believes iran with a nuclear weapon is the most calamitous event in his lifetime in terms of its threat to global security. because it would likely lead to the first nuclear exchange ever. >> i think it's just -- >> certainly you and i think there's common ground combat. nobody wants to have iran acquire a nuclear weapon. the issues we've all been arguing over what's the best method to stop that from happening. >> secretary kissinger indicated if they are in months of it but that creates instability. ambassador crocker, let me just ask you something that you raised hugely important. and i'll just ask you to explain a little more about it. you say we need to take sides and we need to take sides with our traditional allies. basically the sunni state. and there are those who believe iran can someone be brought in from the cold as revolution regime if we could just get shia
persians to moderate, the world would be better and we could transform the middle east. how do you evaluate the situation, place? >> senator, it is both a series of hot wars and a cold war. the iranians have taken sides with the russians and with assad and syria. that is not the cyber want to be a. they've taken sides in iraq with the shia militias who, as we sat remember, just like isis, kidnapped and executed americans in 2007. these are the guys the iranians are supporting. they have taken a side. the russians in syria have taken a side. we need to be clear that we stand against this and that we
stand with our allies. saudi arabia, yes, we have differences, no doubt, but saudi arabia has been kind of the bedrock of our regional security policy since fdr met saud on the deck of the quincy in 1945. this is unraveling. salaries went into yemen without consulting with us. they told us a bit in advance but they didn't consult on it. that's unthinkable. we have got to show up those relationships are you start with your traditional friends, then either to your adversaries. not the other way around. >> thank you. it's an important question. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank all of you for your tremendous amount of experience and wisdom to the table. i think it seems like the more we hear the more confused he
becomes of how we approach this. i'm concerned basically since 9/11, that's basically the start of what most people think in america started out engagement over in that area, and i'm sure it started many, many, many years before the. this has been bring for quite sometime. with that being said, 9/11 seems to be the start of it. all three of you being afforded hindsight being 2020 what's the greatest mistake we've made as a country since 9/11, just as quickly as you can? my concern is, mr. gordon, you said even our allies and to think ambassador crocker had said you are not willing to fight on the ground. and that willing to take the fight on the ground. if we don't do it it doesn't look like it will be done. we have been there and it didn't stabilize the area because it's as we pulled out it was falling apart. the fugitive oversight quickly
on the greatest mistake and simplest direction forward that we could not repeat that mistake again. >> i had it in my testimony. i fundamentally believe that the singular strategic mistake that we have made is not to develop a strategy dealing with radical islam, and not just focus on one particular group. it embraced the intellectual challenge that this ideology presents to us, embrace it politically, embrace in terms of what we need to do financially and economically and militarily. and bring people together, nations together to comment vested interest in this and deal with the. it. there's going to be something after isis. we will defeat isis. there's going to be something after isis that will threaten our national interest in the middle east or someplace else that will get us involved and concerned and we've had meetings about it, people fall in the income how to deal with that
problem. that is the single problem i see that we have not faced up to this issue strategically to deal with radical islam itself. and stop, we have to stop and defeat isis as lead to stop and defeat the al-qaeda senior leadership in pakistan. and to we deal with a comprehensive strategy, we are going to find ourselves in the same situation we are now with isis. this is a generational problem. we have to understand for that and take a page out of the 20th century and how we deal with the communist ideology, formed military alliances to come together to do with a common problem. >> senator, that is a profound question. i've thought a lot about it. i open our embassy in afghanistan shortly after the fall of the taliban. the force on the ground then was
fifth special forces group, the cia, and one marine expeditionary unit. that was it spirit that was after -- >> after 9/11. the pentagon at the time was absolutely opposed to introducing any more forces to help karzai secure cities outside of kabul. i think the biggest mistake we made is not understanding the reach of time and the resilience of those who are our adversaries. i had -- >> just watching what happened with russia been there for 10 years, we would've had some insight of the resilience these people have. >> which may have been behind the thinking of the pentagon at the time and not wanting additional forces. >> gotcha. >> so we kept our force
footprint down and, of course, our resilient enemy came at us as susceptible he did in iraq, different enemy that same league. so it's a way of saying there aren't any easy answers. it's hard to say, i mean, i will would not go to the extreme position of saying that the overthrow of the taliban and the expulsion of al-qaeda was a mistake. as an american i cannot bring myself to say that. afghanistan is worth spending some time on. because hard to argue that we shouldn't have taken military action after what came to us out of afghanistan. but the mistake, if there was one, was not understanding that you can't kill them all and that the effort to create a strong,
stable state in afghanistan probably wasn't going to happen. so then what? in iraq, listen, senator, i learned maybe two things during almost four years in the middle east. i thought one lesson every couple of decades was a pace i could sustain. the first lesson is be careful what you get into in the middle east. and the first time i learned that lesson was in lebanon in 1982, israeli invasion. we all thought it was a good idea, get rid of the plo. we got rid of the plo and we got hezbollah and we got a chain of events that led to the bombing of my embassy with me in it and the bombing of the marine barracks. be careful what you get into. but the second thing i learned is be just as careful what you propose to get out of. that disengagement can have
consequences as great or greater as engagement. i would suggest to you we didn't follow those lessons at all well, either of them come in iraq. >> mr. chairman, can he give us what he thinks the greatest mistake? >> i agree. that's a hard question and i will tell you they may not be helpful question because we should be reluctant because of these complexities to identify single things. i think many would argue if you can identify single think would be to iraq war, not just because of the financial and human costs but because they tipped the strategic balance in reaching up with iran in charge in iraq. it led to sunni disempowerment which is partly fueling the al-qaeda an in iraq and then is. it made the u.s. public weary of our engagement in the northeast and arguably over wary so we are not willing to do things that arguably we should. i think we have to acknowledge
that for every mistake of action that would've been cost of inaction. i'm not willing to say that's the greatest single mistake because had we not done it we might be sitting talk about the mistake of leaving saddam hussein in power. that's what i'm reluctant to identify single things. i have pointed else -- pointed out elsewhere we think about back the region in iraq, we intervened and occupied and it turned out very badly. in libya we intervened but didn't occupied and it has turned out very badly. and in syria me neither intervened nor occupied and it has turned a very badly. i think the lesson of that is just overall caution that there is a single answer a model for how we should deal with these problems begin has been said. so i would say there's not a single mistake, just there's not a single entry but we should do going forward. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, chairman. i want to thank all of you for being your. general keane, i want to ask
you, we've seen iran twice test ballistic missiles this fall and winter the recently the administration has issued some minimal sanctions, frankly, recently after the hostage release to address those ballistic missile tests. do you think that their response to this testing of the ballistic missiles pose to be thinking of this agreement? obviously a and clear violationf existing u.n. resolutions sufficient. as i hear all of you say, no matter where you stand on a rant agreement with got to be quite vigilant going forward. what do you make of this? >> i think that's a totally inadequate response. these are essentially u.s. unilateral sanctions that we are imposing. this is a violation of u.n. resolution, then it should lead an effort in security council to
impose tough economic sanctions on that and set that as a bar. shortly because the iranians have already told us that they're going to continue to test ballistic missiles. these are medium-range ballistic missiles. they will eventually be testing long range ballistic missiles that will reach all of europe and in the iranians are capable of having to intercontinental ballistic missiles. so here's the 36 year pattern of not doing anything, and look where we are with the iranians. i am of the mind that we have to have tough-minded economic sanctions. they have worked. it is what brought the iranians to the negotiating table over the nuclear deal primarily in my judgment, and so yes, i think every time they take a hostage, there should be some kind of a sanction, and we have refused to do that. we are incentivizing hostagetaking. as the ambassador is painfully
aware of, even taking hostages since the 1980s. this is a cottage industry for the. they take hostages, we scream and holler about it. we eventually get our hostages back. tragically they killed cia station chief buckley, but the reality is we have not stood up to it. that gets their attention. so i think yes, we have to take a stand by this and demonstrate to the iranians and to our allies in the region that despite the nuclear do we have made with the iranians we are not giving up on stand up against their malign behavior in the region as the index our interest and the stability and interest of the region. we will be there and when we don't do that, and we just do what we did, these unilateral sanctions for missile testing, that is inviting more missile
testing. >> can i also ask, ambassador crocker, i was curious about your statement which i thought was very direct and attitude senator sessions about where does the united states stand. as a look at allies like saudi arabia that right now we are giving them the impression that we are not standing with them. and, in fact, we are seeing that iran russia come you very clearly laid out, have taken a site yea here and it is the side against our interest ultimately and against peace and stability in the region which is in of course all of our interest. i wanted to ask in terms of what we should be doing, i see this as connected. whenever any act bad and we don't respond i think this also gives a message to some of our allies that are concerned about iran's hegemonic behavior in the region. what would you like to see us do with regard to our allies?
how do we turn this around right now to make sure that our allies, who we need at this moment to address the isis threat and also threats that can flow from iran from their malign behavior going forward? >> thank you, senator. first make it clear that we are going to stand against malign the iranian activity. gave a suggestion on what we might look at doing in syria. in iraq, i would like to see not ryan crocker but john kerry go out and anybody but me, go out and spend a prolonged period of time out there spinning don't ask us because we are going to want to send you. >> condi rice did this when i was out there. this administration i think there have been two secretary of
state's visits in two years to i brought them one by secretary clinton and one by secretary kerry. i think that's right. i'm not sure. >> that's telling. >> and so the space we vacated, the iranians filled. they are not seeking a unified iraqi state that is friendly with iran. they are seeking basically the destruction of an iraqi state. its division into a kurdistan where they have had invalids, shiastan with most of the oil that would effectively control at the jihadists and that the islamic state could have come and who cares. so i would start making a major diplomatic push. it is a prime minister we can work with. he hasn't had many options beyond tehran. i would like to see us getting one. those would be a couple of
things. when the secretary needed a break from baghdad, he could move to amman, to tel aviv, to ankara, to cairo, to riyadh, repeat as necessary and it will be necessary. your business on this hill and the business i left as one thing at the center of both. it's about relationships. i am concerned that we have let our relationships atrophy with our friends in the region. we need to take some specific actions to show our resolve. we also need to just take them seriously and engage with them. and, finally, i would say with respect to the ballistic missile tests, i would agree with the general keane. and maybe we are doing this, that we are active in the united nations with the security council, probably a good time to
be a little bit quiet on into we can do the prep work but i think we should make the same effort they are as we did on the nuclear issue. >> thank you, mr. chairman. first, general keane, i agree with you completely that a comprehensive strategy that involves everything from military force to information ideology to ideas is needed to deal with the threat of places, which is a long run threat. so i appreciate your testament off after i think that's exactly right. just a small question. ambassador crocker, you noted, utah prime minister urke prime minister merkle was suffering from quote doing the right thing by taking syrian refugees. i presume you think this country is some responsibility to taking syrian refugees? >> yes, sir, i do. more profoundly i believe this
country has an obligation to lead on a global crisis. not to let the europeans, leave it to the europeans. >> you are talking about the refugee crisis. >> the refugee crisis. we have a broad responsibility i believe as america as a global leader to lead on a global crisis, to help the europeans sort out what they're doing with these people, to support as fully and effectively as we can the turks, the lebanese and the jordanians. >> but it would be very difficult for us -- go ahead. >> a part of that, we were not able to lead effectively if we don't walk the walk. >> that was going to be my question. >> and in my view, that means taking in a significant number of refugees. they are not going to take this very seriously in europe. angela merkel has a million and
we've got 2100. that doesn't mean we've got i'm all for the vetting process, it's essential. i would just like to see made more of a priority to be able to move refugees faster. but again this crisis isn't going to get any better. and with the kind of fraction -- fractionated approach to dealing with it that has merged without a single state stepping forward and saying let's everybody get together and figure out where going to deal with it, i'm just afraid we're going to see more and more of this. >> i think you for a testament. i'm sitting in a senate seat is occupied by evan muskie whose father was an immigrant from poland and george mitchell whose mother was an immigrant from lebanon. general keane, the central question about syria you touched upon and we sort of talk around it. where does the ground force come from? i think i heard agreement that
it shouldn't be us because that's a recruiting poster. that's what isis once. that would be a gift. but then we are hearing that the muslim countries don't seem to want to step forward with ground troops. this has been the problem with this strategy for three years. where do the ground troops come from in syria to confront isis? >> isis in syria as much as syria -- isis in iraq is a bit of simulated. in with the kurds on, the kurds have effectively we claimed in syria as well as in iraq. and by the way, we should use that as evidence the isis certainly isn't 10-foot tall. we put together a fairly decent representative ground force supported by effective airpower can we can do the isis. >> that thing that happened in ramadi. >> yes. the problem we have is the ground forces fighting assad and that is essentially the largest
force fighting assad are sunni, syrian arabs. >> and, therefore, getting rid of assad should be a priority. >> that is what the ambassador and i have been saying, that assad remains a priority but for those, certainly to get off the status quo in this humanitarian catastrophe that we are facing, which is contributing to migration challenges but it also enables isis to thrive, because the sunni arabs are not going to cross that border and fight isis while the iranians are propping up the assad regime. >> you would have the syrian army post the moderate opposition would then be able to focus on isis. i'm not being argumentative here. you all come at least utah and have endorsed a no-fly zone. that was a lot easier when it was just the syrian air force.
we were the testimony is, we talk about a no-fly zone picture talk of shooting down russian airplanes. >> this is a problem we have always said from the cold war to the present. because the russians have the capability and we have the capability, and if we fear the use of that capability it paralyzes us in taking action, then we are taking a knee. i don't think we need to do it. i will be quite frankly but it. i would demonstrate america's resolve right from the beginning. when they first bomb syrian moderates that we trained, we should have created that runway. and sent a strong signal can not kill a single russian but created that runway and say you do that again, then more than that runway will go away. this is something we learned in the cold war. the russians have stepped up. they have brought to the table a
very limited russian capability. they haven't been out of the region in 35 years since they went to afghanistan and that was a failed military operation as we are all aware of. they are an inferior military compared to the united states. they know that. they know it. they have selected a capability that is very good. and i think if we establish a no-fly zone and we're going to put people in there to protect them, i don't really see the russians coming into bomb it. they would be a pariah on the world stage for doing something like that. but more likely attempt at protecting a safe zone would be from infiltration, suicide bombers or something like that where you would need some kind of ground force to protect it, or fire a missile or a rocket at it which means you have to bring up from jordan and turkey missile defense systems that could help protect the no-fly
zone. i don't think the fear of russian intervention and a no-fly zone should paralyze us from establishing that very thing. >> i share your analysis. going back to the soviet union, the best analogy i've ever heard is that they are like hotels the. they tried all the doors until they find one that's open. that is essentially what you're suggesting here by not showing any level of resistance, then they're going to maintain a presence. the danger is some kind of counter escalation, and i think, mr. crocker, something i wrote down, a careful what you get into. that's always a good piece of advice. thank you, gentlemen. important testimony. >> general keane come if i could continue on this point. russia begin significant operations in syria in late september. they have multiple incursions in the turkish airspace september october and november and a late
november turkey shot down one of russia's aircraft. do you know how many times russia and has invaded turkish airspace since that? >> i have no idea. i suspect they have not. >> what do you think this is about the connection between those two events and their willingness to respect the demonstration of force in enforcing airspace rights speak with yes. i mean, that pattern of the russians is exactly what we see in that situation. turkey was protecting their sovereign airspace. they took what they thought was reasonable action to do that, and the russians have stayed away from it. i think that would be the same situation dealing with a no-fly zone. listen, the russians at the end of the day are not fools. they are practical. they are in syria for one reason only, to prop up the assad regime. to have a very limited military objective. that is their goal. i cannot see them extending that
to bomb a place where we are trying to protect innocent people. >> ambassador crocker, would you agree with that assessment? >> i would. and have it extended of course to iran. russia and iran in allies are going to push in syria and elsewhere and until somebody lycos pushes back. >> if we could stick with turkey for a moment ago spirit in many ways the linchpin of both what's happening in syria our efforts there as well as the refugee flows. at this moment based on their past conduct, how would you assess the turkish government prioritizes the various bytes appear engaged in? of the kurds, the assad regime and the islamic state. >> that's a great question, senator. it highlights something we've been talking about this morning.
we want the non-jihadi syrian groups to fight islamic state. their arch enemy isn't the islamic state, it's assad. we want the arab states to come into fight islamic state. that's not the biggest issue. gets iran. the same thing applies with turkey. islamic state is clearly a threat to them, and they know it. we've seen the attacks into syria, but in author's document the kurds are a much greater threat. so we've got the dilemma of the most effective on the ground force we have found in syria is the one that the turks fear the most, particularly since the syrian kurdish groups, the ypg, are affiliated with the pkk.
thousands have died in the conflict inside of turkey, both kurds and turks. so this is a problem from hell at every dimension to it isn't going to get better on its own. started revelation, i know. it's going to take that kind of sustained dialogue and engagement with all of our traditional allies in that area. we just need to be having that conversation. >> continue on priorities, which sunni arab state views the islamic state as a graver threat than it views iran and shia aggression in the region? >> i am not totally current on this. i would say based on my last interaction and, of course, came to build was just you, some of you may have a conversation with him. i think king abdullah would put the islamic state of their ahead of iran.
the arabian peninsula states, you know, it would be iran. we didn't get much notice but the kuwaitis made some arrests in the last week or so of individuals accused in a massive terror plot involving literally tons of explosives that they traced to iran. so for them it's an existential threat. in iraq, he is in no position to say so, but i would bet sandwiched between isis and iran, the iraqis leadership would probably put them on pretty much par. >> my time has expired but mr. gorn i infer from your head nodding your largely agree. d. care to add any prospective? >> i agree. i believe the united arab
emirates, jordan, egypt and iraq would also isis is a greater threat. saudi arabia would be focus on iran. >> thank you all. [inaudible] >> thank you, mr. chair. i want to continue on this issue of sort of priority and scale because i've heard a lot today about the threat of iran and its influence in the region, the threat of assad in syria. on a scale we have heard a lot less about isis. secretary gordon, i want to ask you, how would you prioritize or rank in scale those three threats in the region in terms of our greatest of the greatest threats to our current interest and security? >> three, iran, isis and what was the third?
>> assad in syria. >> which a good couple with iran in many ways. you know, i don't like the choice because we should acknowledge what major problems with iran. we have an interest in containing iran and we also have a strategic interest in defeating and destroying isis. i don't like the choice which amount implies -- >> obviously for all religious on the message asking for a one to three but how do we prioritize our resources to address these three threats? >> i think we have to do them all at the same time. the question of syria i already made clear that a think our prioritization needs to be the escalating the conflict more than displacing assad. i like to give it a assad tomorrow? absolutely. i would like to do because of that was an even greater all-out war among all the different groups in syria. i fear that the most likely
result of immediate steps to get rid of assad that would not result in either ruling syria and inclusive when entering a isis, which would love to see, but rather an all out battle for damascus. hundreds of thousands, possibly millions more refugees of those afraid of living in that battle. so for that reason my priority on that issue would be the escalating the war rather than getting rid of assad. other important priorities question is undermining russia and iran, vis-à-vis stopping the war. is in the interest? absolutely. we could put on the top of our list i do whatever it takes to do that. i think the cost the consequences of that, the ongoing syrian civil war from the lack of nuclear agreement with iran would outweigh those. that is a nice summary for the entire hearing. >> that is actually helpful.
in relation to that one of the challenges we have, especially with regard to the isis piece of this, is that while we all recognize that turkey can put a very strong and sort of geostrategic role in all of this, the their approach is that oftentimes ambiguous. how do we leverage greater focus on isis from turkey, given their concerns about the kurds and other priorities? what do you think, secretary gordon, prime minister erdogan strategic goals and objectives are truly in this current engagement? >> that's another great question. ambassador crocker alluded to this. the problem, we all have lots of different adversaries in the region, we prioritize been carefully. turkey i would say prioritizes the war with the kurds because they are internally threatened and as i've said it lost 3000
people in the conflict over three decades. next is assad and after that which they don't like him but have a strategic interest in avoiding a conflict with so that been reluctant to poke too much. i would say are so the opposite. we would isis on the top of those three, assad next and the kurds are not only lower down, they are a partner. and i would note in the past week alone we have seen turkey oppose kurdish representation in the opposition group that is meant to meet to try to deescalate talks. it's hard to imagine excluding turks from the opposition and tricky dick military action against the pyd which is one of our strongest forces in fighting i suspect that underscores a difference we have with turkey on some of these. you ask how to deal with it. i think you used the word leverage. turkey still an ally and a partner and we have to have a frank conversation. because we have different priorities on a trade off on
these issues can get us on the same page. >> ambassador crocker, while i do couple of left you pointed out that in, germany has 1 million plus refugees. i think jordan has a million come something like that. the u.s. is going to take 2100. do you have an opinion on the house-passed bill, the american security against foreign enemies, or safe act and its potential impact on being able to do with refugees from iraq and syria? >> i appreciate the fears in this country in the wake of mayors and particularly san bernardino. these are real fears. i just think the legislation is aiming in the wrong direction. the refugees are not the source of the problem. they are the victims of it.
it's also very important they can to keep a regional perspective. i follow islamic state media as close as i can't and it's very interesting, back in september when chancellor merkel made the statements that refugees were welcome in germany, the islamic state social media went nuts. don't believe it, it's a trap. they are trying to lure you in so they can imprison you, or worse. on it went. it defeats a key part of the islamic state narrative if the west, including the u.s., is seen as welcoming of the refugees that they are helping to create, that we are the protectors of muslims, not them. they are the tormentor, we are the protector. that's the scenario we want to get out there. and i just hope we do it again, i understand what the legislation is intended to do. i think it's actually
counterproductive. >> senator hirono. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ambassador crocker, you noted that we need to stand with the sunnis because of this, iran has taken a position. what concrete steps to take to reaffirm our relationship, for example, with saudi arabia and with turkey? there are internal issues going on within both of these countries that make it difficult, not to mention, for example, in turkey that they are concerned that we are dependent on kurds to fight in syria and that is the biggest concern at present are the one has apparently in turkey, and then in saudi arabia the our succession issues and some internal posturing that's going on there. so how do we with these two very
important allies, how do we shore up our relationships with them and let them know that we stand with them? what concrete steps would you suggest? >> well, two sets of issues, senator. first, taking actions that demonstrate that we are on the same side of issues critical to them, as well as those. that is why i have been saying it is important to take a stand against what iraq, iran is doing in the region. both in syria and in iraq in particular. they are slightly different cases. but to show the saudis and others that, yeah, we are serious about the same things they are serious about. with erdogan, turkey is a nato
ally. it's in a special category. they stood with us. we should be having the kind of high level sustained dialogue that befits a critical treaty alliance. to listen to them, to understand their concerns, to see how the region looks to erdogan in some detail in depth. it starts with that kind of engagement. we also need to be careful i think in understanding the very real limits on how helpful the kurds can be. when you get outside of areas of their traditional influence, and we saw this when they led the effort to retake the sinjar region in northern iraq from islamic state, some real frictions developed because of that is not a traditionally kurdish area. in addition to turkish fears
trying to push the kurds into arab areas, not a good idea. suggest an understanding the dynamics, and then having a strategic dialogue. just one final point on saudi arabia. i followed saudi affairs for a long time. i'm never going to figure out how their internal political dynamics work. what i do know is for most of the last four decades, elements in the west have been predicting the collapse of the houston saud. it's still there. i think it's going to be there for a good long time to let them worry about how their internal politics are organized and let's just deal with them as the government. >> with the saudis there's a potential for a young 30 year old to take over the leadership there. the middle east is fraught with peril. mr. gordon, he said that the escalating the conflict in syria
is the more immediate concern than getting rid of assad. isn't that the path that the u.s. is taking right now? deescalate the conflict. >> i think the u.s. is interested in deescalate and the conflict, trying to find some middle ground between what might've been an ideal objective for an initial objective of complete regime change in syria, and laden with assad. they are looking for speakers for the moment. it's not a long-term desirable output. >> that's right and that's what you're looking at could you have a certain amount of time he can stay, it reduces parts anytime? these are all important to export diplomatically. i just fear that the insistence on immediate departure without a means to bring it about just perpetuates the war. while it wouldn't be ideal to the cease-fire in place, and many have questioned whether the opposition would ever accept it,
all which are legitimate. if you could offer them what has never been offered at all in five years, which is control over the areas they control, and it of the operation and barrel bombs, humanitarian assistance, prisoner releases and a path and process to deal with syria more generally, it would be an awful lot better than where we are now. >> my understanding of her posture is that we are not insisting that assad go away because we recognize as a ambassador crocker have said, be careful what you get into and what you get out of. i do not think that that is, in fact, what we are doing. i think what we're doing a striking figure out a way to achieve a cease-fire. that would go a long way to addressing the humanitarian crisis that is happening in syria. a degree much mr. chairman. >> -- thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> where is our moral compass? what are we satisfied to leave
so if empowered that has killed 250,000 men, women and children? sent millions into refugee status? ambassador crocker addressed the results of this failure. let's leave him in power for a while and let's live with bashar al-assad for what works so he can kill more people, so we can starve them? so they can slaughter them with poison gas? is that the moral compass that the united states has followed? i don't think so. i think the greatest example of sticking to your moral compass is the reagan administration. and for us to sit by and say maybe bashar al-assad can stay for a while. maybe -- it's immoral. if we lose our moral compass within which are just like every other nation in history. senator kaine. >> thank you mr. church as you know i strongly support your, have long supported your
proposals with respect to the humanitarian or no-fly zone in northern syria, and you are crushed in calling for the. a couple of questions for witnesses and i apologize for stepping out. we are having a foreign relations committee on exactly the same topic and i'm going back and forth. who is a big enemy to the united states, isil or syrian refugees? who is a bigger enemy to the united states, isil or syrian refugees? >> well, clearly isil is a bigger enemy. i don't think syrian refugees are an enemy, period. >> other witnesses? >> agreed. >> yes, sir. we've had something of a conversation on that before you came back in. i agree completely. >> the reason i ask as we are
debating a bill this afternoon and the title of the bill is securing america against foreign enemies act of 2015, and the enemies referred to in the bill are refugees from syria and iraq. we haven't had a debate or a boat about isil. the president sent a draft aumf authorization to congress in the middle of february. i have not been tested and. i thought they should been said earlier. not that wild about the content but they asked congress for an aumf draft in february. each of you has had long experience. not only have we not vote on it but does not been a debate or vote in committee on the floor in either house on the question of either the president authorization to an offering authorization since the president said it. are you aware of any other time in our history where the president asked congress for a war authorization, sent a proposed authorization to congress but that it was not
even taken up for debate in committee or on the floor of either house the? >> i'm not aware of any, i provide a test of history subject and i certainly, i believe it should be taken up and should be debated and should be voted on. i think it's the appropriate for the president to send it. >> any other thoughts? >> yeah, it's an important question. i would, as a civilian i would look at it in practical terms. are there contingencies out there to which we could not respond militarily? because the existing aumf is not adequate. if the answer to that is yes, then just speaking as a citizen, i would find it incredible that congress has not acted on it in almost a year.
>> on also not aware of any such precedents, but i agree with you that it's a problem. i think that the legal basis for what we are doing. i don't know of anything we would india like to do that we can do because we don't have it. what i also think the basis on which we are acting is mushy and far removed from what we are trying to do. talking about slippery slopes, this is sort of a legal slippery slope we just get in the habit of not having specific authorization and then you are years away from the authorization you have. i don't think that's a habit the united states should want to develop. >> ambassador crocker, i would ask one last question about an item in your testimony. i'm grappling with something so i'm trying to enter this for myself. you a real candidate that in this iran, saudi arabia tension, which is not really accelerated come long-standing in origin, accelerated, that we really need to pick a side.
what i've been worried about, is there, are there unfortunate consequences of taking a side that we may not want? what analysis of this conflict is sunni-shia divide and to think we would all agree. the u.s. doesn't have a site in ideological debate about which strand of islam we prefer. that's not something we would pick a side in. it's a nation-state battle between saudi arabia and iran. there may be a cultural arab-persian component to it. there's certainly a way to iran's economic competitiveness and military activity. there may be revolution guard against the monarchy component. there's lots of layers. how do we pick a side with a just kind of making it look to that region of the weather which is sort of planted our feet on the sunni side of the sunni-shia sectarian side? >> it's a great question. we should not be in the position
of having to pick a side in my view, in that area. we should be leading. we should be siding with the strategic agenda is and then line up support for it where it's most appropriate. unfortunately, now we are playing catch up. asides have been formed. we are very late to a very critical game and are in that position of having effectively to choose a side. when we do and how we do then we need to work to start shaping the outside. because there are some things going on there now and that are not good for our allies or for the region as hell over our long-term interest. just sitting on the sidelines doesn't really let you affect
how the team is going to play. >> maybe just to refer on this. let's be clear. we do pick a side. nobody should misunderstand. we do have allies and partners. with our brain even after the nuclear deal we will have unilateral u.s. sanctions on iran, confront on a grand entrance of terrorism, human rights and other issues. we both have diplomatic relations with iran. where as with the other side we have extensive relationship, bases, ships, missile defense cooperation from cell millions of dollars worth of weapons. i think the starting point should be done to understand we have partners and adversaries. that's clear. the question is, added agree with my colleague that notwithstanding everything i just said we have a perception problem and we have to deal with, and wished. nobody should misunderstand where some of right in the middle between iran and our golf
partners that the question is this picking a side take it all the way to doing things that might not be in your interest, like not having a nuclear deal with iran or going directly to war in syria. i think there's a limit to the degree we take sides and we have our own national interest and that is to be a part of our frank dialogue with our friends and partners. >> general keane? >> i think think the model of e soviet union is a good one. we clearly took a side because we felt it was an existential threat to the country. here's we believe i think iran's geopolitical strategy to dominate the region is not in the united states national interests nor in our allies interest. clearly we are lined up against the. i don't think we've done enough to counter this polite behavior. at the same time dealing with the soviet union we formed political military alliance against it but it never stopped us from seeking opportunities to
work with the soviet union for common purpose and common interest. i think when you do, when you operate from a position of strength like that it actually enables you to get more done with your adversary. i think that's what ambassador crocker and i are arguing for, that this trend has already left the station and we've disengaged from the region. without our involvement in it, this could get to be a very dangerous situation between saudi arabia and the iranians and their supporters. we have to get back in it. we have to rally our allies and we have to clear political and diplomatic objectives for what we're trying to achieve to counter the iranian advance in the region. >> thank you for your service and testimony. senator shaheen. >> senator kaine and i were running back and forth between the foreign relation committee upstairs so thank you for holding on until i could get down here.
first of all let me thank all for if you old for being here this one and for your service to the country. it truly is impressive and a willingness to continue to engage is also impressive. i wanted to follow-up on some the specifics the specifics that you raised in your testimony. ambassador crocker, one of the things you said that it may not be putting this exactly accurately i think what i understood you this is that the poor we appear to take sides with russia and iran, more difficult it becomes to get a resolution with those people havwhohave been our friends in e middle east. did i understand that correctly? i ask is because it seems to me, as i look at syria, that if we're going to get any kind of a political solution that iran and russia have got to be at the table. you disagree with that?
>> i think they do have to be at the table. my concern is that with the current dynamic in syria, where russia and iran both feel they are on a roll, that their intervention these been quite successful in propping up assad, that not only will we not have a successful negotiation, we are not even going to get to the table. that's what i think we are seeing now as these talks scheduled for next week sort of slip away from us. there has to be a negotiated end to this conflict. my belief is that negotiation to succeed or even take place, we've got to change some of the dynamics on the ground, both to backup assad, iran and russia,
to reinforce our sunni friends inside syria, and to send a signal to the larger region. so absolutely there has to be a negotiation but we just don't have the terms for it now. >> i agree basically with what all of you have said with respect to the need to intervene more, to try and force the forces supporting assad to the table, to come up with some resolution. the questions that i still have is based on what each of you had to say. it's still not clear to me how we do that. i like the idea of the no-fly zone. i think that sounds like one of the positive things that we could do. on the other hand, we have had testimony from members of our military, some of our military leaders, but that would require
significant military presence. we would take casualties. we would have a difficult time destroying serious -- series is air defense system. and i've also heard from representatives of the refugee community who say they would put a target on refugees because it would be a place where they would be forced to go because they felt like they were safe and that they would become targets of i suspect i'm not quite sure how that works without a significant military presence. i do think the involvement of special operations forces, i mean, that seems to me one of the things we've been trying to do more of. i certainly believe there's been some success with that, and with air defenses. but again it's just not clear to me how we accomplish the successes that each of you talk about in reality without putting
back on the ground the kind of military force that we had in iraq and afghanistan, and we are now seeing the impact of withdrawing those forces. so enlighten me if you would. general keane first. >> i think you're talking about two things, assad and syria, and the military and political dimension of that, and also isis. i think to some degree, syria give you a headache just thinking through it. reasonable people can disagree certainly a what to do about it, and they certainly do. but in my judgment, and we've been discussing this on and off most of the morning, the political dimension in syria is critical, and we have to change the momentum against the regime to be able to get a political solution. the russians are there and the iranians are there to prop up
and preserve this regime in their own national interest. >> right. i heard most of the testimony. >> so that is critical. that no-fly zone, i disagree with my military colleagues who may have made it up here too difficult to achieve. i don't think for a minute that we could have an issue with syria and air defense system's which, if we did, we would destroy them all, quite frankly. they know that. i also don't believe -- >> i don't want to be argumentative, and i'm out of time so i will just make a final point because you raised that. and maybe circumstances have changed, but we have had direct testimony from military leadership expressing concern about the losses that would be incurred if we had to go in from from the syria air defense.
so maybe this situation has changed. can you speak to that? >> that's their job to lay out the level of risk associate with any option that takes place in the risk level of risk. it doesn't mean we don't do it. there's always potential for casualties. that's the reality of it. but i also spent a lot of time on this issue, and i am very convinced that we can establish a no-fly zone with minimum interference from the syrians to be sure. ..
>> >> it is all about the political objective and is that is the regime giving up power than i think changing the balance on the ground modestly or even with the no-fly zone is the likely to bring about that objective look at presidents there isn't a lot of precedents for this type of operation we gradually increase support for the armed opposition then it is designed to handle the power surge of late not by iran or russia think of libya that nowhere has the strength of
syria and not backed by 81. how we started with the no-fly zone it did not end with a peaceful transition of power but it ended with the death of gadaffi and everything since. not asking them to give up power but to get security forces out to lead the 78 day nato obama campaign and the threat of a ground invasion. we had no-fly zones for years it did not bring about a political settlement but their other -- media other reasons that those will lead to the system we try to bring about. >> thank you ambassador with respect to refugees they appreciate your willingness to speak out on that.
>> now i will continue the line of questioning i hear the answer that you gave about the difficulties of our response to its given that turkey has the second-largest banding military with 700,000 active and 400,000 reserves saudi arabia is the most powerful with over 220,000 active troops and 1200 tanks and 700 aircraft and pejorative and. but everyone has been the most active power fighting isil so what should we do to engage our allies to have a larger bird did in the fight against isil? and what can we do to encourage them? >> the first thing we need to do is indicate we are
allies have and as such take their strategic concerns seriously. for saudi arabia isil is not the primary threat. it is everyone. for turkey, isil is not the primary threat, it is the kurds. our op -- allies. >> we have a lot of them that are our friends they voted for me so that is not the model with wages don't get along with the pkk and is very assertive about that. >> but the question to of the white pg is affiliated with the pkk. it is a problem. that is why i have advocated a reinvigorated u.s.
engagement with additional allies and partners. we have differences clearly with riyadh but i am concerned we're not talking about the differences as friends and allies with a view to develop the common ground and common understanding and common strategy because without that any notion of regional forces intervening in syria against the islamic state state, they will not do that. >> c recommend more engagement? looking at eight senators that is what we heard meeting with the saudi defense forces. they were grateful for all the efforts they wanted to amplify what we do together from the more anecdotal conversations in the same thing is true with turkey to
increase trade, refugees, so they seem to be asking what's is happening with regard to u.s. policy? >> i understand all too well the pressure is on any administration and its senior members. but at that level we have to be more involved. but there is nothing like the secretary of state as opposed to a congressional visit.
it is important in the know it is as hard for u.s. the administration and in particular with iraq i saw lots of the chairman. >> but they go to the secretary of state to engage? >> i had said earlier the iranians have filled of vacuum in iraq is a very bad situation if you need a break you to go to riyadh.
we have to ram this up as bad as this situation is now , or to say something uplifting, we will look back on this day with miss cool said the way it is tracking will be worse in a couple of months. >> mr. gordon use said we should not be dealing with the symptoms but straight to the cause and i uninterested how can united states have an impact on the causes? what is the approach? to all the things they normally talk about.
with the u.s. action. for those that live to read the domestic and baghdad feel disadvantaged and repressed they will face this problem so it is a long your conversation with the consensus that should be done to make them feel they are part of the country? with that magnet and cause of isis. so we can empower them in iraq to make more of a
contribution to this conflict in the incremental numbers. >> thank you for continuing the series for the eliminating hearings. thank you for hosting us when you have in afghanistan and advice to this committee and to meet i know this has been covered and to have an opportunity to follow that as well. i want to focus with the refugee issue with the trafficking of survivors.
with that trafficing survivor a very courageous escape they have endured at the hands of isil. through the of the ds as rape is used as a tool of terrorism to destabilize communities where of women and girls. and isil purposely to hold these thousands of people in captivity. to expand and intensify our efforts.
but i will begin with mr. gordon what role do the coalition partners for the safe release and to open to the other witnesses with that agency approach. >> with a humanitarian and strategic consequences as you mentioned that with 10 million displaced strategically it does threaten the neighbors like lebanon is still functioning one-quarter of the populations of syria and
jordan and the european union as well. we're already doing a lot. to provide more than $4 billion but that is not even close to what is necessary. we need to do even more in one of the arguments put through the refugee camp to show america is a welcoming country. , it is the struggle and it comes back to the political points whenever we can do for individuals but stop the flow of the problem from the senator to live rand
question i fear if we don't deal with those causes and to three years it will be bigger than it is now. >> the community that you are talking about a with the to be refugees because however bad that is there out of the hands of the islamic state. >> they are captives. day are slaves. they are sects slaves. reminder that the islamic state is evil and as long as it existed and holds ground to use it for evil purposes
is leaving the innocence, execution of others, they will do that. i am grateful to you to recall that there is such a thing as evil. isis is evil and assad is evil in in a different context you need to keep a moral compass. >> i think the witnesses. can for those are observing on c-span and all of us i don't think we could have had three finer members of a group of people serving their country with distinction am proud to have you before the committee
citizens deadline space to clinton supporters are so as a non sanders hit his socialist head. joining us renew shirk his national political correspondent for. >> guest: how were you? >> host: refer this earlier today from clinton and other surrogates talking about the socialist moniker what is the strategy to
remind the democratic primary voters with first contest of iowa angina hampshire it is unjust use on politics today if they are more motivated by to pick the next commander in chief potentially still have a compelling message to have a hard time winning a general election of the man with special connotations and would that be doing that she was sailing into i was angelou hampshire. but now they're finding creative ways.
>> almost a 30-point lead by sanders in one poll. he is looking less like a threat and more like a runaway train. >> new hampshire may not be that bad but the independents can vote there is a strong cadre of activist in young people to see those rights out of the gates those losses i thank you will see those clinton people put all their effort into iowa. >> host: talk about electability. this is the debate that inspires people like bernie sanders. >> it does sound very familiar and making the
case, the of the outdated democratic playbook to trim around the edges if that is not a way to win the you have to turn out. by the way there is a reason for that. >> but clearly this is not the race that the clinton team expected a few weeks before i let a and new hampshire. >> goodness. no. as money and endorsements a sense that it was her turn and it didn't matter.
that nobody in the mainstream as a serious contender left alone a threat. is a great reminder everything has been thrown out the window as unpredictable. the future has run through all the cycles. >> but with regard to hillary clinton and her candidacy and her appeal or lack thereof to voters what is the problem? >> guest: as a onetime adviser to secretary clinton this person said she has done everything right with policy, fund-raising, her message, a gasoline -- grass-roots organization, closer to voters especially on
cultural issues. >> but it has not mattered. but nothing has hurt her certainly the emails story did not help but democrats and not show any great concern. as your part of a hillary campaign. >> governor o'malley has not moved beyond the low single digits does he oppose any threat at all then why can't you resonate? >> if you're looking for a clinton alternative you're probably on the left side of the spectrum.
to lift the car and sound the bar and has the resume day as a to a term governor and is straight out from maryland. with said demand for the threat of a status quo. >> we will look for your reporting on line and in the newspaper.
from manchester new hampshire thank you for your time. and now the first lady to help to get health care for 8 million kids in the senator and the secretary of state who stood up for america is the one candidate
and will never shut down planned parenthood or subsidize so security or medicare looking for equal pay for women and stop the republicans from ripping progress away. singh of for hillary on february 1st. of you want a president who knows how to keep america safe to build a stronger economy, hillary is a choice >> am
listening to you and fighting for you and with your support will deliver. i am hillary clinton and i approve this message. >> will defend this nation responsibly progress voted against the war in iraq and it was the right move. we must never forget our lessons. isis must be destroyed and not do it alone. with the boots on the ground
as president i will. i am bernie sanders i approve this message. >> my family has lived on this or three generations. the balkan pipeline will prompt dirty crude dialogue across i was. >> -- i was. >> sanders did not hesitate to say no. >> if we don't act it could affect the health of our children. >> bernie sanders will stand up for what he believes in. >> i am bernie sanders and i approve this message
>> the countdown is on as we approached the caucuses we are the only place you can watch the events unfold as they happen whether a campaign rally, a town hall meeting, a house party, a policy speech and looking at the candidates so we will crisscross iowa the next couple days with those democrat and republican
candidates to keep an eye on caucus night itself. so if you ever wondered how it happened, watch c-span. >> immigration policy vice president talk about the supreme court's decisions to rule all of the executive order. talk about how we got to the point to pick up his case. >> november 2014 he announced there would be executive action on immigration there was a whole slate of reforms one was that a memorandum of j johnson that said he would create a process through which certain people or the
green card holding children better not enforcing pierides or pass background checks to get the 10 day reprieve from deportation. and very shortly thereafter to lead a group of states. >> immigrantsented by executive fiat. there are quotes here from the chief counsel of american center for law and justice who says president obama is not a king. presidents do not get to change the law. guest: one thing that is interesting about that is there is strong legal authority and precedents for this.
the strongest historical precedent for the actions taken in 1987-1990 when right after the enactment of an immigration reform law that offered a path to legal status for about three million unthousandsed immigrants immigrants -- unauthorized immigrants and intentionally left out another class of folks. president reagan and expanded by bush created a policy that also applied to 40% of the unauthorized population. so the actions that were taken were similar and, actually, the scale was similar even then. >> host: were those challenged, though, by a court? >> guest: no. i mean, that's one of the interesting hinge, frankly -- things, frankly. there's a long history going back to president eisenhower of every administration using executive authority on imuation. and this is authority -- immigration. and this is authority to set policy, to set priorities, to take actions that are necessary to enforce the immigration laws across a whole slew of issues.
and either by democratic presidents, republican presidents, they've largely not been challenged as all, they haven't been as controversial. i think in many ways it does speak to how fractured the country is on many issues. >> host: okay. we want our viewers to weigh in on this immigration debate as well. let me give you the phone lines. democrats, 748-8000 and independents, 202-748-8002. you can also join the conversation on twitter and facebook if you'd like as well. our handle on twitter, @ c-spanwj. let me read from another, the same critic here of what president obama did, mr. sekulow, who wrote this, that our nation's immigration laws are complicated and in need of reform through the legislative process, but differing policy preferences do
not permit president to change the law on his own. president obama's actions are unconstitutional, unlawful and violate the separation of powers. the reality is impatient presidents may not violate the constitution if they do not get their way. it's that simple. >> guest: there's one area that we agree which is that our immigration laws are horribly broken, and we need reform. i was the chief counsel at the house immigration subcommittee and worked on two occasions in the last seven years with a bipartisan group of legislators in the house to try and get immigration reform bill enacted boo law. so i think there are people on both sides of the aisle, on the republican side of the aisle who are genuine and want to engage in the issue. and i do think down the road we will see reform happen, we have to see reform happen. having said that, the authority for the executive action that we're hooking at here doesn't come out of the fact that congress hasn't acted. in many ways it comes directly from the fact that congress has
acted. so the immigration laws have four decades now provided that the secretary of homeland security, previously the attorney general, has the authority to tonight rules or oil -- to adopt rules or policies or take any such actions necessary to enforce the immigration laws. and when the secretary of homeland security, when the department itself was first created after 9/11, we created a new authority directing the secretary of homeland security to adopt a national immigration policies, enforcement policies and priorities. so what this is essentially is an immigration enforcement policy that he's establishing that says if i'm going to do my job of trying to maintain public safety, maintain national security and enforce our immigration laws, understanding that there are 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the country that we have to also maintain border security and that we have the resources to remove a small fraction of those 11 million people, i need to set sensible immigration priorities. and the best way for me to target my resources on people who pose a national security threat is to take some folks off
the table, essentially. temporarily, by his discretion, not something they can rely on at the end of the day, but essentially saying, you know, i want to separate the piles out so i can focus my energies and efforts on those who are a high priority for removal. >> host: before we get to calls, what is the supreme court, what are they going to rule on exactly? what's the question before them? >> guest: great question. so there are a number of questions before them. the threshold question that they're likely to answer is whether or not the states have standing to file this lawsuit, whether -- one, whether they have standing and, two, whether this type of claim is the kind of thing courts should get involved in. that already is an important threshold because if the states don't have standing to bring this lawsuit, then that's the end of the lawsuit. you know, one interesting fact about the way that this case is coming forward is that the reason texas has been found -- and so far the district court only found that texas had standing -- the reason texas has been found to have standing in this case is because they, years ago, adopted their own state law
that essentially pits their subsidy of driver's licenses to determinations made under federal law. so, essentially, they decided that when a patient gets -- a person gets deferred action and employment authorization under federal immigration laws, they will issue them driver's licenses at a subsidized rate. so because they've chosen to offer this subsidy to the class of people, essentially, who are going to be affected by this policy, then they say they're going to to be losing a very small amount of money for each person who gets a work authorization -- who getses a driver's license. so cumulatively, they'll lose a little bigger amount but still a small amount in the grand scheme of things. certainly when compared to the economic benefit the state stands to gain. >> host: and that goes to their standing to make this case because they will then, effectively, be hurt by this action by the government. >> guest: that's right. they need to show they have suffered a cognizable injury in order to bring the case before the courts, because courts just don't get involved in every single dispute that arises.
this is an outstanding issue that i think chief justice roberts is going to be focusing on with laser focus is courts typically don't want to think of themselves as being in the business of getting involved in inherently political disputes. they don't want to get involved in the business of when there's not an injury and when litigants are coming before the court and just have sort of policy disagreements that they're going to step in and get involved. this really could be a sea change in standing if texas is able to, essentially, manufacture standing by adopting its own policy that's tied to federal determinations, and then when the federal government adopts a policy decision, whether it's immigration or another area, be able to call foul. >> host: real quickly, what's the cake care clause in all -- take care clause in all this? >> guest: if the court finds they have standing, they may also find -- the district court found there was standing and the administration, if they wanted to adopt this policy, they should have gone through an informal rulemaking process.
they should have provided notice and opportunity for the public to comment and only after issuing in the form of a rule would they be able to potentially put this policy into play. the circuit court took it a step further and said, frankly, even if you went through that rulemaking process, it would still not be permissible under the immigration laws. again, i disagree strongly with those findings, but that's what two judges found on the fifth circuit court found. that ended up being a decision below. the next issue that neither the courts below addressed was whether or not even if you set aside the statutory question, is there a question under the constitution of whether the president is failing to take care that the laws be faithfully executed which is a duty that's created by the constitution for the president. you know, i think there's, there are great legal scholars, i think, who have looked at that question who say courts don't actually rule on that issue, that's not actually a claim you can bring. this is not an action by the president, this is by the direct
of homeland security who doesn't have that responsibility, so there are a lot of questions regarding the merits of that. but i'm encouraged by the fact that the court decided on its own, essentially, to say i also want briefing on this issue. they may or may not rule on it. but by inviting briefing on that issue, they're is setting up a situation where they can avoid a ping-pong where the case goes back to the district court again in order for the district court to rule on it once more at which point we'll have a new administration, we don't know what the new administration's view is going to be on these policies. i think they're saying particularly given the legitimacy of the district court ruling that has come under a lot of public scrutiny, they're going to take it on themselves, is my expectations to say i'm going to -- we're going to be te final determiner whether this is consistent with the laws of the country. >> host: all right. we'll turn to viewers. robert in petersburg, virginia,
independent. you are up first, go ahead. >> caller: well, good morning. you know, i think there's a lot of people that don't believe -- [inaudible] supreme court mihm, -- anymore, the recount votes in florida and whether they can pool all their money into the elections and everything. i don't have faith in them. so whatever comes, i don't know. but they do need to do something -- [inaudible] those people down there are our neighbors and friends. we need to help support them, and this country is going in the wrong direction for years and years and years. >> host: okay. >> caller: y'all have a great day. >> host: all right, robert. so what have each of these justices, if they've talked at all, said about this case coming before them? >> guest: to my knowledge, none of them have said anything about the case. that would be a concern if they were speaking to the case before
it actually came before them. there's certainly one thing, i will agree, certainly, there have been a number of decisions by this court that are very concerning certainly to me and to the center for american progress, no question. but i will say on immigration, actually, this court has been, has looked at the issue and really understood some of the complexity. so a very important case, i think, for case is a lawsuit that was brought, a case that was decided a number of years ago when the state of arizona enacted an immigration law, an anti-immigrant law, s.b. 1070, and what the court said was that immigration laws are, essentially, within the province of the federal government, and it's not for states to sort of interfere. that's one way in which can this action, i think, is comparable to that action. another important statement that the court made in that arizona decision when it struck down most of the arizona law was that the federal government has broad discretion to decide whether and how to pursue removal at all more individuals, right? the court recognized that even if a person may be removable,
may be deportable, there may be a whole host of reasons that the federal government may not decide to pursue removal for that individual, and those are all decisions that are entrusted to the federal government, right? there could be international relations reasons, there could be immediate human concerns. many of the, much of the reasoning that court sort of laid out in that decision really goes to what these families themselves are going through as well, right? the idea that you have potentially up to four million people, about 3.7 million of whom are the parents of americans or lawful residents who have been here a long time and played by the rules, who are hard working individuals, whose lives are going to be turned upside down. not just their lives, but their american family members if they were to be removed from the country. the center for american progress earlier, late last year did a report that estimated that while we spend a lot of time talking about the 3.7 million people who could be eligible to apply for the protection from deportation,
who are the parents of citizens or green cardholders, we don't spend that much time talking about their actual family members who are the ones who also stand to benefit tremendously from that. so there are 3.7 million parents, but there are about 6.3 million u.s. citizens who live in the same household as those individuals. really what we're talking about is millions upon millions of american families affected by these policies, and that really goes to the immediate human concerns that the court was hinting at in the arizona case. >> host: lynn, massachusetts, william is watching up there on our line for democrats. you're on the air. william, are you there? >> caller: yeah. >> host: all right. >> caller: i am, i'm wondering, i'm asking what does he think about the cost of sending those, sending them to -- i'm thinking about how, what do you, yeah, what do you think about, what do you think about deporting some of those people?
[inaudible] to send them to their country? >> host: okay. we'll take that question, william. >> guest: sure. i think that's a great question, frankly. people have done studies on this to estimate what the cost of mass deportation would be, and there's billions of dollars -- it's billions of dollars to the u.s. economy, billions of dollar, you know, in order to take people who are currently in our societies, who go to our schools, who work in our businesses, who are themselves business owners and removing them from the country. and so, you know, when you hear so many people talking now in the current, the cycle of the current season about, you know, mass deportation and trying to implement what that would look like, i think you want to think about what the cost of that would be. not just the economic cost, but the human cost as well. i think that's one of the things that you'll start seeing more of as this case gets closer and closer to the supreme court. you'll start hearing more of the stories of the families who would be affected by this and the positive contributions they already have made to our country
and the positive contributions that they would like to make, you know, even more positive contributions they could make if they were provided just a small measure of stability. >> host: we're talking with tom jaw i wets from the center for -- jawetz from the center for american progress. keith in savannah, republican. >> caller: good morning. thanks for taking my call. you know, i don't understand why president obama could keep pushing these executive orders through when, actually, most of them he tries to push through he has no right to. and, you know, i'm not saying all the people that's coming in this country are bad people. but if they can't come in properly, stay and do what they're supposed to do, leave when they're supposed to leave, they know better than to start families here if they haven't came in through the proper channels. they knowingly break the law, and then they want us to feel or sorry more them. they sure wouldn't let us, an
american, go on another soil and do what they do and allow us to -- and then take care of us way in this country takes -- the way this country takes care of their children and then give them the benefits that's taking away from our children and our seniors and our native americans. blessed. can't they open their eyes and take care of the native americans that are living so to to -- so poorly? come on. >> host: okay, keith. tom jawetz. >> guest: okay, so i think what you're getting at, and i agree with some of what you're saying in termses of our immigration system is broken. if there was for many people, i think, a reasonable way more them to actually comply with the inflation laws and come here through a reasonable system and get in line, sort of the standard line people use, i think you would actually see people do that. so i'm reminded, actually, years and years ago when the head of
the border patrol was asked to testify before congress about immigration enforcement, essentially, he was asked the question of what would be the -- this was the previous border patrol chief, by the way, was asked essentially what's the number one thing you could do to secure the boarder and be more effective at border security, and what he said was, essentially, enact immigration reform so you could have a legal pathway for the people who are now coming through the deserts to come through the ports of entry. right. so you want to have a regulatory system, essentially, that mirrors reality and allows people who do law enforcement to do their jobs, essentially. you know, in terms of our immigration enforcement right now, we had a new study came out just yesterday that the number of unauthorized immigrants in the country is down even further. you know, for the first time in many years, it's below 11 million. border crossings continue to be at historic lows. so, you know, there are a lot of positive signs in terms of just general imenforcement. --
immigration enforcement. but the people we're talking about are not people who whether today or tomorrow are decided to come to this country. they've been here on average well over p ten years. again, they have children here. and the question now is what to do with them. so i actually think policymakers and should decide what we want our immigration system to look like, and there should be legislative reforms that would address not just the population that's here now, but future immigration into the country. that should be a legitimate policy debate that congress is engaging in right now. but that's not what this policy is about. >> by the way, speaking of testimony up on capitol hill, yesterday homeland security officials were up there testifying, and they told congress that the federal government doesn't investigate 99% of all illegal immigrants who somewhere the country -- who enter the country legally but then overstayed their visas. those whose names pop up as
security threats or criminals draw securityny, but most of the visitors who didn't leave when their time was up in 2015 were deemed nonpriorities. here are the countries they're coming from: afghanistan, iraq, iran, libya, pakistan, syria and yemen in fiscal year 2015 alone. do you have any thoughts on what we heard yesterday? >> guest: yeah, sure. so this is an area of bipartisan interest and bipartisan concern. it's been the law for a number of years now that the united states and the department of homeland security should be able to track people who enter the country and then when they leave the country, essentially, this idea that we should have an exit system, essentially, so we check people out is the same way we check them in. something that congress has mandated, and in many ways it is a practical question of how you put such an exit system in place understanding that we have many, many ports of entry, the land ports are harder than the airports. that's a tricky thing to do. now, the fact they were able to produce this report is actually incredibly encouraging. what it goes to show is the number of changes that have been
made since 9/11 to work with the airline industry, for instance, to actually track people when they're leaving provides us, actually, a tremendous amount of information when figuring out when folks stay and leave. in terms of another sort of second thought i have on that is another part of the report that i think is getting less coverage is that 99% of the people actually who enter here do end up leaving, actually n a timely fashion, right? and so what the report ultimately says, basically, is, yes, we may not right now investigate and go after the vast majority, 99%, of those who do overstay, but it's a minuscule fraction that do overstay in the first place, and that when you're then going to decide who you're going to go after among those who are overstaying, the department is prioritizing those who are national security or public safety threat. so again, first of all, that's sensible. that's what i think we would all want them to do, prioritize people who pose, who appear to pose a threat to public safety.
and, you know, i think anytime you're going to demand perfection, you're going to say we want 100 president effectiveness -- 100% effectiveness, the question becomes how do you want to achieve that, what's the cost, and that's one of the questions. >> host: all right, more calls. david in taft, tennessee. independent. >> caller: yes, good morning. >> guest: morning. >> caller: i have a question. if the supreme court rules in the president's favor, don't you think that there's going to just be that many more attempting to get over here illegally and live because they think, well, such and such, so many lived there illegally, so many now they're citizens, we're going to do that too? honestly, our border patrol can't control it, or that many wouldn't have gotten over here. >> host: okay, david. i'm going to take that point. >> guest: again, i think it is relevant to note that, you know, the best estimates are that 40% or even more of people who are now here who were unauthorized did not come through the borders, they came legally on a
visa and overstayed. so i think we should always sort of break down that 11 million number and understand that it doesn't speak directly to our border security efforts and that we actually do have the most robust manpower and technology along the border we've ever had, infrastructure along the border we've ever had, a far more secure border than we had decades ago, and the number of people who are coming here legally continues to be at a 30, 40-year low. a 40-year low, basically. so that's just one background point. in terms of whether this incentivizes people to come in the future, you know, i have a hard time, you know, believing that, and i think there are a lot of people who have looked at, you know, other policies in recent years and have shown that's not what motivates people to come to the country. you don't come hoping that you can then live in a very precarious state for a number of years that maybe one day you'll win lottery. it's not just how people sort of think about their options. >> host: and here's a headline from "the washington post" this morning, fewer than 11 million
illegal immigrants in the united states. the number has dropped below 11 million, not by much, 10.9 million, it's the lowest since 2003. sharper declines from south america and europe has contributed to overall numbers even as legal immigration from central america is on the rise. >> guest: yeah. that's right. so you're looking at two different trends. i think there's, there is sometimes a public perception that the border is insecure or that illegal immigration is up because we have seen reports over the last couple of years about people from honduras, guatemala and el salvador coming to the country and being sort of apprehended by border patrol. that's a very different thing than sort of the historic illegal immigration patternings, what we know from that population is that they're coming across the border, they're presenting himselfs to border patrol, they are requesting protection from really, really unconscionable levels of violation and civil society breakdown in those three countries. and so they are, they are themselves a refugee, a population the administration recently announced it's going to
begin refugee processing in the region. so that population, distinct and discreet population you want to think about in a different way. but then you look at the rest of it and look at, again, flows being down generally, the overall unauthorized population slightly going down. and there are a number of factors for that. but i do think it's important to keep those two numbers in mind because while there there has sometimes been a public perception that the border's out of control and illegal immigration's out of control because of the news reports we're getting from central america and those three countries, we're losing sight of the big picture that, in fact, illegal immigration is down and that the unauthorized population, while holding fairly steady, is somewhat down as well. >> host: willie in toledo, ohio, on our line for democrats. hi there. >> caller: good morning. i'd like to make a comment. i think the spanish-speaking people who were on this continet before any white man ever set his foot on this land.
and i think that they should stay here or come here anytime that they feel like it. it shouldn't be any immigration law that would keep them out of this country. i think -- [inaudible] started a war and took part of california away from the spanish-speaking people. >> host: okay, those are willie's thoughts. let me get mary in, south carolina, a republican. hi, mary. >> caller: hi. mr. jawetz, i'm going to tell you what, i just hate anything that has the word american progress in it because -- and i hate liberals, and i hate anything that has anything to do with comprehensive because you know what? every time something like that happens, the person people get it right -- american people get it right in the back with a knife from their government, okay? there's a way to stop this illegal aliens coming in here. i think they ought to pass a tougher e-verify to where they really penalize employers for
hiring these people, okay? and if they can't hire these people -- i'm busy. sorry. [laughter] anyway, if the people can't get jobs here, they will leave, and they will deport themself. and i think those employers ought to have to check their payroll for the last ten years, and any of these people that are illegally here ought to be fired. >> host: okay, mary. so this is a point that senator ted cruz makes as well. >> guest: yeah. so, i mean, i definitely want to engage you on that point, i think. first of all, i think we should all support american progress. i think anybody who hates it is not a good recipe for the country. but in terms of e-verify, that's a great thing to talk about. e-verify, right, it's an electronic verification system that, essentially, modernizes the i-9 process for hiring, and it's a way for electronically verifying that a person is authorized to work. historically, there have been a number of concerns with e-verify, false positives, people who come up as appearing
to be authorized to work when they're not, false negatives. people, including american citizens, who appear to be unauthorized to work and losing job opportunities. one of my former coworkers who was trying to be hired for the immigration subcommittee of the house itself was incorrectly thinking matized. many of those concerns, i think, have been improved significant tally. here's one that i have. every serious comprehensive immigration reform proposal that has come out over the last ten years has included e-verify in it. if immigration reform had been enacted, we already would have a complete e-verify system in place right now. so if your concern is trying to boost enforcement and try to stem future illegal immigration and have a regulatory system that matches reality, then immigration reform is really the way to do it, because you would have had that in place already. but when i think about the different parts of immigration reform and why they haven't been enacted, here's why with
e-verify. there are different pieces of immigration reform that you could conceivably enact on their own, but i think it creates a lot of anxiety among people both on the right and the left about whether or not that's the piece do you want to travel separately or if you want something else to travel with it. in many ways, it's really a policy disagreement on how you want the package to be formed. e-verify is different. it's the one part of the immigration reform package that you quite literally cannot do on its own, right? unless what you want to do is have a comprehensive system in place to kill the u.s. economy. because that's what mandatory e-verify across the country with mandatory reverification of existing workers as you're describing, that's the impact it would have on agriculture, for instance, where two-thirds of the workers in the fields are unauthorized and you have millions upon millions of american jobs that are supported upstream and downstream by those workers. you would see similar damage across a number of industries. so if you want to feel a huge sucking sound from our economy, mandatory e-verify is the way to
go. but that's not really a sensible immigration policy at this point. >> host: richard is watching, lake placid, florida, an independent. good morning, welcome to the conversation. >> caller: yes, good morning, greta, and mr. jawetz. i don't think i believe a word you're saying. i was reading an article not too long ago, in fact, recently, two weeks ago, about the cost of illegals in the country. and according to the article, they called each department and asked for a monetary figure. and when they put it together, it come to $333 billion to support illegals. according to what they pay for health care, feeding, housing, education and incarceration. now, california itself has 30% of their prisoners are illegal. throughout the country it's probably somewhere around 18%.
last year the fbi arrested over 100 illegals that had association with terrorist groups. it goes on and on and on. and the lady talked about going to another country, what they would do. mexico itself had its army of -- not too long ago, deployed to its southern border with a shoot-to-kill policy for the illegals coming boo their country. then -- into their country. then they realized that they could rob these people, charge them an entry fee and then escort them right to the northern border so they could sneak into this country. this is the type of people we are dealing with. .. there have been an number of economic studies about the cost but also the economic impact that unauthorized immigrants in the country have broadly. there are certain macroeconomic analyses you need to do in order to look at