tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN December 10, 2015 7:30am-10:01am EST
you're right and i associate myself with you about acts decisively. i do recognize that there maybe decades of combating radical iesm in general but we need to go after isil and parent tumor now and urgently, and so i associate myself with that -- that point of view. refugees is a tragic matter and by the way, a reminder that only half of the refugees are from syria. they're also from libya, afghanistan and throughout africa. ..
>> with respect to safe zones, we have thought about that. i've thought about that a great deal. i'll begin and describe the concept of a safe zone would be to create a patch of syria that wearing people who are inclined to go there could go there and be protected. they would need to be protected because you can foresee that at
least isil and other radical groups, and quite possibly elements of the assad regime would undertake to prove that it wasn't safe. and so it would have to be made safe and that takes us back to the question of what's and appropriate force of that size to protect a zone of that size? in our estimate it is substantial, and again i don't see as much as i wish otherwise offering to furnish that for us. i also think we have thought about who might want to reside such a zone. i think would be undesirable if you became a place into which people were pushed, say, from turkey or europe, expelled so to speak into this zone. i don't know what people who now live in the zone we think about other people come into the zone. have to be taken into account. so we have thought about it. we have not recommended that
because it's an undertaking of substantial scale where in my judgment the costs outweigh the benefits. but me ask general selva spirit before you answer, a major european ambassador told me that the europeans have recommended that an attorney has said no. is that correct? >> no european defense leader has indicated a willingness to do that and contribute to a force to do that. >> i asked him twice. so you've recommended that in the united states is the one thing no? that's when you suggest. >> i have not observed that, no. >> thank you. if you would disagree with any of these statements. i'm going to summarize a letter that general austin center
senator kean about what is the situation in the fight against isil. number one, isil is losing territory, correct? of oakland all the details that only the territory they've lost because of the want to take the time but certainly it's factually available to any member of the committee or any american. second isil is losing leadersh leadership, correct? >> just. >> we have, in fact, taken up more than 100 of isil's leadership, including the special ops together chief financial officer where we gained a great deal of intelligence about what was funding isil. and secondly airstrikes taking out the online recruiting campaign. the cyber caliphate, and also the top commander in libya, correct? >> that's, and jihadi john, the executioner and another one and there are many. >> and fear losing funding, correct? >> that is correct.
>> coalition airstrikes have destroyed hundreds of oil transport trucks just in the last 30 days? >> true. >> in addition to oil operations infrastructure that we've taken out with our airstrikes? >> true also. >> so one of our colleagues who is like a debate which is interesting considering this would be a pretty important hearing if you're running for president, he has said quote this is senator cruz has said we will utterly destroy isis, we will carpet bomb them into oblivion. i don't know if sand can go in the dark but we are going to find out. how many women and children would be involved if we carpet bombed the areas where isis is currently a stronghold? what are we talking about in terms of lives lost of women and children in those areas? does anybody have an estimate? >> senator, i will let general selva speak -- that, of course, is not our approach and we are
very effective from the air but we take some pain in able to be affected. we are able to be effective while minimizing collateral damage. >> one of the reasons of the location we took out is so important because now we forced their transport trucks out in the open. were as when they are in the city center we kill thousands of innocent people, correct? >> our process is to be as deliberate as possible, as careful as we can with intelligence that we have come into discriminately strike targets and avoid civilian collateral damage. has been our process since day one. it has proven very effective, and that's were i would end of the comment. >> is that the biggest danger to the homeland the ability of his extreme jihad viewpoint being transferred to americans and then become radicalized and the way these people did in san bernardino?
isn't that the biggest threat to our homeland? >> it's clear from isil strategy that their objective is to cause us to engage in what they believe is an apocalyptic war with the west. and anything that we do to feed that particular frame of thinking counters our national security. we have to be very careful about how we prosecute a campaign that appears to be an indiscriminate attempt to attack the isil and a population that surrounds it. >> if we did an indiscriminate carpet bombing of a major area and killed thousands of women and children, will you assume that would have some impact on their ability to recruit misguided barbarians like this couple that took out more than a dozen innocent people last week? i would have to assume it would put the recruiting on steroids. steroids. >> i'm going to avoid anything hypothetical. what i would say categorically is the process you described as
your hypothetical question is not the way that we apply force in combat. it isn't now, nor will it ever be. >> ever? >> no, ma'am. >> if we cleared out rock a which i've no doubt that our military could do, if we cleared out raqqa or provided with any force capable of providing security on the ground in those locations ongoing? >> i can't talk specifically about raqqa because we don't have that kind of intelligence on raqqa. in the case of ramadi there is a sunni predominates in the police force that is ready to follow in behind the force that is attempting to take ramadi back and it is the intention of the iraqi government to put that police force in place. i don't at this instance have the numbers to i can provide those if you would like them. >> in raqqa are we aware of any force that is available to
secure and hold raqqa are able to take it out or would we have to stay as long as it took? >> the forces that we are aware of at this point are the sitting democratic forces that are working with the parties partners that are willing to put pressure on raqqa but it's not clear that force is large enough to be the whole force and a security force that would follow. that is one of the reasons that we have advocated and gotten authorities to put special forces into syria to build the depth of intelligence to understand which forces are unable to put increasing pressure and a hold force into raqqa. >> think is a much. >> we don't want to neglect world war ii, general selva, as far as carpet bombing is concerned. senator sullivan has asked to take precedence over his colleagues.
[inaudible] >> fix this mic here. having a mic issue. mr. secretary, general, good to see. i think one of the things that you were hearing here is a common theme, really from all our colleagues, is a sense of urgency. so you are laying out the strategy and i think some of the elements you have highlighted in your testimony look like they are useful elements of strategy but there's a strong belief that there's a lack of sense of urgency here. and i think when all had to watch the press conference between, with president obama and president hollande. is a one liter who was very urgent, going around the world trying to get our allies motivate others and you saw another leader, unfortunate our president, was very passive.
entity to matter what the strategy is, if they are not engaged american leadership, series leadership that people believe that we are in there, and committed to this, we are not going to be able to do any of these things. talk about an arab army force. they are not going to fall unless they believe we are fully committed. so i think that's one of the elements of the frustration that you see among the members on the committee today. let me ask in terms of strategy. this is a bit of a difficult question, but let's say that there's another kind of san bernardino event but maybe much bigger in our country. maybe 200 americans killed and isis directed attacks on americans. would we keep the same strategy right now, or would we keep the same strategic patience as the white house calls it quits this
in your crystal ball and you saw the coming two weeks from now or three weeks from now where 200 americans are killed, which he based that -- satisfied this is the strategy? >> as far as the military campaign is concerned, i just want to say, i share your sense of urgency. >> but it doesn't seem like the president does and i think that's a real, even members of his own party have indicated that. >> he has encouraged general dunford and me, and we have encouraged all our supporting commanders, this was said before, to propose ways to accelerate the campaign and he has approved all the ones we proposed so far. we expect to propose more as indicated and to gather momentum in this campaign. with respect to others following -- >> let me ask just the question
if you can address the question i asked. assume there's a terrorist like that, 200 americans killed. god forbid it happens. but let's say that happens and it's directed by isis. would you go back to the president saying keep the same strategy? >> look, senator, if i had more to recommend to him to accelerate the defeat of isil into syria and iraq i would be doing it now. >> isn't that the key question we want to make sure we don't want 200 americans killed? we don't have to be motivated to do it once it happens? >> i think, again on the military campaign, it is as i said, with respect to homeland security, and here i would have prefer you to -- >> but they are all related. >> of course. and so forth i know that you all are considering various provisions of the law that effective use of waivers and so
forth. i think there are probably some improvements and steps that can be taken in that direction, and if there are, again i would refer you to secretary johnson and director comey and attorney general lynch and others on that. >> mr. secretary, i think it's important. we can't wait for an attack, a big attack, we've already just had one, on our country to get the president engaged more urgent. i think that's the frustration you are seeing. let me ask a related question on urgency. do you believe the longer isis holds territory, that that increases risk to the homeland? to thank, that they hold more territory and they continue to do so, does that increase risk to our citizens here at home? >> whatever, whenever a terrorist group find safe haven
somewhere in which to plot against the united states, that is a danger to the united states. we've been pursuing such groups for, since 9/11 and actually since before and we have to do that with respect to isil today. so yes, that's absolutely right. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you all for being here appreciate your service. secretary carter, i think often frustration, i can just speak for constituents in west virginia, all the good people at all the military that we have in west virginia. but a we are just, what is the endgame this time? if you want to repeat, get bogged down for 10 years at american men and women, at a national guard people put on the front line in jeopardy. so if the isis and/or assad would fall, if we're able to make the transition, how do we prevent that being filled by another terrorist group?
because when we start out with the taliban when it first, and al-qaeda, then all the spinoffs of al-qaeda and isis came about. they believe basically we've got to help you can't kill the snake. that's what they're concerned about. how do you ever have anything that has any type of normalcy from the very if it's even possible? >> well, i've been speaking mostly of the military campaign and the urgent need to crush isil. you're asking a very good question, and i said the political line of effort is fundamental. because in order to have what you are correctly identifying as the end state that will keep the peace in the long run, there have to be first of all in syria a political transition from assad to a government that includes some of the opposition, the moderate opposition that has been counting it and preserve
some of the structure of the government of syria so people can have a government there is a function that decent. and in iraq a government along the lines that prime minister abadi said, and at least he is genuine, he is trying to create their which is one because i think a decentralized iraq, namely one in which the different sectarian elements of iraqi territory, mainly sunnis and shia and kurds, can remain one state but have enough autonomy within their different areas that they're not going at each other. that's absolutely fundamental. >> secretary, if i could ask this question. i think it perfect, have we identified anybody, any group that we think can take over if assad is put aside to work, i mean, are we able to come to an agreement? we hav had to come to agreementi would assume with russia because they're much involved in that
iran seems to be having an awful lot of input into, and are we going to become to agreement of new leadership that's going to bring the rebels so-called friendly rebels in and out of one terms their efforts towards isil? >> i would have to refer you to the secretary kerry on that matter i think that's exactly what he is trying to do, in addition to this report you mentioned, namely us and the russians and iranians, of course the russians and the iranians on, working in the wrong direction at the moment. so it means getting them turned around. but also i may note all the gulf, sunni gulf states that we've talked about otherwise would be to be involved as well. and that's the end state that will keep the peace in syria. >> i understand they are currently meeting in saudi arabia now talking about all these things we are talking about right now. why hasn't the ypg or the syrian kurds been involved in these talks?
what you think you haven't, which seems to be the most effective ground troops in syria right now, the leading to charges that they are not asked to be at the table. would that be because we're trying to please the saudis and not upset the turks speak what can i get back to you on the question? i don't know where diplomatically, i mean, we are in touch with them. secretary kerry knows that along with, i said they would have -- >> the other thing i would like each opinion on his we have been taught but what would we do for the visa waivers. i've been in a lot of conversation with different people from that part of the world, basically located in west virginia. they understand we have to have a much tougher, much stronger vetting process or they don't want to relax that at all. the other thing that would be acceptable to his isometric scanning. and unthinking biometric scanning, people can change the name, change their appearance, they can change who they are. to me i think american people would be a lot more comfortable if we go down that path and said
it will be no more visas coming from this country much of that while metric scanning. that's something that is accepted i think, is that something you would think in your thought process would be feasible, we could? >> i really need to defer you to the department of homeland security and so forth on that. it's a very good question. i simply don't know a good answer. >> thank you. >> i want to thank you both for being here. general selva, could he tells what% of u.s. sorties are returning in the fight right now against isis with the dropping munitions? >> depends on which day and which targets we're talking about but roughly 40% come back everyday not having struck a dynamic targets with weapons still aboard. >> so let me ask you this. we asked central command recently whether or not the department of defense, jtac, our operating outside of operation
centers and basically what we are back is that they were not. and so i would like to hear from you, secretary carter, and you, general selva. an incumbent we know that one of the things that makes our airstrikes even more effective is the forward air controls on the ground calling them in. and what is our position, in fact, on embedding jtac's? whether it's with the kurds or iraqi forces so that we can more effectively bomb isis and take out the most productive targets to defeat him? >> first i will note, very good memory i have of becoming to the pentagon with a number of jtac's. >> we met with the jtac association so thank you for doing that. >> thank you. is very grateful that the great people because they represent veterans of the great capability and that's can we talk about
american comparative advantage. this is one of the things we are good at and that is very effective when we do get the integer question is yes. i want to be careful about what we don't actually today as i speak but we are doing that, accompanying, and people who have those, by the way, other skills, intelligence skills and other skills that allow us to leverage a local force and make a much more powerful by bringing in the full weight of american, america's might behind it. and it's the jtacs and those kind of skills that create the connection between a motivated local force and the might, the might of american power. general selva, he want to say anything about jtacs? >> in areas where we are not able to accompany to this point
of contact we have actually trained syrian arabs, members of the new syrian forces as well as our iraqi partners to provide the kind of precision target identification that is necessary and we are passing it back to jtacs to be embedded. >> i'm glad to do this because what we were hearing before is there only in the operation centers and, obviously, when possible getting them into the battalion level is going to make a difference. so we can trade all the other people we want but when our guys are the best, and women who do this. and that they're going to be able to go in these airstrikes and we have 40% returning. we can increase that percentage dramatically by having the right information on the ground. one question i've got a lot of, i saw in your testimony, secretary carter, that we've taken a 400 isis fuel trucks at this point, and i appreciated the report there were 116 others taken out with the help of atms, but why did it take so long for us to go after the fuel
trucks knowing where they were as i think there's a lot of people that asset and we're going to be more aggressive in going after these assets going forward speak with yes, more aggressive. what made it possible was intelligence that we didn't have before. and that is what allowed us to identify those parts of the oil infrastructure that are being used to fund isil. and we greatly increased our insight into that infrastructure in recent months. and this is one of the ways that as our intelligence which had to say when i started out -- a lot of improvement to be done there in terms of collection, is getting a lot better and that is also is a huge enabler. because windows jtac skull in an
airstrike based upon intelligence foundation, that is what made the critical difference in our ability to go after the -- >> i do want to interrupt but i need to since my time is almost up but a really important topic before believe and that is iran. we now have been informed that iran has been another missile test on november 21 of we know previously they made a missile test on october 10 in violation of existing u.n. resolutions. as far as i can tell in raising this with the administration, nothing has been happening, no response. our own ambassador said the october 10 clear violation of the u.n. resolution to we'll talk about about the importance of stopping them from having icbm capability, yet they continue to test in violation of resolution. what is our response? >> well, what we are doing in defense department and remember we discussed this shortly after the nuclear deal was made with iran, is basically, we continue
to deter iran to counter its malign influence to the military presence in the region, which is already not toward the urgent need to defeat isil in its homeland but also at remember when you to deter and counter iran as well. that is force his ballistic missile program is concerned agenda we are making some improvements in both qualitative and quantitative in our missile defense system. that is principally oriented towards north korea the moment but also a capability we can relegate against iran in the unfortunate event, sometime in the future they were able as we discussed earlier to field an icbm. on the specific matter of this missile test, i refer you to the state department on that. but on the military side we are continuing unchanged in our need
to deter and counter iranian malign influence in the region. >> let me just say this. i'm all for, i've been long supporting anti-our missile defense system in this country, but there already are existing u.n. resolutions that they are in violation of that in testing these missiles, and if we don't respond to their violations in a very forceful way, then this agreement, we might as well, just carry this up because it doesn't matter because this issue is already a demonstration of them really backing off on international commitments with this agreement pending. >> before i recognized senator donnelly, secretary, you might want to correct the record. we all knew those fuel trucks are moving back and forth. we have seen him. we knew. the decision was not made by the white house to attack them. you may want to correct the record because i certainly knew
spent not a matter of correction at all. i clarify if that would help. that is the case. the air commanders were able to do was identify those trucks. in a class i said i can describe exactly how that information was obtained which were directly supporting isil. we have and continue to try to withhold attacks upon that part of the general infrastructure, energy, electricity, water, et cetera, that is also necessary for the people of syria. and we are trying to peel off that which isil uses and command and control for its own revenue source. we are not able to make that distinction which is what enabled the airstrikes, chairman. and with regard to what the intelligence came from, i would be happy to have somebody come
up and tell you in a classified manner. >> be glad to but i repeat, we knew those fuel trucks were moving back and forth. we saw them and through isr, and the decision was not made in the white house to attack them or not. you can tell you are were moving all that stuff back and forth for over year and we did know about it. i mean, it's just not possible in our technologically hip abilities but i'll be glad to hear additional information but i was told directly in iraq and we didn't attack them because the decision had not been made to attack them and they didn't want to harm anybody. so i'll be glad to call those people a liar that briefed me that were doing those attacks. senator donnelly. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, you said before that none of european defense ministers has offered to provide troops to create a safe zone. have you asked any of them to provide troops for creating a
safe zone and to provide an area for syrian refugees speak with we have talked to them about all kinds of capabilities. >> did you ask any of them to provide troops to help create a safe zone? >> we believe that the costs outweigh the benefits. >> so it is safe to say we did not ask? >> i have not asked them for forces for that undertaking. i have asked them persistently for forces of all kinds for undertakings rethink the benefits outweigh the costs, and there are many of those. >> and what are the answers you're getting from the french, from the english, from the sounds come from the jordanians? >> it varies, but just, the french as i mentioned were truly galvanized and i spoke several times to the french defense minister. he came into the united states. we talked a bit doing a great deal more and i'm sorry about the circumstances, but galvanized them. >> my frustration is that if you
ask the french defense minister for troops were a safe zone he would probably offer them. additionally, what i'm going to find out is, i would also like you and like others, with isis holds ground it makes it more dangerous for our own country. when do we get to trend downward trend 100 people, where do the other people come from? >> the people that we are now not only training come in fact not even principally training but equipping and enabling our syrian arab forces that are
working with the kurdish ypg in the northern part of syria. they are prepared to advance. they offer that as indicated advanced south, and we are enabling them, we are doing more to enable them. and as they do more we will do yet more to enable them. and they are the right forced do if i may say it is they are syrian arabs. >> i was in saudi arabia and they said we want to put in trips to hell. maybe they told each of them. maybe they wouldn't do it but they said they want to put in troops to help. king abdullah and jordan said we want to put in troops to help because they have sunnis in jordan, sunnis and saudi arabia want to put in troops to move the ball to head towards raqqa. three have other groups that want to as well. do you not want their help or do not think -- >> we welcome everything king abdullah is doing and are very gratefugrateful to the ssn i'ven to saudis. and i remind you that we had
gulf cooperation council leaders to camp david akin, i think it was april or so, and specifically talked to them about the creation of a sunni arab combined force. and so, and that has not -- >> so why can't you get that off the ground? and isn't that the force -- >> it depends on, from one to another. i would prefer to speak about part of his, these things privately. it's one thing that's very clear in the case of the saudis, just sent you mentioned them, has been the yemen situation, which is preoccupied a lot of the time
and energy of their forces as well. >> i also spoke with some of the sunni tribal leaders today. they still have extraordinary humanitarian needs. do we have a plan to work to meet those? because they still people who are starving. >> yeah, there is. state department, aig and the various international donors are part of that. i can speak to that authoritatively. secretary kerry could but it's important to note in the military point of view, from our point of view because it's an important part of holding territory once it's taken. to give an example when tikrit was retaken, it was important that order begat that services be restored and humanitarian assistance be rendered and that's why people are moving back into tikrit. >> i apologize that i have a foot i had to get to. i just want to finish up by saying this. it is strongly believed by me
and many others that as long as tonight is open other areas are held that it dramatically increases the chance of another attack in our country. when we pass when are we going to get to raqqa and move them out, it's not because were tried by the date, it's because it's dangerous to the citizens of this country that they are there. so the sooner the better that would clear up the clutter with the saudi scum the jordanians, and move on the city. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, you mentioned that targeting force. what impact do you expect that forced upon the battlefield? >> welcome i'm hoping it has a great effect but that's what it is designed to do but i believe it will. we envisioned a variety of missions -- i want to be careful what i say here -- that range from interdicting individuals on
the move, leaders on the move, to the kind of, well, let me give you two examples where we've already employed this technique because again i want to be very careful about operational security. this is a no kidding force that will be doing important things. but i think it would help everyone to understand if you remember the raid that killed abu site have, that's an example of the kind of thing that this force could you. another one was the freeing of 70 pressures, isil prisoners in which a very heroic action was taken by a soldier, joshua we were -- >> we have seen -- >> so that's an example of the
kinds of things that can be do done. and it puts the leadership on notice that they will get valuable intelligence. it will free people in the case of the kind of -- there's a bright of missions. >> corrected if i can come we've seen those direct in the last year and a half. would you anticipate and we're going to see a greater frequency with this force in the days and weeks and months ahead? >> that is absolutely the intent. >> i would hope we could have general conversations. i realized the sensitivity of this force but i would hope we could have general conversations about them so we could lay out truly what the goals are when we're talking about the force. do you have any immediate goals in mind for this targeting force that you can speak about in general terms at this point speaks at this point speaks in general terms they fall into categories that describe, intelligence gathering,
interdiction of leadership, key nodes, facilitation's and certainly for you we can discuss more in a classified setting also but that's the kind of thing. is actually a really, to me, to all of us, a very flexible and potent tool. and so we will learn from experience by using it. one raid build another. the abu sayyaf raid built on others because we build understanding and it's been reported. >> and you said we will do more of what works going forward, so i hope anymore classified setting you can lay out those goals so that we can have something to measure the success or failure of these raids by then any future. i was also interested in knowing as the number of raids are
increasing, will general mcfarland received any authority to help to plan and order that these raids be carried out within? >> general mcfarland is in overall charge of the campaign there. i've made that very clear, and have great confidence in him. and it is why i created that role so that we would have one senior leader in charge of the entire campaign, covering both syria and iraq, and that is general mcfarland who is extremely experienced. >> will they be able to approve those rates by himself or will they need to come to you or the president? >> in many cases it would be something that he and general, i
think general austin remember, the chain of command, otherwise they would come to me for approval of things that i think require my approval, that's fine, too. but there will be, there will and there has to be a certain amount of delegation of authority because, for one thing one expects rates build upon themselves so you will want to strike again after struck once on the basis of what you've learned from the first strike. we have some significant authority in there. spin when you said it is fine, to come if they come to you, don't you have that laid out what a plan would be that would require the general then to come to you? >> yes, we did get it is based on their judgment about whether approval at my level is required. i mean, that's generally true. it's perfectly appropriate in this case. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chair. >> let me recognize senator kaine.
>> think you. before beginning my question from beginning my question, so the reference to the nato-led which i received -- senator king -- which led the pacers of steps that had been taken to us like that letter for the record pleased. >> without objection. >> thank you. mr. sankar to come it strikes me this is an exceedingly complex challenge, i guess that's pretty obvious, but part of the problem is we want to defeat isis but we want to do in such a way that doesn't propagate their ideology around the muslim world. and that really makes it very difficult. i think the san bernardino attack is a good example. there's no evidence that i've heard that attack was directed by isis. instead, these people were self radicalized and took it upon themselves to perform these heinous acts. the question is, how do we keep
moderate muslims, the vast majority of the 1.6 billion muslims in the world, from falling into the isis trap? and isis has made it clear that part of their strategy is to provoke us to westernizing this conflict in making it a war of america and the west against islam and thereby pushing heretofore moderate muslims in their direction. so this gets to the question of how do we take raqqa, for example, and my understanding is that there is no inclination to use a large contingent of u.s. troops, but there is recognition as the president has already acknowledged that there are places for u.s. troops in the special forces kind of setting. is this the kind of calculation that you are making? >> that's exactly correct, yes. >> how do we, the gap in the
strategy it seems to me from the beginning, and i say gap, that's not a criticism. that's just the fact, it would get ground troops in syria? ground troops are available in the air to ground troops, most of ground troops are available in iraq, the iraqis you could forces and the peshmerga. in syria the stock and available force and that's what it seems to me the whole issue of getting rid of assad is a key part of his calculation, that assad is the lightning rod that in effect created isis, or in part, and if we can work with other parties, particularly russia, to move assad off the stage, then you've got an arab army, a muslim army in syria. it's the opposite, all of the opposition except perhaps al-nusra. and the syrian army.
that's what seems to me that is a key part of it. but the question our colleagues are asking is time, somehow we've got to ask what the timetable. we can't wait years to wait for assad delete and return because of the opposition and the syrian army on isil. you share that? >> i do. as you can here i am all for urgency and acceleration on the military campaign. i'd like to see that, to come on the political side. it is trickier. secretary kerry is trying to work towards that end but it is exactly as you say. if we could get a political transition that brought the syrian armed forces, that part which would be appropriate to carry forward into a new cedar you plus the moderate opposition, you would have a force that could both clear syrian territory of radicals and eliminate the civil war, which is what fuels the extremism in
the first place, and have a conference of syria that the syrian people deserve. >> there's one piece you mentioned, at the very end you said information and that's where we are losing right now. i heard a figure briefly the isis post something like 90,000 posts a day in social media. and just reading a piece about a young man in the u.s., 17 years old from a found this isis committee online and using encouraged to move forward. i know it's not in the department of defense but this country has to do a much better job it seems to me of countering the story the isis is telling to attract young people across the world. we are not own and gays in the military war. were engaged in a war of ideas and right now i think it is somewhere close to military -- estimate on the military side but we are losing the war of ideas. >> me i just note that for that
very reason, yesterday i got together with the sake of homeland security and the direct of the fbi, the director of national intelligence, we were talking exact about that. you are right, it's not principally a defense thing. we don't operator at home. we do operate in the cyber domain. i alluded to that, and we are at war and we have authorities to use our cyber command, in this case, and identifying opportunities to do the same time i have to say the fbi, the department of homeland security and the director of national intelligence are working intensely. they were before san bernardino. they're working out intensely on exactly this question, these people who are, who are --
>> if we win a town in syria and lose 10,000 kids in france or belgium or florida or ohio, that's not a victory. i would hope in the councils of war you will continue to press the point of view. thank you thank you, mr. chairman spent on behalf of chairman mccain, senator wicker. >> mr. secretary, always good to have yo you back and to add to t senator mccain said, hope you come back more often ensure with us your thoughts. let me let you be explicit on the issue of bashar assad. because i hear and read in the paper, for example, december 7 bloomberg said obama no longer seems a sure assad should go. is that true? deeply that mr. assad should explicitly be removed from power, or is there a growing feeling that perhaps we ought to team up with assad? >> i think, i don't want to speak for them but i think what
secretary kerry is trying to engineer is the departure of assad in a way that everyone can support, which by the way includes the russians have a lot of influence with assad so it's important see if we can get them on the right side of history. and that accomplishes that, and this is important, quite apart from the atrocities that assad has committed, in a way that removes him while the structures of the syrian state are still relatively intact. because to get back to what senator king was saying a moment ago, we do want, we do need there to be after assad a government of syria that is inclusive, that involves the forces out of been fighting each other, finding isil and governing the territory
decently. that is exactly the transition that secretary kerry is working spent much like we did in iraq after the successful invasion i think i understand what you're saying. but let's get your testimony on this. to your knowledge is the president still resolute in saying that assad should go and that a solution is not that we should begin to work with in? >> a political transition in which assad lease power and is replaced by a more inclusive form of government is the outcome that we are trying to see. >> advance a political solution in which assad stays in power, is that acceptable to you? >> no. spent is that acceptable to the president speak with well, what secretary kerry is trying to a range is -- >> i understand what your testimony just once.
but i want, we need to get this on the record. and americans need and enter to this. inscom is the president steadfast in having a goal that includes mr. assad been removed from power? >> well, that's the path that he has. that's the kind of political transition that he is secretary kerry seeking, yes. >> would you agree that it would be very difficult to convince series and rebels to fight -- syrian rebels to fight only isis it, and not assad, if that were a direction in which the administration should -- >> we document experienced exactly that matter. >> and what is your experience. >> the experience is it easier to find fighters who are intent inviting assad rather than
finding those intended to buy isil. >> you believe mr. assad should be removed from power? >> yeah, i think of a decent government there that brings the moderate opposition into governance of there is going to require the departure of assad. how, when, where and so forth is something that secretary kerry is negotiating. the civil war has gone on a long time and he's been a lightning rod in the civil war. and if we want to get it behind us and if you isil and get peace in syria, i think it's going to be necessary. >> well, very good. i may try to follow up with some questions on the record let me ask you about no-fly zones. i understand we have had some testimony today about safe zones. and i'll ask you first, mr. secretary, and then if you want to ask the general to add his
thoughts, that would be good. safe zone, no-fly zones would allow syrians to stay in their own country, instead of seeking to become refugees anywhere. they would allow serious opposition leaders to exercise sovereignty over syrian territory. to you and our coalition partners have the pilots, personnel and equipment required to establish no-fly zones? and in particular, i think maybe earlier when i was out of the room it was an attempt to get you to discuss the coalition partners that may be able to enforce this. t. believe president putin would challenge our air dominance of there? -- do you believe -- and the clergy find no-fly zones that we would be seeking to enforce?
first you, secretary carter. >> sure. on no-fly zones that's something that i discussed for the committee before. that's not a step we have recommended. again, because the benefits don't warrant it in light of the costs. i can explain more but i'm going to ask general selva it was done work on that kind of thing to comment further. and with respect to the russians also, he can comment on the memorandum of understanding and the working relationship we have with a russian military in the air, over syria right now. >> fair enough. >> we have the military capacity to impose a no-fly zone. the question we need to ask is do we have the political and
policy backdrop with which to do so. i don't mean that indicates the our government but in the case of the government who would challenge the no-fly zone. ever asking the question could we do it, the answer is yes, but are we willing to engage the potential of a conflict, a direct conflict, with the syrian integrated air defense system, or syrian forces, or by corollary of miscalculation by the russians should they choose to contest the no-fly zone. those are the questions that have been posed, asked and answered. so military capacity, we have the capacity to do this. we have not recommended it because the political situation on the ground and the potential for miscalculation and lost and american life in the air in an attempt to defend the no-fly zone don't want the no-fly zone, given the fact that on the ground the forces still contest the safe zone on the ground. >> i am way over my time but let me just say this sector
mentioned the cost and benefit, and when i think of the benefit that we could have had in the united states not to be faced with this refugee crisis, the benefit to europe if we had given syrians a place where they could live and own country safe away from this barrel bombs and these attacks on civilians, it just seems to me that the benefit of doing so even now, but certainly having done the overtime would have been so enormous that it would have justified whatever cost we might have had to risk. so thank you very much for your answers, and i appreciate that you're indulging me. >> general, i must say it's one of the more embarrassing statements i've heard from a uniformed military officers that we are worried about serious and russia's actions about saving the lives of thousands and thousands of syrians who are
being brabant and massacred, so far 240,000 of them. remarkable performance. senator hirono. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. secretary and general selva for being here. mr. secretary, you noted in your testimony that russia which is publicly committed to defeating isil has instead largely attacked opposition forces, it is that it's time for russia to focus on the right side of this fight. what's it going to take to have russia turned its attention to fighting isil rather than popping up assad? >> i can't speak for the russians but have spoken to the russians, and i have explained to them why their actions are wrongheaded and counterproductive, even from the point of view of their own security. because it fuels the civil war
in syria, which we discussed, which is the underlying cause of the radicalization vicky pryce to isil which is that everything they fear. so their actions are, the phrase i've used is pouring gasoline on the civil war in syria student i'm sorry, mr. secretary. so is russiaville, indiana, in the discussions with those with secretary kerry and some of the other parties that need to be at the table in ending the civil war in syria? are they fully engaged in that? >> i can't speak for secretary kerry in that regard. they are fully engaged. he is talking to whom along the lines we discussed with a range of other parties that will be necessary to find a political transition. >> i think there are a lot of people who agree with the assessment that ending the civil war in syria is one of the keys
in enabling the united states as well as russia and our other partners, some 60 plus, to focus on defeating isil. i think that that is generally acknowledged and i certainly agree with that. one of the advantages of isil as is its ability to recruit young men and women and influence actors around the world through its online media campaign, and san bernardino is just the most recent example. how can we counter this to overcome the effectiveness of isil's online presence? i realize this is an issue that should be addressed not just i perhaps not even, mainly by you but fbi and the director of national intelligence, homeland security with him you met? so what do we have to do to -- in motivating lone wolves in our
country and all across the world in committing terrorist acts? >> well, you're right. here at home the fbi and department of homeland security and director of national intelligence are working along those lines to identify those who are self radicalizing were plotting -- were plotting, using the internet. i don't want to speak for them. i can only tell you that they are intent upon solving the problem. there is a role i would say not in that fight but it is related to the fight we are waging. because it's what i think it's important to strike at and eliminate the parent tumor in syria and i write because that's part of the creation of a narrative that fuels the internet which fuels even lone wolves. and also where we are able to,
to eliminate people who are trying to recruit our people. i think that chairman referred earlier to the elimination of junaid hussain who are reported to you when i was last after he was somebody was trying to recruit americans to attack americans, no doubt about it. so there are some things we can even do, not even we, we can do at the department of defense to assist in this, but it's a big effort by director comey and secretary johnson and director of national intelligence, director of central intelligence on this effort. ..
well in that case i will stop here. i just have one last question. we talk about defeating isil, really what does that look like? what does defeating isil look like? including the preventing the ability of them to encourage lone wolf actors all across the world? >> in iraq and syria, which i said is necessary, not
sufficient, necessary, it means destroying their organization, their leadership, their ability to control territory. their ability to have a source of revenue and their ability to have a claim that they're anything other than a bunch of barbarians. that is eliminating them and end state we're seeking that in iraq and syria. making that stick goes back to what others have been talking about, the political dimension of it but the military point of view, that is the objective. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i'd like to return this question of no-fly zones. general sellen your testimony that the united states as capability of instituting a no-fly zone over syria. >> yes, sir. >> turkey shut down a russian aircraft for violating turkish airspace. how many russian aircraft have
violated turkish airspace since that incident is. >> none that i know of. i think i would be careful inferring his division process to that particular set of circumstances because what the russians done as consequence of that shootdown, bring up integrated air defense. they brought surface to air missies in their base. they have installed surface-to-air missiles in aleppo. they have worked with syrian partners and radars active which they didn't have a few weeks ago. it is that set of consequences when we think about no-fly zones we have to factor into our calculus. if a no-fly zone is to be defended and have effect on the ground. consequence of activity by surface-to-air missile system as and aircraft have to be factored into the equation. we have the capability to deal with those. consequences of a direct confrontation with russia or
syria. >> thank you. secretary carter, i know you're smirking at my question. could i get your take at that. >> no, i'm sorry. i was smiling at general's. >> it might deserve a smile. i was not rebuking you. >> i was smiling about inferring vladmir putin's intentions. he rightly said it is a little hard to know, that is all i would know. >> i would submit he repeatedly violated tickerrish airspace until turkey defended his airspace and he has not done so since then. maybe we can learn a lesson from that. i want to return to the point senator ayotte was discussing about the oil trucks we shot after the paris attacks. i believe a little over 100. can you explain why that didn't happen earlier, six months ago or a year ago? >> there are two principle reasons. first is the development of the actual intelligence as to the contribution of those particular routes to the finances of isil
with respect to the chairman, those are, that black and gray economy in oil across the region -- >> i understand that i understand intelligence can often be hard to develop especially when you don't have a presence on the ground. i don't understand what intelligence is tanker trucks leaving to isis controlled space? >> the second point, senator, in effort to minimize civilian casualties the drivers are not necessarily adherents to isil ideology. >> i have no doubt about syrians driving truck. around islamic state said drove the trucks or we'll kilt you and cut the heads of your kids. >> they used a set of tactics techniques, and procedures that warned drivers in advance to flee their trucks and destroyed the trucks in scituae. we're doing that to same situation to not alienate the
civilian population. >> i strongly support that. i'm aware of it. tps discussing. those are things air force has done a long time to minimize civilian casualties. we just didn't develop the ttps six months, really. >> they're not new ttps, opportunities in which places to use them. products we developed from our understanding of the oil infrastructure and distribution network that supports it. >> i'd like to talk about now the rules of engagement decision making authority. one constant thing i've heard from senior commanders down to low level troops in my travels in the region and here in the united states that decisions that were being made in the middle part of the decade by o-5s, being made by three and four-star generals in washington and rules of engagement have been incredibly restrictive as for example, the oil tanker truck example. can you comment what i've been
hearing from troops? >> i will start around i want general selva and represent military judgment in this matter. i would like to give him the opportunity to speak as well. the, the commanders there, the air commanders have told me, and i'll let, and general selva and general dunford have reported to me about limitations on effectiveness of the air campaign, and i have asked whether our rules of our engagement are limiting factor stopping them from being more effective. and just two things i'd say about that then i will let general sevva go into detail. they have not changed over time. these are not things approved in washington or anything. these are things that are done by the air operators in theater which is appropriate.
the, the things that have really enabled our air -- turn it around, the things that limited it from time to time, our air campaign, first of all annoyingly weather, that was true month 1/2 ago for a couple of weeks but then more, and that's important. more fundamentally has been intelligence and we've gotten a lot better intelligence picture now. and therefore able to conduct more effective strikes. one reason why we're able to conduct more strikes, absorb more air capabilities because we van get in from incirlik which sorties were shorter. absorb more capability from the french and others put it to good use because we could develop the targets. i always say better to have more airplanes than targets and targets than airplanes. on some days, a sortie goes out for dynamic targeting as opposed
to deliberate targeting. deliberate targeting the bombs are almost always drop or 90%. dynamic targeting where you go out there hope that a target you're thinking might develop actually does develop. that is an important thing to do because it's what stops isil from being able to use the road safely. having to drive at night with the lights off, all that kind of stuff. you don't always find those targets. sometimes the airplanes come back with the bombs on it. it is intelligence that makes all the difference. general, please. >> senator, i haven't met a soldier, sailor, airman or marine who wouldn't ask for loser roe in any active fight but having consulted with the commanders from the jtf all the way up to central command i know of know rules of engagement restrictions that prevented us from striking targets and that prevented our forces as being as effective they can be on the ground. i consulted with all of them. >> i'm over time. senator reed, can i ask one more
lighthearted question of general selva. for 60 years norad an have been tracking santa over the skies of america, that norad is fully deployed to track santa once again? >> i don't have a intelligence report but i understand the reindeer have been fed quantity of oats and prepared for the delivery of all of those gifts to those who have been nice and not naughty. >> welcome reminder while most americans are at home enjoying christmas with tear families, airmen, soldiers, sailors, marines, whether at norad be around the world and defend our values and make our country grate. >> not to extend the questioning i did thanksgiving in iraq, baghdad, tatge, erbil and can report to you that morale is high and phoned home to talk to people that love them. >> thank you very much for reminding us of the service and sacrifice of so many, senator.
on behalf of chairman mccain, senator nelson please. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary carter i gave a speech recently and showed the map of syria and iraq and the area that isis used to occupy that it no longer occupies. and the area that it occupies now that it did not occupy and the difference is dramatic that you all have shrunk the territorial occupation of isis and you are to be congratulated on that. but at the end of the day as you all testified, syria is not going to be able to contain isis until, at least there is a plan for the exit of
president as said. now, when that occurs, what is the arab force is going to be on the ground with the guidance of our special operations forces? give me a concept of what that makeup is of that arab force. >> well it is a very good question, gets to issue of end state and campaign and political ingredient because a political transition in syria is essential to a durable end state. civil war in syria started this whole business in syria. and that would mean, and that time the, the force that is now not available because they're fighting each other, but that could fight isil is the
combination of syrian forces and moderate operation now fighting in syria. if there is a political settlement -- in the meantime we're using forces up north, the ybg, we're trying to accumulate additional syrian forces that want to take their homes back from isil but the civil war, is meanwhile using up a lot of combat power that could potentially be used against isil. >> so you really believe that once there is a path for assad to leave, that syrian government forces which include alawhites which are shia, will join up with the opposition sunni forces to go after isil? >> the transition, the political transition is exactly to have a syria that is once again whole,
multisectarian for sure like all the states with all the complications that go with that, that we see with iraq, but as alternative to sectarianism and continue wages of sectarian civil war, yes. >> so go over to iraq. is that anti-sectarian? is it working with the forces on the ground that we're supporting from the air? >> well, first of all, prime minister abadi, i've spoken to him frequently, i will have the opportunity to speak to him in coming days when i too will be visiting our troops in theater is committed, precisely to that kind of vision for iraq. i believe him. i talked to him. >> do you think -- >> whether he can pull it off in baghdad is obviously a difficult matter for him. we are supporting him in that
regard because we believe that the alternative which is further sectarian civil war and cleansing and so forth, we've seen that before, and if he can keep his vision of an iraq which he called decentralized. not everybody under the thumb of baghdad because he knows kurds an sunnis won't go for that. stilt ability to retain an integral state within its borders that is it what he committed to. that is the end state we also want in iraq. >> so it is possible with assad leaving syria you could get syria under control but everything could go haywire in iraq? >> they are two separate dynamics. one thing i mention that i mentioned that i was with you six weeks ago, have subly come to pass. i was talking about importance getting town of sin -- sinjar.
a lot of that territory is empty and towns matter. the critical crossing of sinjar. what is sinjar? sinjar is a place in between mosul and raqqa and to cut isil into its syrian branch and stop them from crossfeeding is a, the objective of taking sinjar. and so in the end the political end states are different for syria and iraq, absolutely. >> understand. mr. chairman, if i may just one quick question. because the department of defense has asked for $116 million reprograming to to keep the effort of general
nagla's training program. do you support the restarting of that program? >> i urgent i support that funding but i don't describe it or documents i sent you as restarting of the old program. as i described earlier we learned from the old program. it had some success but not nearly what we hoped for and i told you for me that was a disappointment and i'm very up front about that but what we're asking for is that is funds that were previously earmarked for that to approach that we think is more effective, which is precisely one of the ones i've been describing today. that is why we would urgently like that fund. people decry micromanagement but, micromanagement also comes from, can come from many sources. i would urge you please to avoid that, give us that funding that
we've requested. we submitted paperwork chairman said a week ago. i apologize if it was that recently. my understanding it was more than that this is a war, i urge you, very busy people, a lot of things to do, but please give us that your earliest attention. >> we will, mr. secretary. we will obviously as i mentioned before would like to know the details of how it's used and i think that's appropriate. >> fair enough. >> thank you, mr. chairman. gentlemen, thank you both for being here today. on november the 12th the president answered the question, is isis gaining strength by saying i don't think they're gaining strength and i think we've contained them. in two weeks before interview, in ankara two bombs killed 200 people and 224 people lost their lives on the russian jetliner on the down.
on the day of interview, in beirut, two suicide bombers killed 42. day after interview a wave of six terrorist attacks killed 130 in paris. on september 2, 14 americans were killed. right now in another committee hearing in judiciary committee, i stepped in before i came back here, director comey said that america is at the highest threat level since 9/11. so i'm trying to square a statement made by our president on november 12th that they're not gaining strength and that we have contained them with a comment that you made in the opening i think in response to chairman, the chairman's question about how we contained them. what am i missing in terms of you saying that we haven't can takenned them, the president says we have and they're not gaining strength with the events i just summarized there? secretary carter, i will start with you then general selva.
>> well, we have to defeat isil. >> i agree with that but a part of it is, excuse me, because i want to try to stick to the time, a part of it has to do with the president acknowledging the current situation. do you agree with his characterization that they're not gaining strength? >> the president has asked me and asked our military leaders to give him recommendations and to keep giving him recommendations to defeat isil, and he has approved all the ones that we've taken to him. we expect to take more. and i think -- >> secretary carter have you told the president that they're not gaining strength and we've contained them? >> i have not -- general dunford said last, talked about tactical containment versus strategic containment if we're going to
use that word. i kind of like the word defeat myself. senator. >> general selva,, want to ask i a question about some of the airstrikes. i know that you were talking about the rules of engagement and seems to make sense to try to protect the civilian drivers and tankers, et cetera. back in june the military officials acknowledged that the 75% of the planes flying combat missions returned without dropping their weapons. you in response to senator ayotte's question said that's now about 40%. what's changed? >> senator, we increased the number of deliberate strikes, preplanned, designated targets as opposed to having airplanes looking for dynamic targets in the environment. we have sufficient air power in the region to accomplish both. but in any case of dynamic targeting some of those airplanes will always come back with their ordnance because targets don't present themselves. >> thank you.
former deputy director mike nor rael -- morell of cia said we didn't want to do environmental damage and destroy infrastructure. are those key factors whether or not you go after isis targets. >> i don't know the rules of engagement that he is talking about, but as we develop deliberate targets we do bring environmental considerations into the factors that we consider but they do not limit us from strucking infrastructure. we change the way we strike it. we try to do as little virtual damage as possible but still limit the capacity of the well to produce. >> secretary carter, just to close out with, to go back to defining problem, if we, you made the distinction between tactical and strategic containment, by if we shift to a global perspective away from the narrow focus of maybe tactically
what we're doing in iraq or syria is there any grounds for describing isis as contained? >> i will let general dunford who is not here speak for himself. i described and, i think we need to be concerned about, we've talked about metastasize to the homeland and talked about getting the parent tumor. we have not discussed as much the necessity of going after isil elsewhere. i mentioned libya. we took out its leader in libya. we'll have to do more in libya. isil is becoming a magnet, for groups that previously existed in some cases that are now rebranding themselves as isil but it's worse than that, but they're also gaining energy from the movement in iraq and syria, which is why we need to destroy it in iraq and syria. but this is a worldwide phenomenon.
and i've talked to leaders, i was recently taking to some leaders in southeast asia actually about many things but one of the things they raised is concern about little patches of isil and self-radicalization of the kind that we find. so in the internet age and social media age terrorism doesn't have any geographic bounds. so i think we have to recognize it while we need to attack it geographically on the ground in syria and iraq. that is necessary. it is not sufficient. >> thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to our witnesses for your service and your testimony. secretary carter, do you agree with the recent study done about it rand corporation siging it would be wise for congress to pass new authorization of use of military force against isil? >> i haven't seen that study, senator. i have testified in favor of the
aumf that the president submitted and, i welcome that. it's not necessary literally in the sense that we're able to conduct our campaign. >> the study i would just encourage you to take a look because i think it backs up your position. it was reported two days ago says, that an authorization by congress would send a message of resolve to our allies, would send a message of resolve to isil. it would send a message of resolve to the troops and rand, which is, not biased on the legal analysis said that at a minimum the connection of the battle against isil to the 2001 and 2002 authorizations requires, quote legal gymnastics that it would be wise to clear up. secretary carter what message does it say to the 3600 troops deployed over seas in the
holidays and members that lost their lives in inherent resolve and wounded that congress is unwilling to debate and vote upon this war in the 16 months since it started? >> i think that the passage of an aumf as you indicate, that is one of the reasons why i testified in favor of it would be a signal of resolve and support. to our troops. therefore i think it is desirable. by the way as signal of resolve to our enemies. i should say that is not the only thing. i think when you visit them, as some of you have done in the last week, when you hold a hearing like this and show you care what they're doing and go back to your bases at home and tell them how proud you are of them, family members back here, all that stuff's incredibly important. they need to know we're behind them. i always tell our people, i'm 1,000% behind you. if this would add to it that's
good. >> our chairman, senator mccain, was quoted last week, now this was not an approving quote. this was a critical quote in the same way that i am critical of the current status of affairs where congress has been silent for 16 months, the quote was, that congressional vote to authorize war against isil doesn't seem forthcoming because of politics here and may require an attack of united states of america to force such a vote. would it be wise for congress to wait that long? >> again, i am in favor of the one that the president submitted. i think on balance it would be a positive thing and a sign that the country's behind the troops. and provided it allowed me and general selva and our military leaders to do what we think is needed to defeat isil, provided it does that, the signal it
sends of resolve by this country is a good thing. >> at least three nations on the u.n. security council, england, france, and i'm very sorry to say russia, have submitted to their legislative bodies for a debate and vote their engagement in military action and syria and iraq. other nations such as germany have done the same. the president started the war against isil 16 months ago yesterday. there has only been one vote in the senate, a senate foreign relations committee vote a year ago friday. there hasn't really been action in the house. i just hope that we would follow, i hate to say this, i hope we would follow the lead of other nations whose legislative bodies have decided it was important enough to have a debate and vote on this before the public. second issue i want to just bring up, this is kind of an observation for you, senator mccain was the first to call for the no-fly zones. at the time he started that, i didn't agree with him, and the
reason i didn't is there was testimony from general dempsey and others here to do a no-fly zone would run risk of running across syrian air defenses. to many of us on the committee that argument fell away and administration prohe posed aerial attack because of use of chemical weapons by bashar assad. when we said that they have really tough air defenses the administration said that point we're not really worried about them. i think the absence of humanitarian zone is going down as one of the big mistakes we made, equivalent to the decision not to engage in humanitarian activity in rwanda in the 1990s. with respect to syria, there has been testimony from the military to us that the syrian air defense system is really not all that great and that we could take care of it and with respect to russia, russia voted for security council resolution 2139 in february of 2014 calling for crossborder delivery of
humanitarian aid into syria without the permission of bashar al-assad. there are few guaranties in life i can pretty much give you this one. russia would not intervene and not mess around with us if we were ingauged in a humanitarian effort that was premised upon a u.n. security council resolution that they actually voted for. and since february of 2014 we've had the ability and legal rationale to enforce that resolution and we haven't. and millions of refugees have left the country. if we had done that then i think we would be in a much better place now. i think we can still do it and we would be in a much better place. just in terms of the argument here's why we don't think it's a good idea, previous testimony to the committee by folks from the pentagon have undercut your argument with respect to syria and russia. mr. chair, i don't have any other questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary around general,
thank you for your service. the president addressed the nation sunday night. did you hear his address, mr. secretary? >> i did not. i read it. >> do you believe that we're at war with isil? >> i do. >> do you believe they're at war with us? answer is yes. that would hit our homeland if they could? >> for sure. they say that. they indicate that openly. >> is there any place on the planet that you would take off limits when it comes to fighting isil? >> no, i don't think we can do that for the reasons i side earlier. they are metastasizing everywhere and everywhere there is information media, they're going to be people who go online who maybe never have been to syria or iraq or even know where they are. >> the answer is no. >> know the screen is. >> i think that is very good answer. there is no place on planet we should give them safe haven. number two, when it comes to time in terms of this war, when will it end?
>> as soon as we can possibly bring it to end. >> five years, 10 years, does anybody know? >> well i think that -- >> do you want to put a time limit how long we should fight it? >> i think in war it's good to have plans. eisenhower -- >> here's my question, are you willing to put a time limit on how long we can fight isil? >> i think we have to fight isil until isil is defeated everywhere. >> i couldn't agree with you more. when it comes to means do you think the country should use all lawful means to fight isil depending what circumstances dictate. >> sure. >> do you think iraq and syria will be in the hands of isil, by 2017, more or less likely. >> i'm sorry which ones? >> do you think raqqa, syria will be in the hand of isil? >> i hope it won't. >> more likely? >> more likely in the hands of isil or that their control will
be substantially eroded. i can't guaranty that. i can't guarranty anything in war. it is objective and possible. >> we all hope we're not going to get there on hope. you're a good man. i'm not trying to fight you here. here's what i've done. i'm making an offer to our president. i believe this war will go on for a long time after his presidency. i believe that they're going to go wherever they can on the planet and that we should stop them wherever necessary. and when it comes to means we should not limit this commander-in-chief or any other commander-in-chief when it comes to means, do you agree with that? >> yeah, do i. >> so i have authorization to use military force, senator kaine. not limited by geography. could you put it up please. not limited by geography by time or location. it represents a theory that this president and future presidents need to have the same capabilities against isil as we gave, that existed after 9/11 regarding al qaeda. so i agree with senator kaine
that the congress should be involved. i'm answering the request of the president to get involved and here's the question. as secretary of defense, could you support an authorization using military force that has no limit on geography, time, or lawful means when it comes to destroying isil? >> well i'm not going to invent a new aumf here. this is the first time i've studied yours, i'm sorry to say. i did support the president's aumf for two principle reasons. the first was because i thought it could exactly, as you say, permit us to conduct the campaign that we need to do to defeat isil and that's critical. it did have a time dimension in it which -- >> from military point of view, general, saying you have a time dimension is probably a wrong signal to send to the enemy? >> the context of the time signal make as difference. i would prefer not to have one so i can say to them i will prosecute you anywhere i find
you. >> that is what i want to say. i want to say this president, i want to give you tools that time is no factor when it comes to destroying isil and location doesn't mean a damn thing. whereafter wherever you go, as long it takes whatever is required to defeat you. that is the statement i think america needs to make. is that a fair statement? , mr. secretary? whatever it takes as long as it takes wherever we need to go to destroy you when it comes to isil? >> well, i mean that's okay from the appointment of view of conducting the military campaign. but i have to get the votes. >> i know. >> and i can't growing to craft what can be passed here, senator. i testified in favor of the aumf the president -- >> would you vote for this? would you vote for this. >> i don't know. i'm seeing it for the first time. >> well, as secretary of defense do you support the concept that the president -- >> i support an aumf that the president submitted that gives
us the authority to wage the war that we need to wage. that is the important thing. >> do i support the concept, the authority, the that this president should have no time limits placed on his ability to fight the war? do you support that concept? >> i think the aumf as submitted only recognizes that his term of office -- >> i'm not asking about his aumf. >> in a year. >> i agree with that. do you agree the next president, whoever he or she may be should have aumf not limited by time? that is just a smart decision from the military point of view. do you agree with that? >> well it's not -- >> are you as secretary of defense telling me that you want to put limits and in terms of time regarding -- >> i'm trying to explain to you, why as i explained to this committee before why i understood that there was three-year time thing. >> i'm not asking you about -- >> it was not military reason. it was in deference to a future president. >> okay. >> you can agree or disagree
with that but that was the reason why it was included in there. that was a political reason. >> right. >> having -- not a military reason. >> listen to me, please. from a military point of view you don't want time limits? >> i don't think we -- >> from military point of view you don't want geographical limits. >> we can't have geographical -- >> from a military point of you don't want to take means off the table that are lawful. >> that are useful to the campaign. >> so to the congress what this president or future president does in terms of fighting isil. that is your job. i'm micking a simple proposition to this president i will give you whatever you need in terms of my authorization wherever you need to go as long as it takes to use whatever available tools you have within legal limits to destroy this threat. mr. president, are you all in or not? secretary of defense seems indicating this is good military policy. to my colleagues on the other
side, if we produce a authorization using military force restricted by teams, means or deokaygraphy, sending message to the enemy we'll not send and imminent attack is coming. i want to have this debate like senator kaine has suggested. it is imperative congress get off the sidelines. tim kaine and i may have a different outcome but you're absolutely right. let's have a discussion. let the enemy know without hesitation there are no limitations on times, means location when it comes to destroying isil. mr. president embrace this authorization for you and future presidents because the country needs it. thank you very much, mr. secretary and general for your fine service. >> senator blumenthal. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your service, mr. secretary, general, thank you for being here. i just come from a vote on the floor but before that a hearing of the judiciary committee where fbi director comey was
testifying about many subjects related closely to the subject matter of your testimony, even though the geography may be different, the threat is the same. and clearly, the strategy for confronting that threat of terror has to be coordinated and targeted to what poses the danger to our nation. and my feeling is, i agree with you, reality is, we are at war. that's the stark, irrefutable reality and more needs to be done. more aggressively, more intensely, and more effectively in using our special operators, advising local forces. supplying and equiping them, providing them with intelligence, intercepting communications of our
adversaries and cutting off the flow of money which is their lifeblood. and and the pace of our present activities seems inadequate. now, we may differ on that point and you have more on the ground knowledge than i do but the american people are growing impatient and apprehensive. i think that statement, in fact is an understatement. so, i would like to see our strategy become more aggressive, and intensified in combating this threat abroad, in the theater where we confront isil, and at home where we confront terror in our neighborhoods and streets, and where the adversary
is just as real and potentially growing just as alarmingly. are you satisfied that the intersection and coordination between those two efforts in the middle east and elsewhere in the world and internally at home is sufficiently aligned and coordinated. that we have the most effective strategic approach? >> i met just yesterday with director comey aalso along with the homeland security director jeh johnson and director clapper and somebody from the cia was there and other agencies working to do exactly what you rightly know is necessary, say is necessary, namely, to align our efforts overseas which involve
exactly the ingredients that you name and you're right, we are looking for opportunities to do more by using precisely the tools you describe. we're finding them and strengthening and gaining momentum in the military because we need to defight isil as soon as possible. back here it's a different kind of challenge but it is related. the director comey is working extremely hard and skillfully on that. the purpose of my calling this meeting yesterday to make sure we're all aligned and we'll continue to do that periodically. there are things, by the way, that we can do as dod even though we obviously don't operate here in the united states the way the fbi does in terms of striking their information infrastructure in the same way we strike their energy infrastructure, their command and control and so forth in iraq and syria. >> i thank you for that answer. i agree totally that the efforts
need to be aligned and in fact better aligned, more seamless than they are now in terms of intelligence sharing and intelligence gathering and also working with our partners in the region because the troops on the ground need to be local. we can not send american troops back to that part of the world in massive numbers with a combat mission. there is always the danger of mission creep even in a small number but i remain dissatisfied that the number of special operators on the ground may be insufficient and the pace of sending them there may be too lengthy. and that local forces like the peshmerga have shown that a robust effort involving all of those ingredients, ingredients that are planned to be sent can make a difference if they're
timely and sufficient. and i agree finally, an authorization for use of military force is absolutely essential. reality is, we are at war. and the president deserves a deck la race of war -- declaration of war and that declaration may define the kind of conflict that we see and provide a forum for debate about the limits we may want want to n them but at least it will provide a framework for our public support that the president needs for this continuing war. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thanks to both of you for all you do for us to keep us safe. i want to start by echoing some of the concerns that have been stated by my colleagues senator kaine and senator blumenthal.
like them, i feel like for constitutional reasons we ought to be following the process and the constitution. for some of the reasons mentioned by senator graham, i think it's a important to have the debate and the discussion about the extent of our involvement there. and that's another nice process associated with following the constitutional structure. after the failure of the initial train and equip program in syria the department of defense seems to have shifted its focus to equiping forces that are already on the ground in syria. such as syrian kurds and arab groups, somehow or another using efforts i'm not familiar with deemed to be moderate or deemed
somehow to have interests that overlap with ours. mr. secretary can you explain to us how specifically we're vetting these groups, how we decide who ought to be the beneficiary of this program? >> you're basically right, that is the shift we made and although we're still willing to do, we're open to lots of possibilities with train and equip program. >> it is an equip program, rather than a train and equip program, right? >> no. we take some of the people out for training. we're willing to do that. we have the training sites. we'll take selected individuals, not whole unit and give them specialized training how to connect with us and how to connect with our enablers. so there is a training aspect to it. fundamentally enabling groups that exist, rather than trying to create brand new groups. that is the essential correction i'd say, course correction that we made.
and you asked how they're vetted. they are, it is their leaders that are vetted rather than down to the individual level and can get you description of that, and general selva, you may like to say something about the vetting process in general? >> we have in the case of syrian-arab coalition convinced leaders to come to the iraqi side of the border. we have vetted them through public and classified databases for their relationships and prior conduct. and we have spent time with them on the items that the secretary talked about. how they link to our forces. how they communicate back their progress. and our relationship that was relatively transactional where we supply them with ammunition and advice required to hit strike-specific targets and watch that process. >> once we desire to equip a particular group and it is based
in part by the assessment of our leaders what degree of command-and-control do we retain over the group in question, over its leaders and specifically more importantly over the supplies we give them. >> i could go into much more detail in a classified environment but at the surface level we don't exercise command-and-control. we exercise influence. around the influence which have is their connection to the enablers we provide. fire support through air power, advice and training. >> do the groups that we're supporting in this capacity, specifically the syrian kurds and syrian arabs, do they, or to what extent do they share the same political goals and the same vision for syria in the future? >> today they share the goal of wanting to their their homes back and defeat isil in doing so. that is necessary and sufficient to get at the fight in eastern syria and working our way back towards raqqa. >> are you concerned about the
possibility of their goals shifting? i mean is it common in the region for some groups to have one focus one day and then have a priority shift? perhaps one day having interests that al line roughly with with our own goals and with preserving interests important to american national security that might change later? >> if you would allow me to discuss that in classified setting how we measure and manage that relationship it would be much more useful than doing it in open session. >> okay. can you tell me roughly how many people are involved in this right now, how many units or how many members they have? is that something we can discuss in a non-classified environment? >> yes, sir. the syrian-arab coalition we brought out roughly 40 of their leaders, i'm sorry, 20 of their leaders. did full vetting of their allegiances and their prior conduct. they brought to the battlefield
roughly 1600. the number varies up and down who is engaged in the fight but roughly 1600 fighters worked their way through three villages and three towns in eastern syria. they started in a place called al hahosaca they're taking actions to prosecute a third target i would like to keep private at this point. >> okay. i see my time expired. thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you so much for your testimony today. this has been extremely helpful to our committee and thank you obviously for your extraordinary service. in yesterday's hearing general said it will affect our ability to recruit new fighters how we conduct the war will affect that ability. specifically he said having ground troops going into syria is what isil wants. on monday "new york times" article pointed out that, that in 2003 al-zarqawi had called the iraq war, quote, the blessed
invasion because his and isil's apocalyptic vision that non-muslims will come to syria to fight muslims and bring about the end of the world. so do you believe that a ground war with western troops would help or hurt isil's recruiting? and which countries are best positioned to fight isil on the ground in your opinion? >> the forces that are best positioned to fight isil on the ground in both iraq and syria would be local indigenous forces particularly sunni forces because because the isil representation and territory they occupy is mostly sunni territory. therefore outside of, well, so in both iraq and syria, iraqis and syrian local forces, that is why we're trying to work with them. that's why we're trying to put a
political end to the civil war in syria so that syrians stop, syrians who are not isil and not isil sympathizers, not under the thumb of isil right now can unite to defeat isil. next in line, and this is something that i have urged and the u.s. urged now for some months, would be for more ever sunni-arabs from the gulf states to become involved, not necessarily occupying territory but participating in enabling local forces there and -- >> have you had any luck there? any -- >> well, they have participated in the early days in the air war. i'm generalizing a little bit
here. >> yeah. >> and not, generally disinclined to participate on the ground. now of course with the yemen conflict got preoccupied with that but. >> general? >> ma'am, i think your quote of mr. sar waa herry or zarqawi, i'm sorry, bringing americans is a blessing to the fight is the radical islamic view that isil portrays is exactly right. what don't do enough of is talking about who isil is and what they do, they're barbaric. they are they subjugate women, they sub. >> gate children. they engage in -- they subjugate children. and they engage in extortion. that is consistent with their narrative the western subjugation and extremist islam and it is about their power and
enriching themselves. so we need to tell that truth. if we fall into the trap of radical islamic violent extremists bating us into a ground fight we're actually doing exactly what they want us to do. so as we work through and with partners that we can find that are willing to fight, they will have the effect we need them to have. >> can we be more aggressive with our allies in the region, particularly sunni-arab allies to do more? i mean i don't -- i haven't seen our success there yet. so i'm wondering if you feel there is leverage there to get that result? >> we have had support from turks, from the jordanians as well as from a small number of our sunni partners. that is a place where we might be able to exert additional leverage. >> quickly on turkey since you raised it, obviously turkey is essentially to the fight against isil. what do you think the were the turkish calculations shooting down the russian plane and how
does that affect our ability to work with russia and turkey? >> i can only tell what you i learned from my turkish counterpart the day of the shootdown. they believe and executed against an incursion into their airspace. what i pressed him on though was securing the turkish border from end to end and there is a roughly 90-kilometer span of turkish border which isil still has fair number of smuggling lanes fairly open because isil controls the syrian side of that border. the turks have redoubled that effort. they opened up their terrorist no-fly list and variety of other techniques to help seal that border. much beyond that if we could do that in closed session or private conversation. >> that would be fine. secretary carter, do you have anything you would like to add? >> no i think general selva said it very well. we did, turkey is, shares a border with both syria and iraq.
that border has been used as the principle border through which fighters flowed in both directions and we asked the turks to do more. they have done some more. we're helping them do yet more but it's critical that they control their border. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> well, of course isis want more than anything else to preserve their caliphate. no one is arguing that there should be 100,000 troops although the president and obviously you like to set up the straw men. it is clear that without american participation and leadership there is no strategy to take raqqa which is their base of operations. where they are planning and orchestrating attacks. we saw the manifestation of it, including working on chemical
weapons. mr. secretary, i would, i would beg you to call up general keane, general petraeus, secretary gates, secretary panetta, even former secretary of state hillary clinton, ask all of them, and they will tell you that a safe zone could have prevented the millions of refugees and the horrible consequences of at least a quarter of a million people barrel bombed. and for you to sit there, general and say we would have to take out syrian air defenses is stunning display of ignorance or again this whole aspect of avoiding, or making the problem seem so huge that we can't handle it, all we have to do is protect a no-fly zone. we don't have to take out a single airplane, air defense capability much theirs. all we have to do is tell them
if you fly into this area you will get shot down which we can do with patriot batteries. everybody knows. that. that is why general gates, general keane, secretary panetta, even secretary clinton said things are doable. really saddening to see basically business as usual while thousands and thousands of syrians are slaughtered by this horrible bear bombing which also was accompanied by acts of chemical weapons. so i leave this hearing somewhat depressed because clearly there is no strategy to take raqqa. there is no motivation to set up a no-fly zone even as i say hillary clinton has supported and every military leader that i know that was architect of the surge says you can do it without much difficulty but we are seeing again what we've seen from this administration for the
last four years since some of us advocated it, saying that it would be too hard to do ignoring the fact that as long as bashar assad continues to do this horrible barrel bombing, they're slaughtering thousands of innocent civilians, men, women and children. where is our moral, where is our, the tradition of the united states of america? we went to bosnia after they ethnically cleansed 8,000 people. this guy has killed 240,000, yet too hard for the most powerful nation on earth to set up a no-fly zone. this hearing is adjourned. >> we're going live now to the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the senate is waiting on government spending bill from
the house of representatives. current government funding expires on friday and the house bill would keep the government open for five more days while negotiations continue on a long-term spending bill. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, we place our trust in you. during this season, when we sing about goodwill toward humanity, many forces seek to turn that
dream into a nightmare. make our lawmakers instruments of your peace. where there is discord, may they bring harmony. where there is cynicism, may they bring faith. where there is sadness, may they bring joy. and where there is despair, may they bring hope. use these stewards of liberty to make the rough places smooth and the crooked places straight. lord, thank you for bringing hope to the helpless and for hearing and comforting the oppressed.
we pray in your holy name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership's time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 3:00 p.m.
mr. reid: mr. president, yesterday the supreme court heard oral arguments in the case of fischer v. university of texas. in that case, the plaintiffs were challenging affirmative action program the university of texas has. during those oral arguments, conservative justice scalia asked whether affirmative action harms minority students by placing them in environments that are too academically challenging for them. justice scalia said this about african-americans -- and i quoto contend that it does not benefit african-americans to get them into the university of texas, where they do not do well as opposed to having them go to a less advanced school, a slower track school where they do wel well." scalia further argued that african-american students -- quote -- "come from lesser schools, where they do not feel that they're being pushed ahead
in classes that are too fast for them and that the university of texas should not take really qualified african-american students because that means the number of really competent blacks mid to lesser schools turns out to be less." but that wasn't enough. here's what else he said. "i don't think it stands to reason that it's a good thing for the university of texas to admit as many blacks as possib possible." it's stunning, a man of this intellect. and i've always acknowledged his intellect. but these ideas that he pronounced yesterday are racist in application, if not intent. i don't know about his intent but it is deeply disturbing to hear a supreme court justice endorse racist ideas from the bench on the nation's highest court. his endorsement of racist theories has frightening ramifications, not the least of which is to undermine the
academic achievements of americans, african-americans especially. earlier this week i spoke about republicans' platform which has a lot of hate in it. as we speak, donald trump is proposing to ban muslim immigration. other leading candidates are proposing a religious test, tossing around slurs on a daily basis. the top two republican leaders in the united states senate -- i'm sorry, in the united states, have said they will support donald truch if he' trump if he. and now a republican-appointed sprec justice scaig racist things from the bench. scalia has a robe and a lifetime appointment. ideas like this don't belong on the internet, let alone the mouths of national figures. the idea that african-american students are somehow inherently intellectually inferior for other students is despicable.
it's a throwback of time -- to a time that america left behind a half a century ago. the idea that we should be pushing well-qualified african-american students out of the top universities into lesser schools is unacceptable. that justice scalia could raise such an uninformed idea shows just how out of touch he is with the values of this nation. it goes without saying that an african-american student has the same potential to succeed in an academically challenging environment as any other student. i firmly believe that the united states of america is the greatest nation in the world because of our ability to embrace men and women of diverse backgrounds, provide them with opportunity to succeed. colleges and universities provide their students with opportunity many in the world can never hope to obtain. people from different backgrounds spurs creativity and innovation. research has shown that increased -- excuse me. increased racial diversity on
campuses produces higher levels of academic achievement for all students. and fortune 500 companies agree that embracing diversity is good for the bottom line. and the supreme court previously has acknowledged that diversity provides a substantial and compelling contribution to our educational system. yet justice scalia's comments paints a picture of two disturbing realities. despite the progress our nation's made on diversity and inclusion, there's still much work to do to ensure that we're giving every american a fair shot. regardless of their race, ethnicity or religion. as a nation, we still have the responsibility to direct adequate resources to our educational system to permit all students a higher he indication. generations of discrimination and sanctioned inequality have produced racial disparities in our educational system. sad but true. these disparities must be addressed by embracing diversity in our schools, workplaces, markets, neighborhoods while
investing in adequate resources for all students. from pr- pre-k to higher educat. our nation was founded on the values of liberty, justice and equality. justice ask lee's distressing comments are a reminder that we must remain vigilant to safeguard opportunity for all americans. embracing diversity is not only the right thing to do, it's the american way. mr. president, lyndon johnson said -- quote -- "it is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity. all our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates." it's our responsibility as a nation to open the gates of opportunity for all americans in spite of what justice scalia has said yesterday. mr. president, have you announced yet what we're going to do today? the presiding officer: the schedule has been announced. mr. reid: it has been announced? i -- there are other people on the floor. i would relinquish the floor.
some may have thought washington would never agree ton a replacement for no child left behind. years of ip action on the senate floor -- years of inaction on the senate floor gave ample cause for doubt. some may have been skeptical when a new senate with a new approach resolved to finally solve the problem. but to longer. yesterday the new senate voted over-wellcomeingly to deliver -- everwhelmingly to deliver the most significant k-12 education reform in a decade. the president will sign the bipartisan ever student succeed act later this morning. here's what this law will do. replace a broken law with conservative reform that will help students succeed instead of helping washington grow. that means swapping one-size-fits-all federal mandates for greater state and local flexibility. that means imri bringing an endo
the ability of far-away bureaucrats to impose common core. that means strengthening charter schools. it means putting education back in the hands of those who know students' needs best. that's parents, teachers, states, and school boards. the every student succeeds act is conservative reform based on a bipartisan basis. "the wall street journal" calls it the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter century. and it's an important achievement for our kids and for our country. so i want to again thank the senators who worked together to make this possible: senator alexander a republican, senator murray a devment they took advantage of the opportunities a new open senate provided. they worked hard. they labored over many months. and they didn't lose sight of what a legislative exercise like
this one should really be about. about good policy, better outcomes for our country, and with the bill we passed yesterday, the bill the president will sign today, greater opportunities for every student to succeed. senator alexander was write when he said this bill is just one more example that congress get back to work. it's worth note ago point he made the other day as well. this has been one of the most productive senate years in a long time, he said. the republican senate majority is making a real difference, particularly for 100,000 public schools, for 3.5 million teachers, and for 50 million children. but perhaps the american people are wondering why. perhaps they're wondering why the senate is suddenly back to work this year. perhaps they're wondering why some issues are suddenly passing now when they weren't passing previously. let me turn back to the rest of what senator alexander said
because i think the answer for a bill like esea is really quite simple. we're doing in a bipartisan way with our colleagues, which is the way i think the american people want us to govern. here's the idea. give senators of both parties more of a say in the process and senators of both parties are likely to take more of a stake in the outcome. that's why on this bill you saw more open process that started way back at the committee stage. senator alexander and senator murray, the top republican and top democrat on the education committee, understood that no child left behind had to be fixed after years of inaction. so they worked together on a bipartisan basis, and the senate passed the most significant k-12 education reform in years. take another example. senator unwho have aninhofe andm
boxer understood that crumbling roads and brinls had to be fixed after years of inch action so they worked together on a bipartisan basis and the senate passed the first long-term transportation bill in a decade. how about this one? senator burr and senator feinstein, the top republican and top democrat on the intelligence committee, understood that america's online privacy and financial transactions deserve some protection after years of inaction. so they worked together on a bipartisan basis, and the senate passed an important cybersecurity bill. across the new congress you saw several other stuck issues come unstuck, a decisive end to washington's annual doc fix barrier, extending a hand of compassion to victims of modern slavery. all of it passing in the new congress, all of it passing on a
bipartisan basis. now, let me be clear. no one is saying that all of the senate's challenges have to be ironed out. of course, we know that our work is ongoing. of course, we know there will always be bumps along the way. but here's what we can say for sure: the new senate has taken serious steps to foster a more open atmosphere on many issues. the new senate has even real progress made for our country, often on a bipartisan basis. and, mr. president, we're proud of that. we're proud of that. whether we're republicans or democrats, i think that's something we can all take pride in as americans.