of forces on the battlefield in iraq. the situation in syria is quite different. the united states and our coalition partners do not have a central government with whom we can partner. the assad regime has lost legitimacy to lead back country for a variety of reasons. the use the military of that country to attack innocent civilians. so, what the united states and coalition partners have been focused on doing, is enhancing the capacity of moderate opposition forces on the ground inside of syria. there are already a variety of ways that you already know about that the united states and our coalition partners have offered
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assistance to those forces. some of those efforts have included carrying out military airstrike in support of their operations on the ground. in some cases, they have been enhanced through decisions the president has made to resupply them, offering them military equipment, and ammunition they have used, to effectively make progress against isil. when it comes to northern syria in particular, we have seen moderate opposition forces inside of syria who have driven isil out of kobani. you will recall that some of these opposition forces were under siege in kobani after being resupplied by the united states military. these forces did not just drive , they drovekobani them out of the broader region, and now there's a 500 mile long border between turkey and syria. all the 90 kilometers of that border is not secure. we've also seen these opposition forces make progress in the
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direction of a software capital of the islamic state. there are now moderate opposition forces which are 45 kilometers outside of this area. there has been important progress which we have made in this area, and the decision that the president has made is to further intensify our support for those forces that have made that progress against isil. all along, we have indicated that the president is prepared to intensify those elements of our strategy that are showing promise. obvious the, our support for moderate opposition forces in northern syria have made progress against isil. they are shown promise and that progress would not have been possible without our support. we've also demonstrated the willingness to scale back our investment in those aspects of the strategy that have not yielded progress. there were discussions about a program that was not yielding the kind of results we would like and the president announced a significant change to our strategy. that was a long answer, but i
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just want to give you the full context of this latest decision the president has made to intensify this element of our strategy. kathleen: you think that this will have in impact? doesn't like you are telling us -- [indiscernible] secretary ernest: no, i think you are astute to make that observation. i think what the president has been quite clear, that there is no military solution to the problems that are plaguing iraq and syria. there is a diplomatic one. the president has put in place a multifaceted strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy i -- i still, and this military -- isil and the military component , of that strategy is an important part of the president's top priorities, which is the safety and security of the american public. because of that strategy, we have taken extremist's off the
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battlefield in syria who were hoping to use a safe haven inside syria to attack the united states and our interest. so, we know we need a political transition inside syria in order to address the root causes to assimilate the problems we have seen inside syria. those problems range from hundreds of thousands of syrians who have lost their lives in the civil war. millions of syrians who have had to flee their homes to escape violence. some of the syrians have unfortunately died trying to flee their country. it is a tragedy. both in terms of the human toll it has had on his people. it is also significant in terms of the destabilizing impact it is have to read the broader region. in countries like turkey, lebanon, and jordan -- hundreds of thousands, if not millions of
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syrians have sought refuge in each of their countries. this is a significant problem. we can take military action to provide for the safety and security of the american people, but the root cause of all of these problems will only be addressed through the kind of political transition the united states believes is long overdue. >> we have details here. we heard that the president has authorized you are than 50 special operations forces. how many exactly? if this has already been authorized, can you tell us the exact number of forces going into northern syria? secretary ernest: the less than 50 number is accurate. i cannot be more specific than that, primarily for reasons related to operational security. there are number of details about this decision i am not in a position to discuss in this public setting, primarily to ensure that our special
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operators can do their work is -- as safely as possible. acknowledging that this is a very dangerous region of the world. reporter: you mentioned the call between the president and prime minister a body -- the premise or. is there any talk of intensifying support through u.s. troops? secretary ernest: i do not have any announcements along those lines to make here today. but we have already found that pairing some u.s. forces, including special operations personnel, with iraqi security forces in a strictly trade advisement role has been effective in enhancing the effectiveness of those iraqi security forces to make progress against isil.
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i don't have anything along those lines to announce today, but i certainly would not rule out that something like that could be a possibility if it continues to be an element of our strategy that shows promise. reporter: is there a reason why the president is not publicly speaking about this move today? is it because it seems to be relatively small maneuver? a small impact as part of a larger strategy? secretary ernest: i think i would answer that question in a couple ways. first, you have heard the president on many occasions discuss our strategy in syria. the fact is, our strategy in syria has not changed. the core of our military strategy inside of syria is to build up the capacity of local forces. to take the fight to eiffel on the ground -- i still on the ground in their own country. there are variety of ways that the united states and our coalition forces can offer support, whether it is supporting them or conducting airstrikes in support of their
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operations on the ground, and the president did offer to increase that support with a small group of american military personnel to offer advice and assistance on the ground as they take the fight to isil. so, this is an intensification of the strategy the president announced a year ago and he has discussed it with all of you on many occasions and i suspect he will discuss it with all of you again in the future. justin? justin: i want to get behind -- -- define or [indiscernible] i ask that for 2 reasons. the president has laid down the ground marked that he would not send combat troops into syria. i'm wondering why this does not qualify under that definition. also, i wonder if you could flesh out what exactly they are doing?
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secretary ernest: on the last question it will be hard for me to offer many specifics. about what precisely they're going to be doing. primarily because there are some operational security issues that need to be protected. there may be more details. from here, i can't be more specific. than to say that those operation forces will be in and they will be offering support to moderate opposition forces in syria right now. as a relates to their mission, this is an important thing for the american people to understand -- these forces do not have a combat mission. in 2003, president bush ordered a large scale, long-term combat mission in iraq. that is something that barack obama as a senator in illinois
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spoke out against. he disagreed with that decision. he did not at that point believe it would serve the interest of the country to impose a military solution on the problems inside of iraq and president barack , obama has that same view. he does not believe that that military operation was in our best interest, and he does not believe that that is something that we should do again. that is why our special operations personnel inside of syria have a very different mission. that mission is to build the capacity of local forces, so that they can be even more effective and they have already been in taking the fight to isil. justin: the president did not say there would not be a large-scale, long-term ground operation. a ground combat operation in syria.
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so i'm trying to figure out how , we can measure that point. what our soldiers in combat doing that these trained dvisors are not doing? secretary ernest: what i am trying to do is be as specific as possible with you about the specific responsibilities these special operation personnel have. this is not in any way an attempt to diminish the risk they will face or the bravery they will need to summon to carry out these operations. this is dangerous. and they are at risk. and there's no denying that. and once again that is a reason for us to remember the significant sacrifices our men and women in the military make for our safety and security and nobody is more keenly aware of that than the commander-in-chief.
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at the same time, the responsibilities they have there are different. first well i think if you were , envisioning a combat operation, we probably would be contemplating more than 50 troops on the ground. but because the responsibility they have is not to leave the -- lead the charge to take a hell but rather to offer , advice and assistance to those local forces, about the best way they can organize their efforts to take the fight to isil or to take the hill inside of syria, that is the role they will be playing. again, it still means they are in a dangerous situation. it still means that they will have all of the equipment that they need to protect themselves, if necessary. i am confident that the department of defense has contingency plans in place to , make it as safe as possible for forces to operate there. but, again i do not want to , diminish the significance of the risks they are taking in
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pursuit of the subject of the president has identified. reporter: [indiscernible] ,n the budget, i'm wondering what is going on with the appropriate and process, what are the by december 11? negotiations with congress on that, and how confident are you that it will get done? secretary ernest: when congress agreed to pass the continuing resolution back at the end of september, the goal all along was to reach an agreement about these broader caps, about a month in advance of the september 11 deadline to give negotiators time to negotiate. that goal has been met. congress will have more than a month to put together appropriations bills against the -- in advance of the december 11 deadline. so, based on the timeline that congress has described they would meet, we met that timeline
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and they should have time based on their own descriptions to put together legislation. we are hopeful though that this progress will not get bogged down through attempts by members of congress to add ideological writers that are completely unrelated to these funding bills. that is something that we have seen republicans be tempted to do in the past. we are hopeful that they will not do that in a way that derails what should be a relatively smooth process. >> i want to be very specific about what the president has said in terms of rooting boots on the ground in syria. he said on september 10, what he 13, "i will not put american boots on the ground in syria." with this announcement today, is he effectively breaking that promise to the american people? secretary ernest: the president was receiving questions about what the united states was prepared to do, given our insistence that president assad had to go.
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that he had lost legitimacy to leave. the president was a human point -- was making a point that he was not prepared to put boots on the ground to take down the regime during that was precisely the mistake that the previous administration made. implementing a regime change policy in iraq, and putting u.s. forces and a long-term, large-scale operation. it did not serve the interest of the u.s., and we're still paying the price for that mistake. the quote that you pulled there is a very different situation. reporter: [indiscernible] secretary ernest: you read one quote, which, to be fair, is out of context. the situation that the president has described, is a description of the kind of mission that our men and women in uniform will have in our counter isis campaign.
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reporter: [indiscernible] he specifically said that. that would not be part of the strategy. secretary ernest: you read to me a quote from 2013 that was a direct question related to what we were prepared to do to ensure that our concerns about the regime, and the need for a change were implemented. the fact is the president said we are not going to implement a military strategy to take down bashar al-assad. we want to build up the capacities of local forces. to make sure that they can be focused on isis. that is the strategy the president has been focused on here. and the president has been quite clear that he did not consider a large-scale long-term combat , operation. either in iraq or in syria. that was his policy at the beginning of our counter operations, and it is our strategy today.
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reporter: you knowledge they could wind up in a combat role. how is that not a change in strategy? secretary ernest: because our strategy has been to build the capacity of local forces to fight these sites -- fight these fights against isil and our efforts to conduct airstrikes in advance of the ground operations and in coordination with ground operations has been a important on the battlefield. that element of the strategy has yielded progress, and so the president wants to intensify that assistance we are providing and one way to intensify that assistance is to pair them up with experts, some of the smartest, bravest, most effective fighters in the united states military and that's exactly what we're doing and i do expect that will improve their performance on the battlefield. reporter: but their lives could
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be at risk. secretary ernest: there is no denying the amount of risk that they will be taking on here. they will be equipped to defend themselves if necessary. i am confident that the department of defense has contingency plans to try to make them as safe as possible and a very dangerous part of the world. it's a good reminder of the appreciation that we need to have for our men and women in uniform. reporter: one more questions. does the president have the authority to put u.s. forces in syria when they are not authorized, making the point that -- [indiscernible] secretary ernest: that is a great question. here's the answer to it. the answer is congress in 2001 did give the executive branch authorization to take this action and there's no debating that.
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what the president has said he would welcome is congress passing an authorization to use military force. to be more specific about what exactly they are authorizing. it is not just the president would welcome congress taking that step. the administration wrote the bill for them. we wrote our own legislation or -- that congress capasso that we could carry out our counter isil campaign. we did not step there. the president sent top security advisers to congress to testify under oath, in open hearings to explain to congress what was in included in the legislation and why they should pass it. after all of those efforts, the president saying he would welcome congress's voice in this debate, having written the legislation, sending his secretary of state, the secretary of defense, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff to testify before
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conga's, about why they should pass this legislation and what , has congress done? nothing. i don't know when congress is going to meet again. they often take fridays off and mondays off. so maybe on tuesday they cannot -- they can have a meeting and a discussion about what should be on their agenda. i've got an idea about what should be at the top of it. reporter: is this fewer than 50 and no more? secretary ernest: the decision the president has made is to add these special operations forces to build up capacity in syria, will involve fewer than 50 special operations personnel. reporter: there won't be any escalations beyond that. is that what you're saying? secretary ernest: the decision the president has made is to send fewer than 50 special operations forces to syria to offer training, advice, and assistance to forces on the ground against isil.
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reporter: it's possible there could be further deployments? secretary ernest: jim, i don't want to predict the future. we have shown an effort to intensify our efforts, behind those elements of our strategy that have shown the most hamas. building the capacity of local forces, particularly in northern syria, has shown some promise. this is a further intensification of those efforts. reporter: you said the special forces will be doing advising, training, assisting. to the other question, you said i cannot get into the specifics for operational security reasons. so, which is it? are they going to be involved in some raids in northern syria, potentially? secretary ernest: jim, the role they will have will be to offer training, advice, assistance to local opposition fighters on the ground in syria, where taking the fight to isil in their own country. that is the responsibility they have. that is the commander-in-chief has given them. on the operational bases on terms of where they are going to
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be operating, with whom exactly they are going to be partnering, where the first mission will take place? i think for pretty of reasons -- obvious reasons, those are not details we can get into in public. i want to get back to something we were talking about. i want to save we can have a moment of clarity here. secretary ernest: that's the reason i am here. jim: i think this is a basic question. a question the american people have. which is this president, this , white house, the officials at this white house repeatedly, over and over again made it , clear there would be no u.s. combat troops fighting isis. that appears to be changing. not only this announcement you're talking about today, which you say there will not be a combat role, but you are not ruling out they might be involved in some sort of combat operation -- that on the rack said, you have pentagon officials this week saying we are in combat.
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so, it would be great if we just had a moment of clarity and you could acknowledge that, yes, this mission is changing. it's not what it was said it was going to be at the outset. secretary ernest: to say that would only confuse the situation. the fact of the matter is, the commander-in-chief has given the military personnel in iraq and syria, is to train, advice, and assist. we have gone to great lengths to make clear that that i no means diminishes the amount of risk that our men and women in uniform will be facing. we also have been quite clear that there have been situations where combat boots have been on the ground inside syria. we have been quite candid about that. the president ordered a mission involving u.s. military personnel, putting boots on the ground in syria, to rescue hostages kept by isil. that happened more than a year ago. earlier this year, the president issued special operations personnel to conduct a raid against a high-value isil target
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inside syria. that raid was successful in taking that leader off of the bountiful -- battlefield and , recovering significant troves of intelligence. the department of defense has had contingency plans in place for search and rescue operations. fortunately, the united states has not been in a situation in which one of our pilots has been shot down or crashed in the skies over syria, despite the fact that they have conducted thousands of flights over syria. this is a testament to the professionalism of our armed forces. but there were contingency plans in place for search and rescue , operations that would have , been u.s. military treats on -- boots on the ground to , potentially rescue american military pilots. we have been forthright about this. this is not the first time that we are discussing this information. in fact, we discussed this at some length. the desire here is to be a specific and clear as possible about what it is they are doing. their mission is to train -- jim: are you denying that at the
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onset of the military operation against isis, the impression was not given to the american people that there would not be -- i think there are potential double negatives in there. at the onset of this, i think any rational person would conclude that the impression given to the american people was that there would not be a combat mission. it now appears that there are going to be occasions from time to time, or will be a combat elements, which is what u.s. troops are doing in iraq and syria. so, you are saying that's not the case? secretary ernest: what i'm saying is the impression that the president led to great lengths to give the american people the president gave a , national address on september and the president did go to 10th, 2014, great links to make it clear that our counter isil strategy in iraq and syria would be substantially different great -- a difference between night and day between the strategy , president obama would be
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implementing and the long-term, ground combat operation the bush administration pursued in 2003. the president did go out of his way to be quite clear the strategy is different. that difference existed then. that difference exists today. what the president did in the context of that speech and numerous other times -- it you all have asked him about it. he has been quite clear. about the fact that they did not have a combat mission. it does mean our men and women in uniform will be in harm's way. it means they will be taking risks. they will be in a dangerous part of the world. we all them a debt of gratitude. jim: what about the raid wearing u.s. soldier died last week? secretary ernest: that was in iraq. the u.s. forces there were in advise role. but when those kurdish security forces --
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jim: in an advisory role, there is the potential for something like this to occur, where they may have to engage, be in harms way? that's real? secretary ernest: [indiscernible] ok, major. major: how long will they stay in syria? secretary ernest: we have been quite candid. what we're going to continue to do is continually assess our strategy and look for ways to intensify those elements of the strategy showing the most promise. major: up to 50, less than 50, they will stay there for an extended time? secretary ernest: i do not have a specific date to give you when they will come in. major: [indiscernible] which i think he would've knowledge between raids and the permanent positioning of u.s.
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special forces. there is a difference? secretary ernest: i certainly would not describe it is permanent. major: it is not an in and out operation? secretary ernest: i would acknowledge there is a difference and it reflects those elements that show promise. major: if you have special operators in any place for a given time, to the questions -- will they have air cover if they are engaged in assistance operations that take them close to the fighting, yes or no? secretary ernest: this is an operational question. i will do for you to the department of defense. however, you have already seen -- major: [indiscernible] every contingency operation with special operators carries with it the implied support. secretary ernest: what has been underway for more than a year, u.s. and coalition military pilots in coordination with
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forces on the ground. that kind of air cover is something that the local opposition forces have already benefited from. but in terms of -- major: [indiscernible] secretary ernest: for specific operational question, i refer you to the department of defense. major: you know that's true. you're not going to put u.s. special operators out there without air cover. secretary ernest: i am confident that the department of defense has a contingency plan, for what those contingency plans are, you should check with them. major: the special operators are not only generally at risk, but because they represent the united states government, because they not been in syria for any length of time, they will have a target on their back. and if they are in some ways in circled or in jeopardy, they will have military extraction operations to support them, if
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in fact they get into a dicey circumstance? also true? secretary ernest: these security risk is elevated because they wear the uniform of the united states of america -- i would allow that is probably the case. major: i am trying to establish that they are combat forces, they are -- as you just said -- the best fighters we have. [indiscernible] three levels of combat operations are implied with their continued stay in operations in syria, correct? secretary ernest: again, major, we are focused on what is not a combat mission. major: but those elements have always supported them. so we have three layers of potential combat operations inside syria that we did not have when they were in and out. so the placement of them in syria for any length of time implies these other levels of protection, correct? secretary ernest: i think what
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you have primarily described our air combat operations. these are military pilots taking military strikes against enemy targets. they have been underway for more than a year. i'm not sure that this represents a dramatic change in terms of our military air presents. -- presence. but the idea of our military pilots using weapons to protect fighters on the ground is not new. that is something that they have been doing for more than a year now. major: [indiscernible] secretary ernest: four operational --for operational security reasons, i can't. major: [indiscernible] secretary ernest: somebody does, but i can't say. major: will they be near the hill? they were near the operations that cause josh wheeler to lose his life in northern iraq.
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this is a relevant question about proximity. secretary ernest: our military personnel will be in a train, advise, and assist mission. it will not be their primary responsibility to lead the charge of the hill. that is a rather antiquated, hypothetical analogy i am drawing her, but i'm joined to illustrate what their role is. will they be in the vicinity, offering advice and assistance? yeah, i would not be surprised that is the case. in fact, the situation you just described, where u.s. special operations forces a company iraqi security forces on a raid, that is precisely b scenario. you saw iraqi security forces conduct the incursion to try to rescue the hostages and the u.s.
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military personnel were in the vicinity, but they were not leaving the charge. but once the iraqi security forces got pinned down, they sought assistance from the u.s. military personnel that were nearby, and in the context of that engagement, master sergeant wheeler lost his life. major: if this into his vocation works and the military commanders say to the president, mr. president, we are gaining traction for the first time. we need more people to achieve greater success, the president will say what? secretary ernest: first he will say -- major: two things happen in these scenarios. you either have problems any need forces to reinforce or you have success and you need more forces to achieve more. in both in areas, the american people will be wondering if this
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is something that grows over time? secretary ernest: we've already seen progress. that is the reason why the president is seeking to increase support for them. it would not be accurate to say we are seeing progress for the first time. we have already seen progress, and that is why the president has made the decision -- reporter: more professional operators will achieve greater success. what would the president say? good, let's put more in their? secretary ernest: that is a hypothetical situation. we will see. the president has repeatedly told his team, including military supervisors, that he wants them to continually evaluate their strategy.
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the president is prepared to intensify those elements of strategy that are showing support. reporter: [indiscernible] will they strengthen the hands to show that they are willing to step up? secretary ernest: it is certainly an ironic argument for the russians, who have committed so much military equipment and personnel on the ground in syria to make the suggestion that the united states should refrain from doing so. russia claims that they are doing so to fight isil, the we know that they are focusing their efforts on regions where they are not present. we have made clear, for months now, that russia doubling down on their support for assad is a losing bet. doesn't make our campaign
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against isil more likely to be successful? if anything, it undermines it. i all being said, -- that all being said, our focus on diplomacy is acknowledgment of the fact that the problems plaguing syria do not have a military solution. it only have a diplomatic and political one. we would like to see a political transition inside syria. the russians themselves having knowledge that this is necessary. it also highlights the contradiction in their strategy that they are carrying out a military strategy that makes the successful completion of their political strategy less likely. those are tough questions for them to answer. what the united states has been
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doing is build up the capacity of local forces so that there is actually a political opposition that can engage in conversations about a political transition. what secretary kerry is doing in vienna right now is trying to bring around the table all of those who have influence and a stake in syria, to find some common ground for the need for a political transition about how to affect that transition. that has been hard work getting russia, saudi arabia, and iran in the same room. it is not something that has happened recently. it is what we believe is necessary for us to try to make some progress in pursuit of the only solution that addresses all of the root causes of the problems we are seeing in syria right now. reporter: [indiscernible] what do you hope to achieve -- the iraqi trained army that you do not have in syria, as you

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