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tv   FBI Director James Comey Oversight Hearing Testimony  CSPAN  December 13, 2015 10:33am-1:24pm EST

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a good position to give -- get him a budget agreement. he is going to have to work with the president, democrats in the house, senate, this is a test for ryan. he is probably able to do it. yer, the next 96 hours will be a good obamacare -- barometer. thank you both for being a part of newsmakers. >> he was just an authentic person. i always thought there was a great story. she became the first modern first lady, she had a big staff, very important project, she
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wrote her book as soon as she left the white house. she invented the modern first lady. q&a, betty boyd discusses her book and an inside look at the american political partnership of lady bird in lyndon johnson. >> she is a perfect example of the conclusion i came to, which was, those women off something in those men, the ambition, the opportunity to climb and you don't make a mark in the world and they married them and's art -- and they married them in spite of parental objections. i had to find out more about them. >> tonight at eight eastern and pacific, the span/q and a. fbi director james coney testified before the
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senate judiciary commission. severalctor addressed challenges facing the fbi including data encryption and the ability of isis to create fraudulent past. this is almost three hours. --director call me that director james comey, we welcome -- last week confirmed that radical islamic terrorism continues to be a of whetherrdless that is politically correct for convenient for our president. is a determined enemy executing a plan to gain and itself,ritory, in rich inspire followers, and launch deadly attacks against the west.
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the american people are very worried. it is not just about terrorism, but about our president's inability or unwillingness to oury the country to lead international partners, to develop a credible strategy to destroy isis, and to execute that strategy. we are now paying a price for that weakness. turn, eventsry have proven the president wrong about this. in august 2012, to a redline warning the regime not to use chemical weapons in syria. but the president back down after and isis blossomed. january 2012, the president referred to isis as junior varsity. probably spent the next six
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months conference territory across syria and iraq. the same day, the president conceded that he did not have a strategy to defeat isis. a year and a half later, remains without a coherent plan. even former secretary clinton admitted the other day that we are not the fight. the president has been hoping that isis will go away. it doesn't fit the political narrative. but hope is not strategy. hope is not a plan. and hope is not action. all the while, the drumbeat of attacks on the u.s. continues. there was an attack on a convention center in garland, texas. -- in july, wed had the attack on military facility in chattanooga. james comey had reported that
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the fbi has been engaged in approximately 900 active investigations against suspected isis operatives and other extremists. he estimated that 250 americans have left the united states and travel to syria to fight with isis. nonetheless, in november, president assured us that isis is contained. it, the very next day, inflicted the most deadliest attack in europe with a coordinated assault in paris. if you ask -- a few weeks later, in san bernardino, two of its executed theorters deadliest attack on the homeland since september 11. unfortunately, our president has responded to this crisis by trying to divide us and distract
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us. he is doubling down in the strategy. after reports suggested that one of the paris terrorists possessed a passport and entered the u.s. as a refugee, many eggs rest concerns of refugees coming to the united states. james comey reflected similar concerns and warned that there we gaps in the information have to bet people coming out of a war zone. he warned that letting anyone coming into the united states carry some risk. we can point to the brothers who marathon whoston was granted asylum here. our president responded to the concerns expressed by many americans by mocking them for being afraid of orphans. but events continued to prove that our president spectacularly
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wrong. as it turns out, women are radical islamists terrorists, to, to the president's surprise. malikw that tashfeen arrived in the united states on a beyond say -- on a fiance visa. our government did not catch the false address in pakistan that she listed on her application. to top it off, earlier this week, we learned the national counter rhythm center has identified individuals with ties to enter theempted united states through the refugee program. that was one intelligence court the administration couldn't shade to make its confirmed conclusions.
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it always bears repeating, legitimately so, that islam is not our enemy. radical islamists terrorists are our enemy. the vast majority of muslims in this country and around the world are non-violent, and law-abiding. a fear that one of the reasons for the regrettable backlash against muslims in this country is the public's frustration with a resident -- with the tosident's repeated failure utter the words "radical islamic terrorists." our president has concluded to divide us and distract us with the issue of gun control. president, islamic,
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radical terrorism is not to blame. strict, european gun-control laws did not stop the parrot attack. -- stop the paris attack. stop the sanid not bernardino massacre. now, the obama administration argues that allowing foreigners to buy guns who enter the united states to the visa waiver program is a album. i agree it but at the same time, the administration is apparently refugees onlowing deferred action and other noncitizens who are not legal, permanent residents, to buy guns. the mix of sense. -- that makes no sense. currentnistration's
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fixation on guns and the visa waiver program can be explained because it is another area where the administration's actions have made u.s. citizens feel less safe. at least, to establish residency for 90 days. these 90 days could be crucial in terrorism investigations. when we address the issue of four in the united states buying guns, we need to be comprehensive about it, not just that thishe mess administration has created. our friends on the other side of the aisle have attempted to divide us, to write
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us, and distract us with all souls to deny the right to his on various those terror watch list, including no-fly list. the incident in california and the terrorist connected with it were apparently not on terrorist watch lists. such a proposal would have stopped that attack. ,he president's claim that people we don't allow to fly can go into a store right now the united states and by higher arm and if is nothing we can do to stop them. it is it true. the fbi is notified when someone on the no-fly list of 10 to and can taken steps to ensure that a gun doesn't all into the wrong hands. the president and others have been misleading the american people on that matter. the more fundamental point is that while these lists are
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useful in keeping us safe, they are the result of the executive branch unilateral decision to put people on them without any opportunity to be heard. they can be unreliable. it isn't just constitutional to continue to condition the fundamental right to keep and bear arms under the administrative list that lacks that kind of due process. we wouldn't consider conditioning any other constitutional right such as screening of speech, or religion, or searches and seizures on such a process. why that itthat is is so surprising that this president and so many of his party with port such a scheme. the fact is, law enforcement hasn't raised gun purchases by people on watch this as a huge problem. i know director james comey when you to tell us
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have to confront a serious obstacle in keeping us safe. heard hearing in july, we all of the top from director james comey about the problem and the increased use of encrypted munication by terrorists. -- encrypted communication by terrorist. i will be interested in hearing about technology and how it is proceeding. i also look for to discussing a range of other issues with the director today. one is the fbi. i hope i have the support of the director to strengthen the whistleblower law. i have questions about the fbi's investigation into former secretary clinton's emails. spyware.f
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and the ongoing efforts to correct injustices that result in florida forensic work. i apologize for a longer statement. but i also think that these are things we don't discuss enough and we have the opportunity today to discuss them. leahy's turn.ator tickle the time you need, and i know you will anyway. -- take all the time you need, and i know you will anyway. [laughter] federal bureau of investigation is entrusted with enormous responsibility. threat, nohat the matter what the motivation, the fbi is told to keep us safe. fbi aroundn day, the the country investigates cases
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games,sm, violent crime, identity theft, human trafficking, hate crimes, child -- they know there is no simple answer. one of the greatest terrorist , nones by timothy mcveigh of us said after that, we have to start excluding people who served in the military or people timothy mcveigh's religion. the event of the past six months have underscored the very nature of the threat the fbi faces. this past june, nine african american churchgoers were murdered by a white supremacist during a bible study in charleston. the day after thanksgiving,
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three individuals, including a police officer, were shot to death inside a women's health clinic in colorado springs. last week, 14 county workers in san bernardino were murdered in a shooting rampage. related.e scene all of them had different motivations among those shooting. not be able toy share all the details about these investigations today, but we can't agree there is one common motivating factor -- hateful extremism. one of the churchgoers murdered, the people in the women's health clinic, the people in san bernardino, hateful extremism coming from different directions.
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it reminds us to be vigilant against all forms of violent extremism. i would hope that no one underestimates incredible difficult job protecting the country from terrorists threats. we can try to put all the blame on one person, that's fine, but it is not one person, it is all of us. we have to sit law enforcement and intelligence officials by giving them the tools and resources they need to do their jobs effectively. as we have heard from many officials, we have to continue the hard work sometimes. we have build trust in our communities among neighbors and with law enforcement. we can all share in the responsibility of keeping our communities safe area at the same time, i wish we would all categorically reject the divisive, corrosive rhetoric of
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fear that only serves to undermine us as a nation. we know what happens when leaders come to the politics -- succumb to the politics of fear in those tight of our american eyes. drove theat government to violate the constitution and imprison thousands of americans of japanese descent. that was during world war ii. what fielded the justification of torture by the cia, which director jamie -- which director james comey you objected to. i applaud you for that. i know the director reminds all of us -- all of his new agents led the rhetoric of fear hoover to target martin luther king. if we get into the fear, the terrorist extremist win.
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they want us to be afraid. groups like ice is actively promote the narrative around the world that muslims are not welcome in the united states. it is reprehensible. as thatw them just around the world. when there is talk about rounding up muslim americans, or creating a registry based on religious beliefs, or shutting our borders to all muslims, that is the kind of hateful rhetoric that just plays into our enemi es'hands and demeans us as a democratic nation. the americans are better than that. -- we americans are better than that.
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let's not succumb to fear and get an image that is not a great country that brought my grandparents and my great grandparents here. we are a courageous and strong country. our strength keeps our country great. senate at its best can be the conscience of the nation. in recent events, to start doing our very best. we are not afraid of terrorists, and we should not let our country be defined by fear mongering. we should continue the committee's bipartisan oversight of the fbi in other areas. learneds ago, the fbi about the hair microscopic analysis.
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i am not satisfied by the fbi's efforts to notify those defendants who may have been affected. the fbi should sending agents out to gather all of that information. of americans depend on it. i would -- i will continue to work with senator grassley. comey forrector james coming to the committee today. i have known the director for years. i know he shares my respect for the constitution. people. in the american we can rise above the divisive rhetoric of here. we are americans. we should be better than that. i believe we are. thank you. since this is an oversight
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hearing, i would like to direct james comey, do you declare that the testimony -- let me start over again. do you affirm that the testimony will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? >> yes. >> thank you. i would like to read the short introduction. it is a pleasure to introduce you to the committee. director james comey became the director of the fbi in 2013. you served as deputy attorney general and u.s. attorney in new york and an assistant u.s. attorney in virginia. he is a graduate of the chicago law school. welcome. proceed with your testimony. >> thank you mr. chairman. members of the committee, it is good to be back before you. the fbi has a very broad array of responsibilities to address a staggering array of threats that
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face our country. in terrorism, and intelligence. the key of doing it well is the great effort of the f guy. -- effort of the fbi. the best part of my job is to get to watch them work. i am very grateful or the support of this committee. i would stop -- i will start with the top priority which is countering terrorism. i will take about the approach of the attack in san bernardino. the terrorist threat we taste today comes at us from a number of groups -- the terrorist threat we face today comes at us through a number of groups. number one, they aspire to send operatives to attack the united states. that can, they aspire to attract people to come to their caliphate to fight and achieve glory.
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last, where they can't send operatives, they hope to inspire, or direct, or believe together people to engage in acts of violence. to radicalize and kill innocent people on the half of these terrorist. in paris, we saw one dimension of that threat, which was the sending of operatives to attack and kill innocent people. in san bernardino, we saw a different dimension of threat, which is homegrown violent extremists, the radicalizing in order to kill innocent people on behalf of a terrorist organization. to claim a terrorist organization and give it credit for acts of violence. to find homegrown violent extremists, those will radicalize and be inspired by those groups is a very hard thing. all of you know from what we are an, we work at it every day and use all the lawful tools you have given us on behalf of the american people. critical to our finding of those
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people are tips from the community. we have worked very hard to develop good relationship in communities across america, especially in muslim communities , where we have terrific relationships. those people so often tell us when they see things that don't make sense. we want those folks to know that one of responsibilities is to crimes,estigate hate and if you think someone is threatening based on your national origin or religion, please tell us so we can investigate that. all in this together. san bernardino involved two killers who were radicalized for quite a long time before the attack. our investigation to date indicate that they were radicalized before they started courting or dating each other online. as early asate -- 2013, they were talking about
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jihad before they became engaged and married and live together in the united states. he also believed they were also believed we they were inspired by terrorist organizations. we are working hard to find the source of their inspiration. we are working hard to find if there was anybody else involved in -- anybody else involved with assisting them. did they have other plans? that work continues. critical to that work is the help we get from state law officials. those 100 or so task forces are the backbone of this country's downturn terrorism response. we are grateful for help from state and local law enforcement. if you needed confirmation of the quality and talent of the state and local law enforcement
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in san bernardino that day, as you mentioned mr. chairman, i want to give you a brief report where we are with the respective encryption to our counterterrorism work. goodu said, we have had conversation with the folks in the tech sector and different parts of this great country. those conversations convinced me of two things -- we care about the same things. the tech companies and the fbi and everyone involved in this discussion, both care about the safety on the internet. we understand encryption is a very important part of being secure on the internet. care about public safety. we see a collision between those things right now. we see encryption is getting in the way of our ability to have ordered orders affected to gather information we need in our most important work. we all agree, we have to figure out if we can maximize both
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values. safety and security on the internet and public safety. that is good news. we are not at work, we care about the same things. convincedsations had me that it is not a technical issue. there are lots of folks who said over the last year that we are going to break the internet. i don't think it is a technical issue. there are companies today that provide secure service is to their customers and still comply with court orders. you are plenty of votes who make good phones and are able to unlock them for a court order. i really don't think it is a technical issue. people better understand the government doesn't want a backdoor. the government hopes to get to a place if a judge issues and order, the company figures out how to supply the information to the judge and the best way to do it. the government shouldn't be
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telling people how to operate their systems. we are in a good place of what we understand when it comes to values. it is not a technical issue. --is a business model s chen it is a business model question. i am not questioning their motivations. the question is should they change their business model? that is a hard questions. we have to wrestle with it because of what is at stake. i am limited of what i can say about paris and in bernadino. when to terrorists attempted to kill a whole lot of people in garland, texas, and were stopped by great law enforcement, that morning, before one of the terrorist left to commit mass murder, he exchanged 109 messages with an overseas terrorists. those messages were encrypted. to this day, i can't a what he
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said to that terrorist that morning. that is a big problem. we have to grab -- we have to grapple with it. i appreciate this committee's support. we must resolve the collision of those two values. i apologize for running over my time. to the folks who may be watching at home, i know and the members of the committee members know how unsettling how -- how unsettling it is to see the violence in paris and san bernardino. i've -- my hope is that you do not allow yourself to be paralyzed by fear. in case after case after case, we see that when someone radicalized, -- when someone was radicalized, someone saw it and didn't tell us about it. we hope that what people will imagine this is
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something bigger than you are. that is what the savages want. of your surroundings. if you see something, tell us. we investigate in secret. next -- we will not race next door and banging on your neighbor's door. we may be able to stop something significant. my work west to the american people, don't let these damages paralyze you. -- don't let these savages paralyze you. if you see something, say something. we are better organized than we were on september 11. , weou tell a deputy sheriff will get it to the right place and check it out. we will see if it was something. go on with your lives. we are good at this. we can't allow ourselves to be paralyzed by what these people are hoping to achieve.
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i hope that is what the american people will take away after watching the unsettling attacks in paris and san bernardino. i look forward to the questioning. >> no need to apologize for going over your time. your reputation is to call it like it is. the american people are lucky that a person like you because you have a tenure term to really do your job right. director james comey, earlier this week, we learned the national capitalism center has identified an individual with ties to terrorism in syria attempting to enter the united states through the refugee program. you have acknowledged there are ins in the information screening syrian refugees. that it is not
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just a lack of information that we have to worry about with people coming from syria, after all, isis controls electron of the country, including former syrian government offices and facilities. personaly, it has a information -- it has the are subtle information of many areas and many funds. are you concerned that isis has the ability to create fraudulent passports, or other identification documents for its operatives that has a practical matter that would be if possible to detect yes, we are concerned. sen. grassley: dealing with
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terrorists and firearms. lastly, our president stated that there are individuals that can't get on planes, but they can go to a gunshot and by a and buy a firearm. he said there is nothing we can do to stop them. correct me if i am wrong, the when someone on the terrorist watch list attempts to purchase a firearm and a check is requested. the fbi has multiple avenues they can pursue. these avenues delay the firearm transaction? and if a person is a terrorist, the fbi can arrest them? can intervene and directly confront the individual.
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the fbi can also put the suspect on what is called an around-the-clock surveillance. are some of these tools to stop a suspected terrorist from buying a gun? there are ay: variety of things we do when we are notified that someone on our database is attempting to buy a firearm. mr. comey: the fbi is alerted when that is triggered. investigation and see if there are disqualifiers that can stop the transaction. the transaction goes to, is assigned to that subject is alerted to investigate. sen. grassley: thank you very much for that clarification. so there are actually many things that can be done right now to stop someone on a no-fly list from buying a gun. say that oure to
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president is misrepresenting the facts and misleading the american people on that point. , youquestion -- in july testified before this committee about going dark and you have already commented on some of this, but i want to be more specific. members from both political parties expressed concerns about the use of strong encryption by terrorists and criminals. i followed up with westerns from the record -- questions from the record and wanted to know the scope of the problem. the administration declined to legislative solutions and i asked for time to work -- the administration asked for time to work with technologies -- technology companies. they have raised increase alarm about the problem. what is the fbi going to respond to my questions related to that
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hearing? that is not the most important point. can you update us about what is known about the role of encryption that they play in these attacks? us, do it.u can tell finally, what is the state of your conversations with the technology companies to address that problem. you may have expressed that in your opening statement. mr. comey: thank you, mr. chairman. at the request of other senators, we are collecting data concerning the ways in which encryption is affecting our ability to implement court orders for data in motion, which is, emails and phone calls, and data at rest. i don't know when i am going to get that to you, but it is in progress. it will show a significant impact for both terrorism and criminal cases. with respect to our -- withtions with the
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its respect to the rolling cases, i don't want to talk about san bernardino because we are doing a lot of work with respect to that now. there is no doubt that the use of encryption is a part of terrorist tradecraft. they understand the problems we have getting court orders to be effective when they are using these mobile messaging apps. we see them talking about that all over the world. it is a feature, especially of 's they had made clear to me that we are not at war with each other. we care about the same things. it is not a technological problem. we are not going to bring the internet or be exposed to tremendous threats. -- it isood companies a business model weston -- business model of photo.
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question. aunderstand they see it as competitive issue. is there a way to get folks to change their business model so that judges orders will be complied with? what are the all -- other alternatives? i can starty: another question, but it will take too long to answer. i think i will go to senator leahy so we can keep on time. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to follow up on a question that senator grassley asked you. it is about the fbi be notified wasomebody on a no-fly list by 11. if they buy it at a gun show for there is no reporting, you're not going to find it are you? mr. comey: that is correct.
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at gun dealer,it there is not an awful at you can do about it? mr. comey: not unless we find some disqualifier. the president -- statement -- thatresident's statement anyone can my a gun on a no-fly list is correct wester? right after you confirmed, you anded about sequestration counterterrorism. i agree with what you said. still in theyou're process of trying to replace all
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the agents? mr. comey: correct. we are trying to dig into that hole. you to hire them, train them, -- i don'tuestration to put words into your mouth, that is that having a long-term affect on the fbi possibility to fight terrorism? mr. comey: yes. >> will be the impact if the fbi cannot come to an agreement of bill.nibus agreement mr. comey: if we return to the impact of sequestration when i started this job, it would be a disaster. the artistic and out of the hole. digging out of the hole.
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it would be a big deal. some of the worst case in areas you described to me privately are telling. now, i want to clarify a few facts. presents theam most complicated path for entering the united states. get to pick what country they are sent to. they are vetted more intensely than any other traveler. process can take years. withis why i agree jennifer petronius and secretary .agel who wrote to congress
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it would be contrary to our nation's tradition of openness and exclusivity and undermine our core objective of combating terrorism. -- house just passed a bill each and every refugee application, is that feasible? mr. comey: with the intentions to do itbe -- personally, that would be very hard. good i certify that there are no risks associated with an individual. do not get involved with policy decisions. that would be impossible. >> it would make our refugee program and possible also? mr. comey: logically, if someone could only come into the country
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to certify that, it would. >> thank you. we often hear from law that it harms the ability of law enforcement to do we hear some say we should close our borders to all people of a certain faith. people because they have certain religious beliefs. i worry that these kinds of proposals are the real lies that isis spreads. ,hat the u.s. is if a muslim and they use that as a tool to recruit members. that correct? mr. comey: the notion that the u.s. is anti-muslim is part of sil's narrative and other terrorist groups. >> thank you.
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earlier this year, this committee in a bipartisan fashion approved a reform bill mandatoryes the limited sentences. end to like to see an all mandatory minimums. it is a good step to improving our criminal justice system. former attorney general michael and other law enforcers have stated of support for this compromised bill. do you agree that it strikes a reasonable balance russia? mr. comey: we don't take positions on legislature. since i spent my career as a prosecutor, it is an area of interest of mine. i read the bill. my reaction was, it is reasonable. the things discussed are reasonable. i have found mandatory minimums
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to be an important part of making some of the most important cases i was involved with. i think the reform that i understand it seems reasonable to me. policefraternal order of has strongly opposed adding a provision to this. we don't have one in the bipartisan bill, which was negotiated an republicans and democrats. they say such a provision in this bill, does it mean we can't look at others. say it would be a poison pill. do you have any views on that? mr. comey: i don't. i don't know it well enough to comment. i was racking my brain. i don't think i prosecuted a case that didn't require a mens rea requirement. i keep pushing for -- you have the resources to
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equip yourself with body armor. if is it important that local law enforcement have body armor? mr. comey: very much. comey.k you mr. >> you probably asked the right questions and the -- he answered it right. whether the president was misleading. that is because in the president's televised address, stated that someone on the no-fly list could walk into a gun store and buy a gun and there was nothing that could be done about it. the president said nothing about going to a gun show, or the internet to buy a gun. the director agreed with what i that at that time.
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now, the order is going to be -- chairman, i am not trying to take shots at anybody, i was trying to comment about what our duties are in that regard. sen. grassley: i made the statement. you didn't. the order at the fall of the gavel will be graham, corner and leave. -- and lee. i will have senator leahy tell me who the next democrat will be. senator feinstein after senator graham. >> thank you richard chairman. two ago what the chairman said about -- i want to ever go with what the chairman said. he are lucky. if i buy a gun on the internet, is it delivered to my home? i assume it is shipped to you. i don't know for sure.
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>> let's find out the answer to that. do you agree with the following statement, there are more withrist organizations men, equipment, and safe havens, along with desire to attack the american homeland anytime since 9/11? mr. comey: i agree. >> so, do you agree that the budget cuts that congress has imposed in the past has reduced your ability to defend this nation? mr. comey: i agree. >> do you believe that the budget cuts that will go back into affect in two years will dramatically harm your ability and your agents' ability? mr. comey: i agree. >> thank you. [laughter] all right, do you agree that rhetoric coming from political candidates running for president
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wanting to shut america down based on someone's religion empowers the enemy? i am trying to avoid taking shots at anyone. just strike presidential candidates. mr. comey: i do believe that our ability to get cooperation in the u.s. which is our primary responsibility, with people trusting us and having a level of comfort with us, estrangement gets in the way of that. a soldier,re diplomat, or fbi serving in the now, here at home can put you in jeopardy russia? mr. comey: i credit that. >> was the woman shooter in san bernardino radicalized for she came to america? mr. comey: looks like she was. so far, the intelligence
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suggests that she did when she connected with the other killer before he came here. >>'s are any indication that the marriage was arranged by any terrorist operative, or was it a meeting on the internet? mr. comey: i don't know that yet. >> do you agree that if it was arranged, it is a game changer? mr. comey: it would be a very important thing to know. >> that is the biggest focus i think of how it would change the game, if they can't actually arrange a marriage. to use the fiance visa system to get into the country. , is it there goal to strike the u.s. homeland? mr. comey: yes. areou believe that isil
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already in america? do you have any doubt that the are trying to create one? mr. comey: the are to motivate people to become killers on their behalf. they would very much like to. they aspire to be the leader in the global jihad to send people here to conduct attacks. >> that is what you have to guard against every day. they have to be right only once. you have to be right every day. the less resources you have, the longer it takes you to find a what is going on. you can't listen to the conversations in an appropriate way. is it fair to say that they wake up every day thinking about ways to hit us here? mr. comey: some of them do, for sure. >> was the paris attack a will
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orchestrated attack coming from syria? mr. comey: yes. parisit fair to say those attackers would have hit us if they could go mr. comey: yes. >> i think there are a couple of thousand in libya. >> they claim branches in more than five. the question of whether they have a presence is something we are focused on. it is more than five. >> can you give us a time. -- can you give us a time period of when isis will be destroyed? mr. comey: i can't. of anythinghink that should be taken off the table in terms of fighting isil? as long as it needs our constitution requirements?
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mr. comey: i think i am only qualified to talk about the world he fbi sits in. we use all lawful tools to meet this threat. i would not take any tool off the table that is lawful. tools, youcomes to are using all the ones you have because this is a very consequential fight? mr. comey: yes. a what do you think of likelihood of another light 11 -- likelihood of another 9/11 if we don't destroy isis in the next year? mr. comey: that is a hard questions for me to answer. their ability to have a safe haven to gather resources, people, and plan and plot increased the risk of their ability to >> mount a sophisticated attack against the homeland. so the best strategy would be that there are large, rich, and
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entrenched. mr. comey: my understanding is that the aim. that othersr to say want to join in the fight. we don't have to go at it alone? mr. comey: we get tremendous operations -- we get tremendous cooperation from other countries. >> i want everybody to know that gun control is a legitimate debate here at home. it is not a part of a strategy to destroy isil. the loss in france are very robust that the tears got the weapons. don't mix the two. thank you very much. >> thank you very much senator hatch and director james comey. thank you very much for your good work.
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from reading your report george washington where they say that equity one individuals have been arrested on charges related to the islamic state cents march and 56 of them this year alone? is that correct? mr. comey: that struck me is correct. >> the last time you were here you mentioned that you have an investigation going in every field office of the country, is that correct today? mr. comey: yes. you, i was at ask home and watching on television people going through the apartment of a couple in san bernardino that committed this terrible act, and i was appalled that it was not taped off the
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guys from an intelligence point of view it immediately compromised any future intelligence gathering any trace material or anything else. how did that happen? mr. comey: a lot of folks found that confusing. greats what i believe our criminal justice system in action in part. we get a search warrant that allows us to enter somebodies residents. our forensic experts were in that residence for over 24 hours and took everything we could take under the search warrant, and recorded that which we needed to record. once we exhausted that investigation, we board the place up. we have to post in inventory a log of what was taken and leave the residence. the part i cannot explain is why the landlord allowed the boards to be pried off and folks to go through. >> wasn't it important enough to
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have some law enforcement officer there to see that that did not happen? after all, 14 people were killed and 21 injured. it seems to me that protecting that scene is really important. i hope that there is some procedure whereby that does not happen again. mr. comey: the judgment of the investigators and our forensic experts was, we were done with that scene. there was nothing else to be gained from that scene just why it was boarded up and the inventory was left. what happened next was strange and struck me a strange on the tv, the landlord allowed the media to go through. we had done our work in a careful, responsive way. >> does it go back to local police jurisdiction? mr. comey: no, it goes back to the owner and lawful occupant of
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the building. >> so you relinquished the building? mr. comey: if there is a need for the investigation to continue we will preserve the scene. we will put up crime scene tape and post a guard but if we are done with someone's residence, under the law we return it and post an inventory inside as to what was taken. >> maybe we can talk a little bit about that because from an intelligence point of view, i could see things in investigation that would crop up that you might want to come back and look behind the picture frame on the wall because there is some message behind the picture that you do not know about when he went through the apartment initially, or some documents. it just does not seem to me to be smart but let me go on.
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with respect to encryption, senatorburr and i are working on this issue. went tell you that when i and visited with the chief counsel of the big tech companies in my state, about trying to get a bomb making portfolio, 15 pages off the internet. that goes bomb through a magnetometer and i pointed out that it had been tested, and there was no interest in taking it down. if we find said, something, we take it down but we do not report it. in the intelligence bill which passed the senate, but this was taken out later in a need to pass the bill by unanimous consent, we also have legislation that said that if information,orist
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you must report it to law enforcement. would you support that? i know the administration and justice department is formulating a view on that so that is for them to do. operationally, it would not have a bad impact on the fbi so i guess i have got to wait. fbi would not want law enforcement to know what is being said on the internet that is terrorist-related, or has complicity or conspiracy to commit an act? mr. comey: the more we know, the better, but i am not in a position to offer whether the justice department will support the legislation. >> fine. said onpect to what you encryption, that you do not want seems toor or keys, it
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me that the probable cause warrant process is the best process. you said here today enough to indicate that you would support that. is that correct? mr. comey: i am sorry, support, i am not following. >> support which enables a warrant with probable cause to be able to look into an encrypted web, which you said the companies told you was possible. mr. comey: right, it is possible. today, companies do it provide secure services and comply with court orders. others build their business model so they can say, even if we wanted to we cannot. the question is compelling them by legislation, whether that would be the answer. they decided not to seek legislation now but i know there is continuing to be conversations inside the administration. >> i am going to seek
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legislation if nobody else is, and i know senator burr thinks somewhat similarly. i am concerned about it because when i met with high-tech, what they told me is there are parts now of when you talk to us about the dark web, which i listen to very carefully, that they cannot unencrypt. i have real concern about that. i have concern about a playstation which my grandchildren might use and a predator getting on the other and, talking to them, and it is all encrypted. i think there really is reason to have the ability with a court order to be able to -- and if you have cause to believe that criminality may be going on, to be able to get into that. i suspect what happened was in
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the aftermath of snowden, particularly europe got very conservative with respect to encryption. the companies back away. now that is changing with paris and god for bid, what might happen in the future. when i'm trying to say, i think this world is really changing in terms of people wanting the protection and wanting law enforcement, if there is conspiracy going on over the internet, that got encryption ought to be able to be pierced. do you agree? mr. comey: i agree. i would very much like to get to the world where if a judge issues an order, the company can comply with it. communication between terrorists or drug dealers or kidnappers, i would very much like to see that. >> thank you. >> thank you for your
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leadership. i believe you are a person who is well qualified for the job and understand the seriousness of your role, and have the background and experience to do it well. you testified before the house ,ommittee october 22 and said dealing with prisons and punishment, you struggle with incarceration," " because it conveys a sense that people are locked up en mass." everyone had to be proven guilty. isn't it amazingly true that over 95% of criminals plead guilty in federal court? mr. comey: the days of trials seem to be a bygone. now since i was prosecuting,
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maybe since you were prosecuting, the sentencing guidelines under the supreme court have become advisory, nonbinding. attorney general holder has altered traditional department of justice policy and declared that our prosecutors do not have to charge the most serious offense. the sentencing commission has reduced the guidelines that were in their power to do so. we worked together on legislation that reduced the penalties for crack cocaine rather significantly. and now we are considering additional reform in sentencing. that you expressed concern about the increase in violence -- violent crime and
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murders in the country, and it would prompt you to be " thoughtful about criminal justice reform proposals," and noted "we have hit historic low in violent crimes recently and if we let it slide back we will need to explain to those who come after us what we did or did not do to let that happen." would you explain the trends and crime and punishment, and why you shared those words? mr. comey: when i was getting at, our world with respect to violent crime is a world that was hard to imagine 25 years ago. a whole lot of hard work went a peacefulg us america, and i believe a long -- a big part of that was law-enforcement. that work had to be done to protect those neighborhoods and
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what i was urging folks to do, i think harry truman sent the only thing new is the history you do not know, is for folks to remember, we used to be in a very different place and there are reforms we can put into place, but we have to remember where we once were. i do not want to do anything without understanding the history that lets us slide back to that place. the context of a worrisome spike in homicide in over 30 of the nation top 50 cities that has occurred this year that is difficult to explain but very worrisome. i was simply sounding an alarm because we have gotten to a great place in this country. and it drivessome us to be more thoughtful about how we change our criminal justice system. i was there when the crime rate was high and i have seen a decline. we have made real progress.
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i have a chart that shows the federal prison population and health has been developing. if my colleagues will look at this chart, we have the perception that the federal prison population is surging but around 2013 ored so and has been declining steadily ever since. according to the bureau of prisons, they project the population in federal prison this year to drop by nearly 15,000. we are just not on a trend of mass incarceration and surging federal prison populations. what about state prisons? there are many more in state prisons than federal prisons, they be 10 times or more. let's see what is happening in the state systems. we have seen a rather dramatic dramatic decrease in
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sentences in states. you have also a lot of people who have doubted the value of .rison people released from prison, art we likely to see an increase in crime because the recidivist rate remains high? mr. comey: i am not an expert. the logic would say expert -- would say, even the recidivism rate -- given the recidivism we are trying to do a
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better job of reducing it. association of assistant united states attorneys wrote a letter and said this. "every incremental weakening questioning plans to further every sentencing, incremental weakening of those mandatory minimum penalties will have a corresponding impact on the ability to successfully investigate and prosecute drug trafficking. the current proposal will significantly weaken the andatory penalties significantly deprive law enforcement authorities and prosecutors the tools they need to successfully address drug trafficking." you said you could accept the changes but that is a statement that is worthy of serious evaluation, wouldn't you agree? mr. comey: sure. been told by
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democratic staff that senator late houses next. >> welcome, director. as the author of the title you just said was exciting, i think you. i want to ask you about two things. one is botanists and another is to follow up on concerns about encryption of communications. bought nets first. senator graham and i have a bill that tries to enhance the department's authority to pursue the civil remedies that have allowed the department of bought to pull down nets. one of the challenges that effort has faced has been the legal requirement that they have to be engaged in fraud or wiretapping before the
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department can go and pull them down. botnet iss that a essentially like a weed, there is no such thing as a good botnet. they are either actively doing evil things or they are in latent mechanism for doing evil things later on. and that a more vigorous effort to root them out of the internet and create better in her debt hygiene would be a good thing -- internet hygiene would be a good thing. there were various matching nations in the center -- in the senate that prevented the provision from coming to a vote. behind that were some statements i am astonished by but basically, some botnets are actually good and we should protect them. you are looking very surprised. can we react -- can you react to that?
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are we in the same place that a botnet is either a latent or menacing? mr. comey: they are armies of zombies so whether they are coming at you or standing still, they are bad. i do not know a purpose for an army of zombies. encryption,ect to we talk about it often as a technical question, and let me be the first to say, i do not want a government-backed door either. nobody wants that but when it is the business model of a particular company to disable its own ability to comply with a properly authorized subpoena or search warrant under our laws, that is a very different proposition. it is that proposition i wanted to speak to. i would like to ask you to talk
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about two things. the first is, from the fbi's perspective, what do you think are going to be the worst and most dangerous consequences of that encryption propagating and criminal use of it, or terrorist use of it? perspectivee fbi's but more generally, what do you think regular police departments and law enforcement officials around the country are moore's -- are most likely to see are the hazards of this encryption in their efforts to protect the public? first the fbi and then more general law enforcement concerns. mr. comey: from the fbi's perspective, we are increasingly seeing that criminals and terrorists and spies have an unparalleled ability to communicate worldwide with each
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other. increasingly we are unable to see what they say, which gives them a tremendous advantage against us. in the good old days it was harder for them to communicate with each other. our ability to monitor them has not kept pace. our ability to fine people hiding in the united states looking to do bad things, to root out all kinds of criminal actors is steadily being impaired. that is the problem. enforcement,al law the impact for them is almost entirely devices which cannot be opened with a search warrant. i do agree it is a business model choice. the folks who are selling those funds, a year ago their phone did not have the capability. it is not a security issue, it is a business model issue, and there are good motivations behind that but we have to talk about those. they are talking about
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encountering increasingly in a brick thatcases, hold all the evidence of where a child is or figure out where a drug game is operating, that is their problem. increasingly this, they cannot reach the evidence that a judge would otherwise authorize them to get. >> that is very compelling testimony and i can share with you that the chief of staff to the president of the united me, thatid that, to one of the things that keeps him up nights is this encryption problem. my concern is, if these companies have already made the decision that it is their business model to prevent law enforcement from using subpoenas and search warrant in the traditional way, then they have a business justification in their minds for doing it. if that is their position, how
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is talking to them going to change that? where is the leverage point? what is the administration's process for trying to solve this problem? mr. comey: i do not know if there is a leverage point to flip it from one side to another . i think all businesses are making trade-off decisions and at least in part was motivating some of the companies to switch to this encryption, is that it is a competitive imperative, that customers want this. the conversations are useful because i think we can show them there is tremendous harm associated with this, and the customers increasingly see that. my hope is that they will see that calculus differently and their customers will speak to them. using your phone even if you issue a judge -- allow a judge to order an issue to unlock it in a terrorist case. show but for the
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phone having been turned into a brick as a result of the company's business practices and protected from search warrant and subpoenas, a child could not have been rescued who otherwise could have been and there is a fatality that has resulted. presumably they would see something like that as less than great publicity. mr. comey: they do care about public safety. these are good people. has helpednversation them understand is the darkness we see because good people do not worry all day long about the things i worry about. we are trying to find terrorist needles in a haystack. when we find one, it goes invisible because they are using and two and mobile app this -- end to end mobile apps. >> thank you, if we can help in
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any way, please call. and thenr lee is next, once durban and schumer comeback .t will be co-bashar the reason i took time to do that, i'm going up to budget to ask a question so i hope everybody will observe the seven minute rule. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here with us and thank you for all you do to keep us safe. discussion,en some a little bit of confusion lately about the usa freedom act. this has been precipitated by some of the discussions going along with the presidential election cycle that is in full tilt, but to clarify have a few questions about how it operates. all, the usa freedom
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act does not prohibit the government from gaining access to telephone metadata, correct? mr. comey: correct. >> it allows the government to get meta-data corrected to any terrorist investigation so that if the government wants to gather it connected to a particular phone number they believe is connected to a terrorist agent, they can get that. mr. comey: that is correct. >> it does not affect the ability to get access to any metadata that originated outside the united states or that originated here and was directed outside the united states? mr. comey: correct. >> did the enactment substantially prevent the government from being able to prevent a san bernardino attack? talkomey: i do not want to about particular techniques we are using to understand that attack so i guess i need not
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talk about it in the context of that particular case. >> i would note that it is significant that only four days prior to the attack, the government had access to all the records that it had access to for years prior to the passage of the usa freedom act because there was a six-month moratorium. i personally consider that highly unlikely, some would say mathematically impossible that it have any difference. certainly the government can still investigate the san bernardino attack by going after records of the individuals suspected to be involved. mr. comey: sure. >> thank you. i want to talk a little bit about this encryption issue. i was pleased to hear you say, you are not pushing for legislation that would mandate tech companies to put a backdoor , to develop a backdoor and make that available? mr. comey: correct. >> what you were saying is that
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some companies, many companies could choose voluntarily to assist law enforcement in the incution of a warrant helping gain access to information they might have access to? mr. comey: correct, those are the conversations we have been having. >> in order to do that with a have to develop their own backdoor to use internally? mr. comey: i do not know in a context what "back door" means. they would have to decide what they need to do to comply with the judge's order. that we haveose companies doing that. perhaps some, perhaps all. perhaps they are doing it because they want to do it or perhaps at some point, assuming congress were to pass something requiring them to develop a backdoor, a universal key to unlock the encryption, if u.s.
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technology company started doing , that would not necessarily end the going dark problem, what it? we would still have technology companies located outside the united states manufacturing devices that would not be subject to that requirement or the same thing that would be convincing american companies to do that. mr. comey: i think that is right. devices manufactured in other places might be different and communication services from providers outside the united states might be different, which is what makes this such a hard problem. a big piece has to be international. >> assuming congress were to an act something requiring the use of a backdoor, the availability still wouldor, it
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not solve the problem because they would before and manufacturers. it also occurs to me that even assuming all u.s. produced devices had a backdoor key of sorts, it is my understanding that it is still possible to peoplean app, there are all over this country and in other places throughout the world who can with relative ease design an application to be used on a smart phone, or perhaps on a computer, that could provide encryption that could not be unlocked through an encryption key made by the manufacturer for the device in question. is that your understanding? is iomey: my understanding think the same, with respect to a device if the manufacturer were able to unlock on a judge's order a device, there may still be apps on the phone that are
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strongly encrypted and so the content in that particular app would not be available. >> if u.s. manufacturers were to start developing this backdoor they hadhey used it, it, they made it available to law enforcement under appropriate circumstances, reasonably those who were determined to go dark could and would start using an app that would itself not be subject to being opened by that same key. mr. comey: i hate to keep doing this to you, i struggle with that term "backdoor key." a year ago the manufacturers could unlock them if a judge ordered it. you are right, if we return to be, world there could still the sophisticated user could still figure out how to use something to protect other content on that device.
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i think there is no way we solve this entire problem. encryption is always going to be available to the significant -- sophisticated user. it has moved from the sophisticated bad guy to becoming the the sophisticated bad guy to default. so it is affecting every criminal investigation. i agree. there is no way to solve this problem. >> the big chunk is u.s. manufacturers notwithstanding the fact we still would have the risk associated with apps that couldn't be opened by the same methods you're describing. >> you mentioned the international aspect of it. part of the solution will involve an international settle of norms somehow. our partners in europe face the same problems we do.
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they are very interested in having the rule of law of nations figure out what should the rules of the road be with respect to encryption. >> okay. i see my time has expired. one of the reasons i asked the question, one thing that i think we ought to be cognizant of is we ought not put u.s. manufacturers in a position where they would be punished relative to other manufacturers if me saw a drop in sales because people preferred other products and we have to remember the limits on what we can do legislatively. if we were to mandate that, it wouldn't necessarily fix the problem. i see my time has expired. i believe senator durbin is next in the batting lineup. >> thank you very much, senator lee. thank you, director comey, for being here. i would like to speak to you for a moment about the gun issue and terrorism.
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i want if you believe that terrorist organizations around the world are aware of american gun laws? >> as i sit here -- i assume that they are. there is probably some specific but i assume they are. >> al qaeda spokesman kadan, american born, said in a 2011 video, and i quote, america is absolutely a wash with easily attainable firearms. you can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come can away with a fully automatic assault rifle without a background check and most likely not having to show an identification card. so what are you waiting for? that's what his quote was. while they are not readily available for civilian use, semiautomatic are and. there are reports that the san bernardino people were trying to
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convert to is automatic. >> they attempted to convert or did convert them successful isly. i can't gives you the answer sitting here. >> those who would do us harm know it is easy to obtain firearms and weapons under our current set of laws. i'd like to ask you a question based on your opening statement. and i think i understand what you said. you have found a public -- some type of utterance by the two killers that they were dedicated to jihad many years ago. and i want to ask whether that statement was made prior to the granting of a fiance visa to the wife. >> yes. and prior to the rise of isil. >> and do you see any weakness in our system when it comes to visas or vie an say visas, that
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information was not known before she was granted access to america? >> i don't know enough to say. >> we are discussing visa waiver programs now. and how we can change them to make them better. roughly 60 million foreign visitors come to the united states each year. 20 million are from the 38 countries where a visa is not necessary. one of the things being discussed is to require a biometric examination for investigation before the visa waiver traveler boards the airplane. do you have any thoughts on whether that would help to make us safer? >> i haven't thought enough about it to make a decision. >> i know you will. you present your fingerprints so they can be checked against the
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information systems in europe and the united states. is there a good exchange of information between european allies and the united states when it comes to such things as the fingerprints of suspected terrorists and known criminals? >> it is good. it has gotten a lot better in the last two years. and there is still room to improve yet. >> i hope you can. i think it's very important. let me ask you the question. i want to make sure it is clear in my mind. if someone on the no-fly list walks into is a licensed firearms dealer in the united states that in and of itself is not prohibition of that person buying a firearm? >> correct. >> so even if that person is suspected to be terrorist, they could purchase the firearm and leave with it though your agents may follow them, investigate them or keep an eye on them because of that purchase? >> that is correct. we have three days to review the
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background. and so a hit -- if someone walks in and they are on the no-fly list, we have three days to find out whether there is some prohibition that allows us to stop the transaction under the law. if not, they will walk out with a gun if the dealer allows it. >> the fact that they are on the no-fly list is not sufficient basis to deny the sale. >> that's correct. >> i would like to bring this closer to home in terms of gun violence in my state. we recently traced the crime guns that were seized in the most violent sections of chicago. and we found that 40% of those crime guns were coming into chicago from gun shows in northwest indiana where there was no requirement for a background check before the sale was made. of course it's not just firearms. it's ammunition as well. and we have ample evidence those
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who were engaged in this gun violence make the short trip over the border to indiana, secure their weaponry and ammunition and come back and kill people in chicago. what more can we do? we brought up the issue. and i won't engage you on it because i think you know the debate, about extending background checks to gun shows and internet the sales. what more can we go with this knowledge, though, these guns crossing state borders into the city of chicago and pwhaoeg used in the commission of a crime? >> well, under the current legal regime, we, especially our colleagues at atf, try to understand are there strong purchasers in that, gun show participants who know they are selling to felons or prohibited persons and trying to make trafficking cases based on that. that is sort of the focus of trying to stop bad guys from getting guns at gun shows. >> is there any surveillance of
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these gun shows to see if there are out of state license plates or anything of that nature? >> i think if there is a predicated investigation of a particular dealer within the gun show, there is appropriate surveillance. but i'm not aware of surveillance generally of gun shows. >> the last statement, our chairman suggested he would be open to the notion of prohibiting foreigners in the united states on visa waiver program to purchase firearms. that is a provision i'm offering. i would just say for the record i hope i can work with the chairman and get his support in making sure that this hoop hole is closed. thank you, mr. chairman. >> on the visa waiver program and guns, what i was trying to say is i want to go further than that. senator blake. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director comey.
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encryption has been talked about some. but let me talk about some of the other full srerblts we have and difficulties tracking information. i think we have discussed maybe this before. but the other ways for potential terrorists or terrorists to communicate here it's obviously not just e-mail, it's not just text messages. and i ask some that are familiar with the field if you had to bet to communicate that you didn't want anybody to follow it, how would you do it. some say, well, get on an app or a game, words with friends or some other game. and in the comment section or there is a way to communicate within that. that is probably -- there's no way to use encryption right now for that. but it is just in the realm of a lot of data, a lot of communication, a lot out there.
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is that something that concerning to the fbi? what are we doing without revealing sources and methods and everything else, to deal with that situation? >> thank you, senator. i don't want to say too much about it because i don't want the bad guys to get ideas they don't already have. but we have seen a number of cases in which subjects of investigations have communicated through gaming channels. either through more live action games or sometimes through app games on devices. sometimes those do involve encryption. they aren crypted in the gaming channel which makes it hard to intercept with a court order as anotheren crypted channel. it is increasingly a feature of our work i guess is what i'll say. >> thank you. we have seen high profile data breaches with omb. what is the fbi doing to ensure that we don't fall victim -- a lot of information held by the fbi is extremely sensitive.
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are we taking the measures we need to and how can congress help to make sure the data is secure? >> we worry about this every day. we try not to be overconfident. i think we have very good systems. but we can't be satisfied. as good as your system might be, if human being have access to it, there is a vulnerability there. especially since snowden stepped up our game to make sure we understand the potential insider threat. we focus from a technological perspective and human vulnerable perblt is the best headliner i can give you. >> you've mentioned in your testimony that one of the areas of focus is focus on corruption at the border. can can you give us an idea what you are doing to combat that? >> all our field offices along the mexican border have robust squads and efforts going on
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there. because any time you have human paoegs in a role where there's tremendous amounts of bad money there is a risk of people being compromised. it worked from the gulf to the pacific ocean by all our field offices. we work in partnership with dhs. a lot of focus is on the corruption in the border control workforce, for example. we have built a pretty effective relationship there. >> back to the visa situation. k-1 visa has come under scrutiny now. vetting refugees, for example, because of lack of information about their background. if that's true in syria, it may be doubly true in south sudan or in somalia or elsewhere. so we have to rely heavily on
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interviews and assessments by field staff. do we use lie detector tests to try to vet whatever information is given? what do we have now and what else can we do in that regard if there is a lack of information or data to check what they say against. >> dhs would be better qualified than i. they don't use -- they don't have data to vet somebody against. you can see if they can detect perception. i don't know it well enough to tell you what particular tools they are considered using. >> you mentioned -- i think we have all season professionalism of the state and local officials dealing with the situation. for example, in san bernardino. that is not always the case elsewhere in the country where we have local officials who
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maybe need training or expertise. what is the fbi doing to ensure our local partners are doing what they can to identify or to prevent or deal with these tragedies when they occur? >> with respect to terrorism attacks in. >> yes. >> well, the bedrock is our joint terrorism task forces. and the relationships we have built with state fusion centers to make sure we give our local partners what they crave, which is good information about what the threat is, how they might check it out, and good training on how to respond when there is an incident. we have invested a tremendous amount of effort and money trying to make sure we equip local state and local law enforcement we produced a video called the coming storm which is chilling but extraordinarily valuable that through real life movie actors shows how to respond to an attack. in that case on a community
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college. the best way to org yourself, and the best way to respond. i have heard great 2350ed back. we have made tens of thousands of companies of this. every university, police force should have it. anybody responsible for protecting a community should have it and look at it. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for having the hearing, you and senator leahy and an admirer of the men and women who work in the fbi. i think you do a great job. none of these are intended to impugn the hard work and integrity of all of you. look, we in new york, praise god after 9d/11 haven't had a successful terrorist incident. we have had a few in the country now. it is because of the hard work of your folks and others on the joint task forces that you mentioned, including the nypd, who do a great job as well. here are my questions.
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in your testimony this morning you told us the san bernardino attackers were communicating online about jihad for some time. so this raises to big questions which i would like to pursue. the first is how come we didn't know about these communications before the attacks? the second is is how did she get a visa. how did someone pass a visa test when they were kphaoublgting about jihad before, no questions asked. let's go to the first one. first, how do we know when terrorists are communicating online. and how does it sometimes get missed? in general this will cause great consternation to the american people. here we have someone talking about jihad, two people, for a couple of years. and i always -- you know, i
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would -- i think most americans have the assumption we're on top of things like this. >> and i can only answer it in general. i don't want to talk yet, if i could, senator, about the particular case. >> okay. so is let's take a hypothetical. someone is talking jihad over and over again online. do we know of it in most cases? and what do we do about it? >> we will only know about it if it's a private communication and not posting on a public forum or facing social media site. if it's private, whether electronic or by mail, we will only know about it if it is some reason to believe it is going on that allowed us to get permission from a judge to intercept those communications. that's where the community comes in. if folks tell us, i think this guy is up to no good, we can start to look at it and use our lawful tools. i know senators know this. but we don't monitor. we shouldn't. >> what about nonamerican
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citizens talking to american citizens. >> again, that is governed by the rule of law in the united states. so we have to have bred indication. the fbi or intelligence agencies to be able to enter is september the communications of an american whether they are communicating in the united states or overseas. >> okay. and in this case was there any public -- okay. let me ask more generally. say there is some public posting on a facebook page or something like that. where either an american citizen or nonamerican citizen communicating with an american citizen communicating jihad several times, what do we do about it? >> we often know about it because of a source of ours, or a community member tells us about it, or an undercover. we can jump on it -- >> do we have enough people monitoring these things so when it is public we know about it if no informant or neighbor has told us? >> the answer is certainly not
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given the size of the communication of networks we're talking about. millions and millions of people talk to go each other and making facebook moposts. >> i would imagine on public postings, we have computers, for instance, that stop child pornography with a certain image that's on there. couldn't we get computers that spit out to us who publicly, and we don't know if these communications were public or private. you haven't said and i'm not asking you to do that in this particular case. couldn't we get a computer to spit out somebody who is talking about jihad, bombing, you know, some words like this repeatedly and to ava right of people? >> i want to be careful what i talk about in open setting. but there are tools, but they are limited in a way you would want them to be. >> i see. >> the united states government, unlike some other deposits in the world, does not monitor the enter is net. >> final question, could we be doing more in these types of situations? >> we could always be doing more. >> is resources a problem?
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>> resources is a -- i believe -- if we paid you unlimited money, you know, we're not going to do that. but we could give you considerably more, would you be able in more frequent cases when publicly these mentioned to be able to pursue them more thorough thoroughly? >> maybe is the answer. >> i would like to get a classified briefing from you or others on the details of this because it concerns me. second, the visa program. not visa waiver. so let's take a hypothetical. a nonamerican citizen has communicated online and used publicly. or now privately we could intercept them but it's hard. and used, you know, inflammatory words, language, intention. they come here on eye visa.
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how often do we catch them? >> i don't think i could answer that sitting here. i don't know enough about -- i can't answer sitting here. >> do you think we should know that? >> i'm sure somebody does. we could get you an answer in terms of numbers. >> after this hearing today, every american will be asking the question, how did this this woman come in on a fiancee visa, 1k or k-1. >> can k-1. >> if she was talking publicly, again, i won't get into privately in the classified briefing, about jihad. not this woman. sorry. how could a woman strike this and use the word a. or man. hypothetical. >> assuming they are talking about it publicly on an internet forum. >> yes. shouldn't that be somehow tied in to our visa program?
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>> it's part of the visa vetting process. >> yes. >> yeah. i can't give you a good answer sitting here. >> but shouldn't it be? >> i don't know enough to say. because i don't know exactly what investment would have to be made to do that work and what would be the payoff on the other side. >> got it. again, i'll pursue this with you further both classified and non. and i thank you. my time is now up. >> thank you, mr. director. if the fbi had a telephone number from a known foreign terrorist and there were people in the united states making phone calls to that known number, there are procedures in place through the nsa and other agencies to check against that known terrorist number to see if there are telephone calls by americans to that number. isn't that correct? >> correct. >> and it doesn't involve any
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content at that point, correct? >> correct. >> congress just voted in the presence and signed into law a piece of legislation that prohibits the national security agency from maintaining the pluck telephone records. does that -- does that develop entail greater risk or otherwise limit the tools available to the fbi to be able to discover those sorts of communications? >> i don't know yet. because the usa freedom act framework is sufficiently new that i can't give you high confidence answer on its effect compared to what we used to have. in theory it should work as well or better than what we used to have. but i don't know yet. >> so it could entail more risk or no more risk? >> correct. >> you can't say? >> i just don't know at this point. >> okay. i was shocked, as i bet a lot of other people were, particularly about your testimony with regard to encryption and its impact on
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the garland shooting in my home state of texas. 109 encrypted messages that still today the fbi cannot gain access to; is that correct? >> correct. >> and the only way you would be able to gain access to that, again, is not because you're monitoring private messages. it would be you would go to court and show cause, meet the legal standard in order to get a court order to then give you access to those records? >> correct. >> and you said there are telecommunications, there are phone companies, or i should say manufacturers who are marketing their encryption as a way to gain market share in america, to advertise that these are private conversation that not even courts can order access to. >> i think they're device manufacturers who include that in their description of why their products should be used. >> and you said encryption is part of terrorist trade craft, correct. >> that's for sure.
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>> to me that's a staggering situation, because it still persists today, correct? >> oh, yes. and growing. >> and so while we are all horrified and repelled by what we saw in san bernardino and what we saw in paris, there could well be similar communications, not in those cases, but in other cases going on today. and the fbi wouldn't be able to gain access to those communications between terrorists, even with a court order? >> that's correct. and strongly encrypted, end to end encrypted, if a judge issues an order, and we interprcept it it's still encrypted and unreadable. >> is that a danger to the american people? does that increase the risk of terrorist attacks that could go undetect detectedetected before occurs? >> i do, which is why we've been
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talking about the over the last few years so much. >> i appreciate you making this important point. it concerns me a lot, that congress has not acted to do anything to give you the tools that you need. i appreciate the way you've tried to discuss this with the various manufacturers and other intents involved, but it strikes me as if they're gaining market share by advertising their encryption and saying that not even the federal government in a terrorist investigation can gain access to it, that that's a real problem. and so i think you said you hoped to get to a place where the companies can comply with the court order. but do you think it would be useful for the congress to actually try to do something about this, or should we just wait for the voluntary compliance by the industry? >> i think it would be useful, as congress has done, for congress to try to drive this conversation, to draw people
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into it to figure out, so what can we do. because i don't want to hurt american business. but i also have a responsibility to try and protect the american people. and all of us care about the same thing. so i appreciate congress trying to drive this conversation. >> i think you're testimony here today will help do that. i think it's surprised and shocked a lot of people. i want to close with this line of questioning, director comey. we're at a point in our nation's history where the public doesn't trust government. i think a pew poll indicated less than 20% of americans say they trust their government most of the time. and unfortunately, many americans have lost faith in our national institutions, including our justice system. and i know how much you care about that and how much you've dedicated your life to making sure that people can trust law enforcement and our justice system. that faith is endangered when attempts are made to pervert it in favor of the powerful who would like to create different
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rules for those who rule. i know this is a sensitive matter and i'm not going to ask you about the content, but i know the fbi is currently investigating the private e-mail server of the former secretary of state. and it's troubled me, and i know others, when some people have attempted to disparage or otherwise predict the outcome of the ongoing fbi investigation. i know the president himself said that we don't get an impression that there was a purposely efforts to hide something or squirrel away information. does the president get briefings on ongoing investigations by the fbi like this? >> no. >> so he would have no way of knowing what the status of the fbi investigation is? >> certainly not from briefings from the fbi. >> i know a former senior official at the fbi and the current president of the law enforcement legal defense fund told "the new york times" that injecting politics into what is supposed to be a fact-finding
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inquiry leaves a foul taste in the fbi's mouth and makes them fear that no matter what they find, the justice department will take find, the justice department will take the president's signal and will not bring a case. but i just want to ask you to perhaps repeat something you said earlier, when you said that people at the fbi, including you, don't give a rip about politics. is that your position? >> that is true through and through the fbi. >> so for politicians of whatever level, whether it's the president of the united states or members of congress or anybody else trying to lobby or intimidate or influence an investigation by the fbi, that does not work, at least under your leadership? >> it doesn't matter. i don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, but it doesn't matter what anybody thinks or feels about our work. we're competent, we're honest, and we're independent. we're going to do or work the right way. and we wecare only about the facts. that's who we are. >> that's certainly consistent with the way you've conducted
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yourself i think in your public life. and i think that will help restore in some small part people's confidence that there are people trying to do the right thing for the right reasons. so thank you very much. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, and thank you, director comey, for being here. i really appreciate it. one of the things that we haven't gone into as much is the online recruiting of terrorists. minnesota, as you know, has been very aggressive, our fbi and our local law enforcement, our u.s. attorney, andy lugar, in going after cases of people who have been recruited, much of it online, not all of it, but much of it, to join isis or before that, al shabaab. i've seen this recruiting techniques myself. your agents have shown them to me. and i wondered what is being done about that. and it may have played a role, i know the investigation is still
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going on into the tragic shooting in san bernardino, but is this an emerging threat, what can be done? there has been discussion about getting these companies to take down these sites as much as possible. talk about a little bit about that. >> thank you, senator. isis has endeavored to send people here. i've also tried to inspire people to kill on their behalf. they send a message in a very slick way that resonates with troubled souls or older people who have struggled in some way, or kids. it is a very saeductive message because it's buzzing all day long, that these people can consume this. their goal is to draw people
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into this closed circle online which they're constantly bombarded with, this is the way to meaning, this is the way to meaning. that shapes a troubled mind. we are making sure we're aggressively investigating that to find those who are on into path, potentially radicalizing, and to work with other folks to find kids who might be vulnerable to it, not just to their poisonous message but all kinds of poisonous messages that inspire people to violence. we're about to come out with something called "don't be a puppet," i'm no judge of what's cool but i'm told it's cool, almost like an online game for schools that kids learn, this is the way they come after you and here's how he resist it. those are the two ways we try to attack it. >> very good. as you know, we have one of the sort of pilot projects on the countering violent extremism group. it's been used with our muslim
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community, which we're very proud of in minnesota, which has been working to make sure kids don't get involved with this in the first place. i encourage the work you're doing and we hope you do more. we hope to get more funding out of this budget for projects to fight islamic extremism. i heard you bring up law enforcement in your initial statement, you think they have enough resources. we're trying to increase funding there. could you talk about that. >> our state and local partners are strapped across the country, coming out of the painful cuts they've endured over the last eight years. so they are still contributing their stars to our task forces. but i know what it costs them, because they're short handed across the country. i've traveled to our field offices, i've been to them all once, now i'm halfway through going to them a second time.
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i hear this over and over again, they're asked to do more and more with less. they're trying to do better community policing. that's very hard when officers are covering twice the territory they used to cover. they don't have time to get out of their cars and meet people. so it is a constant theme i hear from our partners. >> thank you. and i wanted to add, a lot of my colleagues have asked you about encryption. and i know you were here before and talked about efforts to try to work with the phone companies. i thought your testimony was very interesting today when you talked about the fact that some of us suspect it may not really be a technological issue as much as it is a business model issue. so if that is all the case, what has been done to improve it since that time? has there really been changes, except for discussions with the phone companies? you said in answer to one of the questions that a good chunk of it could be resolved. how would we resolve that? is it just simply the international norms you talked
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about, where you would have agreement between countries to where our court orders, their court orders could be followed? i'm trying to get to a solution here. i keep waiting for the next ticking time bomb where our law enforcement isn't able to access this. as you know, it's not just terrorism investigations. cy vance is making this a crusade. i remember as a prosecutor, sitting in on wiretaps, the old days when people were using land lines or less sophisticated cellphones, and it was a major part of our investigations. >> i think a big part of the problem can be solved if folks who are currently producing and selling devices that can't be unlocked by judges' orders or communications that can't be intercepted by judges' orders were to change their business model in this respect. not to give us a key. i don't want a key.
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i don't want to tell them how to do their business. but figure out how they can change their business model so they can comply with judges' orders. the folks making the phones today, they were doing that a year ago and nobody said their devices were unsecure so we ought not to buy them. and so i'm hopeful, i'm an optimist, i hope people now that they consider how big the threat is, will consider those changes. it's not going to solve the entire problem. i agree very much that you don't want to just chase the problem overshore. there does have to be an international component to this. it's actually not a technical problem. we've chosen to operate our business this way, for good reasons. but we should stop saying you're going to break the internet if we do this. you should figure out, if a judge says there's something in your house the nation needs to be safe, you figure out how to come out of the house. use a window, use a door, use a
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slot, whatever keeps your house day. we should get to a place where when a judge says this is necessary, you're able to comply. >> you're talking about court orders and you're talking about an international normal, given that the world has united against isil and this kind of other terrorist evil, so some way that we can find international agreement on when this information is given to pursue these very important investigations. >> yes. i think reasonable people have said that should be a part of it. i think they're right. >> great. thank you very much. >> mr. director, we're really happy to have you here today. i want to personally express my gratitude for the work you're doing, the work you have done in the past, and for the good way you approach law enforcement in this country. you're doing a great job. last week's tragedy in san bernardino was the worst terrorist attack on american soil since 9/11. the shooters claimed allegiance to isis. isis has called them its
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followers. i think it's important to call this attack what it is. do you agree with me that this was an act of terrorism? >> yes. >> do you agree that it appears this terrorist attack was at least inspired by isis? >> we're still sorting that out, senator. it was definitely claimed by the killers at or about the time of the killing that they were doing this isil then has embraced them as followers. >> it's pretty hard not to say isis had something to do with it. >> isil inspiration may well have been part of this. but these two killers were starting to radicalized towards mart mart mart martyrdom and jihad as early as 2013, really before isil became the global jihad leader that it is. >> the attorney general stated her, quote, greatest fear, unquote, was the possibility that it could lead to "anne of
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green gables" at this-musl this-miscellaneothis -- could lead to an anti-muslim rhetoric. my greatest fear is more attacks and more dead americans. if we were to put it this way, what would be your greatest fear after last week's terrorist attack? >> my fear, which is not new, it's been a feature of my work since i started this job, is what don't we know, what can't we see. in that is the particular challenge of those radicalizing online, consuming propaganda, and trying to stay beneath our radar. this confirms to us what we've said all along. the reason we've had cases in all 50 states is a very real concern that people are radicalizing in a way that's hard to see. that inability to see is my biggest worry. >> i share that. let me just say this. i would like to follow up on senator lee's line of questions regarding the so-called dark
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problem. i have two questions. first, with respect to control of encrypted data, u.s. tech companies do not want to be the middle man between law enforcement and technology customers. how do you reconcile this concern with the needs of law enforcement, and have you considered alternatives that would meet the needs of law enforcement but not put the united states tech companies in the awkward position of middleman? >> i'm not sure i know exactly what they mean by middleman. i don't want anybody to be the middleman for law enforcement. but everybody in the united states has, i believe, an obligation to endeavor to comply with judicial orders in criminal investigations. you're you're a bank, you run a sandwich shop, you run a technology company. i don't want anybody to be a middleman but i want everybody to comply with judges' orders. >> u.s. tech companies are the
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no the only businesses that offer encryption to customers. other countries offer it as well. if we require u.s. tech companies to provide decryption keys, won't users simply look to technologies from other non-u.s. companies to conduct their activities? how do you respond to that concern? >> that's a serious concern. first of all, i don't want anyone to supply encryption keys. but if we went to a place where american companies were required to figure out a way to comply with judicial orders, they do make a serious argument that that would chase our business overseas. i'm not in a position to evaluate that argument. a little part of me is skeptical that people would stop buying the great phones we make in this country because a judge might order access to it. but i'm not really an expert on that. so i do think a part of this has been on international compact of some sort. none of us want to hurt american
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business. at the same time, there are costs to being an american business, right? you can't pollute. you can't employ children. there are certain things we've decided as a country we want to govern ourselves this way. so in a way i think we have to figure out what's right for america first and then try to figure out how to reduce the harm that might come competitively. >> i would like to return to the issue of rampant dna. i introduced bipartisan investigation with senators feinstein, lee, and jigillibran. they're fully automated instruments that can be placed in booking stations and develop a dna profile from a cheek swab and compare the results against existing profiles in less than two hours. now, my bill, the rapid dna act of 2015, would allow law enforcement officials using fbi-approved rapid dna
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instruments to upload profiles generated by such devices to the fbi's combined dna index system and perform database comparisons. director comey, you've spoken in the past about rapid dna and how this technology will help law enforcement. do you believe that rapid dna technology is important? how will it impact law enforcement? and do you believe congress should pass legislation authorizing its use within standards and guidelines promulgated by your agency? >> that authority that's in your bill would help us change the world in a very, very exciting way that allow us in booking stations around the country, if someone's arrested, to know instantly or near instantly whether that person is the rapist that's been on the loose in that community before they get away, or to clear somebody that they're not the person.
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it's very exciting. we're very grateful that we're going to have the statutory authorization if that passes to connect that dna technology to the national dna database. >> thank you. my bill will not affect when or under what circumstances law enforcement collects dna samples. these decisions would be governed by state or other federal law. what it will do is affect where samples are processed and how quickly they're processed. now, mr. director, what would you say to individuals who may be concerned that rapid dna technology would raise privacy concerns and what would you say to individuals who may be concerned that this technology could affect the integrity of fbi's combined dna index system or cotus? my bill would comply with fbi standards and procedures. >> you said it well, senator. folks need to understand, this isn't about collecting dna from
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more people. it's about the dna that's collected when someone is arrested, being able to be analyzed much more quickly, that can show us in some cases this is the wrong person or can show us in some cases this is someone we have to be very worried about. that is good for our justice system as a whole. you're exactly right, the national database, the cotus database is the gold standard. this legislation does not water down the standards that are applied before a dna result can be pressed against that database. we're still going to have high standards. we're still going to require that this is the gold standard for identification in the united states. >> thank you, sir. senator franken is next. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director comey, first i would like to thank you for appearing today. it's good to see you again. and you do a great job. i think all the members of this committee greagree.
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before i ask my questions, i want to extend my thanks to you, the bureau, your ages, for assisting in the civil rights investigation surrounding the death of jamar clark in minneapolis. i supported the decision of mayor hodges and police chief hartow to call for an independent investigation. in my view, a full, thorough, and transparent accounting of the facts is necessary to get to the bottom of what happened in that tragic event and to restore trust between the north side community and the police and law enforcement. so i want to commend the fbi agents involved for their professionalism and for their commitment to seeking justice. i wanted to just -- a lot of things have been discussed in this committee, including the
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going dark, the encryption issue. i just want to make sure that i have clarity on this, and maybe help other people clarify it for them. basically, tell me if i heard you right, that a terrorist in the united states could -- that there is a sort of distinction between -- there are two distinct but related concerns law enforcement has about encryption. the concern that information sought by law enforcement is on an encrypted device, we're talking about the phone, and the concern that the information might exist within an encrypted app on that phone. and so some of these apps are
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available freely online, and add an extra layer of encryption. can you speak to the bureau's concerns related to these issues? you're basically saying that there's sort of two layers, and if you get rid of the first layer, you'll have more -- i mean, you'll obviously be -- it will be a great deal more people that won't be caught up or that won't have that encryption? is that what you're saying? >> i think encryption has always been available, always been available to the sophisticated user, always, for decades. what changed over the last two years is encryption went from available to being the default. and so now, with some of the leading phones in the united states, that phone is encrypted by default. so if we recover it at a crime scene, with a judge's search
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warrant order, we can't open it. >> and i know you're not asking for a key, you're asking for the company to be able to follow the judge's order. >> which two years ago they could do it and did it routinely. i think their devices were still considered pretty secure. but you're exactly right. there may still be within that device, especially for sophisticated users, other encryption tools that are on particular apps or there's actually something -- too complicated. >> can we get some data on this? the last time this committee looked at this, we had deputy attorney general yates, and i asked her for more information on the scope of law enforcement's concern. because i know a lot of this is about just normal crime and not about terrorism. and i think what you're suggesting is that a terrorist might be able to get that app, and that's why -- that foreign app, and that's why we need an international agreement on this, right?
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>> yes. exactly right. this is mostly a local law enforcement issue. but we are gathering the data that you asked for. and i'll have to get back to you on exactly what we're going to get it to you. >> and i know you've mentioned it. i want to make sure i'm clear on something else from this testimony. i'm just sort of reviewing the whole day for myself. i understand if someone on a terrorist watch list tries to buy a gun through a licensed dealer, the fbi is alerted. >> correct. >> and it can delay the sale for three days? >> under the law we're allowed up to three case. >> 0 so -- okay. but ultimately, do you have legal authority to deny the sale? >> not unless there's another prohibiter under the law, a felon or mental defective. >> at least you have that three days. >> yes. >> if someone on a terrorist watch list -- this is someone on a terrorist watch list, in three days, if there's no other
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indicator, they can get their gun. that to me is a problem. now, if someone on a terrorist watch list tries to buy a begun online or at a gun show, no one is legally required to notify the fbi? >> i believe that's correct, yes. >> okay. so i have that correct. so to fix this, if we're talking about keeping guns out of the hands of people, of terrorists, and presumably people on the no-watch list are there for a reason, or maybe there's a false positive, but it seemed to me that we would have to be doing both. if we're really interested in keeping the guns from terrorists, we would have to enforce both, say you can't sell
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a gun to someone, there has to be three days or some kind of look at that person, and also, the gun -- the gun sale, the sale at a gun show, the gun show loophole would have to be solved t too? i mean, in other words, if we're worried about guns falling in the hands of people on terrorist watch lists, we also have to close up the gun show loophole as well as cleaning up this loophole, which is the terrorist watch loophole. i mean, in other words, this is a reason to do both. let me put it this way. you don't have to answer. this is the reason to do both. okay. thank you.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. director, we're lucky to have you. thank you for the sacrifice you make in doing what you do. i'm glad you're on the wall. i would like to go back and clear up, just to make sure you understood the testimony as well. i applaud the fbi for being the first to call this an act of terrorism. >> thank you. >> not that i want it to be an act of terrorism, of course. but you guys looked at the facts and said the american public needs to know the facts. thank you. i haven't heard it connected directly to isis. i know in this environment you may not be able to talk about that, and if so that's fine. do we know that this was directly connected to isis influence in the u.s.? >> there was some indication that they were at least in part inspired by isil, so yes. we're trying to sort out what other contributions might there have been to their motivation. we may never fully sort it out,
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because human motivation is hard. but at least in part we see an isil inspiration. >> you may not want to comment on this either, and i apologize for asking this direct question, but for the american people, in the past, the fbi has been a stalwart in helping to protect the american people over time. in the past, on your watch, are you aware of planned attempts to have actually been preempted by the fbi that we may never know about? >> yes, many. >> okay. thank you. and speaking to the increase in the latest spate of isis attacks, is their planning getting better, are their tactics getting better? i know the malik and farook team bought their weapons through a neighbor. my question is, is there a network issue here, are the networks growing in the u.s.? >> we're looking at -- obviously in san bernardino to see was there anybody else involved in assisting them. and so separate from san
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bernardino, we have not seen this, we have not seen isil cells or networks in the united states. so far as we can tell, they have not succeeded in penetrating our borders with their operatives. that's an aspiration of theirs, we have to worry about it all day, every day. but what they're doing is motivating small groups of people to commit murder on their behalf. that's the crowdsourcing that we're dealing with. >> do we actually have cases where through the resettlement, 2200 or so people who have come in so far, we're trying to bring another 10,000 in the first phase of this, have we actually had cases where we identified isis adherence in that first group? >> not to my knowledge. >> are you aware that canada is increasing their syrian refugee acceptance rate from less than 5,000 to over 25,000, the latest
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number i saw before, and the border we have with canada, we don't talk about that border much, is the fbi paying attention to that relative to what we need to do? to me that vetting in canada is just as important as our own investigate here with our k-1 and our visa waiver program. >> and they get that. the head of the rcmp is a friend and colleague of mine. he called me to tell me their government had made that decision and to explain and to encourage us to work together to vet those people. >> and what changes would you like to see in the k-walk? with malik, was she actually given an interview in the k-walk process? do we know that? >> i don't know well enough to say at this point. i know the process requires it. we're still trying to fully understand exactly all of her contacts. >> are there changes you would like to see, the fbi would like to see in the k-wa1 program or e visa waiver program? >> i don't know enough to say as a result of this case. >> the last thing, very quickly,
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in the trans-pacific partnership, there is language in there that would prevent national laws being implemented in countries that would require manufacturers to provide access to products, encryption technologies. some critics think that would limit our own ability to provide legislation that would give you a solution to the potential go-dark solution. does the fbi have a point of view on that yet? >> we don't. >> okay. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, director. >> senator blumenthal, then senator koonz. if you can stand me for seven more minutes, i have a second round of questions. >> thanks, mr. chairman. and thank you, director comey, for your excellent work and your great service to our country. thank you to your family. and most of the especially to your wife, patrice, who has done so much for the children of connecticut, and now for others
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around our country. i've just come from -- >> from iowa, too. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for that correction. i've just come from a hearing at the armed services committee, where secretary carter was testifying. and i want to first make the point that we often thank our men and women in uniform, which i do readily and repeatedly, and i do again now, but i also want to thank the very brave men and women who work under your command and enforce our laws and keep us safe, as well as law enforcement men and women around the country, police at every level, and are in a sense also at war. in fact secretary carter said, and i'm quoting, talking about
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isil, "the reality is we are at war. that's how our troops feel about it, because they're taking the fight to isil every day, applying the might of the finest fighting force the world has ever known." do you feel that we are at war also within our borders against forces of terror that are linked to those forces abroad, that our men and women in uniform are fighting? >> very much, senator. and our people feel that passionately. our people are tired. we are working very, very hard. they're working very, very hard. but what motivates them is, these people want to kill our people. we are at war with these people. so stopping them is what -- is the reason we do this work. >> and the president well-identified this new phase that perhaps is an old phase in
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larger scale, the phase of isil and isis reaching outside the theaters were they have fought so far, reaching into this country. you've referred to crowdsourcing as the san bernardino experience, and outsourcing that threat to new recruits, to home-grown radicals, may be part of the threat here. but you would agree that we face a war every bit as dire and dangerous here at home as we do abroad? >> yes. the threat obviously and the density of these savages is less here in the united states. but the nature of it is very similar. >> and i know that you've responded about the importance of cooperation in terms of information and other kinds of assistance that is provided by
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members of the muslim community. just as cooperation and support is essential from nations that have a majority of muslims abroad in our fight against isis and isil, they are our natural allies and friends and partners in this fight against extremist terrorism and violence abroad. and i want to ask you about some of the statements that are made about closing borders and about religious tests at our borders, other kinds of tests that in my view are unconstitutional, but also strike me as unwise because we need that cooperation. are the statements themselves potentially inhibiting that kind of cooperation and support and help that we need? >> thank you, senator. i don't want to comment on anybody's statements. but i can make i think the point
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that you're interested in. isil is trying to recruit in muslim communities. they're trying to motivate people who may be of the muslim faith who are unmoored in some way to become part of their poisonous endeavor. the people who so often tell us about people like that are other muslims who help us. so we've worked so hard over the last 15 years to build relationships of trust that allow us to find out who might be trouble and to stop it. that's in everybody's interest. and anything that gets in the way, that erodes that relationship of trust, is not a good thing. >> and muslims who live in our nation are fellow americans, many of them, equally interested in preventing threats and violence as anyone of any religion. >> our experience, what's wonderful about this country is we're incredibly diverse. they're part of that diverse
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polyglot. they helove this country, that' why they help us when there is a killer in their midst. as i said in the beginning, we're all in this together. we need each other. >> i applaud your very clear and emphatic, unequivical statement about that point. i want to shift to another terrorist act, at least one that strikes terror, not of the same motivation, but involving the apparent racist motivated violence in charleston. the fbi background system known as n.i.x. was applied in the case of dylann roof's purchase,
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but only too late to prevent him from buying the gun, the 72-hour loophole that i have tried to close enabled him to walk away with a gun he sought to purchase, thanks to that loophole, after the 72-hour period, since the background check was not completed, but would have precluded him from buying a gun, he was enabled to have that firearm. gun retailers have sold 15,729 guns in the last five years to individuals who were not legally allowed to purchase them. and about five months ago, i think you commissioned a study that was to last 30 days, to examine how dylann roof was able to buy that gun. i think that report would help us in congress to understand what went wrong and how to fix it, and most especially, if the
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72-hour loophole enabled him to buy that gun, as appears to be from the facts that we've been told so far. the report would be very helpful. so my question is, can you update us as to the status of that report? >> certainly, senator. and we would be happy to get you a detailed briefing on it, because the work was done, as i asked, in 30 days. it did two things. it confirmed the facts as we understood them close to the murders in charleston, that there was a mistake made by our processing clerks that was compounded by a mistake in the records of the south carolina jurisdiction where the prohibiter came from. that confirmed what we knew. what it most importantly told us is how can we get better. the law is what the law is. we have three days to process these thousands and thousands and thousands of them. so we're working on a number of things to get better. one, to improve the records by our state and locals, to improve
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our technology, and our resources. the number of gun purchases continues to climb. it's climbed dramatically in the last week. we have to make sure we have enough folks, if all we have is three days, to do that. those are the three buckets, better records, better technical, and more importantly, more human beings on the phones to process them more quickly. >> so resources are really important, resources in technology, resources in people, and resources in records that you depend on because many of them come from state and local authorities as well. >> correct. >> my time has expired. this whole area is tremendously important. i want to thank you for being here today and just to clarify, racial and religious supremacists often use terrorist-type tactics, even though we would not call them terrorists today. but i appreciate the attention you're giving to the potentially
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white supremacist motivated acts of violence in that church in charleston. thank you. >> thank you, chairman grassley, and thank you for your service, director comey. i was pleased to see in your testimony before the committee a focus on the violence reduction network, a department of justice initiative that is truly helping a group of now ten smaller cities like my hometown of wilmington, delaware, that have seen a dramatic rise in violent crime and homicides. we are sadly on track for a record year in shootings and homicides. i'm grateful for your and the fbi's focus on providing technical resources to help state and local law enforcement deal with this rise in violent crime in a few cities and to learn from the policing examples of other communities and federal agencies that have real knowledge about how to better deploy investigatory resources.
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so tell me, if you would, how we can better support valuable programs like the vrn, and how in your view it's been most effective in connecting fbi resources to cities like wilmingt wilmington, delaware. >> i'll start with the effectiveness point first. i think what makes it special is, we bring together in a place like wilmington everybody who cares about this issue or might have a specialty that's useful. what we can bring to bear is our understanding of technology and our analytic resources, so we help a local jurisdiction understand what is the pattern, what is the trend, and what are the pieces of information that we can lawfully gather that would be useful in focusing on, because it's almost always small groups of predators, finding them and ripping them out of the community. it's not rocket science. but it often brings rocket scientists to the fight in a
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really important way. i think the way you can support it is, as you just did, talking about its value and making sure that appropriators and others understand that when the department talks about about this, it's making a difference. >> thank you. i am an appropriator on the relevant subcommittee and have advocated for it with the hea d of omb and the attorney general. i would be grateful for any other advice from you on how to sustain it, make it more effective. certainly the work to reduce violent crime is far from over in my hometown and other cities around the country. hopefully we'll sustain this program until we see some significant reduction in violent crime. i would like to mention another issue, if i could, about cyber security. the senate recently passed the cybersecurity sharing information act, which permits dhs to scrub personally identifying information it receives from private entities, but only after it secures the approval of a number of agency heads, including yourself in
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your role as director of the fbi. have you had communications with other agencies yet about how this process will work? are you committed to ensuring that dhs could conduct a robust scrubbing of personally identifying information? >> i have not had any conversations about that. but the second part is easy. we'll do everything possible to make sure it works, and works the way congress designed it. >> thank you. i urge you to engage in those conversations. i think this process is going to move relatively quickly, or so i hope. in october, president obama secured from president xi of china a striking landmark admission that china had been engaged in economic espionage, cyber attacks, something you've testified about here before, and a commitment that those attacks would end. yet press reports suggest that literally a day after president xi's visit, chinese cyberattacks resumed. has a fbi detected any change in chinese cyber espionage behavior
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following president xi's promise? and how do you think we should address this challenge? >> it's too early to say. we're watching it very, very carefully. given the long-tail nature of chinese cyber espionage and theft, i'm not sure that i would expect a change even if one was going to happen that would be visible yet. so we're watching this space very carefully. we've had good conversations with our chinese counterparts. i've told them -- i don't mean to be rude, but the fbi director is paid to be skeptical, i'm deeply skeptical. and so we will have to watch and see what the facts show us. but i can't say yet. >> i think it's deeply disturbing and hostile behavior that we need to continue to be engaged. i've heard from far too many american companies that they've lost vital both economic secrets and from some federal agencies that they've lost vital national security secrets. and i appreciate your hard work on this.
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last, i'm the ranking member of the oversight subcommittee, and last month we held a hearing at which dekalb county's police chief who is himself a 30-year law enforcement veteran testified that the notion that there is a so-called ferguson effect is of no real significance. i was struck at that hearing, which chairman cruz called under the title "a war on police," that hearing actually produced no evidence that there is any meaningful, organized war on police. and as the co-chair of the senate law enforcement caucus, i know that law enforcement faces real challenges, nationally, every day. but i see little evidence to suggest that these issues stem from the calls of some in the civil rights community for greater accountability. in fact my experience at the local level was that police officers are some of the greatest advocates for account the because it makes them more effective police officers. is it your view that the
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protection of american civil rights is inconsistent with policing and officer safety or is it fundamentally in harmony? >> they're fundamentally in harmony. scrutiny is good for everybody. >> thank you. it's my view that in a democracy, the enormous power we give to law enforcement and the very high expectations we have for them are only strengthened by accountability that then produces community engagement, community support. the agency i was fortunate enough to be closely associated with for a decade really was an early national leader in community policing and did i think an outstanding job as winning the trust of our community and thus being effective at policing. i think there's a lot of work to go in terms of accountability and engagement and protecting civil rights. i appreciate your response on all four of the questions i've asked today and i'm grateful for your service. thank you, director. >> thank you, senator. >> i've got three questions i would like to ask, and then i assume everybody's asked
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questions once, that nobody will come back. i want to start by underlining what senator cornyn said about the clinton e-mail investigation. almost a thousand e-mails contained classified information, were stored in the non-government server system. a former i.t. specialist has avoided this committee's questions. there might come a time when the committee refers the matter to the department of justice for prosecution of some of the individuals involved. as you know, no matter what the fbi finds, the political appointee at the justice department will ultimately make the decision whether or not to
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prosecute. that's why some have called for a special counsel to be appointed for an independent decision. my question is, if the fbi refers to the matter to the justice department, but the justice department refuses to prosecute, the public will not learn the facts that the fbi independent inquiry established. would there be a process but which you would inform the public of what the fbi learned and what you will do if the decision not to prosecute appears to be improperly influenced by political considerations? >> mr. chairman, i'm not comfortable answering a question about what might happen in that particular matter. i think it's important that i make sure i'm -- i'm making sure it has the right resources, the right people, and it's done in an expeditious, fair, and competent way. i don't want to speculating and down that road, if i could.
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>> could i remind you that in the anthrax case, after the person that was suspected committed suicide, that the fbi did make that investigation public? so wouldn't there be a precedent for you making your investigation public? >> there's a variety of precedents for an investigation, describing some or all of it to the public. i just don't want to speculate on this particular investigation. >> okay. state department officials, along the same line, state department officials have informed my staff that the fbi has seized or taken possession of the state department computer used by the witness who was asserting the fifth amendment to this committee. there has also been a public report that the fbi has taken possession of state department e-mail servers. is that correct? has the fbi seized or taken possession of these state
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department computers? >> i can't comment on that, given that it's an ongoing matter. >> i'm not really asking you -- i'm just asking you, do you have these tools available. >> if i were to answer, i would be answering about what evidence we've gathered in an investigation. >> okay. >> i can assure you -- >> you don't need to go any further. i trust you. the american people rely upon you to investigate potential criminal conduct, and in the course of that conduct, politics cannot interfere with your responsibilities. in a "60 minutes" interview, president obama declared in a question about secretary clinton's use of a private server, quote, i can tell you this is not a situation in which america's national security was endangered, end of quote. how can you assure the american people that you will not let the
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white house influence the fbi's inquiry? >> i hope the american people know the fbi well enough, and the nature and character of this organization, as i've said many times, we don't give a rip about politics. anybody's view about an investigation they're not involved in is irrelevant. we care about trying to find out what is true in an honest and independent way. i promise you, that's the way we conduct ourselves. >> okay. now i would like to discuss whistle blowers and the second of at least three questions i would like to ask you. in your confirmation hearing, you expressed strong support for whistle blowers and the need for them to feel free to raise their concerns up the chain of command. fbi policy encourages employees to report wrongdoing to their supervisors. first question, do you support legal protections for fbi employees who follow fbi's own
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policies and report wrongdoing to their supervisors? if not, why not? >> i do, very much. >> okay. under current law, fbi agents have no legal protection for reporting wrongdoing to their supervisors. do you see any justification for not fixing that problem? >> i think it's very, very important that we create the safe zones that all of our people need to raise concerns that they might have. and so that is the way i not only talk, that's the way i walk at the fbi. and i know that we're having conversations about are there additional protections we can offer. i think there might be sensible ways to do that. i have some small concerns. i want to make sure that we don't create a system where, to get too deep in the weeds here, an fbi agent or fbi employee can report not just fraud, waste, and abuse, but can get wh
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whistleblowing protection for bad management. that's a huge range of things. but i'm open to try and improve the way we approach it. as i've said, i have tried to really walk this talk by the people i've met with, the way i've given out awards in the fbi. i will continue to try and work with you to try and improve that. >> you've spoken repeatedly about isis's sophisticated use of the internet to lure americans to syria and to inspire tactics in the united states. this is very concerning, and i know you speak from your heart on that. other than addressing the problem by encryption, are there any other tools that would help the fbi identify and monitor terrorists online? more specifically, can you explain the electronics
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communications are and how congress accidentally limited the fbi's ability to obtain them or the drafting error, would fixing this problem be helpful for your counterterrorism investigations? >> it would be enormously helpful. there is essentially a typo in the law that was passed a number of years ago that requires us to get records, ordinary transaction records that we could get in most contexts with a non-court order, because it doesn't involve content of any kind, to get those records. nobody i know of thinks that that's necessary. it would save us a tremendous number of work hours if we can fix that, without any compromise to anyone's civil liberties or
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civil rights. anybody who's stared at this says that's a mistake and we should fix that. >> this will be my last question. you heard my concerns about non-citizens who are not legally permanent residents buying and possessing guns in this country. if you were the me to ask this, i'm not going to ask this other question. let me go to this question. in regard to your last response, you said you tried to walk the talk on this. why hasn't the fbi imposed discipline in any of some cases that i've been investigating, what message does it send to fbi employees and the fbi fails to hold retaliators accountable for the question? that will be my last question. >> there's a good question and hard question. i believe we do try hard to hold
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retaliators accountable. now, often, if people know we're coming for them, they'll retire on us and leave government service, which is a challenge for us. but it is not just that enforcement that matters. it's how do we act, how do we conduct ourselves. and i don't want to brag on myself, but i will for a second. we have annual directors awards. and at the end of the directors awards this year, i gave an award to recognize somebody for blowing the whistle on misconduct. i want back to the podium and says, this matters, the reason i'm saving this one for last is, this matters. when an organization dedicated to finding the truth in american life, we have to make sure we're open to seeing the truth about ourselves. so, look, we're not perfect and i think we can benefit from working with you to get better but i believe we have sent the message this matters. >> listen, you've been here a long time. i thank you for the time you've given us. maybe some members will submit


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