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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 28, 2015 6:00pm-8:01pm EST

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their smileyose faces, and we forget to notice honking while we worry whether we can afford the bus to school tomorrow. >> for a complete schedule, go to >> congress is out for the year, but both chambers return in january for the second session of the 114th congress. the house returns january 5 and plans to begin work on a budget reconciliation bill that defunds planned parenthood while also repealing the health care law. the senate approved the measure, but the president says he will veto the legislation. senators return january 11 and plan to begin consideration of a circuit court nomination in pennsylvania. kentucky senator rand paul said he will move to require an audit of the federal reserve. you can follow the senate live on c-span2 and the house on c-span. our guest is kevin baron,
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executive editor of "defense one." good morning. we wake up to this headline in "usa today" about ramadi and isis, iraqi forces claiming a victory, the islamic state losing ground in syria. it's the third major defeat. what is ahead? on the ground, the next two raqqa, the mosul and headquarters of isis. interesting. we had a couple lower-level city wassaying the liberated, and in the same breath, they said, we haven't gone in yet. fromight, we have heard the spokesman for u.s. forces in iraq saying, using language
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little bit more measured like, we congratulate the iraqis on their progress in the city. there are parts of the city that are still not liberated. this is not a total victory. in your what to watch in 2016 piece in defense one, you talk about the anti-isis campaign. talk more broadly. this isn't just iraq and the u.s. how do you expect the campaign to play itself out? who else might be involved who is not involved now? it's more of the same. the president has said more frequently the last month that they wanted international coalition and local fighters and iraqis and the saudi's to be involved and the turks. they want the region to do its fighting for itself. that is nothing new. what's new is how isys has spread and there have been leaders that have popped up across libya.
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the spread of isys inspired attacks coming to our shores like paris and california. no longer thought of -- more people don't think of isys as the next iraq war. i think they are starting to conceptualize this fight is something that is far more than boots on the ground. host: despite these headlines talking about rolling back isys in certain places, the republican congressman, peter king, the house homeland security committee, was on one of the sunday shows yesterday and talked about isys as being a stronger operation that was a year ago. [video clip] reaction to get your to the news in the past 24 hours per a purported audiotape
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recording from the isys leader was released in which he says that neither airstrikes by russia nor by the us-led coalition in syria and iraq has done much damage to his organization. what do you make of that? i would expect him to say that. we have had some impact but unfortunately come overall, he is probably right that after 15 months of air attacks by the u.s., it has had minimal impact on ice is considering how long the attacks have been going on. as far as the russians, they are focusing their attacks on the syrian resistance as opposed to isis. isys is strong and i believe they are stronger than it was six to eight months ago and i have a larger landmass under their control not just in iraq but also syria and they are making great inroads in afghanistan. they also intended to attack the united states. in the last several month, it has become clear that they want
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to launch an attack on the u.s. host: any thoughts? guest: there is a lot in their to unpack. the military says isys is not pushing forward on the ground. they are not taking new cities and he never made it into baghdad. that was feared a year ago. that was the big question. that did not happen. 8000 plus been american airstrikes that have had an impact to some degree. lots of fighters have been killed in lots of medications were cut off as well as supplies. what the congressman represents is the viewpoint of wanting more action on the ground a lot quicker. the romani operation is a good example where there was a asking for tens of
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thousands of troops thought the u.s. could have led a coalition a long time ago and saved lives and gone into the city. but military commanders in as president felt that would have jah and iter falu would've cost a lot of american lives. there was a political decision made not to do it and 70 outskirts of ramadi and train the forces and tell isys we are coming. america has been saying this for months and months. americans are now saying we have done what we want to get they say we are in control of the place of the fight. in thatressman is right the nonmilitary on the ground spread of isys influence, the paris attacks, the attack in california, that fight is clearly doing very well in they
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are recruiting lots of people. there is some inpatients or wrestling in the american electorate of what this country will do about that. -- that is an answer not a problem that requires 10-20,000 troops to solve. host: there is plenty of time for your calls and facebook postings and beats. the phone numbers are on the bottom of your screen. our guest is executive editor of defense one, kevin baron, and has worked for foreign policy magazine is a national security writer as well as the national journal in washington correspondent for stars and stripes. there is a lot of parts of the world we can talk about it let's follow the headlines like in "the washington post,
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guest: that's not good news. it sounds familiar if you are following these wars about what happens when americans plowed
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after a large ground war and after they have and local forces as the americans said they would, what happens next? i was remembering a couple of about a dozen afghan generals came to the the gun and the marines talked to a few of them and they said this is what would happen. they were nervous about when the americans would leave. they say we don't have the logistical support. not about storming and , it was about sustaining a security force to a country where there is going to be a lot of opposition. while most of us have turned our attention to iraq and syria of all places, and left afghanistan
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behind, it has been american special operators doing counterterrorism within with the president said they would do and reports are coming out that they are probably doing more than counterterrorism. they are still just fighting the war. they are in provinces where they say the u.s. and afghans were about celebrity areas and they did. host: let's take our first call. fort lauderdale, democrat, good morning. caller: good morning, how are you? can i go ahead? host: what would you like to ask or say? caller: good morning, gentlemen, how are you? my question and my thought we are a little behind --
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can you your tv on mute? caller: ok. host: that will help. caller: thank you again, sorry. my thinking is that we have three basic enemies right now. we have north korea, syria, and .ussia if we were to capture these people and actually put them on trial under their own people, we would eliminate these three people. we would eliminate basically 95% of all the killing threats we have. we would be able to go against isis with everything we had. to just capture these people and put them in front of the world court for war
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crimes or crimes against humanity with their own people, otherre a lot of the rogue factions out there that are trying to kill people for --l for noah can't reason for no apparent reason, we can show up as a force for nato that the world stands united against killing people and show that democracy really works and stands tall. it's a far-fetched idea in concept but we have a lot of special forces. if our allies work together with nato, there only three human beings on earth that are keeping us from having peace on earth. it's an interesting idea. i'm not sure if you are asking
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about capturing the leaders of fighters evers or supporters of the country but wanting a a point of much more public demonstration of the consequences of these which youggression are not alone in. many folks have wanted to see people put on trial. the wanted an aggressive tone in international forums. there has not been an issue stomping at the u.n. until just recently after the paris attacks. to yourn exception western leaders coming out with the kind of language that would demand a change in behavior of global leaders to the kind you're asking for. people, youpturing
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have to send forces to get them which means you have to invade sovereign nations to get them. complicated wars in complicated times in a mix of all of that. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] mentioned caller: host: the caller mentioned russia. july and it's the senate armed services confirmation in general mumford was asked what the greatest threat to u.s. national security was. [video clip] >> my assessment today senators that russia presents the greatest threat to our national security. would you want to elaborate that? >> and russia, we have a nuclear power. it not only has the capability to violate the sovereignty and do things that are inconsistent
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with their national interest but they are in the process of doing so. if you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential the united states, i would have to point to russia. if you look at their behavior, is nothing short of alarming. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] host: that was several months ago. how do you assess the relationship? the relationship with russia does not good clearly we hear this a lot. somebody asks the top generals what the number one threat is. the intelligence leaders get the same question. many push back and say it's a trap. , the military leaders would say russia is a threat to the united states. the next part of that sentence for the next conversation is that few of the members who asked them the question, they
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are talking about nuclear weapons. russia is a nuclear armed country and that's the big threat. the russian involvement and the you can is not the number one threat. the russian involvement in syria is no threat to the united states. as a whole collectively, vladimir putin is what they are talking about instead of the whole of russia. the part of the vladimir putin forces following him, i followed this relationship for a while from a military perspective. it was a couple of years ago before the ukraine that the united states and russia were engaged in more exercises together than ever before. maritime or staff exercises between officers.
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as the ukrainian action happened and syria happened, communication stopped between the american military leaders. i asked a general dempsey last summer, do you think this is something the entire russian military is for? at the time, we thought had that's how things work. since then, there is little confidence of what the rich -- of what the russian military would do or wouldn't do. they have just started talking to the russians again to coordinate syria. let's hear from california , independent caller. caller: thank you, good morning. give me a moment here.
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concerned about the home front. people in the united states are ideologyeatened by an from outside the united states that comes over here to kill her people, our children. we have a lot of veterans. i of my veteran myself. they need jobs. a lot of them are committing suicide. hundreds. i don't know the numbers but too many, one is too many. we can match the people who need jobs, veterans to protect ourselves. we have to wake up and protect ourselves from these fanatics go matter what we do. tose people are determined
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brainwash them from childhood. they want to kill us. there is no doubt about that. we need to defend ourselves and put these people, these marines, protect to host: thanks for calling. there are lots of concerns about the home front on the california shooting woke people up. there are two different concerns. one concern is those who want to come to the united states from abroad. could have been directed by a group like isis or other terrorist groups and those that are inspired from sitting at home through the internet. that is the greater worry for
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homeland security officials. johnson repeated last month oft concern that the idea terrorism inspired individual is incredibly hard to find. they are admitting that they are not going to. this the new agent these attacks will happen in they are asking americans to speak up and say something. out your neighbors but don't think of it as ratting them out. we need to know information because there are some behaviors that are warning signs. if we can get some eyes and these people, maybe we can stop something. even the california shooters have plenty of signs that could have led to somebody saying something and perhaps stopping them. as for the veterans issue, suicide is still a significant problem in the active duty
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military and the veteran community. it's not just because of departments and combat experience. there's something more to it. the army spent billions of dollars to get to it to figure out one of the trigger points, using modern technology to find if somebody lost a girlfriend or they own money or they are from a bad family situation. maybe they deployed one too many times. i have written a lot about this as well. you can have the same individual with the same warning signs is the one next to him and one of them does and one doesn't. it's a complicated issue. the good news is, i don't know anybody in america that does not know that suicide in the military is a problem. it has the full attention of the pentagon. and of the country. question of larger how the country cares for its
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veterans and how it cares for its troops and everyone who fights abroad in these wars and will change. many people can say i was a veteran of those wars. what do the fighters say now, the ongoing global war on terrorism? there will be thousands that will fight that are deploying at high tempos. there will be more suicides. host: mount sinai, new york, democrat, good morning. caller: good morning, i want you to be honest. is this the result of the united states invasion of iraq? we created a hornets nest of problems for the military as well as the american people. us for ourhey hated
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freedoms and now we no longer have freedoms in this country as a result of george bush and dick cheney. honest.ask you to be was shot shock them all an act of terror against the iraqi people? they complied with of years of sanctions and saddam hussein was not a good guy but it was not our place to do what we did to that country. our three melted nuclear reactors the greatest threat to the united states off the west coast? i think that's a greater threat to national security than the dialogue you gentlemen are having. it seems to be motivated by greed, money, and power and the military-industrial complex. i am always honest.
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if the united states had never invaded iraq and saddam hussein was still in power, perhaps we would not have the global situation we have today. it did happen and lots of events unfolded to get there. i don't know of it does good to blame on the past. there is a situation to deal with now and how it goes forward is what i'm interested in. the american invasion of iraq in l went to theowel united nations to make that happen and make it a legal military action but ultimately, the united states led a coalition to invade a sovereign nation and engaged a bunch of
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actions. on nuclearpart was fallout. the caller thought that was a greater than what we were dealing with. there are lots of things that are much greater threats to individuals and the future of this country than a lot of what terrorist activities are doing a broad. that is a big foreign-policy question. echoes back to be original iraq invasion, how much of a threat to the united states are the activities going on the middle east? does the u.s. military need to be involved? does is a subject i am most fascinated with and i keep my eyes on. it's this president's high bar for military intervention in the middle east. every time there is a major event, there seems to be people
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in washington thinking we will go and send troops and start all over again. they really have not. it has forced a new way for the region to fight the war for itself whether you like it or not. that is the strategy whether you like it or not. that is what is happening. that goes back to what the caller was concerned about, the legality of the united states getting involved. host: i want to get your take on a piece that's part of a piece we recently read in "christian science monitor." they talked to a former dod intelligence official named michael vickers and this is what he has to say in in the piece.
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what's your take? the head ofs intelligence and the pentagon, the undersecretary. i spoke with him a little bit over the years and he is one of several intelligence leaders, military intelligence leaders who have come out of the pentagon is speaking more frankly like this. it goes to what i was saying earlier that the current wars will be for by special operators who are enabled by conventional forces. they will do it across multiple countries, across large regions, and it will be a lot of kill -capture missions but it's not waves of air campaigns are ground forces. it will not be a naval bombardment the massive degree. the military still organizes .tself for those larger fights
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special operations is a smaller part of that. it should be a bigger part of that i think you will see some movement to make that happen. i have already reported that this -- that the head of special operations command will likely be the next head of central command and will take over for general austin. that's a general -- that's a big shift. they say this is how the wars will be fought going forward. atkers is also getting looking beyond the military and the rest of the campaign. these guys have worked hand-in-hand with the state department during the iraq counterinsurgency campaign and during afghanistan. general rodriguez has said similar things. he set up we are going to down a terrorist group and help
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nigeria, we need a whole government approach. they want help outside the military and i want to know what's the larger campaign. strategically, there is a lot of handwringing about this administration for lacking a about the larger fifty-year picture for the middle east. rou will frequently hea people say you need to start at the end point. . no one is is out there explaining it. flushing, new york, independent caller, good morning. caller: good morning, gentlemen. asking howtart by the united states and nato overlook the oil that was being trucked out of syria by isl
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into turkey and generating the revenue for this organization? it was going on for so long. look somewhat hypocritical. vladimir putin described this action and directed his fighters to stop this oil flow. sudden, we said we have to join in and stop this oil flow to generate revenue for isl as well. it seems duplicitous for us to condemn vladimir putin and realize this oil was being shipped out. attacked iraq which is a sovereign country and condemned vladimir putin for doing the same in the ukraine. it seems there's a lot of stuff but the american people are being fooled. on that welot going
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have to answer to. host: thank you for calling. have the oil situation been going on? guest: this has been going on since the beginning of the ice his campaign. that don'tome facts make the evening news. purposely held back. in the beginning of the air campaign, one of the first showed us american strikes on oil refinery. they said you can see the towers on the left and the buildings on the right. we struck that building on the right but we left the tower standing because we did not want to completely destroyed the ability of the locals to make money. the americans held back and have held back consistently to be
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surgical. here comes vladimir putin and andrussians with less care started to attack different targets including some of these oil locations being held by different groups. it would help the regime and help assad. the americans recently decided to strike a large amount of oil trucks. they had been telling the truckers that this is coming. the americans were not convinced that these truckers were terrorists. they were likely to be locals trying to make money. the americans were criticized. if you are trucking oil for isis , they said you are not one of us.
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that gets to the core of these battles. you have a president and military leaders have really held back on the trigger in many clearecause it's not that from a ground perspective. there are no blue and gray uniforms to get on the ground many cases. in some cases there are and where there is, there is no action. the story about the oil trucks and if the administration when after oil enough is much more complemented -- complicated than what we have heard. it boils down to that the americans waited and were more deliberate about who they went after. the president did an interview last week and was asked about isis and what the public might be missing about the strategy. >> what's fair is that boost-paris, you had a about the of news
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horrible attack their. viciousness with very savvy media operations. as a consequence, if you have been watching television for the last month, all you have been seeing and all you been hearing about is these guys with masks or black flags were potentially coming to get you. i understand why people are concerned. but is a serious situation what is important is for people that the power, the strength of the united states and its allies are not threatened by an organization thatthis in the same way al qaeda was able to carry out one spectacular attack. we ended up making changes to
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harden homeland defenses. it took a while for us to ultimately snuff out for al qaeda and there are still lingering remnants. at no point was there a sense that it could do catastrophic damage to us. islyou referred to the sophisticated media operation and the american media. are the media being played? the media is pursuing ratings. this is a legitimate news story. up to the media to make a determination about how they want to cover things. there is no doubt that the actions of isl are designed to amplify their power and the threat they pose. that helps them recruit.
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adds to the twisted thoughts mighte young person they want to have carry out an action that they are part of a larger movement. i think the american people absorb that an understandably are concerned. on our side, there is a of what i criticism have been doing and the administration has been doing in that on a regular basis, i don't think we have ascribed all the work we have done for more than a year to defeat isl. host: any reaction? you hear a president as being very deliberate in his words. he is trying to explain maybe
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for the first time in depth his thinking behind what it will take to stop terrorism. country andget the people watching him in a different mindset, away from what the conversation at the top level has been which is whether or sen ground troops not? it's only in the last month have we seen this. we should expect to see more explaining to americans and asking for patients. this is the era we live in. this is the age of terrorism. you could wipe out the fighters pretty easily in iraq and syria if you sent over mountain fighters.
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lives andost american that has been the president's bar french the emmys not willing to go there. host: where do you think the voice of congress will be moving forward? would be surprised if congress had a voice when it comes to the war. there is a much talk about it at all. when the new armed services committee chairman came into the office he your ago, i asked him if he is satisfied at the level of attention iraq is getting from the leadership and he said no. we reporters a cover congress know that congress is not debate the war. whengiven maybe 20 minutes they are debating the defense spending bills. i might have been in the authorization bill as well. it is caps off the floor. you will not see a vote on the authorization for the use of military force. members are not going to put themselves on record voting for or against the war in they will complain about it and talk about it on air and hit the president
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try to separate the policy decisions from the generals who support them or are carrying them out. an election year but as far as any legislation or use checkislative power to down anytime of moment, i'll think we will see that. kevin is on the line from albuquerque, democrat, go ahead. hi, i think the threat of isl and al qaeda has been enormously exaggerated. to 2000, since then, the number of casualties inflicted on the united states by terrorists is fewer than 4000. most of them were on 9/11 when al qaeda got very lucky. we had no security in our
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airplanes. fact, compared to that 4000, our lack of gun control laws have caused 30,000 gun deaths per year. 2000, thatears since is 450,000 gun deaths because of lax gun control laws. terrorism only counted 4000. it's an insignificant threat by comparison. from tim inhear colorado, independent caller. caller: thank you for taking my call. a couple of questions and i don't want to blame any any i'm trying to look forward to understand what's a most confounding problem.
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this is really a war of religion. we have seen what happens when we create vacuums and take out dictators that have forced their countries to stay together. we see what happens now when there is not the separation of church and state. i am asking you to look back and ask if this is like the christian wars? how did they come to an and and how will this work come to an end and do a have a vietnam malaise hanging over us? had we not been fighting, maybe we would be more proactive to take as battle on. is it a religious war? how do you deal with that? is there a malaise hanging over us question mark those are our questions. guest: the second part first. think it's malaise from vietnam, it's malaise from iraq.
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wars and, i frequently -- on vacuums and how wars and, frequently the military guys will tell you it is about stability. the stability comes a lot of different ways. one of the ways it comes is through these regimes, these undemocratic folks. long time coming. look at egypt, for example. that was a lot of concern he was going to come in, take , put on aiform suit, and become the next dictator. and a lot of people in the pentagon said yes, that is
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right, because he is not isis. there was a partner in the region who was about stability, .nd democracy things he isof bad doing, but look at the region. he is not attacking israel, for example. they are attacking common enemies, there is some traction for the first time. there is something new happening. watch that, if you want to see how these wars are going to end, how the region is going to change, it is going to be in the behaviors of their leaders. will they work together in concert? will they work to the inclusion of their peoples, sunni, shia, women as well? situationt led to the
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we are in now. withpulation unsatisfied their lives. -- gun control, this issueted with because of california. california was an example of two different things happening at once. inspiration,rorism but you also had a good old-fashioned american workplace shooting. the president has now set in the coming year he will make a push our gun-control, and we will see what happens there. if i have to make a prediction, i have to bet that whatever he will propose will be far less than anybody is worried about.
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those who are worried about our right to bear arms do not need to worry. should there be more control or less control, i think the same -- the same underlying argument that goes on with terrorism is about to change my mindset. the change of ideology. heidi stop isis, how do you stop violent behavior? thing goes with them violence. i am curious to see how the administration approaches it. until the country gets into a , that it comeset from the top down, that it is led by the president, led by their political leaders against gun violence, maybe something like the just say no campaign against drugs or stopping drunk driving, these are major public health information campaigns to get americans to change their behaviors and that worked.
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it is different in taking away guns. give upmericans to their guns would be futile, and possibly unconstitutional. instead, a behavior change of some sense will help us to better understand the era we are living in and the threats we are concerned about. when you look at gun violence and terrorism in the same category. host: we have about five minutes left with our guest, kevin baron. south carolina, republican. go ahead, dennis. caller: i will make it short. i think we should rename our department of defense to the department of offense.
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host: why do you say that? caller: because we go over to , and ieast and intervene do not think we should be over there at all. if we want to be the department of defense, take the pentagon, and let's defend the u.s. going to takes 50% tax just to support the pentagon. host: thank you for talking. as we wrap up, i wanted to bring up a couple of points that you one.aking and defense reform projects are a big area. the current secretary, ashton carter, done in his relatively short time in office? been in power for
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a long time, he was defense deputy secretary, and a top weapons adviser. he has a lot of familiarity with works, and hown they take care of the budget and the building. heart, he was his already working on improving the way the pentagon works in the way that weapons are boss, the acquisitions process, which was a multibillion-dollar, very lengthy, complicated, extremely regulated process. singlehe latest of every secretary of defense who say they will streamline the defense department and make it better for the american public and for the arms makers. a plan calledhas 0etter buying power, now a 2.
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version, to make it quicker, more efficient, and more effective to get the right need. that fighters to buying down laptops and ipads like the one in front of you, to bigger purchases. they are also looking at personnel reform. the pentagon has a million people working for it, it is the largest government bureaucracy. it is huge. lling theg from cu ranks of their staff offices to military, uniform and civ
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-- civilian. he has come in at a time when there is a growing and acute sense of dollars matter. if the president is cutting defense, how can we make do with e, he is not cutting defense, he is cutting the rate of growth and that is expected. the pentagon still has more money than it has ever had, is comingy, and this down to what the military is asked to do. that goes back to your caller, talking about foreign entanglements. it will not be focused on the iraq war, but fighting terrorism across the entire middle east. host: i meant ask you about the 2016 presidential race.
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what will the effect of one be on the other? guest: it is surprisingly that national security is still a fund in central concern for voters -- front and the central .oncern for voters are they really voting for who lead the country on terrorism, or are they voting on what people normally vote on? allegiance, and how the country will feel at the end of the year 2016? will there be a national security crisis? if there is a national security event, it will help one side more than the other, perhaps. depending on who leads forward.
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national security is so a high concern for voters, but at the same time donald trump leading republicans is a guy who is -- who has zero national security credibility or background. he came into this disparaging john mccain's pow stance, which did not go over well with republicans or national security workers. he is noninterventionist. --is out there calling for he is not really saying much about national security at all. others are. marco rubio for example. if marco rubio attraction, we will see something. clinton andrd to a rubio debate. host: one last caller from green wisconsin. caller: good morning.
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i hear a lot of talk about and fighting terrorists abroad, but i do not hear anything about fighting terrorists here. the only difference between isis, isil for the ku klux klan is the uniform. ,f you want to show the world lead by example. deal with the problem that we have here in america. ku klux klan members to congress. host: final thought on national security in 2016? caller. will answer the the defense secretary has addressed this as well. extremism of any form, mixed with gun violence, and leads to
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mass shootings. whatot going to get into newsecome a cable show talking point of what is the worst? i do not care, it is gun deaths, it is the worst by either stripe. the rhetoric coming out after california, and going into the next year, after the chat chattanooga shooting, after paris, after california, we are here, we are a place where these things happen. our political leaders are involved in saying the right things. it be on the rhetoric, and look at what the government is doing will what the law enforcement agencies are doing to realign themselves, to fund themselves, how they work together with international law enforcement and military's to get a handle
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on the threat. that goes from the door to door battle in ramadi to what turned somebody into an inspired who will go on a mass shooting in this country. it will keep happening. host: kevin baron is exec a preview of the obama administration's final year in office. strategists examine the political year ahead and what to expect from the presidential race. calls, facebook comments, and tweets. live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span.
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today, "dead wake." he discusses the sinking of the ocean liner which sunk off the coast of ireland. 12,000 of 2000 passengers died. you can watch this today at 7:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. tonight, correspondence look at the dangers of reporting in the middle east. here is more. time i was a little deranged by trauma was in 2000. i had been in northern afghanistan. at that point, the taliban had an air force, and airbase, artillery, and we got pretty pounded a few times. this was before 9/11, in the
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country was at war. ptsd reallya what was and it never occurred to meet you could be traumatized in any kind of way. i came back from afghanistan and i am not particularly neurotic. i was puzzled when i started having panic attacks and situations that ordinarily would not scare me. i can new york city subway at rush hour. [laughter] all of a sudden i was having these full-blown panic attacks, and i did not understand it. if i had jumped at a loud noise, it would have been a connection. sure, had a very strange feeling, everything i was looking at scenes like a threat. the crowd of people was going to attack me, and trains were going to jump the rails, and plow into
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the people and kill everybody. announcer: some of the discussion about the dangers of reporting in the middle east -- byas held recently on the council of foreign relations. announcer: tonight, we will take you a look at how the music industry works. an associate professor of music at berkeley college of music discusses how new music platforms have impacted how musicians are paid and what reforms congress can implement to make the payment structure more transparent. he is joined by jim phillips, a reported. >> certainly, the narrative of artists and songwriters healing like you do not understand where their money is coming from is not new. but we are living in a world today where everything is trackable. where i am,know
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where you are, know what you are talking about on your cell phone. there is no reason artist should not be able to know where their songs are being streamed and how they are being paid for that and not on a significant time lag. announcer: tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. announcer: has 2015 reps up, ' yearpresents congress and review. join us thursday at 8:00 p.m. the, hiss we revisit position as majority leader, address,is' resignation of boehner and the election of paul ryan, the debate over the nuclear deal with iran, and the action from congress on mass shootings here and abroad, the rise of isis.
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review thursday at 8:00 p.m. eastern. announcer: next, remarks from attorney general. he is joined by a former attorney general of alabama that was held by -- in an event that was held by the federalist society. this is about an hour. >> ladies and gentlemen, could you all take your seats. my name is leonard leo. it is a privilege to have you here in washington, d.c., for our annual convention. hope you are enjoying the different sessions. have a conversation this morning about state attorneys general, this is an issue of great ports to the federalist society and should be of great importance to the american people because in
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many states of the state attorney general is the most important constitutional officer, often only one of up to maybe four officers. and there has been an enormous amount of activity in the attorney general space in the last few years. we're seeing an unprecedented amount of activity by states, particularly with regard to push back against federal overreach that oftentimes comes in the .orm of litigation not only are there an unprecedented number of lawsuits being brought against the federal government by state attorneys general, but a number of other state attorneys general joining in the seats. we have a great group of people here who will have a conversation about this. i will introduce our moderator, adam white, who has been a long
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time volunteer leader in the federalist society, is now i believe serving with distinction at the hoover institution -- starting on monday. and he just came out with a wonderful piece in "the weekly standard," which is out today, i believe, called, "judging roberts." so not only on this topic, but well worth the read. with that, i will turn things over to adam. white: thanks, leonard. state attorneys general occupy one of the most important roles in american government. though elected or selected validity, their duty is to the rule of law. they are responsible for vindicating the rights of their citizens and united states
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constitution's separation of power. -- it isy we have two hard to find better speakers on this topic now, one who is the attorney general of the state of nevada, and another who served as the attorney general for out, before joining the 11th circuit. or has been serving on the 11th circuit 2004, but a -- he served as attorney general of alabama. when a, he was the youngest in the nation. he was elected and reelected, and in 2002 received the highest percentage of votes of any statewide candidate. he graduated from tulane law school. he clerked for a judge on the fifth circuit, had been in
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atvate practice, and taught law schools. we are joined by adam laxalt, who has been serving as the nevada attorney general. a former lieutenant in the u.s. navy can ease serve as judge advocate general and served in a where hiswn in iraq, team was in charge of keeping more than 20,000 detainees during the surge. his unit was awarded joint meritorious unit award. he has been in private law,ice, has taught advised john bolton at the state department, serves on the board of trustees on catholic charities come and go found the st. thomas more society in nevada, graduated from georgetown and received his law degree from georgetown.
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that is welcome our speakers, and he will begin. if i may begin with you, judge pyror, since you served and while ago, what was it like serving as attorney general then? or: it was a different world. i became attorney general in 1997. jeff sessions had just been elected to the senate, and the governor appointed me to finish his term. the first issue on my plate was whether the state would join the national tobacco litigation. i had served as the chair of a task force year before for both the governor and the attorney just sessions'as
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deputy in evaluating whether the state should file such a lawsuit. neighboring state mississippi and florida had. our recommendation was that we not do so. we thought it was contrary to law, certainly to the law of alabama. that was our perspective. and bad public policy on a lot of levels. growing numbera of states that were joining in that litigation. it was akin to the kind of litigation that states did collectively back then. a lot of that i think really was an outgrowth of the era during the reagan administration when any trust enforcement changed at the federal level and went more to a consumer welfare model perspective, a law and economics kind of perspective. and states to have a more populist perspective of
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antitrust enforcement and old-school liberal populist andpective resisted that engaged in some collective litigation. so it was very much an era where pro-regulation, looked in many ways to the federal government for leadership, and tobacco litigation, which i refuse to join eventually, landed in the hands of congress worry while. many of the state wanted congress to step in. so it was really a different era. when there wase a case before the supreme court of the united states involving whether congress had the power under the commerce clause to create a simple remedy, a tort remedy for a victim of an andrust state rape,
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whether that was a proper exercise of congressional power. attorneys general, filed a brief to create that right. i was the only state attorney a friend offiled the court brief on the other side and said this is really -- [applause] ge pryor: it gives you a flavor of how different the environment was. mr. white: how did things begin to change? a coreryor: there was group of us who were to satisfy with it and started working
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together, both politically and through litigation. general, solicitors who we were in the process of creating those kinds of position. i created one in my office. started working together more in supreme court litigation. but in many respects during my era, i felt that we were under siege and we were fighting back. at the if you look tobacco look they get asian alone, this is a truly remarkable era in state attorneys general collectively brought an industry to agree to a settlement that would bring billions and billions of dollars to state governments, what could only be viewed as a form of taxation, that they achieved
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through litigation without any kind of vote, of legislative chambers. it gave a huge percentage of those billions of dollars to the lawyers who filed that litigation and conducted that litigation and had been campaign contributors to the attorneys general. there were really some corruption issues associated with that prosecutions associated with that. differententirely environment, and i think maybe the seeds of change in that perspective or laid back then, ft office ine 2004, i do not think it is anything like the environment he now. mr. white: explain for us what .t is like to arrive in office
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i would be curious, what spurred you to run for office, and once you settled in, what has your experience been in the first year? laxalt: federalism was what inspired me to run for office. when i ran last year, there was not a single person who knew our solicitor, new what a su solicitor did. our western state has been under siege from the federal government for some time now. and politically, republicans and democrats fight federal overreach in a state like nevada. for whatever reason, the state attorney general's office had never been used to protect the state. i had to get a grassroots year theyn a short
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tell people i was running, go tell people what they are s officefrom their a.g.' and what more we can bring to today. as you can imagine, it excited cannot people when they said the attorney general is not just a boring lawyer, that nobody ever hears from. has been a big motivating factor for me -- so that has been a motivating factor for me, and we have had a great opportunity to step into that space. we had a solicitor general technically, but it did not function in the capacity that i think you guys are all used to as a solicitor. that was the first thing i had to do, bring in a new solicitor general, someone that many of you know, mr. van dyke, who had been a solicitor general, and said i need you to help me build an office.
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we got into the immigration litigation within a few weeks of being in office. and so we really kicked into high gear, and once people started realizing we can, whether it is water in the u.s., endangered, a bunch of things will talk about, people have been excited that the attorney general's office can do this and we can protect the state. unfortunately, as i have to tell people around the state, laces like texas have 20 in their s.g.'s office, and i only have one. we haven't been a victim of our success. give me some time here. we got to build this s.g.'s office. it is a very different time from when a.g.'s were predominantly used to basically crushed businesses. there is now nearly 30
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republican a.g.'s. i think there is a huge hesitancy to go down that patrick i philosophy is, if we think a business is doing something wrong, we will reach the business, that their explanation, see if we can reach an accommodation. this is opposed to i think in day, surprise lawsuits. their arm oil effect of to protect the consumer. it has got to be a huge sea we haveprobably weekly, something involving federalism in our space that we are looking at. and it is i suspect the judge was in the wilderness with four who were willing
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to do a multistate litigation against an administration, and now we are looking at joining lawsuits. i believe this started with the obamacare lawsuit. you are looking at 20 -- a.g.'ses to 30 or more with republican-democratic crossover. we are entering an era that, whether that is we found our new voice, or whether this administration, the timing of how this administration has acted along with all of these , has provided a perfect point of inflection where there is a lot of us to do. -- i lot for us to do. requires: your office or in the other
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direction you're defending state laws, where you are choosing not to enforce a state law on constitutional grounds. i would be curious, how do you approach a question like that, and interpretive question, and a practical task of carrying out the office? laxalt: that is a fun topic -- pyror: that is a fun topic. i have a different perspective which might be different from state attorneys general serve, and it has been observed in the marriage litigation. a lot of this depends on state law. paul attorneys general's offices are created as a way. 43 of the 50 are elected. five are appointed by the governor. 1 bythe state legislature,
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the state supreme court. you have to understand what the state law is in each jurisdiction. the attorney general is the officeritigation of the state, and we do not have a unitary executive at the state level. the attorney general has the constitutional authority to state the legal position of the state government in court. general takes a oath to take the constitution seriously and to state the correct legal position. and if that meant that i had to confess that a state law was unconstitutional, i did so. i did not think it was
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productive to have debates about doing my job. seen in the context of the marriage litigation, a year ago i gave a lecture at case western, and i criticized the conservatives who say that the answer to the marriage litigation was to say i am doing my job, i am defending state law, without regard to what the merits of the argument are -- might be. from my perspective, you are to be talking about them merits. what is does the constitution actually require? what is the correct legal position? i do not think it is productive to have a debate about process. and we have a long history in our country of executive review. each branch -- we forget about it -- but each branch has responsibility of taking the
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constitution seriously, interpreting the constitution independently. thomas jefferson refused to prosecute under the alien sedition act that had been upheld by the federal courts, why the federalist-appointed judges. he pardoned those who have been convicted under that law. action he took the national right act on unconstitutional grounds, even though it was upheld by the supreme. i'd go to the examples of lincoln on others. executives have an independent role and reviewing the constitutionality of legislation and other action. and i think that applies at the state level as well. state attorneys general take votes of office -- oaths of office, and i thought rather than having debate about whether attorneys general redoing the law and -- doing
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their job in defending the law, the argument should be, what is the correct legal position? white: picking up on the duty to evaluate the constitutionality of the law, i think we are in a unique error right now where the administration and various federal agencies are virtually relentless and what they are willing to do to expand their initial statutory grounds for doing whatever they are doing. so i think it is incumbent on congress -- and i know some of electedress, congressmen and women and senators -- they are starting to take seriously that they had their own responsibility in if i waiting whether laws they pass our constitution. many of our judges and a few of our supreme court judges expect
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that. they assume that is going on. unfortunately, you hear in the political space on time, it is the dog,o just pass let the judges figure out whether it is constitutional. it is important we reverse that 50/50, because judges are at best these days of actually of whatthose lines is constitutional and not constitutional. obviously there is a lean toward deference that continues to go against our direction. i think the a.g.'s have provided this incredibly important role the last two years. this year i feel fortunate to be in the position i am in in this moment of time in our history, to be able to file lawsuits and gave very important injunctions. we make that argument all the time. we are not policy folks, but it is our job, if we need to, to
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defend the constitution, try to get something like the waters of the u.s. or executive amnesty, get these things frozen if you will in the court system to then go back to the body where they are supposed to be handled. white: i remember a few years ago, the new forum for administrative issues was the states, and that was years ago, as is probably more so now, we see with these administrative programs. you mentioned the native species act. i want to hear your perspective on it fiv operating in a constitutional -- and deciding what action to take to push back against federal overreach.
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two bigalt we have had ones. changedf the u.s. has many decades on the phrase "navigable waters." any crowd i speak to about waters of the u.s., anyone can articulate what they think a navigable water is. obviously, for a federalism-type crowd, that was the hook, something that was interstate is the only reason the federal government at any capacity to be in this space. what has happened with this rule is they decided to reinterpret that phrase. it moved into -- i am barely exaggerating -- to backyard pools, roadside ditches, wetlands, any pooling water that last for a handful of days and a year.
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nevada, and many states -- for a state like nevada, like many states, it is a transformative thing that they were trying to do to the executive branch, through the administrative state. and that is a great one to see the interaction of the new a.g.'s space. you knew you had about 35 state that were opposed to waters of the u.s.. there was a lot of democrat crossover in the case of the waters of the u.s. a live discussion occurred among across the country to figure out the best way to approach this. what you ended up was i believe five different lawsuit in many different circuits. we, the ninth circuit, went into the north dakota litigation, and we were part of the 13 states
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that got the first injunction. thatis a perfect example .g. of our state would not have been involved. would not have been involved in that litigation for the state of nevada. and we ended up not only getting a litigation -- we happened to pick the right one that was n injunction that afternoon for the role is set to go into effect. basicallyolutely apoplectic about this rule in our state. u.s. already has no water. then, an injunction, something on anevada has not been good side of for a long time. you run into the
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pressure of whether or not you are in the right litigation, whether or not you join the right lawsuit, and this time we pick the right one. the federal government then said, well, they are going to move forward with the rule in the other 37 states, which usually gets gaps. imagine that. they are so determined to transform administratively our country that they say we are going to have a two-track rule on what it means for navigable waters in america. a few weeks later, at the circuit level, they did a nationwide injunction. that is a real example of what an a.g. that is trying to preserve the constitution, preserve these separations of powers, can do to help and protect the state.
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white: we will take questions and about 10 minutes. if anyone wants to line up, by all means. a few times you mentioned the state solicitor general office. law school palo mindset, , you establish this trend of creating a solicitor general's office. statepryor: i created a solicitor general post in my office, but in fact there were already dozens of states that have done so. i was following an example that had been set by others. i think there are even more now you have done so. white: since there are a lot of young lawyers here, could you describe that job and the job in
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that office, what sort of lawyers have served in that role? yror: let me tell you why i did this. this was during the rehnquist court era, and federalism was a big part of the supreme court. i was pretty heavily involved in some of the major cases that ine decided by that court that era. case,t florida-alabama the alexander vs. sandoval case, of garrett vs. alabama board trustee's case, which challenged congressional authority to subject state governments to certain kinds of lawsuits. and i had hired a good friend of
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mine, who is now a circuit judge on the sixth circuit, jeff sutherland, to represent our state in some of those cases before the supreme court. but i became convinced that the state solicitor general model would be something that would getw us to do even more, even bigger bang for our buck, and we could bring in young lawyers, many of whom had clerked on the supreme court of the united states, or just a few years out of law school, but were very talented and would love the opportunity to be involved in high-profile litigation representing state governments and states' supreme court's, and federal court of appeals, and occasionally in the supreme court of the united states,
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opportunities that they would not get as junior lawyers at big law firms. a salary thatthem would be competitive to attract them. could pay them far less than it would cost to hire big law firms to represent us in those cases. especially before the supreme court. learned that model from some other states. cruz started in public service. i think it is been a highly successful model. it is not surprising that more states are doing it. laxalt: the solicitor
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general's office really wasn't active in this space. are set up so that there is a lawyer who represents natural resources. they may represent the agencies affected. we needed a dedicated appellate practice, someone who can take everything that is going on and towardsave an eye litigation. that has been very important for our office. vandyke got a case busing of patients from nevada to california. san francisco had sued our state. it was a somewhat high profile case. are we had been in
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litigation for a few years my new solicitor general that has and sayslate review there is no sovereign immunity argument in this case. he is shocked. anended up putting together amicus brief from 40 states supporting the sovereign immunity position. california files a sovereign immunity case against nevada on an unrelated case. in a hired paul clement to do it . both cases went up to the supreme court. lawrence the for clement case was granted and ours was not.
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you know how hard it is to get granted. thinker thatype of do that. if you are the lawyer for the department of education in our that lawyer stayed on the case. that was not acceptable for me. that was not the way we're going to continue doing work. making sure we have a solicitor's office that is now engaged in the beginning of these tough cases. setting ourselves up for the long run. we have a new deputy solicitor from gibson dunn in san francisco.
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he took a huge pay cut but he absolutely loves his job. they talk about how exciting their work is. two guys that are shaping this made her share litigation for sovereign states. it is exciting work. mr. white: one more question from a. you both campaigned for office. how did you translate rule of into a popular political campaign? judge pryor: defending our
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state a disability discrimination case. i argued that congress exceeded its power in subjecting state governments to lawsuits for money damages under the americans with disabilities act. there were certainly advocates from the disability community who did not agree with our legal position. they made arguments in the public square against it. important not to get lost in the weeds. about the legal argument. tomunicating with voters tell them what was really at stake. we do not argue that state governments were free to discriminate against the disabled. we're trying to protect the taxpayers. against a lawsuit they would open up the state treasury.
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we were arguing the federal government can't do that. we had an administrative process for how damages could be awarded to a state employee who'd been discriminated against on the basis of disability. it helps a lot to win. [laughter] i am a big believer in picking your lawsuits wisely. we did a pretty fair job of picking winners. see that voters will
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you win and say that guy must know something about what he's talking about. i had a big school prayer case where the governor took the position that teachers and schools should be able to lead organized prayers. i didn't take that position. i argued that there was a federal injunction that restricted the free speech and thef students injunction had gone too far ahead actually violated their free speech rights. the aclu was involved in the same litigation representing a student and was arguing that the injunction was proper. school officials needed to's clampdown on it. in that kind of battle, we chose the winning argument. the 11th circuit ruled that we were right.
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you have to pick your battles carefully. you have to be able to communicate. over time voters will recognize that if you are winning more than you are losing. you might know what you are talking about. i would submit that i do not experience the idea that voters don't understand the rule of law. speech, it stump revolved around the importance of following the law, people absolutely got it. joke it was amazing it didn't matter if it was a town holder wasle, eric
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the first question i got. what are you going to do about eric holder? [laughter] what they knew was that laws are not being followed out there. what is going on? it was good timing for me. see looking at the big space that laws were not being followed. was easy to sell. maybe that is because i am out west. everybody understood how hard it is for a state to operate when the federal government is coming in on top and changing the rules.
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whether it is our water our land. we are fighting for our lives out there. 85% of our land controlled by the federal government which astonishes a those things are absolutely heading home in our state. we are now defending against the aclu the nation's first savings accounts. they can go to any parent for any type of school. we are being sued under the blaine amendment which had a lot of anti-catholic bigotry behind it. we were able to get a solicitor involved along with your trial litigators.
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we are ready. we are ready to win it on the merits or take it to the supreme people are have to seeing the activity they know that this is helping our state they are returning decision-making back to the .eople pryor: all politics is local. refrain from the use of states rights which carry the connotation that hearkened back .o the days of governor wallace a flawed perspective on constitutional law. i try to be careful about that. there is a western perspective
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and there is a southern perspective. ask you got a lawsuit that is challenging these education savings accounts. your statehat constitution are some state law provides blaine amendment which prohibits taxpayer dollars for religious education. mr. laxalt: we have a constitutional amendment that bans funding for sectarian purposes. it sounds like you are getting ready to argue that the state constitution violates the federal constitution. that is totally consistent with my perspective of what the state attorney general should do.
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-- differentntle from what some state attorneys general are saying. you have a duty to defend the constitution. laxalt: thank you your honor. we stopped about a half step short of that. there were three prongs. the third prong was the blaine that itt and we said should be found on very narrow or they will risk bumping into the u.s. constitution. it is a constitutional avoidance argument.
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white: we can take some questions from the crowd. >> it seems the supreme court is an conference today and we have heard some noises about undertaking a new look at the death penalty. on a cruel and unusual punishment argument. the length of time that it takes for the imposition of the penalty and the other is the method of the penalty. some states have gone away from the new chemical impositions and
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gansu firing squads. how to the state attorneys general handle those issues? i believe it would be a speedy trial and due process issue. mr. laxalt: it has never hit my desk so far. goes if a typically few attorneys general get motivated they will circulate around the rest of the states a letter to see if there is some support for one side or the other. i haven't seen anything on that yet. office that does a lot of things. pryor: it hits my desk is
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a judge but i'm not going to talk about it. football, 20 states have weighed in and identified it as gambling issue. given the professional sports leagues partnership with these companies and the astronomical as of money being involved now we have sports talk radio that a possible resolution would be a federal gaming czar what is the likelihood that?
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judge pryor: you're from nevada not me. we play real football my fantasy football. [laughter] [applause] roll side. laxalt: it would not want to federal gaming, certainly not in nevada. we've worked hard to clean up the reputation of gaming.
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it should state the state level. my biggest client is the gaming the mostoard, important gaming regulator in the world. law, is filled directly in the definition of gambling and sports betting. they will make their economic decision on how they want to move forward. these are tough questions. there's a lot of movement going on in daily fantasy world.
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somehow this was protectionism. it a great driver of traffic. if they do anything wrong they that is one of the reasons why this opinion came down the way it did. interested on what the rules the road where. >> is with some trepidation that i am questioning something that judge pryor said.
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he is one of the greatest legal minds in this country. he would be a great guy for consideration is the next republican president. >> if nominated i will not serve. . the question of an age era solicitor general of the state following his own view of the and deciding not to defendant in court i have to give you an example from new we had a wonderful
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program. in frisk. theremayor didn't like it was a court case decided by a federal district judge it went up to the court of appeals and the judge was replaced. clear mayor depositors lawyer withdrew the me thatt troubles person said that he was exercising his view of the constitutionality of the police action. citizens >>ive the the citizens of new york had the opportunity to vote for a mayor.
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and they had a discussion about what the correct view was. you may not agree with how the voters settled that debate. let me take an example from my experience. we had a state law in the school prayer litigation that i mentioned in the state legislature had passed a law students can pray in a nonsectarian way at school events. i was pretty sure that was viewpoint discrimination. choosing one form of prayer over another and that it violated the first amendment. i could defended that law or tried to.
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but was clear to me that it violated the first amendment so we didn't fight about that. plaintiffsh the that's a bad law. they reelected me. governmentanch of has a role in constitutional interpretation. the point in this country where the president signs bills that congress passed we are a lot of scholars say there is a problem with that the president will do the ultimate copout and say we've got expedited review in the bill and we can find out from the supreme court whether or not it is constitutional.
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members of congress to vote on laws. they have taken an oath to the constitution. they have an obligation to figure out for themselves whether that violates the constitution before it ever gets to a lawsuit. the president of the united states who signs bills into law has the same oath and has not obligation to evaluate its constitutionality. every official government takes an oath to the constitution. these officials -- issues need to be settled in the political process through elections, not just litigation. the mayor of new york made his maybe in a few years the voters won't like what the getlt is and maybe you will a new mayor with a different perspective. power, igive all the
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to this is a federal judge, the courts to make the ultimate constitutional determinations. other branches have that responsibility to. o. [applause] mr. white: everybody has been very patient. we're coming up on 10:00. the redline on the podium is going off. would like to thank you for your time. [applause] [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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>> law enforcement officials and activists examine the prison system and its impact on minority communities. the purpose of prisons is to punish people for antisocial behavior and to remove that threat from society. crime orfuture rehabilitate the prisoner is secondary. is to keep purpose society safe from the threats posed by those individuals. >> a race relations town hall meeting with elected officials and law enforcement. >> they get the job by saying i am protecting the public. public is of the those that gave them their
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marching orders. also a discussion of media coverage on muslims. young people from across the united kingdom gather in the house of commons to discuss issues important to them. >> this issue is so much more than buses and trains. people feeling deprived and disillusioned. wait told i couldn't experience a bus or train journey. they lose their smiley faces and we forget to worry the honking but we whether we can afford the bus.
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as 2015 reps up, c-span presents congress, the year in review. all the issues that took center stage on capitol hill. we revisit mitch mcconnell taking his position as senate majority leader. pope francis giving his historic address to congress. john boehner stepping down. the debate over the nuclear deal with iran. gun control, terrorism and the rise of isis. >> lara logan joins a panel to talk about the challenges facing
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journalists who cover the middle east. that conversation on women and foreign policy. scientists and journalists examine the legitimacy of some of the claims made about science. >> a discussion on the dangers of reporting from the middle east. we will hear from cbs news correspondent lara logan, matthew aikins, and author sebastian younger. the event was hosted by the council on foreign relations.


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