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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 3, 2014 3:00am-5:01am EST

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hindered. >> i honor your career and i know you came back but i think mr. sherman has a point long term. this region is unraveling. it is a long term challenge, if not threat to us and to the west. it is profoundly disturbing what's happening and we have to have expertise in the region. that's not a comment about you. >> there's no disagreement. there's really brilliant new generation diplomats who are coming up through the ranks. >> i repeat i honor you for your service. i meant norespect at all. i was trying to reinforce his point. now i beg you to address the kurdish question because we're running out of time. >> the reason i didn't get more deeply into that is that it's not in my area of partner engagement. one of the lines of effort that general allen is pursuing.
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>> i would hope we have another round we can get into sort of what has worked because i am troubled sometimes by some of the conversation we're having when they return to a given country what do we do? it almost sounds like deprogramming from a cult and i don't think that's going to work given the numbers. and so i would be interested in hearing from both of our witnesses about are there examples of things that have worked in a preventing people from going and unfortunately if we fail on that, helping to reintegrate them in a genuine successful way when and if they come back. thank you, mr. chairman. i know my time super. >> chair recognizes is gentleman from california, colonel cook. >> thank you, mr. chair. ambassador, i wanted to ask you about the role of hamas and the
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muslim brotherhood in terms of perhaps facilitating the information on people recruitment and some of the smuggling activities, if you had any insight at all from a diplomatic standpoint. >> specifically i do not, sir, no. >> no personal feelings on that in terms of enabling them? >> i don't have any basis on which to give you a good answer, sir. >> okay. let me switch gears a little bit. and the chairman was talking about the relationship with turkey. and a number of us on this committee and house armed services committee are very, very nervous about turkey and its reluctance to have strike
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aircraft be flown from the base and another base we have in qatar and it's almost like we're giving them a free pass, those two countries there that we're very, very nervous about their maybe activities in supporting isis and some of the other -- do you have any comments at all about the turkish situation in terms of being somewhat of a squishy ally in my opinion a member of nato and everything else and yet i just don't trust them. >> as i said earlier i think turkey is a very important part mother ours. >> are we giving them a free pass on this? >> we just had vice president
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biden in turkey, general allen visited we had an ongoing discussion with turkey what we can do on the border between turkey and syria. those discussions are going on. at this point that's all i can say. >> i understand that. every time the question comes up of smuggling and black market activities and who is buying the oil and everything, couple of countries come up and it's like they get a free pass. and sooner or later we're -- is there anybody that's re-evaluating who are our true allies and who aren't and it's almost like it's the military stockholm syndrome because we have two bases in those countries and we don't pressure them. that's basically what i'm asking. are they getting a bit of a free pass on this? >> i would not say they are getting a free pass. >> okay. >> let me switch gears. >> we've had a long and open
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dialogue with them and those discussions about what you were talking about, those discussions continue and we'll have to see where that goes. >> okay. we talked about a lot of these foreign fighters coming through turkey. how about through some of the other areas, turkey is one area. do they also come through -- i notice there's a large preponderance of the group from jordan. is it from these refugee camps where they are being recruited? >> the numbers of foreign fighters coming from other countries are much smaller than turkey. turkey is the primary transit point. iraq, jordan, lebanon have lesser numbers. and we, obviously, in the case of iraq and jordan their efforts to curb the flow of foreign fighters. lebanon as well although that's somewhat more difficult situation. it goes beyond what i could talk
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about in this session as well. >> all right. the last question i had was in in regards to those coming from russia and i suspect this relates to chechnya. is russia facilitating their leaving the country and going to another area simply because of the problems that they are going to cause internally in russia? >> i'm not aware of any evidence they are facilitating the chechnya fighters to leave russia. >> thank you. >> chair recognizes the gentleman from new york, mr. higgins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think we need to forget for a moment where these foreign fighters are coming and ask the fundamental question that we're not asking which is why are they coming. isis their most potent recruitment tool is momentum, success. conquest of territory covering large portion of syria and iraq.
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isis' ability to sustain their momentum in their territorial conquest will determine their future recruitment from the region and from the west. why is isis been so effective in their territorial taking strategy? because there's been no effective counter veiling force to confront them. you know, the united states spent $26 billion building up an iraqi army and the first test was the iraqi army ran. not only did we not put up a front to isis but also they took our weaponry that we paid for over many, many years. so the "new york times" reported this morning that there was a major deal between the abadi government in baghdad and the kurdish leadership in erbil and that was a permanent, long term deal to provide 17% of the
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national budget to the kurdish region. in addition, a billion dollars to pay important the salaries and weapons for the pashmerga. it's estimated to be between 250 and 357 fighters. they are experienced. they are proven allies of the united states. they helped capture saddam hussein. isis is estimated to be between 31,000 and 41,000 fighters. this seems to be a major change in the dynamic as it relates to
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iraq's ability to push back isis. i don't know if you caught the news of this deal this morning, but i would like you to comment on it because i think unless and until you can break the momentum of isis, doesn't matter wherefore rent fighters are coming from. the fact that they are come cigarette most important and the success, the momentum that has been sustained by isis over a long period of time is the only reason, is the only reason you have foreign fighters coming to iraq and to syria to fight regardless of where they are coming from. so i think this is a major break through and i would like to hear your comments on how this changes the dynamic in the region. >> that question would take me well beyond my responsibilities, mr. higgins, and i think it's better addressed to my colleagues in our near eastern bureau who are the experts in this area. i gather there will be a subsequent hearing where they will testify.
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again i'm not an expert on the kurds or the iraq situation. i want to come back to the point you make clearly the perceived success of isis is why some people have been attracted to fight for them. the situation in syria itself has been a powerful magnet -- >> what does isis depict on social media? their success in taking over critical territory. so, if you forget about the median, if you take away the fundamental, you know, recruitment, the emphasis, the success of isis, they don't really have a story to tell because a lot of this is about the narrative. i interrupted you. continue. >> i was agreeing with you that that's one very important element and why people are attracted to fight for isis but there are other factors as well. there is the situation in syria itself where isis al nustra have
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made powerful use of the idea that they are defending sunnis inside syria. again, that's something we try to push back against. there are other factors ranging from the idea in some cases of economics. i've been in countries where, where the fighters from those countries, the primary motivation is actually the idea that they can escape situations. >> let me claim back my time and respectfully ambassador, because it's a very important point that's being missed and that is combatting, confronting effectively isis and iraq helps us and the free syrian army contorontos isis in syria. >> i don't think there's any disagreement on that point, sir. >> i yield back.
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>> chair recognizes the gentleman from florida, mr. santos for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ambassador, has the state department cancelled the passports of any u.s. citizens who have joined terrorist groups in syria and iraq? >> to my knowledge the state department has not cancelled any passports. >> why is that? we had secretary kerry here a couple of months ago he said he has authority under existing law, i think he's right about that, some of our allies have taken steps to cancel passports. what's the reasoning behind not doing that. i ask that the director of fbi was on "60 minutes" several weeks ago, maybe a couple of months ago by now and he was asked about people we identified as joining isis or joining the al nustra front and could they come back to the united states. he said if they have a valid passport they are entitled to return. a lot of my constituents were floored by that. they say you go and choose
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jihad, leave america behind, waging jihad over there, you now have an entitlement to come back simply because you have a valid passport and we won't do much i guess they said they would track them. that struck me and a lot of my constituents insufficient. how do you handle this. >> secretary kerry said he does have the authority to revoke passports and this is something we would only do in relatively rare and unique circumstances because of the importance for average americans of the freedom to travel. we would only do -- >> obviously isis fighter would be an extreme circumstance if they are cutting off americans heads. >> we would only do i want also in consultation with law enforcement authorities. and we have not yet had any request from law enforcement authorities to cancel passports of isis or foreign fighters. so, again, we have the authority. it is one tool. we do have other tools to use as well in this regard.
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we only do it in consultation. >> mr. warrick, so if a known terrorist comes back to the united states they are quote being tracked by law enforcement what does that entail and how can we be sure that they will not commit a lone wolf attack, for example? >> congressman, we have indications someone on the no-fly is listed trying to fly back to the united states, we would deny them boarding if we have the authority to do so or recommend even to a foreign government that they or the airline deny such a person a right to get on an airplane to fly to the united states. if somebody shows up at the united states, and there's indications that that person has been a foreign fighter in syria it would be referred to the fbi. and then it's a matter for law enforcement. we would have the ability at the boarder to ask any questions that were necessary and appropriate. we would have the ability and
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the authority to inspect their luggage, inspect their personal possession in order to determine whether they were or were not a foreign fighter fighting with isil in syria. anything like this is taken extremely seriously, i can assure you. the notion we'll let somebody in the united states who is a foreign fighter just to have them monitored, sir, that's not what we're working on. >> i think his comment, maybe he didn't express himself well. how would -- what happened with the florida u.s. citizen who went over, trained with al nustra front in syria and then according the "new york times" came back to the united states for a time period and then chose to return to syria and commit ad suicide attack in syria. he didn't have any intelligence on him, is that how he was able
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to do that go over and train with al nustra and come back here. >> the tens he had been fighting with isil was only developed after he had departed. and certainly obviously, you know, it's unfortunate he chose the path that he did. had he come back into the united states there would have been measures taken in his specific case based on the status that he had at the time we learned that he had joined isil. >> ambassador, my final question is, a couple of weeks ago it was reported in the "wall street journal" that the president wrote a personal letter to the ayatollah in iran, stressing, according to the article that there were some mutual interests between the united states and iran with respect to fighting isis in iraq. and just as somebody who served in iraq and saw, you know, iran and iranian backed terror groups they killed hundreds of u.s. service members so that was something that i flinched at.
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but let me ask you, do we consider the iranians to be a partner of any sort in terms of fighting isis, even if justin baghdad area or throughout the region? >> i can say from my point of view i don't consider iranians to be partners in the efforts that were under taken. >> thank you. i yield back. >> chair recognizes the gentleman from rhode island. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank to you the witnesses. ambassador, could you talk for a moment about what the impact is of foreign fighters, how they are being used? are they engaged in actual italy military conflict, suicide bombings or being used in propaganda videos. what actually is the impact of foreign fighters and magnitude of the presence of nos fighters relative to the indigenous
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people. >> some of this is drawn from the work that academic experts are doing, some is from the analysis from inside the u.s. government. the first distinction i would make is that isil has been more willing to take on foreign fighters. al nustra which is the al qaeda affiliate has been somewhat less willing, more selective, more careful about the foreign fighters. you have that distinction. foreign fighters have been used in a variety of ways. this is a little bit different than the foreign fighters in the case of afghanistan and iraq. very typically the primary use was suicide fighters. now there's a perception although some still use suicide bombers. they are more valuable, they have skills they can use whether it's skills using social media,
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whether it's skills of repair and maintenance of equipment, whether it's medical and other skills i think they are being put to use in those areas as well as being used as fighters themselves and i'm talking here about isil. the other very disturbing thing that we've seen and academics have, peter newman has done some good analysis of foreign fighters, he has concluded that foreign fighters are often used for some of the most distasteful if that's the right word things that isil is doing. if you noticed, for example the beheading, these are apparently being carried out by someone with a british accideent, a uk person. the analysis that peter newman has of this is because foreign fighters come to syria they have no real attachment, they don't speak arabic, they are anxious to impress isil, anxious to impress the organizations and
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they are willing to do things that the local recruits will not do, so we've seen that which i think is a very disturbing thing about the foreign fighters. >> thank you. i know some prior colleague referenced u.n. resolution 2178. there was not only the creation avenue policy but a set of protocols and framework that was created as a result of that. is that a successful and useful tool? what's the status of that? that imposes an obligation on countries to under take serious efforts to prevents the ability of foreign fight towers transit. what's the currents status of that? >> as i was saying earlier, 2178 is a legally-binding resolution which requires countries to criminalize a variety of activities related to foreign fighters including ones they have not perhaps previously criminalized. i just came back from indonesia
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where their counterterrorism law criminalized domestic terrorism because they never had a problem of people carrying out terrorist acts outside. now they are looking at that law to deal with terrorists going to training camps outside of indonesia. countries are very much looking at that resolution and trying to see where the gaps in their legislation are. >> i this it would be useful for us to have a sense of where countries are in meeting those obligations. >> identify committed to doing that. >> finally i want to turn to turkey. i know you have said that they are not complicit, though i think it's pretty clear they have not been an enthusiastic wonderful reliable partner in this effort. just last week there were several foreign fighters who traveled through turkey, so are they, in fact, assisting us both in sharing intelligence in counter -- in counterterrorism
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efforts to stop the flow on foreign fighters. you say they are an important partner. i think you recognize they have value if they act the right way. there are real questions about what they are actually doing on the ground with us. >> again, if you want a detailed analysis of exactly what our cooperation with the turks, probably do that in a classified session. i would say the following, we have seen increase steps by turkey to cut off the flow of oil, to stop the philosophy foreign fighters, to get better control of their border and information sharing we have with the turks has been improved. >> thank you. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> chair recognizes the gentleman from illinois. >> thank you, mr. chair hahn. again thank you for putting this together and to the witnesses thank you for being here. i appreciate it. let me just ask you both if you can just or whoever is better advised to answer this. i'm sure i wasn't here for part of the hearing i'm sure you explained it.
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explain to me briefly what is our policy in syria. what are we doing there? >> again, i'm not here as the administration spokesman. >> you are kind of the administration guy and i want says you're the partner engagement on syria. >> that's my area of responsibility. how we're working with partners to deal with the foreign fighter problem. it's not to explain our set of policy. >> you've been briefed on our policy on syria otherwise you're in a -- >> our policy and i've give the one sentence answer is to bring about a political settlement which would provide syrian people an opportunity to have a democratic future without assad in power. >> okay. i like the line. i do. i'll point out that, in fact, during the discussion of the red line, the infamous red line a year ago i was one of the vocal supporters of the need to force that red line and there was a
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lot of discussion of an off-ramp for assad that time period. let's give him money and send him somewhere else. it was the failure of enforcing that red line. i have not heard a proposal to get assad out of office. toppling him is not by force as the best option. it is what is it right now. do you engage with fsa elements am i right in terms of being involved with foreign fighters zmip not. >> who in the state does any of that? because obviously fsa would be part of our, as part of the counter of isis if that's our strategy would obviously have to be involved in the foreign fighter and be on the front line of why are these people being recruited. where does that connection happen if you're the foreign fighter guy -- >> my task, my responsibility is for things i've been asked to do is purr saw diplomatic strategy with our foreign partners, foreign countries on foreign
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fighters. i don't engage directly with the syrian opposition. ambassador rubenstein is our envoy for that. others in the state department are dealing with this issue. others in the pentagon in terms of the military and our intelligent agencies also but i personally do not deal with it. >> let me ask you this why is it that isis is attracting foreign fighters versus foreign fighters coming to fsa, you know, al nustra front. what is it about isis that attracts. is it just the jihadism. what is it? that you've seen. >> i think it's partly the discussion i was having earlier. it's the perception that they are successful. perception that joining them is a way of trying combat assad. in some cases the way they have marketed if that's the right word themselves as acplace where you can come and you can be involved in this adventure and
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that's one of the perceptions. it is their declaration of a caliphate which has attracted people who misunderstand exactly what isil is doing and what this means. so these are some of the factors that have caused isil to be attracting foreign fighters. >> i agree with you. i think success breeds success. i've seen some of isis propaganda. it's powerful. looks like, you know, if you're a young person, in your teens and you're looking for something fun to do they make it took fun. come here and do whatever you want to do, be with a bunch of guys that are out pushing this idea of jihadism and the caliphate, and you can see that. i think my concern and you're not the guy to talk about this evidently but my concern is the message we've been sending for y is quite the opposite. these are the people we want to be embolden, the people we want to be part of a post-assad syria. instead, the message we send, and we have a lot of members of
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congress that basically say they're no different than isis, which is actually offensive if you've met any of these folks. anywhere on a battlefield, you're going to have allegiance to switch. what is attracting to the fsa? there's no fly zone over their territories as of yet. there's been a lot of talk that the united states is helping to train and equip, but you really haven't seen it. and now the discussion is and our newfound strategy that we may train a few thousand fighters over the next year, i mean, that would not attract anybody. i'm not going to go past my time, but i hope that this administration really wrestles with the issue of syria and understands you're not going to defeat isis until you take care of the syria problem. it is the incubator of the problem. with that, thank you for your testimony and i'll yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from florida, mr. greyson, for five minutes. >> thank you. mr. warrick, is joining isis a
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crime under u.s. law? >> certainly giving material support to isis is a violation of federal statutes, yes. >> is that true of both u.s. citizens and non-u.s. citizens? >> well, i mean, the question of whether a foreign citizen violates foreign law -- >> no, u.s. law. >> oh, u.s. law? we have been known to prosecute foreign nationals who are in the united states for violation of support statutes, yes. >> let's be specific. let's talk, for instance, about the 26 irish residents or residents of ireland who apparently have joined isis. what would happen if one of them traveled to the united states? >> well, i'm not going to get into exact hypotheticals. i do want to say, however, that where somebody has been identified as a foreign fighter
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fighting for isil in syria and it's possible to watch list such a person, they're going to be, in all likelihood, on a no-fly list or another list of the government that is going to attract a great deal of attention before they're allowed to get on an airplane to the united states. >> again, let's be as specific as we can. tell us regarding the no-fly list, what would that mean? they'd never be able to come to the united states, right? >> well, they wouldn't be able to fly here. the no-fly list obviously doesn't apply to other modes of transportation. however, i can assure you that there are equal or equivalent measures in place so that somebody on the no-fly list is almost certainly not going to be allowed entry into the united states if they come by cruise ship or if they fly to canada, for example, which they may not be able to do if they're no-flied for us, and they were to try, let's say, to come across the u.s./canadian border. >> what are the names of those lists? >> i'm sorry?
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>> what are the names of the lists that you're referring to, not the no-fly list but the no-cross-the-border list? >> oh. well, these are all systems managed by the terror screening center, which is an arm of the fbi but includes participation by dhs and others. dhs, however, has the authority to make admission decisions when someone presents him or herself at a border or at an airport. and so we have the authority to refuse someone entry to the united states if they're deemed inadmissible. there are specific grounds in the immigration and nationality act that allow us to say someone who is reasonably suspected to be a terrorist or to have given material support to terrorist groups, that that person can be denied entry into the united states. and i can assure you, congressman, we exercise that authority when it's appropriate for us to do so. >> so regardless of whether they're in a country that requires a visa or not for
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nationals of that country and the united states, they're certainly not going to be let in, right? >> if they meet the standard of immigration and nationality act, we're going to comply with the law, i assure you. >> by not letting them in, right? >> there are a host of footnotes and exceptions that i'm not going to go into in open session, but essentially no, we're not going to do that. >> okay. now let's talk about the u.s. citizens, the ones with u.s. passports, reputed to be 130 of them. what do we know about them? do we know their names, for instance? >> you actually should ask that question of the fbi. but when they give numbers, which i would describe only as greater than 100, the numbers that you see on this chart are private groups estimates. so the fbi is the better source for actual statistics. in those cases, what we're talking about are identities where the name of the person is known and certain other information that allows us to be reasonably precise as to who it is. we at least have in mind when a
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decision, for instance, on someone being on a no-fly list is made. >> or, for instance, when they come back, when they come back, if they're identified as a foreign fighter for isis, according to what you said earlier, they've committed a crime and they can be arrested upon entry, correct? >> that's correct. >> and in fact, that has happened, correct? >> yes, it has. >> all right. and then what happens after that? they're put in prison, right? >> well, first of all, when they're referred to the fbi for further investigation and prosecution, that actually is outside of dhs's purview and into the fbi's purview. so if you want to start tracking people from that point forward, i would refer you to the fbi. and then to the department of justice. >> all right. but you're familiar with the procedures, right? >> i'm familiar with the procedures, yes. >> all right. you work with the fbi to get that done, right? >> yes, we work very closely with the fbi with our partners in the intelligence community. >> so hearing all that, i guess we can sleep a little more soundly now, right? >> well, sir, yes, we can. however, as we always tell everyone, prudence and vigilance
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is something that is the responsibility of all of us. >> i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from pennsylvania. mr. perry. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, gentlemen, for your time. ambassador. a few months ago taxpayers were asked to spend a couple hundred million dollars or several hundred million dollars for the training and i guess some equipping of fsa fighters. can you give me and us any update on, you know, we're quickly approaching the time when that proviso was to expire. what's our investment gleaned us at this point? >> again, that's an area that was a previous line of questioning in the same direction. i am not the person who deals with the free syrian army or the syrian opposition. so that's really beyond my responsibilities and my mandate at the state department. >> all right. that's unfortunate. i mean, it's very frustrating for us, right? you come here.
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we have questions that we have to respond to our constituents, and either you don't have or won't give the answers. and so we just walk away with nothing. it's very frustrating. i mean, you have no -- you have no indication whatsoever. like you're not even aware -- i mean, you're aware the program's happening, and that's your complete knowledge of it like mine? >> again, i am not an authoritative spokesperson. >> what do you know? do you know anything? >> congressman, i have testified here for the better part of two hours about what i'm trying to do leading an effort to deal with foreign fighters, about our engagement with our partners, about the different approaches we're taking with those partners. again, i'm not responsible for our overall syria policies or our relations with the syrian opposition. my understanding is that you have a hearing scheduled in the reasonably near future with someone who will be able to address those issues. but if there are specific questions that you want addressed, i'm confident that we will find someone at the state
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department who can provide you with those. >> listen, i can appreciate that. you've got a long record of service. and thank you very much for that. you must understand when you come to these things as a representative of the department of state, you should have a modicum of information regarding many subjects, specifically the one that we're talking about as a member of congress, when i go out to a town hall meeting, i can't say, well, look, i'm not on appropriations. it's not my responsibility. i'll see you later. my constituents don't accept that. and with all due respect, i don't feel like your answer is acceptable at this time. but with that having been said, if you could give me the unclassified version of a long-term unclassified of a long-term strategy regarding a peaceful transition in syria -- and look, we've got a couple minutes here, but do the best you can. give me the high points. i mean, syria doesn't like -- or turkey doesn't like assad, so they're not helping us with isis. we don't like assad or isis, but
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we picked isis as the more problematic one of the two at this time. paint some picture of where we're going because we just spent $500 million for free syrian army -- for free syrian army fighters which you can provide no answers on, and the american people are supposed to continue to support the administration and some policy. i'm asking what the heck it is. >> congressman, i was asked to come up and testify. and the subject of the testimony was to be isis and the threat from foreign fighters. that is what i have tried to do the best of my ability. i was not asked to be a witness on our broader syria policy or to be prepared to discuss the future of syria. i've said that the essentials of our policy have a political settlement inside syria that enables the people of syria to have a democratic future without assad that enables them to be free from terrorist threats and terrorist organizations as well. i really feel that if you want to delve more deeply into our
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syrian policy, that then someone who can be an aauthoritative spokesman on our policy on syria should be asked to come testify. >> all right. i appreciate that. those are great platitudes that probably people all across the world can agree with. let me ask you this. the corson group, are you familiar with that? >> i am with it. some of the answers may involve classified answers. >> they are described as seasoned al qaeda operatives in syria, would you agree with that? >> yes, i would. >> so when al qaeda, seasoned al qaeda operatives. so when the president told us a couple years ago that -- and i don't remember the exact verbiage, but it was something similar to al qaeda is decimated and on the run. would that comport with the success of the corson group in syria, or would that be count
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countervening? >> what i would say, sir, is my understanding of what the president meant is al qaeda is an organization that's been severely damaged. that did not mean that al qaeda had been and all the individual elements of al qaeda had been tweeted. we al qaeda in the al maghreb and the arabian pence. this group had gone to syria, coming in some respects from pakistan and afghanistan from core al qaeda have tried to create space to operate in syrian territory. >> so could i say that it was a little true and maybe a little deceptive? or untrue? whatever you want to call it? it wasn't completely factual. >> i don't share your views. >> i appreciate that. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from illinois, mr. schneider. >> thank you, mr. chair. again, i want to thank the witnesses for joining us today to specifically talk about the threat of foreign fighters going into syria, vis-a-vis isis.
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looking at the numbers that were presented to us and the source or location of where many of the fighters are coming from, of the 16,000 roughly 5,000 are coming from north africa, as i mentioned earlier. about another 2500 from europe, 40% of those from france. and then from the gulf states, you have another 4,000, roughly. so my general question, and i'll ask you a couple questions and then leave you to answer. my general question is are there any common threads attracting these fighters from these different regions? are there specific regional trends that draw those fighters, and how do we deal with that? those are my general questions. and then ambassador, you mentioned peter newman who did a study or released a study in the spring and specifically identified gibril as a cleric, muslim cleric, who has a large following, happens to be here in the united states. not necessarily sending people to fight, but preaching in a way that inspires those folks to fight.
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what are we doing specifically about folks like that, not just in the united states, but globally, but with specific concern of people preaching from the united states? and with that, i'll leave it to the witnesses. >> just to address it briefly, there are differences. i think the one common theme is the attraction of foreign fighters to the conflict in syria, the idea that sunni muslims are being attacked and need to be defended. this is a fairly common theme throughout the conversations i've had with our foreign partners as to the reasons, the primary reason, that foreign fighters are attracted to the conflict. but there are variations on this theme. in the western balkans, for example, i've had conversations with officials there who have pointed to the fact that the foreign fighters from their country are coming from the poorest areas and that their
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foreign fighters from those countries are being told if you go to syria, you'll get paid, you'll have a job, you'll have status. and the ideological, if you will, element is less important. i've talked to partners in southeast asia where in some cases the motivation seems more to go to get training, to get skills that can be brought back to the home country to potentially be used in terroristic activities in the home country. again, not so much an ideological motivation. so there are regional variations. there are individual variations. but the most important, the most powerful motivation does seem to be the conflict in syria, the attraction of the idea that we need to go defend our muslim brothers, our sunni muslim brothers in syria. >> if i can -- >> sir. >> -- the large number coming from france, almost 1,000 fighters from france, are those residents or citizens of france who have connections to tunisia or morocco or libya, or are they disconnected?
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>> many of them are from north africa originally. but many of them are second or third generation. these are not necessarily first generation immigrants. and that raises another kind of regional variation. certainly the problem of the inability of some of our european partners to integrate their immigrant populations into their societies has left a degree of alienation that has made some of these people susceptible to the kind of propaganda that isil is putting out. there's also another element here, sir, which i think can't be totally neglected. i believe -- and it's hard to come up with specific evidence of this -- but there are some foreign fighters who are simply attracted to the violence that is taking place. there was a mention of mr. namoush who was alleged to have committed these killings at the jewish museum in brussels. this is a man with a very deep criminal background. ask and again, i think there's
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an element of that in some of the attraction of foreign fighters. it is this attraction to violence itself. >> and in the last minute as far as some of the preachers that the study put out by mr. newman and two others said they specifically identified two preachers globally who are having a disproportionate influence on promoting fighters going into syria. >> i don't know whether my colleague wants to address that. the state department doesn't do activities inside the united states of this nature. i'm really not the right person to answer that question. >> i'm not going to obviously address the specifics of any individual case, but i do want to make the point that in all the work that we do in community outreach, working with federal, state and local law enforcement, we're very mindful of the distinction between those who are exercising their free speech rights and those who are to the contrary urging people to carry out acts of violence. the former is to protect the constitutional right, and the latter is a crime. and we distinguish in all that
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we do carefully between those two characteristics. so i'm not going to assess the statements of any individual religious leaders from the table here today other than just to assure you that we are very mindful of the distinction and we use that in all the work that we do. >> with that my time has expired and i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from georgia, mr. collins, five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to follow up on a couple quick things. i watched the hearing. and on several times you basically -- and even when my friend from pennsylvania sort of punted on the policy on syria, to an extent i understand that, but i do have a question because you're part of the policy of working with foreign fighters coming into syria and how we deal with that, correct? okay. do you understand the policy? of the administration? i'm not asking you to comment on it. i'm just saying, do you understand it?
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>> again, i'm not the authoritative spokesman. >> i understand. >> you're asking me what the main elements are, yes, i think i do. >> okay. i'm not going to chase that last "i think i do," because this is an important part to me. and i'm not trying to pin you down. but punting the question, the gentleman from pennsylvania said, i think is a direct, you know, issue of what we're dealing with here because there's a lot of folks trying to understand our policy in syria and what we do and someone like my friend who served in iraq and in this region during wartime, this is very much a concern. and if we don't understand the policy and you're trying to carry out a bigger part of that policy, to say that you do at least attempt to understand it is encouraging. my question is, if you understand it, what is your understanding of that policy, as short as you can be? what is your understanding of the administration's policy? >> the president has spoken about our policy. the secretary of state has spoken about our policy. ambassador ann patterson for the
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near east has spoken about our policy. brent mcguirk, her deputy, has spoken about our policy. >> with all due respect -- i can read theirs. i want yours. because in a job description, you're given a job, and correct, you're there to carry out your part of the policy, correct? okay. from your understanding of what the policy is on how we're to contain or how we're to fight and how to curb these fighters because i have other questions on which -- the violence aspect which i tend to agree with you. i think there's just the soldier of fortune kind of attitude among some of these. they want to go. they get their experience and go. do you have a clear enough understanding of the policy objectives inside of syria and then the influences to carry out your function? and if so, what do you feel like your part of that policy is? >> i think i do have enough of an understanding to carry out my role, sir. because as i understand the policy, and again, i'm not the spokesperson, it is to try to bring about a political
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settlement in syria that will allow the syrian people to have a democratic future that will be a future without assad. that is the core, the fundamental of the policy. that is the basis on which i try to do what i do, which is the idea that why we're trying to deal with this foreign fighter problem, there are bigger syria pieces that are being dealt with by the secretary, by the president, by ambassador patterson, by ambassador rubenstein who's responsible for our syria policy. >> so you're actually -- in dealing with this i think's part of the problem because there's basically a three-pronged kind of attack with the assad regime, the fighters against assad. then you've got the fighters against the fighters of assad. and you've got fighters coming in from all over to fight here. we did not address that -- and i've read and listened to the president speak about this. we basically chose to leave the current regime, the assad -- off sort of the table when we're training free syrian fighters to go after isis, or isil, however
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you want to describe it, just the islamic state, and we're saying we'll deal with the assad part of this later. i'm trying to figure out what are you doing -- or are you doing to curb outside fighters coming in on his behalf? is that part of your policy? and if it is, that contradicts the policy of basically leaving him for another day. >> certainly most of the efforts that i've talked about here today are related to sunni foreign fighters. they are fighters who are going to fight for isil, al nusra, those groups. we are concerned about the other foreign fighters, if you will, that come into syria, the shia foreign fighters, the hezbollah foreign fighters, the reality is we have fewer tools to do -- to deal with those fighters. >> would you say that those fighters are more in it for the fight? you know, you had one of the guys in the group, they're just going to fight. sometimes there's a reason,
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sometimes there's not. would that classify them more as a fighter? >> without being the expert on the subject, that i feel the fighters who have gone to fight on the side of assad are different than the fighters who are coming from other countries to fight for isil and al nusra, that is a more organized effort supported by outside countries effort. >> i appreciate your honesty because i believe you have a difficult job and understanding the policy is important. i still think that we need to be arming those who want to fight, that's the kurds. we need to get them involved in the fight and then anybody else who wants to join, you have a tough job. i commend you for doing it. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the patient gentlewoman from florida, ms. frankel, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i often feel like the ago tatha christie novel, "and then there was none." >> three now.
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>> thank you very much, gentlemen, for being here. this has been a very interesting discussion to listen to. to me, it sounds like the problem's the problem. and i say that not to be facetious, but this sounds to me like one of these rock in a hard place situations. not to be trite. and i think some of the frustration you have heard is, you know, there's an old saying, the knee bone is attached to the thigh bone and so forth. so it's very difficult for us to hear in discussion just of the foreign fighters with not an overall discussion of the strategy. so i'll try, out of respect to narrow my questions to the foreign fighters, and if i ask a question that deviates, you just have to say i'll respect your answer. so let's start with this proposition. we are to assume that these
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foreign fighters coming back to our country or to our allies are -- is an immediate present danger to our security? is that something we should assume? >> well, we certainly treat them as if they are a threat, if they've been a foreign fighter for isil, that's going to be taken with enormous seriousness. i think we do need to recognize that there is the possibility that some foreign fighters walked away from the fight because they decided that isil was not what it was advertised to be, and its social media, which i would echo secretary johnson's characterization as slick, totally is at odds with the reality that people experience when they actually fight for isil. and so undoubtedly, there are people who are walking away from the fight -- >> could you just -- i have other questions. is it an immediate threat?
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i'm just trying to understand the seriousness of it. >> well, the answer has to be some are. >> some are. >> until otherwise it can be established. >> okay. i want to get back to you, ambassador. i think you said that these fighters that are coming from other countries, many of them are going to fight assad. is that what you said? >> i said i think that's one of the primary motivations, yes. >> okay. so when we go after isil, airstrikes, let's say, in iraq, we try to denigrate isil, we are in a sense helping assad, is that correct? >> i don't think we're helping assad. i think assad's problems go well beyond whatever we do with isil. and certainly if he's taking some consolation in the fact that we are attacking isil, i think he's making a big mistake.
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>> well, i'm just trying to figure this out. if isil is coming in -- the fighters are coming in to fight assad, we're trying to denigrate isil, so as we -- do we encourage or encite more fighters to come in? i guess that's the question, is are our actions or our inactions, either our actions to go after isil, inciting more fighters to come in, or our inaction to go after assad, is that inciting more fighters to come in? >> i'm not sure i can give you a definitive answer here. because i can't point to specific evidence. it's hard for me to put myself in the head of a foreign fighter who sees airstrikes being carried out. >> but what about in terms of the advertising that they do to bring the fighters in? do they use our actions or inactions? >> believe me, they are trying to use our actions as an incentive or as a motivation for
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people to come and fight. but i can't point to specific evidence at this stage that says whether this is, in fact, happening or not. >> and are most of the fighters coming in through turkey? >> yes. turkey is the primary. >> and so it seems to me another count countervailing issue here is turkey is being -- is under deluge from syrians who are fleeing assad. the resources are hurting badly. so it seems to me that they want somebody to be fighting assad. so do you think that that is a factor in their not keeping the borders more secure? >> turkey's made no secret that one of the primary elements of its policy is to see assad go. but at the same time, i think
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turkey also understands the threat that isil, in particular, poses to turkey. we had an incident back in march where some isil fighters crossed over into turkey and engaged in a shootout with turkish policemen, killed turkish policemen. we had isil kidnapping and holding hostage turkish diplomats in mosul and other turkish truck drivers in moos. we had a case in october where turkey broke up a group -- an isil group inside turkey that had gathered weapons and explosives. so again, i think, yes, turkey wants assad to go. that is certainly a key element of its policy. but i think at the same time, they recognize that isil is also a threat to turkey itself. >> thank you. mr. chair. >> thank you, ms. frankel. >> i yield back. >> you yield back all the time. thank you very much. i want to thank the gentleman for being here for this hearing. this hearing of the committee and subcommittees is concluded.
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thank you. the senate commerce committee heard from representatives of the national football league, major league baseball, the national basketball association and the national hockey league about how they're addressing issues of domestic violence and professional athletes. here's part of what former nfl player and current executive vice president of football operations torii vincent had to say in his opening remarks. >> mr. chairman and committee, when i consider these issues, i bring the perspective of far beyond an nfl executive. domestic violence was a way of life growing up.
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my brother and i watched helplessly numerous times as my mother was beaten and knocked unconscious as we dialed 911. we saw how she struggled to seek help and find the courage to say no more. the fear and the complexities accompanying this violence remain very real in my life today. i've committed my life, worked for the last 20 years. as an advocate against domestic violence and effort to keep others from experiencing this lifetime pain. i relate to the 20 million victims, survivors, domestic violence, sexual abuse and every community across our great nation. in addition, i had the honor and the privilege of playing in the national football league for 15 years. 12 years of those -- 12 of those years i served as a union official. four of those years i served as the players association
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president. i support the interest of all players in a fair process. i led these efforts. i know the majority of our current and former players are terrific husbands, fathers and men who have made incredible contributions to their communities. mr. chairman, players know the league standards are not labor issues, nor management issues. they're issues that concern everyone. in 2007, the league and the players union worked closely together collaborating and developing a personal conduct policy. i was part of those efforts. and today, just as in the past, the league has invited the nflpa along with other experts to assist us in setting the highest possible standards. the nfl's taking a number of steps to improve how we respond to incidents of domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault. first, through efforts personally led by the commissioner, the nfl's undertaken a thorough review of our personal conduct policy,
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having consulted with over 100 leading experts across a broad range of subjects, our goal was to set clear rules to govern accountability for misconduct, to establish a fair process for our players and employee discipline. we will create a conduct committee responsible for review and recommend changes to the personal conduct policy going forward. experts will continue to advise both the conduct committee and the commissioner so that we always have the right voices at the table on both educational and disciplinary work. second, we are deploying a comprehensive mandatory education program for more than 5,000 men and women in the nfl family. our goal is to ensure that everyone understands and has a full scope of this behavior and is familiar with the warning signs associated with these crimes. education also promotes prevention, bystander intervention, how individuals can appropriately and safely help those at risk is another key focus area of our education.
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third, we are training critical response teams to help prevent and respond quickly to family violence and sexual assault including safety, medical, legal and financial support. fourth, we are supporting leading domestic violence and sexual assault awareness and prevention groups including the national domestic violence hotline and the national sexual violence resource center. fifth and finally, we're raising awareness of this critical issue. domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault in collaboration with the no more campaign and the joy for heart foundation, the nfl's airing public service announcements during our game. finally, we are promoting programs for those who play, coach and manage our game at all levels including age-appropriate character development, healthy
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relationship education as well as dating violence, domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault education. we've learned a great deal from our mistakes. and by listening to experts in domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault communities, the more we listen, the more we've learned and become more aware of these complexities. both of the problem and the solution. we are working hard to balance the issues of a fair process with the goal of preventing and punishing these behaviors. mr. chairman and the committee, we believe that wearing the uniform of an nfl player is a privilege. it is not a right. every member of the nfl community must embrace this unique leadership role that we play in our society. and the trust that you place in us, we look forward to working with the committee to advance
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these goals. i know we all share. thank you for this opportunity. and chairman, i thank you for your lifetime service in this area. >> thank you, mr. vincent. that was excellent testimony and honest -- good beginning. thank you. >> to see the full hearing on professional athletes and domestic violence, go to here are some of the programs you'll find this weekend on the c-span networks. saturday at 11:00 a.m. eastern on c-span, live coverage of the memorial service for former washington, d.c., mayor marion barry. and sunday evening at 8:00 on c-span's q&a ann compton who recently retired after over 40 years as abc news white house correspondent. saturday night at 10:00 on book tv on c-span2, university of new hampshire assistant professor
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jason sokol on how the northeast u.s. wasn't always the haven of equality. and sunday at noon our live three-hour conversation with author and american enterprise president arthur brooks with your phone calls, e-mails and tweets. and on c-span 3 saturday night at 8:00 on lectures in history, university of michigan professor martha jones on female slaves and the law. and sunday at 8:00 on the presidency, president george h.w. bush's former secretary of state james baker on the fall of the berlin wall and the liberation of eastern europe. find our complete television schedule at and let us know what you think about the programs you're watching. call us at 202-626-3400. e-mail us at or send us a tweet a at #c-spancomments. like us on facebook. follow us on twitter. now a look at civic
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engagement in america. civic business and education leaders at this annual forum discuss modern citizenship, activism and corporate social responsibility. the featured speaker is retired general stanley mcchrystal who receives an award for his national service and speaks about community involvement. it's 2 1/2 hours. >> and now, ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the national anthem sung by diane tigh from ncoc. ♪ o say can you see ♪ by the dawn's early light ♪ what so proudly we hailed
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at the twilight's last gleaming ♪ ♪ whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming ♪ ♪ and the rockets' red glare the bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ gave proof through the night that our flag was still there ♪ ♪ oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave ♪ ♪ o'er the land
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of the free ♪ ♪ and the home of the brave ♪ >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome national conference on citizenship chairman michael wiser. ♪ >> -- diane ty, you should know, is not only a talented performer, an artist. she's also a very talented
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fund-raiser. and her connection to the national conference on citizenship is working with our service year project. you may have heard the term the franklin project. it's all allied. so we appreciate your efforts on our behalf, and we appreciate your bringing your talents to our stage. once again. i am significantly less talented. ncoc is honored to partner with american university for this year's conference. would all of the claude eagles in the room please stand up? people from american university, please stand up. yes. yes. thank you for being here.
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this is -- this is a fall break for a.u. the faculty and most of the administration is at a retreat. there are some students on campus. a number have joined us, and we appreciate their participation. and deeply appreciate the partnership of american university, which like the national conference on citizenship is a congressionally chartered organization. the university helps over 2,000 undergraduate students volunteer every year. we learn by doing. we learn by doing. their freshmen class alone provides more than 7,000 hours through the freshmen service experience. i assume also studying for midterms, but that's just a guess on my part. a.u.'s many programs connects students with the diverse communities of the d.c. metro area, strengthening both in the
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process. please join me in thanking a.u. for hosting this conference. i also want to thank our conference title sponsors, cisco and the lumina foundation. their generous support allows us to host this event and develop world-class programming through the year. in addition, i'd like to recognize kpmg, apollo education group, sprint, the ge foundation, nrg, isl, segawa jospin and paycom who have all contributed to the success of this conference. please join me in thanking all of our sponsors. ncos is called by our congressional charter to convene the civic engagement field, create programs that advance citizenship and facilitate action by our partners around
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the country. we hold this conference as a mandate of our charter once a year. this is the seventh conference that i have been honored to chair. but for nearly 70 years, we've been convening it, and it has played an important role in shaping our country's civic ethos. governors, supreme court justices, presidents have all shared their views on important issues. including desegregation and the role of government. this year we will shine a light on the subject of economic equality. if you haven't already, i encourage you to, during lunch, to walk through ncoc's history. there's a series of posters on display on the long hallway leading to these rooms. and it does a really interesting job of telling the history of ncoc and through it sort of the history of civic engagement in the united states since 1946.
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i want to thank jeannie harris and kendall laurenzen for bringing our civic legacy to life. they were ncoc's summer interns this year. this year's conference aims to live up to that legacy. the theme is connect, empower, act. our hope is that you will form or strengthen connections at this conference and that you will share ideas and lessons learned that empower each of us to take action that leads to greater civic engagement. the process of being together, the process of engaging one another, the process of taking what we learn and feel from this room into our daily lives can have meaningful impact on the quality of citizenship in the country. this is every year. this is every year an important meeting. i'd like to just take a moment to recognize my partners in this effort. my fellow directors of the national conference on citizenship who give of their
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time and their resources and of their good hearts. would ncoc directors who are here this morning please stand and be recognized? i have one main partner. and in the course of chairing ncoc, i've been fortunate to work with two excellent executive directors. now under ahere zirka's leadership, ncoc's contribution has broadened and deepened, and it's actually pronounced zhirka, so you got it from the source. alir's work on service year, a revolutionary approach to creating national service opportunities has led ncoc and the citizenship field into new territory. when you have a partner like alir each day you get encouraged in your own work. i get a call. i get a fax.
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i get a text. i get an e-mail, something that reminds me that the future's there. and it inspires me. his passion for civic engagement and the health of our communities is inspiring. please welcome ncoc's executive director alir zhirka. >> thank you so much, michael, for that introduction. can you join me in thanking michael for his commitment and his leadership to ncoc? i also want to thank michael and his wife, julie, as well as tom gottshchalk. this year we invited a number of our partners to design and lead the learning summits that are
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happening this afternoon. so i want to ask those people, captains, to stand and be recognized and be thanked. don't be shy, if you're in the audience. maybe they're getting ready somewhere. here we go. ncoc's mission is to strengthen civic life in america. it is very good to be with all of you today to figure out the ways and means by which we do that together. claude debosi once said that music is the space between the notes. and i think that community like music is also the space between people. and the question is, how do we fill that space? do we fill it with trust? do we fill it with support? do we reach across the divide to work on common problems together? do we volunteer? do we vote? do we engage with the government? the answers to these questions are critical to our country
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because we know that when people are engaged, families are stronger. right? individuals tend to be more employed. schools are better. governments are more responsive. and of course, critical needs are met when all of these things happen. and it's this sort of activity that we define as civic life. so when we talk about strengthening civic life, this is what we're talking about. increasing that sort of engagement and making the space between people vibrant and alive. and when that happens, we have strong civic health. over the past eight years, we have led a movement to call attention to the civic health of the country. with many of you in the audience, we have issued over 30 reports around the country, basically telling the story of how well our communities are doing.
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or in some cases not doing. and the not is also important. those reports have been a catalyst for action across the united states. the census bureau collects the data that is the essential ingredient of those reports. and together we put out that data every year as something called volunteering in civic life. and wendy spencer's going to be out here in a little bit to talk a little bit about that data. but that's an important element. a number of years ago we also helped to create the civic 50 program together with our partners points of light and bloomberg. now, the civic 50 calls attention to the top 50 community-minded companies in the united states. these are companies that are doing great work in their communities but also getting something in return. they're strengthening their brand. they're increasing their capacity to recruit employees and to retain them. and those two things are critically important.
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because a lot of companies are learning that more and more people, especially young people, want to work for an employer who cares about the community and does something to match that caring. we are thrilled at ncoc that bloomberg and points of light are continuing this program, and i want to give them a round of applause for doing that. now, ncoc has also taken lead in the service year movement precisely because we want to have an impact in our communities. service year was an initiative of the national service alliance. and we are a proud member of the alip alliance. i want to recognize our partners, the franklin project, voices for national service and service nation. and thanks to all of them for being here and being members of the alliance. the goal of the alliance and of service year is really fairly simple. and it's twofold. one is to dramatically increase
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the service opportunities for young people in america. there are a lot more people who want to serve than there are positions, and we need to change that. but the second thing is to foster the type of active, engaged citizenship that the ncoc charter calls for. now, we know from the data and from our research that when people are engaged in any way, they tend to be more engaged in other ways, right? if you volunteer, you tend to vote more, and vice versa. well, national service is a real multiplier. people who serve a community for a year tend to be very active, tend to volunteer at higher rates, give at higher rates. and also go into the nonprofit sector. and of course, we need lots of folks to serve communities that way as well. so we're a proud member of the national service alliance. and of course, all of our work would be easier if schools were to embrace their civic mission. after all, that was the idea of
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public education, right? so we've been proud partners of the campaign for the civic mission of schools. and we were proud to, with them a number of years ago, support their seminole report called "guardian of democracy," which for students in the audience, that shouldn't be confused with "guardians of the galaxy." that's a whole different thing. but later today, we're going to have deep dive summits into all four of these areas where we're going to ask you, with our captains, to really talk about the work that you're doing to share lessons learned, to challenge us and each other to think about how we should do our work differently, right? to connect. to help us empower each other. so that we can act when we leave this conference and we can be stronger for it. so that's our mission today. and i am thrilled that all of you are here to be a part of that. at this time i want to introduce marcy campos.
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she's the director of community engagement and service here at american university. in addition to teaching american studies and government classes, she's critical to fulfilling au's commitment to community-based learning. she's a strong advocate for engaging students in services and coordinates departments across a.u.'s campus to support increased service opportunities. please join me in welcoming marcy campos. ♪ >> good morning. great to have you all on our campus. on behalf of a.u., i want to welcome you and just congratulate the group that organized this. the conference agenda looks excellent and very much aligned
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with the importance that a.u. places on student engagement in civic and community issues. a.u. has a strategic plan that puts great emphasis on this work. stating that one of our goals is to act on our values through social responsibility and service and that we have a vigorous commitment to the city and people of washington, d.c. last year the university decided to go further. we concluded that we needed some campuswide learning outcomes to define what students should be able to do by the time they graduate. so among the ten learning outcomes agreed upon, one is actually civic engagement. and it states that a.u. graduates will demonstrate knowledge of and respect for society and the environment. they will demonstrate an appreciation of the importance of the collective and the role of the individual. they will act with the sense of
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responsibility and service to the public interest and to social justice. a.u.'s history is very much rooted in a commitment to civic engagement, and we maintain that commitment. as i think was stated earlier, the university was chartered by an act of congress in 1893, and it was established to actually train and support public servants. a.u. is number three among medium-sized universities with actually 43 of our alumni currently serving as peace corps volunteers. this past year, a.u. had 19 presidential management fellows. and that's for students pursuing federal service careers. and a.u. students are among the most politically active in the country, according to princeton review. so my office, the center for community engagement and service, has the privilege and the opportunity to be a campus
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hug for organizing and monitoring different forms of service and civic engagement. we manage an array of programs to extend student learning bee understand beyond the classroom and into the city, enabling our students to apply their learning to real-life situations that are being tackled every day by our enormous nonprofit sector. and we're very lucky in washington because we have both the community-based organizations, we have the national organizations, we have international and we, of course, public offices. so among our signature programs are freshmen service experience which just celebrated its 25th year anniversary. and to begin -- what we do is we invite students to begin their college experience by going out into the city and working at about 50 different sites throughout the city to do two full days of community service and learn about the place they will be living for the coming year. so we think that's a great way
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to start your education, to learn about where you're going to live and what are the pressing issues. each year 550 to 700 students participate in that program. we also have a very unique alternative break program which operates over winter, spring and summer breaks. and it's really an alternative to the cancun-type spring break. our students play key leadership roles in this program because they design, plan and actually implement a social justice-oriented trip, either domestic or international. they decided and they write a proposal and it has to be approved and selected. in the coming year, we have 13 trips planned. and just as a sampling, one group will be going to the u.s./mexico border to learn about immigration and how the legal system is addressing the arrival of thousands of unaccompanied minors who are fleeing violence in central america. another group will go to san francisco to look at the intersection of homelessness and
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glbt youth. and another group will focus on healing and community development in rwanda. however, the program that is actually growing the most rapidly on our campus is community-based learning which is also commonly called service learning. a lot of high schools have requireme requirements. and some colleges actually require it. we do not. this is an academic course-based pedigogy that extends learning through meaningful involvement with a community agency, a nonprofit or a school. through a planned collaboration between the professor and community partners, all stakeholders benefit both by meeting course be objectives an addressing community-identified goals and needs. and this is really important, that reciprocity. so this current semester as we speak, we have 47 different courses in which students are linking the course lectures and the discussions and the readings to an issue faced by residents in this city.
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classes as varied as public health, third-world cities, visual literacy, marketing for change and the american constitution are linking to over 100 organizations. developing partnerships in which both sides benefit from this collaboration. your theme today, the impact of income inequality on participation in our society is central to what our students are exploring. so why are these new approaches to learning growing? and they are. not just at a.u. but around the country, why is this so important right now? millennial students want to be actively engaged in their learning. they learn much more from hands-on experiences that connect to people's lives, not just what they read about in theory and the abstract. retention as you may know is a big buzz word in higher education.
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that's critical for all of us paying tuition swur. somewhere. and students' exposure to the nonprofit sector opens their eyes to the great opportunity that these places offer when they graduate and are looking for jobs. so it offers them both the experience hands on experience and whole world of where you can work. we have many students now working in d.c. public schools, including cesar travis, one of our presenters. we have several alumni there. and in the agencies with which they have collaborated as undergraduates. schools in d.c., maryland and nonprofit sector. we believe nonprofit agencies,
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public offices and schools should all see the university as collaborators in the search for the solutions to problems faced in areas like education. immigration, employment and the environment. and that's to name a few. we can be co-educators and problem solvers together. so on behalf of the university, i welcome you and look forward to hearing how this conference helps us all connect, empower and then act. thank you so much. >> please welcome diana douglas of seattle city club. >> good morning, everyone, the collection and analysis and determination and dissemination
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of data on our american civic life is one of the most important and impactful things that ncoc does. we'll look at why that matters, how it matters, how it's done, how all of us can be involved and how we can bring it back to our states and communities. we're going to look at threats to the collection of civic data that are happening right now. and if you've come to this conference to get involved, that's a way to get involved immediately. we all have to rally to make sure that stays a coherent and supported part of ncoc's mission and vision. and then we get to help shape that and talk to the great ncoc staff about how that vision should continue into the future, and in the second half of the section, we'll turn to our communities to states how this data is meaningful in shaping civic health of starts and localities.
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the support and impact in local communities. we'll share best practices with each other. i understand seize for your state or locality. we hope you'll come and share your wisdom. if you're someone who is planning on writing a civic health index report for your community, you can't find a place to get more practical tips on how to make it the best report in the nation. and if you're curious about what this means and how does data impact our civic life and shape it. then we hope you'll come and bring your questions to the session. thanks so much. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back alir zirka.
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>> so we're going to call wendy spencer out here in a moment. but before we do that, i want to say a few words about her. her career spans 30 years and includes leadership roles across sectors, and government and nonprofits and the private sector, served both democratic and republican administrations. prior to coming to washington, d.c., she served as the ceo of florida governor's commission of volunteerism where she coordinated major volunteer efforts in response to disast s disasters, including eight record breaking storms from 2004 to 2005. quite an achievement. she's also held professional roles in the united way, chamber of commerce, and the bank and insurance industries. we know her as our primary --
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>> participation civic life, volunteeri volunteerism. i feel like i'm just -- this is an american choir of volunteerism and civic life. are you ready for a great conference? yes. absolutely. this is great. really pleased to be here on behalf of the corporation for national and community service. so a little bit about her agency. we are really doing our part to engage americans in service. across the nation today, 75,000 members are serving. around 300,000 seniors are
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serving in our senior core programs, rsvp, senior companions and foster grandparents. we also have about 4.6 million volunteers who are either serving alongside those americore members or they will participate in one of our days of service like dr. martin luther king day of service or 9/11 day of service and remembrance. so combined with the national service participants and the volunteers, it's about 5 million americans in service through all of our programs in 60,000 locations. across america. and that's unduplicated. so that's every school, every health care center, every park, every habitat home that's being built. all engaging in service, doing many, many great things, tutoring and mentoring and reaching out to our elderly. helping shelter those who are homeless.
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providing food to those who need food security. serving our veterans, and their family members who need our support as well serving in the environment and then, unfortunately, all too often serving rebuilding after disasters and we're currently doing that in detroit and even some aftermath from hurricane sandy, oklahoma, many of our tornadoes. they're serving right now. so collectively, i'm very pleased that we feel that so many americans are committed to service and are demonstrating a very strong sense of desire to help one another. in fact, our volunteering and civic life in america study, we asked this question. do you help your neighbors? and i'm pleased to say that about 2/3 of americans, roughly around 180 million say yes to that question. they do help their neighbors and volunteer informally helping their neighbors.
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helping transport them, finding ways to be a good neighbor. about 2/3. i have some interesting news as it pertains to volunteers through an organization. more of that formal connection really connected through an organization. this year's study which we'll release in a couple of months, we have exciting news as it pertains to the commitment of volunteers among young americans. we've known for quite a while that the defining characteristics of millennials is that this generation that spans from age 18 to 33 has, and i'll quote ron brownstein, has an impulse towards service. and among that group, the college age millennials, 18 to 24, so that's the youngest sector of that group of millennials has a particularly
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strong service impulse. our recent study shares with us that the volunteering rate among the 18 to 24-year-olds attending college, and that's a keyword, attending college. was 25.9% last yore. that's higher on average than volunteering rate for adults overall. which holds steady around 25%. and it's significantly higher than the volunteering rate of 18 to 24-year-olds not enrolled in college. that rates about 13.8%. we have some good news and an opportunity there. the good news is when you consider the number of americans in this age group is larger than it was a decade ago and the percentage of 18 to 24-year-olds has increased dramatically,
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there's a lot of hope because we're connecting with that. the opportunity there is you heard me talk about those not enrolled in college, that rate is 12% less, among that age group 18 to 24. that gives us an opportunity that, i think, we need to address. there's a couple of ways to approach that. one is just to appeal to them that helping your community is important. please try to find a cause that you're passionate about and support that cause. if that isn't enough to lure that group of 18 to 24-year-olds into volunteering, let's persuade them with a very specific benefit. our volunteering as a pathway to employment that was released this report released last year has given us some very good news. if you are unemployed and you're looking for work and volunteer,
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you increase the likelihood of gaining a job about 27%. if you don't have a high school diploma, that likelihood raises up to 51%. if you live in a rural community and looking for woerk, you increase the likelihood about 55%. because so many of our young people in the age group of 18 to 24 are looking for work, in fact, they're in the bracket with the highest unemployment rates of any age group, we need to find ways to get them connected to jobs. and i think with this case study, now, that luring them in through the volunteering is a really good way to do so. it's going to help them but also the communities they served. more hands and hearts to help those that serve. so that's the case. how do we do it?
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the president's task force on expanding national service that president obama issued over a year ago asked us and i co-chair that with the domestic policy adviser to the president. asked us to find new partnerships to grow opportunities for americans to serve. so we set out to work with other federal agencies, the private sector, nonprofits. faith community. and i'm pleased to report that with our new partnerships, we have been able to enroll over 4,000 new americore members and $33 million committed to this. now, that's through this -- these partnerships. and we're looking for more. we said, well, another way is to let's find some resources. so we were able to identify up
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to $30 million in a partnership we call amercore partnerships challenge. and this partnership, for all of those that will take us up on it, will help us engage up to 8,000. members in service over the next year or two. so this is college scholarships that we'll be offering. we're looking for organizations who are willing to underwrite the modest living -- if you've got an idea and you're willing to underwrite some of that modest living allowance, we're willing to partner with the educational scholarships and brand them as americorps members, which is a great opportunity to join with us. and i'm pleased that the ncoc under the leadership and the national service alliance that he spoke about a few minutes ago has also -- also has this goal.
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to engage more americans, in particular that 18 to 24, 28-year americans in service. it's led with a wonderful leader, general stanley mcchrystal who is being a wonderful face and a prolific champion. but i have to thank general mcchrystal for the leadership and all of the members of the national service alliance, as well. now, we know our opportunity, we need to get more americans to serve. we've got partnerships available. we've provided and set aside funding to do so. i know we're going to engage more americans in service. in fact, we celebrated our 20th anniversary. where we celebrated 900,000 americans have served in americorps over the last 20 years. now, what we've learned from
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those who have served in americorps, is they learn great skills. how to be great speakers, connect services to individuals. they learn how to market a program. how to work through problems, and they learn how to serve with people different from themselves. all of these are characteristics that employers are looking for. and we would encourage employers to look for. they also have a bit service above self, mission above self mentality in their qualifications. and they've competed for these positions. and they've been selected. so, we are now going to ask employers across the country to recognize that national service participants like the alums have great assets to offer an organization. at the 20th anniversary event,
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we were pleased to have president george w. bush and laura bush give us a message during that day, and also president george h.w. bush participated in a service at his home with americorps members where in all 50 states, the new class, 75,000 of them were inducted at the same moment in time on september 12th. on this day, president obama announced a new initiative called employers of national service. we are asking employers to give a little bit of a preference to those who have served communities through americorps or peace corps or other national service programs. maybe in your advertisements that you post job applicants. you say americorps members, encourage to apply. take it a step further, maybe we'd ask those employers around the country, both nonprofits, private sector to put a check box in the application that says, have you served in a national service program, like
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americorps or peace corps? please describe your experience. or maybe there's a point system they might want to encourage. i'm very pleased we're having an inaugural charter, employers of national service partnerships challenge that will enlist employers around the country who will participate with us. and that deadline is december 31st. but i'm pleased to share a couple greater employers that have signed on. disney, comcast and nbc universal, csx railroad, the american red cross, habitat for humanity, teach for america. the city of nashville was a first city. and the city of south sioux city in nebraska. i was just in nebraska and announced this partnership with the first lady of nebraska on
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the steps last week. if you employ anyone, consider the alums of national service participants. in your qualifications or someone you should look to to bring on to your team because i promise you, they will make outstanding team members. i am thrilled to be a part of this conference. i'm thrilled to be a partner to the ncoc. and i support all the work that our universities and colleges are doing to connect our students to opportunities to serve. and let's work on that group who are not enrolled in college, as well. i'm going to count all of you to join us in the americorps partnerships challenge, or any way you can find a vehicle, an avenue, for americans to serve our communities. thank you so much for having me today. really appreciate it.
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>> thank you, wendy, before bringing out our next speakers, i wanted to give you a sneak peek at the civic life data coming out. i want to share two numbers with you. two of them haven't changed much, but the third i find interesting, 88% of americans ate dinner with friends and family. 56% of americans trusted most or all of their neighbors. it's the last number, 55% have some or great deal of confidence in the media. that sounds like a majority and large number, but went down seven points since 2011. and that sounds to me like that's worthy of a civic health index report. we need to delve into that
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number. of course, all of these numbers don't mean as much or don't have meaning in and of themselves where i disconnected from the people who do the work on the ground. it's those folks who in small and big ways make the difference in our communities. i want to invite a group of folks who have done that through national service, mary bruce and her colleagues from americorps. please joining me in welcoming them to the stage. mary bruce. >> my dad dropped out of high school. he went back in his early 20s. i remember him telling me, he took it much more seriously the second time around. and there was another student who was being distracting in class. hep didn't like that.
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my dad found that kid in the hallway, grabbed him by the collar, slammed him into the lockers, and threatened him within an inch of his life to pay attention. my dad said that helped that kid pay attention. my dad later went to college, but he didn't finish. and he always regretted that. so in our household growing up, college wasn't optional. my dad's stories and hopes for us made us pay attention. so when our college acceptance letters came, we were thrilled. but when, no matter how we ran the numbers, we found out we couldn't afford it, it was devastating. late in my senior year of high school, i had to find something else. and i found americorps, and it changed my life. i moved from suburb bursuburban
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washington, d.c. public schools. fewer than half finished high school. i served as a tutor and mentor in a fourth grade classroom. i have never been so exhausted. i remember once i was walking to school. it was the winter holidays, and i wanted to do something for those kids. i bought crayons and small things and put them in gift bags and carefully tied ribbons on the gift bags. and i was in the middle of the sidewalk hands full of these gift bags and i broke down and cried. how are crayons possibly going to make a difference to these kids? i can see their faces so clearly. these kids were so smart and so hard working and stuck in a system that was completely failing them. these kids meads me pay attention. i don't know where they are today, but i'd like to think they were a little bit better prepared for the fifth grade because i was there. and more than that, i know i'm
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part of a movement. of teachers and principals, poets and policy makers who were made in americorps. individuals who continue to live a life of service because they served. the data shows that. 9 of 10 go on to work in the public sector. they say it was among the most significant in their life. i'm thrilled to be joined by two alums, jeffrey and kelly. we were made in americorps. we are part of a movement, and i'm thrilled to have them share their stories today. >> growing up, i was a bit of a nerdy kid. i was often bullied and picked on and in school. but despite that, i always had that inner sense of confidence that whatever i was going to do in life was going to be important. it was going to have an impact. i had that because of my parents, family, folks in the
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community who instilled that vision of the community into me. for me, i thought that would be science. i always wanted to be a doctor. i got my first microscope when i was 8 years old. thought i was going to be in an emergency room, loved the show e.r. thought i was going to find a cure for cancer. that would be my impact for the world. i was a bio major in college. in someone semester, i signed up for service learning course. i didn't know what service learning was. it sounded different and engaging, and i definitely didn't know that the service and the service learning course would assign me to a group home working with teenagers who have been removed from their families because of decisions they themselves had made or the decisions their care givers had made. but it did. and as i developed the relationships with those young people, i began to look at them and began to see my teenage self within them. when i looked in their eyes, i didn't see any light and i didn't hear any vision of what they thought their future could be. and it was in those moments i realize the impact i thought i would have through my work and
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life was likely going to look different. that one service learning course became another and another until when i graduated from college, i didn't want to go back to the bio lab. i was looking for leadership opportunity that was going to help me become a service professional that could impact the lives of young people. and i found what the children's services in new hampshire and it happened to be in anmericorps program. when i raised my right hand to take the pledge, i had no idea what participation that program was going to do me. it was going to ignite this lifelong thirst to empower and uplift and transform individuals and communities, but it did. and as a result, i stand before you today, back in the lab. in the social innovation lab, excited and honored to be part of a network of americorps alums, and working with organizations like ncoc exploring, how can we level volunteerism, civic engagement to address the challenges we face as a community, as a
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country and nation. i'm jeffrey richardson, executive director, mayor's office of volunteerism where we're facilitating 500 national service opportunities each year in the district that are getting things done. thank you. >> so, good morning. my name is kelly tye, based in brooklyn, new york, and like my colleagues here, mary and jeffrey, i was made in americorps. when i graduated from college, i graduated with a major in urban planning comparative literature which clearly prepares you for life as a spoken word poet. i, actually, it was a three-time alternative spring break alum, which is, i think, almost a record. i wanted to do something with my life and i graduated from school in 2000. i had the benefit of always
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knowing that americ core was there and that's what i could do with my life when i wanted to contribute and give back to my community after i graduated from school, i served a year at public allies chicago, back then that was, you know, in large part due to michelle obama. and people would talk about how great the obamas were, and i was like, who are the obamas and why does everyone think they're so great? but when i was in my time in ame americorps, i was doing youth entrepreneurship. and my first day on the job was everyone's first day on the job since it was a start-up. as well as in the early weeks of my time there, one of the major gang leaders in the neighborhood who was assassinated by a rival gang. there was so much happening in the community at that time. and as i've gone on all over the world, i'll take that experience of not only serving in that space.
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but my cohort of friends that continue to make impacts in so many different fields. i would like to share a little poem with you all if that's all right. yes? is that all right? and i wrote this this in celebration of the 20th anniversary of americorps. it's dedicated to the 900,000 people who have served through americorps and all of you who care so deeply about contributing to our communities in so many ways. to find your place in the world where your leverage can mean everything. where your courage can invite a child to read, a house to be built, a veteran to live more fully again, grasp hands in the circle. where none of us know what we can be, not yet. we find out together. planning nights at the school gym, packing medical supplies a the the clinic. unjamming paper stuck in that
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printer. driving that long stretch of road. beyond the floodplain. here, where value so often goes overlooked. here in this place, this community, this person, you commit. without maybe knowing exactly why yet. you commit ten months, a year, two years three, a lifetime, add to the billion of hours of work. the hundreds of thousands of hands working so hard to pull together what so often falls through the cracks. find value here. where it too often goes overlooked. where its leverage can mean everything. for all of us. every single one. thank you all so much.
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>> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome john, chairman of the national advisory board of the ncoc to present the award. >> good morning. we're running a little behind, so i run on stage. it's uplifting to hear service learning translate into a lifelong thirst to serve community and country. what a wonderful display of and power of service. hats off to mary bruce who is doing an extraordinary job and wendy spencer on behalf of our country who is helping to strengthen this service culture. 2 1/2 years ago, our next guest and keynote speaker was giving a talk on leadership at the ideas festival and ignited a nation with a big idea. he noted for the first time in history less than 1% of americans were serving in our
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military during war, leading to the complacent assumption that serving the country was somebody else's job. he went on to call for large scale national service so that every young american could have the shared experience of serving their nation. either in the military or as a civilian. this grows out of his own service to country and record of achievement. he's been praised for creating a revolution in warfare that infused intelligence and operations. a four-star general, he's the former commander of u.s. and international forces in afghanistan and iraq. he's also the former leader of the joint special operations command jsoc, which oversees the most sensitive forces. his leadership of jsoc is credited with well known actions
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that made our country safer. today through his work here at home, he's on the front lines of the national service movement yet again. bringing the same ingenuity and dedication he brought to the battlefield to the franklin project at the aspen institute and the new national service alliance of which the national conference on citizenship, service nation and voices for national service are a proud part. he has recruited and led a high-level team of advocates for national service bringing in former secretaries of service service and state, leaders from every sector of life and tapped a talented marine corps veteran to lead the effort with his extraordinary team former cia analyst and former volunteers
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analyst, tess mason elder. and alan kasey is with us, as well. he's encouraged us to apply some lessons to form a new national service alliance with a common vision, clear goals, and a plan of action to meet them. he is also the author of the best-selling book, my share of the task. how many of you read it, please, hands go up, good, more of you should. and new book team of teams set for release in 2015. so today, the national conference on citizenship is honored to present general stanley mcchrystal with the award commissioned by the major george a. smith memorial fund. this annual award is designed to honor the life and service of major smith, a man who served for 20 years in the u.s. army as a foreign area officer throughout the middle east and spent his retirement working with fema to help hurricane victims


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