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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 20, 2015 12:00am-7:01am EST

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that person, if they had applied for the refugee program, would have had to go through the same process of vetting that would ave required at least 18 to 24 months so the thought that that person can just get on a plane and get here to this country is actually not accurate. to perfect my effort the record. our system of vetting is a multi layered, multi agency approach where the f.b.i. has veto authority on any applicant seeking refugee status. while no system is risk free, the protections in place in the american system are rigorous, robust and extensive. in fact, mr. speaker, yesterday, a witness that the majority
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invited to appear before our committee, matthew olesen, the former director of the national counterterrorism center, told our committee, no refugee program in the world is as extensive as what we do in the united states. yet here we are today considering h.r. 4038, a bill that would upend the current system which was developed by security personnel with one thought in mind, to protect the homeland. and this -- these security personnel have done a wonderful job through the knowledge of all of us, none of the refugees that we are talking about from syria or iraq who come through this system have done anything have been model citizens since they
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have been here. for the record, del were 23,000 people that applied for refugee status from these two countries. those 23,000, about 7,000 were actually brewed and of those 7,000, only 2,000 were admitted. so, mr. speaker, our system is robust. it works and it speaks to our value as americans. i'm proud to say that people who e abused, people who are oppressed can still look to this country, follow the rules and if those rules are properly applied, they can look to america as somewhere they can call home, because most of those individuals applying for refugee status can't go home. once again, i call on members to embrace facts over fear, mr.
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speaker. and vote against h.r. 4038. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. mr. gowdy: i yield three minutes to the judge from the great state of texas, judge poe. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas is recognized for three minutes. mr. poe: i thank the gentleman from south carolina for the time. mr. speaker, isis is at war with the united states. the question is is america at war with isis? i'm not so sure, since we don't have a strategy to defeat isis other than if we are attacked, shelter in place, honker down, get more security guards around the capitol. use the tunnels rather than walk outside. that's what we were told after the paris attacks, mr. speaker. this legislation is really simple. it has with its core the idea to
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protect american citizens. it has nothing to do with refugees as far as being whether we accept refugees. the country accepts refugees. we always have. that's clear. it's not the issue of refugees, it's the issue of letting isis terrorists get into the country to kill us, mr. speaker. our own security that the gentleman from mississippi kept talking about tells us we cannot vet syrian refugees. the f.b.i. director says that. we can't do it. one of the reasons many of these folks have no identity so we can't track somebody on someone who has no identity. this legislation says let's take some safeguards before we bring in these specific refugees. let's make sure that the people in charge of security certify
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that this person is not a threat. they can't do it right now, even the f.b.i. director says they can't certify. we owe that to the american public and this legislation does that. the gentleman from mississippi is correct, 31 governors of the states say wait a minute. not so fast. find out who these people are. i think that the governors of the state get it right. they ought to have the ability, i think, to decide whether people should come to their state or not, only after a security check. so this legislation is a step to protect america. one of the things we're supposed to do. and the legislation is coming up quickly. why? because it's an immediate threat. you have refugees being bombed in syria. if we are going to take them in,
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let's have a plan to protect not only us but those refugees. and that plan is in this legislation. it seems to me it would be irresponsible not to pass the legislation to require a certification of everybody that comes into america so that america can be safe, because that is our responsibility, mr. speaker. and that's just the way it is. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas yields back. the gentleman from michigan is recognized. mr. conyers: mr. speaker, i'm pleased to recognize the distinguished the gentleman from washington, mr. mcdermott, for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from washington is recognized for one minute. without objection, so ordered. mr. mcdermott: mr. speaker, this bill is nothing but a p.r. piece that could have been written by joseph goebb emp are ls who said
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if you can make people afraid, you can make them do anything. they are attempting to panic the american people that there is not a system in place. let me tell you about this system that is there. mr. thompson said what is really there. i helped a woman who for two years was a translator for american troops in iraq. she was so good, she saved lots of people's lives. she was so good that the enemy put a mark on her and said they were going to kill her. so she had to go into hiding. it took her from january, 2007 ntil september 2007 to get the papers and the witnesses and all the information necessary to get her into the united states.
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somebody who had put her life on the line for us. our soldiers, and it took nine months to get her in. then her mother and brothers and sisters who were 16, 12 and and nine, it took two years. we have a robust system that is working. this bill is p.r. baloney and we ought to vote no. it sends the wrong message and says only white christians can come into this country. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. mr. gowdy: i yield three minutes to the gentleman from texas, chairman of the financial services committee, mr. hensarling. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. hensarling: i thank the gentleman for yielding and all of his work to make our nation more secure. mr. speaker, i do rise in
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support today of the safety and security of the american people. as members of congress, we have no more sacred responsibility. thus, i rise in support of the safe act. now, i join all americans and all the people of the world in standing with the people of paris. and we are so sobered as to what happened to their homeland. but we are also sobered by the challenge and the grave responsibility to thwart the same evil from coming to our homeland. the director of the f.b.i. has testified before congress just last month that a number of people who are of serious concern were able to slip through screenings of iraqi refugees. that's what the director of the f.b.i. said.
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this disturbing information, mr. speaker, obviously raises very serious red flags about lapses in the security within our current refugee vetting system. again, it is why i support and i encourage all members to support the american safe act of 2015. it would effectively hit the pause button on the refugee program, not to stop, but the pause button. and it's simple legislation. it simply requires more rigid standards so that the f.b.i., the department of homeland security and the director of national intelligence would positively certify that each refugee from iraq and syria does not pose a security threat to us, to our homeland, to our families. otherwise, they will not be permitted to set down on american soil.
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it is simple, it is common sense, it is needed. mr. speaker, our hearts also go out to the millions of refugees forced to flee their homes and save their lives and there is no other country in the world, no other country in the world that has been more generous with their time and treasure to refugees than the united states of america, but today is not the day to share our territory. not until and unless these people can be properly vetted to ensure they don't threaten our families. mr. speaker, hopefully the world has awakened. there is a very real threat that isis poses and it is not the j.v. team, they are not contained and what happened in paris was not merely a setback. i urge my colleagues to take the responsibility to secure our homeland seriously. this will be the first of what i know will be many steps that
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this chamber will take to address the growing threats that are posed to our families and our country. and i thank the sponsors of the legislation for bringing it to the floor. i urge all my colleagues to adopt it. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the the gentleman from texas has expired. the gentleman from michigan is recognized. mr. conyers: mr. speaker, i'm honored to recognize our leader, ms. pelosi, for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from california is recognized for one minute. ms. pelosi: thank you, mr. speaker. i thank the gentleman for yielding and for his great service to our country promoting our values, strengthening our nation. i come to the floor in a very prayerful way today because we are all horrified at what happened in paris, what happened in beirut, what happened to the russian airliner to name a few
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recent incidents. we recognize that that is horrible and that we have to protect the american people from it. as we do so, we must be strong. but our strengths must spring from our prayerfulness for those who lost their lives or whose security was threatened physically, emotionally and every other way. in our body, -- in our country, we have a relationship with france. they were our earliest friends. and that's why in this chamber of the house of representatives, any visitor can see there are only two paintings. . george washington, our hero, our founding father. the other painting in this hamber isthe marquis de l
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lafayette in the friendship that the french government extended to the colonies in had our war for independence. just imagine george washington -lafayette, a long, long friendship. and so while we are concerned about violence exists in the world, when paris was hit in such a vicious way, in some ways it hit home for us, not that the other lives were not equally as important. so as we come to the floor to talk about what do we do next, we take an oath of office, every one of us, to protect and support the american people, the constitution of the united states. keeping the american people safe is our first responsibility. it's the oath we take, and if the american people rbt safe, what else really -- aren't safe, what else really matters?
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we understand the concern, the fear that has -- goes out in the country when an act of terrorism strikes. and in fact, that's the goal of terrorists -- to instill fear, to instill terror. we cannot let them succeed. and so we have to take the measures necessary to protect the american people and to be very strong in how we do it. and that's why i have a problem with the bill that is on the floor today. because i think we have a much stronger, better option to protect the american people, and that is in the form of the thompson-lofgren legislation. in the bill, unlike the republican bill, the democratic alternative applies tough scrutiny to all refugees, potential refugees, not just syrians and iraqis, as the republican bill is limited to.
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it would require -- the thompson-lofgren secure refugee process act, would require the secretary of homeland security to verify the identity of all refugee applicants, any application that contains insufficient, conflicting or unreliable information would be denied from day one. the bill also requires that at least five federal agencies -- the department of homeland security, the attorney general, the federal bureau of investigation, are the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the director of national intelligence -- check all refugee applicantses -- applications against their records. anything that has a national security or criminal threat would be denied. all. not iraq, syria. all. two former secretaries of homeland security, janet napolitano -- secretary janet
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napolitano and secretary michael chertoff, have written about the process that's in existence now and which the thompson-lofgren legislation respects, the process that is currently in place is thorough and robust and so long as it's fully implemented and not diluted -- and not diluted, it would allow us to safely admit the most vulnerable refugees while protecting the american people. fortunately, they say, these goals are not mutually exclusive. there are other things we could be doing in a bipartisan way, and i would hope that was a place we could have gone with this, and one of them relates closing loopholes in the visa waiver program. our colleagues on the senate side today are putting forth their principles, and they state, if an isis recruit
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attempts to travel to the united states on a fraudulent passport, paper passport issued by a country that participates in the visa waiver program, that individual would avoid biometric screening and in-person interviews. how could we allow this loophole -- if we are truly addressing this challenge in a comprehensive way? and as if the republicans want to make the nation safer in the face of terror, there is another clear area in which we should act and that is we should be voting on congressman peter king, republican peter king's bill to close the appalling loophole that's outrageous. it's outrageous that a person who's on the terrorism watch list -- listen to this. if someone is on the terrorist
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watch list could walk into a gun store and buy a gun. his bill is called the denying firearms and explosive to dangerous terrorists act. visa waiver, close the terrorist gun loophole. according to the g.a.o., over the last 11 years, more than 2,000 suspects on the f.b.i.'s terrorist watch list bought weapons in the united states. did you know that? did you know that? 91% of all suspected terrorists who tried to buy guns in the united states walked away with the weapon they wanted over the ime period with just 190 rejected despite ominous history. 10:1 were 5: 1,
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able to get the guns? it is outrageous that we would be slamming the door of mothers and children while we still allow people on the terrorist watch list to walk in the door . a gun store and buy a gun and in regard to those mothers and children, i am with u.s. catholic conference of bishops o the episcopalians, presbyterians, evangelicals and juish groups, i say the republican bill before the house today fails to meet our values and fails to strengthen the security of the american people. families in syria and iraq are desperately trying to escape isis' gruesome campaign of torture, rape and violence and terror from the assad regime. the republican bill before the use today severely handicaps the refugee settlement in the future in our country.
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instead, it slams the door -- that door, again, on desperate mothers and children fleeing isis' unspeakable violence. as lee anderson, president of the national association of evangelicals, said, quote, of course we want to keep terrorists out of our country but let's not punish the victims of isis for the since of isis -- for the sins of isis. did you know this? here are the facts. since 2001 only about -- in the last few years, only about 2,200 syrians have been admitted to the united states. half are children. 25% are seniors. all faced an 18 to 24-month screening process. at the refugee council, a coalition of more than 80 states, humanitarian and human
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rights groups point out in their letter to congress, because so few refugees in the world are resettled, the united states often chooses the most vulnerable, including refugees who cannot remain safely where they are and families with children who cannot receive the medical care they need to survive. mr. speaker, i'd like to submit the refugee council's letter with all of the co-signers for the record. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. ms. pelosi: thank you. as it is a proud american tradition, we can both ensure the security of our country and welcome desperate women and children and seniors faces isis' brutality. my colleague that spoke before me said our hearts go out to the refugees, but our hand of iendship does not and it could. we could do this in a
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bipartisan way. if we betray our values as a country and slam the door in the face of those innocent victims of terror, we do not strengthen our security. we weaken ourselves in the ght against isis' savage ideology. as the refugee council wrote to congress, and this is important, it would send a demoralizing and dangerous message to the world that the united states makes judgments about people based on the country they come from and their religion. this feeds into extreme propaganda and all -- and makes us all less safe. you know, i talked about the french to begin with. it was interesting to me to hear president hollande speaking to thousands of people in the wake of the tragedy. and what he said in some of his emarks at various venues was
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that france would be welcoming 30,000 refugees from syria in the period ahead. with all that they had suffered, the immediacy of the tragedy, the emotion of the moment and still doing the right thing. if we betray our values as a country and slam the door, again, on these victims, we do not strengthen our security, i said that. and all i can just say is this bill does not make us safer. the republican bill before us does not make us safer. it does not reflect our values, and it does not have my support. with that i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the minority leader has expired. the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. mr. gowdy: thank you, mr. speaker. i am pleased to yield a minute to the gentleman from nebraska, mr. ashford. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from nebraska is
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recognized for one minute. mr. ashford: i thank the gentleman from south carolina. mr. speaker, in my view, h.r. 4038 is in fact a commonsense pproach to address the legit imate security concerns that my constituents are expressing today in wake of horrific attacks in paris, in my view a game changer -- it's a game-changer -- we must and are obligated to reassess our existing procedures and that's what all this bill does. for admitting and monitoring refugees from countries associated with isis. i cannot sit back and ignore the concerns of my constituents and the american public. this legislation does not shut down the refugee asylum process. if it did i wouldn't support it. we are simply asking the administration to reassure us that those coming to the united states do not pose a threat to
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the american people. we should not accept anything less from our federal government. i am very proud of our american legacy as a welcoming nation, and i have devoted much of my professional life to that concept and idea. this legislation, in my view, simply does not diminish that legacy. rather, this legislation will protect that legacy into the future and reassure americans that we are working to protect them. thank you. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from nebraska yields back. the gentleman from michigan is recognized. mr. conyers: mr. speaker, i yield to my friend from new york, mr. meeks, one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york is recognized for one minute. mr. meeks: mr. speaker, i think it is without question that we have the strongest, the most stringent and the toughest refugee system in the entire
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world. i don't think anybody can dispute that. yet, we are still humanitarian bout what our system is. this bill is called america safe act, but where our greatest danger lies is when rhetoric is given for isis to utilize to recruit american citizens, those of us who are here to radicalize them and then they can go to a gunshop and buy an assault weapon. if we are truly wanting to make sure that america is safe, we should make sure that no homegrown or radicalized person here has access to an assault weapon. we should have a bill -- we want every american to be safe, as i hear my colleagues
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talking, i'm with you. how we make them safe, make sure that nobody, refugee otherwise, has the ability to come to our nation and put their hands on an assault weapon that could harm our people, that's what will keep america safe. working together with the most stringent refugee system is what we need to do. this is just something to try to keep people from coming in who are running away from rape, rom violence, from persecution . young children, women who are widows, who overwhelmingly are the individuals of the 2,000 that have been let in here. let's keep america safe. let's keep assault weapons out of our land, and i yield back the balance of my time.
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the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. mr. gowdy: i yield two minutes to the gentleman from california, mr. rohrabacher. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. rohrabacher: i rise in support of h.r. 4038. this legislation will give us a pause to ensure that a safe haven in america is not used by terrorists to murder large number of americans. after the slaughter in paris, it be hoofs us to take a close look to see americans will not be put in jeopardy by flaws in our own system that already exists. yes, we can be proud that our country has a tradition of assisting suffering refugees, but we will not, we will not be consistent with that by putting americans in jeopardy.
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what can we do to improve the system, protect more americans? if we pause for a moment, we might come up with some ideas. for example, let me be the first one on the floor of the house to advocate that all people coming here especially from the middle east be given polygraph tests. let's give them a lie detector test. this shouldn't be an option for our embassies but a requirement. timely, we heard several references to the jews being sent back in 1938 to nazi germany. they had been targeted for genocide. it was wrong, it was horrible and immoral for us to send them back and not recognized they were targeted for genocide. today the christians in the middle east are targeted for genocide and i hear over here, no, but christians should get the priority the same way those
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jews should have been given the priority in 1938 because today christians are targeted for genocide in the middle east. if we are not to make the same mistake that september the jews back in 1938 to hitler's death camps let's not send christians back because it might people get upset. save the christians from genocide, but let's make our system better so americans are not put in jeopardy by the been eff lens of our own people. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from michigan is recognized. mr. conyers: i'm pleased to yield to my colleague from california, mr. sherman, one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized for one minute. mr. sherman: we want to vote for a bill to reflect the angst of
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our constituents. if you eed this bill, you can't vote for it. the directors of f.b.i. and national intelligence and secretary of homeland security to personally review and vote on and certify each and every individual refugee file. we admitted 187 refugees last month. if our security leaders just spent two hours on each file, it will consume all of their working hours. isis cannot at the same time and permanently incapacitate our security leaders. this bill does. now some will say our security leaders won't look at the files but this is an underhanded way without taking responsibility. but our security leaders are human. and our security leaders will know if they invest a couple of hours in personally reviewing the file, they can save a human life and if they spend another two hours, they can save another
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human life. our security leaders will be full-time refugee evaluators. this bill is not a pause bill but a permanent bill which personal nantly incapacitates our security agencies. read the bill and vote no. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. mr. gowdy: i yield two minutes to the gentleman from mississippi, mr. palazzo. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. palazzo: we are under attack and we are being targeted and we are at war. the ep my has brought war to us and make no mistake this is radical muslim extremism. last week in paris we saw a reminder of how dedicated our enemy is. we must fight back and must do more. the united states of america must do more. the president of the united states on the very day isis attacked paris argued that isis
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had been contained. he was wrong. last year, the president called isis the j.c. team. he was wrong. he has been wrong on isis since the very beginning and he is wrong now. where is the strategy? where is the will power? where is the leadership? two years ago secretary of state john kerry testified in front of the house armed services committee about the need to arm syrian rebels. i questioned this decision because we had no way of vetting these rebels and i told secretary kerry at the time, america is not buying what you are selling. two years later, the administration has shut down the army in the syrian rebels because it was ineffective. now they want to bring in 10,000 refugees to the united states, refugees who the dect tore of the f.b.i. says cannot be fully vetted. mr. speaker, today we are going to pass a strong piece of legislation to protect the american people. the safe act will ensure the
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highest level of security is placed on every single syrian refugee and effectively stop this program to make sure americans are protected. i believe we should do more, but this is a powerful first step to stop dangerous terrorists from reaping our soil. but the president, our commander in chief, the one person charged with protecting the u.s. homeland above all others has threatened to veto this bill. i dare him. i dare the president because he is angrier at republicans than he is at terrorists. i dare him to veto this bill because he thinks his strategy is working. i dare the president of the united states to tell the citizens of the united states that he is more concerned with syrian refugees than the safety of the american people. i dare him. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from michigan is recognized. mr. conyers: i yield now one minute to the distinguished the ntleman from california, mr.
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liu. mr. lieu: i'm congressman ted bill. d i oppose the it is the wrong solution for the brong problem thrfment has not been a single act of terrorism on american soil committed by a refugee. and in paris those attacks were committed by french and belgian citizens. toought to be banning travel rance and belgium, and if that isn't crazy enough, america is a country born of persecution and equality for all. we are that shining city upon the hill. we are better than this. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california yields back his time. the gentleman from south
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carolina, mr. gowdy is recognized. mr. gowdy: it is my pleasure to yield two minutes to my friend from south carolina, mr. duncan. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. mr. duncan: i thank the gentleman from south carolina for yielding time. as a christian, i have compassion and sympathy for the refugees in syria. in fact, i visited with many of them at a camp in jordan that held 120,000 syrian refugees. we are criticized for not having compassion on this issue. let me tell you compassion cuts two ways. we should be cognizant of the compassion we show our fellow citizens in america. that compassion is exemplified by using the good sense that god gave us addressing the national security concern that our nation faces. our compassion should be to the best of our abilities, and this
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legislation does, says we are going to use the best of our abilities. we should do everything we can to make sure elements of evil are not introduced and interviews compassion in the hearts, towns and cities and states that we represent. we lock our doors not because we hate the people on the outside, we lock our doors because we love the people on the inside. this legislation is a great step, first step, first step to hit pause and let's get this right for the people we serve and the great nation that we swear to uphold and defend. and with that, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from south carolina yield back. the gentleman from michigan is recognized. mr. conyers: i yield one minute to the distinguished the gentleman from oregon, mr. blumenauer. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. blumenauer: my republican friends, unlike the french who
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had the vision and courage not to scape got desperate syrian refugees fleeing the mr. barrow:ians that attacked barbariansfleing the in paris. they would do what the 9/11 hijackers using this system. are we going to pause and certify visas for students, tourists and workers? why not? one objectionable portion of this bill for me is i have worked for 10 years to try and help the iraqis who worked with us in iraq during that war to be able to escape the mercy of al qaeda with long memories who are killing and torturing them. this bill pulls the plug on that and condemns them to be left to
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the terrorists. i think that is reprehensible. these are people who depended upon us and relied upon us. we have been working in a bipartisan way for 10 years to help them escape to safety and this bill would slam that door shut. you ought to be ashamed. the speaker pro tempore: the time the gentleman from oregon has expired. the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. mr. gowdy: we reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from michigan is recognized. mr. conyers: mr. speaker, i'm pleased now to yield one minute to the distinguished the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. boyle. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. boyle: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, this bill is a great way for congress to appear as if it's acting and achieving something without actually doing
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anything. mr. speaker, i'm proud to be a member of the foreign affairs committee. we have had numerous hearings from the beginning of the year, including yesterday, on this issue specifically. one of the great challenges western countries face is the problem of home-grown terrorism. we saw that last week in paris when the overwhelming majority of those who perpetrated these acts were french nationals and belgian nationals. the big issue we face is what do we do with those who hold european passports and can come here easily by getting a plane ticket? what do we do with the problem of home-grown terrorism here in the u.s. those are the key challenges we face and how we balance our civil liberties and need for tourism with our need for security. this bill sadly today does absolutely nothing about it. so we are going to pass this
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bill and pat ourselves on the back and go home and say we did something when actually we have done nothing to achieve the problem and protect the security of the american people. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from pennsylvania yields back. the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. gouddepoud we continue to reserve. the eaker pro tempore: gentleman continues to reserve. the gentleman from michigan is recognized. mr. conyers: i yield to the ntleman from california, mr. becerra, one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. becerra: the safety of our fellow americans and america itself is and must be our number one priority, our number one responsibility here in this chamber. the people of america have the right to expect indeed demand exactly that. our national security screening and background system for refugees is the toughest in the world. that is why so few refugees from
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syria have ever been able to receive their clearance to be accepted into this country. ut then paris, november 13 happened. we're reminded of 9/11. if i believe that this rushed legislation made our toughest of refugee screening systems work better, i would vote for it. but if this rushed legislation only adds another layer of bureaucracy that makes our screening process look tougher and then results in women and children who are fleeing the very terrorists we seek to keep out dereknying them of a chance to seek refuge here in this country, i cannot support that. our tradition and our values open our door to those as in the past who fled europe to start this country in the first place. it is up to us to do this courageously and do it right,
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not with rushed legislation. i urge a no vet and yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from south carolina. mr. gowdy: we continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman continues to reserve. the gentleman from michigan is recognized. mr. conyers: mr. speaker, i'm pleased now to yield to the gentleman from tennessee, a member of the judiciary committee, one member. -- one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from tennessee, mr. cohen is recognized for one minute. mr. cohen: thank you, mr. conyers, thank you for the time. this bill is here not having gone through committee. it's not our normal process. it's considered an emergency. it's not an emergency. refugees will not get in this country for a year and a half to two years from the time they apply. we could come back and look at the democratic bill of which i'm a co-sponsor that incorporates mr. king's amendment on terrorists, people getting guns who could be on the terrorist list, and get a democratic and
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republican bill that we might find we could agree on. instead, we're doing this for politics and we're doing it as a of inuing use of pinata president barack hussein obama. this is an attack on the president who has the response to believe the defend us. this doesn't make us safer, it's a political way to attack the president and it's wrong. that's why i will be voting no i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. mr. gowdy: may i inquire how much time we have left remaining on our side. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from south carolina has two minutes remaining, the gentleman from michigan has four minutes remaining. mr. gowdy: we continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman continues to reserve. the gentleman from michigan is recognized. mr. conyers: mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent to insert into
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the record from today's "new rk times" editorial board, noted today, refugees from the ar aren't the enemy. this measure represents the election year pandering to the exene phobia that -- to the xenophobea that rears up when people from abroad arrive. people who know these issues, law enforce -- law enforcement and intelligence professional,, immigration officials and humanitarian groups, say this wrongheaded proposal simply would not protect americans from foreign enemies. thank you, sir. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. mr. gowdy: i will continue to reserve until such time as my friend from michigan has closed.
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the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from michigan is recognized. mr. conyers: thank you. mr. speaker, i'm proud to yield to ms. lofgren a member of the committee, -- a member of the committee on judiciary, one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for one minute. ms. lofgren: mr. speaker, i have listened to all of this debate with keen interest. and a sense of great sadness that we were unable to come up with a bipartisan bill today. i would like to note, however, that a bill was introduced by myself and mr. thompson of mississippi that is much tougher than the bill before us. it would relate to all refugees in terms of their identity and their excludeability, including nigerians, when we war worry about boko haram, somalians because we may be worried about
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el sagab. but we also took good ideas from mr. mccaul, it is a good idea to do some sampling on the i.g. it is a good idea to have some reporting to committees. unfortunately, our bill was not put in order. but it is a stronger bill. it incorporates the good ideas in the republican bill. but a smarter approach to deal with the threat. i yield back the time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman's time has expired. the gentleman from michigan is recognized. mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent to have included in the record letters of opposition to h.r. 4038. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. conyers: and now i yield to
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the gentlelady from florida, ms. fran tell, one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from florida is recognized for one minute. ms. frankel: mr. speaker, our folks back home are understandably fright and there's no question that isil must be destroyed and that the safety of americans must be our first priority. to deny refuge to women and children who are fleeing rape and torture and who go through a two-year vigorous entry process will not make us a safer country. at a time we're trying to forge a coalition of international nations, it is self-defeating to send a message of isolation. our anti-terrorism resources must be focused on terrorists, not on innocent human beings seeking shelter from the most unspeakable horrors. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman yields back.
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the gentleman from michigan is ecognized. mr. conyers: mr. speaker, i yield myself the balance of the time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. conyers: thank you. members of the committee and of the house, instead of slamming our doors to the world's most vulnerable, we should be considering legislation to strengthen and expand refugee programs. unfortunately, the bill before us today is not a serious effort to legislate and it will not make us safer. it's a knee jerk reaction, as evidenced by the fact that this measure was introduced to us -- was introduced just two days ago and has not been the subject of a single hearing of any meaning -- or any meaningful review by our committee.
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rather than betraying our values, we must continue to focus on the most effective tools to keep us safe while providing refuge for the world's most vulnerable. accordingly, i plead with, i urge my colleagues, to please oppose h.r. 4038. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from michigan yields back. the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. mr. gowdy: thank you, mr. speaker. it seems common sense call that hen it comes o-- commonsenseical, that when it comes to this we should rely on the men and women who are experts who have dead kayed their lives to public safety and national security. these are the facts. we don't have sufficient information to appropriately nfingt and vet failed nation states. this is a fact. isis has sworn to bring this war
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against innocence here. this is a fact. the administration officials noted isis may well use the refugee program to infiltrate our country. this is also a fact, mr. speaker. the margin for error is zero. it is zero. and the presumption should always be in favor of national security and public safety because that is the preeminent role of government. and it's our constitutional duty, mr. speaker, so unless and until those we place in charge of our national security and public safety canned pro-- can provide the necessary assurances, we should seek to aid those who need aid where they are. in conclusion, mr. speaker, the president says we are scared of widows and orphans. that's what passes for debate this day and age. with all due respect to the president, what we're really afraid of, mr. speaker, is a foreign policy that produces so many widows and orphans.
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he's the commander in chief, mr. speaker. his job is to make our home safer. you can also make the homeland of the refugees safer. he could restore order to the region and defeat that j.v. team he once thought he had contained. that would be the very best thing we could do for those who aspire to a better, safer life. with that, i would yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. all time for debate has expired. pursuant to house resolution 531, the previous question is ordered on the bill. the question is on engrossment and third reading of the bill. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. third reading. the clerk: supplemental certifications and background investigations be completed prior to the admission of certain aliens as refugees and for other purposes. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from mississippi seek recognition?
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>> i have a motion to recommit at the desk. the speaker pro tempore: is the gentleman opposed to the bill? mr. thompson: i am opposed. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman qualifies. the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: mr. thompson of mississippi -- open the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will suspend. mr. gowdy: may i reserve a point of order. the speaker pro tempore: point of order is reserved. the clerk will read. the clerk: to the committee on judiciary with instructions to report the same back to the -- mr. thompson: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the reading. the speaker pro tempore: is there objection? hearing none, so order. the gentleman from mississippi is recognized for five minutes in support of his motion. mr. thompson: thank you very much, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, this is the final amendment to the bill which will not kill the bill or send it back to committee. if adopted, the bill will immediately proceed to final assage as amended.
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mr. speaker, my motion to recommit will do several things. first thing it will do is require the secretary of homeland security to verify the identify of refugee applicants. any application that contains insufficient, conflicting, or unreliable information would be denied. the second point of my motion to recommit is that this motion would require at least five federal agencies, the department of homeland security, the attorney general, and federal bureau of investigation, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the director of national intelligence, all -- all together, to check refugee applicants against their records. any application that indicates a
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national security or criminal threat would be denied. in addition, mr. speaker, my motion would also require that the secretary of homeland security would certify that all relevant federal immigration laws have been complied with and that the applicant has not been resettled in a safe third party country and has the department of homeland security's inspector general's review as a sample of the certification. fourthly, mr. speaker, my motion to recommit would require the department of homeland security inspector general to submit monthly reports to congress on refugee applications from syria and iraq. the secure refugee process act of 015 is a pro-security, pro-compassion bill that would
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ensure the u.s. continues to maintain the most extensive interagency security screening process in the world. to vet all people who seek safe harbor in a great nation. mr. speaker, the people we are talking about in this particular motion, they really don't have a country. many of them have been tortured. the women have been raped. the children, for the lack of a better term, are destitute. we are a nation of values. my bill speaks to those values. it does not pause the process. it does not create a moratorium to the process. it adds an additional layer of security without stopping the refugee program. . it is not the immigration bill. it's a refugee program.
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as i said earlier, we had 23,000 individuals apply for status under this particular program who were iraqi or syrian citizens. of that number, 7,000 received interviewed of that number, around 2,000 were approved. so, it takes time. and so what my motion to recommit is a prudent approach to recognizing the values of this country. and with that, mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from south carolina seek recognition? >> i rise in opposition to the motion to recommit. the speaker pro tempore: does the gentleman withdraw his point of reservation? mr. gowdy: yes, mr. speaker, i do. the speaker pro tempore: reservation withdrawn. the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. gowdy: thank you, mr. speaker. a national security and public safety are the preeminent functions of government. national security and public safety are not simply factors to be considered in the
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administration of some broader policy objective. national security and public safety are the ultimate policy objectives. and the safety and security of our fellow citizens should be the driving force behind every decision that we make. this country, mr. speaker, has a long, proud, rich history of welcoming those fleeing persecution and liberating those suffering under oppression. we are the most welcoming, generous country in the world, having taken in over three million refugees since 1975. we are generous and compassionate, mr. speaker, because we are free. and we are free because we are a country rooted in the law and public safety and standards of decency protected by a fundamental commitment to national security. the world we currently find ourselves in, mr. speaker, is imperfect and becoming more imperfect. so rather than address the underlying pathology that results in displaced people, this administration is focused on the symptoms. there are refugees from the
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middle east and northern africa because those regions are on fire. and riddled with chaos and our bright lines and policies of containment have failed. mr. speaker, terrorists took the lives of over 100 innocent people in france and injured many more because they could. they killed 100 only because they could not kill 1,000. their objective is evil for the sake of evil, murder for the sake of murder, wanten and willful violence -- wanton and willful violence, premeditated depravity, calculated to take innocent lives. and the terrorists have been very open about their present and future objectives and we should therefore be equally clear about our objectives. administration officials responsible for national security and public safety, mr. speaker, have repeatedly warned us they cannot vet failed nation states. they cannot do background investigations where there is
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no database. isis will use any means available to harm us. what this administration needs to tell the american people, mr. speaker, is how much risk is acceptable. given the consequences of reconciling the risk wrongly, how much risk is this administration willing to take? when it comes to public safety, we have to be successful all of the time. and those who seek to do us harm have to be successful just once. so, how much risk are you willing to take with your own safety? how much risk are you willing to take with the safety of those you swore an oath to represent? and you have done everything in your power to mitigate that risk? have you done everything in your power to explore alternatives other than resettlement here? mr. speaker, every decision we make as elected officials should be with the safety and security of our fellow citizens as the preeminent objective.
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unless and until those in charge of security and public safety can provide assurances the aid we render to those in need should be rendered where they are. in conclusion, mr. speaker, let me say this. the president's the commander in chief. he should help us make this our home -- this, our home, safer. he should help us make the homeland of the refugees safer. he should restore order to the region. that would be the very best and most humane thing we could all do, provide a better, safer life for those who aspire one where they are. with that, i would oppose
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announcer: get best access from behind the scenes by following c-span and our capitol hill reporters on. stay with c-span, c-span radio, and for your best access to congress. announcer: coming up, attorney general loretta lynch and fbi director james comey comment on isis threats to new york city. then the house hearing on syrian refugees seeking asylum. brennandirector john talking about refugees at a security conference in washington, d.c. >> on the next washington journal, frederick kagan of the american enterprise institute on the strategy against isis. and how law-enforcement conducts surveillance.
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and gordon on the center from public integrity on how the states enter and publish -- the punishment.ter book tv, 48 hours of nonfiction books and authors. our featured programs this weekend include the 32nd annual miami book fair. our live, all-day coverage starts saturday. saturday at 10 p.m. eastern, afterwards with historian neil ferguson on his book kissinger. was a reality in the 1950's. but it made his contributions distinctive, standing out from the pack of people that you could solve the cold war with system analysis. >> he is interviewed with the
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council on foreign relations. and some united 8:00, former book on thee allotted state. on the rise of isis, their message, in the rivalry with al qaeda. watch book tv all weekend on c-span2. attorney general loretta lynch and fbi director james comey held a joint news briefing to talk about u.s. law enforcement response to the paris terrorist attacks. news that isis has released a video threatening an attack on new york city.
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ms. lynch: good afternoon, everyone. and thank you all for coming this afternoon. i am here with f.b.i. director jim comey to discuss our ongoing work to protect the security of the united states, particularly this light of recent events. obviously these are challenging times. with the recent attacks in paris, raising the profile of isis, and also raising anxiety here in the homeland. and as i've said previously, we stand in solidarity with the people of france at this difficult time. we are committed to providing any and all assistance to our allies in europe and around the world as we all face this global threat. now, we've made that commitment clear, not just with words, but with our actions. the department of justice, the f.b.i. and other agencies are in close contact with french authorities through our international legal assistance channels to provide support to
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the french and their ongoing investigation, to coordinate strategies with them, and to advance our shared efforts as we obtain further information that may be relevant to these attacks. now we are operating on an , expedited basis as well, to ensure that the victim assistance professionals at the department of justice and the f.b.i. are available to assist the victims and their families. we've also expanded the f.b.i.'s legal office in paris, to offer assistance on an as-needed basis, and we have personnel working day and night to respond to any additional requests for assistance. earlier today, president obama spoke by phone with president hollande to discuss the latest developments in the investigation.
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we are operating on an expedited basis as well, to ensure that the victim assistance professionals at the department of justice and the f.b.i. are available to assist the victims and their families. we've also expanded the f.b.i.'s legal office in paris, to offer assistance on an as-needed basis, and we have personnel working day and night to respond to any additional requests for assistance. earlier today, president obama spoke by phone with president hollande to discuss the latest developments in the investigation. and to reaffirm our partnership in the fight against terrorism. of course our highest priority is and will remain the security of our homeland and the safety of all americans. at the department of justice, we are operating around the clock, as we have since 9/11 and even before, to uncover and disrupt any plot that takes aim at our people, our infrastructure and our way of life. we take all threats seriously,
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we're acting aggressively to diffuse threats as they emerge, and we are vigorously investigating and prosecuting those who seek to harm the american people. in fact, since 2013, we have charged more than 70 individuals for conduct related to foreign fighter interests and homegrown violent extremism and we continue to take robust actions to monitor and to thwart potential extremist activity. the department of justice and the f.b.i. are working closely with the department of homeland security, with the broader intelligence community, and our partners around the world in all of these efforts. and we're bringing every resource to bear in the service of our mission. i think it's important to note that as we do this work, we are guided, obviously by our commitment to the protection of the american people, but also by our commitment to the protection of our american values. which include the timeless principles of freedom that have always made this country great. we need to say we will not let our actions be overtaken by fear, we will not allow merchants of violence to rob us of our most precious ideals. our values are not secondary considerations in the fight against terror. they are central to the work that we do and they are essential to the nation that we protect. they are also the reason that we are a target and they are what terrorists want most to see to have us abandon. they want us to live in fear and we refuse. they want us to change who we are and what makes us quintessentially american and that we will never do. and now i'll turn the microphone over to the director of the f.b.i., jim comey, for a few remarks as well. mr. comey: thank you, madam
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attorney general. i'd like folks to know three things. how we think about the threat. what we're doing about it. and what you should do as a citizen in this great country of ours. first, the threat. we are not aware of any credible threat here of a paris-type attack. and we have seen no connection at all between the paris attackers and the united states. isil and its supporters put out all kinds of propaganda, like videos and magazines, but that is not credible intelligence. of course we investigate all of those propaganda threats. but instead the threat here focuses primarily on troubled souls in america who are being inspired or enabled online to do something violent for isil. we have stopped a lot of those people this year, especially leading up to july fourth, and there are others we worry about and we cover all across the country using all of our lawful tools. that's how we think about the threat. second, what are we doing about the threat? the taxpayers of this country have invested a lot of their money in building a national counterterrorism capability since 9/11.
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and that has built something very strong. we are not perfect, but we are good. starting minutes after the paris attacks on friday, we did four things. first, we began looking for connections between paris and here. second, we made sure that we were tightly connected with our state and local partners, that they knew everything we knew and that they were as energized as we are. third, we began covering every tip and every lead immediately and we have continued that to this moment. and last, we have made sure that our over 100 joint terrorism task forces are focused intensely on our investigations and in fact they have taken them up a notch. that is very hard work. but we are very fortunate to have the help of our state and local partners around the country. together, we are watching people of concern, using all of our lawful tools, we will keep watching them and if we see something, we'll work to disrupt it. that's what we're doing about it. last, what should you, the
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people of the united states, do in response to this threat? the most important thing, i think, is do not let fear become disabling. that is what the terrorists want. they want you to imagine them in the shadows, they want you to imagine them as something greater than they are. instead, we hope that you will turn fear into healthy awareness of what's around you. if you see something that gives you a bad feeling, tell somebody in law enforcement. since september 11, we have really worked to get ourselves organized in such a way that if you walk up and tell any police officer in this country or any deputy sheriff in this country that you saw something that didn't seem right, you heard something that didn't seem right, or you read something online that seemed off, that information will get to the right people immediately. you can count on it. and we will check it out. if it's nothing, no harm done. but if it was something, great harm may be avoided. but counterterrorism is what you pay us to do. tell us what you saw and then go on living your lives, living
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your life while we could our work. that is channeling fear into something healthy, which is awareness of your surroundings, and not something disabling. that's what we hope you will do. thank you, madam attorney general. ms. lynch: thank you, mr. director. thank you all. even though the all-white school was only a few blocks away. her father sued the school board. in the case made it all the way to the supreme court. we will examine this case and
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explore racial tensions of the time. the personal stories of individuals involved, and the immediate and long-term impacts of the decision. that is coming up on the next landmark cases, live monday night at 9:00 eastern on c-span, c-span3, and c-span radio. for background while you watch, order your copy of the companion book. it is available for $8.95 plus shipping on >> c-span has your coverage of the road to the white house 2016. where you will find the candidates and the speeches, the debate, and most importantly, your questions. this year, we are taking our road to the white house coverage into classrooms across the country with our student camera contest. giving students the opportunity to discuss what important issues they want to get the most from the candidates. follow c-span and wrote to the white house coverage 2016 on tv,
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the radio, and online at >> state department and immigration officials testified at a house hearing about national security in the wake of the terrorist attacks and paris, and the screening of asylum applicants from syria. trey gowdy chairs the committee on border security. this is two hours.
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trey gowdy: this will be your one and only warning, and that respect, secondarily, i will tell our witnesses we will do things differently this morning. i will have colleagues that will be here very shortly. oure're going to recognize witnesses for their opening statements come before we recognize the members. because there is a lot of floor activity this morning at 10:30, we want to get as much done as we can. so while each of you has very vast and impressive resumes, i will probably skip them, as i introduce you. just recognize you by name for your opening. before i do that, i would ask everyone to rise for the administration of an oath.
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just the witnesses, i'm sorry. [laughter] that was my fault. that was my fault. i was ambiguous. that was my fault. youou swear the testimony are about to give is a truth, so help you god? in the record reflect all of the witnesses answered in the affirmative. i will introduce you, and then recognize you individually for your opening. we are delighted to have miss and richard reid we are delighted to have mr. leon rodriguez. we are delighted to have seth jones, mark, and we are delighted to have mr. mark hatfield. i recognize you for your five-minute opening. >> thank you very much. thank you to the subcommittee for holding this important hearing at such a key moment in programsssions about
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of very successful programs the u.s. government has to bring refugees to the united states so they can restart their lives after living through a very, very difficult situation of persecution. i know the murderous attacks in paris last friday have raised many questions about the spillover of not just migrants to europe but the spread of violence from war zones in the middle east to the streets of a major european capital. let me assure you that the entire executive branch and the state department that i represent has the safety and security of americans as our highest priority. as an essential fundamental part of u.s. refugee admissions, we screen applicants rigorously, carefully in an effort to ensure that no one who poses a threat to the safety and security of americans is able to enter our country. all refugees of all nationalities considered for admission to the u.s. undergo
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intensive security screenings, involving multiple agencies, intelligence, security, and law enforcement agencies -- including the fbi and the departments of homeland security, state, and defense. consequently, we supplement is a careful and deliberate process that can take 18-24 months. applicants to the u.s. program are currently subjected to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the united states. the safeguards include biometric, fingerprint, bio graphic texts. and a lengthy in-person interview by specially trained officers to scrutinize the application of individual circumstances to ensure they are a bona fide refugee and will not present a security concern. leon will talk more about this. it is really his apartment that
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the responsibility lies to determine who does and does not come. we work so closely with them, i want to say they are incredibly careful. and if they have any doubts, they will not allow anyone to enter the u.s.. no one has a right to resettlement. it is something that we offer based on our history and our humanitarian values. the vast majority of the 3 million refugees who have been admitted, including from some of the most troubled regions of the world, have proven to be hard-working and productive residents. they pay taxes. they send their children to school. and after five years, many take the test to become citizens. some serve in the u.s. military and undertake forms of service for their country. and our program is so well-regarded, other countries come to us to learn more about it. and i will be taking the british member of parliament, richard
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harrington, who is responsible now for trying to get more refugees through a process to the u.k. for a visit to one of our centers tomorrow. so i'm happy to answer any questions you may have about anything in my testimony. in my testimony talks about assistance overseas, and a medic efforts. but i know that the american public wants to hear that our first priority is the safety of the american people. thank you. >> mr. rodriguez? mr. rodriguez: thank you. i think we can stipulate two things. the u.s. has a proud and long tradition of admitting refugees from some of the worst crises in the most dangerous places in the world. secondly, that the situation around syria is an untenable 1
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-- 11 million people displaced. if we are to continue that tradition of being a welcoming country, can i, as the director of the agency that vets refugees, for sure the american people that we are using all of the resources that we have read and that they are meaningful resources do that refugee. i am here to tell you this morning that as the process as secretary richard described, it is a multilayered, robust, and intensive process through which individuals must pass before they can travel to the u.s. given the limitations of time, i will sign post three critical phases of the process. there is the u.n. phase. the department of state phase. then the phase conducted by my refugee officers. hopefully, i will have time to dig into those elements further. process, individuals
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for the first time are reviewed. i'm sorry, they are interviewed as to the claim for refugee status. extensive biographical information is captured, as well as preliminary analysis as to whether there are potential bars or disqualifiers for those individuals. the fruit of those individuals interviews are passed to the state department and to the uscis. at the state department stage, a second layer of interview is conducted. at that point, a series of critical biographic checks are initiated. there are three critical likes to that. the first is the lookout advisory support system. which queries against a number of critical law enforcement and intelligence holdings, the security advisory posted by the fbi. the most importantly of all,
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what is called the inter-agency check. that is checked against a number of both law enforcement and intelligence holdings. and it is important for me to let you know this morning that through that suite of checks, we have in fact either toied refugee status individuals or at a minimum, place them on hold based on derogatory information that came up. by theeck is populated extensive work that is being done by the u.s. intelligence services which is indeed one of , well-developed, and intelligent services in the democratic world. at that point, they come to my refugee officers, who have extensive training both generally and protective and refugee law, but then also very specific and targeted training as to conditions in syria.
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including the lessons learned during the refugee process. as we interview each refugee or each family of refugees, we gain more information, more clarity as to what is going on in syria. that is coupled with another round of fingerprinting, a set of biometric checks against the department of defense databases, customs, border patrol, fbi databases. the statuser check of these individuals. also, when i talk about the interagency check, i would note the fact that that is now a recurrent process. these individuals are checked on an ongoing basis. so that if new derogatory information arises about these individuals during the process, that comes to our attention. i hope i have further opportunity during the questioning to elucidate each step. i think it is critical for the
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american people to get the reassurance they need to continue to be the kind of welcoming country that we are. but i also ask us, the price of an action, the fact that being welcoming contributes to the stability of the region. it puts us side-by-side with our allies in europe who are taking on this program, to the same extent or greater than we are. and it honors our traditions as american people. thank you. >> mr. jones? , a jones: thank you chairman distinguished members of the subcommittee. it is an important subject. and the tragic attacks in paris over the weekend, and the links with syria, make this hearing particularly important. i have divided my comments into two sections. the first will provide an overview from syria and the region. the second has implications for the refugees in the homeland. my background in focus is primarily on terrorist groups of
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foreign fighters, that is my expertise. serving in and working for special operations and for the fbi 9/11 commission last year, we did look at some of this for director komi. but first, let me talk about the extremist threat from syria. the put this into perspective, the us-led airstrikes and recently from france and other coalition partners have probably halted the advance of the islamic state in syria. and across the border in i raq, operation forces on the ground have helped halt the advance in places like sinjar. but the group remains strong. it is currently not on the ropes. in addition, in syria, the al qaeda affiliates are probably market will now as fighters that
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any time since its creation in 2011. it is an affiliate, meaning it pledged allegiance to al qaeda core back in pakistan. the concern for the u.s. is a number of foreign fighters traveling to come and to some degree from, syria and iraq. the battlefield is a largest concentration of foreign extremists we have seen in any major war, certainly ones that i have participated in. and look at the numbers and pakistan in afghanistan, in somalia and libya, national counterterrorism numbers put this in over 20,000 foreign fighters who travel to syria to fight. 17% have come to the west, depending on how you count. somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 americans have traveled or attempted to travel to syria, mostly to fight against bashar al-assad. we see that tied to operationally or inspired by
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daesh. in garland, texas and copenhagen, denmark. brussels, other locations. emanating from this region, the threat is clear. -5,now the recent mi thing they have 750 traveling to syria. many have joined daesh. and they have been involved in cafferty plots that have been foiled. the threat is notable, coming to some degree to the u.s. homeland. that brings the back to the u.s. and the refugee issue. let me to start by saying refugees clearly have played an important historical role in the u.s. in ensuring prosperity and diversity. the plots we look at last year from the11 commission
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time square bomber to david headley in chicago who was involved in the mumbai and copenhagen tax, all of these were refugees. the threat historically has been relatively small. but i would highlight a couple of things that make the syrian picture and iraq to some degree worth noting. as i said earlier, we see the highest number of foreign fighters on any modern jihadist battlefield in the syria-i rock raq border. there's been an exit this a fighters to the west -- and exodus of fighters to the west. european officials have expressed concern about refugees in europe that have been in contact with the islamic state, including most recently in belgium. so there has been some concern,
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in some cases after the have gotten into europe, and then third, i would say -- this is based partly on my own experience -- what we had in iraq and afghanistan was a good intelligence architecture to collect information on individuals, including those in prison. we do not have this in syria. i will be happy to talk more deke about this. let me just conclude by saying the u.s. as a long-standing tradition of offering protection to refugees. but an integral part needs to be ensuring that those individuals -- that therovide u.s. is able to provide security to the homeland. and the syrian battlefield is of some concern, just because of the u.s. election gap, that exist other battlefields we have been involved in. thank you very much. >> thank you. protection policy is
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based on two principles. mustwhat policy we adopt not pose a threat to the american people. secondly, whatever money we take from our people through taxes to devote to these purposes should be an yield the maximum humanitarian effect. unfortunately, resettlement in the u.s. from syria, or from it fails onalia, both those accounts. hillary clinton said at the debate this weekend that the u.s. should spend whatever it takes to properly screen syrian refugees. i think everyone would agree with that. but it misses the point. the problem is not that we are devoting inadequate resources. it is certainly not that our people in dhs, fbi, state are not permitted. they're doing the best job they can. the problem is that proper screening of people from syria cannot be done.
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we are giving our people and assignment they cannot accomplish. in a modern, developed country like ours that everybody in the world leaves behind them the kind of electronic traces we do -- birth certificates, drivers license, school records, those things we take for granted. but the fact is that those traces are nonexistent and much of the world, even in the best of circumstances. and in the kind of situation come of the chaotic situation we somalia,yria or in libya, afghanistan, what information that might have existed has gone up in smoke. or the very least, it is inaccessible. johnson made that point when he said we are not going to know a lot about the individual refugees who come forward. that is true. and just this week, we found just more evidence of that. the french since our
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intelligence agency fingerprints. there was no trace of them. the very databases we are supposed to be using to screen the syrian refugees. our screening of refugees resembles, and i don't mean to jokeip here, resembles the about the drunk who loses his keys in the park. when asked about why he does that, he says the light is better here. the clear statement of this came from matthew emerick, nothing personal. he told the senate last month that we check everything that we are aware of within u.s. government holdings. because the light is better there. the second point is efficacy. in other words, are the resources we are devoting to humanitarian protection for refugees, whether syria or
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anywhere else, being used to the maximum affect. and bringing refugees to our country makes us feel better. i assume mr. hatfield will give us stories about that. the point of humanitarian projection is not to make us feel better. it is to assist as many people as possible with whatever resources we have decided to devote to this purpose. and what we have found, we did research on this, and we found that it cost 12 times as much to resettle a refugee from syria, from the middle east in the u.s., as it does to provide for them in their own region. in this case, in turkey, jordan, lebanon. we conservatively estimated the five-year cost at $64,000 compared to you and figures that n.dicated the cost -- u. figures that indicated the cost of $5,300.
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each refugee we bring from the middle east means that 11 other people are not being helped with the same resources. the image i like to think about when considering this is imagining you have 12 drowning people. what do you do? you send them a one-manny got that is beautiful but holds only one? or to use in them like preserves -- life rs? yacht, insteada of sending life preservers. congress has a variety of measures. and i'm not want to say we have a temporary pause or abroad changing the rules, these are questions you will consider. in considering them, i urge you to keep in mind these points -- the only way to reduce the security risk of resettling
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syrian refugees or afghans, you many, is to reduce the number we settle. and the obligations that make the most effective use of the funding we have taken from our people to devote to refugee protection compels a shift in emphasis away from resettlement toward greater protection for people in the region. thank you. >> thank you, chairman gary. i happen to: testify here today, we are the oldest refugee agency. >> your microphone is not on. ield: thank you distinguish members of the subcommittee for inviting me to n behalfur today on th of the oldest refugee agency in the world. we have been doing this since
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1881, not just because it makes us feel better. it saves lives. it has saved millions of lives sincnce 1881. 60 million displaced across the globe, 20% of whom are syria. fleeing a conflict that has artie taken over to what 40,000 lives. the considerably more international assistance, countries like lebanon, jordan, and turkey are beyond saturation points with over 4 million syrians. for ag them to flee second and third time. the crisis finally attracted international attention in this country on a body of a three-year-old washed up on a turkish beach on september 2. women, andmen, children to paris at sea that month, try to make the journey to europe. this is an extraordinary crisis requiring extraordinary
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leadership. but so far, the u.s. response has been tepid at best. while this is the largest refugee crisis of my lifetime, we are resettling far fewer than we did in 1980, when we resettled indochina refugees. for a 1994, when we resettled 10,000 each year. my great sadness at the ax in beirut and paris has been compounded by the reaction of some politicians in this country. iverted thee focus. they have blamed the victim's. s.this weekends ours, and -- weakens our national character. irishakenly thought that need not apply, no jews or dogs
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allow, were buried in the past. no syrian muslims are welcome in my state. one governor even said, for my home state of new jersey, no syrian orphans under five are welcome either. lead to the defeat of the wagner rogers bill which would have saved children from not to germany. governors have a right to be concerned about security. so are the settlement agencies. and the process reflects that, as director rodriguez has already testify. while the number of refugees being resettled here today is relatively anemic, the security protocols in place are stronger than anything i've ever seen in my 26 years working in the field. so strong, that is made the refugee resettlement program and to more fortress than evidence,
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causing massive backlogs of legitimately deserving and unnecessarily suffering refugees. it is based on erroneous assumptions. the flow of refugees to europe is entirely dissimilar to the refugees accepted to the u.s. program. the refugees will arrive in the u.s. have undergone extensive security vetting prior to setting foot on u.s. soil. refugees to europe are not screened until after they enter. this is the distinction. a simple he make sense for u.s. lawmakers react to the tragedy and paris by proposing legislative changes to the u.s. refugee program. history has demonstrated that our democracy and not only withstand large influxes from other countries, but will prosper as a result. fromwe welcomed millions communist, fascist, and not see regimes, our country did not become infected with any of these ideologies.
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nor with the terror associated with them. if anything, these refugees immunized us from the ideologies they were fleeing. u.s. is hardly a pizza with cheese. it is not the wide reaching program was intended to be. given the complexity, intrusiveness, and unpredictability, it seems highly unlikely if not impossible that a terrorist would choose the resettlement program as his or her pathway to the u.s. my written testimony outlines a number of suggestions to improve the program, while increasing both security and efficiency. but it does not recommend a certification process. thank you for inviting me here to testify today. this country must continue to be both welcoming and say. >> thank you. i will remind the witnesses and the numbers to direct the responses and comments to the
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appropriate audiences. for members, it would not be to one another. and for witnesses, not one another. with that, i will recognize the ranking member of the full committee, mr. conyers from michigan. conyers: thank you, mr. chairman. apologize for appearing late. this is an important hearing. which focuses on the syrian refugee crisis and its impact on the security of our nation's refugee admissions program has a potential to shed meaningful light on critical issues, to all americans -- to all of us. unfortunately, the value of today's undertaking is greatly diminished by the fact that
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immediately following the conclusion of this hearing, we will go directly to the floor to so-called 4038, the american safe act. a bill that would effectively shut down refugee processing for syrians and iraqis. clearly, there are no easy solutions to humanitarian crisis risesof this magnitude -- ci of this magnitude. yet, 4038 is not the right answer, in my view. and i want the witnesses to please let us know what should be our response, keeping in mind these factors. to begin with, while ensuring the safety of all americans should be our top priority, hr debarould effectively
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syria and iraqi refugees. but it does nothing to promote security. has unreasonable clearance standards that department of homeland security cannot meet, and thereby would halt refugee resettlement in the u.s. which is perhaps what the whole point of doing this is. so without question, the program should be held to the highest standards to ensure to the greatest extent possible that the security screening is thorough, effective, and timely. in fact, refugees are already subject to the highest level of vetting. more than any other traveler or immigrant to the u.s. processensive screening
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performed by the department of and and security y state, with conjunction with the fbi and other law enforcement agencies, relies on methodical and exhaustive background checks that often take up to 24 months on average to complete. even longer in some cases. like any system, there is room for further improvement. i would appreciate your thoughts here and after this hearing on how we can accomplish that goal. we must keep in mind that our nation was founded by immigrants. and it has historically welcomed refugees when they are suffering around the globe. whether it is an earthquake in aiti, acer not me in asia -- years inn asia, or
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syria, we provide protections for asylum-seekers. especially women and children. nevertheless, in the wake of september 11 attack in the tragic november 13 terror attack in paris, we must be vigilant -- especially in the midst of a global refugee crisis. to the extremeg overreaction to these latest security concerns. rather than shutting our doors, the desperate men and women and children who are risking their lives to escape death and torture in their own homelands, we should work to utilize our immense resources and good intentions of our citizens to welcome them. and finally, congress needs to do its part by properly funding refugee resettlement, as well as
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sending federal agencies, so they have the necessary personnel and programs to complete security checks. rather than slamming the doors to the world's most vulnerable, we should be considering legislation to strengthen and expand refugee programs. for example, i am a cosponsor of hr 1576, protecting religious minorities persecuted by isis. which allows persecuted lddividuals in isis-h territories do apply directly to the program. rather than rushing to the floor to consider legislation that was wo daysced just tq day ago, we should devote legislative sources to develop meaningful solutions.
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i thank the chair for the opportunity. >> the chair will now recognize himself. national security is the preeminent function of government grade security and public safety are not factors be considered for some broader policy objective. national security and public safety are the ultimate policy objectives. the safety and security of our fellow citizens should be the driving force behind all decisions we make. as representatives, it would be incongruent to take any act copulated to jeopardize the safety and security of those who sent us here in the first place. people do not employ is to represent them so we can take risks with their security. is country has a rich and long history of welcoming those fleeing persecution. we have a long and rich history of liberating those suffering
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under oppression. we're the most welcoming country in the world. and we are the most generous country in the world. and we help those in need both here and abroad and we administer that aid in greater quantities than anyone else. our country has welcomed over 3 million refugees since 1975. we consistently provide aid to those in need. we provide protection for those who cannot protect themselves. and we provide a defense for those who are defenseless. regrettably, the world we find ourselves in is im perfect. it is because we are free and secure and live in a society rooted in public safety that we have the liberty of being generous to other people. rather than address the underlying pathology that results in displaced people, those in charge of our foreign policy see more interested in treating the symptoms. there are refugees from middle east and northern africa because those regions are on fire. and ourled with chaos,
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policies of containment and smart power, or whatever we call it today, have failed. terrorists to the lives of over 100 innocent people in france and injured many more for no other reason than the fact that they could. they killed 100 because they cannot kill 1000. and their objective is evil for the sake of evil. it is murder for the sake of murder. it is rotten, willful violence premeditated depravity. calculated to take as many innocent lives as possible. the acts of barbarism committed against france are the latest in a long line of malevolent acts committed against innocents. that is not like to be over. cia director brennan said what happened in france was not a one-off event. we know terrorists are intent on finding ways to attack. director brennan said isis has
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an external agenda they are determined to act on. above thet put them refugees. that is a huge concern of our's. those are the words of our very own intelligence officials, who serve this administration. the president has said he is too busy to debate the critical issue. passesortunately, what for debate in this political age, is some absurd conclusion about widows and orphans. partisan debate that has one fact. we have no idea what our foreign policy is in the middle east. the people i represent our kind and generous, and they are asking this president one simple question. what assurance can you give us
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with respect to our public safety and national security, and so far, no one has been able to provide that assurance. on monday, the president said the country would continue to accept syrian refugees, but only after subjecting them to security checks. those are wonderful words. but at some point you have to ask, what does that mean? and the head of our own fbi said the concern in syria, the lack of our footprint on the ground, the database will not have the information read we don't have any information. were talking about a country that is a failed state that does not have any infrastructure. all of the data sets, the police, the intelligence, they do not exist. that is not a republican resident told hopeful. that is the head of the fbi. he also said we can only query against that which we collect. if someone has never made a ripple in a pond in syria or any
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other place that would get their interest reflected in our database, we can query it into locales come home. but nothing will show up because there is no record on that person. lastly, he said i cannot sit here and offer anybody an absolute assurance that there is no risk associated. so the question then becomes, what amount of risk is acceptable? if this is not a risk-free endeavor, few things are, some one 20 to tell me what amount of risk is acceptable when you talk national security and public safety. i will say this in conclusion, the president says we are scared of widows and orphans. with all due respect to him. a foreignfraid of is policy that grates more of them. so where he ought to start, maybe he ought to start with a foreign policy in the middle east, including syria, or people
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can go back to their homelands -- which is there homeland. maybe you ought to defeat that junior varsity team you thought you had contained. that would be the very best thing you could do. with that, i will recognize the lady from california. >> thank you, mr. chairman. when we are elected to congress, our first responsibility is to make sure that the security of the american people is attended to. 2,3,4.s number 1, i take it very seriously. tot admonition has caused me lawsw the procedures and relative to our refugee program. the refugees from syria and other places in the middle east
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are arriving in waves, unscreened at europe's doorstep. wemr. hatfield has recalled, were shocked to see the body of a three-year-old child on the beach. of families trying to escape from isis who are beheading people. but our process is different. we have an ocean between us and europe and the middle east. and that has allowed us to provide for a rather extensive process. here is what it is. in order to even be considered, the united nations high commission on refugees refers you to our system for screening. only a few people actually make that process to be screened. at that point, we have a
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resettlement support center that doesn't interview. we do biographic checks. the we do the class system, lookout support system, which queries data that is classified. it includes the dea, fbi, homeland security, immigration, customs, on and on. then we have certain refugees, that includes syrians, a security advisory opinion. clearance positive from a number of u.s. law enforcement agencies. the participants are classified. but it is everybody. and then we have the inter-agency, a check which was new. before 2008, we do not have this. and unfortunately, we admitted four iraqi refugees who turned
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up to be terrorists under the bush administration. we reviewed the process and change that to avoid that repetition, as well as the biometric checks and the next information system, along with the automated biographic identification system. and the automated biographic id system, that is followed by in person interviews and some post-interview efforts. following that, there are additional checks for syrians. so it is no small surprise that this process takes a couple of years for someone to pass. i listened to the fbi director, who we all respect. i am mindful that the fbi has a veto. if there's somebody we do not know who they are, they cannot
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come in. they cannot come in, that is the current law. and that is how it should be. that we would think querying what bashar al-assad thinks about a refugee, i do not care what he thinks about a refugee. he thinks all of the sunnis are terrorists. and they are not. let us put this in perspective grid if i were a terrorist, when i say, i'm going to go to a camp, hope the u.n. will refer me to the system, go through this extensive process for two y ears, and honestly, because of paris this has been extended. everybody wants to make sure everyvery t is crossed, i dotted. i don't think so. i don't think so. we need to take a look at all of the systems that we have. most of the terrorists, it looks
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most of the terrorists -- it looks like all of the terrorists were europeans. they had european passport. they had belgian and french passports. they could come to the united states very easily. we need to take a look at what processes we have in place to make sure that the country is safe. but it does not include being afraid of a five-year-old. it is important that you are here. i was listening to my colleague, luis gutierrez. yesterday, a syrian family, refugees, arrived in chicago. the nonprofit group that was resettling them was the jewish community center. that tells isis and the world that we are on the right side of history and they are on the wrong side of history. how do you recruit more
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terrorists when the united states stands up for what it is? that is part of this equation. we need to win this militarily, but we also need to win it in a values fight. we are not going to win that fight by backing off from being free and being american. thank you, mr. chairman. chairman gowdy: the chairman now recognizes the gentleman from virginia. rep. goodlatte: thank you, mr. chairman. from an immigration standpoint, perhaps the most essential lesson from the 9/11 terrorist acts is that for a national who want to do us harm will exploit all aspects of our generous immigration policy to do so, even if it takes months or years. tragically, our allies in france learned that same lesson when over 120 people, including at least one american, were slaughtered by isis terrorists. at least one of the perpetrators
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registered as a refugee from .yria while in transit to paris armed with that knowledge, today we examine the administration's plan to admit thousands of syrian's into the u.s. as refugees. during fiscal year 2015, the 2 syriant admitted 168 refugees to the u.s. in september, the administration announced that during this fiscal year, they plan to admit at least 10,000 more. that number could go higher as secretary of state john kerry stated. i underscore the "at least." it is not a ceiling. it is a floor. 85,000 at ailing is minimum, according to the secretary of state, nearly 12% will be from a country with little infrastructure, incomplete turmoil, into which thousands of radicalized fighters have poured, parts of which the islamic state controls
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and in which we have no law enforcement presence. the administration conducts security checks prior to admitting refugees. according to the administration, these checks are robust. but are they enough? can these checks ensure that the individuals admitted as refugees are not terrorists and will not commit terrorist attacks once in the united states? dhs secretary jeh johnson told congress that agencies involved in the vetting process are committed to doing the best they can and as deliberately as they can. such a statement from the top u.s. homeland security official does not exactly instill confidence in the vetting system . islamic radicals around the world are chanting "death to mounting barbaric attacks on western targets. isis is specifically saying, we will strike america at its center in washington. top security officials have told
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congress that the refugees that in process is not adequate. saidirector james comey that while the vetting of refugees has improved, the reality is that with a conflict zone like syria, where there is dramatically less information available to use during the comeyg process, director could not offer anyone and assurance that there is no risk associated with admitting syrian refugees. not only did his boss not refute his statements, but she conceded that there are challenges to the refugee vetting process in her testimony on tuesday. i wrote to the president asking why he continues to ignore the concerns of some of his top security officials. i look forward to the witnesses thoughts on such concerns today. exactly who the individuals fleeing syria are is a question of immense concern. there is little doubt that members of the islamic state and
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some of the foreign fighters who have streamed into syria over the last two years are some of the individuals leaving the country. in september, the director of national intelligence, james clapper, noted, "i don't, obviously, put it back -- past the likes of isil to infiltrate operatives among these refugees so that is a huge concern of ours."" non-syrians trying to pass themselves off as syrians to get into the country. the booming fake identification document industry, where a forged passport can be bought on the turkish border for as little as $200. i know the administration is trying to implement the refugee laws that congress puts in place. if implementation places americans in danger, it is clear that congress must take a look at the refugee provisions to determine what changes should be
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made. lastly, i would like to thank the witnesses for testifying today. i know that some of you had to rearrange your schedule to make it here today and we appreciate your willingness to testify on this important topic. chairman gowdy: the chair will now recognizes the gentleman from idaho or five minutes of questioning. labrador: thank you mr. chairman. thank you to all the witnesses for appearing here today. when i hear somebody like mr. hetfield talk about us as if we are going back to the 1930's, i am very offended. i think your testimony was completely out of line and out of ways because most of us are here concerned about the safety and security of the united states, while, at the same time, we want to make sure we can continue with this humanitarian program that has helped so many people throughout the world. it was very disappointing to hear your testimony.
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withission that we have humanitarian concerns must not, the costs of our national security. with recent testimony from james comey and attorney general loretta lynch let the administration -- that the administration is not able to properly vet incoming refugees, congress has the duty to act. we are not acting out of plain fear based on a few members of congress talking to each other. after testimony after testimony from top national security experts telling us that we have a problem with the vetting process. reference anyou intensive security screening that all refugees must undergo prior to admission. do you think that the current vetting system is appropriate? yes, i do.: it is the toughest one for any traveler to the united states.
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rep. goodlatte: it is the toughest one, but do you think it is sufficient for the current crisis we are in? ms. richard: yes. anyone who has any doubts about anyone who we think might pose a threat to the united states, any possible way, is not allowed to come in. rep. goodlatte: do you agree with that, mr. rodriguez? mr. rodriguez: i do agree. rep. goodlatte: how about you? >> i agree. rep. goodlatte: i am sure that you disagree with his testimony that it is not sufficient. ms. richard: what director call me does not say is that it is normal or the u.s. government to have no information -- rep. goodlatte: that is not true. he was in this committee and said that there is a huge difference between the syrian population and the iraqi population.
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intelligence on the iraqi population. ms. richard: the reason is that iraqis and afghan programs were not in normal rescue programs. we take people who have served from the u.s. military and worked alongside our troops from iraq. there is a great deal of information about them available. rep. goodlatte: reclaiming my he has testified again and again and again that we do not have sufficient vetting. i trust him a lot more with my national security then i request -- then i respect you. you have a mission, which is to bring more refugees to the united states. i respect that you have that work to do. i am concerned about the national security of my situate, the people that are in my district. refugee centers in the state of idaho and we are
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concerned about what is going to happen in the state of idaho if we do not do the proper vetting. it is my responsibility to make sure they are protected. mr. rodriguez, i want to touch on the interviews. how are the interview questions generated? they areguez: briefing by intensive on country conditions, including classified information, as i explained before. they are generated based on the information received in prior interviews of that same individual. they are also generated by the experience and training of that officer and what we have learned from other refugees. rep. labrador: how often are those questions altered? they areguez: determined carefully on a case-by-case basis. there is constant communication among our office. rep. labrador: what is the
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typical duration? mr. rodriguez: i have observed them to be an hour, two hours. it depends on the nation -- the nature of the place -- of the case. it takes as long as it needs to take. rep. labrador: mr. jones, in your opinion, it security protocols are not updated, what is the future of the u.s. refugee admission program? mr. jones: could you repeat the question? rep. labrador: if security protocols are not updated, what is the future of the u.s. refugee admission program? mr. jones: i think the challenge we have is the databases that are feeding into the refugee programs. we have gaps in syria. in the iraq and afghan cases, we had large databases, biometric information, names based on people who are coming into prison systems at checkpoints. we do not have them here. this is a notable concern.
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thatve gaps of information we generally have not seen in many other cases. rep. labrador: thank you very much. chairman gowdy: the chair would now recognize the gentleman from california. rep. lofgren: thank you. mr. rodriguez, we have heard that refugees for admission to the u.s. are subject to more rigorous screening than any other traveler. or immigrant. this screening is often conducted because refugees may not often have the documents that we would have walking down the street. they have, in some cases, fled for their lives with just the close on the back -- the clothes on their back. they may not have documents. how do we proceed to establish identity in those cases? it is not just syria. sudane the lost boys from
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, we have congolese refugees, we have people who have fled, you know, people chasing them, and here they are. how do we go about identifying? i think it is important. i appreciate your distinction between syrians and others. most of the syrians that we see you come with documents that are authentic documents on the whole. what we do is an expensive process of assessing, mapping out emily trees, -- family trees, aliases, associations, other processes. when we do have less documentation that is the norm - - than is the norm. we have trained personnel to recognize fraudulent documents
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and to use the interview as an effective way of determining identity. in march, the chairman of the committee organized a congressional delegation to visit the middle east. one of the most interesting elements of that trip, and i think the chairman for organizing it, was a trip we took to the refugee camp on the syrian border in jordan. we had the opportunity to meet a large number of refugees. all of them wanted to go home, but their homes had been destroyed. -- by way, they were very the way, they were very grateful to the united states. rewarding to hear the recognition that the united states has among the refugees for our efforts. do we ever crowd sourced information? those people that we met, some of them were computer science students. some of them were widows.
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you could find out lots of somebody by doing not just an interview with them, but crowdsourcing the information with everyone around them. do we do that? mr. rodriguez: that is a great phrase. we do so in two respects. we are always comparing and vetting what we hear from one refugee or family of refugees, which is typically what we are encountering with what we are learning from other individuals from that town. as we see refugees, they tend to come from particular areas. and also, as part of the classified information that we received, there can well be information that gives more detail in the manner that you have described. rep. lofgren: so in terms of the role of the refugee core and the additional training that they
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received, what supplementary steps are taken with syrian refugees as compared to all other applicants? mr. rodriguez: the manner in which they are briefed on country conditions and regional conditions is more intensive than what we do for any other officers. they have their basic training ,n protection law, refugee law and interviewing. they then have a two series -- have two series of general briefings. one is on syria, iraq, and iran. prior to deployment, there is an eight-day period where they see intensive briefings of a classified and unclassified nature from a number of different sources, including consultations with security inerts, to really feed them
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the specifics of the environment they are going to at the time they are going to it. we ensure that that information is current. once in the field, those individuals have a 10-day dentoring, shadowing perioo before they can do an interview on their own. rep. lofgren: i see that my time has expired. chairman gowdy: i now recognize the gentleman from virginia. rep. goodlatte: i would like to follow-up on that line of questioning. if the interview process is so effective, why do we have 5 million people in the united states who are lawfully admitted to the united states through the interview process and have overstayed their visas, violated the promises they made when they entered the united states? what i can speak to today is the actual refugee
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crisis -- process. we have already talked about the greater difficulty of obtaining background information. you have a more highly accurate peoplecircumstances than applying for other types of visas. mr. rodriguez: i am not sure i understood the question. rep. goodlatte: if the interview process is so effective and we interview people who apply for a whole multitude of different types of visas and they are coming from countries where we have a much greater presence on the ground than we do in some refugee companies -- countries and that we do not have at all we still have 5 million people illegally present in the united states. they did not come across the border illegally. mr. rodriguez: what i can speak refugee- is the
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screening process. syrians, it is the most intensive process. rep. goodlatte: the fbi director noted that you have little inside syria that you can contact. you cannot access local or national databases. you cannot interview neighbors. you cannot interview business associates. you cannot interview other contacts with the people because they are either in the country and we cannot get to them or they are dispersed around the world. why do you think this interview process is so effective? mr. rodriguez: because, again, it is based on extensive detailed mapping of family relationships, associations, credibility assessments based on prior documents. and this is really critical --
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it does not follow from anything that director comey may have said that we are querying a void. am -- rep. goodlatte: i am paraphrasing, but he said you can query a database until the cows come home, but if the information is not in the database, you are not going to find anything. mr. rodriguez: that is why we have placed people on heightened review. that is why there have been denials. that is why there have been holds. whatgoodlatte: why not do so many other members of congress and other people have said on both sides of the aisle, and that is hit the pause button on this? the situation in syria has been going on for a new year's. it continues to do -- for a few years. it continues to deteriorate. we have a problem with forged documents that are fooling the
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europeans and maybe us as well. why not simply delay this for a period of time until we make sure the criteria we set forth in the legislation that we are putting forward today can be met? mr. rodriguez: because the process is currently constituted and resource. your question is, is the best we can do good enough? the fact is, it is the most intensive process. it has resulted in denials and holds. it is a redundant, rigorous process. rep. goodlatte: mr. krikorian, does the u.s. have any way of distinction between individuals who are syrian and those posing as syrian refugees? mr. krikorian: they can try. i have no doubt that u.s. officials are doing their best to distinguish between people
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pretending to be syrians and people who are not. there is a limit to how effective that can be and there .s an extreme paucity of data sometimes, i have no doubt, they will smoke out people who are lying or cheating. i am sure it happens all the time. more than 90% of syrian refugee applicants are being approved. that might go down a little bit as those cases in limbo are formally decided. the average worldwide is 80%. how stringent really can a vetting process be when more than 90% of the people are being approved? rep. goodlatte: thank you. my time has expired. chairman gowdy: the chair will now recognize ms. lofgren. rep. lofgren: i ask unanimous
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consent to submit to the record of this hearing 37 statements, including something christian reformed church, lutheran immigration services, southeast asian resource center, and the disciples of christ. chairman gowdy: without objection, the gentleman will recognize -- i will recognize the gentleman from virginia. rep. conyers: my question is directed towards market field -- mark hatfield -- hetfield. i respect the testimony of the other four witnesses. but i am trying to see how much difference there is between the and the u.s.gee refugee resettlement program. is there much of a distinction
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there? there is a very significant distinction, which is why it is surprising to me that the attacks and paris have resulted in more scrutiny of the refugee resettlement program. the refugees who arrive in europe are asylum-seekers. theirvetting does -- vetting does not begin until .fter they touch land as director rodriguez testified and you have heard over and over again, refugee applicants are vetted right side up, upside down and sideways, every which way you can possibly imagine, before they are admitted to the united states. then the process continues after they arrived. they have to apply for an adjustment after a year in the united states. they continue to be under close watch. the risk of admitting terrorists is very low.
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rep. conyers: we are considering hr-4038 on the floor today. billrvatives argue the does nothing more than add a certification process that would ensure no terrorist elements and to the country -- enter the country for resettlement. do you think that is the whole story behind this? mr. hetfield: well, it is a very short bill and does technically add nothing more than a certification process. but that process would cripple a system without making it more effective. refugees are already thoroughly vetted prior to arrival and having thr different high-ranking officials certify each and every refugee case is a guarantee that the system will come to a screeching halt. it already moves so slowly.
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the refugee resettlement program is no longer a rescue program. it saves lives, but it saves lives very slowly. that would bring it to an end. hetfield, youmr. are with the hebrew immigrant aid society. are you concerned that refugees -- that we will be iraqting from syria and would pose a specific threat to the jewish community in the united states? mr. hetfield: we are, as very concerneds, about screening people out who want to do us harm, especially those who have a particular ax to grind against the jewish community. again, these refugees are thoroughly vetted. what worries us much more,
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because we feel the vetting is being done, but we are also seeing xenophobia, islamophobia, driving a further wedge between muslims and the rest of the world. we are afraid that could do far more damage to muslim-jewish relations, to who we are as a country, to our security as a country, and make us even more vulnerable to attack because we basically said syrian muslims are not welcome here. we do not trust them. rep. conyers: my final question to you is for you to try to our war with isis and other terrorist groups is different. because they do not comprise an army -- enemy states or governments. shouldn't the protection of our
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concern, our first even if it means not allowing some refugees into the united states? it absolutely should be our paramount concern to keep the united states safe and secure. i can say with great confidence that my colleagues in the department of homeland security are doing that to a fault. that is their mission. they have had every refugee to make us safe. i cannot imagine what additional protocol they could install to make us safer. mindrrorist in his right would use the refugee program as a way to enter the united states. they may find other channels. it is not going to be through the refugee program. it is too intrusive, invasive, thorough in the security checks that it does. rep. conyers: secretary richard, do you have anything to add to that comment?
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ms. richard: the people who we are bringing have gone through this process, but they are referred to us in the first place because we know the type, the profile of refugee that we want to help. we are looking for people who have been tortured, burn victims bombs, people who are widows, children, the elderly, families who have been ripped apart, whose members have been murdered in front of their eyes. every single one of us feel that the first priority is the safety of the american people. ,f we cannot provide for that we would shut down the program. that byelieve strongly the time a refugee is brought here, we are bringing some of the most vulnerable people, giving them a second chance at life. whoave screened out anyone
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we had any question about. they may not have been referred to us in the first place, which is maybe why we have a higher acceptance rate. i think the proof is in the success of the program in communities all across the united states. so thank you for the opportunity to provide some information. would be happy, if given the opportunity, to explain more about the nuts and bolts of the process. we think it can withstand scrutiny. the chair and the ranking member of the subcommittee has spent a lot of of time on this already this year. we are happy to meet with other members to go into this point that, for example, the fbi holdings would only tell you a limited amount of information about the refugees. if a refugee ever committed a crime in the united dates, the fbi could tell you that. most refugees have never been to the united states before, which
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is why we need to use many more bases, techniques, and approaches to get the full story, make sure their story holds up, and if it does not hold up, if there is any question, they are not included in the program. rep. conyers: thank you. chairman gowdy: i now recognize the gentleman from texas. smith: i would like to single out mr. krikorian for his excellent testimony. i do not know how anyone could disagree with one word. before that, a question for ms. richard. i have to tell you how it seems to be right now. that is that the president of the united states says he wants to protect the security of the american people. we have a bill on the house floor where the fbi has to certify that a syrian refugee is not a threat to the united states. and yet the president of the united states is threatening to that tries to
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protect the security of the american people. . have no rational explanation it is simply astounding to me that the president of the united states would want to veto a bill that tries to protect the security of americans. i just do not get it. ms. richard, my question to you is this -- this year, we have admitted 1700 refugees from syria already in the last several months. how many of those 1700 refugees have been arrested for committing a crime? chairman gowdy: -- 1700 inard: we brought the last fiscal year. as far as i know, none have been arrested. rep. smith: do you track all the refugees? ms. richard: we do not track them after the first three
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months in the united states. rep. smith: how do you know if they have been arrested? ms. richard: i rely on the law enforcement agencies to tell us. rep. smith: so far, none of the 1700 have been arrested. ms. richard: that is right. rep. smith: as far as the stopping of the tracking after three months, are you going to stop the 10,000 proposed to be admitted next year in three those, stop tracking individuals as well? ms. richard: once they are in the united states, after a year of being here, they become legal residence. after five years -- rep. smith: i understand that. ms. richard: because of that, they are treated like ordinary americans and they are not tracked. rep. smith: are they treated differently than any other refugees.
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do you consider them to be more of a threat or not? ms. richard: they are not treated differently. mostsmith: i think consider them to be more of a threat. ms. richard: they are less of a threat because they fled their country. they voted with their feet. rep. smith: you say syrians are less of a threat even though we have had testimony from the fbi director that all the cohorts of refugees, including iraqi refugees, we have less information than the others -- i mean, the fbi director regrets he does not have more data about the syrian refugees and he ask it is risky. apparently, the administration disagrees with the fbi. you are saying that syrian refugees are less risky than other refugees? ms. richard: my point is, syrian have been outside their country. we know what they have been up
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to. be. smith: they could terrorists in training. terrorist organizations have said they will use the refugee program to try to infiltrate the united ace. you are saying you are more worried about syrian refugees than other refugees? ms. richard: i am very worried about terrorists. i think we should focus on terrorists. we should prevent terrorists from coming to the united states. rep. smith: do you think syrian refugees could someday become terrorists? ms. richard: i think the odds are very small. it does not stop us from focusing our program to make sure nobody who comes in might be a terrorist. rep. smith: i appreciate your trying to focus the program that way, but we have heard that you do not have the data that you need to make that determination. ms. richard: what the fbi has said is they do not have a lot of data from inside syria, which makes sense because the fbi has not operated -- rep. smith: exactly.
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ms. richard: it is normal for us, with most refugees, to not have data. havesmith: if you do not the data on the syrian refugees, it seems to be difficult or me to -- for you to give the american people the assurance that they are not terrorists. ms. richard: the fbi does not have a big amount of holdings based on u.s. presence in syria. we have a lot of information about syrian refugees. leon's program collects the information and does a fantastic job. i have sat through those interviews. instead of doing scores of visa applicants in a day, they take their time and do about three or four -- rep. smith: every law enforcement official that testified before us has disagreed with you. they say they have less data and less information on the syrian refugees. i am just saying what other law
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enforcement officials have testified. -- ifst question is this the citizens of a state or city do not want to have syrian refugees resettled within their jurisdiction, is the state department, is the administration going to force them to take those refugees? is a legal: there answer and then there is the reality answer. is aegal answer is it federal government programs of the federal government has the right to resettled refugees all across america, as we do. rep. smith: what is the reality answer? ms. richard: this program only functions if we have the support of the american people, very much at the level of communities and societies, to come forward and help these refugees. rep. smith: i appreciate that. you are saying that the administration, while it has the legal right, will not force refugees. let me finish my statement.
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let me repeat that. you are saying the administration, while they have the legal right to force resettlement, is not going to exercise that legal right as long as communities opposing the resettlement of refugees? ms. richard: i have not said that. it is up to the president to decide that. i would not want to resettled anyone in a hostile community. rep. smith: i would not refer to them as hostile communities. they are acting in the best interest in protecting their own people. thank you. my time is up. chairman gowdy: the chairman now recognizes the gentlelady from texas. i'm going to try to do a better job of limiting folks to five minutes, including myself. rep. jackson lee: thank you, chairman, and to all the witnesses who have come. thank you to the ranking member for her valiant effort on trying
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to strike a compromise with the bill that is being debated on the floor. i was delayed because i was speaking at the rules committee and trying to find -- excuse me, on the floor, trying to find a reason for us moving forward hr- 4038. , if i be very sustained might. let me ask to put the u.s. refugee admission process diagram into the record with unanimous consent. chairman gowdy: without objection. rep. jackson lee: it is difficult to see the maze of what it is. the inquiry being made through this legislation and hearing is a legitimate one. having started on the homeland security committee, as the recovery of 9/11 was still
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occurring, having been to ground zero and seeing the angst and feeling the deeply-embedded pain , there is no memory that sears the minds of americans as 9/11. bombing of had the pearl harbor that resulted in the internment of japanese americans. i am not sure whether, at that time, it made the nation safer. this process troubles me. i'm going to ask mr. richard -- ms. richard and mr. rodriguez a scenario. approximately 23,000 individuals were referred by the united nations from syria. i do not know if they included iraq. you took about 7000 two interview and about 2000 came forward in terms of the process. the process lasts 18-24 months. is that correct? ms. richard: that is correct. rep. jackson lee: and they
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include the people outside of syria who are either in the and not that you directly going to the bowels of syria and pull someone out. ms. richard: outside of syria. rep. jackson lee: and the individuals are those women and children, families. 2% of them happen to be unmarried men. ms. richard: of the ones we have brought to the united states, only 2% are unmarried, single men traveling without families. most our families, women and children, multiple generations. ms. richard: have you read hr-4038? mr. rodriguez: as it happens, i have, yes. rep. jackson lee: very good. it is not one of our long ones. mr. rodriguez: it was within my attention span. rep. jackson lee: it has not had a hearing before the domestic security committee.
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it deals with refugees but also issues to do with terrorism. man in thistactical process. as you look at it, do you read it as i read it that the persons engaged in certification must certify every single person, syrian or iraqi? i would not dare to opine or interpret -- let me just say i am aware of it. i will talk about what we do right now and what we are planning. rep. jackson lee: maybe somebody us wants to opine. i think you can opine and i need you to understood -- to understand, to be understood. it says that everyone in this category has to certify each refugee, does it not?
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our basicuez: position, as the president stated last night, it does not add anything to the already-rigorous process in which we engage. rep. jackson lee: let me go back to ms. richard. as i read this, each person would have to be independently-certified. if you are a five-year-old syrian girl, you would have to by the office of persons who already do it collectively. is that not accurate? ms. richard: i don't know. i have not spent time with the bill since it is brand-new. but we do have interviews for cases which are either individuals or families, rodriguez'shat leon
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organization carries out. a meeting with the whole family and then -- chairman gowdy: the gentlelady's time has expired. i really do want to give everyone a chance and votes are imminent. the chairman will now recognize the gentleman from iowa. i direct my first question to mr. rodriguez. when you do this extensive vetting process and you take into account the religion of the applicants? mr. rodriguez: we do not accept that as being a possible -- in many cases, it is a basis of persecution, but we do not disqualify anybody because of their faith. do you ask them, what is your religion? mr. rodriguez: if that is part of the basis of persecution, we do inquire. rep. king: you are required to take into account religion.
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, the you explain to me data out here and what we're seeing in the real world -- by the way, i just came back and i was in the front lines, as close as i could get to isis, the border of turkey, and then over to sweeten to see the end result -- sweden to see the end result. in turkey, i asked them to take me to refugee camps where i could talk to persecuted questions -- christians and they could not do that. i went to kurdish caps and they could not do that either. the reason is christians are being taken into homes that exist in the area. it turns out to be exclusively muslims within the camps as far as i can determine. so, can you name for me or identify for me a suicidal terrorist that was not a muslim?
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im not even sure how to answer that question, congressman. what i can talk about here today -- rep. king: why can't you answer that question? rep. jackson lee: with the gentleman yield? rep. king: no, i wouldn't. the administration policy is not to utter these words. you have to walk around this subject. i would accept that answer, too. mr. rodriguez: what i can say is that we do our job. if terrorists are attempting to gain admission to the united states, we do our job to prevent them. i think that is what the american people are asking of me. you are telling me that you are doing a thorough vetting process but you told me you ask -- you do not specifically ask what their religion is.
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i want to move away from that a little bit. i think my point is made. i would like to make this point. we are operating on the wrong premise. we are operating on the idea that we can vet potential and examine them up, down, and sideways and we are going to be ok if we do a good job of getting the refugees that theould allow -- of vetting refugees that we would allow it to america. here is the headline -- nearly 70 have been arrested in america over isis plots in the last 18 months, including refugees who have been given safe haven who turned out to be bringing terror against americans. nearly 70. .hat number is actually 66 i understand that we cannot be perfect with this, but some of these people were vetted. i do not think they were
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terrorists when they got here. they became terrorists after they got here. they were radicalized. i look at this and i think, we are talking about a huge haystack of humanity. , relativelybenign speaking, but in that haystack are the needles that are terrorists. and we are so professional that we can examine all of that hay, identify the needles, sort them out of the haystack, and prevent them from coming into america and then this haystack will be benign and they become part of our culture and assimilate into the broader american civilization. it is not to think -- nuts to think that. now you have envisioned that we have purified and cleaned the needles out of them. but we know even by this article
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that people are radicalized in this country. they attacked us. we have multiple attacks in america. when i look at the map of europe and the hotspots where they have been attacked, nearly every country in western europe. it is proportional to the populations that they brought in from the middle east and south africa. we cannot stick our heads in the sand and say that we are not bringing this upon ourselves. we are slow-motion cultural suicide in america. a generation behind europe. i have traveled all over there and country after country in europe, you will see it. i am watching the people that were there and they feel so guilty about political correctness that they are able to accept any kind of violence brought into their country. chairman gowdy: the gentleman is out of cut -- out of time. rep. king: if we are going to save ourselves, we have to intervene and provide an international safe zone for the persecuted religious, which are
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the syrian christians. chairman gowdy: the chair will recognize the gentleman from illinois, mr. gutierrez. rep. gutierrez: we are all shocked and horrified and deeply saddened by the news coming from paris. as a member of the intelligence committee, i know there is much to fear, both for our allies and us. in light of the attacks on our i urge myt friday, colleagues to keep a cool head and not react exactly the way isis and other terrorists hope we do, with fear and chaos and lashing out. sadly, that is what we have seen. republican governors and elected officials and candidates and i have beenals -- here long enough to know a thing or two about opportunism. maybe it is too much to resist and you have the same guys and a lady running for president on republican side.
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pundits and celebrities will say whatever they can to get in front of the news cameras. the governor of illinois in my home state could not resist saying that our home was close to syrians fleeing the terror of isis and assad regime. he said there was no place in illinois for women, children, elderly, muslims fleeing assad regime and the isis terrorism. rape,urder, the rate -- there is no place for those children and those women. luckily, just as he said that to show the opportunism, a wonderful syrian family arrived in chicago just two days ago and found a safe place. that is the message that destroys the hatred of isis. they are going to have of people saying, we do not like muslims. we do not trust muslims.
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muslims are going to create a cultural system in america that are going to destroy us. every community of people that have come here has strengthened this nation. fear -- and i do remember, last year, we were here. the last fear that i remember talking about is when the kid showed up -- remember when the refugee showed up from central america? saying medical doctors that those children were bringing ebola to the united states of america. they came back across the border and came here with ebola. ? year later, where is it at i remember governors saying that they were going to close down their states. every time we hear this, it is about, they are coming because they are murderers, rapists, drug dealers. it is fear. you know the best position of
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america, when people have stood up against fear mongers. hatred and bigotry and prejudice. that is what i believe is happening now with syrians and muslims fleeing. if they were christians, then it would be fine. that reminds me of the irish when they came here. they say, if only they were white anglo-saxon protestants. but they had an allegiance to the pope so they were suspicious people. we have heard these arguments time and time again in america and america has always responded to them correctly, by welcoming those to our nation, regardless of the face that they hold, so that they can celebrate that faith, live in that faith freely in america. look, we used fear during world
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war ii. boy, do we regret it. the internment camps of the japanese, a stain on america. we used fear and bigotry to say the those who would flee prosecution and the persecution and the death of the nazis and the holocaust and said, there is no room in america for you. there is room in america. that there is a terrorist system out there that wants to hurt us. i understand that. i also understand that there are tens of thousands of american men and women patriots that are out there protecting the homeland every day and they are not working 100%. they are working 100% and they are keeping us safe. letthey do not willy-nilly anyone go through a screening
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process. those are americans watching out for americans and i think we impugn their integrity and who they are and their patriotism to this country. i would like to say, look, we have made some mistakes before. let's not make it again. said, all we want to do is add an extra layer, that would be good. but that is not what we are doing. they are in the camps. they are getting vetted. we should welcome them to america. we should not fall into the trap of isis. chairman gowdy: the chairman recognizes the gentleman from colorado. rep. buck: i want to tell you about my experience. i was the district attorney in northern colorado. had between 1500 and 2000 ,omali refugees, mostly muslim come to us. there were some hiccups, but for
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the most part, they were welcomed and have lived there happily and in a community that is open to them. how many refugees are there around the world that are in a position to come to this country? how many potential individuals are there? understanding my generally is that there are about 19 million refugees worldwide. assistant secretary richard can correct me if my number is off. but it is the largest it has ever been. rep. buck: so we have 19 million refugees. how many of those can come to the country? what is the number we would allow? mr. rodriguez: every year, we establish a target. our target this fiscal year is 85,000. rep. buck: so a drop in the
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bucket of those 19 million. why would the administration object to a cause of syrian refugees when we have 19 million potential refugees that we could take from other countries where we have been successful in integrating those refugees, for the most part, into communities? mr. rodriguez: because a quarter of those are syrian. the potential for an even greater number exists with the continued activity of isil. we have 75% of 19 million people. we could certainly find 85,000 from that number. why are we so interested in taking syrian refugees? this is not a matter of religion. there have to be various religions in that 75%. the situation in syria is devastating to the extent that there is no
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reasonable prospect of return to that country. rep. buck: taking 85,000 syrians would not do anything to change that devastation either. mr. rodriguez: it would start us on the road. it is something we are doing alongside our european allies. the germans are expecting 1.5 million people. rep. buck: i want to move on. i understand. my point is simple. there are plenty of other people we could take in, hit the pause button, and do some research on this. mr. rodriguez, mr. hetfield said he was surprised that attacks in paris have resulted in more scrutiny for america's refugee program. you surprised that there is fear in this country over relocating syrians into this country? mr. rodriguez: there are enemies of the united states. those enemies of the united states are in syria. rep. buck: i was asking if you are surprised. mr. rodriguez: i know that the united states has enemies. rep. buck: your point does not answer my question.
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are you surprised that americans are fearful over what happened in paris? mr. rodriguez: i am neither surprised by the fact that there are fearful americans -- i am not surprised by that or the fact that many americans want us to be a welcoming country to those who are victims of conflict and war. rep. buck: ok. let me tell you one of the reasons why americans are distrustful. we have a president who, after the murder of an ambassador in benghazi and the murder of three heroes in benghazi, four people in total, told the american people that the attack was the result of a video. a secretary of state who immediately identified that it was not the result of a video, that it was the result of a well-planned attack. then the administration paraded out one official after another to lie to the american public. the american public has very little faith in this
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administration when they assure the american public determine that syrians coming to this country can be trustworthy and we will be safe. as a result of this administration's lack of credibility it has caused the fear and panic among many of the americans in this country. i yield back my time. >> the chair would recognize mr. trott. trott: do you think americans have a right to be fearful today in light of what happened in paris and the threats of new york and washington? >> sure, there are threats to the united states. no question.
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tell myshould i do to constituents that we are laying their fears? >> there was more that we are doing that goes just beyond scrutinizing 10,000 or so people -- what i would tell them is that this is the most rigorous process in the history of refugee screening. we have denied people admission. are hundreds of people on hold either because the stories lack credibility or there was derogatory information about them. the work is being done. >> can you understand the complete lack of confidence that most of my constituents, but in the continue. over the future social security, families over the affordability of the health insurance premiums can you understand why people are apprehensions about the confidence of the federal government? i do thinkez:
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congressman it is a benefit of this hearing that we have a little bit of a burden of information than i think we perceived. we need to make sure the american people understand in a reason to dialogue what we're doing. what we're doing is rigorous, it is extensive, it is redundant, it is careful. you are 100% confident the process be in place will work just fine going forward. is a meaningful, rigorous, robust process that we are engaging in as aggressively as we can. mr. trott: there is no value would just hit in the cause button. many people made this vote this afternoon into a political vote. it is not political at all. but congress wants to do, and i think many democrats will join us, it's a deposit button and work in a collaborative fashion to make sure that our homeland
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is safe. it is no value in considering doing that in your mind? mr. rodriguez: again, i stand by what i said about the process. a don't think it is necessary that i repeated. we need to think about the costs of inaction. mr. trott: these processes can never be improved upon? mr. rodriguez: of course, and were working every day to make sure that we refine our understanding about what is going on in these countries. we learn more as we screen each and every refugee. of course there is room for improvement. the process, as it exists, is a robust process. mr. trott: i yield back my time, they give are being here. now mr. ratcliffe from texas is recognize. for allliffe: thank you this meeting, i appreciate all the witnesses being here. i had a town hall meeting with people of the fourth congressional district of texas that i represented just tonight to go.
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similar to many of the town hall meetings i've had before and then i had a thousand people on the line -- 8000 people on the line and people queued up to ask me questions. what was not typical with the uniformity of the questions that i had. i did not have a single question about obama care, or a single question about the government overreach, or a single question about $18 trillion of debt. i had 300 questions about the syrian refugee issue, and the concern that isis may try to use gaps in our process to make america less safe. there is no exaggeration or hyperbole in what i just related to you. it underscores and highlights the grave concern that the people of my district in around the country really have about this issue. it is particularly relevant for us, because texas in the last
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year, has received the largest whoentage of refugees resettlement of any state in the country. last year, 42014, 10% of all arrivals in the united states were resettled in texas. i hope it all agreed that the haslict in syria, and isis stated and promised to infiltrate the syrian refugee process, resents us with a unique challenge here. i think it is incumbent that we all honestly assess whether i was system is equipped to protect the american people. if it is not, we have to hit cause while we fix the problem. i know people have demonized this opinion, but to those i would emphasize that america is the beacon of freedom to the world in part because it is a refuge. because it is a safe place for people to comment, and every
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sacrifice national security, we will weaken one of the very aspects of our country that attracts the weekend the vulnerable to our shores. you, ito start with understand that an applicant for refugee status must be cleared, prior to final approval under the application, but with respect to this process, do we admit intimate individuals and less of a negative appears -- admit individuals unless something negative appears? mr. rodriguez: we need to have anfidence that they can stand claim for refugee status, they're screened according to priority by the united nations high commission, that is why a substantial member -- number of them come as family units for victims of torture victims, or people are injured in a war. we screen very carefully as to
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whether there are exclusions or that apply. whether they have been affiliated with a terrorist organization that will rule people out on those bases because we have suspicion that those -- it sounds like we screened based on -- the present of information? or an absence of information? screen forez: we both. if there is insufficient , insufficient context, for us to be confident this person is who they say they are and their claim is what they say that it is, the net would be a basis at a minimum for that case to be -- want to address it from a state or local perspective. i know the current law requires consultation with state and local government officials.
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i understand the extent to which that consultation actually takes place there is greatly. it is supposed to result in the development of a policy and strategy for the placement resettlement of refugees, but as all of you probably know, more than 25 governors including my governor in texas issued statement saying they would bar syrian refugees from settling in their state. i want to ask that question, what would consultation take into account desire on a governor and residents to decline to accept refugees? mr. rodriguez: i think assistant secretary richard will take this. on the issuehard: of consultation, you are absolutely right that the important aspect we require that the local organizations that are partners with us have quarterly consultations, that they do this
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with the community leaders, every state has a state refugee coordinator who is reporting to the governor. thatorks to make sure there is a suitable provision made for the refugees. one of the things the chairman has reinforced in our discussions is that it is important that our organizations talk to the people who are the authorities ate levelmmunity's and state and not just talk to people who are interested in the program, but that they go to the police chief, the school principal, the health care center, and make sure they know who is coming, what to expect, and that this reinforces the community's acceptance and preparedness to welcome the refugees. texas is the most welcoming state for hosting refugees, and
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i was surprised that so many governors spoke out so quickly, i think what we have to do -- with a phone call with all the governors arranged the day before yesterday -- i think we have to get more information out to people so that they understand what this program is, how it operates, and why we take such care in making choices done in a way that is good for the refugees were fed through so that the especially security of the american people is not endangered. >> the gentleman yields back, votes are being called right now, the clock is on zero, so i am more than likely to miss a boat that i don't want you to think that any of my colleagues left because of disinterest. they have been called to the floor, it is just an important issue in my district. i'm willing to risk the wrath of
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missing votes to ask some questions. because io go last wanted to get everyone's perspective. this past weekend, i saw a gentleman in my hometown walking away from a gas station carrying a gas can. out that hisgure current out of gas. i had to make a decision whether not i was going to offer him a ride. i did. that is a risk, however small, that i was willing to take for myself. i would never ask any of you to do that. you have to balance that risk yourself. i am willing to get on an airplane because of want to get home quicker, the risk is very small. to got really willing bungee jumping although the risk may also be small.
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i have not heard a single one of you say there is a risk, and fact you can't say there is no risk. , to be put hadfield to various in front of it i don't know if it warrants two very's but there is some risk. no one has had them a zero risk. everyone of you would agree that the potential consequences of us getting it wrong are maybe cataclysmic. we have to be right every time. the risk can still be small and something bad will happen. i'm trying to get people to do is balance the risk versus the potentiality of us getting it wrong. let me start here, have we ever gotten it wrong in the past? refugees, any category of refugees. have we gotten it wrong, has our
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venting failed in the past? is anyone aware of the circumstance where it failed? not all at once. >> the answer is yes. many times. uzbecr this year, an refugee was convicted of assisting terrorism. two iraqiears ago, refugees in kentucky who had been admitted turned out they had fingerprints turned up later on ieds. -- thecritics of defenders of bringing syrians, they insist on saying no one has been convicted, the refugees have been convicted of terrorist -- no syrian refugees have been convicted of terrorist activities in the united states.
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but these iraqis killed americans abroad, that doesn't make me feel better. chairman gowdy: the conviction doesn't mean anything to me, the terrorists attackers will not be convicted because he is dead. you can't use conviction as a barometer for whether or not someone will be a threat. they may not be around to convict, does anyone disagree that there have been failures investing? -- vetting? if think we made no mistakes? agree withichard: i you that in the history of the 3 million refugees that come here have been a handful who have been a threat to the united states. fortunately, they have been stopped before anything bad happen. the two iraqis in kentucky with the most shocking example. iraqhad done bad things in and lied to get into the country
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and had our current system been in place, they would have been caught before they got here. that is why the system has been improved since that episode. you said a few things in life a risk-free, i heard the governor of washington state say you take a risk when you get out of bed in the morning, there is a lot of dangers in the world absolutely. i think program that we run does as much as humanly possible to reduce the risk of bringing refugees to this country. it.ave great confidence in we invite members to come out to the field and meet some of the through the sit briefings by leon's team and i sat through. it is very impressive and very thorough. chairman gowdy: that is what makes me abuse and deception so abuse and deception
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so much. it impacts those who would never consider engaging in it because it makes everyone have to stop and think there is some risk, that if a great reality we get it wrong something bad could happen. you have to balance the risk the potentialities of something bad happening. when you do have people who abuse any system, believe it or not, there have been federal judges who undergo rigorous screening, including going back and talking to neighbors from 25 years ago and they still withut, we get it wrong them from time to time. serious background checks with every available database, we still get it wrong from time to time. even members of congress, we get it wrong from time to time. what -- we can't do it this morning, but you can't say there is no risk.
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i appreciate the fact that no one is trying to say that. we all agree that we are dealing with an enemy that affirmatively wants to do what ever bad thing they can do to us. think it is the american people in a tough position, particularly given the fact that public safety and national security of the preeminent functions of government. i want to and by thanking you for coming to south carolina, reason youthat the had to come to south carolina was something you had done, and others, youeld and are exactly right. the sheriff needs to be talked to come of the superintendence the to be talked to, the community needs to be talked to, not simply people who may be supportive. if you want to find out the talk tou have to everybody even those that may not support the programs a you can weigh in to balance the competing evidence. you should not have had to come
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to south carolina, quite frankly. it should have been done well before you and i ever met. i think a lot of the information, the sooner it is shared in the more fully it is shared, the better people can make informed decisions. as i leave to explain to the majority leader why i missed the vote, this is what i would encourage everyone to do. was toeally wanted to do get you to walk the american thele through every step of vetting process. ofeally do like the director the fbi, but i acknowledge that the fbi may be experts in this realm of data, you have access to other realms of data. again, people can draw would ever conclusion they want to draw. it is really none of my business. until they have all the facts you can draw any conclusions. to the extent that you can display out for the american step, andry single
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every database you can access, and every question you can ask, and the training of the people doing the questioning, people will still come down on different sides of this issue. they just are. at least they will know they did having access to every bit of information. with dan, i want to thank all five, i want to thank the administration witnesses for agreeing to a single panel. i know that is unusual, but given the circumstances of the day it was a necessity. i thank all of our witnesses, and with that i will head to the floor and we're adjourned, thank you. >> thank you, chairman.
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>> it is called the crossroads of new york state, and our cities tour joined by time warner cable partners will explore the history and literary life of syracuse, new york. on book tv, we visit the special collections library at syracuse
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university and learn about the anti-slavery movement in the area through the papers of abolitionists. a local author discusses her book the mood to prison, which explores the length between school suspensions and incarcerations. and we talk about jeff hemsley about his book going viral which looks at why events go bible online. >> when something goes my will, it is a process of social to think oftend viral like viral video as one that got a million views, but actually it is more the process by which that happens. what happened to people share content, usually into their own networks, often times someone who has a lot of following people paying attention to them like an important blog also spread to the content. and it reaches a wide audience. tvon american history
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revisit the eureka now museum to learn how the canal influence the growth of syracuse, central near state, and the nation. then it is onto harriet tubman's home where the abolitionist activism a caregiver to numerous people. our trip also takes us to the matilda joslyn gage home one of the first women's race champions -- rights champions. she was 26 of the time and had four children already. she learned the convention will andr, she writes a speech travels to syracuse bringing her oldest daughter with her. gage had not contacted any of the organizers. shewasn't on the program,
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just shows up. she waits in the crowd. a quiet moment she marches up on stage and, trembling, takes the podium and begins to speak. she gives this incredibly moving speech. from that moment, she goes on to become a leader in the women's movement. >> this weekend, what's the cities tour beginning 8:00 eastern on c-span's book tv and sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. working withur, our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. >> attorney general loretta lynch of a joint news briefing to talk about u.s. law enforcement response to the pampas terrorist attacks. this follows news that isis has
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released a video threatening an attack in new york city. ms. lynch: good afternoon, everyone. and thank you all for coming this afternoon. i am here with f.b.i. director jim comey to discuss our ongoing work to protect the security of the united states, particularly this light of recent events. obviously these are challenging times. with the recent attacks in paris, raising the profile of isis, and also raising anxiety here in the homeland. and as i've said previously, we stand in solidarity with the people of france at this
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difficult time. we are committed to providing any and all assistance to our allies in europe and around the world as we all face this global threat. now, we've made that commitment clear, not just with words, but with our actions. the department of justice, the f.b.i. and other agencies are in close contact with french authorities through our international legal assistance channels to provide support to the french and their ongoing investigation, to coordinate strategies with them, and to advance our shared efforts as we obtain further information that may be relevant to these attacks. we are operating on an expedited basis as well, to ensure that the victim assistance professionals at the department of justice and the f.b.i. are available to assist the victims and their families. we've also expanded the f.b.i.'s legal office in paris, to offer assistance on an as-needed basis, and we have personnel working day and night to respond to any additional requests for assistance.
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earlier today, president obama spoke by phone with president hollande to discuss the latest developments in the investigation. and to reaffirm our partnership in the fight against terrorism. of course our highest priority is and will remain the security of our homeland and the safety of all americans. at the department of justice, we are operating around the clock, as we have since 9/11 and even before, to uncover and disrupt any plot that takes aim at our people, our infrastructure and our way of life. we take all threats seriously, we're acting aggressively to diffuse threats as they emerge, and we are vigorously investigating and prosecuting those who seek to harm the american people. in fact, since 2013, we have charged more than 70 individuals for conduct related to foreign fighter interests and homegrown violent extremism and we continue to take robust actions to monitor and to thwart potential extremist activity. the department of justice and
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the f.b.i. are working closely with the department of homeland security, with the broader intelligence community, and our partners around the world in all of these efforts. and we're bringing every resource to bear in the service of our mission. i think it's important to note that as we do this work, we are guided, obviously by our commitment to the protection of the american people, but also by our commitment to the protection of our american values. which include the timeless principles of freedom that have always made this country great. we need to say we will not let our actions be overtaken by fear, we will not allow merchants of violence to rob us of our most precious ideals. our values are not secondary considerations in the fight against terror. they are central to the work that we do and they are essential to the nation that we protect. they are also the reason that we are a target and they are what terrorists want most to see to have us abandon. they want us to live in fear and
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we refuse. they want us to change who we are and what makes us quintessentially american and that we will never do. and now i'll turn the microphone over to the director of the f.b.i., jim comey, for a few remarks as well. mr. comey: thank you, madam attorney general. i'd like folks to know three things. how we think about the threat. what we're doing about it. and what you should do as a citizen in this great country of ours. first, the threat. we are not aware of any credible threat here of a paris-type attack. and we have seen no connection at all between the paris attackers and the united states. isil and its supporters put out all kinds of propaganda, like videos and magazines, but that is not credible intelligence. of course we investigate all of those propaganda threats. but instead the threat here focuses primarily on troubled souls in america who are being inspired or enabled online to do
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something violent for isil. we have stopped a lot of those people this year, especially leading up to july fourth, and there are others we worry about and we cover all across the country using all of our lawful tools. that's how we think about the threat. second, what are we doing about the threat? the taxpayers of this country have invested a lot of their money in building a national counterterrorism capability since 9/11. and that has built something very strong. we are not perfect, but we are good. starting minutes after the paris attacks on friday, we did four things. first, we began looking for connections between paris and here. second, we made sure that we were tightly connected with our state and local partners, that they knew everything we knew and that they were as energized as we are. third, we began covering every tip and every lead immediately and we have continued that to this moment. and last, we have made sure that our over 100 joint terrorism task forces are focused
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intensely on our investigations and in fact they have taken them up a notch. that is very hard work. but we are very fortunate to have the help of our state and local partners around the country. together we are watching people of concern, using all of our lawful tools, we will keep watching them and if we see something, we'll work to disrupt it. that's what we're doing about it. last, what should you, the people of the united states, do in response to this threat? the most important thing, i think, is do not let fear become disabling. that is what the terrorists want. they want you to imagine them in the shadows, they want you to imagine them as something greater than they are. instead, we hope that you will turn fear into healthy awareness of what's around you. if you see something that gives you a bad feeling, tell somebody in law enforcement. since september 11, we have really worked to get ourselves organized in such a way that if you walk up and tell any police officer in this country or any deputy sheriff in this country that you saw something that
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didn't seem right, you heard something that didn't seem right, or you read something online that seemed off, that information will get to the right people immediately. you can count on it. and we will check it out. if it's nothing, no harm done. but if it was something, great harm may be avoided. but counterterrorism is what you pay us to do. tell us what you saw and then go on living your lives, living your life while we could our work. that is channeling fear into something healthy, which is awareness of your surroundings, and not something disabling. that's what we hope you will do. thank you, madam attorney general. ms. lynch: thank you, mr. director. thank you all. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] >> on the next washington journal, u.s. strategy against isis. damien valletta on how law
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enforcement conduct surveillance and counterterrorism efforts. and the report that ranks the states on how they deter and punish corruption. washington journal live on c-span at 7:00 a.m. eastern time with your phone calls, tweets, and facebook comment. >> all persons having business for the honorable supreme court of united states will give their attention. up come on c-span's landmark cases we discussed brown versus the board of education for topeka kansas third-grader linda brown, meant a mileequal drive to school even though the white school was a mile away -- a block away. they made all the way to the supreme court. we examine this case and explore
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, the personal stories of the individuals involved, and the immediate and long-term impact of the decision. that is coming up on next landmark cases come alive at 9:00 eastern on c-span, c-span3, and c-span radio. each case,und on order your copy of the landmark cases companion book it is 8.95 plus for $ shipping. >> that i feel prepared? yes. first, i wasn't elected, so did not make that much difference. i did notice a difference between being the vice president's wife and the president's wife. it was huge, because the vice president's wife can say anything, nobody cares. emitted you say one thing is the president's wife it is news. that was a lesson that i had to learn. >> during george h w bush's
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presidency, barbara bush promoted literacy, and raised awareness about aids and homelessness. she began the only second first lady besides abigail adams to be both the wife and the mother of a president. arbor bush, this sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's original series first ladies, influence and image examining the public and private lives of the women who filled the position of first lady and their influence on the presidency from author washington -- martha washington to michelle obama. >> on wednesday, john brennan talked about syrian refugees and background checks. by
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governor's think will refuse refugees in their states. >> good morning everyone. i have a diplomatic security assistant for the investigation and analysis. this morning, i had the pleasure of introducing our first keynote speaker. mr. brennan is in a cop was national security leader with an excessive history of public service. of 2013, he spent four years as of a national security advisor for homeland security and counterterrorism and assistant to the president. in that role, he advised the president on counterterrorism strategy and coordinated the approach to homeland security including policies for responding to terrorism, cyberattacks, natural disasters, and pandemics. you began service in government at the cia where he worked from 1980 to 2005. careert most of his
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specializing in the near east and south asia for dirting counterterrorism analysis in the early 1990's. in that you 94 and 1995, he was the agency intelligence briefer for president bill clinton. he led a multiagency effort to establish what would become the national counterterrorism center. after retiring from the cia in 2005, he worked in the private sector for three years. please join me in welcoming the director of the central intelligence agency, the honorable john brennan. [applause] brennan: thank you very much, robert. good morning everyone. i appreciate this invitation to have an opportunity this morning to talk to all of you because of
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the importance that i attach certainly to osac. that partnership between the private sector and the u.s. government and particularly here at the department of the state is so important and i do want to take a moment to express my great appreciation, gratitude, and aberration for the diplomatic security here and original security officers and assistant rso's around the world who do a tremendous role in job andeeping u.s. diplomats intelligence officers say and do a great job making sure u.s. citizens are kept a safe as they could be. i juste interaction, want to be able to say our half of the cia we greatly appreciate the tremendous work and sacrifices of our state department colleagues.
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i don't believe there has ever been a time for a stronger partnership between the public and private sector. just looking out over the last 2.5 weeks and the tragic attacks that took eighth in paris -- took place in paris, the airline taken down an agent, the bombings of beirut, all of them interpreted to isil. 400 dead. 500 injured. caliphate,o-called is just the latest manifestation of what is a blind adherence to a twisted and contorted ideology that could lead to such bloodshed around the world. i think we all know what al qaeda has been able to do over the last several decades. it was nearly 20 years ago when i was in saudi arabia dealing with al qaeda.
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andas in the early stages looking at what it was able to do on our homeland here. esh as the isil, da arab acronym it is known by, it is a different phenomenon in my mind. some ofe that has taken the al qaeda and other terrorist models and expanded it significantly. it has deep roots in iraq and , being al qaeda in iraq and syria in years past. it has branched out beyond iraq and syria into other parts of the middle east, africa, asia, and beyond, spreading his pursuit of intolerance, subjugation, and violence well beyond its early areas of occupation and activities. just taking a look at what happened in paris demonstrates
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their commitment to random violence in terms of going after the most horrible targets and carrying out as much mayhem and reading as much death and as muchion -- wreaking death and destruction against innocents. the have taken advantage of the freedoms and liberties we are so proud of in much of the world. they also have taken full advantage of social media, using that as an environment to indoctrinate, to communicate, brainwashed, direct, guide, train, and also presenting a very misleading narrative and oppression of what is going on inside iraq and syria. they have been able to use these great advances in technology to further their aims. certainly, they have been aided by much instability and political upheaval and sectarian tensions throughout the region.
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they have been able to take advantage of that. they are able to advance their goals and objectives. i started out the national security intelligence in 1980. i must say, i have never seen a time when we have faced more serious and consequential issues confronting our national security around the globe. carrie and myself and others spent much time in the white house in the white house situation room with president obama and others to address these issues that span the globe that are of such intensity and consequence as well as so quick to develop as well as to have impact around the world that there has been never a time that i think the u.s. national security challenges have been greater, nor the requirement for the united states to be actively
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involved in trying to address these many challenges. i have spent a good part of my life working on living in, studying in the middle east. i must say the middle east and the islamic world is going through some very challenging times. fromg a transition authoritarian governments and regimes to try to move forward with democratic principles and reforms is certainly very challenging. because of the embedded obstacles to those reforms to include on the economic front moving away from centrally planned economies to a premarket capital system where individual opportunity is rewarded. unfortunately, in many of these societies and countries, corruption remains rampant. weak is still very
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institutions of government, governance. displaced people, refugees, great unevenness division of wealth. when i look out over the next decade or more, and i see this territorynsive in the middle east, africa, asia, i think we will be facing serious challenges as we move forward. these challenges are compounded by the new environment that we are dealing with, which is the digital domain, the cyber environment that can be used for great good and to advance the interests of prosperity and freedom and liberty, but also can be used as a domain in an environment for ill and to do harm. swear in a new class of cia officers every month, i say this unsettled global landscape will demand their expertise, dedication as we go
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forward working a strong partnership with our diplomatic enforcement military partners here as well as abroad. despite the unsettled nature of the global landscape, i believe the u.s. is still look that by the overwhelming majority of the worlds populations as well as governments as something that is very special. our commitment to universal progress, tocial economic prosperity, to individual freedoms and liberties are much admired and o.dely aspired tp i think as importantly is the strong reputation and capabilities and potential of the u.s. private sector because the u.s. private sector still is seen as the world leader in innovation, entrepreneurship,
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education, medicine, technology, science, and so much more. so i think this is the time for us to be able to stand tall among each other, stand tall with our allies and partners around the world as we face that arellenges wit serious that we will be injuring at least for a wild weekend in fact deal with the challenges that lie ahead in a collective and constructive way. osac i believe plays a very important role in helping keep the u.s. dream alive here in the united states, but then worldwide. i am committed to making sure and intelligence community does everything possible to work with our state department colleagues and the private sector to ensure that we do our utmost to be able to optimize the safety and security of americans and american
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companies and enterprises around the world. earlier this week, i gave some remarks at the csis here in washington. rather than repeat, i would just invite you to take a look on the website. i invite you to look at what i that has been unfortunately misrepresented in some corners. with that, i would welcome the opportunity to address the questions you might have in the remainder of my time. we have microphones on either walk forward, ask your question, and he will be happy to respond.
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>> thank you very much for your presence here today. we hear quite often in terms of intelligence sharing internationally about the i-5, but we do not hear much about what is happening between us and france. of course, others in the western world fellow economic societies that are all the target of this threat you describe for us. i would like to hear it i could what exchange is taking place on a broader scale. thank you. director brennan: when i look back over the last 14 years or so since 9/11, there has been determined his progress in the united states as well as internationally as far as putting together the architecture that is required to be able to share and access information in as rapid a fashion as possible.
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as we have come to realize in the states, a lot of the departments and agencies have different information technology systems. we have different authorities. we have different responsibilities as far as handling different types of information to include u.s. citizens. we have come a very long way over the last 14 years. in addition, it is not just what we have been able to do here within the united states or within the federal government. i think there is a lot of good and robust hearing. we are trying to and we have made a lot of progress internationally. the information sharing systems with the i-5 are rooted in traditional information sharing practices and systems. our information sharing practices and mechanisms with other countries are as strong as
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what we have been able to do. you have the mechanisms to shut information, we share it electronically because we want to make sure it gets to the recipient as quickly as we can. sometimes, we still have to provide some hard copy of the information, but the real challenge is to make you take the information and maybe derived from very sensitive sources, whether it be human or technical, and whatever it might be acquired around globe, it could have applications for somewhere else and to move the essence of that information through a system that will enable the person on the other end with the entity to receive it. for example conference. we have -- for example, france. we have had a strong interaction with them about what it is we need to continue to do as far as sharing the information, but also sharing strategic approaches at what our policy
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courses are that we are able to deal with this challenge that we all face. it does span the gamut of partners around the globe. i mentioned the session on monday that over the last five weeks or so, i have had a number of conversations with my russian counterpart. despite the policy difference we may have in syria and ukraine, these have been discussions about how we can in fact share more information about this threat from iisl and what we and to do to have -- isil what we need to do to have the procedures in place so if we have threat information, it will get to them as quickly as possible. we take very seriously within the u.s. government our duty to warn responsibilities. we have information about a threat to a particular entity, person, or whatever, we make sure we move it very quickly. as you know, a lot of times,
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information that comes in is broad, vague. sometimes the ultimate sourcing is uncertain. whentime particularly now there is concerned, there could be operations that are somehow underway. that threshold is as low as it can be. one of the challenges we have as an intelligence community working with our partners is trying to separate out this time. in the aftermath of these terrible attacks, there is always a spike in terms of people who will be reporting bogus threat information. it is really up to the professionals within the government as well as the private sector to be able to take the information that is available. i do distinguish between a strategic warning in terms of a barometric pressure. we know that there is something brewing. we don't know a setting where it will hit or when, but there are
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things you can do in light of what the intelligence portends. it is when you have a more specific intelligence, then you can take some preemptive action that is going to try to disrupt the plot underway. every day around the globe, law enforcement security intelligence agencies are taking action that disrupt the plans and intentions and activities of these terrorist organizations. .nfortunately, some get through this is what we have seen over the last several weeks. i can tell you and i am sure you consult the same thing that these types of incidents only redouble the determination of security professionals to make sure we do the best jobs we can and we hope to do that. surely i have not answered all of your questions. [laughter] >> maybe i can pose a question.
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our audience is a bit shy this morning. since friday's attacks, there has been a lot in the media of the threat from refugees from syria and other countries may impose. can you comment a little bit on how you see this security situation pertaining to the refugees that are coming to ?urope and the united states director brennan: that is one of the biggest questions as well as the biggest challenges we are facing right now with the tremendous displacements of individuals from these warring lands, whether it be iraq or syria. it is approaching 50% of the operation has been internally displaced or moved across borders to neighboring countries or migrating them to europe and beyond. i do think it is important for
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us to do a number of things. country the i a believe prides itself on its tradition of welcoming people from around the globe. there is no other country on the face of the earth that is more than a melting pot than the united states. we want to make sure we are able to maintain our commitment to those values and the things that made this country great, which is why we do not want the terrorists to succeed in terms of what it is they are trying to do. i think it time, makes it even more incumbent on the security intelligence professionals to make sure that we are able to look at individuals who are coming into e to country with an ey what we might know about individuals or ways that service sneakzations might try to people into these networks and refugee flows. one of the things i certainly am determined to do and working in concert with my fellow partners
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abroad is what we can do to strengthen the system that allows us to have as best insight as possible into the background of these individuals as well as what their intentions might be. what we need to do is strike that balance. as i noted earlier this week, there are a number of challenges from a legal policy political standpoint that makes striking this balance challenging. we need to make sure we are able to how the government play what i think is certainly its rightful role in protecting its ableenry to have the government play the rightful role in protecting its citizenry. for many years, decades, centuries, we've had experience means to bet
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domain. in the physical maritimeir ma, on the domain. the aviation donation. digitaldomain, the domain is different as far as history and experience. we need to understand the government in the demain. there's a great debate about what the government's role is in the debate. great debatee the about what it is that we need to do in order to ambulance rights and civil liberties. what is the role for the government to protect the domain citizenries.
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i don't think we're there yet. is one of the -- all of us history, ansic digital domain. we jumpur atm cards and gas and check in to a hotel or get on an airplane. we create that forensic history. havelso from groups that .he capability to understand we have to understand what the
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role is in the domain. i say the government should not play a role in it. i think this is one of the fundamental challenges the country is going to face in the coming years. i'm certainly determined had what i can to be able to explain as thoseerspective challenges, those threats, those risks, as well as those opportunities. i think to the, course of our history, we need to strike that proper balance between the great and individual freedoms for the privacy right that is we embrace and love and want to keep near dear. we are also making sure that our children, neighbors, communities, and the international community is kept from what those who could cause us harm. in terms of visibility to operate within the digital domain. because the digital domain is
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the web and operated in the private sector. it needs to extend beyond the beyond theain and borders. because the digital world and respect thoset sovereign noises. you can move things around the world and around so many countries. unless there's going to be some type of international understanding about what is appropriate and acceptable domain, we'reital going to face a world of hurt in the future. what i've been able to understand what our adversaries, those who want to tose us harm, those who want kill and maim in the streets of paris as well as around the
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can operatehey within that environment. we need to understand what we expect the government to do and is obligedvernment to do in order to make sure our theof life is maintained in future. yes? >> david smith of "the guardian." what impacts do you think edward snowden's revelations had on talkeding that you just about in the debate over privacy, and secondly could you current asisesment of the threat level to the u.s. homeland in the wake of the attacks. any authorized
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raise theirthat hands and attested to undermines the individuals and security. have done that over time -- [applause] i heroizing such individuals unfathomable what it is as far as what the country able to do to keep it safe. a lot of people who are speaking out there about what some individuals have done and have nong it what it is.g of make sure the balance between individual rights and sacredes and the obligation needs to be instruct.
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anybody else? one over here. >> scot brian. thank you for your time today. a lot of young people in the group who are in government service and also in security companies. my question is this, given your the government and what you've done for years, do hope for the future? if so, what gives you that hope. >> that's a fair question.
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in terms of what i just talked about. absolutely. i am hopeful -- not only hopeful, i am optimistic. because as we've looked back country,history as a we have had to deal with some tremendous, tremendous challenges. nazi germany in terms of rolling over europe. in each one of the instances, dark and theoked future looked bleak. because of what it is that the havery is founded upon, we always risen to the occasion. what i really want to have about then i talk digital world and the cyberworld, i don't want to have to see the united states to endure the equivalent of a 9/11. be able to take these preemptively, preventively, prophylactically. when i think about the internet
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going to be more dependent on the worldwide web, we need to be mindful of not opportunities are but then what the vulnerabilities are and dependencies on security. when i talked to our new recruits as well as student groups that i go out, i pursue theirm to dreams of being involved in international security, andrnational affairs, intelligence. because i tell them this is such a historic time for so many reasons. the global landscape that's changed, technology that's a daily basis. they are coming in on a time of great opportunity if you are a national security intelligence specialist. but for students i also give them a world of caution and warning. say that once you get in to the realm of security and national security, it gets into your blood. it is something that drives you. you become addicted to making
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sure you are doing your level best, and you are the absolute achieve what it is that your mission asked of you, which is to keep the safe.y strong and with athe past 35 years sector, itim private is certainly something that has motivated me to work with professionals, not just at cia, but across the u.s. government around the globe for the people who are really determined to make sure this country is heightsobtain greater in the future. so i encourage people -- young are here who are part of this effort. type ofave a new challenge that we have to face. this is a time, as i said, that stand tallbe able to and to let those who want to do us harm know that we are the of america.s we can stand up to this.
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we're going to get through it. we're going to do it in partnership with our good allies around the globe. i'm certainly willing to can ine to do what i partnership to you. thank you so much. i believe i have to go. i wish you well. for your work and your service. i look forward to being able to work with you in the future. very much. [applause], mr.
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>> sunday on q&a. >> i'm the first woman to reach the rank of four stars in the united states neeve. i had only been a three star aybe ten, 11 months when the
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cno was traveling through town. he asked to see me. i presumed it was about the next job i was going to. then that's when he talked to me about we're looking at you for being a four star and here's a couple of different opportunities where we think you would do well and benefit he navy. i became head of the counter piracy task force and a few days on the job captain phillips was kidnapped so it was our responsibility as a task force to get him back and get him back safely. that was obviously a surprise kind of mission and a
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challenge. we got him back. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national able satellite corp. 2015] captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption contents and accuracy. visit >> this hearing will come to order. i think it is appropriate that we begin today with a moment of silence out of respect to those individuals who have lost their lives in paris, beirut, and egypt just in the last three weeks as a result of isis's barbaric activities. [no audio]
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thank you. welcome our ranking member. when i took over chairman of this committee, working with senator carper, we developed a rather simple mission statement for the committee. it is simply too enhance the economic national security of america. we have committed ourselves to that. the threat of isis and islamic terror threatens both. seen the loss of life repeatedly. obviously, that threatens national security. that these the harm acts of terror resulted.
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this cutie -- it is important that this committee take up this very serious issue of the threats that isis poses across the board. speaking with ms. richards earlier, she knowledge that this is the primary topic that is really about the administration's plan to let about 10,000 refugees in syria. we are a compassionate, humane society. lay out the to reality in terms of what the vetting process will be to make sure that we maintain a secure nation, that we minimize if not .liminate the risk i think we have had secured briefings. robust we will hear a vetting process. i appreciate the department of homeland security with mr. rodriguez but also the state department sending ms. richards
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here. i think everybody on this committee appreciates the fact that you are taking up a time to lay out that reality to the american public. refugees could pose a risk. boldly we take a look at what the vetting process could be and we take a look at all the risks, we may find that there are far -- all the risks, we may find that there are far greater risks . whether it is the visa waiver program or student visas, what types of controls, , how we exposed because of the openness of our society? i think all of these are very important questions and they definitely need to be explored. if you really want to take a look at where we are most vulnerable, this committee has dedicated itself to border security. we have held 12 separate hearings on that problem, trying
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to lay out the complexity, the difficult nature of that problem. the conclusion that certainly i have come to, and i think most security -- most committee members have come to, is that our borders are not secure. senator carper and i made a trip down to endorse and guatemala a couple of weeks ago -- to honduras and guatemala a couple of weeks ago. downently -- when we were -- i believe it was guatemala, we heard a new term, sia. special interest aliens. currently, that is cubans coming in taking advantage of the dry foot policy. we are also learning that this includes syrians and somalians and pakistanis. we had some syrians apprehended
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at the border. we don't know what threat level. i think it is being reported that they weren't a threat. but this is serious concern. we have for now the new government in canada will open up to streamline their refugee program. we have certainly discovered in our committee that -- in this committee that our border with canada is far from secure. our border in the southwest is very far from secure. the one metric that stands out that mccaffrey testified that we are only 5%-10% of drugs coming into our southern border. we have to look at all of our vulnerabilities. we'll talk about the refugee and the vetting process. but we do need to understand the threat that we face. it is real, it is growing. coming from a manufacturing
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background, i have done a lot of problem-solving. the first step to solving any problem is laying out the reality, acknowledging that reality, looking for the root cause. the root cause of this problem is that isis exists and was able to rise from the ashes of what was a defeated al qaeda in iraq. what we need to do is address the root cause of the refugee crisis. the fact that we are even here today considering bringing in, on the basis of compassion come refugees from syria. -- compassion, refugees from syria. that is the symptom of the cause. the root cause is isis. a coalition of the willing of the civilized world to destroy and defeat isis, that is the goal that president obama stated.
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to degrade and ultimately defeat isis. i would argue that ultimately but to be very, very soon. i want to thank the witnesses from this panel and the next panel to take your time for your thoughtful testimony. let me set aside my prepared remarks and i would ask that these be submitted for the record. a lot of attention paid to refugees coming from syria to the united states. weree last year, there like 2000 refugees. it is not easy process to go through, as my colleagues know. it is a process that can take as much as two years. if folks make the cut to get to the next step, they go through a bunch of screens, interviews. ,o the extent that we have data
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files to check, dhs does the work with other countries with whom we are allied. as of the 2000 that come in refugees in the last year or two, about 2% were military age males. of the folks that have come to our country so far, i am told that not one person has been arrested. it takes two years. that -- if i was trying to get in, that is the last way i would try to get in. i might try a visa waiver program and they might try just coming over as a student or as a tourist. i understand that the four french nationals who were killed
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in paris, either three or all four of them were people who would have never been allowed to get on a plane to come to the u.s. one of the things -- challenges for us, i think, is to -- we need to go back and dust off the books, things that we learned in terms of strengthening that program. what started off as a travel facilitation program has now become an information sharing program with 38 other nations. in order for them to participate in this program with us, they have to agree to provide access to every kind of intelligence file that we asked for. are notdon't, then they included as one of the visa waiver countries. one of the other developments not too long ago was that if you want to be a visa waiver country , these 38 countries, you have
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to make sure that if somebody's passport is stolen or lost, it is reported to interpol. that way, if someone shows up trying to use that passport, they can be stopped in their tracks. the preamble to our constitution says "in order to form a more perfect union." my guess is, that it still is imperfect and our goal should be perfection. hopefully we can work with some of our colleagues on other committees with jurisdiction. -- west thing i would say face a moral dilemma here. the pope was in town two months ago, invoked the golden rule. treat others the way you want to be treated. applaudedstood up and when he said in matthew 25.
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now, we're not so sure we believe those words. we have an imperative to treat others the way you want to be treated and we have an equally strong moral imperative to make that we don't meet that moral imperative by putting at risk the citizens of this country. the question is, can we do both? i think we can. morally, and by common sense, we need to do both. the challenge is to try to figure out how we do that, build on the things that have been done. the department of homeland security is doing good work in communities where there is a large muslim population. just to make sure that we are helping those communities to inoculate against successive efforts to use social media to relic lies -- to radicalize
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people. working, and i think as we consider appropriations bills in the future, i hope we will look into what works and do more with that in this regard. guy, adamere is a zubin, who was involved in a leadership role when trying to access toan's international financial markets, north korea's access to international financial markets. i understand he has been nominated to a senior position in treasury. there is obvious the work that needs to be done. is that nomination still pending in the banking committee? >> it is still pending. the hearing has been completed
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pending. all those vacant positions, they have been filled. we have done very good work in that regard. this is another nomination that will be very helpful in terms of .he root cause with isis money in terms of making sure that their money is gone, this is a good way to do it. >> a couple housekeeping items. it is great that we have such a great agenda and we will limit questions to five minutes. think there will be acronyms being thrown around so i had my staff published an acronym glossary as well as a 13 step vetting process put out by the u.s. committee for refugees and immigrants. with that, it is the tradition to swear in witnesses, so if you
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both rise and racial right-hand. do you swear the testimony will give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? thank you. please be seated. our first witnesses ms. and richard, the. anne assistant secretary of state. prior to her appointment, she with the international rescue committee, and international aid agency that helps refugees displaced in conflict. ms. richard: thank you very much, senator johnson, senator carper, all the senators on this committee for holding this ofring today on the impact isis on the homeland and refugee resettlement. i have provided some testimony that talks about the
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humanitarian assistance provide about ourthat talks diplomacy in the humanitarian area. what i would like to focus on right away is the refugee resettlement process. i know the murderous attacks in paris last friday evening have raised many questions about the spillover of, not just migrants to europe, but also the spillover of violence to the streets of a major european capital. let me assure you that the entire executive branch and the state department i represent here today has the safety and security of americans as our highest priority. applicants rigorously and carefully in an effort to ensure that no one poses a threat to the safety -- knowing that it poses -- no one that poses a threat to our country is able to enter. intensive security screenings involving multiple federal
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agencies. these are intelligence, security, and law enforcement agencies, including the counterterrorism center, the department of homeland security, state, and defense. resettlement is a deliberate process that can take 18-24 months. applicants to the program are currently subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the united states. these include biographic checks and lengthy in person overseas interviews by specially trained theofficers who scrutinize applicant to ensure the applicant is a bona fide refugee and is not known to present security concerns to the united states. report torviewers director rodriguez.
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on this.lly the expert what i would like to say is, the vast majority of the 3 million refugees who have been admitted to the united states, including from some of the most troubled regions of the world, have proven to be hard-working and .roductive residents they pay taxes, send children to school, and after five years, many take the test to become citizens. many serving military or other forms of service for their community and our country. i'm happy to answer any questions you have about any part of my testimony and to get into. ishink the hot issue today the security aspects of our program. therefore, i am very pleased to be here to answer any questions. sen. johnson: our next witnesses mr. leon rodriguez. mr. rodriguez of the director of immigration services at the
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security, of homeland which plays a key role in the refugee admissions program. prior to this position, mr. rodriguez served with the office of human rights at the office of health and human services, and with the department of justice. yourodriguez: thank chairman, thank you ranking member, thank you members of the committee, and thank you in particular for convening this very timely hearing. i'm going to use the time that i have to do something which i think is really critical at this juncture, which is to lay out with some care how the refugee screening process works, what its structure is, what its redundancies are, and what the resources are that are utilized as part of this process. most refugees, the overwhelming majority in the case of syrians, who entered the u.s. screening process, our first encountered in refugee camps.
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in the case of syrians, the majority of those will be either in turkey, jordan, lebanon. their first encounter is with the united nations high commissioner for refugees, where they register their claim for refugee status. some are referred to the united states, others are referred to other countries that have also expressed a willingness to the united nations to receive refugees. the united nations conducts an interview, it explores possible inadmissibility's could apply in the case of the united -- inadmissibilities in terms of the united states or other countries. once those determinations are made, if in fact there is a cognizable claim, and there don't appear to be miss abilities, at that -- appeared they referbilities,
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them to whatever country it is, in our case to the state department, where a series of things occur. at that point, a second interview is conducted by ms. richard's staff. a series of biographical checks are conducted at that point, querying state department holdings, including databases that are of an intelligence nature, security advisory opinions in a large number he of the cases, which is a database hosted by the fbi, and very critically, for our discussion here, what is called the interagency check, which is a network of queries posted by the national counterterrorism center, a broad swath of intelligence and law-enforcement holdings. i know we have talked a lot
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about the comparison between .his case and iraq when we talk about syria, we are talking about isil, talking about our nusra -- talking about al-nusra, the syrian government itself. all of those that interests different than those to the united states. a process of gathering information, and as a result, in a number of cases, our queries of those databases have registered hits. those hits have been either to the rot -- either to deny outright admission to individuals or to place people on hold. if the individual clears the state department process, they is. then referred to usc we have the benefit of all the work that has been done prior. interview,epartment
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the fruits of those background checks. in particular, those officers that work in environments like syria or others, with a ofticularly rigorous battery training as well as apprenticeship out in the field. with that briefing, they then conducted very intensive interviews to identify credibility issues, possible inadmissibility issues, or other derogatory admissions. time, they are fingerprinted, and those fingerprints are run against border patrol, fbi, and department of defense holdings. only after they clear that process, they -- that process and we analyze, they are moved on. they move into the controlled application resolution and review process, which is a joint undertaking of my refugee affairs did -- refugee affairs
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division and my fraud detection national security director. they are subjected to more intense analysis of what is going on. in fact, the number of cases going back a wild now, hundreds of them in fact, are on hold because of concerns identified during the process. only after an individual or a family unit has cleared that entire process is the decision made in fact to have approved that file to allow that individuals with plans made for cultural orientation, medical examination, and then planning to move to the u.s.. i also underscore that when i talked about the biographic checks earlier, that is a recurrent process, meaning that even though we do it before the interview, that system is constantly clary. that is a recent improvement to the manner in which we do our
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work. that means a new derogatory information arises, then we will be notified about that information in order to take appropriate action. i look forward to the questions which i think will give me further opportunity to elicit data. startohnson: i want to out, because we have been told in briefings that only 2% of the 1869 syrian refugees the have been allowed in the country over the past year were men of military age, 21-30. but it is a little more narrow than that. 875e were really 994 men, women out of that 1869. can you tell us the distinction there? ms. richard: there have been 2000 syrians resettled to the
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united states since the start of the crisis 2.5 years ago. 1700 came last year. of all the ones that have come, 2% are young, single, military age males who aren't with a family or don't have a family connection in the united states, truly on their own. the percentage of males is a little over half, but that includes boys to grandpas. sen. johnson: i just kind of wanted to set the record straight there. my concern is, where are the vulnerabilities, where are the holes in the system? i think in briefings, people are very concerned about checking databases, watch lists. what does it take to get on a database or a watchlist and how do you avoid it? what people would be on their that then you are going to thatetely -- be on there
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then you are going to completely rely on interviews? so how do you get on a watchlist and how do you stay off it? mr. rodriguez: the specifics would be something you would have to address in a classified briefing. to say, if there is a heightened concern that someone is a terrorist or otherwise an actor looking to harm the united states, that would be the basis of either nomination to one of the databases i described before or watchlist thing. again, in a classified briefing, we could probably go into detail. sen. johnson: they would have to do something or be associated with somebody that is the farias, correct -- that is nefarious, correct? mr. rodriguez: that is at least two ways. sen. johnson: let's say they are a citizen in syria or in france. reason for be no
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them to be on a watchlist or a database, correct? during the interview process, they would really be able to answer all the questions and not come across as particularly suspicious, right? mr. rodriguez: i go back to what i said at the beginning. there is no question that isis, a, the syrian government itself, are our enemies. therefore, there is a process for looking for information about those entities, their activities, where they operate, who they are, that in turn becomes -- and again, not describing the techniques with how that occurs -- that in turn becomes a technique that becomes available to us through these databases we discussed -- databases i described. resource, through association in some cases, to come at a minimum, subject that
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case to closer scrutiny. you may not be on those databases and it would have to be a pretty -- have to have a pretty good interviewer to hopefully catch that. what is the current estimate of the number of foreign fighters that are european citizens -- let's put it this way, citizens of a country that have a visa waiver program in place with the united states? how many of those do we know have gone to syria and come back? mr. rodriguez: i believe that sort of analysis exists. i don't have it at my fingertips. sen. johnson: i think that is one of our greater vulnerabilities. as other people ask questions, we will see a pretty robust vetting process for refugees, and probably a less robust process for other forms of visa waivers or visas coming into this country. i think that is part of the vulnerability will need to
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explore. sen. carper: we appreciate very much your being with us here today. given what we talked about here today and what we learned in the past several days about the rigor of the refugee program, the screening process in the refugee program, these people are not stupid, the people we're dealing with, the bad guys. i can't imagine why they would want to go through two years -- go to year through a refugee process when they could get a forest waiver or a student visa waiver, or a student visa. we will continue to focus on the refugee process. 2000 this year, 10,000 year. imagine, but it
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--but to go through that process for two years until a step of the way i could be detected. i think where we need to come as a committee, focus our attention -- need to, as a committee focus our attention, is on the visa waiver. i believe we had one in the last year or so on the -- on the visa waiver situation, it was good. wasn't perfect -- was it perfect? no it wasn't. are there things that we can do to make it better still? i'm sure there are. justodriguez, if you could talk about -- this might be a little bit outside of your lane, the visa waiver program. i confess that it
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is outside of my lane, although the individual that runs that lane doesn't sit too far away for me, and that will be the customs and border patrol. sen. carper: is anybody here with you? mr. rodriguez: no, but we can certainly work with the committee to arrange a briefing or a hearing to discuss those issues. sen. carper: you said something in your testimony, mr. rodriguez . i think the term used was recurring process. re-examining as new information comes to the fore that can be used in terms of either denying or revisiting some of the ability to come here or stay here. mr. rodriguez: i talked before about the interagency check, which is essentially an electronic clarity of a number of different law enforcement and intelligence databases. our approachpdated
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to those checks to have the if furtherse us information is entered into that system about an individual about whom there has been previously a query. if we had queried, during the initial phases or the intermediate phases of the screening process, an individual , new information arises about that individual, then we would be notified about the existence of that new information. that occurs right up to the moment of arrival in the united states. that query process continues to occur right up to that point. the other thing i might say, if i may, about the interview process. andraining is as a state federal prosecutor. i spent a lot of my time around law enforcement of all types.
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i have conducted and observed thousands of interviews. i have taken the opportunity to observe my officers in action. i was with them in turkey this june. i can tell you that the quality of the interviewing that they was as good as any i have seen in my professional career. sen. carper: would you talk to us a little bit about whether or not we need to examine more closely -- we talked about the refugee process, the visa waiver process, how about student visa process of getting here? 12 million people undocumented in this country, i think about 40% came here under some sort of a legal status. are there any things we should be mindful of in thinking about the rigor of those processes? mr. rodriguez: those processes
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also involve both law national security database checks. the facts -- the fact that those are outside of the refugee process does not mean that we aren't taking the same rigor that we applied to the refugee screening process. sen. portman: they keep holding another hearing on this topic. were here last month talking to the secretary of homeland security and also to the fbi director and the counterterrorism folks. it is something we have to be concerned about, not just from the refugee program, but also from these various entry points. we talked about how there are 5000 foreign fighters who come from the 38 countries with which
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we have a visa waiver arrangement. that is a huge risk. important that this committee focus on tightening up those standards. we have to worry about visas. the 9/11 terrorists came here, overstayed their visas. that is an immigration reform issue. .egal immigrants we have foreign fighters ourselves. we had sunday came back to our home state of ohio -- to my home state of ohio. we had one that came back to columbus, ohio and plotted to commit terrorist acts in the united states and was arrested for it. we hear about the five individuals that were stopped in honduras with fake syrian passports. we had a couple of families at the next and border this morning. this is a problem in this goes to our need to have a secure border, not just for immigration purposes, but for money, guns,
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drugs, and certainly terrorism. in my hometown of cincinnati, we have one person currently incarcerated for wanting to come to this capital. in akron, this month, we had a homegrown terrorist arrested. this is in ohio, the heartland. this is a real issue but i don't think we ought to ignore the refugee side of it either. this is a real story, and maybe you can tell me if this is something that could never happen under the current program. there were a couple brothers that were brought in as refugees from iraq. heartland,n the right across the river from where i live, in bowling green, kentucky. recently, the sixth circuit court of appeals confirmed their aiding al qaeda. they are recorded as saying,
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"many things should take place and they should be huge." these were refugees. this notion that it is ok on the refugee program -- of course we need to know who is coming here. we need to be sure that only of who they are, but what their intentions are. in regard to these iraqi refugees who come in, they had been -- who came in, they had been fingerprinted at the border, entered into a biometric database. yet, when they were checked by dhs, fbi, department of defense, they were allowed into the united states. later, they bragged about what they had done to kill u.s. soldiers in iraq. my concern, which is something that came forward in our last hearing here, on october 8 in this room, when we had your boss, counterterrorism officials, and they told us, we
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don't have the intelligence in syria to be able to do the appropriate background checks. here is the quote from director comey, the fbi director -- " senator, to me, their -- "senator, to be, there's a risk of bringing anyone from the outside, but especially a conflict zone like that. my concern there is that there are certain gaps people don't want to talk about publicly in the data that is available." you said something similar this morning, that you don't want to talk in public session about the gaps. we don't have intelligence on the ground there. we have special forces, that's great. they are not there to collect information from refugees. we ignore many other threats, some of which may be greater threats. for us to say -- first to say
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that we are somehow against refugees because we think they're up to be proper checks in place, that is ridiculous. we are most generous country in the world, and thank god we are. sure that we don't have another situation as we had in rolling green, kentucky -- in bowling green, kentucky. since the bowling green case, a lot has been done to upgrade the security check system. i have heard it said by others that those individuals would have in fact been picked up under the kind of biographic screening that we do now. nothing of what i am saying should be seen as contrary to what either secretary johnson or director comey did.
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there is risk to what we do. what i am saying is that we engage in the process, with redundancies, abundant resources, highly trained officers, to keep those risks to an absolute, absolute minimum. just out of: respect to all of our members here, i will be using the gavel to keep the question and answer -- to aso as close as close to five minutes as possible. sen. mccaskill: thank you all for being here. is obvious, as has been stated today and many times over the past few days, that these radical jihadists are all over the world. they are in our country, they are in many countries. if you look at the number of refugees that have been brought in from other countries, there is a number of countries on that list that we brought in much more than syria.
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like somalia, i ran -- somalia, iran, yemen. everywhere, there is intelligence gaps. the question i have for you is, if you are a terrorist -- maybe this is a good question, because we don't want -- maybe this isn't a good question because we don't want to tell terrorists this. to getof all the ways into the country, are you subjected to the most scrutiny? say withguez: i can great confidence that applicants with refugee status, and in particular, refugees from syria, are subjected to the most scrutiny of any traveler of any kind to the united states. sen. mccaskill: let me a knowledge, america is on average. americae acknowledge, is on and should. edge.ica is on averag
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what i would like us to do is to calmly come together as a country, democrats and republicans, and figure out what we can do that enhances the security in all of the categories. it seems to me we have gotten distracted by the shiny objects of refugees because of this image of people swarming our checks, notout any realizing that this is not like you're up. -- not like europe. once they got into europe, you have free access around those countries. if you are going to spend time crafting policies to keep america safe for those people that want to come here,
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where would you focus attention? mr. rodriguez: for me, it is that that is an operational question as much as a policy question. it is an operational question that we asked ourselves every single day in what we do, which is, to the extent that we are screening the refugees or the other example that was given was student visas, what are we doing to plug up risks that we identify in those processes? even though i identify what i think is a very rigorous process , we are constantly looking for thertunities to improve scope of information that we access, to deepen the training and understanding of our officers. extentmple is, to the that we talk about increasing admissions, our officers learned a lot from the rep -- from the
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refugees that they interview. that deepens their ability to be able to screen the people. sen. mccaskill: what about students? are we doing this for students? are we checking them at all the databases? mr. rodriguez: in many cases, depending on where they from -- where they come from and the circumstances. we are checking them in the databases. the configurations are different depending on the categories, but we basically do a national security check, a criminal justice check. just about every applicant for immigrant consideration that we encounter. sen. mccaskill: what about biometrics for the 38 countries that we have visa waiver programs with? how many of them now do not have the facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, chip embedded passports that we now think should be standard?
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mr. rodriguez: senator, i am going to respectfully deferred to my customs and border patrol colleagues. sen. mccaskill: i would like us to get that information, because of we're crafting legislation, i think it is a big mistake not to use this as a moment of leverage with our visa waiver partners to insist on the same level of biometric protections that we have in our passports with those passports, since i believe the foreign fighters in those countries pose much more of a risk to us than the small number of refugees who have gone through a great amount of vetting. i want to thank the chairman. to be clear, following up on senator portman's question about the current program and -- directorprogram
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komi, not only did he testified before this committee with what he's told -- with what he told senator portman, but also what i think concern many of us was the testimony he gave before the house committee on october 21 of 2015 in which he basically said that the u.s. government may not have the ability to that thoroughly all the syrian refugees coming in -- ability to vet thoroughly all the syrian refugees coming into the united states. if they are not in the database, that leaves inadequate information. he said, "we can only query against that which we have collected." if someone has never been a ripple in the pond in click -- in the pond in syria, we can query the database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing because we have no record on that person.
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i guess my question is, i understand the multiple steps you are taking, but isn't one of our big gaps here that we don't have the kind of intelligence we , because we where had many representatives on the ground, we had men and women who fought there, we had diplomatic representatives that we do not have in syria, that this presents a different challenge to us? mr. rodriguez: there is no question that in iraq we had a unique level of intelligence saturation. are there greater challenges and how do we eyconcile what director com has said about these gaps with concerns that our constituents have about the vetting process based on a gap in information? mr. rodriguez: this is not the first time, by far, that we have been vetting individuals coming
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from a country that was a zone of conflict where we were not participants, where we did not get -- what we did not have the intelligence gathering ability that we had in iraq. simple question, do you diminish at all the concerns made by the fbi director to the congress? sen. ayotte: -- mr. rodriguez: i think i was very clear that it is not without risk. we are using multiple intelligence resources. sen. ayotte: do you disagree or if you have any quarrel with the comments? mr. rodriguez: i do not have quarrel with what he said, i think there is context that is critical. sen. ayotte: of all the individuals involved in the terrorist attacks, can either of you answer the question of how many were on our no-fly list? mr. rodriguez: i know that i am not in a position in an open
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hearing to discuss that information. sen. ayotte: can either of you answer the question of how many were on our terror watch list? mr. rodriguez: again, in an open session, i don't believe i can. sen. ayotte: i would agree with senator mccaskill that there are allies on the visa waiver program that this committee has been focusing on for a while. a number of program -- a number of hearings before this on the beaver -- on the visa waiver program. we do have to understand what gaps were on that based on those individuals who are the perpetrators of the attacks in paris were on our list. i think that we have all received some briefing on that in a classified setting. this is something we have to have an open discussion about this as well. if they can't get on our no-fly zone list, and they are not on our no-fly zone list, this is
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the real issue of the visa waiver program, because that means potentially they can come here. that is something that needs to be addressed. i don't think it is mutually exclusive that we address these gaps in the visa waiver program that need to be addressed. obviously, there is legitimate and important reasons for people to travel to the united states of america, but we need to make sure that we address that issue as well. i think many of us are concerned , based on what we're hearing from some of our top intelligence officials and the director of the fbi, that the gaps that we have don't allow us to fully know what we need to know on some of the individuals that are coming, potentially, to our country. finally, if we do not address isis with what they are doing in syria and iraq, then we are , if weo be in a position don't work together with our
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allies to defeat isis, then the refugee crisis is going to continue because these individuals will not have a home. thank you mr. chairman and thank you for holding this hearing. thank you both of the people testifying. application for admittance is denied, is there a tag put on that record? mr. rodriguez: in other words, if we see the individual again? sen. tester: that is the next question. mr. rodriguez: we certainly make sure we know who that individual is. critically, if future cases demonstrate some connection to that denied individual, that is something we are able to identify. we're always looking at networks of people, networks of association. sen. tester: is it fair to say that the refugees have been
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denied acceptance, none of them have tried to reapply and none of them have received what has been denied? mr. rodriguez: i can't say that has been unheard of. we can certainly get an answer. sen. tester: can you tell me what caused a denied application to become something that got accepted at a later date? mr. rodriguez: i suppose that if it was a situation where it turned out that the individual was able to effectively refute the basis of the denial. that would be a pretty high bar. sen. tester: could you give me an idea on how many refugee applications are received and how many are accepted? mr. rodriguez: in any given year -- this past year -- sen. tester: what i'm talking about, you apply, you are turned away or your accepted. can you give me the difference between application and acceptance. mr. rodriguez: i will get you
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that. an. tester: let me answer little bit about the process for screening that you went to -- that you went through. you said that the refugees were continually queried through databases for additional information. is that where the vetting process is going on or does that even occur after they are admitted into the country? mr. rodriguez: that occurs up to the time of their admission into the country. from the time the check is first run, essentially the state department leg of the first screening, right up to the time of their admission. sen. tester: without getting into the specifics, we have talked about these waivers, we will potentially talk about political refugees and the difference, different ways of , ising into this country your department putting together sk ofional things as an a
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congress for additional tools to make sure the vetting process is where it needs to be? if any is required, are you willing to give us what needs to be done for the entire overlay, visa waivers and others? mr. rodriguez: we are always willing to work with the congress on those issues. undedency is a fee-f agency. the fees paid by most of our fee-payers subsidize the refugee program. they don't pay an application fee but that is subsidized. it is not from tax revenue. sen. tester: the question is, if we need to tighten up visa waivers or if we need to tighten up political refugees and the regiment they have to go through
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to get accepted to this country, are you guys willing to put forth those recommendations to us? it would be nice to deal with the folks who deal directly on where the gaps are. you know them better than i. we are absolutely willing to work with this body at any time to refine the way we do our work, absolutely. sen. tester: that is probably about it. i just want to say thank you for your work. -- there ise is not not anyone who serves in congress and doesn't want to make sure this country is as safe as it can be. we need to make sure that the work you are doing fits the risk. sen. johnson: let me just share something. at our briefing yesterday, and that our lunch today, there was some mention of the program, a number of $45 million six in my
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mind. $45 million used -- sticks in my mind. the program combats radicalization in this country. we are -- we were told yesterday that is something we should do more of. mr. rodriguez: secretary johnson has assembled something called , theommunity partnerships purpose of which is to engage in the activity we call countering violent extremism. that is a series of engagements at a national, state, and local level, a community level, with youth, with nongovernmental organizations, to really identify the root causes of rattles -- root causes of radicalization and to use smart approaches to interrupt the process of radicalization.
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sen. baldwin: like my colleagues, i am hearing from the public in wisconsin with sincerely held concerns and fears about an attack such as the horrific attack we saw in paris happening here in the united states. i was grateful to hear your response to senator mccaskill's question about which of the methods of entry into the united states would set up or provide the greatest amount of scrutiny. i think i heard you say fairly specifically that the refugee path, especially if you are a refugee from syria, would provoke the most intense scrutiny. is that correct?
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mr. rodriguez: that is absolutely correct. i know we do want to cross all lines of business and that is the most scrutiny. i wanted to follow up, because a number of the governors in the united states have come forward to try to cut off that path in terms of refusalng some sort of to participate in a refugee resettlement program, that is the national program. governor walker, from the state of wisconsin, the state that i represent, was among those governors. share what heto communicated in terms of raising concerns. said, -- he said that there are not proper security
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procedures in place to accurately ascertain the identities of those entering our country through the syrian refugee program. "a threat tothat, our safety and security of our people." can you respond to those concerns? mr. rodriguez: there have been that,e populations because they come from conflict zones, because they are running from their house, have not presented a lot of documentation. that has not generally true of the syrian refugee population. our officers are trained in finding fraudulent documents. that is something we are always looking for as a concern. it is also a critical part of
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the vetting process from end to end. we do, to does, what drill into the identity and associations of these individuals. i do have a high level of confidence that when the case is approved, we know whose case we approve. we know the identity of that individual. >> thank you. question hasnext to do with the implications on funding that flows from the federal government in support of refugee resettlement programs. generally if a state were to announce that it wasn't going to participate in that program, i know that you work in department with the
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of health and human services office. do you think the state decisions jeopardize this funding stream? such as medical assistance, social services, and housing? i am really concerned about refugees that may have something our state from other places in the world aside from syria. >> thank you for your question. 3 departments of the federal government are the ones that help run the process. although as you have heard, a lot of law enforcement and national security agencies are involved in vetting. in terms of running the process, the state department works with unhcr, which refers refugees to us. we have staff in centers around the world to help the refugees.
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the essential decision whether they will come rest with dhs. the vetting process is collocated. we also are responsible for getting into the u.s., working with partner organizations at the airport and getting them settled in the first three months of their new lives in the u.s. department of the health and human services as a program to provide assistance through the state government to give additional support to refugees. refugee specific programs. it varies from state to state. in the past there has been at least one governor who said, i don't like reviews coming here, i'm not going to accept this money. --refugees coming here. a number of congress told him, please accept this money, i worked hard to get assistance for the state to help with these kinds of tests. this is a federal program. the governors do not have the ability to block the
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resettlement of refugees. more important than that is that this program depends on the support of the american people. it is run at the community level. there are a lot of community organizations, volunteers, churches, faith-based groups, temples involved. a lot of the things that help a refugee family that started once they get here are furnished by charity. miami,en to places in where i have cuban refugees get furniture from a furniture store where the founder was a cuban refugee. these contributions are a big part of this program. it is a public-private partnership. it only works if people in the immunity level -- at the community level supports it. i am less concerned about the legal ramifications of the governor's actions and were concerned about the message sends to american citizens, that we would all be running a program that is dangerous.
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we have no desire to do that. we also need public officials and senators and members of congress to help us. help educate people about what this program is and why we do it and why it is in the best interest of our nation to honor this tradition. thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman. a couple things. because i know you guys have differed -- differed a number of times on the visa waiver program. i want to acknowledge that 20 million people last year in 38 countries -- and i'm not saying they all traveled to the united states -- the visa waiver program. many of those 38 countries do not have the same level of scrutiny, biometrics, not even
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looking at either verified passports. we have allowed in the interest of commerce and certainly without my countries, maybe not being as enforcement-minded as we are. this is a huge part of what we need to be concerned about. we are here talking about the refugee program. i will ask the simple question. do you think it is legitimate for the american public to today ask you to provide answers to their questions about this program? but also for you to take a look at this program and analyze whether in fact there are any gaps, things that we could be doing better, choices that we could be making. let's say, mr. rodriguez, we have someone that we know nothing about. compelling story, but we know nothing about them. another compelling story over here, we know a lot about that
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person, given the competition for resettlement. don't you think it makes sense for us to prioritize those folks that have compelling stories but that we know a lot about? >> apologies. whatever questions -- i am accountable. i am accountable to the american people first and foremost. whatever questions they have our questions that i am fully prepared at all times to answer. questions about how we conduct this process, how we prioritize in this process. the basic design of the refugee referral process is to prioritize individuals in the most need. it starts what is a very rigorous process of screening. a lot of information is gathered from everybody that we encounter.
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if we can't get the information, we don't clear them. we don't approve their cases and they are held or outright denied. >> that is something missed in this discussion today. they say, you know nothing about them. what you are saying now is that you can't really find out another that them -- enough about them. that person may not, and probably won't make it into this country. >> a few things. not entirely. in other words, the individual has to give us enough information that matches other information that we know about what is going on. >> wouldn't that be third-party verification? >> i guess you are right senator. >> that is an important question about how you prioritize. no one here is suggesting there isn't a need. there are a lot of compelling stories. maybe we prioritize those where we actually have a higher level of assurance.
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i don't have a lot of time. i want to get to this issue of the northern border. obviously we have a fairly open border with canada. i can attest to that. i think the ranking member who has flown over the border can also attest to that. chairman mentioned the border during his opening statement. canada's goals regarding syrian refugees. i think border security remains critical for this country. we also have to include the northern border, which i have been beating the drum for on this committee since i have been on it. we have to make smart investments on the northern border. one of the questions that i have regarding the refugee program, especially as it relates to canada -- are there any issues with housing canadians -- there refugees? any suggestions you have made to expand their vetting process?
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can you speak to what would occur if someone was admitted into canada as a refugee and they later try to illegally cross the border to the united states? with that person, even though they may not have passed rigorous our country, be allowed entry through canada? the assistant secretary to add what i miss. we are in constant consultation with particularly english-speaking countries on how we conduct refugee screening. the canadians have been in this business for a long time. they do conduct the basic outline, what i'm familiar with, wizards -- which is also quite rigorous. we are in a constant state of battle with them to make sure-- >> is the canadian system as rigorous as ours? >> i cannot say. from what i have been watching--
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>> that is something you can get back to me on. i have used up my time. the chairman has offered to gavel a stone if we go too far over. this is a dialogue we need to continue. >> on meeting with a canadian official tomorrow. if you give me some questions, i will get answers for you. >> senator peter's. >> this has been an interesting hearing, when i am sure we will be discussing for some time. important tolarly me and the folks in the state of michigan, as i think both of you are aware. we have one of the largest italy's population outside of middle east. -- largest middle eastern population outside of the middle east. we are home to many refugees from around the world that come to the detroit area. an opportunity to work with refugee resettlement groups,
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with religious communities, i have gotten to know many refugees have come to this country that contribute. they are for the most part -- i shouldn't say the most part -- all the refugees i have talked to or patriots. they are excited to be in the west, away from a hazardous situation. they have opened up their hearts to be here. they are storeowners, entrepreneurs, physicians, engineers, contributing folks to our country. that is what this country has been about sent its founding, folks that come around the world that want to pursue the american dream. us to know that we are dealing with a few military and crisis of, proportions we have not seen since world war ii. we literally have millions of people who love been displaced from syria, and are displaced because of thousands of syrians were murdered.
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they left because they fear for their safety and their loved ones. about two months ago, i was at a syrian refugee camp in jordan. 85,000 individuals at the time i was there cramped in the camp in a desert, not start -- not far from a syrian border. not the best conditions to live in. they had a food allowance to $.50 a day. you can't buy a whole lot food for $.50 a day. you have one propane bottle to cook from. what was most impactful to me was the conversations i had with those refugees who just had a sense of hopelessness. they had been there for a long time, usually you go to a refugee camp in your there -- yo u're there for 6 months and back in your country. these folks were in a camp for 4
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years. they had difficult he surviving and getting education. i said, where do you want to go? obviously you don't know what your future is. do you want to go to the united states? do you want to go to europe? all of them at the same answer. they said, we just want to go home. we do want to go to a foreign country. we don't want another language, we just want to go home. certainly everybody in this room, if we were in that situation, we would just want to go home. we have to stabilize the region, deal with isis, have a credible government there, have a strategy to make sure folks can go back and be comparable. also in the meantime, we have to know that it's time. you have folks not just where i visited, but millions of others in camps. jordan has taken on incredible responsibility. people who are running away from the guys, folks who are running
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away from war from violence, trying to find a place where they can raise their children. the united nations was at that can't. -- was at that camp. i want a sense of how we get screenings. you talked about prioritization. i think another important number is about 20,000 folks have been referred to u.s. from the united nations as essential refugees. i understand we have looked at about 7000. we admitted 2000. already the u.n. has done prioritizing. those who are in most need who have been there a long time. i like to know what that is, how we can continue to screen them. those numbers alone show how robust the system is. you folks have discussed if
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are a terrorist wanted to get into this country, you're going to take the path of least resistance. this is far from the path of least resistance. you have to be in a refugee camp for a while before you are even looked at by the u.n. this is a multi-year process that folks go through/ from seeing it firsthand, it is horrible conditions that they find themselves in. there is not anybody in this room that would want to be in a position. they would want someone to say, we have some compassion. we know you can be a valuable contribution. >> they know we would like to take those most vulnerable. they sent us some of the most vulnerable people.
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my experience has been like yours, where most of the refugees you meet want to go home again. the recent lament tears families apart. -- resettlement tears families apart. those that we offer to our areows with children == widows with children, people who have been victims of torture, trauma. people who have seen terrible things happen in front of them, for whom there is no going home ever again. persecutede homes to religious minorities, people who are lgbt. perhaps-- anyone -- people that feel that they would have a death threat if they went home again. >> thank you senator. a couple quick questions. we are going from 75 -- 70,000
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refugees to 80,000 refugees. that's a 20% increase. going from 70,000 to 100,000. do you have the resources to take on that large of an increase? >> we do. it requires us to look for efficiencies interprocess. i have often said when organizations are challenged in this way, it becomes an opportunity to improve. that is how we are treating this challenge. it requires us to move some resources around. we will have to improve our processes. we are a $3 billion a year organization. the challenge is an operational one more than a financial one. we are rising to the challenge. >> how many syrians are in the hopper being reviewed? -- irrently in review
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thought i had this information -- i will have to get back to you. >> the house just passed the american state act 2015 -- introduced the senate companion bill. nobasically says that refugee may be admitted until the director of the fbi certifies with the director of only security and national intelligence that each refugee has "received a background investigation sufficient to determine the refugee is a threat to the security of the u.s." they may only be admitted after the directors certifies to congress that refugee is not a threat security united states. that passed on a strong bipartisan basis. 239-137. that seems like a pretty reasonable way to ensure that these robust offices -- robust process is carried out.
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ceos have to certify that their financial statements are accurate. do you think that is a reasonable response? >> the white house took an indication that it would not add that much. i will say that the process that we engage in is essentially equivalent to the process completed in that bill. people are subjected to the most intense scrutiny, intense supervisory review. cases that present concerns are elevated, fraud detection national security director is brought in to participate in the analysis. view that in fact it would not necessarily add much beyond the process. >> as you are seen by the legitimate questions of the panel, concerns of our
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constituents, this would just be one additional level of control to provide that comfort to make sure that this redundant system would work. do you have any closing comments? >> yes sir, thank you. i want to assure senator mccaskill that another way for us to help make america safer is to work with europeans to make their borders safer. that is in active discussion currently overseas. you asked about the 23,000 referred to us. we brought 2000 to the united states. we continue to review cases and will get new referrals. it is more than a pipeline that people are flowing through. senator chesser asked how many have been denied. under our current screening, worldwide it's about 80% approved, 20%, 1 in 5 denied. i don't have the specifics by
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nationalities. the issue about the fbi having noah holdings. it is normal for the u.s. government to have little information about most refugees at the beginning of the resettlement process. refugees are, after all, innocent civilians that fled war zones. iraq and afghanistan are the exceptions. we have a lot of information about those who worked alongside the military were nearby. we work with them so that they told her stories and put together a case file and fill in the cap that i know are a concern. -- fill in the gaps the know are a concern. be,n't think that has to stop the program. other work with intelligence agencies to fill in those gaps. i want to reassure this committee that we work very
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closely with dhs. this is my fifth time on the hill in the last three days. that is partly why i was so glad you gave leon all the tough questions. [laughter] we are very happy to continue. we work together on a daily basis. we are happy to respond to you. one question -- should we be looking closer at our program? the white house has already asked us to go through the entire process carefully to look at ways to have efficiencies without cutting corners on security. is it really the best process that we can possibly have? we are consist -- we are convinced it is a secure process. but as everyone has noted, it is lengthy. >> mr. rodriguez. mr. rodriguez: i want to thank you first and foremost for leaving what i think is an andedible thoughtful
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productive hearing. the questions that you have asked of us are questions that needed to be asked. the answers that we offer hopefully offered clarity. one of things clear to me over the last two weeks is that have a burden with the american people in explaining to them how this process works, what the safeguards are. this has been a great opportunity to accomplish that. i fear i didn't answer a previous question -- are you looking for ways to make your process better? the answer is, absolutely yes. something i and my staff do every day. we realize what this means to the american people. we realize what this means to the individuals often in great distress who are asking us to admit them united states.
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to that extent we are always looking to improve. we are always willing to engage with this committee to talk about how we can improve the process rather. thank you again for your invitation here today. >> we want to thank you both for your service and taking the time. we want to thank the initiation for making you available. this was short notice, but this was important and useful information for the american people to hear. thank you very much. you are dismissed and we will call the next panel.
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>> i will make you all stand up again. raise your right hand. i like to be as efficient as possible. mr. bergen is the vice president at new america in washington dc, director of studies and several programs. he is also cnn's national
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security analyst. he is currently writing a book about homegrown terrorism. distinguished senators on the committee for the invitation to speak today. answer the isis attacks in paris and the sinai. there are several. we have already addressed in my state the question of the refugees. the real issue is not refugees, but the fact that were 70,000 french citizens that might qualify for these visa waiver programs. it was not clear how many were on watchlists. 1800rtainly shows with french citizens having gone to syria, and name your country in
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europe, you have substantial numbers. the visa waiver program is better than the refugee program, which is fairly robust. much easier to count only student leader -- count on a student visa. another issue that we learn from. the bomb in the paris attacks attacks.he plane they were used to bomb the manhattan subway around the anniversary of 9/11. that is a reminder to us that hydrogen peroxide bombs, which are readily accessed or what the jihadi terrorist groups want to use in the future. hydrogen peroxide to require and does not flag in the same way that ammonium nitrate does.
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both purchases of hydrogen like the attack in colorado are things that law enforcement be fighting for suspicious activity. -- flagging for suspicious activity. the question of airport workers. we seen 5 american citizens since 9/11 involved in jidhai -- jihadi terrorist crimes. 5 at a minneapolis airport. 1 member of isis. 1 at jfk as a baggage handler. lax, planning to attack lax and u.s. military facilities in california four years after 9/11. extent that problem to something like heathrow airport. someone gave security to a
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self-described member of al qaeda. luckily both were arrested. and employee of british airways was in touch with the leader of al qaeda with human to put a bomb on a british airways plane -- a qaeda in yemen to put a bomb on a british airways plane. provesl-sheikh invulnerability. if you want to kill a lot of people, don't send a group of people to paris with ak-47s, put a bomb on a plane. look at sinai, 224 dead with -- versus 100's we did a survey of 474 foreign fighters going to isis. here are the headlines of a we find. one out of seven were within. -- were women. that is an astonishing finding.
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by definition most of these are misogynistic groups. in paris we had a woman who blew herself up just 204i was ago -- 24 hours ago. the average age is 24. a lot of teenagers. an astonishing 80 million teenagers from the west -- 80 named teenagers from the west, including places like colorado and chicago. many have ties to jihadist and -- jidhadism, people who get married in syria will have dissipated in -- or have participated in previous terrorist plots. the leader of the plot brought his 13-year-old brother to syria to basically fight. the american profile of these foreign fighters is similar to the overall western profile. young, 1 in 6 are women. a key point here is where the american recruits, 9 oiuut of 10
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were active on online jihadi websites. the war in syria and iraq very deadly. half of these male foreign fighters are dead. 6% of the females, even though they are not on the front lines. is brianxt witness michael think it's, president of the rand corporation. also director of the transportation national security center. a decorated veteran, served as a member of the white house commission on aviation safety and security proposal clinton, as well as an advisor to the national commission of terrorism. mr. jenkins. >> thank you very much work invited me to address this urgent issue. i would like to be able to report that in response to the terrorist attacks in paris, all of the perpetrators have been identified and apprehended and
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will be executed promptly and that airstrikes have stripped the islamic state and that an event like this will never happen again. however, in reality, this conflict is likely to go on. there are no quick, easy solutions. and terrorists certainly will attempt further attacks. let me give you some observations from the written testimony i have presented. first with regard to the conflict itself. the fighting in syria and iraq will continue. right now the situation is at the military stalemate. syria and iraq are now effectively partitioned. these partitions will persist. sectarian and ethnic divisions drive the conflict, making them hard to settle. the world will be dealing with the fallout of this conflict for years to come. isil'sdeology --
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ideology continues to exert a powerful, despite the coalition pull, despiteul the coalition army's bombing. isil is calling on more to come. the uniquely destructive nature of this conflict has produced 4 million mortgages -- 4 million refugees, and another 12 million internally displaced. these are the new palestinians. neighboring countries cannot absorb them. they would be a continuing source of instability. we will begin with this issue for decades. hundreds of thousands of these refugees have headed to europe, raising fears that terrorists can hide among them. some may have done, which brings me to the events in paris. the attack in paris has important takeaways. it underscores the importance of
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intelligence. just how this group managed to get past french intelligence, we are still not sure. but the french services are simply being overwhelmed by volume. the numbers that peter mentioned , though has gone from friends, -- from friends, the number -- f rom france, the number expected to carry out homegrown terrorist attacks, that is simply overwhelming authorities. thousands. the availability of terrorist recruits in france and belgium and elsewhere in europe reflects some societal programs of marginalized and alienated communities where extremist ideologies can easily take root. that is going to take a long time to fix. the paris attack has increased pressure on the u.s. to step up fight against faisal -- against isil. we can do more militarily, but
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we must keep cool and stay smart here. we should not be provoked into measures that in the long run -- and this has the potential to be a very long run -- could prove to be unsustainable or counterproductive. paradoxically, military success against isil and syria may heighten the threat of terrorism beyond. that is able scatter the foreign fighters, will validate i sil's propaganda that this is the final showdown between believers and unbelievers and we could see a surge of terrorism worldwide, even as we achieve some measure of success with isil in syria. further terrorism plots must be presumed. we must prepare for an array of scenarios, including arms assault like the ones we saw in
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paris, although we are more likely to see more global attempts. with regard to refugees and immigrants, immigrants since the 19th century have brought their quarrels with them. these are not -- these are extraordinary circumstances. fighting continues in an active was a, where loyalties or fluid. -- loyalties are fluid. this add a layer of risk. the good news is that this is not europe. the numbers here are much smaller. the american audience for isil propaganda remains unreceptive, simply not selling a lot of cars here. and the new laws and structures which congress has put in place to rent terrorist attacks -- to present terrorist attacks -- prevent terrorist attacks and to be working.
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we are not dealing with hundreds of refugees landing on the shores, we have smaller numbers with more opportunities to vet and select them. we are not just trying to filter out that guys. efforts -- bad guys. efforts to recruit and radicalized into new after arrival. this is not a one-time sign-up that gets us through. america historically has been successful at assimilating immigrants. finally, our domestic intelligence efforts have achieved a remarkable level of success. we are betting about 900. about 900.bouting fellow--s the senior work concentrates on al qaeda, the islamic state, and other organizations with transnational ambitions.
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here to an honor to be testify before you today. i thought the first panel was quite strong. it was gratifying to see that echoed my written testimony. i like to go over a couple of points. the first and most important point is that i concluded, as did the previous panel, that the risk of refugee resettlement in terms of moving operatives into the rest is low. -- into the u.s. is low. not only do operatives have to wait 18-24 months, but they have to be selected. we are selecting about 10,000 over 2.1 million refugees in recognized camps. that is a very small figure. they have no control over whether an operative would be selected. given the way that we privilege the most vulnerable populations, is highly unlikely that they
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would be. that being said, it's also significant that the previous panel acknowledged intelligence gaps, which we should be forthright about. the situation is one in which the risk we face is low, but not a no risk proposition. there is some risk. but the selection process significantly reduces the risk, as well as the inefficiency of moving operatives in. that being said, i think the selection process is much more of a barrier than the screening process. it is a multilayered screening process. as other directors have acknowledged, we don't have good visibility. there are inherent limitations on our intelligence. the recent events in paris underscore this intelligence. you had at least two cells interlocking.
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it's a to look at the travels of the mastermind of this attack. he was able to move from europe after the plot he was involved in in belgium was interrupted on january 15, back into syria, then moved back into europe to personally direct the plot in france. that is significant. that needs while he was a wanted man, he was able to move past european authorities into syria, then passed european authorities again as he moved back in. that indicates a much more significant intelligence gap than anyone would have anticipated prior to this plot. the third thing is that i think it was very important to highlight that when you look at vulnerabilities the u.s. has two terrorist entry, that things like visa waiver are just more important than refugee resettlement. the reason we are talking about this so much is because of those dramatic xers -- dramatic pictures of large numbers of migrants move into europe. as we all know, the situation that we face is very different
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in the united states. rather than a refugee proposition crossing into the borders, they are being selected out of camps. it is a fundamentally different situation. it makes sense for this legislative body to think about is an entry that are at highest risk. and definitively refugee resettlement is not. fourth, we should think about isil's use of refugees. not so much in the u.s. as in europe. the islamic state these refugees that are fleeing its self proclaimed caliphate as a major public relations problem. 19,een september 16 and they released a dozen videos about the syrian refugee situation. one of them used a refugee route or have ported -- plaintiff a assportt -- planted a p after the attack. one thing that they will
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absolutely try to do is either infiltrate and operated into europe, or make it seem like that has happened in order to provoke a backlash against refugees. they wanted to destroy the grazing between the european population and the islamic state -- the gray zone. that is something worth taking about. lots of much for our owner we settlement program. -- our own resettlement program. if such an attack occurs, we need to think about that so that we can fashion appropriate policies. the final policy point i want to make is that as several senators said, we should tend our policies towards syria to reduce destabilization. my final point pertains to our ci program for sponsoring rebels. it deserves much more scrutiny. there are some deep problems. i don't want to divert this hearing. i don't think this is separable for the overall issue. taking off my hat as an expert
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wishing -- expert witness, i want to thank you for this hearing. i think it was very sober at a time when we have had political discussion which is extraordinary hyperbolic. senator mccaskill said should come together as americans. i think that is very important. it's worth acknowledging that on both sides of the debate, people have legitimate concerns. on the one hand, some are concerned about security. are they safe? on the other hand people are concerned about that we as americans are compassionate people, we should welcome refugees. both sides should recognize that there are concerns and be able to advance ourselves as opposed to having partisan finger-pointing. thank you as american for holding the hearing that was very reasonable and measured. >> our next witnesses the dean of humphreys school of public affairs. previously served as u.s. assistance secretary of state
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for refugees and migration. second highest-ranking official in the office of the united nations commission of human rights. mr. swartz. >> thank you mr. chairman. the committee asked that witnesses discuss any vulnerabilities in the program for resettlement of syrians. this is an important issue. it's only relevant first if we believe we have a national interest in resettling syrians. second, if are confident that we are asking the correct security-related questions. i will talk about our national interests. nobody disputes the critical national unity importance of issues surrounding the syrian conflict, stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, supporting our friends and allies, sustaining economic relationships, defeating isis and others that export campaign september, and
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providing students for people in need. -- export campaign's of terrors. all campaigns that need u.s. leadership. we need the support of our friends and our allies. how does refugee resettlement of syrians address these concerns? more particularly, how might obstacles to the continuation of this program threaten our national interests? first, the program indicates a commitment to burden sharing governments neighboring syria. we are asking turkey, jordan, and lebanon to host some 4 million refugees. we are expecting their support. for our efforts in the region, it's important that we sustain our resettlement efforts. it is counterproductive for us to send those governments a negative single -- negative signal, showing off those resettlement programs given all that they are doing. second, if we are urging our european allies to limit humane
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policies on production -- to implement humane policies on syrian. our commitment to resettlement is critical. our failure to offer we settlement will be perceived as hypocrisy and diminish our capacity to lead on issues of common concern. third, the battle against isis is also a battle of ideas in which places rejects any notion -- which isis rejects the compatibility of islam with any other notions. we review cap notion. notion.uebuke that it is worth reflecting. i think we have to reflect on the fact that legislative efforts to single out particular programs in iraq and syria risk playing into that narrative.
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it might indeed be welcomed by our adversaries. the u.s. has long advocated resettling based on applicant vulnerability. it advantages-- it would undermine our leadership. if there is a compelling syrians,in resettling what questions regarding vulnerability should we be asking? first, we should not be asking whether the syrian refugee resettlement program, or for that matter, any immigration program, can guarantee against admission of an individual with ill intent. to put this in perspective, some formally013, people enter the country to establish residence. almost none received anything like the scrutiny given to syrian refugees. -- some 4 million people entered the country. syrian applications are the most thoroughly vetted applicants in
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the process, involving reviews by the intelligence, security, and law enforcement agencies. all applicants provide biometric and biographical data. i am convinced that these and other measures do provide a robust degree of safeguards that more than justify continuation of this program in light of the national security and unitarian interest -- and humanitarian interests they serve. this story unraveled and he was convicted conspiracy and planned espionage. the event health to stoke the convention -- helped to stoke the contention that jews could be part of a fifth column of spies as officials turned their
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back on those who needed protection from the holocaust. some voices condemned this in action. but to use -- they were drowned out in the name of national security. members of the committee, i hope that we can ensure that voices supporting protection of the vulnerable are not drowned out and recognize that our refugee program not only meets our security interests but reflects our values as a people. final witness. the president chief executive officer for the u.s. committee of refugees and immigrants, one of the 9 agencies contracted with the state department to resettle refugees in the west she has more than 30 years of experience. ms. limon. >> on behalf of the u.s. committee for refugees and
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immigrants, a national nonprofit organization serving refugees and immigrants, with a network of over 90 agencies and offices around the nation, i am honored to testify before you today in support of the u.s. refugee resettlement program and to provide information on the program. i want to thank you, chairman johnson, fork of lamenting our security -- for complementing our screen, which my staff works hard to keep up-to-date. we change it as we learn more. even the government people say that we haven't right -- we have tit right, so that is exciting. >> i always appreciate good information. addressed the needs of forced migration worldwide. we are proud to do this work in the u.s. because our countries the world leader in providing protection to people who need it. this global refugee crisis
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requires strong leadership and the u.s. will inherently make a statement by our presence or our absence. for refugees who are the most vulnerable, even after fleeing their countries, the torture survivors, women at risk, those with complex medical situations, for those individuals, resettlement is often the only option. for refugees who have landed in refugee camps without the right to work, with their children denied education, these are the individuals for whom we stand. we must not let the keenness acts -- highness acts of terrorists -- heinous acts of paris turn our backs on refugees. when i was invited to testify, i went out to our network. i said, tell me what syrian refugees that we have resettled are saying. i want to share some of their messages with you. a syrian refugee who came to detroit with his wife and four
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children in september wanted everyone to know that he and his family are so happy to feel and be safe again after arriving in the united states. he told us "i truly appreciate the kindness of the american people that we witnessed." a syrian family who arrived in theory, pennsylvania last night told us they were very happy to finally arrive in the united states after many years of waiting. the family was very thankful to be in pennsylvania. the father was an electrician in syria. he and his wife and his their children alive --managed their keepren alive --managed to their children alive. a syrian refugee in california had a video and music shop in damascus before having to sleep with his mother because of the conflict. -- having to flee with his
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mother because of the conflict. they fleed to lebanon for 2 years, before they moved to the united states in february this year. he told us "there are many innocent people that really need help." he feels so blessed and lucky that he had the opportunity to resettle to the united states and wishes to see more syrians have the ability to come here. uscri support a solutions based approach. based on our experienced of the following recommendations. we would like the refugee program to be supported to all aspects of our government as a safe humanitarian and foreign policy operation. we would like to seek funding for the department of homeland security increase to maintain the integrity of the security checks. we would like to see increased support for the office of refugee resettlement to enhance the integration of the newly arrived refugees.
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as a former director of the federal office of refugee resettlement, and after a four-year career -- we give you that information -- of helping refugees, i am proud incumbent that are resettlement program works and is in the best interest of america. thank you for holding this hearing. thank you for listening to our point of view. >> let me start with you. you talked about the refugee flow. you think the refugee flow is a public relations disaster for isis. >> yes, absolutely. this is something they have made clear in their own propaganda.
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they purport to be the world's home for muslims. the fact that people are fleeing from them and other syrians, rather than going from assad controlled areas, are going to europe rather than into isis held areas. >> that is the point i wanted to make. in other briefings, we are being told that the refugee flows out of isis-controlled areas is primarily because of assad bombings on people. it is really the syrian government's genocide that is causing the refugee problem. >> it is both. when you look at the flow out of mosul when the christians left, that was all because of isis. but yes, when you look at it, it's not like most are fleeing isis. but let's be clear, there are refugees fleeing isis. the reason that it is a public relations disaster is that isis is right there in syria. >> let's talk about the greatest risk. as we have heard testimony, the vetting process is redundant.
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pretty inefficient if you are trying to salt people into the united states, less so if you are going to europe. as i said in my opening statement, i view the greatest risk literally as our completely unsecured borders. people flowing into countries and potentially coming here. i want to go down the panel, what is the greatest risk? what is the number one thing that we should do?
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that is the main problem. then the waiver program. then we need a global database of who these people are. we only have 4500 names. if we don't know who these people are, everything else is moot. >> so the free flow in europe combined visa waiver program creates real risk to americans? >> yes. >> first of all, i would agree that you and senator mccaskill appropriately broaden the inquiry from refugees to looking at the whole thing. looking at immigration, visa, visa waiver and border security see what are our gaps in the most likely routes for terrorists. there is probably consensus that refugees may be the least productive route for them. i certainly agree with peter that a major vulnerability is europe. one because of the numbers, two because they do not have the
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capability of selecting. these are people that are arriving. the europeans are then trying to sort them out. a third problem is that the europeans are not sharing information with each other in these senses. as a result of that, either cooperation within europe is going to increase, or we are going to see increasing border patrols within europe. that will challenge the european notion of free movement altogether. border controls are going to come back up.
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the weakness that i think that we have in our system overall is that we are dependent on lists of names. in terms of looking at visas, we have a robust system for interviewing refugees and for screening that. but a lot of these other things are dependent on a name being on a list. if we don't have a name on a list, we don't have much else to go on. it would be useful, at the very least, if we could develop new ways of looking at this where we can say, look, there are some of these people we can clear pretty fast because of who they are, and there are others who will simply require a new way of taking a look at this. >> this people have not created that ripple? i will take this up, but i will go to senator heitkamp. senator heitkamp: i share your complementary statements with the chairman.
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i think we have a great panel here. and so just to kind of begin it, from everything i have read in your testimony and what you presented here, would you say that the focus that we have put at this point solely on the refugee resettlement program is perhaps misplaced and has diverted attention from much more critical security issues that we have? it seems to be unanimous on the panel. let the record reflect everyone is nodding their head. if you disagree, please weigh in . obviously represent a great cross-section of national security efforts. would you say your view is the majority view of people who study national security? so, you must talk to each other at some point here. can you tell me, building on what the chairman has asked,
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what things you think we are missing, that we have not talked about today. obviously the visa waiver program is on everybody's mind. along with senator feinstein, we are introducing a bill to address gaps. it's very timely now. it will be a great bipartisan bill. we will have a discussion on it. but what are we missing that people within your expertise today are saying, wow, why don't they get this? and that is for anyone. >> one of the key things, i agree with peter entirely -- about the greatest threat, the zone and visa waiver. i think the key thing for me is in the past because of agreements, there is certain information that the united states does not get from european allies.
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because of that agreement. we have seen the virtual collapse of this agreement, which means our leverage is at an all-time high. so, i would strongly recommend senators to talk to u.s. customs and border protection to figure out what they need and where it has posed a threat to u.s. border security and what we might do with multilateral negotiations with our european allies. senator heitkamp: what else have we missed? propaganda.he isis are aid thatment we can give to turks to increase their border control would be very useful. overwhelmingly that is where foreign fighters are coming in.
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mr. jenkins: let me add to a comment by daveed. this probably will be more about bilateral agreements and multilateral. there are profound differences in europe, policy differences, even philosophical differences about how to deal with these issues. about privacy issues, resettlement issues, about returning foreign fighters, whether they should be charged with criminal violations or they should be rehabilitated and put back into society. when you deal with that many differences in a group like the european union, it tends to dilute the efforts down to sort of the least common denominator.
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so, we really, really have to work closely on a bilateral basis to ensure that we are getting the information that we need for our own national security interest. senator heitkamp: go ahead. >> we have been talking about a lot of different issues. i think support for front-line states is absolutely critical. i was part of a letter. there was deputy secretary wolfowitz. there was michele flournoy and others urging an allocation of up to $2 billion, largely in support of jordan and turkey, because they are experiencing such significant challenges that that would be a very valuable symbol of solidarity and support. i agree with the other panelists that the refugee program is not anywhere near the major threat.
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my third and fourth points are i agree we need to take a close look at the visa waiver program and other programs, but i think we have to accept the fact or understand the fact, without prejudice to the point about the visa waiver program, that our strength is our vulnerability. our system of immigration is responsible for creating a superpower. without the kind of immigration policies we have had over the past century or more, the united states would not have achieved the kind of political and economic dominance in the world. we have been spared some very challenging, dramatically challenging, existential challenges that some of our european allies and japan face. that is our strength, but it is also our vulnerability.
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>> senator, i think our greatest risk is we allow our political discourse in the united states to make it acceptable to be anti-refugee, anti-immigrant, to say things that are negative and stereotypical of people whereby the mainstream population thinks it is ok to turn our back from newcomers. i think when you look at europe, you can see the social isolation, what the immigrant communities live with every day. the strength of america, the beauty of america is we do not do that. our values and our ability to assimilate, we do in fact assimilate new people. by the second and third generation they usually cannot speak their grandparents' or
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parents' language. when people are willing to share these values, they become americans. and we look at them at some point and go, they are american. i do not know when that shift takes place, but it takes place. and that ability to incorporate keeps us from having that group that may turn on us internally. and so we have to have that political discourse in the leadership to say to the american people, and it's not easy because people are different and people do not like different and it makes people un easy. but we have to have the dialogue that reinforces the beauty and sanctity of america. >> the past is not a predictor of the future. that is a difficult question. what do you think about the greatest risk?
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mr. gartenstein-ross: as i said before, i agree that the problems in europe being the greatest immediate risk in terms of terrorist entry. but i want to highlight something that is very much related. this hearing, for good reason, has focused on the islamic state and isis. but our enemies of the past decade and a half has been al qaeda, which has been pushed from the headlines, and this is not a good thing. al qaeda today enjoys a lot more freedom of movement than anyone would have thought possible five years ago. if you look at high-level leaders, you can see a lot is -- a lot of the sanctions are being peeled back. al qaeda is receiving state support in syria. a coalition is getting support from qatar, from turkey, from saudi arabia, and i think we
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need to pay attention to this rebranding of al qaeda as a more reasonable jihadist force. this is something if we do not pay attention to it now, i believe we will fully regret this in several years. not just in terms of immediate entry to the u.s., but entry to other parts of the world. >> there are a number of different groups, but they are islamic terrorist and they are at war with civilization. mr. schwartz, greatest threat? secretary schwartz: i'm sorry? in terms of -- our debt and deficit. i think that is true. this hearing is about what we face because of islamic terrorism. again, we're talking about our vulnerabilities. those types of things.
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secretary schwartz: yes. sure, as i said before, my expertise here is on our immigration, our refugee program in particular, and to my mind, the refugee program is far from our greatest threat. i think it is the durable program -- >> but what is our greatest vulnerability within these programs? within our acceptance of refugees and asylum-seekers and immigrants? secretary schwartz: as i said, i think it is clear the visa waiver program has a greater vulnerability than the u.s. refugee resettlement program, but frankly i am not a next word - i am not annexed bird not an expert on all of the immigration programs. i can tell you the refugee resettlement program, which i know very, very well, is not one of those. if i can make one more point that i made earlier in my
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testimony, if members of congress feel that the department has made the case about the security procedures in the refugee resettlement program i would really think long and hard on this issue of additional legislation because of my concern, that it does play right into the narrative of us against them, our choosing a particular group where we have a system in place that is rigorous and responsible. i think our geopolitical interests require that we reflect very carefully about that legislation. even if the president promises to veto it, the introduction of it and the passage of it, i think is very worrisome. >> do you want to take a stab at it or -- ms. limon: since last week, my office has received many phone
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calls of people who are extraordinarily worked up about syrian refugees. they will say things like, "i want the names and addresses of all of the syrians you have brought here." that is one of the more polite things that has been said. it's been kind of scary. when we look at resettling refugees right now -- and as i said, people are going to arrive in chicago tomorrow and we have state government officials saying, let's get out the names and addresses of these people, and we are like, whoa, what is going on here? these people are legally admitted to the united states. how are we going to protect them? these are people persecuted, fleeing violence and her secures and because of their race and religion and they come to america, the land of the free, and we have to say you may be
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persecuted because of your membership in a particular ethnic group. it's a very dangerous time, and i will tell you, there are thousands of people who do this work around the country calling us and saying, what am i supposed to do? >> which is why i think a certification process would give the american public the assuredness they are looking for. senator carper? senator carper: something i said earlier that i think you heard, and i talked about competing moral imperatives, and one of those moral imperatives that was reminded to us by pope francis a month or two ago was our obligation to the least of these. when i was a stranger in your land, did you take me in?
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i think the admonition at congress, when he invoked the golden rule. we should treat other people the way we want to be treated. i think everybody stood on their feet and applauded for a long time. we have that moral imperative and i am reminded every day of those imperatives as we confront this challenge. but we also have a moral imperative to the people who live here and want to live to a ripe old age. the question is, can we do both? we have to be true to one and not the other? one of the reasons i was out of the room, my responsibilities on the environment, i have oversight over the nuclear regulatory commission. we are always wrestling with the question and that committee, can we have cleaner air, cleaner water? and at the same time have a stronger economy. i think we can have both.
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i think we will have both. but in terms of the moral imperatives, how do we meet both moral imperatives? especially the latter one? one is the rigors of the refugee program, which i think is pretty well demonstrated now. is there more we can do? i think so. i think what the administration has nominated, i think is very good. i want to say he is a terrific guy in his nomination is hung up in the banking committee for reasons i do not understand. that would help bring them to their need on the financial side. they did the same thing with north korea, and we would like them to do that with isis, too, if we can get them confirmed. there are some things that we are doing, can be doing. if you could just respond to my questions, thank you. >> we have become a risk-averse,
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security -- obsessed nation. that is understandable. we are still in the shadow of 9/11. we are dealing with these extraordinary times and threats. but we cannot remove all risk. we have been doing a pretty good job in terms of our domestic intelligence, in terms of preventing these attacks and so on, but we don't get to zero. the problem is, if we try to get to zero, that has costs in other directions. cost in term of real economic cost. if we were to abolish the visa waiver program, there is cost. costs in terms of moral costs, in terms of our reputation as a society. so, i think part of it is, without this missing the very real threat -- and this is very much a long-term thing. this is the shape of things to come.
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but we have to be able to accept that none of these programs, not one of these provides us with an absolute guarantee -- no amount of screening, no signatures or so on -- you can as the senate keep the heat on people on this, and that's important, because over time, measures become routine, people become slack. you can energize that but you do not get to zero. oint.cellent p refugees have not been involved. by homegrownd terrorists. senator carper: that's a good point. >> i certainly agree that the
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refugee resettlement program has robust procedures in it and i think that the refugee resettlement program has the best expression of american values and the moral imperative, but let me repeat what i said in my testimony, which is i also believe, in this particular instance, the continuation of this program serves a vital national security imperative. our burden sharing with front-line states. they are hosting over 4 million refugees. burden sharing with european states that we are asking to treat humanely hundreds of thousands of syrian refugees. these are governments that we need in terms of the geopolitical objectives we are trying to achieve, and third and most importantly, we rebuke the
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isis narrative of us versus them. it is an expression of our program. an expression of the proposition it is not the muslim world and everyone else. but that that isis narrative, we combated day and day out the -- with the refugee program. we have states in this program that go far beyond our humanitarian imperatives. >> wonderful points. thank you. thank you all. >> mr. jenkins, you talked about the community being overwhelmed. keep cool, stay smart. i don't think anyone will dispute we can't turn this into a risk-free world, but these are threat, and these threats are growing. so just look at terrace. -- so just look at paris. if we sit down and play defense the whole time, i don't think
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that is particularly smart. how to we go on offense? how do we solve the problem? mr. jenkins: i would not argue for a defensive strategy. i think you do have to become more effective on how you deal with this in syria. i happen to think it is not by deploying large numbers of american forces on the ground. i think the numbers that people mention underestimate the task. i think that that would become very, very quickly and unsustainable thing. can we do other things? with the air campaign, an increasing number of special operations personnel? i think we can do more creative things. for example, our efforts to create a guerrilla army and throw it into battle against isis, that has turned out --
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senator johnson: obviously did not work. mr. jenkins: it didn't work. however that does not mean competitive recruiting will not work. i'm not talking about throwing people into battle. i'm talking about sunnis that are exposed to isil influence, it make more sense to recruit them and pay them, in a sense just to be on our payroll, rather than sending the money to go out there. let's provide a place in syria to get people on board. senator johnson: has the threat grown or receded in the last year and a half? mr. jenkins: i would say in some cases we have checked eiffel's advance. -- isil's advance. senator johnson: but has it grown or receded? you say the intelligence community is overwhelmed by the volume. mr. jenkins: the intelligence community in europe is overwhelmed by the volume. senator johnson: that is our greatest threat is what you're telling us.
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mr. jenkins: it is. senator johnson: that threat is growing. so the risk is increasing. mr. jenkins: the risk of terrorism outside is going up. that, i think, is true. for a variety of reasons. in fact, as we have more success on the ground, that threat is outside. you can't connect, you can't look at the threat outside as evidence of failure inside syria. that threat will go up even without success -- senator johnson: but remember, it's to enhance the economic so you have a destabilized middle east. you start destabilizing nations in europe, that destabilizes the entire world economy, and that also affects our economic situation as well. mr. jenkins: it clearly does. so far though, so far we have been able to manage. this is a matter of can we
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improve things as opposed to fundamentally alter our strategy? over time, i think we have been extraordinarily cautious -- senator johnson: do you think it is a good thing that iran and russia is gaining greater influence in the middle east? russia, regional security in the middle east? mr. jenkins: russia is not a newcomer to syria. senator johnson: i understand, but the influence is growing in the middle east, correct? mr. jenkins: i'm not sure that it is. senator johnson: is that a good thing? mr. gartenstein-ross: no, i don't think it's a good thing that russian or arabian influence are growing, which they undoubtedly are. there are things we can do, as brian said. this is not a dodge of your question. my direct answer is specifically the threat has grown worse in the last year and a half, but number one, if you look on the
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ground in iraq and assyria, isis -- iraq and syria, isis has had a steady year of losses. with one very good week in may. but publicizing those losses is very important because they have a narrative of strength. one area where the u.s. has clearly failed is it has not publicize their losses. including their losses outside iraq and syria. they have four major losses in africa that almost no one is aware of, including people in africa. i know this because at an african summit i was at last month, people were absolutely unaware of all of isis's setbacks there. the second reason things have grown worse, if you look at the terrorism problem writ large, tunisia is fundamentally threatened in ways it was not two years ago. yemen is falling apart. that is not in isis issue. there are many other things related and isis has glommed onto that. but the overall situation is where violent nonstate actors
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are gaining much, much more ground. this is a real problem. not just the problems that of terrorism, but the problem set of the democratization of violence. what senator carper very elegantly describes as competing imperatives. they will remain. when discourse becomes so locks lot test locked and jaded, as we have recently seen, we do ourselves a disservice in terms of being able to reason through together as one body these very, very difficult issues that we are going to be grappling with for a long time to come. senator johnson: senator carper? senator carper: thank you. i've a question -- the influence of the russians and the a rainy and's waning? i think one of you said, maybe not so much and another said yes.
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talking about competing interests, we have competing interests in iran. we have one group led by the supreme leader and the revolutionary guard, and you have another group led by the elected president. your talking about a country where 78 million people, the average age of the country's 25. you have a generational divide there. elsewhere in the u.s., it has more to do with shia or sunni more than anything else. i want to go back to something, i think, mr. birkin, it was what you said. -- mr. bergen, it was what you said. the greatest threats to us. i don't know that we can tell the greatest threats to us with respect to serious -- to syria and isis -- i'm not sure the greatest threats are going through the visa waiver program are the greatest threats or
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those coming on a tourist visa or a student visa or some other way i'm not thinking of. i think you said it. the thing that keeps me up at night more than anything else is the folks that are here, homegrown, born here, raised here in many cases, and they come out and they can do great damage from the inside. they become radicalized. those of the folks i worry about. in order to address that threat, reduce the threat, a couple of things. we talked about those and we are reiterating. i read a couple books not long ago about a woman named phyllis schwartz. do i have that right? not even close? jessica stern. [laughter]
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senator carper: jessica stern. she went all over the world. i can't believe they let her in. they opened their hearts to her. the isis book is the newer book. she had one thing that she found in talking to all of these terrorists -- a lot of them are faith-based. but they are people who, mostly guys, who have not had a lot of success in their lives, and they were looking ways to the big time. that could be being in a military operation, being trained to be effective, to be killed in go to heaven, and you would have all of these brides, your wives. to get paid. if they don't, they make some money. if they do die, the families do get paid. from the organization. one thing that struck me reading the book, if isis is not
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successful, it if they are losing territory, if we cut them off financially, they become a whole lot less attractive. if the back story is these guys are faking it -- that is white it is so important. -- that is why it is so important. mr. chairman, i agree. it is so important. to crush these guys sooner rather than later. we have been asked to fund a program that enables them to run a counter message within the muslim communities here and in our country where there's a lot of people and the young people are subject to being radicalized. they have a counter message to make sure that that is an effective message. so, those are a couple thoughts. do you want to react to any of that?
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if you do, please do -- mr. jenkins: i am a minnesotan by way of new york and washington. i do want to say a word about the real great work of the u.s. attorney there, andrew lugar, who has -- well, you know the countering violent extremism program is one thing. but what he and his office have done, they have engaged in dialogue and discussion, helping to understand the challenges, without sacrificing in any way the law enforcement and of of his office and i think it is a real model for the rest of the country and deserves mention. senator carper: just a show of hands. on the issue of the greatest threat that we face to the
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homeland, whether it is refugees, student visas, homegrown, does anybody think the homegrown threat may be the biggest threat that we face? thank you. four out of five. thank you. mr. jenkins: i do want to talk a little bit about the incentives created. this is widely known. more than 7 million refugees displaced in syria and 4 million refugees outside and hundreds of thousands of refugees flown into europe. the more that are accepted in, won't more flow? isn't that a destabilizing -- again, ms. limon, you talked about the problem of assimilation. around paris, you have 1.7 million muslim population, not particularly assimilated. they are more easily drawn to this, recruited in this type of ideology. from my standpoint, the answer is not to allow the flow to go
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because you will exacerbate the problem. isn't that a problem? anybody? ms. limon: yes, it's a problem. i think it is pretty unprecedented as well, since world war ii, the idea of all of these people coming in, and i think you face huge challenges in dealing with this. but i think it is also time, germany -- merkel says, ok, fine, we will bring in, i think they are bringing in 100,000 people. -- 800,000 people. she sees that as a benefit to her country, which i happen to agree with her, but they are going to have to do this wholeheartedly. when you talk about communities outside paris, it's second and third generation moroccans and middle eastern or two do not feel like they are french. senator johnson: again, it's the lakh of assimilation, the balkanization of society that is not a good thing.
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it's destabilizing. ms. limon: and we have to make sure we do not do that here. senator johnson: i do have to challenge you. you talk about all of the attacks by american citizens, but we do have the tsarnaev brothers. we are kind of ignoring the fact that islamic terrorists have been at war with us since at least the mid-1990's, we did have 9/11. and by the way, talking about are they perceived as winners or losers, you have successful, low-tech terrorist event in beirut, i would say another successful, low-tech terrorist event in paris. i do push back the sophistication of this. people talk about sophisticated -- it takes an awful lot of planning. it seems to me to be pretty easy
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to say here are the targets, here is where we are going to hit them at zero hour. take a look at the weapons. readily available on the black market. the explosives may be a little more complex. just speak to the real threat and the growing threat. mr. bergen. mr. bergen: you are right. the attacks in paris were not sophisticated. but they were complex. the real problem is that they got radicalized here, the tsarnaev brothers. they came in as miners to this country. they were perfectly normal and live different 10 years. it was the last two years of their existence -- senator johnson: point taken. anyone else want to comment? mr. gartenstein-ross: you made a point about winners and losers. obviously this is where isis has had a string of successes. at if they have a campaign, it's not going to be particularly
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effective. at but i think there is strong proof -- and i testified before the senate committee in april -- that they demonstrate their strength. -- they have exaggerated their strength and we can do a better job of knocking that down. and when they have big successes like these awful attacks likely just seen, you will not be able to convince people that they are on the losing side. senator johnson: i would argue that their sophistication is social media. the way that they are able to recruit and inspire people to join this absolutely barbaric -- that takes some dedication to convince people to blow themselves up. but the actual execution is relatively low-tech, which is a concern. did you want to say something? mr. bergen: no, i completely agree. secretary schwartz: in most cases when you're dealing with
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migration and it is economic migration, as a matter of policy and ethics, it is reasonable to create certain deterrence to undocumented immigrants. yes, there are internally displaced foreign refugees, but very few of those are people who did not have good reason to move based on persecution, abuses, or conflict. traditionally, there are three ways that people -- people in a situation like that are resolved. either they are locally integrated into the places they flee. they return to syria. or to their country of origin. or they are resettled in a third country. and traditionally, third country resettlement is for a pretty
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small minority of refugees. senator johnson: which again is my point. it points to the solution -- should be as an attempt to stabilize the situation in syria and iraq which requires wiping isis off the face of the earth. i think that has to be the solution. i guess i was baffled, mr. jenkins, by your assertion that will make it even worse. mr. jenkins: no, it's not that i am saying -- look, don't go after them because it will make it worse. i am saying that as a consequence we have to be prepared for any way. that's not a reason not to go after them.
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there are still nazis in the world that believe in it. but we can destroy these organizations, and hell, i have been the senator cato of this in terms of repeating regularly that furthermore al qaeda and i sold must be destroyed. however, we have to accept this is going to be a very long task, and therefore -- and therefore, take our way through this in a way that we can sustain it in the long run and not do things that will immediately erode both international and domestic public support and not do things that are going to be counterproductive. so, this is not about going after them. this is about how we go after
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them? senator johnson: i think we are on the same page here. it requires the 100% commitment by the civilized world to understand the reality of this. it's not going away. it has to be destroyed. mr. jenkins: absolutely. senator johnson: anybody else? secretary schwartz: i would say there is nothing inconsistent between that objective and the efforts to bring together the powers that are so dramatically impacting the situation on the ground in syria today. if that doesn't happen -- and i credit the administration for the effort it is making -- because if that does not happen, the humanitarian crisis that overlays the situation will just be continued. because however desirable these objectives are, the destruction of isis, that is a long-term proposition. right now the imperative has got to be to chart out some sort of position for that situation in syria so that the humanitarian crisis that we are seeing can be addressed.
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senator johnson: i would say the imperative is to make it not so long-term. i would say the imperative is to shorten the term of when we achieve basic victory. -- anyway, let me give everyone a chance to kind of summarize. i have taken enough of your time. ms. limon? ms. limon: thank you, senator. the majority of the refugees are fleeing the government of syria and a sawed -- and assad, and having spent half of my career helping refugees fleeing that governments, i really wish we -- bad governments, i really wish we would put our attention on those actions -- not to take away from destroying isis and al qaeda and the rest of it -- that is a good thing. but when does the international community punish those who have people fleeing? what about a tree and swinging?
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i could give you a laundry list. we do not have time. when do people say we have to go to the source of this. -- what about eritraens fleeing? senator johnson: i would say when america leads. secretary schwartz: i would only ask that if you and other members have a reasonable degree of confidence that the testimony of the administration was persuasive in terms of the kinds of security measures that are in place, i would just ask that you consider all of the implications with respect to our friends, our allies, governments, and people who are listening very, very
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closely to what comes out of the u.s. congress and the administration. i have expressed my views on this earlier in the hearing, so you know -- senator johnson: i generally do try to consider everything. a simple certification provides the american people that all of these vetting safeguards are done. we require verification from ceo's under sarbanes-oxley -- secretary schwartz: why this particular program? senator johnson: because of the last five weeks. mr. gartenstein-ross? mr. gartenstein-ross: we talked at great length about the primary topic, which is the risks of refugee resettlement. we had consensus on this panel. so, let me just point to a couple things, really the last round of questioning.
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i think one thing that i would love to see the legislature exercise more oversight over is our cia program for arming syrian rebels. a lot of the recent revelations are extraordinarily disturbing, and i think they are making the situation worse in terms of the primary topic we are talking about, which is refugees. also, it is a disservice to our strategic interests. the second thing i will say, you talked about winners and losers, and that's another area where i think the legislature can play a strong role. this is obviously the time when isis has a number of prominent wins in terms of awful, deadly attacks. they are also suffering losses, the loss of sinjar, their major holding ramadi is increasingly threatened. you asked about the influence of iran and russia.
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iran has been at the forefront of pushing back isis. this is not a fully positive thing at all. the atrocities being committed by the pro-iran shia militias against sunnis is the kind of thing that lays the groundwork for this being a tragedy ad infinitum. this is the kind of thing not getting attention now that richly deserves it. mr. jenkins? mr. jenkins: we don't like to use the term, but we are at war. we have been at war for a long time on this. that means we are going to incur costs. we are going to incur risks in this. we cannot say on the one hand, we are committed to a war, we are going to go after these people, and on the other hand, treat every time we confront a risk as though it were an outrage of failure. so, if we believe as you are,
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that has consequences. we have that in terms of how we go after isil, but how this nation ought not to be panicked into fear as we go forward with this, which sometimes i think we tend to do. senator johnson: let's lay out the reality and get a broad spectrum view on this and i think we've done a pretty good job on this. mr. bergen. mr. bergen: this hearing has shown light on an issue that has become quite politicized. one thing we do not want to do is to come back here and 2019 having the same hearing on afghanistan. the plan to draw down in afghanistan is not a good idea. we have already seen how this plays out.
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isis already has a small presence in afghanistan, which is growing. we do not want to make the same mistake we did in iraq. senator johnson: thank you, mr. bergen. i want to thank all of the witnesses. i like information. i come from a manufacturing background. i like facts. i hate demagoguery. all of you and the previous panel, too, i really do appreciate the administration -- this was a very fast turnaround for the administration to provide us witnesses. i think it has been to their benefit on this issue. again, i appreciate all of you bringing forward information for the american people to hear. with that, this hearing record will remain open for 15 days until december 4, 5:00 p.m. this hearing is adjourned. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] all persons having business before the honorable the supreme court of the united states will draw near and give their attention. landmark cases, we will discuss brown versus the board of education. , kansas pick it third-grader, separate but equal meant a six block walk to the
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bus that would drive for a mile to the black school even though the always school was only a few blocks away. her father sued the school board and their case along with four other similar cases made it all the way to the supreme court. we will examine this case and explore racial tensions of the ofe, the personal stories the individuals involved, and the immediate and long-term impact of the decision. that's coming up on the next landmark cases live monday night on c-span,. eastern c-span three, and c-span radio. for background on each case, order your copy of "landmark cases." it's available for eight dollars $8.95. >> coming up next, "washington journal" live with your phone comments.facebook in about an hour, the american enterprise institute on u.s. strategy against isis.
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reporter on counterterrorism operations. and then the center for public integrity on how well they deter and punish corruption. ♪ ♪ these are picture from the bbc twitter page showing two gunmen have taken 170 people hostage in the capital of mali and west africa. three hours reported dead and no one is taking responsibility and there are no formal connections to the attack that took place in paris. national the french assembly approved giving the french president a three-month extension of broad emergency powers. arrest without a warrant. in the united states yesterday, the house of representatives passed a bill that would