tv [untitled] February 16, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
website. a taliban spokesperson contradicted karzai saying in a statement the taliban did not talk with the government in kabul anywhere. now, these three-way talks would be significant because the taliban which ran afghanistan till october 2001 when the u.s. invaded that country in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks had said they only wanted to negotiate with the americans. the taliban maintains that president karzai is a you. met leader. here's more reaction from panetta. he was also asked about the on going situation in syria that al qaeda is behind some of the political unrest in that country. defense secretary panetta at the pentagon earlier today. >> mr. secretary, on afghanistan, what significance do you see in the statement by president karzai that u.s. and afghan officials are now -- or have very recently held peace talks with the taliban in a three-way setting? is this an indication that the process of pursuing a political
settlement is now finally advancing? >> it's always been important for us to make clear that reconciliation has to be afghan-led. and what president karzai's statement confirmed is that afghanistan is now very much involved in the process of reconciliation. and that's extremely helpful and important to determining whether or not we are ultimately going to be able to succeed with reconciliation or not. >> three-way talks planned, do you know? >> i don't know. i'm not directly involved with rarts regards to that effort. but the in us that afghan has joined those reconciliation discussions is important. >> may i -- just one sentence. these talks will be better the less we talk on them. >> james clapper testified today
that al qaeda in iraq has infiltrated the opposition in syria. what does that mean for u.s. options? >> it means that i think we have to continue to work with the arab league and determine what steps should be taken to try to deal with the situation in syria. it does raise concerns for us that al qaeda is trying to assert a presence there. and that means that you know, frankly, our concerns which were -- which were large to begin with because of the deteriorating situation if syria, that the situation there has become that much more serious as a result of that. >> defense secretary leon panetta joined by his counterpart from germany speaking to rt roers at the pentagon earlier in the day. secretary panetta did say that
u.s. intelligence iran is enriching uranium in a disputed program but ta tehran has not made a decision on whether to proceed with the development of an atomic bomb. israel accused iran of being behind recent attacks of diplomats and has threatened military strikes against iran's nuclear facilities. today, the top u.s. intelligence official telling congress that al qaeda -- that al qaeda of iraq is likely behind a series of bombings against the syrian regime. that's the statement from james clapper, the director of national intelligence saying that the bombings against security andings in targets in damascus bear all the earmarks of an al qaeda-like attack. the questions today from prosecute senator levin taking the questions of james clapper. he was joined by lieutenant general ronald burgess, the director of the defense intelligence agency. >> director clapper's prepared
statement said the following in terms of the intelligence community's assessment about iran's nuclear program. "we assess iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons. should it choose to do so. we do not know, however, if iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons and his statement also said that we judge iran's nuclear decision making as guided by a cost benefit approach which offers the international community opportunities to influence tehran. general burgess, do you agree with that statement of director clapper in his prepared statement? >> yes, sir. i think it would be very consistent with what will the vice chairman of the joint chiefs and myself along with a couple of other witnesses stated before this committee almost a
year and a half ago. >> and director clapper, i understand then that what you have said and now general burgess agrees with is that they have -- that iran has not yet decided to develop nuclear weapons. is that still your assessment? >> that is the -- yes, sir, that is the intelligence community's assessment that that is an option that is still held out by the iranians and we believe the decision would be made by the supreme leader himself. and he would base that on a cost benefit analysis in terms of -- i don't think you want a nuclear weapon at any price. so that, i think, plays to the value of sanctions, particularly the recent ratcheting up of more sanctions. and anticipation that that will endeuce a chaninduce a change i
their policy and behavior. >> it's the intelligence community's assessment that sanctions and other international pressure actually could, not will necessarily but could influence iran and its decision as to whether to proceed? >> absolutely, sir. and, of course, the impacts that the sanctions are already having on the iranian economy, the devaluation of their currency, the difficulty they're having in engaging in banking prescriptions which will, of course, increase with the recent provisions in the national defense authorization act. and so to the extent that the iranian population becomes restive and if the regime then feels threatened in terms of its stability and tenure, you know, the thought is that that could change the policy. i think it's interesting that
they have apparently asked the eu for resumption of the five plus one dialogue. and, of course, there's another meeting coming up with another engagement with the international atomic energy administration. so we'll see whether you know, the iranians may be changing their mind. >> i must tell you i'm skeptical about putting any significance on that, but nonetheless, it's not my testimony that we're here to hear. it's your testimony and it's obviously important testimony. director clapper, in a recent interview defense secretary panetta said that if iran decides to pursue a nuclear weapon capability "it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb and then possibly another one or two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort
in order to deliver that weapon." do you disagree with defense secretary panetta's assessment? >> no, sir, i don't disagree. and particularly with respect to the year. that's i think technically feasible. but practically not likely. there are all kinds of combinations and permutations that could affect how long it might take should the iranians make a decision to pursue a nuclear weapon, how long that might take. i think the details of that are best it's rather complex and arcane and sensitive because of how we know this. are best left to a closed session discussion. >> when you say the year is perhaps right but it's more likely that it would take longer? was that the implication of your -- >> yes, sir. >> the questions from senator carl levin, the chair of the
senate armed services committee. james clapper is the director of national intelligence and again, he said that it is technically feasible that iran could be produce iing a nuclear weapon i one, maybe two years. he indicated that some recent diplomatic outreach by iran to european diplomats could indicate that the officials are reconsidering the program. that was one of the headlines yesterday from the associated press and also news on syria as the director of national intelligence warning syria that the targets in damascus bear all the earmarks of al qaeda-like operatives moving inside iraq and attacking syria to try to create the disruption occurring in there and, of course, on going tensions between syria, iran and israel involved in all of this. by the way, the entire hearing is available at c-span.org, part of c-span's video library. this is washington today. democratic leader nancy pelosi critical of republicans for a lack of female witnesses at a
birth control hearing. the story is available online at the hill.com "slamming republicans for holding a nearly all male hearing today about the white house birth control mandate while democratic women staged a walkout. here's what happened earlier in the day from democratic leader nancy pelosi. >> [ inaudible question ]. catholic church in washington, d.c. should the catholic church in washington, d.c. be required to pay for these morning-after pills and birth control? do you find that morally objectionable? >> you're talking about birth control, you're talking about women's health. i firmly remove, i want to remove all doubt in anyone's mind where i am on this subject. this is an issue about women's health. and i believe that will women's health should be covered in all of the insurance plans that are
there. right now, as we gather here in another part of the capitol, there is a hearing, five men are testifying on women's health. my colleague, carolyn maloney of new york who is on the committee looked down at this panel from which a woman who was the democratic witness was excluded and said where are the women? and that's a good question for the whole debate. where are the women? where are the women on that panel? imagine they're having a panel on women's health and they don't have any women on the panel. duh. what is it that men don't understand about women's health and how central the issue of family planning is to that? not just if you're having family. but if you need those kinds of prescription drugs for your general health. which was the testimony they
would have heard this morning. if they had allowed a woman on the panel. i think the fact that they did not allow a woman on the panel is symbolic of the whole debate. as to who was making these decisions about women's health and who should be covered. i remind you i think it's 26 states have this requirement already. so this is nothing really already new. more than half of the states already have it. so this is probably a pretty good debate to have. just think, suppose you were, suppose you were a christian scientist. and you had an institution and you said if people work here for us who are not christian scientists or even if they are, they cannot avail themselves of any medical treatments because
that's what we believe. would that work for you? i mean, it's just -- it's so, so shall we say disrespectful of the contribution that in this case women make to the workforce. 98% of catholic women i am told by all of you use birth control to determine the size and the timing of their families. so again, it's a women's health issue. yes, i think that all institutions who give health insurance should cover the full range of health insurance issues for women. and i think it's really curiouser and curiouser that as we get further into this debate, that the republican leadership of this congress thinks it's appropriate to have a hearing on a subject of women's health and
purposefully exclude women from the panel. what else do you need to know about the subject? if you feed to know more, tune in. i may, i may at some point be moved to explain biology to my colleagues. >> the comments of representative nancy pelosi, the democratic leader in the u.s. house of representatives. today's hearing, by the way, was officially titled "lines crossed, separation of church and state. has the obama administration trampled on freedom of religion and freedom of conscience?" but some house and democratic women walking out of the hearing today because the issue which focused on among other topics, birth control did not include any women in the first panel, the second panel, however, did include two women both opposed to a mandate in the health care law that required birth control to be included in insurance plans. tonight on the floor of the house it, andy harris joining other republicans weighing in on
this issue. a republican from maryland's first congressional district. >> the bill of rights doesn't pertain to organizations. it wasn't written for groups. it was written for individuals. every individual having the right to exercise their religious belief. the president's rule not only restricts individuals, it restricts everything except the actual what exists within the walls of a church building. mr. speaker, that's not what the first amendment's about. my parents like many immigrants to this country, fled countries where those beliefs weren't held. my parents came from communist countries. where we don't find it farfetched to believe that they
would imprison, them punish individuals for their religious belief. but let's look at what the president's affordable care act has turned into. mr. speaker, we knew in that -- america knew when that bill was passed because the previous speaker of the house said we just have to wait to pass it. we'll find out what's in it. mr. speaker, we're finding out what's in it and america doesn't like it. because what's in it is the ability under the current rule to restrict individual religious freedom. and if you choose to exercise your religious freedom, you are punished by the government with a fine. and it's not just a few dollars. it's $2,000. per employee. if an employer has deeply felt religious beliefs, deeply held, it's not up to the president or the secretary of health or anyone in the federal bureaucracy or government to
decide if those are appropriate religious beliefs. yet, that's exactly what this rule does. it says if you don't share their religious beliefs or their beliefs in certain types of health care, you're going to pay a fine to the government. why, that sounds a lot like governments where immigrants have fled from to this country 0 share in the individual religious belief. let's go down the list of what this final rule impairs. it violates the religious freedom restoration act. passed in this country two decades ago. it will obviously violates the first amendment free exercise clause because it does place a substantial burden on individuals who choose to exercise religious belief. that's all they're doing. we have made it an effective crime to hold a certain religious belief that this administration disagrees with. that's not america.
that describes a whole lot of other countries in the world. but it doesn't describe america. it violates the free first amendment free exercise rights because it intentionally discriminates, intentionally discriminates against religious beliefs. it imposes requirements on some religions, not on others. it picks and losers. that's exactly what the first amendment was meant not to do. and mr. speaker, it's not going to be adequate if we just extend it to religious organizations because i remind you, the first amendment is not about groups or buildings or churches or any institutions. it's about the ability of every american to not violate their conscience. if their conscience says it would be wrong for me to provide insurance to an employee that would provide something that my
religion, religious believes disagrees with, who are we as the government to step in and say you have to violate your religious beliefs and if you don't, you pay a fine to the government? that's not the america we believe in. it never has been. hopefully, it never will be. >> the comments of congressman andy harris, a republican from maryland's first congressional district weighing in on the comments earlier in the day of democratic leader nancy pelosi when several democratic women walked out of the hearing that included the issue of birth control, no women on the first panel. those democratic women critical of the congressional republicans who put the hearing together. but the larger issue was the mandate put together by the president's health care law requiring that religious institutions provide insurance that would include birth control for those who work at christian and catholic institutions. well, the headlines from "the washington post" at this hour, house republican and
democratic leaders leaders satisfied with a deal reached after midnight. it is a plan worth $150 billion. extending the payroll tax holiday and dealing with the unemployment benefits. in our last hour, meredith schier weighed in on what this means for the congress and the american people. >> there are three pieces to the bill. the payroll tax cut extension. that is the number one priority of the white house since last august when they unveiled their jobs bill. that piece was basically the most supported piece of all and it went through because house republicans said earlier this week and late last week that they would consider moving forward with that provision without offsetting it. that was one of the biggest c e complicatiocom complications to find it. republicans took $100 billion off the table. people who get their paychecks
will not see more money taken away from those paychecks because this tax cut won't lapse. second part is unemployment benefits. there have been changes and reductions in the number of weeks of eligibility. with federal jobless benefits. the eligibility that states have is based on their unemployment rate at the time and also over the course of the past three years. there is something called extended benefits which had been passed to give an extra 20 weeks of coverage. those benefits will expire over the next few weeks. where the top number used to be 99, you'll see that number for the hardest hit states in terms of unemployment. you will see that drop from 99 to 73. it's a difference in at least 20 weeks at most brackets. then the last is doctors
payments. when they were trying to balance the budget, they had something called the doc fix. they took away payments in the future because they could count that as sort of their accounting. every year since, congress has passed a bill to make sure that there are no gaps in payments to medicare doctors. that, too, has been patched for the next ten minutes. >> walk us through what will happen in the house and senate. >> i expect the house to vote on their package first. they will send it to the senate. i think it will have a lot of republican votes and split democrats. there are some democrats who are not pleased. it will go to the senate. i imagine it will get at least probably around 70 votes. there will be certainly republicans who will have to get behind it because there will be some loss in the democratic caucus where people don't agree with the deal for various reasons. >> meredith shiner of cq roll
call. you can watch the latest on c-span and c-span 2 as the senate and house takes up the tax issue. the president returning after midnight tomorrow. likely any signing would take place saturday or into the weekend. well, the president, president george w. bush inherited an administration from the clinton administration. we have gone from budget surpluses to deficits. in fact, this past year, a budget shortfall of $1.3 trillion. how did we get to this point? according to the "new york times" the tax cuts and war spending and recession and growing government programs all contributed to the nation's debt and deficit now reaching $15.5 trillion. in 2009, shortly after being sworn into the office of president, barack obama speaking
to the joint session of congress with this pledge. >> and yesterday, i held a fiscal summit where i pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office. my administration is going line-by-line to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs. it is a process that will take time. we already identified $2 trillion in savings over the next decade. [ applause ] >> that was february of 2009 as the president promised to cut the deficit in half. one note, by the way, tomorrow, we'll have a conversation with alan simpson. he is the chairman of the commission of fiscal responsibility and reform. otherwise known as the simpson-bowles commission. he will talk about his years in washington. a chance for you to weigh in and call him at 8:15 eastern time.
on c-span radio, our listener line is open. is washington doing enough dealing with the deficit? that number is 202-626-7962. here's what some of you have been saying. >> i'm an independent voter. i'm calling from virginia. i was just listening to your radio program. you do a great job of covering the topics. the position to make this budget. they don't believe in money as an actual thing. they are talking about percentages of gdp. these numbers don't mean anything. they don't have a budget. they don't plan to make a budget. it is all just a relative ratio to these people. it is whatever they can get away with is what they will spend. the only way they will cut back
on spending is if voters make it plain at the polls. if you go to vote them out, the next group comes in and they'll stop spending. otherwise, they will see it as a referendum to spend all your money and jack your taxes up. it's a difference between higher taxes and lower taxes. they will not stop unless you tell them to stop. that is how they make their money. it is a revolving door. >> this is jose. i believe you need to reduce the national debt. it would help out everybody and it would make our country stronger. >> you need critical words to get people's attention. one is shared responsibility. the second is get the wall street crooks.
third is people or resource. shared responsibility during world war ii when the u-boats surrounded england, the queen of england rationed her food and war plain closed. she was one with the people. she did not say the rich need more tax cuts to benefit the economy. the queen had the right idea. wall street crookedness, mitch mcconnell would not tolerate 50% proof bourbon sold as 100 proof. there would be quick justice in that case. >> we thank you for your calls and comments on c-span radio. tell us what you think about washington and whether or not you think politicians are doing enough to bring down the deficit and debt.
202-626-0962. if you were at the white house today, may have been surprised by the visitor in the blue room. >> michelle obama. >> the excitement for the first lady for the fourth time since moving into the white house, she greeted visitors unannounced from the blue room. whitehouse.gov capturing the events. here she is covering events on the tour. >> hi, how are you? >> an honor and a pleasure. i'm surprised. >> how are you? it's great to see you guys. where are you from? >> we are a big l.a. group. >> great. the president was having dinner with our friends. >> last night? >> the bell family. >> yes. it was a big fund-raiser. >> yeah. >> i heard about it. it sounds pretty cool.
>> they are a fun group. >> you had more fun here. you got to see me and bo. >> what's the surprise? ice cream? >> ice cream? next time. you all enjoy. >> thank you. >> i'm not sure if ice cream is part of the let's move campaign, but one visitor thought it was ice cream. it was the first lady in the blue room of the white house with bo the dog. the first lady making reference to the president in san francisco. he is on a west coast tour raising money for the re-election effort. expected to raise $8 million. the president in washington state tomorrow at the boeing plant. we'll continue the conversation tomorrow morning on a number of the issues, including the debt and deficit. alan simpson will join