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tv   Public Affairs Events  CSPAN  December 8, 2016 7:58am-9:59am EST

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the defense business commission actually had a side presentation, summary of the report on its website. and so, we are trying to figure out a way reached at two reporters to figure out what the secrecy of his commitment about is taking place. i would imagine public embarrassment. at the end of the day the department of defense trying to protect $125 billion the fact they can pass an audit and there's other scrutiny of top of them that i think this is an issue of we didn't want to stick it out, so let's keep it under wraps. >> i'm sure $125 billion doesn't sound unreasonable to you. >> no, sir. when you look at goods and services, most of my work is on contract oversight. department of defense goods and services in the week that the rear prop in the tens to hundreds of billions of dollars worth of waste.
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>> as i read that, it goes to simple truth that the theocracy will protect itself and bureaucracy does not want to be downsized and in a time of sequestration. at time when war fighters are suffering reductions for this type of dollar amount be held over an attempted at least to be had from us is unconscionable. to think this code is that red cover the cost, operational cost of 50 army brigade, that is pretty significant. for 3035 strike forces were 10 strike forces of carriers. that is just unconscionable that this would have been disregarded and hidden. what can congress do to ensure that agencies engage in this
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type of self-analysis, but that also use result to improve existing operation? >> is a wonderful question because that's what the point is. at the end of the day we passed for inventories of contracts inventories of what we are buying. how many services he provided. unfortunately there was a chart out a few years ago that the government doesn't often know how much the government is spending in what is being used for. that is where we need to get to the artists, specific audience. ..
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plus starting refresh on janua january 20 as well, that this lesson will not be lost because, frankly, this is the number one responsible of our federal government to make sure we have the resources available to do what's necessary to protect our citizens and not just -- >> i thank the gentleman. the chair recognizes ranking member cummings for five minut minutes. >> mr. aftergood, i and many other americans have serious concerns with reports of hacking and other actions about our russian government to interfere with a 2016 presidential election. some have confirmed the russian government or its associated
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entities the e-mail account of individuals of political organizations the for the presidential election. the director of national security agency, admiral rogers said, quote, there should not be any doubt in anybody's mind this was not something that wasn't done casually. this was not something that was done by chance. this was not a target that was selected appeared arbitrarily. this was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect, end of quote. do you believe this is an important issue for our country? i notice in your testimony you talked about classification and to talk about the state to we find ourselves in over all today, and i'm just curious. >> it's a crucial issue their
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the integrity of the electoral process is absolutely fundamental. if we don't have credible authoritative elections, the foundation of our political system is washed away. so yes, it is an extremely this question. i think a blanket of classification that has been spread over it needs to be reevaluated. even before that happened, congress needs to understand exactly what did happen. there are actually several questions. what kind of attack occurred? what are our vulnerability, and what steps can be taken to prevent future attacks of this kind? i think all of those questions are wide open. i would also say though that it's important that this not be construed as a sort of
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left-handed attack or attempt to undermine the incoming administration. because that would only aggravate whatever damage has already been done, at least in my opinion. i would hope that this be undertaken as you sit on a bipartisan basis to say look, we've got a problem, we need to deal with it. >> i agree with you. i think it is definitely a bipartisan issue. the fbi has received -- or disclose information about its investigation about these hacks. this is the opposite approach from the one the fbi took in the clinton e-mail investigation. i wrote to our chairman on november 17, 2016, to request our committee conducted bipartisan investigation into russia's role in interfering with the presidential election.
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again, not to take anything away from a president-elect trump, but just the idea of it, should bother every single american. even republican lindsey graham, senator graham, called for an investigation into its. outside experts have also called for congress to act. a group of 158 scholars of colleges and universities around the country sent congress a letter calling for congressional investigation. the group of experts on cybersecurity, defense, and fair elections wrote, quote, this evidence made available in an investigation might show that foreign powers have played an important role and might show that such a role was negligence. at this juncture we can only say that existing reports are plausible enough and publicly expressed enough to ward
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congresses swift action. mr. blanton, do you believe there's a role for congress in investigating these allegations? >> yes, sir. to me what other great headlines on the whole election season appeared in the "washington post" on november 1, when the fbi was trying to split why it didn't sign on to that statement from the director of national intelligence and the homeland security. and the headline read, call me what is concerned publicly bringing russians for hackett democrats could appear to political in run up to the elections. that's "washington post" headline. it's an interesting reticence, as you point out. congress should get your classified briefings. you should understand that hacking. there is a huge problem. we are constructing of the national state archive website a whole cyber ball to get
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declassified much of the subsidy documents. as michael hayden said one of the problems of cybersecurity is it was born classified. it grew up in this hothouse where it was all shielded by compartments but what we would need in our society as a robust debate that involves academics, civil libertarians, the tech companies, and this committee and is congress. we've got to open it up. that cyber vault is beginning to get populated but it needs more, it need to this congress to get into it. it needs to present the intelligence community and homeland security to is the basis of their attributions. that's the hardest part as you well know, mr. cummings. >> one last thing, mr. chairman. i have said it and i guess i look back and i am not so much what about my life, i award about future generations. the idea, i mean, i just see, i'm very concerned about our
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democracy. mr. aftergood, i appreciate your comments because it seems as if you can just chop away and chip away, next thing you know you won't have a democracy. do you all have similar concerns, any of you? mr. leonard? >> yes, mr. cummings. you know, i think obviously my and such only based upon what i have seen an open-source material and whatever, but i do know from being, they so my past experiences, this is something straight out of the russian playbook. we have seen it repeatedly happened in europe, special in eastern europe and things along those lines but, in fact, it's straight out of the kgb playbook during the cold war. it was known as special measures back then, and use of disinformation and things along those lines. so clearly it does go at the very fabric. and again this is an example of
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what i made reference to in my opening comment in terms of the impact that denying information to the caucus can have in terms of congress' own ability to carry out its article one constitutional authorities, which essentially is oversight. >> if i could just make one more comment on that issue. i think we've got to look at this question of hacking and attribution and roles with an eye to what's a long-term fix? if you look at what the obama administration achieved with china, the price of a state visit for that of state of china was that china had to stop its hacking. and the whole arm of the people's liberation army kind of went on hold. and the question, one of the
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documents, first document republished in the cyber vault was the director the authorized our national security agency to do offense in cyber operations. that was in 1997. that was in 1997. one of the things congress has got to look it when it's time to figure who is hacking and why and what the damage is what the fix? i think we have to end up with new international norms governing cyberwar. because our country is the most vulnerable in the cyber seer. it's in our national security interest to impose rules and other folks and to cut deals like president obama did with president she, to restrain them. it would also restrict us that's in our interest. >> i thank the ranking member and would ask a panel still to keep within our five minutes. we got a number of people want to ask questions. if we can work both ways. the chair recognizes mr. for and hold for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. amey, you mentioned there's
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no penalty for overclassification. what would you suggest that we do? obviously you would want some good only for self serving ossification. what other areas would you, what would you suggest is a potential punishment, or do you just make it illegal with no punishment? >> i think that's what us be some punishment. we can debate what the punishment would be but there has to be some kind of civil, criminal or administrative punishment that happens. currently things are marked, laced with classification there is at least a better process. a lot of what we've also been concerned with is come in the old days it was as though you will, with controlled unclassified a freshman anybody think something that can be sent, they send a stamped and it has a control on a. it can't be shared. and discussions on what a
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second, if people can' can't len about, how can we forget it? you are right, we have to figure what the punishment may be. it may be administrative but has to be, i'm sure the others have ideas on as well but i think there has to be something. >> so let's talk a little bit. this committee is a pretty good success with the ig community within each energy there's an independent inspector general that does investigation. we've had success with chief of information, chief technology officers. is there a model in which we create within all agencies a classification office, or are we better off setting up something outside the agency, certainly a longer-term, move something within the national archives where there is a method or declassification? we will start with you, mr. blanton, and let anybody else way in. >> excellent question. all i can do is point back to
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some elections of history, which are the times when we've had real success in forcing unneeded secrets out of the system was in congress took action with the nazi war crimes come records bill, with the jfk us assassination builder instead of blue ribbon panels, outside and inside spirit part of our problem in congress is we can do a lot of things. we need your suggestions on what specifically to do. i understand that's probably more depth we can get in two and half minutes that i've left. mr. leonard, do you want to weigh in? >> yes, sir. i'm a big advocate of the ig's involvement in these types of issues. having been external agencies when i was in isoo, i was an outsider, very much limited to what i could do with dealing with cia or even the department of defense or what have you. igs don't experience those
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limitations to the same extent plus they also the dual reporting response of the executive and legislative branch. >> expand their responsibility? >> absolutely. there was a the 2010 reducing overclassification act which assigns specific responsibilities to the igs. those can be greatly expanded and given the proper training igs can be very effective. >> yes, mr. aftergood? >> one hopeful sign in current classification policy is the growth in classification challenges from within the system. the current executive order allows people who have access to the classified information to challenge its classification status and to say that wait a minute, this shouldn't be classified. in the most recent year, the number of internal classification judges reached a record high of more than 900. of those challenges more than
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40% were granted. that is a trend that i think could be built on. if the system can be made more and more self-correcting, where people inside the system themselves are finding errors and helping to adjust them spirit one final question before them completely out of time. this committee and of the committees often get classified information in request and response to our request for information, part of our oversight responsibilities. do you think would be appropriate to create a mechanism for congress once we read that and say this is crazy, this is crazy, this doesn't be declassified? should congress have the ability to declassify material? does anybody think we shouldn't? >> i believe congress should. in fact, some committees by virtue of roles have empowered themselves with the option, yet to my knowledge have never been acknowledged. it's a dicey issue but to call
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equal branches of government -- >> you look like you wanted to weigh in. >> that's one of the things we fought for original. it was only led to be a challenge internally and we fought that it could be internally or externally. so i would think the same process should be applied classified information as well. >> i see my time has expired. >> the chair recognizes -- >> thank you so much, mr. chairman. and thank you for raising what i think is a very important, complex list of issues actually. i recognize we need to do much about security. we need balance, accountability and fairness. this is a huge area with so many people interacting, and in many cases there's disagreement among agencies. a lot has to be done. i wanted to ask you questions and help you answer them in sort of succinct as possible, recognizing you are only going to give me sort of an outline.
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i'm going to start with you, mr. blanton. you testified about the recommendation of the moynihan commission more than 20 years ago. i just want to have a reaction as to why you think congress has not moved to fix this? >> i'm no expert on congress and i assume you could give a far more sophisticated answer to that than i could. and i think steve aftergood i think testified that one of the congressional and back in 1998 and that was when senator moynihan was alive. even they didn't push through the recommendation. my own sense is that wasn't enough of a notion of crisis. we have a crisis today i think in the classifications. >> i think that you are quite accurate on that, that we may be in a situation where we are in an unprecedented environment. mr. aftergood, would you like to comment?
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>> the moynihan commission report itself included an appendix of previous studies from previous decades that also not solve the problem, and who we are 20 years later looking back at the moynihan commission. i think it may be the recommendation did not quite capture the issue properly, and it seems to me that a law on secrecy is a means to an end. it's not the end. i would think about what is the end that you really want and then go for that. an end that you will is greater congressional control over what is or is not classified. focus on that, go for that. if there are particular areas, topical areas that need classification, declassification, mandated their declassification. >> so probably, and the end result should be the kinds of things i sort of mention when i opened up. the issue of security and balance and fairness and accountability. and how we get there.
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mr. blanton again can you talk about a possible reform that could be made by statute. one of those would be to implement a lifecycle of secrets. would you talk to me a little bit about what that is? >> in the most straightforward version commit was in the freedom of information amendments, like a 25 year sunset or deliberative process. the reality of our system, one of the reasons it is entering crisis is where the tsunami of electronic records. we are talking petabytes of information that will not be able to do page by page review which is what our de- classicism currently consists of the. we are going to build in automatic releases for entire categories of record without review. that i think is going to be the only way to deal with those elect -- electronic records. lifecycle is a summertime to say you've got to but sunset of secrets, you have to better decisions on the front end. otherwise we are sunk.
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>> i believe that we should testimony i read in this age of technology we can take care of those things that are sensitive in nature, personal information that could be deleted automatically if it's programmed to do so? >> yes, that's the big hold up now in releasing the cables. they said they had to look at every single cable to make sure there's no social security number or personal phone number into. i can't think of anything that is more easily searchable. >> help me understand. i want to ask you questions. number one is, is it currently a situation where each agency is responsible for declassifying its information? even though that might be shared with other agencies and involve other agencies. and lastly, anybody can respond to this, is there a proposal where this sort of classification consideration
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would go into a sort of multidisciplined entity where those things could be vetted under standards and circumstances and then sort of move in a way that agencies can agree on the ground level, reduce the amount of -- >> that it did exist. it was recommended by the moynihan. it's called the national declassification center but the reality is it doesn't have the power, maybe the will, to override the agencies. you get a constant equity referral where the agencies all get a bite at the apple. apple. one of the recommendations in my testimony is empower that center, make the decisions go to a sunset. if something is older than 25 years that center should be able to review it. >> does that empowerment require our legislative -- i'm sorry. does not require our legislative action to reconfigure this and empower in a giveaway speak with yes, ma'am. >> thank you.
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>> the chair now recognizes mr. desantis for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate the testimony and the invitation for congress to be involved in this. but i want to just start at the beginning. i just would ask everybody, does everyone agree at some level the executive does have inherent authority under article ii as part of the executive power to maintain secrecy of information related to the national security? mr. leonard? >> absolutely. >> yes, but because there's an article that says congress makes the rules to govern the military armed forces and national security. so it's both. >> well, it's both but i think hamilton, there was a debate whether you didn't have a single executive. they revolted against george iii. some propose a council and one of hamilton's main argument for why he needed a single executive
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was for secrecy, particularly with a guarded national security. i mean, is there any place i guess the congress can't go into that, or could congress basically legislative as far as it wants? >> as far as it once. congress has the power of the purse. that is the key of the founders of seven separate the power of the purse from the power of the sort. it takes money to run -- >> absolutely. so congress could abolish the cia if they wanted to. but we do have intelligence agencies year congress has passed a statute saying declassified, you know, much sense as tough as we wanted would they be any constitution concerned with doing that? >> none. congress has done so with the nazi war crimes which expose files of nazis that see a recruit and brought to the united states. congress has done that. >> when did he do that? >> 1998, 1999. >> if congress want to start declassifying things that were
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germane and write right now with our government is conducting sensitive operations, you say that would still be okay even though it could jeopardize lives that? >> it would still be okay because my bet is this congress and committee would act judiciously. you are not going to willy-nilly. you are not julian assange. >> i did. there's certain constitutional prerogatives year we have the power to legislate the first, the executive has certain or the executive power means something. there are certain things. what i'm can't figure out is are there certain places. i think we all agree some of the stuff is ridiculous. there is an incentive to just take on more, some of the stuff isn't even classified it is being protected by the same time i think it's important recognized that is illegitimate reason because when you overclassify i think it undermines the core reason of why you want this. let me get you, mr. amey, down on the and.
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>> i do believe there is constitutional protections for secrecy but at the same time as tom said i think you to get his point number three and that is don't trust it. eventually we will have to get down to a point where whether it's to the challenge process or the briefings that congress gets on question with executive branch is doing. >> so you look at some of these things, some of these agencies, the antitrust division at the department of justice, the bureau of prisons have somebody who is in an original classification authority. mr. leonard, how did he get to that point was is that necessary? >> it's an example perhaps, when i was in my position at isoo one of the things i did he was do with requests for agencies to get original classification authority. quite frankly one of the issues
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i had to contend with it was one of convenience, more than anything else. there were a number of instances where there were agencies or even small activities looking for a racial classification authority that had to push back because they were looking to accomplish something that could have and should have been a call push through legislation. there really was illegitimate reason to withhold information. >> how do you analyze, because some of this stuff, it's just the agencies are embarrassed, they don't want to do and it is clearly, it's just not credible. but sometimes when you're trying to get information for you or congress, you are diverting the executive from their core mission, actually did do. we are the first ones to criticize a government when they screw up on when they're not competent. and so how do you do this in a way that's not going to impose too many costs?
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we are always going to review every tenure some of this stuff. that is going to great some cost so how would you recommend we strike that balance? is that a valid concern speak with very much so. one way as mr. blanton referred to, was to consolidate authority and responsibility, and not spread it so far and wide within the government. i'll give you a perfect example. when i was in the department of defense, i could write a memo and uci information, they trusted me to classify information at a did want to look at or whatever. if i came back 20 years late and went to work at the national declassification center and look at my same memo, it wouldn't allow me to declassify it because i didn't get a paycheck from the cia. that type of redundancy can be beaten out of the system and result in significant cost savings. >> i yield back.
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>> chair now recognizes ms. kelly for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you for holding today's hearing on this important topic. i believe that secrecy is a serious problem that is widespread in the federal government and that goes beyond classified information. for instance, there's a category of pseudo-classification that has exploded over the last 15 years called controlled unclassified information to understand the me is -- there may be as many as 100 different designations but the label sensitive but unclassified is one of the worst offenders. first i want to get a sense of extent of this problem, the information to be oversight office annual reports hominy classifications decisions, agencies make. however, there's not a course by section of how many decisions were made to designate materials of uncontrolled unclassified information. mr. leonard, you served as the director of isoo. our agencies required to track how many materials they designate as controlled
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unclassified information? >> quite frankly will defer to one of my co-panelists because i've been away from isoo since they assume that responsibility and have not followed that closely. >> i would say that there has been significant progress compared to where we were 10 years ago. it used to be the anybody could mark any document anything. you could say this is, you know, that would restrict it. now under the executive order on controlled unclassified information there is what's called a registry, and only those markings that have been approved and validated can be used. there are many things of course want to protect it we want to protect tax returns, protect privacy information. all those kinds of things have been validated and only those markings that are on the registry are supposed to be used. is that system working perfectly? are people bending the rules to either the answer to that
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question. i think it just went into force very recently and we're still waiting to see how it is working but i think the policy has improved substantial over the past decade. decade. >> would you estimate that more information is designated that is classified? >> i don't know the answer to that. >> i don't think we know the attitude agencies are required report how much information is marked. they did boil the over 100 categories down to 20. there are 80 subcategories so that which is to end up with a real patchwork of the designations and markings that can be placed on documentation. the big thing with also this is going to be better training. mrisoo is doing a very good job but they reached out and worked with us on the rules as a way to the process but they did work with the agency to try to get it but they didn't realize how big
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is that expand within agencies. there was a lot of foot dragging as well. as mr. aftergood said, it was only in effect i think as of november go something like that. at the point we will have to wait and see. full implementation of the regulation is expected to be completed until 2017, 18, 19. it will take a very long time to probably get some answers on the budget needs the proper oversight from this committee. >> i know you called it a great very because as when asked what you think of the potential of use of the? >> we've seen some of you sit there i provide two examples am almost in ig report in which they were examples involving tsa. also the bizarre case of robert maclean in which something was marked sbu, was the original cui. at the point something was mark sbu. i think four years after he released to the weather didn't have any markings or designation
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by the rector actively marked that information as sbu. of our problems in the system and it is prone to abuse. we do have to watch. the nice thing with the cui rule is there is a misuse provision and so that maybe something that can be borrowed upon for the classification system that we should look at since its in regulation and also the challenge procedure but he can challenges go back to the agency. i think you have a right to dispute resolution. it's a little murky due to the fact you are in essence going back to the fox guarding the henhouse which originally meant market. so there are concerns about. >> i agree. >> i yield back the balance of my time. >> the chair is not going to recognize himself for five minutes. i want to go back to something that came up a while ago and that is the number of classifications. over the last five years some
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400 million come and yet only a little over 2300 in the same five year period has been challenged. those numbers can be debated a little bit here and there but what ever it is, 2300 out of 400 million is virtually no challenges whatsoever. just real quick, a sentence or two, why so few challenges? mr. leonard speak with molson one of coulter. when i was in the pentagon when that report to my inbox, if i had an unclassified report and top secret four, which was what i read first? the top secret one. sometimes it's just a simple assure coulter. just expect nothing else. >> in many cases employees are not aware of the challenge provision that enables them to make this challenge. and that's one simple step they can be taken to say look, as
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soon as you sign a nondisclosure agreement you also signed i'm aware i can challenge a classification marking that i believe is improper. i would also mention that i think you're hundreds of millions figure is including original and derivative classification. the number of original classifications or entirely new secrets has been on a steady downward speed as i do to get into the numbers right now. why so few challenges? >> it's easier just to classify. and much classification just occurs reflexively. most of those derivative classification is just to keep it going. because there's not a thought process on the front end of the first decision, what's the cost benefit, the risk, vulnerabili vulnerability. you've got to educate them at the nondisclosure agreement point but i would argue you have to --
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>> just quickly, it could be career suicide. we have insider threat investigations that could take place and also whistleblower retaliation. a lot of times it's a lot easier to just go along with a process that the question. >> so it's not a matter of the red tape. perhaps poor advertisement, people don't know perhaps a culture, that, or whatever. but red tape is not the problem, correct, all of you would agree with the? >> absolutely. and yo get a lack of accountabiy is key. >> okay. now, when it comes to obviously we know there's been a lot of threats to our country and i'm concerned about the lack of information sharing within our federal government. on a scale of what you can have serious of a problem is this? >> -- one to 10. >> i think it was 10, around the time of 9/11. it's five now.
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in other words, there's been significant progress. >> the rest of you? i would tend to agree but my sense is there's also been a rollback with respect to some of the recent rather significant wholesale compromises that have occurred. >> mr. aftergood, how serious of a problem? >> it's a serious challenge. you know, when you classify, you restrict dissemination, and so there's a flipside of each other. it's an ongoing problem. >> mr. amey? >> i agree. >> we still have a serious problem. there may be some improvements but we so this is problem with sharing information even when potential threats are hanging in the balance of our country. in the mix of all of that, also came up earlier is the ability of congress to do our job.
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how serious is the issue, or is it at all an issue where agencies are over classifying to either collocate or obstruct congressional oversight? >> honestly you're probably in a better position to answer that. i think it's the exception not the rule. >> okay spent i think average the agency intelligence community has in a sense the worst culture problem. you can't bring out notes. you can't have static how are you going oppressors consideration over some of the most important and sensitive and deadly operations of our entire government? >> all right. >> it inevitably occurs whether intentional or not, and begin the lack of accountability. >> at its white in any oversight or any new commission that's going to be paneled her to take
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a look at overclassification and the status and secrecy issue is wanted to get out of just to check the box audit on our people follow procedures, but take a look at specifics where challenges have been raised about those things are about to be over classified. >> when we dig his stuff that is so redacted it is virtually worthless much of the time. i would to thank the panel is. the chair will now recognize ms. maloney for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and ranking member. mr. blanton, earlier you mentioned the not too across disclosure act. that happens to been a bill authored, and it took about four years to pass it because the cia was objecting has opened up the files of nazi germany and japan, 50 years after the war. every other country had open their files we were refusing to, and that the congress to pass a bill to open up these files. it's been turned into books.
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it's been turned into all kinds of help or information that's help our defense strategies and how to operate in an environment as they did. but i want to ask you about the another way of classifying, which is retroactive classifyi classifying. and i join you in saying there was no reason why we shouldn't have declassified that information. on september 8 of this year, state department undersecretary for management patrick kennedy testified before this committee about a unique process in the state department used to retroactively classify 2000 of secretary clinton's e-mails that she turned over to the state department. in other words, they were not classified at the time they were sent or received by her, but then they were reclassified after the fact by staff in the
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department of the foia office. and patrick kennedy testified that 1400 of these documents, or 70%, were retroactively classified because they contain what is known as foreign government information. so my question is, it seems to me that this is a confusing process, not treelike class of information and killed it is reviewed for public release. and then all of a sudden it's classified. seems to me we should have one standard. why have one writer actively? it makes no sense. and how our state departments employ supposed to know when to treat information as classified and would not do it the designation might change without warning? >> i read mr. kennedy's testament with great interest because it has to this committee to create an exemption under the freedom of information act for foreign government information from what you think is a
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terrible idea for three reasons. it puts tajikistan standards into our freedom of information law. no, thank you. lowest secrecy the second reason is if there is harm from release of the foreign government information is protected already under our executive order. i think the third reason is that's the easy way out. instead of our diplomats actually thinking about how you protect stuff actually would get us into trouble, they don't want to think about the i would just remind you of the case when the supreme court over foreign government information got booted out and turned of the document issued have been handed over to the plaintiff and the government had no idea. it was going to damage a relationship with great britain which is why the document came from. so skepticism is in order. >> i agree with you and i could understand the need to protect truly sensitive diplomatic discussions of the committee. but using the classification label to do that makes the classification system even more
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confusing. and i would argue less effective. we need to find a better solution. so with that statement i would just like to ask all of the panelists in my remaining time, do you have any recommendations of how to improve this process? we could start with you, mr. leonard, edges go right down the line. >> the consistent theme this one and agree with it wholeheartedly is is providing legislative backing to various system. in order to ensure uniformity, consistency, and most of all accountability. and also to enable, to facilitate the congress to be able to fulfill their article i constitutional authority as we well. >> the government requires a degree of flexibility the, and i
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would be cautious about strict provisions that remove that flexibility. information that is provided needs to be protected somehow if one wants to maintain that working relationship. whether that's classification seems like a heavy-handed way to do it, what is the alternative is a blanket foia exemption and that might not be better. so i don't have a good solution for your offhand. >> when it comes to the retroactive frustration, i'm not aware of anything in depth or competence in taking a look at the issue on the who, why, where. i think it would be in order. >> the fundamental phenomena of retroactive is being driven by agencies like with what mr. leonard said, cia asserting control and no longer like defense department our state to declassify their own
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information. >> thank you very much. >> the chair now recognizes mr. massie for five minutes. >> i'm so glad we're having this hearing today. i've been wanting the opportunity to talk about something that's the important to me about him and i'll be very careful not to disclose anything that is classified. about a month ago i went back down to one of those skits mr. blanton was talking to you can't take notes. i reread the 28 pages the what i brought the redacted version with me so that i can see in what manner it was redacted. by the way, i'm going to ask you guys a question later so you can get ready with an answer, but one of the things i would think would help is to know the reason for the redaction. there's certain reasons that might be legitimate. there may be allowed to send when you redacted large swaths or even a smaller portion that you have to get the reason is the reason is to avoid
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embarrassment or to protect a source or protect someone who may not be guilty, their public reputation of just disclose it. the crime or the infraction could be you like about the reason. because that's what want to get do with these 28 pages in the reason for those redactions. and to think i can disclose my perceived reason for some of these reductions without disclosing anything classified. 20% of the redactions i would say were to protect specific and confidential sources. i would say another 20% were to withhold the names of individuals whose reputations would be irrevocably ruined, whether they were guilty or not. a 60% of those redactions fall into a very troubling category for me. they changed the very nature of the document and what it is perceived by the public and the impact it should have had. for instance, and some of those are probably to prevent embarrassment, but i feel like after reading that 10, 20 to 40
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years from now when it's all released this is going to be a textbook case of how the government over classified something in an effort to control the narrative. in fact, before the pages came out there was an op-ed in the "usa today" by two of the chairman on the commission that said these are raw, undated sources, right? so the redactions in my opinion were made to support that presumption that these were raw source of because it removes the redactions u.s.a. no, those might be credible sources, in fact. and might in fact be vetted. so my concern is 20 or so now we will look back at this and you'll see the key words and acronyms and senses were removed. and with the effect, with the effect of diminishing the impression that you get from
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reading the unredacted pages, which is that saudi arabia, and i can say that name now because it's in the redacted pages, has some kind of civil liability or criminal culpability, and not because of their citizens but because of the government, acted either in dapa i would say acts of omission or commission, either one makes them somewhat culpable. i am afraid that is been diminished by those redactions that is over classified, a prime example. one of the questions i want to ask is, do you think it's a good idea if we required them to give the reason for redaction? >> absolutely, sir. the order does require a vigil classifiers be able to identify and describe the damage to national security. but to my formal statement i attached an actual e-mail that had been used as count one for a
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felony indictment of a fellow, mr. dacre was eventually not prosecuted. the government claimed it was classified. in preparing for the trial, the nsa was required to state specifically why they considered that e-mail to be classified. their explanations looked entirely rational when you read it, but if you compared what he said to the actual document, it was factually incorrect. >> that supports the notion that you they should be required and there should be some punitive ramification for misleading about the reason. mr. aftergood? >> i would like it, to make the point that classification system is permissive it says that information may be classified if it meets certain conditions the what that means is a decision to classify is a subjective one. somebody thinks that
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classification is the right move him and because it is subjective you or i may disagree and say that's a mistake, you are wrong. so providing the reason i think would be helpful that it wouldn't necessarily resolve the disagreement. i just disagree with that reason. instead i would suggest in cases of significant interest like 20 pages, like many other cases, there needs to be a procedure where you take the decision a way from the original classifier. don't try to make the original classifier admit he was wrong. take the decision a wakeup take it to a third party. there's a public interest declassification board. there may need to be a new body and citizens make sense? i want you to evaluate it as a third part and come back to us with a recommendation. >> i yield to let the other to answer questions stood just very briefly to exactly this mechanism exists for mandatory review request, this interagency security classification have and it is ruled in favor of openness
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over 70% of the time to just a simple maneuver of taking the document away from the original agency and putting it in the bill that includes the original agency. you get a completely different result. >> this is also a process with a freedom of information act. there is a process their bridges only a few years ago where they had to list the reasons. in the old days we used to get a letter back with tons of black and that markings and did it go they would say we redacted things for four, five, six, seven. you would have to guess. now they're required to go through documents subject to the freedom of information act unless right next to each redaction with redaction, what exemption was being cited to justify the reason for that. and also then you also have an administrative appeal that help a coast to a different entity inside of the department rather than the person that made the market. then there's a process through
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isoo to challenge those determinations and go to an arbitration. and so it's funny that when a better procedure just a freedom of information act process than we do for the classification process. >> iciness document with those markings and they are somewhat helpful because they classified the stuff they even sent to us. they tried to not even disclosed. but i haven't seen that on the 28th pages but i guess an op-ed that say there's nothing to see the and by the way, it was released the day before trump named his vice president which is another thing but least it was released in part. >> the chair now recognizes mr. connolly for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you all. i guess i like to explore a little bit of what happens when two agencies disagreed about something being declassified at all? and this is not a hypothetical. in a recent investigation of
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e-mail, we have multiple examples where the state department said one thing and the intelligence community said another. specific example, really quite i think, quite striking. i 2011 a note sent by a state department employee about the late ambassador chris stevens was marked clearly sensitive but unclassified. the undersecretary for management mr. patrick kennedy confirmed in testimony before the committee that the state department considered the e-mail to unclassified and that anyone reading the e-mail would assume it was not classified. but after the e-mail was sent, the intelligence community nonetheless claimed it was classified. so in september of last year, the state to present a letter to
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the senator corker explaining that the intelligence committee was wrong. the letter from the state department stated that the suggestion that the e-mail should have been triggered as close that was and i quote surprising, and in the departments of you, incorrect, unquote. so what's a poor boy to do? is a classified or isn't? >> there are appeals process in the system but they are cumbersome and time-consuming. but tom blyton reverted interagency security classification appeals panel. i used to serve as the executive director. last year for the year that the full last numbers are available, for ipo by came to the panel will consist of executive branch from senders from various agencies, 95% of the time the
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determination made by the agency that owned the information was overridden at least in part or in whole 95% of the time, since 1995. >> yes, but in this case, mr. leonard, the originating agency didn't want it to be classified. >> i think the short answer to your question is that each agency has ossification of sword over its own information. and in the dispute you are referring to i think the intelligence community considered that information at issue was its information, even though it was in the state department documents. >> at the state department -- >> and the state department said it isn't spent state department to direct issue with that thing. we understand that's what you think but that's not how we got the information. and we could even add another layer. so let's hypothetically say we invite the fbi, a nonpolitical
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organization, to come and look to see if there were violations of our secrecy laws. how is it supposed to do with whether a violation occurred when the two major agencies or entities looking at classification he have different views about the nature of the document, the sourcing of the document, and what they should be classified at? >> part of the problem for the federal bureau of investigation is part of the intelligence community, so it leans one way on that question. the real answer is that classified or unclassified, the answer is both. that's the reality of our system. i showed you documents that are both classified and unclassified simultaneously because different people are agencies, sometimes the same reviewer came to a different conclusion. >> there is a quality to this. i was a staffer innocent foreign relations a long time ago.
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we were very careful about classified material, how it was stored, make sure was never under desk. as our executive branch employees. i have one agency saying give it to your grandmother if it's unclassified. the other one is saying don't you dare, it's classified. what's my liability as an employed what i am trying to be diligent. what is it? no, exposing myself by leaving it on my desk? >> the executive order on classification includes provisions for resolving disputes about implementation of the order. alvorcultivate those disputes ce directed to the attorney gener general. >> but that's not how it works practically the listen, i was in the private sector and i was ahead of all of this for a private sector entity. we went around checking to make sure nobody was sloppy. we are not going to go to the
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attorney general. i saw that document on your desk. the state department said it was not classified. no issue. and i am deciding as the security chief that i don't care, the intelligence committee is what i listen to and they said it is. i mean, it puts people at risk and, frankly, i'm glad i could be arbitrated at some point i'm glad the attorney general can openly adjudicate but we are talking about thousands of documents, thousands of judgment calls i think you mentioned it was objective, but disputes between agencies are a real problem for people trying in good faith to comply with the law. >> you are absolutely correct, and the arbitration is really a technicality. the reality is that these kinds of disputes drive the issue to the lowest common denominator.
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a result when there is doubt, the end of adopting the view that it is classified. >> when there is doubt it should not be classified, exactly the opposite happens the my answer, send it to your grandmother. send it to your grandmother. i have an opinion from mr. leonard when he was the head of the oversight of security office, the national good archive got a version of the stock under legal authority, declassified, you can take it to the bank. you can keep it on your website or even if somebody else at the energy department our defenses have sorry, kansas ca, that's classified. wrong. send it to your grandmother. >> thank the gentleman. now recognized five minutes. >> first question i have, and this is for anybody who wants to answer it. in the stuff we have here we are told the government has spent $16 billion on classification activities, and $100 billion
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over 10 years, which is a stunning amount of money. if it's 100 billion over 10 years it must be going up like a rocket. i assume it's like 5 million years ago and 16 million today. how do you end up spending that amount of money? >> do you think it's accurate? >> that's a difficult thing to evaluate. let's put it this way. i spent many a year in the defense department, and i had to deal with the consequences of major failures, major compromises, espionage cases and things along those lines. and what the challenge is, is that whether rightly or not the mentality is zero tolerance for those types of things. how many espionage cases are you willing to endure? how many major leagues or
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releases are you ready to endure? the mindset is zero tolerance, and as a result there is, tends to be a lack of risk management. ..
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an understanding of the problem. he also is a former intelligent thought. dear jay national security lawyer has a degree of credibility with national security agencies that others might have trouble imagining. >> okay, go ahead. >> the proof is in the pudding. look forward to meeting with mr. bradley as soon as he's on the job. you can look at the information security oversight office like steve garfinkel, the 11 are and those folks made a real difference in a more rational direction and i hope that trend to continue.
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>> certainly that's one of the nice things that mr. blanton just mentioned. there is a dialogue back and forth and they know that there is a burden on secrecy but then provided the proper way of that and has been beneficial to the system. >> okay. there was an inspector general report in 2013 that said 33% ntia employees didn't understand their role. and even more outrageous in that report, 80% of the documents reviewed because it's classified. how many classification there are. but could you comment on that? >> is better than it was three years ago. maybe it was a flawed report.
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are you familiar with the report? >> i would suspect it's not the report. i think a stun my experience that's rather typical. it is a reflection of as much as we spend tax dollars to investigate people, to establish secure i.t. and then things along those lines, we do not spend a comparable amount of money in terms of trying to train people in the basics. one of my concerns is that we make a distinction between original classification and derivative classification. my experience has been that people have classified information they are actually classifying information on current instinct more than anything else >> any other comments? by the way, unless i'm doing the
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arithmetic, for that you could hire two -- that's how much we are spending. 200,000 people i realize people making more than 80 grand a year. my goodness. thank the gentleman. the chair recognizes mr. lynch for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. first of all i want to thank the panelists are helping us think about this and how we might broach the problem. i had the pleasure of working with walter jones and took us 15 years to get that information out there, which is far too long. it was interesting because as we were asking for disclosure and declassification, the administration was pushing back in a buzzer to send this.
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we had some agencies say no comment its methods and sources and finally when it was eventually declassified, they flipped and fed the information is not valid. we are now struggling with the dea and fbi in regard to classified -- excuse me, confidential informants. so we learn from the office of the inspector general that we've got 18,000 confidential informants out there that are under contract being paid by the dea. last year we spent $237 million patent confidential and torments and congress knows zero about that. they don't know what the crimes they've been committing.
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they don't know the way they're operating. dea headquarters have been intimately involved. this is all being operated at the field level. that is just the dea from our conversations with the fbi, the numbers had doubled that the fbi, probably the number and 30 to 45 conformant. that is totally out of our purview. so i'm wondering, you've all had oddness, with the interagency panel reviewing classifications. is there some way to supercharge that process because it is painstakingly slow and it doesn't work on the timeframe in which the information would be useful to us. mr. leonard, i know that you set the last time somebody took a good thing at this was during the clinton administration in your early comment.
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is there some way we can get this interagency declassification review panel resource and equipped to give congress and that >> collects tear their hair out when they couldn't get information and i've been in the same position. is there someone we can formalize the process to get the information in a timely manner? >> i would suggest to make provisions to allow appeals directly to that panel in certain circumstances. right now requests are set to go to the individual agency if they get turned down they have to appeal to the same agency in the film after that process they can go to this interagency panel and even the interagency panel has its own coordination which can be problematic but which is a lot easier to address.
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the individual agency time delay is problematic. also for purpose of congress, congress does have the public interest declassification they can refer to and that is another avenue that quite frankly i never believe is utilized enough. but that's another avenue. >> to expedite it, maybe we've just got to figure this out legislatively to introduce the next guided process where the information is so critical and i guess i'm just thinking, is there a way to get the judiciary involved here. i don't want to create a political question that you of course can't rely them. we are being stonewalled and wide areas of public interest and they feel like it's hampering congress' ability to
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switch jobs. >> the interagency panel is exercising on behalf of the president and his article to authority in the public interest declassification board makes recommendations to the president from that point of view. >> just something you want to like? >> as commissary. he mentioned sources and methods in this goes right to one of the big drivers of classification which is under the current statutory system. it can be claimed to be withheld whether or not its release would actually harm a security value or get a source killed. congress can take the recent election in the law enforcement field to say sources and methods should only cover the things that would do damage. get somebody killed cameroon investigation. right now the identifiable harm standard which is now in the
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freedom of information statute doesn't apply in this method. it needs to apply peer congress has to take that action. >> that recommendation was in the moynihan report and had enacted on now in almost 20 years. it may be time for congress to enter that world. >> attorney general janet reno issued some guidelines. i actually have legislation. i don't even want to know who the confidential informants i appeared i want to know how many are out there, what they are being paid and what crimes they have committed while their part of the government program. the seller have a mr. chairman. thank you for your indulgence. >> the chair now recognizes mr. duncan. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. first of all, i want to go on record as saying i agree in saying that i'm astounded by the
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amount of spending that is being done on this 60 billion estimate and 100 billion over the last 10 years. i think we lose sight of how much a billion dollars actually is. but having said that, i have two other meetings and so unfortunately, i didn't get to hear your testimony and i apologize if you've gone into some of this earlier. i was fascinated by your report that the moynihan commission and we went through all this 20 years ago basically. the thing that is impressed with the notches there seems to be general agreement here today that there is a problem of overclassification. i saw where mr. mick did not who
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was president reagan's national security at visor that only 10% of what is being classified needed to be classified. is that correct? why do you think you mention is a bipartisan commission had jesse holmes and patrick moynihan and obviously you are disappointed and not -- very little was done with those recommendations. why do you think that was indeed think we should take another look at that? go into that a little bit for me. >> in the testimony i quoted -- the moynihan commission quoted and said a cinemax granted a few million pages of declassified documents he's right especially about historical materials. an estimate closer to reality
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for current material related on terrorists and i insist that the best estimate came from the head of the 9/11 commission tom kane. 75% of osama bin laden was classified should have been and we had been safer as a country. the ranges in there, 75 to 90 is a bureaucratic problem. but the inside and outside. steve aftergood has been setting up for many years, pogo. there's almost no penalties. there has to be a think the main reason why congress needs to take action. you can change mind of the bureaucracy and how it works. you can change the law in their hearts and minds will follow. >> actually play the executive branch actually want the ambiguity because the ambiguity
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gives them almost unlimited discretion in dealing with issues and yet the results in things but the ultimate trump card with your dealing with the chords, congressional oversight or whatever, nobody wants to be the one who compromises truly sensitive information and it tends to be this over darfur region. it is a simple assertion. it cannot be demonstrated as it truly should be classified. >> there's so many other games i would like to comment on, but i'm assuming this committee has requested through the years a great deal of classified material. do you think that agencies are classified some material for a lot of material that doesn't need to be classified to avoid or get around the congressional effect is oversight
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?-questionstion -mark >> yes, but it's hard to know above all. unfortunately when something shows up and it's marked classified or an extension attached to it, at that point it's hard to know. sometimes we get documents released to estimate that point you can do the comparison. that can allow you to ask them questions, but unfortunately with the amount of classification may have come at difficult to put your finger on it. the experts are to take a look at the 75% to 90%. the closer it even after 9/11 and they give a culture to the default setting on the side of caution. >> i'm not a time, but i will say this, we will have to go to much more of a carrot and stick approach on all of this and incentivize good behavior and penalize bad behavior in this area at any rate.
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>> i think gentlemen. the chair now recognizes [inaudible] for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. hearing some of the common at the tail end, you may have to repeat some of that. representing my district and in mexico we are home to world-class national security defense operating my and related defense to institutions and businesses. i understand unequivocally the need for it being clear that sensitive classified security aspects related to information that we have to be very clear about protect the integrity of those systems then that information. having this committee work on furthering our effort at transparency and recognizing that across agencies that we don't have an affect to handle
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about who's determining and what parameters supplied and the circumstances before, during and after information is shared in a variety of what i would call post-and pre-security issues. i also worry about unintended consequences. being a long standing bureaucrat, have been ambiguity can be a protective mechanism to not change anything because you fear those unintended consequences, particularly here where national security is at stake. there is no incentive to be a little bit -- to talk about a month risk-averse when they made better transparency in order to inform myself in a way that is productive. you can increase the way in which we address financial security issues both in the congress, both in the
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bureaucracy and defense and secure the nation. but i also know that it's very frustrating not to have clear direction so that you can include reforms. and provide those leaders that are guidance. some specific ideas about balancing efforts of many for transparent tea and a clear issue we have predict a classified secure information in the national security interests of this country. be very careful about unintended consequences here. anyone? >> i think one way to understand the issue is classification is treated as a security function understandably. the people who are making the classification decisions are
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asking about security consequences of disclosure. that's fine. it makes perfect sense. problem is security is not the only consideration because classified has implications for oversight and implications for public understanding, diplomacy, technological development. all kinds of other implications and to ask the security officer to weigh the public interest or the diplomatic tax is totally unrealistic. so where that takes me in areas of significant by congress there needs to be an additional venue where its original security classification decision can be reconsidered and broader issues. what is the public interest? what is the need for oversight question or what are the
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undesirable unintended consequences of continuing to classify bush and the doughnuts the poor security officer to make this complicated assessment. take it somewhere else and reevaluate in light of the big picture. >> anyone else? that is an another healthy balance and a chance for a real review as a lawyer and what i would fashion an appellate aspect. but again, making those decisions and creating parameter is asking for guidance is also in favor of foreign that cannot unintended consequences. are there specific than that regard and the concept is one that i'm very interested in. are there ways to include the agencies in terms of their recommendations about what those parameters would look like? without having to protect their own interests because that's the other problem in a way that
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doesn't get you that level which is back where we started. >> you know, we've really need more experimentation in this area than what we've had. one model is the ice cap model that's been discussed. there may be others. you want the voice of security representative course but it would not be the only voice so you would want diversity of opinion and it brought to bear. you would also want to define who could elevate the issue of a congressional committee. maybe just a member of congress. you know, who else could ask for this kind of review and under what is. these are all questions that could be hashed out. i don't have the answers of obvious. they might not become obvious until they are tried in practice. >> mr. chairman, thank you for giving me this extra time and thank you for weighing in on what i think is a critical issue
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is to deal with. >> the chair now recognizes mr. a mosh for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. yield my time to the gentleman, mr. messier. >> thank you, mr. chairman. will try and get three things then. the first two follow under the category there is good news but. there is goodness in terms of the intelligence budget because the 9/11 commission recommendrecommend ed that these the aggregate number be disclosed. so it is disclosed in the executive ranch in this case does a better job than the legislative branch. they disclosed their request for the budget. the situation we had last week as you had 400 dirty five members of congress, probably less than 80 new what was in the budget that they all voted for it. they can find out within a two years from now. the 2015 number i can tell you
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is on the website. we still don't disclosed the aggregate number for intelligence appropriation until a year after it's been voted on. so that will be the good news disclosed. the bad news is most of congress is voting on it to see within it. my colleague from michigan and i get to see within it. some of this is lack of attention on our part. mr. desantis appropriately pointed out the detective branch has to have secrecy, et cetera, et cetera. you talked about how you can use the power of the purse. as one department that does use the power of the purse for oversight and that is the intelligence committee. they don't give the intelligence community a tranche of money and say okay you have no strings attached and we don't know
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anything until next year. continuously that money is contingent upon certain things and also been certain things happen they have to be reported back to that committee. the judiciary committee would do well to follow that example. the judiciary could send funny and give you part of it but not the rest of it until we get this fanfare. to the theoretical point of can you get this information from the executive branch or can you not based on the constitution in article i versus article ii. the answer is what you provided. the key is in the power of the person you can can always get that information. that's the good news that you can get the information in the intel committee does it. the bad news is doj doesn't do it in the other bad news is the intel committee controls the information very tightly and it's hard for a rank-and-file member to access data. basically 20 questions and
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without staff walking out. so that's the advantage. if i have time i'll let you comment. i think it falls within the entire committee here today. this question is for mr. mr. aftergood. the federation of american scientists takes a bootleg copy of the research report. the ones you can obtain? >> it is a wonderful resource available to congress and in the context of the reason for things and the wonderful report. but they are confidential and the irony here is that could disclosed a constituent, but crs has no clearinghouse for this. the greater irony is on the weekend. i go to your website to find out
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whether a congressional research has prepared. how difficult was that? i would like your comment on that. >> there has been a lot about fakeness and how was corrupting our public discourse and so forth. to me i think of crs reports that the answer to. we get a lot of fake information for various sources. >> we all need to be critical consumers, but i think the crs product on the whole are extremely informative. they are balanced. they aim to educate. if you read them, you'll get smarter than you are. >> that's not easy to do for congress men. >> or free citizen. i would just assume congress do
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it the right way. i think you have a product that you'll be proud of then you should be making it available from the public. until that happened, i hope to continue doing it through the federation. >> i hope you do, too. we need too. when it accessed on the wiki page. >> i would only suggest it's the end of the year. you might want to contribute to the webpage. >> thank you did they also want to extend a sincere thanks to reach of our witnesses for appearing before us today. if there is no further business to that objection, the committee stands adjourned. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> u.s. senate is about to gavel and to continue work on the 2017 defense programs and policy bill which includes war funding and military pay raises. final passage was scheduled for 12:30 eastern today. also, minority leader harry reid
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will give his farewell address in just a couple of minutes. a portrait unveiling this afternoon attended by hillary clinton and vice president joe biden. live coverage on the c-span network. the house also voted on a water projects bill of government funding this morning. the fun it would until april 28th. the senate will consider that before they recess on friday. live coverage of the u.s. senate here in these spam too. -- c-span2. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, in this season of peace on earth, we acknowledge that you govern in the affairs of humanity. and if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without you noticing it, may our lawmakers never
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think that you are indifferent to what they think, say, and do. lord, keep them ever-mindful of the scarcity of their days and the importance of their work. may they seize life's second chances to fulfill your purposes on earth. transform the days of our senators into redemptive moments so that they will rise to the challenges of these momentous times. may they strive always to live worthy of your great name. give them the wisdom to use yor
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precepts to avoid life's pitfalls, enabling you to guide them through life's seasons of darkness to a safe harbor. we pray in your sacred name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of americ, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i understand there is a bill at the desk due a second-degree reading. per officer the clerk will read the -- the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title for the second time. the clerk: s. 351, a bill to authorize the secretary of veterans fairs to conduct a best-practices peer review and so fog. mr. mcconnell: in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14, i would object to further proceedings. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will be placed on the calendar. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, it seems like any speech about the democratic leader requires a mention of searchlight, nevada. now, there's a reason why that is. you can't begin to understand the man until you understand where it all began. and here's where it began:
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a tiny mining town at the southern tip of nevada. one teacher, zero indoor plumbing, miles of desert. that's searchlight, at least the searchlight harry reid knew when he was growing up. it's the kind of place where you might learn to drive at 13 or spend your summer roping cattle with a cowboy named sharky. in fact, if your name is harry rideid, that's exactly what you did. harry grew up in a tiny little shack with a continue roof, hitchhiked more than 40 miles to school, had a father who toiled in the hard rock mines. it goes without saying, this was not -- not -- an easy life.
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it taught some tough lessons, but harry had his escapes. he found one in the snap and crackle of his radio. now, searchlight didn't exactly have a radio station of its own, but every now and then harry could pick up a faint signal from california. and during the regular season, it carried his favorite baseball team, the indians. he can still rattle off cleveland's 1948 roster. just ask him. harry played some baseball himself. he was the catcher in high school, and during his sophomore year, harry's team was crowned nevada state champions. later, after a close game on the california coast, his team won the nevada-arizona-california tri-state play-offs as well. harry still treasures the big white jackets each member of the
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team received. not because, understand, he was the best player on the team. harry says he wasn't -- but because of what that jacket represented: his hard work, his contributions, his worth. harry, like many young men, once dreamed of a life in the majors, of cheering crowds, and commissioners' trophies. so did i. i wanted to throw fastballs for the dodgers. harry wanted to play center field at fenway. we wound up as managers of of two unruly franchises instead. as the leaders of our parties, we charge -- we're charged with picking the batting order, controlling the pitch selection, and trying our best to manage 100 opening-day starters.
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it isn't always easy. baseball, as harry has often pointed out, provides a nice reprieve from the serious work of the senate. so no matter how contentious the issue before us, we try to put politics aside -- at least briefly -- to trade our views on ththe mets and bryce harper. harry is probably looking forward to having more time to dedicate as a fan of the sport and never having to miss another game because of votes. but if there's one thipg that harry loves more than baseball, it's his wife landra and the family they built together. when harry first met landra ghoul, the two of them were in high school, and harry was hardly conflicted about his feelings for her. she looked like she belonged in
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the movies, he recalled. she was smart, too. and she'd been places, out of my league, that's for sure. but if there's one thing we know about harry, he doesn't give up easily. it wang long before the two of them -- it wasn't long before the two of them were heading off on their first date. it started as many dates do -- with a movie -- and ended -- as no dates do -- with landra push-starting his car. now, harry worried, as many of us might, that this could well be their first date and their last date. but then he looked over at landra, she smiled as she pushed along beside hivment it was the kind of smile, he said, "who cares about the car? i'm with you." it's a smile that stayed with him ever since. there are moments, harry said, that turn a life, that stay with
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you until the last breath, and this was one of those moments for me. the reids have never been strangers to pushing through challenges. they've confronted a lot over nearly six decades of marriage, but hand in hand, sweat on the brow, they've always moved forward together. through it all, landra has never stopped smiling and harry has never stopped counting every lucky star for landra. his idea of the perfect night out is still a quiet night in -- with her. landra is his confidant, his high school sweetheart, and his best friend. she's his everything. and for a guy who grew up with nothing, that's something. harry reid didn't have an easy
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childhood. he faced tragedy from a young age. there were times when he just wanted to leave searchlight and never look back. but these experiences helped shape him, too. this is a guy who's seen it all. he's been on the wrong side of electoral nail biters. he's been on the other sued of them, too. -- he's been on the other side of them, too. he even won a primary against somebody named "god almighty." harry will now retire as the longest-serving u.s. senator from his state, with some three decades of senate service behind him. it's clear that harry and i have two very different world views, twro different ways of -- two different ways of doing things, and two different sets of legislative priorities. but through the years, we've come to understand some things about one another. and we've endeavored to keep our
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disagreements professional rather than personal. we've also found some common ground through baseball. i hardly know what it's like to serve here without harry. he came into office just a couple of short years after i did, but i do know this: come next month, you'll know where to find him. he'll be right next to landra, writing new chapters, making new memories, continuing a love story that began with a smile more than 50 years ago. so today the senate recognizes the democratic leader for his many years of service to nevada, to the country, and to his party. we wish him and landra the best as they set off on their next
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journey. mr. reid: thank you very much for those nice remarks. i've had for many years, especially press and others, how do you get along with mitch mcconnell? obviously i.t. no -- obviously t very good. we're both lawyers. i've been to court lots of times. over 100 jury trials. when i would go to those trials, i had really fixed on my opponent. how could he feel that way about an issue? he's wrong on the law, he's wrong on the facts, and we're
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going to take care of this in court. and fortunately, i was fairly blessed with my trial. they turned out most of the time. but mitch and i understand, that's what we do here. when the trial is over -- it was over with. we're friends. we were there each doing our thing to affect our cause. that's what we do here. mcconnell and reid don't need to be hugging out here every day. that isn't what we do. we're advocates for our cause. i do the very best i can. he does the best he can. and he laid that out just fine a few minutes ago. so this is not a love session for reid and mcconnell,
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although i want everyone to know here, mitch mcconnell is my friend. he and his wonderful wife have been kind and thoughtful to us. i've said that before. let me repeat it. when landra was in that really dreadful accident, they were there -- letters, flowers, they took care of us. when landra had the devastating breast cancer, they were there. when i hurt myself, mitch called me. so, everybody, go ahead and make up all the stories you want about how we hate each other. go ahead. but we don't. if it makes a better story, go ahead and do it. but maybe somebody should write this: thank you very much, smich. okay, now ... my final speech. the history of searchlight starts this way: the first paragraph of that book: "searchlight is like many
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nevada towns and cities. it would never have come to be had gold not been discovered. situated on the rock choi, windy -- switted on a rocky, windy and arid terrain without a well or service water of any kind, the place we call expenditure light was not a gathering spot for indian or animal. searchlight, it is a long ways from searchlight to the united states senate." i -- i grew up during world war ii in searchlight. as senator mcconnell mentioned, my dad was a miner, hard rock miner, underground miner. but work n wasn't very good in searchlight. the mines during world war ii were especially gone all over america, but especially in nevada. there were a few things that went on after the war,
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promotions. he would work and sometimes they would pay him. sometimes bad checks that would bounce. sometimes they wouldn't pay him, they would just leave. my mom worked really hard. we had this old maytag washer. the lines were outside. she worked really hard. searchlight was about 250 people then. it had seen its better days. searchlight was discovered in 1898, gold was discovered. for 15 or 18 years, it was a booming, booming town. it was one of the most modern cities in all of nevada. it had electricity. turn of the century, electricity. telegraph. telephones. it had a fire station, fire trucks. it had roads with signs on them
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designating the name of the street. it had a railroad. when i grew up, that was all gone. searchlight, as i said, was 250 people. so you may ask how did my mother work so hard in a town where there was 250 people? we had at that time no mines but 13 brothels at one time in searchlight. 13. not over the time, but one time. the biggest was the el ray club. so that tells everyone what wash my mom did, from the casinos and from the brothels. and she worked really hard. she ironed. she washed. as i look back on my growing up
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in searchlight, i never felt during the time i was a boy that i was deprived of anything. i never went hungry. sometimes we didn't have, i guess, what my mom wanted, but we were fine. as i look back, it wasn't that good, i guess. we had no inside toilet. we had a toilet outside. you had to walk about 50 yards to that. my dad didn't want it close to the house. and we had a good time even with that. my poor mother, wonderful woman she was. my younger brother and i, sometimes just to be funny, she would go to the toilet. she had tin walls, tin, it was made out of tin, and we would throw rocks at that. let me out, she would say. that doesn't sound like much fun, but it was fun at the time.
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as i look back on stuff, when i -- when i went -- started elementary school, there was one teacher for grades 1-4 and then another teacher for grades 5-8, but when i got to fifth grade, there was not enough -- weren't enough students for two teachers, so one teacher taught all eight grades. i learned at that time in that little school that you can really learn. i have never, ever forgotten. a woman by the name of mrs. pickard. i can still see her, those glasses, just a stereotype, spinster teacher, but she was a teacher. she taught me that education was good, to learn is good. and when i graduated, we had a
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large graduating class, six kids, and the presiding officer from nevada, you should feel good about me. i graduated in the top third of my class. my parents were -- did the best they could. my dad never graduated from eighth grade. my mom didn't graduate from high school. in searchlight, it is probably no surprise to anyone, there was ever, ever a church service in searchlight that i can ever remember. there was no church. no preachers, no nothing, nothing regarding religion. that's how i was raised.
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we -- my brother and i were born in a our house. there was no hospital. that had long since gone. i can remember -- i didn't go to a dentist until i was 14 years old. but i was fortunate. i was born with nice teeth, especially on the top. the bottoms aren't so good, but rarely, rarely have i had a cavity of any kind. just fortunate in that regard. we didn't go to doctors. it was a rare, rare occasion. there was no one to go to. i can remember my father having such a bad tooth ache, he -- i watched him pull a tooth with a pair of pliers.
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my mother was hit in the face with a softball when she was a young woman in searchlight, and it ruined her teeth. as i was growing up, i saw her teeth disappear. a few, a few less and finally no teeth. my mom had no teeth. my brother was riding his bicycle and slid on the dirt, broke his leg. he never went to the doctor. i can remember as if it were ten minutes ago my brother larry on that bed. couldn't touch the bed, it hurt him so much, but it healed. the bottom part of one leg is bent, but it healed. i can remember a t.b. wagon came through searchlight. one time i can remember. people had tuberculosis. some had t.b.
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miners had silicosis, my dad included. my mother had one of those tests. she went on the big truck and had her chest x-rayed. a few weeks later, she got a post card and said her test was positive, she should go see a doctor. never went to see a doctor. i worried about that so much. i can't imagine how my mother must have felt, but obviously it was a false positive, but think about that. never went to the doctor, but told you have tuberculosis. i never -- as i learned more about my dad, i know how important health care would have been for him. to be able to see somebody, to try to explain more about my dad so he could understand himself a
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little better. so i haven't done -- you know, i'm sure i haven't done all the good in life i could do, but i am here to tell everyone, if there is one thing i did in my life that i'm so proud of, and i will always be -- i hope i'm not boasting. if i am, i'm sorry. i worked long hours in a service station. as mitch indicated, there was no high school in searchlight, so i went to school in henderson, nevada. and i worked in a standard station. i worked really hard and long hours. i took all the hours they would give me. i saved up enough money, i had $250. i was going to buy my mother some teeth. and i went to a man, he was a bigshot.
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they named a school after him. he was on the school board in las vegas. he married this beautiful woman from searchlight. i went to him. i never met him before. i told him who i am. his name was j.d. smith. i said i wanted to buy my mother some teeth. he said i don't do credit here. he insulted me. so i went to dr. marshall of henderson and bought my mother some teeth. it changed my mother's life. my mother had teeth. so my parents lived in searchlight until they both died. i think a number of people saw them. my staff at least knows my dad killed himself. can i remember that day so plainly. i had been out -- i spent two hours with muhammad ali, him and i, one of his handlers and one of my staff. what a -- it was so -- for me
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who has always been -- wanted to be an athlete, wannabe, that was great. some of you know i fought, but that was -- he was in a different world than me. but he was nice. he was generous with his time and so much fun. he said let's go cause some trouble out here. he kicked the walls and yelled and screamed, and i was happy. i walked to my car, got to my office, and my receptionist joanie said to me, mr. reid, your mom's on the phone. and i -- i talked to my mother all the time, many, many times a week. she said your pop shot himself. so she lived in searchlight. it took me an hour, hour and a half to get out there. i can still remember seeing my dad on that bed, and i was so
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sad because my dad never had a chance. he was depressed always. he was reclusive. you know, i did things. he never came to anything that i did. i never felt bad that he didn't because i knew my dad. my mom came to everything that she could. i felt bad about that. i'll talk a little more about suicide in a little bit. but i think everyone can understand a little bit of why i have been such an avid supporter of obamacare, health care. so i was ashamed, embarrassed about searchlight. when i went to college, was in high school, law school, i just didn't want to talk about
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searchlight. i was kind of embarrassed about it. it was kind of a crummy place. i didn't show people pictures of my home. so many years later, i was a young man and i was in government, and alex haley, the famous writer who wrote the book "roots" was a speaker at a university of nevada foundation dinner in reno. he gave this speech and it was stunning. it was so good. and basically what he said to everyone there -- and he directed, i thought, his remarks to me. of course he didn't. but he said be proud of who you are. you can't escape who you are. and i walked out of that event that night a different person, a new man. from that day forward, i was from


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